DISCRIMINATION CONTINUES UNABATED THROUGHOUT GUYANA: MORE EVIDENCE OF PPP DISCRIMINATION ON THE ESSEQUIBO COAST AND LOWER POMEROON--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 17 July 2009




SUMMARY:
• A democratic Government should be accountable, transparent in conducting the nation’s business, obedient to the rule of law, and respectful of human rights;
• How could President Jagdeo boast of being the point person for Agriculture in CARICOM and have such a dismal record of discrimination, leading to the decline in agriculture production?
• The PNCR has information that important Government lands are also being sold off to the cronies and “fat cats” of the Jagdeo Administration;
• GPL must show more respect for the Guyanese people or, beyond a certain point, it will discover that it has lost their respect and would have to suffer the consequences;
• GECOM must publish an accepted National Register of Registrants (NRR).


POOR GOVERNANCE: GUYANA IS NOT A DEMOCRATIC STATE:

President Jagdeo has claimed repeatedly that Guyana has the most democratic system in the Region. We do not know what he means by these statements since he has never clearly explained this. It is possible that, like Humpty Dumpy in Alice in Wonderland, he wants words to mean exactly what he says. As far as the PNCR is concerned the statement must have an objective basis. There are certain essential characteristics that qualify a State to be described as a democracy.

A democratic Government should be accountable, transparent in conducting the nation’s business, obedient to the rule of law, and respectful of human rights. These do not exist in Guyana.

The Auditor General’s Reports over the years, especially the latest 2007 Report, have dispelled the notion that the Jagdeo Administration is accountable to the people of Guyana. The Administration’s reluctance to establish the Public Procurement Commission has squashed any idea that it conducts the business of this nation in a transparent manner. The rule of law is daily trampled upon in our disordered society. What we have, instead, is executive lawlessness and arrogance. On a daily basis, the security forces, and other elements in the Jagdeo Administration, trample on the rights of our citizens.

What we have in Guyana is what contemporary political scientists have termed an “illiberal democracy”. By this they mean that a political party after it has won an election then proceeds to negate all that is required for a democracy. In other words, elections are not everything.

When President Obama addressed the Parliament of Ghana, on 11 July 2009, he pointed out that democracy “… is about more than just holding elections. It’s also about what happens between elections.” He went on to observe that; “Repression takes many forms, and too many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, ……..”

The Guyanese people know, at their cost, that in between elections, successive PPP Administrations all but snuff out democratic norms. The democratic badge is only used to give legitimacy to their requests to international organisations and institutions on their begging assignments.

Democracy can only be built by democrats or a democratic party. Neither President Jagdeo nor the PPP can claim to be democratic. Mr. Jagdeo has grown up in the PPP from an early age in a Party that, by its Constitution, is Marxist/Leninist. Indeed, attempts by Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan to have this removed brought the wrath of the PPP down on his head.

The PPP and President Jagdeo only lay claim to the title of a democratic state for Guyana because they have won the Elections. Objectively, therefore, the President’s claims are untrue, misleading and deceptive.

President Jagdeo would be well advised to take note of the observations made by President Obama, in his Address to the Ghana Parliament: “In the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions are the key to success - strong parliaments and honest police forces; independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and civil society. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in peoples' lives.”

DISCRIMINATION CONTINUES UNABATED THROUGHOUT GUYANA: MORE EVIDENCE OF PPP DISCRIMINATION ON THE ESSEQUIBO COAST AND LOWER POMEROON:

The most recent activities of the Party, in different parts of the country, was the visit of a Party team, led by its leader, Mr. Robert Corbin, on Sunday 12 July 2009 to Essequibo and Pomeroon. This visit revealed abundant evidence that the PPP Government’s discrimination continues unabated throughout Guyana, including the Essequibo Coast and the Lower Pomeroon River.

Neglect of agricultural development in the Pomeroon generally and, more particularly, Lower Pomeroon, which include the communities of Aberdeen, Hackney and other areas. The frequent floods in the Pomeroon River, leading to continuous losses by dedicated farmers, have been well publicized by the PNCR and other organizations in the Media.

Promises made by Government Officials, including the Minister of Agriculture, to provide relief, such as financial assistance, improving the drainage infrastructure and dredging the mouth of the Pomeroon River, have failed to fully materialize. Regrettably, even in the few instances where some assistance was offered, there is clear evidence of discrimination in the manner in which the assistance was provided. The assistance was only provided to areas where PPP supporters live. Given that the majority of the non-PPP supporters are of African Guyanese origin, the obvious conclusion is that political discrimination in these areas amount to racial discrimination.

The PNCR does not make these claims idly. For example, two excavators were sent to the area with the promise that they would have been used to improve the drainage in all areas to buttress the effects of the frequent flooding. The facts reveal that the two Hymacs were only used in PPP support areas and when those assignments were completed, the machines were diverted to work on the large private farms of a few PPP supporters. The Hymacs have been in a state of disrepair for several months with no effort being made to have them rehabilitated, while the farmers of Aberdeen, Hackney and other areas remain without any assistance or relief.

The Hackney and Aberdeen canals are overtaken with weeds leading to extreme hardship for farmers to take their produce to market at Charity and posing extreme challenges for children to attend school. It is well known that the only means of travel in these areas is by water, using the drainage canals built by the PNC Government and the Pomeroon River. Consequently, the refusal of the Administration to assist in clearing these canals is a direct attack on the means of livelihood of these Guyanese citizens.

