Walrond slams APNU+AFC ‘racialising’ of budget debates; holds herself as proof gov’t is inclusive
Using herself as an example of the People’s Progressive Party Civic’s (PPP/C’s) inclusiveness, Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond on Wednesday had cause to upbraid the APNU+AFC Coalition Opposition for what she said was the “radicalising and racialising” of the policy debate on the 2021 National Budget.
The minister said despite her family’s well-known connections to the APNU+AFC, she was chosen to serve in Dr Irfaan Ali’s Cabinet, something she believes speaks to a party and a philosophy that cannot credibly be held out to be racist and non-inclusive.
The minister, who was speaking on the second day of the debates, called for an end to the race-bait debating by the coalition Members of Parliament and said attention should be given to addressing the government’s policies, which is supported by the $383.1 billion fiscal plan.
Walrond also took a jab at the coalition for referring to Afro-Guyanese members of the Cabinet as “tokens.”
“… this is not just window dressing Mr Speaker; take a look at the portfolios that have been assigned to those of us whom the opposition would dismiss as tokens… people can examine for themselves how portfolios were assigned under the APNU+AFC government. I don’t have to delve into their record; it is there and speaks for itself. Suffice it to say, Mr Speaker, as a person new to politics, my own responsibilities are far in excess of those that the previous administration sought to confer even on their Prime Minister,” she said.
Walrond said with the reckless disregard for the social cohesion, which the Coalition profess to embrace, it continues to allege “ethnic cleansing”.
“Shameful! The members on the other side have doubled down with chants of ethnic cleansing with respect to separations in the public sector and I want to confront this frontally … I want to remind you, that in the heady days after the 2015 election, Guyanese were promised a neutral and professional public service. That was the promise Mr Speaker but what did we in fact get?” she quizzed.
The minister, in defence of the PPP/C government parting ways with some public servants when it assumed office in August 2020, said it was done because those persons openly indicated that they were adamantly opposed under any circumstances, to President Ali and to any PPP government.
“They openly said so! Some took to social media, some took to the mainstream press, some even took to the streets. Some of these public servants were captured on camera praying and referring to anyone outside of their chosen political circle as devils. Some said that the PPP/C was rigging the election. Others said that any PPP/C administration would be illegitimate under any circumstances. Some said they had no intention nor inclination to work with a PPP/C government. These sentiments were not hidden. They were openly and bluntly expressed and, in some cases, unrelenting in their frequency,” she added.
Walrond said to the House that half of what was never told is that the APNU+AFC aligned public servants were uninterested in doing the job and were instead absorbed in simply being obstructionists.