The transformative agenda envisioned by the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), after it takes office at the next General and Regional Elections, encompasses major initiatives and major projects, according to the PPP/C presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali.
In a recent interview he said, “Sometimes when you go out to the community persons would like to hear, yes you’re doing roads, you’re doing drainage, you will be building schools, and you will be building health centers. But what are those new initiatives, the key initiatives that would expand opportunity, create jobs, enhance livelihood, improve community life and result in the benefit – not only of citizens in our country, but will result in a sustainable roadmap for economic growth and prosperity for Guyana and Guyanese? For this, there are some major initiatives.”
Among the initiatives he detailed were:
• Investments in hinterland roads, in improving transportation link, in reducing the cost of transportation. Some $2B will be set aside every year at a minimum in terms of helping to maintain and build hinterland roads. • Upgrade of Hinterland air strips.
• Expand agriculture and mega farms to ensure that there is greater, easier and less costly access to markets. • Affordable and clean energy, since the present cost of energy is unsustainable and Guyana cannot be competitive, while the present cost also sees much of household disposable income being sucked up in the cost of energy.
• Hydropower for clean and affordable energy.
• Development of community grids via the use of solar panels in different communities that are off the national grid.
• A review of the gas potential and natural gas, with a view of having clean, sustainable and affordable energy that will drive industrial that development, manufacturing, processing and reduce household cost of electricity.
• A deep water harbour.
He said, “We have to make sure that the infrastructure we are investing in creates great growt, so we have new areas of growth, new areas of opportunity, new areas of economic life and this will help us to really diversify…. it is not only about doing a project, it’s about planning, on understanding how that project or how that initiative or how that investment would lead to wider more sustainable growth and opportunities for people down the road.” Ali added, “Critically linked to all of these initiatives that has what we call the transitional benefit or what we call a multiplier effect…. an example is with housing, you will have hardware stores benefit and the trucks that has a transport stone and the quarries will benefit from the production of stone, the production of sand…so all of these things are linked.”
FOCUS BEYOND OIL AND GAS
According to him, oil and gas will be a catalyst to creating a transformative agenda and creating the opportunities for the expanded base of the economy, as well as creating an output that would widen job access and economic opportunities for all Guyanese. “The oil and gas sector will help us as a catalyst to move this forward very quickly,” he said. However, he stressed there must also be a focus outside of the oil and gas sector to ensure sustainable development.
He said, “When the 2019 manifesto is released, Guyanese will see a number of other major projects that are critically linked to the sustainable pathway for Guyana and many of these projects are outside the realm of oil and gas. “Of course oil and gas will be a catalyst it will help us get there faster. It will help us to reach the destination faster to be a catalyst for growth and development, but it’s not the all means to an end and that is how we’re going to avoid a Dutch disease – by ensuring you build these sectors and build these opportunities in other areas and other sectors that will create wealth and are sustainable.
“It is important for us to understand this and for us to do this and I know that it has to be part of the equation of growth and development… we have to ensure that our economic growth is multifaceted and it’s not focused in one area and that is why we were able to ride out the economic depression about ten years ago – and do so successfully while many other countries suffered. It was great planning and great initiatives that help us to do that.”
Ali noted that the plans detailed by the PPP/C in its 2015 manifesto address critical issues, but were left unimplemented. He pointed out too that most opportunities for advances were squandered by the caretaker APNU+AFC Coalition government. The PPP/C presidential candidate said, “I want persons who were listening to this program and who will be reading our 2019 manifesto to do so in conjunction with our 2015 manifesto because in our 2015 manifesto we identified some critical issues and some critical items some critical projects that would have propelled that into a future that would have been prosperous a lot of those initiatives were left unimplemented as a result of the what took place in 2015. “We have seen a lack of clarity and vision that is really resulted in a lack of vision there is no clear vision there is no clear path way under this government as to where Guyana is going.”
Outside of the major plans, Ali pointed out that the move forward must be done on parallel approaches. He said, “We have to understand as a country that we have to operate on two parallels. One on the first parallel we have to fix the existing because the existing has many difficulties. While we’re fixing the existing we have to work rapidly on the other parallel of leapfrogging our country in the future…we have to invest strategically in training and certification for young people ensuring that we have the necessary human resource potential qualified and competent with a necessary experience to leapfrog us into the future.”
“If we work in a continuous flow to get there it will take us too long. The lag would be too long so what we have to do is work on two parallel approaches… we have to set up the type of investment initiatives on this parallel that will drive us into the future that will sustain that future.” The PPP/C presidential candidate noted that with excerpts of the PPP/C manifesto released Guyanese will have a deeper understanding about the pathway, to progress, development, job creation and opportunities for all Guyanese.