PRESS STATEMENT By the People's National Congress Reform To the Press Conference on Thursday, September 15, 2005 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• We trust that, in the coming 50 years, BANKS DIH will continue to grow, prosper and set the pace for other Guyanese companies to follow;
• President Jagdeo, the man of empty promises, seem congenitally unable to translate promises into implemented programmes, therefore, it should be no surprise to him and his colleagues that his promises have no credibility with Guyanese;
• It is no accident that drug crime is on the increase and is set to dominate our lives as narcotics trade and criminality become increasingly attractive;
• The work at GECOM is marked by indecisiveness, absence of clear approaches, and short attention spans in dealing with major issues.

BANKS DIH: A GUYANESE COMPANY CELEBRATES 50 YEARS OF SOLID ACHIEVEMENT

The PNCR proudly joins all Guyanese in congratulating BANKS DIH on the celebration of 50 years of solid, worthy and truly golden achievement. It is evident that the pioneering and progressive spirit of the late Peter Stanislaus D’Aguiar still stalks the corridors of this exemplar Guyanese Institution.

If the fireworks display is to be our guide, BANKS DIH has continued to place emphasis on the excellence and quality of its performance.

We trust that, in the coming 50 years, BANKS DIH will continue to grow, prosper and set the pace for other Guyanese companies to follow.

GUYANESE WANT DEVELOPMENT NOT MORE JAGDEO PROMISES

The PNCR and all Guyanese want to benefit from growth and development of our economy which generates jobs, incomes, wealth and prosperity. This is what the vision of the late President Hugh Desmond Hoyte was delivering, as a consequence of the economic and social conditions created by the transforming impact of the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP), as part of his legacy to all Guyanese. The Guyana economy was growing at an accelerating rate which was beginning to deliver the economic and social benefits which we all want.

Mr. Hoyte shepherded and nurtured an environment which was “Investor Friendly” and negotiated favourable conditions and agreements with the International Community which were intended to build on the foundations laid by the ERP to sustain growth and development for all Guyanese. The negotiated “Debt Relief and the installation of SIMAP” were intended to add to the economic resources for growth and development while cushioning any adverse effects on the most vulnerable segments of our population. The late President determined that Guyana should be transformed into a socially equitable “Open Society” and that private business, through the encouragement of investment, should become the true “engine for growth” and development of the economy. Business in Guyana was beginning to respond positively as they felt the warm and encouraging breeze of a market driven economy.

Mr. Hoyte recognised the need for a robust “institutional capacity” to sustain the transformation that had become evident to all Guyanese. The Public Service Reform Programme was advancing at a satisfactory pace, the number of Government Ministries were reduced drastically to eleven (11). The Guyana Manufacturing and Industrial Development Agency (GUYMIDA) was converted into a truly “One Stop” Agency to ensure that potential Investors did not have to run the gauntlet of Governmental red tape.

All of this was scrapped by the PPP administration which has continued to be driven by its instinctive anti-business bias and the proclivity of its Leadership to engage in corrupt practices. GUYMIDA was replaced by GO-INVEST (everywhere else but in Guyana!); the number of Government Ministries escalated to previously unknown levels; the Public Service Reform Programme was dumped; and the discretionary powers of Ministers grew to the stage where all power seems vested in Government Ministers many of whom have displayed incompetence and corrupt tendencies.

President Jagdeo, the man of empty promises, seem congenitally unable to translate promises into implemented programmes, therefore, it should be no surprise to him and his colleagues that his promises have no credibility with Guyanese. Perhaps, he is unaware of the wisdom that “you can only fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time!”

Under the direction of President Jagdeo, Guyana has been transformed into what could be described as a virtual Gangster Fiefdom where the drug barons have grown and prospered; where open and undisguised money laundering is the order of the day; where organised crime has grown to unprecedented levels of brazenness; where the levels of poverty and deprivation have grown; where legitimate sources of employment have continued to shrink; where the state owned media has become the propaganda mouthpiece of the Governors; where outward migration has been on the increase; where the young people feel that there is no hope for their future if they remain in Guyana; where white-collar crime and corruption have become endemic; where you can’t believe anything from the highest levels of the Administration; etc, etc.

Is this the Jagdeo legacy to Guyana?

PPP/C’S INACTION ON THE DRUG ISSUE IS GUYANA’S DEADLIEST THREAT

Under Jagdeo’s PPP/C government Guyana has become a shockingly brutal society: almost daily executions, drive-by shootings and robbery under arms have transformed Guyana into a hell on earth. We believe that boxing coach and promoter, Donald Allison, may have been murdered because of the good work he was doing with the youth of Agricola. His charitable interventions among the Agricola community especially through sport must have discouraged many youth from a life of crime. There is reason to believe that the drug underworld may have seen his intervention as interference in their efforts to recruit drug mules, dealers and other operatives from the burgeoning ranks of Agricola’s unemployed and marginalized youth. Allison is the fifth person to be executed following a wave of murderous attacks over the last two weeks.

Drug rule is the order of the day. We link this deterioration to the years of PPP/C misrule and indifference which have exposed all Guyanese to the mercy of forces that need to be challenged directly. The violence in Guyanese society is, in part, the product of PPP/C incompetence at managing the country. As the country’s economy weakens the disadvantaged are pulled into unemployment becoming easy prey for drug traffickers and their intermediaries. A cycle of deprivation is at work that will stunt the lives of hundreds of young Guyanese incubating drug crime and drug dependence.

Increased corruption, narco-criminality, violence and growing international isolation are the hallmarks of PPP rule. All concerned Guyanese, political parties and international agencies must now combine efforts to stop the rot.

