PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday 13 March 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The killing of Marcyn King suggests that hired gunmen have returned to their nefarious activities. The PNCR believes that this ominous development is sufficient warning for adequate security measures to be taken, by the official law enforcement authorities;
• The PNCR has placed its members and supporters on high alert to respond to the provocative actions now taking place in Guyana where the civil liberties and human rights of our citizens are being trampled on;
• The PNCR is, therefore, calling on the Jagdeo Administration to say, without any ambiguity, that it has no intention of hiring a well known special adviser from Trinidad and Tobago to help combat crime in Guyana;
• The PNCR calls on the Jagdeo Administration to take urgent measures to put an end to corruption, in the procurement process, infrastructural works and, in the Ministries and Departments of the Government, where bribery and corruption are widespread and very well known;
• In his presentation to the National Assembly, during the 2008 Budget Debate, PNCR-1G Shadow Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Winston Murray, called for a reduction of VAT to 10%.

NATIONAL SECURITY SITUATION REACHING FRIGHTENING PROPORTIONS:

The People’s National Congress Reform, in two recent Press Releases, dated 11th March 2008, has referred to the deteriorating security situation and the possible dangerous implications, of the brutal shooting to death of Marcyn King.

The Party believes that the danger posed, to the nation and the society in general, cannot be overstated. Any nation, which prides itself on some level of civilization, must be particularly concerned at the rising number of disappearances, assassinations, robberies and other forms of violence, committed on a daily basis, in this country. The conclusion must be that the security situation continues to spiral out of control, despite the vapourings of the Minister of Home Affairs and the hysterics of the propaganda machinery at Freedom House.

The PNCR is very concerned about a particular development, as the security situation continues to worsen. In the 2002-2004 period of violence, the Administration clearly turned to unorthodox means of curbing the crime situation, by outsourcing the responsibility for ensuring that the rule of law obtained. Thus was the “phantom gang” or “phantom gangs” born. The consequences are well known and are still being felt to this day.

The killing of Marcyn King suggests that hired gunmen have returned to their nefarious activities. The PNCR believes that this ominous development is sufficient warning for adequate security measures to be taken, by the official law enforcement authorities.

The Party also believes that, while it is the right step taken by the Government to convene a meeting, of all the National Stakeholders, on security, it is imperative that every step and measure be taken, to advance the process of crafting a national security plan, supported by all the stakeholders, which can draw a blanket of protection over every citizen of this Republic, even if they are merely journeying home in a dark side street.

PNCR MEMBERS ON HIGH ALERT TO DEFEND THEIR CIVIL LIBERTY:

The PNCR has placed its members and supporters on high alert to respond to the provocative actions now taking place in Guyana, where the civil liberties and human rights of our citizens are being trampled upon. At a meeting held yesterday, Wednesday 12th March, 2008 at the Party’s headquarters, party members and supporters were brought up to date by the leadership on a number of recent acts by the security forces, which suggest that they have no intention of observing the rule of law or respecting the human rights of citizens in the conduct of their operations. A careful examination of specific cases suggest a worrying pattern that the actions of the security forces are influenced by political direction. It is significant that a number of persons arrested and, in some cases detained for days without charge, were first mentioned by political functionaries before any investigative work had been done by the police.

The PNCR in a previous Press Release had outlined some of those cases. For example, it is no secret that President Jagdeo had fingered former army officer, Oliver Hinckson, immediately after the Lusignan killings before any investigation had been done. His recent arrest and the subsequent charges instituted appear clearly politically directed. He must not be allowed to become another Mark Benschop.

In the meantime, at the National Stakeholders meeting held yesterday, PNCR Leader, Mr. Robert Corbin, drew attention to a serious development. Persons being arrested around the country, including PNCR supporters, on the flimsiest of excuses. He made it clear that the PNCR would not sit idly by, as though all is well in Guyana, and allow their human and political rights to be trampled upon. He informed supporters at the Sophia meeting yesterday that he got no assurances, either from the President or the security forces, that they intend to seriously address these concerns. In fact, the President claims that he had no knowledge of these matters, further, that he had no previous knowledge of the charges laid against Hinckson. He also said that these concerns should be raised with the heads of the security forces.

