Top contenders spending “big” on PNC/R Congress campaign

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…party denies using State resources

Executive members of the PNC/R during the opening ceremony of the party’s 20th Biennial Delegates Congress (PNC/R image)

By Michael Younge

The top contenders for key positions within the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) have been spending “big” and investing a lot of resources in their bid to secure the various high offices that they are seeking ahead of the party’s 20th biennial Congress, which officially opened on Friday.

This year’s congress is being held under the theme “Better together for a brighter tomorrow”, and will bring together delegates and observers drawn from party groups throughout the ten (10) administrative regions of Guyana and the North American and UK regions of the party.

“I can tell you that the top three contenders have been investing heavily in the elections competition and race. It appears, from what we are seeing, that hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent to produce flyers, short bills about people’s track record in the PNC, and general electioneering material,” a senior source on the party’s 2018 Congress Committee related Friday.

The committee member said that while this is not the first time in the history of the PNC that such lavish campaigns and electioneering are taking place, it is the first time that persons vying for positions have been able to travel from Central Georgetown to far-flung areas while serving as sitting Government ministers to engage and meet delegates directly.

“I cannot say how they are getting the resources, or where they are getting the resources from. I will not speculate, but what I know for sure is that the assistance being offered by the PNC/R is minimal, to say the least. We don’t have that wide assortment of vehicles or finances to provide the assistance that some of the contenders are providing for themselves,” the committee member said, before explaining that all of those running for office understand that the party expects that they operate within the confines of the rules and that they do not blur the lines between the utilisation of their personal assets and resources, the party’s resources, and that of the State.

Efforts to contact PNC/R General Secretary Amna Ally, who is also the Head of the Congress Committee, to ascertain whether the office-contenders were briefed explicitly regarding the utilisation of state resources in terms of Government vehicles, staff and equipment not being allowed proved futile.

Another source close to Congress Place, speaking with this media group on Friday, said many of the top contenders are ministers who have funds and budgets at their personal disposal.

“I am not speculating, but you may need to ask what types of vehicles were used by these party executives when they visited delegates in Linden, Lethem and other far- flung areas? Where have they been sourcing the money from to campaign? And how have they managed to source all of those resources which pre-2018 they would definitely not have had access to?” the source explained.

Denial

But PNC Executive Member Joseph Harmon, the currently serving Minister of State in President Granger’s Cabinet, denied on Thursday that those persons vying for top positions within the party, whose fate in this regard would be determined at the PNC/R congress, were misusing state resources, or even engaged in reassigning resources for their personal or political gain.

“That not true…that’s not accurate…that’s an inaccurate statement to be made”, Harmon said with a grin on his face.

Asked by a journalist at his post-Cabinet press-briefing whether it was party or personal resources being expended by the contenders, Harmon said, “Well, it would be both”, before ending the conference.

Already, hundreds of delegates and party personnel have being transported from far- flung areas to Congress Place with the use of at least two David Granger School buses, according to one report.

Over three years later, the PNC stalwarts will hold deliberations on the way forward for the party, and will discuss the party’s status within A Partnership for National Unity coalition. Discussions will also take place on the PNC/R and APNU’s relationship with the Alliance for Change (AFC).

Of utmost importance is the party’s plan in event the AFC decides to break away from the coalition to contest the 2020 elections as an independent political organism.

The PNC/R leaders will also deliberate on that party’s performance in Government, and the need to reform the party in order to meet the challenges that lie ahead with a buoyant oil and gas sector envisioned.

Also, the old guard within the PNC/R will be scouting votes to ensure that someone who has a history of service and the blessings of the party’s former leader, Robert Corbin, assumes the Chairmanship of the party. Currently, PNC/R Executives Volda Lawrence, Basil Williams and Joseph Harmon are vying for the title.

Lawrence is the favourite to cop the title among women, youths and traditional PNC/R supporters, but on Friday there were reports that Harmon had won the endorsement of key people within the delegates’ pool, including the party’s leader.

Over the past two months, both Harmon, Williams and Lawrence have been in a head- to-head battle contesting the key PNC/R constituencies and canvassing for votes.

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