AMERINDIANS HAVE PLAYED SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN DEVELOPMENT OF GUYANA--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 11 September 2009




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR salutes our indigenous people on the celebration of Amerindian Heritage Month;
• The People’s National Congress Reform wishes to record its appreciation of the significant contribution rendered to this nation by Ms Doreen Chung in her capacity of First Lady;
• Ms. Whyte-Nedd is highly qualified to be appointed as Chief Education Officer;
• The PNCR believes that public servants must be paid an increase in wages and salaries now;
• The PNCR has noticed over the past several months that the water coming through the taps is badly discoloured and is certainly not potable.

AMERINDIANS HAVE PLAYED SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN DEVELOPMENT OF GUYANA

We have reached that point in the national calendar when Amerindian Heritage Month is once again being celebrated. The People’s National Congress Reform believes that this event is of particular significance because it presents the opportunity for our Amerindian compatriots to highlight their outstanding historical and cultural contribution to the development to this nation. On each occasion that this is done, it reminds the Guyanese population as a whole that Guyana is a nation of multiculturalism, ethnic diversity and social pluralism.

On this occasion the PNCR, which has played a well known and documented role in the development of the various Amerindian Communities, including the hosting of the first Amerindian Conference in 1969 and the demarcation and distribution of Amerindian land titles, must give voice to its firmly held view that not enough is being done to protect these communities from being challenged by such dark issues as trafficking in persons, as outlined in several international reports.

In addition, no new economic or development strategy, whether it is high or low, should be allowed to destroy the way of life of the Amerindians and cause a retrogression to take place. Indeed, the time is ripe for the Government of the day to ensure that there is further investment in these communities, especially in education, health and transportation, so that our Amerindian brothers and sisters can live a full and rounded life.

The PNCR again salutes our indigenous people on the celebration of Amerindian Heritage Month: a period to focus on the value and significance of their artistic, culinary and other achievements and the particular cultural strength they bring to the development of this nation.

PNCR MOURNS THE DEATH OF MRS. DOREEN CHUNG, FORMER FIRST LADY

The People’s National Congress Reform joins the rest of the nation in mourning the loss of former first lady, Mrs. Doreen Chung, who passed away on Saturday last at the age of 77, after a brief illness. The Party tenders its condolences to her immediate family, in particular her son, Raymond, and daughter, Diane.

Mrs. Doreen Chung was a lady of enviable grace and sensitivity who supported her husband, Mr. Arthur Chung, during the years that he held the position of President of the Republic of Guyana, from March 1970 to October 1980, a critical period in the history of this nation by any standard. She was also a tower of strength in their marriage which lasted some fifty four (54) years and which was characterized by understanding and mutual love. Mrs. Chung’s support for her husband in his role as President was exemplary and played no small part in the overall success of his presidency.

The People’s National Congress Reform wishes to record its appreciation of the significant contribution rendered to this nation by Ms Doreen Chung in her capacity of First Lady.

MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE

FAIRNESS DEMANDS WHYTE-NEDD BE APPOINTED CHIEF EDUCATION OFFICER

There is no good reason why Ms. Whyte-Nedd, the current acting Chief Education Officer, should not have been appointed to the substantive position a long time ago. The PNCR, through its shadow Minister of Education, Ms. Amna Ally, M.P., had raised this matter in the National Assembly in December 2008 and again during the 2009 Budget Debate and had urged the Minister of Education to remove this glaring act of discrimination. Minister Shaik Baksh, like Pontius Pilate, claimed that it was a matter for the Public Service Ministry and the Public Service Commission. Further representation was made by the PNCR and the Officer was later encouraged to re-apply to the PSC for the substantive post. Regrettably, after seven months, there has been no progress, confirming that this is a blatant act of discrimination. The PNCR supports all actions by the trade union Movement to have this matter resolved.

Ms. Whyte-Nedd is highly qualified, holding Bachelors and Masters Degree in Education, a Certificate in Management and Supervisory practices, a Certificate in Nursery Education and a Grade 1 Trained Teacher’s Certificate. Ms Whyte-Nedd has also held positions of District Education Supervisor, Regional Education Officer, and Assistant Chief Education Officer.

