PRESS STATEMENT By the People’s National Congress Reform To Press Conference on Thursday, August 4, 2005 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:

• The PPP/C Congress was not without its lofty rhetoric and grand promises.
• The PNCR therefore hopes that there will be no further attempts by any political party to dominate this process and that the women’s movement will be given a free hand on this occasion to throw up representatives from the ten administrative regions;
• The PNCR, the business friendly party, intends to create at least 50,000 new jobs in the first 36 months of its return to office as a result of unprecedented economic growth;
• The PNCR has since 2003 fully co-operated with GECOM to enable that body to successfully undertake its responsibilities;
• The 20th Death Anniversary of the Founder Leader, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham.

THE PPP/C 28TH CONGRESS OFFERED NOTHING NEW OR IMAGINATIVE

At a time when Guyana faces unprecedented internal and external challenges, the PPP/C’s 28th Congress, held in Anna Regina over the weekend, offered no new or creative solutions or approaches. The congress could have been the opportunity for the PPP/C to recast itself as a modern, broad-minded organisation, embracing a genuine put-Guyana-first philosophy. Instead, the party showed that it is still trapped in the political past, still wedded to an outdated ideology, and still set in old modes of thinking.

The nation saw no evidence that the PPP/C is prepared to join with other stakeholders in taking the country to higher levels of social, political and economic development. What we saw instead was senior party officials engaging in political and personal attacks on other local stakeholders. What we saw was the PPP/C recommitting itself to the stagnant Marxism-communism ideology as its guiding philosophy. We saw a party that still believes that economic policy amounted to taxing, borrowing and spending on infrastructure projects.

Mr. Jagdeo, in his address, stated that his party’s biggest achievement is “the restoration of hope” in Guyana. We have to assume that Mr. Jagdeo was merely engaging in PR spin. For if he seriously believed this to be so he is more out of sync with the reality in Guyana that we first imagined. The reality is that hopelessness in the country has reached unparalleled heights. The large number of young people without jobs and opportunities, the growing cost of living, the faltering education system, and ever-increasing exodus of Guyanese citizens highlight this state of affairs.

The PPP/C congress, however, was not without its lofty rhetoric and grand promises. The congress theme, for example, spoke to strengthening national unity and expanding democracy. Mr. Jagdeo spoke about transforming our country and building prosperity. We note some of the language seemed to indicate that his speechwriters more than glanced at Mr. Corbin’s last Congress speech. Regardless, these ideals and objectives would remain empty political rhetoric if the governing of Guyana is left in the hands of the PPP/C.

The PNCR therefore calls on the PPP/C to:

• recognize the frustrations and weariness of the Guyanese people and heed their demands for a new beginning and a good life;

• recognize that without new modes of thinking, Guyana will remain poor and backward;

• join with other stakeholders in constructing a suitable and all-inclusive governance structure for Guyana;

• join with other stakeholders in preparing the country to tackle such formidable external threats as globalization, trade liberalization, the drug trade, high oil prices, and the reordering of the international priorities; and

• genuinely embrace an agenda of peace and national cohesion.

PNCR PROUD RECORD OF ADVANCING THE EQUALITY OF WOMEN

From its birth in 1957 to date our Party has had a long and distinguished record of promoting the equality of women and encouraging their participation in public life. Female Ministers; Members of Parliament, Regional Chairmen, Mayors and Permanent Secretaries included Jane Phillips-Gay, Jean Maitland Singh, Winifred Gaskin, Philomena Rayman, Bissondai Beniprashad, Viola Burnham, Shirley Field Ridley, Urmia Johnson, Enid Abrams, Yvonne Harewood-Benn, Stella Odie Ali, Jean Persico, Joyce Sinclair and Faith Harding. Guyanese will also remember that it was during the PNC’s administration that Ms. Desiree Bernard was appointed the first female Puisne Judge and eventually Chief Justice of Guyana, the first female Chief Justice in the English speaking Caribbean.

