PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Friday October 3, 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The Party has no doubt that the example exhibited by the Muslim community during Ramadan and in the celebration of Eid Ul Fitr, will be internalized by other sections of the community and strengthen the spiritual foundation of our society which is so essential to the overall development of our society;
• The General Council is the highest forum of the Party in the absence of Congress and it meets quarterly to review the party’s programme and determine plans and strategies;
• The latest example of the President’s disrespect is the fact that Bharrat Jagdeo and his Minister of Finance travelled on an Official visit to China without informing the Guyanese people as to the reasons for such a visit;
• The PNCR once again calls on the Jagdeo Administration not only to declare its policy on the Venezuelan arms build-up, but also, to mount a major challenge to it in the region and beyond;
• Any sober and rational assessment of Jagdeo’s sudden conversion to opposition to the EPA must lead to the conclusion that it is a direct result of internal differences within the Cabinet and Freedom House;
• The PNCR has been advocating and will continue to advocate that one of the main reasons for the escalating prices in Guyana is the unconscionable 16% VAT, which must be reduced to 8% in order to bring some relief to the Guyanese people;
• The PNCR had recommended some time ago that a commission of inquiry should be appointed to look into the workings of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) as it was and has become evident that the corporation has become dysfunctional;
• During the month of October the Party’s Human Services and Welfare Department will be linking with its women’s arm, the National Congress of Women (NCW) in a programme of activities focusing attention on Senior Citizens while at the same time observing the fifty first (51st) anniversary of the NCW.

EID-UL-FITR MESSAGE:

The People’s National Congress Reform extended Eid Ul Fitr greetings to the Muslim community at the end of the period of fasting, sacrifice and abstinence during the Holy month of Ramadan. The Party reiterates these greetings to all those Muslims who have faithfully observed the commands of God, rededicated themselves to spiritual growth, and helping the less fortunate.

The PNCR shares the joy and rejoicing of the Muslim community, which characterises this terminal point in the celebration of Ramadan. The Party has no doubt that the example exhibited by the Muslim community during Ramadan and in the celebration of Eid Ul Fitr, will be internalized by other sections of the community and strengthen the spiritual foundation of our society which is so essential to the overall development of our society.

EID MUBARAK!

THIRD GENERAL COUNCIL OF THE PNCR:

On Saturday September 27, 2008 last the People’s National Congress Reform held its third General Council for the year at Congress Place, Sophia. The meeting, which was attended by representatives from all of the ten (10) Regions of Guyana, was chaired by the Party Vice Chairpersons, Mr. Basil Williams, M.P. and Ms. Volda Lawrence MP, respectively in the absence of Party Chairman, Mr. Winston Murray who is overseas.

The General Council is the highest forum of the Party in the absence of Congress and it meets quarterly to review the party’s programme and determine plans and strategies. The General Secretary’s report by Mr. Oscar Clarke highlighted the work of the Party and its organs during the last three months and focused on the major issues facing the Guyanese people such as spiraling cost of living, high unemployment, crime and security. The address by the Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert H. O. Corbin, was entitled, “Getting Back on Track - Making the Party Fit for Purpose”. In that address, he analysed both the local and global political and economic situation and the implications for Guyana and the PNCR. He charged the members of the Party to reflect on the broad policy and programme directions of the last Biennial Congress, which formed the basis of the PNCR’s work until 2009. Consequently, he urged members not to be distracted by those who, in pursuit of their selfish agendas, felt that they had suddenly earned the right to dictate the programme of the PNCR. He reminded the Council that it was the PNCR and its members who must analyse the circumstances and determine what is in its best interests.

The addresses by the Leader of the Party, the General Secretary’s Report and proposals for the Party’s revised Code of Conduct served as the basis for a vigourous debate on the general issues affecting the Party and the Guyanese people.

