Budget Speech Mr Basil Williams 20142102 07 Apr, 2014
Mr. B. Williams: I rise to make my presentation in relation to this “biggest budget” developed under the theme A Better Guyana for All Guyanese, a theme somewhat akin to the theme of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).
I would have loved to congratulate the Hon. Minister of Finance for this budget. I had done so several years ago but when we look at the budgets over the last eight years, which have been claimed to be sustained growth budgets, and we see the manner in which these budgets are presented, and we come again this year, I wonder to myself, surely, this Government must know that the picture it is painting to the world about Guyana, being so hunky-dory and life is so good in Guyana and Guyana is virtually a paradise, cannot be true. It cannot be true and it pains me. I wonder how we could pay any credence to the Members on the Government side when they try to pay lip service to national unity. A Government of national unity and they tell us that we must cooperate with them. The reality is that the majority of the Guyanese people are suffering.
It is apposite to note that the Government believes that the moneys of this state are its own. When a Member of the Government could tell a Member of the Opposition, who worked over ten years without pay on local government reform, who worked in this Parliament for ten years helping to shape the laws of Guyana... When there is a Government Minister speaking as though the moneys of the state are his and then tells another Member of Parliament that the Member cannot use the state’s resources to perform acts that the Member is supposed to perform for the Government then something has to be wrong.
When this is taken against the background that the Government Member has no problem expending Government resources in Pradoville I, fixing special roads leading from Pradoville I, bypassing the public road, well made roads, to service Pardoville I community, and then to add insult to injury there is Pradoville II, and the Member has the temerity to tell a hard-working Member, who have given public service in this country, that the Government cannot build a road in front of him, it built a road for a Member of the Government right next to him. I want to say this, that your supporters will not agree with you and we are going to campaign on this issue. The people of Guyana will not agree with you.
Mr. Speaker: One second Mr. Williams. Hon. Member Mr. Benn.
Minister of Public Works [Mr. Benn]: Mr. Speaker, as a matter of simply clarification, the road which the Hon. Member refers to in front of his house falls under the jurisdiction of the city council. [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: One second, I cannot hear Mr. Benn.
Mr. Benn: ... falls under the city council which is headed by Hamilton Green of the Good and Green Guyana.
Mr. Speaker: Very well. Mr. Benn I cannot allow the clarification for the reason being that when you spoke you said that you would have got around to the Member’s road so you...
Mr. Benn: I said that I will get around to it but...
Mr. Speaker: Yes, but then you cannot abrogate and reprobate...
Mr. Benn: I am not abrogating, I am saying that the speed with which he expects me to get to the road really relates to the Mayor’s responsibility. [Interruption]...
Mr. Speaker: Very well.
Mr. Benn: Further, the roads, which were budgeted for in Pradoville I and II, as he termed them, are roads...
Mr. B. Williams: Mr. Speaker, what is this? Is this another presentation? [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: No Mr. Benn, you can have someone rebut Mr. Williams at the end. Who speaks next? Ms. Teixeira speaks after Mr. Williams. She may rebut some of those points. Go ahead Mr. Williams.
Mr. B. Williams: Again this budget is touted as the “biggest budget” and for over eight years the Members said that the growth has been sustained. Unless there is some earth-shattering event, disaster, for example, political upheaval, an earthquake or a flood akin to the 2005 flood here in Guyana, it is expected that the budget of the current year would be bigger than the budget of the previous year. It is commonsense.
A mid-term budget which is this budget is supposed to review the successes and challenges of the first half of the term and set the stage for the second half in terms of the policies and strategic direction the Government will be taking over the rest of the term and what are the quantitative and qualitative improvements we could expect. For example, will there be an increase of reduction in the rate of unemployment and underemployment? Alas! This budget fails, in every respect, to give us an inkling or any direction as how the rest of this term, if the term is served out, we could expect what would happen.
The Hon. Irfaan Ali claimed that poverty has been reduced under the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) and vaunts many projects that have created jobs. The Hon. Member Pauline Sukhai said that there has been two decades of PPP/C transformative policy. “Eight years of uninterrupted growth, no other country is doing like us”, that was from the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
It is important, therefore, that we undertake a careful examination of the factual matrix so that we can see the following revelations that are made manifest:
i. Guyana remains the second poorest country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
I am not saying that; it is the World Bank’s World Development Report 2014.
ii. Guyana has the lowest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita ranking in the CARICOM.
