PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference, Thursday, December 09, 2004 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




Summary:
• The PNCR General Council reviewed party programme since Biennial Congress and directs Party Leadership to accelerate the programme of building alliances with all interested stakeholders as agreed at the Biennial Congress to ensure the development of Guyana for all Guyanese
• President Jagdeo’s own words expose his attempted deception of the nation
• Undermining of Local Government Bodies.
PNCR GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING OF DECEMBER 4, 2004:
The People’s National Congress Reform held its last General Council meeting for the year on Saturday, December 4, 2004 at which Party members from the ten Regions participated. It was also the first such meeting since the 14th Biennial Congress of August 2004 and the leadership of the Party reported on progress made in the implementation of Congress decisions General Council members also discussed several other issues on the Agenda and gave directions for the Party’s programme in 2005.
Among the matters discussed were, preparations by both the Party and the GECOM for regional and national elections which are constitutionally due by March 2006; the Age of Consent Bill that is before the National Assembly for debate; the programme of work for the Party and the progress made in building the Platform For Peace National Cohesion and Reconstruction as approved at the last Biennial Congress.
After healthy and extensive discussions the Council decided that PNCR Parliamentarians should be free to exercise a “vote of conscience” on the Age of Consent Bill when it comes up for debate and decision in the National Assembly; that the Party should continue to co-operate with the GECOM and other stakeholders to contribute to consensus building and the resolution of matters which are essential to GECOM’s preparation for elections; and, that the Party should proceed with the programme of building alliances with all interested stakeholders as agreed at the Biennial Congress to ensure the development of Guyana for all Guyanese. The Party has already issued separate press releases on some of these matters, including the motion passed by the General Council directing the Party Leadership on electoral matters and the next Elections.
In a wide-ranging address to the General Council the Party Leader, Mr. Robert Corbin, reviewed the economic and political situation of the country, the performance of the PPP/C Government, the state of the Party and the programme of work necessary for the Party to fulfill its mandate to its membership and to all people of Guyana in general.
The Council, recognizing that there is no realistic chance of Guyana’s revitalization without peace and reconciliation based on justice and respect for the rights and aspirations of all Guyanese, reaffirmed the Party’s commitment to work with all stakeholders to find permanent solutions. The PNCR believes:
• that it is essential to make full use of our bountiful natural resources and the energy and ingenuity of our people to reconstruct our shattered economy;
• that we should be in the global market place negotiating strategic investment and technological partnerships;
• that there should be a deliberate and conscious change in direction from the production of primary commodities for export to encouraging dynamic private sector investment in new and technologically advanced sectors; and,
• that our methodology for arriving at our social and economic policies should involve intensive consultation, with maximum participation and support of all stakeholder groups, to ensure overall development and growth in a holistic and realistic way. The Party also believes that the National Development Strategy represents an appropriate starting point as its objectives clearly identify some of its goals as:
- Attaining the highest rates of economic growth that are possible;
- Eliminating poverty in Guyana;
- Attaining equitable geographical distribution of economic activity; and,
- Diversifying the economy.
Essential to success, however, is a system of Governance that facilitates the involvement of all and removes alienation. The National Development Strategy Paper also recognizes this as a prerequisite to development and this is one of the reasons why the PNCR remains convinced that shared Governance is the only way forward that would guarantee stability and economic progress. The PNCR is not deterred by the propaganda, which seeks to cast Shared Governance as some sinister move to get into Government through the back door. It is common knowledge that this Shared Governance is not an invention or initiative of the PNCR. Rather it was a response by the PNCR to a Civil Society initiative. Consequently, the Party will continue to pursue this objective equally as it engages all stakeholders in discussions, over the next few months, in its quest for building a platform for Peace, National Cohesion and Reconstruction.

The General Council approved the proposals by the Party in pursuit of these objectives and the Party Leadership will be engaged in extensive consultations with various political Parties, interest groups and other stakeholders in the ensuing weeks.

PRESIDENT JAGDEO’S OWN WORDS EXPOSE HIS ATTEMPTED DECEPTION OF THE NATION

President Jagdeo needs to place the warning, contained in the following tag, prominently on his desk: “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive” Unfortunately for him, neither the Guyanese people nor the PNCR can be easily deceived.

We have noted his visible ‘touchousness’ and almost daily fulminations over our Party’s exposure of his deliberate distortions of the miserable reality, which his own limitations and inadequacies have visited on us all. The truth always hurts the thwarted deceiver! Will he ever learn what it means to be presidential?

In our Thursday December 2, 2004, Press Statement we provided irrefutable details of the games being played on the unfortunate communities visited by the Jagdeo circus. Lo and behold, in his hastily assembled NCN interview, on Sunday December 5, 2004, the President, obviously quite unprepared by his advisors, exposed himself. In our Press Conference we stated, inter alia:
“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.”

In his interview, the President first informs the Nation that all his announcements of his largess to the depressed communities were already listed in the National Budget for 2004 and that he was within the restrictions imposed on his Government by the IMF. If this is true the question that must be asked is why since the passage of the budget in April 2004 no work was commenced in these communities? Why did these Communities have to await the Father Christmas-like arrival of the President in November and December to be told of these allocations made since April? If the President is telling the truth, then his visits to these Communities should have been to inspect the progress of works already approved and commenced, instead of discovering for the first time that these communities had problems. It is therefore ironic that in the same interview the President boasts of the high implementation rate of his Government’s projects. The Auditor General reports from 1999 to 2003 however provide a completely different picture and refute all that the President has said.

