COLLAPSING INFRASTRUCTURE--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 26 June 2009




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR grieves over the loss of Ms. Muriel Pratt, who died at the age of 56, on 13 June 2009;
• The Jagdeo Administration must seriously focus on the collapsing infrastructure of the nation;
• The recent Auditor General’s report has confirmed that this Administration must be the most corrupt in our post independence history;
• The PNCR insists that an investigation into the violation of human rights and torture is necessary and those members of the security forces who are guilty of violating the law must be brought to book.

THE DEATH OF MURIEL PRATT:

The People’s National Congress Reform is again in a state of mourning. This time the Party grieves over the loss of Ms. Muriel Pratt, who died at the age of 56, on 13 June 2009.

She was a truly committed and hard working comrade from Region #3.

Ms. Pratt was humble, soft spoken and always willing to carry out the task assigned to her by the Party. Even when she had sustained an injury, she did not cease doing her work. As an executive member of the National Congress of Women (NCW) she made a significant contribution to that arm of the Party.

The Party tenders sincere condolences to her family, close friends and relatives.

May her soul rest in peace!

COLLAPSING INFRASTRUCTURE:

In his 2009 Budget presentation, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, committed the Jagdeo Administration to “Expanding our physical infrastructure, along with rehabilitation and maintenance of the existing stock.” The danger this Administration is currently facing is that by the time they get around to expanding some of the critical physical infrastructure, the existing stock might be in such a state of disrepair as to be of questionable use.

Sewage System:
In recent times it has become frighteningly evident that the Georgetown sewage system is on the brink of collapse.

This system was put down in 1929. It was initially constructed to sustain 20,000 households. It is now being forced to provide for a vastly expanded city. The pumps, which were installed at that time, were supposed to last for sixty years. They have now been functioning well beyond this period. The Georgetown system is definitely facing an emergency situation.

The PNCR recommends that urgent steps be taken to rehabilitate the sewage system. Since, should the sewage system totally collapse, this would result in a public health nightmare which could easily overwhelm the health system.

The Jagdeo Administration should urgently provide the funding for the Georgetown City Council, in collaboration with the Guyana Water Inc. (GWI), to begin expanding the capacity and rehabilitating the Georgetown sewage system.

Roads:
After 17 years in Office, the PPP Administration seems incapable of maintaining the road system of Guyana . It is now obvious to most Guyanese that roads, to the interior as well as the capital, are in a state of grave disrepair. The road, for example, from Linden to Lethem turns into a highway of slush when the rain falls. Every main street in Georgetown is full of potholes, which pose a danger to motor vehicles and cyclists.

The road, on the Guyana side of the Takatu Bridge , is yet to be completed. A consequence of this situation is that the Brazilians have become impatient with the sloth of the Jagdeo Administration and had opened their side of the Bridge, much to the embarrassment of the Jagdeo Administration and the citizens of this Republic. Since this development the Jagdeo Administration has announced that measures are being taken to ensure that the Takatu Bridge is fully operational.

The Administration does not seem to understand that the value of the opening of the Bridge and the construction of the road, to the Brazilians, would only be enhanced when there is access to a deep water harbour port to facilitate the export of goods from Northern Brazil .

Housing:
The IDB loan, obtained by the Jagdeo Administration, to provide housing for low income Guyanese, is a step in the right direction, as the housing stock in Guyana , at the present time, is inadequate to meet the needs of the population.

The PNCR, however, cautions that the allocation of such housing must be done in an equitable and transparent manner. It is regrettable, therefore, that this matter is being treated as a propaganda victory for the Jagdeo Administration.

The recent flurry of publicity, surrounding the accessing of the loan and the pronouncements of the Minister of Housing and Water, seem more designed to influence voters, than placing emphasis on the fact that this is a programme to ease the burden of house construction for the growing army of the poor and vulnerable low income families.

The PNCR notes also that the upping by 50% of the house loan ceiling to G$3M would yield only marginal benefit to low income earners who would be required to find an initial minimum sum of G$100,000 to purchase a house lot. While the PNCR welcomes private developers in housing it has to be recognised that in the present situation acquiring a house lot through a private developer will mean that they would be saddled with the additional burden of paying VAT on the purchase price. Government allocation of land will save them this burden.

