PPP outlines reasons for rejecting Govt/UNDP social cohesion workshop

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The Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) has released a letter that it sent to the UNDP outlining why the party would not be attending the Government of Guyana/UNDP Social Cohesion Strategic Plan 2017-2020 Validation Workshop that was held yesterday at the Marriott Hotel.

During yesterday’s event Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton noted that a wide cross-section of Guyanese were consulted. “This was done in the form of face-to-face municipal and regional consultations, meetings in all municipalities and the ten Administrative Regions in Guyana as well as media consultations through radio and Facebook.”

He, however, expressed regret that the Opposition People’s Progressive Party was not involved in the process.

Below is PPP’s full letter:

Dear Madam,

The Office of the Leader of the Opposition wishes to acknowledge that the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Bharrat Jagdeo, has been invited to the Government of Guyana/UNDP Social Cohesion Strategic Plan 2017-2020 Validation Workshop on March 16th, 2017.

After 22 months of listening to and observing the statements and actions of the APNU+AFC Coalition government’s much touted “social cohesion policy”, the Parliamentary opposition, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), cannot and will not be a part of such events that will validate the government’s discriminatory actions under the guise of a Social Cohesion Policy or Strategy.

The Parliamentary Opposition since its entrance into the 11th Parliament on August 17, 2015, has called for national unity in the best interests of the Guyanese people and the nation. It has gone on record that it will support any initiative that is in the best interest of our people and nation and we shall expose any that will harm our people and nation.

The PPPC Parliamentary Opposition has not played an obstructionist role as the previous combined parliamentary opposition parties, APNU and AFC in the 10th Parliament. It has vigorously fought for greater participation of the PPP/C, civil society, Faith-based and Community Based groups in all national and region specific policy initiatives of the APNU+AFC Coalition government.

It has also brought matters to the National Assembly of national importance and each one has been “shot down” by the government with its one seat majority. We have advocated and proposed initiatives to solve the many challenges the country faces and to build greater inclusivity, transparency and accountability in the legislature and other forum. However, the government has rejected each and every one at every single forum available to it.

We have exposed the vindictive and undemocratic nature of the government; to name a few,

-its termination of 1,972 Amerindian Community Service Officers and hundreds of public servants on the basis of their ethnicity and political affiliation;

-its reckless and callous treatment of the sugar and rice sectors which will not only impact grievously on 17,000 sugar workers and thousands of rice farmers and their families but the consequences will be irretrievable to the economy and the entire nation for decades to come;

-its consistent exclusion in any consultation process, of major national stakeholders and the inclusion of the “handpicked few” who pass their “political correctness” test; and,

-its more recent and almost daily onslaught on critical national stakeholders, in particular the private sector;

-its intimidation and interference in the judiciary, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Judicial Service Commission, and the non-appointment of judges in violation of the constitution;

– its interference in the Public Service Commission and the Ethnic Relations Commission;

-its violation of constitutional provisions with regard to the appointment of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission;

-its political interference in seven (7) of the ten (10) Regional Democratic Councils won by the PPPC in the 2015 general and regional elections, and the forty-eight (48) of the seventy-one (71) Local Authority Areas also won by the PPPC in the March 2016 local government elections;

– its non-appointment of the constitutional Local Government Commission;

– its exclusion of ethnic groups in the appointment of government and state Boards, even on the Local Boards of Guardians which are region based;

-its use of the Serious Organized Crime Unit ( created to fight money laundering), an arm of the Guyana Police Force, and, the administrative State Assets Recovery Unit, located in the Ministry  of the Presidency, to “witch-hunt” political opponents.

None of these actions by the APNU+AFC Government in any way demonstrate a genuine desire and a political will to implement a social cohesion policy or to create a socially cohesive nation.

The government has shattered any modicum of trust and confidence, two ingredients critical to the development of a social cohesion policy and to create the basis for a socially cohesive nation.

We have noted the contents of the Draft Social Cohesion Strategy and conclude that it excludes the key foundations of social cohesion – adherence to the constitutional provisions and human rights; equal access to goods and services provided by the state; equal opportunity to jobs, contracts, education, health, housing; independence of the judiciary; adherence to parliamentary democracy in the Legislature; an open and enabling environment that allows for difference of views and an attitude of compromise; and, inclusion and representation in the body politic based on the multi-cultural multi-ethnic multi-religious composition of Guyanese society.

Without these essential ingredients for trust and confidence building being recognised and upheld by the government, social cohesion is merely at best an academic veneer to legitimize the government’s discriminatory and undemocratic governance of the nation.

The Parliamentary Opposition will not participate in any forum that is used by the government, despite foreign support, to give credence to a social cohesion policy and strategy while the nation continues to be ripped apart by the undemocratic APNU+AFC Coalition government.

Sincerely yours,

Gail Teixeira, M.P.,
Chief Whip for the Parliamentary Opposition,
Office of the Leader of the Opposition,
304 Church Street,
Queenstown,
Georgetown,

The Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
225-3432 or 225-3463

Cc
Diplomatic Corps in Guyana

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