THE latest opinion poll conducted in Guyana reveals a very strong approval rating for President Irfaan Ali and his government and low confidence in the political opposition’s performance in holding the government accountable. The poll finds that APNU+AFC is slumping in popularity primarily because of its actions. The survey on contemporary issues covers the period just after presentation of the budget in February, through end of March.
The poll, conducted by well-known pollster Dr Vishnu Bisram for NACTA, had a sample size of 600 respondents, reflecting the demographics of the population.
Based on the findings of the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) survey, 65 per cent of the nation approve of the performance of the government with 26 per cent disapproving and nine per cent not offering a response.
The population has expressed disappointment and displeasure in the political behaviour of the opposition APNU+AFC, with a minority reposing confidence in it as an alternative government in waiting. Only 29 per cent said they approve of the performance of the opposition with 58 per cent disapproving and 13 per cent not offering a response. These contrast sharply with the confidence people have in the job performance of President, Dr Irfaan Ali, who has an approval rating of 69 per cent and a disapproval rating of 24 per cent with seven per cent not offering a response.
The public also expresses strong approval of the government’s handling of the economy, as well as the COVID lock-down policies, although they are not very pleased with the government’s handling of crime and security. Inflation and job creation are also major challenges for the government. The working class complains about frozen wages and difficulties to make ends meet. Expectations are very high for wage increases and another COVID grant among the lower working class.
Among the most highly rated ministers are Anil Nandlall, Collin Croal, Deodat Indar, Bishop Juan Edghill, Nigel Dharamlall, Zulfikar Mustapha, Vickram Bharrat, Kwame McCoy, Susan Rodrigues, and Sonia Parag. Ministers Mustapha, Croal, and Indar are praised for their presence almost everywhere.
Asked if government should have invested more in agriculture in the latest budget, 68 per cent said ‘yes,’ with only 17 per cent disagreeing and 15 per cent saying not sure. The population feels that government should continue to focus on agriculture, rather than depend on oil and gas to transform the economy.
Asked if they think the government has legal right to reverse the Exxon oil contract, the population is divided with 30 per cent saying ‘yes,’ 48 per cent saying ‘no’ and 22 per cent not sure. The largest plurality and those unsure feel contracts with investors are legal and sacrosanct and it would be a violation of domestic and international law to violate the sanctity of a contract. It would impact investment. It is felt that the government can seek greater local content participation and national benefits in oil-field development and extraction.
Almost every respondent in the poll condemned the caustic language and behaviour of some Members of Parliament during the budget debate. The public says the language of some MPs was disgusting and unacceptable. They feel that the Speaker of the National Assembly should not have tolerated those contributions and should have reprimanded the errant MPs, and/or suspend them from the House.