Pres Ali fires back at civil society organisations

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… says concerns over accountability, transparency lopsided, nonsensical

Stating that his Government will not give into an agenda that is attempting to hinder the progress of development in Guyana, President Irfaan Ali, on Thursday, fired back at a group of civil society organisations that just days ago expressed grave concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability in the decision making process on matters of national development.

“We are not going to succumb to an agenda that is trying to slow the development process of our country and the development of our people,” President Irfaan Ali said told News Source during an exclusive interview on Thursday.

Last week a number of civil society organisations called on the Ali Administration to amend the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Act, and to ensure the selection processes in both the NRF and the Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GYEITI) are credible, transparent, trustworthy and in the nation’s interest.

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“The bewildering pace and range of official decision-making is rendering the Government accountable to no one, generating a widely felt dilemma of who to trust and what to believe. There is no longer any official institution or agency to which anyone – including those sympathetic to the administration – can turn for an objective assessment of major issues affecting the future of Guyana,” the civil society organisations said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The statement was also endorsed by the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), the Guyana Society for the Blind, Guyana Workers’ Union (GWU), Policy Forum Guyana Inc., the Guyana Organisation of Indigenous Peoples, Community-Based Rehabilitation, East Coast Development Committees and the Ursuline Sisters in Guyana.

But the statement did not sit well with President Ali, who accused the organisations of being politically motivated. He said while his Government believes that civil society has an important role to play in any democratic society, that role cannot be convenient or lopsided.

“These organisations cannot be the conscience of truth or the conscience of society when they are convenient in the way they address issues. Many of the organisations had nothing to say after the No-Confidence Motion, they had nothing to say during the five months of impasse where our country’s integrity and credibility was damaged because of what took place,” the President said.

President Ali sad that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration was elected based on its Manisfesto, and it therefore has a responsibility to implement that manifesto, as effectively and comprehensively as it possibly can.

He posited that ahead of the 2020 General and Regional Elections, organizations and groups inclusive of those mentioned in the statement, made a mockery of the PPP/C’s commitment to deliver 50,000 jobs and 50,000 house lots. He said, now, those very organizations are complaining about the pace of development.

“This is the first country in the world where people are complaining about the pace at which Government is going. What nonsense [is that]? It’s nonsensical, it’s ridiculous, it’s laughable that someone would complain about the pace at which Government is going,” the President lamented.

He made it clear that his Government will aggressively pursue its agenda in keeping with its Manisfesto promise.

“These are targets that we set in our manifesto, these are targets that we were elected upon, the projects that we are pursuing are projects that we presented to the electorate, and they elected us as a government to deliver on those projects. Let me be clear, we are going to move at even an accelerated pace to ensure that commitments we made to the people of this country are realised and that our social contract, which we were elected must be achieved,” the President made clear.

The civil society organisations, in their joint statement, said that the Government extricate itself from accountability when it stripped the Natural Resources Fund (NRF) Legislation of the Public Oversight and Accountability Committee, reduced the Environmental and Protection Agency to a rubber stamp and appointed a high profile party member to the Head of the Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GYEITI).

But the President, in his Government’s defense, said every project undertaken by Government is subject to scrutiny at the level of the National Assembly and are publicly advertised through Expressions of Interest. “We have established a clear vision for the transformation of our country, we have established a clear vision for the economic development of our country but it is clear that there are some organisations that are convenient with the truth and that are political in nature, and they cannot help themselves, they cannot help themselves and their political bias, and I do not have an issue if these organisations inherently have a political bias or a political agenda but they must they must not hide under the cloak of independence. They cannot hide under the cloak of independence,” the President said.

He said the agenda being pursued is to benefit of Guyana and its people. “… the role that we are playing not only in Guyana but in the region, is for the upliftment of Guyana, the upliftment of Guyanese and the positioning of Guyana as a country with integrity, a country with democracy and a country which the rule of law must be the basis upon which decisions are made, and the development of our country is advanced. And for this I have no apology,” he stated.

Further, he assured that the Government will consult with the Opposition on matters of national interest where the Constitution mandates.



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