PRESS STATEMENT By Mr E. Lance Carberry, MP People’s National Congress Reform To the Press Conference Tuesday, 14 May 2002 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia.
Freedom House and the Prime Minister are engaged in the final stages of their dastardly scheme to destroy BERMINE and to punish the communities at Kwakwani and Everton, which are dependent on the Bauxite Industry in Berbice. The regime’s acts of political spite and neglect of the communities at Kwakwani, Everton and Linden are motivated by their perception that the residents are not their political supporters. These people therefore have to be punished.
In pursuance of this foul objective, Prime Minister Sam Hinds granted Viceroy Shipping exclusive use of the turning basin in the Berbice River at Crab Island and the mooring facilities located there, even though Viceroy is now removing its transhipment station, the Bulk Venturer, from Guyana. Prime Minister Sam Hinds proceeded with this decision even though he had been warned before he did so of the devastating consequences for shipment of Metallurgical Grade Bauxite (MAZ) from Bermine.
The result is that Viceroy has notified all third parties that they can only have access to the turning basin if they use Viceroy ships at freight rates dictated by them! Viceroy’s rates are higher than those that can be negotiated internationally. They have been granted a monopoly and have begun to hold BERMINE’s customers to ransom.
Consequently Alcoa, BERMINE’s largest customer for metallurgical grade bauxite, has already cancelled one shipment which has cost BERMINE a loss of revenue of US$600,000 and it seems likely that the remaining three (3) shipments (valued at about US$2Mn) for 2002 will also be cancelled. The customers have notified Bermine that unless the turning basin problem is resolved they will not be purchasing any product for the rest of the year. The contracts for 2003 are also in jeopardy! This has inevitably thrown BERMINE into a very damaging cash flow crisis which has already caused the closure of its operations at Kwakwani.
The Regional Chairman of Region 10, Mr. Mortimer Mingo, who visited Kwakwani on Thursday 2002 May 09, reported that he was shocked to discover on his arrival that the entire operations there had been brought to a complete halt and that, as Regional Chairman, no one in the Government, and more particularly the Prime Minister, had informed him of the impending disaster in his Region.
After holding discussions with the Chairman of the Kwakwani Neighbourhood Democratic Council, Mr Edward Mendonza, and the BERMINE Operations Manager at Kwakwani, Mr. Aubrey Bender, he was made aware of the following:
• All BERMINE Contractors, to whom the Kwakwani Mining operations were contracted, had withdrawn their services and equipment from Kwakwani as of Tuesday 2002 May 07. The effect is that all mining operations have ceased;
• All casual employees had been laid off and the remaining work force, estimated at approximately 214 workers, were likely to be terminated shortly without adequate notice;
• BERMINE pensioners at Kwakwani had not received their pension payments for the past three months and no one had indicated when and how they would be paid;
• The supply of fuel available at Kwakwani was only enough to run its emergency services for a few hours. Consequently, the Kwakwani Community had been virtually without electricity since Tuesday 2002 May 07;
• The essential services of Water Supply and the Hospital were severely affected to the extent that it was doubtful whether they could continue to function;
Immediately on learning of the above situation, Mr H. Desmond Hoyte, SC, MP, Leader of the PNCR, Mr. Robert Corbin, Chairman of the Party with the political responsibility for Region 10 and a Team of senior Party executives visited Kwakwani, on Sunday 2002 May 12, to assess the situation confronting the residents of that community who are now facing a disaster, inflicted by the Prime Minister acting at the behest of Freedom House. We can confirm the dismal situation which now exists at Kwakwani.
Prior to this latest demonstration of the callousness which they are capable of, the regime had already reduced Kwakwani to a depressed community. Members of the community are now overcome by despair and despondency. They are very angry at being robbed of their livelihood and face a dismal future. They are demanding to know what would the Government do to relieve their pain and suffering.
There has been a deafening silence from the evidently uncaring Government and the Prime Minister. The people of Kwakwani have received no official information or explanation from any official source or the Government.
