PPP elects Irfaan Ali as presidential candidate

…promises to get tough on corruption

By Jarryl Bryan

Former Housing and Water Minister Irfaan Ali, who was also the Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister, has emerged as the choice of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) for presidential candidate after its Central Committee voted on Saturday at Freedom House.
Ali was elected through secret ballot, by a vote of 24 versus the 11 Central Committee votes garnered by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall. Ali and Nandlall were the only two who contested after Dr Frank Anthony, Dr Vindhya Persaud and Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira withdrew from the race on Saturday.
Following the vote, Ali pledged that as President his mission would include delivering goods and services to everyone in Guyana, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, or social status.
“I’m very delighted to be given the opportunity to lead a party with such a great history and I want to assure you that I’m committed to the programmes of the PPP, the policies of the PPP, which has as its fundamentals the delivery of key and essential goods and services to all Guyanese…the PPP… and I am committed to the development of all Guyanese.
“The Party has a serious stance on corruption. And one of the ideas I put out in my quest for the nomination is for strong laws criminalising certain things. For example, the non-declaration of resources when received. If it’s not declared within a certain time, there must be strong laws that criminalise such acts and it must be clear what the consequences are.”

According to Ali, his involvement in the PPP since his teens and his relative youth allow him to be in tune with what the people and, particularly youths, need. Added to this, according to Ali, is the fact that he has wide experience in Government at a technical, macro-project implementation level.
“The fact that our party elected a young person shows that we are committed to young people not only by talk, but by action. I’ve had long experience in Government, in policy formulation and implementation of massive projects. I worked at the State Planning Secretariat. I headed the Caribbean Development Bank project planning unit. I functioned for seven years in Cabinet. I’m the Opposition spokesperson on finance.”
“So I think the difficulties we have to face ahead of us, with the joblessness that exists, our rising debt, the poor implementation of the Public Sector Investment Programme, the downturn in the economy, issues with investors’ confidence, these are huge issues and I haven’t even mentioned oil and gas and the massive transformational projects needed to take Guyana forward, I think my experience allows me to work alongside the team to move Guyana forward.”

Committed to manifesto
In a statement after the vote thanking everyone who supported him, Ali made his commitment to the PPP’s work programme clear. He noted that he has the added ability to deliver these programme goals to the people, owing to his groundings in the Party and his unique perspective of the challenges facing Guyanese.
“I see myself as part of a broader team that will advance an agenda, which has as its primary focus, the people of our country. I commit, fully, to the programme of the Party as it relates to delivering greater prosperity and progress for all our people, regardless of race, religion, or gender, as well as to ensure the advancement of our nation.
“I am glad that the campaign is over,” he continued in his statement. “I hope that the rumour-mongering, which was clearly intended to spread division in our ranks and to disparage me and the other candidates, will now stop.”
Meanwhile, the PPP, in a statement, said that the four other contenders congratulated Ali and pledged their support to working towards a PPP/Civic victory after the vote.
Ali, 38, attended Saints Stanislaus College and has been a member of the PPP for over 20 years, starting at the Party’s youth arm. He has also been a part of the leadership for 15 years, during which time he held the position of Finance Secretary for several years.
In his professional experience before he became a Minister, Ali worked as an economic planner, also chairing a Project Steering Committee on the Low-Income Settlement Committee.
He also worked as the National Programme Coordinator of local Caribbean Development Bank funded programmes. When he did become a Minister in 2009, he went on to serve in the Cabinet for seven years; holding the portfolios of Minister of Housing and Water and Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce.