PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday 17 April 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The Jagdeo Administration found a flimsy pretext to shut down CNS TV Channel 6, in clear conflict with the role of the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) and, by an approach which is tainted by bias and conflict of interest;
• The PNCR recalled that, throughout the 70’s and the 80’s, the PNC Administration had put programmes in place to ensure the food security of the nation and had made valid proposals to the Caribbean Community for the food security of the region;
• The PNCR wishes to point out that the portfolio of Minister of Foreign Affairs will make great demands on the intellectual capacity of Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues, as this area of endeavour encompasses matters of great complexity and specialised knowledge, as well as broad institutional support;
• The PNCR has noted the irresponsible and vapid comments, made by the PPP, in relation to the criticism the Party has made, with respect to the allegation of unprofessional conduct made by Ms. Charmian De Mendonca;
• The Party remains adamant that neither the Guyana Police Force nor the Guyana Defence Force can properly investigate themselves.

THE ATTACK ON CNS TV CHANNEL 6:

The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) held a Press Conference, on Tuesday 15 April 2008, during which we explained, in considerable detail, the reasons why the Party found it necessary to condemn the Jagdeo Administration for suspending the license of CNS TV Channel 6. The Party provided documentary information to support its view that the decision taken by the Jagdeo Government was not in accordance with the agreed modalities for such a decision and, in any event, the penalty imposed is disproportionate to the offence allegedly committed by the station. It is evident that the decision by President Jagdeo represents yet another blatant example of the abuse of state power to deliberately and vindictively injure the business of Mr. C.N. Sharma.

In further consideration of this matter the PNCR is convinced that the political dimension to this issue cannot be ignored. Mr. C.N. Sharma, as a matter of policy, announced, on several occasions, that his microphones were open to parties of all persuasions. Indeed, the Guyanese people would have no difficulty in recalling that both Mrs. Jagan and Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo have appeared on Mr. Sharma’s TV programmes. At that time, it seemed that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had no political difficulty in accepting CNS TV Channel 6 as part of the information system of the country. Things began to change when Mr. Sharma pushed aside the veil of secrecy to show to the Guyanese people the level of corruption and incompetence of the PPP/C Administration, in general, and the Jagdeo regime, in particular. Not long, thereafter, Mr. C.N. Sharma became the object of attack, derision and denigration.

In the judgement of the PNCR, the straw, which probably broke the proverbial camel’s back, was the decision, by Mr. Sharma, to grant equal time to the Opposition Parties within the last several weeks to air their views on CNS TV Channel 6. It should be recognised that, after Mr. Corbin started his programme on CNS TV Channel 6 and the AFC did the same, PPP representatives, on NCN TV Channel 11 and the TV Channels aligned to that Party, worked themselves up into a lather about the course of action Mr. Sharma had taken. In typical fashion, the Jagdeo Administration found a flimsy pretext to shut down CNS TV Channel 6, in clear conflict with the role of the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) and, by an approach which is tainted by bias and conflict of interest. Mr. Sharma was tried by President Jagdeo’s version of the historically infamous Star Chamber.

The PNCR will not relent on this issue. The attack on the fundamental right to freedom of expression, in respect of CNS TV Channel 6, by an abusive and arrogant Administration, represents an attack on Press Freedom and all media entities in this country.

COST OF LIVING:

The rising cost of living, which is daily oppressing the Guyanese people, has spurred the Jagdeo Administration to engage in yet another of its cosmetic exercises, to give the impression that it is seeking the views of the Guyanese people, when, in fact, it has already determined the added burdensome measures it intends to impose on the already economically and socially crippled Guyanese people.

The Jagdeo Administration has now announced that it will be consulting the Guyanese people, about the rising cost of food, months after the PNCR warned, this hard hearted and stiff necked Government, that the Guyanese people were facing daily economic abuse, caused mainly by the unconscionable 16% Value Added Tax (VAT) tax and global inflation

This has come weeks after almost all of the major international organisations, including, and in particular, the FAO, had underlined, in dramatic detail, that the rise in the cost of living globally would most likely have a negative impact, especially on the developing countries. Guyanese must have read with consternation that sugar workers at Rose Hall and Providence Estates marched through the streets of New Amsterdam protesting the rise in food prices. All of this could have been avoided if the Jagdeo Administration had paid attention to the advice of the PNCR and international developments.

