A cursory look at the election season conjures up some images of a lack-luster campaign amid great promises for the nation. Huge and consistent promises not commensurate with any credible funding base are a characteristic feature of desperation, as the contenders approach the final turn to the finishing line. And numerous promises are emanating from the opposition forces.
On the other hand, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) invariably does not have to shield itself with colossal promises because it already has a political governance track record, clearly signaling the perpetuation of significant policies, programs, and projects. And with all the allegations of corruption and narco-trafficking heaped upon the ruling party, the PPP/C steadfastly remains the only party to beat, come November 28.
Look, any pragmatist will acknowledge that no country in the world is virgin territory when it comes to immersion in corruption and narco-trafficking. Indeed, these things are evil, and must be subject to erasure; the trouble is that erasure will require a global engagement as these evils are global phenomena. For these reasons, the opposition’s accusation of the PPP/C’s corrupt practices will have limited significance in people’s voting patterns. Therefore, the opposition applying this line of strategy is doing so at its own peril and, indeed, heading down the road of defeat; to win this election requires more than a laundry list of promises.
Look at the promises shelled out at the University of Guyana (UG) debate last week. The first ground-breaking presidential debate which is a first for UG and the country was disappointing in that the entire debate was not a debate but an ugly spectacle of unruly behavior.
At this debate, A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) presidential candidate Mr. David Granger unleashed his weapon of promises left, right, and center; Granger promised to provide each UG lecturer with a laptop; Granger promised to make more funds available to teachers and lecturers; Granger promised to create jobs commensurate with people’s qualifications; Granger promised to give UG better laboratories; Granger will bring scientists to UG; Granger will pay better salaries to stem the rise in migration; there were other promises, too.
Nevertheless, promises have to be predicated with appropriate funding; otherwise, they become empty shells just like APNU, a shell coalition. At the debate, Granger worded not even a sentence on funding for all his promises. And, assuming the reports are correct, Granger talked about APNU being a coalition of 10 parties; none of these coalition parties subordinate to the dominant People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) has any credible constituency and support base and most were ‘also ran’ at previous national and regional elections.
In effect, APNU is not a real coalition, nothing approaching any ‘big tent’. In this case, it is foolhardy to refer to APNU as striving for national unity when its coalition partners are hardly representative of the Guyanese nation; that is, inclusive of all ethnic groups. As I pen this piece, the APNU party platforms are not yet on the streets, so APNU’s vision and strategy for national unity is unclear.
And let me be clear about what national unity should not be. National unity must not mean a watering-down of any group’s cultures. National unity must not mean giving a higher status to some cultures and not to others. Ethnics should be given space to unite and interact within a cultural mosaic. National unity must mean a dynamic coexistence of each group’s culture. National unity must create legroom and promote an appreciation of all cultures. Further, all cultures must be on a level playing field to contribute to societal development. In multiracial societies, good governance generally ensures the
confluence of each ethnic group’s culture to create national unity.
And then there is the Alliance for Change, spewing the populous and crumbling electoral ploy to attract the electorate vis-à-vis income tax reductions to 25% and increasing the tax threshold from $40,000 to $50,000 per month, all in the name of attempting to increase the purchasing power of individuals.
The AFC should know that this promise about increasing people’s purchasing power is not substantial enough when compared to the existing state of affairs.
The PPP/C increased the tax threshold from $48,000 in 1992 to $480,000 per year today; and there are ‘zero VAT items’ especially on foodstuffs and ‘zero-exempt’ items, for those who argue that a 16% VAT is high.
Furthermore, in relation to purchasing power, let me say that I previously stated that “The Guyana Government countered the twin evils of rising food and fuel prices in 2008 and in its aftermath vis-à-vis the following: a 5% increase in remuneration for public service employees, effective January 1, 2008; temporary cost-of- living adjustment of $4,000 monthly to public service employees earning $50,000 and less per month; subsidies to Guyana Power & Light and Guyana Water, Inc., to stem water and electricity rates’ increases; the exclusion of value added tax (VAT) on all essential food items; no excise tax on diesel; a reduced tax on gasoline; zero tax on kerosene and cooking gas; the provision of a flour subsidy of $200 million to cushion price increases of flour and bread; implementation of the ‘grow more food’ campaign; administration of the US$600 million READ project and the US$21.9 million ADE project, and finding new lands to step up food production in foods and other crops.
If I am not mistaken, no other CARICOM country provided its people with such considerable economic cushions in the wake of huge food and fuel price increases in 2008.”
The Guyanese people’s choice should not be difficult on November 28. On the basis of record and achievements alone, the voter would have no choice but to vote for the PPP/C.
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