PRESS STATEMENT By the People’s National Congress Reform To Press Conference on Thursday 16 June 2005 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR and its Leader Robert Corbin wish to express condolences to the wife of Dr. Cedric Grant CCH, Mrs Lorene Grant, his children and other bereaved relatives.
• The People’s National Congress Reform takes the opportunity of this year’s commemoration of Enmore Martyr’s Day to support the work of negotiators on behalf of Guyana, the Region and the ACP Group.
• The PNCR has noted the statement issues by the G8 Finance Ministers of June 10-11 and the Conclusions on development issued from that meeting.
• The PNCR once again calls on the Government to table in the National Assembly their long touted Anti- Drug Plan and a Comprehensive Crime Reduction Plan.
• Will President Jagdeo permit the implementation of the recommendations of Sir Michael Davies, which are contained collectively in his 18 February and 18 May 2005 Reports on The Needs Assessment of the Guyana National Assembly?
• The PNCR maintains its position that a house-to-house verification and the introduction of biometrics are pre-requisites for the compilation of an Electoral List of an acceptable standard for the holding of free and fair elections which has some reasonable chance of reflecting the will of the Guyanese Electorate.

PNCR MOURNS THE LOSS OF DR. CEDRIC GRANT

It is with shock and a sense of irreplaceable loss that the PNCR learnt of the passing of one of Guyana’s greatest sons – Dr Cedric Grant, CCH. The death of Dr Grant is an untimely loss of one of Guyana’s ablest public servants. As diplomat, academic and prolific writer in political science and international relations, Dr Grant had distinguished himself. His analytical but incisive contributions to the intellectual discussions will be sadly missed. There is little doubt therefore that he was fitting and deserving of the Cacique Crown of Honour (CCH) awarded to him by the government and people of Guyana.

The People’s National Congress Reform notes with gratitude the significant contribution of Dr. Cedric Grant to the development of Guyana and his long association with our late Leaders Cde. Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham and Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte as they all sought to develop Guyana.

Dr Grant’s academic work in the area of local government and other fields, drew the eyes of the then Prime Minister of Guyana Forbes Burnham. Ever since then he has served Guyana in many capacities as High Commissioner to Zambia and London, Ambassador to Washington and Special Advisor on Foreign Affairs to President Hoyte.

Dr Grant’s scholarly writings in international relations, especially on regional integration have contributed significantly to the development of the Caribbean perception of itself and the direction that development in the Caribbean should take. Despite his outstanding intellect and long distinguished successful career, he was also noted for his urbanity, modesty and charm.

As we mourn his loss, the PNCR and its Leader Robert Corbin wish to express condolences to his wife, Mrs. Lorene Grant, children and other bereaved relatives.

57TH ANNIVERSARY OF ENMORE MARTYRS

On this the fifty seventh (57th) anniversary of the Martyrdom of Harry, Puran, Lallbajee, Rambarran and Surujbally, the five (5) sugar workers whose memory we perpetuate by the Monument at Enmore on the East coast of Demerara, the People’s National Congress Reform joins the rest of the nation in the observance of this significant historical event.

It is note worthy that this year’s observances coincide with the Industry’s and the Nation’s continuing struggles to safeguard the livelihood of the thousands of sugar workers and their families, which are jeopardised by the decisions on prices paid for sugar from African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

The People’s National Congress Reform takes the opportunity of this year’s commemoration of Enmore Martyr’s Day to support the work of negotiators on behalf of Guyana, the Region and the ACP Group.

GUYANA BENEFITS FROM THE UK’S BLAIR-BROWNE DEBT INITIATIVE

The People’s National Congress Reform has noted the statement issued by the G8 Finance Ministers of June 10-11 and the Conclusions on development issued from that meeting. We welcome the main thrusts of that statement and believe that they point in the right directions in terms of the needs of the underdeveloped economies of the world.

