THE CLICO (GUYANA) DEBACLE: ARE WE ONLY SEEING THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG? -- PRESS STATEMENT Thursday 5 March 2009




SUMMARY:
• As President, Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte’s Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) wrought major changes in the economy and the social and political life of the nation;
• It is obvious to any average citizen that until a complete audit is done of CLICO (Guyana) no one would be able to know the extent of the financial difficulty of the Company;
• The PNCR is amazed that, in the mind of President Jadgeo, “regional experts” are regarded as “foreign”;
• The PNCR wishes to remind the Administration and GECOM that there are a number of very important issues to be resolved and activities to be undertaken, before the holding of Local Government Elections;
• The Party reiterates its previous call for a thorough independent investigation into all allegations of torture, by members of the Joint Services;
• Unemployment is already a major problem in Guyana and these developments would only add to the existing woes of the Guyanese people.

PNCR OBSERVES THE 80TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LATE PRESIDENT HUGH DESMOND HOYTE

Before the next Press Conference of this Party is convened, it would have observed, on 9th March 2009, the 80th birth anniversary of the late Hugh Desmond Hoyte, the second leader of the People’s National Congress and the third President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

The Party will be hosting a television programme in which panellist, who have worked with the late President Hoyte, will have the opportunity to speak about his life, his policies and, generally, his contribution to the development of Guyana.

Mr. Hoyte had an outstanding Ministerial career which was capped with the positions of Prime Minister and President. As President, his Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) wrought major changes in the economy and the social and political life of the nation. He was also instrumental in shoring up the literary foundations of the nation by establishing the Guyana Prize for Literature.

THE CLICO (GUYANA) DEBACLE: ARE WE ONLY SEEING THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG?

With every passing day the revelations surrounding the financial difficulties of CLICO (Guyana) and its associate companies in the Caribbean raise more questions than provide answers and solutions.

The recent revelations, by the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, that the Regulator did not find any evidence of the alleged $6.1B invested by CLICO (Guyana) in CLICO (Bahamas) and, the subsequent responses by Officials in Guyana, provide no comfort to policy holders and affected persons and institutions.

The paranoid responses by President Jagdeo to genuine concerns raised by affected persons appear more like political propaganda, rather than a professional approach, by a responsible Government, to a serious financial crisis. The assurances by the President, at Press Conferences, that all valid CLICO claims will be met, without stating that these claims will be guaranteed by the Government of Guyana, mean absolutely nothing, having regard to the track record, of the Jagdeo Administration, with respect to the honouring of their promises.

In the meantime, several persons remain vulnerable to excessive loss, in the absence of a formal statement by the court appointed Judicial Manager, who has obviously been negligent in performing her previous duties as Regulator.

It is obvious to any average citizen that, until a complete audit of CLICO (Guyana) is done, no one would be able to know the extent of the financial difficulty of the Company. The PNCR, therefore, calls on the Jagdeo Administration to provide, in the National Assembly, an unequivocal guarantee to policy holders and investors, that all their financial claims will be met.

The Party also calls on the Minister of Finance to explain, in a transparent manner, how this objective will be achieved. The PNCR has, therefore, tabled a Motion, in the National Assembly, where an opportunity will be provided, to the Minister of Finance, to reveal the plans of the Government to deal with this serious situation. That Motion, tabled by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin, calls on the Government to:

• take all necessary steps to ensure that there will be no financial loss to any policy holder of CLICO (Guyana);
• take all possible actions to secure the investments made by the NIS, on behalf of contributors and beneficiaries of the Scheme, to prevent any consequential loss in benefits to them;
• take all possible actions to guarantee the savings, pensions, investments, and insurances of all investors, depositors, policy holders and contributors in CLICO (Guyana);
• emulate the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and takeover the operations of CLICO (Guyana) rather than pursue its liquidation;

The Motion also calls for the National Assembly of the Parliament of Guyana:

• to establish a Committee of the Assembly, which may co-opt experts, to monitor the developments at CLICO (Guyana) and other financial institutions, and keep the National Assembly updated, on developments within these institutions, in the context of the global economic crisis.

The response of the Government to this Motion would be a clear indication, to the citizens of Guyana, of its commitment to honour statements made by President Jagdeo and other Government spokespersons, over the last week.

The Motion, tabled in the National Assembly, is attached for the information of the public.



