PRESS STATEMENT By the People's National Congress Reform To the Press Conference on Thursday, November 17, 2005 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
 The proposed amendments to the High Court Act has laid bare, for Guyana, the Region and the Diplomatic Community, the depths the Jagdeo regime is prepared to go to destroy the sacred and sacrosanct principle of the separation of the powers and functions of the Legislature, the Executive and the Judicature;
 The scandal of the youth choice initiative demonstrates the government's disdain for transparency and sustainability;
 The PNCR reiterates its call for GECOM to introduce crossing matching of fingerprints, as a mechanism to ensure that there is no multiple-registration.

THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE HIGH COURT ACT

On Thursday, November 10, 2005, the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Doodnauth Singh, S.C. laid the High Court (Amendment) Bill 2005 in the National Assembly. The first sentence of the Explanatory Memorandum of the Bill states:

“This Bill seeks to amend the High Court Act to relieve the Chief Justice of his duties under sections 66, 76 and 77 and confer those powers on the Chancellor”

The PNCR condemns in the strongest possible way this unconstitutional and immoral act on the part of the Jagdeo regime which seeks to emasculate and render nugatory the letter and spirit of article 125 and other sections of our Constitution by a most immoral and disgraceful act. This amendment if passed will also further lower the efficiency of the administration of justice as it will vest in one office the administrative duties for the Magistrate’s courts, the High Court and the Court of Appeal. This heavy administrative burden will leave the Chancellor little time to do judicial work as he will be preoccupied “policing” the Magistrates, the Chief Justice, the Puisne Judges and the Court of Appeal Judges.

The proposed amendments to the High Court Act has laid bare, for Guyana, the Region and the Diplomatic Community, the depths the Jagdeo regime is prepared to go to destroy the sacred and sacrosanct principle of the separation of the powers and functions of the Legislature, the Executive and the Judicature, a principle that is essential in any modern democracy.

It is public knowledge that President Jagdeo favours the incumbent Chief Justice for the post of Chancellor. It is also public knowledge that the President does not favour the most senior Justice of Appeal being appointed to either the office of Chancellor or Chief Justice. The most senior Justice of Appeal was already bypassed in the last appointment of Chief Justice. So embarrassed was the Jagdeo Administration that they sought to compensate by paying that person an allowance to compensate for the injustice. How does the Jagdeo regime get past the most senior Justice of Appeal again? The regime therefore seeks to “denude” the office of the Chief Justice by conferring on the Chancellor all the important administrative functions of the Chief Justice and having so “denuded” the office of the Chief Justice we expect President Jagdeo to suddenly find time to meet with the Leader of the Opposition, in a effort to reach agreement on the appointment of the Chancellor and a “disemboweled” Chief Justice. This latest move by the Jagdeo regime raises grave concerns for the independence of the Judiciary and the constitutional offices of the Chancellor and Chief Justice and may well lead to the perception that President Jagdeo’s candidate for the post of Chancellor is “government friendly.”

The PNCR will not stand idly by and allow the proposed amendments to the High Court Act to become law. We will use all avenues including the media, pickets and constitutional challenges to prevent this travesty of justice. We will also formally bring the proposed amendments to the High Court Act to the attention of the IDB which has in recent years invested huge sums of money and expertise to enhance the administration of justice in Guyana. We call on the Guyana Bar Association, the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers, Civil Society and all right minded Guyanese to stand up and raise your voices against this unconstitutional and immoral amendment.

THE PRESIDENT YOUTH CHOICE INITIATIVE: WHAT A SCANDAL

The People’s National Congress Reform wishes to congratulate the Stabroek News for its timely exposé of the scandalous situation surrounding the squander mania that characterises the President’s Youth Choice Initiative. Our Party has for some time been pointing out to the nation that the very basis of the funding of this debacle was flawed, illegal and unconstitutional. The raid of the lotto funds by the government to fund this programme, without going through the necessary procedures and the refusal of the government to place the lotto funds in the Consolidated Fund is well known. The government chose instead to use the lotto funds as a privy purse of the President to splash the money of the people of Guyana on the whims and the fancies of Mr. Jagdeo.

