PRESS STATEMENT By the People's National Congress Reform To the Press Conference on Thursday, October 6, 2005 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR is actively continuing its programmes to help mould healthy and productive youths;
• Let us be more reflective and conscious of the needs of senior citizens so that our observances can be more meaningful;
• The brazen and impudent removal of a trawler and tankers loaded with smuggled fuel and several trucks from the crime scene is the epitome of lawlessness; a clear indicator that Guyana under the PPP/C is now a failing state;
• In this year’s global competitiveness rankings, an index produced annually by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Guyana placed 115th among the 117 countries assessed;
• The PNCR stands ready to heed the call of the Indigenous Peoples and to represent their cause in the National Assembly;
• The Party’s continues its commitment to shared governance and to the National Development Strategy as a platform on which all stakeholders can together stand and build;
• While the PNCR is committed to the holding of elections of an acceptable standard by the constitutionally due date, we will not, however, be hoodwinked into elections that cannot stand public scrutiny.

MENTORSHIP SCHEME

The Georgetown District Awards and Mentorship Scheme, which was launched in 2001, will be holding its fourth induction, on Sunday, October 9, 2005 at the City Hall. The Scheme is intended to provide mentoring for new secondary school students through to the end of their Secondary School sojourn. The idea is to help them to cope with secondary education; provide them with an additional opportunity to acquire life skills; assist in their character development; and to make out of them patriotic Guyanese. This is but one of the PNCR’s social interventions in its effort to help mould a healthy and productive nation while addressing the concerns of the nation’s youths.

SALUTE TO SENIOR CITIZENS

The Human Services Department of the PNCR pays tribute to our Senior Citizens throughout the month of October 2005. We take this opportunity to recognize their positive contributions to building this nation.

Throughout this month the Human Services Department will be honouring our seniors in all of the Regions with several activities such as providing breakfasts, beauty makeovers, birthday celebrations, distribution of food and medical hampers.

However, even as we celebrate we must undertake a review of the Social Security System as it relates to the retirement age and superannuation benefits for our seniors. Let us also ensure that we are always helpful, courteous and showing care for these our elders.

Today, with advances both in medical technology and in health care practices people live much longer on average. We need to take this reality into consideration for our long term planning efforts if the quality of life is to be maintained.

Let us all reach out to our seniors, let us really honour those who have served us. Remember what goes around must come around. Pensioners, senior citizens, call them what you like, are people too and worthy of consideration and support. Let us be more reflective and conscious of the needs of senior citizens so that our observances can be more meaningful.

GUYANA THE EPITOME OF LAWLESSNESS

The brazen and impudent removal of a trawler and tankers loaded with smuggled fuel and several trucks from the scene of the crime is the epitome of lawlessness; a clear indicator that Guyana under the PPP/C is now a rogue state.

This wanton act confirms that the ‘Rule of Law’ has reached its nadir and no longer holds sway in Guyana. Instead, renegades and other minions, spawned by the PPP/C’s abysmal record on governance, stalk our dear land, feeding voraciously on our assets and treasured values with the connivance of the PPP/C’s government.

Criminals perpetrating such bold acts of criminality do so, secure in the knowledge that they could get away with it under the PPP/C government. How else can one explain the Guyflag scam? Posing as a representative of the Catholic Church in Guyana in the $400M insurance scam, their greed blinding them to the fact that re-insurance companies rarely act without reports/advice from their army of investigators, and thereby it could easily expose their charade. So too the stone scam, the remigrations scam, the dolphin scam amongst others.

This stealing of the evidence from the crime scene, after the offenders had made a Court appearance, is unacceptable and cannot be countenanced. It strikes at the very root of our Justice System.

Heaven forbid that criminals may now begin to think nothing of making armed forays into Police Stations to remove evidence, including narcotics in this Narco State of ours.

GUYANA AT VERY BOTTOM OF WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM’S 2005 GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS RANKINGS

In the 2005 Global Competitiveness Rankings, an index produced annually by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Guyana placed 115th among the 117 countries assessed. The WEF report was released in the last week of September 2005. Guyana’s ranking places it in the company of such countries as Chad, Benin, Paraguay, Cambodia and Cameroon. The competitiveness rankings are based on an examination of three broad components in each country:

1. The overall quality of a country's economy at the macro level;
2. The state of its public institutions, which includes such measures as the independence of the judiciary and the level of public-sector corruption; and
3. The level of its technological readiness and innovation.

According to the World Economic Forum, it “has been producing The Global Competitiveness Report for 26 years, and its unique mix of hard and soft data has made it possible to accurately capture the broad range of factors seen to be essential to a better understanding of the determinants of growth. Each year it has delivered a comprehensive overview of the main strengths and weaknesses in a large number of countries, making it possible to identify key areas for reform and policy formulation.”

