No Proposals to Combat The Global Financial and Economic Crisis--PRESS STATEMENT Thursday 12 February 2009




SUMMARY:
• The 2009 Budget does not offer any direction regarding a better future. What it signals is further hardships for the Guyanese people, at the very period when they are bearing the burdens of excessive taxation;
• The Jagdeo Administration would be best served if they convene a meeting of all of the major stakeholders of the country and agree a team of competent and qualified experts and officials to analyse the economic crisis and make recommendations for the responses that are necessary for the protection and relief of the nation and its well being;
• If the single parents across this country were expecting a good resolution to the problems surrounding the fund, they were cruelly deceived by the Jagdeo Administration;
• While the PNCR does not question the integrity of the nominees from religious organisations, it must be determined whether they meet the criteria, as set out in section 3 of the Integrity Act;
• Over the weekend, of 6th – 9th February 2009, the Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert H. O. Corbin, MP, led a Parliamentary and Party team to Region # 1 where discussions and meetings were held with residents in the various communities;
• The PNCR pays tribute to Dr. Charles Denbow, Mr. Terry Nelson Fraser a/k Omar Farouk and “Halagala” and Mr. Patrick Alexander Grant.

THE 2009 NATIONAL BUDGET:

The National Budget for 2009 presented by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, on 9th February 2009, in the National Assembly was unimaginative, uninspiring and lacking in reality.

If the Guyanese public were looking forward to a realistic assessment of the economic condition of the nation, underpinned and sustained by a vision of the future, they have every good reason to be very disappointed.

The 2009 Budget does not offer any direction regarding a better future. What it signals is further hardships for the Guyanese people, at the very period when they are bearing the burdens of excessive taxation.

There is no relief for the workers in terms of increased salaries and wages and a reduction of the unconscionable 16% Value Added Tax (VAT). There is no relief for the business community which most likely will have to shed jobs, as the global financial and economic crisis hits home. The particular needs, concerns and urgent requirements of the private sector have been ignored, because the Jagdeo Administration simply could not be bothered to systematically analyse the needs of this supposed engine of growth for the national economy.

What must be most significant for the key stakeholder groups is the absolute lack of consultation prior to the construction of the Budget. This makes a farce of the 2009 Budget theme “Working Together – Reinforcing Resilience.” The trades unions were not consulted. The private sector was not consulted as far as the Party is aware. The political parties definitely were not consulted. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Budget comes across as a partisan political document reflecting only the interests of the Jagdeo Administration and not an economic blueprint to take this country forward.

The Budget, as is usual for this Administration, is full of grandiose projections and plans which, by the most charitable analysis, cannot be realistically achieved. In a sense, therefore, the Budget represents yet another squandered opportunity to seek consensus, by consultation with all of the key stakeholders of this country, so that there could be some common agreement as to how Guyana could tackle its many economic problems and take the urgently needed path into a future of real growth and development.

No Proposals to Combat The Global Financial and Economic Crisis:
In the concluding part of his Budget presentation, Dr. Singh states the following:

“Indeed, over recent months and weeks, the external context in which we operate has descended into what can only be described as chaos and turmoil in the global financial system. Today’s environment is totally uncharted territory for policy makers and participants alike. It is for that reason that caution and prudence are required of us as we navigate the way forward.”

This indicates that Dr. Singh and the Jagdeo Administration recognise the implications of the global financial crisis, though he did not proceed to offer any coherent analysis of its current and expected future effects on the economy. Had he done so, he would have had to conclude that the crisis has battered even the largest and most resilient of economies. It has not spared the emergent and weaker economies. Faced with this damaging and challenging economic crisis, States have rushed to put in place measures to combat it. Be it noted that these States have included those in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Not so Guyana. Ever since the crisis has revealed itself, the Jagdeo Administration has behaved like the proverbial deer caught in the headlamps of an oncoming vehicle. It has condemned itself to immobility. The People’s National Congress Reform has consistently pointed out that the evident inaction of the Government is an unsatisfactory and unacceptable state of affairs. Action must be taken and taken now. The economic and social future of the country is at stake.

The Party, therefore, reiterates its stated position on this matter. The Jagdeo Administration would be best served if they convene a meeting of all of the major stakeholders of the country and agree a team of competent and qualified experts and officials to analyse the economic crisis and make recommendations for the responses that are necessary for the protection and relief of the nation and its well being. This team could consist of recognised local and regional economists who understand the intricacies and complexities of the national and international economy. The Party believes that there is still time to pursue this course of action. However, further delay might limit the range of action which could be taken.

