JOPP PROGRAMME DEMANDING AN INTERNATIONAL INQUIRY--PRESS STATEMENT Thursday 15 October 2009




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR extends Diwali Greetings to all members of the Hindu Community in Guyana. It is our hope that the message of this Hindu Festival of Good over evil will help all Guyana in their resolve to rid our country of those evils that have plagued our society over several years including, the wanton rise in criminality, the prevalence of torture, the reckless murders and state sponsored executions and the lack of the will to demand an international inquiry into the state involvement in these activities;
• In the seventeen years of the PPP/C Administration, the state of the electricity sector provides a most glaring example of the incompetence, corruption and poor governance that have characterised the PPP/C record of non-performance;
• As the Nation awaits the verdict to be delivered in a New York Court of self-confessed drug lord Roger Khan, it is time for the Jagdeo Administration to honour its Constitutional obligation by agreeing to an International Inquiry into the involvement of the State in the execution and torture of over 400 Guyanese citizens;
• Jagdeo’s statement, about the honouring of his, and the Parliament’s undertaking, to ensure that all policy holders and contributors of CLICO will suffer no loss, is totally unsatisfactory and requires a clear and unambiguous explanation of how the commitment would be honoured;
• The PNCR will selectively participate in Parliament on matters that are in the interest of promoting the welfare of all Guyanese until an International Inquiry is held into the State’s involvement in criminality, especially the murder of over 400 Guyanese youth, most of whom are of African descent.
• The PNCR will join the Joint Opposition Parties in its programme to demand an International Inquiry into the State involvement in criminality. This involves a candlelight vigil at the Public Buildings today from 6:30 PM, a memorial vigil at the Sea wall tomorrow Friday at 6:30 PM and the first in a series of public meetings on Monday October 19, at the Stabroek Market from 4:30 PM.

PNCR EXTENDS DIWALI GREETINGS TO THE HINDU COMMUNITY

The People’s National Congress Reform joins the members of the Hindu Community in Guyana and the rest of the Region and Guyanese in the Diaspora in celebrating the ancient and important Festival of Lights, known as Deepavali or Diwali. Since the PNCR facilitated the emergence of this Festival as part of the national calendar of events, by recognising religious holidays, this Festival has added to the number of occurrences, which aim to promote religious and racial harmony. This has redounded to the good of the nation.

In its secular significance, Diwali represents the triumph of good over evil. It, therefore, has a symbolic and natural meaning. The year, 2009, in which it is being celebrated, has seen the evil of rampant criminality and illicit drugs in our society; the indifference of the plight of the poor and the powerless; the disillusionment of our young people; the lack of economic opportunity and access to resources; a crippling monopoly on information; and a national sense of purposelessness, among other ills.

The PNCR, however, is convinced that these evils should not be the occasion for the loss of hope and despair. The light of opposition to all forms of negative development, a consensus on the way forward for the nation, and hard work towards a programme of recovery and redemption can banish these evils.

We, therefore, urge our compatriots on the occasion of Diwali 2009 not to relent or surrender to the evils, even though, we live in very challenging times. The Party believes that this is the message of hope and redemption which Diwali signifies. It is our hope that the message of this Hindu Festival of Good over Evil will help all Guyana in their resolve to rid our country of those evils that have plagued our society over several years including, the wanton rise in criminality, the prevalence of torture, the reckless murders and state sponsored executions and the lack of the will to demand an international inquiry into the state’s involvement in these activities.

The Party, therefore, extends best wishes for a successful and fulfilling celebration of Diwali.

SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS OF PPP/C INEPTITUDE IN THE ELECTRICITY SECTOR

It is ironic that, after 17 years of the PPP/C Administration virtually thrashing about in the dark, we are advised, by the Chairman of the Board of GPL, that, “Things will get worse before they get better!” This is a very honest promise, except that things have been getting worse for over 17 years. What is new?

The PPP/C Administration have displayed a remarkable capacity for ploys to deceive the public that failure represents progress. By any consideration, a Blackout or Power Outage or Load Shedding means Darkness for the people who are being asked to pay unconscionable rates for an inadequate, unreliable and unstable electricity supply.

Not only is the electricity consumer inconvenienced by the frequency of blackouts but these blackouts have been accompanied by damage to sensitive equipment, the incidence of electrical fires and spoilage of food which has been paid for with hard earned and often meagre financial resources. The long and regular periods of blackouts have also resulted in increased electricity bills to consumers. GPL is the beneficiary!

