Coming in the backdrop of the 2011 loss of its parliamentary majority, the PPP yesterday declared that its 30th Congress was a success and the clarion call of delegates is for the PPP/C government to continue to work for higher levels of services to the people.
Among the areas identified for action in this regard were jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities; the mobilisation of the Guyanese masses to support the identified higher level of infrastructure development such as the Amaila Falls hydro project, the Marriott Hotel, the road to Lethem, the deep-water harbour, a new crossing over the Demerara river, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri expansion, and to intensify community activism to address development at the local/community level, according to a statement from the party.
The congress was the first held without party founders and ideological leaders, Dr Cheddi Jagan and his wife Janet Jagan. It also came in the aftermath of the second consecutive general election in which the party’s support had fallen.
The statement yesterday said that the congress was hailed by delegates and observers as among the most successful and which saw a higher level of participation and enthusiasm to stand by the party in bringing together the masses to realise a Guyana of peace, progress and prosperity. The Congress was held during August 2-4 at the JC Chandisingh Secondary School, Port Mourant, Berbice. Participating delegates and observers came from party groups stretching across the ten Administrative Regions of Guyana.
“A major highlight of the Congress was the Report of the Central Committee delivered by the General Secretary and President, Donald Ramotar. The report analysed current political, socio-economic conditions in Guyana and the impact of the international political and economic environment. The Central Committee Report was an occasion for in-depth discussion on the way forward in the present situation where the party operates in a minority position in parliament,” the statement said.
“It also pin-pointed the key obstacles placed in the way by the political opposition in stymieing national development and undermining the democratic gains of the people of Guyana. The Central Committee report also emphasised the need to seek alliances and forge a national consensus to defeat the anti-national position of the opposition. The delegates rallied around the party to heighten the struggle for the realisation of Amaila falls – hydroelectric project,” it added.
Concerns about corruption have bedevilled the party particularly since one of its former longstanding members Ralph Ramkarran raised it repeatedly in recent months. The issue was addressed at one of the party workshops on Saturday, sources say. Rapporteur Nigel Dharamlall stated, according to sources, that members thought that an integrity committee or the establishment of an integrity code would help to counter corruption allegations.
He said that corruption and the negative image it had on the party needed to be addressed and throughout the workshop discussions the two things were addressed multiple times. He noted that one of the other issues that was raised was directly tied to corruption allegations, and that was the loss of respect and lack of humility of party members.
Dharamlall stated that to counter corruption the management of resources had to be a priority. He noted that in villages throughout the PPP/C constituency more had to be done by management committees to oversee how resources are allocated and spent.
The PPP statement yesterday said that there were several workshops on the party, the youth, women, local government, the political situation, parliament, elections as well as the regional and the international environment. The reports and recommendations from these workshops were adopted and will be reviewed and implemented by the leadership in the coming period, the statement said.
The statement made no mention of corruption or the crisis besetting the sugar industry and the flagship Skeldon factory.
The statement noted that the delegates and observers of the congress were given the opportunity to make recommendations for amendments to the constitution and programme of the party. “As a result the Congress adopted amendments to the constitution that would encourage a higher level of activism by members,” the PPP said.
In addition, the statement said, there were diverse discussions on resolutions submitted by party groups while delegates also adopted a political resolution.
The question of whether the party could risk going to a new general election to attempt to regain a parliamentary majority would have also been addressed. Broad hints of this were dropped at the opening of the congress on Friday.
The congress also recognised those party activists who have contributed selflessly to social and political work for 25 and 50 years.
“Another feature of the congress were the meetings between leaders of the party and delegates from distinct geographic locations to deal with issues that would positively contribute to the development of the party and improve the work of government, especially in local communities,” the statement said.
Election of a new Central Committee of 35 members and five Candidate Members was also done.
The congress opened on Friday with President Ramotar declaring that the way forward for the 63-year-old party was to remain steadfast in principle and he lambasted the opposition for “crippling” the country.
Later, in delivering his General Secretary’s report he launched bitter attacks on former party bigwigs Ralph Ramkarran and Moses Nagamootoo. He also blasted Stabroek News for continuously focusing on corruption allegations.