“Enough sound-bytes” …Jagdeo forewarns of face-off at Business Summit

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…says Ministers will not have Speaker’s ‘cloak of protection’

The Political Opposition intends to confront Ministers of Government in a no-holds-barred face-off without the protection of the Speaker of the National Assembly during the Private Sector Commission’s (PSC) Business Summit which gets underway this week.

General Secretary of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, recently telegraphed his party’s agenda for the confrontation order for the Government Ministers—listed as panelists—to be fully prepared.

Jagdeo was at the time speaking at a media engagement hosted at his Church Street Office and affirmed his party’s keen intention on participating in the process since he was assured there would be “robust discussions on topical issues. It is on this assurance we agreed to participate.”

Putting Government on notice, Jagdeo said “We are saying what we will focus on so the Ministers can come prepared…we had enough sound-bytes in Parliament. And the good thing is that at the Business Summit, we will not have a Speaker who gives Government a cloak of protection and truncates our questioning.”

Telegraphing the Opposition’s list of demands, the PPP General Secretary spoke to taxation, energy, government procurement the oil and gas sector and a host of other issues.

According to Jagdeo, “public procurement will be a major feature – the lack of transparency, the breaches of the Procurement Act and Cabinet’s continued participation in the award of contracts”.

Speaking to the PPP’s decision to participate in the summit, the Opposition Leader reminded that “Government procurement is the largest source of economic activity for the private sector…So procurement has to be part of a Business Summit. In every panel, on procurement issues, we will be seeking answers.”

The PSC’s Business Summit is touted as a ‘multi stakeholder approach’ to bring together the brightest and most experienced in all sectors.

Chairman of the Trade and Investment Committee of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Deodat Indar recently told the media the Business Summit “…will not be another talk shop. This is not where people go to grandstand or any form of pageantry. This is serious business. We expect that the seven panels that we set up will be armed with experts to dissect issues, trends, analyse and project and suggest actions to reduce decline.”

According to Jagdeo, the PPP/C will be fully represented in each of those panel deliberations.

The Opposition Leader noted that Government will be interrogated on the Energy Sector on issues ranging from the hogging of billions since the reduction in fuel price was not passed on to consumers and the business community. “We will be seeking specific figures from the minister…We believe that by now it is between $22B and $25B…They have said we are lying, so we will be seeking specific answers.”

In the area of taxation, Jagdeo said the Opposition will be interrogating the Ministers present, on not only figures, but policy.

“The Government seems to want to scrape every cent through taxes and in the process they are removing incentives for the business community…How could you be talking about giving people a better life and then increase their tax burden? What drives you to do that?”

The Opposition Leader also laid out an ultimatum to the Head of State David Granger—slated to address the opening on Wednesday. “…not another speech about the good life for Guyanese; not another speech about the Green Development Strategy, not another speech about how agricultural in the hinterland is the new frontier; not another speech about the need to export more value added products; and not another one on guava cheese and plantain chips. This is all we are getting from the government – a good speech from government that means nothing to the Guyanese people,” Jagdeo lamented.

 

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