Last Updated on Monday, 12 June 2023, 12:00 by Denis Chabrol
General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Bharrat Jagdeo on Monday denied telling business owners not to provide financial support to the opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and buying out opposition supporters.
“The PPP is not telling people not to make contributions to APNU,” he told reporters shortly after casting his ballot in the Local Government Elections at the St. Paul’s Primary School, Plaisance.
Responding to APNU Chairman, Aubrey Norton’s explanation that his political organisation did not contest in all of the Local Authority Areas but on its strongholds and other areas where the prospects looked good partly because the PPP had discouraged businesses from supporting APNU, Mr Jagdeo said financiers took that decision because of APNU+Alliance For Change’s track record while in government in 2015 to 2020. “A lot of people have not been making contributions because of what they did in the five years. They went after the business community by increasing taxes. They went after the miners, people in the forestry sector, almost every sector of the economy. The people’s don’t have any confidence in them and so maybe that’s why they are not raising resources,” he said.
Mr Jagdeo also contended that financial backers were hesitant in donating to APNU for fear that the monies would be mismanaged, citing the writing of at least 20 blank cheques by then People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Treasurer Mursaline Bacchus. “There was no accounting for the funds, why would people even want to give you money but it had nothing to with resources, it is just their track record,” said Mr Jagdeo who is also Guyana’s 2nd Vice President.
Mr Norton had admitted that blank cheques but had sought to assure that all the supporting accounting paperwork was intact.
In response to PNCR-APNU’s repeated accusations that the PPP administration had used State resources to buy votes and paid people to wear the red jerseys, Mr Jagdeo said that accusation was “nothing new” in contrast to the enthusiasm and spontaneous support for the PPP by Guyanese of all races. “They all stood up and proudly spoke about why they are coming to the PPP, why they are coming to the PPP and why they will not support APNU so there is no issue of bribery,” he said.
At the same time, he again acknowledged that “when you’re incumbent, you’ll always have the State resources” such as the use of government-owned vehicles.
About his party’s chance of winning Georgetown, the PPP General Secretary conceded that “it’s a huge task to win in an area that is overwhelmingly supportive of APNU historically” but he said the campaign revealed that “we have waged a good battle.” He noted that overall the turnout at local government polls is low.
Up for grabs are 10 towns and 70 neighbourhoods.