The channelling and management of the funds realised from the IDB through the present financial institutions are not as buyer-friendly as the Jagdeo Administration is making out. These commercial agencies apply a restriction to loans and they also have built into them a chargeable interest rate to cover risks to realise a profit on the transaction.

It would take an Administration with vision to bring a holistic approach to housing development. This would require that water, electricity, sewage and access roads are available in the new settlements which are being built. Environmental, social and educational factors must complement these services.

If the Jagdeo Administration is serious about providing low cost housing, the time is right for the re-establishment of a Government mortgage bank so that poor people can access loans without any further fear of dispossession or loss of property.

The Jagdeo Administration has failed to appreciate the PNCR position that the housing drive cannot succeed in isolation. It must be integrated with other relevant sectors if we are to achieve affordable housing.

POOR GOVERNANCE:

The sad saga of poor governance by the Jagdeo Administration continues. The PNCR has already referred to the fact that the recent Auditor General’s report has confirmed that this Administration must be the most corrupt in our post independence history. Not only is it corrupt but it has remained shamelessly unaccountable to the people of Guyana .

Despite several promises the accounts for Cricket World Cup 2007 have not been submitted by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. This is a disgrace given the fact that the World Cup has been over for more than two years. No less disgraceful is the fact that the accounts for the floods in 2005 have not seen the light of day. And to compound this unsatisfactory situation no accounts have been submitted for the hosting of CARIFESTA X. Now the Government has the audacity to undertake the hosting of then ICC World Twenty/20 Cricket in 2011 when it has not accounted for monies spent on other events. The foregoing illustrates that this is a Government that does not account and is not prepared to answer to the people of Guyana .

It is clear that the Jagdeo Administration believes that it has a license to spend tax payer’s money as it sees fit without being accountable to the Guyanese people. It is this cavalier attitude to the nation’s money that makes it possible for this corrupt Administration to continue placing the proceeds of the Lotto Funds in a private account rather than in the Consolidated Fund, as the law requires.

The Jagdeo Administration has now qualified itself to be called an Administrative scofflaw.

HUMAN RIGHTS:

The PNCR wishes to call attention to the fact that the Jagdeo Administration is yet to hold investigations into the violations of the human rights of several of our citizens. The Party has, on several occasions, called for investigations into allegations made by citizens that they had been beaten or brutalised by the security forces.

Reference is made to the cases of Ryan Gordon and Mitchell Thomas, who were violated during a raid for narcotics, on Saturday 28th February 2009, in Wakenaam. They alleged that they were tortured by ranks of the Joint Services. The Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs have promised an investigation into this matter. An investigation has not been held. The PNCR insists that an investigation is necessary and those members of the security forces who are guilty of violating the law must be brought to book. The continuous refusal to investigate torture is tantamount to the Jagdeo Administration’s tacit approval of the heinous act of torture.

The Party also reminds that David Zammett was brutally tortured by the police and no investigation has been held. The Jagdeo Administration is in violation of the Constitution of Guyana and the relevant international law.

The Jagdeo Administration must understand that we are living in an age where Governments can be held accountable for torture long after the act has been committed. The Administration must, therefore, not rest comfortably in the belief that it can indefinitely ignore demands for investigations into these matters.

International instruments exist which can bring the Administration to justice.

The PNCR has repeatedly and consistently called for impartial and independent investigations into the torture of our citizens. Since the Administration has continued to ignore these requests, the guilty elements of the security forces have come to believe that they can violate the law with impunity.

It is this belief that is responsible for the arrogant and totally unprofessional attitude, by some members of the Guyana Police Force, who arbitrarily and illegally invaded the home of Mr. Owen John, behaved in a threatening and totally disreputable manner towards him and his family and, when challenged for their wrongdoing, arrested and charged him and his sons for disorderly behaviour.

The Party warns that it is dangerous to allow members of the security forces to become a law unto themselves. Perhaps, the Jagdeo Administration wants the citizenry to recognise that we are living in a Police State where the security forces can, because of perceived official approval, with impunity, behave in a Gestapo-like manner towards the people who should be benefiting from their Service and Protection.

This is a recipe for anarchy.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 26 June 2009