PRESS STATEMENT By the People’s National Congress Reform To the Press Conference on Thursday, January 26, 2006 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:

 Two new PNCR Members of Parliament sworn-in;
 The 2006 Budget does not point a way out of our current economic decline and the Government adamantly refuses to even acknowledge that it is a contributor to this state of affairs;
 The PNCR would continue to stand with the GTUC and the Trade Union movement of Guyana against the arbitrary designs of the PPP/C Government;
 The People’s National Congress Reform remains resolutely on course for Elections of an acceptable standard that are free, fair, transparent and free from fear by the constitutional date.

TWO NEW PNCR MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT SWORN-IN

Mr. Joseph Hamilton and Mr. Dave Danny were sworn in as Members of the National Assembly last Thursday, January 19, 2006, to fill vacancies created by the resignations of two PNCR Members of Parliament. Mr. Joseph Hamilton, MP replaced Mr. Raphael Trotman. Mr. Hamilton an Elected Member of the PNCR Central Executive Committee was a former Member of Parliament during the period 1997 -2001, representing Region #4 Geographic Constituency. He is also the Chief Scrutineer of the PNCR in the current Continuous Registration exercise.

Mr. Dave Danny, a Robb Street businessman, was a candidate of the PNCR Geographic Constituency for Region #4 in the last elections. He replaces Ms. Lurlene Nestor, former National Chairman of the GYSM, who is pursuing post graduate studies in the United States of America. Mr. Danny is a very active member of the Party in the Georgetown District and he is also active in several civic organizations, including the Lions Club.

BUDGET 2006

This Budget does absolutely nothing to inspire confidence among the citizens of Guyana in the Government’s ability to put Guyana on a path of self-sustaining growth and development.

Everyone and everything possible, except the Government, is blamed for the tragic state of our country’s economy.

The Budget presentation begins by telling Guyanese that the floods of 2005 were due to unusually heavy rainfall over a relatively short period. This obviously is intended to conceal the almost criminal negligence by the government in not adequately providing for the proper maintenance and rehabilitation of the Drainage and Irrigation (D&I) systems prior to the coming of the rains.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the Government adamantly refused to set up a Commission of Inquiry into the floods. Instead, a so-called task force was set up to oversee short-term remedial works in the D&I system. There was a flurry of activity giving the impression that much was being done to correct the multitude of shortcomings.

With pressure mounting for transparency and accountability, the Government promised in the 2005 Budget “the preparation of a supplemental budget, which will be presented to the National Assembly.”

The year has passed without such a supplemental budget ever having reached the National Assembly.

Instead, in this year’s Budget, while numbers are used for flood expenditure it is impossible to understand exactly how much additional money was received from all sources for the flood, how much money was diverted from other projects and with what effect on those projects, how much of the lotto money was diverted and used illegally for the flood, what was such money used to acquire, how was the money spent in the various areas and how much did each area/region get.

The failure to honour a pledge solemnly made speaks volumes for the government’s integrity, its commitment to transparency in the management of our resources and its real concern for corruption and accountability.

A PNCR Government will not merely honour its pledges, but in the context of global warming and rising tides certain to adversely affect our coastal lifestyles, we shall, soon after acceding to office, commission our best engineers, social scientists and other professionals to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the possible medium term effects of global warming on our country and to make proposals for occupying and developing the higher ground of Guyana in the medium term.

Under the Government’s watch in 2005 our economy contracted by over 3% as against a budgetary projection for 2.2% growth. This occurred in the face of 3.2% growth in the global economy and 4.5% growth in Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the last 5 years the economy has grown by the aggregate of 2.4% or by the average of under 0.5% per annum over the period. The projection, therefore, that the economy will grow by 2.2% in 2006 is not plausible. But the Minister has quite cleverly prepared the way to explain the failure to achieve the target by stating at P61 of the budget speech that “these estimates…….. are the best going forward, given currently available information and assessments. We will continue to monitor developments closely ……. And keep this Honourable House informed on the economic and financial implications of these developments.”

The Government has signally failed to attract the required foreign direct investment and/or local private sector investments to move the economy along. While some policies exist on paper, the government, by its actions, makes it clear that unless you meet the criterion of sycophant supporter of the Government you are unlikely to succeed in having your business established and running. That explains why the chairman of GO-INVEST is a political adviser to the President rather than someone with credentials or qualifications and experience in project analysis and private sector development.

The PNCR, in Government, commits itself to establishing clear and objective guidelines that, once observed, will entitle investors to concessions, thereby removing the invisible, but heavy hand, of the Government in the process.

The loose talk about the soundness of the so-called economic fundamentals (inflation, monetary aggregates, reserves and exchange rate) could be very misleading. This is touted every year as a yardstick of economic achievement, but is nothing more than an illusion. These fundamentals are not ends in themselves, but are intended to facilitate investment and economic development. And, since these are not taking place in our stagnant or declining economy, the soundness of those fundamentals is of little relevance.

The PNCR in Government will ensure that the private sector shall truly be the engine of growth in our economy as is indicated in our publication, Agenda for Development, together with Guyana 21. Both of these documents are currently being updated and shall be the underpinning of our policy framework for economic growth and development.

We will also fundamentally overhaul the institutions of Government responsible for processing and approving private sector investments to ensure greater responsiveness and to minimize the length of time it takes to have an application processed. We must establish a true one-stop agency with which investors will interact and from which decisions will be given in a defined time-bound framework.

