Use of State resources for campaigning ‘is an advantage to incumbency’- Ramjattan

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Prime Ministerial Candidate for the APNU+AFC Coalition Khemraj Ramjattan says he sees nothing wrong with using State resources for campaigning.

In fact, the first Vice President of the incumbent administration said it is “an advantage to incumbency.”

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday last, the AFC Leader who also heads the security sector was asked about the use of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) helicopter by his running mate –President David Granger –to attend a campaign rally at Hopetown, West Coast Berbice (WCB) on January 08, 2020.

In response, Ramjattan said, “it is ridiculous to make the argument that the President of a country cannot use the State resources to get him to one end of the country and you know it is even more ludicrous to make even that point that he is using State resources.”

Ramjattan added that Mr Granger remains the President of Guyana until a new President is sworn in.

“…and if for purposes he would like to use the helicopter belonging to those State agencies with helicopters, there is absolutely nothing wrong about that. It is the norm of every other democracy I know even during campaign purposes,” the PM Candidate told the media.

President David Granger and Leader of the Alliance For Change, Khemraj Ramjattan in conversation at the Bertram Collins College of Public Service’s first graduation ceremony in December 2017 (DPI photo)

Ramjattan, whose party members also head the Department of Public Information (DPI), was asked about the use of that agency to live stream the APNU+AFC campaign rallies.

This, he said, is one of the advantages of being in Government at the time.

The APNU and AFC while in opposition had criticized the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government for using State resources to campaign. The parties had particularly protested the use of the State media and DPI which was then named the Government Information Agency (GINA) and cut the budget for that entity and the National Communications Network to $1 each in 2012.

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo –now Opposition Leader –continues to bemoan the content released by the DPI, NCN and the Guyana Chronicle. Speaking at his weekly press conference Thursday last, Jagdeo said the use of State resources is unfair to other parties.

Ramjattan, however, said the governing political parties are not allowed to spend Government monies for campaigning.

“I believe that there is a line and that is you cannot take what is called monies and put for party purposes, for a ministry. Like the Ministry of Public Security, cannot ask the Ministry for $1M or $1 for purposes of a political party during the campaign,” Ramjattan explained.

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