PPP/C MAKES A MOCKERY OF THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE SYSTEM: BULLDOZE THE PASSAGE OF THE DRACONIAN COURT OF APPEAL AMENDMENT BILL--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 19 March 2010




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR recognizes the contribution of Mrs. Rhoda Pollard to the people of Guyana and the Caribbean and pays tribute to one of Guyana’s finest daughters, whose life’s work and example bore testimony to what Guyana’s sons and daughters can achieve with study, hard work, dedication and determination;
• The People of Corriverton hold Remembrance Ceremony to honour the late PNCR Member of Parliament and CEC Member, Mr. Nasir Ally. ;
• PPP/C makes a mockery of the Parliamentary Committee System as they bulldoze the passage of the draconian Court of Appeal Amendment Bill that could keep accused persons in prison for life without trial;
• Unless the Government is prepared to accept advice and implement recommendations, the establishment of the Security Sector Oversight Committee, while a step in the right direction, is no guarantee that the security sector would be improved;
• The PNCR continues its consultation with stakeholders on Local Government Elections while awaiting a determination of the manner in which the Local Government Reforms would be implemented before Local Government Elections;
• The PNCR calls on both GAWU and GUYSUCO to make a definitive statement about the future of the approximately 450 workers, most of whom, have more than twenty years (20) service with Diamond Estate;
• PNCR Chairman, Mr. Bishwaishwar (Cammie) Ramsaroop will deliver the feature address to the Party Regional Conference of Region 6, East Berbice, scheduled for Sunday March 21, at New Amsterdam, Berbice..

A NATIONAL SALUTE TO THE LATE, MRS. RHODA POLLARD

Yesterday, Thursday 18 March 2010, the PNCR joined with family members and other Guyanese, at the St. James-the-Less Church, Kitty, to recognize and pay tribute to Mrs. Rhoda Beatrice Pollard as they saluted one of Guyana’s finest daughters, whose life’s work and example bore testimony to what Guyana’s sons and daughters can achieve with study, hard work, dedication and determination.

At the memorial programme officiated by Rev. Father Evan Semple, several persons highlighted Mrs. Pollard’s commitment to country, her outstanding contribution to the land of her birth and to other nations and people as a teacher, professional social worker, Community Development Officer, and House Mother at President’s College. The Eulogy, read by her son, Dr. David Pollard, provided some insights into the dynamic personality of his late mother that enabled her to earn the respect, love and admiration of all who knew her and worked with her over the years. Former Principal of President’s College, Mr. Kendall, paid a glowing tribute to her for the tremendous contribution she made to that College and to the hundreds of children of Presidents’ College, whose attitudes, values and characters she helped to mould. The Prayer of St. Francis was read and a poem was recited by her granddaughters, Arésé and Monique Pollard respectively while Rev. Dr. Bishop Grannum delivered Words of Comfort to the gathering.

Leader of the PNCR and Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin, M.P., in his remarks under the item, “Remembering Rhoda” urged the family to be consoled by the fact that God had blessed her with the promised three score and ten years and more and that every moment of that time was spent utilizing the talents with which she was blessed. Consequently, she will continue to live in the memories of all whose lives she touched; in the many students in whom she planted the seeds of knowledge; in the memories of the hundreds of children of Presidents’ College, whose attitudes, values and characters she helped to mould; in the many community projects she initiated both in Guyana and St. Vincent; in the genes that she has bequeathed to her offspring; and, in the hearts of all with whom she shared her love.

Mrs. Rhoda Pollard rose from humble beginnings in colonial Guyana to achieve scholarly, academic and professional heights both locally and internationally. More particularly, when gender equity was but a remote thought among Guyanese, she blazed an exemplary trail for women and demonstrated by work and example that women were equal if not better than men in many areas of human activity

Mrs. Rhoda Pollard was among the professionals called upon to join the team tasked with molding the destiny of an independent Guyana. She was later to play a significant part in the area of social work, social welfare and community development during the infancy of our nation when it was necessary to foster the spirit of confidence and self-reliance in a people subjected to centuries of colonial domination.

