PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday, 25 October, 2007 Media Centre Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• Based on a previous report by a Minister of the PPP/C Government, the Party leaves it to the judgement of the Press and the people of Guyana as to whether Karran Singh is fit to be the CEO of GWI;
• The People’s National Congress Reform wishes to place on records its congratulations to the Guyana Police Force and public spirited citizens who foiled a robbery at the Nedd Uplift Bakery at the corner of Garnett and Middleton Streets;
• The abduction of Ishmael Archer is reminiscent of the modus operandi of the phantom gangs which operated with impunity;
• The Party also remains committed to honouring the pledge made at a previous Press Conference that if the Government does not hold an independent inquiry into Donna Herod’s death then the PNCR will join with all like-minded and all legitimate forces in Guyana to ensure such an inquiry is held;
• The PNCR therefore again calls for an investigation into the alleged torture of Patrick Sumner and Victor Jones and wishes to remind the PPP/C Administration that the torture of individuals, for whatever reason, is contrary to the laws of Guyana and international conventions, especially the Convention Against Torture (CAT);
• The PNCR had warned that GPL had become a source of misery to the Guyanese people and therefore was not surprised by the action of the West Ruimveld residents;
• The Government wants a windfall from VAT and it is prepared to sacrifice the Guyanese people in the process;
• The People’s National Congress Reform mourns the death of a stalwart founder member of the Party, Ms. Valdina Andrews who passed away last Saturday morning, October 20, 2007 after a period of illness.

KARRAN SINGH AND PPP/C POOR GOVERNANCE

In its Press Statement on September 20, 2007 the PNCR questioned whether Mr. Karran Singh, the current CEO of GWI, is the best man for the job. The PNCR noted that he did not have an unblemished record as Chief Executive Officer of GUYWA and many questions had been raised as it relates to the financial management of the organisation.

The Party has found vindication for its position in a report in the Guyana Chronicle of August 10, 1999. The report is based on a statement issued by the then Minister of Water, one Mr. Shaikh Baksh.

In that release, the Minister said “Overall, under the leadership of the CEO, the authority (GUYWA) has not been performing with a satisfactory level of efficiency and effectiveness, and it is estimated that GUYWA’s operation efficiency is 60 per cent.”

Referring to Mr. Singh’s managerial skills, this is what Minister Baksh had to say “The present CEO lacks the managerial talent, skills and knowledge to manage the authority to inspire confidence and creditability (sic) in staff and to move GUYWA to successfully meet the challenges ahead.”

In the area of accountability Minister Baksh was equally unsparing. According to the report in question “Baksh said that there was no tender board approval for $14.8M paid to Plastic Products Limited for pipe lines. The Deputy Director of Finance drew the CEO’s attention to this breach. Singh however authorized payment on the grounds that the pipe lines were urgently needed.”

In the area of grievances, Minister Baksh pointed out, according to the report in the Guyana Chronicle of August 10, 1999, that there were “complaints by sixteen engineers and divisional managers against the managerial style and ethical behaviour of CEO Singh.”

Minister Baksh was constrained to observe that as he moved around Guyana at the time there was “poor work performance, complacency and lack of good work practice and innovation.”

Based on this report by a Minister of the PPP/C Government, the Party leaves it to the judgement of the Press and the people of Guyana as to whether Karran Singh is fit to be the CEO of GWI.

However, the PNCR must point out that it is the same Karran Singh, with no new training but with the same old attitude, and therefore the PPP/C must explain its new found zeal to promote and protect one who they have publicly described as incompetent and corrupt. All of this is occurring while the water sector in Guyana is in crisis.

PNCR CONGRATULATES POLICE, CITIZENS FOR FOILING BAKERY ROBBERY

The People’s National Congress Reform wishes to place on records its congratulations to the Guyana Police Force and public spirited citizens who foiled a robbery at the Nedd Uplift Bakery at the corner of Garnett and Middleton Streets. The Party notes that the Police reacted promptly to the call for help and were able to apprehend the bandits. The PNCR has always believed that effective police work and the co-operation of our citizens represent one of the best defences against the escalation of crime.

At the same time the Party regrets the ordeal suffered by the owner of the bakery, Ms. Parbattie Nedd, who sustained injuries to her face and neck. The employees of the bakery are also commended for their bravery and the part they played generally in foiling this robbery.

SNATCHING OF ISHMAEL ARCHER AT BUXTON

The report that 22 year old Ishmael Archer of Buxton was snatched from his village by four heavily armed unknown individuals in a dark blue car must be deeply disturbing to all Guyanese. What is equally distressing is that the Police have claimed that they had no involvement in the abduction of Archer. The question must therefore be: Who committed this crime?

