MEASURES TO PREVENT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MUST BE STRENGTHENED--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 19 June 2008




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR recognises the valuable contributions that Mr. Ranji Chandisingh made to the development of the PPP, the PNC and the country as a whole.
• Is there yet the political will or courage to have a Commission of Inquiry investigate GPL and recommend urgent remedial action?
• It must be the concern of every Guyanese that the national accounts for 2007 have once again been presented late to the National Assembly.
• There is some lack of clarity about the determination of the precise elements of the Government’s long term development strategy, based on the promotion of low-carbon alternatives.
• Given all the recent developments with the CLICO debacle, the Jagdeo Administration should reassure all Guyanese that the NIS will not suffer any catastrophic meltdown.
• It is important that, as a society, we understand the root causes of domestic violence and develop effective programmes to address its eradication from all levels of the society.


DEATH OF RANJI CHANDISINGH

The People’s National Congress Reform records its shock and sadness at the passing of former Government Minister and former General Secretary of the Party, Mr. Ranji Chandisingh.

Mr. Ranji Chandisingh was an outstanding politician and educator, of unquestionable integrity and patriotism, who used his strength and his practical experience to embrace a vision for a truly united, progressive and developed Guyana.

As a person, Mr. Ranji Chandisingh was a very private, even if ascetic, man whose private hours seemed dedicated to reading and thinking about the various issues affecting mankind, in general, and his fellow Guyanese, in particular. He was gracious, well spoken and honest in his personal and social relations. Indeed, he was a Guyanese who has been a credit and a blessing to this nation.

Mr. Chandisingh’s political career embraced the political struggle for independence and nation building.

He was educated at Harvard University, and, like most of his generation of the 1960’s, he regarded Marxism/Leninism as a vital tool for transforming this country. He joined the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) soon after his return to the then British Guiana and became a member of the Cabinet of the PPP Government in 1961, as Minister of Labour, Health and Housing. He was also a leading ideologue of that Party and became the Principal of Accabre College.

By the middle of the 1970’s, he became concerned about whether the various elements in the PPP were really committed to national unity and the building of socialism. Consequently, he, and many others from that party, joined the ranks of the PNC.

Joining the PNC, in 1975, he became Director of Studies of the Cuffy Ideological Institute, at Loo Creek, Soesdyke/ Linden Highway, and a member of the Central Executive Committee of the PNC. In that capacity, he wrote the highly informative booklet entitled “Education in the Revolution for Socialist Transformation and Development”.

In January 1980, Mr. Ranji Chandisingh was appointed Minister of Higher Education. In the following year, he became Minister of Education, Social Development and Culture. He replaced Dr. Ptolemy Reid, as General Secretary of the People’s National Congress, in 1984, when the latter retired.
Mr. Chandisingh also served as Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for the Ministry of National Mobilisation.

In 1988, he replaced Mr. Malcolm Parris as Guyana’s Ambassador to the Soviet Union. He served as Guyana’s last Ambassador to the USSR before the closing of that mission, in the early 1990’s. On his return to Guyana, Mr. Ranji Chandisingh retired from active politics.

The People’s National Congress Reform believes that, as a grateful nation, we must recognise all those who made a contribution to the political and social development of this country. Accordingly, the Party recognises the valuable contributions that Mr. Ranji Chandisingh made to the development of the PPP, the PNC and the country as a whole.

The PNCR extends sincere condolences to his dear wife, Veronica, his son Yuri and all the other sorrowing relatives and friends.

May his soul rest in peace!

AN INVESTIGATION OF GPL IS LONG OVERDUE

The People’s National Congress Reform has called attention, on several occasions, to the dysfunctional nature of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL). Indeed, the Party has recommended that there be a Commission of Inquiry, into the workings and activities of this entity. The Jagdeo Administration has turned a deaf ear to our recommendations, while turning a blind eye to the glaring deficiencies of GPL.

Consequently, GPL continues to limp along, undisturbed by the havoc it is visiting on all segments of the society. Blackouts are the order of the day, disrupting businesses and plaguing the lives of the Guyanese people.

It is a matter of amazement that a Government, which claims that it has some concern for the well-being of the Guyanese people, would allow this unacceptable situation to continue. Surely, the negative and disruptive impact of the blackouts, on the business sector and the reliability of supply of potable water, would be a stimulus to action. It is well known that the business community, especially the manufacturing sector, is under stress and blackouts are only reinforcing their jeopardy.

