Private sector says two more recount workstations insufficient for 25-day deadline, wants clear-cut assurance on use of recount results

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 May 2020, 7:22 by Denis Chabrol

The headquarters of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) is “disappointed” that the National COVID-19 Task Force’s approval of a mere two more workstations to recount the remaining estimated 300,000 votes cast in the March 2, 2020 general elections.

The City business organisation said the now 12 workstations would not see the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) completing the recount on May 31, 2020. “This decision, based on the average number of votes counted in the past week, will not achieve the goal of keeping to a 25-day recount timeline,” the Chamber said.

The intended 25-day recount began on May 6.

Elections Commissioner, Vincent Alexander on Monday said the Task Force opted to approve two additional workstations, after apparently considering the failure by GECOM staff to abide by several anti-coronavirus rules such as social distancing, wearing facemasks, and insufficient soap and sanitisers.

GECOM had shown the Task Force’s health committee at least six or eight other locations inside the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown to possibly accommodate more workstations.

Noting that Monday marked 79 days since Guyanese went to the polls, the GCCI called for the recount to be completed within 25 days because Guyana needs a government to be sworn in to put policies in place to combat the “economic impact” of COVID-19.

“Currently businesses and citizens are suffering, investments have slowed down, jobs are being lost and more companies are closer to bankruptcy as their cash flows dwindle,” the Chamber said.

The Private Sector Commission (PSC).

The GCCI noted that Guyana has been unable to access international financing, the country has not had a budget in place since 2018, and is spending  monies without constitutional Parliamentary oversight. “Therefore, the only way forward to help steer the economy in these troubling headwinds is to complete the Recount quickly and credibly, otherwise, businesses and livelihoods will continue to suffer,” the Chamber added.

The GCCI said the political stalemate is harming Guyana because there is no fiscal stimulus program in place because of the caretaker status, and so the economy is suffering and the average person feels worse off either from job loss or from reduced earnings. On a macro level, the GCCI said sectors such as tourism and services are in dire straits without policies to shelter them in these times.

Meanwhile, the umbrella Private Sector Commission (PSC) welcomed President David Granger’s efforts to restore public confidence in the national election recount by stating that “the recount is necessary to determine the  credible final result  of the March 2nd Elections” and, once again, committing that he and his Government will abide by the final  declaration coming from the Chairman of GECOM.

President David Granger and his delegation on a visit to the tabulation centre.

However, that business organisation said it would have liked a categorical statement by Granger who is also the presidential candidate for A Partnership for National  Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC). “The Private Sector Commission would, however, have been more assured had Mr. Granger directly confirmed that the result of the Recount when declared by GECOM would be accepted by his party as the final and unqualified result of the General and Regional Elections,” he said.

The PSC said the majority of Guyanese would have been even more assured had Mr. Granger rejected any possibility of him, his government and his party accepting the declaration of the Chief Elections Officer  which includes the fraudulent results for region 4 , currently held in abeyance by the Gazetted Order for National Recount as acceptable or valid.

The PSC also commended Granger for expressing confidence in the CARICOM team of scrutineers to ensure that the Recount process is transparent and credible.

The PSC againn used the opportunity for Granger to accept that the presence of the Carter Center along with all of the other International Observer Missions would enhance and reinforce the work of the CARICOM team.

The gazetted order provides for the seven-member GECOM, which is split almost evenly between the governing coalition and the opposition, to decide whether the Chief Elections Officer should use the recount data to submit a report back to the commission to declare the overall results.