Two years of PRM government: Lost illusions
Santo Domingo, DR
As a new government emerged in August 2020, Dominican society was under the spell of illusion. Nevertheless, it had high hopes for the promised change.
However, the national situation, like the world situation, was a crisis. The vaccine to combat Covid-19 had not yet been discovered, and the economy had collapsed due to global confinement.
Faced with such a dramatic situation, an atmosphere of national unity prevailed to cope with the severity of the health, economic and social crisis. In the political sphere, there was a kind of truce or a prolongation of the honeymoon.
It was understood that it was essential to guide all sectors of the country in the strategic vision of moving in the same direction to overcome the most severe global crisis in a century.
To get out of the recession caused by the pandemic, central banks around the world issued large amounts of money, which allowed the expansion of public spending and, therefore, the reactivation of economic growth.
This global economic reactivation has allowed the components of the external sector of the Dominican economy to perform remarkably well. For example, this is the case with remittances, tourism, and free trade zones.
The same has not occurred, however, with the national productive sector, as evidenced by the cases of agriculture and local manufacturing, which have had, in relative terms, low performance in their contributions to the gross domestic product.
In any case, as a result of the expansion of public spending globally and nationally, a level of inflation that had not been seen in the last 40 years has been unleashed inadvertently.
This increase in the prices of the essential family basket of goods, together with an increase in violence and criminality, as well as the lack of jobs, has been provoking a situation of dissatisfaction and uneasiness in different strata of the Dominican people.
In the mood or atmosphere of prioritizing the national interest above partisan or private interests, the government lost perspective of the depth of the crisis in which the country found itself and launched itself unnecessarily into offering the construction of infrastructure works throughout the national territory.
It seemed not to understand its limits or capacity to undertake and execute such projects. He started with the Amber road between Santiago and Puerto Plata. Immediately, the Pedernales tourist pole, the Navarrete bypass, the San Francisco de Macoris bypass, and the Azua and Bani bypass.
After two years, nothing. None of these works have been able to move forward, and it is unclear what their future will be. The same has happened with the extensions of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD).
At first, unfairly and outrageously, the political parties were threatened with taking from their budgets, as provided by law, to build the UASD building in Santo Domingo East.
Two years later, it has not even started.
But this is also the case with the 28,000 housing units to be built this year, 2022. To date, only 215 have been delivered. Something pathetic, not to say ridiculous.
The question would be: What will be done concerning the 62 thousand houses offered to be built during the four years of governmental administration? Will it be possible to achieve them by building at a rate of 108 units per year?
In education, the most eloquent description has been offered by the recently appointed Minister of Education. He said: “The Ministry has 250 thousand people appointed, with a budget of almost 250 billion pesos, and everything goes to waste. Why? Because the children are not learning, they are not learning.”
In health, the government offered a network of trauma centers, an oncology center, and three health cities, Santiago, San Cristóbal, and San Francisco de Macorís.
So far, nothing.
Despite the disappointment caused by the government’s inefficiency in executing the promised works, the government has alarmingly increased the public debt: one million million pesos in the two years elapsed; and 1,500 million daily, from August 16, 2020, to the present.
According to several surveys, the country’s main problems are inflation, high cost of living, citizen insecurity; unemployment; and high electricity prices.
In addition, there are others, such as corruption, poor health care; poor government administration; poverty; access to quality education; lack of control of Haitian immigration, and lack of potable water.
When asked about the economy’s condition, 77% say it is terrible or fair; and only 10% consider it good or very good. Regarding personal economic conditions, 56% say it is awful, and only 23% say it is good.
Where is the country heading?
For 68% of those surveyed, it is going in the wrong direction. For 27%, it is going in the right direction.
The perception of the country’s future is negative in the National District and Santo Domingo province, in the Southern provinces, in the Cibao provinces, and less negative in the Eastern provinces.
In demographic terms, citizens between 18 and 34 years of age have a bleak outlook. The same is true for those between 36 and 55. However, those in the 55+ age range perceive it in a better light.
Women are the most pessimistic, with over 60%. They do not see a bright future for the country.
Honoré de Balzac, the indefatigable French novelist of the 19th century, author of a series of works under the title of The Human Comedy, published within that collection one that has become immortal: The Lost Illusions, which narrates the efforts of a young man, Lucien de Rubempré, who seeks glory through literature and poetry.
The circumstances in which he lived did not allow him to do so. Instead, he fell dejected amid frustration and disappointment.
The failure to understand the limitations imposed by a global and national crisis; and to exaggerate his modest achievements to the rank of world reference has meant that after two years of PRM government, the Dominican people, like Rubempré, are also disappointed by lost illusions.