Opening Address To The 12th Biennial Congress Hon. Hugh Desmond Hoyte, S.C. August 25-27,2000




The State of the Nation
The Economy
Our Solemn Duty
General Elections
PNC/Reform
New Investments
A Stake-holding Economy
Respect and Security
Foreign Policy
Restoring Public Confidence
Modernisating Education
Education for Development
The Traditional Sectors
Tax Reform
Removing Corruption
Local Government Reform
The Task Ahead
To Rescue the Nation

I join with the Chairman in extending a warm welcome to all invitees present here today at this opening session of the 12th Biennial Congress of the People's National Congress.

The State of the Nation

I am particularly pleased to welcome those delegates and observers who have come from the Rupununi, the Mazaruni/Cuyuni, the North West regions and other remote hinterland communities and locations. I know full well the financial and economic costs involved in your being here today; the physical difficulties that most of you have had to overcome; and the strenuous nature of your journey. I congratulate and I salute you. You are the very salt of the earth.

May I also say to those Party Members and supporters who have come from overseas how glad we are to have you with us. We thank you for your continued faithfulness to the Party, your unshakable solidarity and, at this time of crisis in our nation, your determination to stand up and be counted among those who are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to give of their time, energy and other resources to rescue the nation.

For, indeed, our country is in deep crisis. I know of no time in our history when it has been in such portentous danger; when a concatenation of events, triggered by appallingly bad governance, has so threatened to implode our society; when external jeopardies to our security and territorial integrity have ever been so great.

The crisis is endemic and pervasive. There is no sector of national life that has not been affected by it. Social problems have reached monstrous proportions. A curious mixture of fear, apathy and desperation seems to have afflicted civil society. A majority of citizens seek safety in silence, and few are prepared to openly condemn manifest and widespread wrong-doing; afraid to stand in defence of justice and public morality. The drug culture has insidiously infiltrated our society, spawning a network of venal functionaries, corrupting the minds and the bodies of our young people, and putting at risk a whole generation.

Criminal activities in their manifold permutations and variations have spread their tentacles to every segment of our society. The upsurge of violent crimes is only one manifestation, but not necessarily the one that poses the greatest danger to the social and economic order. Homelessness, evidenced by the prevalence of street families; the inordinately high incidence of suicide among adults and children: all these things attest to a growing feeling of hopelessness in our society, its threatened fragmentation, and the intolerable pressures which ordinary citizens experience as they go about their daily tasks. When we conjoin to these problems the alarming spread of the dreaded HIV/AIDS epidemic, we cannot fail to understand the enormity of the perils confronting our society.

The Economy

The economic front reveals the same depressing picture: the absence of investment; the non-availability of jobs; the unacceptably high rate of unemployment, particularly among young people; the regular retrenchment of workers, led by the government sector; imminent disaster in the rice industry; the decline of the forestry sector; the moribund state of the bauxite industry; the severe contraction of business activities in general, leading to closures and bankruptcies; uncertainty in the banking sector - all these things presage an economic collapse.

Public morale has been eroding rapidly and, as it approaches vanishing point, business people, the ordinary worker, the housewife, the children can no longer see the horizon. This is the stark reality of our situation. The country is on the brink of disaster.

We have been brought to this sorry state by the corrupt, incompetent, malicious, and illegal administration of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) regime which has failed or refused to practice the elementary principles of good governance. That Party has spurned the norms of decent government; it has supplanted openness with secrecy; fairness, with bias; and equity, with injustice. It has substituted an arrogant arbitrariness for the rule of law. Corruption, nepotism and divisive policies have been principal tools of its statecraft, with destructive consequences for national cohesion and development. With a cynical contempt for public opinion, it has had no qualms about running a government with a core of criminous Cabinet ministers.

It is the tragedy of the People’s Progressive Party that it does not have, never had, and, as at present advised, will never have the political understanding, the sophistication and the managerial skills that are necessary for the proper governance and development of Guyana.