The public would be forgiven for expecting that a Regime with such a dismal record of failure would be ashamed, apologetic and humble enough to admit its failures. Instead, we are confronted by greater expressions of arrogance and insensitivity by the imposition of pre-paid meters. In other words, we, the suffering public, should all be happy to pay in advance for the impacts of blackouts, unstable and unreliable electricity supply.

SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS AGO

When the PPP came into Office, in 1992, there was already in place, as an integral and critical element of the Hoyte Economic Recovery Programme (ERP), a well structured, funded and managed IDB-World Bank programme, for the rehabilitation, strengthening and modernisation of the Electricity Supply Sector. However, like the proverbial bull in a china shop, the first destructive act by the incoming PPP/C Administration was to disband the programme on the grounds that the management team was too highly paid! In other words, the problem shifted from one of ensuring that the country’s economic development was facilitated by the existence of an adequate, reliable, stable and affordable electricity supply, to an issue of the remuneration of the competent professionals who were charged with the responsibility to bring this about.

The challenges for the Electricity Supply Sector were known in 1992. They were:

 Increase and improve power generation capacity;
 Strengthen and modernise the low-voltage transmission and distribution system to reduce line and other technical losses as well as to ensure the stability of the electricity delivered to the consumer;
 Complete the 60 cycle conversion programme;
 Complete the high-voltage coastal interlinked transmission grid to ensure that the availability and reliability of power supply would be improved from East Essequibo, Demerara and through to Berbice;
 Strengthen the Commercial Department of GEC to make billing and customer services more efficient and effective;
 Electricity Tariff reforms to rationalise the GEC Tariff Structure; and
 The development and implementation of a national Energy Conservation and Management programme that would result in the more efficient uses of energy nationwide.

Surprisingly, the recent utterances from the President, Prime Minister, Chairman and Management of the now GPL would suggest that, after 17 years in Office, the PPP/C Administration has just discovered the above challenges.

Thermal Power Generation:
The programme inherited by the PPP/C Administration envisaged increasing generation capacity by a strategy involving the rehabilitation of generation capacity that was economically worth rehabilitation and to scrap and replace obsolete equipment with modern more efficient slow-speed diesel capable of using heavy fuel oil/ bunker “c”.

New and renewable Sources of Energy:
It was intended that the modernisation of the Sugar Factories would enable the availability to the national grid of excess power from the co-generation systems, based on Bagasse, used for energy supplies to the sugar factories.

It should be borne in mind that the Rice Husks from the rice mills represent a material that could be used for co-generation in the Rice industry.

In addition, programmes were envisaged for the development of Solar and Wind energy resources, to reduce the dependence on imported petroleum fuels.

Hydro Power Options:
It was recognised that the long-term solution for our immediate electricity supply requirements and to stimulate economic development necessitated the development of our vast hydro-power resources.

Accordingly, all of Guyana’s major hydro-power sites were studied and documented to the feasibility and/ or pre-feasibility levels. These Studies were all available in 1992.

It was always understood that, like the Guri project in Venezuela, the future for hydro power development in Guyana requires programmes for River Basin Development through optimisation projects. Therefore, the Amalia project represented the first stage of the Potaro River Basin Development.

The Upper Mazaruni Hydro Power Development Scheme:
In its usual blinkered approach, the PPP/C internalised the myth that the Upper Mazaruni Hydro Power Development scheme was not feasible. It needs to be clearly and unambiguously stated that no technically competent institution, including the World Bank, found the Scheme not to be technically and economically feasible. The Upper Mazaruni Scheme remains one of the few projects worldwide that would supply very low cost electricity for a relatively low investment in dam infrastructure construction.

The reality is that a cheap, abundant and readily available power supply, such as is possible from the Upper Mazaruni Scheme, creates its own demand. In other words, economic ventures become possible that would not have been possible in the absence of such power supplies. The Upper Mazaruni Scheme, therefore, made the smelting of Aluminum and other high-energy use industries, such as the production of Silicon metal, attractive. Accordingly, the package of industrial projects which accompanied the Upper Mazaruni Scheme provided the power demand needed to make the project economically feasible. This was fully demonstrated and accepted by the World Bank long before the PNC Government was forced, through international political pressures to abandon its efforts in 1980.

