The PPP, in its 2020 election campaign, deliberately omitted a 100-day plan. Instead, the party and its Presidential Candidate, Dr Irfaan Ali, spoke of priorities the new Government would focus on. It has barely been three months since the new President took office, but the Government has been on a blistering pace as it pursues its development plan.
Already, the Irfaan Ali-led PPP Government has distributed more house lots than the Granger-led APNU+AFC Government did in five years, and would be distributing 2,500 house lots before the end of 2020. It has advanced plans for constructing the new Demerara River Bridge, and made serious moves to get the Corentyne River Bridge project with Suriname going.
It has aggressively advanced the Ogle-Bypass and Sheriff Street By-pass roads, the new four-lane highway connecting Canals Polder with Parika, the Linden-Lethem Road, and reconstruction of the Linden Highway. The new Government has kept its promise to reopen the sugar estates, with preliminary steps already taken to reopen LBI-Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon estates.
While operationalising the Ocean View Hospital, it has taken steps to have new hospitals constructed at Suddie, West Demerara, and Bartica.
At the same time, the new Irfaan Ali-led Government has reversed many of the burdensome taxes imposed by the previous Government, such as VAT on water and electricity, and dozens of other taxes that were introduced. It has made provision to provide school children with a $15,000 per child cash grant, and has already been distributing $25,000 COVID-19 cash support for every family. It has also made provision to provide $150M in risk allowances for health workers, and has already increased old-age pension.
This is just a small listing of the many things the new Irfaan Ali-led Government has accomplished in a blistering pace. Looking at what the new Government has done so far begs the question: Why did the Granger-led Government fail so miserably? Guyana suddenly did not have more land to give out for house lots. It is the same land space. But because the PPP-Government has a serious commitment for every family to own their own home, it takes development and distribution of house lots as a contract with the citizens. Guyana suddenly does not have more money. In fact, the new Irfaan Ali-led Government inherited a country with a weakened financial platform compared to what APNU+AFC inherited in 2015. Why then, and how come the new PPP Government is able to remove taxes and still provide more support for families? How come the new Government is able to advance major, critical infrastructure projects?
The explanation is simple – the new Government is genuinely interested in the development of the country, genuinely interested in improving the lives of the citizens. It is not a Government looking to create the “good life” for the members of its own families, its friends and donors.
In contrast, the APNU+AFC Government’s focus was mostly on scamming the people. This is the reason we now have projects for which millions were paid out and the projects are just sitting there. Two schools, at a contract cost of more than $1.2B, were awarded to two contractors, millions were paid out, but after two years, little to nothing has been accomplished. The Ministry of Health’s headquarters was awarded for a contract cost of almost $400M, a significant part of that was provided as mobilisation funds, but the work has been at a standstill. A contract for sea defence was given out for hundreds of millions, and almost nothing was done. The Cheddi Jagan International Airport project started under the PPP; it is still not completed today. This has been the story of the APNU+AFC Government.
But it is the startling revelation of APNU+AFC’s corrupt land deals that now is arousing anger among the Guyanese people. The Bond-Gate land deals have left Guyanese with their mouths open. These were brazen land-grabbing transactions that benefited a few, but robbed a whole nation. Dozens of acres were given away for less than the cost of a loaf of bread. A five-acre piece of land, appraised conservatively at a cost of more than $150M, was sold to a group which paid only $2.4M and still was able to gain title to the land.
Space does not allow this column to list all the ugly land deals that the previous APNU+AFC Government corruptly gave away. Reflecting that Ashni Singh and Winston Brassington were charged for selling land for more than $25M per acre, with the claim they should have gotten more, one wonders why should people not face charges for the giveaways that occurred over the last few years.
The new Government has not paused to deal with simply correcting the wrongs that were done over the last five years. It has hit the ground running, moving the country forward. The Opposition is busy finding ways to distract the Government, but President Irfaan Ali has not allowed them to distract him. The Government is too busy making Guyana stronger and better. It is not yet 100 days, but the Government has already kept many of its promises.