While we will always appreciate the assistance of our international partners, the business of developing Guyana is essentially our responsibility.

At the moment what passes for development is really based on loans and grants as well as debt relie, but these are not a substitute for getting investments flowing and growing the economy in the medium term. Unfortunately, this government is almost wholly dependent on these types of resources to show “progress” and this is borne out by the Budget. Almost all the activities in the social sector are donor financed and donor dependent. This surely is not sustainable in the medium term. In addition, no mention was made in the Budget about the corruption in the award and execution of many of the projects and there have therefore been no proposals in the Budget for dealing with that.

In short, the 2006 Budget does not point a way out of our current economic decline and the Government adamantly refuses to even acknowledge that it is a contributor to this state of affairs. We wish to tell the Guyanese people that help is on the way. Once we make our decisions to vote on the issues and challenges which confront us, we are confident that in the very near future there will be a PNCR led Government with the appropriate policies to take Guyana to its rendezvous with prosperity.

THE PPP/C’S GOVERNMENT CONTINUES ITS DECIMATION OF THE GUYANA’S TRADE UNION MOVEMENT

Any doubt as to the government’s plot to foster disunity and to undermine the effectiveness of our Trades Union Movement has been removed by the tabling of the Trade Union Recognition (Amendment) Bill No. 1 of 2006 in Parliament by the PPP/C Government. It is this same Government, which engineered the split in the Guyana Trades Union Congress when it incited its trade’s union poodles to leave the GTUC and to form FITUG. When it was time for the annual International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conference in Geneva, this same Government did not send a representative from the longstanding and well recognized national umbrella body of Trades Union Movement, the GTUC. It is this same Government, which instructs FITUG unions to break away from GTUC’s Labour Day celebrations and to hold separate May Day celebrations at different venues. It is this same Government, which withholds the traditional annual subvention to the GTUC. The acts of harassment perpetrated by this PPP/C Government upon a hapless Labour Movement are legion

The provisions of this new Bill

 Seek to eliminate the GTUC from having any role in the Trade Union Recognition and Certification process by replacing this umbrella body of trade unions with a dubious “5 trade unions with the largest membership”.

 Instead of consulting the GTUC, a body with membership of both large and small unions, in the appointment of members to the Trade Union Recognition and Certification Board (the Board), the 5 Trade Unions with the largest membership will now be consulted.

 Moreover, the statutory conflict resolution role of the GTUC where two or more unions apply for recognition as the majority union in any bargaining unit would be abolished.

 In addition the necessity of having a representative of the GTUC present to constitute a quorum for Board meetings would also be abolished and meetings of the Board could proceed without any representative of the GTUC.

 The right of GTUC to be consulted by the Board before initiating rules as to its procedure would also be abolished.

 Another feature of this Bill is that it gives the Board the ability to delay the recognition and certification of unions, for as long as it likes, in contrast to the present situation where it is required to act within a time frame.

It is clear that this Bill constitutes an attack on small unions. It amounts to clear marginalisation and discrimination by the PPP/C Government of and against small unions, and mirrors its basic approach to the governance of this country. It is of no concern to this PPP/C Government, that it would stifle the voices of many unions in this country,

It is also unlawful for this Bill to seek to eliminate the GTUC’s role in the manner proposed.

Since the passage of the Trade Union Recognition Act of 1997, the PPP/C Government has been manipulating the Board to secure more bargaining units for unions friendly to it, at the expense of non PPP/C unions. Most unions are dissatisfied with the functioning of this Trade Union Recognition and Certification Board.

It is of great irony that the PPP/C Government recently collaborated with the PNCR and the GTUC and GLU to honour the memory and works of Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, and a few months later is proposing to pass legislation seeking to undermine the very organs of the trade union movement Critchlow had built.

The PNCR will continue to stand with the GTUC and the trade union movement of Guyana against the arbitrary designs of the PPP/C Government.
ELECTIONS UPDATE

Yet another week has passed and there is continued silence from GECOM on issues of national importance. While GECOM remains silent on the implementation of the new biometric feature, cross referencing of fingers prints, which it has committed to implementing, and making a decision on the method to be used for verification of the Official List of Electors (OLE), time is quickly slipping by. It is a matter of great concern that GECOM continues to engage in propaganda in the newspapers that it is working to its project plans. The fact of the matter is that GECOM has serious problems activating its server and is still to implement many of its own undertakings in relation to its Information Technology System,

The People’s National Congress Reform has been co-operating with GECOM in the interest of free and fair elections. However, for GECOM to deserve our continuing co-operation it must begin to take the Guyanese people into its confidence and not indulge in the political culture of deceiving the people on whose behalf it should be operating.

The People’s National Congress Reform has co-operated and is committed to co-operating with GECOM in the interest of free and fair elections. However, GECOM must come clean with the Guyanese people.

We are also concerned that the advertisements on the registration process still do not contain information indicating the location of the offices in the various regions, despite the assurances we have received from the Commission.

GECOM needs to take its job seriously and to ensure that it sources the materials for the various tasks, which it is committed to undertake and to ensure that decisions that are out standing are made expeditiously. Whenever necessary the Government must be called upon to honour President Jagdeo’s promise to finance the elections.

The People’s National Congress Reform remains resolutely on course for Elections of an acceptable standard that are free, fair, transparent, and free from fear, by the constitutional date.


People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday, January 26, 2006