PPP/C WANTS LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS WITHOUT REFORMS--PRESS STATEMENT Thursday 19 March 2009




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR will continue to resist the holding of Local Government elections under the old unreformed Local Government system;
• The PNCR, therefore, calls upon the Government to hold an urgent and impartial Inquiry into the CLICO matters;
• The PNCR believes that there must be an inquiry into what transpired with NIS and might have led to the offer of resignation by Dr. Roger Luncheon, who is the incumbent Chairman of the NIS;
• It is now clear that the situation is worsening, as the global financial and economic crisis hits home, and the Jagdeo Administration has, as yet, doing nothing specifically to cushion the local economy from its effects;
• The PNCR has studied the report of the UN expert on minority issues and is preparing a comprehensive review. The Party’s response would be made available to the media shortly.

PPP/C WANTS LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS WITHOUT REFORMS

Recent media statements by President Jagdeo and the PPP/C that Local Government Elections would be held by November 2009, while paying lip service to Local Government Reform confirms that they are determined to continue frustrating the work of the bi-partisan Local Government Task Force to justify holding Local Government elections under the old unreformed system.

The People’s National Congress Reform reminds the Jagdeo Administration of their agreement, with the Opposition Parties, that Local Government elections would be held under the reformed Local Government system, using an Electoral List extracted from the new National Register of Registrants, produced as a result of the recent House-to-House Registration process.

Indeed, the Opposition Parties, in their joint Press Release, dated Monday 19 November 2007, stated, inter alia, “… that the reform of the Local Government system, as recommended by the Joint Task Force for Local Government Reform, including the reform of the Local Government Electoral system, … should be fully implemented prior to the holding of Local Government Elections.” This remains the position and commitment of the PNCR.

The People’s National Congress Reform, conscious of the proclivity of the Jagdeo Administration to engage in exercises of bad faith, has continually warned the Guyanese people of the manoeuvres, of the regime, to prevent the reform of the Local Government system before the holding of Local Government Elections in 2009. The recent statements, by President Jagdeo and his PPP cohorts, simply confirm our long held suspicions that the Jagdeo Administration is about to repudiate yet another agreement.

It is evident, to the PNCR, that, among the reasons for their desire to hold Local Government elections in 2009, without the agreed reforms of the Local Government system, is the belief, of the Jagdeo Administration and the PPP, that they need the old Local Government system to consolidate their political hold on the country, prior to the holding of National and Regional Elections in 2011.

The PNCR members of the bi-partisan Local Government Task Force, have always co-operated to expedite the reform of the Local Government system. However, it has been clear, from the inception, that despite agreements and statements to the contrary, including the 2003 Communiqué, the PPP members seem committed to frustrate the process.

The PNCR states categorically that, if there is the political will and good faith, on the part of the Jagdeo Administration, the reform of the Local Government system can be completed in time to hold Local Government Elections by November 2009.

There has already been agreement on the reforms to the Local Government Electoral system. Discussions on the details of the draft Bill for Fiscal Transfers to Local Authorities have advanced. The PPP members have been dragging their feet on holding discussions on the draft Bill for the establishment of the Local Government Commission. These Bills would all have to be Tabled and passed in the National Assembly. The PNCR and the other Opposition Parties have called for all three (3) Bills to be Tabled in the National Assembly, at the same time, since, if there is agreement on the Bills, their passage, through all stages in the National Assembly, could be expedited.

It is evident that a comprehensive Public Education programme must be held early to ensure that the Guyanese Electors are fully informed and understand the new Local Government Electoral system. There is no reason, given that there is already agreement on the details of the new Electoral system, why such a Public Education programme cannot begin immediately.

The PNCR will continue to resist the holding of Local Government elections under the old unreformed Local Government system. We challenge the Jagdeo Administration to allow GECOM and the other opposition parties to have observers at meetings of the Local Government Task Force.

DIRECTORS AND REGULATORS MUST ACCOUNT FOR CLICO DEBACLE

President Jagdeo and the Finance Minister have studiously given the Guyanese people the impression that they would guarantee all policy holders and depositors of CLICO. However, the vigorous resistance from the Government representatives to have that guarantee clearly and unequivocally stated in the Motion Debated in the National Assembly last Thursday, 12 March 2009, is cause for concern. This manifestation makes it necessary to question the sincerity and determination, of the Jagdeo Administration, to clean up the mess brought about by the collapse of CLICO, under their watch.

Cleaning up the mess of CLICO must entail dedicated, systematic and resolute action by the Jagdeo Administration. Among the action required, is for the Directors and Regulators associated with the debacle at CLICO, to give a full account of what transpired prior to the collapse of the company. Not only is this necessary but it is the logical follow-up action to underwrite the eventual consensual Resolution passed by the National Assembly.

It is obvious that the Bill for any guarantee by President Jagdeo will be passed on to Guyanese tax payers. Consequently, those Managers and Directors of the Company who had a fiduciary duty to all policy holders and depositors must be made to account to tax payers for their performance. There is definitely need to know if there was any malfeasance prior to the collapse. Did any Director or Government official obtain any undue advantage because of insider information?

