PNCR takes credit for staving off increased ‘electricity bill’ for Lindeners, as Ali restates position

Last Updated on Sunday, 10 April 2022, 15:10 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali  PNCR Leader Aubrey Norton.

The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) on Sunday lashed back at government’s accusations that party leader Aubrey Norton was misleading Lindeners that the stage was being set to increase electricity rates, instead claiming responsibility for government’s position that there would be no tariff hike.

PNCR parliamentary representative for Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice), Jermaine Figueira said Mr. Norton’s view last Friday at that government’s appointment of an Interim Management Committee for the Linden Utility Services Co-op Society Limited (LUSCSL) was part of a plan to withdraw the tariffs and increase electricity charges has forced the administration to a abort such a move.

“The Leader of the Opposition Mr. Aubrey Norton has caused Jagdeo and the PPP (People’s Progressive Party) to pull back on their intended plan to increase electricity rates for Linden and Region 10 and from removing the subsidy,” Mr. Figueira said on his Facebook page.

In clear references to denials of an impending increase by Prime Minister Mark Phillips and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, the Region 10 National Assemblyman said, “all of the statements the PPP has put out has only reaffirmed Linden’s firm position. No increase electrical charges!”

MP Jermaine Figueira

In what had been regarded in some quarters as the PNCR-led A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) breakaway from an agreement with the then PPP administration to phase out the subsidy in 2012, Lindeners had staged days of disruptive protests that had eventually led to the police shooting death of three protesters. The subsidy was never removed.

Government’s Chief Cooperatives Development Officer earlier this month removed LUSCSL’s management and appointed a seven-member IMC, saying that there was no Annual General Meeting (AGM) since 2014, despite the law requiring AGM to be held annually;  Conflict of interest whereby a sitting committee of members also acted as the Office Manager of the LUSC, and the the Membership Register  has not been updated since 2014 as a result of no new members having been approved by the management committee.

President Irfaan Ali on Sunday said his administration would not do anything to erode its support. “We will do nothing under our leadership that will make us weaker. We will do everything under our leadership to make us stronger; stronger under One Guyana,” he said. The Guyanese leader cautioned Guyanese to stay clear of those who are stoking distrust and bad feelings. Instead, he urged the PNCR Leader to address the APNU+Alliance For Change-led administration’s closure of the call centre in 2015 and its subsequent reopening by the new PPP government. Officials said the centre now employs 125 persons and is is set to increase it to 250.

“So Mr. Norton, continue this path of propaganda, continue this path of mischief-making. It will bring you nothing, it will bring you nothing. I advise you: embrace the concept of Guyana. Get a full understanding of the reality. This is not Guyana of the past. This is a Guyana that will move forward together and if you can’t embrace this reality, then we shall sail with the wind easily into the future,” the President said.

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo recently drew a large turnout at a meeting in Linden, a traditional PNCR/APNU heartland, but Mr. Figueira sought to pour cold water on that response. “Let it be known, no amount of tokenism to selective people in Linden and region ten will fool the masses of us,” he said.

Mr. Figueira accused the PPP-led government of creating a bypass road to direct the traffic away from Linden, removing the Wismar-Mackenzie Bridge from the budget, and awarding 75 percent of regional contracts to contractors from outside Region 10 among others.