PRESS RELEASE People’s National Congress Reform Congress Place, Sophia Georgetown, Guyana. Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Peoples National Congress Reform reaffirms its commitment to the agreements of the joint stakeholders' forum and will work assiduously to ensure their implementation, particularly those, which fall within its own capacity.

The PPP/C Government, under the name of the Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, presented a Motion to Parliament without any prior consultation with the Parliamentary Opposition Parties, which merely sought to acknowledge the decisions of that stakeholder forum and Ms. Gail Texiera subsequently wrote inviting the opposition parties to make any proposed amendments. The Joint Parliamentary Opposition Parties having discussed the matter submitted their proposals for amendments. Those amendments, which are attached, sought to give life and meaning to the decisions of the stakeholder’s forum.

Regrettably, the rejection by the Government of some of the most important proposals clearly demonstrated an absence of their commitment to engage in serious implementation and suggested that the tabling of the Motion was motivated merely by public relations considerations.

For example, the rejection of the inclusion of any reference to Article 13 of the Constitution, an important concern of many stakeholders during the consultations, was quite surprising and raises questions as to whether the Government was serious about giving reality to this Article of the Constitution. The Government also rejected any reference to equitable access to parliamentary parties to the state media, which was a serious matter of concern raised by the Parliamentary Opposition Parties when they met President Jagdeo and was a matter agreed upon in the signed Communiqué signed by President Jagdeo and Opposition Leader Robert Corbin since May 6, 2003. The Government also rejected any reference to the enactment of Freedom of Information legislation and to the removal of state monopoly on radio.

These actions by the Government creates many doubts in the minds of the Joint Parliamentary Opposition Parties about the Government’s seriousness in implementing the recommendations of the stakeholders’ forum, the implementation of which do not require a Motion to be passed in Parliament but actual work in a spirit of compromise to ensure progress.

The doubts of the PNCR and the other Opposition Parties are founded upon historical experience in which undertakings arrived at by the Government have been honoured in the breach. For example, there have been agreements that the joint services will conduct their operations professionally and within the confines of the law and with respect for constitutional rights of citizens. The recent actions of the security services clearly demonstrate a lack of willingness on the part of the Government to uphold the commitments to professionalism and respect for constitutional rights.

Only yesterday, Wednesday, March 26th, in Parliament, the Government rejected three reasonable Motions calling respectively for an investigation into the operations of GPL, the establishment of a permanent Law Reform Commission and the setting up of an aggregate limit of $10M on the amount of debt the Government may forgive in any year without approval of the National Assembly.

In view of the foregoing, the PNCR is of the view that it could not reasonably participate in another parliamentary charade merely intended for propaganda purposes while the commitment for transparency, accountability and serious pursuits of undertakings are completely ignored by the Government.

We therefore call on the Government to honour their commitments made at the stakeholder forum and stand prepared to respond to any serious initiative in this direction.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, March 27, 2008