PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday, 29 June, 2006 Hall of Heroes Congress Place, Sophia.




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR General Council reinforces the Party’s readiness to ensure the development of Guyana by removing the incumbent inept regime

• The People’s National Congress Reform has developed a Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) which focuses on jobs creation, formal and vocational education, skills training, crime prevention among young people, land, housing, and health care for young people.

• The recent public statement by the Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB) in which it attempted to mislead the Guyanese people on the true implications of its findings from its survey to check the accuracy of GECOM’s 2006 PLE is utterly dishonest.

PNCR HOLDS SECOND GENERAL COUNCIL FOR 2006

On Saturday, 24 June, 2006, the People’s National Congress Reform held its second General Council for 2006 at Congress Place under the theme “Building a Platform for Peace, National Cohesion and Reconstruction.” This was one of the best attended General Council meetings.

In his address to the Council, Party Chairman, Mr. Winston Murray, CCH, warned delegates and invitees to beware of those who in this election season would attempt to turn truth on its head and to rewrite history. He referred in particular to the leader of a “Johnny-come-lately party” who shows no respect for the truth in his vain attempts to malign the PNCR. Mr. Murray said that the Party had much to be proud of during its years in government. He pointed to the implementation of free education, the establishment of the National Insurance Scheme, the granting of legal rights to women, the construction of highways and the garnering of large foreign investments such as Omai and Barama.

The Leader of the PNCR, Mr. Robert Corbin, in delivering the feature address of the General Council, spoke among other issues of:

(i) GECOM’S intransigence and breaches of the law with respect to the preparation of the voters list;
(ii) PPP/C’s arrogance as evidenced by its illegal amendments of the constitution;
(iii) the continued deterioration of the economy and the security situation;
(iv) the readiness of the Party to ensure the development of Guyana by removing the incumbent inept regime;
(v) the steps the Party is taking to be fully prepared for the elections ahead;
(vi) Mr. Corbin made it clear that the Party intended to work in each and every area, regardless of perceived voting patterns.

The PNCR Leader asked members of the Council to ensure that they fully understood the broad vision of the party for the future of Guyana, which includes:

• building inclusive and good governance;
• building a booming economy;
• dealing with crime and security;
• Providing opportunities for the youth for self development and building a modern education system.

Mr. Vincent Alexander, Chairman of the Party’s elections committee, brought members up to date with the Party’s preparations for elections.

During the general discussion there was lively floor interaction where many delegates used the opportunity to give accounts of the deteriorating economic and social conditions in their respective communities and regions while at the same time making useful recommendations relative to the Party’s strategy and tactics for the upcoming elections.

PNCR YOUTH EMPOWERMENT SCHEME

The People’s National Congress Reform has formulated its Economic Development Plan based on the National Development Strategy and the Guyana 21 Project. This plan will be driven by substantial foreign direct and local investment.

The PNCR projects that thousands of new jobs will be created as a result of these new investments. This will require that Guyanese be equipped and prepared to undertake these jobs mentally, socially and economically.

All young Guyanese of all ethnic groups, religion and political persuasion will be afforded the opportunity to realize their full potential in Guyana. With this in mind, the People’s National Congress Reform has developed a Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES). This scheme focuses on jobs creation, formal and vocational education, skills training, crime prevention among young people, land and housing for young people and young people’s health.

Jobs Creation, Education and Training
Many young persons are faced with the situation of being either unemployed or underemployed. This is as a result of the downward spiral of Guyana’s economy under the PPP/C. As a result large sections of the young population have become disenchanted and frustrated and are in danger of becoming lost to the mainstream of legitimate economic activities. This cannot be allowed to continue because young people will be the driving force behind the reconstruction of our economy.

The PNCR, in keeping with its Youth Empowerment Scheme, will operate on the principle that no youth will be left behind. The new PNCR Government will launch an intense skills training programme for young people across the country.

PNCR recognizes that in order to fulfill the needs of a modern economy our young people will require support in technical areas such as, computer programme, servicing and repair, servicing and maintenance of high end equipment needed for the expanded manufacturing sector and manning the service and tourism sector.

The necessary technological and skills training will be provided so that youth can be equipped with the relevant skills to perform in these jobs.

The PNCR will create Youth District Community Associations (YODCA) in partnership with Regional Chambers of Commerce and Councils throughout the ten Regions of Guyana. The objective of the YODCAs will be to train youth in skills to meet employment, educational, welfare and social needs among youth in communities nationwide. HIV/AIDS awareness training will be compulsory for all students in YODCA.

Volunteer National Service
Another aspect of the PNCR’s Youth Enhancement Scheme is Voluntary National Service. Youth across the country, both males and females, will be afforded the opportunity to participate voluntarily in National Service. This programme will have the benefit of providing vulnerable youth with the alternative of removing themselves from their environment and the opportunity for residential training.

A recent survey done by the Party among youth showed overwhelming support for the introduction of a Voluntary National Service (VNS). The PNCR intends that the new VNS benefit from our experience of the past. To this end we will encourage and foster private sector involvement and the active participation of civil society, women’s groups and religious organisations. Many of these groups will have representation on the VNS board of directors.

