Boisterous crowds greeted People’s Progressive Party (PPP) leaders as they took the podium at Sunday’s campaign launch, but one of the loudest welcomes was reserved for General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo, who immediately made his case for his party’s election on March 2.
In his address, Jagdeo warned that with the current Government seemingly fixated on holding on to power while running down the economy, his party must be returned to power to right the wrongs.
Jagdeo referenced comments made by President David Granger on Friday, that constitutional reform would be pursued by the coalition to ensure that “that nonsense they tried for us in the last twelve months doesn’t happen again,” a reference to the No-Confidence Motion that the Opposition triggered and passed back in December 2018.
“Now we have advanced the most aggressive constitutional reform programme in the past. And we have outlined a path for the future. We want to look at the electoral system to increase inclusivity and even explore power-sharing. How do we change our Constitution to serve our people!” Jagdeo said.
“The only thing he (Granger) wants to change in the Constitution is to get rid of the No-Confidence Motion! Now let me tell you. In India, they have a billion people. And the Government can fall on one vote in their Parliament. But they are not changing their Constitution to get rid of that. In the UK, a Government can fall on one vote. But Granger wants to change that here. He feels aggrieved. That is the alternative to a PPP Government.”
When it comes to the economy, Jagdeo took a swipe at the incumbent Government by pointing to the steep declines in the foreign and gold reserves, as well as the state of agencies like the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Guyana Power and Light (GPL).
“For the last five years, they’ve lived off the reserves we left. They ran it down at Central Bank. They sold off G$20 billion of gold we had there, almost finished. All the agencies were making surpluses. GWI is almost bankrupt. GPL is almost bankrupt. We had millions at the GGMC. They can’t pay wages. Millions at the forestry sector. Now they have difficulty paying wages. Almost every agency is on the decline. GuySuCo is falling apart. It’s a trend. They are consuming everything without replenishing.”
“They are pinning their hopes on oil and gas, but they sold us out. No ring-fencing… Guyanese working offshore, 12-hour shift and gets G$72,000 when the foreigner is making (TT)$10,000. They don’t look out for us. No Local Content Policy… so Guyanese. foreigners are going to come in and use up all the opportunities if you don’t get a PPP Government back in place to look out for us.”
Jagdeo also took the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government to task over the lack of transformative and visionary leadership. He noted that APNU/AFC has also used its majority in Parliament since 2011 to block progress, such as the Amaila Falls Hydro Power project (AFHP).
The General Secretary also pointed out that when given a chance to govern, APNU/AFC has simply continued projects or Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) the PPP initiated. He noted that the Government has failed to bring anything new to the table.
“They killed the hydropower that by now would have supplied reliable electricity for Guyanese. They have no plan to fix the blackout… they have not secured a single new investment. The big gold companies came under the PPP. Bauxite, PPP. Manganese, PPP. Oil and gas sector, PPP.”
“The East Coast road, PPP. The Marriott, PPP. The airport [expansion], PPP. What have they done in four years? No vision, no plans for the future. Nothing of substance to take care of the people.”