By Dr. Vishnu Bisram
November 9/10 was the 100th day since President Irfaan Ali and the PPP took office after swearing in on August 2, some five months after the March 2 elections during which time the PNC led coalition made several attempts to rig the election. The government has scored very high in a diaspora poll conducted in NYC.
The North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA), a polling group founded in New York by Vassan Ramracha and other teachers, began conducting surveys in New York and Guyana on the performance of the Ali led administration. The polls were conducted by Dr. Vishnu Bisram who has been doing field surveys since the 1980s.
The polls in NYC and Guyana find high performance ratings for the President and his government (administration), in particular for the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, and the Vice President, among others who impressed with their performance in their Ministries. Respondents praise President Irfaan, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, and Legal Affairs Minister Nandlall, among others, for rescuing the country from poor governance of the predecessor coalition regime and the dire straits of the economy. Confidence in the well being of the country and in the future of the economy was at an all time low. People were fed up of the regime and wanted to get rid of it after that brazen attempt to steal the outcome when it lost the vote on March 2, 2020.
The respondents in the survey overwhelmingly say that the PPP has done a much better job managing the affairs of the country than the APNU-AFC coalition and that peoples’ lives are much better now than under the preceding regime. Respondents describe the President and his team as “action oriented” in getting things done quickly. They say there has been much progress in the country since August 2 even though a budget was not approved till a month later.
In NY, the survey interviewed 102 Indians, 54 Africans and Mixed, and 6 Amerindians but no Portuguese and Chinese. The data for the survey in Guyana is being processed.
The US and other countries intervened to protect democracy in Guyana and the survey revealed that foreign (US) involvement was welcomed by (some 70%) Guyanese in the diaspora and at home.
The NY survey finds that a lot of goodwill was generated for the change in administration given the misbehavior of the coalition during the five months election impasse. Almost every Indian and Amerindian approve of the change along with a fifth of the Africans and Mixed population. Almost every Indian and Amerindian gave a thumbs up to the performance of President Irfaan (72% approval rating) and the government (71% approval rating).
The President has come in for a lot of praises from those interviewed as being: young, intelligent, dynamic, balanced, matured, sincere, passionate, dedicated, and committed to national development and harmonious inter-ethnic relations. He has been helping all Guyanese irrespective of ethnicity. Some say he talks passionately of helping all Guyanese and that they see it in his face and communications. He is on right track in terms of economic reforms especially in lowering taxes. A large majority approves of the budget (69%). And he has signaled he wants a trustworthy electoral system that will inspire confidence in all Guyanese. Some 68% support prosecution of election riggers and 65% feel election will not be free and fair if the riggers remain at Gecom. Some 70% wants electoral reforms.
The President is seen as very pro-active and going out in the communities, and he instructed his cabinet of MPs and Regional Chairs to do same. They like the idea that he is taking government to the doors steps of people. Respondents say the President seems committed to democratic governance and to electoral and constitutional reforms. He is working within constitutional boundaries. He rationalizes taxes and has maintained a balance between government and private sector.
Respondents praise his and the Vice President’s ability to access resources from friendly countries like India, USA, Canada, and UK for Guyana to address pandemic issues. In spite of constraints of pandemic, the government is forging excellent international relations and signing accords with several countries. President Irfaan has been able to secure foreign assistance from several countries for development programs. He pulled off the biggest achievement in diplomatic relations – a visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the first visit to Guyana of an American cabinet member. There is overwhelming approval (70%) for US involvement in the election to secure the democratic outcome and for Pompeo’s visit.
Respondents overwhelmingly approve the performance of Anil Nandlall as well as to the granting of Silk (Senior Counsel) status to him and Timothy Jonas. Everyone rates Anil Nandlall as the most efficient Minister of the government. Every Indian Amerindian and a majority of Africans and Mixed approved of Nandlall’s performance as AG.
The President disappoints the diaspora in one area – many complain that the administration has not appointed qualified individuals from diaspora to positions as promised during visits to and engagements with diaspora especially in North America.
The researchers of this survey recommend that the media take stock of (assess) how the government’s accomplishments compare with the goals in the ruling party’s manifesto. The media should interview academics, business persons, market vendors, and people in the streets on the performance of the government and his cabinet.
The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the THE WEST INDIAN.