Several Acts of Parliament, which enhanced the rights and guaranteed the equality of women, were also passed when the PNCR was in Government. These legislative enactments include:-

(1) Article 29 (1) of the 1980 Guyana Constitution, which guaranteed the Equality of Women.
(2) Children Born Out of Wedlock (Removal of Discrimination) Act, 1983
(3) Domicile Reform Act, 1988
(4) Equal Rights Act 1990
(5) Family and Dependants Provision Act 1990
(6) Married Persons (Property) (Amendment) Act, 1990

More recently in keeping with the World Millennium Goals and the Beijing +5 Platform the PNC/R has ensured that a minimum of 33% of our parliamentary seats is filled by women. Presently 10 of our 27 Parliamentarians (35%) are women.

It is against this background of our proud record, both in and out of government, in advancing the rights of women that we received a number of enquiries about the reasons for the recent impasse with respect to the Women and Gender Equality Commission. Concern was expressed about the possibility that this issue will not receive immediate attention since parliament did not approve the submissions made by the PPP/C.

However, at a meeting of the Parliamentary Appointive Committee held on Tuesday July 26, 2005, a motion, moved by the PNCR, for the consideration of the Women and Gender Equality Commission to be placed on the agenda was put and carried. This means that the Appointive Committee, without delay, will be addressing the anomalies in the selection process for the members of the Women and Gender Equality Commission.

The PNCR therefore hopes that there will be no further attempts by any political party to dominate this process and that the women’s movement will be given a free hand on this occasion to throw up representatives from the ten administrative regions. On the previous occasion there was a deliberate attempt by the PPP/C to disregard the nominations of the women’s movement and to create a bogus process that would ensure that it could determine the majority of the members of the commission.

When the appointive Committee started to consider the Women and Gender Equality Commission a consensual mechanism was agreed to. The committee agreed to consult with the constitutionally stipulated WAC-TUC along with the National Commission of Women. The WAC-TUC was asked to nominate three persons and the National Commission of Women was asked to nominate fifteen persons.

After an internal consultative process the WAC-TUC submitted the names of three nominees. However, the PPP/C used its majority on the committee to reject these nominees on the grounds that no one from GAWU was nominated. The Committee decided that the WAC-TUC be asked to resubmit a list that includes a nominee from GAWU.

When the National Commission of Women made its submission of fifteen persons this was also rejected by the PPP/C. On this occasion they claimed that too many persons from Region No. 4 were on the list. The PNCR recommended that the issue be treated in the same manner as it was with the WAC-TUC. That is, the National Commission of Women should be asked to make a new submission that addressed the PPP/C concerns. The PPP/C rejected this procedure and chooses instead to move the consultative process outside of the women’s movement. The PPP/C used its majority on the committee to ensure a decision that Regional Democratic Councils be consulted.

The records reveal that none of these RDC’s consulted with any woman organization in the regions. In most cases the nominee was determined by voting along political lines in the RDC. The PNCR opposed this process on the grounds that government agencies should not be involved in the consultative process and that consulting with the RDC’s had taken the entire process outside of the realm of the women’s movement. As a result there was deadlock for months on this issue.

In the absence of the PNCR the PPP/C proceeded to determine the list of persons to sit on the commission. . A report was subsequently submitted to the National Assembly for approval. However, an examination of the list submitted revealed that 60% of the persons selected were nominated by a process outside of the women’s movement. The PNCR objected to this travesty and the committee agreed that the PNCR must indicate to the chairperson of the committee, before the sitting of the National Assembly, if it wanted the report withdrawn.

In keeping with this decision Mr. Ivor Allen wrote the chairperson indicating that the PNCR would like to have the report withdrawn so that the issue could be further discussed. Surprisingly, the chairperson, Minister Gail Texiera, acting in contravention of a decision of the committee, proceeded to present the report to the National Assembly. The PNCR therefore had no option but to reserve its support for the motion.

The PNCR has noted that Minister Texiera has been claiming that because this matter was taken to the National Assembly and not approved it cannot be resubmitted under six months. This shows clearly that Minister Texiera had ulterior motives when she contravened the Committee’s decision and proceeded to present the report to the National Assembly. It is clear that Minister Texiera and the PPP/C want to delay the establishment of the Women and Gender Equality Commission.

