The ruling PPP/C and the opposition coalition APNU both promised Lindeners jobs when they took their elections campaigns to Linden over the weekend,.
At the incumbent PPP/C’s rally on Sunday at Burnham Drive, its presidential candidate Donald Ramotar said Linden is pivotal in his plans for the development of the country. “Immediately on coming to government, we will negotiate, encourage and press the two bauxite companies that operate here to expand their production, to develop new products to have value added to our bauxite industry,” he said, while adding that this would lead to the creation of more than 1,000 jobs in the region.
“And you can expect almost immediately as we get them to agree that we would get them to create more than a thousand new jobs in a short space of time,” he explained.
Ramotar said that in addition to the imminent development of the bauxite industry, the region will be transformed as it becomes the main terminal for the trade relationship between Guyana and Brazil. He also spoke of the administration’s plan for the construction of a new airport, to improve the transportation system and boost the tourism industry, all of which, he said, have the potential to improve the economic base of the country and create income-earning opportunities.
On Saturday, APNU’s Aubrey Norton noted that the people of Linden wanted high paying jobs and industry. “…And A Partnership for National Unity will do just that, give you jobs give you high paying jobs, create investments and create employment,” he said to the supporters at a coalition rally.
The need for higher wages also featured in APNU member Debra Backer’s speech, which focused on national security. She spoke of the coalition’s plans, once elected, to rebrand the police force. “We are going to rebrand our disciplined services….it is not the Guyana Police Force, it is the Guyana Police Service… and their motto is service and protection not brute force and ignorance,” she said, while arguing that the security sector would have been in a better state today had the government accepted the multi-million dollar security sector reform project that was being funded by the British.
Backer said that when persons go into police stations under an APNU administration, they would meet highly-paid, qualified and committed policemen and women. She said that a policeman was brave enough to tell her, “when they pay us we will work.” The same can be said of nurses and teachers who perform well when they venture out into other countries where they are paid well, she said, “…the point is: nothing is wrong with our nurses, nothing is wrong with the bulk of our police, nothing is wrong with the bulk of our teachers but we have to pay them decent wages and salaries and that is a solid commitment from A Partnership for National Unity led by David Granger.”
Poverty, discrimination, helplessness, hopelessness, the lack of jobs and marginalisation are ingredients that go towards crime rates and are issues the PPP/C government are to be blamed, Backer also said.
APNU, in a statement issued yesterday in response to the PPP’s commitments, accused it of making more “snake oil” promises to the Linden people.
“Despite the lofty promises made by RUSAL and BOSAI, at the time when the Guyanese national bauxite patrimony was “given” to them by the PPP, the bauxite industry, which was the mainstay of the economy of Region 10, was deliberately allowed to be maintained at its lowest levels. None of the publicly promised new developments have taken place and Sam Hinds and the PPP have continued to make lame excuses on their behalf,” it said yesterday.
It also maintained that there is unequal treatment of bauxite workers, who it said have their over-time taxed, while the same treatment is not meted out to sugar workers.
APNU questioned how Ramotar could “press” RUSAL And BOSAI to add value-added products when the government could not even press RUSAL to obey the labour laws. It also accused the PPP/C administration of refusing to resurface the Soesdyke/Linden High-way while doing other highways.
Meanwhile, AFC candidate Khemraj Ramjattan, in a press statement, is quoted as saying that Ramotar’s job promise was unbelievable and irresponsible. Ramjattan said Ramotar needs to stop telling untruths and half truths and saying whatever is necessary to win votes from unsuspecting citizens.
“The AFC urges the workers and residents of Region 10 to remember which party brought the industry to its knees; and which party put thousands out of work; who sat back when the injustices and violation of every labour law and international convention was perpetrated by the private companies, who up to today, is silent in the face of the media blackout,” the party added.