WE the Political Parties hereunder named, represented by the duly authorized persons whose signatures appear below, hereby formally commit our Parties to establish A Partnership For National Unity to contest the forthcoming 2011 General and Regional Elections with the objective of forming a Government of National Unity, when the official results of the elections determine the support given by voters for each contesting List of Candidates to establish the basis for the composition of the Government.
To achieve this objective, in the context of the legal requirements of our electoral system, we shall contest the forthcoming General and Regional Elections by presenting a Single List of Candidates.
We are, for the time being, an association of political parties united in the belief that the impending election provides an opportunity for our citizens to embark on a credible and open process that will begin to end the bitterness that has divided our society and choked our efforts to develop.
This Declaration is a contribution to public discussion about our collective future and is an invitation to political parties, civic organizations and individual citizens of all ages, genders, races, religions, abilities, class and political persuasion to participate in the governance and expansion of the membership of this partnership under the banner of “A PARTNERSHIP FOR NATIONAL UNITY”, based on:
(i) The acceptance of and commitment to adhere to our Statement of Principles hereto annexed and marked, “Annex I”; and,
(ii) Support for our Manifesto.
We reject the view that elections must translate into an ethnic census thereby creating a double jeopardy for our society: on the one hand, rewards for a particular racial group; on the other, exclusion of others from efforts that contribute to tolerance, justice, growth and development.
We are aware that societies which pander to the worst divisive instincts of voters foster intolerance and fail to mobilize the strengths of their citizens in the cause of justice, growth and development. Consequently, we remain convinced that the success for our multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society can only be accomplished through respect for the diversity and the hard work, thrift and sacrifice of all our citizens.
We are committed to the establishment of a Government of National Unity, which would have as its priority the items detailed in our Manifesto including, not in order of priority:
Constitutional and institutional reforms necessary for the realization of Shared Governance;
The establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
The reform of the State, including the implementation of the Recommendations of the Disciplined Forces Commission;
The establishment of a National Broadcasting Authority and legislation to ensure not only access to but Freedom of Access to Information;
The establishment of a Public Procurement Commission;
The reconstitution of the Integrity Commission;
The appointment of the Human Rights Commission and the reconstitution of the Ethnic Relations Commission;
The implementation of agreed Local Government Reforms and the holding of Local Government Elections;
The reform of the system of Taxation;
A partnership with youth to ensure their full involvement and participation in decision-making;
The Reconstruction of the society and the economy;
The stewardship of a program of sustainable development;
Institutional and legal mechanisms to effectively reduce and control the incidence of violence against women, children and the aged;
The forensic auditing of State organizations; and,
Infrastructure development, including energy, communications and water management.
For far too long, we have centralized political power in an all-powerful Executive President and believe that future good national governance requires the separation of the functions of our Head of State from those of the Head of Government.
Consequently, we propose to initiate the required constitutional reforms, which shall be accomplished during the first two years of the first term of the Government of National Unity, including:
(i) that the Head of State shall be accountable to the National Assembly and responsible for serving the interests of all citizens and protecting the Constitution of Guyana;
(ii) that the Head of Government shall be accountable to the National Assembly and responsible for the effective management and administration of all economic and social activities and external relations; and,
(iii) the protection of Minority rights and participation in decision making by instituting qualified majorities for decisions on important national issues;
The Partners agree and now declare:
(I) That we will contest the 2011 General and Regional Elections as a united entity, under the umbrella of an electoral List of Candidates known as “A PARTNERSHIP FOR NATIONAL UNITY” (APNU) with a common symbol; a single Presidential Candidate; a single Representative and Deputy Representative of the List of Candidates; a common Electoral Platform; and, a unified campaign organisation and management;
(II) That our Presidential Candidate for the Government of National Unity shall be Mr. David Granger;
(III)That a Leadership team comprising members of the partnership, supportive organisations and citizens of proven competence, taking into account gender, generation, geography, ethnicity and class, will be established and presented to the Electorate not later than one month after this Declaration of the founding of A PARTNERSHIP FOR NA TIONAL UNITY;
(IV) That the partnership immediately extends an invitation to all Guyanese organisations and citizens to become affiliated to and supportive of the aims, objectives and work of A PARTNERSHIP FOR NATIONAL UNITY.
