29 July 2016
In his inaugural address on 28 July, newly-elected President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski called for unity, laying out his vision for Peru for the forthcoming five years. He presented his dream of a more modern and equitable country by the time that Peru celebrates the bicentenary of its independence in 2021. He spoke for just under 40 minutes, setting out six areas on which he plans to concentrate his attention during his presidency.
His first promise was to provide everyone in the country with clean water and sanitation, hopefully in five years but, if not, then at least in seven. His second pledge was to education, which he vowed to improve both in terms of coverage and quality. He made it clear he wanted to give every Peruvian a place in pre-school, ensure that the quality of literacy was improved to international standards, and that all school children had the opportunity to learn a world language as well as Quechua and Aymara. To achieve this he called for the support of the teachers. He also committed to making sure all universities are properly accredited, and that there would be education in music, the arts, sports, humanities and the sciences.
Third on Kuczynski’s list of promises was health. He wants to make sure that all Peruvians have access to quality healthcare. Here he made reference to his personal experience, seeing his father work with some of the most disadvantaged people. He said he wanted to give people life with dignity through access to health, improving their life-chances. Formalising the country was his fourth pledge, and here he included a series of promises of change, ranging from the inclusion of more workers in the formal sector to the lowering of VAT to ensure more businesses pay tax.
Fifth on the wish-list was improvement of infrastructure. He spoke of building roads, railways and ensuring that the country is modern, forward looking and open to investment. He expressed hope that a modus vivendi could be established between investors and communities. The final point on his agenda was to rid the country of corruption and inequality. Kuczynski was adamant that his government would fight both blights: on the one hand not allowing people to fall back into poverty and ensuring improved opportunities for the poor and, on the other, by reforming the justice system to make it impossible for corruption to thrive. He said he would create a new authority to fight corruption.
The message was aimed both to those who had voted for him and those who had not. He asked for all Peruvians to come together, connecting the public and private sector, but more than anything else he asked Congress to help him make this vision possible. He said his aim was to create a more equitable country, and bring about a “revolution” of social justice, a modern country without discrimination. He stressed the importance of social programmes, how they should be deepened, how democracy and human rights must be respected, and how the victims of past abuses from the past must be compensated for their loss.
The message was not a neo-liberal one, pure and simple. It set out clearly his priorities, although not how they are to be achieved. Realisation of this technocratic view for the future may prove more easily said than done.