Ahead of Monday- the final day of the 2013 National Budget debate, government at the weekend intensified its verbal onslaught on the Alliance For Change (AFC) and again hinted at an early election if the budget is cut in its entirety by the opposition one-seat majority.
Less than 100 persons attended a meeting at the Rose Hall, Canje Estate Community Centre in one of the heartlands of the governing Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC).
There, several speakers attacked mainly AFC Vice Chairman Moses Nagamootoo for misinforming Berbicians about the budget and in particular the sugar industry. Analysts say the AFC- with former PPP executive members Nagamootoo and Khemraj Ramjattan- was a major decider in the governing party losing its simple majority control of the 65-seat House in the 2011 General and Regional Elections.
“It is the same Moses Nagamootoo who will come to the sugar workers and beat his chest and pretend to be champions of the sugar industry. It is the same Moses Nagamootoo and the AFC who will come here and say we are fighting for you but yet they attack the government, they attack the PPP (Peoples Progressive Party) when the PPP injects money in the sugar industry,” added Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh. He noted that Nagamootoo has deemed government’s budgetary support for GuySuco a “bailout.”
The ministers regaled attendees, who included several persons from Georgetown, about the progress being made in health, education, creation of jobs and infrastructure projects. They also harked back to the pre 1992 under the Peoples National Congress (PNC) administration when the economy was in tatters, basic food supplies were banned and sugar and rice registered low production
After the meeting, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee eventually conceded that a fresh election was virtually the only available option if the opposition throws out the National Budget in its entirety.
“Maybe…I don’t know what are the other options. I can’t say what are the other options at this point in time… There may be very few,” Rohee told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).
In his address, he said if the opposition cuts the budget selectively or in its entirety “we (are) looking for trouble and “the game plan will obviously have to change and it is the people will have to make that change. It is the people of Guyana, the electorate of Guyana will have to make change.”
He suggested that those who voted for A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and AFC have seen clearly the road that the opposition has been taking the country.
Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh singled out Nagamootoo for the worst onslaught, essentially calling him a traitor to the ideals of PPP co-founder Cheddi Jagan and an opportunist who was bent on being the presidential candidate for the governing party.
“I don’t want you to take my word about Moses Nagamootoo. I want you to come to the parliament or turn on your TV and watch Moses Nagamootoo talk and then you say to me whether that man could have ever been a sincere member of the PPP, whether that man dares to describe himself as a follower and as a student of Dr. Cheddi Jagan.
Singh accused Nagamootoo of deliberately opposing initiatives that are good for Guyana. He called Nagamootoo a “selfish and corrupt” because he left the PPP after failing to become its presidential candidate.
Health Minister Bheri Ramsarran urged Berbicians to take advantage of the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) registration cycle as a first step to getting on the voters’ roll. “The previous budget has brought much to Berbice and we want continuity and that is why this administration is prepared for anything- snap election.
“The younger people are sometimes hard mouth. They don’t understand that we older people had to struggle and fight to win this vote and do they (do) all sorts of jiggery-pokery and they don’t go and register in time- you have to make sure that they get registered so that continuity of progress, continuity of the good things we have been doing will continue,” he said.
At a time when workers are disgruntled about the poor state of the sugar industry, including low production partly due to what they say are bad planting methods, Rohee noted that government has ploughed GUY$1 billion into the sugar industry along with GUY$3.1 billion from the already cash-strapped and heavily indebted GuySuco itself.
Noting that sugar is not a business in Guyana but it is a way of life here, Rohee ruled out government closing down what he described as a “viable” industry with a “bright” future.
“Too many lives depend on sugar and we would be highly irresponsible…We would be betraying the legacy of Dr. Jagan if we were to close down the sugar industry. Dr. Jagan in his lifetime never spoke about shutting down the industry and throwing thousands of people on the unemployment market,” he said.
Turning his attention the AFC’s Dr. Veerasammy Ramaya, the Home Affairs Minister called him a “total fool” and a “total mickey-mouse” because he would not support GUY$17.5 billion in the security sector.
The Home Affairs Minister is Monday due to make his presentation during the 2013 National Budget Debate. Cutting of the budget could begin as early as Tuesday when consideration of the estimates is scheduled to begin.