NEW YEAR’S ADDRESS 2023 BY AUBREY C. NORTON, MP LEADER OF THE PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONGRESS REFORM & LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION:
My fellow Guyanese, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!
Permit me to extend felicitations to your family, friends and to all Guyanese, including those in the Diaspora and those in Guyana for the Christmas holidays.
Ideally, we would like all Guyanese to be happy. Unfortunately, during 2022, our quality of life declined as is manifest by the IDB Report and many other credible reports by international organisations.
As Guyanese, we confronted greater problems and hardships under a government that simply lacks compassion and competence. We face a high cost of living, which saw many families struggling to feed and care for themselves and their children.
We endured more rampant ethnic and political discrimination. This led to certain groups unduly benefiting more than others, and certain communities being better treated than others. We believe that all Guyanese and all communities should benefit. Unfortunately, this is not the case in present day Guyana. From our outreaches we have witnessed poverty among all Guyanese and we commit ourselves to addressing this issue so that all Guyanese can be removed from the breadline and poverty.
Guyana today is not a society based on democracy and the Rule of Law. We are forced to withstand more and more attacks on our human rights and personal liberties. We continue to experience trumped-up political charges against the opponents of the government. They are becoming increasingly more arrogant, exclusionary, and lawless. The actions of the government threaten social cohesion and make us distant from realizing our motto of One People, One Nation, One Destiny.
Throughout these difficulties in 2022, we continued to fight, alongside our people, for a better quality of life. We visited and listened to residents in community outreach programmes. We exposed the bad acts of the government and kept the people informed. We proposed relief measures to combat the rising cost of living and constantly pressured the government to do more to help the people. We continue to fight in the courts to defend our Constitution and the rights and freedoms of citizens – rights that are being eroded daily.
In 2022, we engaged the diplomatic community and the US Congress with support from Guyanese in the Diaspora. To those Guyanese we express our heartfelt appreciation. We will continue to engage the diplomatic community and widen the list of countries and international organisations we engage in 2023. The Coalition including the PNCR has placed “boots on the ground” in support of our cause. We engaged in the Parliament, notwithstanding the government’s lack of interest in parliamentary democracy.
Fellow Guyanese, under a PPP government, which has now held office for over twenty-five (25) of the last thirty (30) years, our country ranks among the worst on a range of human development or quality-of-life indicators. Guyana remains among the worst countries in which to live in terms of maternal and infant deaths, life expectancy, child poverty, food security, finding jobs, and educational standards all of which began to improve during the period of the Coalition government between 2015 and 2020. This state of affairs must now be described for what it is: incompetence resulting in a national failure, disgrace and impoverishment of our people while the PPP elite, friends and family enrich themselves at the expense of our people. Many of us, as citizens, experience this national failure and disgrace at a personal level daily in our homes, schools, hospitals, and in our communities.
We believe that we need an approach that ensures our people benefit from our resources. To this end we have advocated for a people-centered development in which the allocation of resources in our society is aimed at reducing and ultimately eliminating poverty and giving our people a better quality of life.
In 2023, the situation will get more difficult. The Opposition’s focus will remain directed at:
Ensuring biometrics at the place of poll and a clean voters list to guarantee elections which are free and fair and can win the trust of all Guyanese.
Keeping the pressure on the government to implement cost of living relief measures.
Ensuring fair and equitable allocation of our resources to citizens.
Defending the rights and freedoms of citizens and communities.
Exposing them with the aim of educating our people and stamping out government corruption and discrimination which are eating away at the moral, legal, social and economic fabric of our society.
Ensuring an arrogant PPP government does not further damage our democracy, the rules of good governance, and our national unity.
We in the Opposition will not relent on these fronts. Our people’s livelihood is at stake. The destiny of our country is at stake. Failure is therefore not an option. Let us as a nation stand up and unite to defend Guyana on these fronts.
Fellow Guyanese, there is no doubt that the President’s New Year’s Speech will include lofty promises. But so did his previous New Year’s speeches. However, the PPP elite, friends, family and favourites apart, many of us, find ourselves worse off than before even though there is more government spending and bribery of the citizenry by the government.
The quality of life of our people is deteriorating. Even with so-called bonuses and meager salary increases the real wage of the people continues to decline. The money we got in 2018 bought more than it can today because of high inflation (which the government is incapable of addressing) and the fact that the government allocated resources are misused, misdirected, ill-conceived, unplanned and are squandered by this uncaring, corrupt, divisive and incompetent government.
The government’s style of one-off measures will not work. It cannot reduce or eliminate poverty. Sporadic, knee-jerk responses will not work. Harum scarum decisions will not work. Gimmicks will not deliver. At the end of 2023, the government will not reduce or eliminate poverty, the quality of life of many will worsen and rampant corruption will not be curtailed. In fact, it will increase; discrimination and corruption will continue to be the order of the day while the government’s elite, friends, family and favourites continue to enrich themselves at the expense of the Guyanese people.
In this era of hopelessness what Guyana needs is a government with a vision, a plan and one that cares for the people of Guyana. This is what the next APNU+AFC government offers the people of Guyana in 2025 or whenever elections are called. We will implement our people-centered vision, a human resource development plan, professionalization of the public service and other institutions, inclusive of the Guyana Police Force which has been politicized by the government. We will implement an economic development plan that allows all sectors of the economy to develop while simultaneously improving the quality of life of the people of Guyana.
We will REINVENT GUYANA. We will break the old ways of thinking, unshackle our collective minds, sharpen our vision, explore and implement bold ideas, restore the Rule of Law and confidence in our national institutions. We will build a Guyana where all people can express themselves freely, live satisfying lives, free of undue hardships, strife, and stress; free of insecurities and indignities, while developing confidence in our people and their ability to build a lawful and prosperous society. A lawless Guyana cannot progress.
Now more than ever, Guyana can become one of the best countries to live in. The only obstacle to such a Guyana is the present government. Our people-centered development vision aims to ensure Guyanese can enjoy one of the world’s highest standards of living. Our vision aims to transform Guyana into one of the world’s happiest societies. We are confident that Guyana can achieve the goal of zero poverty and zero misery. We believe that Guyana can become the envy of the world as the country where citizens have opportunities to realize their full political, social, and economic potential. Guyana needs a comprehensive development plan that puts people first and at the center. That is our vision. This is our CONTRACT WITH GUYANA.
This CONTRACT enshrines the Coalition’s development goals to creatively transform this country by focusing unwaveringly on its people. This CONTRACT is the Coalition’s pledge, and commitment to each of our citizens. It is the minimum standard to which the Coalition (in or out of government) holds itself and therefore by which the people can judge us. We will work assiduously to regain government to enable the implementation of our vision and plans which will benefit the people of Guyana.
Fellow Guyanese, a new Guyana beckons. As Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, I promise you to deliver on our vision.
May Guyana remain a Blessed country as I once more wish you a Happy and Prosperous 2023! May the Lord bless you all! HAPPY NEW YEAR as we pursue a bright future for all Guyana as we forge ahead in developing One People, One Nation, One Destiny!