PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference, Thursday, March 17, 2005 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:

• PNCR hopes for an early and amicable resolution to the West Indian cricket crisis;

• The PNCR demands that the Jagdeo Government cease playing games with the lives of our citizens and the future of our country and seriously address the crisis facing Guyana vis a vis the narcotic trade: the party urges him to respond to the US drug report as President rather than enter his usual state of self denial which follows such reports;

• The danger of future flooding still looms large while the lack of transparency continues in the flood relief operation. While the Government is yet to declare the full package of assistance to victims, several individuals and groups have been receiving benefits which appear to be determined in a politically partisan manner. THE PNCR CALLS ON THE PPP/C GOVERNMENT TO MOVE IMMEDIATELY TO ESTABLISH A MULTI-STAKEHOLDER PROCESS FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF THE REHABILITATION PROGRAMME;

• The Michael Davies’ Report has confirmed what the PNCR has been saying all along. However, the failure of the PPP Administration to implement recommendations of other reports, including the most recent recommendations of President Carter must create skepticism that anything will be done: it is to be seen whether the PPP/C will act on the recommendations of Sir Michael Davies’ Report to improve the Parliamentary System bearing in mind the initial irresponsible response by the President.

PNCR HOPES FOR AN EARLY AND AMICABLE RESOLUTION TO THE WEST INDIAN CRICKET CRISIS

The PNCR has been following with keen interest the crisis which has enveloped West Indies cricket within recent times. The Party has noted equally that the crisis resides in the fact that seven (7) West Indian players, who have contracts with the former sponsor of cricket in the Region, Cable and Wireless, have not been invited for selection for the forthcoming tours of South Africa and Pakistan to the Caribbean. The contracts held by these players have apparently brought them into conflict with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), and Digicel Company of Ireland, which has become the largest sponsor of West Indies cricket.

The Party has noted that Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, the Chairman of the CARICOM Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on cricket and the WICB are doing their level best to find a solution to the current crisis, which takes account of the importance of cricket to the Region and which could promote the long term future of the game. Such efforts, which are entirely supported by the PNCR, are particularly important in view of the fact that the South African and Pakistani tours to the Region are imminent as is the hosting of the 2007 World Cup.

The PNCR therefore hopes that the outstanding matters will be speedily and amicably resolved in the best interest of West Indian Cricket and the people of the Region.

THE INCS REPORT – 2005 PRESAGES GUYANA’S INTERNATIONAL ISOLATION AS IT IS MARKED AS A PILLAR OF THE DRUG TRADE. THE PNCR DEMANDS THAT THE JAGDEO GOVERNMENT CEASE PLAYING GAMES WITH THE LIVES OF OUR CITIZENS AND THE FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY AND SERIOUSLY ADDRESS THE CRISIS FACING GUYANA VIS A VIS THE NARCOTIC TRADE

The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report – 2005 has merely confirmed what the PNCR has been saying for some time. Guyana is witnessing the early days of a marriage of convenience between two powerful criminal enterprises. The greatest threat to our sovereignty, citizens and political system is being posed by the unrestrained growth of narco-criminality which has the tacit if not active approval of government functionaries.

Since the PPP/C came to power in 1992 Guyana has spawned a new and thriving economic sector and category of business activity fueled by the Proceeds of Crime (POC). In the last 13 years government has encouraged and depended on POC sector businesses to create the illusion of growth and development in an otherwise comatose economy. The rise in POC investments can be traced to the effect the US- sponsored “War on drugs” has had in South America forcing drug lords to look for alternative bases of operation. These POC sector enterprises are awash with liquidity and their business activities range from retail distribution to property (real estate) development to forestry.

Unless Guyana can defend itself against drug lords, efforts to turn it into a new operations base will succeed and it will become a fully-fledge “Narco-State”, if it is not already considered as such. However, the PPP/C government, in their pernicious belief that clear political benefits exist, has failed to take control of this situation and advice continues to go unheeded for reasons which most of Guyana knows.

