Press Statement The People’s National Congress Reform on Thursday, August 22nd, 2002 Halls of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia

13TH Biennial Congress
Our 13th Biennial Congress was an extremely successful and heartening event. In terms of participation, we had over 2000 Delegates and Observers who came from all the Regions of Guyana, many of them at great personal sacrifice of time energy and money. The arrival of the Region 9 Delegation on the second day after a long and hazardous journey by road was an emotional moment that typified the spirit and determination of our membership. The debates were spirited and frank, the elections for offices in the Party and its women and youth arms were keenly contested and the morale of our delegates was militant and committed. The heightened commitment and intensity of our grass roots membership is perhaps the most significant single aspect of our Congress. This enthusiasm and loyalty was all the more inspiring given the dire economic circumstances, which face many communities and economic sectors in Guyana. Participatory democracy is alive and well in the PNC/R.

Congress Themes
The debates of the Congress were centred around the main themes which emerged form the presentations of the Party’s Leader, Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte, the Party’s Chairman, Mr. Robert Corbin and the Party’s General Secretary, Mr. Oscar Clarke. Nine themes emerged which were then discussed and debated in panel discussions and in workshops sessions at regional and sub regional level. These themes were:

1. Party Tactics and Strategy where we discussed what should be the party’s tactics for the next two years to best
serve Guyana’s interests?
2. Party Structure and Party Reform; where the focus of the discussions was on the reform and retooling of the
Party to effectively carry out our tactics for the next two years?
3. Ideology and Economic Strategy; where we discussed the pillars of our economic policies and how can we show
a way forward to a consensual and effective economic strategy?
4 .Governance issues where we focused on the creation of workable alternative models to our modes of
governance and the options and practical steps we can put forward to salvage Guyana? We also discussed
major issues of governance such as police and security, matters, the state of the public service and the
5. Development and Poverty what will be the PNC/R’s response to the issues of growing poverty and
marginalisation and our vision for poverty alleviation and community development?
6. Youth and development; what polices do we advocate and what programmes can we implement for youth?
7. Women and Development: How can we articulate and demonstrate the importance of women in the rescue of
8. Inclusion and the Ethnic Question: How does the party move to deal with the ethnic question as a Party and at
the national level?

9. Local and community Development Issues: How do we reform and strengthen local democracy as a foundation of

Our discussions on these matters so far have been very fruitful. We examined the structure and operations of our Party groups and the importance of more intense grass roots communication, the importance of feedback, from the local level. We emphasized the importance of embracing change in party reform, revising the rules of membership, the possibility of resuscitating workplace groups and other forms of group structure. We discussed the geographical organisation in all the regions but more particularly the hinterland regions where distance and cost are severely hampering the work of the party. We looked at the role of Party Leaders and the importance of voluntarism in the Party’s management. We also discussed the need for more inclusivity at the local group level. The importance of inclusivity is a key concern of the Party at this time. The Party’s position on law, order and in internal security was re-emphasised and the importance of law and order questions to peace, stability as well as any progress in political matters was reiterated.

The Party has also begun to grapple with the complex national debate on governance and alternative forms and modalities for enhancing the political and economic well being of our people. Any innovations in adjusted Systems of Governance must facilitate national development and address political and economic and social aspirations of all groups. We recognised the importance of the forthcoming local government reforms which will require changes in the way the party operates and the role of our local leadership will need to be further enhanced. Our attitudes as individual members will also be addressed.

Other ideas included the arrangements for the needs of the youth work of the Party. What about inclusivity within the Party as far as youth concerns and the arrangements in the Party for youth involvement and inclusivity. Preparation of new leadership in GYSM or the Party. The challenge of the women to become the most vibrant arm of the Party. The NCW must reorganise its structure to function in smaller units. Inclusiveness in work among women across differences including ethnicity, class, age, and barriers was highlighted. This includes wider social interaction including NGO involvement and networking. The Congress encouraged our women to occupy as much political space as possible. The Congress also discussed economic matters and highlighted the need for creativity and a competitive environment, the removal of excessive government and the move to making Guyana an investor friendly country.

Future Directions
Unfortunately we were not able to make final determination on these important matters because of the constraints of time and the unforeseen length of time for holding our elections. We nevertheless recognise that these matters are of vital importance to the party and the future of the country so that the Congress voted to mandate the General Council and the Executive to pursue these matters with urgency and to expedite the implementation of the final decisions arising from these debates.
We were also unable to conclude debate on some of the vital motions though we were able to answer those questions tabled by various groups around the country. We were however unable to deal with vital motions on the relationship between the PNC and the Reform group and on the expansion of representation in the Central Executive.

As you are no doubt aware, the members of the Leadership of the Party were elected on Sunday 18th. The Party’s Leader Mr. Hoyte has been re-elected with a landslide and Mr. Corbin and Mr. Alexander were returned as Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively. We are especially pleased with the election of Ms. Lurlene Nestor to the office of Chairman of the GYSM, the first woman to hold this position. We believe this historic event augurs well for the role of women in our Party hierarchy and is a tangible sign of the growing inclusivity of the PNC Reform. Since the elections on Sunday, the various representatives and co-opted members of the Central executive have also been appointed. The new executive is brimming with energy and optimism, which also augurs well for the country and the Party.

The full slate of Executive Members of the Party are attached for your convenience as an appendix to this statement.

PNC Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
August 22 2002