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Jagdeo blisters APNU+AFC’s first year in office

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday flayed the one-year old coalition-led administration for taking credit for several projects initiated by then People’s Progressive Party Civic government, while at the same time burdening Guyanese with higher taxes, joblessness and reduced confidence in the economy.

“The people do not have confidence in this government and every single day they do things to erode that confidence further,” the Russian-trained Economist told a news conference at the PPP’s Headquarters, Freedom House.

The A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition barely clinched a one-seat majority in the 65-seat National Assembly with just over 4,000 votes at the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections.

Among the contributory drawbacks that the Former Finance Minister pointed to were the rescinding of leases to farmlands, taking legal action against people who have titled land, and the seizing of core homes. “Once again, people don’t feel safe about private party,” he said.

Jagdeo also accused President David Granger of announcing a reduction in incentives to foreign investor when they are here based on a 2002 report that had cited a high level of tax remissions.  “In one week, in one statement he has killed every promotional activity we have done on investment because why would people come now if the tax concessions and incentives to come here are going to be changed not in their favour but against them,” he said.

The former President noted that the APNU+ AFC-led government has also removed the incentive on mining and agricultural equipment by instituting a 16 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) that now runs into millions of dollars for a single purchase.  Jagdeo further observed that government officials were separately sending mixed signals to investors.

Saying that so far the government has failed to attract any major investment over the past year, the Opposition Leader said instead it has claimed credit for the construction of the Giftland Mall at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara,  the building at Providence, East Bank Demerara owned by Ramnaresh Sarwan that houses Massy’s Supermarket, and the call centre, Teleperformance, at Robb and Camp Streets, Georgetown.  “They are so desperate that they are saying they brought 4G to Guyana as part of their investment. It is like we saying we brought cell phones because when we took office, you had about 300 instruments, now you have about 700,000. The PPP should say we brought cell phones to Guyana,” he said.

It was under the PPPC administration that the liberalization of the telecommunications sector was held up for several years and no spectrum was allocated to Digicel or Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) to facilitate the migration from 2G to 4G data speed on mobile phones.  However, Jagdeo accused the APNU+AFC of blocking the liberalization process at the level of the parliamentary select committee.

He disputed claims by the A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) administration that Guyana’s economic slowdown was due to a reduction in drug proceeds.  Instead, Jagdeo calculated that, based on claims that the PPPC-led administration had stolen monies from various sources or had facilitated the smuggling of large quantities of gold that the economy should have had about half a trillion Guyana dollars to spend.  The Opposition Leader said by the government’s own claims that 15,000 ounces of gold were being smuggled out weekly, the economy should now have been able to gain US$800 million of legal flows. Additionally, he Jagdeo hoped that by now government would have been able to prevent the leakage of GYD$150 billion or 30 percent in outflows, another GYD$28 billion in savings that the PPPC was allegedly stealing from public procurement and US$200 million in savings from reduced global oil prices.

Still on the economic side, he said a recent eal between government and Demerara Distillers Limited over long outstanding customs and excise taxes dating back to 2002 has set a dangerous precedent that would see several companies taking legal action to be given similar treatment. If the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) decides to do so or the High Court rules in the companies’ favour,  Jagdeo predicts that the National Treasury would lose at least GYD$60 billion. “Watch how the story will unfold over the next few months. Watch it as other companies come forward to claim their refunds because they will have to get it because once you settle on one basis for one company…,” he said, adding that the GRA has been politicized and removed the a level playing field.

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has already called on the GRA to extend similar treatment to other companies. “From the point of view of the Private Sector Commission, we wish to urge that the Guyana Revenue Authority now engage other aggrieved companies to apply similar formulae to correct the distortions in the market place resulting from this action.”

President David Granger laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in Bartica during the declaration of that district as a town.

President David Granger laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in Bartica during the declaration of that district as a town.

The Opposition Leader further charged that the declaration of township status to places like Bartica was merely a political gimmick because there is no infrastructure to help create the conditions for Granger’s dream of the development of small businesses to become a reality.  “What we feel is that it will bring greater hardships on people rather than bringing better services to them and when,” he said. Jagdeo further noted that the  President’s talk of small business development has come at a time when the government has just increased taxes and fees for 140 licences while at the same time displacing vendors and taxi-drivers from places such as the Stabroek Market Square.  “How could this be a big fillip to the development of small businesses when in the name of cleaning the city, you are decimating the livelihood of people who have very little choices but selling outside the market and earning to feed their family,” he said.  More than 100 vendors have since been  temporarily relocated to a vacant plot of land on Hadfield and Lombard Streets.

The then PPPC-led administration back in January, 2011 had demolished several structures around the Stabroek Market area in a bid to end vending there with permanent stalls. No alternative accommodation had been provided on that occasion.

Jagdeo stressed that the PPPC was not opposed to the clean-up of the city and the removal of criminals from the Stabroek Market Square. “We are not against cleaning up the city. We support the government in cleaning the city. We will support that and we will support the government if it is focused on removing criminal elements from the market square but you can do both things without taking away people’s livelihoods,” he said. Based on the clean-up exercise around the area, it is evident that most of the drains around the area have not been cleaned properly in decades.

Lamenting that the APNU+ AFC government has “killed” the Amaila Falls Hydropower project for political rather than financial and technical reasons,  he said the country has lost a facility that could have saved the treasury at least US$2 billion in 20 years at 2012 prices for oil and gas which which would have seen the Guyana Power and Light buying electricity at 10 US cents per kwh- about the same that is being paid now that global oil prices have fallen.

