PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To the Press Conference on Thursday, September 30, 2004 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The People’s National Congress Reform joins with the rest of the Caribbean in congratulating our regional cricket team for their long overdue success at an international competition to wit the ICC One Day Tournament.
• The PNCR wishes to congratulate exhibitors who participated in the recently concluded National Exhibition, GUYEXPO 2K4, and trusts that their expected results would have been realised. This is neither a new nor recent event in Guyana.
• The failure of the PPP/C government to generate economic recovery is all the more lamentable when we consider the support they have received from the international community in the form of debt write offs, grants and concessionary finance for the development of projects.
• The PNCR therefore calls upon the PPP/C to stop the procrastination and come to the table of sober discussion so that the formula for the electoral system can be finalised and the preparation for the elections pursued so that the elections can be held in an orderly and timely manner.
• The PNCR congratulates the new President and Executive Council of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (G.T.U.C) which was elected at their recently concluded First Triennial Delegates Congress.
• Leader of the People's National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert Corbin is continuing his one week visit to Linden Region #10 where he is holding a series of meetings with senior officials and interest groups, as well as evaluating the economic situation in the mining town.

ICC ONE DAY TOURNAMENT

The Peoples National Congress Reform joins with the rest of the Caribbean in congratulating our regional cricket team for their long overdue success at the ICC One Day Tournament. The performance of the team is doubly satisfying when we take note that it has publicly declared that the major motivation for bringing home the cup was the recognition of what this success would do for the morale of Caribbean people, more so at this time when so many cricket playing Caricom territories are in the throes of trauma and recovery from hurricane damage. The recognition of the relationship between the morale of Caribbean people, and the performance of the team is an encouraging sign and we hope that Brian Lara and the rest of the team are able to build on this success. At the same time we wish to publicly commend our local heroes Shiv Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan for their contribution to the team effort particularly in terms of discipline and consistency. Their performances are motivation for all Guyanese.

GUYEXPO 2004

The PNCR wishes to congratulate exhibitors who participated in the recently concluded National Exhibition, GUYEXPO 2K4, and trusts that their expected results would have been realised. This is neither a new nor recent event in Guyana. We also congratulate the organizers for their efforts albeit we believe that many of the problems encountered may have been avoided if a serious evaluation was attempted of exhibitions held at Sophia for more than twenty-five years.

The exhibition and exposition is not a new one and is closely linked to the policies of past Peoples National Congress administrations which emphasised the importance of supporting local products and manifested itself in such polices as our “Be Local, Buy Local” campaigns, the “Feed Clothe and House ourselves” campaigns and other policy directions which helped to change our attitude to the use of locally produced food and other products. For example we now take for granted the use of local fruit preserves and preserved fish as well as other locally manufactured food products without recalling how much effort was made by such visionaries as Dr Ptolemy Alexander Reid in persuading us Guyanese through many means, including the National Exhibition, that it was in our national interest to use local as opposed to imported products. Indeed it is the importance which successive PNC governments of the past placed on the idea of promoting local production that led to the construction of the permanent exhibition site at Sophia. This site was the idea of the late Dr Ptolemy A. Reid who was then Minister responsible for Agriculture and who ensured, as Prime Minister, that site was constructed and used annually for exhibitions. Many companies and agencies had also built permanent structures in that compound which were used by them annually. Perhaps a most fitting tribute should be to name the site after him as he was too modest a man to have agreed to it while he was alive. We are left to wonder how propagandists on behalf of the PPP/C administration can walk in an exhibition site which they inherited from the PNC and which has been the venue of exhibitions for so many years and try to pretend that the idea of a national exhibition somehow emerged after 1992. It is even more amusing to hear the Head of the Presidential Secretariat stating that the Government was now considering making this already existent permanent Sophia Exhibition Site, “a permanent site”.

It must be noted that whilst Guyanese supported the exhibition in large numbers, they were not supported by the level of organisation of the exhibition. Some aspects of the organisation of the event and in particular, the logistics and security can only be described as chaotic. We note with concern reports that several citizens were injured in some of the incidents.

We have studied the nature and balance of the exhibition and noted with some regret the decrease in the number and quality of exhibitors who represent local manufacturing and processing compared with past exhibitions. The dominance of merchandise and services which are imports is reflective of the decimation of the local manufacturers and processing under the PPP/C government and in general the lack of support for or emphasis on the importance of utilization of local raw material and the acquisition of manufacturing and processing technology. The development of Guyana ultimately depends on finding among other things uses for our local raw material in the production of competitive products for the global market and the acquisition and application of global technology in the productive sectors. The lack of significant expansion in the diversity and range of products in the agro processing industry was particularly disturbing given the need for the resuscitation of the agricultural sector and the vulnerability of so much of our agricultural economy. In large measure, this is an accurate reflection of the backward drift in our economy with businessmen, in large numbers, abandoning the hassle ridden environment for obtaining concessions, acquiring land and capital for the relatively less complicated approach of importing and selling. This of course denies Guyana and its normally industrious entrepreneurs the opportunity to benefit from accruing value added at home thereby reducing foreign exchange outlay, utilizing modern technology to produce goods at competitive prices and training and developing Guyanese in the utilisation of relevant modern technology.

