President Donald Ramotar yesterday declared that the way forward for the ruling PPP was to remain steadfast in principle and ruled out shared governance with the opposition, which he lambasted for “crippling” the country.
Delivering the opening address at the 30th Congress of PPP at Port Mourant, Ramotar, also General Secretary of the party, declared “I as President and as Head of State, I will not relent”. With the congress seen as a key juncture for the 63-year-old party after declining support at two consecutive general elections, Ramotar urged party members to remain steadfast and not pander to the political opposition who he referred to as enemies of development.
The President addressed the packed hall at the JC Chandisingh Secondary School and told party members that to bend to the political will of the opposition was disastrous for the party and for Guyana, a clear reference to the gridlock in parliament as a result of the one-seat opposition control.
He said that the opposition held a “nonsensical stance” when opposing major developmental projects in Guyana. With former President Bharrat Jagdeo at the head table along with other party executives, Ramotar stated that the Amaila Falls Hydro Power Project (AFHP) was approved by all three political parties last year and the opposition was given chances to raise questions and that only now when the project was about to take off the opposition was stalling. He said that the opposition was operating with “damn lies and statistics,” quoting the founder of the PPP Dr Cheddi Jagan,
President Ramotar stated that the AFHP had been inspected and approved for a long time and that many foreign experts were called in to work with local experts in completing a plan for hydropower. Ramotar, speaking at the first congress at which neither Cheddi Jagan nor Janet Jagan was present, said that the opposition was operating in a disingenuous manner. He said that the opposition’s guise was actually hurting development in Guyana as opposed to benefitting projects. The opposition has had longstanding questions about the Amaila project and has said that the government has not been forthcoming.
Ramotar said that he believed that the opposition was “crippling Guyana” and that since it was the people of Guyana who elect representatives it was the PPP/C’s duty to fight in the face of challenges.
The President ruled out any hope that coming out of the 30th Congress the PPP/C would be open to shared governance with the AFC and APNU. He repeatedly stated that the AFHP was a clear example of the opposition’s “nonsensical” stance on promoting development. The President noted that within the last month, there have been multiple venues at which the opposition could voice concerns.
He said that no interior villages would be displaced in the construction of AFHP and that “we will no longer rely on fossil fuels”. He did not detail how the Amaila project would render fossil fuel consumption obsolete and did not address concerns that there is no real basis for concluding that electricity rates would be lower.
He lamented that during this year’s budget consideration, the opposition voted down the hinterland Electrification Programme, while charging that this was yet another example of the opposition talking about advancing development but shutting it down when given the opportunity.
Ironically, the President addressed the Congress with a generator roaring in the background as a result of a blackout. That problem, he asserted, could be solved with the AFHP. Critics have noted that GPL would still have to generate electricity even if the AFHP was to be built. He also did not mention that the current grid capability of GPL is the primary reason behind constant blackouts, which are a GPL issue and would not be solved by hydropower.
Ramotar said that while the opposition parties were patting themselves on the back for embarrassing the government, what was really happening was that development was being stagnated. He noted that while Guyana has made strides backward, movement was not out of the question.
He urged the party members to stay vigilant in their fight, declaring that the government would not be open to compromises anytime soon despite its minority status in the National Assembly.
The three-day congress, which is being held under the theme ‘Strengthen the Party, Build Unity and Advance Democracy,’ will lead to the election of a new 35-member Central Committee which will in turn elect an Executive Committee. The congress is also expected to address whether the President will retain the position of General Secretary. The sessions of the congress are also likely to address mistakes by the party which have resulted in sliding support at the polls.