Press Statement By the People’s National Congress Reform Hall Of Heroes, Congress Place Sophia, Thursday, June 2, 2005




SUMMARY:

• The PNC Reform is deeply disturbed at the events surrounding the 2005 Caribbean Secondary Schools examinations in Guyana.
• Inefficiency and ineffectiveness has continued to be the hallmark of the flood relief process.
• The PNCR notes with regret that there has been no word on the whereabouts of the two Guysuco employees who went missing.
• The PNCR believes that there is sufficient evidence to satisfy the suspicion that the drug trade has already infiltrated the Government and certain State Agencies.
• The present pace at which the Elections Commission is proceeding is not acceptable
• The PNCR notes with some satisfaction the impressive success of the West Indies team in the first test against Pakistan

EDUCATION IN CRISIS

The PNCR is deeply disturbed at the events surrounding the 2005 Caribbean Secondary Schools examinations in Guyana. The events of 2004 were scandalous enough. Citizens will recall that having at first denied that persons had illegal access to certain examination papers before the examinations were written, the government was forced to admit that the examinations last year were compromised when the Caribbean Examinations Council itself produced evidence of irregularity.

One would have thought that the PPP/C government would have reacted to the embarrassment and trauma of the events of 2004 by putting in place the necessary security measures to ensure that there was no recurrence. Instead of pro-active and effective administration, we were once again treated to the usual PPP/C style of government by propaganda. The statements of the government at first tried to give the impression that fake papers for the 2005 examinations were in circulation. However, the harsh reality was that several teachers and lecturers were presented with papers for the several CSEC subjects that were in circulation and realized that students and parents knew how to obtain copies of papers and at what price. The simple truth is that whatever feeble attempts were made to avert a recurrence of the events of 2004, the scandal is worse in 2005. Already, we know that two subjects will have to be rewritten and there is the likelihood that several other subjects may also have to be redone. The Minister of Education has again been incompetent and negligent. He should do the decent thing and resign, taking with him the person or persons who contributed to this mess.

The traumatic effect of this situation on our young people cannot be over emphasized. Anyone who has gone though the anxiety of preparing conscientiously for examinations by studying hard, working long hours and has endured the anxiety and nervousness of the examination period can empathize with our secondary school children, who having prepared for examinations, are told that some of their examinations are postponed, that some of their examinations will be redone, and that some of their results may again be delayed as the Council determines to what extent the examinations have been compromised. It is little wonder that so many of our brightest and best are disillusioned with life in Guyana and feel frustrated in their attempts at the pursuit of excellence.

The CXC scandal has serious wider implications:

1. The breach of the security of the examinations in successive years and on such a massive scale can jeopardise the integrity of all CXC results from Guyana.
2. The breach can jeopardise the results from other participating territories in the Council to which exanimation papers could have been sent illegally.
3. The breach threatens the integrity of the examinations, of the Council itself and the acceptance by international organisations, accrediting bodies, and universities of its qualifications.

The Caribbean Examinations Council lies at the very heart of the Caribbean Integration Movement. It was conceptualized by the meeting of Heads of Government in 1964, and was brought into formal existence by a treaty signed in April 1972. It is undoubtedly one of our most successful regional institutions with wide international respect for its integrity and innovativeness. At the present time it is seeking ways to extend the type and variety of services it can offer to the education systems in the region. Guyana therefore has an obligation to ensure that it plays its part in protecting the integrity of the work of CXC.

Based on the events of 2004, the government should have put in place an effective and comprehensive system of proactive security designed to prevent the breach of papers and to forestall or apprehend whosoever, in the chain of operations, is responsible for the breaches in security in the circulation of examination papers. The financial and manpower resources should have been made available. If such a plan was not put forward by the subject Minister, he is guilty of gross negligence and should resign. If such a plan was put forward and was not supported with the necessary resources, then the cabinet must take collective responsibility. Citizens should be reminded that when the government fools around with the examination and breaches are uncovered; re-sits of the examination are at the cost of the taxpayer.

The Caribbean Examinations Act No. 16 of 1990 stipulates that the unlawful procuring, use, removal or disclosures of examination papers are offences. At present, they are punishable by a fine of $2000 dollars and imprisonment for 12 months. Further, the Act gives the minister power to make general regulations for dealing with matters concerning the examinations of the CXC in Guyana. It is quite clear that the penalties need to be increased as a signal and deterrent to the perpetrators. It is also clear that new and comprehensive regulations for the management of the examinations need to be put in place as a matter of urgency.

What is not needed are wild allegations, half truths and flippant and unhelpful propaganda about lie detector machines. The matter is too serious for idle press releases and tasteless comedy. The atmosphere of sleaze and dishonesty which surrounds this government and in which it appears completely comfortable is one which will have a high cost for the people of Guyana.