All of this points to a crisis in food security in Guyana. The PNCR, therefore, is compelled to recall that, throughout the 70’s and the 80’s, the PNC Administration had put programmes in place to ensure the food security of the nation and had made valid proposals to the Caribbean Community for the food security of the region. The Party recalls too that, it was the PPP which scoffed at the idea of a Feed, Clothe and House (FCH) Programme which also encouraged a programme of urban agriculture. The PNCR is convinced that, had the PPP built on these laudable ideas and goals, the people of Guyana would not now be facing the rising cost of living, on a daily basis, and sugar workers would not have had the need to protest the cost of basic food items.

THE APPOINTMENT OF THE NEW MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

The PNCR has noted the appointment of Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues, the former Minister of Amerindian Affairs, as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs. The PNCR wishes to point out that the portfolio of Minister of Foreign Affairs will make great demands on the intellectual capacity of Ms. Rodrigues, as this area of endeavour encompasses matters of great complexity and specialised knowledge, as well as broad institutional support.

The Party hopes that Ms. Rodrigues will be given the tools as well as the resources to rebuild this premier institution of Government which has with the advent of the PPP/C Administration been reduced to the indignity of almost a failed institution and a department in the office of the President.

The rebuilding of the Foreign Ministry is an imperative, if Guyana is to respond appropriately to the myriad of challenges which are part of the landscape of the 21st Century.

THE PNCR REJECTS PPP’S STATEMENT ON GPHC:

The PNCR has noted the irresponsible and vapid comments, made by the PPP, in relation to the criticism the Party has made, with respect to the allegation of unprofessional conduct made by Ms. Charmian De Mendonca.

The Party expected that the PPP would have made a more thoughtful and mature response to criticisms, which were founded on fact. Instead, the PPP took the opportunity to accuse the PNCR of attacking the main medical institution of the country. Such infantile nonsense is unworthy of a response, when greater issues are at stake.

The PNCR was concerned about Ms. Mendonca allegations, because it pointed to major problems at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) which cry out for examination and independent investigation.

The Party referred to the unprofessional behaviour of Dr. Kishore Persaud and the pain and suffering inflicted on Ms. Charmian De Mendonca. The PNCR was not engaging in any abstract notion of attacking institutions but was, instead, concerned with the concrete problems of a citizen of this Republic who could not get proper medical attention at the GPHC.

THE REPORT ON TORTURE:

The PNCR has noted, from reports in the Press, that the Report on the Torture, of two Guyana Defence Force (GDF) soldiers and Victor Jones and Patrick Sumner, is now ready. But, true to form, the Jagdeo Administration is delaying its publication, probably, because it is not favourable to the Government or those in the GDF who are responsible for this barbaric activity.

The PNCR demands that the report be made public, with undue delay, and should not be subject to emendations, based on partisan political considerations and the desire to protect the guilty.

In the meantime, the Party awaits the investigation into the torturing of David Zammett; that investigation has been promised a very long time ago, by the Minister of Home Affairs.

The PNCR adheres to its previously stated position that there should be an independent investigation into the torturing of the individuals named, if the rule of law is to be upheld.

The Party remains adamant that neither the Guyana Police Force nor the Guyana Defence Force can properly investigate themselves.

PNCR FREEDOM MARCH AND RALLY:

Tomorrow Friday 18 April 2008 the People’s National Congress Reform will hold a Freedom March and Rally. The March will commence at 3:00 pm from the corner of Mandela Avenue and Joseph Pollydore Street formerly Durban Street. This March and Rally is organised with the sole purpose of raising the Guyanese people consciousness and prepare them to confront the Jagdeo dictatorship. While it comes hot on the heels of the Jagdeo regime’s attack on freedom of the Press and businesses it will also draw attention to the high cost of living, unemployment and the drift of the Jagdeo regime towards dictatorship. The PNCR calls on all Guyanese to support this protest action and to recognise that this is the time for action to halt the momentum towards dictatorship.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday 17 April 2008