PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday, May 10, 2007 Media Centre Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR takes this opportunity in the aftermath of May Day to urge the Trade Union Movement to resolve their difficulties and reunify the labour movement in the interest of workers;
• The appointment of Colonel Chabilall Ramsarup as Head of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) in total disregard to agreed Labour practices is another example of total disregard for the workers and their Union;
• In this its 50th Anniversary year, the Party’s Biennial Congress from July 20 to 22nd will of necessity engage in far reaching discussions on the task ahead while determining what necessary structures and programs will be necessary to ensure that the Party continues to play a critical role in the national development of this Nation;
• Dark clouds hover over Linden as Bosai takes over with proposed electricity rate increases of 150% to citizens of the town;
• The PNCR supports recall legislation in principle;
• The Party extends to the family, relatives and friends of Joel Chapman and Veronica Delph its heartfelt condolences on the occasion of their death.

URGENT NEED TO UNIFY THE LABOUR MOVEMENT IN THE INTEREST OF WORKERS

The recently concluded May Week Celebrations have revealed the serious divisions that exist in the labour movement of Guyana which adversely affect the ability of Unions to fully represent their members. The People's National Congress Reform has in the recent past exposed and registered its concern over the continuous attempts by the PPP/C Administration to undermine, dis-empower and destroy the Labour Movement. Recent developments indicate these efforts continue unabated.

For example, the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), because of its militancy on behalf of Public Servants, has been a major target of the PPP/C Administration. The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) was placed beyond its reach as a result of legislation and the PPP/C Administration continues to carry on practices such as, refusal to effect the deduction of union dues from some members while abusing the practice of appointing contract employees outside the of supervision of the Public Service Commission, to the detriment of the work and activities of the union.

The appointment of Colonel Chabilall Ramsarup as Head of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) in total disregard to agreed Labour practices is another example of total disregard for the Union. This appointment has already drawn the condemnation of the PNCR in a Press Release dated April 30, 2007 and has been the subject of daily condemnation by other stakeholders in Society. It will be further pursued in the National Assembly of the Parliament of Guyana today when the Leader of the Opposition asks the Minister a question without notice as provided for in Standing Order 18. Mr. Corbin will ask the following question:

“ Was the Minister aware that the substantive Head of the Customs and Trade Administration of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Mr. Lambert Marks was away from the job for nearly two years and that his duties were carried out by his Deputy Ms. Griffith who is suitably qualified and had been formally acting in that capacity for more than one year? If so, did the Minister of Finance approve of the appointment of Mr. Ramsarup as the supernumerary Head of the Customs and Trade Administration knowing that no advertisement had been made of the vacancy and that the person acting in that capacity was out of the country on official business of the Guyana Revenue Authority? If the Minister did approve of the appointment would he advise the National Assembly of the criteria used for such appointments and indicate what are the procedures used for employment and promotion of Staff at the Guyana Revenue Authority?”

The PNCR will continue to pursue this and similar matters to ensure that justice are done.

At the same time the PNCR must condemn the patent efforts being made to destabilize the Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC) and shift the locus of legitimate and traditional Trade Union activity from this body to a so-called Federation of Independent Trade Unions in Guyana (FITUG). The overwhelming financial and other support of Government and some employers to this latter’s May Day rally could not go unnoticed. When this is taken in contrast with the withdrawal of the annual subvention to the GTUC and the political conditionality associated with grants to the Critchlow Labour College, the intentions of the Government are quite clear.

More recently the refusal of the PPP/C representatives on the Parliamentary Appointive Committee to agree to a GPSU nominee to the Public Service Commission is disgraceful. It is therefore evident that if the workers interests are to be adequately addressed the leaders of the Trade Union Movement need to engage in serious reassessment of the situation in Guyana and resolve to find solutions to their difficulties. The lessons of the founders of the trade union movement in Guyana led by Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow should be a constant reminder that only in Unity lies the strength of the Labour Movement. The PNCR therefore takes this opportunity in the aftermath of May Day to Urge the Trade Union Movement to resolve its difficulties and reunify the labour movement in the interest of workers.

PNCR 15TH BIENNIAL CONGRESS: JULY 20TH TO 22ND

The PNCR will be holding its 15th Biennial Congress from July 20th to 22nd, 2007 at its Headquarters, Sophia. This event will present the Party with the opportunity to review in depth the work and activities it has undertaken since the last Congress, review its performance at the last elections and approve its programme of work for the challenging period ahead. In this its 50th Anniversary year the Congress will of necessity engage in far reaching discussions on the task ahead while determining what necessary structures and programs will be necessary to ensure that the Party continues to play a critical role in the national development of this Nation.

The PNCR is not unaware that the changing and changed local and international environment require that political parties redefine and reposition themselves so that they could take advantage of modern political ideas and technological development with the express purpose of making them more effective in carrying out their functions and programs.

A special Press briefing on the Party Congress will be hosted at a later date by the Congress Committee.

