People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali on Sunday night vowed that if he wins the general elections in March, he would not tolerate incompetent and corrupt ministers and that his administration would obey the laws and Guyana’s constitution.
“I know that I will not be a president that surrounds himself by ministers who are incompetent and corrupt. The qualities and my leadership and the team will be defined by competence, integrity, experience, youth and desire to serve our people and not a privileged cabal that this government is doing now,” he told the launch of his party’s 2020 general elections campaign.
While in government from 1992 to 2015, the PPP-led administration had been often criticised for corruption, maladministration, racial discrimination, and preference in the award of contracts to friends and family. Last year, United States War College Professor, Evan Ellis, in his private capacity, had advised that the US needed to ensure that a new PPP administration is committed to transparency in light of concerns about corruption.
But, Ali sought to assure Guyanese that he would not be a partisan president and exclude people like David Granger’s A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC). “Today, with your support, I commit to you that I would be a president for all our people, not a president for friends and supporters alone but a president that will work hard everyday for the upliftment of every Guyanese. No Guyanese must be defined by where you live, how you look or what political affiliation you have ,” he said.
Still under lingering scrutiny and criticism that one of his certificates that he used to gain entry to study at a university in India is fake, Ali was at pains to make over his image as the best person compared to Granger, his main rival.
“Like every human, I am not perfect, None of us can claim perfection, It is for this reason, we must lift each other, we must lift each other. Our weaknesses can make us stronger if we transform ourselves, our thinking and our approach and I assure you this is my personal approach to the future. Let no one divide us, let no one sow the seed of disunity,” he said.
Assuring that he would not make empty promises to Guyanese, he said his administration would “rescue Guyana” and that he would comply with Guyana’s constitution and the rule of law. “I commit to be a President who will have the decency, the decency, the decency to respect the rule of law, uphold the constitution and promote democratic governance,” he said. Ali is currently before the court for allegedly conspiring to defraud government of GYD$174 million by selling land below market prices while he had been Minister of Housing.
The PPP presidential candidate reiterated the need to revive Guyana’s economy by reopening the closed sugar estates, trigger consumer spending, roll back over 200 new and existing taxes to increase spending power, and eventually lower electricity rates by 70 percent through an energy mix of solar, wind and natural gas. He said government would revive plans to construct the Amaila Falls Hydropower station.
Ali said if the PPP wins, his party’s programme of development will see incentives to create 50,000 new jobs for the forestry, mining, petroleum and manufacturing sectors.
Transformative projects, he listed that a PPP administration would pursue, include the construction of the Linden to Lethem Road, a four-way highway from Georgetown to Timehri, a high-span bridge across the Demerara Harbour Bridge, a tax-free zone, and the construction of the Del Conte Road from Parika to Goshen.
The PPP says it will land more fibre optic cables and liberalise the telecommunications sector to reduce the cost of mobile data.
More than 125 minibuses and hundreds of other types of vehicles transported supporters from Berbice, West Demerara, and East Demerara to the rally that was held on Alexander Street near the vicinity of the Kitty Market, Georgetown.
Chairman of the event, Juan Edghill welcomed PPP General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo by describing him as the “coach”.
Wheelchair-bound Dr. Roger Luncheon, Gail Teixeira, Indra Chandrapal, Mitra Devi Ally and Harripersaud Nokta were among the veteran PPP members who attended the campaign launch.