PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday 4 October 2007 Media Centre Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR wishes to record its sadness at the passing of Mr. Ivan Crandon; The Party also wishes to record with sadness at the passing of one of its stalwarts, Mr. Tyrone Persaud, who died recently and was buried on the 3rd October, 2007;
• The PNCR wishes to urge the Jagdeo PPP/C Administration to provide the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the necessary training, resources and leadership, to ensure that the Ministry, and the nation, can address the unresolved issues with Suriname, in such a manner that our national interests are protected and peace is maintained on our eastern frontier;
• The PNCR considers it necessary to insist that Mr. Rohee must set a specific timetable for an independent inquiry and provide public detail of the mechanisms by which it would be undertaken;
• The PNCR condemns the senseless killing of the two MMC security guards, Mr. Rodwell Clarke and Mr. Warren Hutson by criminal elements and expresses our condolences to the bereaved family, relatives and friends of the deceased;
• It seems that Jagdeo has failed to appreciate what his responsibilities are as a President and he continues to make promises which are at best perishable;
• The PNCR extends congratulations to Commodore Gary Best on his elevation to the important position of Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force;
• The PNCR wishes to note that, in spite of the abundant evidence of the suffering of the Guyanese people, as a result of the 16% Value Added Tax (VAT), and the representations made by important stakeholders in the society, the Jagdeo PPP/C Administration has adamantly refused to even consider a reduction of this unconscionable VAT rate.

THE PNCR EXPRESSES CONDOLENCES ON THE DEATH OF MR. IVAN CRANDON AND MR. TYRONE PERSAUD

The PNCR wishes to record its sadness at the passing of Mr. Ivan Crandon. Mr. Crandon was an outstanding police officer who, during his long years in the Guyana Police Force (GPF), demonstrated, in practical ways, the meaning of the words “commitment” and “service” to the Guyanese people. This commitment and sense of service were also reflected in his tenure as Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC).

The Party tenders its condolences to his wife, family and immediate relatives.

The Party also wishes to record with sadness at the passing of one of its stalwarts, Mr. Tyrone Persaud, who died recently and was buried on the 3rd October, 2007. Mr. Persaud came from that generation of PNC supporters who commitment to the Party was unquestionable and who would hold the interest of the Party as being of paramount importance. He did not stint in terms of energy or personal resources in order to promote and protect the interest and concerns of the Party.

The PNCR takes this opportunity to extend to his family and relatives its heartfelt condolences and to publicly express its appreciation of his contribution to its development.

GUYANA-SURINAME MARITIME AWARD:

In its statement, on September 20, 2007, the People’s National Congress Reform welcomed the Guyana-Suriname Maritime Award and stated that it represented, “a triumph for international law as a means for the peaceful settlement of disputes between sovereign states.” The Party also noted that the award provided the basis for more harmonious and productive relations with the Republic of Suriname.

However, the Party wishes to emphasise that the award goes well beyond the ruling of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and ramifies into the bilateral relationship between Suriname and Guyana. That relationship can be said to be affected by three important elements: The Maritime Boundary dispute; The New River Triangle; and the Sovereignty over the Corentyne River. The award has resolved the first of these issues; the latter two remain unresolved.

The PNCR wishes to urge the Jagdeo PPP/C Administration to provide the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the necessary training, resources and leadership, to ensure that the Ministry, and the nation, can address the unresolved issues with Suriname, in such a manner that our national interests are protected and peace is maintained on our eastern frontier.

The Party wishes to add that whatever further policies are conceived and implemented in respect of Suriname must be underpinned by a creative and sustained archival policy.

THE TORTURE OF RESIDENTS OF BUXTON:

At its last Press Conference, the PNCR called on the Jagdeo PPP/C Administration to make a clear statement that torture does not have its official sanction. The Party noted, with interest, that the Minister of Home Affairs has denied that the PPP/C Administration embraces such a policy. Mr. Rohee went on to give the assurance that there will be a probe into allegations of torture, endured by Patrick Sumner and Victor Jones.

While Mr. Rohee’s statement is to be welcomed, the PNCR considers it necessary to insist that Mr. Rohee must set a specific timetable for an independent inquiry and provide public detail of the mechanisms by which it would be undertaken. It is the responsibility of Mr. Rohee and the Government to ensure that justice is served in a manner which is patently transparent.

In the meantime, the Party has noted that a police report has recommended that an inquest be held to determine the circumstances of Ms. Donna Herod’s death. The PNCR urges that such an inquest should be held expeditiously and not be hampered by the usual administrative and other contrived delays.



PNCR CONDEMNS THE MURDER OF MMC GUARDS:

The PNCR condemns the senseless killing of the two MMC security guards, Mr. Rodwell Clarke and Mr. Warren Hutson by criminal elements and expresses our condolences to the bereaved family, relatives and friends of the deceased.

The Party calls on the Guyana Police Force to expeditiously undertake a thorough investigation and bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice.