For and on behalf of the GUYANA ACTION PARTY (GAP)
Everall Franklin, MP, for Leader, GAP
For and on behalf of the NATIONAL FRONT ALLIANCE (NFA)
Keith Scott, MP, Leader, NFA
For and on behalf of the PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONGRESS REFORM (PNCR)
Robert H O Corbin, MP, Leader, PNCR
For and on behalf of the WORKING PEOPLE’S ALLIANCE (WPA)
Clive Thomas, Co-Leader, WPA
DATED THIS 24TH DAY OF JUNE, 2011 GEORGETOWN, GUYANA
A Partnership for National Unity – APNU – is committed to giving full meaning to our national Constitution by creating an “inclusionary democracy.
Our Constitution states:
“The principal objective of the political system of the State is to establish an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens and their organizations in the management and decision-making processes of the State…”
The time to seize those opportunities has come. APNU’s mission is to establish that “inclusionary democracy” for future generations to enjoy. The People’s Progressive Party Civic has been in office for nearly 19 years during which the quality of life for the majority of Guyanese has been degraded. Collapsing educational standards and increasing unemployment have enlarged the army of the poor. Violent crime has given Guyana a murder rate that is three times that of the USA. Environmental degradation has scarred the capital city, villages on the coastland and mining and logging areas in the hinterland. The plain truth is that our homeland is suffering. The majority of citizens demand change. As the Presidential Candidate of A Partnership for National Unity, I am confident that, with your support, we shall win a majority at the forthcoming general and regional elections and begin to change our homeland.
- We shall improve and modernize the educational system to enable the young to take their place in society.
- We shall expand the economy to provide jobs for unemployed youths and increase the wealth of the nation.
- We shall suppress violent crime and make Guyana a safer place for all of its citizens – particularly for our women, senior citizens and children.
- We shall protect our fragile environment.
To do these things, APNU needs the help of all citizens – including members of political parties, trade unions, professional and religious organizations and civil society – at home and in the diaspora. We need to mobilize finance to enable our teams to travel throughout the coastland and our vast hinterland and to improve communications with the wider population. We ask you to support our vision and our plans for making our homeland a safer, richer and happier place by contributing to our campaign. Our country’s future depends on your support.
STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES
The creation of a Guyana in which her citizens can live productive lives free from the ravages of poverty, are secure in their homes and in their communities, and are able to enjoy the benefits of political, social and cultural liberation.
- The sharp deterioration of the living conditions of the masses of the ordinary people alongside the sudden and obscene enrichment of a favored few;
- The trampling on fundamental rights, the destruction of the industrial relations process and the unbridled assaults on workers and their institutions;
- The rise in ethnic insecurity resulting from, among other influences, the competition for scarce resources among the people and the brazen discrimination in the allocation of the nation’s wealth;
- The collapse and dislocation of the institutions of the country, including the Judiciary, the security services, the Constitutional Commissions and the institutions that are tasked with the responsibility to ensure accountability for the expenditure of state financial resources;
- The crisis in representation resulting from the stubborn refusal of the Government to adhere to the consensus recommendations for reform of the electoral system of the Constitutional Reform Commission of 1999 as well as the complete reform of the Local Government system, resulting in the failure to hold the long delayed Local Government Elections;
- The frightening rise in violence against women;
- The increasingly widespread abuse of children;
- The upsurge of intolerance and intimidation that poison the political environment and herald the entrenchment of the dictatorship;
- The crude attempts to limit the effective functioning of independent media houses, as reflected in Government’s discriminatory allocation of newspaper ads, the failure to table comprehensive Broadcasting as well as Freedom of Information legislation, and the monopoly state control of the country’s single radio station in violation of the most ordinary democratic practice throughout the Caribbean and the civilized world;
- The flourishing of narcotics trafficking in Guyana, resulting in the spectacular growth of organized criminal violence and the corrosive impact of money and other narco and crime related financial influences;
- The absence of a patient friendly health delivery system;
- A confused national education policy that is impotent in the face of the distressing failures in nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary education;
- The absence of national programmes which are designed to address the needs and motivation of young people: and
- The absence of national programmes which are designed to address the specific needs and requirements of the differently able.
