INTEGRITY COMMISSION MOTION A SHAMELESS DISPLAY OF PPP ARROGANCE--PRESS STATEMENT Thursday 25 March 2010




SUMMARY:
• The presentation of a Government motion to the National Assembly on March 16, 2010 last, under the caption, “Compliance with the Integrity Commission Act” is the latest example of the shameless display of arrogance by the Jagdeo Administration that Guyanese have by now become accustomed;
• The PNCR still awaits a response from GECOM and the Government and will update the public on developments related to Local Government Reform and Local Government Elections;
• The Legacy of President Jagdeo is Unfettered Corruption;
• The PPP/C Administration Has Failed The Bauxite Workers By Encouraging Union Busting;
• THE SASH SAWH MURDER/EXECUTION: The PPP/C Administration is deliberately avoiding an investigation into criminal violence in Guyana for fear of what it will reveal.
• The second Party Regional Conference in the month of March was held on Sunday 21 March 2010 at the Vryman’s Erven Multilateral School in New Amsterdam;
• The first quarterly General Council Meeting of the Party will be held on Saturday 27 March 2010 at Congress Place, Sophia.

INTEGRITY COMMISSION MOTION A SHAMELESS DISPLAY OF PPP ARROGANCE

The presentation of a Government Motion to the National Assembly on 16 March 2010 last, under the caption, “Compliance with the Integrity Commission Act” is the latest example of the shameless display of arrogance by the Jagdeo Administration that Guyanese have by now become accustomed. If there is any role for Parliament at this time, it should be investigating the continuous failure of President Bharrat +Jagdeo to comply with the provisions of that Act and the slothfulness of the Judiciary to determine Action No. 213-W of 2005 in the name of Mr. Robert Corbin, Leader of the Opposition, challenging the constitutionality of the Integrity Commission.

Exploiting the privilege of a Government Motion, the PPP/C sought to have their Motion, moved by Prime Minister Sam Hinds, debated at the last sitting of the National Assembly on Thursday 18 March 2010. The Motion was published the previous day, Wednesday 17 March 2010. While the Standing Orders provides that a Government Motion with the consent of the Speaker can be debated on the day after notice has been given by the Clerk, (Opposition Motions requires 12 days from the day on which the notice is published by the Clerk), it is mind boggling on how such a Motion could be classified as a Government Motion. The contents of the Motion have nothing relating to any area of Government business, since the intent of the Motion is to invoke the disciplinary powers of the National Assembly to sanction/censor its own members for failure to comply with the Integrity Commission Act 1997, Chapter 19:12. It is known that the Office of the President, particularly, the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, believes that the Parliament is a department of the Executive and had continuously behaved in such a manner despite directions to the contrary. Such public manifestations of their arrogance including the use of Prime Minister, Sam Hinds, however, illustrate their gross contempt for the National Assembly of the Parliament.

Why did the PPP/C consider such a Motion to be so urgent for debate after only a one-day notice, even if it was considered by them to be a Government Motion, when the Constitutional Body, the Integrity Commission, has been allowed to float aimlessly in the stormy seas of unconstitutionality for over six years?

Is it that the Jagdeo Administration believes that the people are so burdened by the atrocities committed upon them daily and so blinded by the wanton corruption in every sphere of public life that they have forgotten the six-year saga of having an Integrity Commission appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Guyana Constitution?

Or, is it that the PPP/C Government, so anxious to divert public attention through political propaganda from the daily revelations of corruption leading to the highest places in the land that they have become shameless in their display of arrogance?

Whatever may be the motivations of the PPP/C, the Nation needs to be reminded that to date there is no duly appointed Integrity Commission in existence despite spurious claims to the contrary.

The last known Act by the President in this regard was in May 2009 when he purported to appoint three members of the Commission, Mr. Fazeel Ferouz, Ms. Savitri Sukhai and Rev. Nigel Hazel as members of the Commission. The haste with which this was done, before concluding meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition for a Chairman for this Commission is quite perplexing. In a letter, dated 7 May 2009 and signed by Mr. Roger Luncheon, to the General Secretary of the PNCR, Mr. Oscar Clarke, the President admits that,

“The identification of a Chairperson is yet to be discussed.”

