OPPOSITION SAYS THE GOVERNMENT FAILED TO RESUME CONSULTATIONS

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Please read full press release:

Having attempted to negotiate in good faith with the President, I was engaging the government through Ms. Gail Texieira, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance. In the light of the evolving situation, I believe it is apposite that I no longer engaged through her. In the circumstance, Mr. Roysdale Forde, SC, MP, Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs will be my representative to engage Minister Texieira. They having engaged should pave the way for the Leader of the Opposition and the President to consult.

The Joint Statement signed on the 13th day of May, 2022, stated that, “It was further agreed that the consultations will be guided by the Constitution and the in-person consultations will resume on a date to be fixed, but within a week.”

The aforesaid time expired without the resumption of in-person consultations and without any prior communication by the Government is testimony to the Government’s disregard for agreements it signs and is a manifestation of bad faith.

Ms. Gail Teixeira, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance in a letter dated the 27th day of May, 2022, which was addressed to the Leader of the Opposition purports to offer excuses for the failure to resume the consultation “within a week”.

The excuses provided in the letter are firstly, the Leader of the Opposition “must be aware that Guyana hosted the first Agri-Investment Forum and Expo on May, 19th – 21st, 2022” and secondly, that “this was followed by the national and regional celebrations of 56th Independence Anniversary”.

The excuses proffered are devoid of credibility and disconcerting, as the President must surely have known when he was making the Agreement that he had those engagements as they were certainly planned in advance of the commencement of the consultations before our engagement.

These actions are indicators of the manifestation of incompetence or a disregard for the President and others constitutional responsibilities.

The letter of Friday, 27th day of May, 2022, which extended an invitation from the President to resume in person Consultations on Monday, 30th day of May, 2022, was received late in the evening of the 27th day of May, 2022.

The Leader of the Opposition was unavailable to accept the aforesaid invitation having regard to certain commitments and a pressing schedule.

The Opposition continues to point out that it is not yet in receipt of the grounds upon which each specific recommendation for appointment which is the subject of the consultation are being made. This state of affairs persists despite the Leader of the Opposition in his letter, dated the 11th day of May, 2022 that the letter from Gail Teixeira was” bereft of any materials upon which I can form a considered opinion on the subjects of the proposed consultation.”

We insist that such grounds are necessary if there is to be meaningful consultation in keeping with the Constitution.

In recognition of the importance and necessity of making permanent appointments to the offices of Chancellor and Chief Justice, we restate our commitment to agreeing to the immediate appointment of Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Roxanne George-Wiltshire as the Chancellor and Chief Justice respectively.

The President’s statement that he is not prepared at this time to engage in consultations on this matter of supreme Constitutional importance is a seemingly gross dereliction of his Constitutional duty and a clear indication that he is non-responsive to the concerns of Civil Society and the people of Guyana. We in the Coalition will be responsive to Civil Society and our people’s concerns.

We call for immediate action to be placed on the agenda, consultations which will result in the confirmation of the Chancellor (ag) and Chief Justice (ag).

INEQUALITY AND POVERTY ON THE RISE, QUALITY OF LIFE ON THE DECLINE IN GUYANA

In less than two years, the PPP government has brought this country to the point where inequality and poverty have climbed, while the overall quality of life of citizens has dropped. We do not see an end to this trajectory. The PPP’s bad attitude, bad policy-making, and bad governance will continue to make things worse for all citizens, but especially for low-income families and others experiencing similar hardships.

High and rising inflation and cost of living continue to batter Guyanese families. Kitchen tables and cupboards are increasingly deprived of basic foods and nutrition. The struggle to make ends meet for basic necessities (food, rent, transportation, electricity, water, etc) has become a crisis both nationally and within individual homes.

But as inflation and cost of living have soared, so too have INEQUALITY AND POVERTY. Not only has the buying power of the dollar diminished, but the stagnant wages in both the private and public sectors have further exacerbated living standards. In less than two years, the PPP government has pushed more and more Guyanese below the poverty line. Sporadic one-off cash grants and low-paying temporary jobs will not change this reality. This is mere band-aid and political pandering. These measures cannot result in a better quality life for the people of Guyana.

The first withdrawal from the Natural Resources Fund will not change anything. Not one dollar of this US$200 million sum is going toward easing the pain in our people’s pockets.

The longer inflation remains high and the longer the government continues to engage in egotism and self-denial, the poorer and poorer families will become. In the midst of vast oil revenues, Guyanese are being placed on the breadline and are falling below the poverty line in growing numbers. We are paying the price for the PPP government’s gross incompetence, its shady and corrupt alliance with their cronies, and its disdain for the masses of citizens.

What is also worsening in our country is the overall QUALITY OF LIFE. What do we mean by QUALITY OF LIFE? We use this term to include not only the material goods and necessities of our living, but also the more intangible and subjective aspects of comfortable living – such as our personal rights and freedoms, our sense of well-being, our confidence in the future for ourselves and children, and our security and safety. All these aspects of life also are wilting under the PPP. As a nation, we are now either adrift, stalled or in reverse. Life has gotten worse under the PPP.

Guyanese deserve better. With oil wealth, we have increased our financial capacity to deliver the life people have expected for decades. With the right government and governance, Guyana can be transformed.

At the moment, Guyanese see no salvation in the PPP’s allocation of a mere G$5B (less than 1% of the 2022 budget) for cost-of-living relief to our people; poor planning and wasteful spending. Much of that money has already been embezzled and has bypassed many who are eligible.

Therefore, some of our party’s short-term proposals are as follows:

  1. raise public sector and private sector wages in consultation with the unions. Here, interim payments must be made while negotiations proceed.
  2. boost agricultural production (especially for short-cycle crops) through grants that allow small farmers to expand,
  3. ensure the tax cuts that have been implemented actually result in lower prices for consumers, unfortunately they are not,
  4. address the plight of senior citizens by increasing NIS and old-age pension benefits as a matter of urgency.
  5. Boost the school feeding program to 2 nutritious (well-balanced) meals a day. Use the program to create employment and business opportunities for cooks and caterers in local areas.
  6. Subsidize electricity rates for low-income households.
  7. Introduce transportation vouchers for the disabled, pensioners and school children.
  8. Expedite procurement rules and laws to ensure local residents can benefit more from projects as subcontractors and workers.

These measures among others are what will impact the people of Guyana.

With proper targeting and management, these and other proposals can make a real difference and in a more sustained manner.

Serious times deserve a serious government. These are serious times. But we have no serious government.

-END-

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