- The neglect of our senior citizens who are condemned to live out their final days in a nightmare of destitution and indignity;
- The unprincipled and haphazard of Guyana’s foreign relations, evidenced in the failure to uphold United Nations obligations, accords, covenants and standards, in all areas, particularly in the areas of human rights, economic development and narcotics control;
- The selective adherence to international covenants on environmental and ecological agreements; and
- The lack of transparency and accountability of public officials.
CONVINCED THAT a positive transformation of Guyana can only be achieved by an inclusive Electoral Coalition (hereafter referred to as the Coalition), built around the political parties, organized labour, farmers’ organisations, community based organisations, faith based organisations, civil society bodies, and patriotic citizens, committed to develop Guyana into a united, stable and prosperous nation, where the well-being of each Citizen is assured, irrespective of ethnicity, social status, gender, religion or political persuasion;
WHEREAS we believe that, after more than four decades of independence, the social, physical and economic situation of the average Guyanese is unacceptable, given the bountiful natural resources and human capital endowments and the hard work done by the people;
AND WHEREAS we further believe that a positive transformation of Guyana can best be achieved by a Coalition as a precursor to the formation of a Government of National Unity, based on the results of the 2011 Regional and General Elections;
WE AGREE to develop a single slate to contest the 2011Regional and General Elections, based on an electoral platform, which will include a sustainable programme for the socio-economic, cultural and political transformation of Guyana;
WE COMMIT to the belief that to achieve these goals , the Coalition must be guided by agreed core principles and objectives to promote the transformation of the present broken country into a Guyana that is politically, socially, economically, and culturally liberated.
STATEMENT OF CORE PRINCIPLES:
- The parties, organisations and citizens that comprise the Coalition are committed to the reasoned and peaceful resolution of conflicts and reject all forms of violence as means for the settlement of disputes:
- Membership of the Coalition will be open to all Guyanese parties, organisations and citizens who subscribe to these core principles and to its social, political and economic programme;
- Members of the Coalition will be steadfast in their rejection of discrimination in all forms;
- Members of the Coalition will actively promote a healthy political and democratic culture in their workplaces, their places of worship and recreation and in their organisations;
- In the making of decisions members of the Coalition will strive for consensus and show respect for dissenting views;
- Members of the Coalition will defend, at all times, the sovereignty of Guyana.
APNU UNITY CHARTER
Guyana’s Future in Our Hands
APNU QUEST FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE
This Charter briefly introduces the main ideas, beliefs and principles, which inform and guide the actions, policies and practices of A Partnership For National Unity (APNU). It should be read together with other APNU documents, some of which have already been circulated (for example, our 24 June 2011 “Declaration and the Statement of Principles,” and others that will soon be circulated, for example, our Manifesto and recommended Programme of Action for the Government of National Unity, which APNU pledges to pursue after the 2011 National and Regional Elections.
The Charter is organized into three main Sections.
First, it elaborates on APNU’s commitment to the formation of a Government of National Unity based on the results of the coming national elections, in which all successful parties taking part are allowed to join, if they so wish. This is historic, as under the present Constitution, if one party wins a majority of seats, it alone has the power to make decisions. Thus even if another political party wins almost one-half of the seats, they have virtually no say in effective decision making. This situation can therefore exclude up to one-half of our people from any effective say in the Government of our country. APNU is committed to a true Government of National Unity, and is prepared to give authority to parties that have opposed it in the election, if they so desire, since we accept that persons represented by a different party also have a right to be represented in the Government.
In rejecting the principle of winner-take-all as the basis for forming a government, APNU becomes the first multi-party grouping that includes one of the two main political parties committed to this action. This commitment also accepts, unconditionally, the inclusion of other political parties in APNU along with organized labour, farmers’ organisations, community-based organisations, faith-based organisations, civil society bodies and patriotic citizens, “irrespective of ethnicity, social status, gender, age, religion or political persuasion”, insofar as they adopt and observe the core principles of APNU as declared in its published Statement of Principles.
Second, the pamphlet outlines the key features of the policies and tasks the APNU is committed to struggle for, politically, within and through the Government of National Unity, after it is formed. These policies are the product of sustained discussion among APNU’s participating members.
Third, the pamphlet sketches a brief portrait of the vision we hold out for a Guyana that can turn its back, once-and-for-all, on the detrimental practices of “winner-take-all” politics, in the absence of effective checks and balances to prevent the abuse of power by persons or organizations within the country.
