‒ Jagdeo tells mass public meeting in Leonora
General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo, said most Guyanese are not please with t he performance of the government as the “good life” promised by the APNU/AFC coalition is nowhere to being realized.
Speaking at a large public meeting at the depressed community of Leonora, WCD, called on supporters to be vigilant and make sure that they are on the voters list for the next general elections.
“We are going to take this country back,” he said and reminded the crowd that the lst elections was not fair and that the coalition won by just 4,500 votes.
One year later, he said the PPP swept the Local Government Elections, gett i ng some 28,000 votes more than the coalition.
“If we go to the polls now, there would be 50,000 difference (in votes),” he declared.
He further stated that while the PPP attracts more support from Indo- Guyanese, the party is multi-racial and multi-cultural and get support from all sections of the population.
The former President, speaking to the large number of sugar workers in attendance, nmany of whom are now jobless due to the recent closure of Wales estate, said the decision to close the sugar industry is “political” and is intended t o force Indo- Guyanese to migrate and shrink the party’s base.
He told the gathering that the PPP has a plan to make the sugar industry viable and save thousands of jobs. However, the government is not willing to listen to the party because of its hidden agenda.
He said the government is losing support and pointed out a number of other areas in which the population is made to suffer.
He referred to the removal of the $1.6 million grant to school children implemented by the PPP/C, the removal of subsidies on water and electricity from 44,000 pensioners and uxtapose this to the huge tax write- offs given to some companies. He alluded to government’s wasteful spending in several areas.
He said the government could find the money to subsidize the industry until it can steady itself. He reminded that the industry kept Guyana alive for decades and made a sizeable contribution t o Guyana through the sugar levy.
He said sugar began to decline when the European Union cut prices by 36 percent and $8B a year was lost in revenue.
He said all of the sugar estates could have been kept open with workers getting their full Annual Production Incentive and four to five percent salary increases per year and also save 10,000 jobs. Further, he said, the sugar workers pay more than $10B in taxes so it would have made sense to keep the 10,000 jobs. By removing them, he emphasized, “Government would l ose all of t hose benefits. But they are not thinking that way because the decision is political.”
He also spoke of the lack of citizens’ security and referred to the recent jailbreaks and destruction of the Camp Street prison. The Opposition Leader took to task Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan for having the worst record, with the burning to death of 17 prisoners last year and the destruction of the entire Camp Street prison a few weeks ago.
According to him, the PPP kept the prison safe for 23 years and that even though five prisoners had escaped in 2005, they lasted long without being recaptured because the prisoners were seen as freedom fighters and the army and police were unable to go into Buxton on the East Coast of Demerara.
He said since the jailbreak, his party said it was taking the side of law and order and supported the security forces in recapturing the prisoners because they want people to stay safe in their homes.
Also making remarks at the meeting and speaking about the suffering of the sugar workers, were General Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural & General Workers’ Union [GAWU], Seepaul Narine, PPP MP Irfaan Ali and former Wales estate worker and GAWU representative, Gordon Thomas.