The opposition parties are proceeding warily on President Donald Ramotar’s restated commitment to engage and compromise with them to take the country forward.
Leader of the Opposition David Granger in an invited comment yesterday said that he remains willing to engage the government in further talks and made the point that it is not too late for the president to consider the proposals by the opposition in order to avoid a budgetary crisis.
Granger was at the time responding to a query from Stabroek News as to what he thought of President’s Ramotar’s New Year’s Day message, in which he spoke of being willing to engage the Opposition. During his speech, Ramotar said that while he remains ready to work with the opposition for the country’s development, he has not seen reciprocation on the opposition side.
He said that last year saw “a domestically difficult political environment” despite his hope that the new configuration in the National Assembly would lead to more engagement and cooperation.
“I am open to meeting President Ramotar to discuss matters any time, especially the budget, we don’t want a collision in 2013,” said Granger.
He made the point that the opposition never disengaged from the talks but added that the meetings have not been fruitful and good for inclusionary democracy. “Our shadow ministers are not invited to deliberations [of their respective government counterparts],” he said. “In December 2011 and again in August 2012 I approached the President asking for him to establish a tripartite budget committee and he refused,” said Granger.
He also said that the state media has poisoned the atmosphere for talks and he wants the President to advise the state media to tone down the rhetoric and the venomous articles against the opposition.
Meanwhile, leader of the AFC Khemraj Ramjattan said yesterday that his party will be treating the president’s overtures during his New Year’s speech with caution, as it prefers to see concrete evidence that the government is willing to listen and dialogue.
“We find it welcoming that the president wants to engage with the opposition in 2013 but we are not sure that it is well meaning,” said Ramjattan.
He said that had the government been serious, it would have seen to the implementation of many outstanding opposition points of contention, such as putting in place arrangements for the Public Procurement Commission, the granting of television licences to persons other than those seen as friendly to the administration and the granting of television licence to the Region 10 Regional Administration, in keeping with its agreement with the government.
“We have not seen the necessary genuineness. The President has the Jagdeo tradition of calling us up only when it is convenient to the government. At this stage, we are treating his statements with caution. We want to see what steps are taken,” said Ramjattan. “We will put it to the test,” he said.