Our Solemn Duty

At this time, we of the People's National Congress cannot dissipate our energies in the sterile occupation of recounting and denouncing the manifold iniquities of the PPP and its lamentable record of misgovernment. These are well known. We have more important work to do. We have to devote all our resources to a more productive and profitable end; and, that is, to extricate our nation from the dire straits in which it finds itself; define the policies and the programmes appropriate to this enterprise; create, restore, and strengthen the enabling institutions and mechanisms; assemble the team of people capable of performing this task; and mobilise the necessary resources - human, material and financial - to achieve the monumental imperative of rescuing the nation.

In the pursuit of this objective, we have to eschew naivete and a comfortable complacency. Success will demand of us the most strenuous, physical and intellectual endeavours, an unyielding determination and an inflexible political will. The months ahead must see us pursuing activities that would lift the spirit of our people, rekindle their faith in themselves and their fellow citizens, regenerate national pride, and restore hope.

General Elections

In another few months, we will be facing a national election. This is not going to be just another election in the routine course of our history. It would be a watershed event that will seal the fate of our nation. It will give us a chance, perhaps a final chance, to show the world that we, as a people, have had enough of ugliness, of divisiveness, of viciousness in public life: in a word, enough of bad governance. It will give us a chance to turn our backs decisively on, and utterly reject, the unlovely ways of the past that have been bedevilled and benighted the body politic of our country. It will give us a chance to usher in a polity that is inspired by an ethos of fairness and equity in government, humaneness, discipline and good order, transparency, and social justice.

What is at stake, then, in this election, is our very safety and survival as a cohesive, harmonious society and our future as a modern, well-ordered, prosperous State.

The commitment that the People's National Congress now makes to the nation is, consequent upon winning the election, to guarantee the nation’s safety and survival and secure the nation’s future. The achievement of this objective, within any reasonable time frame, will demand a radical transformation in the ways we have done things in the past.

It will demand bold approaches to policy-making and implementation. It will demand
novel ideas and creative thinking that would challenge old orthodoxies, settled
verities and subject them to the test of relevance to our times and circumstances.

To give the lead in this process of transforming our country, our Party, the People's National Congress, would itself inevitably be transformed. But this would be nothing
new. This would hardly be surprising to members, since one of the enduring strengths
of our Party has been its capacity, over the years, to adapt to change in a timely
fashion and respond effectively to the demands of a changing environment. Our Party
has never been static. That is why it has never become ossified; that is why it has survived and remained relevant to the circumstances of our country and faithful to its mandate to be of “service to people”.

In the post-election period, the Guyanese people will not be satisfied with a continuation of the old political culture. With every justification they will demand a new dispensation in which hope, opportunity and justice will flourish. They will expect, and rightly so, that our Party will play a leading, dynamic and defining role as an agent of this transformation. We therefore cannot fail the just expectations of the Guyanese people. If we are to be credible in the eyes of the electorate as agents of change, we will have no alternative but to accelerate the pace and deepen the process of our own internal transformation - and signal this development to the Guyanese people in clear and unambiguous terms!

At this time, our overriding objective is to win the next election. We make no apologies for this. We do not lust after political power or office; we are motivated by a higher purpose. We have to win the election because this is the only way we can undertake the important task of stemming the tide of disaster that is about to engulf us, rescuing the nation, and setting our country on the path to growth, development and modernization.

In the circumstances, the People's National Congress must do everything necessary, requisite and sensible to win the election. We have to proceed on a broad front to give greater substance and meaning to our oft- repeated asseverations about the inclusive nature of our policies and our politics. Our core support remains solid and unbreakable but, in the circumstances of our country, no political party can rely merely on its core support. We are therefore persuaded of the wisdom of a strategy that enjoins us to go beyond the restricted confines of our traditional base and reach out to persons of ability, national recognition, integrity and goodwill who are prepared to identify with us in this grand enterprise of rescuing the nation. This approach, we believe, would provide a stronger guarantee of victory at the polls and success in the post-election work of
national reconstruction.

