PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform Friday, 30 May 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The Party wants it to be understood that the Constitutional right to peaceful protest is not conditional. It is our expectation that the Guyana Police Force will do nothing to suppress the exercise of this constitutional right;
• The unconscionable 16% VAT and inflation, in any case, are likely to erode the purchasing power of the average Guyanese worker who might have benefited from the Government’s Cost of Living initiative;
• The PNCR, and indeed the rest of the nation, are alarmed by the report in the Kaieteur News, of 27 May 2008, that the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) is contemplating an increase in tariffs;
• The shooting to death of DaSilva has been tarnished by differing versions from the police and eyewitnesses who were on the scene. The PNCR believes that the investigation by the PCA can determine whether the police acted in accordance with the law or whether Felix DaSilva was another victim of elements of the force being judge, jury and executioner;
• The PNCR also believes that it is good to recall that when Roger Khan fled to Suriname and was arrested, the Minister of Justice of the Government of Suriname said that Khan had been under surveillance by the Surinamese authorities for more that two (2) years and this served as the basis for the decision to arrest him for trafficking in narcotics.

PNCR ASSERTS OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO PEACEFUL PROTEST:

The PNCR, in a Press Release, dated the 27th May 2008, brought to the attention of its members, supporters, well wishers and the general public the fact that deliberate and determined attempts are being made, by elements within the leadership of the Guyana Police Force, under the direction of their political masters, to undermine the PNCR and violate the exercise of our constitutional right to peaceful protest.

On 20 May 2008, the Party applied to Assistant Commissioner, ‘A’ Division, for permission to hold a march and rally on Thursday 29 May 2008. As of the time of writing this Press Statement, the Party has not been informed whether Police permission will be granted for this event.

Regrettably, it is evident that the deliberate withholding of a timely response, from the Police, is part of a PPP/Freedom House directed programme of provocation, which is intended to frustrate the holding of peaceful protest marches and rallies by the PNCR.

Since the Party has steadfastly sought to ensure that all of its marches and rallies are accorded Police permission, as required by law, the Party is forced to reschedule the march and rally to Tuesday 3 June 2008. In addition, Police permission has also been sought for another march, on Thursday 5 June 2008

The PNCR warns that it would not allow the PPP’s politically motivated manoeuvres and tactics to prevent our Party from exercising our right to peaceful protest, as enshrined in the Guyana Constitution. The Party has, therefore, organised a peaceful activity, at the Square of the Revolution, at 10:00 hrs to dramatise the rising cost of living and its socially destructive effects on this society. The Party is seeking to ensure that the Guyanese public is made fully aware of the concerted provocative actions of the PPP regime to deny us the Constitutional right to peaceful protests.

The Party wants it to be understood that the Constitutional right to peaceful protest is not conditional. Therefore, the PNCR will continue to assert this right. It is our expectation that the Guyana Police Force will do nothing to suppress the exercise of this constitutional right.

PPP/C COST OF LIVING PLAN INADEQUATE:

Ever since the Jagdeo regime announced its Cost of Living initiative, on 7 May 2008, the PNCR recognised and stated that the initiative was woefully inadequate and unlikely to be an effective cushion against the continuously rising cost of living. These initiatives of the regime were clearly conceived in haste and, therefore, did not benefit from the inputs of the national stakeholders, including the business community.

The first criticism is that the attempt to supplement the income of persons earning less than $50,000. per month will not result in any substantial increase in their disposable income. As Professor Clive Thomas has pointed out, in the Stabroek News of Sunday 25 May 2008, in an article entitled “Rising Prices and the Relief Package” all of the increases are taxable and will, therefore, only serve to bolster the coffers of the Government. The unconscionable 16% VAT and inflation, in any case, are likely to erode the purchasing power of the average Guyanese worker who might have benefited from this initiative. While the Government remains unresponsive to demands to slash the VAT this remains a major yoke around the necks of Guyanese.

The PNCR is concerned about a number of issues. Firstly, it is not clearly stated whether the ‘Old Age’ pensioners will get any further monthly increase on the $6,000 they currently receive. They can hardly be expected to live on this level of income. Secondly, despite the announced subsidy to keep the price of bakery goods down, every Guyanese knows that prices have been increasing. Thirdly, any increase in electricity rates will further erode the disposable incomes of many of the Guyanese workers.

