PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference, Thursday, December 02, 2004 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia
• The PNCR fully supports all efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS: there can be no partisan politics in the fight against HIV/AIDS
• PPP/C attempted deception about work in depressed communities
• continued abuse of state media by the PPP and breaches of the signed Communique
• Jonestown was just another agricultural settlement
• BWIA’s incompetence and shabby service to the Guyanese people must be investigated by the government
THE PNCR FULLY SUPPORTS ALL EFFORTS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS: THERE CAN BE NO PARTISAN POLITICS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS
Yesterday, December 1, the PNCR joined with the rest of the world in observing World AIDS Day under the theme `Women, Girls HIV and AIDS’. The PNCR fully supports all efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS and will continue to be involved in the fight to eliminate the stigma and discrimination associated with it as well as efforts to reduce the spread of the virus. The fact that that some 39 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, and that the Caribbean region is among the most seriously affected regions of the world, second only to Africa. The high incidence of this pandemic in Guyana cannot be ignored especially in the context of our population being below one million. There can therefore be no partisan politics in the fight against HIV/AIDS as it is non-discriminatory in the manner in which it is spread worldwide. Consequently, all Guyanese must work together to ensure that our struggle against this dreaded disease is successful. The PNCR appreciates and thanks, the United States Government, the United Nations and other International Agencies for the resources which have been made available to Guyana to aid this fight. The Party also urges the Government to ensure that these resources are not centrally controlled but are equitably distributed around the country and among all NGO’s in Guyana to ensure maximum benefits to the entire country.
Participating in the World Aids Day Programme in Guyana yesterday, PNCR Leader, Robert Corbin, delivered an address at the Launching of the Before & After Mahaicony Family Support Centre held at Calcutta Primary School Mahaicony. In his address Mr. Corbin emphasised that, as a Party which has detailed plans for the economic and social development of Guyana, the PNCR has of necessity to be fully involved in the fight against this pandemic that poses a serious threat to our survival as a Nation. He pointed out that the PNCR was well aware that, without our human resources, development plans for Guyana would be meaningless. Consequently, the PNCR through its Party groups around the country and through its Youth Arm, the GYSM, will be escalating its programme of AIDS awareness and will support all national programmes in this area.
The PNCR Leader used the occasion to highlight the discussions, conclusions and implications of the recently held Caribbean Conference on Reducing Stigma and Discrimination against people living with HIV/Aids in St Kitts and at which he was a participant. That “champions for change” conference was hosted by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in partnership with the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS Project (PANCAP) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The overall objective was to accelerate the process of reducing HIV/AIDS related Stigma and discrimination in the Caribbean through Champions for Change. The Conference comprised of two components: a technical meeting and a high-level forum at which leaders from all sectors of Caribbean Society were represented. Business Executives, Political Leaders and Parliamentarians, Religious Leaders, Media Practitioners, Entertainers, and Activists associated with various NGO’s in the fight against HIV/AIDS met for the first time at the same venue to review the challenges for the Caribbean in the Fight against this dreaded disease.
After three keynote addresses that sought to sensitize the delegates on HIV/AIDS-related issues and its impact, the Delegates were taken through the concepts of leading, mobilising, programming and sustaining the ‘Champions for Change’ initiative for combating deep-seated, socio-culturally enforced stigma and discrimination in the Region. Discussions were frank and Leaders were able to appreciate various points of view and concerns of several stakeholders, not least of which were the views of the religious Community. It is hoped that the many participants who pledged to be ‘Champions For Change’, will be catalysts that would stimulate more programmes to fight the advance of this dreaded disease.