It is a fortuitous circumstance that, even as we contemplate a strategy of a wider outreach, a significant grouping of such persons have reached out to us. And we
have responded affirmatively to them. They have indicated not merely an interest in,
but an enthusiasm for, this approach to the election and to confronting the enormous post-election challenges. It is palpable that this example of the principle and practice of inclusivity will secure for us the widest possible pool of talent and expertise for the various tasks that lie ahead.

PNC/Reform

We of the People's National Congress have always reached out to citizens of ability and goodwill who are not card-bearing members of our Party, but who wish to work with us in the nation’s interest. And when such citizens reach out to us we have always been receptive. This has long been a standard element in our Party’s philosophy and practice. This approach was enunciated by our Founder-Leader, Forbes Burnham, and practised by him. It was restated by me in my 1987 Congress Address, “Reaching out Boldly for Progress”, and re-endorsed by Congress. It is nothing new. It has proved its value. We must continue to have the courage and the commonsense to reach out to citizens beyond the pale of our Party, welcome them, make them feel comfortable and be prepared to work with them in a genuine spirit of camaraderie for a common national cause. We must give them every opportunity to judge for themselves, from personal experience, that when we say that ours is an inclusive Party we are not paying lip service to the principle, but are articulating a philosophy that is deeply held and a practice that is honestly pursued.

This political consociation I have outlined will be one of the most significant developments in the evolution of this great Party of ours. As we proceed to give it form and substance, it is politically important that we acknowledge, emphasise and confirm the continuous expansion of the practice of inclusivity. Against this background, and for the reasons given, I propose that the Party should proceed into the forthcoming election under the banner “PNC Reform”.

The term “reform” has a four-fold significance:

First of all, it recalls the transformation which the Party itself has been undergoing for some years now, the single most important event being the revision of our Party constitution in 1994 to commit the Party unequivocally to the maintenance of a free and open society; a market-oriented economy; a private sector that is the dominant instrument of growth and development; and an economic climate that is favourable for private investment, both local and foreign, and for business activities generally.

Second, it highlights the extraordinary transformation of this country by the Economic Recovery Programme that created a platform, unfortunately destroyed by the PPP, for
the rapid economic growth of our country.

Third, it acknowledges the existence, the importance and the value of those non-party citizens who are associated with us.

Fourth, it gives an unqualified pledge and assurance to the Guyanese people of the profound and far-reaching reforms that the PNC/Reform would undertake in the post-election period to restore national pride and confidence and convert our country into a modern, prosperous State.

The PNC/ Reform fully understands that the basis for the success of the programme of national reconstruction has to be economic growth and expansion. Our overall programme will proceed on a broad front of interrelated, interlocking projects in the social, economic and cultural fields. Vigorous initiatives will be pursued in all of these areas but, in the final analysis, they can only be successful if the economic base is secured.

New Investments

We believe that Guyana cannot be developed on the basis of the timid policies and the petty, fragmented projects that are currently being pursued. This is mere tinkering. The economy cannot be patched; it has to be revolutionized. Ultimately, the country’s development calls for a broad vision, bold and innovative thinking and the implementation of large, coordinated projects that would unlock our land space and our natural resource endowment, remove the pressures on the coastland and enable us to really possess our country.

We know of no country that has developed itself, created wealth and turned itself into a modern, viable State other than on the basis of private capital. We do not intend to re-invent the wheel. The Party therefore pins its faith on private investment, local and foreign, for the development of the country. Bilateral donor assistance and financial flows from international financial agencies can help, but cannot fuel comprehensive national development of the kind that Guyana needs. In fact, they are not designed to do that. Only private investment is capable of stimulating such development in our country.
And so our developmental strategy will be based upon private investment flows for financing projects on models, well tested world-wide, that do not depend on
governmental funding. These are the models that have powered the rapid growth
and development of the so-called Asian tigers.