However, notwithstanding Minister Texiera’s utterances, the Committee has determined that the Standing Orders allow for the matter to be resubmitted without further delay. The PNCR therefore calls on the PPP/C to desist from its delaying tactics. The PNCR also calls on the PPP/C to allow the women’s movement, in a democratic process, to determine a geographically representative list of persons to sit on the Women and Gender Equality Commission.

PNCR’S JOB CREATION ACTION PLAN WILL CREATE THOUSANDS OF NEW JOBS AND MAKE GUYANA A WINNER IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY

Living on the bread line is no joke. The fact that the many miseries of unemployment:

 the struggles to preserve dignity and identity;
 the battles to fend off the feelings of being trapped, isolated and worthless;
 the fights to make ends meet
are all becoming depressingly familiar parts of the everyday experience of more and more people in Guyana today makes them no less shocking, no less saddening.

Youth unemployment has now become a permanent phenomenon. With unemployment amongst school leavers and University graduates running at well over 40% nationally and at over 60% in some communities, as against an economic growth forecast of under 1%, even the most optimistic would have to predict that very large numbers of school and University leavers will be unable to find work during the next 10-15 years if present trends continue.

To top it all the PPP/C Government has no employment policy, no discernable economic development plan and absolutely no vision for taking Guyana out of poverty.

The PPP/C at its 28th Congress re-affirmed its belief in an ideology and business ethic that abhors free market principles and economic practices. It actually intends to continue the same outdated, ineffectual policies that have resulted in the unprecedented high levels of unemployment and underemployment being currently experienced in Guyana.

The PNCR, the party for free market economics and private sector-led growth, remains the only party that can improve and increase Guyana’s economic fortunes even as the PPP/C remains true to its brand of socialism characterised by low growth, low productivity and low foreign direct investment.

The PNCR, the business friendly party, intends to create at least 50,000 new jobs in the first 36 months of its return to office as a result of unprecedented economic growth.

Once in Government the PNCR intends to revive the comatose economy and put Guyana back at work in the shortest time possible. The focus will be on rapid job creation in those sectors of the economy that lend themselves to ‘fast-tracking’ and are essentially labour-intensive. The objective is to bring on stream, a steady flow of jobs by stimulating private sector investment – both new investment and re-investment – and by increasing public works.

To boost investment we will target as three (3) separate major sources:

1. Foreign direct investors
2. Guyanese diaspora investors
3. Local private sector investors

New jobs will include all categories of employment covering the self-employed, owner operators, company employees, apprenticeships, trainees, and those seeking part-time employment, i.e. the elderly and housewives, etc.

The PNCR’s Global Economic Development Plan (GEDP) is the beneficiary of:
 a unique exercise in participatory national analysis – the National Development Strategy (NDS),
 investor friendly best practices which were successful during the PNC’s last administration,
 its in-house Guyana 21 Plan which is being updated and improved.

Unlike the PPP/C we are ready and willing to take the bold, innovative steps that will make Guyana a winner in the Global Economy.

Specific strategies designed to create jobs so that the nation’s economic growth path is as labour-intensive as possible include:
 Agriculture and Agro Processing.
 The creation of export processing zones.
 Eco-tourism, heritage and agricultural tourism.
 Expansion of the forestry sector to handle more value-added production.
 Boosting seafood exports and getting more aquaculture projects underway.
 Boosting airport expansion so that Guyana will become the gateway to South America and an easily accessible and acceptable tourist destination.
 Creating opportunities for greater investment in downstream production within the sugar, rice and bauxite industries.
 Development of the highway from the Brazilian border to Georgetown and creation of a deepwater port.
 Creating a competitive IT Service sector.
 Setting the stage for the expansion of the mining industry to boost production and increase the value of its primary products by value-added manufacturing and other downstream processing.
 Implementing the updated Guyana 21 Plan by executing several large scale infrastructure projects including bridges over the Berbice and Demerara rivers and a new four-lane highway to the International Airport.

