APNU’s post-election ‘trophies’ still in limbo
By Gary Eleazar
This past week A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), marked its one year milestone which is but a ‘drop in the bucket’ for a political movement, but this group’s leaders believe that much has been achieved.
Brigadier (ret.) David Granger sits at the helm of this coalition, and this past week was asked by Kaieteur News during a media engagement to point to the two greatest triumphs for APNU since the launch of the 10th Parliament.
He pointed to the much talked about budget cuts along with the restructuring of the make-up of the Parliamentary Standing Committees.
Granger told media operatives at his Hadfield Street office, “First the establishment of a new regime for the Parliamentary Committees.”
He did concede that this ‘achievement’ by APNU has been challenged in the High Court by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall.
This restructuring, according to Granger, “is a very important step towards the establishment of the Supremacy of the Legislative Branch (of Government).”
Granger said that, “the second one of course is the concerted effort by APNU and the Alliance for Change (AFC) in dealing with the Budget.”
He reminded that a few days after the election, APNU along with the AFC had taken a position that the 2012 Budget should be more ‘people centred’ in order to achieve real development.
“We did not see in the National Budget, measures that would significantly improve the well-being of the people and we took action to prevent the budget, in the form that it was presented, from being approved… and we insisted on certain changes.”
Granger said that there were several meetings held with a view to demanding those changes, and when those demands were not adhered to, “we took action which we are empowered to do within the National Assembly”.
The APNU leader reiterated, “I feel that those are two major achievements in governance, and those decisions have both been challenged in the High Court because both go to the heart of governance in Guyana”.
Granger was however challenged, by Prime News, on why he considered the budget cuts a triumph, when none of the reforms or restructuring that had been demanded has been instituted.
The Opposition Leader responded by telling the media corps that on the issue of the budget cuts, “we regard it as a triumph because for the first time in 20 years the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has been made to explain in much greater detail, the budgetary measures that it hopes to introduce”.
“Although you may not have seen the effects, we are confident that the meltdown that you are seeing at NCN (National Communications Network Inc.) has been in part, a result of the scrutiny… and scrutiny is an important Parliamentary function,” Granger asserted.
He added: “The meltdown in NCN itself is part of the scrutiny which is being exerted by APNU and AFC in the budgetary process.”
Up until the dissolution of the Board of Directors of NCN, its then Chairman Dr. Prem Misir, had conceded that it was the budget cuts that had triggered, in part, a probe of the financial affairs of the State-owned company.
“The cuts were not meant to be punitive,” Granger noted, “the cuts were meant to be curative.”
“The PPP now knows better that it has to prepare its Financial Papers with much more detailed planning before it comes to the National Assembly.”
Granger said that as early as December last, “I invited President (Donald) Ramotar to establish a tripartite budget committee. It has not been done, and we will do it ourselves from the floor of the National Assembly.”
He was adamant that the 2013 budget will be scrutinized by a Parliamentary Budget Committee.
Asked about how APNU will proceed despite the reform measures not being in place, Granger said, “Time will tell….We will continue to do what we are empowered to do in the National Assembly…We want a consensual solution to these financial problems, but the government must sit down and talk with us”.
Granger was unwavering that “APNU is not yet satisfied with the progress made but we will continue”.
The APNU Leaders, inclusive of Robert Corbin of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR); Keith Scott of the National Front Alliance (NFA) and Dr .David Hinds of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), this past week re-committed their pledge to the political movement.
Corbin, who delivered an update to the media, said that, “As any new partnership which involves representatives from various organizations, there has to be consensus, and there will be challenges.”
He expressed optimism that the challenges can be overcome because the PNCR remains committed not just to APNU but also “to work for the achievement of shared governance in this country”.
“APNU is but a single step in the direction of transforming Guyana…We urge Guyanese to understand the challenges which such a new partnership faces,” Corbin said. Scott, who was also on hand at the Opposition Leader’s Office, told media representatives, “We are faced with an implacable and frightened enemy, who having wallowed in the cesspool of corruption for two decades, who indulged in the excesses of greed and unaccountability, triumphalism and marginalization, and who have now inevitably begun to consume their own supporters, will stop at nothing to maintain their despoliation of our dear land and resources.”
“The age of the dictator is gone. Let us join in multi-racial solidarity, both here and in the Diaspora, as together we will carry the anti-corruption message to our compatriots, wherever they may be.”
Dr. Hinds told those in attendance that APNU has in one year managed to excite a new political awakening among the Guyanese people, “particularly the young people who have been the core of the partnership’s energy”.
“The WPA salutes those young people and urges them to remain engaged in the process despite the many obstacles in their way.”
According to Dr Hinds, “the WPA also recognized the sterling work done by the APNU Parliamentary Caucus, particularly around the Budget.”
“The WPA has not agreed with all of the tactics and decisions of APNU this past year, but we recognize that as part of the dynamics of coalition and partnership-building.”