The Alliance For Change (AFC) on Friday shied away from singling out any particular demand it successfully made from A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) during the past three years that the coalition has been in office.
Instead, party Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan opted to say that it collectively contributed to administration’s policies and programmes. “Almost all that we have managed to collectively deliver to parliament in Bills, whatever the Bills, were a joint effort by both parties,” said Ramjattan, an AFC co-founder.
He explained that AFC led on infrastructural works, telecommunications and security such as the regionalisation of the Guyana Police Force, while A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) led in other areas.
Ramjattan cautioned against, examining the government’s record based on the achievements or failures of any of the coalition partners. “I don’t want us to be getting here as if there is a polarisation in the party- five, six things we had asked them and they didn’t do. No, we are working along and there will be sometimes disagreements and that’s it,” he said. The seasoned politician remarked that even if one government had occupied the seat of government, there would have been disagreements such as one in the People’s Progressive Party that he said led to his expulsion.
Ramjattan said “we (AFC) do a lot of the leading in this coalition because it is the ministers that have to take charge in relation to their ministerial portfolios and ministers have to bring these ideas up at Cabinet. Government ministers who are from the AFC are Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Public Security Minister Ramjattan, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder, Public Telecommunications Minister Hughes, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin and Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman.
Among the achievements are budgetary allocations, reduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 16 percent to 14 percent, the removal of VAT from tuition fees of private schools, reduction in the Berbice Bridge tolls, anti-piracy strategies, aerial surveillance.
AFC executive member, Catherine Hughes reminded that her party had felt “very, very strongly” about the metered parking agreement between City Hall and the foreign-owned Smart City Solutions and the levying of VAT on tuition fees. That project is yet to get off the ground although APNU-aligned councillors have voted for its return. Local Government Minister, Ronald Bulkan has signaled that he is unlikely to approve the parking meter by-laws that would see the resumption of paid parking in Georgetown.
That party has admitted that the coalition government has not made the desired progress in constitutional reform, full liberalisation of the telecommunications sector and also the provision of stable and reliable electricity. “The critical groundwork has been completed in each of these areas and efforts will be made to bring these to a level of acceptability in the shortest possible time-frame,” the AFC said. According to the party, already Public Telecommunications too is undergoing a major revolution with over 100 ICT Hubs built and commissioned in every corner of Guyana and faster and free internet services provided country-wide.
Over the last few days, the AFC and the Department of Public Information (DPI) has been on a publicity blitz highlighting several areas of success since the two political organisations won the May 2015 general and regional elections and entered government based on the terms and conditions of the Cummingsburg Accord.
“From 2015 to date, there has been hitherto unimaginable advancement in all sectors and spheres of life in Guyana. Public servants are benefitting from significant increase in salaries, Guyanese are all benefiting from a lower rate of VAT, lower taxes, a higher tax threshold, higher minimum wage and better pensions. There is a better and wider delivery of a higher quality of education and health care all across the land,” the AFC said in a statement
The AFC highlighted that “infrastructure is undergoing a national revolution with new and better roads” such as in Mabaruma, Mahdia and the East Bank Berbice; new pedestrian overpasses, walkways and sidewalks; lighted streets and roadways such as in Corentyne and Mocha Arcadia and renovated bridges such as all along the East Coast Demerara.
That party has also highlighted what it said were other achievements such as rooting out the “epidemic of piracy in Guyana’s “, vastly improved security for citizens, and the administration of justice ” which was decimated under the PPP, has been overhauled and advanced.”
In addition to clean-up and beautification of Georgetown, and training and scholarships for public servants, the AFC also noted improvements in the agriculture sector. “In the agriculture sector drainage and irrigation, farm to market roads and other infrastructure have been improved considerably. The rice sector is undergoing a resounding rebound following diligent work on securing new overseas markets – particularly in Mexico as pursued by Prime Minister Nagamootoo. The price for paddy is steadily rising, resulting in confidence among rice farmers.
The AFC said there are new townships and regional radio stations and credible public information now reaches the length and breadth of the country, and Guyana has mounted a strategically solid and astute defence of its territorial integrity while at the same time restoring the country’s previously tattered image on the international stage. There is resounding investor confidence in Guyana and the work continues to strengthen the climate and legal framework for investment.