Jagdeo, who had spearheaded the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) through which Norway had agreed to pay Guyana US$250 million to preserve its standing forests to absorb greenhouse gases, criticized the Granger-led administration for losing the vision of a green economy.

“The green economy is not about planting trees. It is an economic concept and further to the money earned because of the arrangement that we had on the forestry deal. …We are not sure about anything about the green economy. They have no conceptual framework, no vision excepting in implementing in a haphazard way some of the things that we have left,” said Jagdeo who is a global crusader on climate change.

President Granger has announced that the town of Bartica would be a model green economy that would supply solar and hydro electricity and recycle waste.  He also recently announced that  one of the aims of his administration is for all government buildings to be supplied renewable energy over the next four years.

  • Emile_Mervin

    Jagdeo remains politically relevant because of the coalition regime, which appears unwilling to hold him responsible and accountable for the massive government corruption nurtured on his watch, and the unsolved murders of scores of Guyanese on his watch. This has nothing to do with witch-hunting, but all about providing closure for surviving relatives who have no idea why their own were killed without recourse to justice.

    He waxes politically lyrical on several issues, and while he may be right that the coalition has not put forward any economic plan of substance or has not generated major foreign and local investments, he has to know that under the PPP, there were two economies: formal and informal.

    The formal economy functioned on exports of legal raw and finished products. The informal economy functioned on massive government contracts to kick back associates, and drugs, gold and fuel smuggling, among other illicit business activities for which no taxes were collected. Banks were even recording massive profits because of deposits from illegal business practices.

    And so it may be safe to conclude that to whatever extent the formal economy contracted it was to that degree the informal economy played an instrumental role, because about a decade ago, the US State Department concluded the informal economy was about 40% of the formal economy. That figure had to either hold steady or it increased since, until regime change.

    Now, the fact that the formal economy slowed after the PPP got booted was because there has been 1) a global slow down which impacted Guyana, and 2) an end to government contracts to kick back associates and a tightening of loopholes for drugs, gold and fuel smuggling. The informal economy, which flourished under Jagdeo, has taken a hit, which is why some folks are now agitating for the informal economy to start flourishing again.

    The Chinese, meanwhile, have played a dynamic role with their appearances of investing in Guyana, but these people are quite shrewd enough to invest a million and reap 5 million. They know how to buy out politicians. Their products are also available on the cheap, but at the end of the day, they are taking millions of dollars in foreign currencies out of the country. All Chinese nationals employed by Chinese companies must send their weekly earnings back to China, while they are taken care of otherwise by their employers. This is why Guyanese are barely hired by Chinese companies.

    Jagdeo has created an economic monster that Granger cannot easily destroy and of which Jordan is familiar, which is why Jordan has no plan of his own. Jordan once worked under Jagdeo.

  • Arenagal

    Look who is talking! What did you do for the people of Guyana after 22 years in office? Show us the evidence of your administration achievement and success. You have nothing to speak of! There are currently endless audits on extensive evidence of corruption in your government. That’s not something you want to brag about.

    The Coalition government is certainly not perfect, and they too have made some glaring missteps and mis-calculations on how to manage their tasks as a new government, but compare to your administration, you have nothing on them! If nothing else; the people can see a cleaner and greener Guyana. You (Jagdeo) and Rohee, need to get out of that mindset of divide and conquer, just because you believe that you are the only two people in Guyana that should run the country. There might be more qualified individuals who can lead the nation to better days. If you think you have so much more to offer; then offer your services to the country in a more productive way, like building universities, schools, libraries, and hospitals. Stop nipping at the heels of the government at every turn.

  • PETER THAT IS ALL U HAVE, Let the ppp explain why the marriott hotel was built with guyanese taxpayers money and only chinese labourers also why the current airport expansion is only using chinese labourers and chinese owned sand trucks to deliver sand.U SOUND SO F ING DUMB,BHARRAT SHOULD PUT HIS PRI## IN YOUR MOUTH

    • Col123

      that language and response will fit in SN…not here..p[ease put some meat in your comments…

  • george wiltshire

    Well in other countries those that did what Jagdeo did are in prison or heading there. The people who were before him paved the way for the lawless ness. The sooner these wake up and put jagdeo away the sooner this nation will begin to bond. Jagdeo can only survive on divisive politics.

    • Col123

      gw: We have a President who is harping on a unity govt to please his deity…Do you want him to run the country with prisoners?…besides…precedence in these area of governing brings retribution…which is an ambiguous word for tit for tat!..

  • Col123

    So we know that Mr Jagdeo may have been an alter boy for money in his coffers…Will we as Guyanese continue to harp on all the miscreants…including current… who governed Guyana the last fifty years?…What matters most are our plans for moving all Guyanese forward…with a growing legal economy….with money in the treasury….some one need to explain how all that drug money got into the coffers of the previous govt of Guyana! Our current Govt. has this opportunity to move EVERY Guyanese forward and heal the life sores…it can be healed…a skin great here and there can do it..

  • KassemB

    ‘Jagdeo blisters APNU+AFC’s first year in office’
    Those blisters will soon disappear just after the music start at D’Urban Park in a few days time

  • Col123

    Think for a moment C…this chap has 49% of the voting population behind him …How many do yo have?..Be careful for what you wish?

  • Col123

    Drug money in the national treasury which give the ministers 50 % raise…whose wallet is fatter now?…yours?..look out for yourself bro…these so called politicians are squeezing your sac…and you don’t even know…