JAGDEO REGIME FIDDLES WHILE OUR ECONOMIC CRISIS BURNS--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 6 February 2009




SUMMARY:
• The Party takes this opportunity to remember Mr. Deryck Bernard, who combined exceptional cultural merit with a political mind that was sharp as well as humane;
• The role of the Integrity Commission is part of the institutional mechanisms for stamping out corruption by Public Officers. It is not mandated to investigate other prominent and corrupt members in our society;
• The PNCR has been paying careful attention to the fact that Air Traffic Controllers, at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, have been forced to take strike action to have long outstanding matters settled;
• The PNCR calls on the Jagdeo Administration to put in place a think tank, consisting of representatives of all of the main stakeholders, to examine the economic crisis and make a determination as to what measures can be taken to help the country to overcome it.
• The PNCR calls on the Jagdeo Administration to urgently re-examine the economic and social impact of the Berbice River Bridge toll structure and provide immediate relief, for the people of East and West Coast Berbice, from the added financial burdens they are being forced to bear.

PNCR REMEMBERS DERYCK BERNARD

A year ago, the PNCR lost one of its finest minds and capable member of its Central Executive Committee. Deryck Milton Alexander Bernard departed this life on the 5 February 2008.

The Party takes this opportunity to remember Mr. Deryck Bernard, who combined exceptional cultural merit with a political mind that was sharp as well as humane. In particular, his service to the nation as a Minister of Education and a Member of Parliament must be noted and remembered.

As on previous occasions, the PNCR wishes to reiterate its gratitude to Mr. Deryck Bernard for putting at the disposal of the Party and the Nation his considerable talents and his capacity for service.

The Party wishes to thank his widow, Mrs Myrna Bernard, his children and the rest of the Bernard family, who provided the background and comfort to ensure that his talents flowered and that he was available to support the Party in the invaluable ways in which he did.

FORENSIC AUDIT: PPP DIVERSIONARY TACTIC WILL NOT SUCCEED

The Jagdeo Administration responded to the call, by the PNCR, for “a forensic audit into the assets acquired by senior Government officials and corrupt business people, which bear no relationship to their incomes and earnings” by claiming that the Integrity Commission is capable of carrying out such a function. This was no more than an attempted diversionary tactic.

The role of the Integrity Commission is part of the institutional mechanisms for stamping out corruption by Public Officers. It is not mandated to investigate other prominent and corrupt members in our society. The Jagdeo Administration knows this and is, therefore, guilty of trying to protect those who benefit, in particular, from the proceeds of the narcotics trade, organised crime and other illicit activities.

The PNCR believes that we should refocus attention on these individuals. In the circumstances, the Party reiterates its call for a forensic audit into the assets of those individuals who cannot legitimately account for them.

It is not surprising that the Jagdeo Administration has done everything it could to remove the focus from these individuals, as most of them are well known supporters of the Administration and the PPP. No one should be above the law, especially if their activities are likely to undermine and rupture the moral and social fabric of the society. These individuals must be brought to book. Apart from the well known moral objections to their presence, we must recognise that their activities generate serious economic and social distortions, which are detrimental for the well-being of the people of Guyana.

In making the call for a forensic audit, the PNCR asserts its lack of confidence in the presently constituted, weak and under resourced Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). The FIU is clearly yet another of the paper organisations, created by the Jagdeo PPP/C Administration, to placate donors and provide employment for its cosseted cronies.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS STRIKE DRIVEN BY IMPACT OF THE COST OF LIVING

The PNCR has been paying careful attention to the fact that Air Traffic Controllers, at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, have been forced to take strike action to have long outstanding matters settled.

The Air Traffic Controllers are claiming, as we understand it, retroactive overtime payment on salary scale adjustments, a 10% increase in wages and salary for last year and leave advances. They have also continued to clamour for better working conditions. It is further understood that discussions being held between the Jagdeo Administration and the representatives of the Controllers have broken down as a result of the obstructionist tactics of the Office of the President.

It is evident that the request for payments, which are outstanding to them, and for increased remuneration are as a consequence of the impact, on their households, of the spiralling cost of living, occasioned primarily by the unconscionable 16% VAT.

