Following concerns that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) was misusing state resources for political purposes, a senior Government Minister has admitted that indeed taxpayers’ money is being used to fund its campaigning activities across the country.
Second Vice President and Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan was on a live radio programme, “Straight Up”, on Thursday evening, when he was asked about the APNU/AFC coalition’s preparation for the impending elections.
In response, Ramjattam explained that the coalition had already started its campaign through the ministerial outreaches across the country.
“We had started our campaign in a sense. We were outreaching in all the areas, even having Cabinet in different areas, having lots of meetings on the weekends especially and carrying our Government projects and programmes for the people to see it themselves and promoting our accomplishments. And that is what part of the campaigning was all about during that time because there was always this 50-50 chance that we’re gonna lose it and indeed, we lost it,” Ramjattan, the newly elected AFC leader, stated.
Since February, the coalition Administration rolled out its “ministerial outreach” programme under the slogan of “bringing Government to the people”.
Government had come under heavy criticism over these outreaches but insisted that they were initiatives aimed at meeting and listening to the concerns of members of the public.
In fact, former Minister of State, Joseph Harmon had told reporters back in February that the outreaches are nothing but “normal Government business” in response to concerns that the coalition was campaigning with state funds.
More recently, however, Harmon defended a move by his Administration to secure in excess of $300 million in supplementary funding from the National Assembly for more ministerial outreaches across the country.
So far, the APNU/AFC Administration has held these exercises in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10 and more recently Region 7.
Despite claims that these events are not politically motivated, the outreach held in the mining town of Bartica earlier this week attracted much criticisms and concerns after several senior Government officials, including Finance Minister Winston Jordan and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, spouted remarks about “war break”, “street protest” and “troubles” in a bid to push the conduct of house-to-house registration.
This incident comes on the heels of a previous one whereby, Citizenship Minister Winston Felix, during a hinterland outreach back in February, had told residents that he was there simiply to get to vote for the coalition Government.