PPP/C ATTEMPTED DECEPTION ABOUT WORK IN DEPRESSED COMMUNITIES
Neither the PNCR nor the vast majority of Guyanese who have been forced, because of the incompetence, discrimination and corruption of the Jagdeo Government, to live under depressed and deplorable conditions of squalor and abject poverty, are fooled by the masquerading antics of the Jagdeo Circus which is touring the country in recent weeks pretending ignorance of the deplorable conditions many Guyanese are living under. This show of the President’s generosity is not only ludicrous but also an insult to the Guyanese people whose hard earned resources he is using to have himself christened as Father Christmas Jagdeo. It would appear that Jagdeo and the PPP/C are convinced that the Guyanese people as fools.
On April 17, 2001 Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte, the late Leader of the PNCR, identified seventeen points for discussion with President Bharrat Jagdeo under the “Dialogue Process.” One of the matters identified by Mr. Hoyte was the plight of the various depressed communities across the country. As a result of Mr. Hoyte’s initiative a Depressed Community Needs Committee was established. This committee was initially co-chaired by Mr. Phillip Alsopp and Mrs. Philomena Sahoye-Shury.
The Committee agreed that a data-base of the needs of the communities must be prepared. The areas identified for focus included roads, potable water, drainage, irrigation, education, recreational and health facilities and access to their farmlands. Using this data-base the Government, with the support of the PNCR, would have sourced funding to execute identified works in these depressed communities. This entire process was intended to be a bipartite effort to bring early relief to those Guyanese who were most in need.
However, Jagdeo scuttled the process when he informed the Committee that only $15 M was being allotted for each community. At that point it became very clear that Jagdeo had no interest in the welfare of the people in these communities.
It is, therefore, a sick joke for President Jagdeo to be travelling around the country pretending that he is now discovering the deplorable conditions, which large numbers of Guyanese are living under. After all, it was since 2001 that the PNCR proposed urgent and focused action to address the needs of these communities and the same Jagdeo vacillitated. It has not escaped the notice of the PNCR and of all other conscious Guyanese that Jagdeo and the PPP/C have only belatedly recognised the importance of dealing urgently with the very inhumane conditions under which the people of these depressed communities live.
Had Jagdeo not vacillitated since 2001 to act to bring real relief to the depressed communities a number of communities would already have benefited. For instance, Kanesville and Tuschen-Zeelugt would have had relief a long time ago. Communities such as Baramita, Yarakeeta, Wauna/White Water, Kurukubaru, Kopinang, Kato, Black Bush Polder, Fryrish/Gibraltar, Phillipe Kildonan, Little Africa/Little India, Kurupung, Agatash, Annai/Aranaputa, Karasabai, Aishalton, Kwakwani, Cara Cara, Blue Berry Hill/ Christianburg, Canvas City/ One Mile, Farm, Stewartville/Sera Lodge, Vriesland/Potosi, Maria Johanna, Bagotsville/Nimes and St Lawrence/Hubu all would have benefited as a result of the PNCR initiative. Paradise/Bachelor’s Adventure, West Ruimveldt, Sophia, Mon Repos, Victoria/Belfield, Anns Grove/Dochfour, Mocha Arcadia and Grove Squatting also would have had relief a long time ago.
The PNCR is happy for those depressed communities which are now receiving President Jagdeo’s announced “emergency allocation”. However, it is sad that his recognition of these communities is two to three years late. Every announcement by Jagdeo is another confirmation of his Government’s incompetence, intransigence and spitefulness. The PNCR is not amused by this electioneering exercise of the PPP/C.
The PNCR has noted the cavalier manner in which President Jagdeo is disregarding the constitutionally mandated authority of the Parliament to make budgetary allocations. Despite the fact that the deplorable conditions were known for years and his Government failed to act, the President is making on the spot announcements about budgetary allocation. Any responsible and serous Government would have included these allocations in National Budgets since 2002. Of course, Jagdeo’s cavalier approach creates yet other opportunities for corruption and graft by his cronies.
The PNCR calls on the PPP/C Government to seek the appropriate parliamentary approval for all promised allocations without delay. The PNCR also calls on the Auditor General to investigate the source of the funds promised by Jagdeo to ensure that all expenditures have had parliamentary approval.
