Four of the five nominees vying for the Presidential Candidacy of the People’s National Congress Reform on Saturday made their pitch at a packed auditorium at the St George’s Community High School.
It was the first of the town hall meetings to be held in Region Four where the party has its greatest support.
The youngest among them, James Bond, was the first to take the podium. He told the gathering that what the country lacks is readily identifiable and the solution is what is needed.
He said that among some of the things that he pitched for was good governance, proper education, a proper police force and the greater involvement.
Bond said that for too long there has been talk of potential and Guyana in the same sentence. There is the need to now fully utilise the resources of the country.
He said that the country cannot, as is the case now, sit and wait for some money as is the case with the LCDS. He added that the country has to take a more proactive approach to development.
Bond said that Guyanese need to galvanise the energies of all adding that young people are able, willing and ready to take part in the development of Guyana.
David Granger, a retired Brigadier, said that his vision for Guyana is conditioned each day when he reads the various headlines in the dailies which speak of brutal murders and robberies which he said will be one of his priorities in tackling should he assume the Presidency of Guyana.
He said that Guyana is an unsafe country and that “we cannot go on like this.”
Granger said, too, that education is his next priority. There was a time in Guyana’s history when Guyana could produce the caliber of persons that could fill the positions of Secretary General of the OAS of President of the Caribbean Development Bank among other distinguished international positions.
He said that under a Granger presidency he will make sure that all children are educated. The Government will provide transportation, meals and uniforms for all children and ensure that they are educated.
He spoke of the vast numbers of uneducated youths that are currently in society, adding that they will return an institution such as the National Service.
Granger said that because of his experience and vision he can guarantee a better life for all Guyanese.
Former Finance Minister Carl Greenidge said that should he be the person elected as the Presidential Candidate of the PNCR then the first thing would be to unite the party so that it could properly contest the General Elections.
He said that they have to rebuild the party and get the youth arm of the party more involved and active.
Greenidge said that what Guyana needs is a principled Government where there is good governance, accountability, transparency and fairness in areas such as the awarding of contracts.
He said that no longer must there be a government that abuses its power and intimidate those that are critical of the administration.
The former finance minister said that there must be a greater respect for the rule of law and the proper enforcement and there must be a revamping of the education system.
Dr Faith Harding is also herself a former Government Minister. She prefaced her pitch and the need for a dramatic change in Guyana and more focus on the vast resources available in Guyana which are underutilised at the moment.
She said that a Dr Harding-led administration will be more accommodating to the people in the country and they will go out into the communities and listen to people.
She said that they have to stem the brain drain phenomenon and make the resources of the country work for the people of the country.
The Former Public Service Minister said that there needs to be the investment in the country so that there will be the creation of jobs so that young people can have a sense of hope.
Dr Harding said that an administration led by her will see the construction of a railway system so that the resources of the country can be more accessible and utilised.
The very first issue raised by members of the audience was how the nominees would address the fact that Guyana is a plural society and while it is embraced it has for decades caused problems.
Greenidge contended that each Guyanese regardless of race, creed or belief, has rights which must be respected.
He said that his government will be one based on principles and equity.
Attorney at law James Bond said that the issue must be dealt with at both ends of the spectrum.
He said that at the top he will be pushing for a division of power with all so that there will be the feeling of equality and at the level of the school. The fact that we are one people, one nation with one destiny must be instilled at the level of the youth.
“We must change from top to bottom,” said Bond.
Granger acknowledged that the ethnic problems which Guyana faces is not easy to tackle but must be addressed through education. He said that it is a deep rooted problem not only in Guyana but has to be addressed at various levels through education.
The Value Added Tax which has been a bugbear for many was also one of the topics up for discussion.
The Former Finance Minister said that VAT is but one tax and addressing just that tax is not the way to go.
He said that the Tax system in Guyana has to be addressed in its entirety adding that the biggest challenge is the effective use of the tax.
Bond said that he was all in favour of lower VAT as well as tightening up leakages which see monies going to the corrupt politicians and officers.
Granger in response to what he will do about VAT exclaimed that the collection of taxes is necessary but it is up to what an intelligent government would do with it.
He said that the monies collected from VAT have to be ploughed into the development of the country.
The retired Brigadier conceded that at the time of speaking he did not know what the figures were as it relates to the taxes collected so he could not speak to where and how much any of the taxes could be lowered.
Dr Harding told the forum that she had already have persons do an analysis of the figures and as such she could say that they would be able to slash VAT by eight per cent.
Issues such as debts servicing, increasing the party’s militancy, increasing production and the general development of Guyana were also addressed in detail.
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