To accept that chronic narco-criminality is here to stay and must be woven into the fabric of the Guyanese social experience is to permit a devaluation of the public domain that no party or person in a democracy should accept. Down this road lies civil decay and a new public barbarism.

Jagdeo’s PPP/C pays lip service to fighting drug crime yet so feeble are its measures that no subtlety can exist in its thinking because theirs is a well-defined strategy to manage the media criticism, the political fall-out and the seemingly luke-warm protestations from foreign agencies. But the PPP/C lacks any real commitment to reducing narco-criminality underpinned by a distinctive, coherent and workable plan.

The PPP /C’s National Drug Strategy Master Plan (NDSMP) 2005-2009 is a case in point. Pages 22 -24 mention several Oversight Groups which government claims have been established at the national level to deal with the spiraling trends in the drug problem. We reproduce below exactly what the NDSMP says in print:-

● The National Anti – Narcotics Commission (NANCOM)

- “The Committee has not met for some time”.

● The Joint Intelligence Co – ordination Centre (JICC)

- “JICC has not functioned for some time.”

● The Joint Anti – Narcotic Operations Committee (JANOC)

- “JANOC ought to resume meeting as a Committee in order to Co- ordinate the efforts of law enforcement.”

● The National Council for Drug Education and Rehabilitation and Treatment
(NACDER)

- “For various reasons the Council has not met for sometime and also need (s) to formally schedule meetings…………………”

The Final Drug Oversight Group mentioned in this disturbing drug strategy and plan is the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) which “operates under the guidance of NANCOM and JANOC in the fulfillment of its objectives.” In other words CANU operates under two Oversight Bodies that never meet!

It is no accident, therefore, that drug crime is on the increase and is set to dominate our lives as narcotics trade and criminality become increasingly attractive as alternative sources of livelihood (particularly to our youth) and drug lords gain even more influence over the ruling party. The PNCR sees the PPP/C’s lack of political will in dealing with the drug problem as proof, incontrovertible, of a sinister accommodation – a marriage of convenience.

This is troubling as far as it goes, but still begs the larger political question. A robust anti – drug strategy requires considerable government spending not just on material resources but on increased salaries, remuneration, and general conditions of personnel attached to our drug enforcement agencies. It requires also a real commitment to increase integrity, professionalism, competence and effectiveness of the national security apparatus (the GPF, GDF, CANU etc). It begins with the implementation of a programme, through a sustained process, of capacity building and institutional development. But how can any of these goals be achieved if the main players in the security apparatus never meet? The risk is not in finding the resources to stop drug encroachment; rather it lies in doing nothing. The PPP/C’s inaction on this issue presents Guyana with its deadliest threat yet. This is a struggle it stands to lose with repercussions too grim to contemplate for the good citizens of this country. Heaven help us all!

GECOM MUST GET ITS ACT TOGETHER

In the last week, the PNCR was among recipients of a copy of a memo sent to GECOM Chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally, by three GECOM commissioners: Lloyd Joseph, Haslyn Parris and Robert Williams. These commissioners commented in the memo on issues raised by the Opposition Leader in his Broadcast to the Nation on Friday, 2 September, 2005. Members of the media are no doubt aware of the contents of this memo.

The memo confirms the PNCR’s stated conclusions that the election preparation process at GECOM is in a state of crisis. Several keys issues are still to be resolved and several preliminary tasks are still to be undertaken. The work at the commission is marked by indecisiveness, absence of clear approaches, and short attention spans in dealing with major issues.

The unresolved issues that the three commissioners highlighted in their memo bear repeating:

• the absence of an election preparation timetable outlining the tasks to be done, the timelines for doing these tasks, the costs associated with the tasks, etc;

• the absence of decisions on the methodology to produce a clean voters list -– a list devoid of dead and migrated Guyanese and inclusive of new registrants;

• the role of digital fingerprint [biometrics];

• the method of collection and transmission of information provided by registrants;

• the absence of regulations governing continuous registration; and

• the location, equipping and security of GECOM registration offices countrywide.

GECOM, under the chairmanship of Steve Surujbally, has so dilly-dallied on these and other issues that the election preparation process is in danger of derailing. This must not be allowed to happen. The Guyanese people must demand better.

For the situation at GECOM to emerge from its state of disorientation and disarray, GECOM must, at minimum, change its corporate culture. In particular, we call on its chairman to stop playing games and to instead set and pursue a high vision for the commission – a vision that must include producing a registration and election process of unchallengeable standard, which incorporates the more recent best practices.

At a more mundane level, the PNCR calls on GECOM to take the following initial steps to get back on track:

1. Hold more regular meetings. We believe GECOM must meet several times a week.
2. Waste less time at meetings amending the minutes of previous meetings. It is scandalous that an agency with so many important decisions to make can oft-times spend close to two hours correcting minutes. A more experienced note-taker should be employed.
3. Insist on regaining its constitutionally-guaranteed independence. The work at GECOM will continue to be hamstrung if it remains a “budget agency” under the Ministry of Finance.
4. Increase its technical research capability. Many of the unresolved issues at GECOM, such as biometrics, can be settled by a thorough investigation of the experience and practice in other countries. Unfounded statements on biometrics and other matters can therefore be dismissed by objective evidence.
In addition, the PNCR supports the position of the three commissioners that the timely resolution of these unresolved issues could benefit from expressions of interests, concerns and constructive proposals from the wider society, in particular civic groups.

GECOM must get its act together.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, September 15, 2005