After two-and-a-half years into this APNU+AFC administration, the People’s Progressive Party is still being blamed for everything that goes wrong in Guyana.
During the run-up to the 2015 general and regional elections, Guyanese were asked to vote for the coalition because they would fix everything that was wrong with the country. The APNU+AFC campaigned on getting rid of corruption; restoring accountability and transparency. They promised to improve the economy and to create jobs for our young people. They also promised to reduce crime and to get rid of the drugs trade. But most importantly, they promised every Guyanese the “good life”. They have failed miserably.
In his address to the National Assembly a year ago, President Granger said his government “entered a depressing financial landscape in May 2015… Economic mismanagement was accompanied by huge debts for unpaid international obligations and court judgements.” He added that the absence of a policy to provide employment opportunities for youth and to reduce
extreme poverty and the failure to energise the manufacturing sector helped to weaken the economy (Guyana Times, October 14, 2016).
But compared to the economy the PPP inherited from his party, the PNC, in 1992, the APNU+AFC inherited US$670 million (G$134 Billion) in foreign exchange reserves from the PPP/C in May of 2015 (source: the GlobalEconomy.com). This amount is in addition to the approximately $150 billion this government inherited in recurring revenues and the $35
billion from semi-autonomous agencies. In addition, Mr Granger inherited an economy with the lowest debt payment in the entire Caribbean with only 4 per cent as compared to 153 per cent of revenue that went to service foreign debt in 1992. The new government inherited an economy that had been growing on an average of 4.5 per cent for the preceding eight years.
Our President was being less than truthful in his address when he claimed to have inherited a “depressing financial landscape”. For in fact, the APNU+AFC inherited a buoyant economy; good international reserves; a big revenue base; small debt-servicing; and an inflow of foreign direct investments of about US$400 million a year with ExxonMobil spending hundreds of millions already, as well as from the two new gold mines that had already started large-scale production. The APNU+AFC coalition is yet to attract a single foreign investor.
The economic crisis facing the nation and all Guyanese has nothing to do with the PPP; it is the economic mismanagement of the Granger administration, led by a runaway spending that is responsible.
Is the PPP responsible for the 50% pay rise President Granger approved for his ministers? Did the PPP increase the number of government ministers from 17 under the Ramotar administration to the 26 ministers now in government?
Is the PPP responsible for setting up new ministries which are an astronomical financial burden on the Guyanese taxpayers? And could anyone in their right mind hold the PPP responsible for paying between $500,000 to $1.5 million for house rentals to accommodate a minister, and $12.5 million to rent a drug bond from a PNC financier?
But this ‘blame Jagdeo and the PPP’ syndrome is not only propagated by the government, it is aided and abetted by a few others who have their own axes to grind with the former President and the People’s Progressive Party. You would never hear them giving credit to Jagdeo and the PPP for all the good they have done for Guyana and the Guyanese people.
Jagdeo was accused of giving away land to the owner of the Two-Brothers gas station. That is, until the businessman Shiraz Ali himself refuted this claim as preposterous as he was never friendly with the PPP administration, given his well-known support of the People’s National Congress (PNC) long before Jagdeo even held a ministerial position.
Jagdeo was accused of giving away 11 radio licences to “family, friends and cronies of the PPP”, but no one mentions the names of the six non-Indians who were given radio licences.
Jagdeo again was accused of giving away all of Guyana’s forest and offshore oil blocks until those too were proven to be lies. Yet no one in the government has the decency to apologise to the Leader of the Opposition.
It is time that the Granger administration accept responsibility for the management of our nation. They can no longer blame Bharrat Jagdeo or the PPP for their incompetence, ineptitude, and the sufferings of the Guyanese people. They are in government now. Whatever needs fixing, they must fix it.
After promising accommodation in Guyana to hurricane victims in the Caribbean, Hurricane Granger swept through Sophia, wreaking havoc and destroying 21 homes and the livelihood of poor Guyanese, leaving women and children homeless and exposed to the elements. Surely, this cannot be the “good life” Guyanese voted for in 2015. If we have land to accommodate foreigners, we must find land to give to the less fortunate amount us.
Charity begins at home; the President can’t blame Jagdeo for this one.
Harry Gill, MP