…promises no VAT on electricity, water, healthcare…free university education in 5 years…no new taxes, 20,000 scholarshipsIn preparation for the upcoming General and Regional Elections, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has started rolling out its policies and plans for the country and its people, should it get into office.Opposition Leader Bharrat JadgeoThe Party’s manifesto is being rolled out in phases, according to PPP’s General Secretary and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.He explained to reporters at his weekly press conference on Thursday that the first version of the manifesto will be in the form of posters circulating, containing some of the policies the Party plans to institute immediately upon taking office. The second phase, he noted, will be a more popular version of the manifesto, while the final version will be a detailed technical document.The manifesto, he added, will be launched closer to elections and will give people more insight into the Party’s vision for the future of the country and its people.Already, the PPP has published on its social media accounts several of these posters, outlining the removal of Value-Added Tax (VAT) on key areas such as electricity, water and healthcare, among other things.However, adding to this, Jagdeo disclosed at his press conference that high, also, on the Party’s agenda is the reversal and/or reduction of the over 200 tax measures imposed by the coalition administration— such as on building materials, on data, and exports.He pointed out that a government should be encouraging more exports so that foreign currency can be earned and more jobs created locally, not trying to stifle exports.The PPP General Secretary went on to outline too that the Party will reverse the VAT on farming, mining and forestry equipment, which he said has caused untold difficulties for farmers, miners and those in the forestry sector.Taxes“I met with some small loggers, etc, and having to pay taxes on their equipment now is just pushing them out of production. We want that changed and we want to reverse the land rent, and draining and irrigation charges that are making cattle rearing, rice farming and all those activities basically much harder… [We will also] reverse new taxes on Guyanese miners,” he stated.These, Jagdeo said, are just some of the reversals, as he promise no new tax burden under a PPP administration.“There are lots of [the tax reversals]… like on hinterland travels and so on. But the reversals first and then a promise of no new taxes… So when you vote for a PPP government, you know in the five year period, you’re not gonna have an additional tax burden from our Government like how people, for every budget [under the coalition], they’ve had to worry about new taxes all the time. So that’s the difference between the two,” he stated.20,000 scholarshipsAnother area Jagdeo said much emphasis will be placed on is the education sector, which will include 20,000 online scholarships. This, he said, will be in addition to what is being done at the University of Guyana (UG).“So this will help private education and a large number of people to get scholarships for courses in professions that may not be offered by the University of Guyana. So the online scholarship is one thing that is critical for us,” he noted.Moreover, the PPP General Secretary also spoke of his Party’s plans to offer free university education within its five-year term in office.“We could’ve easily said free university from day one but we’re not APNU (A Partnership for National Unity – the majority party in the coalition government). They promised free university, but they increased the University fees by 25 per cent. We’re not gonna do that, we’re making it clear within the five year’s we’re gonna do it… The way it’s going now, we’re looking at running the numbers, probably in year two or three we can move into this policy, but once we promise this, you know it will be done because we’re not making wild promises,” he asserted.Furthermore, Jagdeo said that the PPP/C Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali, will also be rolling out some additional measures to stimulate private education as well as a plans to tackle the issue of outstanding UG loans.According to the General Secretary, the Party’s education policy is a comprehensive approach not just focusing on the tertiary level.“I don’t want for a moment for people to think for focus is confined to tertiary education because it’s also at the [technical vocational] level and at the nursery, primary and secondary levels. They also have plans for those areas. The overall objective of the PPP government is to have a world class [education system] because we will have a bit more resources from the oil revenues to pump into education,” he explained.Other areas the PPP plans to address when it gets into office include reducing the age limit on the importation of vehicles, which Jagdeo said will take more than $1 million dollar off the current costs of vehicles, thus, more affordable for Guyanese. Added to this is the reversal of the 2AM curfew, the restoration of the Joint Services bonus, as well as the support for small businesses via grants and interests free loans to promote entrepreneurship.Moreover, the PPP General Secretary outlined too that his party will roll out an extensive plan on how Guyanese will benefit from the riches expected from the impending oil and gas sector.“We made it clear that more Guyanese have to benefit from this. The way it’s structured now, the foreigners are gonna hog everything and that can’t be sustainable in the long run,” Jagdeo posited.With the first phase of the manifesto roll-out already on the way, Jagdeo said the popular version of the document will soon be released.