Gov’t won’t be ‘intoxicated’ by oil, Granger says

-vows international best principles for petroleum sector

President of Guyana and Leader of People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) David Granger and his wife, First Lady Sandra Granger, being ushered into for the opening of the party’s Biennial Delegates’ Congress at the party’s headquarters in Sophia, Greater Georgetown yesterday. (Terrence Thompson Photo)

Dubbing the PNCR as the “natural, national leader,” President David Granger yesterday said that the APNU+AFC government will not be “intoxicated by oil” as he vowed that the petroleum sector  will be managed in accordance with “international best principles”.

Giving the first signal at the 20th Biennial Dele-gates Conference that the 2020 General Elections could be held early in that year, Granger, also the PNCR Leader, committed the party to working with its current coalition partners to secure a victory at those polls.

He stressed that the party’s three-day forum at its Congress Place, Sophia headquarters would be used to liaise with community representatives and strengthen the relationships formed.

“Congress has much to accomplish in a few brief days. It seeks to…re-set the agenda for governance, as this, arguably, will be the last Congress before local government elections in 2018 and before the general and regional elections in 2020 – and energise the party for success at these polls,” Granger told attendees.

Among other objectives, he said, Congress would “review the Party’s performance in government and direct its ministers, members of the National Assembly and councillors in regions and neighbourhoods to the way forward over the next two years; renew the networks among Party members aimed at collectively improving their communities and recognise differences and difficulties when they arise and to propose new policies to be pursued.”

Unopposed in the position for Leader of the Party, Granger told members that at this year’s congress their voices would not fall on deaf ears as leaders will listen to their concerns, learn about their challenges, share experiences, take decisions and adopt measures to promote the good life for all. An intense battle for Chairmanship of the party among current ministers—incumbent Basil Williams, Volda Lawrence and Joseph Harmon—will conclude tomorrow.

Granger believes that the forum is not only important but strategic as it enables the party’s leaders and those in government to hear directly from its constituencies’ representatives and therefore members would be in a better position to craft policies and plans to ensure their betterment.

The party, he said, has much to celebrate as “The PNCR has performed well.”

“It is the natural, national leader. It is the Party of and for the future. The PNCR is giving effect to the Constitutional principle of inclusionary democracy and helping to transform the political culture and the national economy by emphasising the need to reduce inequality; dismantling the authoritarian apparatus of managing municipalities and empowering local communities; managing economic transformation prudently by eradicating poverty, eliminating inequality and promoting economic independence; establishing the mechanism to ensure that the incipient petroleum sector is managed in accordance with the international best principles; and ensuring that the most transformative development in our country’s economic history becomes an opportunity to ensure that its revenues  provide a sustainable and prosperous future for all,” he said.

While he spoke about best principles for the oil sector, the Granger administration has been strongly criticised for a secret renegotiation of a Production Sharing Agreement with ExxonMobil, which left the country with poor terms, a hidden signing bonus and dereliction in the hiring of experts in the field to protect Guyana’s interests.

“Everyone wins with the PNCR – a Party which represents all segments and strata of society. The PNCR will continue to guide the government to pursue policies and plans, which will ensure that everyone will benefit from economic and social development. The PNCR in government has been a force of good in improving people’s quality of life.  This Congress re-affirms that the PNCR is a Party of the people, for all of the people,” he added.

Complacency

But the PNCR Leader warned that the party cannot allow its achievements to lull it into a state of complacency and he said it should have retrospective periods. He believes that through that process they will be able to form sound plans for its development and should ensure that inclusionary democracy is key, since it was through this method that an alliance was forged with other parties and the current APNU+AFC coalition, of which it is the prime figure, was formed.

“The PNCR has done more and gone far further than any other party in our history to create ‘an inclusionary democracy’ – an objective that is explicitly prescribed by the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. The PNCR was instrumental in the establishment of an inclusionary five-party Partnership for National Unity, in June, 2011. The APNU, in turn, entered into the Cummingsburg Accord in February, 2015, with the Alliance For Change. The APNU+AFC coalition now forms the government,” he said. 

Through that coalition, Granger said, Guyana’s citizenry has seen many positive changes and it was because of this he pledged his party’s support to keeping the coalition for the 2020 elections and onward.  

“The PNCR, together with its political and civil partners, remains committed to the multi-party coalition, bound together by the Cummingsburg Accord; to constructive dialogue with the political parliamentary opposition and with civil society to strengthen the practice of ‘inclusionary democracy’;  to the ideals of coalition politics and to the broader aspiration of national unity; to perfecting our incipient system of shared governance in the belief that the coalition parties are better together than apart,” he said.

“Our commitment to the practice of ‘an inclusionary democracy’ has been vindicated, confirming the efficacy and necessity of the unique coalition that we created and which the electorate accepted. Our coalition Government has brought unquestionable benefits to the Guyanese people in every field. It has allowed for the deployment of broad expertise to the task of nation-building. It has reignited hope and galvanised goodwill to confront the challenges which we inherited in 2015. The coalition governs for the common good.  The situation which it found on assuming office was worse than could have been imagined. It was a hellish inheritance,” he added.

In a nearly hour-long delivery, the PNCR Leader used most of his address to remind of the coalition’s three years of achievements.

Under the rubric, a gentler Guyana, the President said that the Public Education Transport Service has distributed 1,111 bicycles, 27 buses and nine boats.

On the international front, he said his state visits have enhanced Guyana’s standing in the world. Citing the referral of Guyana’s border controversy to the United Nations Secretary General, Granger said: “We are confident. We anticipate a ruling which will reaffirm the Award regarding the boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela of 1899 and reassert our contention that there is no validity in the Venezuelan claim to our territory.”

And while he did not single out or address the fact that the party will be going to the Local Government Elections alone this year, he again committed his party to being representative of the people and for the people as it works to ensure that it wins with its coalition partners the 2020 polls.

“The PNCR will emerge stronger in the 2018 LGE to be in a better position to protect local democracy, to empower citizens and to revitalise local communities; combine with its partners in a ‘coalition for good’ to compete in the 2020 [polls] so that the goal of the ‘good life’ for all can be realised, collectively; [and] continue to lay the foundation for future generations to be the beneficiaries of a secure, safe, strong, stable and prosperous country,” Granger said.

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