PRESS STATEMENT By the People's National Congress Reform To the Press Conference on Thursday, August 25, 2005 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY;
• The People’s National Congress Reform extends its profound sympathy to the immediate family of Mr. Claude Geddes, as well as to his wide circle of friends and associates and joins with them in mourning his passing.
• The President and his pandering cohorts must be aware of the devastating impact which the cost of petrol, inflated by the unconscionable level of the Consumption tax, is having on the cost-of-living, particularly for the growing population of Guyanese condemned to poverty by the incompetent and corrupt policies and practices of this regime.
• The PNCR has consistently remarked on the dangerous practice of the PPP/C regime in allowing public servants in prominent civil office to stand for and accept political office in their party.
• The PNCR is in the process of developing its own 5-year plan for reducing crime. A first draft entitled “Cutting Crime, Restoring Safe Communities” is now available. It is a strategic and living plan for crime reduction 2006 – 2011, which sets out the Party’s approach to cutting crime.
• No stone should be left unturned to ensure that GECOM conducts an election of an acceptable standard.

TRIBUTE TO MR. CLAUDE LESLIE GEDDES

Ardent supporter of the People’s National Congress Reform and former People’s National Congress Member of Parliament, 1985 to 1992, Mr. Claude Leslie Geddes passed away on Friday August 19, 2005, after a period of illness.

Mr. Claude Geddes was also a pioneer in the Foundry business and Managing Director of Brass Aluminum and Cast Iron Foundry.

The People’s National Congress Reform extends its profound sympathy to his immediate family, as well as to his wide circle of friends and associates and joins with them in mourning his passing.

As a Parliamentarian his main interests were developmental and related to the fabrication of spare parts and implements for the development of the National Economy. He was an innovator and his organization obtained and held patents for many Brass Aluminum inventions for which it received national recognition with the award of the Medal of Service (MS). He genuinely believed that there is no such thing as waste materials and therefore recycling was to him a most important approach in the country’s development thrust.

A philanthropist, Claude Geddes was renowned for his support of worthy causes and, as a result, became associated with the work and efforts of several people centered organizations both national and international.

His was a lifetime of service to his family, his countrymen and to God. Of him the injunction of the Apostle Paul as recorded in 2nd Timothy Chapter 4 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day”, is most appropriate.

May his soul rest in Peace!

GUYANESE SUFFERING FROM JAGDEO’S CALLOUSNESS

It is bordering on sadism that President Jagdeo continues to traipse around the country lawlessly pretending generosity with funds resulting from the windfall increase in Government revenue, as a consequence of the Consumption tax imposed on the rising import prices for petroleum fuels.

The President and his pandering cohorts must be aware of the devastating impact which the cost of petrol, inflated by the unconscionable level of the Consumption tax, is having on the cost-of-living, particularly for the growing population of Guyanese condemned to poverty by the incompetent and corrupt policies and practices of this regime. They have done nothing to bring relief to the suffering Guyanese.

The working poor Public Servants and other government employees continue to be punished by the shameful imposition of starvation wages by a Not-Me Government which blames the IFIs for its own callousness while its revenue coffers are swollen by the escalating revenue from the Consumption tax on imported petroleum fuels. What is the Government doing about using this windfall to bring relief to the people?

Why hasn’t the PPP/C Government, since their accession to office in 1992, presented to the National Assembly and implemented a National Energy Policy, in the face of their own recognition and admission that this is a serious drain on the Country’s foreign exchange resources? A sound and serious National Energy Policy would have included short, medium and long term programmes for:

 Increasing the efficiency of use of energy, including the insistence on the importation of energy efficient equipment and accessories;
 Energy conservation;
 The substitution of energy from new and renewable sources such as: Hydro-power (mini as well as large scale); solar for electricity, water heating and agro-processing; the use of agricultural wastes such as bagasse, rice husks, etc; Bio-gas production from agricultural wastes, land-fill sites, distillery wastes and the distillation of sugarcane juice; the use of forestry wastes; etc.

The Government inherited the Guyana National Energy Authority and the legal powers to undertake all necessary activities to bring relief to the nation through a well thought out programme for reducing the national dependence on imported petroleum fuels. The fact that this has not happened is testimony to the lack of vision and backwardness of the Jagdeo regime.

The Government should be ashamed to acknowledge that it is now cheaper for the major industries in Guyana (DDL, Banks DIH, etc) to produce their own electricity than to buy grid-based power from the inefficient and unreliable State owned GPL. This is a serious manifestation of the failures of the Jagdeo regime to recognise that it is their responsibility to ensure that there is an affordable, reliable and stable supply of electricity to power the production of goods and services in Guyana. Perhaps, it is the intention of the regime to continue the perpetuation of poverty, malnutrition and destitution among large segments of the population. How much more callous could this regime get?