The abduction of Archer is reminiscent of the modus operandi of the phantom gangs which operated with impunity. This can only mean that these gangs are still in operation and might be acting with official sanction. The PNCR cannot help but note the dangers of the reemergence and use of phantom squads to fight crime. Moreover, it is hoped that the PPP/C regime is not once again returning to the era of Ronald Gajraj and the use of death squads. It is the Party’s sincere hope that this is a mere coincidence.

The PNCR demands that the security forces must take all, necessary action to ensure the safety and well being of Ishmael Archer. Failure to act might mean that Buxton and the rest of society could spiral downwards into that agonizing period in the history of this country when many individuals went missing and many were later discovered to have been killed. An equally important order of business for the security forces is to root out the remaining phantom gangs less their activities invite retaliation.

INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO THE DEATH OF DONNA HEROD

The PNCR makes no apology in reiterating its demand that an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the alleged murder of Donna Herod at Buxton on September 4, 2007. The PNCR appeals to all right minded citizens of this nation and the rest of the general population to raise their voices against any attempt to cover up the circumstances of Donna Herod’s death.

The Party also remains committed to honouring the pledge made at a previous Press Conference that if the Government does not hold an independent inquiry into Donna Herod’s death then the PNCR will join with all like-minded and all legitimate forces in Guyana to ensure such an inquiry is held.

TORTURE OF PATRICK SUMNER AND VICTOR JONES

The PNCR had previously condemned the torture of Patrick Sumner and Victor Jones and called for an immediate inquiry. The Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Clement Rohee and the Head of the Army, Commodore Gary Best both made commitments that such an inquiry would be held. A month later there is no discernible movement towards this end.

The PNCR therefore again calls for an investigation into the alleged torture of Patrick Sumner and Victor Jones and wishes to remind the PPP/C Administration that the torture of individuals, for whatever reason, is contrary to the laws of Guyana and international conventions, especially the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Those who committed these acts of torture must be identified and face the full force of the law.

PROTEST IN WEST RUMVELDT

The PNCR has noted with interest that the residents of West Ruimveldt took to the streets on October 18th blocking roads and burning tyres in protest against a massive disconnection campaign by GPL. What is to be noted here is the heavy handed and insensitive manner that the GPL went about this exercise. Several residents complained that they have been disconnected even though their bills have been paid and they have been asked to settle substantial bills which had been incurred by previous residents.

The PNCR had warned that GPL had become a source of misery to the Guyanese people and therefore was not surprised by the action of the West Ruimveldt residents. The protest action by the residents is the strongest warning yet to GPL that it will not solved the problems of mismanagement, over billing and inefficiency by imposing unbearable burdens on the Guyanese people.

VALUE ADDED TAX (VAT)

The PNCR calls on the Jagdeo Administration to come clean with the Guyanese people by explaining to them the significant windfall that has been accumulating as a result of revenues from VAT. It must also publish the amount of money collected from VAT up to September of this year. The fact that the PPP/C has refused to do so despite the recommendations of the PNCR and other stakeholders is a clear indication that the publication of the figures relevant to the collection from VAT will be an embarrassment to the Administration and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it can substantially reduce the VAT tax.

It must be evident to the Government that the 16% tax is not only unbearable but also an additional burden to the Guyanese people. VAT has been the major reason for the spike of the cost of living and has fueled the rise in prices of a number of food items. During the last month chicken, cheese, cooking oil, milk, flour and cooking gas have increased in price, the latter moving from $2,800 to $3,000. But wages and salaries have remained stagnant.

The PPP/C Administration must know that it tarnishes its reputation everyday by remaining deaf to the pleas to bring relief to the people of Guyana. The only explanation for this uncaring attitude is that the Administration wants to garner as much taxes to be able to deal with the expected shortfall in revenue consequent upon the fact that Guyana is no longer a HIPC country and therefore will not access HIPC resources. An additional and important fact is that the PPP/C Administration has failed to attract investment necessary to stimulate the economy and place it on a path of sustainable growth.

The PNCR is of the view that the people of Guyana must not pay the price for the incompetence and the lack of vision of the Jagdeo Administration. It is this lack of vision and the callousness resulting from being in power for more than fifteen years that have stood in the way of the Administration bringing relief to the people of Guyana. The Government wants a windfall from VAT and it is prepared to sacrifice the Guyanese people in the process. The PNCR warns that development by taxation has historically proved to be counter-productive and advises the PPP/C to eschew this course of action.

THE PNCR MOURNS THE DEATH OF VALDINA ANDREWS

The People’s National Congress Reform mourns the death of a stalwart founder member of the Party, Ms. Valdina Andrews who passed away last Saturday morning, October 20, 2007 after a period of illness. Cde. Val as she was familiarly called within the Party circles served as an activist both in her community and in the women’s movement.

Condolences are extended to her son, Eon as well as other relatives and friends on her passing.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, October 25, 2007