PRESS STATEMENT By Mr Stanley Ming, MP Member - Central Executive Committee The People’s National Congress Reform Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia. Thursday 6th June 2002



PPP/C UNABLE OR UNWILLING TO CONTROL THE CRIME SITUATION:

The People’s National Congress/Reform expresses its deepest sympathy to the members of the Guyana Police Force and the families and friends of those Policemen and other citizens who have been brutally murdered. Our Party also offers its prayers of hope for the safety and recuperation of those injured in the crime wave that is threatening the safety and security of the nation.

It seems that it is only the PPP/C regime that is unaware that there is a crime wave which requires a well planned and structured approach to prevent it from overwhelming the nation. Instead, we have been treated to the ridiculous circus act of Freedom House demonstrating against the Government because of its failure to arrest the crime wave! This is a time for serious action, not silly antics!

The people of Guyana are thoroughly disgusted with what they perceive as empty placatory promises by the President and other voices of the regime, eg. “suspects are being lined up;” “no effort will be spared”; “security is being tightened”; and “the necessary resources are being provided to fight crime”. The incompetence of the incumbent Minister of Home Affairs has been totally and publicly exposed for all but the blind to see. How much longer do Guyanese taxpayers have to suffer his continued presence as a Cabinet Minister?

It was just under two weeks ago that the PNC/R and the rest of the nation expressed shock and sorrow at the calculated shooting at a police patrol, on Saturday 2002 May 25, at Coldingen on the East Coast of Demerara, which seriously injured four policemen. Subsequently, Constable Sherwin Alleyne lost the battle for his life.

On the night of Thursday May 30th 2002 there was a deliberate and brazen armed assault on policemen at the Alberttown Police Station resulting in the death of Rural Constable Andy Atwell.

On Saturday, June 01, 2002, in the height of the morning shopping activities, a daring armed robbery was carried out on the Commerce House Cambio in Regent Street, Georgetown. This robbery resulted in the murder of Ramnauth Persaud, and the wounding of Kennard Gobin.

Is it the Government or the criminals who are now fully in charge of Guyana?

The present sorry state of our once proud Guyana Police Force is rooted in the ruthlessly implemented policy of the PPP/C, since it took over the reins of government in 1992, to denude the security services of their fighting ability. There was so much unjustified ill-will harboured by the Freedom House gang against the Guyana Defence Force and the Guyana Police Force that the regime was determined not to allow them to function effectively. The members of these services became the innocent victims of a deliberately contrived programme to humiliate and vanquish them.

We have seen, from 1992 to the present:

• The departure of very able and experienced officers who were frustrated into leaving the force. There were few promotions and the conditions of service remained intolerable. They either surrendered their pride and dignity to the PPP/C or they were forced out.
• The GPF was starved of materiel and other resources. They were given just enough to keep them alive but insufficient to give them the strength to effectively discharge their mandate to deliver Service and Protection to all citizens.
• The misuse of the “Black Clothes” squad in a manner which ensured that the wider force became alienated from the very communities they should rely on and serve. The GPF, in a few short years, changed from being the protector of the people to being widely perceived as villains and murderers.

The occurrences described above were not coincidental. Therefore, when the PPP/C regime now speak of a failure of intelligence and strengthening the manpower and equipment of the GPF, the nation must recognize that they are being hypocritical. The PPP/C has delivered a monster, which it cannot put up for adoption. This mess is the image and likeness of the PPP/C regime.

The chickens have now come home to roost!

While the Freedom House lackeys and Ministers of the Government languish in the comfort of their Pradoville mansions and feast on the fat of their corrupt practices, the rest of the nation is suffering and falling victim to murder at the hands of criminals, HIV/AIDS, hypertension, starvation, suicide, etc. The people have become the hapless victims of the PPP/C’s incompetence and inability to manage the most basic of government functions.

Good governance has been replaced by corruption, cronyism, blatant discrimination, political interference in the judiciary, marauding death squads, a damaged Police Force and an ill-equipped Prison Service and Fire Service. As we approach mid-year 2002, the state of our country has never been worse. The pace of disintegration is quickening at an astounding rate.

Childish attempts to shift blame to the PNC/R, name-calling and attempts to demonise PNCR supporters as “terrorists” most definitely will not make for the healthy environment which is necessary to rescue this nation from certain disaster.

