PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday, November 1, 2007 Media Centre Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The PPP/C Administration can no longer justify its blatant attempt to suppress elements of the Trade Union Movement and its related organisation;
• Guyana has been fortunate to benefit from the change in policy on the part of the International Financial Institutions (IFI’s) which now allows them to give debt write-offs;
• The PNCR believes that one of the prime reasons for the confusion and inefficiency in the water sector is the poor performance of GWI;
• The PNCR strongly believes that such a commission of inquiry could play an important role in restoring some rationality to the operations of GPL and prevent it from becoming a continuing and persistent burden to the Guyanese people;
• All right thinking Guyanese must be offended and concerned by what is happening in Buxton at the present time;
• Norma Younge served the Party and the nation in an exemplary way during the post independence period.

THE UNDERMINING OF THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT

The PPP/C Administration can no longer justify its blatant attempt to suppress elements of the Trade Union Movement and its related organisation. The frontal attack on the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) is now a matter of record. The clear intention here is to weaken the GPSU by starving it of funds and by undermining its existence by employing numerous employees in the public service by means of contracts.

The Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC) has also come under the hammer. The most recent indignity inflicted on that organisation is the withdrawal of the subvention which was voted by Parliament. And as if this were not enough, the outgoing President of the GTUC, Mr. Andrew Garnett revealed at the 2nd Triennial Congress of that organisation that the subsidy normally paid to underwrite the activities of the Critchlow Labour College has also been withdrawn. The PNCR wishes to record its disgust at this blatant attempt by the PPP/C Administration to destroy an institution that has played a vital role in helping to provide education for thousands of Guyanese.

The PNCR calls on the PPP/C to restore the subventions to the GTUC and the Critchlow Labour College so that both organisations can continue to play their role in the development of Guyana. The continued denial of the subventions to these two institutions reinforces the belief of many Guyanese that the PPP/C cares little for the interests of the workers of this country. Whatever working class credentials the PPP/C claims to have are slowly being stripped away by these anti working class policies.

Lastly, the Party finds it very strange that President Jagdeo who seems to have become the national landlord, dispensing the largesse of the state as he sees fit, would deny these two key institutions subventions which are required to keep them operative. Is the aim of Jagdeo and the PPP/C the destruction of the working class in Guyana? His handling of the funds to City Hall is an indication of his approach as the national landlord.

THE ECONOMY

Guyana has been fortunate to benefit from the change in policy on the part of the International Financial Institutions (IFI’s) which now allows them to give debt write-offs. As a result this country has benefited from substantial debt write-offs from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The policy idea behind these debt write-offs is to enable Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) like Guyana to invest the savings made in the social sectors. It is therefore pertinent that the PNCR must demand that the PPP/C state the quantum of debt write-off received to date and the social sectors in which investments have been made. This is necessary since the social sector is in crisis.

THE WOES OF THE WATER SECTOR

The PNCR, like the rest of the citizens of this country, are appalled by the mismanagement and inefficiencies of the water sector. The international community now regards access to potable water as a basic human right. In these terms thousands of Guyanese in different parts of this country are being denied these rights. And the PPP/C Administration has only awakened to the seriousness of the water situation when citizens at De Kendren, La Grange and other parts of the country burn tyres and block roads in order to ensure access to potable water. The situation is the same in Sophia and is worst in Region # 1. Surely this cannot go on. The PPP/C must give the nation the benefit of an audit of the true state of affairs in the water sector.

The PNCR believes that one of the prime reasons for the confusion and inefficiency in the water sector is the poor performance of GWI. That performance cannot be improved under the new and incompetent CEO, Mr. Karran Singh. The Party has already stated its case as to why Mr. Singh is unlikely to bring the kind of management skills required to improve the situation in the water sector. Indeed, the Party is firmly convinced that the PPP/C must consider whether continuing with Mr. Karran Singh is the best possible option.

COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO GPL

The PNCR is convinced that given the massive problems faced by GPL, including its inefficiency and debts outstanding, that the best way to proceed with this organisation is to launch an independent commission of inquiry into its operations and to determine whether it should not be radically reorganized or privatized. The Party strongly believes that such a commission of inquiry could play an important role in restoring some rationality to the operations of GPL and prevent it from continuing to be a persistent burden to the Guyanese people.

At the same time, the PNCR has been alarmed by persistent reports that there will be an increase in the tariffs by GPL. An increase in tariffs at this time will only add further burdens to the Guyanese people and make their already harassed existence even more problematic. The Party opposes any such increase in tariffs and would seek to encourage other stakeholders to take a similar position. The PNCR calls on the PPP/C Government to state its position clearly as it relates to the imposition of this new burden on the people of Guyana.

THE SITUATION AT BUXTON

The PNCR believes that there is need for action to deal with crime in the entire Guyanese society. These actions must be within the context of the law. The Joint Services cannot be judge, jury and executioner and the entire village of Buxton must not be made to suffer. It is important to note as well that torture should not be used in the fight against crime.

All right thinking Guyanese must be offended and concerned by what is happening in Buxton at the present time. Beyond the headlines of alleged criminality in Buxton is a story that this village is suffering from administrative neglect by the PPP/C and as a consequence a breeding ground for criminality and anti-social behaviour is being created.

The PNCR has information at its disposal which says that farmlands are being abandoned in Buxton as farmers are being arrested and beaten by elements in the Joint Services. Additionally, Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) workers are refusing to transport punts to the farmlands at the time of harvesting with the result that burnt cane is cut and left on the ground to rot. This situation is worsened because farmers/cane harvesters are refusing to enter the farmlands to cut and load as they are afraid of being arrested.

The Party has also learnt that the fragile security situation has crippled agriculture and buildings are being destroyed. The long and short of this situation is that the economic base of the community is being destroyed and as a result many residents find it difficult to make ends meet.

While all of this is happening there is an unwillingness on the part of the PPP/C Administration to ensure justice is done in the case of Donna Herod and the Party is therefore appalled by the statement from the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Clement Rohee that an enquiry will be held into the circumstances surrounding the alleged murder of Donna Herod. We are appalled because he seems not to want an independent inquiry and wants instead those who commit the crime to investigate themselves. This is unacceptable. The inquiry must be an independent one.

THE DEATH OF NORMA YOUNGE

The People’s National Congress Reform mourns the death of yet another of its stalwarts, Ms. Norma Cecille Younge, whose passing last Friday, October 26, 2007, came as a great shock and occasioned much sadness within the PNCR family.

Norma Younge served the Party and the nation in an exemplary way during the post independence period. She was a committed and knowledgeable Executive Secretary who ran the Department she supervised with efficiency, sensitivity and a mixture of seriousness and humour. Norma Younge was known to share her political experience with younger officers and so guided many of them to successful careers. She also played an important role in the design and implementation of the Party’s educational programmes which were aimed at, among other things, the completion of the decolonization process.

An educator by profession, she served with distinction as a teacher in many parts of Guyana in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

After she returned to her profession from the world of politics, Teacher Norma served as head teacher in several schools before being appointed Principal of President’s College during the 1990’s. Up to the time of her death Norma Younge was involved in service to the profession which she dearly loved and continued to give voluntary service to the People’s National Congress Reform whenever requested.

To her beloved family and relatives, the heartfelt condolences of the Party Leader, Central Executive Committee members and indeed the entire membership of the Party go out in full measure.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, November 1, 2007`