ANY pursuit of the Political Opposition’s manifesto will be a pursuit of a “hodge-podge” plan that reflects random policies with no strategic framework; no identification of real sources and new sources of growth and revenue; and an economic policy that will result in monetary and fiscal chaos.“You can pluck things from anywhere, but you have to have a framework, because all these things have to gel together…it is all empty promises that they are making….this manifesto is at best a waste of time,” said former president and People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) executive, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, who minced no words in his characterisation of the five-year vision of the Alliance of A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), which was formally launched yesterday.
The APNU+AFC plan has as its central themes: Governance; Constitutional Reform; Public Safety and Security; Women and Gender Equality; Youth Policy; Education; Health and Nutrition; Housing Policy; Sports and Recreation; Cultural Policy; Natural Resources and the environment; Agriculture; Hinterland Development; Tourism; Information & Communication Technology; Income Distribution; and Foreign Relations.
HEADED TO BANKRUPTCY
Speaking at a news conference yesterday at Freedom House, Dr. Jagdeo said the APNU+AFC compilation is fundamentally lacking, in particular in the area of how the Alliance intends to finance its plans.
APNU+AFC recognises that the achievement of a sustainable industrialisation and development programme requires an average growth rate of at least seven per cent, according to its manifesto. As such, the Alliance committed to “Managing the economy in such a way as to produce wider entrepreneurial and job opportunities and more equitable outcomes, so that the bulk of generated income and wealth accrues to the populace as a whole.”
The manifesto also stated that APNU+AFC will: “Commission a comprehensive review of current taxation systems and policies, including the value-added tax, to identify and recommend fiscal innovations that would not only address the adverse consequence of the current structure of taxation, including hardship effects, but would create incentives that could attract needed investment in critical sectors of the economy.”
According to the former president, the grandiose plans have to be financed and yet APNU+AFC has no clear economic plan, nor any clearly identified mechanisms to generate revenue.
“For you to spend money, you have to create revenue streams. You have to create wealth before you spend it. If you do not identify sources and new sources of creation of national wealth and you keep spending more, you will take the country back to the period where we had all the difficulties,” he said.
Dr. Jagdeo added that the only way to spend, in the absence of clearly outlined revenue streams, is debt.
“You will have to find a way to finance expenditure and the only way you can do is by debt and if you accumulate more debt you are taking the country backwards,” he declared.
Turning his attention to a few of the ‘grandiose’ plans boasted by APNU+AFC, the former president highlighted that the Alliance has exposed themselves, exposed the contradictions in their positions.
He highlighted the proposed ‘Hinterland Fund’ to advance the development of Guyana’s indigenous people, when in the last 12 months alone millions were knifed from the ruling party’s Amerindian Development Fund (ADF). In the 2014 national budget the cuts included: the Amerindian Development Fund – $1.1B and other Amerindian Programmes, such as ATVs, tractors, etc. – $40M.
“We have a huge programme…billions of dollars running into it…now all that is promised is the establishment of a Hinterland development fund? It is an insult to the Amerindian people,” the former president said.
In the areas of housing, Dr. Jagdeo underscored the plan for a ‘house rental initiative. Scoffing at the proposal, he stressed that the ruling PPP/C has made significant strides to ensure that every Guyanese can own their own home.
“In this day and age when our goal is to ensure that every Guyanese, young professional, owns their own home, their big plan is a rental initiative…this is shameful,” he stressed, adding that this proposal belies “old PNC (People’s National Congress)” philosophy and ideas.
Further, the former president quipped that the plans for youth development include a national youth council, which is already in existence under the PPP/C Administration.
“They are proposing what are already there,” he declared, adding that other inputs related to technical and vocational education are not novel, but an effort already underway.
Dr. Jagdeo added that on the issue of infrastructure, APNU+AFC’s manifesto mirrors that of the PPP/C, with proposals for a deep-water harbour, the road linking Guyana to Brazil and even hydropower, the latter being another contradictory position, given the political Opposition’s disposition in the National Assembly.
“Doesn’t this look very familiar to you? I can show you that the entire section on infrastructure is lifted word for word from some of the things we propose,” he opined.
All considered, Dr Jagdeo was emphatic in denouncing APNU+AFC proposals as “nonsense” being perpetrated on the Guyanese people.
“The manifesto lacks imagination, some vague promises and some specific promises that are not connected to a strategy, it does not offer how we are going to finance these promises,” he concluded.
He reiterated his earlier held sentiments when the political Opposition’s manifesto was leaked.
“The APNU-AFC manifesto is unimaginative, perfunctory, has no strategic clarity and it is sometimes contradictory in its policy prescriptions…some of their promises are outright preposterous and an insult to the intelligence of the Guyanese people,” Dr. Jagdeo said.
Comparing the two manifestos, he contends that they were minimal changes made to the final document.
On that note, the former president made it clear that the current administration has a clear vision – Guyana 2.0 – to take Guyana forward.
Guyana 2.0 addresses growth, job creation, generation of wealth, the boosting of the manufacturing and tourism, among sectors, a focus on food and energy security are plans that will be bolstered by several transformational infrastructural projects. Among those listed are the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), an all-weather road to linking Guyana to Brazil, bridges across the Corentyne and Demerara Rivers and a deep-water Habour at the mouth of the Berbice River. Guyana 2.0 is touted as an interconnected plan – a development thrust that will ensure growth on all fronts, supported by infrastructural advances, which will in turn see the generation of wealth, which will then support efforts to advance better quality of living for the Guyanese people.
“We are proud of our legacy…the successes are a testimony of what has happened (in the last two decades)…we are working on a big vision,” Dr. Jagdeo declared.
By Vanessa Narine