In a letter published in SN on April 17, captioned ‘All the PPP presidents have been committed to the realization of a better Guyana,’ Jagnarine Somwar attacked my letter captioned, ‘The PPP/C is a perversion of Dr Jagan’s party’ (SN, April 9).
Mr Somwar correctly agrees that Dr Jagan stood for the working class. But then he strays from the truth and claims that the present-day PPP/C remains the same.
Editor, the evidence does not support Mr Somwar’s contention; the present-day PPP/C has in fact, become a rich-people’s party.
The truth is, the PPP/C seems to have declared war on Guyanese workers and poor people, and taken the side of the upper-class oligarchs and oppressors. This regime has abandoned collective bargaining. Instead, in 2013, they imposed a 5% salary increase on public servants, far less than the 15% approved by the opposition.
This administration refuses to reduce the burdensome 16% VAT. The rulers refuse to raise the Old Age Pension to $15,000, as the opposition proposed. They refuse to regulate minibus fares. They refuse to reduce the toll on minibuses crossing the Berbice River bridge. They refuse to legislate a living wage for Guyanese workers, even as under-employed Guyanese struggle to pay bills.
This PPP/C regime has neglected institutions that provide jobs, and care for poor Guyanese. The nation’s hospitals do not have medicines and basic equipment. The Palms Geriatric Home is in disrepair. The National Insurance Scheme is heading for bankruptcy. GuySuCo, which employs poor cane-cutters, is in decline. Public schools have leaking roofs. Hinterland residents endure constant blackouts. Fishermen in Berbice continue to suffer attacks by pirates. And the list goes on.
Mr Somwar admits that today’s PPP/C leaders have different personas, styles and values, and I agree with him on this single point. Unlike the humble Dr Jagan, today’s leaders are known for their bullyism and arrogance. They have no qualms about referring to writers as ‘sleazeballs’ and they have no problem insulting fellow parliamentarians, then refusing to apologise. Their moral values do not apply to their colleagues who are allowed to get away with the most egregious misconduct.
In 1997, just before Dr Jagan died, he said: “I have always associated myself with the ideology of the working class.” And we know this is true, because decades earlier, in 1961, he said: “My first charge is to raise my people from the mire of poverty.” So, whereas Dr Jagan spent his life as a champion of the working poor, the present-day leaders have become part and parcel of the wealthy elite.
They were planned to evict poor coal-producers from land in Yarowkabra in order to grant the land to BK International. They allowed rich people to pay less money to cross the Berbice River bridge, by slashing the toll on SUVs and pickup trucks towing boats and jet-skies; while poor people who travel in cars, minibuses and on motorcycles must pay the same high toll. They continue to subsidise the Berbice Bridge company to the tune of $110 million per year by waiving dividends, so that wealthy investors can make big profits. Obviously, present-day PPP/C leaders have switched sides.
Editor, Guyanese are not stupid; people like Mr Somwar cannot fool us. Dr Jagan indeed fought for workers; he cared about poor people. On the other hand, the present-day PPP/C leaders are taking from the poor and giving to the rich. They have their air-conditioned mansions, their million dollar salaries, their obscene pensions, and their 4×4 vehicles.