PRESS STATEMENT BY Dr Faith Harding Member - Central Executive of the People’s National Congress Reform To the Press Conference on Thursday April 04, 2002 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia.



THE DEATH OF SUPERINTENDENT LEON FRASER: The killing of any police officer in the line of duty is a cause for regret. Unfortunately Superintendent Leon Fraser had come to epitomise the lack of professionalism which had undermined public confidence in the force, compromised its efficiency and sullied its image. It is arguably the recourse to brute force and strong arm tactics in recent years at the expense of sound police work by some elements in the force which is responsible for the five dangerous escapees to be still at large. Fraser’s death should be the occasion for the Force to do some serious stocktaking and to take the appropriate measures to enhance its standing among citizens. The PNCR however, does not believe that this can be accomplished under the present incumbent at the Ministry of Home Affairs.

THE BK CONNECTION: CABINET EXPERTS TO CHECK INVESTIGATION TEAM EXPERTS:

The Cane Grove Breach Investigation Team, Dr. H. B. Davis, Mr George Howard, Mr R.B. Latchmansingh, Mr. Paul Sarran and Col J.P. Lewis, all well respected professionals has presented its report and recommendations to the Government.

Dr. Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, is unashamedly claiming that the Government must await the assessments by their other experts before Cabinet can act! This is unadulterated nonsense! The PNCR does not buy this. And the Guyanese public should not either!

In the Introduction to the REPORT ON FACTORS WHICH LED TO THE BREACH IN THE EDWC DAM AT LA BONNE MERE, it is clearly stated that:

“The Conservancy Breach Investigation team was convened on the 9th Nov. 2001 by Presidential Instruction to ascertain the contributing factors, which led to the breach in the East Demerara Conservancy Dam, aback of Cane Grove. The team’s Terms of Reference …….. include not only ascertaining conditions of the Dam at the breach site but also to offer a technical assessment of the Engineering works on the Conservancy Dam and to make recommendations on appropriate remedial measures to other risk areas on the dam and preventative maintenance to the structure in general.”

What assessments are needed? The Government should be acting speedily to implement the Recommendations of the Investigation Team, rather than conducting another foot dragging exercise!

The fact is that the Freedom House managers of the Government are embarrassed - if they are at all capable of such sensitive considerations - by the unequivocal assertion that their favourite contractor, BK International, is culpable and, on the face of it, criminally so.

BK International has once again obviously used its incestuous relationship with Freedom House to short change the Guyanese people and, in this instance, to do incalculable harm to the livelihood and well being of the people of Cane Grove. This is but another example of the rampant corruption by its cronies which is officially encouraged and protected by the regime.

There has to be a reasonable time limit on the regime’s official and definitive response to this damning report. It cannot be as open-ended as Luncheon wants it to be. The PNCR will not allow it. The Guyanese people and the people of Cane Grove should not allow it.

The PNCR, in discharge of its responsibility to the people of Guyana, has formally requested the Auditor-General to immediately conduct a forensic audit of some of the other projects executed by BK International. We eagerly await the results of this audit.

Mr. Jagdeo, in an attempt to placate angry residents at the time of the breach, declared that the guilty will pay. This must now be put to the test. He has in the past made bold assertions of intent to deal condignly with wrong-doers only to retreat into inaction and empty posturing when the facts indict the regime’s insiders and PPP cronies.

Remember the floating Charity wharf, the Hanoman milk fraud,and the Ministry of Works stone scam? These bare stark testimonies of Mr. Jagdeo’s established abilities and willingness to engage in doublespeak on the issue of official corruption.

The Cabinet’s prevarication as enunciated by Mr. Luncheon in his usual convoluted manner is inexcusable, unacceptable and indefensible. It must be seen for what it is, a transparent attempt to buy time for the regime and Freedom House to formulate a face saving strategy and to hope also that people’s memories become clouded and
the Cane Grove fiasco fades into the background.