PPP INEPTITUDE IN THE ELECTRICITY SECTOR

Instead of a studied and competent approach to this sector, the PPP indulged in a process of empty and unfulfilled promises and ill thought out initiatives under the mistaken belief that they could deceive the people of Guyana. The chickens have now come home to roost with the people of Guyana bearing the brunt of Government’s incompetence.

Prior to 2006 the Administration tinkered with the Electricity sector by proceeding to privatise the Guyana Electricity Corporation. The new company was incorporated in 1999 and a licence for a period of twenty five (25) years was granted to GPL on the 1st day of October 1999, granting the Company a monopoly on transmission, distribution and commercial rights to provide electricity across Guyana. This venture was, however, short lived. After the Administration demonstrated its usual and well-known bad faith, the private investor was left with no alternative but to sell its shares to Government.
GPL is a vertically integrated regulated electric utility which is responsible for generation, transmission, distribution and consumer services. It operates several isolated and connected systems: (i) Demerara Interconnected System (DIS); (ii) Berbice Interconnected System (BIS); and (iii) isolated systems along Essequibo Coast at Anna Regina, Leguan, Wakenaam and Bartica with an installed capacity of 123 MW. Yet, the PPP after seventeen years of tinkering cannot deal with the challenges in this sector.

Faced with this dismal performance between 1992 and 2006, the PPP/C relied on promises in their 2006 Election manifesto which began with a deception. That Manifesto which promised, a brighter future for all, stated at page six (6):
“Electricity is important in the quality of life for people and also for the economy. Businesses and industries require a reliable energy supply. The PPP/C Government has stabilized electricity supply since 1992 when transmission was unpredictable and outage periods could be 8 to 24 hrs, and most homes were without electricity for 30% to 50% of the time. Today, electricity supply is reliable, total average outage is less than 1% and outage periods except for scheduled maintenance are less than two hours.
The Government of Guyana has expended $5.7B in a programme that has provided electricity to more than 29,000 households and will provide another 11,000 households by the end of 2006 and a further 18,000 in 2007 as we approach universal coverage.
Many hinterland areas have now been provided with electricity, improving peoples’ lives and enabling further economic development.
Through various mechanisms, Government has managed to keep electricity bills from escalating further because of the enormous increases in oil prices.”

Three years later the Nation waits in despair, for these promises to materialize. Instead of the fulfillment of these promises, we have heard a litany of excuses. By December 17, 2007, after GPL promised Guyana a black Christmas, President Bharrat Jagdeo, claiming that he was misinformed by the Management of GPL, allegedly had to personally intervene in order to fly in from the United States of America (USA), five power generating sets ordered for the Christmas season at a cost of US $3.8M.
This not withstanding, speaking at a Press Conference on May 28, 2008, the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Winston Brassington, promised tariff hikes and load shedding among other options available to the Company. The Company had already increased its tariffs at the beginning of that year at rates varying from 6 per cent to 20 per cent. He, however, boasted that between 2007 and 2008, total funding would have exceeded US$30M. In addition, he reported that the Government was paying a higher rate increase to cushion the impact on customers.
Brassington also stated that GPL had been able to maximize its use of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO), and that by the first quarter of 2009 GPL would have excelled in performance when the 69 KV transmission line is completed.
One month later, however, June 10, 2008, GPL signed an agreement with the Ministry of Finance for US$31.36M, which was intended to finance these projects expected to reduce generation cost amidst record fuel prices. Significantly, the Company revealed that the Canefield upgrade and conversion would have been completed by December 2008 while the transmission interconnection to Skeldon would have been completed by March 2009.
In this month of the alleged return to Democracy and lean and clean Government, Guyana can now objectively assess the dismal performance of the Jagdeo Administration in this sector. Present and future generations of Guyanese taxpayers would have to repay the Billions of Guyana dollars which have been expended since 1992, ostensibly to increase power generation and reduce the costs for doing so, yet we have seen no significant improvement in the performance of GPL. What we are getting are more ingenuous excuses.
As the PNCR stated in its last Press Statement, (October 8, 2009):

“The record of non-performance, vindictiveness, alleged criminality and poor governance over the last year, in particular, has removed any expectations that the PPP/C Administration can be reformed. Their clear implication with drug barons, criminal enterprise and the execution of citizens; refusal to deal with inappropriate behaviour and corruption by their officials, discrimination and marginalisation of entire communities, particularly African Guyanese communities; and the deterioration in the quality of life for citizens, as exemplified by the poor electricity and water supply situation, have led Guyanese to the inescapable conclusion that the only real solution is the removal of the PPP/C from Office.”