At the household level, the unstable voltage fluctuations, caused by the frequent and unpredictable blackouts, are damaging the equipment in many of the homes of our citizens and, from all accounts, it is frustratingly difficult, if not impossible, for them to recoup the cost of such damage from GPL.

Additionally, even while the GPL management is urging the public to undertake electricity conservation measures, the billing system continues to be unpredictable and erratic. This, apart from being a disincentive to households, places undue burdens and stresses on our citizens, especially the old and the vulnerable.

In the meantime, amid rumours of massive fraud and the evident demonstrations of incompetence, soothing noises come from the management of GPL, either pleading for patience or asking for understanding.

Once again, as occurred on each previous occasion that new generators have been acquired, we are promised that, with the installation of the newly acquired generators, our blackout woes would be over. Perhaps, as is usual whenever the crescendo of public dissatisfaction and protest rises, citizens would be bombarded with the propaganda about how much has been spent and how much the new generators represent, as if this is a substitute for the supply of reliable, stable and affordable electricity from GPL.

How much longer should citizens be expected to endure this sad and stressful state of affairs?

There is undoubtedly a compelling case for resolute action. The Jagdeo Administration must act and act now. Is there yet the political will or courage to have a Commission of Inquiry investigate GPL and recommend urgent remedial action?

POOR GOVERNANCE: CORRUPTION

The evidence is persuasive that the Jagdeo Administration does not understand or subscribe to the exercise of good governance. Even though it claims to be a democratic Administration, it has signally failed to conduct the business of the nation in a timely and transparent manner and render itself accountable to the Guyanese people. In particular, this regime has presided over the now endemic and rampant corruption, at all levels of public activities, in the post independence history of this nation.

The Auditor General’s report, for 2007, is a reminder that it has engaged in an orgy of corruption, mismanagement, incompetence, illegal spending, and the abuse of the relevant financial rules and regulations. Contracts have been overpaid, unspent funds have not been refunded and large sums of money are being returned by our overseas missions.

The contingencies fund continues to be abused with sums of money being drawn from it to meet expenditure that do not meet the eligibility criteria as defined in the Act. The Auditor General has pointed out that some G$3.945 Billion were drawn from the fund by way of 138 advances. All in all, the Report paints a dismal picture of a most corrupt Administration.

It must be the concern of every Guyanese that the national accounts for 2007 have once again been presented late to the National Assembly. The Auditor General has continued to speak out about the lack of staff, even as the President continues to direct the Auditor General to provide services for special audits across the country. It must be noted that the complement of staff for the Auditor General’s office stands at 226, while the actual staffing situation is only 114 members. This situation is scandalous. The Auditor General’s office must be given the staff required for it to deliver the national accounts on time. The position of Auditor General should be filled by a qualified person, who is independent and who is prepared to carry out his duties without fear or favour.

LOW-CARBON DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

The PNCR has already commented on the Low-Carbon Development Strategy since it was launched by the Jagdeo Administration, on 8 June 2009. The Party would continue to make comments. On this occasion, we refer to some startling and highly misleading facts in the document itself.

The concern of the PNCR, after our initial reading of the Draft Document on the Low-Carbon Development Strategy, is that there is some lack of clarity about the determination of the precise elements of the Government’s long term development strategy, based on the promotion of low-carbon alternatives. Moreover, the document does not spell out how the funds, expected to be realised from the Avoided Deforestation compensation commitments, would be utilised, for the benefit of all of the people of Guyana, within the context of a well thought out strategy for the economic and social development of Guyana.

On page 6, of the Draft Document for Consultation, it is argued that “The country’s macro-economic foundations have been transformed and remain strong¹. Guyana has experienced positive growth in almost every year over the past two decades – growth rates in 2006, 2007 and 2008 were 5.1%, 5.4% and 3.1% respectively² (growth in 2008 was 5.9% if the sugar industry is excluded³).” This is patently false as both the IMF and the World Bank have pointed out that growth virtually stopped in 1998 and turned negative by 2005. Some growth was only restored after heavy investment in infrastructure during Cricket World Cup in 2007. These self-serving and inaccurate statements can only undermine the overall credibility of the document.

On the same page, it is claimed that “over the past few decades, Guyana has transition to a multi-party democracy and market based economy.” This is a remarkable statement from a Party that, according to its own constitution, adheres to Marxism/Leninism and which has steadfastly pursued the governance path of democratic centralism.

