Home Letters A rehashed manifesto repeating failed promises
Electoral manifestos should not be a document taken for granted since it provides a compendium of valid party positions, streamline the campaign, and are used as campaign material. The political party will use its manifesto to fight the elections, laying down policy priorities and positions, with its leaders pledging a commitment to implement those policies.
A manifesto should not be seen as an advertisement or a political gimmick since its acts as a guide to voters who will seek to determine which political party comes closest to their ideal political package. The political party will also be spreading its manifesto messages in meetings held in its various constituencies.
The victorious party upon assuming office will implement those policies and programmes outlined in its manifesto. In the subsequent election, voters will not only judge this party according to its policy programme for the next term in office but also retrospectively, focusing on its performance in government, scrutinising it to assess whether the party has kept its promises. Has it delivered?
On scrutinising the APNU/AFC’s 2020 manifesto, I cannot do otherwise than conclude that the General Secretary of the PPP was absolutely correct when he adamantly maintained that this manifesto is a rehash of the 2015 Manifesto. In most cases, the same ideas are dressed to deceive the undiscerning readers or those who are of the opinion that they must support the APNU/AFC at all cost with no regard for policies and programmes.
I will present here just a few instances since it will take a lengthy dissertation to examine all of the repetitive items contained therein.
In 2015, the APNU/AFC’s manifesto stated that “the present tax system is highly inequitable and unjust…the overall tax burden in Guyana is considerate”. We have seen that this is a failed promise. Not only did the coalition increase tax rates but they implemented new taxes which wreaked havoc to the disposable incomes of people. In fact, GRA has collected $91 billion more in taxes despite a downturn in the economy and the dismissal of more than 30,000 persons and the heartless closure of 4 sugar estates. Now, in 2020, once again the coalition is talking about implementing a modern and business-friendly tax regime. But to do that, they will have to reconvene the Tax Reform Commission. Did they do that when they suffocated the nation with new taxes and sharp increases?
In 2015, the coalition wanted to stimulate “productivity, investment, saving and growth of the economy…reduction in poverty and inequality”, but this never happened, in fact, the economy reversed. With over 30,000 persons jobless and the cost of living increasing, the ‘good life’ mantra sound hollow and insulting to the growing poverty-stricken population. No economic development has taken place but now the coalition is harping about a ‘Decade of Development’ which will take place after they are re-elected to government and they will then “ensure a more resilient and competitive economy…in which all citizens will enjoy a standard of living for which they have yearned…”. How will the coalition achieve this when they have retrogressed in the past 5 years? Again, they have failed to deliver!
Again, in 2015, the APNU/AFC manifesto, under Region 6 policy, vowed to “open up lands aback of Black Bush, Canje, Brandwagt Sari and Mara for the purposes of agriculture, specifically, rice farming, livestock rearing and aquaculture”. The total area of these lands was given as 200,000 acres and was supposed to be allocated in plots ranging from 10-1000 acres. We have seen that the only land given were to cronies and party hacks. In addition, they were supposed to build access and all-weather roads linking various agriculture areas. This never materialised, just another failed promise. However, in 2020, the manifesto spoke about creating “designated agriculture zones in every region”. The coalition has failed to do that in Region 6 but will now do that in all the regions! Once again, sugar workers will be given land for housing and agriculture. Again, they have failed to deliver!
In terms of public security, the 2015 manifesto spoke about confronting “serious crimes, arrest the spread of organised gangs and improve public and personal security…develop innovative strategies to enhance and support current police efforts to better serve the security needs of Guyana.” This is another failure since we have seen that the only innovative strategies are the ones implemented by the criminals. Now, in 2020, the manifesto speaks about ensuring human safety through various measures already used in 2015 except that now it includes building better and stronger jails and detention centres for women and children. Will they deliver?
In 2015, in its housing policy, the manifesto stated that it would be “Renewing the Dream” by expanding and upgrading housing development…not only house lot distribution. There is a 12-point plan in this area, such as ensuring ‘that basic infrastructure such as electricity, drainage, road, water and other facilities are in place as house lots are issued’. Sadly, not one of these materialised and, in fact, not one house lot was ever issued but in this 2020 manifesto, it plans to distribute 20,000 house lots in 5 years.
In conclusion, in 2015, the coalition campaigned heavily against corruption and vowed transparency and accountability and to establish the Public Procurement Commission in pursuing such efforts. It says that it will “build institutions to eliminate corruption and government waste and improve fairness in the distribution of the wealth of the nation”. This is a complete failure and corruption has skyrocketed and the only persons who benefit from the wealth of the nation are the coalition’s ministers, officials and cronies. Now in 2020, we are hearing again about “promoting transparency, financial integrity and accountability within Government”.
The coalition is basically offering the same repackaged ‘goodies’ they offered in 2015 and they have utterly failed to deliver any; so my final question is: Will the people who voted for the coalition in 2015 continue to do so on March 2, 2020, despite not fulfilling their promises thereby honouring their Manifesto?