…says only PPP stands between Govt and corruptionFormer President and current Opposition Leader Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo has called on supporters of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to become foot soldiers in an effort to make the party the strongest ever.On Sunday, as he addressed close to seven thousand supporters gathered at the Babu Jaan Monument Site on the Corentyne in East Berbice for the annual wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the 20th death anniversary of the late President Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan, the Opposition leader predicted that the PPPC would be returned to power at the next General Elections slated for 2020. As such, he urged supporters to strive towards strengthening the party, since the current administration is sending clear signals that it wants to drive fear into the working class and, to a lesser extent, the business community as well as certain ethnic communities.Former President Donald Ramotar pays tribute to Dr JaganOutlining the current administration’s dismal performance, particularly in regard to the ongoing efforts to close more sugar estates, Jagdeo said President Granger has made it clear that Government will not spend money on the sugar industry.“The President has made it clear: ‘I don’t want sugar on the books’. So now that he has said that, in spite of all that they are arguing about, they have to now close some estates, like they are planning (to do) at Rose Hall and Enmore and several of the cultivations. They have to do this because the President doesn’t want to spend a cent on sugar, although sugar only needs transitional help, because it could turn around in the future,” Jagdeo stated.Former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds lays a wreath at the memorialHe also questioned the Government’s unwillingness to save thousands of jobs, and the rationale behind such a move. “Government did not spend too much money on the Skeldon Sugar Factory. If we (had) spent too much on sugar, how is it that in 2015 and 2016, the Gold Board lost $27B?” Jagdeo asked. “That is more that the entire cost of the entire Skeldon Factory; and Banks DIH is suing the Government for $28B because of a decision they made to give DDL some tax write offs. The lawsuit alone will cost us more than the cost for the entire Skeldon Factory. How can they find physical space for those reasons and they can’t find physical space to help the sugar industry?”Alluding to the role of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA), Jagdeo asserted that the agency is now acting in an unconstitutional way. Making mention of an incident on Friday during which members of SARA visited a businessman and asked him to produce certain documents, the Opposition Leader said SARA is now doing the work that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) should be doing.“Why is it that SARA will take a businessman into the Office of the President compound when it has no legal authority to do so? The reason is simple: they want to drive fear in the business community. These businessmen, if they dare to take a stand in this country, they must be afraid of the repressive nature of this Government (and) the ‘Burnhamite’ tools that they are using. Why is it that sugar workers who, when they now go on strike – which is a routine thing provided for by law – they are told that, ‘If you continue to do this, we will shut down the factory’? It is with the aim of driving fear into the hearts and minds of sugar workers, so that they would become less militant, they would not want to take protest action, because if they do there will be consequences.“Why is it that after putting the Value Added Tax [VAT] on private education and on educational material – and there is a petition and protest about it – the President says, ‘Their people are tax dodgers’?”Jagdeo also pointed to intimidatory tactics being employed against members of the judiciary. “When the rulings of Judges and Magistrates go against the Government, the Attorney General uses the Chronicle newspaper and launches an attack on them. So no Judge, no independent body, will in the future want to take a decision against the Government, because they would be subjected to an assault (by) this Government; because they are fearful that it will harm them in their upliftment,” Jagdeo said.He said Government is also trying to drive fear in the mining sector. Explaining that in his opinion what Government has done is split the mining movement, the Opposition Leader said Government’s second move would be to go after the large miners; so the small miners have become fearful that Government would come after them, demanding large sums of money in taxes.Addressing the way forward, Jagdeo urged supporters of the PPP to accept all those who are returning to the party. “It is the Cheddi Jagan way!” he said. According to the Opposition Leader, party supporters must defend democracy at all cost; and on that score, he called on them to become foot soldiers.Since his death in 1997, the life and works of the iconic Dr. Jagan, who served as this nation’s 3rd Executive President, have been celebrated annually, with thousands making the pilgrimage in his remembrance to the Babu Jaan Crematorium at Port Mourant on the Corentyne Coast in East Berbice.Born on March 22, 1918, Dr. Jagan died on March 06, 1997. Over the years, the month of March has been dedicated to remember and reflect on the invaluable contributions he has made to the development of Guyana and Guyanese.Also addressing the gathering were Hydar Ally, former President Donald Ramotar, former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, representatives of the People’s Youth Organisation, the youth wing of the PPP (PYO), and the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO).