Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, was intent on showing how the People’s Progressive Party (PPP)
had no respect for the principles of transparency and accountability during its reign.
Describing the said principles as “twin towers”, the Prime Minister said that during its 23-year rule, the PPP blew it up, leaving the Government with the job of not only restoring law and order but also the people’s confidence in the administration of the day.
Nagamootoo said that a lot of misconceptions were being spewed. The Prime Minister said that the impression laid by the Opposition was that the government is not sincerely interested in helping to ease the burden facing the rice farmers.
Nagamootoo said that the thought alone is preposterous.
He reminded that the PPP knew that the PetroCaribe deal was not going to be honoured anymore but it never told the citizenry. He said, too, that if the PPP was so interested in assisting the rice farmers, then the $100M loan which was taken from the Guyana Rice Producers Association (GRPA) under suspicious circumstances should have been returned to the people to help them.
Nagamootoo said that the rice farmers and their issues are being used as a whipping horse on the eve of Local Government Elections.
The First Vice President said that he took offence to the Opposition’s derogatory use of the word “geriatrics” throughout the debate. Nagamootoo said, “We may be considered to be old but we are not useless.”
He then noted the sterling contributions made to the development of the country by elderly persons. Nagamootoo stated that he finds it absolutely distasteful that Opposition members were now dragging age into the arena of the budget debates as though it is a sin or a crime to be old.
He said, too, that it shows nothing but disrespect for elected leaders of the House and should not be tolerated.
Turning his attention to the sugar industry, Nagamootoo said that based on the points raised by the opposition, it was clear that they somehow managed not to lose their ignorance during the 2015 elections.
The Parliamentarian said that he heard lots of calls during the debates to halt the closure of the Wales Estate.
He said, “The former regime left this sector in a state of bankruptcy… And today they shed crocodile tears for the people in the sugar industry. But if left unattended, Wales would pull the entire sugar industry down and so we are doing the right thing…”
The politician also addressed comments by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, that Government has thrown the report on the Commission of Inquiry into the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) into the garbage bin.
Jagdeo said that Government is yet to bring the report to the House for a debate since its release last year.
In this regard, Nagamootoo said that Government is “not bound by everything in the COI report and asked the Commissioners to rationalize their findings.”
“For Jagdeo to say that we threw the report into the bin is disrespectful because it was tabled in the House and this House is by no means garbage. The report is also going to be sent to a Special Select Committee.
“Further, the $9B bailout which has been allocated to the sector this year was done so by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan without any agitation or industrial unrest.”
“Long ago we were supposed to get 500,000 tonnes of cane through the magic of Skeldon. Now it fumbles and stutters even though millions of dollars has been spent to modernize it.
“Jagdeo must know that the freedom to speak in this House without a time limit during the debates does not give him the right to mislead the House that we are mismanaging the sector.”
The Prime Minister said that given the fact that Guyana is at a stage where it is in a fight for its territorial integrity against Venezuela, “We have to stand together and be unyielding in our love for social cohesion.”
“We have to show our greedy neighbour that we are not divided and that we are one. Our love for country should not be sacrificed even for the quest for power.”
Nagamootoo also addressed the Opposition’s argument that the Coalition Government inherited 23 years of consecutive growth. The Parliamentarian said, “If this were true then Guyana would be a China or a Singapore but we are not. Under the financial wizard, Dr. Ashni Singh, and the Mighty Might Jagdeo we are not there…”
He noted that Guyana has only experienced 23 years of jobless growth.
The Prime Minister said that the Opposition’s theme that “We must not complain about the problems they inherited but rather, fix it now”, is laughable. He said that in the same way a healthy baby cannot be delivered in four months, all the country’s brokenness cannot be healed and restored in five months. He said that this will take time and with the coalition’s plan, it will be achieved.
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