The PNCR Leader reminisced on his long working association with Mrs. Pollard under whose stewardship he served as a Community Development Officer. He highlighted that she was always motivational and inspiring and particularly committed to helping all young people. She was quiet but firm, meticulous in details and impatient with mediocrity. Yet she was slow to anger and possessed a unique style of extracting high performance from the staff that she supervised. According to Mr. Corbin, Mrs. Pollard enabled many young people to develop the level of self-discipline so necessary for successful social work intervention.

Mrs. Pollard was sent under a Technical Assistance programme to St. Vincent, to assist in the establishment of a Community Development Department there and to share our techniques. She ended up on a prolonged assignment there until she formally retired from the Public Service. After enjoying such an active working career, Mrs. Pollard could never be satisfied with inactive retirement. She answered the call to be the House Mother of the fledgling President’s College and soon became mother to hundreds of students at that institution.

The ashes of Mrs. Pollard were interred at the St James-the-Less Church cemetery, yesterday. The Peoples National Congress Reform extends sincere condolences to her son, Dr David Pollard and family, her grandchildren and other members of the immediate and extended family.

CORRIVERTON REMEMBRANCE CEREMONY HONOUR THE LATE PNCR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT AND CEC MEMBER, MR. NASIR ALLY

On Sunday last, 14 March 2010, the people of Region 6, honoured the late PNCR Parliamentarian, Mr. Nasir Ali at an impressive Remembrance Programme organized by the Corriverton Development Association (CDA) at the Corriverton Civic Center. At the event, chaired by Mr. Everett Harewood, President of the CDA, tributes were delivered by, representatives of the Regional Democratic Council of Region 6, the No 73 Masjid, the East Berbice Region of the PNCR and other organizations. Ms. Jennifer Wade, MP, paid tribute on behalf of the people of Region 5, West Berbice, while PNCR Regional Chairman, Dr. John Austin, MP, spoke on behalf of the people of Region 6 and Mr. Basil Williams, M.P., Party Vice Chairman, spoke on behalf of the Central Executive Committee of the Party. Leader of the PNCR and Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin, M.P., delivered the main presentation at the well-attended ceremony.

Mr. Nasir Ally was a well recognised member of the No. 78 Masjid and the Council of Islamic Organisations of Guyana (CIOG). He spent his entire professional working life as a teacher, retiring as Head Teacher at the Corriverton Primary School. The National Assembly paid tribute to him on Thursday March 11, 2010 for his dedicated service as a Member of Parliament from 17 April 2001 to 2 May 2006.

PPP/C MAKES A MOCKERY OF THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE SYSTEM: BULLDOZE THE PASSAGE OF THE DRACONIAN COURT OF APPEAL AMENDMENT BILL

Yesterday, Thursday 18 March 2010, the PPP/C made a mockery of the Parliamentary Committee System as they bulldozed the passage of the draconian Court of Appeal Amendment Bill albeit the PNCR was deprived of making any inputs during the meetings of the Select Committee.

The Report of the Special Select Committee on the Court of Appeal Amendment Bill # 12 of 2008 was tabled in Parliament by Attorney General, Mr. Charles Ramson and gave the erroneous impression that the Special Select Committee had been a truly deliberative forum when in fact he organized the expeditious conclusion of that Committee’s Work in the absence of PNCR members of the Committee.

This law has far-reaching consequences for the liberty of a citizen, hapless enough to find himself before a Judge and Jury in Guyana. It will empower the DPP to appeal acquittals by a Judge and Jury: a position never before obtained in Guyana.

The DPP may also appeal a Judge’s Sentence on the ground that it is inadequate or wrong or that the Judge had no power to pass such a sentence. And whilst the DPP exercises this right to appeal, the accused person, having been acquitted by a jury of his peers has no automatic right to his liberty but MAY be put on bail by the Judge. It is instructive to note that the DPP’S right to appeal goes right up to the Caribbean Court of Justice.