I. THE ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES OF “WINNER-TAKE-ALL-POLITICS” AND “ONE-PARTY RULE”
There are many varied and deeply complex defects in our society. These cover all major areas of our existence: living conditions, the quality of life, the potential for personal and societal advancement, human security, the cultural and social environment, fairness and equity, inclusiveness, and our position in CARICOM, among our neighbors and in the wider world.
Many of these afflictions are so long-standing that Guyanese often take them for granted as part and parcel of the soiled landscape of our lives. As we approach national and regional elections, aware of how much has gone wrong due to winner-take-all-politics without effective checks and balances, Guyanese have the opportunity, in partnership with APNU to transform all our lives.
Because we must remind ourselves that we can be better, and can do better, we provide below a sample list (in no particular order) of the more important deformations that APNU intends to change.
Living Conditions and Quality of Life
- Guyanese are voting with their feet as they see no hope in Guyana’s future. Far too many Guyanese citizens are successfully claiming refugee status overseas.
- Migration continues unabated as domestic pressures mount. The migration rate for 2010 was over 14 persons for every 1,000 members of the population.
- Polls show that i) far too many Guyanese find life “aggravating and stressful” ii) that the Guyanese Diaspora (including retirees) see returning home a “step backwards” in their quality of life.
- Far too many Guyanese are only able to survive on cash remittances and barrels. Meanwhile, according to the World Bank, as many as 89 percent of qualified/trained Guyanese migrate to find work and opportunity elsewhere.
- After three decades, power outages (blackouts) continue frequently.
- Similarly, potable water is still not routinely available from household taps.
- Rubbish and refuse are still not collected regularly and worse, these are deposited indiscriminately only to be scattered by stray animals, thereby degrading the living environment.
- Such is the quality of life that able-bodied citizens continue to scavenge dump sites for necessities.
- As the Stabroek News editorial of 7 July 2011 puts it: “A large expanse of bush, criss-crossed with mud dams is called a housing scheme”. Proper roads, drainage and basic services are not provided for these schemes as living conditions remain bad.
- Deficiencies in the economic and social infrastructure are huge, while basic services remain fragile, especially education, health, environment, elderly and child care.
- Child abuse and neglect are very widespread. This is horribly exemplified in the dramatic rise of “child criminals” who have all been nurtured during the 19 years of PPP/C rule.
- A massive increase of the rural dispossessed and the urban underclass even as the quality of life has been degraded by national disunity and widening economic and social inequality.
- There has been relentless growth in joblessness, especially among the young and those graduating from secondary schools and the University.
- An increase in alcoholism, substance abuse and related mental health concerns further reduces the quality of life.
- The above is compounded by an annual rate of nearly 12,000 school dropouts and a growing army of the poor and destitute, homeless, beggars, hustlers, street children, abandoned orphans and vagrants.
- According to the WHO, the suicide rate is nearly 23 persons for every 100,000 members of the population. This is the highest in the hemisphere and the seventh highest in the world.
Governance: Corruption and Thievery
- The PPP/C’s practice of systematic racial and political discrimination.
- Systematic links between the PPP/C’s ruling political elite and organized criminal elements.
- The PPP/C’s promotion of a Government of Thieves (and what political analysts term a “kleptocratic” state, in which corruption is endemic).
- The PPP/C’s trampling on fundamental rights, particularly its unbridled assaults on workers and its ongoing destruction of the industrial relations process.
- A similar onslaught on the independent media through the discriminatory allocation of government ads, the failure to support modern comprehensive media legislation and to remove the deadening hand of government control over the media.
- Cronyism in i) the award of government land deals, contracts and licenses ii) the distribution of tax waivers, and iii) the facilitation of non-compliance with statutory regulations.
- The combined effect of the above has been an upsurge of intolerance, intimidation, and authoritarianism; the collapse and dislocation of key elements of the state: judiciary, security service, local government, and the Constitutional Commissions responsible for ensuring accountability and providing checks and balances. Needless to say, the government has refused to support Constitutional reform, and not even adhering to the recommendations of the 1999 Constitutional Reform Commission.
- A PPP/C’s style of governance in which vindictiveness, pettiness, arrogance, abusiveness, intolerance, are the rule.
- The regime’s tendency to chastise the judiciary when they disagree with a decision of the court.
