Govt. not ready to withdraw Linden tariff increases
- Ramotar maintains “gradual” increase stance
President Donald Ramotar has signaled government’s readiness to negotiate and gradually increase electricity tariffs in the town of Linden to bring the community on par with the rest of the country.
Ramotar’s stance is in opposition to the demand of Linden, which is entering week-three of its protests against the increases. On Sunday, Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon said the protest would not end until the increased electricity tariffs are withdrawn.
On July 18, residents of Linden began what was supposed to be a five-day protest against intended electricity tariff increases. On the first day of the protest, three men were shot dead by police and the President promised an independent investigation.
“I hope that a speedy end would be brought to the situation there (Linden) because of the fact that it is affecting the lives of the many Amerindian communities south of that area, but most of all it is impacting on the lives of the people in the Linden community,” he asserted at the opening of annual meeting of Amerindian leaders.
Defending Government’s decision to increase electricity rates in the community despite arguments of the need for economic improvement in Linden, he stressed that that argument could be applied to other parts of Guyana.
“If the people of St. Ignatius in the Rupununi area have to pay for electricity it is only fair that all of us pay our fair share,” Ramotar stated.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the National Toshaos’ Conference, held at the International Conference Centre, Ramotar apologized to Amerindian leaders who experienced inconveniences travelling to Georgetown because of road blockades at Linden created by protesters.
Ramotar assured that the security forces have been asked to help (clear the blockages) so that persons could have unimpeded access through the community allowing business and life to carry on.
Speaking on good leadership, governance, and strengthening management systems in villages, Ramotar said that the freedom Guyanese now enjoy as a people is under some pressure. He encouraged that everyone must play their part in defending democracy and freedom in Guyana.
He stressed, “Long gone are the days when we could manage through lies, deceit, mischief, vindictiveness, being wicked, thuggery, bullyism and violence… those things must be rejected by all. I am committed to ensure that Guyana does not return to undemocratic, unlawful, unconstitutional, and unstableness in our society.”
Because Government and local private sector do not possess resources to give everyone everything they need at the same time, it is necessary to build partnership and alliances with foreigners, he said.
Reflecting on the earlier part of his political career where he engaged in numerous protests and demonstrations, Ramotar noted that protests and demonstrations must have an objective and be executed in a manner that does not jeopardize the lives of people in any other part of the country.
“Demonstrations and protests should not automatically mean violence and should never degenerate into a situation where people are extorted to walk on a public road, where economic life is affected – businesses are being threatened, and look at the long term of what can happen in some places,” he said.
He added, “Look at what will happen – the possibilities of people coming to invest here and demand increased political insurance… demand of all kind of things that can make our country uncompetitive with the rest of the world.”
According to Ramotar, leaders must be conscious of all these things while protecting the rights of people and ensuring that the atmosphere is conducive to investment by the State or private sector.
“We have constantly been working to provide unbiased holistic leadership to our people through good governance and laws. We have to be a law-governed society. Look around the world when law breaks down. We need you to respect (the) laws of the country,” Ramotar said.