At a time when the ruling party in Guyana strives to convince us of its “achievements”, after 13 years in office, this news from an internationally-respected source merely reflects the general consensus among Guyanese. Our economy is rudderless, stagnant and on life-support. Our public institutions continue to suffer from government manipulation, heavy-handiness and out-of-control corruption. Our society as a whole is racked by a sense of hopelessness: as crime; moral decay; and declining social services take their toll.

In short, the PPP/C has failed to create the social, legal and political environment needed to attract any substantial and legitimate investment, from either local or international sources.

AMERINDIAN BILL

The Indigenous Peoples of Guyana have been reduced, by the PPP/C, to mere elements of its propaganda. Last month there was the celebration of Amerindian Heritage Month with much fanfare and publicity. The celebrations were, however, devalued by the PPP/C’s insistence on using the occasion to peddle its propaganda. For example, they continued to tout that they were the ones to appoint the first Minister of Amerindian Affairs when the records are there to show that Mr. Philip Duncan was the first such Minister. To crown it all they attempted to tell the world that Amerindians were not recognized as people, in Guyana, prior to 1992. They have also claimed that programmes such as the Hinterland Scholarships are their initiative when in fact the programme was conceptualized and implemented under the Burnham PNC regime.

It is in this same vein that the PPP/C is touting the Amerindian Bill as more evidence of their recognition of and concern for our Indigenous Peoples. The stark reality is that the Bill has ignored the most critical issues of concern to the Indigenous Peoples. It has not addressed the land issue, for which the Indigenous Peoples have lobbied. It has also not addressed the issue of governance and self-determination of the Indigenous Peoples. In addition it does not comply with the Constitution, which specifies that local authorities should benefit from allocations of funds from the coffers of the Central Government through the application of a formula enshrined in the law for such purposes.

The PPP/C regime has even refused to countenance the cries of all of our brothers and sisters to be referred to as Indigenous People rather than Amerindians. To the nation’s horror PPP/C has launched a vicious and vulgar attack on the Indigenous Peoples organizations, which have utilised their constitutional right to express their dissatisfaction with the Bill when no less than President Jagdeo said that their complaints were not genuine but aimed at receiving money from agencies abroad. This act reeks of contempt for our Indigenous Peoples and must be condemned by all self respecting Guyanese.

The PNCR stands ready to heed the call of the Indigenous Peoples and to represent their cause in the National Assembly. To this end the PNCR has already held consultations with the Indigenous Peoples organizations. The PNCR will lend its support to their cause in any way that could result in them achieving their goals and aspirations.

The PPP/C is challenged to show its commitment to the establishment of an effectively functioning DEMOCRACY in Guyana, which its propaganda machine and spin doctors are unashamedly pretending exists.

Who are they trying to fool?

PNCR ENCOURAGED BY THE RECENT CONCRETE STEPS TO BUILD COALITION POLITICAL ARRANGEMENTS

Over the past few months, there has been much newspaper coverage and public discussion of the efforts, by various opposition parties, to form political alliances and working partnerships. The PNCR is encouraged by these developments. As the party who continues to champion the necessity for shared governance in Guyana, the PNCR believes that alliances among parties can form the groundwork for the full realization of a government in Guyana that is all-inclusive and participatory. As Mr. Robert Corbin, Leader of the PNCR, declared at the Party’s 14th Biennial Congress, held in August 2004, under the theme Building a Platform for Peace, National Cohesion and Reconstruction:

[Guyana] must have a government that is as broad based as possible and that is flexible enough to bring on board its platform, for the reform of governance, all ideas, all realistic proposals, all patriotic elements and all who are willing to work with us for a better Guyana.

The PNCR must make it clear to the nation that we stand ready and committed to a platform of Shared Governance and Inclusivity. We must make it clear that we are willing to share Executive Authority and to explore and negotiate imaginative forms of governance and reform of our national, regional and local governments to ensure that the goal of full inclusivity is realized. We must make it clear to the nation that we will stand ready to discuss, without precondition, the basis of our development strategy in an all inclusive arrangement in which every relevant stakeholder will participate. We are not isolated nor are we original on this matter.”

The PNCR’s approach and attitude to the current efforts at coalition building are, therefore, underpinned by the party’s continued commitment to shared governance and to its acceptance of the National Development Strategy as a development platform on which all stakeholders can together stand and build on.

The PNCR will persist in exploring all possibilities on this front. We are driven by the understanding that ultimately it is Guyana and Guyanese that will benefit from political parties working together. The feedback from ordinary Guyanese and civil society has motivated us to pursue this option vigorously. We do not intend to drop the ball.

Our minimum objectives therefore in the coming months will continue to be:

 Concretizing the discussions on coalition building among opposition parties;
 Ensuring GECOM delivers an acceptable election process, inclusive of house-to-house verification and biometrics;
 Developing and publicly discussing our programs and policies for economic and social advancement of Guyana;
 Offering relief to, and defending the rights of citizens, in the face of continued PPP/C’s mis-governance and paranoia.