For example, it has been reported that drug interest in the Timber Industry now control 8-10% of output and it is anticipated that in a very short time, cheap narco-funding/money laundering and further acquisitions (both operating timber businesses and timber concessions) will increase their stakeholding to 20-25% of the total timber industry. It will happen very quickly and by the end of 2006 one in every five persons employed in Guyana’s forestry sector will be working for a drug lord. Put another way, of the timber industry’s 20,000 odd employees some 4,000 Guyanese will be working for one drug baron or another with some 16,000 dependents inadvertently controlled by drug royalty come Christmas 2006. And, this refers to the forest sector alone. With increased yields and valued-added production – of various kinds – made possible by narco-dollars, forestry’s contribution to GDP may exceed 11% by 2010 with most of that coming from narco-forestry activity and investment.

As Guyana becomes a fully-fledged narco-state different drug lords will vie for control, mostly using a strategy of “divide and rule” to incite ethnic disorder. Levels of corruption will increase dramatically as drug barons use bribes to placate the political order. With drug lords expanding an armed presence and bribing officials with drug money, the national security capacity will erode, thereby attracting further interest from the drug trade and further decline. Against this background the legitimate economy will be displaced by drug money – many of our children, family, relatives and friends will then be working in POC ventures. Serious foreign investors would have turned away from increasing insecurity, corruption and illegitimacy.

Guyana’s international isolation as it becomes marked as a pillar of the drug trade will see a further falling off in the little direct foreign investment (DFI) now averaging only US$50 million annually as compared with DFI of US$250 million during the PNCR’s last term in office.

The PNCR is deeply concerned about the government’s apparent inertia in dealing with narco-criminality at all but the lowest levels of the drug pole. We believe that ultimately Guyana will be the loser as the obvious collaboration between political and drug interests take us into full narco-statehood. With both sides committed to maintaining the status quo at all costs the loss of lives, sovereignty and political independence could be incalculable.
The PNCR sees Security Sector Reform (SSR) as the only practical solution to Guyana’s drug problem. However, as recognized by US Anti Narcotics Agencies, Government’s unwillingness to deal head-on with the narco-criminals along with corruption at high levels offers little hope. Government’s studied tardiness in operationalising money laundering legislation and defining the procedures for seizing POC assets is surely motivated by self interest.

THE DANGER OF FUTURE FLOODING STILL LOOMS LARGE WHILE THE LACK OF TRANSPARENCY CONTINUES IN THE FLOOD RELIEF OPERATION. THE PNCR CALLS ON THE PPP/C GOVERNMENT TO MOVE IMMEDIATELY TO ESTABLISH A MULTI STAKEHOLDER PROCESS FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF THE REHABILITATION PROGRAMME

The PNCR has noted the recent announcement by the United Nations that the cost of the recent flood to the Guyanese Nation is a whooping G $ 100 billion. When one considers that the Government was recently boasting of its so-called G $ 76 billion budget, one gets a clear picture of the enormity of these losses. Putting it simply - the losses due to the flood are greater that the entire annual national budget.

Losses of this magnitude will have tremendous negative impact on the economy. Unless there is inspired leadership, increased poverty and a decrease in the quality of life for a wide cross section of Guyanese will result from reduced ability of the Government to support basic social programmes. The consequences for a large number of Guyanese will be horrendous.

It will be recalled that after the breach in the East Demerara Water Conservancy Dam in 1999, a Commission of Inquiry, headed by Dr. Harold Davis jr., was established to look into reasons for the breach and to recommend remedial action. One major recommendation of the Davis’ Commission was that the section of the EDWC dam between Annandale and Cane Grove was to be rehabilitated with utmost urgency. It was clear that this section of the dam was seen as a grave treat to our development and the lives of thousands of people.

Despite the recommendation of the Davis Commission, the Government did nothing. However, this was not the only thing that the Government did not do. They failed to act on the recommendations of numerous reports, including the Moth Mc Donald Report, to:

• Improve drainage in the conservancies;
• Rehabilitate sluices and canals that would have facilitated rapid drainage of the conservancies.

The fact that the Government did not act on these recommendations is now the real reason for our predicament. How can a Government, being fully aware of the consequences of failing to act, neglect to do what was necessary to protect the lives and property of Guyanese. How could they have been so cavalier with all that our ancestors have worked for?

Prime Minister Sam Hinds smugly said during the recent flood debate in the National Assembly that the Government did not consider it good economics to spend the US $ 40M that was required to rehabilitate the dam between Annandale and Cane Grove. It therefore appears that Mr. Sam Hinds cannot do simple mathematics.