The PNCR made strong objections to this Bill when it was debated in the National Assembly on 24 July 2008 and consequently the Bill was sent to a Special Select Committee of the Parliament to provide an opportunity for all interested stakeholders to express opinions and make suggestions.

The history of the work of the Committee is fascinating. Five months later, on 22 December, 2008, the first meeting of the Special Select Committee was convened and the then Attorney General, Mr. Doodnauth Singh was elected as the Chairman. Almost ten months later, on the 15 October 2009, the second meeting of this Special Select Committee was called and the current Attorney General, Mr. Charles Ramson was elected as the new Chairman. On 1 November 2009, the third meeting (in fact the 1st working meeting of the Committee) was called and it was agreed that meetings would thereafter be held fortnightly at 3:00 pm on Fridays.

The Committee functioned in accordance with the agreed dates and time until the 8th meeting scheduled for 5 February 2010 – this meeting was called off on the very morning of the 5 February 2010 at the behest of the Chairman without any explanation at the time. During the course of the ensuing week, notices were received rescheduling the eighth meeting for the 12 February 2010.

The PNCR members signaled by letter that they were unable to attend citing other Parliamentary work for the Budget Debate, which commenced 15 February 2010.

Notwithstanding the letter, the Committee proceeded to deliberate and completed considerations of the Bill in this one meeting when there were no Opposition members present and therefore no Opposition input, completely disregarding a major presentation to the Select Committee made by the Guyana Women Lawyers’ Association. The result is that no substantive changes, whatsoever, were made to the original Bill that was vigorously opposed by the PNCR in the National Assembly.

Altogether, there were nine meetings of this Select Committee and all the PNCR members faithfully attended and contributed to all those meetings, save and except the 8th meeting referred to earlier. The records will show that the PNCR had a far better record of attendance at this Committee and indeed in most Select Committees than the Government side. It is instructive to note that the reasons given for the postponement of the eighth meeting from the 5th to the 12th February was to allow Government members to attend a funeral. This Bill, which languished in the Select Committee process for more than a year before it got off the ground, was railroaded, therefore, in one meeting to its conclusion.

The behaviour of the PPP/C members of this Committee makes a sham of the Select Committee process and calls into question the Government’s bona fides as regards this process, which is supposed to scrutinize and refine legislation and make the necessary changes, taking into account the views from solicited agencies.

At Page 52 of the 2010 Budget Speech under the heading, “Governance”, the Minister of Finance stated, “the expanded committee system also continued to play a major role in examining performance of government and provided an opportunity for greater scrutiny of legislation. At the end of 2009, 12 bills representing major areas of reform were before parliamentary special select committees.’’ The passage of this draconian legislation, which can see persons imprisoned for life without trial, is the latest example of the mockery of the law and related institutions that have become a hallmark of the PPP/C Administration over the past seventeen (17) years. The people of Guyana should take note as it should be obvious that the real and only solution rests in the removal of the PPP/C from Office.

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SECURITY SECTOR OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE, IS NO GUARANTEE FOR IMPROVEMENT IN SECURITY SECTOR

Unless the Government is prepared to accept advice and implement recommendations, the establishment of the Security Sector Oversight Committee, while a step in the right direction, is no guarantee that the security sector would be improved

The motion to establish the Standing Committee for Oversight of the Security Sector was final approved with unanimous support in the National Assembly yesterday, Thursday 18 March 2010. This Committee will be charged with the responsibility to examine the policies and administration of the entities in the Security Sector based on a Gazetted list determined by the Government to be under the purview of the Standing Committee. Its members would be required to subscribe to an Oath of secrecy.

The PNCR had always supported the establishment of such a Committee, which was one of the recommendations that arose out of the short-lived stakeholder consultation on Security. It is the failure or refusal of the Jagdeo Administration to implement all of the recommendations from that stakeholder forum that was partly responsible for the British Government withdrawing millions of dollars that were made available to the Government of Guyana for support of the Security Sector Plan. The PNCR, however, made several suggestions and recommendations for the terms of reference and method of operation of this Committee but as usual, the PPP/C Administration rejected all.