POLITICALLY PARTISAN PERMANENT SECRETARIES AND OTHER PUBLIC SERVANTS

The PNCR has consistently remarked on the dangerous practice of the PPP/C regime in allowing Public Servants in prominent civil office to stand for and accept political office in their Party. We recall the objections raised by the PNCR to the presence of Dr Roger Luncheon as a candidate for parliamentary elections and a prominent member of his Party’s central committee.

At the last PPP/C Congress, three senior public servants were elected or appointed to office in the PPP/C. That Mrs. Mitra Ally, Mr. Ganesh Persaud and Mr. Hyder Ally are office holders in the PPP/C, is a dangerous practice which contributes to the undermining of the effectiveness and neutrality of the Public Service.

Members of the Public Service have a democratic right to their political opinions and beliefs. However, for them to campaign for and accept political office while at the same time continuing to hold public office is a practice which contributes to the undermining of internationally accepted standards of good governance.

This is so for three reasons:
 Senior Public Servants are expected, as part of their professional duties, to advise ministers on matters of public policy and to be free and able to advise against politically approved policy where they, in their wisdom and experience and with their greater command of the data, believe that a proposed policy is not in the national interest. Where a Public Servant is part of the political decision making process, there is no professional distancing from the political decisions which allows politically expedient or desirable policies which are technically unsound to be implemented.

 Members of the public and civil society do not all support an elected government. For members of the Public Service to be publicly identified with a political party, citizens who may not have supported that government or who have decided to switch their allegiances since a previous election may, with justification, feel marginalized and threatened by the Public Service which is intended to serve them with neutrality.

 When the Government changes in 2006, Public Servants who have made overt political affiliations cannot claim to have been professionally neutral servants of the public which will greatly complicate the changeover of authority and the transition for a new Government.

CRIME TAKES CENTRE STAGE AGAIN AS THE CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST

The PNCR holds firmly to one overriding principle – that all persons living in or visiting Guyana have a right to enjoy an environment free from crime and the fear of crime. For too long this has not been the case. While Jagdeo tours the country trading gifts for votes, high crime rates and particularly gun crimes are damaging confidence in the law enforcement and the judicial process.

Vigilantism is rearing its desperate head again as an intimidated public become aware of the vacuum in government thinking about how to tackle criminality or to respond to the increasing threats of organized crime.

There can be little doubt that Government’s inaction and lethargy in dealing frontally with the crime problem has emboldened the bandits and fuelled the present resurgence in crime. The PNCR sees this as more than a failure of political will. Government’s failure to implement most of the 164 recommendations and suggestions contained in the Disciplined Forces Commission Report of May 2004 signals a cavalier attitude to crime and the consequences of crime.

The PPP/C’s unwillingness to increase police pay, invest in modern intelligence gathering or in up-grading our Police Force beyond the token gestures we are all familiar with, has weakened morale as well as the capability and resolve of the Police to combat organized crime in a systematic and formidable way. As a result, crime and criminality have got ahead of the capacity of the Police system to defend the overwhelming majority of decent, law-abiding citizens.

Our police are using the same old-fashioned methods and equipment against different and more sophisticated types of organized criminal enterprises apart from petty crime; the same limited strategies to tackle a more violent and determined type of criminal, while the needs of victims, witnesses and whole communities are being ignored.

There is a growing recognition that institutionalized corruption and the culture of greed which characterize the PPP/C Administration are the bearers of a gene which reproduces a criminal class so deformed that they are willing to kill and plunder without hesitation or remorse. In a sense, the chickens are coming home to roost.

Years of high unemployment; lack of imagination in devising programmes to generate growth and development and the absence of social institutions for youth to be trained and better integrated into society; government’s own lawlessness and failure to curb corruption or even bring to book any government official involved in obvious corrupt practices; paralysis in disconnecting the close links between the drug barons and officialdom; the complacency inherent in dealing with white collar crime and government’s active involvement in gun proliferation – all these failures, shortcomings and denials have contributed to the explosive growth of organized crime and the orgy of violence playing out in the streets, in places of business and in homes.

The PNCR recognizes that though the Police may have some capacity to deal with certain aspects of the crime problem, and will continuously develop initiatives and strategies to combat existing and new situations as they arise, the absence of a definitive long-term public security plan to cut crime is already limiting its operational success. It is the Jagdeo Government’s responsibility to formulate a comprehensive crime reduction policy that can work and to provide funds and other necessary resources for its implementation.

The advice of the Minister of Home Affairs to businesspersons to protect themselves is tantamount to passing the buck. This dereliction of duty has already resulted in a ghoulish advertisement exhorting the business community to “SHOW NO MERCY”. It is also clear that alternative death squads are being considered in a desperate attempt to protect and get even.

While the PNCR empathizes with all victims of crime and their families and loved ones, it does not believe that these knee-jerk, ill-considered reactions will produce solutions or results that are sustainable without knock-on effects on the more vulnerable members of society who lack the means or inclination to defend themselves.

