PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Thursday 4 September 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia



SUMMARY:
� The Party wishes to place on record its deep appreciation of Sir Shridath Ramphal�s sterling service to this nation and his seminal contributions to the integration and progress of the Caribbean region;
� The PNCR is fully aware that at the end of Ramadan the Muslim Community emerges from the month of fasting energized and invigorated and the Party is sure that these qualities will enhance the capacity of the Muslim Community to continue to make increased contributions to the building of Guyana;
� The PNCR has always advocated the more effective integration of the Indigenous Communities into the overall development of the nation;
� The Party expresses its deepest sympathy with the parents, relatives, students and staff of the schools affected by the shocking news of the death of three school children at the Waramadong Secondary School dormitory and the student who perished in a broken and unsafe pit latrine at the Santa Rosa Primary School, and indeed, to all the residents of these hinterland communities;
� The PNCR wishes to reaffirm its unequivocal support for the fight against crime in all its forms and in all quarters of the society. The Party, however, remains resolutely opposed to the practice of extra-judicial killings;
� The PNCR wishes to reiterate that it will participate in local Government Elections as long as the agreed Local Government Reforms have been completed and implemented in their entirety;
� The PNCR�s concern is especially so in light of the statements by Dr.Roger Luncheon and Mr. Donald Ramotar purporting to suggest that work of the Task Force is proceeding smoothly. The PNCR noted that the Task Force is yet to agree on the proposals for Fiscal Transfers and the modalities of the Electoral System;
� It is evident that, contrary to the Government propaganda, the spike in the cost of living is far from moderating.

PNCR JOINS IN HONOURING SIR SHRIDATH RAMPHAL ON HIS 80TH BIRTHDAY:

On Friday, 29th August 2008, a book, entitled �Shridath Ramphal � The Commonwealth and the World�, was launched in honour of the 80th birthday, of Sir Shridath Ramphal, which is 3rd October 2008.

Many outstanding Guyanese and West Indian personalities, including Professor Rex Nettleford, praised and thanked Sir Shridath Ramphal for his services to the region and the world. The PNCR joins in the tributes to this outstanding Guyanese and world statesman.

The Party recalls that Sir Shridath Ramphal, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, was: instrumental in the successful hosting of the 1972 Foreign Minister�s meeting in Georgetown; played a leading role in the establishment of the Caribbean Community; was one of the architects of the ACP Agreement, in 1975, and the first LOME Convention; was an important player in the recognition of both Cuba and China; and a tireless champion for the cause of the under developed countries.

In addition to these successful labours, Sir Shridath Ramphal became Secretary General of the Commonwealth and made his mark by seeking to bridge the differences between the developed and developing countries. In his capacity as Commonwealth Secretary General, he provided courageous support and inspired leadership in finding solutions for the independence of Zimbabwe and the more intractable problem of South Africa.

This list of Sir Shridath�s achievements is far from exhaustive.

The Party wishes to place on record its deep appreciation of Sir Shridath Ramphal�s sterling service to this nation and his seminal contributions to the integration and progress of the Caribbean region. It also extends the very best wishes to this distinguished Guyanese on his 80th birthday, come 3 October 2008.

RAMADAN GREETINGS:

The PNCR has noted that the Holy Month of Ramadan has commenced for members of the Muslim Community and the rest of the world. The Party is aware that Ramadan is a period when Muslims embrace the ideals of struggle, sacrifice, abstinence and forbearance.

The Party believes that as Muslims practice these ideals and they are transmitted to the wider society Guyana will be the beneficiary as the minds of our people will become more attuned to the principle of building better lives and by extension a better society.

The PNCR is fully aware that at the end of Ramadan the Muslim Community emerges from the month of fasting energized and invigorated and the Party is sure that these qualities will enhance the capacity of the Muslim Community to continue to make increased contributions to the building of Guyana.

AMERINDIAN HERITAGE MONTH:

The PNCR expresses its solidarity with the aspirations of the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana, particularly as we celebrate Amerindian Heritage Month 2008. The Party hopes that the activities being undertaken for the celebration of Amerindian Heritage Month 2008 will enhance their cultural expressions.

All Guyanese can learn from the art forms, cuisine and the use of medicinal plants by the Indigenous People.

The PNCR has always advocated the more effective integration of the Indigenous Communities into the overall development of the nation. The people of the Indigenous Communities must have greater access to educational opportunities, including increasing the number of hinterland scholarships which were introduced by the PNC in Government.

The PNCR calls on the Jagdeo PPP Administration to take effective measures to stamp out all criminal activities from Indigenous Communities, especially the trafficking of persons.















In this picture is the panel for the Press Conference which was held in the Media Centre at Congress Place September 4, 2008. From left are Mr. Aubrey Norton, M.P. and member of the Central Executive Committee, Ms. Thandi Mc Allister, National Executive Member of the Guyana Youth and Student Movement and Mr. Keith Scott, M.P.

THE PNCR EXPRESSES ITS CONDOLENCES WITH THE HINTERLAND COMMUNITIES OF WARAMADONG AND SANTA ROSA:

The PNCR was disturbed by the shocking news of the death of three school children at the Waramadong Secondary School dormitory and the child who lost her life by drowning in a broken pit latrine at the Santa Rosa Primary school.

The Party expresses its deepest sympathy with the parents, relatives, students and staff of the schools affected and, indeed, to all the residents of these hinterland communities.

The PNCR feels that it is unfortunate that the nation�s school buildings are such fire risks. It is a disgraceful reflection of the neglect which has been visited on these communities. The Party trusts that these tragedies will spur the Jagdeo Government to ensure, as a matter of urgency, that all school buildings, especially dormitories, are provided with adequate fire fighting equipment, adequate means of fire escape and that fire drill are held regularly.

