PRESS STATEMENT By the People’s National Congress Reform To Press Conference on Thursday, July 14, 2005 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY
• There is no prospect of any significant impact on poverty with an economy that is basically flat and not performing impressively;
• Secondly, the PPP/C’s claim that Jagdeo is some economic wizard is completely fallacious;
• Government is allowing its deep distrust of private sector motives to cripple efforts to welcome new investment;
• PNCR will be tabling amendments to cater for biometrics and verification of the official list of voters in the National Assembly;
• PNCR support Groups in North America successfully launched the North American Region of the Party last week-end when delegates from groups in Ottawa, Toronto, Atlanta, South Florida, Washington DC, New Jersey and New York converged in New York for the inaugural conference.

POVERTY REDUCTION STRATEGY

After a careful review of the draft report on poverty reduction, the PNCR has concluded that the government’s strategy for poverty reduction has failed dismally and worse, that with the continued pursuit of this misguided and failed strategy, there is no realistic prospect that people, at present marginalized and suffering from the effects of misgovernment, corruption and incompetence, can expect no improvement in their condition under the PPP/C. The report acknowledges that the stewardship of the economy under Jagdeo’s presidency has been an abject failure. In three of the seven years from 1998 to 2004, there was negative growth and only minimal growth in the other years with an average compounded growth in that period of less than 0.5 percent. There has been almost no expansion in agriculture except for sugar, mining is in decline and manufacturing is described as flat. More importantly, the report concedes that foreign investment is not achieving the hoped for targets and domestic investment has been unimpressive.

Two things are clear. Firstly, there is no prospect of any significant impact on poverty with an economy that is basically flat and not performing impressively. Secondly, the PPP/C’s claim that Jagdeo is some economic wizard is completely fallacious.

There are many absurdities in the document and by implication, in the government’s policy such as new taxation in 2006 and the building of a cricket stadium which have nothing to do with poverty reduction can in fact carry up the cost of living. There is very little comment on agriculture except a reference to sugar. It must be obvious even to most obtuse member of the Cabinet that part of the solution of our problems of poverty must rest in the development of our non traditional agriculture sectors. More particularly, much of the solution to poverty particularly in the rural communities must come from the resuscitation and modernisation of the rice sector.

There is no acknowledgement of the negative impact of the HIPC status on our economic prospects. The fact is that being classified as one of the world’s basket cases may contribute to increased flows of confessional funds and debt relief which is now the central plank of the PPP/C’s economic policy. However, it reduces the country’s credit worthiness and also inhibits the flow of direct foreign investment so crucial to employment creation.

The report admits that there are no systems in place to generate the statistical basis for measuring the level of poverty and the other relevant social indicators. The admission that the Government’s poverty programme that has been running for several years and costing billions of dollars annually is based on guesswork is truly amazing. Surely the resolution of the base data as a benchmark and the setting of targets should have been a priority. In fact, the Statistical Bureau is now worse than ever in terms of its human capacity and its technical staffing levels.

It is obvious that this so called poverty programme is a device not intended to fight poverty in any meaningful way, but to delude the international funding agencies to continue to pass aid funds into the patronage machinery of the state.

The only viable way to tackle poverty is to put in place policies which will engender growth and development. There is much verbiage in the report about reforms and policy changes but the truth is that there is no substantial or radical reform which would encourage domestic or external investment. The prospects for our young people are bleak. They live in a country mired by crime, instability and incompetence and there is nothing which the government has done or plans to do which will remove this cloud of hopelessness and break this iron grip of governmental failure.

The solution to the problems of poverty in Guyana is to:

• put people at the centre of the policies and programmes of the government;
• reduce corruption, incompetence and waste;
• recognise that the global prospect for direct investment in small countries like Guyana is ripe but only with an appropriate mix of measures that are investor-friendly and consistent with the protection of the patrimony of the country;
• recognise that the current deadening hand of washed out Marxism on the economy will always be a barrier to new investment both domestic and foreign;
• return to the principles of the Economic Recovery Programme as the basis of our resuscitation.

HOSTILITY TO PRIVATE SECTOR INITIATIVE CONTINUES UNABATED.

Over the last 13 years Guyana has failed to live up to its economic potential chiefly because of the PPP/C Government’s refusal to give Private Sector investment free rein to enrich this country and lift its people out of poverty. The PNCR is concerned that there continues to be a lingering ambivalence towards Private Sector investment in Guyana on the part of the PPP/C Government. Last Friday the Roop Group Agri-Business Division Export Facility became the most recent recipient of the PPP/C’s investment cold shoulder when Government boycotted the Official Launching at Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara.

Once again Government is allowing its deep distrust of private sector motives to cripple efforts to Welcome new investment – albeit Guyanese investors. Furthermore it is apparent that this muted hostility to Private Sector investment pushes Government bureaucracy to attach a tangled web of regulations to each proposed investment deal. The only exceptions tend to be in the category of narco – investment and crony – backed projects. Such attitudes will only leave Guyana farther and farther behind as other developing economies surge forward.

