Alliance For Change

Press Conference Statements

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

 

Hon. Khemraj Ramjattan, MP.

Sugar:

The AFC maintains that the continuing spendings of a sum in excess of $7B on the sugar factories and estates which were closed under the APNU/AFC administration, are ill-advised and is a road to nowhere. It is a pouring of good money into a wholly unprofitable project, just like the black hole the supposed modern Skeldon Su gar Factory turned out to be, which saw in excess of $200,000,000 (US) going under.

The AFC advises that prudent expenditures ought to be directed only to Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt sugar factories and estates.

The evidence is clear that the perennial shortage of labour will persist in this sector; that the new CEO of GuySuCo and his arrogant attitude towards experienced managers will decidedly demoralise staff and employees; and, and that world market prices will continue to be half of what GuySuCo’s production costs are. All the propaganda spouted by the CEO and the Government will remain hollow and will not move the industry forward.

But the AFC has unearthed that there is another motive for such spendings, namely, the preparation for privatisation to interests subservient to the Jagdeo faction of the PPP. Jagdeo, who undoubtedly is serving his third term via the instrumentality of an Irfaan Ali’s presidency, in keeping with his orientation towards oligarchy wants to sell to a consortium of local, Indian, and Saudian Arabian businessmen and financiers. There is even plans for migration of workers from India and Indian workers from Saudi Arabia as part of the arrangement.

The AFC seeks the support of all right-thinking Guyanese to halt this development. This new oligarchy, like the old Bookers, will only mean a further massive inequality in our economic landscape. And since economic power means political clout and influence, this will mean autocracy in our political landscape. Guyanese must understand that the PPP under Jagdeo has lost its working-class moorings a long time ago.

 

The trawler licences issue:

Vice President Jagdeo’s recent statement that the grant of two trawler licences to a so-called fisherman anonymous has no corruption surrounding it, is as unbelievable as the statement that Jagdeo is the Pope.

Everything about the grant is corrupt. Firstly, the application being dealt with so clandestinely with no input from the officials from GATOSP, the only core stakeholder in the industry. Secondly, with the seemingly non-support from the senior public officialdom of the Fisheries Department. And, thirdly, the monumental evasiveness of the Minister of Agriculture in answering questions in the National Assembly.

It is noteworthy that especially young Guyanese be reminded of the new norm that was created in the Teemal case when famously then Chancellor Massiah found meaning and teeth in the consultation provisions of the Guyana Constitution. Stakeholders in the sugar industry must be consulted, he ruled, on major matters pertaining to that industry, as, for example, their wages. Similarly, so must stakeholders be consulted in the sensitive issue of trawling licences in the seabob and prawns licences. The PPP Government continues to dismantle yet another guardrail of our democracy so as to autocratically empower economically its cronies, directly and indirectly.

 

Hon. Cathy Hughes, MP.

–     AFC rejects the misinformation and lies written by Priya Manickchand on her Facebook page

 

The blatant lies, misinformation and fake news continues to flow from the mouths of persons in the current administration as they attempt to fraudulently rewrite history.

Last week it was visible on the Facebook page of Priya Manickchand – Minister of Education who stated and I quote “2nd smart classroom being commissioned in a public school”. She went on to state in that offending post “Sadly none were done between 2014 to now”.

Nothing could be further from the truth and it is regrettably that the Minister’s total dishonesty has once again come to light. Given the circulation of this fake news I feel compelled to highlight the facts.

Between 2015 and July 2020, the National Data Management Authority, the NDMA in association with the then Ministry of Education opened and operationalized 11 smart classrooms contrary to the current Minister’s statement that none were done.   These   smart   classrooms   were   located   at   Queens   College   (master classroom), East     Rvldt     Secondary, Leonora     Secondary, Skeldon     Linepath Secondary, New       Amsterdam       Multilateral, President’s       College, Brickdam Secondary, Christianburg Secondary, Bush Lot Secondary, Soesdyke Secondary and the 8th of May Secondary.

As you can see special emphasis was made to ensure that equal representation was given to Guyana’s diverse communities. A simple google search of smart classrooms in Guyana will reveal an interesting chronology of events.

These include November 18, 2017 when the six million smart classroom at NCERD- the first of its kind in the region was launched and reported in a Stabroek News editorial on November 24. Interestingly delegates of the Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management in Guyana for their biennial conference visited the solar powered smart classroom on October 23, 2018 and were reported to be impressed.

There is no question that a deep commitment to reduce the digital divide been the hinterland and coastal communities is the mantra of the coalition government. Additional Smart classrooms were established and reported as launched in the local press in Region 1, region 9 at the Lethem Resource Training Centre, and of course at Kato Secondary which I had the pleasure of attending the opening.  How does one explain the blatant misrepresentation of the facts by Minister Manickchand.

Of deep concern to the AFC is also the deliberate attempt to deny employment opportunities to young Guynanese. This is seen in the ending of contracts of 59 data entry clerks located in Berbice, Linden and Georgetown who sta rted at the Land Registry the important national task of digitizing of government records some dating back to the early 1900’s. The fact that the current administration could not see this as it was intended, as a vital programme that could be expanded to all ministries and maybe, the source of some of the fifty thousand jobs the PPP have promised to create is also mind blowing.

But then we have heard nothing more of the promise to eliminate fees at UG which should have commenced this year.

As former Minister of Public Telecommunications I am proud of the achievements –

never done before in Guyana’s history.

Over  120  Ministries  were  connected  with  secured  internet  though  an  e – Government network, which was established long before 2015 but never put into operation. With this network in place, we connected over 158 primary schools, 105 secondary schools, 30 technical and vocational institutions, opened 173 information communication technology (ICT) hubs, provided free internet to Regional Democratic Council (RDC) and Neighborhood Democratic Council (NDCs) offices, internet to over 72 hinterland communities, 11 fully equipped smart classrooms and a few smart hospitals across our hinterland regions. Not to forget the safe city solution with cameras, connectivity at markets, police and fire stations.

The National Data Management Authority was the engine that steered this thrust which was designed to provide more government services online, making access to information and education easier, more transparent, and efficient for citizens. One cannot comprehend how this administration would choose to close the regional offices of Community development and social management division which kept this vital infrastructure in working order.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how important the infrastructure the APNUAFC left in place is. The fact that this Government has paid scant attention to it for the benefit of ordinary Guyanese is unacceptable.

 

Alliance For Change

Public Relations Committee