Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Where to now?
(Aired 26 April 2011)

   Since 2003 I had proposed a third force in this country since the animosity between the PPP and the PNC, the Indo Guyanese and the Afro Guyanese in this nation was very high, the third force was supposed to come in after an election and take control of the parliament i.e. neither the PNC or the PPP would have a clear majority and the third force would make the PPP and the PNC work together for a more equitable sharing of the national pie and to curb the excess of the PPP, since believing that they cannot be defeated in an election, has made the PPP bolder in their corruption to the point of breaking the law in the execution of their job of running the country. Under such a situation the third force could force shared governance between the two sides.

    It is my opinion that if Mr. Jagdeo would spend more time democratising the system and running the country like a good manager, since that is what he was elected to do, we would have made some little progress since he became president; too much of his time is spent micromanaging numerous situations for two reasons 1. To enrich his cronies and friends and 2. To control, the situation in the country, even to the extent of creating fear and deprivation of rights and thereby stultifying economic growth in certain sectors of it. Linden is a good example. Sugar is also a good example.

   We were doing well under Desmond Hoyte, the PPP don't like to talk about the Desmond Hoyte years 1985 to 1992 because it was a bright shining light in the total darkness from 1964 to now.

   Hoyte had one plan on his agenda; to manage the nation's economic situation on behalf all ethnic groups and it took courage, everyone remembers mo fiah and slow fiah but do they remember his supporters calling him Desmond Persaud because of his even handed policy of sharing the wealth in this country? There is absolutely no possibility of anyone calling this president Bharat Smith, Hoyte's agenda was not to control everything in the country like Jagdeo, Broadcasting, central tender board, judicial system, privatisation of everything, religion, economy, sugar expansion, cable operators, monopoly of radio, vendors etc. it was to manage the economy equitably.

   The result is that at the end of Hoyte's presidency the country had a legitimate growth rate of 7% which by 1999 under the PPP slowed to 3%, if that. There are men in this country who are top economists and accountants who query this 3% growth rate, and since Jagdeo has now been labelled a man who produces junk economics and lies, we have to ask ourselves where is this growth? We do see a lot of buildings going up all around us, but how much of it is being done from the proceeds of drug runnings and how much from legitimate businesses? The fact is, we just don't know!

   It is certainly not from any agricultural enterprise, the Bank of Guyana tell us that in 1999 when Mrs Jagan demitted office due to ill health what our production in the various sectors were expressed as GDP at the 1988 prices, I want to stress this, ladies and gentlemen these are the dollar value of our products expressed at the 1988 prices, so they may seem low but it gives us an idea of where our output is improving and where is falling behind; in Agriculture Forestry and Fishing was 1.7 billion in 1999 but in 2009 after 10 years of Jagdeo micromanaging this economy it dropped to 1.5 billion, so we dropped behind in agricultural output in those 10 years; how did we do in mining let's see, mining and quarrying was 591 million in 2009 it dropped to 437 million in 2009.

   In manufacturing sugar, rice, other was 654 million in 1999 and dropped to 627 in 2009. But construction rose from 424 million in 1999 to nearly 700 million in 2009! Services which include things like distribution, transport and communications, rental of dwellings financial services, Government costs etc. was 1.1 billion in 1999 and rose to 3.1 billion in 2009! Do you see why you have to pay Vat and other taxes to cover all of this government expenditure in the face of falling production? In conclusion therefore all production is declining but the cost of running the country is escalating completely out of control. So it is a myth that we are growing, if the price of gold had not gone through the roof in the last three years I can't tell you where we would have been, so we were lucky but can anyone run a country depending purely on luck? Gambling with people's taxes hoping for a miracle? If this situation was managed by 10 competent men led by a President committed to managing fairly and equitably ensure that contracts are awarded to competent contractors in a non-corrupt manner and other expenses are kept in control, we would be able to do away with Vat completely and that is what I want, no VAT!

   Which is why as a manager I have been looking at the economic situation with a view of running a tighter ship, not to deprive the country of anything but to pay public servants a better salary to improve the standard of education rather than building and rebuilding inferior school buildings which do not last, to put a proper commissioner of police in the saddle and give the police better wages, conditions, and incentives so that they can do their jobs with dedication, if we can't offer proper salaries to compete with the drug trade bribes, we have something better, land! For example any police officer who works dedicatedly for 10 years, we give him or her a free house lot, we must stop them from functioning as they are now around the country with only 42% of our people expressing confidence in their performance, deliberately harassing the public on the streets whether they are traffic police or not demanding a lef or a write.