The PNCR is in the process of developing its own 5-year plan for reducing crime. A first draft entitled “Cutting Crime, Restoring Safe Communities” is now available. It is a strategic and living plan for crime reduction 2006 – 2011, which sets out the Party’s approach to cutting crime. It describes where Guyana is now and our plans to drive crime down. The CRP (Crime Reduction Plan) summarizes our approach in 8 main areas under Section “A”. Section “B” deals with the greatest threat to Guyana’s sovereignty, citizens and political system – the growing drug problem. The CRP deals with the practical steps we will take to deal with important issues including:

• Gun crime
• Building confidence in the GPF
• Crime reduction partnerships
• Gangs of Guyana
• Racially motivated crime
• Cycle, horse and ATV patrols
• Deportees
• Police Oversight
• Multilateral cooperation
• Organised crime
• Rapid response ‘crack’ unit
• Information technology
• Community Crime Reduction Centers
• Extra judicial killing
• Buxton
• Narco criminality

The CRP is an action plan intended to complement the recommendations set out in the Disciplined Forces Commission Report. It puts teeth to this well thought out document and ensures that the needs and concerns of ordinary Guyanese are at the forefront of our Anti-Crime initiative.

The PNCR does not underestimate the value and importance of collaboration and cooperation between all stakeholders in forging new thinking about how we will tackle this socially and psychologically corrosive evil. A mutuality of interests is emerging with clear roles for civil society, political parties, the church, the private sector and others. We fully support this type of joint approach and consultation and see it as no less important for fostering positive change, equally important as is the formulation of a sustainable holistic plan for the medium long term eradication of this evil from our midst.

ELECTIONS UPDATE

Over the last week the Joint Opposition Parliamentary Parties have held consultations with the three (3) Commissioners representing the Opposition Parties at GECOM. Coming out of those consultations it was determined that the Opposition Commissioners should seek to clarify with the Chairman, Mr. Steve Surujbally, the many pending issues that are to be resolved for elections to be held by the constitutionally due date of August, 2006.

These issues are:
1. Laws related to GECOM’s Autonomy - Modification & Full Application
1.1 The current impact on GECOM’s capital budget (e.g the non-acquisition of UPS, Surge Protectors, generators for the computer equipment in the 23 registration centers);
1.2 How to give effect to Government and GECOM commitments in the MOU, especially information about the current status of the Electoral Process and adequate and timely provision of funds for implementation of the required programme.
2. Regulations associated with amendments to National Registration (Amendment) Act 2005:
2.1 Content, when would they be made available and approved by the National Assembly, given that it is in recess until 10 October;
2.2 Order to be made by GECOM for the starting date of Continuous Registration;
3. Implementation of Continuous Registration:
3.1 Use of unamended OLE+Addendum for comparison with new applicants (includes permission to open database on existing servers & activation of IT Monitoring Panel);
3.2 Methodology for verification of OLE+Addendum;
3.3 Methodology for correction of OLE+Addendum (including treatment of 3,000 persons for whom registration information was collected but who never made it onto either the OLE or the Addendum);
3.4 Methodology for creation of Database of New Registrants (including photographs, fingerprints) in preparation for merging with sanitized OLE+Addendum;
3.5 Information to be provided on searchable CD to PNCR with regard to the Voters Lists (GECOM’s specific answers to Fields requested etc.)
3.6 Training of Scrutineers;

3.7 Method of keeping the Commissioner of Police apprised of Security requirements and status of the Registration Exercise (including security of Registration Centers)
4. Status Microsoft Project Plan (Latest version with Timelines)
4.1 Adequacy of Plan;
4.2 How to incorporate this into the MOU ( specific reference to timelines, costs, and sources of financing);
4.3 Administrative arrangements for monitoring the execution of the Plan and for keeping stakeholders apprised of the progress of implementation
4.4 Method of formally keeping the Commissioner of Police in the information loop on the implementation status.
It was also agreed that the Joint Opposition Parliamentary Parties should seek to have an urgent meeting with GECOM. The Joint Opposition Parliamentary Parties wrote to the Chairman on August 19, 2005 seeking an early meeting because of their concern over the slothfulness of GECOM in concluding and implementing necessary decisions that can guarantee free and fair election to be held by the constitutionally due date of August, 2006. The Joint Opposition Parliamentary Parties are still awaiting a response form the Chairman, Mr. Steve Surujbally, about the date on which such a meeting can be held.

Among the issues to be clarified are:

(i) the steps being taken by the Commission to complete the amendments to the subsidiary legislation to the National Registration Act, NRA (Cap. 19:08);
(ii) the methodology for the verification of the OLE allowed by the Act;
(iii) the methodology for the creation of the Database of New Registrants, including photographs and fingerprints;
(iv) the training of Scrutineers; and
(v) the Project plan and timelines.

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.


People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, August 25, 2005