PRESIDENT JADGEO FALSIFIES PNCR’S CALL FOR EXPERTS TO EXAMINE ECONOMIC CRISIS

The PNCR has noted that President Jagdeo, in his rant at Babu John Crematorium, on 1st March 2009, claimed, among other things, that the Party was calling for “foreign experts” to examine the economic crisis and make recommendations, on ways by which it could be cushioned. Since President Jagdeo seems to have difficulty with the truth, we quote what was said, in our Press Release, of 26th February 2009:

“The Party also wishes to remind the Jagdeo Administration that it has been calling for the appointment of a group of experts, from within Guyana and the Region, who understand the intricacies of the local and regional economies to examine the current financial and economic crisis and propose solutions which might help to cushion the effects of this unprecedented situation.”

The PNCR is amazed that, in the mind of President Jadgeo, “regional experts” are regarded as “foreign”!

Is this a Freudian insight into how he regards CARICOM?

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS

The Administration claims that provision has been made, in the 2009 National Budget, for the holding of Local Government Elections. Though, the remark, by the Prime Minister, that, GECOM would have to cut its suit to suit the cloth made available, is ominous.

The PNCR reminds the Administration and GECOM that there are a number of very important issues to be resolved and activities to be undertaken, before the holding of Local Government Elections. These include:

 The completion of the Draft Bill on Fiscal Transfers;
 The completion of the Draft Bill for the establishment of the Local Government Commission;
 The development and implementation of a comprehensive Public Education programme to ensure that the Guyanese electorate is fully informed of the changes agreed for the system of Local Government and the holding of Local Government in elections; and
 The demarcation of Local Government Boundaries, as required by the proposed new Local Government Electoral system.

The Party reiterates its position that all of the required legislation must be submitted simultaneously to, and passed by, the National Assembly, prior to the holding of new Local Government elections.

TORTURE UNDER JAGDEO ADMINISTRATION CONTINUES

Two Guyanese citizens, Ryan Gordon and Mitchell Thomas, have alleged that they were tortured by the Joint Services, during a raid for narcotics, on Saturday 28th February 2009, in Wakenaam.

Gordon has told the media that ranks of the Joint Services held him by his pants and dragged him along the road. He was also slapped in the face several times and was forced to lie on his belly and crawled along the road. Further, members of the Joint Services placed a piece of wood on his shoulder and stood on him for several minutes before putting the barrel of a gun in his ear.

Thomas, a part time labourer, alleged that he was placed to lie on a nest of ants for several minutes. A picture of his back, covered with welts, appeared in the Kaieteur News, of Wednesday 4th March 2009.

The Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs have both given the assurance that this matter would be investigated, in light of the fact that both Gordon and Thomas gave detailed statements to the police.

The PNCR demands that an urgent and impartial investigation be launched into these allegations. The Party does not expect that, the tactic of delay and prevarication which characterised the approach to previous allegations of torture by the Joint Services would be adopted, in this case.

The Party reiterates its previous call for a thorough independent investigation into all allegations of torture, by members of the Joint Services.

The Party wishes to remind the Administration that, on previous occasions, when torture was alleged by Patrick Sumner and Victor Jones and members of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), an internal investigation was only launched into the allegations made against the ranks of the GDF. The GDF, therefore, has an outstanding obligation to investigate the allegations of torture made by Patrick Sumner and Victor Jones.

There is also the matter of the allegation of torture, by ranks of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), of David Zammett.

The PNCR would not cease its call for an independent and impartial investigation into all of these allegations of torture, since it has become evident that the culture of torture has become institutionalised within the operations of the Joint Services.

COST OF LIVING: RISING UNEMPLOYMENT

In the Press Statement, of 6th February 2009, the PNCR pointed to the following danger:

“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.”

Recent developments have borne out the predictions of the Party.

It is now public knowledge that Rusal has laid off fifty (50) employees; Precision Woodworking has been forced to cut its work force by forty (40); Barama is said to be on the brink of trimming its work force by some two hundred (200); and it is well known that two other large business entities in Guyana will be laying off workers.

Unemployment is already a major problem in Guyana and these developments would only add to the existing woes of the Guyanese people.

The Jagdeo Administration is yet to acknowledge their responsibility to urgently develop and implement remedial programmes, designed to enable the Guyana economy to respond effectively to the challenges posed by the global financial and economic crises.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday 5 March 2009