PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform Thursday 5 June 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR will take all measures necessary and required to protect the Leader and the Party and wishes it to be understood that the Party, as well as its Leader, will not be intimidated and driven into silence by threats to the Leader;
• The PNCR calls on the Jagdeo regime, once more, to revisit the measly cost-of-living package, with a view to ensuring that the average Guyanese worker receives an adequate wage to cope with the rapidly rising cost of living;
• The Party notes that previous privatisation exercises by the PPP Administration, such as that in relation to Guyana Stores, fell well below the required standards of transparency and accountability;
• All expenditure of public funds must be approved by the National Assembly. The Jagdeo regime has disregarded these provisions and has incurred major expenditure for a number of activities;
• The PNCR wishes to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the continued harassment of young men in different parts of the country;
• The PNCR urges that the Inquest, into the death of Travis Parks, should be held as soon as possible;
• It is now the 5th day of June and the Government has refused to release monies due to scrutineers for the month of May. This is a clear attempt to frustrate the scrutineers of political Parties who have been in the field all month in the hope that they would either leave the job or become less vigilant.


A THREAT TO THE PNCR LEADER IS A THREAT TO THE ENTIRE PARTY:

It is now in the public domain that, last Thursday 29th May 2008, the Leader of the PNCR received an anonymous phone call which in essence said that if Mr. Corbin does not desist from talking about Roger Khan he would be killed. Mr. Corbin has already said that calls of this nature would not silence him, that he would continue to speak out on all of the issues affecting the Guyanese people, including the killing of several of them, between 2002 and 2004, by the phantom death squad.

The PNCR wishes it to be understood that the Party, as well as its Leader, will not be intimidated and driven into silence by threats to the Leader.

The PNCR will take all measures necessary and required to protect the Leader and the Party.



JAGDEO REGIME MUST OFFER IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE TO OLD AGE PENSIONERS & VULNERABLE PERSONS:

The PNCR has already registered its concern that the cost-of-living package, offered by the Jagdeo regime, is far from adequate to cope with the rising cost of living. The fact is that the vulnerable members of the society, such as the elderly, are cruelly exposed to its ravages.

The PNCR wishes to bring to public attention the reality that the Old Age pensioners have to survive on the pittance of $6000 a month. The $6000 paid to these pensioners can just about pay for a 5lb. tin of milk. Also, in need of urgent relief, are those particularly vulnerable persons who now receive $4,500 as public assistance. The PNCR must point out that it is not sufficient for the Jagdeo regime to claim that the Old Age Pension has been increased from $3,675 to $6,000 monthly and that public assistance has been increased from $2,470 to $4,500. It should be evident to all, except the PPP Administration, that the payment of these derisory increases does not enable the recipients to maintain any realistic capacity to adequately sustain themselves, in the face of the already crippling cost of living.

In the current circumstances, the sums paid to the old age pensioners and the vulnerable, in our society, are patently insufficient for them to get enough food and adequate nutrition. It is both a scandal and another example of the insensitivity and the lack of compassion, of the Jagdeo PPP Administration, that a blind eye is turned to such social squalor, in the midst of the conspicuous consumption of the ruling political elite and their acolytes. It is evident that the consciences of the nouveau riche elite, nurtured by the PPP and the Jagdeo Administration, have become morally and socially numbed by the years of good living. They have, therefore, lost the capacity to be concerned about the plight of the ordinary man, especially the vulnerable in our society.

The PNCR calls on the Jagdeo regime, once more, to revisit the measly cost-of-living package, with a view to ensuring that the average Guyanese worker receives an adequate wage to cope with the rapidly rising cost of living. In addition, the sums paid to the old age pensioners and the other vulnerable groups, in this country, must be immediately revised substantially upwards, to ensure that they have a sufficiency of disposable income to, at least, afford the costly food/nutrition needed for their sustenance.

THE SANATA TEXTILE DEAL:

The PNCR has noted the fact that, the transfer of the almost 300,000 square feet of the state owned Sanata Textile Mill, at Ruimveldt, to the owners of Queens Atlantic Investment Inc, has generated both controversy and concern. Legitimate questions have been asked as to whether the apparently excessive concessions, given to Queens Atlantic Investment, along with the lack of transparency and the conflict of interest of some principals, have not tainted this deal.

The Chairman of the PNCR, Mr. Winston Murray, has been quoted in the press as saying that the various questions raised, about the Sanata Textile deal, can be laid to rest by placing the agreement signed, between the Jagdeo regime and the Queens Atlantic Investment, before the National Assembly. The PNCR urges the Jagdeo PPP Administration that, as a matter of policy and necessity, this agreement should be placed immediately before the National Assembly.

The Party notes that previous privatisation exercises by the PPP administration, such as that in relation to Guyana Stores, fell well below the required standards of transparency and accountability. It is in the interest of the Guyanese people that a similar fate should not overtake the agreement signed with Queens Atlantic Investment Inc.

LOTTO MONEY MUST BE PLACED IN CONSOLIDATED FUND:

The PNCR is concerned that the Jagdeo regime continues to violate Section 17, of the Financial Administration and Audit Act (FAA), by not placing the monies it has received, since 1995 from the Guyana Lottery Company, into the Consolidated Fund, instead of into the Government Lotteries Fund Bank Account No. 3119. This account has been used to finance a number of projects, controlled by the Office of the President, for which there has been little or no Parliamentary oversight.