You may recall that a year ago, the Prime Minister and the Government wanted to impose the Alcoa proposal for the immediate closure of BERMINE’s Everton Plant and the transfer of its bauxite reserves at Kwakwani to ABC (which was then 50% owned by Alcoa), with the planned loss of almost 600 jobs!
This proposal was rejected by the PNCR nominees on the Joint Bauxite Resuscitation Committee, since it was pointed out that a relatively modest investment for the refurbishing of BERMINE’s calcining kiln at Everton would enable the company to re-enter the attractive Abrasive Grade Bauxite (AAC) market. That would have enhanced the viability of BERMINE by ensuring a diversified and more profitable Product Mix – MAZ, Chemical Grade Bauxite (CGB) and AAC – and optimising the use of its bauxite resources.
ABC, like BERMINE and LINMINE, is now wholly owned by the people of Guyana. Therefore, you would expect the Prime Minister and the regime to seek to make optimum use of these assets for the development and well-being of the people of Guyana. Instead, he has been relentlessly undermining BERMINE, and the Industry as a whole, in favour of arrangements which are designed to underwrite the viability of the foreign companies, BPU Reynolds and Viceroy Shipping. What is their motivation?
The Prime Minister has authorised the drastic reduction of the price of MAZ and the appointment of Southern Star, the owners of Viceroy Shipping, as ABC’s agent for CGB at a US$5.00/mt reduction in price. These acts have not resulted in any significant increase in the sales of MAZ or CGB; instead, they have resulted in the overall reduction of the revenues of the Industry in Guyana. Who is gaining from this?
We can already see the greedy vultures circling and waiting to pounce on the carcass of BERMINE!
The people of the Kwakwani community are now the casualty of the machinations of the Prime Minister and this corrupt government!
The PNCR has, on previous occasions, drawn attention to the sinister elements of the regime’s progrom for Linden.
When the PPP/C came into office in 1992, one of their first acts of spite and vindictiveness was to prevent the implementation of the already funded programme for the rehabilitation of the Linden-Soesdyke highway.
After the people of Linden, for good reasons, protested at their treatment by the regime, Dr Jagan promised to establish a Linden Development Authority. Where is it?
Mr Jagdeo, then Minister of Finance, promised the establishment of a regime of fiscal incentives designed to attract companies to locate at Linden. We are all familiar with the Jagdeo promises! Name one new company that has successfully located at Linden, as a consequence of the Jagdeo fiscal regime!
The Regional Administration has been frustrated and starved of the resources needed to address the problems that are evident in Region #10. Even the allocation of land is manipulated by the regime in Georgetown. The obvious intention is to keep Region #10 in a state of depression.
The Prime Minister, that menace to the bauxite industry and communities, totally disregarded his responsibility to supervise the execution of the MinProc contract which became operational after the PPP/C took office. The contract specified the activities which should have been undertaken by MinProc to rehabilitate the production capacity of LINMINE, strengthen its Marketing internationally and return the company to a world class competitive state.
The Prime Minister’s dereliction of his responsibilities resulted in MinProc not fulfilling their contractual obligations. Therefore, after the expenditure of US$26Mn from the World Bank, LINMINE was left in worse shape when MinProc departed than when they came. Ask Mr Maury Stuart who has been brought back by the Prime Minister to run ABC!
The Prime Minister, who looses no opportunity to bad mouth the bauxite Industry, is on record saying that there is no future for the Bauxite Industry in Guyana. He has shown no faith in the abilities of fellow Guyanese to help to solve the problems confronting the Industry and seems to be doing everything in his power to fulfil his own prophesy!
Let all who are involved be warned that the PNC/R will take whatever action, political or otherwise, is necessary to protect the interests of the workers in the Bauxite Industry in Guyana and the Communities that are dependent on the Industry. They should not have to pay for the incompetence, political spite and corruption of these Freedom House puppets and lackeys.
People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
May 14th, 2002
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