This article has been written by Guyana-born Ewalt (Waltie) Ainsworth. He left Guyana in the early 1980’s and now lives in New Jersey. He is now almost totally blind but this impediment has not stopped his academic studies or his ability to craft his interesting and sometimes amusing stories about Guyana, the USA, and life.
Ewalt has written three books, which he intends to offer as e-books to readers. E-books are inexpensive and could be read on various types of equipment. He has also written a number of short articles like the one published here. Guyanese Online will also be helping him to set up his own Weblog to present his work and ideas in greater detail ….. Cyril Bryan… Editor. Guyanese Online
SMALL CHANGE STILL ON MY MIND
BY EWALT (Waltie) AINSWORTH – E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Somebody will have to start telling the populace that money is money and taking care of the small change is just as important as or even more important than taking care of the big notes or towels, as the GT lingo goes. Shopkeepers, taxi drivers, traders, cambio-hustlers, pork knockers, farmers and candle stick makers, must start giving back customers their change. Customers too must demand their change.
Things have gotten so bad that when Guyanese go overseas, they do not worry to pick up their change. They suffer from a local hangover that is catapulting them into poverty and hastening their demise. Overseas, you need every small change, every token to pay for your soda, telephone call, highway tolls, bridge crossing and purchase in the store. This writer knows of one man who saves all his coins and may be just a few pennies short of buying his dream car. Wherever you go in North America, the signs and warnings are clear demanding ‘exact change only’ and the local brethren are emptying their pockets out in the open spaces and literally throwing away their change.
This willful squandering of money has serious repercussions. Money should be treated with reverence and tolerance and seriousness too or Guyana’s recovery will be prolonged bitter and nasty like Zimbabwe.
The towels need a makeover and should have raised markings so that people with vision deficiencies, can recognize the denominations. There is also a felt need for two bigger notes…perhaps a ten thousand dollar bill and a referee bill which can perhaps be a twenty thousand dollar note. This referee bill will go a long way in quelling arguments in the homes and marketplaces and also reduce the bulge in purses and handbags.
Zimbabwe has million dollar bills and the cost of groceries in Bourda market are just as high or even higher than that South African nation. Some stallholders consider it a total embarrassment to sell at the elevated prices and do not bother to stock certain items anymore.
Chicken is approaching three hundred dollars a pound. Rice is four hundred dollars a gallon. Broken rice is now the preferred staple in some households. The cost of gasoline is as high as the basic food items. A dear friend of this writer gave his wife a skipping rope on her last birthday because she would have to “skip a few meals” based on the insane prices. The locally produced goods are now more expensive than the imported goods. And the reason for that is locally produced goods are exported duty free while items for local consumption, are slapped with a tariff that exceeds fifty per cent.
It is in times like these if we want to eat more local foods and enjoy some level of sanity, we need to hold on to our change to supplement our purchasing power. Farmers do not sell bilimbi and carambola anymore. It costs too much to pick and transport. If you want to eat dungs and gooseberry, you have to visit with a neighbor who has a tree and willing to let you into his yard to pick it. Ninwa and sijan, Jerusalem and jamoon, are all getting extinct. Nobody wants to climb the trees and by the time the fruit gets to market, it is too expensive while overseas items like butter nut squash and apples and grapes, are imported by the crates, all year round, at affordable prices. These are small changes but important changes in the marketplace.