Among the decisions taken by the General Council were, the approval of the Revised Code of Conduct and Pledge of membership, the broad programme of the Party to the end of 2008 and that PNCR Members of Parliament will be required to report as a regular Agenda item of General Council on their activities during the quarter.

The General Council will hold its final meeting for the year in December.

JAGDEO’S DISRESPECT FOR THE GUYANESE PEOPLE CONTINUES:

President Bharrat Jagdeo has continued to display gross disrespect for the people of Guyana. This disrespect is highlighted by his administration’s continued lack of transparency in the award of contracts and the ritual withholding of vital information from a significant section of the population on matters of security and Economic. It is only when Jagdeo and the PPP Administration find themselves in difficult circumstances that they conveniently resort to so-called consultation. One recent example is the so-called national consultation with stakeholders on the Crime and security situation, which abruptly ended as soon as Jagdeo’s objectives were met. The present fiasco of his refusal to sign the Partnership Agreement (EPA) provides another example. After more than a year of negotiations and receiving reports, Jagdeo waited until he was rebuffed by his CARICOM colleagues before resorting to another, so-called, consultation on the EPA. As in the past, the Guyanese public is yet to be informed in a structured way of the details of the President concerns that informed his refusal to sign that Agreement. It is therefore evident that the, so-called, consultation is just another political device used conveniently by Jagdeo when he faces difficulty in pursuing his dictatorial policies.

The latest example of the President’s disrespect is the fact that Bharrat Jagdeo and his Minister of Finance travelled on an Official visit to China without informing the Guyanese people as to the reasons for such a visit. It is common practice for a Head of State to let the Guyanese people know what business he is undertaking on their behalf. Jagdeo does not seem to understand or recognise this principle.

As no information has been forthcoming from the Office of the President or Government Information News Agency (GINA), Guyanese citizens are left to speculate as to the reasons for Jagdeo’s visit to China. Is it that he needs urgent financial help for the economy? Has he gone there to get help with the Skeldon Sugar Factory? Or is Jagdeo undertaking some major negotiations with the Chinese which he does not want the Guyanese people to know?

No doubt, the Guyanese people will be informed belatedly on this recent Presidential safari.

THE JAGDEO ADMINISTRATION MUST DECLARE POLICY ON VENEZUELA ARMS BUILD UP:

The Hugo Chavez Administration has embarked on a policy of a massive arms build-up. It has purchased sophisticated weapons from both Russia and China. This policy has attracted attention regionally and internationally. Yet the Jagdeo Administration has chosen to remain silent about the Venezuela arms build-up. The PNCR considers such silence and the lack of policy as most dangerous and ill advised. The Party believes that one cannot simply accept the Venezuelan arguments that the arms are for defensive purposes. On any assessment the arms build-up seem out of proportion to the needs of the Venezuelan nation. The policy of inaction has given rise to an alarming psychological condition of passivity. Guyanese were alarmed to learn, for example, that the President was unaware that Russian planes had utilised Guyana’s airspace on a test flight to Caracas recently.

What is of particular concern to the PNCR is that this arms build-up assumes sinister significance in the context of the known controversy between Venezuela and Guyana and the willingness of Caracas to use force when it considers it in its national interest, as illustrated in November last year when two pontoons were blown up by Venezuelan Security forces in the Cuyuni River after invading Guyana’s land and air space. To date, the Venezuelans have failed to provide a satisfactory explanation to the people of Guyana

The PNCR once again calls on the Jagdeo Administration not only to declare its policy on the Venezuelan arms build-up, but also, to mount a major challenge to it in the region and beyond. The Jagdeo Administration must not rely on the soothing advice of letter writers that Caracas has no evil intentions against Guyana but should prepare for the defence of the national interest of this country by diplomatic and other means.

ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (EPA):

The PNCR has noted with some amusement and concern that Bharrat Jagdeo’s denunciation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has generated more heat than light. The PNCR would have thought that if he were a responsible Head of State, President Jagdeo would have set out in adequate detail his precise objections to the relevant sections of the EPA. As it is, he continues to make generalised criticisms of the agreement that are neither persuasive nor convincing.