We note that they conclude that:

In order to make progress on social and economic development, it is essential that the developing countries put in place the policies for:

 economic growth, sustained development and poverty reduction, sound accountable and transparent institutions and policies, macroeconomic stability, the increased fiscal transparency essential to tackle corruption, boost private sector development and attract investment ;
 a credible legal framework, and
 the elimination of impediments to private investment, both domestic and foreign.
 They also posit that it is crucial that the international community improves the effectiveness of aid and emphasise the importance of the Doha Development Agenda in bringing real and substantial benefits to poor countries.

We endorse these principles in general terms and also in terms of their application to the development needs of Guyana. In our view the initiatives being led by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Tony Blair, and pursued by his Chancellor of the Exchequer, Dr. Gordon Browne, demonstrate vision and enlightenment which we hope will prove to be a watershed in the international approach to poverty.

We note that the G8 are proposing to their Heads of Government, that countries which have reached Completion Point in the HIPC process, should receive a 100% right off of debt to the IDA and the IMF. Guyana is listed in the decision as one of the 18 countries which will benefit from this facility. We welcome this decision and the possibility of benefits which could accrue to Guyana from it.

While we understand that the proposal is subject to approval by the G8 Heads and the shareholders of the multilateral institutions, we are nevertheless optimistic that such a measure could free up resources badly needed for the health, education and poverty reduction programmes.

The PNCR wishes, however, to caution against a misunderstanding of the implications of this decision. For a country to be listed as one of the 18 HIPC countries in essence means that we are at the bottom rung and the lowest division of world economies. It is essentially an acceptance of the fact that the policies of the PPP/C Government have failed and we are no longer credit worthy in normal terms.

The PNCR wishes to re-emphasise that, though we welcome the debt relief, it should not be greeted with any sense of achievement or pride. The PNCR notes that our failure to attract investment and ill conceived policies of the Jagdeo regime have served to place us in a debt trap rather than resulting in the development of Guyana as envisaged by the Hoyte Economic Recovery Programme (ERP). Essentially Guyana remains in a debt trap in which we are borrowing for development from the multilateral institutions, we are struggling to repay our debts and thus we become eligible for relief. Thus we are not able to be a participant in the much more flexible and effective global commercial financing markets available to economies which are demonstrating growth and credit worthiness.

The Ministers, in their statement, emphasize a point which we have made and will continue to make:

That the key to genuine development is a viable and credible programme of direct private investment attracting the skills and resources of local and foreign businesspersons.

We need, as a country, to aim away from remaining at the top ten lists of international mendicants and move towards the development of a programme of sustainable growth and economic diversification. There is no merit or credit in being poor and dependant and we must once and for all rid ourselves of the label of one of the world’s chief recipients of alms.

Guyana’s record of economic growth under the PPP/C regime is not condemnable in any sense. We have had negative or minimal growth for the past seven years and there is no real prospect of immediate improvement. This is the clearest indication that the policies of the government are wrong and that there is no real prospect for growth and development under this administration.

The G8 Ministers put great emphasis in their discussion on the improvement in transparency and the battle against corruption. This is a very important issue. We believe that the greatest barrier to growth and development is the weakness of our public institutions, the disrepair of our judicial system, the lack of transparency in our systems of public procurement and our dependence on the proceeds from the scourge of international narco-trafficking.

We hope that the IDA and IMF will heed the hope of the Ministers that there should be transparency on both sides in these measures. We believe that the institutions need to be consistent and transparent in their own judgments and policies where transparency and good governance in Guyana is concerned. To do otherwise, would be to reward poor polices and failure, with disastrous consequences for the people of Guyana.

We are convinced that it is essential, if our people are to benefit from the new initiatives, that governance and the elimination of corruption must be the priority. The PNCR will be on guard to ensure that this is always in the public eye. We call on the international financial institutions to ensure that the new round of debt relief is utilized properly to finance more imaginative and effective programmes which target the poor and dispossessed and not the financial requirements of partisan political cronies.

PRESIDENT JAGDEO’S NEGATIVE RESPONSE TO THE PNCR PROPOSALS FOR A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO BUXTON AND THE CRIME SITUATION IN GUYANA

The Narrow minded and myopic views and utterances of President Jagdeo, in response to the proposed program for genuine social transformation of Buxton and all other marginalized and depressed communities in Guyana made by our late leader Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte in October 2002, continue to mystify the PNCR and the Guyanese people.

