PRESS STATEMENT BY PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONGRESS REFORM MEDIA CENTRE, SOPHIA FRIDAY JULY 25, 2008




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR extends congratulations to the Guyana Police Force on its 169 anniversary;
• Silence still surrounds the murder of Edwin Niles;
• The defence of Gordon Mosley’s banning and the attack on G.P.A. are symptoms of a morally and politically bankrupt regime;
• The value added tax (VAT) has been good for the Jagdeo regime but a disaster for the Guyanese people;
• The Court of Appeal (Amendment) Bill No. 12 of 2008: A Device to manipulate the Criminal Justice system for Political control of the Judiciary; for strengthening the Dictatorship and breaching the fundamental rights of citizens as guaranteed under the Constitution;
• The PNCR will observe the twenty third anniversary of the death of its founder leader on Wednesday August 6, 2008: Guyana National Service the Focus in 2008.

PNCR EXTENDS CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GUYANA POLICE FORCE ON ITS 169TH ANNIVERARY:

The PNCR extends congratulations to the Guyana Police Force (GPF) on its 169th anniversary. The Party has taken note of the many activities that have attended these celebrations highlighting some of the most splendid traditions of the Force.

The Party believes that the GPF has played, an honourable and outstanding role in promoting a culture of law and order in Guyana, over the many years of its existence, and a prominent role in the defence of the nation’s territorial integrity, as it did in 1969. The GPF is one of the vital institutions of the state and could look back on a proud record of participation in the life of the nation. The GPF has produced lawyers, athletes, writers and musicians of note.

The PNCR understands that, because the GPF mirrors the evolution of the society, it has encountered serious problems, which have impaired its ability to discharge its Constitutional mandate, for crime fighting and upholding law and order in the society. However, the Party is confident that, when the recommendations of the Disciplined Forces Commission, other relevant Reports and current initiatives, are implemented to reform, modernise and strengthen the organisation, the Guyana Police Force will, once again, be enabled to resume its pride of place as the respected Constitutionally mandated Guyanese law enforcement entity.

The PNCR is, nevertheless, convinced that, although woefully short of the quality of manpower and resources needed, there are still elements of the GPF that are committed to securing the safety and well being of the Guyanese people.

SILENCE STILL SURROUNDS THE MURDER OF EDWIN NILES:

The silence surrounding the killing of Edwin Niles is inhuman and immoral. The People’s National Congress Reform and all civilized Guyanese are appalled at the silence of the Jagdeo Administration, regarding the murder of Edwin Niles, by elements of the Prison authorities and the Security Forces. None of the representatives of the regime has, to date, offered any acceptable explanation for this crime. Guyanese, and indeed the rest of the Region, would like to know whether Niles was killed by the Prison authorities or whether, as is now generally believed, other elements of the Security Forces had a hand in snuffing out the life of this young man.

The Commissioner of Police, in particular, must address the issues raised by the Leader of the Opposition and of the PNCR, Mr. Robert Corbin, in his letter to him. In his response, the Commissioner of Police stated that the investigation into Niles death has begun, but Guyanese have become accustomed to such statements being the prelude for future inaction. In this regard, the PNCR expects the Commissioner to conduct himself in manner befitting his office and to discharge his Constitutional responsibility.

This situation cries out for an Independent Inquiry to determine how and why Edwin Niles was murdered and bring some closure for the Niles Family, whose mother is clearly distraught by his death.

The failure to hold an Independent Inquiry into the murder of Edwin Niles will convey to the world, that the Jagdeo regime continues to condone, the trampling on the human rights of the citizens of this country; the undermining of the rule of law; and, the creation of conditions for the killings of other Guyanese and prisoners, by out of control elements of the Security Forces, who are protected by the Political Directorate.

Ultimately, if an Independent Inquiry is not held, any remaining confidence, of our citizens that the regime is committed to effectively fight crime will be further undermined.

THE DEFENCE OF GORDON MOSELY’S BANNING AND THE ATTACK ON GPA ARE SYMPTOMS OF A MORALLY AND POLITICALLY BANKRUPT REGIME:

The feeble attempt, by the Jagdeo regime, to explain or justify the banning of Gordon Mosely, is contemptible. Prem Misir, who lays claim to a Doctorate in Philosophy, has cheapened the pages of the print media with explanations, for this miserable course of action, which even he cannot believe. The PNCR finds it unbelievable that a man, who claims that he is an academic, can find himself on the side of dictatorship and repression, and not in the camp of those who fight for and champion the right to freedom of expression, as enshrined in the Constitution of Guyana.

The PNCR is not surprised that President Jagdeo himself has launched an attack on the Guyana Press Association, for defending the rights of Gordon Mosely. It is his practice to vilify anyone or any institution that defends freedom and democracy. The approach of the President represents a tactic, which is designed to create a climate of fear, in order to dissuade the Journalists from carrying out their duties.

In this regard, the PNCR congratulates the Guyana Press Association (GPA) for standing up to the Jagdeo dictatorship and for defending the rights of a member of the Journalistic fraternity.

In any functioning democracy, a government that is confident about its policies would not react viciously to the mildest of criticisms. That the Jagdeo regime has done so is the most compelling evidence of its moral and political bankruptcy.





