…as party formally launches elections campaign
The Alliance for Change has formally kicked off their campaign to try to take office in the upcoming General Elections, and Presidential Candidate Khemraj Ramjattan challenged the party supporters to spread the word that the power of change is in their hands come Elections day.
He said that the even with free and fair elections being Guyana’s recent experiences, “our people are hardly better off today as at Independence…The exercise of one man one vote is not necessarily liberation nor does it mean that happiness will follow…We Guyanese, unlucky Guyanese, having exercised our franchise have seen a number of negatives being the result …… high unemployment and levels of crime, a malfunctioning Government, overbearing taxes, and grave inequality and widespread corruption.”
He said that the party has never shifted from its core principles and the launch of the formal campaign is the continuation of the journey.
“This phase of it we can collectively describe as taking the right turn for a better Guyana…And at the launch of this phase, the leadership and membership humbly offer ourselves to the people of Guyana as the winning choice at the upcoming 2011 Elections to replace that which must be characterised as retrograde.”
Ramjattan said that as President, he pledges, “that I shall work for all Guyanese as their next President to create the jobs, fight the crime, reform the tax system, wipe out corruption and empower the institutions to restore Guyana to its rightful place in the Caribbean and Americas!”
He reminded the audience that the Party Leader, Raphael Trotman walked away from PNC, and he was expelled from the PPP in 2005, “since our vision as democrats was inconsistent with the philosophy of those parties…Sheila (Holder) joined us because she saw that a new politics had to be embraced, one that will bring an end to a stifling centralism and paramountcy which then prevailed.”
He said that they had a simple ambition, “… to argue the case for a re-distribution of power-economic, political and social-to the people for the people with the end of empowering them to hold the Government accountable for its actions; to argue the case that in their hands lies the power to change their lives and destinies; to argue the case that the Guyanese people must have ‘transport’ over the parties and Government they vote for and not the Government and Parties have ‘transport’ over them!”
He said that it would not be an easy road to achieve, “But we in the AFC are up to the challenge and we draw our sustenance for this mission from the message of support and goodwill from you the people who have approached us in the thousands.”
Ramjattan said that for 45 years, Guyanese people watched their personal wellbeing deteriorate as the country downgraded from a once good society into one based on political cronyism and corruption.
“And what was the peoples’ reaction…They rebelled by voting with their feet; and this has seen a concomitant capital flight…Today we have more Guyanese out of the country than in….we have lost enough of our people to other lands and those that remain continue to tell us in thousands that they have had enough of this old order.”
He said that an AFC Government is going to be a fiscally responsible Government…”thus we have to pay for this loss of income and we will start by cutting out the corruption in the Capital Projects and rationalising the present oversized bureaucracy.”
He said that the AFC means business in getting the Private Sector into the investing mode to be the engine driving the economic growth they want.
“We mean business too in getting workers back into a productive mode by application of the principle that “for the economy to get better workers must be paid better”, rather than the Jagdeo principle that “workers will only be paid better when the economy gets better”!”
He said that the AFC, with the help of friendly foreign crime agencies like the FBI, Scotland Yard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, will provide the leadership and support to the Joint Services to further develop the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime and administer justice fairly and effectively.
“The AFC recognises that each citizen, no matter his or her background, has the right to access opportunities and make an important contribution to nation building…The AFC will conduct Ethnic Impact Audits of Cabinet decisions and all new major programmes within Government Departments…These will be acted upon.”
The Party’s Presidential Candidate said that the AFC recognises that in keeping, “our commitment to breaking with the past and governing in the best interest of Guyana and all her people, we must acknowledge that our young people are one of our most valuable resources…The AFC’s thrust shall be focused on developing programmes that will provide opportunities for all of our young people to build character, values, self-esteem, employability and reduce youth-risk factors such as drug abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide, violence and illiteracy.”
Ramjattan told the gathering that with over 700,000 Guyanese living abroad, they have arguably the most important pool of financial resources, skills and talents.
“The Diaspora represents a critical element in the current and future development of Guyana….While the Diaspora is seen as a source of remittances; currently about US$400M each year in cash and gifts, the AFC will implement a series of incentives to infuse this talent and wealth back into Guyana.”
Prime Ministerial Candidate for the party, Sheila Holder, in her presentation, first thanked the hundreds that had gathered for being there on their own accord despite the threat of victimisation, which is testament to the fact that they are tired of what is going on and want change.
She stressed that it was heartening to see them there voluntarily and not had to be ferried there by buses as is the case with other parties.
Holder stressed to the gathering that the nation was at a critical point, “as people prepare to permanently break-away from the habit of rewarding failed political practices such as – democratic centralism, paramouncy of the party, poor governance, unfair treatment, corruption, disrespect for the rule of law and that which has kept this country mired in underdevelopment.”
She said that after 45 years of Independence, Guyana continues to be a graveyard of under-development with many talented people and natural resources being wasted and underutilised.
Holder told the gathering that the party worked tirelessly late into the night on getting the Action Plan, saying, “I can vividly remember a few weeks ago when many of our NEC members sat around a table in our spanking new campaign HQs and hooked into our technical support team resident all over the world to put the final touches to our AP for Government…It was a true display of how the Diaspora and those of us who remained here could work together selflessly volunteering their talent and time to help us rescue this country.”
She said that in the past, more than 90% of the people voted to maintain the dominance of the PPP and the PNC, until the AFC arrived on the political scene five years ago.
“What has the PPP done for you to cause you to invest so much in them…Yes they have built Pradoville One and Two but for whom?…Where is our sugar industry today?..Where is our bauxite industry? Where are the new jobs? Why are we one of the highest taxed nations of the world? Why is there so much oppression and fear in this country? Why is it not possible for the poor to elevate themselves to the middle class status and above?” questioned Holder.
She said that as voters in Guyana, the people have the power to break with the past and create a future for their children that they dream about, “We in the AFC are merely the vehicle for that dream, to hope again…However, from now to Elections Day, you have to do the right thing…You have to spread the message, you have to quietly educate your neighbours and friends about the programmes, policies and vision of the AFC and most importantly on Election Day, you have to make the right turn by putting your X next to the Key.”
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