It is sad to note that the student, at the Santa Rosa Primary school, perished in a broken and unsafe pit latrine, in this day and age. It is regrettable that it has taken this tragedy for the Ministry of Education, through its Chief Education Officer, to be forced to publicly declare that the Ministry would take steps to make school buildings structurally sound.

THE PNCR REAFFIRMS ITS SUPPORT FOR THE FIGHT AGAINST CRIME AND CRIMINALITY:

The People's National Congress Reform notes that the Joint Services have killed wanted men Rondell "Fineman" Rawlins and Jermaine "Skinny" Charles who the police have identified as the perpetrators of a number of heinous crimes. The death of these two wanted men is hailed in some circles as a significant blow to the criminal gangs. The PNCR believes that the opportunity should be taken to properly address the crime situation in Guyana.

However, their death must not cause us to lose sight of the extant reality that there is a need to deal with the deep seated causes of crime. These causes are interwoven into the fabric of the Guyanese society and have to be dealt with if we are to overcome the scourge of criminality. This should be done together with a comprehensive security plan and a policy of seeking to apprehend criminals so that there can be an understanding of the criminal enterprise and the development of strategies to destroy the violent and drug related criminal enterprise at its root.

The PNCR sees this as creating the necessary space for the Government to develop and aggressively implement an all embracing, comprehensive national security plan to eradicate the root causes of crime. We believe that, in the medium to long term, only the successful implementation of such a plan will provide Guyana with a security environment conducive to peace, stability and development.

Important as well, is the need to change the perception that the Jagdeo PPP Government lacks the will to root out all crimes and is selective in the criminals they seek to bring to justice. The PNCR, therefore, calls upon the Jagdeo PPP Government to take the required actions to bring to justice, inter alia, the killers of Ronald Waddell, Donna Herod and Marcia King, and to work assiduously to ascertain the whereabouts of the many persons who have mysteriously disappeared.

The PNCR wishes to reaffirm its unequivocal support for the fight against crime in all its forms and in all quarters of the society. The Party, however, remains resolutely opposed to the practice of extra-judicial killings.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS:

The PNCR finds it necessary to state its position, on the question of the promised holding of the Local Government Elections, in view of the mischievous and misleading article, which appeared in the 30th August 2008 edition of the Kaieteur News, under the caption �PNCR still undecided on participation in Local Government Elections.�

The PNCR wishes to reiterate that it will participate in local Government Elections as long as the agreed Local Government Reforms have been completed and implemented in their entirety.

As far as the Voters List for Local Government Elections is concerned, the Party holds the view that the new National Register of Registrants (NRR), from which any such List will be extracted, and which is being created on the basis of the just concluded House-to-House Registration, is yet to be finalised by GECOM.

In the finalisation of the new NRR, GECOM has yet to publish, for public information and scrutiny, the List of persons registered, in the various Registration Districts, during the House-to-House Registration process. Also to be undertaken is the cross-matching of fingerprints to remove potential duplicates.

Completion of these processes, to the satisfaction of all Stakeholders, is a necessary precondition for the production of any new and credible Voters List for the holding of Local Government Elections.

THE JOINT TASK FORCE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT:

The PNCR has written the Co-Chairman of the Joint Task Force on Local Government Reform (the Task Force) Mr. Clinton Collymore expressing concern about the tardiness with which the Government�s representatives on the Task Force, has been attending its work. The Task Force has rarely been meeting due to the failure of Collymore to call meetings.

Recently by letter dated the 22nd July 2008, Collymore informed members of the Task Force which comprise of both members of the PNCR and the PPP/C, that due to his responsibilities related to the holding of the 29th Congress of the PPP/C he was suspending the weekly meetings of the Task Force with effect from Tuesday July 22nd, 2008. Despite the conclusion of the PPP/C�s Congress, no notice of resumption of meetings has been given to the PNCR members on the Task Force. The PNCR therefore registered a serious protest against the dilatory practices of the Government side of the Task Force, contending they had crippled its progress.

The PNCR�s concern is especially so in light of the statements by Dr. Roger Luncheon and Mr. Donald Ramotar purporting to suggest that work of the Task Force is proceeding smoothly. The PNCR noted that the Task Force is yet to agree on the proposals for Fiscal Transfers and the modalities of the Electoral System.

The PNCR reminded Mr. Collymore of its position that it would consider nothing agreed upon until all of the laws relating to the proposed changes in the Local Government system have been presented to and approved by the Local Government Task Force.

COST OF LIVING:

Now that Carifesta X, which was officially estimated to cost more than G$500M, is over, Guyanese must return to the sobering reality of the unconsionable16% VAT and the consequential upwardly spiralling cost of living. It is evident that, contrary to the Government propaganda, the spike in the cost of living is far from moderating.

The PNCR considers that the recent release, from the Statistical Bureau, which suggests that there has been a moderate 5% increase in retail prices, in the first half of the year, nothing short of the cynical humour of the Jagdeo Administration.

It is because the PNCR is convinced that there is a continuous and debilitating rise in the cost of living that it has demanded that Public Servants and workers in the Private Sector be granted adequate emoluments to cope with this socially corrosive reality. The Party has also called on the Administration to ensure that those in receipt of public assistance and pensions have those increased significantly.

The Jagdeo Administration appears to be unwilling to address these concerns. Information available, however, suggests that the reason for this reluctance may be attributable to the levels of benefits being received by some of the regime�s key lieutenants.

There can be no greater proof of the Marxist belief that the ruling classes could never understand or empathise with labouring masses.

People�s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday 4 September 2008.