INADEQUACY OF THE FLOOD RELIEF EFFORTS

Two Saturdays ago the President, through the flood relief implementation apparatus, took Guyana to a new low when no official turned up at the numerous centers to deal with the advertised activities of queries, appeals and new registration for flood relief. Thanks to the public outcry and the PNCR’s public education and advocacy on this matter the centers have since been very active sharing cheques and registering new applicants. However, inefficiency and ineffectiveness have continued to be the hallmark of a process, which has been marred by ineptitude, lack of commitment and confusion from the very inception. Persons who have been registered have still not received their cheques for reasons that have not been provided. Centers are not operational in the places publicly announced and the citizens have had to rely on rumours and informal communication in their efforts to locate the centers. Worst of all, there is refusal of the entitlement to domestic flood relief in some affected areas. The announced criterion is that areas which were not flooded for two weeks would not be entitled. This is ludicrous. Persons in north Georgetown could have incurred as much loss in four days as anyone else could have incurred in two weeks, yet they are denied the pittance, which is being distributed. It is also absurd that top flat residents in some areas have benefited while flooded persons in other areas are told that there were not under water for two weeks.

The PNCR will continue to make information available and calls upon the affected communities not to let the government off the hook.
MISSING SUGAR WORKERS

The PNCR notes with regret that thus far, there has been no word on the whereabouts of the two Guysuco employees who went missing whilst carrying out their duties in the field. We can understand the anxiety which weighs heavily on their loved ones, friends and co workers at this time. We wish to assure them that our prayers are with them and we urge the law enforcement agencies involved to redouble their efforts to resolve this matter.

NO VISIBLE IMPROVEMENT IN THE DRUG SITUATION

The Lecture by Mr. Anthony Interlandi, Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Georgetown, on Saturday 28th May 2005 at a forum organized by the Guyana Press Association has once again brought to the forefront how close Guyana is to becoming a full fledged “Narco State”

The assertion by Mr. Interlandi that “dirty money pollutes politics” and his reply, to a question posed by a member of the audience, that the drug trade might have already infiltrated the political system in Guyana, is one the PNCR wishes to draw to the Nation’s attention.

The PNCR makes bold to go further than Mr. Interlandi and say that there is sufficient anecdotal evidence, in our small, closely knit society to satisfy our party and significant sections of our society that the drug trade has already infiltrated the PPP/C Government, sections of our Law Enforcement Agencies and certain other State Agencies.

What else, but infiltration by the drug barons, can explain the fact that while there have been many major arrests and successful prosecutions outside of Guyana involving huge quantities of illegal drugs, all of which passed through Guyana, there have been no corresponding arrests and prosecutions in Guyana?

What else but infiltration by drug barons at the Governmental and National levels can explain why the relevant authorities all turn the blind “Nelson’s eye” to the highly questionable businesses, huge buildings, luxury vehicles and the extravagant lifestyles of persons who only yesterday were struggling, like the great majority of Guyanese, to survive?

Can it be that the drug barons have bought themselves well placed and influential friends? On Monday 30th May 2005 the Jamaican Government and the Jamaican Opposition agreed to a request by business leaders to have their elected Members of Parliament declare in writing their commitment not to associate with criminals and questionable persons and not to accept financial support from them. The legitimate Guyanese businessmen, whose businesses continue to suffer from the effects of businesses owned and operated by drug barons, may wish to make similar demands on the Members of our National Assembly.

We challenge the PPP/C Government to urgently table in the National Assembly their Anti Drug Master Plan which has already had a gestation period of nearly two years. The PNCR stands ready to work with all Guyanese and all friendly Nations to eradicate the scourge of the Drug Trade which if not dealt with in a decisive way will further affect Guyana’s sovereignty.

GECOM’S DEAFENING SILENCE

The present pace at which the Elections Commission is proceeding is not acceptable. Three weeks ago the Parliamentary Opposition parties met with elections commission (GECOM) and on that occasion expressed some optimism with regard to GECOM’s decisions in relation to its preparation for the 2006 elections. Since then, however there has been a deafening silence from GECOM. There has been no report on its decisions on the new biometric feature and it has not delivered its comprehensive plan. Even more worrying is a report that on a matter on which GECOM has indicated is definitive position use the official list of voters as the starting point for the house-to-house verification exercise and there now seems to some vacillation. This is indeed worrying.

The PNCR calls upon GECOM to accelerate its decision making and implementation processes. With regards to biometric features, we repeat our suggestion that information from the Jamaican experience and an evaluation of the Jamaican system be made available to all stakeholders. GECOM needs to act now to avert the crisis, which its slothfulness and vacillation can trigger.

THE WESTS INDIES VICTORY IN THE FIRST TEST

The People's National Congress Reform wishes to extend heartfelt congratulations to skipper Shivnaraine Chanderpaul and his team for their victory over Pakistan in the first Test Match at Kensington Oval, Barbados last week. It was a victory that was well deserved as it was spiritually and psychologically satisfying. The West Indian people had waited a long time for such a victory and when it came, it gave a significant boost to the Region. The Party is convinced that given the nature of the victory, it will spur the Regional team to higher efforts and achievements.

In saying all this, the PNCR must note the personal role played by Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the victory over Pakistan. Not only did he captain the team well but his contribution of 92 in the 1st innings and an unbeaten a century and a half in the 2nd innings not only seeded the success of his team but laid the foundation for the team’s eventual victory.

The PNCR is therefore confident that not only will the Regional team play well in the 2nd Test Match which starts in Kingston, Jamaica on Friday, but will also begin the process, in future Test Match Series, of regaining its honourable place among the world test playing nations.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, June 02, 2005