PRESS STATEMENT By the People’s National Congress Reform To the Press Conference on Thursday, December 8, 2005 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
 The PNCR motion seeks the intervention of the authority of the National Assembly to require the Government to transform the political news and current affairs programming of the State-owned Media to bring it in line with current international best practices and standards;
 The PNCR wishes to assure all workers of its unwavering support for their just struggle for a living wage in their homeland;
 The PNCR and the other Parliamentary Opposition Parties continue to be concerned that the Guyana Elections Commission has, to date, still not decided which methodology they would employ for verifying the existence of the persons whose names remain on the 2001 OLE and its Addenda, after the names of the deceased have been removed.

GOVERNMENT DENIES PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION EQUITABLE ACCESS TO STATE MEDIA

The PNCR has today submitted to the Clerk of the National Assembly a motion requiring the Government to ensure that the Parliamentary Opposition Parties are provided equitable access to the State-owned Media.

In spite of public disgust and persistent efforts by the PNCR, the ruling PPP/C continues to use the State-owned Media, which belongs to all of the People of Guyana, as its reserved propaganda mouthpiece. This abuse of public resources for partisan purposes continues in blatant violation of the constitution, of the principles of good governance and in complete disregard of the consensually agreed recommendations of the Hoyte-Jagdeo Joint Committee on Radio Monopoly, Non-Partisan Boards And Broadcasting Legislation.

The Joint Committee had recommended that the State-owned Media should, “in line with their public-service function, provide news and current affairs coverage of the views, statements, activities and policies of political parties in a manner that is partial, balanced and accurate, thereby allowing the public to make informed political choices”, and should “facilitate political parties and candidates in their right of reply.”

The PNCR motion seeks the intervention of the authority of the National Assembly to require the Government to transform the political news and current affairs programming of the State-owned Media to bring it in line with current international best practices and standards.

The motion calls for, among other things, balanced coverage of National Assembly debates and the activities of parliamentary committees; coverage of the presentations and activities of the Leader of the Opposition; coverage of the views and activities of Opposition Parties; and the Opposition’s right of reply to statements and programmes that comment on, or criticise, their positions.

The PNCR intends to pursue this matter to the very end. We are assured that the Guyanese people will stand with us as we collectively put an early and urgent stop to the abuse of this very important public-owned (paid for by hard-earned taxpayers dollars) resource, the State Media, by the Jagdeo Administration and the PPP/C.

PUBLIC SERVANTS TO REMAIN ON THE BREADLINE

The recent arbitrary and unilateral imposition of a seven percent (7%) increase in the wages/salaries for public sector workers by the PPP/C Government means that Public servants, the Police Force, the Army and Teachers would have to continue to be forced to barely eke out an existence in this their home, Guyana.

The Government's action is alleged to have been taken, pursuant to its flawed and myopic policy of limiting wage increases to their projected average inflation, which they claim will be about 7% for 2005.

The barrenness of this policy will cause these workers to continue to survive on incomes which are clearly demonstrated to be below a living wage.

Moreover, the workers will be short-changed since that increase will be liable to income tax at a rate equal to 1/3 or 33%. The remainder is then absorbed by the massive increases in prices of necessary consumer goods, unprecedented increases in fuel costs, higher electricity bills, cooking gas prices, transportation costs and food prices.

The continued impoverishment of our public sector workers, coupled with the evident increase of the working and non-working poor, by swelling the already large army of Guyanese living below the poverty line, does have severe implications for any credible and sustainable poverty reduction programme here in Guyana

The Government cannot be allowed to continue to breach the International Labour Organisation (I.L.O) Convention on collective bargaining agreements, with impunity and to the detriment of the Guyanese workers.

The PNCR calls on President Jagdeo and the PPP/C Government to observe the requirements of good governance by showing greater respect for the rights of the Guyana Public Service Union, the Guyana Teachers Union and the Collective Bargaining Process which it is arrogantly and callously trampling on.

The PNCR wishes to assure all workers of its unwavering support for their just struggle for a living wage in their homeland.

ELECTIONS UPDATE

In a matter of weeks the New Year, 2006, will be upon us and, as a nation, we will be fully in the Elections season.

In a recent statement, the Chairman of the Elections Commission, Dr Steve Surujbally, is on record as saying that he is satisfied with the progress that the Commission has made in its preparation for Elections 2006. Such a statement is a matter of grave concern to the PNCR.

How could the Chairman be happy with the present state of preparedness?

There is still a woeful inadequacy of the number of Registration Centres that are being used for Continuous Registration. The Commission’s Public Education programme for Continuous Registration is still to materialize. People do not know what to do and where to go to be registered. In those instances where they know where the Registration Centre is located, they cannot, in too many cases, afford the cost to get to the Registration Centres.

The team from the Elections Office of Jamaica (EOJ) have come and gone and have now submitted their proposals for undertaking the electronic capturing and cross-referencing of the fingerprints on the MRCs. The Commission now has had in their possession for the past two (2) weeks a clearly detailed proposal under consideration for their decision. The feasibility and time-frame undertaking the project have been established; the cost is not prohibitive. The PNCR, therefore, expected that, in view of the importance of this exercise, the Commission would deal with this matter with a sense of urgency. We are concerned that the Commission is continuing to give the public impression of slothfulness in dealing with matters which should be dealt with expeditiously. Time is crucial if all stakeholders are to be assured of a Clean and Acceptable Electoral List.

It should be noted that the electronic capturing and cross referencing of finger prints, as a means to prevent and detect multiple registration, is not a substitute for the verification of the identity and residency of the names of persons listed on the 2001 OLE and Addenda.

The PNCR and the other Parliamentary Opposition Parties continue to be concerned that the Commission has, to date, still not decided which methodology they would employ for verifying the existence of the persons whose names remain on the 2001 OLE and its Addenda, after the names of the deceased have been removed. Verification is vital if the Commission is to produce an Electoral List of an acceptable standard. The Commission is empowered by law to determine its own methodology, therefore, they will not be allowed to continue to engage in the exercise of maximum administrative delays and expect that a contention of inadequate time will relieve them of this responsibility.

The clock is ticking while the Commission dillies and dallies and its Chairman tells the nation that all is well. The nation knows better. The Commission had better awake from its slumber before its Chairman takes it to the point of no return with regard to fulfilling the requirements for producing an election of an acceptable standard within the deadline stipulated by the Guyana Constitution.


Peoples National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Greater - Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday, December 8, 2005