Press Statement To The Press Conference on Thursday September 05, 2002 By The People’s National Congress Reform In The Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia.

Guyanese deserve a real President. The President of the Republic should embody the best that is possible from us; he or she should be someone who is a role model, someone we can look up to for leadership and example. All Guyanese, whether they are supporters of the President’s Party or not should be able to admire and respect the National Head of State.

Unfortunately, we in Guyana have found it extremely difficult to generate any respect for the current holder of the office. It is our considered opinion that Mr. Jagdeo has devalued the office and his tenure represents the low point in the history of our country. Indeed, we did not believe it possible that anyone could treat the office so shabbily and in such cavalier fashion.

We have had cause to comment to the Press in recent times on the frequency with which the Mr. Jagdeo has flitted in and out of Guyana on trivial matters while neglecting vital matters at home. Mr. Jagdeo is able to justify a trip to South Africa to attend a conference attended by 65,000 persons at which he is not able to claim that any matters of vital immediate importance to Guyana depended on his attendance.

Guyana is in crisis, the crime wave becomes more devastating and the Government is rudderless and ineffective. Instead of showing courage and grip and determination, Mr. Jagdeo once again flits off to the jamboree to be as far away as possible from the problems that grip the Nation. It is very instructive that the President appears to have a very modest evaluation of the value of his presence and the strength of the moral and intellectual leadership he can provide in this time of national trauma. We once again raise the question of the President’s intrepidity. If he believes his party’s absurd propaganda, which imputes political connections in the current crime and economic disasters, why is he so prone to hide in Jamaica, St Kitts and South Africa?

The President may of course be quite correct in his view that his presence at home would make no difference to the problems we face. His prevarications, evasions and deceptions on important matters continue to embarrass his Administration. In the matter of the Carroll scandal, we have yet to hear a straight story from the President on this matter. The Public should be told the truth on the following questions:

1. Why did the President ignore the evidence of wrongdoing that the American authorities provided?
2. Why did the President refuse to act on the information provided to him by the American Ambassador?
3. Why has the President refused to investigate the link between the Carroll criminal gang and elements in the
Guyana Police Force?
4. Why has the President denied the fact that he knew of the scandal before it was made public?

The President has left the Government in disarray, the circus of a so-called “Consultation on Crime” appears more ludicrous as its uselessness unfolds, the economic news gets worse, and the citizenry are more depressed.

As Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo goes sight seeing in South Africa and spends Guyanese taxpayers money senselessly on his lavish trips abroad, the poor, suffering masses continue to feel the brunt of his incompetent Administration. Every week after conditioning ourselves to believe that we have weathered the worst of the crime wave, we are inundated by yet another and more powerful swell. The manner of approach by the Administration has gone from the silly to the disgusting, from the hilarious to the offensive. It is time for decisive action to be taken by the regime to curb the reign of terror and to allay the fears of the defenceless citizens whose pleas for help and attention have fallen on deaf ears.

We are faced with a situation where brave young law enforcement officers are gunned down with impunity and no one is arrested or charged for these murders. Thomas Carroll and his kind continue to heap disgrace and scorn on all law enforcement officers and the Nation, while the response of the Administration is one of total hopelessness and helplessness.

The crime situation is the priority issue on the minds of our people and therefore our Party asserts our right to continue to agitate on the people’s behalf for a resolution of the problem. We have been at pains to point out over the past few months some of the urgent and necessary steps that the regime, if well intentioned, should take to establish some semblance of order and control.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, we reiterate our suggestions:

1. The regime has to move to restore pubic confidence by confronting the triggers and drivers of vicious crime in
Guyana. The failure of citizens to come forward with information when crimes are committed even when millions
of dollars in reward money is dangled before them tells of poor relationship between law enforcement agencies
and the people they are intended to serve and protect.
2. The fight against crime must include narco-trafficking, graft, corruption and all manifestations of white-collar
3. Appoint the new Commissioner of Police immediately.
4. Disband the gang known as the “Black Clothes” and establish a professional unit in its place.
5. Immediately improve the remuneration and conditions of service for members of the GPF, as well as better
training and orientation at all levels.
6. Establish a professional public relations unit in the Guyana Police Force.

Without inspired leadership Guyana is doomed and there is no bright and inspiring light in the present gang occupying the Executive. If the Minister of Home Affairs is the standard by which we can assess and judge the competence of the Jagdeo’s Government then the Nation is in a hopeless state.

The recent “Consultations on Crime” organized by the Ministry of Home Affairs were an affront to the intelligence of the law-abiding citizens of this country. The PPP/C is the only group existing in Guyana, which feels that all is well, and Guyana is prospering under their leadership. The Minister of Home Affairs and those around him who obviously believe that formulating crime fighting strategy and tactics is a Mickey Mouse or Anansi story should be booted out of office now!

Recent announcements of crime fighting legislation must be greeted with some scepticism. At the outset, it should be recalled that the regime has a dismal record of implementation of necessary legislation. A case in point is the Money Laundering Act which took over one year before it was debated in the National Assembly and even after its assent, remains a white elephant.