For example, the PNCR had suggested that the Chairmanship of this Committee should be rotated annually as is presently the case with the four Sector Committees of the National Assembly, but this was flatly rejected by the PPP/C. The Government insisted on permanently holding the Chairmanship of the Committee. The PNCR also sought to have the Committee expand the scope of the Committee to include entities such as the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit, but this too was rejected.

Based on the attitude of the PPP/C Administration in rejecting all suggestions so far, there can be no guarantee that this Committee would ever be permitted to function effectively or that any suggestions emanating there from will be taken seriously. In time, the people of Guyana will be the best judges of this matter.





CONSULTATION ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM BEFORE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS

Over the past week, the PNCR continued its consultation with stakeholders on Local Government Elections while awaiting a determination of the manner in which the constitutionally mandated Local Government Reforms would be implemented before Local Government Elections

In a Press Statement issued on 16 March 2010, the Party informed the Nation of steps that it had taken to advance the case that Local Government Reform was a prerequisite to Local Government Elections. The Party also informed of a letter dispatched on that day to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) by the Leader of the Opposition. That letter expressed the concerns of the People’s National Congress Reform, indeed, all Opposition Political Parties, and several stakeholders that, GECOM was continuing its preparation for the holding of Local Government Elections without the implementation of Local Government Reform as required by Chapter VII of the Constitution. More particularly, the letter pointed out that, the provisions of Articles 71, 73A, 77A, 78A and 78B have not yet been adequately provided for by legislation. In these circumstances, GECOM was urged to take whatever action it deems appropriate to ensure that the Constitutional requirements for a fully reformed Local Government System are met.

The PNCR reiterated that it was fully mobilized and ready to participate in a properly run and constitutionally held Local Government elections but would not be lured into an exercise that would be in sharp contradiction of what the Party has repeatedly stated over the last 4 (four) years.

The PNCR expects that responsible stakeholders including the PPP/C will quickly agree to meaningful discussion on an appropriate way forward. Meanwhile the PNCR will continue its consultations to brief stakeholders on these matters.

GUYSUCO AND GAWU MUST COME CLEAN ABOUT THEIR PLANS FOR WORKERS AT DIAMOND ESTATE

In the last press Conference of the PNCR, the Party stated that,

“Workers employed by the Diamond Estate, appear to have been set up for massive defrauding of their benefits and entitlements as GUYSUCO struggles to rescue the ailing sugar industry. While GUYSUCO pursues this devious plan, however, GAWU, the workers union, appears to be collaborating with either the Company or Government, as there are no visible signs that they are actively representing the interests of the Diamond sugar workers.”

As is to be expected, both GUYSUCO and the Ministry of Agriculture rushed to make denial statements to the media. It is interesting that in none of those statements did they explain the plan of GUYSUCO for the workers at Diamond Estate, which was the real issue raised by the PNCR. It is also ironic that GAWU, the Union representing the workers has been silent on this matter. The PNCR calls on both GAWU and GUYSUCO to make a definitive statement about the future of the approximately 450 workers, most of whom, have more than twenty years (20) service with Diamond Estate.

WE also invite the Media to visit Diamond Estate and speak directly to the workers at that Estate. That would be the litmus test of the truthfulness of the last Press Statement of the PNCR.


PARTY CHAIRMAN TO ADDRESS REGION 6 PARTY CONFERENCE

The PNCR’s Regional Conference for Region 6, East Berbice/Corentyne, will be held on Sunday 21 March 2010 at New Amsterdam. Delegates from all the groups in the Region will meet to discuss and approve a plan of action for the Region as well as its annual work programme. Elections for Officers of the Region, as well as a representative to the Party’s Central Executive Committee will also be held. Party Chairman, Mr. Bishwaishwar (Cammie) Ramsaroop will deliver the feature address while Party Vice Chairman, Dr. George Norton will deliver the Charge at the end of the Conference and install the newly elected officers.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 19 March 2010