To this end, we have already defined our approach to national development. Party leaders have been in constant touch with major investors in various parts of the world, primarily in North America, Asia and Europe. These investors, who have declined to come to the country under the current administration, have given assurances that once the political regime has changed and is replaced by a government that is honestly elected, that embraces a free market philosophy and investor- friendly policies, they would be prepared to invest in the economy. These are firm assurances.

A paper entitled, “Jump Starting The Economy”, which we have prepared, provides the basis for the immediate initiatives we would be taking to get the economy on track as speedily as possible. We have also endorsed the project document known as “Guyana 21”. This envisions infrastructure projects which include the north/south and east/west corridors that would allow us ready access to major mineral, agricultural, forestry and eco-tourism areas in the country; link us with our western neighbours; and provide modern airport and deep water harbour facilities. We have been advised by independent experts that the projects are sensible, feasible and implementable. We have already been in discussion with investors who are interested in becoming involved in their implementation and we shall be proceeding, in a structured way ,to bring the proposals in this document to fruition. We also consider the National Development Strategy, to which many persons in civil society contributed, to be a very useful document and it will be a matter of serious study how to incorporate its recommendations into our proposed scheme of development.

A Stake-holding Economy

We hold the view that development of our country’s resources should benefit the Guyanese people. Guyana belongs to all of us. Each and everyone of us has the privilege and the duty to love, serve, develop and protect this country. Our ancestors, whatever the time or the manner of their arrival here, have all contributed immeasurably to the country’s evolution and development. We are all therefore entitled, in equal measure, to share in its bounties. The PNC/Reform regards it as an obligation of the government to ensure that all citizens can do so equitably; and, to this end, we will put in place necessary measures to empower all citizens – with special reference to the poor, the underprivileged and the disadvantaged - to seize the multitudinous opportunities available in our country for their individual and communal advancement.

Within this context, we acknowledge the special circumstances of our Amerindian fellow-citizens who, historically, have encountered a number of difficulties in terms of their own development and their ability to contribute maximally to the nation’s development. We will consider it our duty to consult with them to agree on how best we can address historic issues and problems; how best we can facilitate their rapid progress into the main stream of national life and enable them to access all opportunities on equal terms with others while preserving their rich culture as part of our diverse heritage. We accept the importance of collaborating with them, at the government level, in realising of their just hopes and aspirations and in confirming of their sense of identity and belonging as free, proud and equal citizens of this great country of ours.

Our great aim is to create a stake-holding economy – an economy in which every Guyanese has a permanent, substantive legal interest. This would be made possible by a variety of policies and instruments and would be reflected, for example, by ownership of land; business ventures; the means of production, shares, legal entitlement to profit-sharing; and other benefits that may accrue from employment in economic entities. Foreign investors will be encouraged to build creative alliances with Guyanese which would give the latter a vested interest in business enterprises. The whole idea is to endow Guyanese with a sense of ownership of the economy by reasons of their vested interests in it.

Respect and Security

But even as we talk about developing our country we have to ensure that we do have a country to develop. The PNC/Reform will design policies and mechanisms to preserve our territorial integrity while we proceed with administering the affairs and developing our country without the fear of foreign intervention. To this end, we will recapitilise the Guyana Defence Force to upgrade its assets to enable it to discharge its constitutional role in relation to the country and its people.

Foreign Policy

Complementary to our defence effort, we will pursue an active foreign policy which, for us, will be a key factor in protecting our national interests. National prestige, security and development demand that we should maintain a Foreign Service of the highest quality. We will restore the morale and professionalism of the Service by recruiting staff of the highest calibre, ensuring continuing training and upgrading, and restoring the archives and the Library of the Ministry to appropriate standards. It will be our constant study, as a government, to establish and maintain normalcy and good relations with our contiguous neighbours. We will re-assume a prominent profile in CARICOM; pursue an active role within the Commonwealth, the United Nations and hemispheric councils; and forge mutually beneficial links with friendly countries of the world. We will manage our foreign policy in a mature and sophisticated way on the basis of structured dialogue, the avoidance of intemperate rhetoric and ill-advised action, and the pursuit of mutually advantageous interactions.

