Healing, reconciliation and a modern democratic society

Introduction: Stabroek News has invited the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change (AFC) to submit a weekly column on governance and related matters. Only the AFC has submitted a column this week.

Nothing is more important to APNU+AFC than being a change agent for healing and reconciliation in our beloved Guyana. Since the beginning of our recorded history, we have known conflict and strife, most notably in the deliberate manipulation of the two main races by our colonial rulers. This was to ensure that former slaves and indentured servants remained distrustful, disrespectful and disdainful of each other. This was Guyana’s unfortunate heritage that the PPP/C has made full use of even before becoming the Government in 1992. It is now our quest, our responsibility to pick up the mantle of those who have gone before us, the people who spent their lives fighting for equal rights and justice, to achieve a better understanding and appreciation of each other, and to create a really united, peaceful and prosperous Guyana.

20141204AFClogoIn the 23 years since this party was given the mandate to govern Guyana, those of us who were not affluent members of the PPP have been subject to the most heinous forms of discrimination, and we have been made to suffer immense losses of life, health and property at the hands of ruthless criminals who are taking what they will at gun-point just because they can. Their numbers have grown exponentially in the past 10 years since there has hardly been any effort to stem their criminal enterprise.

The PPP regime has mismanaged the entire country and has plunged the nation into an all-encompassing crisis – constitutional, political, economic, social and cultural. Since Year 2000 we have been subjected to:

Blatant violations of the Constitution

Misguided, discriminatory and poorly executed economic programmes

Dramatically widening disparities of income

Breakdown of the rule of law

Executive abuse and lawlessness

Pervasive corruption

Increasing influence of narco-traffickers

Rise and assertiveness of drug lords and criminal gangs

Political death squads

Increase in white-collar and violent crime

Armed robberies and a skyrocketing murder rate

Constant fear for our lives

Substandard infrastructural works that waste taxpayer dollars … and more.

In addition, Guyanese living on the Coastlands and Hinterland regions have been exhibiting clear signs of social dysfunction which has resulted in high rates of suicide, migration, school drop-out, domestic violence, and a marked inability of Government to enforce contractual obligations.

This is just a snapshot of the enormity of the task that the PPP regime has created for its successor but the APNU+AFC Coalition is prepared. We have crafted our developmental programmes to include people – community and religious leaders, NGO’s and Rights organizations – to play key roles in the decision-making process.

After years of dealing with abuse of every sort, most Guyanese are committed to working together to build a unified Guyana. APNU+AFC will make every effort to forge healing and reconciliation among every single race and culture, eliminate the situations and hot buttons that create cultural and economic tension, and in the process, pave the road to lasting peace and prosperity.

ACTION PROGRAMME FOR THE FIRST 100 DAYS

Negotiate a reduction of the Berbice Bridge toll

Implement significant salary increases for government workers, including nurses, teachers and civil servants

Immediately implement a phased reduction of the VAT and remove the tax from food and essential items

Institute a significant increase in Old Age Pensions.

Appoint a Special Select Committee of the National Assembly to examine the Presidents’ Pension package and recommend amendments

Establish passport and birth/death licensing offices in Berbice, Essequibo and Linden.

Implement the terms of the agreement the government signed with residents of Linden

Waive Customs duties on fuel, tools and small scale mining equipment bought by identifiable holders of small concessions

Set the date and provide mechanisms for early Local Government Elections

Establish the Public Procurement Commission

Hold a national Sugar Cane Workers and Cane Farmers Conference

Hold a National Rice Farmers and Rice Millers Conference

Establish an Investigative Commission on governmental and civil service corruption

Establish Task Forces for Crime, National Security and Road Safety

Hold a National Conference of Women and establish a bi-partisan Women’s Working Group to deliberate under the banner: “Healing the Nation & Forging National Unity”. They would be expected to draft a Gender Policy.

Write and implement Codes of Conduct for Parliamentarians, Ministers of Government and other high level functionaries that will include penalties

Convene the National Youth Council to examine its mandate, terms of reference and programme of action

Convene an Indigenous Peoples Rights & Resources Conference to de-politicize and assess the functionality of the National Toshaos Council

Implement all aspects of the amended Caribbean Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act.

 

FOUNDATIONS FOR DEVELOPMENT

The Coalition’s programme for Guyana’s movement forward and upward are premised on a set of fifteen (15) interconnected pillars that rise from the foundation of every party comprising the Coalition. These pillars all carry the same level of importance and will be implemented simultaneously. Below are seven of these fifteen pillars of development.

National Unity

The spirit and imperative of unity, consultation and cooperation will inform all decision-making on political, economic and social development issues. The practice of One Party Rule and Winner-takes-all will be history.

Transforming the Economy

This foundation centres on rapid growth of a dynamic and modern economy which will involve meaningful job creation with realistic remuneration, upgrading vocational and academic skills for industrial growth, plus the development of SME’s and value-added products & services.

Personal Security/Crime Reduction

APNU+AFC will confront serious crimes (both blue and white collar), arrest the spread of organized gangs and improve public and personal security. We intend to change the culture of unsolved crimes and free running criminals through supportive programmes for the law enforcement sector. Our intention is to seek assistance from friendly foreign agencies like the FBI, Scotland Yard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Equal Opportunities for all

Every citizen regardless of race, class, creed, social status or gender has the right to access opportunities so they could contribute to nation-building.

Political Reforms

Within three months of taking office the Coalition government will appoint a Commission to review the Constitution with full participation of the people. The Constitution must consolidate our ethos of liberal democracy – freedom of speech, reduction of the power of the President, and the Bill of Rights.

Our Youth: Our Future

APNU+AFC’s Youth Policy will focus on reducing risk factors such as crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, suicide, violence and illiteracy.   Our programme will allocate resources for recreation, the arts and sports, and to restore the traditional bonds between young people and their communities.

 

Gender Equality: Our Women, Our Foundation

Gender equality is a basic human right. APNU+AFC intends to introduce policies to promote respectful gender relations, equitable advancement of women, and leadership opportunities for young women. We are fully cognizant of the fact that gender equality enhances democracy and assists in sustaining peaceful communities and eradicating poverty and violence against women.   The programme also includes strategies to reduce male delinquency and under-performance.

(Go to www.apnuafc.net/manifesto to see the entire document)

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