Apart from her outstanding qualifications, Ms Whyte-Nedd has also acted as Chief Education Officer on three occasions between the period 2000 and 2004 and continued acting in that position when it became vacant in 2005. She then formally applied for the position and five (5) years later despite the intervention of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and the Guyana Teacher Union (GTU), she has been unable to secure substantive appointment as the Chief Education Officer. The reason offered by the Minister of Education, Mr. Shaik Baksh, for her non-appointment, is, at best, spurious. He claimed that it is up to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to make the appointment. This cannot pass muster. Every Guyanese knows that if the PPP/C administration wanted the appointment, it would have been done. For the PSC, like a number of public institutions, is under the thumb of the PPP/C. The infamous Mr. Ganga Persuad, who in the past has not scrupled to do the bidding of his masters in Freedom House, heads that institution.

This is clearly a political matter. The PNCR is sure that had Ms Whyte-Nedd not been a highly professional and competent Public Servant, capable of exercising independent judgment, and was rather a pliant individual prepared to do the political bidding of the PPP/C Administration, she would have been appointed the Chief Education Officer a long time ago, instead of being forced to languish in the professional wilderness for more than four (4) years. What the PPP/C has done is to discriminate against her and has engineered matters in such a way that Ms Whyte-Nedd is likely to retire next year at her current substantive position and therefore stands to loose in financial terms. This is an unhealthy development, which is likely to have a chilling effect on the genuine professionals in the Ministry of Education and elsewhere in the Public Service.

Even at this late hour, the PNCR calls on the Minister of Education and the PPP/C administration to let justice prevail by ensuring Ms Whyte-Nedd’s justified appointment as Chief Education Officer. This will bring an honourable end to this matter and reassure the professionals in the Ministry that there is still space for them to act as the guardians of the nation’s education system.

HOW LONG MUST PUBLIC SERVANTS WAIT FOR INCREASE IN SALARIES AND WAGES?

In July of this year, the PNCR called for a significant increase in the wages and salaries of Public Servants to enable them to cope with the rising cost of living. Not long thereafter President Jagdeo announced that Public Sector employees would receive a pay increase this year. More than three (3) months later President Jagdeo has said nothing further about this matter. It is clear to the PNCR that President Jagdeo intends to enforce another unilateral pay increase in violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

The PNCR believes that such a course of action will inflame the relationship between the Public Servants and the Government and the Union that represents them. The President of the Public Service Union has already written the Minister of Finance in March of 2009, and the Public Service Ministry requesting an increase in wages and salaries for public servants. There has been no response to these letters.

The PNCR believes that the public servants must be paid an increase in wages and salaries now and not over the Christmas season when it would be politically expedient for the Jagdeo Administration to do so. In delaying the increase of wages and salaries for public servants this administration is once again demonstrating that its working class credentials are in tatters and that it is insensitive to the plight of the workers of this country. In fact, the Jagdeo Administration seems to be populated by super rich fat cats who have lost touch with the Guyanese people and is baffled by the fact that the average public servant cannot purchase adequate amounts of food for their family, afford transportation and schooling for their children or have a sufficient amount of disposable income to enable them to engage in leisure activities which can cushion them against the ever present stressful situations in our society. So removed is the Jagdeo administration from the harsh realities of present day Guyana.

NO WATER IN THE LAND OF MANY WATERS

It is a familiar complaint. In many villages in this country, people have to purchase water or travel long distances to obtain it. This is a scandalous situation as access to water is an important right. The propaganda of the Jagdeo Administration cannot conceal the fact that the water sector is in a crisis. The PNCR is on record as calling for an investigation into this sector to seek to determine the reasons why after more than seventeen (17) years, the capacity of the Guyana Water Inc. to provide adequate drinking water and water for commercial use have been severely diminished. After the change in management of that entity, the PNCR held its hand in the hope that the water situation would have improved. Alas, it seems to have worsened.

What the PNCR has noticed over the past several months is that the water coming through the taps is badly discoloured and is certainly not potable. The Party knows that this situation is a source of major discomfort to the Guyanese population and they cannot carry out important hygienic functions or the simple washing of clothes because of the condition of the water. This is not an issue for partisan politics. It is a national question as it affects all Guyanese regardless of race, gender or creed. The Party therefore urges the Jagdeo Administration to take a close look at this critical situation and take the required measures to ensure that potable water once again flows through the taps of the citizens of this Republic. This is an urgent matter and will only be worsened by further procrastination.

How ironical it is that in the land of many waters our citizens cannot obtain adequate amounts of drinking water?


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 11 September 2009