In passing, let me say that we of the People's National Congress are second to none in loyalty to Guyana or in defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Our record is unambiguous. We despise and ignore those who would question that loyalty. No intelligent person can misunderstand our position. We do not believe in a foreign policy based on futile rhetoric, idle threats and meaningless ultimatums; and we would not be persuaded to this course. The Guyanese people know that whenever the territorial integrity of this country is endangered, the People's National Congress, its members and supporters have always been the first to respond to the call of duty, to be in the frontline of defence, ready to bear the brunt of battle. Others can do well to emulate us.

In the reconstruction of our country, we know that there is a lot of work to be done. We do not underestimate its immensity or its difficulty. But we are confident that we have the capability, the strength of character and the mental toughness demanded of the task. And we fully understand that the success of the work to be done will require the support of all the Guyanese people.

Restoring Public Confidence

But this support can only be secured if we re-establish public confidence and public morale. We have to renew people’s belief in the fairness and efficiency of our systems and institutions. To this end, we will, as an urgent and immediate priority, take measures to restore the integrity of those national and governmental institutions that are vital to the preservation of our freedom, security and the social order but which, unfortunately, in varying degrees, seem to have forfeited public trust. We will therefore mount, as early as possible, a comprehensive inquiry into the remuneration, conditions of service and efficiency of the Judicial and Legal Service and its supportive agencies, the Police Service and the Public Service, in particular.

There can be no doubt that people have lost confidence in the integrity of entities like the tender boards and land and housing distribution agencies. We will therefore enquire into the functioning of these and similar agencies that dispense benefits and patronage under the government’s control. It is in the public interest that we ensure transparency in their operations and restrict arbitrary discretion in their decision making.

The purpose of these inquiries would not be to find scapegoats or to engage in witch-hunts. It would be to identify problems, shortcomings, grievances and related matters with a view to correcting these with utmost dispatch, instituting such reforms as may be necessary, improving the morale and professionalism of officials, and bolstering public confidence in their operations. These inquiries and the consequential recommendations are indispensable, I believe, to reviving public trust, imbuing citizens with a sense of purpose and optimism, and generating enthusiasm for the work of national reconstruction.

Modernisating Education

Our programme of far-reaching reform will proceed over a broad spectrum of national life. We will modernise our education system in consonance with the requirements of the information technology age to provide our children with the attitudes and skills that are relevant to our resource endowment, our development needs and the realities of the international environment. We will revitalise the cultural life of the country by encouraging and supporting the various aspects and strands of our rich and diverse cultural heritage; expand facilities for sport and recreation; organize our health sector on a rational countrywide basis; and promote a revival of the co-operative and self-help spirit and of village life.

All of these are urgent national priorities to be undertaken as part of the whole project of national reconstruction, even as we proceed with the economic programmes. We see the stimulation of national pride, the promotion of national dignity and the enhancement of citizens’ sense of well-being and security as essential elements of national development.

Education for Development

To realise our development ambitions, we will require an army of well-trained, highly-motivated young people. Their education and training will therefore be the foundation of our human resource development strategy. This strategy will call for radical departures from the current policies and curricula to ensure relevance to our needs and the demands of the technological age. It is crucial that our education system should not shut out the children of the poor for reasons of financial inability. The brain-power of children of poor parents is an immensely valuable national resource. We cannot afford to waste it by having it locked away and unutilized. We will therefore revisit the current fee paying structures in the education system and examine all prevailing practices that might prevent these children from accessing, on unequal terms with others, opportunities and training for education at all levels. In this context, the fees exacted from young people who are ambitious of pursuing education at the University of Guyana will undergo the most careful review.