The objective reality is that Guyana, far from being a truly democratic state, has descended into the dictatorship of an elected cabal, dominated and characterized by one man rule, as the USAID Country Strategy 2009 to 2013 has confirmed.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The PNCR finds it necessary to state, once again, that, contrary to the propaganda campaign of the PPP Administration, the Party is firmly and unequivocally committed to the holding of Local Government Elections under the reformed Local Government system, as proposed by the Joint Task Force on Local Government Reform.

The PNCR stated that it would participate in the work of the Special Select Committee on the Local Government Reform Legislation, of the National Assembly, provided all of the Bills have been submitted to that Committee. The five (5) Bills were finally submitted, to the National Assembly, on Thursday 11 June 2009. Therefore, the PNCR has submitted the names of its Nominees for the Select Committee. There is now, as far as the PNCR is concerned, no barrier to progress on this matter, as long as the Nominees of the Administration demonstrate that they are committed to proceed in good faith.

The PNCR considers that the publication, cleansing and acceptance of the new National Register of Registrants (NRR) must be dealt with urgently, since it is from this NRR that the Preliminary Voters List, for the holding of Local Government Elections, must be extracted.

Because of the fundamental reforms to the Local Government Electoral System, the Party considers it urgent for GECOM to present its Project Plan: for the approval of the new NRR; the implementation of a comprehensive Public Education programme to ensure that the Guyanese electorate becomes fully conversant with the reformed Local Government Electoral System; the demarcation of the Constituency Boundaries to facilitate the election of 50% of the Councillors by a First-past-the Post system; the presentation of a final Voters List, after the period of Claims and Objections; etc.

NIS AND CLICO

The National Insurance Scheme (NIS) is an important institution in Guyana. It pays pensions to our citizens, medical expenses and other benefits. Its long term stability and viability is, therefore, of utmost importance. In recent times, there has been good reason to believe that the long term viability of the Scheme should be questioned. It is imperative, given all the recent developments, that the Jagdeo Administration reassures Guyanese that the NIS will not suffer any catastrophic meltdown.

Equally, it is past time that the Administration explain why G$6 Billion were invested in the Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO). The loss of this sum of money, as a result of the investment fiasco in the Bahamas, must be explained in terms of its impact on the overall financial health of the NIS scheme. The silence of the Administration, on this matter, is beginning to cause many right thinking Guyanese a great deal of unease.

It has been reported that the courts have paved the way for the sale of the assets of CLICO. Surely, it would be the decent and prudent thing to do to tell the policy holders, pensioners and investors in CLICO whether the sale of such assets will be used to pay them, given the fact that CLICO liabilities significantly exceed its assets.

MEASURES TO PREVENT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MUST BE STRENGTHENED

Recently, a number of women have met their deaths at the hands of their spouses. But those of Omawattie Kallicharan, Krishandai Singh and Sharmin McKay stand out for the evident viciousness and brutality. All of this only serves to remind this nation that domestic violence seems to continue unchecked.

The PNCR takes this opportunity to extend to the families of these persons our heartfelt sympathy and condolences.

We have previously pointed out that the violence not only leads to the loss of life, it also deprives the families concerned of the nurturing qualities which are usually provided by the mother. Such loss must have an adverse effect on the children and the families as a whole. It is for this reason, among others, that the PNCR calls on the Jagdeo Administration, once again, to reinforce the institutional capacity along with the existing measures and laws, so that there could be a concerted non partisan national programme, including public education, to confront the scourge of domestic violence, particularly the traumatic impact on families through the loss of their mothers.

The Party understands that members of the Police Force, even though they are doing their best in the circumstances, may require further training and assistance to deal with reports and methods to prevent the spread of domestic violence. Equally, there must be an examination of the response of the justice system to cases of domestic violence to determine whether it is adequate or whether there is need for it to be improved and strengthened.

The measures being recommended, by this Party and others, could benefit from the involvement of the Social Sciences Faculty of the University of Guyana and other institutions with the required expertise, including the University of the West Indies. It is important that, as a society, we understand the root causes of domestic violence and develop effective programmes to address its eradication from all levels of the society.

There is, for example, a school of thought which argues that domestic violence is being fuelled, in part, by the psychological stresses and consequences of the economic crisis which has resulted in the male partner being incapable of providing for his spouse and his family. There are, no doubt, other equally important influences. It is, therefore, vital that all of these views are examined so that they could inform national policy decisions and programmes aimed at the eradication of domestic violence.

It is time that we, as a society, take bold measures to protect our women and prevent the further loss of lives.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana