New wave of wealth, prosperity for Region 10 – Irfaan Ali
…outlines PPP/C’s strategy to move region forward
People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Presidential Candidate Dr Irfaan Ali on Sunday addressed the issue of creation of new wealth and a new wave of prosperity for the people of Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) before hundreds of supporters at the Lieu Ken Pen Square in Linden on Sunday.
Outlining the PPP/C’s strategy to move the region forward, Ali emphasised that his party has already delivered to the people of the region and can stand up to its track record. He said Region 10 has stood still since the current Government took office in 2015. He said under a PPP/C Government the region will once again move forward.
Ali stressed that it is time for the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to be held accountable and answer for its stewardship in Government.
In outlining the party’s vision for the future of the region, he spoke of a strategic development strategy.
“I want you to understand that in the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, we have a plan that will take you to prosperity. We have a plan that will ensure you benefit from the development pie of our country,” Ali said.
He then asked Lindeners to examine and evaluate the issues they currently face within their lives and their communities and to ask themselves if their lives are better off as of 2015. This was met with an assertive “no” from hundreds of persons in the audience. The response was the same as the Presidential Candidate asked if Government has added a single new house lot, health centre, or scholarship programme to the region since it came into power.
“Let us be clear that since 2015, Region 10 stood still,” Ali said.
He also pointed to the 30,000 jobs lost countrywide within the past five years as well as the $10,000 cash grant for students, which he noted was snatched away by the Government.
He promised that the PPP/C will restore and increase the grant to $50,000 per child and create 50,000 jobs, from which the region will also benefit.
Oil and gas
Ali outlined that in the PPP/C manifesto, there is a clear strategy pertaining to how oil and gas will benefit the people of the country.
“You have heard a lot about oil and gas. They come and it’s the only thing they talk about, but have you received any training as yet to work in this sector? Have they brought to you a plan as to how Region 10 will benefit from oil and gas? Have they outlined to you a strategy of how your lives will be improved? No, because they don’t have one…We have to ensure we invest in Human Resources by giving you the necessary skills…by ensuring we equip the technical institute to function in the new economy and provide the training that is relevant to give you the job opportunities in the oil and gas sector and the new economy,” Ali said.
He noted further that the development of the region has to be linked with the holistic development of the country. Ali added that the strategy will ensure that the people are equipped to be part of the future of the country in not only job creation but through entrepreneurship so that they can build companies which will benefit from the spin-off of the oil sector.
“Here in Region 10, there will be many opportunities in the logistics sector. There will be opportunities in shipping, containerised traffic, we will create a hub facility here in Region 10 that will generate thousands of new jobs – a new economic life, bringing new wealth and a new wave of prosperity for the people of Region 10,” Ali said.
He then urged citizens to evaluate the plans and make a decision on March 2 that is in the best interest of their families and community. He said it is necessary to ensure that resources work to enhance village and community life and economy as well as to give greater access to micro credit and other sectors of the economy.
Ali also outlined a strategy for agriculture, which he noted will reduce the cost of production, enhance yield and improve profitability. He said the strategy will also ensure new markets are penetrated and make farming and agriculture viable in Region 10.
“To do this, we have to give you access to land…proper infrastructure, farm to market access roads, we have to support you in getting markets…with technical training, with financial help, with revolving fund so that you can go to the farmlands. We have to help you with the tools and equipment that will make farming productive and we have to link this to the history of food security, not only for Region 10 but food security for the rest of Caricom…This is the approach that will ensure that farming is sustainable, that would ensure that farming is profitable, that would ensure that farming works for the people.”
Mining and forestry
Ali stressed that the PPP now has to fix the “mess” in mining and forestry, noting that when the party left Government in 2015, it left 70 community forestry organisations, of which 25 were from Region 10 alone. In reflecting on the party’s legacy in the region, he said it had issued more than 600,000 acres of State forests directly to the communities and people of Region 10 in ensuring fair and equitable distribution and access to State forest lands. It also provided support through micro credit, farming equipment was provided to communities and a kiln drying facility built in Linden to assist loggers in ensuring the move to value-added, Ali said. He noted that the party had also set up four new stations at Hururu, Soesdyke, Linden and Kwakwani.
“Five years later, the markets have dried up, the Investments have dried up…the infrastructure to help the community forestry organisations are no longer there. But on March the 2nd, we are going to return to [the] help of the forestry sector by returning the PPP/C to Government,” he posited.
In reflecting, Ali said it was heart-wrenching to visit Ituni and see the people with placards asking for help to feed and send their children to school. These people, he noted, were enjoying economic prosperity five years ago from a forestry sector which was working for them and creating wealth for the community. As such, Ali encouraged all to vote to restore 10,000 jobs lost in this sector.
“We are not only going to return the help to those community forestry organisations…we’re going to give you back the support with equipment, training, land, resources, we’re going to put back the forestry sector on its feet again. We are going to give incentives to bring back investments to create expansion. We’re going to promote new species, we’re going to promote the Private Sector to enhance their role and development in the expansion of the sector and we’re going to promote and enhance the value chain. We’re going to ensure that the forestry sector delivers to you and your communities once again directly and indirectly right here in Region 10”, he outlined.
Ali pointed to the many jobs which he claimed were lost in the mining sector resulting in many from Linden suffering as a result as he noted that the PPP will work to restore these jobs.
“We must reject those who brought the suffering on you. We must reject the APNU/AFC”, he stated.
Additionally, Ali shared that under a PPP/C Government there will be the removal of taxes and bad policies in mining and a reversion to the two per cent royalty as well as to implement a fairer system. He pointed to a fairer system of allocation in the best interest of the people and miners with the intention of expanding infrastructure as well as to set aside $2 billion annually for the support of hinterland road networks. He further outlined plans to protect community life, strike the right balance between workers interest and Private Sector investment as well as working to ensure that pension is doubled. He related that pensioners in the Berbice River had complained of difficulties in travelling to receive their pension, noting that this will be fixed by the PPP.
He further outlined plans for a nutritional school feeding programme which he explained will be linked to agriculture development. The strategy, Ali pointed out, will ensure children in the Berbice River have equal access in getting to school. Persons will no longer have to travel to Georgetown to attend University with the Information Communication Technology (ICT) strategy which the party has plans to implement. The strategy will also see 20,000 new scholarships being handed out, Ali said. He also highlighted that the party has plans to expand the services at the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) as he noted that those in the Berbice River will not be denied health services. Ali said the PPP/C will build capacity to ensure all will benefit.
Support for PPP/C
Meanwhile, Prime Ministerial Candidate Mark Phillips, who is a Lindener, in his remarks said he has never forgotten his community. He noted that he has made a promise that he will walk in a different community in Linden every week. Phillips urged the audience to put their ‘X’ next to the Cup in support of the PPP/C on March 2. He said based on talks with the people, some supporters in Linden are intimidated by the APNU but still show their support for the PPP/C. In reminiscing, he said the PPP/C had a plan to spend much money in the Linden community as he highlighted numerous programmes which were executed by the party, including the Mackenzie Hospital (now LHC) amongst others, Linden Foundation Secondary and One Mile Primary Schools amongst others. Also included in Phillips’s highlights were repairs to the Burnham Drive road and other developmental projects
“The PPP/C must be judged by its track record. We have moved Linden from a desolate location before 1992 to a thriving community. We have spent 22 billion dollars to give you electricity in Linden. We spent billions on the schools, billions in the health centres, billions on all aspects of education for the people in Linden…the people want back the PPP/C,” Phillips noted.