The PNCR is confident the VNS will contribute to the reduction of crime and also produce a cadre of young people who are equipped and prepared to participate in advancing the PNCR Economic Recovery Plan.

The PNCR recognizes that further consultation will have to be held with young people and other stakeholders as this programme is developed further. Towards this end the PNCR, in collaboration with its youth arm, the Guyana Youth and Student Movement, will be undertaking a series of Community Based Consultations with young people across the country. Details of these consultations will be made to the public shortly.

Our vision is a secure and sustainable future for our country. We know this can be possible only if our young people are healthy, at peace and motivated to benefit from education and training designed to meet and oversee the challenges of a rapidly changing new world.

The new VNS will prepare our youth for the world of work by education and training them in a variety of appropriate and relevant skills. VNS will make our youth;

• Better equipped with life skills;
• More tolerant of other ethnic groups, religious and political views;
• More respectful and understanding of the opposite sex;
• More respectful and understanding of the less fortunate – the physically and mentally challenged for instance;
• better sports women and men;
• More aware of their rights and responsibilities as citizens of Guyana;
• More law abiding and less likely to be lured into the “get-rich-quick” syndrome involving crime, drugs, etc;
• More aware of the problems of early parenthood;
• More aware and proud of the natural beauty and boundless resources of their country;
• More conscious of their involvement as stakeholders;
• More willing and able to make positive contributions to the achievements and preservation of ONE GUYANA;
• More aware of their responsibility to the environment;
• More aware of HIV/Aids and other STD’s.

Crime and Drugs
The PNCR recognizes that large scale unemployment and the growing need among youth to acquire material assets have led to many of our young people getting involved in crime and drugs. This is depriving the economy of much needed productive human resource. In order to reduce this problem the new PNCR government will introduce a Crime Reduction Plan (CRP) which will be implemented immediately after taking office. As part of the CRP a Business Improvement Plan (BIP) will be introduced. This BIP is intended to encourage businessmen to set up business in the communities of vulnerable youths and to invest in human resource development of young people.

THE EAB’S RESULTS CLEARLY EXPOSE THE DEEP AND DISTURBING FLAWS AND FAILINGS IN THE VOTERS LIST

The PNCR considers as utterly dishonest the recent public statement by the Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB) in which it attempted to mislead the Guyanese people on the true implications of its findings from its survey to check the accuracy of GECOM’s 2006 PLE. While the EAB’s results clearly expose the deep and disturbing flaws and failings in the voters list, the EAB yet contrived to camouflage these facts through creative writing and sly semantics. In its press statement of Thursday 22nd June it reports that 93% of those sampled in the survey were “accounted for”. We call on the Guyanese people not to be fooled by this attempt to trick them.

The fact is that the EAB’s own figures paint a highly troubling picture. Of the 1167 persons sampled in the field exercise, only 606 or just over 50% were actually found at the given address. When one considers the large amount of persons that were not found for one reason or other, and extrapolates this finding to the entire voters list, the implications are staggering. GECOM must be out of its senses to believe it can foist such a corrupt list on the Guyanese people.

Of the categories of persons not found by the EAB at the given address, the PNCR wishes to single out four:

(i) persons reported to have migrated,
(ii) persons reported to have died,
(iii) no such address found,
(iv) No such person known at the given address.

These categories together make up close to 16% of the sample. If one projects this to GECOM’s 2006 PLE (486,760 names), one gets a figure of approximately 77,800 names that are affected in these four ways. This finding from the EAB field test coincides with an analysis of migration and death rates over the last five years. The fact that a large amount of ineligible names still remain on the 2006 OLE constitutes a national scandal. The PNCR and others have argued that the claims and objection process cannot in principle and in practice cleanse a list with this magnitude of defects. GECOM’s mismanagement and the PPP’s manipulation of the objections process have only served to validate our long-stated position.

The PNCR also wishes to highlight the fact that in the EAB survey, a status of a further 30% of those sampled can best be categorized as uncertain. We refer here to the four categories of:
(i) Those not at home (1.89%),
(ii) Persons reported to have moved to a new address (14.91%),
(iii) persons reported to be temporarily out the village/district (9.85%), and
(iv) Persons reported to be temporarily out the country (4.11%). An official House to House Verification exercise will verify the status of such categories of persons on the list.

Verifying the existence and residency of all potential voters (whether through a house to house exercise, as the joint opposition parties prefer, or through other suitable methods) is not an attempt to disenfranchise any eligible voter. It is, first and foremost, a legal requirement. This is clearly established in the Guyana Constitution, read in conjunction with the National Registration Act and the Representation of the People Act.

In a normal registration process, the law requires GECOM to set a qualifying date by which the Commission is required to make contact with all eligible persons to establish their existence and residency. Those whom GECOM is unable to find would be asked to show up at GECOM’s offices on or before the announced qualifying date to be able to register. All attempts are therefore made to register persons. In the compromise to forego registration in favour of verification of the 2001 OLE, the intent and outcome of registration must be transferred to the HHV exercise. As matters now stand therefore, GECOM’s 2006 PLE is an illegal document. It is a colossal fraud. The existence and residency of over 80% of persons on the list have not been verified as mandated by the laws of Guyana.

