PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Wednesday 15 October 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia



Guyana was in the grip of an economic crisis before the global one struck home. It was sparked by the unconscionable 16% Value Added Tax (VAT) and, despite its devastating effects on Guyanese, the Jagdeo Administration has adamantly refused to provide any relief to the suffering people of Guyana;
 The torture debate in Parliament will provide another opportunity to expose the failure of the Jagdeo regime to uphold provisions of the International Convention on torture to which Guyana is a signatory. Hopefully, it will embarrass the regime into finally releasing the report albeit a doctored one;
 There has been an unbearable increase in the level of dust emission in the community that has surpassed the level of emission experienced historically in the community because of the mining practices of the present Company;
 The people of Linden are aware that the promise to generate employment and contribute to the advancement of Linden is a promise on which the Government has failed to deliver.

KEROSENE PRICE MORE THAN GASOLENE AS THE COST OF LIVING CONTINUES TO SPIRAL:

Kerosene, which is an essential commodity to the small man, has now been added to the growing list of items the prices of which have increased beyond the reach of most Guyanese. Checks reveal that kerosene is now more expensive than gasoline. The rise in the price of this essential item is having a negative impact on the lives of the poor. The Jagdeo Administration must therefore act decisively to utilise the available levers to ensure a reduction in the price of basic commodities in general and kerosene in particular. A reduction in prices of these essential items will help to bring some measure of relief to the hard-pressed Guyanese people.

Guyana was in the grip of an economic crisis before the global one struck home. It was sparked by the unconscionable 16% Value Added Tax (VAT) and, despite its devastating effects on Guyanese, the Jagdeo Administration has adamantly refused to provide any relief to the suffering people of Guyana. The half-measures announced by him months ago have failed to bring any relief and some measures, such as the Single Parent Fund, have failed to materialise. After the bold announcement by President Jagdeo on the eve of the PNCR Cost of Living Marches that Single Parents would be brought relief and that one hundred million dollars were available, single parents were taken for a ride by the Ministry of Human Services. A massive registration exercise took place creating expectations that the Government was about to provide financial relief. After nearly six months, not a cent has been paid. Where is the one hundred million dollars that the President announced? Was it spent on CARIFESTA X or for the PPP party at State House recently? The Administration must answer these serious questions. The PNCR calls on the Minister of Human Services to provide answers to the people of Guyana and, more particularly, the single parents that were deceived by her Ministry and who are still feeling the brunt of the rising cost of living.

The world is now in the grip of the worst economic crisis in living memory. Many Governments, including those in the Caribbean, have taken measures to cushion their people from the impact of this economic storm. The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Mr. Bruce Golding, for example, has assembled a high-powered team of the country’s top financial experts to monitor the global economic crisis and its impact on the local economy. This is what is called effective leadership. This commodity is in short supply in Guyana. President Bharrat Jagdeo should take a leaf out of Mr. Golding’s book and stop attempting to micro manage every Ministry and pretending to be an expert in every field. His Government should put the best brains of the nation at work on the economic crisis. Mere consultations will not work on this occasion. The seriousness of the situation demands the involvement of our best brains and all relevant stakeholders. The PNCR suggests that such a group be established to make concrete recommendations that would form the basis of a national emergency plan. Such a proposal is, however, dependent upon the submerging of arrogance and the triumph of reason.

In this picture is the panel for the Press Conference which was held in the Media Centre at Congress Place October 15 2008. From left are Mr. Aubrey Norton, M.P. and member of the Central Executive Committee, Ms. Clarissa Riehl, M.P. Attorney-at-Law and Deputy Speaker of the national Assembly and Mr. Ronald Austin, Head of the Public Relations Department.


TORTURE REPORT:

There has been speculation in the press that the Torture Report is likely to be released shortly. The PNCR believes that this stems from the fact that the PNCR’s motion on torture is among the items to be debated on the first day of the resumption of the National Assembly after the August recess. There is no assurance, however, that the Jagdeo regime will be embarrassed by the public exposure of these matters and release the report. This failure to release the report has been the subject of public criticism by interest groups in Guyana for several months but the Administration has treated these concerns with contempt. Months after it was completed and allegedly handed over to the Defence Board there is still uncertainty about whether or not it will be finally released. This is yet another example of the disregard for the human rights of citizens and the violation of the Constitution by the PPP regime. The delay in its release lends credibility to the belief that this report has been or is being sanitised of incriminating evidence against those who are guilty of torturing our citizens. Political sanitisation will not work. This is Guyana and the people of this country are sure to find out who the culprits are.

From the inception of these torture reports, the PNCR had stated its firm belief that the investigation into torture by the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) should have been an independent one. The army cannot investigate itself. Such a situation is likely to lead to the kind of abuse already referred to. The torture debate in Parliament will provide another opportunity to expose the failure of the Jagdeo regime to uphold provisions of the International Convention on torture to which Guyana is a signatory. Hopefully, it will embarrass the regime into finally releasing the report albeit a doctored one.

PNCR IN SOLIDARITY WITH LINDEN:

Last week the PNCR drew to the attention of the authorities that there exists a serious dust nuisance at Linden that was adversely affecting the community. We called upon the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act expeditiously to deal with this problem. The people of Linden, however, took matters in hand and engaged in their own protest activities. The PNCR expresses our solidarity with the people of Linden who have protested this nuisance and urge them to pursue this matter. We will continue to support the people of Linden until this matter is dealt with decisively and effectively.

The Party has noted that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Executive Director, Mr. Doorga Persaud stated that the dust emissions in Linden dated back to the early days of the bauxite operations. While this is true, previous owners of the Company were forced to address these concerns and bring about relief. There has been, however, an unbearable increase in the level of dust emission in the community that has surpassed the level of emission experienced historically in the community because of the mining practices of the present Company. The EPA must therefore not make excuses for the Company but diligently carry out its responsibilities of ensuring a safe environment for the residents of Linden.

The PNCR has continuously expressed its concern over the treatment meted out to the people of Linden by the Jagdeo PPP/C regime. We have consistently fought to ensure that the people of Linden have access to private television and radio broadcast. In fact our actions over the years have been supported by the Linden community and at least one resident has a pending matter in the courts as it relates to the question of private radio and television broadcast in Linden. What makes the situation worse is that the state run National Communications Network (NCN) continues to refuse even paid programmes that are critical of the Government. In large measure the Government has been suppressing the right of the people of Linden to access information.

Whenever a crisis emerges in Linden the response of the regime is to make promises which they do not fulfil. The people of Linden are aware of this tactic and are no longer prepared to be deceived by the PPP/C. The people of Linden are aware that the promise to generate employment and contribute to the advancement of Linden is a promise on which the Government has failed to deliver. The PNCR calls on the Government of Guyana to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure the development of the people of Linden.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Wednesday 15 October, 2008

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