FORMER President Bharrat Jagdeo took the AFC and APNU to task last weekend for their lack of Economic Patriotism and for their yearning for power at any cost. In Toronto for fund-raising with Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce, Irfaan Ali, the former president also met with investors and the business community, followed by a press conference at the Radisson Hotel.POWER AT ANY COST
Jagdeo said that for three years the Opposition AFC and APNU has done nothing but attempt to sabotage progress on projects like Marriott Hotel, the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport without any concern for the impact on ordinary Guyanese working people who would have filled the jobs created. “They have used their one seat majority in Parliament to stymie development – not to support it.” In Ramjattan’s thinking and his own words, these people are just collateral damage or casualties in their personal war.
The AFC has broken every promise they made, said Jagdeo. They said they were different; they would not align themselves with either of the two main parties. They’ve broken that promise without a concern for the people, but only a selfish grasp for a share of any spoils with APNU. They have betrayed the voters who took a chance on them. Can Nagamotoo and Ramjattan be trusted?
This anti-national behaviour has had an impact on the national psyche. Economic pessimism increased in 2014 despite strong economic performance which is the envy of other regional countries. Confidence in politics and political institutions and satisfaction with how democracy works have declined.
PLAYING THE CORRUPTION CARD
The pall on the national psyche is made worse by the wanton and reckless use of the corruption card by the Opposition to confuse issues and as a cover for their obstructive behaviour as they tried to shoot down every undertaking that’s in the national interest. Once these bogus and sensational headlines are placed in the public’s minds it takes its toll.
This is not to say that there isn’t corruption in the country, said Jagdeo, but the perception is much worse than the reality. Jagdeo’s argument is supported by the LAPOP (Latin American Public Opinion Project) which measures the actual situation as opposed to the perceived situation.
The acting US Ambassador and Vanderbilt University officials called on President Ramotar weeks ago to present and discuss the revealing findings of their scientifically rigorous, well documented work, which took them out into the field to collect data from a cross section of Guyanese.
Their research concluded that the actual experience of corruption is much lower than the perception of corruption. What’s more the level of corruption has been on a downward trajectory. This is not cause to be complacent, but it reveals the enormous difference between the destructive politically inspired rhetoric and the actual situation. There is lots of room for improvement, but a far cry from the perceived levels hammered into the Guyanese psyche.
Furthermore three areas accounted for more than 80% of corruption: the municipality, courts and police. This is the first in this kind of study which, unlike the work of Transparency International, has focused on actual occurrence rather than perception.
“Do I still think there’s a big problem?” said Jagdeo, “I think so. I think there’s still a big need to address, wherever there exist, crime and corruption. “But I urge people to go on the Internet and read the LAPOP report for themselves. We ourselves were surprised to learn that the study further found that, in terms of actual experience, Guyana has one of the lowest actual crime rates in the Region.”
PNC FAILED ECONOMICS
The APNU-AFC has no viable economic programmes and policies. In the same ilk of their current anti-nation behaviour in their Opposition role, dampening progress and casting gloom over the nation’s psyche, the APNU/PNC record when they formed the Government was abysmal. Under the hand of then Finance Minister Carl Greenidge, Guyana became the economic laughing stockof the Region, vying with Haiti to be the poorest country in the world.
It is no wonder that Granger seeks to distance himself from the name and legacy of the PNC by renaming the party APNU. The problem is they have not refreshed their line-up. It’s the same crew of failed power-driven actors waiting to take the country back to ruin again.
The PPC/C Government laboured for ten years to restore the macro- economic structures that the APNU/PNC had destroyed. Despite their best efforts to sabotage the recovery, Guyana is once again poised to take its rightful role as one of the Region’s leading economies.
Dr. Jagdeo said that it is time the Opposition face the people directly in a public forum such as maybe a series of say 3 debates on the issues. “The country has moved into a new age, young people, which the future of this county is about, have embraced the new technologies… we of the PPP are willing to have our team debate the Opposition before Guyanese voters at any time on corruption, ethics, economics or their vision for the country if they have one .”
Jagdeo said that Granger has to account for his record if he wants to be president. Four hundred weapons were given to the PNC when Granger was commanding the army. Some of those weapons found themselves into the hands of criminals that the police encountered in the 2004 crime wave. One hundred and fifty-five of the weapons are still unaccounted for. Granger refuses to account for them.
Even more glaring Jagdeo said, is Granger’s claims that there were no rigged elections under the PNC/R – even PNC/R supporters acknowledge this. “Granger is either dishonest or delusional. Every website, including declassified CIA documents, the British secret service and other historic documents attest to the fact that elections were rigged. A person who can’t be honest enough to admit this… you have to be fearful of such a person getting back into Government.”
APPEAL TO YOUNG VOTERS
Reaching out to young voters, the former president said this is the most pivotal election since 1964. “Young people need to be aware of their history. Why this is especially important is that it is the same slate of old thinkers that took the country into ruin who is now trying to resurrect themselves and grab power again, with no vision of how to take the country and its people forward.”
COMPARE AND CONTRAST
Jagdeo encouraged Guyanese to compare and contrast. Compare the Opposition’s list of recycles bereft of any new ideas to the PPP/C Government’s list with 25 to 30 new young capable professionals.
Compare Nagamotoo to Harper. Then again that may be unfair. Nagamotoo is not in the same league as Harper.
Compare President Ramotar who has spent his life in public service trying to better the lot of all ethnicities, the underprivileged and Guyanese of all religious backgrounds; to an apparently amnesic ex-brigadier who was commander of the army when Dr. Walter Rodney was assassinated, who refused to go before the international commission investigating Rodney’s death, and who says there was no vote rigging in Guyana when the whole world, including declassified CIA documents, acknowledge this was so.