Underpinning the PNCR’s job creation initiative will be a range of training schemes targeting young women and men including those with limited or no marketable skills. Maximum use will be made of existing learning institutions viz schools, technical institutes, community centres, colleges and the University. This comprehensive training programme will be designed and made relevant to the needs of the GEDP.

Training outside established institutions will be encouraged within the private sector as it can achieve this at lower cost than Government and also tends to be more knowledgeable of the requirements of the market.

The PNCR is confident that it has the right policies, the right mind set, the right people to bring prosperity to Guyana.

Above all else it has the right agenda for development; to make things easy for investors.

ELECTION UPDATE

The People’s National Congress Reform remains concerned over the failure of Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to settle essential issues which could impact on public confidence in both the Elections Commission and the electoral arrangement for the forthcoming elections in 2006.

The PNCR has since 2003 fully co-operated with GECOM to enable that body to successfully undertake its responsibilities. The PNCR along with the other Parliamentary Opposition Parties have made several recommendations and held several meetings with GECOM; yet to-date in spite of the passage of the Bill on Continuous Registration in Parliament the stakeholders are none the wiser as to the rules and regulation that will govern this process which is expected to begin on September 1, 2005. Today, August 4, 2005, the Parliament of Guyana is expected to debate a Motion in relation to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Government of Guyana, the Donor Community and GECOM.

The PNCR will, however, have difficulty in supporting the Motion in its present form for reasons which will be elucidated in Parliament. The PNCR considers the MOU to be deficient since it incorporates as one of its annexes the disputed Hathaway Needs Assessment Report. The position of the Opposition Parties on this Report had already been conveyed to GECOM and the Donor Community, but there is no evidence before the Parliament as to which recommendations of that Report are mutually agreed to as necessary. The PNCR cannot therefore support the Motion which does not specify what decisions would be implemented especially in relations to house-to-house verification and the implementation of a methodology as a security feature to prevent multiple registration. The absence of an action plan with a time frame is also not attached to the Motion and the failure of GECOM to provide the Parties with such a plan makes it difficult to support the motion in its present form.

No stone should be left unturned to ensure that GECOM conducts an election of an acceptable standard. Our expectations are very simple and clear.

1. Elections must be held by the constitutionally due time.
2. Elections must be held with a thoroughly cleansed voter’s list.
3. There must be a proper system of biometric checks.
4. There must be equitable use of the state media: on this matter the recently held General Council of the PNCR gave specific directives which the Party Leadership will be resolutely implementing.
5. The PNCR will hold the government and GECOM accountable if these conditions are not met.

20TH DEATH ANNIVERSARY OF LINDEN FORBES SAMPSON BURNHAM

August 6, 2005 will mark 20 years since the Founder Leader of the People's National Congress and First Executive President, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham passed away. During the next week the PNCR will remember this great man through the following activities:

 Friday, August 5th – Vigil at the Square of the Revolution, 18:00 hrs;
 Saturday August 6th – Laying of Floral Tributes at the Mausoleum, Seven Ponds, Botanical Gardens, 8:00 hrs;
Tribute to LFS Burnham, National Congress of Women Headquarters, Public Road, Kitty, 17:00 hrs;
 Sunday, August 7th – Netball Competition at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall, Homestretch Avenue;
 Monday, August 8th – Domino Competition, Congress Place, Sophia, 18:00 hrs;
 Friday, August 12th – Public Symposium at National Library Conference Facility, 17:00 hrs;
 Saturday, August 13th – Cycle Road Race from the National Cultural Centre to Belfield and back, 15:00 hrs;
Evening of Poetry and Songs at the Upscale Restaurant, Hincks Street, Georgetown, 20:00 hrs;
 Sunday, August 14th – Memorial Church Service at St. Peter’s AME Church, Almond & New Garden Streets, Queenstown, 10:00 hrs;
Open Air Concert at the Botanical Gardens Band Stand, 15:30 hrs.

The public is invited to these activities.



People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, August 4, 2005