The President in the same interview also admits that, though he made these fulsome promises to the various communities he has visited, most of the work would start early next year (2005). Guyanese are therefore left to wonder which one of the President’s explanations is true. If, indeed, the latter explanation by the President is accurate, we are left to wonder how much more cruel and callous he can be? Having raised the expectations of these long suffering communities he has now dashed their hopes by the disappointment of deferred implementation of his promises. Visits to both North and South Sophia last week by the Leader of the PNCR have confirmed that none of the promises for the works there to commence within two weeks of his promises have been fulfilled and the residents are already angry over the unreliability of the President and fearful that the rainy season will again create renewed hardship for them. The PNCR will be monitoring all the promises of President Jagdeo to ensure that he honours them.

The PNCR continues to be concerned about the flouting of the authority of the National Assembly for the approval of allocation of national funds through the Parliamentary Budgetary process. The National Assembly approved the 2004 National Budget in April 2004. We all expect that the approved budgetary allocations have been made and, since we are approaching the end of 2004, the projects, which were agreed in the 2004 Budget should all, be at some advanced stage of implementation. If this is so, where is the President obtaining the monies he is pretending to distribute to the various communities visited?

The normal annual budget accounting procedure, being used by the government, require that funds allocated for a particular project in a particular year should be utilized by the end of that year. Where the project is incomplete and expenditure has not been made, such requirements must be re-budgeted for National Assembly approval in the following year. How is it, therefore, that the President is promising funds to the communities in 2004 for projects, which he has admitted, will not be implemented until 2005?

The poor record of the Jagdeo Administration, for the successful implementation of major infrastructural projects and the sub-standard quality of work delivered by favored cronies under corrupt arrangements, makes it imperative, for enforcing accountability to the Public and transparency of governmental expenditure. There should be the early conversion to Accrual Accounting for governmental accounts, coupled with the routine undertaking of rigorous Value for Money audits by the Office of the Auditor General.

An examination of the Auditor General’s report for each of the years 1999 to 2002 shows the main Ministries that have not achieved their anticipated levels of capital expenditure in those years. These Ministries include: the Office of the President, the Ministry of Works, Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Services, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Housing and Water. Are these the short falls being used by the President to demonstrate his ‘Father Christmas like generosity?

The total shortfall for the 4 years is as follows:

YEAR Revised Estimates
$’000 Actual
Expenditure
$’000 Shortfall
$’000 Shortfall as % of estimates $’000
1999 9,231,362 7,457,071 1,774,291 19.2%
2000 6,141,949 4,714,141 1,427,808 23.2%
2001 13,015,434 9,948,987 3,300,126 25.3%
2002 13,579,794 8,792,481 4,787,310 35.3%
Totals: 41,968,539
30,912,680
11,289,535
26.9%

UNDERMINING OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT BODIES

We know that, in the case of the visited Wards in Georgetown, the monies promised by the President represented unpaid taxes by the government to the City Council, the final installment of which, $150,837,567.00, (One hundred and fifty million, eight hundred and thirty seven thousand, five hundred and sixty-seven dollars), was not paid to the Council until October 22nd last. All local Government bodies in Guyana have experienced the same pattern of delayed payment of taxes by Government. President Jagdeo and his Government has therefore been undermining the authority of the City Council and other Local Government Bodies by restricting their capacity to perform through their budgetary processes only to allow him, at this stage, to announce projects in these areas that are to be funded by the very outstanding taxes which the government had been deliberately withholding from the Councils.

The same principle of undermining local government bodies has been applied to the Regional Democratic Councils. Most of these bodies make reasonable requests at budget time to cope with the challenges that they face during the year and to discharge their functions to their Regions. Regrettably, the Central Government arbitrarily cuts these allocations without regard to the implications and it is only when an emergency arises in the Regions that the President seeks to find scapegoats.

The experience of Region 4 in 2004 is a useful example. The flooding on the East Coast of Demerara due to excessive and continuous rainfall that occurred early this year required emergency works to be undertaken to relieve various communities from severe hardship and great losses. Despite the awareness of these facts it took several months before the Region, a few days ago, was reimbursed the funds utilized for those emergency works. The consequence is that the Region would be unable to undertake its routine maintenance programme for 2004 in a timely manner. It necessitated a letter from the Regional Chairman to the relevant Ministers of Government warning of possible floods during the December rains before any positive action was taken by the central Government. It is for this reason that the issue of fiscal transfers on agreed principles is so essential to the local Government reform being undertaken at the moment in Guyana. The PNCR will continue to work resolutely to ensure that a system is put in place to avoid Local Government bodies being subjected to discriminatory financial allocation because of political patronage.

CHRISTMAS CHEERS

The annual Christmas Luncheon of the PNCR was held, on this occasion, at the Mahaicony Secondary School in Region #5, Mahaica/Berbice. Party Leader Mr. R. H. O. Corbin and other members of the Party’s Leadership team served lunch to more than 250 senior citizens.

This weekend, Saturday December 11, 2004, the National Congress of Women, the women’s arm of the Party, will host its annual Christmas party for some 300 children from the Canje, New Amsterdam and East Bank Berbice areas at the New Amsterdam Town Hall.

These activities form part of PNCR annual Christmas outreach programme to bring cheer to the less fortunate in our society.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
December 9, 2004