That has been discussed already but what was not mentioned was that St. Kitts & Nevis, the smallest country in CARICOM, GDP is US$13,330.00. This Government has been boasting that we are doing better than our partners in this region. It is fallacious.
iii. 36.1% of the Guyanese people are poor.
That is, they live below the poverty line and if they live below the poverty line what about those who are living on the poverty line which is called the breadline. You are talking about more than half of the population of this country is dirt poor under this Government which is proclaiming to have the biggest budget every year.
iv. Nearly 40,000 people are unemployed.
I notice that nobody is trying to challenge my source and it just confirms, in my mind, that when they are touting this biggest budget they know the reality in which Guyanese are living.
v. Of 182 countries in the world Guyana ranks five places from the bottom on the lowest on the lowest of the Human Development Index.
It is apposite to note that Barbados – and they say that we are doing so better than the rest of the countries in the CARICOM – ranks third in the world behind the United States of America and Canada.
Mr. Speaker: Please provide the source as you go along, Mr. Williams.
Mr. B. Williams: It is the United Nations Human Development Index of March, 2013. You could see clearly that this boast of having the biggest budget and sustained growth tells us nothing - my honourable friend Mr. Nagamootoo has made the point – about the quality of life of the Guyanese people and that life is one of misery, one of want. It is a modern day purgatory, so to speak.
When we factor in suicides, murders/suicides, domestic violence and a high crime rate, what other picture, what other word could describe the conditions that we exist under here, the masses of the people of this country, other than hell?
It is submitted that a high growth rate is meaningless to the majority of the Guyanese people. In my last year’s presentation I indicated that it was the per capita income. It is the manner in which income is distributed and that income is distributed, basically, amongst a cabal of about 5% to 10% of the population whereas the masses gets nothing. Going to the fact, it is that a high growth rate is meaningless to the people. For example, in Tunisia a high growth rate did not translate into more jobs for the young people since unequal treatment limited the creation of new businesses and as a result the country erupted into turmoil in 2010, which later spread revolt across North Africa and the Middle East. It is so much for high growth rates.
The national census, conducted several years ago, has not been published. It means that no proper analysis can be made in any areas in Guyana, for example, unemployment statistics by sectors and industry, population migration from regions and the like. What we wish to assort is that the Government alone cannot have this information. The Government must share this information on the last census with the Guyanese people and with the parliamentary parties in this Parliament.
Permit me now to my remit – legal. The APNU welcomes the increase of the complement of judges to 20 to augment capacity, albeit, recognising it does not amount to the perfect ratio of judge per population. However, this must be complemented by the following:
i. Transparency in the manner of appointing judges in general and those Puisne Judges in particular.
We must have a system in Guyana where we should stop hand-picking judges and where we must advertise for these vacancies. We have seen the result of hand-picking a Justice of Appeal by plucking someone out from London and placing that person into the Court of Appeal in Guyana. We have seen what has happened in that regard. APNU is on record of saying that the positions of the Chancellor and Chief Justice must be advertised as well as other positions in the judicial system.
ii. There must be adequate facilities, including legal assistants.
The Hon. Member Mr. Bond elaborated on the importance of judges having legal assistants especially in light of the fact that legislation has been passed in this country directing that they must complete their judgement within a limited time frame.
iii. Adequate remuneration.
It is an uncontroverted fact that money has a lot to do with the security of tenure of judges. We are saying that there cannot be two judges alone having tax free salaries when they, in fact, have the highest amount in terms of salaries. All the judges should either be given tax free salaries or their salaries should be increased. There is no point in discriminating between the Chancellor and the Chief Justice and the other judges of the judiciary.
iv. We must restore lump sum payments to the judiciary.
That is restoring the independence of the judiciary. We have legislation before this honourable House and assent to which has been refused by the President but we will deal with that later in the presentation.
v. There must be a fully constituted Judicial Service Commission:
It comprises the:
- Chief Justice
- Chairman of Public Service Commission.
- Appointment of a Commonwealth High Court or Court of Appeal Judge by the President after meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.