The Air Traffic Controllers, like most other Guyanese workers, are experiencing the painful consequences of having to continuously pay more for goods and services.

Their cause is legitimate and should not be disregarded on such flimsy red herrings, as to whether they have trade union representation or whether they are in receipt of higher salaries and wages than members of the traditional Public Service.

It is the view of the PNCR that the Air Traffic Controllers provide a highly specialised service and are therefore entitled to remuneration consistent with their expertise.

Of course, the Party is conscious the implications of the strike for the safety of air transport in and out of Guyana. The cancellation of night flights and the uncertainty of the flights generally landing here must have created a negative profile for Guyana as far as the safety of landing aircraft is concerned.

However, the PNCR considers that the attempt at Ministerial bullying, as exhibited by Robeson Benn, is more likely to inflame the situation rather than encourage steps to be taken which could lead to a solution. Mr. Benn’s threats to the Air Traffic Controllers are imprudent, wrong-headed and misplaced. What the Minister and the Jagdeo Administration should be doing is to try and address the demands of the Air Traffic Controllers which have been outstanding for some time now. Reason should prevail not to resort to threats and arrogance. Surely, it must have dawned on the Jagdeo Administration that the prolongation of the Air Traffic Controllers strike is having a negative impact on the economy and the reputation of the country for having a safe air traffic control system manned by competent professionals.

In any case, respectful dialogue between the two sides should be able to take the matter beyond the immediate demands of the Air Traffic Controllers and place it in the wider context of action necessary to resolve the many problems at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, particularly with regard to the air traffic control system.

In these circumstances, the PNCR expects that the timely intervention of President Jagdeo would bring about a positive solution, based on the resolution of the just demands of the Air Traffic Controllers and the need to ensure that Guyana is regarded as a safe destination.

JAGDEO REGIME FIDDLES WHILE OUR ECONOMIC CRISIS BURNS

The world is in the grip of the worst economic crisis since the Depression of the 1930’s. Some economists have given, as their opinion, that this crisis could easily become a global depression. So serious is this situation that states in Asia, like Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean have rushed to take measures to alleviate the economic crisis. Actions taken have been in the form of stimulus packages or other serious economic measures.

Guyana, though it has a small, open and vulnerable economy, has not benefited from any concrete measures, taken by the Jagdeo Administration. As usual, this Administration is long on pronouncements and short on practical action.

Since the crisis started, various noises have come from the Jagdeo Administration. However, there has been no clear pronouncement on the measures which would be taken to ensure that the Guyana economy could make it through the crisis. While the Administration dithers, the crisis is already having a negative impact on the business community. It is known that several major businesses in Guyana will either have to down size or shut down completely. This would have grave consequences for creating increased unemployment and negatively impacting on the overall working of the national economy.

The PNCR, therefore, once again calls on the Jagdeo Administration to put in place a think tank, consisting of representatives of all of the main stakeholders, to examine the economic crisis and make a determination as to what measures can be taken to help the country to overcome it. The Government must also consider, as a complementary measure to the establishment of the think tank, the introduction of a suitable stimulus package. Urgent consideration should be given to the use of funds from the National Lottery and the significant revenue earned as a result of the introduction of the 16% VAT.

THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL IMPACT OF THE BERBICE RIVER BRIDGE ON THE PEOPLE OF EAST AND WEST COAST BERBICE

President Jagdeo and his insensitive regime boasted that the Berbice River Bridge would bring significant benefits to the Guyanese public. However, to date crossing the bridge continues to be a financial nightmare to the Guyanese people of East and West Coast Berbice.

This is particularly distressing for families, living in West Coast Berbice, with children attending school in New Amsterdam.

Before the opening of the Berbice River Bridge, the cost, for school children to cross the river, with the Transport and Harbours ferry, was G$200 per month for an Access Pass. Since, the coming into service of the Berbice River Bridge, the cost is now G$600 per day for the same school child, who is now forced to use the Bridge, to attend school in New Amsterdam.

The PNCR again, calls on the Jagdeo Administration to urgently re-examine the economic and social impact of the Berbice River Bridge toll structure and provide immediate relief, for the people of East and West Coast Berbice, from the added financial burdens they are being forced to bear.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Friday 6 February 2009