This is yet another example of poor governance, through the lack of accountability and transparency, of the Jagdeo Administration. The conditions, governing the expenditure of public funds, have been clearly set out in the Constitution and the FAA. All expenditure of public funds must be approved by the National Assembly. The Jagdeo regime has disregarded these provisions and have incurred major expenditure for a number of activities: the Auditor General has pointed out that, for the year 2005, $133.0Mn has been allocated to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports for the rehabilitation of the National Cultural Centre; $33.4Mn to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, for celebration of Amerindian Heritage Month; $45.1Mn to the Ministry of Housing for the implementation a Development Park; $38.2Mn for the President’s Youth Choice Initiative, for rehabilitation of buildings and administrative and security fees; $24.7Mn to the Ministry of Public Works, for the site preparation of the Cricket Stadium at Providence. Government expenditures on various projects and other activities, for 2006 and 2007, are said to be equally significant.

The PNCR repeats that the Jagdeo Administration must put itself in full compliance with the Constitution and the FAA Act and place all monies from the Guyana Lottery Company into the Consolidated Fund.

The Party notes, in this regard, that the Jagdeo regime, up to 2006, received approximately $2.6 Bn dollars in Lotto funds.

POLICE CONTINUES TO HARASS YOUNG MEN IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE COUNTRY:

The PNCR wishes to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the continued harassment of young men in different parts of the country. There have been disturbing reports that, at Kwakwani, a number of young men were rounded up, beaten and then locked up. The Police have not chosen to enlighten the public as to the reason for this course of action and what laws these young men have broken. Similarly, there have been reports of young men being harassed and picked up by police in the village of Agricola. Some of these young men were on their way to work and to conduct legitimate activities. Several of the young men, from Agricola, were taken by the Police to Albouystown and left there to find their way back to their homes.

The PNCR understands that a specially assembled squad, from selected members of the Disciplined Forces, is responsible for the harassment and beating of these young men. These are members of a special unit, ostensibly created to hunt down criminals. It is unfortunate that, all of the reports that the Party has received, so far, suggests that this Unit, for all intents and purposes, is a resuscitation of the Target Special Squad which, in its previous incarnation, was responsible for extra judicial killings and various other serious crimes in Guyana.

PNCR NOTES DPP RECOMMENDATION FOR INQUEST INTO DEATH OF TRAVIS PARKS:

The PNCR has taken note of the fact that the Director of Public Prosecution has recommended an Inquest into the fatal shooting of 22 year old Travis Parks approximately a month ago.

As in the case of Felix Da Silva, whose death, the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) says, it would be investigating, the Party notes that there are conflicting accounts of the shooting of Travis Parks. Several eyewitnesses claim that Parks was deliberately killed and that the MMC ranks should be charged with murder.

The PNCR urges that the Inquest, into the death of Travis Parks, should be held as soon as possible. Any delay, in carrying out such an Inquest, would be a denial of justice to the family of Travis Parks.

PRESIDENT AND PPP FRUSTRATING REGISTRATION EXERCISE:

The PNCR wishes to bring to public attention the deliberate efforts of the PPP to frustrate and undermine the current registration exercise. These efforts are designed to undermine GECOM’s decision to guarantee a clean voters’ list which has been the source of great controversy and conflict in previous elections. GECOM’s insistence on proper source documents as a prerequisite for registration is intended to ensure that persons are properly identified before registration and prevent duplication of names and padding of the voters’ list that has been a feature of the past.

It is true that many persons have had difficulty in producing such source documents such as, birth certificates, marriage certificates and deed polls. However, the solution to this problem lies with the office of the General Registrar of Births and Deaths. What is required is a special task force at the General Registrar’s office and special arrangements to issue these documents to persons requiring them to facilitate their registration.

The PNCR understands that GECOM has already made representation to the Ministry of Home Affairs for such arrangements to be put in place but nothing has been done so far. Instead, the PPP and the Office of the President want GECOM to use the National ID now in circulation, of which there are several duplicates, as the basis for identification. These ID cards were produced from a very flawed list, so it is evident the PPP wants to perpetuate an unreliable and padded list in the future. This is totally unacceptable and will result in another objectionable voters’ list and the wastage of millions of dollars. The PNCR wishes to put the government on notice that such an approach will never be acceptable.

The second area of concern is the deliberate attempt being made to frustrate the scrutiny of the registration process by withholding agreed payment to Party scrutineers. It is now the 5th day of June and the Government has refused to release monies due to scrutineers for the month of May. This is a clear attempt to frustrate the scrutineers of political Parties who have been in the field all month in the hope that they would either leave the job or become less vigilant.

The Office of the President had announced that the PNCR had misused $100M and that they would mount an investigation and that the system of payment would be changed to cut cheques payable directly to the scrutineers. In accordance with the new directive the PNCR resubmitted their list of scrutineers along with their relevant ID cards as requested. The PNCR considered this exercise totally unnecessary as all their scrutineers were duly accredited by GECOM and the record is with the Elections Commission. The Party nevertheless complied but the individual cheques promised have not been issued. With the rising cost of living particularly for food and transportation, scrutineers will find it difficult to continue working daily unless they are paid the outstanding monies due to them. The payment of individual cheques will also create further problems since it is unclear how the scrutineers in the hinterland and the riverain areas will be able to encash their cheques. The PNCR expects that the Ministry of Finance which imposed these new arrangements on the instructions from the Office of the President will also put in place arrangements in these areas to have those cheques encashed.

The PNCR again wishes to place the Government on notice that should the scrutineers who are appointed to monitor the registration process be impeded from carrying out their functions, then the PNCR will have no alternative but to dishonour the integrity of the registration process and the voters’ list which emerges from it. The PNCR will hold a special press briefing on this registration fiasco and the undermining of the work of the scrutineers.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, June 5, 2008