- Not more than two non-active attorneys-at-law, nominated by the National Assembly after consulting such bodies as it appears to represent attorneys-at-law.
In this connection, it is apposite to note that the Chairman of the Public Service Commission straddles a number of other commissions, including the Police Service Commission. However, for the Chairman to be appointed a quorate commission is necessary. APNU recommends therefore that President meaningful consults with the Leader of the Opposition after appointing the other members of all service commissions, including the Police Service Commission. Why are we saying this? The Judicial Service Commission has been operating for year with only the Chancellor, the Chief Justice and the Chairman of the Public Service Commission. Three persons alone have been appointing judges in this country and if we were to appoint the Public Service Commission so that there could be a chairman then it is conceivable. We believe that Government has no interest in constituting the Police Service Commission.
Why? It is because, with that commission, the National Assembly alone nominates the members of that commission and the President identifies the chairman from amongst those members who have been nominated from this National Assembly. It means then that the Government Members feels then they feel they would have no control of the Police Service Commission because they have no control in the National Assembly. We do not expect that there will be any movement or any alacrity towards constituting the Police Service Commission. We are saying that, in the light of that, the President only has to consult with the Leader of the Opposition in every case in relation to one appointment on each commission. We are saying that all of the commissions must be constituted and then we could have meaningful consultation between the President and the Leader of the Opposition.
Let me say this, I do not know… The Hon. Attorney General has been attempting to place blame. I remember on the advent of this new Parliament there was no movement, whatsoever, to constitute the committees of this House. In fact, I would warrant that it might not have been until after a year before the Committee on Appointment might have been constituted. We reject any blame that the Government attempts to repose in the current construct of the Committee on Appointment in this honourable House.
APNU, likewise, welcomes the introduction of voice recording capacity in our court system. However, it is inexplicable why its introduction should be confined to the civil courts, when it is an uncontroverted fact that in the criminal assizes the importance of capturing every word of a witness cannot be over emphasised or the need for speedy trials. APNU recommends that voice recording capacity be forthwith installed in the criminal assizes.
Mr. Speaker, $1.8 billion is voted to consolidate the alleged advances already made within the justice sector; perhaps some of this money will make the Family Court operational. Notwithstanding what the learned Attorney General has just said, he has been saying that from the beginning of this Parliament and we are saying it cannot hold any water for the Government to keep coming to tell us that it is furniture which is holding up the operation of the family court. We need to have some movements in that regard.
The Rodney Commission of Inquiry. It is unfortunate that the constitution of Rodney Commission of Inquiry has been attended by jurist. APNU recognises the right of Mrs. Walter Rodney to have closure with respect to her husband’s death. However, we do not accept that she has a role in determining the formation and operation of the Commission of Inquiry (COI). APNU regards this as the sole preserve of the person in whom Parliament has reposed this power.
The Commission of Inquiry Act, Chapter 19:03, gives that power to the person to act in his or her own deliberate judgement, not to be counselled and/or procured. APNU sees the acceptance of the advice from Mrs. Rodney to exclude the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) and the PNC/R from being consulted on the setting up of the Inquiry as an abdication of the responsibility given by the Commission of Inquiry Act to that person.
The Rodney Commission of Inquiry (COI) is, therefore, flawed ab initio – in the beginning. APNU calls on the President to consult with the WPA and the PNC/R on this inquiry and to remove, in particular, term of reference number four.
The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill: the AML/CFT Bill, along with APNU’s amendments to the AML/CFT Act of 2009, will go a long way in improving the anti-money laundering regime. APNU is prepared to assist the passage of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill after the fulfilment of the following conditions:
1. The Government agrees to the APNU’s amendments’ simultaneous passage through the House;
2. The Minister of Local Government and Regional Development must issue the Commencement Order to make operational the Local Government Commission Act;
3. The Government must return the Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2012 to the National Assembly and secure its passage by a two-thirds majority for its return to the President for his assent by 13th May, 2014; and
4. The Government must return all five, including the last mentioned Bill from which he had withheld in assent, to the National Assembly for passage by a simple majority.
What that means is that in the case of the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, we have up to the 13th May, 2014 within which to return that Bill to the President. Once that Bill is returned to the President, the President must assent to that Bill.
