The APNU+AFC government has made great strides during its three years in office, according to President David Granger, who also says there are still some challenges that it is working to overcome.
“Sometimes commentators tend to underestimate the difficulties we face in terms of our finance… international relations… crime and security but I think [a] sober analysis will see that we have made tremendous progress,” Granger told reporters last Wednesday at State House, after he was asked to evaluate government’s three years in office and to identify challenges and possible changes, particularly to the Cabinet.
May 11th marked the third year since the general elections that were won by the APNU+AFC coalition to assume office.
Among the successes identified by President Granger was Guyana’s application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) requesting that it confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award on the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela.
“For the first time in living memory, for the first time since independence, we have a situation in international relations where the territorial controversy is going to the World Court and that has been a major achievement. We work very hard for it and I give credit to our foreign minister and team of advisors,” he said.
Changes, he added, have been made in the wages given to public servants and pensions. “If you sat down to remunerate the improvements over the last three years, you can see that the coalition government has done quite a lot in a little time,” he asserted.
Granger pointed out that government has also made tremendous progress in suppressing piracy in Guyana waters. “Unfortunately the tragedy that we have seen take place in New Amsterdam and Suriname shows that the problems of piracy have not been completely depleted,” he further said in reference to the attacks on almost two dozen fishermen at the end of last month.
The president also pointed out that posting of photographs of inmates of the New Amsterdam Prison consuming alcohol on Mother’s Day highlights the existing problems in the prison service. “These are challenges that are not of our making but we are working very hard to overcome them. We have sought the advice and assistance of our partners overseas and we are very confident that in the fairness of time we will be able to deliver to the Guyana citizens…We promised them a better life, a safer life and a more prosperous country,” he said.
With regards to the Cabinet, Granger said that he has no intention of increasing its size.
“Every person I appointed in May, 2015, in the Cabinet is still in the Cabinet. I’ve made some changes, in terms of establishing a Ministry of Public Telecommunications, but I’ve tried to keep the Cabinet small. It is 15 main ministries and we don’t envisage that there is going to be an expansion of the number of ministries,” he said.
According to the president, government has to deal with new challenges, including those that come with the petroleum sector. “We are now receiving advice, the best advice, to how the architecture or the management of that sector could be designed, so I don’t envisage that there is going to be any major addition to the Cabinet in terms of new ministries. And as far as I am concerned, it is just a matter of ensuring that we overcome some of the challenges we faced in 2015,” he said.