  So now we come back to the Third Force in 2003 I did a comment in which I declared my intention to join the United Force and closer to election time I would try to see if it is possible to get control of it and collate it with the other smaller parties to see if it was possible to make a third force in parliament, I never did, since by the time the 2006 election approached I was helping to form the AFC, since I am serious, I do not have any political ambitions I sure as hell don't want to be President but after the AFC was formed, I saw some strange and disturbing developments in that party which I will not go into here but I decided to leave the AFC, and Stanley Ming asked me to Join the one Guyana platform which I did.

    After the Gumite and Chantal Smith fiascos and after a public statement by Ramjattan that he would never join the PNC in a collation all my doubts about the AFC were confirmed, I have written before on the lack of support from the AFC which further weakened an already weak opposition, for example the PNC-R one G asked them to give support to boycott the first day of Parliament when Jagdeo was slated to speak to the house since we were forced to contest an election with a flawed list, they undertook to join us in the boycott but whilst 21 of us PNCR-one G members were sitting in Congress Place, Clarissa Rheil was in Brickdam checking out the Parliament and at 5 minutes to 2PM she called to tell us to get down there quickly since the AFC were going into the house, if the PNC were not there Trotman would have been made the leader of the opposition, you ladies and gentlemen tell me what this means? At numerous select committees which selected the members of the service commissions Sheila Holder voted with the PPP and did not support the opposition. Now we are told that of the 4 existing companies which will benefit from Jagdeo's reorganisation of the telecommunications sector Ms. Holder's husband's company will one. And what was to me the most vile betrayal of the opposition is this; since getting into parliament Jagdeo formed the integrity commission, now anyone with one cataract infected eye can see that the PPP functionaries and cronies are building mansions in this country and expressing other sorts of inexplicable wealth given their salaries, so the opposition expressed no confidence in the Integrity Commission and we decided that none of us would produce any information about our assets but the PPP functionaries' assets were growing alarmingly and this Integrity Commission said nothing! So our position was that until we saw a properly constituted and autonomous Integrity Commission we would not recognise it or file, on the 6th of March 2011, I read that Ramjattan had again broken ranks with the opposition and agreed to supply his information. To my mind, and I could be wrong, I think that the AFC is far more likely to join the PPP than to join the opposition against the PPP. Their performance so far shows this quite clearly. I saw it before the 2006 election and that's why I left it.

Now we come to the PNC they had a perfect candidate in Winston Murray but for some reason they did not want him, so they put him in a presidential candidate race which he did not survive, I cannot begin to tell you how hurt he was that he was forced to run all over the country campaigning against Granger, it was unnecessary and it was ridiculous. But we all know what happened, next they had 5 candidates and at the end of the process Granger supported openly by the PNC and Corbin emerged as the winner; but how did he win? Well, only 42% of the delegates said that they wanted Granger, 58% voted for someone else, Basil Williams 88 votes, Harding 20, Bond 13 etc., and Granger only pipped Greenidge by around 13 votes, therefore given this very slim margin especially since it does not account for more than 50% of the delegates' votes, right then, at that same congress, there should have been a run off between these two men Greenidge and Granger but the PNC in their wisdom did not allow such a run off so Granger [and I have nothing against him except that he apparently does not fully understand his situation] given his backers in the PNC, is not a popular candidate, so supporting the PNC is not an option at this time.

   The PPP has the same problem there is division in the party, the selection of Ramoutar and the subsequent discontent among the supporters of the PPP who wanted other people had left the Donald in a vulnerable situation; now I want to say that I like Donald Ramoutar for example we are both big guys over 200 pounds, so our backs really gave us problems in those uncomfortable chairs in the parliament, one night at the 8 PM break I told him that I am going home since my back was killing me, in the next sitting one week later Donald brought photocopies of more than 20 pages from his yoga book to show me how to exercise to get rid of my back pain.

   But the perception of his candidature is that the old guard is back in the saddle with all of the graft and corruption that goes along with it, he even extended an invitation to Jagdeo to join his cabinet; given the present feeling about Jagdeo and what he has done in this country making the PPP for the first time, since it was formed, vulnerable in an election was a really bad move. And to stand on the achievements of the PPP as a political platform is not a great campaign tactic in view of my statistics from the BOG given above.

   His statements about his not being responsible for the sad state of GuySuCo since he was only a director is not compelling, since, as he says, the Board of GuySuCo do not make day to day decisions; but the Skeldon expansion which is the single biggest mistake in this country's history was a policy decision of the Board and he must share in the blame for it, he must also share in the blame of allowing Robert Persaud to make major administrative decisions given that he has no experience to do so; the board should have seen disaster in that situation, and let Tate manage the place unencumbered by an incompetent, but arrogant, Agricultural Minister.

   So here is the situation we now have three choices in this upcoming election it's called Hobson's choice since we seem to be given a choice between the devil, the deep blue sea and the AFC!   

   I have come to the conclusion that Guyana's only hope of progress, development, healing and unity is in something new, made up of major but uncorrupted elements of both the PNCR and the PPPC uniting us at last into one people!