- The tendency of the government to sabotage anything it disagrees with, eg, non holding of local government elections because it is afraid of the reforms, the sabotage of the ERC to be able to keep Edgill as head ,etc
Crime and Security
- The PPP/C political elite, in a devil’s agreement with organized criminal factions, has been engaged in brutal combat with other criminal elements and have ended up murdering hundreds of African Guyanese youth since 2000, in easily the worst excesses of the Guyanese state since Independence. This cabal is also deeply involved in other criminal adventures including trafficking in narcotics, armaments, and persons; money-laundering; and systematic theft from government coffers through one or other subterfuge. Extra judicial executions have become regular, along with the widespread proliferation of small arms in the society. Elements of the state security services (along with the government) are known to be linked to these endeavors, as all Guyanese are fully aware of the PPP/C’s relentless “criminalization of the state”.
- Accompanying its “criminalization of the state”, has been the rise in ethnic insecurity. This is being fueled by, among other things i) the competition for scarce resources among the people and ii) brazen discrimination in the allocation of the nation’s wealth. As a result crime against property, armed robberies and assaults, banditry, piracy, vehicle theft and break-ins have become the order of the day.
- There has been a frightening rise in violence against women.
- Similarly, abuse of children has become widespread.
- Trafficking in narcotics is flourishing, and this underpins most organized criminal endeavors.
- The impact of money laundering has been corrosive and is linked to organized crime.
- The growth of gangs has been fed by the rural dispossessed and the urban underclass, and in turn fosters violence, crime and general lawlessness.
- The per person murder rate in Guyana is three (3) times that of the United States.
- As was recently reported, Drug Trafficking organizations are prevalent and pose the biggest challenge to local law enforcement.
- Because of resource and personnel limitations, police presence, and patrols, and the capacity of law enforcement to respond to cries for help is limited in the extreme.
- The use of state resources for personal enrichment.
- The victimization of communities that do not support the regime.
- The misuse of lotto funds for political patronage and corruption.
- Emerging police state with detention of citizens who did not commit a crime.
- The selective use of the law to protect the ruling elite while punishing the small man.
A Government of National Unity
It is our firm conviction that the Government of National Unity must, with due deliberation, institutionalize checks and balances in the operation of the state in order to secure limits to the abuse of power by individuals and organisations, and so uphold the observance of basic rights. With the pursuit of inclusiveness, equity and fairness APNU will work to provide the key ingredients needed to secure Guyana as a stable democratic society.
Without stability Guyana cannot develop in a sustainable manner. At present there are a few who are very wealthy and powerful, in a country made up largely by the poor and powerless. There has been, in recent years, an unprecedented transfer/re-allocation of land and other resources leading to an equally unprecedented concentration of wealth among the PPP/C, their cronies, and organised criminal elites to the exclusion of the broad mass of Guyanese citizens. This has served to deepen the country’s political crisis.
Therefore, we present you with a Partnership that is committed to a true government of national unity. We do not expect it to be easy. We know that to share cabinet positions with our political opponents presents a real challenge, which the faint of heart will call insurmountable. But it is a challenge that must be accepted. We can find a way to work together.
To re-convene the Constitution Reform Commission will usher in a period of hard and uncomfortable work. It will not be easy to devise a Constitution that provides for the separation of powers, checks and balances, accountability and all the provisions that the people need. But it must be done if a Government of National Unity is to achieve its aims and survive.
The APNU will practice what it preaches, however difficult that may be. Unity does not mean dealing only with those who agree with you. It is not a bed of roses. It can be difficult, uncomfortable and frustrating. We ask all who can to join us in this task. If at this time you genuinely feel that you cannot join us, then, give us your support. If you cannot even give us your support, we ask at least for your good will and your respect for our commitment.
While the aforementioned issues are not listed in any order of ranking, the APNU recognizes that the Governance issues have an overarching significance, in the sense that it is the horrific governance, leadership and systematic thievery of the PPP/C which give rise to most of the other issues.