DARK CLOUDS HOVER OVER LINDEN AS BOSAI TAKES OVER WITH PROPOSED ELECTRICITY RATE INCREASES OF 150% TO CITIZENS OF THE TOWN

The take over of the bauxite company by the Chinese Company BOSAI took place over the last week-end with little information available to the people of Guyana of the final terms agreed by the Government for this new 70% share holder. This information was published on Monday, May 7th last in the daily news papers which attributed their source of the information to the Prime Minister. Investigations have since revealed that there was a high profile fete on Sunday, May 6th at Watooka House Linden sponsored by the new Chinese owners during which the formal hand over was done. It is also significant that two days later, the Linmine Secretariat officially informed the RDC of Region 10 that there was a proposal to increase by 150% the Electricity rates of power generated by the Company and sold to the Linden Community. This naturally creates the possibility of an immediate rise in the cost of living at a time when the citizens have not yet recovered from the introduction of Value Added Tax. Businessmen who tendered for the supply of services and supplies to the Company prior to the new owners taking over are none the wiser about what the practices of the new owners will be. The citizens at Linden are also concerned about what other conditions may have been agreed between the Government and the new company that could affect their lives. Consequently, there is great uncertainty about the economic future of the community.

The Guyana Government and by inference the people of Guyana are shareholders of the Bauxite Company and there are many unanswered questions about the original agreement between the Government of Guyana and CAMBIOR when 70% of Linmine was sold and little information about this new deal. The people of Guyana and, more particularly, the people of Linden have a right to know what deals the PPP/C Administration has made that can affect their future. It is nothing short of disrespect for the people of the mining Town that such a major event could occur without any disclosure of the implications for their existence.

On the 21st December, 2006 the Leader of the Opposition had cause to raise this issue when it was announced overseas that IAM Gold proposed to sell its 70% share to Bosai. At that time the Prime Minister made certain pronouncements, including the fact that it was not a done deal and that the Government was still to consider the matter. Regrettably, neither the National Assembly nor the Leader of the Opposition, who initially raised some serious concerns, have been apprised of any developments, particularly as it relates to the protection of the interests of the people of Guyana. It is therefore obvious to all that the pledge of transparency and accountability by the PPP Administration is a sick joke. The Nation should also be reminded that the Prime Minister, who has responsibility for the Bauxite Industry, could not advise the National Assembly in December last on the names of the Government share-holders on the Board of OMAI Bauxite Company. Guyanese can therefore have no confidence that the interests of the people of Guyana are being properly represented in these matters.

In accordance with Standing Order 12., however, the Leader of the Opposition will this afternoon be requesting an adjournment of the National Assembly at today’s sitting to discuss this issue, the announced take over of the Bauxite operations at Linden by the Chinese company, BOSAI Mineral Group Company Limited and its immediate implications for Linden, including, the proposed increase in electricity rates by some 150% to the residents of the Town, as an urgent matter of public importance.

PNCR SUPPORTS RECALL LEGISLATION IN PRINCIPLE

Among the matters to be tabled in the National Assembly today is a Bill seeking to clarify the recall provisions already existent in the Guyana Constitution. During the last Constitutional review it was agreed that the Constitution should enshrine provisions of recall. The existing provisions of Article 156, however, were inadequate to prevent Mr. Manzoor Nadir from crossing the floor or ensuring the resignation of three members of Parliament even after they had declared their support for another political party.

PNCR parliamentarian at the time, Mr. Raphael Trotman, had resigned from the PNCR to form another political party, resigned from all the parliamentary Committees on which he represented the business of the PNCR yet he refused to resign from Parliament even when requested to do so by the Party. The Representative of the List wrote the Speaker requesting that the existing provisions of Article 156 be used to declare Mr. Trotman seat vacant. The Speaker refused to act on the basis that the procedure was not properly outlined in the existing Constitution. The result was that Mr. Trotman though not representing the List on which he was elected to the National Assembly continued to occupy the seat, not even attending Parliament, until he eventually resigned. WPA/GAP had similar experiences with their representative Sheila Holder. It is in this context that the PNCR fully supports recall legislation to ensure that the wishes of the electorate are always respected.

The electoral system in Guyana is based on Proportional Representation and citizens are asked to support and vote for the List of a Political Party, They vote for the Political Party or List on the basis of certain representation made to the electorate. The system of recall therefore has to relate to our own electoral System and cannot be compared with those systems where citizens vote for a particular candidate in a constituency. The drafts of the proposed legislation were made available to the PNCR for comment and the Party Parliamentary team will examine the final draft to ensure that it satisfies all our expectation to remedy the existing mischief in the present provisions of the Constitution.

DEATH OF PNCR MEMBERS

The PNCR wishes to announce the death of two stalwarts; member of staff, Mr. Joel Chapman and Party Activist Veronica Delph. The Party wishes to take this opportunity to extend to their relatives and friends heartfelt condolences on the occasion of their death.

Mr. Chapman, who was buried at Mahaicony Village yesterday, Wednesday, May 9, 2007, was a man of equable temperament who went about his duties with a kind of quiet dignity. Friendly to all he was a long standing member of the Party and its staff. He will be missed.

The details of the arrangements for the funeral of Ms. Veronica Delph will be announced later.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, May 10, 2007