Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), Irfaan Ali on Monday evening, told residents of the Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) of the many projects the party intends to roll out, once it regains office after the upcoming polls.
In particular, Ali said the PPP/C will return vibrancy to the region’s economy.
“The market that was once vibrant, today, when you go there in the evening on Sundays, you see farmers with tons of produce that they have to take back home and dump… All of this because the Government has taken out of your pockets and stripped you of your disposable income with the more than 200 taxes they applied and $91 billion they took out your pockets,” Ali said.
“On March 2, we must fix this by removing those burdensome taxes and putting back the 91 billion in the pockets of the people,” Ali posited.
Additionally, the PPP/C presidential candidate noted that the coalition, though in office for five years, controlled the Parliament for eight years with a one-seat majority and during that time, reduced money for critical things such as support for farmers, drainage and irrigation, farm-to-market access roads, healthcare and education, among others – all things that would have improved the lives of residents.
He pointed out that during its time in office, the PPP/C had undertaken many projects to make life easier for the people of Region Three and this will continue if the party returns to office.
“That was just the beginning; because after March 2, we are not going to rest until we complete every farm-to-market road across this region. So our rice farmers don’t have to go and beg after every crop for a machine to go and grade the dam. We must end that and after March 2, we will end this when [you] elect the PPP/Civic to make these investments,” he asserted.
The Presidential Candidate stressed that voting for the PPP/C will also support other small and medium-scale farmers such as the cash crop farmers. He noted that the party will not allow these farmers to continue to borrow at very high interest rates and in order to help, a PPP/C Administration will create special development fund (a grant and loan facility) that will see them expanding production and opening new lands for their use.
Additionally, he shared the Party’s vision to make Parika the export hub for all the agricultural products by investing in a state of the art agro-process packaging facility that will be linked directly to US$B Caricom (Caribbean Community) markets.
“This is the development, this is the support we will bring to you – the farmers – by creating wealth, opening up new markets and ensuring that you get fair prices in a market that have higher possibilities,” the Presidential Candidate stressed.
Ali further pointed out that over the past five years, many businesses in Parika have downsized and some even closed because of the declining state of the region’s economy. He noted that the sawmills which were once blooming are now on the verge of closing or have already closed because the forestry sector has declined.
“When forestry is on the decline, Parika will be on decline – the boat operators, the tugs, the barges, the sawmill owners, the guys who go in as operators, all of them are affected and when they are affected, their families are affected and when their families are affected, the economy of Region Three is affected. So the dent on the forestry sector has caused enormous hardship on the economy of this region, on the people of this community,” he contended.
The PPP/C, he noted, will fix this by getting back investments for the forestry sector, by returning the incentives on machinery and equipment and by helping operators to recapitalise themselves so that they can open up back operations and thus provide jobs for people in the region.
Moreover, Ali underscored the importance of the mining sector to the region’s economy, especially at Parika. He explained that speedboat operators and taxi drivers are merely some of the operators who benefit from the sector but this has been on the decline with more dredges closing.