ELECTIONS UPDATE

House-to-House Verification of the 2001 OLE:
Mr. K. Afari-Gyan, Joint International Technical Assessor (JITA) in his second report, to the donor community, dated 15 August 2005, on GECOM and its preparedness to hold elections before the constitutional date in 2006, stated on page 2, under the heading “House-to-house Verification”, “It is time the GECOM made a firm decision about house-to-house verification of the persons currently on the Official List of Electors (OLE) and make it public.” The PNCR would like to associate itself with this recommendation of the JITA, Mr. Afari-Gyan.

It must be noted that there are no legal prohibitions that stand in the way of GECOM to commence house-to-house verification of the 2001 Official List of Electors and its Addendum. GECOM was given this power and authority by the Parliament of Guyana since 14 July 2005 via the National Registration (Amendment) Act 2005. This Act was assented to by President Bharrat Jagdeo on 4 August 2005. Clause (6A) of the Act states “The Elections Commission shall use the Official List of Electors (OLE) from the 2001 General and Regional Elections as the base to commence Continuous Registration: Provided that at any stage the Commission may undertake such verification as necessary by a means to be determined by the Commission.”

Since there are no legal obstacles preventing GECOM from commencing a house-to-house verification of the 2001 OLE, the PNCR calls on GECOM to immediately inform the nation when this exercise will commence and what methodology and/or procedure they will utilise to effect this task which they are already empowered to undertake.

Even before the passing of the National Registration (Amendment) Act 2005, at a meeting with the Joint Opposition Parties and GECOM, in the month of May 2005, the Chief Elections Officer informed that meeting that his intention was to verify the identity and residency of every name that is on the 2001 OLE and its Addendum.

On 13 September 2005, the IT Manager, in a Memo addressed to the Chief Elections Officer, recommended a methodology that can be undertaken by GECOM to verify the 2001 OLE and its Addendum. The PNCR, other stakeholders and the entire nation would like to be informed by GECOM when a house-to-house verification of the 2001 OLE would commence.

The PNCR would like to reiterate its oft stated position that there can be no short cut to a house-to-house verification of the 2001 OLE and its Addendum, which is to be used as a base to commence Continuous Registration, as prescribed by ACT #14 of 2005. The PNCR once again restate it’s position that a house-to-house verification of the 2001 OLE and its Addendum is an essential requirement for the creation of an electoral list that is of an acceptable international standard.

Methodology To Detect And Prevent Multiple Registrations:
The need for a methodology to prevent and detect multiple registrations has been a matter of discussion, at GECOM`s initiation, for the past two (2) years. GECOM is on record, some years ago, acknowledging that there exist the problems of multiple registrations. GECOM, about a year ago, attempted, via its Concept Paper on Continuous Registration, to propose a remedy. GECOM proposed live scan (biometrics) finger-printing and crossing referencing. After its proposal GECOM has procrastinated, over the last several months, refusing to put in place the necessary and available methodology to remedy this acknowledged problem. GECOM has even behaved as if BIOMETRICS, the term used to describe crossing referencing of live scanned finger prints, is either none existent or completely unreliable, even though it is well known that this technology has been perfected and successfully used by the Jamaicans at home and in many other countries abroad, e.g. Haiti, where it is now being effectively used. It is, therefore, nothing short of conspiracy for GECOM to now suggest that if the use of such technology will delay the elections beyond the constitutionally due date that it will not be utilized in 2006. GECOM has to bear the responsibility for any such delay.

Some three weeks ago the nation was informed by GECOM’s Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally that GECOM has sent out letters inviting companies and organisations with the necessary technology and skill to submit proposals for undertaking this exercise.

GECOM is still to inform the nation as to what progress it has made on this most relevant issue. The PNCR calls on GECOM to urgently report to the nation on the progress it has made in its efforts for the acquisition of a methodology/technology that it will use to implement its system for the prevention and detection of multiple registration and when such a methodology would be publicly explained.

Where is the GECOM Project Plan?
the Joint Opposition Parties in a letter dated August 19, 2005 queried the specific issue of a Project Plan with timelines to effect the holding of elections within the 2006 constitutional deadline. The Chairman of GECOM, Dr. Steve Surujbally, in his letter dated August 26, 2005: “We were experiencing some difficulties with the establishment of the list of activities, timelines and the critical path analysis pertaining to Continuous Registration Project. However, by the end of the next week, the final workable document should be in our hands. This, of course will be shared with you immediately.” Today, October 6, 2005, Dr. Surujbally is yet to fulfill his promise. By the refusal of the Chairman of GECOM to honour his promise on this specific matter, we can infer that either there is no plan or there is a plan that cannot stand public scrutiny. The PNCR, however, would urge Dr. Surujbally to make the GECOM Project Plan, for the holding of the 2006 National and Regional Elections, available to all stakeholders and the nation immediately.

The PNCR is committed to the holding of elections of an acceptable international standard by the constitutionally due date. We will not, however, be hoodwinked into elections that do not meet those standards.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday, October 06, 2005