GEORGETOWN, Guyana, January 23, 2019 (CMC) – The Newly-elected presidential candidate of Guyana’s main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Irfaan Ali, on Sunday night, outlined some of the main priorities of the party, if it is elected to office in regional and general elections, later this year.
The PPP has been calling for the polls to be held by March, in keeping with the Guyana constitution, after its general secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo, successfully tabled a motion of no confidence against the David Granger-led coalition government, last month. The PPP received the backing of then-government back-bencher, Charrandass Persaud, in ensuring victory in the 65-member National Assembly, on December 21, last year.
Ali, who last weekend, said that he was “extremely humbled” with the party’s decision to pick him to lead it into the next election, told a public meeting, in Leonora, on the west coast of the country, on Sunday night, that funds from the oil sector would be used to drive the economy.
“We already have a plan and program that will see more than US$500 million invested in Guyana, from year one, under the next People’s Progressive Party/Civic government. We did this before, without oil and gas, and we’ll do it even better in the next government, on a much larger scale, with the arrival of oil and gas,” he told the meeting.
Guyana is expected to begin oil production, next year, following successful exploration by the US-based oil giant, ExxonMobil. The country says it expects to earn at least US$300 million, annually, from the sector.
The 38-year-old Ali, who held several ministerial portfolios under the last PPP government, said oil and gas gives Guyana the platform to further develop other important sectors.
He said these would include the construction of a deep water harbour, with links to Brazil, and the creation of new opportunities, such as logistics, hotels, restaurants and brokerage services.
“These are all things that will be done, under the People’s Progressive Party Civic government,” he told supporters, adding that young people would also benefit from the new revenues.
“That is why, in the next PPP-Civic government, we’ll be creating more than 50,000 new jobs all across this country,” he stated, adding that the plan would include the creation of an information communications technology (ICT)-driven education-online, distance-learning platform to deliver tertiary education to 20,000 youths, as well as involve young people in e-security, governance, health and education.
Ali, who easily defeated former attorney general, Anil Nandlall, by 24 votes to 11, in last Saturday’s race to be the party’s presidential candidate, said that a PPP government would revive its housing program, by delivering 50,000 house-lots, including 15,000 in Region Three (West Demerara-Essequibo Islands).
He said top-class healthcare would include the construction of the long-planned specialty hospital.
Following his selection last Saturday, Ali brushed aside the pending 19 fraud charges that he is currently facing in the Courts, telling reporters that he would cross that bridge at the appropriate time.
He also downplayed rumours, regarding his academic qualifications, adding that he would continue to provide documents, to confirm his qualifications and would not be bothered by rumours and any smear campaign against him.
He said his focus now would be to lead the party to victory in the elections.
The PPP was defeated by Granger’s coalition of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) parties, in the 2015 regional and general elections.
The PPP said that its manifesto team was supposed to meet, on Monday, and Jagdeo acknowledged that Ali had made reference to some of the policies, likely to be in the document.