ELECTIONS UPDATE

Last week we reported that we had written to GECOM on the question of mismatches (dislocations), names of voters that were located on the list in divisions other than those in which they were registered or reside. For example, some one living on the East Bank of Demerara, who was registered there and whose address is correctly listed is listed in Georgetown on the voters` list. We provided GECOM with seventy-five such examples in regions 2, 3 and 4.

On Wednesday, 28 June, 2006 we received a response from GECOM acknowledging that every example, which we provided was indeed a mismatch. GECOM further indicated, “Corrective action has been taken to have the entries listed in the relevant division/s”. What GECOM has failed to acknowledge is that we merely provided examples and that the problem is much more extensive than seventy-five examples. This was spelt out to GECOM in our correspondence. However they have proceeded to print and publish a revised list without ascertaining the source and magnitude of the problem. They are definitely not prepared to do their job of producing a proper voters list and seem hell bent on meeting deadlines, which have been publicly articulated by President Jagdeo and the PPP/C. Their attitude towards the findings of the Elections Office of Jamaica report on duplicate fingerprints on the database of the voters list has been the same. Proceed to the next stage without taking diagnostic or corrective action.

In 2001 much was brought to the fore after the fact. In 2006 the PNCR has taken the pain to identify and communicate its concerns long before the fact. In such circumstances we have no alternative but to ensure that GECOM does not foist upon us an election of unacceptable standards. GECOM was sufficiently forewarned of these problems and solutions proposed some two years ago. It was GECOM`s IT Manager, some two years ago, who reported to the commission that “Even superficial examination of the database both the MRDB and the MIDIS invariably reveals imperfect data which though not significant in terms of the number of instances of the particular fault, raises doubt and questions as to the extent of other “not yet discovered” problems which may exist. What causes an even greater feeling of discomfiture is the fact that in nearly all cases, no reasonable explanation for the occurrence of the problem could be offered by any of those who participated in the exercise of 2001”.

“That errors exist in the database content is indisputable. What is not known is their full nature and extent. Options to be considered would include:
o an exercise aimed at the total verification of the data content of the MRDB
o house to house registration and re-creation of the MRDB”.

The IT Manager was rewarded, for his brilliance, with a better paying job in the public sector and GECOM has continued along its merry way. The PNCR will not allow itself to be victims at the expense of GECOM`s merriment.

PPP/C ABUSE OF STATE RESOURCES FOR ELECTION CAMPAIGN CONTINUES

The People’s National Congress Reform condemns the use of state resources by the PPP/C for election campaign purposes. Public attention is being drawn to this blatant disregard for the money of tax payers of Guyana, over the last three weeks, under the guise of a Cabinet Outreach. President Jagdeo and his merry band of ministers have used huge amounts of state money and equipment, for what is clearly an electioneering exercise by the PPP/C, with the object of salvaging the non performance record of the government over the last 5 years. The most recent case, however, is the involvement of the discredited former GECOM official, the infamous, Mr. Ganga Persaud, now Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development

On Saturday, 17 June, 2006, this known PPP/C activist was deeply involved, with GECOM and PPP/C officials, at the Anna Regina Office of the Regional Chairman of Region #2, Mr Ali Baksh, and represented himself as speaking for GECOM.

Ganga Persaud, who was cited several times in the judgment of Justice Claudette Singh, in the election petition case of 1997, had traveled to the Essequibo Coast with the ministry vehicle and at state expense.

The PNCR, however, took strong objection to this occurrence and wrote GECOM, on 26 June, 2006, questioning whether Ganga Persaud has been employed by GECOM. In his reply, dated 27 June, 2006, the GECOM Chairman informed the PNCR that Ganga Persaud was now the Chief Scrutineer for the PPP/C for the election.

The records of the PNCR revealed, however, that at the time of its writing, 26 June, 2006, the PPP/C Chief Scrutineer, accredited by GECOM, was Mr. Ulric Ramadan. The PNCR has followed this matter and has discovered that, since the exposure of Ganga Persaud’s activities on Saturday 17 June, the PPP/C General Secretary sought to cover his tracks, in a letter dated 21 June, 2006, seeking to have Ganga Persaud named as the new PPP/C Chief Scrutineer. It is amazing the lengths that the PPP/C would go to continue with its acts of deception of the people of Guyana. Now that they have announced that Ganga Persaud is their Chief Scrutineer, they have confirmed, what was said since 1997, that Ganga Persaud was an agent of the PPP/C within the Guyana Elections Commission.

The question must now also be asked about the use of state resources to carry out his onerous responsibilities as PPP/C Chief Scrutineer. The question must also be asked when Ganga Persaud, as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, tendered his resignation, in order to carry out his new full time political assignment.


People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, 29 June, 2006