The APNU welcomes the Government’s shift towards accepting its amendments in the Special Select Committee on the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill and we urge them to come the full way so that we could proceed with the passage of the Bill and the amendments, as well as the other Bills the President has to return to us, through this honourable House.
It is apposite to note in this connection that the Hon. Minister of Finance told this honourable House that there has been a significant drop in remittances, by US$140 million, to be exact. This means, and we are respectfully submitting, that the anti-money laundering regime has started to kick in. This amount – US$140 million – could have been coming into this country under the guise of remittances, but was instead money being laundered. But because of the application of the requirements of the anti-money laundering regime, it can no longer be sent under the guise of remittances. [Ms. Teixeira: Well pass the Bill.] [Mr. Nandlall: What kind of logic is that?] I love to see when my friends are agitated. As a result, several persons have been caught attempting to move money in large amounts at airports and in the United States of America. The regime is starting to bite. Therefore, this reinforces APNU’s position of having an effective Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill.
University of Guyana (UG) law students: it is not enough for the Government to say it has set up a team to look at the question of a local law school for our law graduates of the University of Guyana. In fact, the Government had dropped the ball some years ago when the same issue surfaced as a result of its own myopic policies. We cannot continue to have our law students uncertain about their future. Therefore, APNU calls on the Government to find a long-term solution to our law students’ access to a law school accredited by the Council of Legal Education.
The authority of Parliament: APNU will continue to assert the authority of our Parliament. We maintain that the Standing Orders of the National Assembly are the paramount rules that determine our procedures in this honourable House. We set our faces against the deliberate removal of the Leader of the Opposition from the Budget Cuts case who we maintain must be able to defend his decisions in the National Assembly when they are whimsically taken to the courts. APNU intends to vigorously pursue the Leader of the Opposition’s appeal in the Court of Appeal. In this regard, the Attorney General’s assertion in his presentation tonight that we are in breach of the learned Chief Justice’s decision is fallacious. We know why the Hon. Attorney General is trying to point us in that direction. He is trying to point us in the direction of saying that we are going to disobey the decision of the learned Chief Justice. Do you know why? When the Hon. Attorney General would have examined that decision, he would have recognised that that decision of the Chief Justice has put the Government between a rock and a hard place. But we know the law and you cannot hoodwink us into saying we will breach the Chief Justice’s decision. In this House, the Opposition will follow the Chief Justice’s decision. Let us see when we not approve, as his decision requires us, what you would do in that regard.
We know that good things are there to come for us. There are some issues that the Hon. Attorney General raised in his presentation and I wish to address the question of presidential assent. It is clear that when we pass a Bill in this honourable House, the Standing Order states that the custody of that Bill lies in the Clerk of the National Assembly. Standing Order No. 67, to be exact, states that. Just now, the Hon. Attorney General told this honourable House that the President has never been late or he has never breached the 21-day requirement if he is going to give his non-assent because it depends on when it reaches him. That means that the Hon. Attorney General is overbearing the will of the Clerk of the National Assembly and so he suborns the Bill when we pass it in this House and it ends up in his custody. The Hon. Attorney General has said to this nation that he has the Bills that we passed. The Bills are with him for him to tinker with.
Mr. Speaker: The Bills should be sent directly to the President. If, in fact, they ended up at the Attorney General’s Chambers, they should not be there.
Mr. B. Williams: We want the record to show that when we pass Bills in this honourable House, the Bill should remain the preserve of the House and should be in the custody of the Clerk of the National Assembly. Therefore, when the Clerk of the National Assembly sends a Bill to the President, the President has 21 days within which to send it back if he is going to refuse his assent to that Bill.
On the question of the President refusing his assent, we reiterate that even though the President is given a power and a discretion under the Constitution, the President cannot exercise that discretion whimsically or capriciously. He must exercise that discretion judiciously. Therefore, the President cannot usurp the functions of the court of Guyana, which is the only authority vested with the power to determine whether something is constitutional or not.
It cannot be the Attorney General. The Attorney General cannot interpret any law in Guyana. [Mr. Nandlall: Could you interpret the law?] You cannot interpret the law for us. That is the question of the court. I could urge my interpretation on the court but it is arrogance for you to suggest that you can come and tell us that you have interpreted it and what the law states.
