–President Ali says of opposition motions against gov’t ministers
PRESIDENT, Dr. Irfaan Ali, believes that the no-confidence motions filed against two sitting Ministers of Government are merely a display of “political drama” by the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC). “First of all, if you’re going to do something meaningful, you should put effort in it. Did you see the no-confidence motion? One line; they didn’t spend any time to put in any effort; it shows that this is just political drama,” Dr. Ali told reporters on the side-lines of an event hosted at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown, on Wednesday.
It was on Tuesday that the main opposition filed a motion with the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, contending that the Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn and the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony have persistently demonstrated the inability to effectively undertake their duties in the respective sectors.
Having examined the motions, President Ali believes that it was formulated with absence of “thinking.”
“There’s no structure behind it; there is no work behind it; it is just political drama and I am not interested in political drama,” the Head of State posited.
President Ali said that ever since the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) assumed office in August 2020, its mandate and focus has been to deliver tangibly to the people of Guyana.
“And the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Health have been doing just that, delivering to the people of this country,” President Ali affirmed.
He recalled that it was the former APNU+AFC Government that had been faced with a properly conceived motion of no-confidence.
“That no-confidence is in the APNU+AFC’s record on democracy; that is the only no-confidence,” Dr. Ali asserted.
He believes that once the motion comes up in the National Assembly, Ministers Benn and Anthony would be able outline, in great detail, the work they have been doing in the fields.
“This gives us yet another excellent opportunity to once again, present to the Guyanese people, what we reached or inherited when we came into office, and where we are today. And mark my word, our commitment will be kept,” President Ali said. Both Dr. Anthony and Minister Benn have signalled their intention to rigorously defend their performance within their respective sectors. As a matter of fact, Minister Anthony said that he is even looking forward to the opportunity to debate the matter in the National Assembly.
“We welcome this opportunity to remind Mr. Harmon and the APNU+AFC of the many shortcomings that they have had for the five years that they were in government,” Dr. Anthony said.
He added: “What we have done in [the] last several months is far more than they have accomplished in the last five years that they were in government.”
Further, the health minister expounded on a plethora of instances which he opined constituted the “damage and destruction” to the public health sector, caused entirely by the decisions of the APNU+AFC coalition during their tenure in government. He touched on a number of highly-publicised matters including, but not limited to, the Sussex Street drug bond scandal; massive drugs shortages during the 2015–2020 period and some $10 billion worth of medicine that had expired at the Diamond Bond.
Dr. Anthony also pointed to a gamut of issues that plagued the initial management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For those first few months when they were there, we had difficulty having a PCR test done… throughout their tenure they would have done about 21 tests per day,” Dr Anthony said, noting that the National Public Health Reference Laboratory is currently doing in excess of 2,000 tests within a 24-hour period.
The health minister also decried the shortage of personal protective equipment; the shortage of ventilators; the lack of a plan for the treatment of COVID-19; and the COVID-19 hospital lacking the necessary facilities to function. He said that all of these issues occurred under the APNU+AFC administration, and had to have been corrected by the Dr. Ali-led government, which is less than a year old. “It’s going to be fun when this thing comes up for debate, because we can clearly contrast what they have been doing with what we are doing and how that differs,” Dr Anthony posited. Similar sentiments were shared by Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn, who described the motions as being “ludicrous but amusing.”
“So yes, we have a lot of things to talk about and I am happy that Harmon has provided me with that opportunity so that the people of this country would have a fairer idea of where we are coming from, what we have done, and what more there is to be done, because we are not done here yet,” Benn asserted.
He believes also that the filing of the motions signals the desperation of the main opposition, which, he said, has been continuously exposed in respect of their failings both in government, and also against the efforts which we are making in just 11 months, even with the COVID and severe flooding.