Williams warns against new PNC/R leadership
By Devina Samaroo
The 20th Biennial Congress of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) got underway Friday afternoon with a charge from incumbent Chairman Basil Williams for the party delegates to elect a leadership that can help president David Granger deliver the good life he promised Guyanese.
Williams, who is running again for the second highest elected party position, used his platform of delivering opening remarks, to toot his horn in a last-minute campaign before internal elections in two days.
“As someone who has grown up in this party, I can testify to our commitment to the Guyanese people and for this reason I am proud to be associated with this great party of ours,” Williams stated, noting that he was mentored by all the leaders of the party leading up to President David Granger.
“My experience as a young person in the party thought me the value of hard work and I attribute my success in life to the time I spent serving this great party,” he added.
Williams, who is currently serving as Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, urged delegates to elect “our most tested, tried and proven comrades” including those with a history of “sharing and distribution to enable us to gain the confidence of the electorate to win the national and regional elections.”
His contenders for the spot are Party stalwarts Volda Lawrence and Joseph Harmon, other popular members of the PNC/R.
Without naming his competitors, Williams warned against “outside interference and influence in our party structure”.
Arguing that now is not the time to experiment or to take chances, he contended that “if the blind leads the blind, they both shall fall into the bottomless pit.”
“It is therefore vital that President David Granger has a winning team to help him to continue in government so he can give the Guyanese people the good life he promised them,” Williams posited.
Williams had previously told reporters “why change a winning team?” as he made reference to himself being at the helm of the PNC/R as it won the 2015 General and Regional Elections.
The incumbent Chairman also outlined his vision for the party, saying that the PNC/R needs to reconnect with the grassroots.
“As Chairman, my long-term plan is to put in place a council that would work closely with party chairs … throughout the regions … to assist in resolving issues that are affecting our grassroots communities.”
He also openly embraced the concept of new leadership, saying the old must work with the new to develop Guyana.
Quoting biblical scriptures, Williams said, “God will pour out his spirit on all flesh and old men will dream dreams and young men will see visions.”
Granger, PNC/R’s unchallenged Leader, spoke about the progress made under the coalition administration, of which his party is the most dominant.
“Our coalition Government has worked to improve the living standards of the average worker, including teachers,” he expressed, in direct response to ongoing concerns of teachers who are preparing for a countrywide strike.
He noted that the minimum wage of public servants and teachers increased by over 50 per cent, or from $39,540 to $60,000, adding that monthly old-age pensions increased by 48.6% from $13,125 to $19,500 and public assistance by 35.5% from $5,900 to $8,000.
The disposable income of workers has been boosted by the increase in the income-tax threshold and by a reduction in the income-tax rate,” he expressed.
Basil Williams, Volda Lawrence and Joseph Harmon are vying for the second highest elected position, that is the chairmanship.
Long-serving members Christopher Jones, Annette Ferguson, Winston Felix, Cosbert Roberts, George Norton, Joseph Harmon, and Volda Lawrence are in the race for vice chairmanship.
Following the elections on Sunday, the new executives will head to the Stabroek Market Square for a major rally.