I refer to the article captioned, ‘National local gov’t conference boycotted again by PPP/C’ (SN, Jan 20). Permit me to correct a few points made in the article, as well as to comment generally.
The article erroneously stated that I had said that – with regard to the absent PPP councillors – “. . . the only excuse was received from the Chair of Region Five.” In fact, I had said that the only Regional Chair who communicated an excuse was Mr. Permaul Armogan of East Berbice-Corentyne (Region # 6).
The article also said that, “Notably, the Region Ten chairperson was also absent. . .” This is incorrect; Regional Chairman of Upper Demerara-Berbice Renis Morian was present, as was evident in the photograph which accompanied the text of the article.
Regarding hinterland regions, in addition to the presence of Regional Chair (RC) Mr Bonaventure Fredericks and Regional Vice-Chairman (RVC) Mr Headley Pio of Potaro-Siparuni (Region # 8), and RC Mr Bryan Allicock and RVC Mr Karl Singh of Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region # 9), as was noted in the article, also present was RC Mr Brentnol Ashley of Barima-Waini (Region # 1). All hinterland regions were thereby represented.
I commend the brave actions of those PPP/C RCs who chose to attend the National Regional Development Consultative Committee (NRDCC) meeting 2018. I applaud the fact that they obviously placed their duty and responsibility to represent their constituents ahead of party politics or affiliation. The APNU+AFC administration’s philosophy of inclusion requires that government officials heed the views of those who represent supporters of other political parties including those of the PPP; this we intend to continue to do. The administration warmly welcomes the participation of all citizens in the decision-making process in keeping with constitutional mandates and the norms of democratic governance, including that of the three Chairpersons who, being elected by Opposition supporters, participated fully in the meeting by contributing constructively to discussions and deliberation.
Those RCs, commendably, came totally prepared and presented reports of their activities in 2017 and plans for 2018, as did their coalition colleagues. Notably, in their interactions they made no attempt to whitewash issues or paint a glowing picture of local realities, instead, they were frank and objective in their assessments. Such professional conduct is much appreciated as the administration continues to endeavour to work with any political party or any representative of local democratic organs to achieve the goal of a better life for all Guyanese through empowerment of local democratic bodies. Co-operation, collaboration, and communication, Editor, are the vehicles through which regional and national development will be realised, and we are committed to those goals.
Editor, I take this opportunity to comment on the content of the Demerara Waves’ report of the meeting. According to reports from that news outlet, Mr Bharrat Jagdeo said that PPP/C Chairs participated in the meeting due to a breakdown in communication, thereby all but declaring that he, Mr Jagdeo, had ordered them not to participate. Editor, evidently, Mr Jagdeo intends that Guyanese remain divided or “devided” as the case may be. It is strikingly apparent that the Leader of the Opposition has no interest in seeing Guyana develop as a united country. Instead, he has made pellucid that he wants to obstruct progress for his own narrow political ends, even if to do so would be at the expense of those who support the PPP.
Editor, in preparation for the possibility of a recurrence of 2017’s PPP/C boycott of the NRDCC meeting, systems were put in place so that if the opposition’s regional chairpersons or other representatives absented themselves, their regions would not be without representation, and citizens could still benefit from the NRDCC engagement through the participation of coalition councillors. On this occasion, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara (Region # 3), Mahaica-Berbice (Region # 5), and East Berbice-Corentyne (Region # 6) benefited from this arrangement as councillors other than the Chairperson presented reports and plans, and participated to the benefit of their regions.
In closing, again, I thank the PPP regional leaders who participated for putting the interests of their people, their regions, and their country ahead of even their own self-interest in order to work towards development and national unity.
Minister of Communities