“Undemocratic forces will not succeed” – Irfaan Ali

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Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Dr Irfaan Ali, in an address to the nation today, has assured that he understands the frustration that citizens across the country are currently experiencing, but his administration, once it settles into office, will tackle all such issues head-on.

Ali said; “a handful who can be characterized as ‘Undemocratic Forces’, will not succeed” in their attempts to hold on to power. “The will of the people must be and will be honoured,” He added.

Following is the full statement by Presidential Candidate Dr Irfaan Ali: 

Thank all the Donors, Contributors and Volunteers to National Stakeholders Forum.

Many Guyanese and International Bodies and Stakeholders have expressed disgust at the current political situation.

They continue to call for strong action in ensuring the will of the people is respected. I want to assure all Guyanese that we understand the frustration perpetuated to the entire country by a handful who can be characterized as ‘Undemocratic Forces’. We have seen examples right within our Regions, how undemocratic forces undermine development and freedom.

I assure Guyanese that:

  1. Those undemocratic forces will not succeed.
  2. The will of the people must be and will be honoured. There is no compromise on this.
  3. I have heard the many calls for firm action I assure you that in consultation with all stakeholders we will determine avenues for you to show your resolve in ensuring democracy prevails. These activities as always will be within the rule of law and most importantly taking your health and safety into consideration.
  4. We have had enough delays. It is time that the new administration commences work in the interest of all Guyanese!

In transitioning to government, I am aware that we must immediately tackle a number of issues of paramount importance is the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, the Multi-Stakeholders Forum in consultation with many stakeholders has advised me on a number of measures. After examining these in consultation with professionals in the various fields, these are the immediate plan of action:

  1. Rapidly increase capacity for testing
  2. Invest inadequate measures to address hospitalization
  3. Decentralize response – building capacity in every region.
  4. Provide adequate PPE for Frontline Staff.
  5. Provide transportation for Frontline Workers
  6. PCR testing for arriving passengers (within 24 hours)
  7. Accommodation facilities for health workers.
  8. Introduce additional treatment option

Financial/Economic Relief

  1. Subsidies for distress businesses
  2. Deferral of Loan Payments (6 months).
  3. Address overdrafts loans for businesses to address working capital.
  4. Waive import duties on COVID-19 medical supplies, zero-rate tax on sanitation products.
  5. Defer tax filing deadline.
  6. Defer Income, Corporate, Property and VAT Tax obligations for 6 months.
  7. Waive taxes on data plans with immediate effect.
  8. Reduce taxes on fuel
  9. Speed up tax refunds by GRA
  10. Consult with Insurance Companies to extend coverage.

Social Support

  1. Support low-income housing
  2. Reduction on utility services
  3. Provide assistance to vulnerable and pensioners
  4. Reduce cost of data (negotiate)
  5. Provide students with cash voucher to facilitate E-learning.

Workers Welfare

  1. Relook at threshold and increase to allow for no taxation for employees in vulnerable sectors.
  2. Removal of mortgage interest and property tax for a period of 6 months.
  3. Work with Commercial Banks to reduce spread (difference between lending and saving rates)
  4. Emergency support for small businesses at the risk of closure.
  5. Work with businesses to extend the time to pay higher-purchase.

Notwithstanding the difficulties the existing environment poses. We have had experience in managing a crisis situation. You will recall in 2005 after the floods. 35% of our housing section was damaged and destroyed. 17.65% of the Productive Sector was damaged and destroyed. Sugar Industry registered damages equivalent to 16% of GDP. We successfully rebooted and rebuilt the economy to one of the strongest and fastest-growing in Latin American and the Caribbean up to 2014.

This brings me to another important issue that we must address in the new government that is the National Budget.

Important issues we must address include unemployment, decline in the economy, security (internal and external), declining services in the Social Sector.

  • Sugar – We have lost US$78 Million in export revenue from sugar.
  • Rice – more than 211 million US revenue from rice.
  • Fishing Sector declined by 40,000 tonnes of fish and shrimp.
  • Forestry Sector lost more than $10 Billion
  • Decline in Gold production from small and medium-size mining.
  • Bauxite lost $2 Billion.

These are just some examples of the state of our economy.

This compiled with COVID-19 would call for a well thought out budget with prudent allocation of resources.

In ensuring our budget is reflective and addresses the concerns of all stakeholders I have put together a consultative body with the task of:

  1. Determining the latest economic data in consultation with the Bank of Guyana and other stakeholders.
  2. Write to the Ministry of Finance seeking a statement on all outstanding liabilities and ongoing projects.
  3. Consult at Regional levels with RDCs, NDCs, Business Chambers, Civil Society, Community and Religious leaders on Regional priorities.
  4. Consult with all political parties who contested the 2020 elections
  5. Consult at the national level, with PSC, Civil Society Bodies, Trade Unions and Rights Groups, Gold and Diamond Miners Association
  6. Consultation with manufacturing, services, tourism, fishery, agricultural, sports, youths and women representatives.
  7. International Partners in our effort to combat international crime, money laundering, drug-trafficking, and undemocratic regimes.

The Consultative Committee would comprise a broad-based grouping including professionals and representatives from other political groupings.

I assure every Guyanese that from day one we will deliver on the promises in our Manifesto. My government would work in an inclusive manner to have a budget that reflects the aspirations and priorities of every Guyanese.

Of great importance is our security – internal and external. I have asked Brigadier Mark Phillips to:

  1. Convene meetings with the leadership of the Discipline Forces to have an update on current challenges and issues to be addressed.
  2. I have also asked him to seek an audience with our International Partners on Border Security and Regional International collaboration.
  3. We are committed to working with our pro-democratic partners in building international peace and democracy.

In conclusion, I wish to thank Guyanese and the International Community for their continued support and resilience in ensuring our democratic values are secured. The task ahead is for us to construct a Guyana that all of us must be proud of and feel a part of.

This can only be achieved through meaningful involvement, respect, dignity, adherence to our Constitution and the rule of law. In addressing issues of building trust, reducing inequality and building a safe country we all have to play our part, we all have to be subjected to democratic traditions.

Can we do this?

Yes, we can.

Stay safe, wear your mask, adhere to the COVID-19 protocols.

Gold Bless each of you and your family.