The Minister of Home Affairs response was that any complaints about the conduct of the security forces should be made to the Police Complaints Authority. It is, therefore, obvious that the political directorate intends to treat these several complaints in a very callous manner.

The manner in which the joint operations are being carried at present makes it difficult for any citizen to know to which agency individual members of the security forces belong, because of their manner of dress and the absence of any name tags. Guyanese must, therefore, be prepared to take whatever action is necessary, within the law and the Constitution, to ensure that their rights, guaranteed under the Constitution, are not further infringed. The PNCR will not fail in its responsibilty to give leadership in this matter. The Party will be meeting with other organisations over the next few days so that a united and clear message could be sent to the Administration as well as the security forces for them to understand that while we offer support to them in their legitmate effort to solve the crime and security situation, we will not allow the rights of our citizens to be infringed.

PPP/C HIRING “SPECIAL ADVISERS”?

In his letter, rejecting a number of false allegations made by the PPP/C, which was published in the Stabroek News, on 28th February 2008, the Leader of the PNCR asked this pointed question, “Better still, would the Minister confirm or dispel a persistent rumor that he is about to recruit a special adviser who was deported to Trinidad and Tobago to face murder charges and was also known to be an associate of an accused drug lord who is now a guest of a foreign Government?”

In view of the fact that the Minister of Home Affairs, who is quick to respond to any criticisms of his Ministry or his Party, has chosen not to answer this question, the PNCR feels morally compelled to raise it again. The PNCR is, therefore, calling on the Jagdeo Administration to say, without any ambiguity, that it has no intention of hiring a well known special adviser from Trinidad and Tobago to help combat crime in Guyana. This question is particularly pertinent, as rumours continue to grow and evidence emerge, that an embattled Jagdeo Administration is prepared to turn to any source, to try to contain the burgeoning crime situation in Guyana, so that they can buff the image of the Party and the Government.

CORRUPTION CONTINUES TO FLOURISH UNDER THE PPP/C:

The Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Doodnauth Singh, revealed, during his response to questions, on the 2008 Budget Estimates, that there might be possible misappropriation of funds at the Supreme Court. It was not a voluntary admission. It came, under the weight of questioning by PNCR-1G Parliamentarian, Mr. Winston Murray.

This is a further indication that corruption continues to flourish, under the Jagdeo Administration. This cannot be denied, as the list of malfeasance is very long. Corruption is pervasive and, it has been noted by significant international organisations, including the World Bank and Transparency International.

The PNCR has only recurred to this question, because it has the potential of destroying the fabric of the society, as well as robbing the nation of vital resources. Yet, the Jagdeo Administration has turned a blind eye to corruption and pretends it does not exist. This is how the Party summed up the situation, in the National Assembly, during the 2008 Budget Debate: "There is a brazen pretence that corruption is not a problem.”

However, in its 2007 Human Rights Report, the United States Government has also noticed that corruption had become a serious problem, under the Jagdeo Administration. The situation is described in the following words: “The World Bank's worldwide governance indicators reflected that government corruption was a serious problem. There was a widespread public perception of serious corruption in the government, including law enforcement and the judicial system. Low-wage public servants were easy targets for bribery.”

The PNCR calls on the Jagdeo Administration to take urgent measures to put an end to corruption, in the procurement process, infrastructural works and, in the Ministries and Departments of the Government, where bribery and corruption are widespread and very well known. The Party is certain that, the Jagdeo Administration would not like it to be known to the world, that it is presiding over an internationally recognised Corrupt Republic.

VALUE ADDED TAX (VAT):

Prime Minister Sam Hinds, in the 2008 Budget Debate in the National Assembly, on 5 March 2008, said that the rising commodity prices were related to high inflation and not to the VAT. Mr. Hinds can tell that to the marines. Every Guyanese knows that, there is a correlation between the introduction of the high 16% VAT and the spike in prices. The price increases have been playing havoc with the Guyanese population. The time for relief is now.

In his presentation to the National Assembly, during the 2008 Budget Debate, PNCR-1G Shadow Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Winston Murray, called for a reduction of VAT to 10%. This would bring some measure of relief to the Guyanese people.

The PPP/C Administration has now admitted that it has made a windfall of $12B. It can afford to come off the backs of the Guyanese people.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday 13 March 2008