We Guyanese have developed apt sayings to suit situations such as that which now confront us. “All man can talk, but na all man can do.”




The PNCR feels compelled to repeat our demands for the:

1. Immediate review of the methods of operation of the Guyana Police Force to ascertain why it is failing to fulfill its mandate and to determine how it could be made to do so. An impartial and competent Commission of Inquiry is the recommended mechanism for this to be done.

2. Disbanding of the “Black Clothes” squad and the re-establishment of a professional, disciplined and properly equipped unit possibly under the command of a GDF officer seconded to the Police Force.

3. Placing of emphasis once more on intelligence gathering and improving the relationships between members of the GPF and all communities in Guyana.

4. Early appointment of a competent Minister of Home Affairs and ceasing all political manipulation of the GPF.

5. The immediate appointment of the new Commissioner of Police.

Above all else, however, there must be a display of genuine commitment, on the part of the PPP/C, to good governance, a respect for the inalienable rights of our suffering citizens, and a willingness to undertake a sustained fight against the crimes not only of the poor and disadvantaged but against the rich drug lords, corrupt Ministers and other Freedom House cronies who are barefacedly fleecing the national coffers.

CORRUPTION IN THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION:

At our Press Conference, on May 23rd 2002, we raised the general issue of unfair, irregular and corrupt practices in the Ministry of Education in the sourcing of books, stationery and other school supplies. Despite the mountains of evidence the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Hydar Ally, has had the gall to deny our allegation.

We agree that Salod Marketing Agency was not included in Hydar Ally’s circulars of February 23rd 2002. That was an error on our part; but the fact is that oral directives have been given identifying Salod Marketing Agency as a preferred source of procurement.

Hydar Ally denies that books have been bought by his Ministry which were not used and which pile up in its storage bonds. An audit of the stocks would put this issue beyond speculation.

The fact of the matter is that tender procedures are generally ignored or manipulated to ensure a corrupt objective.

Hydar Ally claims that when the government uses its own money, the policy of the Ministry is to order directly from the publishers. This is not true. We challenge him to explain why 1,000 copies of “Essentials of Social Studies” published by Car Long, a Jamaican firm which has a local agent, were ordered not through that agent or directly from Car Long, but from a Trinidad supplier, Caribbean Education Publishers at a price higher than could have been obtained from the local agents.

While he is about it, we will invite him, also, to explain how the contract for the printing of books written by local teachers was given to the same Trinidad firm without being advertised for tender locally. We would like him to tell us that this was a “selective tendering” so that we could explain the trickery involved more fully.

Moreover, the Ministry purchased 900 copies of the New Geography of Guyana, not from the publishers, McMillan, or other local agents, but from the same group of cronies in New York (New Global Consults Inc.) who were involved in the Law Books scandal.

To crown it all, Hydar Ally has the presumption to claim that the awards of the monopoly to Kojac Marketing Agency and Guyana Stores Limited were the outcome of a tender process. What kind of tender process was this?

The relevant advertisement was designed to exclude any legitimate firm operating on business-like principles. The advertisement inviting bids had no quantities and many items had no specified brands. As is well known in the book business, discounts for manufacturers and suppliers generally increase according to the quantities purchased. In the absence of stated quantities, would Hydar Ally explain how “we will benefit from the scale of supplies”? (Incidentally, does the ‘we’ refer to the Ministry of Education or certain corrupt persons within the Ministry?). Without some knowledge of the quantities or the brands required, how could any legitimate business person respond unless he had prior inside knowledge? One bookseller, in connection with this particular contract, commented that “he refused to give credibility to the tendering with such vague details”.

In an effort to deceive Hydar Ally alleged that the Bookseller who complained about unfair and corrupt practices has as recent as 1999 benefited from an award of over G$21Mn for supplying of text books. He did not explain that:

(1) these were in respect of 1998 orders for school books for which that bookseller is the local agent;

(2) it was the only substantial order ever placed with the bookseller; and

(3) no direct orders had ever been placed with the bookseller prior to, or after the so-called “recent order” of
1998.

He should also explain to the public in order for it to have a true perspective, how many millions of dollars worth of orders was placed with the Trinidad suppliers, Caribbean Education Publishers, since 1992 so that the public could see how tiny is the 1998 “recent contract for G$21Mn” he bellows about in comparison to the hundreds of millions of dollars channelled to the Trinidad firm.