II. OUR SHARED VISION OF A BRIGHT FUTURE: DEVELOPMENT FOR ALL
Over the last few years, in the absence of checks and balances including adequate institutional arrangements, and a dictatorial political culture, Guyanese have suffered untold injury as a nation. In addition, Guyanese have suffered at the altar of “Winner-Take-All” politics, a politics which serves the Jagdeo regime’s interest but accentuates the divisions in our society. Nonetheless, we sit astride an economy with a very substantial endowment of natural and human resources (here and in the Diaspora). We cannot, therefore, afford to continue to look to the rest of the world to assist us as though fate has dealt us an unfair hand. We need to develop the right policies, utilize all our skills, and create an environment that is conducive to business with well paying jobs in an industrial relations climate that is stable and fair.
We have suffered even as we, as the nation, dreamt of taking the seemingly long lost path to our El Dorado. This dream informs our vision for a bright future. Each one of us should take a small step for Guyana and a giant step for our nation.
It has been said, “Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.”
We can make that change if we are visionary, united and involved.
ELEMENTS OF A SHARED VISION
Prosperity For All With No Citizen Left Behind
The road ahead with APNU involves arrangements for the extensive discussion of the challenges and the forging of consensuses on policy. It is a road involving the full participation of our human resources. It necessitates the appointment of our best human resources to positions, based on merit. It is based on the development of each citizen’s potential and the respect for all our cultures and communities. It is an inclusive approach that seeks to share ideas and prosperity as well as access to resources. It is an approach that must eschew all forms of discrimination.
On such a road we will seek to realize and release the ‘can do’ spirit of Guyanese, that spirit which distinguishes us as individuals and teams but which we have yet to consistently bring to bear as a people in confronting the political and socio-economic challenges.
The spirit of the APNU-led administration will be to utilize this ‘can do’ energy to ensure that no citizen is left behind. This requires us to be in a position to hear what our people have to say about what they wish to do, what they can do, and how policies are affecting them – in other words, a listening administration is needed. APNU will provide a listening administration.
We have already begun to listen. Having listened to our people we will lead the way in implementing your demand for constitutional reform.
Underpinning the efforts and anchoring the rights of the ‘can do’ Guyanese of the present and the future will be constitutional reform. The specific elements of that reform are to be the subject of discussion, consultation and consensus. However, the reforms will aim to remove the scope for abuses and excesses carried out with impunity by the Executive and the President, in particular.
The proposed constitutional reforms will include:
- The separation of the functions of Head of State (the President) from those of Head of Government (the Prime Minister);
- The reform of the National Assembly, including the use of a “qualified weighted majority” for the passage of specified legislation;
- Strict separation of powers between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary;
- The enshrining of Shared Governance in the Constitution;
- The direct election of the President;
- The establishment of a Budget Office in the National Assembly;
- Establishing a Bi-Cameral Parliament with a non-elected second Chamber;
- Setting a fixed date for the holding of General Elections;
- Instituting pre-election protocols, similar to those existing in India, restraining the incumbent Government from abusing state resources for “electioneering” purposes;
Legislation needs to be carefully considered. Statutes, including those timed to catch Parliament’s last gasp, intended to fool the public and the international community — such as those currently before Parliament on freedom of information , will be a thing of the past.
There will be safeguards against the Executive awarding itself and its associates, state assets including lands. LAPTOP and the usual scams will be relegated to the current shameful era of PPP corruption, a thing of the past. Most importantly, those responsible for perpetrating the crimes underlying such scandals will be subject to the full force of the law.
We will end the double standard of deploying the full force of the law when it comes to dealing with the ordinary citizen while protecting the ruling elite when they are involved in illegalities. The law will apply to all.
The institutional requirements intended to facilitate the accountability of all arms of the State will be made effective.
The protection of the Judiciary and Constitutional Offices from the Executive and the reforming and strengthening of the Police Force will be part of the reform agenda.
There will be genuine independence of constitutional bodies.
Under the new dispensation, therefore, our rights as individuals and as communities will be scrupulously protected. As a consequence, the temptation for individuals, groups and even communities, to take the law into their own hands will be greatly minimized.
This is a major step in bringing the current orgy of lawlessness to an end.
On the economic front, our intention is to establish and nurture a vibrant, flexible and modern economy combining skill-intensive and natural resource-based development. We shall diversify the economy’s output as well as its markets.
Our immediate target group will be the vulnerable, particularly young men and women. For that reason jobs and training will be one of our highest priorities with special attention to the quality of jobs and the level of remuneration. The most urgent programmes are to be directed to these ends. The drive to create worthwhile jobs will be based on the modernization of our economy and its institutions, including forms of ownership, business practices and processes. It will involve the radical refashioning of schools and training curricula to gear us to deal with the 21st century and the related ongoing digital and information revolution.