Investors, foreign and local, cannot be expected to bring their business to Guyana only to be greeted by bureaucratic red tape that ties them into knots or face unrealistic regulations and delays that impede completion of the investment. Not only is it not worth their time but it costs them. The PPP/C Government’s poor track record with many foreign and local investors – remember the recent Robert Badal fiasco with his Stockfeeds investment – over the last 13 years means that the next PNCR Government will have to work twice as hard as it did during the Hoyte administration to convince prospective investors that they will find a hospitable home here. The next PNCR Government intends to meet this challenge and bring prosperity to Guyana. A government’s willingness to facilitate and encourage its local investors is among the first indicators that foreign investors consider in evaluating whether a country is business friendly or not. Once more the PPP/C administration has sent the wrong message to potential investors by purposefully withholding any government representation at the Launching of Peter Ramsaroop’s export based venture.

Yet again government’s small mindedness and vindictive nature have characterised its approach to matters of national importance. These failings ensure that during its term in office Guyanese will not benefit from the increased wealth created by a dynamic and expanding private sector.

We take the opportunity to commend Mr. Peter Ramsaroop on his business initiative and drive and wish him every success in his determination to provide employment and opportunities for advancement particularly among Guyana’s Youth.

GENERAL ELECTIONS UPDATE

It is now approximately four years since Dr. Surujbally has been at the helm of the Elections Commission. From the very beginning, he inherited the need to implement Continuous Registration. Continuous registration has never been a contentious issue. However, its implementation has been held up by deliberations on the implementation of a new element of biometrics and the determination of which method should be used to ensure that the compilation of the voters` list and the end product is acceptable to the stakeholders. Today the National Assembly is scheduled to debate the legislation for the implementation of Continuous Registration. However the issues, which were responsible for the delay, are still to be resolved and provided for by legislation. While the PNCR does not find any element of the proposed legislation reprehensible, it certainly finds the omissions of the elements of biometrics and verification of the official list of voters unacceptable. Notwithstanding Dr. Surujbally’s written assurance that those matters are still to be determined by the Commission, the PNCR will be tabling amendments to the proposed Bill to cater for biometrics, and verification of the official list of voters. For the PNCR these are central issues, which if not resolved will lead to elections of an unacceptable standard. The PNCR does not believe that these omissions are in anyone’s interest and will do everything in its powers to ensure that such elections are not imposed on the people of Guyana.




We wish to repeat for the sake of clarity our position on these matters:

• Elections must be held by the constitutionally due time
• Elections must be held with a thoroughly cleansed voters list
• There must be a proper system of biometric checks
• There must be equitable use of the state media
• The PNCR will hold the government and GECOM accountable if these conditions are not met.
PNCR NORTH AMERICAN REGION SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED

PNCR support groups in North America successfully launched the North American Region of the Party last week-end when delegates from groups in Ottawa, Toronto, Atlanta, South Florida, Washington DC, New Jersey and New York converged in New York for their inaugural conference. The conference, was held at Catherine McAuley High School, Brooklyn, New York on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th July 2005 under the theme, “REVISITING THE VISION OF ONE PEOPLE AND A NATION WITH THE SAME DESTINY”

Delivering the feature address on Friday evening, PNCR Leader, Robert Corbin, outlined the broad objectives of the PNCR and its vision for Guyana. He pointed out that the PNCR wanted to ensure that Guyana became a modern 21st century state where the people of Guyana would also be the beneficiaries of an enriched quality of life. Consequently, while the PNCR was capable and was confident of winning the next election, the Party’s objective went beyond winning an election. It was not sufficient for the PNCR to win, but for all of Guyana to win in collaboration with the PNCR. It is for that reason the Party embraced the Shared Governance model of governance, Mr. Corbin added. He stated that it was regrettable that the other major party in Guyana, the PPP/C, had not seen the wisdom of embracing these proposals for Guyana and felt that it was a serious miscalculation on their part, premised, as it is, on the belief that the voting patterns in Guyana would continue to be based upon ethnic considerations. In congratulating the North American Region on the excellent arrangements for the Conference he identified four main areas in which they could contribute to the development of the Party and Guyana. These included:

• contributing ideas for the development of Party and Government programmes;
• providing needed skills;
• establishing and maintaining a skills bank of skills that could be made available to successfully implement Party and Government programmes; and,
• financial support.

On Saturday, the main address was delivered by Party Chairman, Winston Murray, who among other matters analyzed the economic situation in Guyana and outlined the programme of the PNCR to put Guyana back on the road to economic progress and prosperity. Workshop discussions centered on four main areas:

• Winning the next elections;
• creating space for the Diaspora in the Party;
• review of economic policy in Guyana; and,
• culture for Economic Development and Political Unity.

The workshop discussions were extensive and the delegates made many useful suggestions that will guide the Party in fashioning its programme. The Regional Committee has planned a series of programmes for the year ahead. Executives’ members Mr. Max Hanoman, Mrs. Volda Lawrence and Mr. Jerome Khan were also present and were able to answer many of the questions raised during the questions and motions session.

The Party congratulates the North American region for this excellent example.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, July 14, 2005