In the said letter the HPS states,

“The Office of the President would appreciate the conclusion of its engagement with the Leader of the Opposition on the three nominees as there exists an intention to appoint and swear-in these nominees soonest”

Since then there has been no communication or consultation by the President but the media has reported that three members of this Commission have been sworn-in. Whether this body is duly constituted is still a matter for judicial determination, since it appears that the attempt by the President in 2009 to rectify his constitutional breaches of 2004 has again faltered.

In October 2004, the local newspapers reported that the new members of the Integrity Commission had been appointed and were duly sworn-in at the Office of the President. In a letter to President Jagdeo dated, 10 November 2004, receipt of which was acknowledged on 30 November 2004, the Leader of the Opposition stated, inter alia,

“It is my considered opinion, and that of legal counsel with whom I consulted, that these appointments are in breach of Section 3 (4) of the Integrity Commission Act, No 20 of 1997, which requires meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition before such appointments can be made.”

The failure of the President to respond to the concerns raised in the above-mentioned letter led to the Institution of an action in the High Court in May 2005 by the Leader of the Opposition seeking a declaration that the appointments were made arbitrarily and unconstitutionally. The Attorney General, Integrity Commission Chairman, Bishop George, as he then was, and Commission members Mr. Fazeel Ferouz, Pandit Rabindranauth Persaud and Reverend Nigel Hazel were named defendants. The members of the purported Integrity Commission could not feign ignorance of these developments. Prior to the filing of the writ, the Leader of the Opposition had apprised them of developments by letter dated 18 April 2005 and the writs were duly served on them after filing. This matter was ripe for hearing in the High Court since 7 December 2005, but has not yet been heard. It is, therefore, still sub judice.

In a Press Statement on 29 January 2009, the PNCR stated:

“Contrary to the propaganda of the President and his PPP cohorts, the PNCR had initiated, prior to 1992, the drafting of an Integrity Commission Law and has always supported the purpose and principles underlying the establishment of an autonomous Integrity Commission, to ensure that there is probity, particularly, by Governmental and other public officials, at all levels.

The PNCR however has a fundamental objection to the manipulation of the Commission by the President and the violation of the Law in its appointment. The fact that the President can claim to have instructed the Commission, on what action should be taken against Opposition Members of Parliament, is testimony to his perception that the Commission is nothing but a convenient tool of the Executive to persecute members of the Opposition. President Jagdeo’s priorities are amazing. One would have expected that his penchant for interfering with the Judiciary would have led him to instigate the determination of the constitutionality of that body. The case was ripe for hearing, since 7 December 2005, but cannot see the light of day in our judicial system. The PNCR, however, will not be intimidated. We would continue to resolutely pursue this matter in the Courts.

President Jagdeo has presided over a regime that, apart from the widespread and out-of-control corruption of its coterie of officials, has shown nothing but contempt for the Rule-of-Law and the fundamental rights and other provisions of the Guyana Constitution. Executive lawlessness continues to be the hallmark of his Administration.”

After four years, the President sought to rectify the situation by letter dated 29 January 2009 inviting the Leader of the Opposition, “to discuss the resuscitation of the Integrity Commission”. The initial consultation commenced between Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, performing the duties of President, and the Leader of the Opposition on Friday 30 January 2009. The nominees for members were provided and the initial nominee for Chairman, Dr. James Rose, was subsequently withdrawn. It has been more than a year that the latest attempt to reconstitute the Integrity Commission commenced and the seriousness of the Jagdeo Administration to ensure probity in public life must be questioned.

This latest diversion, which in effect seeks to tamper with the provisions of the existing Legislation without any proposed amendments to the law, is the type of behaviour typical of the PPP/C over the last seventeen years. It will not be supported or condoned by the PNCR. Let it be clear to the Jagdeo Regime that the PNCR cannot and will not be intimidated by these wild and irresponsible acts of the Regime. If the PPP/C is serious about having probity in public life, they need to start by ensuring that there is a duly constituted and functioning Integrity Commission that has the confidence of the people of Guyana. When that occurs, there will be no need for self-censorship by Parliamentarians of the PNCR. Compliance would be the norm.

The PNCR has publicly stated that all its Parliamentarians have been instructed to prepare their Declarations but NOT to submit them to the Integrity Commission unless and until there is a duly appointed Commission in accordance with the law and the Constitution. This decision of the PNCR is also lawful and in compliance with the Integrity Commission Act and we are prepared to defend this position in a Court of Law.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM BEFORE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS

In our last Press Statement, the PNCR indicated that it was continuing 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. The PNCR awaits responses from GECOM and the Government and will update the public on developments in a separate Press Statements when more information is available.