In addition, it is necessary to ensure that the PPPC is not allowed to cover-up corrupt management of the “Lotto Funds” by engaging in unauthorised spending on public projects. The mismanagement and misappropriation of the “Lotto Funds” has been a continuing source of concern in the annual Reports of the Auditor General to the National Assembly and the Government has continued to ignore the concerns expressed by the Public Accounts Committee.
President Jagdeo’s systematic undermining of local authority organs across the country is another cause for concern. In that regard, the PNCR has noted Jagdeo’s sojourn into the wards of Georgetown pretending he is interested in the welfare of the citizenry while the City Council is not. This is despite the fact that the PPP/C Government is refusing to pay the tens of millions of dollars in taxes it owes the Georgetown Municipality. Jagdeo should know that it is this money that the City Council needed to address the issue of drainage in South and North Ruimveldt and drainage and roads in West Ruimveldt. If Jagdeo and the PPP/C had paid the taxes the people of South, North and West Ruimveldt would have gotten relief a long time ago.
This is yet another clear example of the discrimination and spitefulness of Jagdeo and the PPP/C. Why refuse to pay the taxes the Government owes to the City thereby bringing hardship on the citizens? Is it because the vast majority of the citizens of Georgetown support another political party? The PNCR calls on Jagdeo and the PPPC to unconditionally pay the taxes the Government owes the City Council and stop playing games with the citizens of Georgetown.
Under a PNCR-led government, a different approach will be adopted in addressing the infrastructure needs of communities:
• Drafting of long-term community development plans with the involvement of NDC’s and community leaders and residents;
• Drafting annual plans of action coming out of these long term plans;
• Giving priority to local residents in the allocation of contracts and hiring of workers;
• Putting in place mechanisms for local residents to monitor the implementation of projects;
For the PNCR, the development of communities goes well beyond infrastructure works. The myriad of social and economic problems, for example, faced by young people in our communities requires targeted and sustained intervention. Likewise, the disappearance of community spirit and the disconnect between residents and their local councils are issues that concern the PNCR. Our approach to community development will therefore be multi-faceted.
CONTINUED ABUSE OF STATE MEDIA BY THE PPP AND BREACHES OF THE SIGNED COMMUNIQUE
The PPP/C Administration continues to flagrantly breach the decisions arrived at in good faith during the Constructive Engagement process between President Jagdeo and Leader of the PNCR by their refusal to implement the agreement on equitable time on State Media for Parliamentary Parties and the licencing of private Radio Stations after the passage of Broadcasting Legislation.
The PNCR’s General Secretary had written the Management of NCN since June 24, 2003 with proposals to activate the agreement on Equitable Time, but, with the usual PPP deception, Roger Luncheon would like to use the proposal by President Carter for representatives of the Leaders to meet as a ruse to recommit matters already determined in the Communique for further discussions. The PNCR will not be drawn into further sterile debate on this matter. The decisions have already been taken and it is for the technicians to implement President Jagdeo’s commitment, unless Jagdeo is now admitting that he had no power in the PPP or authority to make those decisions.
As if denial of the Opposition time on the media was not enough, the Management of NCN has now become a party to the more serious political process of deception as was evident in their attempt to use the Jonestown tragedy for political purposes. The Management of NCN, having planned with the PPP/C and Rohee to have their political programme sought to deceive the people of Guyana that they made genuine efforts to have the PNCR Leader, Robert Corbin, on that Programme. The facts are that the Manager of the NCN sent a letter to the Office of the Leader of the PNCR after 3 PM on Friday November19, 2004, when it was known that Mr. Corbin was attending the funeral of the late media practitioner, Patrick Denny. That letter inviting him to a recording of a programme on Jonestown on Saturday December at 11 AM. Mr. Sattaur of NCN could have been under no illusion that the information could not reach the Leader of the PNCR as Mr. Corbin Secretary immediately contacted NCN and informed them that he could not be reached at that time and that he was leaving the country over the week-end. It would be interesting for the public to be informed when NCN planned this programme but no sane person would believe that it was planned on Friday afternoon with the intention of having the Opposition Leader present on Saturday Morning. The Management of NCN ought to be aware that they are managing State Resources and not those of the PPP/C. They therefore have an obligation to the people of Guyana.