GENERAL CONDITION OF THE GUYANA ECONOMY

The obvious deviation in the direction and emphasis of GUYEXPO is a reflection of the general state of our economy. Regrettably, instead of deep analysis of our present dilemma, Mr. Jagdeo tried to put gloss on Guyana’s poor economic situation and pretended that all is well as he misused and abused the macro economic numbers in an attempt to deceive the Guyanese public, during his speech, at the opening ceremony. The truth is that under the stewardship of Jagdeo, the Guyana economy is near ruins. There is joblessness in the urban areas and rising debt burdens in the agricultural areas. As unemployment soars and our young people lose hope of finding useful employment, our citizens are fleeing the country in droves. Bauxite is in ruins and sugar is on the brink. The lack of significant new investment and the insidious influence of the narco-trade mean that Guyana is missing out on much of the investment that is flowing into the region. The failure of the PPP/C government to generate economic recovery is all the more lamentable when we consider the support they have received from the international community in the form of debt write offs, grants and concessionary finance for the development of projects. Citizens hearing Jagdeo’s rosy picture of El Dorado must have wondered which country he was describing.

PNCR’S CONSISTENT AND UNQUESTIONABLE STANCE ON ELECTORAL ISSUES

On a previous occasion the PNCR reported that it would be meeting with the Elections Commission in an effort to be updated on the Commission’s state of preparedness for local and national elections, as well as what action was being taken to address concerns, which the PNCR had raised. While, the PPP/C has continued to run riot with its propaganda on electoral matters, the PNCR has been engaged in meetings with the Elections Commission. At a subsequent date, the PNCR will brief the Nation on the outcome of those meetings.

The PNCR would however wish to take this opportunity to remind the public of the facts on electoral reform against the background of the campaign of distortions by the PPP/C, in the persons of Jagdeo, Ramoutar and more recently, Luncheon.

Article 60 (2) of the reformed constitution, which Jagdeo runs around the country and the globe boasting about, states:
“Subject to the provisions of article 160(2), such number of members of the National Assembly as determined by the Assembly, shall be elected in accordance with the system of proportional representation….”

Article 160(2) further states:
“Parliament may make provision for the division of Guyana into such number of geographical constituencies, not being more than half the number of the elected members…”

To ensure that the aforementioned provisions are synchronized the Constitution further states:
“The total number of seats … that are derived from geographical constituencies shall be such that the number of seats not derived from geographical constituencies is sufficiently large to correct any overall disproportionalities that might arise from the allocations of seats to geographical constituencies.”

Whenever the PNCR talks about an electoral system, we are referring to the system provided for in the Constitution. We are not manufacturing anything new. It should however be noted that there is an agreement that the actual formula for the 2001 elections will be reviewed before, and in time for the 2006 elections. We reiterate that the PNCR is asking no favour or making no new demand. It was agreed that we would have settled for 25 regional seats and 40 tops up seats for the 2001 elections and that formula was to be revisited. The time for that review was always intended to be before the 2006 elections.

Another misrepresentation has been that the PNCR wants the system changed from PR (Proportional Representation) to constituencies or first-pass-the post. First, we repeat that the PNCR is not requesting any change of, or deviation from, what the Constitution specifies. Second, the Constitution is very specific that the system is to be a Proportional Representation system in so far as the allocation of seats should reflect the proportion of votes cast for each Party. The PNCR at all levels, local, regional and national embraces the principle of proportional representation, for which it fought so valiantly in the 60’s and congratulates the PPP/C for its present recognition and defence of an idea which has its origin in the PNCR and which was previously vehemently opposed by the PPP/C.

The PNCR therefore calls upon the PPP/C to stop the procrastination and come to the table of sober discussion so that the formula for the electoral system can be finalised and the preparation for the elections pursued so that the elections can be held in an orderly and timely manner.

THE G.T.U.C FIRST TRIENNIAL DELEGATES CONGRESS

The PNCR congratulates the new President and Executive Council of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (G.T.U.C) which was elected at their recently concluded First Triennial Delegates Congress. This new executive council takes office at a time when the relationship between the G.T.U.C, its affiliates and the Government has reached a nadir. It will have to deal with government’s hostility and intransigence in every area as it strives to improve workers welfare, livelihood and the unity of the Trade Union movement.

It is very apposite therefore that one of the recommendations adopted by the Congress was the need to optimise the resources of both the G.T.U.C and its affiliates by jointly negotiating for increased wages and salaries and the handling of grievances at work places.

The recognition by the GTUC of the need for sustained industrial relations education with the establishment of the Joseph Pollydore Institute for Industrial Relations and a Leslie Melville Scholarship is also noted. We also note the adoption of a recommendation to restructure and revamp the G.T.U.C to make it more self reliant.

The PNCR hopes that by adopting these and other decisions of their conference, the G.T.U.C would have gone a long way in giving expression to the aspirations of its members so clearly articulated in its congress theme “Restructuring for a Free, United and Independent Trade Union Movement.”

PNCR LEADER CONTINUING VISIT TO MINING TOWN

Leader of the People's National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert Corbin is continuing his one week visit to Linden Region #10 where he is holding a series of meetings with senior officials and interest groups, as well as evaluating the economic situation in the mining town.

On Monday September 27, 2004, PNCR Leader met with a cross section of residents, including leaders of the protest group who are engaged in activities against the solid waste proposal project for Linden. He also met with the Chairman of the Region, Mr. Mortimer Mingo and Chairman of the Interim Management Committee (IMC), Mr. Orin Gordon. Yesterday, Tuesday September 28, 2004, Mr. Corbin held discussions with Ms. Kathy Whalen, Head of the Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP) at Linden aimed at clarifying the work of that agency and its impact on the Linden community.

During his visit yesterday Mr. Corbin also presented awards to two long standing Party members, Pharmacist – Mr. Hugh Harris and Social and Community Worker – Mrs. Albertina Walker-Bryne, whose awards were announced at the last Biennial Congress, but could not receive them in person at the Congress.

Today Wednesday September 30, the PNCR and Opposition Leader will meet with members of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), while tomorrow, Friday October 1, 2004, he will meet with workers of the Linden municipality and later members of the IMC. Mr. Corbin will also be holding a number of community meetings in the mining town.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, September 30, 2004