‘Don’t jump up’ – Dr. Singh calls out APNU+AFC on failed leadership, selling pipe dreams

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By Kurt Campbell

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In a stinging rebuke to the APNU+AFC’s contributions over the last five days to the 2022 budget debates, Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh Friday night delivered a chastening presentation – one that had a humbling effect for the coalition Members of Parliament (MPs).

In his usually fluid manner, the Finance Minister said the APNU+AFC sought to discredit the $552.9 billion fiscal plan; to represent ordinary citizens, defend public servants and seek more for the vulnerable when they had not quite apologised for the havoc they wrecked on Guyana while in government.

He labelled the presentations, including the final one delivered by recently resigned Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon as “mumbo-jumbo,” noting that the Opposition MPs “tek they eyes and pass Guyanese.”

“Cardboard President” and “defacto-emperor” were statements used by Dr. Singh to show how far removed the former APNU+AFC administration, including former President David Granger, were from the categories of citizens they now seek to represent.

“… now you have the audacity to talk about openness and transparency and good governance?” Dr. Singh quizzed as he recalled when citizens were forced to take pictures with a cardboard cut of the former president who also rarely engaged the press during his term in office.

“People of Guyana are watching and listening and they are far more informed than the APNU+AFC Members of Parliament would like to give them credit for.

“… you are hypocrites and double standards… and that captures the essence of what the APNU+AFC is all about,” the Finance Minister reasoned.

“We are a listening government; we are not a cardboard government. You operated in an echo chamber where all you heard were your own voices.”

After every slow and well-articulated rise to a point that demonstrated the APNU+AFC’s failure in leadership, Dr. Singh echoed “but yuh jumping up… don’t jump up.”

Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh during his presentation (Photo: DPI/ February 5, 2022)

As he closed the debates, Dr. Singh reflected on the presentations over the last week and said the APNU+AFC Opposition fails to understand that Guyanese need more than ever a serious, credible and capable government.

The Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance holds the view that the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) is just that, noting that no amount of “gymnastics and theatrics” from the Opposition side will change that fact.

“The fact of the matter is that what we were treated to, presentation after presentation, we were reminded of why people’s judgment in 2020 [at the elections] was appropriate then as it is now,” Dr. Singh added.

Dr. Singh said the coalition was devoid of credibility having promised the Guyanese people prior to entering government in 2015 a better life for all but instead took steps to make them more impoverished.

He singled out the paltry increases in old age pension and public servants’ salary when the APNU+AFC made promises to offer significant increases.

Dr. Singh also pointed to the disbandment of the Amerindian Development Fund and the back-peddling on a hinterland policy for development.

“They will thump their chest in failed triumphalism and profess their love for people except that they wreaked havoc on the people of all ten regions of Guyana for all of the five years that they spent in office, from 2015 to 2020,” Dr. Singh said.

He also recalled the closure of sugar estates and the call centre in Linden; the forcing of contracted public servants onto the pensionable establishment and their insistence that public servants must take or lose their annual leave while others were paid for their leave in arrangements that were kept secret.

The Finance Minister accused the coalition of selling pipe dreams while in government but said Guyanese would not be hoodwinked in these modern times.

He said the Granger led government was only interested in creating white paper, green paper and state paper while frustrating the people’s business.

Dr. Singh took time to point out the misinformation presented to the House by two young opposition MPs – Juretha Fernandes and Shurwayen Holder – on the issues of economic growth, gold production and the distribution of oil wealth much to the humour of his colleague MPs.

“Throughout their presentations, all of them, I only selected about two or three examples but I could literally give you dozens of examples where there was a lot of fast and loose with numbers and nonsensical things being thrown at the people of Guyana and I offer these examples with the best of intentions.”

“…And I want to say to those two young members of Parliament, you are young people so don’t play fast and loose with numbers… you have a long history in politics so don’t fall into the trap and be misled by these fossils.”

According to Dr Singh, throughout the week, the government was regaled with nothing but empty theatrics, replete with ample and abundant demonstrations that the coalition is devoid of credibility.

The Finance Minister surmised that the Opposition missed the opportunity to contribute to the debate and support several projects worthy of unanimous support.

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