APNU’s “A good life for all Guyanese” is just another broken promise
Dr Asquith Rose and Harish S Singh
DEAR EDITOR, The APNU Manifesto labeled “A Good Life for all Guyanese” has become a dead document, since today, the Majority Leader in Parliament has failed to bring that document to life as a result of his pathetic performance with respect to his legislative agenda. On page 7 of that document, he and his team promised to “amend our laws… to ensure the process of collecting, analyzing and disseminating key economic and population data is protected from political interference.” In layman’s language, that means amending the Statistics Act, Chp. 19:09 and the Bank of Guyana Act, 1998. If one is to peruse these laws, they clearly establish that the Chief Statistician and the Governor of the Bank of Guyana are creatures of the Minister of Finance. Thus as the former Auditor General Dr. Goolsarran quite aptly pointed out, appointments under similar conditions are “are serious cause to worry.” What has Mr. Granger done since becoming the official leader of the majority in Parliament? Other than partaking in the budget cuts reluctantly and arranging back room deals with the crooked Jagdeo/Ramotar regime on issues such as GECOM appointments and electricity hike on the Lindeners, APNU has done little or nothing in Parliament to help the poor and the working class in Guyana, save and except for Sharma Solomon and his Linden Team. It is clear that Mr. David Granger and Team APNU have not only failed in their promise to provide a good life for all Guyanese but they have produced zero on all the other promises they have made on the campaign trail including the reduction of VAT, advocating both in and out of parliament for tangible wage/salary increases for the workers and improved working and living conditions for the poor and the working class. Our recommendation: 1. Section 6 of the Statistics Act must be amended to put the Chief Statistician under the direction of the majority in Parliament rather than under the direction of the Minister of Finance; 2. All funds necessary to conduct its work shall de deliberated on by a Board of Directors appointed by the majority in Parliament and the Minister shall so apply for those funds subject to an affirmative resolution from the House. The Minister should not have the power to revoke the work programme of the Bureau of Statistics like he current has. 3. With respect to the Bank of Guyana Act, the Governor shall be appointed by the President subject to a public review process in Parliament of the requisite skill and ability of the potential candidates and an affirmative resolution of a majority in the House. This dark room closet-type arrangement that currently exists where the Leader of the Opposition and the President decide who shall be appointed is mired in subterfuge, bad governance and opaqueness. 4. There should be a statutory place on that Board for the Academic Community, especially one from the Finance/Economics sub-community, a representative from the Unions (TUC/FITUG), and there should be a place for a representative from the Private Sector, (inclusive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana) who does not sit on a Board of a company that is supervised by the Bank. Until and unless these and other amendments to the laws are made, these institutions shall remain creatures of the Minister of Finance and the Guyanese public will continue to get a diet of massaged economic, poverty, and population data because these two institutions which are supposed to be in principle, independent of the executive, remain perpetual stooges of the Ministry of Finance, hence the Jagdeo/Ramotar cabal. On the one hand, President Ramotar has to be blamed for his non-transparent actions and disrespect for good governance. However, on the other hand, the opposition leader Mr. Granger must be held accountable not only for APNU’s lethargic performance in Parliament but its general representation of the people’s interests. This kind of behaviour is tantamount to going AWOL on the troops.