When a Head of State can interpret, or pretend to interpret, the Hoyte proposals as seeking to hold the Government to “ransom”; When a Head of State can say that implementing a program for genuine social transformation, which will result in jobs and incomes for hundreds of our unemployed and despairing young people in a troubled village, is rewarding criminals and anti-social behaviour; When a Head of State can go on to say that “then we would have had 100 Buxtons because all you had to do was come out, block the road, encourage criminality and then say you have to give us GY$200 Million or else we wouldn’t stop this”. When a Head of State can seriously say these things to his citizens then we as a Nation are in dire straits.

The PNCR challenges President Jagdeo to point the Guyanese people to:

1. Any country where large sections of the population have been marginalized and discriminated against and that country enjoys a low incidence of crime;
2. Any country on the brink of ”Narco States-hood” which enjoys a low incidence of crime;
3. Any country with a high level of unemployment, underemployment, a narrow and weak economic base which enjoys a low incidence of crime;
4. Any country where corruption and bad governance is the order of the day which enjoys a low incidence of crime.

For President Jagdeo to think that Guyana’s high incidence of crime will ever be significantly reduced without his Government addressing the core issues which are the causes of crime, including: social injustice; high unemployment; the loss of hope among significant sections of our population; a flourishing drug trade and a weak economy, is backward, dangerous and counter productive.

The PNCR sees President Jagdeo’s purile and unsuccessful attempts to convince Guyanese that our proposals for ALL depressed and marginalized communities in Guyana, using Buxton as a pilot project, as nothing more than an attempt to hold his Government to “ransom”, as a desperate attempt by a desperate Government to throw up yet another smoke screen to hide the fact that his Government, after nearly 13 years in Government and after over three years since the infamous jail break of 23rd February 2002, still has no comprehensible Crime Reduction Plan.

Mr. President, the people of Guyana are not amused by your antics and we once again call on your Government to table in the National Assembly your long touted Anti- Drug Plan and A Comprehensive Crime Reduction Plan.

WILL JAGDEO PERMIT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AN INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ASSEMBLY?

The Sunday Stabroek Editorial, of 3 April 2005, captioned Government Pique, concluded:

“And how would the views of the entire complement of PPP/C members alter certain objective facts? Either it is the case, as Sir Michael found, that the decision as to when Parliament meets and control of the Order Paper are in the hands of the executive, or it is not the case. If it is, then there is nothing that the governing party members could say which would alter those facts. And if it is the case too that parliament does not have financial independence, exactly what could all the governing party members have said to Sir Michael which would have altered that fact either? And the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from those combined facts is that parliament and its management are not entirely independent of executive control. There is no other conclusion to be drawn, no matter how many PPP/C members say their piece to Sir Michael.”

As is the usual practice of the Jagdeo regime, whenever they are faced with uncomfortable facts, they resort to red herrings. They objected to the recommendations of Sir Michael Davies, contained in the Report of the Commonwealth Senior Parliamentary Staff Advisor to the Guyana National Assembly, dated 18 February 2005, entitled Needs Assessment of the Guyana National Assembly, on the spurious grounds that he had not met enough of the PPP/C cognoscenti. After all, Sir Michael Davies had only met with H.E. President Jagdeo, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Reepu Daman Persaud, Tourism Minister Manzoor Nadir, Chief Whip Feroze Mohamed, PPP/C General Secretary Donald Ramotar and the venerable Speaker of the National Assembly and member of the PPP/C Central Executive Harinaryan Ramkarran.

