Wave of development in 1st 100 days is only a beginning – President Ali

…says groundwork laid for unprecedented development

President Dr Irfaan Ali deep in conversation with Head of the US Development Bank Adam Boehler (left), during his visit last month. It was subsequently announced that billions of dollars would be made available for investments in Guyana

With Tuesday marking the first 100 days of his Administration, President Dr Irfaan Ali has made it clear that the unprecedented level of development seen in the first 100 days is only just the beginning and that the groundwork has been set for greater things for Guyana.
To mark the milestone, Ali on Tuesday cited the numerous developmental initiatives that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government has launched or jump-started, as well as the work done to restore Guyana’s battered image after the controversial five months that followed the March 2 General and Regional Elections.
According to the President, these infrastructural projects will be a continuation of the infrastructural development the previous PPP Government ushered in, until it was cut short by the 2015 election of the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.
“We have begun to lay the foundation for the implementation of a transformative infrastructural development programme. The PPP/C Administration has in the past created a wave of impressive infrastructural projects which had transformed our country’s landscape.”
“These projects have included the construction of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, the National Stadium at Providence, the National Aquatic Centre, the Marriott Hotel, the Berbice River Bridge, the extension of the country’s main road networks, and the creation of a new airport at Ogle. The second wave of modern infrastructural transformation is unfolding,” the President said.
The President cited the work done on finalising the location for the new Demerara River crossing, for which Expressions of Interest have already been received. In addition, his Government held discussions with Suriname during the 100 days, about a bridge between the two countries.
“We have begun to reformulate plans for the construction of a four-lane road from Ogle to Haag Bosch; We are in the planning stages for a road link between the new Demerara Bridge Crossing and Parika. We expect, next year, to begin work on a 250 MW gas-to-shore project. We have commenced plans for a mix of energy generation projects, including hydro and solar power.”
One of the Government’s most eagerly anticipated plans is to distribute 50,000 house lots. Noting that housing is a basic need for everyone, Ali explained that the groundwork has already started for the delivery of these house lots, which he assured will create thousands of jobs in construction.

Int’l relations
In his statement, President Ali also pointed out the work done by his Government to repair Guyana’s international image, which took a beating due to the efforts of the former APNU/AFC Government and persons within the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to undermine the will of the people between March and August.

President Dr Irfaan Ali leads a team to sites associated with the New Demerara River bridge

A 33-day recount showed that the PPP won the elections, but it took the firmness of local and regional courts, the resilience of GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh and threats of sanctions from the international community led by the United States, before former President David Granger finally stepped aside and allowed President Ali to be sworn in.
“Over the past 100 days, I and my Ministers have been involved in a number of international engagements which attest to the international recognition and interest in our country. I have, inter alia, addressed: The 75th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on behalf of Guyana and also on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.”

The President also reminded that he addressed the Virtual Island Summit 2020, the Forecast on Latin America and the Caribbean Conference 2020, organised by the United States Department of Commerce and the Association of American Chambers of Commerce and the 75th Commemorative Meeting of the United Nations, on behalf of Guyana and also the Group of 77 and China.
He noted that representation was also made at the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity, the Meeting of Heads of Government on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond and meetings of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community.
“I have held meetings with a number of investors, heads of institutions and world leaders, all of whom have expressed a willingness to support Guyana’s development. The World Bank and the US International Development Finance Corporation have offered their assistance. I have engaged the Emir of Qatar on possible areas of economic cooperation between our two states which will see the contribution of three fully functioning field hospitals,” President Ali also said.

Social welfare
President Ali lamented that when he took office, the social welfare of the people, made more precarious by the COVID-19 pandemic, had been neglected by the former Government which was more interested in fighting for its political survival. He pointed out that when the Government assumed office in August 2020, it was to find that many regional hospitals were ill-equipped to treat the worst cases of the virus.
According to Ali, there were insufficient testing kits, testing equipment, protective gear for frontline workers, ventilators and oxygen concentrators. Even the Ocean View Hotel turned Infectious Diseases Hospital was only a shell, despite the over $1 billion plunged into the project.
“Our response has been comprehensive and multifaceted. We assembled a task force that included medical personnel and our regional/international partners. We increased testing capacity to the point where we can administer as many as 600 tests per day and we are working to increase this to more than 1000 by the end of this month,” he said.
“We have also acquired adequate supplies of personal protective gear and allocated $150 million in the emergency budget for frontline workers. Ventilators, oxygen concentrators and other equipment necessary for treating patients have been received and are being operationalised. We have retrofitted the Infectious Diseases Hospital, making it suitable for offering meaningful patient care and we have enhanced the capacity of regional hospitals to treat coronavirus patients.”
Moreover, Ali reminded that the Government was able to ensure that Guyana is in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. But the Government has also been able to procure medical supplies that have been lacking in the system over the past few years.
Another area the Government was able to excel in was the reverse of the burdensome tax measures the former Government imposed on Guyana. He recalled that Value Added Tax (VAT) has been removed from mining equipment, exports of fish, rice and timber.
“And we have only just begun! There is much more in store for you as we realise the promises and commitments in our manifesto. Guyana’s prospects have never been more promising. We will translate that promise into prosperity.”
“Guyanese can look forward to a better life under the PPP/C Administration. Despite the monumental challenges which we faced, we have defied expectations and delivered progress,” The President also said, in his 100-day message. (G3)