A Hoax has been perpetrated on the Single Parent Fund:
In his Address to the Guyanese people, on Tuesday 1 January 2008, President Jagdeo made the following promise: “This year, a special fund will be created to help single –parent households.” For most of the same year there was no indication that there would be any action to make a reality of this promise. The PNCR reminded that this is yet another unfulfilled promise. In April of 2008, GINA stated that the Ministry of Human Services was compiling a database to determine who would be eligible for benefits from the Fund. Some hope was, therefore, held out to single parents across the country who were, in the meantime, being battered by the rising cost of living. Then silence engulfed the issue once again. In December of 2008, enlightenment came from GINA again: “In August $100 M was allocated to the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security by Government for the Single Parent Fund. The Ministry introduced this programme to assist single parent households who were being adversely affected by the increasing cost of food on the world market.” It was anticipated that the identified $100M would be used to make the Single Parent Fund a reality.

If the single parents across this country were expecting a good resolution to the problems surrounding the fund, they were cruelly deceived by the Jagdeo Administration. Most Guyanese harboured the thought that the Single Parent Fund was intended to help single parents, particularly females, to cope with the rising cost of living as was stated.

What has, instead, been proposed in the 2009 Budget Speech is a programme to assist unemployed single parents, mainly women, in terms of training and similar inducements, to encourage them into the world of work. The amount stated is $33M.

So much for the promises of the Jagdeo Administration and its alleged concern for the poor and vulnerable of our society.



RECONSTITUTION OF THE INTEGRITY COMMISSION:

At his meeting with the Prime Minister, who was then Acting President, on the reconstitution of the Integrity Commission, on 30th January 2009, the Leader of the Opposition requested the CVs of all of the members of the Commission, to be able to determine whether they were suitable for appointments. On February 5, 2009 the Office of the President supplied very limited, sketchy information, for the three individuals President Jagdeo is considering for appointment to the Commission. However, no CV was provided for the proposed Chairman, Dr. James Rose.

While the PNCR does not question the integrity of the nominees from religious organisations, it must be determined whether they meet the criteria, as set out in section 3 of the Integrity Act. That Section states: “The other members (apart from the Chairperson) shall be appointed from among persons appearing to the President to be qualified as having the experience of, and shown capacity in, law, administration of justice, public administration, social service, finance or accountancy or any other discipline.”

The Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert H.O. Corbin, has, in the absence of full particulars and the requested CVs, has written to President Jagdeo to ascertain whether the four nominees, for the reconstitution of the Commission, are qualified to be members of the Integrity Commission, in accordance with the stipulations of the Integrity Act.

The PNCR is making available to the media a copy of that letter.

PNCR LEADER AND TEAM VISIT TO REGION # 1:

Over the weekend, of 6th – 9th February 2009, the Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert H. O. Corbin, MP, led a Parliamentary and Party team to Region # 1 where discussions and meetings were held with residents in the various communities.

Accompanying Mr. Corbin, for this visit, were Dr. George Norton, MP, and member of the Central Executive Committee, Mr. Desmond Fernandes, Regional MP, Mr. Christopher Jones, Chairman (ag) of the Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM), Ms. Eileen Fernandes and Regional Party officials.

This visit is a part of the Party’s outreach programme to find out what are the problems affecting residents in these communities. The areas visited were Mabaruma, Kamwatta, The Island, Aruau River, Hobodeia, Hotoquai, Barabina, Sacred Heart Area of the Aruka River, Morawhanna and Bumbury.

During the visits to each community, Dr. Norton, who is an Ophthalmologist, took the opportunity to examine the eyes of senior citizens.

The team was able to determine that there are serious and disturbing problems in the various hinterland communities. Residents could not obtain old age pension books, despite statements by the Human Service Minister that they had been distributed. Farmers, whose crops have been destroyed in the recent floods, could get no assistance from the Jagdeo Administration. In fact they complained of not seeing the regional Agricultural Official for several years. Moreover, there were several communities without adequate transportation, electricity and potable water.

A comprehensive statement on the visit has been released to the media.

PNCR REGRETS THE PASSING OF DR. CHARLES DENBOW, MR TERRY NELSON aka OMAR FAROUK AND MR PATRICK GRANT:

Dr. Charles Denbow:
As the PNCR was preparing its Press Statement, the shocking news came that Dr. Charles Denbow, a brilliant son of the soil, had passed away in Jamaica at the age of 63. The Party takes this opportunity to extend sincere condolences to his immediate family, relatives and friends.