The Commonwealth Secretary General, in an exercise of fatherly indulgence, obligingly incurred the added expense of sending Sir Michael Davies once more to Guyana. This time to meet “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men”. Sir Michael Davies dutifully and, with admirable professional care, patience and courtesy, met the omni-present Dr Roger Luncheon, Shaik Baksh, Dr Dale Bisnauth, Rosanna Campbell, Indra Chanderpal, Dr Henry Jeffrey, Saisnarine Kowlessar, Odinga Lumumba, Feroze Mohamed, Reepu Daman Persaud, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, Carolyn Rodrigues, Clement Rohee, Gail Teixiera, Dr Jennifer Westford, et al. The major complaint was that Sir Michael had not acknowledged the changes which were made since 1992. The PPP/C and President Jagdeo either have conveniently short memories or are entirely unable to experience that all too human emotion called shame! Sir Michael Davies responded with admirable restraint “But when I arrived to make a ‘needs assessment’ of the National Assembly I had not been asked to look backwards, nor would I have considered it very fruitful to do so. My purpose was to see what is still needed to be done to make the National Assembly the centre of political dialogue in Guyana”.

The result is the Addendum to The Needs Assessment of the Guyana National Assembly, dated 18 May 2005, in which Sir Michael kindly draws attention to the 1998 Latimer House Guidelines by the Commonwealth Law Ministers and the Commonwealth Principles on the Accountability of and the Relationship between the Three Branches of Government which was agreed at the 2003 Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference at Abuja, Nigeria. Is the Jagdeo regime aware of the existence of these documents? Do they accept the principles adumbrated therein?

Now that President Jagdeo and the PPP/C have had the satisfaction of the return of Sir Michael Davies, they are still to respond to the necessary requirements “…..to enable the National Assembly to become the centre of political dialogue in Guyana, the most crucial do not require anything other than the political will to implement. These are:

a) the financial independence of the Assembly;
b) an independent parliamentary staff;
c) an Order Paper free of Ministerial control;
d) a settled parliamentary calendar; and
e) Government co-operation with Committees.”

The critical question now is:

Will President Jagdeo permit the implementation of the recommendations of Sir Michael Davies, which are contained collectively in his 18 February and 18 May 2005 Reports on The Needs Assessment of the Guyana National Assembly?

RAMOTAR’S STATEMENT ON PREPARATIONS FOR THE 2006 ELECTIONS

Apparently Donald Ramotar and the PPP/C are of the view that national issues can be resolved by spewing rhetoric and propaganda. If that was not so, Ramotar would never have resorted to his most recent propaganda exercise, in which he sought to mislead and misinform the Guyanese public, and the world at large, on matters pertaining to the 2006 elections. Notwithstanding all of Ramotar`s propaganda the problems still remain because of the PPP/C’s intransigence and unwillingness to honour their agreements and the Constitution of Guyana.

First, time will continue to flitter away unless the PPP/C stops its obstructionist attitude towards the work of GECOM. In its Revised Concept Paper, On Implementation of Continuous Registration in Guyana, of 12 October 2004, GECOM proposed the following:

The implementation of continuous registration in Guyana should be premised on a verified NRR that is established by the conduct of a national house-to-house field verification exercise.

In the Joint Parliamentary Opposition Parties` most recent meeting with GECOM, approximately one month ago, GECOM maintained this position. It is the PPP/C`s objections to this and other proposals emanating from the professional staff at GECOM that has held up the work of GECOM.

Second, it is GECOM that also proposed BIOMETRICS. In its Concept Paper it stated that:

It is recommended that biometrics technology be incorporated into the proposed system of Continuous Registration to be implemented in Guyana.

All that the Joint Parliamentary Opposition Parties have done over the months is to concur with the proposals of GECOM and to provide the reason and rationale as to why they support the proposals. Our rationale is beyond contention.

Continuous Registration is normally preceded by a new registration.

A new registration is normally done every seven years in countries where such a system exists. Registration was last held in Guyana in 1996/97, over seven years ago.

Since the last registration, approximately 200,000 names of persons who have either died or migrated apart from the multiple registrations remain on the existing NRR (National Register of Registrants). These names would appear on the Preliminary Voters` list and should be excised.

In 2001, over 57,000 thousand transactions for transfers were recorded. A similar number or more could be expected this time around. Since the 2001 elections many persons have come of age and should be included on the list.

For all of the above reasons, the PNCR maintains its position that a house-to-house verification and the introduction of biometrics are pre-requisites for the compilation of an Electoral List of an acceptable standard for the holding of free, fair and transparent elections which have some reasonable chance of reflecting the will of the Guyanese Electorate.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, June16, 2005