The Hon. Attorney General has regaled us with his take on the Local Government (Amendment) Bill and the reasons why the President withheld his assent.
Mr. Speaker, the President sent to you a letter, on this lovely letterhead, with his reasons for withholding his assent. A whole page outlines it and nowhere on this page and in the reasons given by the Hon. President is there anything that has been suggested by the Hon. Attorney General tonight in this honourable House - nothing! What he has represented to this honourable House is a fiction of his own imagination.
Mr. Nandlall: Mr. Speaker, the document from the President was sent to you.
Mr. Speaker: Was that document circulated to every Member of the House? It is not my document; it was circulated to every Member and to the press.
Mr. Nandlall: If my friend is going to refer to the document...
Mr. Speaker: He has a right to read from it.
Mr. Nandlall: Well, let him read from it.
Mr. Speaker: Or to refer to it. That is his right.
Mr. B. Williams: I did not interrupt my learned friend when he was speaking. We reject out of hand the contention of the Hon. Attorney General that he was suggesting all kinds of reasons the President had in the letter. [Mr. Nandlall: I was expanding on what the President said.] You cannot expand on what the President stated.
In addition to that, it is clear, and the Hon. Attorney General must agree with that because he did touch on it, that the Hon. President cannot just withhold his assent in a vacuum. He has to send the Bill back. What happens to the Bill when it comes back? Where does the Bill go? The Bill has to come back to us. It has to come back to this honourable House. When it comes to the honourable House, we would look at the reasons that the President has proffered to see whether we could meet and understand what he is trying to do and whether we could agree with his misapprehension. In other words, we would, therefore, look to see if we could compromise in the situation, as all politicians should try to do, so we could send back the Bill to the President for his assent. The Bill cannot be sent back and is cloistered somewhere. It must come back to us. [Mr. Nandlall: The Bill is here.] I am happy that for the first time, the Hon. Member has said that. I trust that this honourable House is clear on what the procedure of this honourable House is with respect to a very important function of this honourable House – the passage of legislation by this National Assembly.
Mr. Speaker, might I respectfully turn my attention to the issue of labour?
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member, you would require some time.
Ms. Ally: Mr. Speaker, I move that the Hon. Member be given 15 minutes to continue his presentation.
Question put, and agreed to.
Mr. B. Williams: In the last budget debate, the Hon. Minister of Labour, Dr. Nanda Gopaul, told this honourable House that canoe does not bore punt. [Dr. Ramsaran: He said never the day can canoe bore punt]. He said never the day can canoe bore punt. I did my research. He did not say who the canoe was and who the punt was. If I could address the issue of co-operative societies, perhaps, that will clear itself up. The Minister of Labour, Dr. Nanda Gopaul, spoke of the dissolution of hundreds of co-operative societies by his Ministry. Section 3 of the Co-operative Societies Act, Chapter 88:01 establishes the office of the Chief Co-operative Development Officer (CCDO), who exercises the functions provided for under the Act. Nowhere in this Act is the Minister reposed with operational powers. The Minister sits on appeal from decisions of the CCDO. It is a serious fiduciary position which proscribes the Minister being at arm’s length from the CCDO.
The most important question on the dissolution of a co-operative society is the destination of its assets - who takes what. A lot of these co-operative societies’ assets really are land. We know that this Government has given away ancestral lands. This Government has absorbed co-operative societies land also. We want to be very clear. The National Assembly has passed an Act to deal with co-operative societies and it never put the Minister to do anything, other than sit on appeal if there is a problem with the decision from the Chief Co-operative Development Officer. APNU trusts, therefore, that the alleged dissolutions have been in accordance with the provisions of sections 38 and 39 of the Act which provide largely for dissolutions where three-quarter of the membership seeks to do that, where the membership falls below seven, or if there is an inquiry which eventuates into that result. APNU recommends that the Minister stays far away from the assets of these societies and not interfere with the CCDO in the execution of his functions under this Act.
Labour – RUSAL or Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI): The Hon. Member, Dr. Nanda Gopaul, promised thus:
“I will pursue any employer who violates the rights of the workers or the labour laws.”
As Shakespeare said, “It came over my ears like the sweet sounds that breathe upon a bank of violets.”
I do not need to go further. All I want to say is, “Enough, no more.”
The Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. has been violating the rights of the bauxite workers and our labour laws for years. It has failed to reinstate 57 workers dismissed for striking for increased wages and salaries. It, in fact, imposed a 5% increase in salaries à la the Government. It has failed, also, to reinstate 67 workers suspended for protesting against vermin infested food. Its occupational health and safety record is répits. Only recently, a lot of employees were damaged when they were given instructions to dispose of what they thought were obsolete ammunition. A lot of them were injured. [Mr. Nandlall: They were damaged? They were injured.] Damage is more serious. Injury would not describe the damage.
This company has breached the collective bargaining agreement with the workers representative, the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU), and it has breached, also, the provisions of the Trade Union Recognition Act, when it unlawfully purported to de-recognise the Union and imposed a 5% increase in wages and salaries, as I said earlier.
APNU again – this is another year – calls on the Hon. Minister of Labour to deliver on his promise to reinitiate arbitral proceedings between BCGI and GB&GWU in order to resolve the myriad of problems heaped on the workers.
Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU): it was fallacious for the Hon. Minister of Labour to assert that this Government paid our workers real wages. Since 2001, our policemen, our soldiers, our nurses, our teachers and our traditional public servants have been kept on the breadline. Instead of paying an increase of 25%, as demanded by the Guyana Public Service Union, the Government has consistently imposed 5% increases, except for the odd occasion of an election budget. It is no different this year. An examination of the period 2001- 2014 reveals thus: the rate of increase in wages and salaries was always tied largely to the rate of inflation and there were instances when it was below the rate of inflation. So, there could not have been any real increases in wages and salaries from 2001 to now when all the Government does is keep imposing 5% increases which brings me to the importance of honouring the collective bargaining agreement. The Government has repeatedly breached the provisions of that agreement and imposed salary increases around 5% most of the time.
The Hon. Minister of the Public Service Ministry (PSM), Dr. Jennifer Westford, informed us that the Government has started discussions with the GPSU on salaries and wages. APNU regrets to inform that the Government has had only one meeting with the GPSU and that was in relation to other outstanding matters. The issue of salaries and wages was not discussed, despite the Union having written the Government with a three-year proposal for increases in wages and salaries. About 70% of public servants earn about $50,000 and less and this is in light of the Government’s claim that it has paid real wages since the year 2000.
Over the years, remittances have saved this Government but the fall in remittances would now force the Government to pay proper wages to the workers. Poor wages lead to migration of skills and, as we have seen recently in our newspapers, hospitals are forced to look to India for medical personnel. That means the Government is training nurses and teachers for migration all because of its unwillingness to pay a living wage to these workers.
Moreover, that was the same problem the Government had with the law school. The Government could have had a law school ever since but when it came to the question of payment of salaries and wages to the staff, the requirement of the Council of Legal Education was that the salaries must be harmonised with the other campuses in the region and the Government decided that it did not want to foot that bill. That really was the only issue. The Government did not want to foot that bill. We are saying to the Government that it cannot come and tell us it will spend money to extend the Trinidad and Tobago law school so that we can get a guaranteed 25. We must look at the question of having our own law school and putting the relevant inputs to get the students off of the ground. The students cannot be waiting every year to see if they would be admitted to the law school. This intervention of the Government with CARICOM, is the Government going to do that every year? Are we going to ask a friend in CARICOM to talk to the Council of Legal Education? We are calling, again, on this Government to look into the interest of a longer term solution to resolve the law students’ issue.
APNU honestly believes that the time for platitudes is over. This Government must be honest with the Guyanese people and this Government must change. This Government must have compassion in its heart for its people. People are suffering in this country. These statistics do not lie. This is not APNU’s statistics. People are poor. People are struggling to make ends meet. The Government cannot come and tell us that because there are plenty cars on the road, there is development. The Government cannot tell us to look at progress when we are seeing all those monsters going up in the air. The Government is telling us that they came from salaried employees and business people. Other than rice and gold, where is the production in Guyana?
The APNU, holding fast to one of the basic tenets of its formation that we would work towards a government of national unity is still on the table. We invite you to come and sit with us at that table so that we could make plans and decisions and free up the Guyanese people in order for them to have a good life and a better life, to use your term. It does not matter to us. We would be working together.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. [Applause]
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