The Youth Choice debacle has many lessons for us in Guyana:

 It illustrates the depths to which we can sink as a nation when lawlessness and unconstitutionality are allowed to flourish.
 It demonstrates the level of waste and irregularity which pervades the governmental system

The implications about the government’s policies must also be highlighted. It has been one of the hallmarks of the PPP/C government that it is content to throw money at problems without regard for the institutional and human developmental elements of the development problem at hand. In other words, if there are problems of youth development, spend a large sum of money regardless of the appropriateness of the policy, the readiness of the communities, the lack of proper professional and institutional support and the weaknesses of the national and other local and governmental systems.

Secondly, no thought is given to sustainability of the projects. This is a government that is content to build schools where they have no teachers. Build so called youth centres where the proper community development work has not been done and where the trained staff necessary for modern youth work is obviously lacking. There is no doubt that there needs to be a coordinated and comprehensive youth development programme in Guyana. For that reason, the PNCR places a high priority in that area in its policies for the new government.

We should also recognise that the emphasis on construction at all costs in government planning, reflects the well known phenomenon that it is much easier to divert state funds to personal pockets from massive construction than from human centred programmes.

The responses and policy positions of the government in the face of the publication of this scandal will make very amazing reading for historians who may choose to study the failures of the PPP/C regime. For a senior government spokesman to make as yet undenied statements of policy to the effect that:

 It is the business of the government to give money for buildings but not to what happens afterwards.
 Youth centres do not open all day.
 That there is no need for electricity since these are country people.

These statements aptly demonstrate the contempt of the government for the people of Guyana and their money.

ELECTION UPDATE

GECOM has eventually embarked on its Public Education programme for the ongoing Continuous Registration. It is reported that in some communities prospective registrants have been heard to say that the elections have already been fixed hence registering is a waste of time. While this is a completely ill founded position, it is in part, an indictment on GECOM since such assertions are indications that there is the lack of public confidence in GECOM`s integrity or ability to deliver free and fair elections.

GECOM`s own posturing has not been helpful in this regard. For example, in the face of its failure to commence Public Education at the time outlined in its own programme of work and in keeping with its undertaking in the Memorandum of Understanding, which it signed with the Donor Community and the Government of Guyana, GECOM issued a statement in which it sought to justify its delinquency by contending that it had made a conscious decision not to commence Public Education before the commencement of Continuous Registration nor during the first few weeks because it recognized “that such an exercise…would likely be accompanied by minor and transient failings”. This kind of statement can hardly generate public confidence. GECOM must live up to its own plans and commitments if it wishes to gain public respect.

It is in this context that the PNCR reiterates its call for GECOM to introduce crossing matching of fingerprints, as a mechanism to ensure that there is no multiple-registration. Similarly the PNCR calls upon GECOM to deliver on the request for verification of the OLE as a basis of ensuring that previous multiple registrants, the dead and the migrants are removed from the list, thus reducing the possibility of phantom voting. These measures will also allow GECOM to build public confidence, which is so important in our public institutions in general and GECOM in particular. GECOM has a splendid opportunity of contributing to how Guyana can solve difficult problems. The PNCR stands ready to co-operate with all progressive and patriotic forces and looks forward to GECOM for speedy, decisive and confidence building actions.


SHOOTING INCIDENT IN NABACALIS

The People’s National Congress Reform notes that the matter of the alleged brutal slaying of Carl Abrams by a police rank has yet to be resolved.

We are of the view that for the Guyana Police Force to have respect in the community they first must deal justly and efficiently with this matter. If this matter is allowed to fester, the poor relations between the Police Force and some communities can spread. Such a situation inhibits the Force from gathering effective intelligence and receiving the support of the law abiding citizens.

The PNCR calls on the Commissioner of Police to ensure that there is no cover up and allow justice to prevail.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, November 17, 2005