People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Presidential Candidate, Dr Irfaan Ali told a massive crowd in Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo) that the party has committed to providing resources for hinterland communities to implement development plans that will see the region progress.
He was at the time addressing residents of Lethem and surrounding communities as the party held another successful rally on Sunday.
Ali pointed out that should the party win the upcoming polls then within the first month, the new Government will convene a development conference for hinterland and riverine communities. He noted that during that conference, they will work with leaders of hinterland villages and communities to devise plans.
“But much more than this, we are going to commit the resources to finance and implement those plans to bring benefit to your communities,” he assured.
The presidential hopeful pointed out that these development plans will aim at improving livelihoods of residents and ultimately, the region.
“It must support village economy. It must support community tourism. It must support social services. You deserve better health care, you deserve better education. You deserve better water supply. You deserve more jobs. You deserve more scholarships. You deserve a better transportation system. You deserve a better Government and that Government is coming on March 2 and will bring these things,” Ali declared to loud cheers from the residents.
He posited that the PPP regime is motivated and committed to returning hinterland villages and the region to prosperity.
Prepare to return to work
The PPP/C Presidential Candidate added that the 2000 young people who lost their jobs as Community Support Officers (CSOs) under the incumbent coalition Government should prepare to return to work when his party gets into office.
“Those nurses, teachers, health workers, medics, who when I visit the community, complain about the conditions under which they work and about the treatment from the RDC [Regional Democratic Council] and REO [Regional Executive Officer] who complain about the mistreatment, after March 2 your freedom, right and protection will return; and you will be treated with dignity, honour and pride under PPP Government,” he stated.
According to Ali, when the PPP left office in 2015, it left resources to improve the lives of hinterland communities but these were all taken away by the coalition Government. He said they took away the money in the Basic Needs Trust Fund as well as the computers under the One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) programme and the solar panels that were set aside for hinterland communities.
He pointed out that a PPP/C regime will ensure that every child has access to not only primary but secondary education. In addition, he noted that they are also going to increase the hinterland scholarship programme. Hinterland residents will also benefit from the 20,000 new scholarships that Ali plans to grant.
“For [the] first time, we will make UG [University of Guyana] education accessible to everyone in Region Nine through online and distant learning so that they can have university education without leaving the region. And we are going to connect the output of the education system with the economy so that jobs will be created for them when they graduate,” the presidential hopeful promised.
Expansion of the school uniform programme is also another initiative the PPP/C regime will ensure. He noted that they will train women in the communities and equip them with sewing machines so that they can supply uniforms. This way, the money from the programme will remain within the villages and communities.
In keeping with that theme, Ali outlined that they will also expand the school feeding programme and ensure it is connected to the local economy. He noted that agricultural products will be used in that programme to build village economies and keep the wealth of the region within.
Additionally, he promised a better transportation system in the hinterland so that children can have easier access to schools. “We are going to invest in roads, airstrips and water supply to bring down the cost of transportation. And in doing that, we are going to bring down the cost of living, the cost of food and we will be able to put back more money into your pockets,” he stated.
Ali also assured the Region Nine residents that his Administration will link their communities to the future and give them better internet access. He pointed out that the current WiFi programme being implemented by the coalition is a PPP initiative. But he said that this means nothing if the right equipment is not used to maximise services to the residents.
Another PPP project, he said the incumbent administration failed at implementing is the solar power programme.
“This Government did nothing but maintain the batteries. So not only are we going to replace the batteries to ensure that the solar power is working, but we are not going to stop until every single family, every single village will have access to solar power. That is what your Government will bring back,” he promised.
Meanwhile, his running mate, PPP/C Prime Ministerial Candidate (ret’d) Brigadier Mark Phillips told the residents of Region Nine that while the coalition stole plans that the PPP left and passed it off as their own, they have failed to properly implement them.
Recognising the potential of the region, he posited that the PPP/C will reverse all the mistakes and wrongs of the incumbent Administration. But he noted that the only way this can be done is if the thousands of them that gathered there for the rally, show up at the polls on March 2 and cast their votes next to the cup – PPP/C’s party symbol.
“This is not a war with weapons, this is a war that we going to win by putting our ‘x’ next to the cup. The 2nd [of] March, just like we marched down the road, we going to march to the polling stations in every village, in every town and put your ‘x’ next to the cup. That is victory,” he declared.