The People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Administration has started its elections campaign with a massive spending spree of state funds. The squandermania is aimed unapologetically at winning votes from constituents and communities which the PPP/C neglected for years. Ministers Frank Anthony, Norman Whittaker, Pauline Sukhai, Priya Manickchand and Juan Edghill and Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and have been in the forefront of the pre-election spending spree:
- Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr Frank Anthony, only this year on the approach to elections, seemed to realise that the celebrated 125 year old Georgetown City Hall was in danger of collapse and needed major restoration. He announced the administration’s intention to expend $200 M to start work on the building.
- Minister in the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development Norman Whittaker unilaterally launched a $500 M ‘Clean-Up My Country’ Programme as an election stratagem in the city of Georgetown. He targeted the Albouystown, Bourda and Stabroek Markets and the urban drainage network. Whittaker also handed over brush cutters to the ten (10) Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and a fogging machine to the Regional Democratic Council in the Essequibo Islands-West Demerara Region (No.3).
- Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai presented school uniform material to eight villages in the Upper Mazaruni sub-district of the Cuyuni Mazaruni Region (No. 7). She has also been making a spectacle of presenting all-terrain vehicles to the Toshaos of several hinterland villages from time to time. She had, earlier this year, tried to secure $1.1B for the Amerindian Development Fund in the 2014 national budget but this was disapproved. The grounds for disapproval were that the payment to Community Support Officers was not likely to be utilised for Amerindian community development but to recruit young activists for the PPP election campaign.
- Minister of Education Priya Manickchand waited over six months and is still to disburse the $10,000 grant promised to the families of children at nursery, primary and secondary levels. The financial grant was earmarked in the 2014 national budget earlier this year long before the start of the new school year. Disbursement was delayed in order to ensure greater impact on the PPP election campaign.
- Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Juan Edghill who the PPPC has assigned to the Upper Demerara-Berbice Region (No. 10), promised to complete ongoing re-construction of the One-Mile Primary School; the extension of the Upper Demerara Hospital; a Health Centre at Christiansburg; a nurses’ hostel in Kwakwani; drainage, road, and other infrastructure projects.
- Prime Minister Samuel Hinds took the PPP election campaign to the East Berbice-Corentyne Region (No. 6). His visit was timed to coincide with the donation of netbooks to residents of Lesbeholden, Black Bush Polder through the One Laptop Per Family Programme. Hinds also made lavish promises that the government would be installing road lights along the Corentyne Highway and would complete remedial works along the 40 km East Bank Berbice roadway.
The PPP/C is now in full election mode. It has deliberately delayed development projects so that they can be implemented and completed closer to the expected elections. The Ministry of Home Affairs, more threateningly, equipped the Guyana Police Force with riot gear and has provocatively started training in crowd dispersal. This was timed to coincide with the start of peaceful and lawful protests by A Partnership for National Unity to call for local government elections last week.
Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee announced that he was preparing “…for the fight that is looming on the horizon on the elections front…to ensure that the Party is up and ready to contest successfully any of the two elections that are in the air.”
A Partnership for National Unity calls on the Guyanese people to be aware of the motives behind the PPP’s massive spending spree. The PPP/C is squandering state funds, not its own money, to win support for its election campaign.