PRESS STATEMENT By the People's National Congress Reform To the Press Conference on Wednesday, February 22, 2006 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:

 The PNCR wishes all of our people a Happy Mashramani.
 The PNCR is concerned that government has taken a unilateral decision to allow casino gambling.
 The PNCR tabled a Motion calling on the Government to “direct that by March 3rd 2006, all state media should be obligated to provide adequate coverage of the views of all Parliamentary Parties.” The PNCR rejected, during the vote in the National Assembly, and continues to reject the notions contained in the amendments tabled by Minister Gail Teixeira and railroaded by the Government using its National Assembly majority.

HAPPY MASHRAMANI TO ALL GUYANESE

The People’s National Congress Reform salutes the people of Guyana on the 36th anniversary of our achievement of Republic status. The spirit of republicanism was a vital step in our development and in the consolidation of our independence. It gave us the chance to mould our own destiny and chart our own course of economic and social progress.

Our Party believes that true independence is only achieved when all the people of a nation recognise that, ultimately, we depend on each other and on our own ingenuity and hard work to carry Guyana forward. We also believe that progress comes from discipline, hard work, tolerance and honesty.

We wish to appeal to our young people, in particular, to have faith in the Republic which is not only rich in the talents of its people and the beauty of our environment but in the richness of our resources. We urge you to have patience and to believe that we can and will make Guyana a country of which we can all again be proud.

The PNCR wishes all of our people a Happy Mashramani.

This Mashramani Holiday, which is the celebration after the hard work, is an important part of our consciousness. Let us revel as we celebrate what has been achieved, even as we launch ourselves to new and more intense struggles for democracy, justice and freedom from fear.

Assembly point for the Revellers of the PNCR Mashramani Costume Band:

1. Congress Place, Sophia at 7:00 a.m.
2. Square of the Revolution at 7:00 a.m.

Both contingents will then converge at Camp and Church Streets for street tramp into the National Park for judging. Afterwards all roads lead to Congress Place, Sophia.

THE UNGODLY PPP/C GOVERNMENT IS BENT ON CRIMINALIZING THE ECONOMY AND MAKING THE ENTIRE COUNTRY DEPENDENT ON SHADY MONEY AND PEOPLE

It has come to the attention of the PNCR that the morally bankrupt Jagdeo Administration is forging ahead with plans to allow the establishment of not one but several casinos, including one in the Rupununi.

Recently Geoff Da Silva, the head of Go-invest, said on Plain Talk that the draft legislation to introduce casino gambling has been done by way of amendment to the Gambling Act.

The PNCR is concerned that government has taken a unilateral decision to allow casino gambling. This arbitrary and unilateral action puts into perspective the pretence that Consultative Democracy exists in Guyana and puts a lie to the PPP/C’s claims of Inclusive Governance. The corrupt Jagdeo Regime’s haste and over-riding concern is the granting of favours that will enrich themselves and their cohorts while, at the same time, fill its war chest and, thereby, providing the means to buy votes and pay for dubious services in the run-up to the 2006 National and Regional Elections.

For despite the talk of stakeholder participation and transparency, this PPP/C Administration continues to operate like a thief in the night, restlessly searching for opportunities to enrich themselves and prolong their survival.

The PNCR will hold itself ready to engage in full consultations on casino gambling with all stakeholders when it forms the next government later this year. This process will include consultation with religious organizations, women’s organizations, organizations representing youth and the indigenous communities, the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders.

Government may have already committed to grant casino licences to a number of Hoteliers, though cognizant of the fact that throughout the world casinos attract some of the most deviant and violent criminal minds. Casinos are often used as prime conduits to launder money and as places for narco-criminals to cluster and transact their drug business. Casinos are also notorious, in the developing world, for encouraging and fostering prostitution and a range of abuses directed primarily at women, children, indigenous people and vulnerable communities.

We wish to make it clear that the PNCR has taken no policy decision against casinos. In the right environment characterized by a strict adherence to the rule of law, effective law enforcement and an efficient national security apparatus, a casino pilot project could be considered.

On all the fronts that characterise the right environment mentioned above the PPP/C administration has failed to put in place the systems and capability to protect Guyanese, particularly the most vulnerable, from exploitation by unscrupulous criminal minds. It is as though a conspiracy exists between government and the underworld to impoverish, marginalize and criminalize the Guyanese people and economy.

At present our country is experiencing some of the most heinous and brutal manifestations of runaway crime. All this is happening against the background of a dying economy which can no longer deliver basic needs to the vast majority of its citizens.

Casinos require strict regulation and an integrity of relationship between the owners, the operators, the work force, the financiers, government and the law. The recent spate of crimes highlights what we all know that Guyana‘s stock of social capital is rapidly diminishing and unless it is replenished there will be an acceleration in the country’s decline.

Given that Guyana is now rated as one of the most corrupt countries on earth none of us can be assured that all rules to protect Guyanese from the addictive influence of routine gambling will be not be bent and flouted for a few dollars more in the hands of the very people appointed to protect us.

THE PNCR REJECTS GOVERNMENT’S TIME WASTING MANOEUVER TO DELAY IMPLEMENTATION OF COMMITMENTS BY PRESIDENT JAGDEO

The PNCR tabled a Motion which was moved by Mr. Deryck Bernard in the National Assembly on Thursday 16th February, 2006. The Motion called on the Government to “direct that by March 3rd 2006, all state media should be obligated to provide adequate coverage of the views of all Parliamentary Parties.” The PNCR rejected, during the vote in the National Assembly, and continues to reject the notions contained in the amendments tabled by Minister Gail Teixeira and railroaded by the Government using its National Assembly majority.

The PNCR rejects the need for any further Committees of the National Assembly or elsewhere to study the needs for implementation of the measures which the President has already entered commitments to implement. We also reject the need for any further prolonged consultations with the media and / or private sector before the Government honours its commitments.

The Government has continued to shirk its responsibility for ensuring that the state-owned media carries a fair and professional coverage of political events in this country. The Government seeks to perpetuate its political advantage by prolonging and postponing the process of reform in the hope of preserving its unfair advantage into the forthcoming general elections.

The Government had agreed to these undertakings: when they accepted the Report of the Joint Committee on Broadcasting in 2001; when President Jagdeo signed the Communiqué May 6, 2003: and when the high representatives of the Government and the PNCR agreed the terms and conditions under which the state-owned media should operate.

It is the view of the PNCR that what was agreed by the Government in October 2003 is an adequate basis for action and the setting of a new Committee is nothing but another ploy to delay the implementation of the commitments made by the President and his Government.

The PNCR will not waste any time in further consultations. The Government’s bad faith is there for all to see. Indeed, whilst the Motion on Equitable Access languished on the Order Paper, the Government’s coverage of the 2006 Budget Debate was the most biased and jaundiced in the sorry history of the PPP/C Administration.

The PNCR will not be taking part in any consultations nor dignifying the proposed Committee with our presence.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Tuesday, February 22, 2006