JAGDEO HAS NO PLAN FOR DEVELOPMENT OF THE NATION--PRESS STATEMENT Thursday 30 April, 2009




Summary:
• The PNCR is convinced that the Jagdeo Administration does not spend enough time on preparations for major diplomatic conferences and that there is scope for qualified diplomats to make expert inputs;
• Because development is not taking place, the levels of poverty in this country are increasing at a very rapid rate;
• The PNCR believes that it is critical that a thorough professional investigation should be undertaken, with the aim of bringing the perpetrators of the Maria van Beek shooting to justice;
• The spate of blackouts and other signs of malfunction, at the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), is the clearest indication yet that that entity is facing major problems;
• The PNCR believes that the safety and comfort of the passengers on ferry boats must be the priority.

JAGDEO DOES NOT UNDERSTAND FOREIGN POLICY

In a recent interview, on the state owned national television station, the National Communications Network (NCN), President Jagdeo claimed that the Opposition does not deal with substantive issues, when it comes to foreign policy, but only with minor ones, such as the composition of his delegation to the 5th Summit of the Americas. This clearly indicates that President Jagdeo has no understanding of foreign policy and the role of the Agenda in determining the composition of the delegation.

The Agenda of any major conference is one of the key factors determining the composition of the delegation. A conference, such as the 5th Summit of the Americas, for which the agenda placed emphasis on economic, security and environmental matters, should have attracted a delegation of Government officials capable of dealing adequately with these issues. Even if the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs might have had some competence in handling such matters, there was need for additional members of the delegation with the requisite expertise.

Could the President tell this nation what was the role of the Minister of Health and the Advisor on Empowerment in ensuring that Guyana achieve its objectives as it relates to economic, security and environmental matters? Is it not interesting that the delegation did not have a representative from one of Guyana’s embassies in Venezuela or Brazil or the United States of America, at a time when these countries were the main actors at the 5th Summit of the Americas?

The People’s National Congress Reform is also convinced that the Jagdeo Administration does not spend enough time on preparations for major diplomatic conferences and that there is scope for qualified diplomats to make expert inputs. It is clear that the Administration believes that the President himself could just turn up at a meeting and get what he wants. This is an illusion. Success at a conference of this nature comes from concentrated and dedicated diplomatic work in the various capitals of the world and at the conference, based on a well organised and coordinated diplomatic strategy. This must be preceded by adequate preparation. Such preparation must involve the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other related Ministries which have institutional memory, as well as experts on the range of issues involved.

Probably, the greatest problem affecting the diplomatic service is the marked absence of participation by career Foreign Service officers in diplomatic meetings. This would enable inexperienced Foreign Service officers to obtain training in conference diplomacy and to cultivate the required international contacts that are a necessary requirement for the successful implementation of diplomatic initiatives.

JAGDEO HAS NO PLAN FOR DEVELOPMENT OF THE NATION

The average Guyanese citizen would be hard put to say, what is the framework, within which the development of the nation is taking place. The Prime Minister, Mr. Samuel Hinds, has admitted, in the National Assembly, that the Poverty Reduction Strategy has failed to achieve its objectives. The nation also knows that once the PPP found that the National Development Strategy (NDS) placed emphasis on a private sector driven development, they abandoned it without ceremony.

The question is where do we stand? Is Guyana back with the World Bank/IMF programme? We ask this question because no one in the Jagdeo Administration is willing to tell the nation on what basis is the development of the nation being undertaken. Here, as in the conduct of our diplomacy, we seem to be proceeding by fits and starts.

Because development is not taking place, the levels of poverty in this country are increasing at a very rapid rate. Chances are that, with the onset of the global financial and economic crisis, poverty will deepen in this country. In fact, the IMF/World Bank recently warned that developing countries will be the hardest hit by the economic crisis and poverty is likely to increase. The Millennium Development Goals, which were premised on good growth rates in the developing world, now seem more elusive than ever.

The lack of a development plan, the consequences of the global financial and economic crisis and, ongoing retrenchment in the mining town, make recent developments in Linden all the more stark and threatening. Linden has been in a depressed economic state for quite some time and the termination of the LEAP programme is only going to lead to more unemployment.

All of these developments make it imperative for the Jagdeo Administration to grasp the nettle and embark on realistic and innovative plans, not only to cope with the economic crisis generally, but to safeguard the levels of employment in the nation. The sad news is that the Jagdeo Administration has no plans.