Any sober and rational assessment of Jagdeo’s sudden conversion to opposition to the EPA must lead to the conclusion that it is a direct result of internal differences within the Cabinet and Freedom House. As late as December last year the Jagdeo Administration was wholly in favour of the EPA and both the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, and the Minister of Foreign Trade, Dr. Henry Jeffrey, made a positive assessment of the EPA and the work of the Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM). The sudden change in course by Jagdeo is therefore a reflection of his fear of the implications of important issues in the agreement such as the need for transparency in the award of contracts and good governance. Jagdeo’s sudden opposition has placed him in direct conflict with his Minister of Foreign Trade and, as all Guyana knows, there is likely to be a fallout from this political situation.

COST OF LIVING:

The Jagdeo Administration can no longer deny that the spiralling cost of living crisis is crippling the Guyanese people’s ability to live comfortable and regular lives. Their ability to do so is undermined by the continuous increase in prices for such basic commodities as sugar and flour, among others. Flour which had increased by 25% earlier in the year is about to be increased even further. And despite the political statements issuing from GUYSUCO, quality sugar is not readily available in Georgetown and some parts of the country.

Most nations in the region and beyond are taking measures to cushion their people from the effects of the rising cost of living resulting from the global financial crisis and the rise of commodity prices. The Jagdeo Administration, on the other hand, seems like rabbits caught in the headlight of this crisis and can neither take relevant or important action on this matter. The PNCR therefore recommends that a team of economic experts and advisors drawn from among all local stakeholders be asked to convene in order to analyse and propose solutions to Guyana’s current economic crisis especially as it affects the rising cost of living.

The PNCR has been advocating and will continue to advocate that one of the main reasons for the escalating prices in Guyana is the unconscionable 16% VAT, which must be reduced to 8% in order to bring some relief to the Guyanese people. The Party also has said on many occasions that the reduction in the VAT should be complemented by adequate wages and salaries for public servants and pensioners. Attention must also be paid to the poor and vulnerable members of the society. The PNCR is convinced that these recommendations can be an important element in the search for solutions to the current economic crisis.

CRISIS AT GPL:

The PNCR had recommended some time ago that a commission of inquiry should be appointed to look into the workings of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) as it was and has become evident that the corporation has become dysfunctional. The recent allegations of discrimination and even racial favouritism against the management of the corporation have confirmed the position of the Party. Also, the termination of the services of the Human Resources and Legal Officer are a further manifestation of the ongoing atmosphere of crisis at the GPL. There is also the question of the technical side of the work of GPL which is clearly also in a crisis.

In this circumstances the PNCR wishes to restate its position that a commission of inquiry consisting of the major stakeholders be appointed as a matter of urgency to review all elements of the operations of GPL to determine whether it is serving the best interests of the Guyanese people.

SENIOR CITIZEN’S MONTH:

During the month of October the Party’s Human Services and Welfare Department will be linking with its women’s arm, the National Congress of Women (NCW) in a programme of activities focusing attention on Senior Citizens while at the same time observing the fifty first (51st) anniversary of the NCW.

Highlights of the programme include a Concert on Sunday, October 5th entitled “A Tribute to Women” to be held at the Band Stand, Botanical Gardens which will commence at 15:00 hrs (3:00 pm).

The presentation of Hampers to seniors from Senior Citizens Homes in Georgetown on Thursday, October 16, 2008 and the annual “Appreciation Breakfast” for residents of the Palms on Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 08:00 hrs (8:00 am).

The annual Regional “Appreciation Brunch” for seniors will take place this year in Region #3 for senior citizens between the areas of Dem Amstel and Parika on Saturday, October 18, 2008.

The public is hereby invited to attend the Concert in the Botanical Gardens which will feature a variety of musical items for your enjoyment.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 3 October, 2008