This is a world of business enterprise. The education system must therefore expose our children to business principles and practices, and encourage them to develop any flair they may have for entrepreneurship. We will, as a matter of national policy, devise programmes to support young entrepreneurs in every field of business endeavour. The cultivation of a spirit of entrepreneurship, the promotion of individual initiative and the fostering of the creative instinct are, in our view, important elements in national development.

The Traditional Sectors

On the economic front, even as we proceed with the big and essential projects to open up our country, we recognise the necessity to put our traditional economic sectors in order. These sectors have sustained the economy over the years. Their prosperity and well-being are important to the good health of our economic life. At present they are experiencing serious difficulties; some are facing disaster. We will therefore consult with the operators in the rice, forestry and gold and diamond mining sectors to work out sensible solutions to their problems, and provide support for them while they emerge from their current distress. Small businesses too, will be targeted for encouragement and support.

Government propaganda would have us believe that all is well with the sugar industry and its future is rosy; but this is not so. Consequently, discussions with the managers of the sugar industry about securing its future viability will also be on our agenda. And we will adopt policies to revitalise the bauxite industry, which is at present in shambles, with the intention of restoring its undoubted capacity to be profitable, to create hundreds of new jobs, and to contribute positively to economic growth.

It is common knowledge that the business sector in this country is undergoing a crisis. This is not a short term problem; it has become endemic and springs from a number of factors such as bureaucratic inefficiencies, absence of policy and investment guidelines, an undoubted hostility to the business community, and a tax system that is erratic, unfair, punitive and inhibitory of business expansion. The citizens of our country are intolerably overtaxed.

Tax Reform

As part of the programme of potentiating our economy, a project for comprehensive tax reform will be a central activity. We believe in a policy of low taxation and the strengthening of the tax net to prevent eligible taxpayers from escaping their lawful liabilities. Experience has proved that low taxes are an incentive to compliance and a great stimulus to economic expansion. We aim to rationalize consumption taxes, property taxes and estate taxes, among others. We do not regard taxation as an instrument for merely garnering revenues. For us, it is more than that: it is also a tool for development that we will apply to encourage entrepreneurs to act in ways that will improve our human resource endowment; stimulate investment; modernise technology; facilitate exports; diversify our economic base; and encourage a business ethic that is sociably desirable.

Within this context, we will enact comprehensive modern legislation to protect consumers and install the necessary mechanisms for enforcement of consumers’ rights. In particular, the Public Utilities Commission will be reorganized to ensure that it has the necessary legal authority and appropriate staff to regulate all public utilities, including electricity providers, according to law, and hold the scales evenly between the consumer and the supplier.

Removing Corruption

I have adumbrated a massive programme for national reconstruction and development to be undertaken by PNC/Reform. The work cannot be deferred. It can brook no delay. It will have to begin in earnest when we win the next election. But winning the next election is not sufficient. What is essential to success is public confidence in the kind of government that emerges. The PNC/Reform is dedicated to abolishing the old style of government which has come to be cynically regarded as an instrument for rewarding Party faithfuls and dispensing patronage. This would not be acceptable to us nor, we believe, to the masses of the Guyanese people. We are committed to introducing a new political culture.

The PNC/Reform will put in place a government that will draw on the best skills and talents available and will pursue a policy based on inclusiveness and meritocracy. The criteria for appointment to office, for preferment and promotion will be competence to do the job, known integrity, and loyal to Guyana. Accountability and transparency will be bultressed by Freedom of Information legislation to remove the veil of secrecy from government operations where this is not absolutely necessary for the nation’s security. As an adjunct to this proposal, and as part of the policy of openness, we will remove government monopoly of radio broadcasting and dominance of the media.

The principle of inclusiveness is many sided and difficult to define comprehensively. However, it certainly involves the idea of providing opportunities for all of our citizens, regardless of ethnicity, political or religious persuasion or geographic affiliation to have opportunities to take part in the management and the decision-making process within the State and in the political, economic, social and cultural sectors of national life. Citizens must feel that, at some level, they are involved in national activities.