Direct representation, on these issues, were made by the PNCR Regional Councillors to the Regional Democratic Council of Region Two, Essequibo Islands/Pomeroon, yet, the Administration has failed to provide adequate relief. The latest representation led to the employment of a single person to undertake the clearing of the weeds in the Canals. A clear case of political chicanery, since, everyone knows that it is impossible for one person to clear and maintain several miles of a waterway.

In an effort to solve their own problems, residents, with the assistance of ACDA, produced a project document and a proposal for the “Akawini Drainage project”. This project was intended to improve the infrastructure by building effective river defences and improving drainage. The project, estimated at a cost of thirteen million dollars, ($13M), was submitted to the European Small project programme and approved. The Government then moved to block the release of funds for this and other projects approved by the European Union for granting Project assistance. This issue was well publicized recently and details made public. Several projects, particularly in Afro-Guyanese communities, were blocked by the Ministry of Finance without explanation. This matter was raised by PNCR Parliamentarians in Parliament and the Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, failed to provide any satisfactory answers to the National Assembly. Notwithstanding all the publicity, the Jagdeo Administration was not even embarrassed and refused to relent from this blatant example of discrimination. The end result is that the farmers continue to suffer, as the Akawini Drainage Project is still to receive assistance. In this context, the protestation by the Government over the findings of discrimination by Ms. Gay McDougal, in her report, is nothing short of hypocrisy.

Meanwhile, the continuing efforts by the residents in the Lower Pomeroon to obtain titles for their lands have been frustrated, despite promises by Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, to have this matter expedited. It is again hypocritical for the Minister of Agriculture to boast of the Government’s “Grow More Food” campaign”, expending large amounts of taxpayers money on propaganda and the building of billboards all over Guyana, while neglecting the fundamentals to make such a campaign successful.

No attention has been paid to the troubling problem of markets for the farmers produce. Instead, the old marketing center in the river has been dismantled and there are credible reports that the materials were given as a gift to a prominent PPP supporter in the area.

The price of copra remains at an uneconomic level and no effort has been made to deal with this problem in the same manner that the Government speedily addresses such problems in the rice sector.

Similar problems exist in the Education sector with students having to travel for miles by river at great expense to attend secondary school. The promise made to build a secondary school at Hackney to serve students in the lower Pomeroon area is yet another unfulfilled promise.

How could President Jagdeo boast of being the point person for Agriculture in CARICOM and have such a dismal record of discrimination, leading to the decline in agriculture production?

The end result of this sad situation is that the many young people, unimpressed with the difficulty that the elders are presently experiencing, find it more convenient to seek alternative employment in the gold and mining areas, leading to very little hope of continued agricultural development in the future. Regrettably, those who have not chosen this alternative are willing victims of the drug trade.

There is a saying that, “You can run but you can’t hide”: an appropriate warning to the Jagdeo Regime. The time will come when the regime will have to ultimately account for their dismal performance.

RECKLESS SALE OF THE NATION’S PROPERTY:

It is becoming clearer everyday that the Jagdeo Administration seems to have found it necessary to sell Government buildings and properties. It was suddenly announced that the Jagdeo Administration had decided to sell its 20% share in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T).

As the Leader of the PNCR has pointed out it is an odd course of action to be taken, given the fact that the entity is profitable at the moment. What is equally troubling is that Government buildings such as BIDCO House have been sold. The building housing the Archives was mysteriously sold to some investor close to the Administration. No details were given. The PNCR also has information that important Government lands are also being sold off to the cronies and “fat cats” of the Jagdeo Administration.

As all this is not being done transparently, the question must be asked why the Jagdeo Administration finds it necessary to conduct the business of the Government in this manner. Is it possible that the Jagdeo Administration is short of critical financial resources and has resorted to making a reckless sale of the nation’s buildings and properties? If this is true, then the Jagdeo Administration has a lot of explaining and accounting to do to the Guyanese people.




CONTEMPT FOR THE GUYANESE PEOPLE:

Because the Jagdeo Administration is basically anti-democratic, it often shows its contempt for the Guyanese people. This is often manifested in the behaviour of its Ministries and entities. The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) is no different.

Some time ago GPL announced that it would be installing pre-paid meters in the country. In most civilised places such a policy would have been accompanied by a public education programme. As Guyana does not appear to meet those standards these days, GPL is merely preparing to ram through the arbitrary installation of these meters. This has occasioned both apprehension and fear on the part of GPL customers.

Citizens are concerned that no option is being offered to them. It is not possible for them to elect not to have the meters installed. This is unacceptable, given the many problems that GPL has already visited on our people such as defective billing, the destruction of equipment and the increasing blackouts.

GPL must show more respect for the Guyanese people or, beyond a certain point, it will discover that it has lost their respect and would have to suffer the consequences.

GECOM MUST PUBLISH AN ACCEPTED NATIONAL REGISTER OF REGISTRANTS (NRR):

The Leader of the PNCR, Mr. Robert Corbin, only recently warned the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) that it would put the entire preparations for Local Government Elections in jeopardy if, following the completion of the House-to-House Registration process, it bypasses the stage of publishing a new National Register of Registrants (NRR), which has been accepted by the parties as being accurate, before the extraction and publication of a Preliminary Voters List (PVL).

Mr. Corbin raised this concern, in view of apparent actions, on the part of GECOM, to by-pass the very vital requirement of ensuring that the new NRR is accepted by all stakeholders and, therefore, provides the basis for the extraction of a PVL, in preparation for Local Government Elections, as well as the start data base for periodic up-dating through the Continuous Registration process.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 17 July 2009