There is a widely ramified and deeply disturbing connection between Mr. Ally’s Ministry and the Trinidad firm, Caribbean Education Publishers.

By letter dated 28 January, 2002 the Ministry’s Procurement Officer advised local booksellers to stock the following books (which, incidentally, are not popularly used in the education system): A Complete English for Secondary Schools Bk I; A Complete English for Secondary Schools Bk II; Complete English Course for Secondary Schools CXC Level. All of these books are published by Caribbean Education Publishers.

He recommended the following books published by James Nisbet & Co.: A Basic Course in English; A First Dictionary. Is it a matter of coincidence James Nisbet & Co. has gone out of business and Caribbean Education Publishers has acquired the stock of books? Is it also coincidence that the same situation applies to a System’s Student’s Companion for Lower Secondary Schools, published by System Publishing House, Singapore, whose stock has also been secured by Caribbean Education Publishers?

The questionable nature of procurement by the Ministry of Education demands a thorough-going investigation. We are looking very closely at the recent contract that has been advertised for the printing of a set of books for the Ministry. Numerous irregularities have already surfaced and Mr. Hydar Ally need not believe that the Ministry will be allowed to continue with its corrupt and irregular practices without public challenge.

EXTRACTS FROM THE REPORT OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL ON THEPUBLIC ACCOUNTS OF GUYANA FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2000:

THE CASH POSITION OF THE GOVERNMENT:

“The majority of bank accounts under the control of Ministries, Departments and Regions had not been reconciled for a considerable period of time. Some of them continued to be overdrawn by significant amounts. This state of affairs is indeed regrettable because on a number of occasions, new bank accounts were opened to start from a clean position with the specific understanding that bank accounts would be reconciled within thirty (30) days of the close of the month. It should be mentioned that several alleged fraudulent transactions were uncovered over the years, facilitated by the failure to reconcile the related bank accounts.”

REVIEW OF THE OPERATIONS OF THE CENTRAL TENDER BOARD:

“In my previous reports, reference was made to the need for a complete reorganisation of the operations of the Central Tender Board to reflect membership from outside the Public Service e.g. the professional engineering bodies, trade unions, the Consumers’ Association and the University of Guyana. However, it is again disappointing to note that no action was taken to implement this recommendation.”

KEY FINDINGS RELATING TO MINISTRIES/DEPARTMENTS/REGIONS:

“There were numerous breaches in the Tender Board Regulations at the Supreme Court of Judicature. In particular, there was evidence of contract splitting to avoid adjudication by the Departmental and Central Tender boards. In addition, several instances of apparent misappropriation of funds were uncovered in Georgetown and other magisterial districts due to the absence of proper segregation of duties and failure to reconcile bank accounts.”

“In relation to the Ministry of Agriculture, the basis of the award of several contracts adjudicated by the Central Tender Board could not be determined because of the unavailability of the related files. A number of statutory bodies in receipt of subventions from the Ministry were also significantly in arrears in terms of financial reporting”

“At the Ministry of Education, the main bank account was improperly used to make advances, and at the time of reporting, 394 advanced totalling $40.387M remained outstanding. There were also 494 payment vouchers valued at $129.385M which were not presented for audit examination.”

“In relation to the Ministry of Public Works, a number of irregularities were uncovered mainly in relation to building contracts. An official of the Ministry was in collusion with certain contractors, and in a number of cases there were overpayments on the contracts. …”

In an open letter addressed to Stanley Ming as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, which was published on the ‘Business Page’ in the Sunday Stabroek of May 19th, 2002, Mr. Christopher Ram stated, “Mr. Ming, I have to let you know that the Report on 2000 offers no joy and indeed the Auditor General has found it necessary to comment on the “deterioration in financial management at both the ministerial and central levels.” The Report is much longer (2,120 paragraphs) than that of 1999 which had 1,804 paragraphs. It makes depressing reading and you may only be able to take it in very small doses. I do however draw your attention to the audit certificate on pages i – iii which in accountants’ jargon would be referred to as a qualified report meaning that it is not clean. The entire certificate – qualification and all – is identical to the preceding year, while the discrepancies and shortcoming identified in the body of the report are different only in the higher number of cases and the larger sums involved.”



People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia.
Thursday, 06 June 2002