JAGDEO REGIME MUST ENSURE THAT ELECTRICITY RATES ARE NOT INCREASED:

The PNCR, and indeed the rest of the nation, are alarmed by the report in the Kaieteur News, of 27 May 2008, that the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) is contemplating an increase in tariffs. This announcement comes in the wake of the 15% increases for businesses and a 9% increase for residential rates in January of this year. GPL has denied that an increase in rates is currently being considered.

The PNCR is convinced that any increase will be a further burdensome imposition on the Guyanese workers and the Guyanese people as a whole.

While the PNCR is conscious of the serious external economic factors which are forcing GPL to consider an increase in rates, the Party must insist that the Jagdeo administration utilise the known economic levers available to it so that the already high rates can remain where they are.

Sometime ago, the PNCR argued that there is need for an independent investigation into the management and general organisation of GPL, to determine whether, as presently constituted, it is serving the best interests of the Guyanese people, in terms of delivering stable electricity at affordable rates and in a predictable fashion. Now that the GPL is clearly in a crisis, based on its own revelations last week, the PNCR is demanding that such an investigation be done as a matter of urgency.

WILL THE POLICE COMPLIANTS AUTHORITY INVESTIGATE MORE THAN THE DEATH OF FELIX DA SILVA?

The PNCR is encouraged by reports that the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) is prepared to launch an investigation into the controversial shooting of Riverview fisherman, Felix DaSilva, on 26 May 2008. However, it begs the question why so many others obvious incidents of the Police excesses have gone uninvestigated by this body.

The shooting to death of DaSilva has been tarnished by differing versions from the police and eyewitnesses who were on the scene. The PNCR believes that the investigation by the PCA can determine whether the police acted in accordance with the law or whether Felix DaSilva was another victim of elements of the force being judge, jury and executioner.

The Party urges the Chairman of the PCA to launch an investigation of this matter with dispatch, so that the Guyanese public can know whether the rule of law is being upheld or whether measures need to be taken to ensure that the rule of law is indeed upheld in incidents of this kind. The PNCR expects this investigation will be only the beginning and that the PCA will deal expeditiously with many others.

JAGDEO REGIME MUST HAVE KNOWN ABOUT ROGER KHAN:

At its last Press Conference the PNCR contended that the Jagdeo regime must have been aware of the existence and the activities of Roger Khan, because he himself admitted that he worked with elements of the police force and was able to purchase a computer which could only be bought by governments.

The Party wishes to take this matter further, especially in view of the revelations, emerging from the United States Government, that Khan headed a gang that might have been responsible for the deaths of over two hundred (200) Guyanese.

It would be appropriate to recall that, the America International Control Strategy Report, in 2005, labeled Roger Khan “a known drug trafficker”. This may or may not have provided the green light for the Disciplined Forces to go after him, primarily in search of the thirty (30) AK 47 rifles which had gone missing from the GDF compound.

The following business, which according to the Guyana Review, of July 2006, owned by Roger Khan, were searched:

 a private villa in the exclusive D’Aguiar’s Park;
 Dreamworks Housing Development in Garnett Street, Kitty;
 Avalanche Night Club, Sherriff Street, Campbellville;
 Blue Iguana Night Club, Light Street, Alberttown;
 La Familia Country Club, High Palm Road, Ruimveldt;
 Reef Night Club, Station Street, Kitty;
 Master’s Touch Carpet Cleaners, Second Street, Bel Air; and
 Kaow Island in the Essequibo River.

The raids on Khan’s businesses were clearly frowned on by the Jagdeo regime and, when he struck back by taping the then Commissioner of Police, Winston Felix, the Jagdeo regime took the opportunity to force Felix out.

The PNCR also believes that it is good to recall that when Khan fled to Suriname and was arrested, the Minister of Justice of the Government of Suriname said that Khan had been under surveillance by the Surinamese authorities for more that two (2) years and this served as the basis for the decision to arrest him for trafficking in narcotics.

The Party is convinced that such information must have been shared with other CARICOM states and the Guyanese government. It is also appropriate to note that when Khan was apprehended, the then Minister of Home Affairs, Gail Teixeira, said that the government had no interest in seeking Khan’s extradition to Guyana.

To all these developments, the PNCR can add the rather interesting situation after the Lusignan massacres when several placards demanding the return of Roger Khan greeted Bharrat Jagdeo when he visited that village. His response, which was widely reported, was that one man could not solve the crime situation, a very revealing remark.

All things considered, the PNCR believes, beyond a shadow of a doubt that for the President of Guyana to ask the United States for information about the activities of Roger Khan, when there is a mountain of evidence to suggest that the President and his cohorts knew of his existence and his activities is mere hypocrisy.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
Friday, May 30, 2008