Thursday, March 30, 2006

Stella Says...How does your party rank for the upcoming elections?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 30 March 2006)

I think it would be helpful for the voters to have a comparison checklist of the various parties contesting the upcoming elections. This checklist would help the voters make an informed decision based on pertinent national issues and should include such parties as PPP/C, PNCR, AFC, GAP/ROAR, JFA, NFA and GTF (if they still exist).

I compiled a list of some of the national issues I would like to see addressed by the next administration a few months ago. These issues may change from person to person depending on what is most important in that voter’s life.

Here is the list I compiled:

  • A comprehensive economic plan to seriously reduce poverty. I believe the economic state of the nation to be paramount since it influences other aspects of society, such as crime and corruption. The nation does not need to hear a bunch of hype and hot air; it needs a strategy that has merit, which includes a strategy to revamp the economy and show the areas of focus for job creation and the areas that would receive less attention due to the changes in market value.

  • A scheme to systematically overhaul the law enforcement and judicial systems, including the introduction of a plan for consistent transparency and accountability. A functioning checks and balance system needs to be instituted to combat the rampant crime should include jail time for conspirators against the interests of the justice – such as informants and those who accept bribes. There needs to be tougher laws, an untainted and competent police force and judges who are willing to enforce the law and impose strict sentences in a judicious and consistent manner.

  • A foreign policy that encourages imports and exports with our neighbouring countries in South America and the Caribbean. I would like to see Guyana’s borders open, but only when they can also be protected. In the current state, one cannot expect to open our borders without also allowing the drug business to take an even greater hold (if that is possible). A serious border patrol is a necessary aspect of an open and free market. However, Guyana needs an infusion of outside money to spark its economy to life. There is not enough money in the nation to spread around and what money is here is horded by the few (so much for Communism) in the grand homes of the politicians and drug lords. This is why there needs to be an infusion of some fresh foreign money into the stale economy.

  • It is time the women of Guyana had a party that champions the rights of their half of the nation’s population. Hardly a day goes by without the media reporting another woman being victimised somehow in this nation. Then once she has already suffered from rape, abuse or even death – the current system provides little or no means of restitution or help to escape. Where are the legislators and politicians to stand up for the women of Guyana?
Therefore, it would be nice if the people had a way to compare each party on the basis of the issues that matter most to the nation. Here is a list of some of the questions I asked the AFC in early February. They have answered most of them here and there, but for the sake of the people, it would be nice to see each party provide detailed answers to these questions and describe their platform with more than just a patronising “We are fighting for a better Guyana” statement.

Here are some questions for Guyana’s Parties:

What is your party’s strategy for combating crime? For eliminating poverty? For preventing further flooding? For building a solid infrastructure? For diversifying the economy? For encouraging local business growth? For an enhanced educational system?

What is your party’s position on foreign investors? On women’s issues? On the state of the judiciary system? On Guyana’s role in the CSME? On state-owned and operated media outlets?

What does your party plan to do about drug trafficking? About the lack of jobs for young people? About paedophiles? About the astronomical duty levied on cars brought into Guyana? About the lack of traffic lights (and the broken ones)? About domestic abuse? About the fact that Freddie (and anyone else who owns a RAV 4) has to take out a loan just to buy some new tyres for their car?

Will your party support a Freedom of Information Bill in Parliament? Or will it follow the same double standard of previous administrations in regards to the tight control of information?

I’m sure there are many more questions that should be asked. If anyone has a question to ask, drop me an email or write a letter to the Editor. This election does not have to be the dog and pony show the politicians have staged. If the people choose to take it seriously, then the politicians will be forced to get real about the issues that affect the people every single day.

It is time to demand a higher standard from Guyana’s politicians. Let’s see if any of these parties care enough about the people to give the nation a reason to vote for them in September.

Email: Stellasays[at]

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