As a result of the PPP/C Government refusal to spend US $ 40M, we have suffered a flood that has ravaged the lives of Guyanese to the tune of G $100 B. The losses suffered so far are in fact over 1200% greater than Mr. Hinds’ prudent US $40M.

It is therefore quite amazing that this Government hopes to be congratulated for its effort during the flood when by its own admission it saved US $40M to lose US $100B. This must be economics PPP/C style.

As if this was not enough, Canadian MP, Mr. Jim Karygiannis has warned that the EDWC dam is in a weakened state and could break under normal rainfall. He predicts that if the dam breaks this could result in a breach in the sea wall. He said that:

“Agriculture, which is conducted on the coastal plain, would be wiped out – fields would be flooded and livestock would drown.” He went on to say that should this happen “it is likely that thousands would perish – from the flood itself and from disease. Guyana as we know it today would cease to exist.”

This is the enormity of the situation that Bharrat Jagdeo and the PPP/C have created for the Guyanese people.

The PNCR has noted that the Government has rushed to discredit Mr. Karygiannis’ report, claiming that it is exaggerated. In response, the PNCR wishes to make the following points:

1. This Government cannot be trusted to be truthful.
2. This Government stated that there was no need to evacuate the East Coast during the flood even though they knew that the level of the conservancy was over 59 GD. The Dutch engineers subsequently advised that Evacuation should commence once the conservancy reaches 59 GD.

Consequently, for partisan political reasons the Government refused to alert the nation to this possibility. They were prepared to have thousands die. Once again, we ask, is this the action of a caring Government?

3. Mr. Karygiannis clearly stated that the enormity of the situation was brought to his attention by the head of the Drainage and Irrigation Board, Mr. Ravi Narine. The PNCR therefore asks, why would Mr. Narine want to mislead Mr. Karygiannis.


The PNCR is therefore quite disgusted by the continued antics of the PPP/C and President Jagdeo. How can this Government continue to behave as if this situation is merely an occasion for partisan politics? How can they continue to ignore the wide spread cases of human suffering? Can’t they understand that the recent floods have dragged thousands into crippling poverty?

It would be clear to any caring Government that unless a proper assessment system is implemented, a large number of persons in desperate need would be left out.

The PNCR calls on President Jagdeo and the PPP/C to cease using the programme for the rehabilitation of affected persons for partisan political purposes. This action has already resulted in a slow response to the UN Appeal for Guyana. If PPP/C politicking continues, it is likely that the Guyanese people will lose the support of some donors who are already engaged in the relief effort.

The PNCR calls on the PPP/C Government to move immediately to establish a multi stakeholder process for the management of the rehabilitation programme.

SIR MICHAEL DAVIES REPORT

The Report on the functioning of the Guyana Parliament submitted by Sir Michael Davies confirms that the PPP/C administration lacks the political will to make a reality of genuine democracy that President Jagdeo and his government often boast about. The revelations made by Sir Michael Davies, including his amazement that the Guyana Parliament did not meet to discuss the flood disaster, should come as no surprise to the people of Guyana. It took 4 years for the Parliamentary Management Committee, agreed upon between President Janet Jagan and Mr. Desmond Hoyte since 1998 in the St Lucia Statement, to become a reality. Its establishment, however, did not enable that body to ensure that Parliament met to discuss the recent flood disaster.

It is noteworthy that, in his now familiar response to such matters, President Jagdeo has dismissed Sir Michael Davies’ Report on the basis that he only spoke to persons opposed to the government. This is no surprise to the PNCR as it follows the pattern of Jagdeo’s dismissal of the US Drug Report, the recent Report by the Canadian Member of Parliament and other such Reports which do not find favour with the Government. It should also be remembered that despite the recommendations of President Carter, who came to Guyana at Jagdeo’s invitation, the decisions of the May 6, 2003 Communiqué have not yet been implemented. In this context, therefore, there is justifiably skepticism that nothing will be done by the PPP/C administration on the Davies’ Report.

The People’s National Congress Reform, however, in collaboration with the other Opposition Parliamentary Parties will be accelerating its efforts to ensure that the recommendations made are speedily implemented in the Parliament of Guyana.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
March 17, 2005