THE LEGACY OF PRESIDENT JAGDEO: UNFETTERED CORRUPTION

President Jagdeo must, at this time, be consciously aware that there is the widespread national and international perception – the World Bank, the US Government, Transparency International, et al - that his is the most corrupt Administration since Guyana gained its independence. In its 2007 Human Rights Report, the United States Government described the situation in the following words: “The World Bank's worldwide governance indicators reflected that government corruption was a serious problem. There was a widespread public perception of serious corruption in the government, including law enforcement and the judicial system. Low-wage public servants were easy targets for bribery.”

There is no doubt that the Jagdeo Administration has purposefully and callously visited on the backs of the rapidly growing army of pauperised Guyanese, a coterie of sheltered and highly corrupt officials and “friends” of the Administration – whether they be Drug Lords or Crime Barons - at all levels and in every sector of the society. In the procurement process, infrastructural works, in the Ministries and Departments of the Government and in the Regions. Yes, bribery and corruption is widespread and very well known. The favoured and protected officials and friends have continued to enrich themselves, through corrupt means, unfettered by any visible official sanctions or credible efforts to curb their activities.

The unparalleled levels of corruption and the blatant lack of accountability by the Jagdeo Administration is demonstrated by the following scams:

 The stone scam;
 The Milk scam;
 The gold scam;
 The law books scam;
 The re-migrant duty-free-vehicle scam;
 The Cane Grove Conservancy Dam scam;
 The IAST scam;
 The wildlife scam;
 The export of dolphins scam;
 The Polar Beer scam; and now
 The Guysuco scam.

Those who have dared to challenge the “system” have been cruelly rewarded by officially sanctioned punishment, for example, the unwarranted dismissal of the Customs Officials in the Polar Beer scam and, very recently, the dismissal of Materials Manager, Mr. Aasrodeen Shaw, by the Board of GuySuco.

As reported in the Stabroek News of 24 March 2010 “According to GAWU, this comes against the background of dubious management decisions such as outsourcing of certain services to certain contractors; reports of visible, blatant idling of vital GuySuCo-owned machines; financial billion-dollar losses and fiascoes of Booker-Tate contractors and the Skeldon bungling; not to mention the astonishingly low three percent across-the-board wage increase by Arbitration Tribunal towards the end of 2009”

The calculated failure by the Administration not to establish the Constitutionally mandated Public Procurement Commission, which would have provided the needed transparency and fairness for Public Procurement activities, has resulted in the misappropriation of billions of taxpayer and donor agencies funds into the pockets of relatives, cronies and corrupt contractors.

When the PNCR called for “a forensic audit into the assets acquired by senior Government officials and corrupt business people, which bear no relationship to their incomes and earnings”, the regime unleashed the full force and venom of its well financed and staffed propaganda machinery against the Party. However, as even the arrogant and shameless Jagdeo Administration must recognise, the PNCR cannot be terrorised or bullied into submission. The Party owes it, as our moral duty and responsibility to the People of Guyana, to vigorously continue our campaign to expose the venality of the Administration.

The Reports by the Office of the Auditor General have made absolutely no difference. The corruption express has simply gained momentum. The leakages from the public purse into private pockets continue to grow! At the level of the President, the Lottery Funds continue to be misused as if they are his private property. The Auditor General’s 2007 Report provide ample evidence of the orgy of corruption, mismanagement, incompetence, illegal spending, and the abuse of the financial rules and regulations. Contracts have been overpaid, unspent funds have not been refunded and large sums of money are being returned by our overseas missions, because, like releases to the non-PPP Regional Administrations, it has been arriving too late to meet disbursement requirements. We also have the recent blatant abuse of the Supplementaries provisions, by the Minister of Housing and Water, whereby $4.0Bn was used to subsidise GUYSUCO without the approval of the National Assembly needs to be investigated.

The Contingencies Fund continues to be abused with sums of money being drawn from it to meet expenditure that do not meet the eligibility criteria as defined in the Financial Administration and Management Act. G$3.945 Bn was drawn from the Fund by way of often questionable advances to Ministers.

According to Law, the Office of the Auditor General is supposed to fall under the jurisdiction of the National Assembly, through the Public Accounts Committee. The reality is that the Office is listed as a Budget Agency under the Office of the President and being starved of staff. This is a travesty of democracy and of good governance. Such abominations cannot augur well for the management of our country. The cynicism of it all is borne out by the fact that only 114 out of a complement of 226 staff were in position as the Office was tasked with extending its mandate to include Value-for-Money Audits.

