With the observance of the country’s 56th year of independence on Thursday, A New and United Guyana (ANUG) says all must ponder a most important question—Have Guyanese been truly independent?
The party which is led by former House Speaker and Attorney-at-Law, Ralph Ramkarran does not believe this to be so, especially when it reflects on the actions of the country’s two largest parties, specifically the one now in office, the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C).
ANUG pointed out that most recently, the government has created “out of thin air” 2000 public service jobs in Essequibo. Guyana Standard understands that these 2000 jobs form part of the government’s part-time work programme and are worth approximately $1B. The initiative will allow for persons to work at government agencies for 10 days, at the end of which they will receive $40,000.
While this may seem on the surface to be a masterful or commendable achievement, ANUG posited that it is underpinned by a most sinister objective. The party characterized it as being “just another form of cash handouts.” It commented that such measures do not foster financial viability or independence. “Instead, they create dependence on the Government for handouts, so that the beneficiaries of the gravy are silenced by the hand which feeds them. They have been silenced…”
ANUG said one ought to bear in mind that true independence is the freedom of self-determination; the freedom to exercise the fundamental rights afforded to individuals without restriction or oppression.
The party further noted that the central tenet of independence is the freedom to elect one’s leaders by way of a fair and democratic process. Importantly, ANUG asserted that there must also be freedom of expression and freedom of the media so that citizens can be objectively informed of events in order to develop fair opinions.
Adding to the foregoing points, it said, “We endured rigged elections which have deprived us of the right to democratic self-determination. Both large parties, while in Government, have maintained State media for propaganda purposes; using revenue to prop up the Chronicle and NCN media houses to spout the government line and using oppressive methods to scrutinize and punish the independent media withholding Government advertising and radio licences.”
Another pillar, it said, must be access to justice, with an independent judiciary and police force, enforcing laws that are fair and predictable. “For over two decades, the two large parties have failed to agree on the appointment of a substantive Chancellor or Chief Justice, undermining the independence of the judiciary and creating an atmosphere of intimidation and political interference in the judicial system. In the past two years the Government has failed to appoint a Judicial Service Commission or a Police Service Commission,” the political party stated. The party alluded that this state of affairs obviously weakens a country’s power to be truly independent at the level of governance.
ANUG also contended that independence is impossible without the possibility of financial self-determination on a level playing field of equal competition in business and adequate pay in the workplace.
Instead of creating a fair and transparent economic environment to encourage independent business enterprise, ANUG also accused the government of giving out contracts on a family and friends basis, artificially propping up the Guyana Sugar Corporation with tax dollars, and spending billions in cash handouts that cannot be accounted.
As Guyanese rejoice about meeting its 56th milestone, ANUG alluded that citizens must remain conscious of the real issues that are masked by the pomp and ceremony.