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By Abena RockcliffeBemoaning the fact that his administration did not have the luxury of the “traditional honeymoon period” usually enjoyed by incoming governments, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan on Monday chronicled some of the early challenges faced by the new regime.He spoke of this to a House that remained void of an opposition, so basically, Jordan addressed his own colleagues in government. This must have served as an opportunity for them to pat themselves on the back for the handling of these challenges.Jordan said that Guyanese were only recently given the go-ahead to exhale after holding their breaths against the stench of corruption, nepotism and discrimination that had assailed their olfactory sense.“For too long, our people had to suffer under a Government that cared less about them and more about their friends and associates.”The Minister affirmed that with knowledge of the fact that Guyanese were looking forward for a speedy recovery, “our Government immediately buckled down to the task of governing this complex, multi-ethnic nation. We knew it was not going to be easy, especially since we had to deal with an opposition that refused to acknowledge its loss at the recent general elections, in spite of the declaration of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the pronouncements of all the international observers.”Jordan stated that the young government was confronted with a series of events, both local and international, that threatened the livelihood of thousands and the sovereignty of the country.“We learnt that the sugar company, Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), was broke and needed an immediate infusion of cash, an estimated $16 billion, to keep it afloat for the rest of the year.”The first-time Minister said that the APNU+AFC government responded with alacrity, providing an initial amount of almost $4B; installing new management and board of directors and instituting a Commission of Inquiry that would examine, among other things, all options pertaining to the future of the sugar industry in Guyana.However, Jordan asserted, no sooner had his government put out the proverbial fire at GuySuCo,Jerseys NFL Cheap, it was faced with a crisis in the rice industry.Jordan lamented the fact that the hard-working farmers, who had toiled mightily to return record rice production for the past three years, were confronted with uncertainty as to payment for rice shipped to Venezuela under the PetroCaribe barter arrangement. He said that unknowing to the farmers, the PPP/C Government had mismanaged the PetroCaribe Fund, leaving only a small balance of US$0.8M in the fund at the end of May 2015, whereas outstanding payments to farmers was in excess of US$17M.Worse yet, Jordan said that the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), under pressure from the PPP/C administration, was forced to offset the cash amounts due to Venezuela’s state-owned oil company—PDVSA—against future shipments, in order to ensure that current payments to rice farmers were made at the due dates. Once again, the Government came to the rescue, transferring over $5 billion to the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) so that farmers could be paid.As he continued along that line, of all that the new government had to face less than 100 days in office, all was left was for Jordan to use the Creole adage “Old house pon old house.”The Minister said that the early challenges to the young Government did not end at the aforementioned stumbling blocks. As if enough was not going on, “a massive flood, not unlike that experienced in 2005, inundated the land, sparing human lives, but destroying crops and livestock, and infrastructure,” said Jordan.He noted that the government moved “speedily” to activate its disaster preparedness procedures, made available emergency assistance to drain the water off the land as quickly as possible, provided help and shelter to those in need, and established a committee of experts to examine short and long term solutions to flooding in Guyana.Even as the government was dealing with those pressing domestic matters, Jordan said, it also had to grapple with its western neighbour, “Venezuela, who was ratcheting up her unjust claim to virtually two-thirds of our country – a claim that was settled in 1899.”Jordan said that this time, through diplomatic and other initiatives, the government moved quickly to mobilize domestic and international support in defence of our sovereignty.“We will continue to utilize peaceful and diplomatic means in our search for a lasting solution to the controversy that was precipitated by Venezuela’s continuous questioning of the validity of the arbitral award of 1899,” said the Minister.Jordan stressed that the government’s handling of those incidents of potential crisis demonstrates its resolve to do what is right by the Guyanese people.He told his colleagues that although nearly half of those who voted in the recent General and Regional Elections, “did not vote for us, we view this not as a rejection, but as an opportunity to forge accountable and inclusive governance – something that was lacking in the previous regime.”Jordan acknowledged that all Guyanese yearn for the good life – one in which the country’s patrimony is exploited in a sustainable and responsible manner that caters for future generations; where they have good jobs providing permanent incomes; where they have access to decent affordable housing, health care, pure water, sanitation and education; where they can live and retire comfortably and in a secure environment. “Our Government commits to providing that good life.”
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