ROGER KHAN TO FACE PENALTY

The Court in New York is expected to hand down the sentence for self-confessed drug lord Roger Khan, tomorrow, Friday 16 October 2009. The evidence led before the Court in the trial of Khan’s lawyer, Robert Simels, for witness tampering has been well publicized. President Jagdeo and his Government have studiously attempted to avoid the damaging implication of his Government by using several diversionary tactics in the hope that Guyanese would forget. He is however, mistaken. No amount of propaganda will erase the memory of the hundreds of Guyanese murdered and executed. Their families need justice to be done to bring closure to that sad period of their lives. As the Nation awaits the verdict, it is time for the Jagdeo Administration to honour its Constitutional obligation by agreeing to an International Inquiry into the involvement of the State in the execution and torture of over 400 Guyanese citizens. The Joint Opposition Political Parties (JOPP) are committed to ensure that this is, indeed, achieved.

DETAILS OF HONOURING COMMITMENT TO CLICO POLICY HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS MUST BE KNOWN

In several of its recent Press Statements, the PNCR had demanded that the Jagdeo Administration provide a clear statement of the manner in which the guarantee given to CLICO policyholders and contributors would be honoured. President Jagdeo is reported in the media to have responded by stating that this will be done when the Company is liquidated. Surely, the President cannot expect Guyanese to accept such a shoddy response. The honouring of that guarantee will require funds to be found by taxpayers or from some other source. Reports have appeared in the media of the Government receiving sums of money for this purpose from Governments and other institutions.

Given the lack of accountability for sums contributed for the 2005 Flood Relief efforts and the lack of accounting for the Cricket World Cup and CARIFESTA X, no one will accept loose and incoherent statements from the President, especially when funds of Guyanese workers in the NIS and other pension schemes are threatened. In this context, Jagdeo’s statement about the honouring of his and the Parliament’s undertaking to ensure that all policy holders and contributors to CLICO will suffer no loss, is totally unsatisfactory and requires a clear and unambiguous statement of how the commitment would be honoured. The PNCR again calls upon the Government to come clean with the citizens of Guyana.




SELECTIVE PARTICIPATION IN PARLIAMENT

The PNCR is determined to maintain its already stated position of selective participation in the work of the National Assembly. As the National Assembly meets today in its first session after the recess, the Government has seen it fit to place on the Order Paper two matters which the PNCR had raised. The First, being the failure of the Government to properly maintain the East Bank Berbice road, which has brought untold suffering to the residents of that area. The Second is the plan by Government to sell its 20% shares in the Guyana Telecommunications and Telegraph Corporation (GT&T) in a manner not yet known to Guyanese. Given the track record of its performance Guyanese could come to no other conclusion than that this is a devious plan to return political favors to their cronies in a non transparent manner.

The PNCR is firm in its belief that the dividends are a lucrative source of revenue and should not be sold. There is no good reason to do so. Consequently, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin, in a motion to the Parliament has called on the Government of Guyana to appoint an objective professional group to assess the Cost/ benefit to the people of Guyana, of sale versus retention of the said shares; to suspend the decision to dispose of its 20% shareholding in GT&T until the review is completed by the appointed professional group; and, that, should the review group recommend the sale of shares, then the first option should be to the workers of the Company, thereafter, a transparent process, to be publicly announced, should be followed.

The PNCR, therefore, considers this matter a critical one affecting the disposal of state assets and would not give the Government an excuse to proceed with its plans unimpeded.

JOPP PROGRAMME DEMANDING AN INTERNATIONAL INQUIRY

The PNCR will join the Joint Opposition Political Parties (JOPP) in its programme to demand an International Inquiry into the State’s involvement in criminality. This involves a candlelight vigil at the Public Buildings today from 6:30 PM, a memorial vigil at the Sea wall tomorrow Friday at 6:30 PM and the first in a series of public meetings on Monday October 19, at the Stabroek Market from 4:30 PM. The JOPP has already held public forums in Georgetown and Linden and has held a Television Panel Discussion for the public education of Guyanese. The dossier will soon be completed, while the programme will be intensified, particularly in the context of the impending sentencing of Roger Khan in the New York Courts.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday 15 October 2009