Jagdeo challenges President Granger’s ‘domestic issues’ excuse

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first_imgOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has rubbished claims made by President David Granger that he has been dealing with domestic issues, which is the main reason why he has not been able to have frequent interactions with the local press.Jagdeo was severely critical of the President’s comment, stating that his excuse was baseless and did not hold any truth. As such, the former Head of State fact-checked the comments the President made in relation to this issue.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo“Granger shamelessly claims that he has been dealing with issues in the petroleum sector. We have so many unanswered questions,” he said. The Opposition Leader referred to the Local Content Policy, the Petroleum Commission and the Sovereign Wealth Fund as some of the issues that still needed to be looked at in that sector.Jagdeo maintains the view that a strong local content policy will allow Guyana to safeguard opportunities for locals and not allow locals to be crowded out in the sector. On the Petroleum Commission, he argued, it ought to be a purely technical commission, but it is currently configured to give excessive powers to one person.Jagdeo made it clear that none of the critical questions surrounding the establishment of a Sovereign Wealth Fund, promised over a year ago, have been answered by the coalition Government.He noted that a statement of principles, such as the Santiago Principles, on which the establishment of the Fund would be based would have sufficed.He also reiterated the need for there to be an apolitical approach to setting up the Fund, a clear definition of the purpose of the Fund, and clearly defined rules on spending from the Fund, among others.On the President’s statement on crime being addressed, Jagdeo said the country was being ravaged on a daily basis by criminals and the Government has been giving the wrong signals to the security forces.“This country is being ravaged on a daily basis by criminals …. this hopelessly misguided, inept, government is giving wrong signals to our security forces … they are not acting … the report from the Presidential Security Advisor (Russell Combe) has not even seen the light of day yet…,” he added.On July 9, in defending why he has not held a press conference in months and why there were fewer formal engagements with the media, Granger said that his schedule was a major factor.“My heart is in the right place, but right now, I’ve had a really difficult period of public engagement and overseas travel,” the President told the media on the sidelines of an event.He added: “This time last week, I was in Montego Bay, the week before I was in Da Nang, Vietnam. It could be a very challenging period and as soon as I get the opportunity, I will engage with the press, but I’ve been travelling quite a lot … I’m asking the media to be tolerant.”Granger had also said that he was preoccupied with dealing with several local issues.“It could be a challenging period and as soon as I get the opportunity, I would engage with the press, but I’ve been travelling quite a lot and then to deal with domestic issues – the sugar industry, we have to deal with the petroleum industry, I have to deal with crime and security,” he had explained.In the past, the Guyana Press Association (GPA) and other groups, including the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), have urged Granger to meet with the press.These groups have also criticised Government for its silence on a number of matters of national importance, calling on the President to toughen up and face the entire local media corps.The GPA had acknowledged that the President was not averse to speaking with the media on the side-lines of public events or during his “Public Interest” televised programme; however, the Association said that it believed that accountability to the Guyanese people would be best served through press conferences.Public officials under the coalition Government have gone mute for a while now.Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who has responsibility for public information, is also unavailable to the media and does not host press conferences to update the media or the public on what is going on with his office or the Government.Political analysts and commentators have noted that there was a new culture seemingly developing whereby Ministers of Government were abusing and assaulting the media directly when displeased with a specific line of questioning, coverage of an event or editorial position of a newspaper on a particular matter.After two years in office, President Granger held a press conference in December 2017, only the second since the coalition came into Government in May 2015.last_img

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