But while the regime stalls on taking the appropriate action indicated by the Report of the Investigation Team, they are barefacedly continuing with business as usual with BK.

The PNCR was quite astonished to learn of BK being awarded another substantial contract a few days ago. This is an affront to the Guyanese taxpayer.

The PNCR is contending that the disclosures in the Cane Grove dam breach Report of BK’s malfeasance and documented non-co-operation with the work of the Commission should immediately preclude that company from future consideration for government contracts.

We believe that the Inter-American Development Bank which is the principal source of external funding of the botched Cane Grove Project, and the others which the PNCR would like examined, should declare BK persona non grata for any IDB projects until that company’s bona fides is established beyond doubt.


THE NEGOTIATIONS WITH CAMBIOR:

In his Press Statement, on Thursday March 07, 2002 and on several other previous occasions, the Leader of the PNCR, Mr. H. Desmond Hoyte, pointed to the regime’s blatant demonstration of bad faith, represented by the behaviour of the Prime Minister, who ignored the role of the Joint Bauxite Resuscitation Committee (JBRC) as expressed in its agreed and published Terms of Reference and capriciously subverted its involvement, in the negotiations with Alcoa for the now nationally owned Aroaima Bauxite Company.

At a meeting, convened by the President and the Leader of the Opposition with the JBRC, held at the Office of the President on Tuesday, February 19, 2002 it was reaffirmed that, for the negotiations with Cambior, the JBRC would be charged with the responsibility for supervising a three(3) person full-time Negotiating Team – two (2) members to be nominated by the President and one (1) by the Leader of the Opposition. The Negotiating Team - Messrs Winston Brassington, Winston Jordan and P.Q. De Freitas - has been assembled and the talks are scheduled to begin on Friday 2002 April 05.

The PNCR is perturbed to learn that the President has arbitrarily changed the role of the JBRC for these negotiations. We have also been advised that, in connection with these negotiations, the Prime Minister has been relieved of his residual Ministerial responsibilities for the Bauxite Industry.

The PNCR wishes to state categorically that it will not support any arrangements for transferring majority control of LINMINE which cannot be demonstrated as sustainable and beneficial for the long-term well being of the workers and the Linden Community.

It is the neglect of the Government to enforce the contractual obligations of MinProc and, since their departure, to implement a structured long-term development plan for LINMINE and the Linden Community, that has placed LINMINE and the Linden Community in the precarious state which now prevails. The Government must accept its responsibility to ensure that sustainable arrangements are put in place for the future of LINMINE and the Linden Community.

The PNCR is particularly concerned that the Government’s approach to the negotiations with Cambior seem to be motivated primarily by its indecent haste to rid itself of the responsibility for giving material support to the Bauxite Communities, while seeking sustainable solutions for reversing the fortunes of LINMINE and the Bauxite Industry in Guyana.

It should be evident to all Guyanese that the regime is driven by its usual double standards in its attitude to the future of the Sugar Industry and the Bauxite Industry. In the case of the Sugar Industry, it has been pumping huge resources, including the waiving of the entire Sugar Levy and protecting Guysuco’s sales in Guyana, to ensure its survival. Moreover, it plans to invest US$110Mn to expand sugar production in Berbice in the hope of making the cost of sugar competitive at World Market prices. Whereas, in the case of LINMINE and the Bauxite Industry as a whole, its approach has been miserly, unconstructive, haphazard and lukewarm to say the least..




THE MIDDLE EAST CRISIS:

The PNCR wishes to express its concern at the escalating cycle of violence in the Middle East. It should be obvious to the Israelis by now that the just demands of the Palestinians for a homeland of their own cannot be crushed by military might. Israel should embrace the relevant resolutions of the UN and immediately return to the pre-June 1967 status quo thereby according full recognition to the state of Palestine and the most recent one of the Islamic states offering full recognition if it returns to its pre-1967 borders and acquiesce to statehood for the Palestinians.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress place, Sophia.
April 04th, .2002