Guyana Politics: APNU+AFC launches `ambitious, agreeable and attainable’ manifesto

Granger: `It is not a campaign manifesto it is a contract. An agreement with the people of Guyana for the next five years and beyond’

President David Granger (centre) with the manifesto
President David Granger (centre) with the manifesto

On the occasion of its 5th anniversary as a coalition, the governing APNU+AFC launched its manifesto for the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections promising among other things conditional cash transfers, non-custodial sentences for the possession of small quantities of marijuana and constitutional reform,  the latter of which it failed to deliver as per its 2015 pledge.

Speaking at the launch President David Granger described the manifesto as “ambitious, agreeable and attainable”.         

“It is not a campaign manifesto it is a contract. An agreement with the people of Guyana for the next five years and beyond; what I call the decade of development,” he stressed.

According to Granger while parties are always tempted to overpromise ahead of elections the incumbent has used its experience over the last four years to create a realistic general strategy for development.

“We have been in government and have brought our experience to bear on crafting this manifesto. We will do what we promise to do. We will perform. We are not trying to bamboozle the electorate, we are capable of delivering everything in this document. Year after year you will see how this manifesto unfolds in providing services to the people of this country,” he stressed adding that the manifesto is also affordable as the party “knows how it will be financed.”

We have made plans for the judicious and prudent use of revenue to ensure that everything we promised will be delivered, he further explained

He cautioned that persons should not look to the manifesto for projects specific to their community but rather pay attention to sectorial promises across the nine identified sectors including governance, energy, and security.

Notably Constitutional Reform which in 2015 was a flagship promise has made a return to the 2020 manifesto. It is the first promise under the incumbent’s “governance program”

The APNU+AFC  is promising to “continue the work of the Constitutional Reform Consultative Commission, continue the allocation of funding for country-wide, community consultations and commit to contributing to a Constitution which reflect the will of the wider society, country-wide.

These rather vague, general promises stand as a stark contrast to the 2015 promise of reduced presidential powers.

In 2015 the then opposition promised that within three months of taking office, an APNU+AFC government would appoint a Commission to amend the Constitution with the full participation of the people.

“The new Constitution will put the necessary checks and balances in place to consolidate our ethos of liberal democracy. Freedom of speech, reduction of the power of the President and the Bill of Rights will be enshrined in the document,” the 2015 document stated.

Cash transfers which is a policy first floated by the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) has also made an appearance.

According to the manifesto, conditional cash transfers will be implemented based on a feasibility or pilot study.

The cash transfers are expected to include Nutritional Support, Housing Support, Public Transport and a Single-Parent support programme as well as vouchers for day-care and elder-care services, adult remedial classes and training, increased stipends for students of technical institutes, nursing schools, school of home economics and the Guyana School of Agriculture.

While the original proposal was to have these transfers directly funded by revenue from the oil and gas sector there is no mention of this linkage in the manifesto.

In fact there is no mention of specific uses of oil revenue rather the promised economic programme is proposed to “unlock economic potential through prudent use of enhance resources.”

Under the governance programme the incumbent has promised to fully implement the Natural Resource Fund Act and implement the recommendation of the Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Report from the 2017 fiscal year in order to improve the EITIi process.

They have also promised to implement measures within the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to monitor the oil and gas sector and institutionalize the new production sharing model and amend the Petroleum and Production Act.

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