It is only fair that the traditional honeymoon period of three months of the new APNU+AFC administration be exhausted before its performance is assessed. The Government has a plan against which a judgment will be made. It is called the hundred-day programme. Little is heard of it nowadays but we, the people, who are intended to be its beneficiaries, are looking forward anxiously to its fulfillment.
The public is not familiar with the inner workings of Governments and we acknowledge that urgent events are demanding attention. Last week it was the heavy rains and flooding which required top priority – a 4 am Cabinet meeting. It is not known if all Ministers were able to make it. During the time of the previous government, attendance would not have posed a problem. Much of the Cabinet would have been making their way home at that time. All that would have been required was a diversion to State House, which is just a drink away from Palm Court.
The week before it was the rice situation. It was mistakenly believed that the Venezuelans had unilaterally, suddenly and without notice, cancelled the contract. This information was not correct but the Government was justified in its conclusion, even from the flimsiest evidence. After all, the Venezuelans, on flimsier evidence, have unilaterally, suddenly and without notice claimed Guyana’s entire Atlantic front, having already claimed Essequibo. That’s what Venezuelan Governments do and how they act. Therefore, the Government was justified in its suspicion. The Government accused the PPP of colluding with the Venezuelans by knowing of and concealing their dastardly, but non-existent, design. What else could be expected of the PPP?
Dominating the honeymoon news has been the sending of officials on leave and recovering of State assets. The President’s son, Alexei Ramotar and Leslie Cadogan, Permanent Secretary, have been the latest victims. There is also the troubling question of that company which unauthorizedly took gasoline ($200,000 worth?) from Guyoil but had surreptitiously changed its address to avoid payment. There is so much information of Government chasing after the PPP that there is no room left for real news, such as progress on the hundred-day programme. Presumably, there is no end to PPP wickedness.
The de facto Opposition (not yet official) is ignoring the honeymoon. Its major focus, believe it or not, is Government’s alleged unlawful spending activities? It accused Government officials of attending the recent APNU+AFC New York celebrations at Government expense. But the de facto Opposition might have expended its energy more productively on mourning the loss of support of its hitherto loyal Consul General, Brentnol Evans, who up to the day before the elections, was a strong supporter of the PPP. Seeing the light at last after two decades plus of darkness, he attended the New York APNU+AFC rally in full regalia – from hat to shoes, including jacket, shirt, trousers and tie, in material of loud yellow and green, and was on stage! Word is that he has stored away his kurta. It is not true that in the past he had and wore a dhoti.
Then President Granger was sourly accused of using State funds to celebrate his birthday. Even if it were true, give the President a break! At least we have a President who does not scowl and abuse his opponents. And we are only now becoming accustomed again, since 2011 and First Lady Deolatchmie, to having a First Lady after years of drought during part of the Jagdeo Presidency when the delightful First Lady Varshnie announced, to much popular support, that she couldn’t stand her ‘husband’ anymore. And what a great birthday photograph of President David and First Lady Sandra! Maintaining the sourness, with tongue in cheek, the following day the de facto Opposition accused the Government of causing the flood, a phenomenon caused by heavy rains, an Act of God, combined with past neglect.
The important issue for the Government during its honeymoon is the hundred-day programme. It must be restored to the forefront by placing it on the agenda of every Cabinet meeting. I recently wrote about the Cummingsburg Accord. What I said attracted public comment, including one by the Minister Harmon accusing ‘opponents’ of the Government (presumably me and other contributors to the discussion) of trying to sow discord. During the height of the alleged discord, Prime Minister Nagamootoo applied a healing balm. He revealed that at one Cabinet Meeting the President chaired part and he chaired another part. He said nothing about his management of domestic affairs.
I would therefore recommend that the Prime Minister be placed in charge of managing the fulfillment of the hundred-day programme and that the Prime Minister chairs that portion of Cabinet meetings. Therefore, at one and the same time he would be chairing at least part of the Cabinet meetings and be responsible for at least part of the domestic agenda. The Prime Minister would then be able to deny that the AFC had (fully) capitulated on the Cummingsburg Accord and claim that it is being implemented with the adjustments necessary to make it workable in circumstances of holding office. Who knows, the supporters of the AFC might be convinced, while the PNCR would smile knowingly.