BRING THE SHOOTERS OF VAN BEEK TO JUSTICE

The advent of the Jagdeo PPP/C in Government saw, for the first time in Guyana, a Government with criminal under-world links. The first indication that the state apparatus, under the PPP/C, was going to turn a blind eye to crime which was committed by its supporters or persons linked to the PPP, was the infamous Monica Reece case. It is widely believed that the Police was prevented from pursuing the leads that would have led to the conviction of the perpetrators of this heinous crime.

This was followed by a number of unsolved crimes which most Guyanese were convinced were drugs related. As these crimes went unsolved, the drug under-world and other criminal enterprises were clearly strengthening their hold on law enforcement agencies in Guyana and were rendering them impotent to deal with drug related crimes in Guyana.

The infamous Mashramani jail break compounded an already terrible situation. Rather than purge the Guyana Police Force of the elements that were corrupted by the criminal world and give the lawmen the resources to fight crime, the Jagdeo PPP/C Administration resorted to the use of drug lords and their illegal phantom killer squads to fight crime. What, in essence, this meant is that the Government institutionalised the use of criminals to fight crime and, by that very act, initiated the use of hired guns to solve political issues and to stop some criminal groups.

Extra-judicial killings became the order of the day. It is in this context that the execution of Ronald Waddell has to be seen. This is more so when it is noted that the President, rather than condemn this brutal act, tacitly sanctioned it by declaring that it was “unfortunate”.

Guyana, therefore, finds itself in the position where hired guns now feel that they can kill anyone with little or no chance that they will be brought to justice. What is worse is that the Police are not catching the masterminds and the criminal under world is taking over.

The PNCR believes that it is critical that a thorough professional investigation should be undertaken, with the aim of bringing the perpetrators of the Maria van Beek shooting to justice. Should the Police be allowed to act professionally, it will send a clear signal that the Guyana Police Force has the capacity and the will to properly investigate a crime and, based on the evidence, bring to justice the hired killers and their bosses.

The PNCR is convinced that the Jagdeo PPP/C Government’s approach, of being complicit with crime and criminals, is what is responsible for the present situation, in which hired assassins feel free to kill without having to worry that the law’s arm is long enough to reach them and bring them to justice.

IS GPL ABOUT TO CRASH?

The spate of blackouts and other signs of malfunction, at the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), is the clearest indication yet that that entity is facing major problems. The management of the company is doing exactly what it did approximately six months ago. It is offering explanations which do not seem to square with reality.

It is clear that GPL is facing major technical problems which the present management seems incapable of handling. It is, therefore, logical for the Guyanese people to demand a specific and accurate accounting from them as to the real reasons for the current spate of blackouts.

The major concern about these blackouts, apart from the inconvenience it is causing for the average citizen, is the impact on the business sector. The blackouts are causing various business entities to adjust production schedules and this situation only exacerbates the many difficulties facing the business community. They are also placing extra burdens on the Guyanese citizens as their appliances are being damaged and these have to be repaired or replaced on an urgent basis. It is well known that, any request to GPL to replace damaged appliances takes a very long time to be processed.

Because GPL is critical to the functioning of the society and the economy, the PNCR wishes to reiterate its call for an urgent public enquiry into the functioning and operations of that entity, to determine whether its management structure and its operations are serving the interests of the nation.


THE SAFETY OF PASSENGERS MUST BE THE PRIORITY

The People’s National Congress Reform is concerned that the Jagdeo PPP Government is compromising the safety of those Guyanese passengers who utilise the MV Malali to travel to the Essequibo and the MV Kimbia to travel to the North West District.

The PNCR notes that the MV Malali has a twin screw vessel propulsion engine and that both engines are expected to be in working order whenever it departs a port. However, only one engine is in working order for well over six months. In the case of the MV Kimbia, this vessel is required, by specification of the builders, to have two rudders. At present it operates with only one rudder.

The implications of the foregoing is that should the one engine of the MV Malali encounter problems or the rudder that steers the MV Kimbia experience complications, the passengers on board would be at risk, since the vessels would be unable to sail to any Harbour of Safety and would be compelled to become a disabled vessel at sea or on the river until another vessel comes to their assistance.

What is worse is that, under Act No.7 of 1998, Guyana Shipping Act 1998, Part X Safety of Life at Sea, the Minister is given power to monitor these vessels to ensure that they are safe. The PNCR, therefore, calls on the Minister, with responsibility for Transport, to take the necessary action to ensure that these two vessels are operated in accordance with passenger safety and other legal requirements.

If these vessels become disabled in the river or at sea, apart from safety concerns, there would be considerable passenger inconvenience, as well as result in loss of income for businesses dependent on the ferry services.

The PNCR believes that the safety and comfort of the passengers must be the priority.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday 30 April, 2009