The PNCR also wishes to commend the Police and public spirited citizens for the recent apprehension of the bandits who tried to rob a Cambio in the center of the City.

The Party repeats its previous warning to the Police, and advice to the public, about the dangerous practice of the premature profiling of persons to justify unacceptable Police action, such as their extra-judicial killing, rather than seeking to apprehend such persons and bring them before the courts for trial.

The Party has taken note of the statement by Lieutenant Colonel Jawalla Persaud, of the GDF, to the effect that “We are not targeting the community of Buxton … we have carried out operations all over the country.” While the Party does not wish to impugn either the integrity or the credibility of this officer, it, nevertheless, feels compelled to invite him to name the other communities in Guyana which have been subjected to the same treatment inflicted on the Buxton community by the security forces.

THE PROMISES OF PRESIDENT JAGDEO:

The PNCR recalls that, at the end of his first 100 days in office, the Party was forced to note that, between 1996 - when he was Minister of Finance - and when he became President in 1999, Mr Jagdeo had already made no less than fifteen (15) promises which he never kept. Unfortunately, this pattern of behaviour has escalated to the extent that Guyanese and others have become wary of promises made by President Jagdeo.

The Jagdeo Administration only recently recognized that equitable access to information is the democratic right of the Guyanese people. Yet nothing is being done to make a reality of this promise.

Mr. Jagdeo had promised to establish a Science Council many years ago. That Council has not seen the light of day. In addition, he had promised the establishment of SWAT teams to fight crime, an end to the monopoly on radio, and a comprehensive reform of the Local Government system

A reference to the yet unfulfilled, or partially fulfilled, commitments made by President Jagdeo, in the Communique (of 5 May 2003), the Follow Up Agreement (of 18 June 2003) and, the Press Release on the meeting with the Leader of the Opposition (dated 15 September 2003), is sufficient to expose the gravity of the situation posed by perishability of Presidential promises.

Implementation of the Recommendations of the Hoyte-Jagdeo Bi-Partisan Committees:

1. National Policy on Land and House Lots Distribution

2. Local Government Reform


3. Radio Monopoly and Non-Partisan Boards:

The President and the Leader of the Opposition agreed to the following:

In accordance with the guidelines agreed to by the Joint Committee in its final report the appointment of non-partisan Boards of Directors of the state-owned media and the NFMU was approved and would be implemented within four (4) months.

• The draft broadcasting legislation which will include provisions for the creation of a National Broadcasting Authority, would be ready for consultation with two (2) months and be laid in the National Assembly within four (4) months from 1st May 2003
• Equitable access (based on Parliamentary representation) to the state-owned media by all Parliamentary Parties (as distinct from government) would be instituted without undue delay.
• The independent National Broadcasting Authority would be the licence issuing authority for all “commercial” licences for commercial frequencies for radio and television.
• The NFMU would be responsible for providing technical advice to the NBA for the granting of commercial frequency licences.
• The Interim Broadcasting Committee would be disbanded immediately the NBA comes into existence.
• Taking into consideration the options presented in the final report of the Joint Committee, the relationship between the NFMU and the NBA will be determined after the consultation on the draft broadcasting legislation.
• There would be a freeze on the granting of all new commercial frequencies for television and radio by NFMU until such time as the new broadcasting legislation comes into effect.
• Both leaders agreed that priority would be given by the NBA to the granting of commercial radio licenses using the statutorily enshrined criteria which emphasise high standards of broadcasting and serious penalties for their infringement.

4. Appointment of PPP/C and PNCR Nominees to State Boards, Commissions and Committees

PNCR WELCOMES NEW CHIEF OF STAFF:

The PNCR extends congratulations to Commodore Gary Best on his elevation to the important position of Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force. The Party is hopeful that Mr. Best’s experience in the GDF, as well as his academic background, will empower him to carry out his Constitutional duties, as Chief of Staff, with the vision and purpose required to uphold and protect the Constitutional rights of all of the Guyanese people.

The Party has noted that the Chief of Staff has given a solemn undertaking that he will uphold the Constitution of Guyana. The PNCR, therefore, expects the Chief of Staff and the GDF to conduct their activities, and to assert their Constitutional role, in a manner that is consistent with the Oath of Office of the Chief of Staff.




VALUE ADDED TAX (VAT):

The PNCR wishes to note that, in spite of the abundant evidence of the suffering of the Guyanese people, as a result of the 16% Value Added Tax (VAT), and the representations made by important stakeholders in the society, the Jagdeo PPP/C Administration has adamantly refused to even consider a reduction of this unconscionable VAT rate.

The Party can only conclude that, instead of recognising the need to take immediate action to bring relief to the suffering Guyanese people, the PPP/C Administration is, as usual, only continuing to posture and pay lip service to a recognition of the interest of the people of Guyana.

If the PPP/C were really respectful of democratic norms and practices, the Administration would have already heeded the cries from all segments of Guyanese society and taken positive steps to relieve the people of Guyana of the oppressive consequences of the 16% VAT.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday, 4 October, 2007