Cabinet took care of itself while punishing our children

Dear Editor,
The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) was defeated in a no-confidence motion on December 21, 2018. They were defeated because they took care of themselves, enriching themselves and their friends and family, at the expense of Guyanese children and their parents, while neglecting the Guyanese people. Now, with an impending election – within 90 days of December 21 – APNU/AFC is in a frenzied electioneering mode, pretending they care much for our children. Senior Ministers are insisting that Government must invest in our children. We agree one of the most important investments any Government can make is its investment in children. Parliament and the people lost confidence in APNU/AFC for many reasons, but one of the stand-out reasons is the total neglect of Guyanese children.
For three-and-a-half years, children were victimised because APNU/AFC wanted to remove any of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) footprints of public good that Guyanese children benefited from.
One of the first acts of the APNU/AFC after they assumed control of Government in May 2015 was the termination of the “Because We Care” programme. This programme, funded by the PPP Government, with about $1.5 billion in 2014 was a cash transfer programme that ensured parents received $10,000 per child in school. When the programme was rolled out in 2014, the PPP guaranteed the programme will be an annual cash transfer to be increased annually until the sum of $50,000 per child was achieved. When the PPP started the program in 2014, it was an instant lifeline for parents, many of whom were single-parent mothers. In 2015, these mothers and parents around the country looked forward to not just receiving their grants, but to receive an increased amount from the $10,000 they received in 2014. However, the PPP was replaced and APNU/AFC cruelly and immediately terminated the programme.
Why was the popular “Because We Care” programme terminated by APNU/AFC? The answer is very simple. It was too steeped in the PPP footprints. In a depraved, reprehensible act of vengeance, APNU/AFC terminated the programme, punishing innocent children and parents, because of their vile wish for vengeance against the PPP. To hide its shame, APNU/AFC falsely and irresponsibly excused themselves claiming the Government was bankrupt, because the PPP bankrupted the country.
But this patented lie was exposed when APNU/AFC simultaneously increased the salaries and benefits for Cabinet members by between 50 and 100 per cent. Suddenly, the President’s salary was a hefty $4 million per month, and the Prime Minister’s salary was a bountiful $3 million per month, with generous benefits, even though APNU/AFC tried to tell the Guyanese people that the Government was broke. APNU/AFC also selectively and discriminately increased the pension of Hamilton Greene, who was Prime Minister before 1992, to more than $20 million annually. APNU/AFC also began to vulgarly hire super-salaried contracted workers costing billions of dollars annually. The fact is that the APNU/AFC Cabinet looked after themselves, at the expense of citizens, like our children, like the parents of these children, particularly like the single parents.
This is not the only way, APNU/AFC demonstrated they did not care for our children. The school feeding programme has been reduced and hundreds of millions from the school feeding programme have been diverted to other useless and meaningless initiatives. Almost a billion dollars for the school feeding programme was unutilised. In the meanwhile, parents of children in the sugar belts are unable to send their children to school because sugar estates, the main employer in the sugar belt, were closed, without the Government making provisions to help the parents and their children. It is these kinds of uncaring government responses that have caused an erosion of confidence in the APNU/AFC Government. These are the reasons why APNU/AFC is desperately, illegally trying to hold on to Government, because they know they have lost any chance of winning an election in Guyana. The parliamentary no-confidence is widespread in the communities across Guyana and APNU/AFC is painfully aware of it.

Leslie Ramsammy