The PNCR, therefore, calls upon the Government to hold an urgent and impartial Inquiry into the CLICO matters, including the disbursement of the funds obtained from the sale of the Bonds held by CLICO in the Berbice Bridge Company.

THE NIS FUNDS MUST BE PROTECTED

While measures are being taken to contain the fall out from the collapse of CLICO, the Government must also take all necessary measures to ensure that the assets and cash position of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) is not eroded. In this regard, the Government must honour its commitment to do all that is necessary to protect this vital insurance scheme.

The PNCR believes that there must be an inquiry into what transpired with NIS and might have led to the offer of resignation by Dr. Roger Luncheon, who is the incumbent Chairman of the NIS. Is it that Dr. Luncheon had word that the NIS investment in CLICO was likely to turn sour? While the Party does not question the investment in CLICO there are pertinent issues which must be raised. There are also recent disturbing report of unusual dealings at NIS including, the impending purchase of property above their valuation.

There must be an inquiry into this matter and into whether there was collusion between the Directors of CLICO and the Government in making an investment in CLICO. The PNCR concedes that there might have been professional advice which led to such investments but the question is whether the NIS Board acted on their own or whether they were pushed by the Jagdeo Administration.

UNEMPLOYMENT CONTINUES TO INCREASE

In its Press Statement, on 5th March 2009, the PNCR provided information which indicated that unemployment was increasing in Guyana. It is now clear that the situation is worsening, as the global financial and economic crisis hits home, and the Jagdeo Administration has, as yet, done nothing specifically to cushion the local economy from its effects. It has recently been reported widely, in the media, that the local manufacturers are sounding the alarm that their orders from Europe and other parts of the world are drying up. If one adds to this that CLICO will have to put a significant number of people on the bread line, and that other companies may soon have to cut their employment rolls, the picture emerges of a growing unemployment problem in this country.

The PNCR has advocated, and does so again, that the Government should put the best minds of the country to work on the growing economic crisis, in conjunction with all of the relevant stakeholders, so that pertinent recommendations could be made to ensure that Guyana survives this crisis with the minimum of dislocation.

UN EXPERT ON MINORITY ISSUES LAMBASTES JAGDEO ADMINISTRATION

The UN expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, who visited Guyana from 28th July to 1st August 2008, has published her report that has exposed the PPP/C Administration for its discriminatory practices and poor governance. The report makes interesting reading.

For example, it states that: “In 2008, the independent expert witnessed a continuing societal malaise that shows evidence of having deepened and transformed in some instances into despair, anger and resistance. This is particularly evident among Afro-Guyanese individuals and communities that reported feeling excluded, discriminated against and criminalized. Ethnically divided political and administrative structures and failed political processes have created deep frustrations and distrust in the institution of government.”

The PNCR has studied the report and will shortly make available to the media a comprehensive statement.

In the meantime, the Party has noted the raw and angry response of the PPP/C Administration to the report. Rather than looking objectively at the recommendations of the report, the PPP Jagdeo Administration has opted to do what it has done in similar circumstances: it has attacked the messenger rather than the message.

The PNCR condemns and rejects the response of the PPP/C Administration and will also be offering its views on this misguided response to an official United Nations report.

PNCR OUTREACH PROGRAMMES IN REGIONS # 6 and 7

Over the last weekend, the Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert H. O. Corbin, MP, led a large delegation on an outreach programme to Regions # 6 and 7. He was accompanied by members of Parliament, members of the Central Executive Committee and members of the Women and Youth arms of the Party.

In both Regions 6 and 7, Mr. Corbin and his delegation held discussions with the residents and informed them of the Party’s continuing commitment to remain conversant with the problems they are experiencing. At Baracara, in Region # 6, in particular, residents, consistent with the relevant section of the UN expert report on minority issues, complained that they felt that they were being discriminated against because their community is mainly Afro-Guyanese. They also raised the following issues:

 There is no suitable market for produce;
 The lack of birth certificates;
 Unemployment among the youths;
 Loss of livestock due to flooding in the savannahs;
 The need for transportation since the Government launch does not function anymore;
 The need for a High School in the community;
 Firearm license applications not being approved;
 The need for a Medic and a speedboat in the community;
 The need for land titles.

The PNCR has seen a report, from the GINA’s website, which attempted to refute the analysis by the PNCR, on the question of discrimination against Afro-Guyanese and the fact that residents have been given very little assistance to support their agricultural activities.

The PNCR stands by its assessment of the situation in the region and can easily refute the attempt to deny that discrimination exists in that community. The following is a sample of the views expressed by residents: “We spoke to the Agricultural Minister and he told us that they don’t have money to assist us, he don’t have money to assist us, is like we begging this man… we said well you can’t give we some food, he said no. He said if you help yourself then they are going to help us. They promised us some cutlasses. Those cutlasses should have been channelled through Cde. Francis Parks, nothing has been done as yet … you know what it boiled down to, that we can’t get the cutlasses anymore.”

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday 19 March 2009