Two years on; Citizens adapting to ‘Change’- Minister Jordan
Today (Thursday, May 11, 2017) marks two years since the historic May 2015 General and Regional Elections which saw the APNU+AFC Coalition being elected to office.
Though the Minister of Finance has left the Government’s rating to the citizens, he feels that persons are still getting accustomed to the “change” they would have voted for.
“It is the Change that you voted for and is the Change that has been descended upon you and sometimes it is difficult to accept change. Even though you know the social societies wanted Change, when that Change come, there were many people who hankered back to the socialist days because they didn’t know how to adapt to the new realities of the Change,” he said.
However, he believes that there are still a number of things to be proud of, including increased accountability and transparency.
Leading up to the 2015 Elections, the APNU+AFC Coalition presented an action programme to be completed in its first 100 days in office. First on the list of 21 items of the programme was a reduction of the Berbice Bridge Toll which was done at the start of 2016.
The Coalition had promised to significantly increase the salary of public servants, and though many would not have been satisfied, the Government argues that it has increased the minimum wage and to $50,000; granted a 5% across-the-board and a one-off bonus of $50,000 in 2015, along with a 1-10% increase for different workers in 2016. It also promised an increase in old age pension which is now close to $20,000.
The third item on the list was a phased reduction of VAT and the removal of the tax from food and other items. In the 2017 Budget, while VAT was reduced from 16% to 14%, it was added to the consumption of Water and Electricity. Additionally, all zero rated items including private education and health care supplies and services, were removed.
The Coalition also promised to: reduce the President’s pension and other benefits, set a date for the holding of Local Government Elections, establish an Investigative Commission on Corruption, liberalise the Telecommunications and ICT sectors, implement an amended Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act, and to establish the Public Procurement Commission; all of which has seen some progress.
The Action Programme also catered for;
- The establishment of passport and birth certificate offices in Berbice, Essequibo and Linden- While offices were not established, the services were extended to the areas.
- Return of Television station to Lindeners
- Waiving duties on fuel, tools, and small-scale mining equipment
- Establishment of a National Cane Workers and Cane Farmers Conference
- Establishment of a National Rice Farmers and Rice Millers Conference
- Establishment of a Task Force on Crime and Security and on Road Safety
- Holding of a National Conference on Women and bi-partisan women working group as part of the Healing of the Nation and National Unity thrust of the APNU+AFC.
- The Gender policy will be collectively drafted by women across Guyana as an output from the conference
- Establishment of a Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians, Ministers, and other holding high positions in Government public office to abide by , including mechanisms for demitting Office if in violation of a Code of Conduct- The Code of Conduct is in limbo following concerns raised by the Opposition.
- Convening of a National Youth Council with the mandate, terms of reference, and programme of action produced for endorsement at a National Youth Conference
- Holding of an Indigenous Rights and Resources Conference and the National Toshaos Council re-assessed and de-politicised
- Adoption of a long-term sustainable economic development plan to realise the vast potential of Guyana