The PNCR Leader has written the Management of NCN on this matter with the expectation that an apology would be offered for the misinformation conveyed to the public on this matter
JONESTOWN WAS JUST ANOTHER AGRICULTURAL SETTLEMENT.
The PNCR has no reason to be embarrassed about the Jonestown Tragedy. The permission granted to a group of American citizens to settle in Guyana’s hinterland to pursue agricultural development was part of PNCR stated policy for hinterland development. Like many other groups such as West Indians from London, and others from the islands of the Caribbean, the Jim Jones group was granted land to settle in Guyana. The PNCR had nothing to do with their financing, logistics, training or their religious or philosophical beliefs. It was also well known at the time that this group had concerns about the US Administration and it was a visit by a US Congressman to Guyana who was killed that became the catalyst for that tragedy. Quite correctly, the PNC Government called on the US Government to honour their commitment to their citizens. Volumes have been written and researched on this tragedy and much more may be available to the Americans who do not take lightly the death of their citizens.
Rohee, like Rip Van Winkle has perhaps just arisen from his slumber, or is it just sheer political wickedness. He would surely like to divert Guyanese attention from the present by dwelling in the past. If he wants to revisit that era he cannot avoid scrutiny of the PPP/C and their acts of sabotage, murder, and treason as they orchestrated a campaign of terror designed to destroy Guyana’s economy. The PNCR Leader had warned at the Party’s last Congress that not much benefit could be derived from dwelling on the past. He emphasized that, “The young people of Guyana are concerned about the future and it is that which responsible leaders must now address.”
Rohee should therefore inform the Guyanese people on what he and his President Jagdeo have done and are doing about, the misuse of the Lottery Funds as a political slush fund, the revelations in the stone scam report, the Law books scandal, the re-migrant duty-free car scam, the Dolphin Scam and the involvement of the President’s men and, more recently, the withdrawal of the text book tender. Rohee may also wish to inform the Nation whether it is true that he used his position as Minister of Foreign Trade to beg certain Embassies to hold birthday parties for him thus embarrassing the entire Government. Rohee should also explain whether there is a special Foreign Affairs Fund that is outside of the Control of the Ministry of Finance and to what purpose is that fund utilized. Who are the signatories to the relevant accounts? These matters would be much more relevant to today’s issues instead of him being morbid and using a tragedy of the past for cheap political propaganda.
BWIA’S INCOMPETENCE AND SHABBY SERVICE TO THE GUYANESE PEOPLE MUST BE INVESTIGATED BY THE GOVERNMENT
The British West Indies Airways has been in service to the people of the Caribbean and Guyana for a number of years. It is no secret that the Guyana leg of BWIA route is a lucrative one and has contributed significantly to the viability of the airline. More recently Guyanese and others who use the airline have continued to receive a poor quality service. Among the complaints are, delayed flights without timely notification, poorly trained personnel who are impolite when they are being questioned about the long delay. Also, the reluctance of BWIA to offer proper hotel accommodation for passengers whose flights were delayed for more than twenty hours. Such treatment is unbecoming of an airline that expects to remain in business and the management of BWIA needs to seriously address the situations urgently.
The PNCR Leader has written to the Manager of BWIA and the Minister of Works and Communications about the service being offered by BWIA and hopes that efforts would be made to remedy the situation. In any event, it is time that the Government of Guyana should investigate the quality of service BWIA is providing since investors coming to Guyana, Guyanese returning home and other tourists could be frustrated before arriving in Guyana thereby affecting the development of the country.
People's National Congress Reform
Thursday December 2, 2004
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