PPP says will not be distracted by Opposition’s “unsubstantiated claims”

…says APNU/AFC duplicitous on issues of electoral reform, consultations

In the wake of Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton’s press conference on Tuesday, in which he called for national consultation on electoral reforms, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has slammed the Opposition for their duplicitousness.
In a statement on Wednesday, PPP/C pointed out that since the issuance of a joint-statement following a meeting between President Dr. Irfaan Ali and Norton, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Opposition has emitted “more of the wild, unsubstantiated and duplicitous claims that are synonymous with the APNU/AFC Coalition.”

PPP/C General Secretary, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo

According to the PPP/C, the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNCR)-led APNU/AFC Coalition has failed, over the past six months, to participate in the national process to reform Guyana’s electoral laws, or to submit any recommendations of its own.
“Firstly, the call from the Coalition camp for a comprehensive review of what took place in March 2020 before electoral reforms are addressed is nothing but a delay tactic. Recall that every report from the international Election Observer Missions, including the Caricom team, detailed what took place at the March 2020 Elections.
“Every Guyanese is aware of what took place during the March 2020 electoral process, civil society is aware, the international community is aware. It would seem that the only ignorant party, by their own claim, is the PNCR/APNU/AFC,” PPP/C said.
It was also noted that Norton’s call for national consultations involving the public, civil society and the parliamentary political parties is disingenuous, since such consultations on proposed amendments to the Representation of the People’s Act (ROPA) started in November 2021 and are continuing.
The PPP/C also accused the Opposition of even undermining these consultations.
Meanwhile, the Opposition’s contradictory stance on constitutional engagements was also called out. According to PPP/C, Norton arrived for the meeting on May 13 “woefully unprepared”, despite the fact that his own Coalition was involved in previous Parliamentary processes to arrive at the recommendations for the persons to be appointed to the Commissions; for example, the Police Service Commission (PSC).
“Now that additional information has been provided to Mr Norton, a speedy conclusion to the process that would allow for the appointment of the important constitutional bodies is expected,” PPP/C stated.
On the issue of continuous registration, the PPP/C noted that the lie of persons being illegally registered has been repeated at the press conference. However, no evidence was presented when requested.
“When repeatedly asked for evidence, Mr Norton said: ‘I would not say we have actual numbers, because in these things you never know. And even if we had actual numbers, I don’t know to what advantage to me for us to disclose it at this stage.” The party noted.

Economic relief measures
On Monday, President Ali had announced a series of groundbreaking measures, ranging from cash grants to households in hinterland and riverine communities to the provision of free fertilisers for farmers, purchased at a cost of a whopping $1 billion.
In the party’s statement on Wednesday, the PPP/C pointed to the contrast between the current governing party and the Opposition party. According to the PPP/C, the party will continue to implement its manifesto, and makes no apologies for enriching Guyanese.
“Further, as has been done with other such relief programmes, the Office of the Auditor General is involved to ensure full accountability and transparency. Mr. Norton would do well to substantiate his interest in transparency (and) accountability before giving voice to wild aspersions. He is encouraged to answer as to: Why the former Coalition Government excluded persons in the hinterland from its COVID-19 Pandemic Assistance Voucher programme.
“The report from the Auditor General made clear that not only did the programme see the exclusion of persons in the hinterland regions, but: over 9,000 out of 11,000 qualified applicants did not receive vouchers; of the 11,000 listed as qualified applicants, less than 2,000 applications were listed for verification; and vouchers totaling $56M were not checked before paying supplier,” the PPP/C also said.
The party also called for the Opposition to explain why a performance audit into the procurement, storage and distribution of COVID-19 supplies by the former Coalition Government during the period March 2020 to August 2020 found that there was a lack of accountability for the more-than-6,000 hampers.
“Importantly, the continued playing of the race-card by the PNCR/APNU/AFC is condemned in the strongest terms. The race-card has been, and continues to be, the only card that the Parliamentary Opposition has to play, given that it has no track record of progress and no track record of delivering for Guyanese on which to stand. Guyanese are urged to be wary of this tactic.
“The People’s Progressive Party has been, and remains, committed to working in the interest of all our people, as we have always done, and will not be distracted by the PNCR-led APNU+AFC Coalition,” the PPP/C stated. (G3)