We will employ special measures to ensure that effective and relevant primary education is delivered to all Guyanese so that it may become the pillar of our education system.
We offer a message of hope for the young with the prospect of a better tomorrow which is in keeping with their aspirations. To this end, an APNU-led administration will implement a youth-focused human resource development programme, offering special training and adjustment programmes for the unemployed young.
APNU will pursue the provision of infrastructure geared to ensuring that the young contribute meaningfully to the vision and implementation of the process of building a knowledge society.
Economic infrastructure will be improved as part of an integrated plan based on our settlement patterns, industrial plans, residential needs and financial capacity. Road, rail and other transport communication will be addressed by such a plan. Social infrastructure, such as housing, to improve overall deteriorating living conditions will be pillars of the economic policy.
We will build a modern health system that Guyanese can be proud of and have confidence in. Unlike this administration which uses highly paid contract workers for narrow political ends, we intend to use such contracts to be able to retain our medical and other specialists and to ensure we can access that pool of well skilled Guyanese specialists in the Diaspora.
If growth and employment levels are to be lifted sufficiently to stop the inexorable rise in the army of dispossessed and unemployed, the rate of investment will have to be dramatically increased and investments efficiently selected and implemented. An APNU-led administration commits itself to making this a reality.
An APNU led Government will facilitate investment in agro-industry, forestry, agriculture and fisheries, light manufacturing and textiles as well as mining. In the case of mining, for example, we will seek to move up the value chain and forward integrate the Bauxite industry, as well as advance the development of a vibrant jewelry industry (including design).
Closely tied to the foregoing, will be the simultaneous aggressive development of complementary skills in marketing, financial services, IT and ICTs and the creative industries.
We will revisit the NIS and place it on a sound financial footing, to enhance its coverage. We will also review the age of retirement as a matter of urgency. There is the need for more effective means of rendering protection to hinterland communities that find themselves in close proximity to mining and other economic activities.
A comprehensive environment and energy strategy based on the careful consideration of Guyana’s needs rather than the availability of external funds is also an APNU commitment. We can have no competitive manufacturing industry unless the cost of energy is brought to manageable levels. We will develop an integrated ENERGY PLAN that will deliver a reliable, stable and adequate power supply priced to ensure that our products are internationally competitive. Under this plan we will pursue with our trading partners, such as Brazil a large enough hydro-power project to meet our needs and those of Brazilian regions bordering Guyana.
The Role Of The State
In the economic sphere, the role of the state is to be thoroughly revisited. In the wake of the extensive corruption, widespread criminalization and woeful mismanagement, the public mood has understandably swung away from a major role for the state. The capacity of the state to regulate and to protect citizens from the growing and widespread predatory behaviour by groups and economic actors will be enhanced.
We shall make use of modern communications and information technology to bridge the divide between the Government and its people, so evident in any visit to a Government office. For commerce, this means that institutions and procedures will be drastically reformed to reduce the cost (money and time) of doing business and the lack of accountability, especially with respect to transparency, disclosure and redress where governmental decision-making is concerned.
An APNU led Government will ensure that a serious effort is required to establish the rights of consumers and to enforce acceptable practices and standards of consumer protection including hire purchase and in the services, such as insurance and medical care.
Most critically, the rule of law is to be reinstated so that the sanctity of contracts can stand and in the process facilitate safe commercial transactions and investment in particular.
It is not possible to mention the rule of law in Guyana without reference to the abuse of power by the state and its links with crime, the operations of drug gangs, torture and the need to have enquiries into too wide a range of un-investigated events, including extra judicial killings in which government ministers have been named as active participants or managers. There already exist well thought out proposals for rebuilding the Police and judicial institutions. In addition to the foregoing we will pursue those responsible for perpetrating these crimes. At the same time we will bring to an end the illegal practice of incarcerating, for up to seventy two hours, ordinary citizens who have committed no crime.
Ours is a vision in which the unholy alliance between the state and criminal enterprises will be broken. The state will be restored to its position as the custodian of the law and not its chief violator, as is presently the case.
