PPP/C plans delivered then, now and will in the future – President Ramotar
STRATEGY was President Donald Ramotar’s focus in addressing hundreds last night – strategic interventions by successive People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Administrations in seeing Guyana past its worst days, strategic interventions in advancing tangible deliverables to the Guyanese people and strategic, visionary planning for the future.“We are confident about the road we have taken, the trajectory, and about the future we have ahead,” he stressed at the Party’s most recent public meeting held at Meten-Meer-Zorg, West Coast Demerara.
On that note, he appealed for E-Day’s decision to be premised on three things: record, character and plans for the future.
“In another few days, you will decide the future of our country…your decision is about record, plans and character. These are the three important features of elections across the world,” the PPP/C presidential candidate said.
PROVEN TO THE PEOPLE
The President charged that in all three of these areas, the PPP/C has proven itself.
Focusing on the issue of record, he underscored in the management of the nation’s economy post-1992 as significant accomplishment – an accomplishment that allowed Guyana to move beyond the economic ruin that Carl Greenidge, the then finance minister and political Opposition’s current finance front-man presided over.
“Guyana had reached a stage where we were borrowing to pay debts, we were digging a hole to fill a hole…today we have reduced that debt…this is what the management of the PPP/C has done,” he said.
In addition to managing the economy, President Ramotar stated that a deliberate effort was made to invest in the Guyanese people, as evidenced by the fact that the social sectors – education, health and housing – received the lion’s share of budgetary allocations.
“We invest in the social sectors deliberately because that is how we will affect most of our people…this is how we believe we will reach more people in our country,” he said.
Universal secondary education, Mr. Ramotar said, is a dream that will be realised soon.
“It has been shown that the countries that develop the most are the countries that invest in its people…countries with a highly educated population,” he said.
According to him, investment in education will allow Guyanese to be positioned to take advantage of future developments, many of which are detailed in the PPP/C vision for the future, Guyana 2.0.
The Party’s manifesto is touted as an interconnected plan – a development thrust that will ensure growth on all fronts, supported by infrastructural advances, which will in turn see the generation of wealth, which will then support efforts to advance better quality of living for the Guyanese people.
“We want to attract investment to our country…we are preparing our people…that is the direction that we are going…this is what will make our country grow,” he said.
According to him, growth, job creation, generation of wealth, the boosting of the manufacturing and tourism, among sectors, a focus on food and energy security are plans that will be bolstered by several transformational infrastructural projects, a new Demerara River Bridge among them.
In addition to the new bridge, President Ramotar stated that the new West Coast Demerara/East Bank Essequibo roadway from Vreed-en-Hoop to Hydronie will also add to the move to improve the quality of life of the Guyanese people. A total of 31 kilometers of roadway are expected to be rehabilitated, while 28.5 kilometers of footpaths for pedestrians and 20 kilometers for cyclists will be developed under an agreement between the Government and the Caribbean Development Bank (CBD). The partnership is the fourth road improvement project, with a financing cost of US$46.7M and a project life of five years.
“We have a clear vision for a modern economy and society,” President Ramotar declared, adding that successes in several industries, construction included, are clearly seen.
The PPP/C presidential candidate was emphatic in stressing that Guyana has much potential in many areas, including hydropower and, on that note, he made clear his Government’s commitment to delivering on the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project.
Other commitments made by President Donald Ramotar included $20B for the sugar industry, which has two estates on the West Demerara alone.
“Now we have the job of modernising the industry,” he said, wading into critics like embattled Turhane Doerga, who have not contributed to the sector.
Pointing to new sectors like Information Communication and Technology (ICT), he said, “We are building our country block by block…our country is once again on the rise.”
This success, according to him, is what is being eyed by the political Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).
He decried the character of the members of the political Opposition, including dubious connections with criminal elements, most recently evidenced by APNU+AFC presidential candidate, Brigadier (rtd) David Granger, who pomised Bartica ‘no more massacares’.
Referring to a popular saying from Forbes Burnham, ‘he who owns the dogs, calls the shots,” Mr. Ramotar questioned, “Is he saying that he owns the dogs? That the dogs are his? That he can call off the dogs?”
APNU+AFC flip-flopping position regarding major projects, sugar and Amaila, among other undertakings, were also slammed by the PPP/C presidential candidate.
“They lack character,” he said, adding that APNU+AFC prime ministerial candidate, Moses Nagamootoo, has not proven himself better.
Acknowledging challenges like corruption, the President made it clear that this also is an area of work within which his Administration will continue to advance efforts.
“These elections are about our future…they hate us because we are a party of the working people. They hate us because we gave our people the right to vote….now we are once again on the upward climb and they now want to lecture to us…our country has a fantastic future and we must ensure, we must secure that future. On May 11 I ask you, just like the PPP/C stood by you for 65 years, stand by us to take our country forward,” Mr. Ramotar concluded.
APNU+AFC Manifesto… Taxation
THE present tax system is highly inequitable and unjust.The PPP/C reform of the tax system came to a drastic halt after the passage of the VAT and Excise tax legislation and the windfall it provided. PPP pledges to complete the reforms have proved to be insincere. The overall tax burden in Guyana is considerable. The ratio of central government revenue to GDP is the highest in the Caribbean.The APNU+AFC will:
* Commission a comprehensive review of current taxation systems and policies, including the value-added tax, to identify and recommend fiscal innovations that would not only address the adverse consequence of the current structure of taxation, including hardship effects, but would create incentives that could attract needed investment in critical sectors of the economy.
o Implement tax relief proposals with five main features: First: emphasis on consultation; Second: phased implementation; Third: equity and justice (interpersonal, across regions and sectors); Fourth: ease of implementation; and Fifth: establishment of a Tax Commission and rejection of the narrow technocratic approaches to tax reform.
* At the same time, there would be stricter enforcement and more efficient administration, including broadening the net of coverage and a careful review of exemptions.
* Reduce the Value-Added Tax within the first term as part of the Taxation Reform Programme;
* Increase Personal Income Tax threshold to $100,000 in a phased approach;
* Reduce the toll for passenger vehicles on the Berbice Harbour Bridge, eventually to $500;
* Rationalise the VAT and excise duties on motor vehicles and on diesel so as to encourage the use and importation of energy efficient vehicles and equipment, promoting fuel efficiency, ensuring appropriate equipment choice and rational importation policy as regards vehicle age, maintenance costs and the costs of related spares.