Professor Denbow’s outstanding academic and professional career is too well known and too substantial to be itemised in a simple statement. Suffice it to say that his work in medicine stands as second to none in the region.

Terry Nelson Fraser aka Omar Farouk:
The People’s National Congress Reform is saddened by the passing of Mr. Terry Nelson Fraser, who is also known as Omar Farouk and “Halagala”, as a result of a heart attack. The Party tenders its sincere condolences to his wife, Gloria, his six children and his close friends and relatives.

A pioneer of the music industry in Guyana, Omar Farouk also made a name for himself as a media practitioner. He brought to the media sector the same industry and professional concern that he displayed when he was a member of the music fraternity.

Patrick Alexander Grant:
The PNCR would also like to tender its sincere condolences to wife, Ismay, children, friends and relatives of Mr. Patrick Alexander Grant.

Mr. Grant was the beneficiary of a loving and caring family. But he will always be remembered for the rich legacy he bequeathed to his country and to his region by, among other things, producing sons who have become recognised regional and international musicians. He himself was an accomplished musician and this must have influenced the career pattern of his famous sons, Eddy and Rudy.

May their souls rest in Peace!

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday 12 February 2009


Attachment:

February 11, 2009

His Excellency Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo
President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana
Office of the President
Vlissengen Road & New Garden Streets
Georgetown

Your Excellency,
RE: INTEGRITY COMMISSION

I refer to the meeting with Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, who was then Acting President, on the reconstitution of the Integrity Commission, on January 30, 2009.

At that meeting the Prime Minister advised that your proposed nominee for Chairman of the Commission was Dr. James Rose, and that your other nominee for member was Ms. Fubhadra Sukhai. I requested the CVs of both nominees to enable me to determine whether they satisfied the requirements of the Integrity Commission Act. I also enquired whether the consultation concerned the constitution of the entire Commission or only the two nominees named. I explained my position clearly about the constitutionality of the existing Commission and suggested that you seriously consider consultation on the entire Commission. I have read your public pronouncements on this matter and received some sketchy particulars on the other proposed members of the Commission from Prime Minister Hinds on February 5, 2009 and assume that the consultations proposed relate to the entire Commission. It is with this understanding that I now state the following.

It is not my intention to question the integrity of the nominees from religious organisations, however, it must be determined whether they meet the criteria, as set out in section 3 of the Integrity Act. That Section states: “The other members (apart from the Chairperson) shall be appointed from among persons appearing to the President to be qualified as having the experience of, and shown capacity in, law, administration of justice, public administration, social service, finance or accountancy or any other discipline.”

In the absence of full particulars and the requested CVs, I am yet unable to do so. Consequently, I am requesting that the information that I requested be provided urgently. The information provided by Rev. Nigel Aubrey Hazel is adequate, but I would like to provide a complete response on all the nominees at the same time.

Notwithstanding the absence of the CV of the proposed Chairman, Dr. James Rose, I am still in a position to offer a preliminary opinion on what is publicly known of him. He has been a candidate of the PPP/C for two successive Elections and his political affiliation is no secret. While this should not automatically disqualify anyone from public office the nature of the Integrity Commission requires a great deal of public confidence, particularly, in the context of the highly personal information of a wide range of public officials upon which that body would be required to deliberate. Mr. Rose’s appointment is unlikely to achieve this objective and, at this early stage, I urge that, in the national interest, you reconsider this matter before our proposed formal meeting.

In the context of past experience on consultation I consider it necessary to remind you of the interpretation as provided by Title 10, Article 232 of the Guyana Constitution:

“ ‘consultation’ or ‘meaningful consultation’ means the person or entity responsible for seeking consultation shall,
(a) Identify the persons or entities to be consulted and specify to them in writing the subject of the consultation and an intended date for the decision on the subject of consultat
(b) ion;
(c) Ensure that each person or entity to be consulted is afforded a reasonable opportunity to express a considered opinion on the subject of the consultation; and
(d) Cause to be prepared and archived a written record of the consultation and circulate the decision or entities consulted.”

Be assured that I remain available at all times to undertake my constitutional obligations as Leader of the Opposition.

Yours sincerely

…………………….
Robert H O Corbin, MP
Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform &
Leader of the Opposition