In general, we see a future where social provision and investment are less driven by the interest of aid donors. We are planning a future where all communities have a legitimate claim on tax resources, not based on their political allegiance to the government, or worse, the ruling Party. Rather, it will be based on their needs and capacity to plan and implement development programmes and use funds efficiently and effectively.
Regional And Foreign Policy
We envision a future where Guyana plays a key and constructive role in the CARICOM integration experiment; a role where personal idiosyncrasies do not drive foreign policy; where the best officials will be chosen to prosecute our interests; and where they are able to rest assured that they may offer advice in an honest and candid manner without fear of victimization and discrimination. We will simultaneously tap into the potential that inheres in cooperative relations with Latin America.
Foreign policy will be used as a tool for development. It will be an investment that brings returns to Guyana.
Privilege And Dignity
These changes will be part of the effort to transform privileges of a chosen few into advantages for all through respect for the dignity and potential of every citizen, no matter what race, gender, age, religion, social status, disability or political persuasion.
These are but a few glimpses of our vision. Let us collectively work to bring it to fruition. It has always been in our power to do so but now the damage of our unique political regimen is too great to bear and the burden too heavy to ignore or excuse.
Enough is enough!
We invite you to share our vision and be part of transforming our dreams into reality.
Ensure a better future. Step forward!
III. BENEFITS FROM NATIONAL UNITY: AN INCLUSIVE, JUST AND EQUITABLE SOCIETY
A GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY is the first step in realizing the vision of an inclusive, just and equitable society. The economic, social and psychological benefits will be enormous. Such a Government will enable the Guyanese society to attain its full potential. It will unleash the creative drive of all our peoples and release the energies of investors (local and foreign), workers and farmers.
The ECONOMIC BENEFITS of such unity are clear. Current growth rates are way below what can be achieved with our vast mineral and land endowment, financial and fiscal resources, and our creative entrepreneurs and skilled workforce. Guyana’s failure to realize this potential is attributable to the internecine, ethnic struggle which began as a battle for succession to the British. The struggle for political supremacy led to a lack of focus on the critical objectives of nationwide social development and economic transformation. Whereas, in the early 1950s, Guyana had the second (first was petroleum-endowed Trinidad & Tobago) highest per capita income in the Caribbean, today it has the second (to Haiti) lowest. Guyana will be unable to catch-up with its CARICOM partners and other emerging market economies unless there is an end to its destructive winner-take-all politics.
The availability of SOCIAL BENEFITS is currently limited by ethnic insecurity and partly because social and political disunity allow politicians to justify withholding benefits to deserving groups on grounds of political difference or rivalry. Businesspeople and the population at large, tend to resort to defensive and risk-aversive behaviour partly as a result of crime related threats to physical well being. The consequence is that investment is both low and short-term in nature, re-investment is limited, capital-flight to safer shores is high, and a brain drain and the general exodus is extensive. This latter phenomenon is considered by the international institutions and researchers as one of the highest in the world.
The existence of a Government of National Unity would significantly reverse all of these adverse tendencies.
The PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS of national unity are such that social tension is minimized and social cohesion is maximized. Enhanced inter-communal harmony, improved morale and an increase in general social stability can translate into important economic benefits.
In addition, the covering-up of corruption, cronyism and other negative governmental behaviors will be significantly curtailed and the resulting greater accountability will reduce the cost of conducting everyday transactions and business generally.
Equally important benefits will be derived from the elimination of discrimination in such areas as access to land and house lots, jobs and promotions, training and scholarships, loans and subventions, tax incentives and subsidies, procurement contracts and government advertisements in the media. Our society will also benefit from an end to government interference with respect to decision making and the general independence of the judiciary; a more even handed approach to the allocation of expenditure on, and citing of roads, bridges, drainage and irrigation structures, and other public utilities and public assistance to disadvantaged communities and the most vulnerable citizens.
National Unity is an imperative in Guyana’s current fragile social and economic circumstances. In a plural society, there is a clear choice between the uplifting benefits of cooperation and the downside of destructive political competition.
Consequently, economic as well as “psychic income” will accrue under conditions of national cohesion and a Government of National Unity.
Finally, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Let us put an end to divisiveness and fragmentation.
Let us restore hope to the unemployed and the underemployed.
Let us recover our ‘can-do’ spirit and create a better life and freedom from want for all Guyanese.
A Partnership For National Unity (A.P.N.U)
Friday 15th July 2011