President calls on Opposition leader to apologise to Guyanese
PRESIDENT Donald Ramotar has issued a firm call on Opposition Leader David Granger to apologise to all “honest and hardworking Guyanese” for his grossly insulting statement that Guyana is being developed with “drug” money.
The President, in an interview yesterday with Director of the Government Information Agency (GINA), Neaz Subhan, reacted to recent comments made especially by Granger about Guyana’s economic performance being tied to the illegal and illicit drug trade, deeming them “a gross insult to all hardworking Guyanese”.
He noted that these are general statements being made by the political Opposition without any proof to substantiate them, adding that, “I would like him (Granger) to point out among the line items, where is it that the drug money is”.
During his contribution to the Budget debate this week, Granger expressed the view that narco-trafficking is responsible for growth in Guyana.
According to President Ramotar, this is an insult to the people of Guyana who are working hard to improve their own lives, taking advantage of opportunities provided by Government and, by extension, contributing to the economic development of the nation.
The President made it clear that there are many examples of this in all sectors of the local economy.
President Ramotar said that he can point to the several investments such as those made by the rice farmers in particular. “They invest about $28 billion in the economy alone; is he (Granger) calling rice farmers drug people?”
These farmers invest heavily, annually, in equipment such as tractors and other agricultural equipment, at around $2 billion, rice millers spend around $10 billion also, he noted. He cited unionised sugar workers whose wages amount to $20 billion per year, the tourism sector which comes up to around $35 billion annually, and new house owners who spent around $50 billion last year.
“These are people who have been mortgaging things, going to the banks; the banks themselves would not have been giving them loans if they thought that they were drug traffickers,” the President contended.
The private housing developers spent about another $100 billion in developing housing schemes, upper end type of housing schemes, and people who worked in gold mining sector last year alone provided about $120B to the economy, he stated.
“Where is the drugs in all of this? This is why I think this is a major insult to a lot of the hard working people,” Mr Ramotar declared.
It was pointed out that government’s wages bill for public servants amounts to $38 billion annually while pensioners’ grants and public assistance amounted to about $8 billion last year.
“How could they talk about drugs fuelling this economy? This is obviously an attempt, on the part of the Opposition to besmirch the good name of our country, to attack the good name of our country, to try to prevent foreign investors, without any facts”.
The President further explained that commercial banks loaned about $185 billion to the private sector last year and all of this was invested into the local economy. US$214 million or Gy$43 billion was invested by foreign companies in 2013, while remittances made a contribution to the economy of $66 billion, the President added.
For President Ramotar, an apology to the people of Guyana is needed from the main political Opposition party, particularly Granger.
“He has pointed to nothing. Let him point to which building or business he knows that are narco driven in this country. What I know is what I’m telling you here about the investment in our country so I really find this very obnoxious and a total lack of appreciation for the hard working people of this country,” President Ramotar declared.
He contends that levelling such damning accusations besmirches the good name of not only the Guyanese people, but also besmirches the image of Guyana and affects its ability to attract foreign direct investment.
“With no backup of such accusations and a sense of decency an apology must be given,” the President said.