“Lindeners were never being prepared for this removal in this sweeping manner…The EU gave assistance and phased it out… look how this same Government is treating its own Guyanese,” Ramjattan
Just days after an Alliance for Change (AFC) team visited Linden to listen to the concerns of the residents, the party was met with word of a policy that will represent the “final nail in the coffin of Lindeners.”
This is according to AFC Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan, who said that the party was shocked at the least upon hearing of the new electricity tariffs for the people of Linden.
The AFC Chairman said that there can be no doubt that the decision was a vengeful act on the people of Linden as a result of their voting persuasion on November, 2011 when Guyana held its Regional and General Elections.
During the presentation of the 2012 Budget for Guyana, Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh announced that starting this year, “reforms will be initiated to the tariff subsidy with the aim of giving effect to a progressive alignment of the subsidised rates with the national rates that are applicable on the GPL grid.”
This means that the electricity bill that Lindeners have been accustomed to paying for several years now will skyrocket.
This has already drawn an angry reaction from members in the Opposition, including Ramjattan, who pointed to the fact that after years of economic starvation on the part of the administration for the people of Linden, some have only recently begun to recover with some small cottage industries being established.
Ramjattan said that what this new policy means is that those businesses will quickly be rendered unprofitable, further complicating the economic situation that Linden faces.
The AFC Chairman then pointed to the average household consumer who will quickly see their electricity bill skyrocket by multiples of hundreds of per cent.
During his budget speech the Finance Minister had explained that since the privatisation of the bauxite operations in Linden and the Berbice River, Government has been subsidising electricity rates in these communities.
“Currently, in Linden, electricity costs between $5 and $15 per kWh, while on the GPL grid customers pay an average of $64 per kWh.”
He said that the total cost of this electricity subsidy was $2.9B last year, the equivalent of 10 per cent of GPL’s total revenues.
But Ramjattan said that his party will be pushing strongly for the Government to maintain the subsidy for Linden’s Electricity Generation until such time that it is financially sound for the people of Linden to be able to pay the increased tariff.
The AFC Chairman is adamant that if the current subsidy cannot be sustained, “and there must be serious efforts to find a way… then there must be a phased removal.”
He maintained that the “sudden and full impact of this total removal will hurt badly….the Lindeners were never being prepared for this removal in this sweeping manner.”
Ramjattan said the analogous situation is the way the European Union (EU) dealt with removal of Guyana’s preferential treatment of sugar.
The EU gave assistance and phased it out.
“Even that this Government was so critical of…Yet look how this same Government treating its own Guyanese.”
The team of executive Members of the Alliance For Change (AFC) that visited the mining community recently included Moses Nagamootoo, Nigel and Cathy Hughes, Gerhard Ramsaroop and Kojo McPherson, along with political activist Frederick Kissoon.
The party has been gaining momentum over the years, but lost a significant amount of its support base in Linden during the recently held General and Regional Elections as was evident in the casting of votes.
The AFC team used the opportunity in Linden to give residents a platform to voice their concerns about pertinent issues that are affecting them, according to Ramsaroop.
Ramsaroop also pointed out that the interactions, apart from serving as a catalyst to help the party bring about change, were also aimed at assuring Lindeners that the AFC cared very much for the community, and what is taking place.
“These interactions will help us to determine ways to address issues affecting the people, both in and out of Parliament,” he acknowledged.
He was also quick to point out that notwithstanding the loss of support from the mining town, every single vote for the AFC counted for the new dispensation that “we presently find ourselves in, where the Government has now got to be accountable to the people, as the people of Guyana now control Parliament.”
He added that the AFC wanted to assure the people that they are not angry with them, but grateful for whatever support was given.
According to Ramsaroop, the AFC is committed to representing Linden, as the party abhors the current system which treats the Town like a ‘step child’ of the Government.
“We have come to ensure that Linden regains its rightful place and get what every other area in Guyana is getting,” Ramsaroop emphasised.
Moses Nagamootoo also highlighted several discrepancies that currently prevail in the present administration and pointed out that the AFC will be “putting the pressure on.”
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