Local Government Reform

One particular area which provides ample scope for such involvement is that of local government. We will therefore activate the local government system in terms of the Constitution Reform proposals under which local authorities will have a large measure of autonomy as the central government decentralises and devolves authority and decision-making. Under the reformed local government system, citizens can have a real sense of being involved in and influencing the management and developmental issues in their regions and communities. The tendency of Central government to meddle in and control every aspect of national life will be reversed, and citizens would be given wider opportunities to manage their own lives.

But for us, inclusiveness also extends to our Guyanese citizens in the diaspora. Overseas Guyanese are a tremendous national resource. They possess a vast range of professional, technical and other skills which can be of immense value in supporting our developmental efforts. We therefore will seek to draw upon this important resource and harness it to our developmental efforts by instituting a permanent structured relationship with them.

We plan to use them as advisors and consultants; we plan to utilize their skills, in training and upgrading local personnel so as to benefit optimally from their loyalty to the land of their birth. To solidify this relationship, we will grant special incentives to them to build holiday and retirement homes here and, generally, to invest in Guyana. What we would be attempting is a long-term alliance with our Guyanese compatriots overseas which would redound to our mutual benefit.

I have outlined in broad terms the work of national reconstruction that PNC/Reform would be undertaking. It is a work of prodigious proportions, but it cannot be deferred. It can brook no delay. It would have to begin in earnest when we win the next election. And we will win! It would not be possible this time around for the election to be vitiated by fraud, for the results to be manipulated to enable an illegitimate government to assume the reins of government. There can be no doubt in anybody’s mind but that citizens of this country will demand that the election be honestly and efficiently managed and the results truly reflect the will of the electorate. The masses of the Guyanese people will accept nothing less than that – nor will we!

The Task Ahead

The Chairman of the Elections Commission has announced January 15th, 2001 as the date when the election will be held according to the timetable prepared by the Commission. This timetable is achievable unless evil elements conspire to obstruct and frustrate the work. I could only hope that this will not happen. I make no further comment on this issue except to say that we are gearing ourselves for an election to be held within the deadline.

We cannot, we will not, allow ourselves to be distracted at this time by irrelevancies. We have to be single-minded -- and ruthlessly so -- in the pursuit of our objective. That objective is to win the election.

We are not neophytes; we are a seasoned political Party. We know that elections are won by the way a Party organises itself to carry out the hard, unglamourous foot-slogging work of checking the voters’ list, canvassing from door to door, taking the Party’s message to potential voters in the field, manning the polling places, bringing out supporters to vote and doing the hundred and one little things that will ensure irregular practices are inhibited and our supporters are able to turn out to the polls in the largest possible numbers. I remind you of the these tasks; I enjoin you to perform them earnestly and diligently; I remind you that we cannot falter or fail, for thousands of despairing Guyanese rightly look to us as their only hope of salvation.

Top of page
To Rescue the Nation

Let us now close our ranks and move forward in a solid phalanx. There is no time now for doubts, recriminations or reservations; no time for looking back. We must now cast aside all differences. There must be only one thought on our minds – and that must be victory at the polls. The grand enterprise upon which we are embarked is to usher in a new dispensation in Guyana that would revolutionise our political, social and economic structures in ways that would guarantee jobs to the jobless; homes to the homeless; hope to the hopeless; and to thousands of Guyanese who now feel alienated, a sense of security and belonging.

For far too long our people have been bereft of happiness. The culmination of our efforts must be to return the smile to their faces, the spring to their steps, and the joy to their hearts. Ours must be the task to fashion a vibrant and wholesome society, at peace with itself and at peace with its neighbours; an economy that creates wealth, spurs, development and provides continually expanding conditions for all our people to live comfortable fulfilling lives; and a State, resting squarely on foundations of democracy and social justice where within ever enlarging bounds of human freedom, the rule of law reigns unchallenged and supreme.

To this noble task, let us now, unreservedly, commit our Party and ourselves!