President Donald Ramotar today announced that former President Bharrat Jagdeo will chair a new National Economic Council (NEC) to accelerate the modernization agenda and also help with the preparation of the PPP/C manifesto.
The surprise announcement comes amid growing speculation about Jagdeo’s role in the upcoming PPP/C campaign and ambitions for a return to elected office.
Ramotar’s announcement will raise questions about the purpose of the NEC with general elections just months away and Parliament suspended. If the NEC was not necessary in the three preceding years the question will likely be asked why it is being set up at this point. Without a functioning Parliament, the NEC would be unlikely to thrive.
Observers also point out that when Jagdeo handpicked Ramotar to succeed him, he created a special advisory post for Ramotar in the run up to the 2011 general elections. This enabled Ramotar to campaign around the country with Jagdeo. The exact thing appears to have been done by Ramotar for Jagdeo.
Ramotar’s statement follows:
The economic transformation and modernization of our country are priorities that require the skills of every bright and experienced mind as well as an enabling framework.
While I am proud of the progress made so far, I believe greater focus and attention can lead to enhanced performance in many crucial areas.
I have decided to establish a National Economic Council to bring greater support to my government in enhancing and accelerating our transformational and modernization agenda.
I have asked former President Bharrat Jagdeo who has served for a number of years as the pivot in the modernisation of our economy and led in the crafting of many strategies including the National Development Strategy, the Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Low Carbon Development Strategy to Chair this Council.
More importantly as Head of State for over a decade through a most crucial and rewarding period, former President Bharrat Jagdeo has much to offer and has kindly agreed to assume this responsibility as chair of the National Economic Council. Further his growing international profile and work can be useful for this effort.
This Council will, among other things, assist in conceptualising and crafting of economic strategies and initiatives as well as support in the oversight in the implementation of various projects and strategic interventions.
The Council I anticipate can give impetus to the already successful efforts of ensuring that my government continues to be responsive to the socio-economic needs of our people.
While he has made clear his non-interest in any constitutional post, his Chair of this Council would ensure that we tap his vast experience and competence in making our country more prosperous. The former President will be offering his services on a pro-bono basis.
The work of this Council will commence almost immediately. The composition and terms of reference of the council will be made public.
The former President would also be assisting in the crafting of the PPP/C Manifesto.