If the regime is serious about fighting crime they should, apart from spying on deportees and introducing video-taped evidence in Court rooms, focus on those around them who rape and plunder the Nation’s Treasury with impunity. The crimes of some friends of the regime make those committed by deportees abroad appear like misdemeanours. As reported in the Media, in announcing his departure from heading the Guyana Revenue Authority, Mr Edgar Heyligar proclaimed that he had had enough of the lawlessness! He seemed to be concurring with Mr. Marks’ assertion that there is much lawlessness in the state of Guyana. When the regime demonstrates that it has the political will to tackle the big fish, then and only then will they be taken seriously by decent and law-abiding citizens.

Apart from the obvious failings of the regime in implementing their decisions, there is the added problem of them seeking to introduce legislation that is patently unconstitutional. The Attorney-General should be embarrassed to introduce, for consideration by the National Assembly, legislation such as the Prevention of Crimes (Amendment) Bill 2002.
Any person with a modicum of legal training and experience would know that trampling on the fundamental constitutional rights of citizens is just not an option.
We challenge the Attorney General and other Ministers of this Government to demonstrate that they have the ability to be innovative and manage the affairs of this country honestly, efficiently and effectively.

While the social and economic fabric of the nation is in tatters and our citizens continue to cry out for an abatement of the infestation of violent crimes and corruption, the Georgetown Public Hospital has gained notoriety as a hotbed of corruption and sleaze. This institution has a corrosive layer of a criminal elements network that has literally crippled the functions of the hospital. The Emergency Room has itself become a tragedy. More often than not there are no doctors, nurses, or basic emergency room drugs and supplies. The x-ray machine has not functioned for months. Nurses, doctors and other practitioners continue to leave the health service in droves each month. Basic drugs and supplies are not available for the patients. Most of the equipment is not functioning or is non-existent. A cursory look at our nation’s only Referral and Teaching Hospital provides you with a clear picture of the corrupt state of our Nation under the PPP/C regime.

Meanwhile, executives of the hospital are further disgracing the Nation by privately disposing of public supplies and materials, manipulating the budgetary allocations and other financial improprieties. Recently, a Director was severely disciplined and his job is on the line for reporting to the auditors that he was given instructions by the Chief Executive Officer to drop off the Public Hospital supplies to the home of the CEO. Further, while the Director of Financial and General Services, Mr. Mahase Pertab, was on leave last month, he alleges that the CEO, took the opportunity to draw down from the budget, $90million, of which only $44m was allocated, for the purchase of drugs. This money was paid to a private drug company. This is highly irregular, as the accounting practices governing public institutions require receipt of goods and services as payments are made. It should be noted that while the amount sent to the drug company was nearly $50 million in excess of what was allocated, nurses and nursing assistants, the poorest of professionals, cannot receive their due increases and the gratuity for those professionals on contracts cannot now be paid. Once again, the poor and hardworking must suffer the direct consequences of this corrupt regime, which does not seem to care about the consequences of its greed. It is a tragedy.

Earlier this year, Mr. Pertab had cause to report to higher authorities that the CEO was guilty of another irregular accountancy practice of wrongfully receiving a monthly car allowance of $15,000 for two years while using a Ministry of Health vehicle. The same vehicle incurred the cost of $507,396 in 2000 for maintenance. GPHC met the costs. Other reports were made concerning the personal sale of personal goods from the CEO to the GHPC without receipts to the tune of $112,000. The goods included an iron, microwave, cutlery, washing machine, telephone, dining room set and other items. Mr. Pertab claims that such acts and the recent questions raised by him pertaining to what he considers questionable transactions involving Mr. Khan and the decision of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation Board to have an audit done, resulted in Mr. Khan issuing a letter to him, firing him with one day’s notice and three months salary in lieu of notice.

Mr. Pertab, upon receipt of this letter wrote to the Chairperson of the GPHC Board for redress but although we hold no brief for Mr. Pertab, we are sure that the goodly Chairperson will do no such thing. We are aware that the Chairperson has been in receipt of correspondence that deals with many of the improprieties and other acts of corruption and has been copied in the Minster’s response of August 4, 2002 to Mr. Pertab which outlines what the Minister did to address some of the issues of impropriety. We hope that it is incompetence (she can be forgiven for that) and not corruption that allows the chairperson to be lame and unresponsive in these matters.
We would like her to tell us why the GPHC has set up an offshore account, which has a balance of US$480? If this account is for the procurement of drugs, why would the CEO rob the local coffers of the GPHC and deny the nurses and other practitioners the monies due them.

The PNC/R rejects the corrupt practices of the top officials of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and calls on the Minister of Health to relieve himself of his media posturing and pay attention to these matters of public responsibility. He has a duty to this nation to exercise moral and legal oversight responsibilities and take seriously his accountability for the health system of our nation. He owes it to the people of this country to stop officials from using this major institution that should be bringing relief to the poor and sick, as a haven for corruption and controlling of the budget as a private household. The Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert H.O. Corbin will be away from Guyana during the month of September. During his stay abroad, he will be bringing Party Members and Supporters in the USA and the UK up to date on the serious situation in Guyana.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia.
Thursday September 05, 2002