Dialogue would have been encouraged even if opposition was in minority -President

Georgetown, GINA, August 21, 2013

Dialogue with the political opposition would have been sought by the Government even if the ruling party had won the Parliamentary majority following the 2011 General elections, the Head of State has asserted.

Appearing on a TVG special interview recently, President Ramotar admitted that the combined parliamentary majority has made the tasks of the government difficult, and noted that had the Government been in the majority, there would have been better results in Parliament, and that his approach to the Opposition would have remained the same.

“I think that if I had the majority in Parliament, I would have done the same consultations that I have done with them on the very project because I think it is important to convince people of the goodness of some of these issues,” President Ramotar said.

Since winning a one seat majority the combined political opposition struck several blows to parliamentary norms beginning with a majority vote favouring opposition nominations for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, slashing of budgetary funding for important projects and public agencies, down to a marginal $1 in some instances.

Important development initiatives like the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, (AFHP) the Specialty Hospital, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport project, airstrip maintenance, and projects under the purview of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) all suffered at the hands of the opposition’s actions.

For the last two consecutive years, the Opposition has sought to thwart development, and has used its one-seat majority in Parliament to vote down or delay many critical legislations and bills needed to move further key critical projects that will enhance significantly the lives of every Guyanese.

At the ruling party’s last congress, President Ramotar had argued that the opposition fails to realise that that every time they pat themselves on the back for supposedly embarrassing the Government, it is in fact a defeat for the brighter future they claim to want for the populace.

It was the same posturing that resulted in Guyana losing prestigious international partners and a hydro project that was the closest in the country’s history to becoming a reality.

The opposition party APNU voted against the Hydro Electric Power (Amendment) Bill and debt ceiling motion, and while the Alliance For Change belatedly supported the bill, it reduced the debt ceiling from $130B to $50B.  The opposition’s actions lead to the investor Sithe Global pulling out of the project.

Determined to win opposition support for critical development projects, President Ramotar recently made another pitch for the opposition to sit and review the different positions on the stalled project.

“I know that there is history, I know that we have a past, and I know that there would be suspicions, sometimes I believe that the Opposition get carried away with their own propaganda and start believing some of the things themselves that they are saying so that is why I think that dialogue is very important,” he said.

The President has long held the view of working in consensus with the Opposition, and during the campaign leading up to the 2011 election, publicly stated his commitment, if he was elected President, to work with the Opposition and any other stakeholder group in the interest of the development of Guyana.


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