THE VALUE ADDED TAX (VAT) HAS BEEN GOOD FOR THE JAGDEO REGIME BUT A DISASTER FOR THE GUYANESE PEOPLE:

With each passing day, it becomes obvious that the Jagdeo regime has raked in billions of dollars in revenue through the imposition of the unconscionable 16% Value Added Tax (VAT). The latest figure available suggests that the regime earned GYD16 billion or 76% over its budgeted projections for VAT.

This huge sum has been earned at great cost to the Guyanese people. They, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable members of society, have had to endure the pain of high prices and the erosion of their already meager disposable income. It is a most unattractive spectacle to see a regime, which still clings on to Marxist formulations, beating up, without any shame or compunction, on the poorest members of the society.

Mr. Christopher Ram, well-respected Accountant, recently stated that there had been a significant error in the computation of the rate of VAT, resulting in the rate being higher than it should have been. Mr. Ram pointed out that the VAT rate should have been more like 12%. More significant was Mr. Ram’s revelation that a senior Government functionary had admitted this to him. The Government has, however, remained silent on Ram’s revelation while the Jagdeo regime did not have the decency or the charity to rectify the error. Unfortunately, the Guyanese people continue to bear the heavy burden of the incompetence of the regime.

The PNCR had always argued that the VAT has been poorly implemented, that the rate should have been no more than 10% and that it should have been accompanied by the immediate reform and overhaul of the taxation regime. After more than a year in operation, the facts prove that the VAT rate can be reduced as the Party has advocated.

It is now evident that the reduction of the VAT rate must also be complemented by an increase in the salary and wages for Public Servants and employees in the private sector. Pensioners and those receiving Public Assistance should also receive a substantial increase in the sums they are currently receiving from the Government. These measures would bring some needed relief to the Guyanese people at this time.

COURT OF APPEAL (AMENDMENT) BILL NO. 12 OF 2008: A DEVICE TO MANIPULATE THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM FOR POLITICAL CONTROL OF THE JUDICIARY:

The haste with which the Government proceeded with the second reading of Court of Appeal (Amendment) Bill No. 12 of 2008 confirmed the PNCR’s view that the Law is specifically intended to suppress the fundamental rights of Guyanese and embolden the Jagdeo regime in strengthening the dictatorship. The PNCR had earlier written to the Government requesting that the Bill be delayed to facilitate the widest consultation with Opposition Parties and other stakeholders. In its letter to the Government, the PNCR stated that,

“The PNCR is of the considered view that, the proposed Law has far reaching consequences for the criminal justice system in Guyana, including, the constitutional right of the individual to a fair hearing in a criminal trial before an independent and impartial court; the abolition of trial by jury; and, the independence of judges in the conduct of a criminal trial in the High Court of the Supreme Court of Judicature. Consequently, it ought to attract the widest consultation with stakeholder groups in Guyana.”

The PNCR was later advised that the Bill would not be taken through its entire stages yesterday, but the Government insisted on proceeding with the second reading in the National Assembly. The opposition speakers, after exposing the dangers, which the intended law posed to foundations of the settled criminal justice system and the liberty of citizens, rejected the Bill.

It is evident that, to proceed with the Bill in its present form threatens the fundamental rights of citizens as guaranteed by Articles 139, 144 and 147 of the Constitution. The Bill empowers the DPP to appeal to the Court of Appeal and the Caribbean Court of Justice against any verdict of acquittal by a Judge and jury and against any decision made by a Judge in the course of a trial. The authority of Judges will clearly be undermined and the right of an accused to a fair trial within a reasonable time seriously threatened. It is obvious that the Political Directorate can utilize this power to imprison a citizen indefinitely even after a Judge and jury declare that person not guilty. It is also obvious that this legislation is intended to satisfy the present political Agenda of the PPP and must be vigorously opposed by all citizens.

Guyanese can have no assurance from the words of the Attorney General yesterday when he agreed that the Bill would be sent to a select Committee for consideration after the debate. He stated that the Bill would be sanitized after the widest consultations with the citizenry and political parties, but, having regard to the record of non performance on commitments by the PPP, vigilance is necessary to ensure that the present proposals do not become law. The PNCR and other stakeholders will have, of necessity, to collaborate in this effort to halt the Jagdeo regime on its march to total dictatorship

PNCR WILL OBSERVE THE TWENTY-THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF ITS FOUNDER LEADER:

The PNCR will observe the twenty-third anniversary of the death its Founder Leader, Mr. Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham. The usual wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the Place of the Seven Ponds at 7:30 AM on Wednesday August 6, 2008. The highlight of the programme will be a public lecture on, “Guyana National Service: Burnham's Vision - 35 Years After” by Major General Joseph Singh, Rtd. former Director General of the GNS. The lecture will be delivered on Wednesday August 6, 2008 at 4:30 PM in the forecourt of the NCW Headquarters, 44 Public Road, Kitty. The public is invited to these events.

Mr. Burnham became the first Executive President of Guyana in 1980, having led the nation to Independence in 1966 and to Republican status in 1970. President Burnham taught the Guyanese people to be proud of themselves and their nation and had a vision of building a Guyana that was racially harmonious and prosperous. Above all else, he insisted that Guyana should grow more food and be self-sufficient in food production. He took the ethic of self-sufficiency to the rest of the Region, when he proposed to the CARICOM Summit in Trinidad, in 1983, that the Region must put programmes in place to make it self-sufficient in food.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
Friday, July 25, 2008