Further, the National Assembly is still awaiting the audited accounts for the funds used during the 2005 Floods, the Cricket World Cup, the hosting of CARIFESTA X and the recently held ICC Twenty/20 tournament.

As if all of the above were not enough, we were faced with the government pushing through retroactive legislation to legalise the brazenly provided “sweetheart” deal for the cronies of the Jagdeo Administration, such as the Queens Atlantic Investment Inc. (QAII). It should also be recalled that Guyana Stores Ltd. was sold, in October 2000, for US$6M of which US$4M was received and the remaining sum should have been paid by September 2002. However, seven (7) years later, the balance still remains outstanding. A similar situation obtains with respect of the privatisation of the National Paint Company for which US$900,000 remains outstanding on the purchase price. Unfortunately, the above are only two of the many examples where State assets have been cavalierly granted to cronies who have failed to meet their payment obligations.We must call in the chips on this blatantly corrupt and disgraceful Jagdeo Administration.

THE PPP/C ADMINISTRATION HAS FAILED THE BAUXITE WORKERS, BY ENCOURAGING UNION BUSTING

The Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (G.B. & G.W.U.) has long claimed that the PPP/C Administration has been supporting the union busting tactics of Rusal, an employer in the bauxite industry in Guyana.

In response to the G.B. & G.W.U.’s claim for a 10% across the board retroactive increase in salaries for its bauxite workers, Rusal suspended, then terminated, over fifty eight (58) workers; imposed a paltry 6% increase in salaries, purported to terminate the Collective Labour Agreement (C.L.A) between the G.B. & G.W.U., and to de-recognise the G.B. & G.W.U.

The unlawful de-recognition and, termination, were contained in a letter dated 1 December 2009, which was handed to officials of the Union, in the presence of the Chief Labour Officer, after they responded to a notice in the newspapers, that a meeting would be held at the Ministry of Labour.

The Minister of Labour whose remit in matters of industrial disputes is that of an impartial mediator, had openly sided with Rusal, when it criticized the Union for agreeing to the termination of 75 workers, as alleged by Rusal but denied by the G.B. & G.W.U. Moreover, the Minister of Labour, unlike his action in the dispute between G.A.W.U. and GuySuco, refused to intervene in the trade dispute between Rusal and the G.B. & G.W.U. despite asserting the importance of the bauxite industry in our economy.

The obstinate attitude of the Minister of Labour continued albeit the Leader of the Opposition by a letter in January 2010 had called upon him to intervene in accordance with his legal responsibilities.

Meanwhile, the G.B. & G.W.U. accused Rusal of forcing workers who returned to work to sign letters to the effect that they did not want to be represented by the G.B. & G.W.U., in obvious attempts at pursuing its vendetta against the union. It is not surprising, therefore, to see the Minister of Labour in the Stabroek Newspapers of Saturday 20 March 2010, confirming that indeed the Trade Union Recognition and Certification Board (T.U.R. & C.B.) is considering an application to have the G.B & G.W.U., de-recognised as the workers bargaining representative.

The T.U.R. & C.B. is supposed to be an independent body, yet the Minister purports to disclose intimate details of its deliberations, thus revealing Government’s hegemony over that body. The T.U.R. & C.B. has long been accused of facilitating the growth of pro-Government unions at the expense of unions perceived to be not favourable to the Government. NAACIE has been such a beneficiary and it is no coincidence that this erstwhile sugar union, has been fingered by the G.B & G.W.U., as being the union seeking to poach on its bargaining unit.

Since the workers and not the union has made application to the T.U.R. & C.B., such application could only be made under section 31 of the Trade Union Recognition Act No. 33 of 1997 which provides : -

31.“On an application made by a minimum of forty percent of workers in a bargaining unit for which a union is certified the board shall cause a poll to be taken to determine whether the union shall continue to be so certified.”

Perhaps the key information, that the Minister of Labour is reported to have said that the T.U.R. & C.B. is waiting for to help it to make a ruling, is the 40 percent of bauxite workers in Rusal’s employ as requesting a change of union.

The PNCR demands the immediate reinstatement of the 58 dismissed workers; that Government puts an end to the flagrant violations of Guyana’s laws, and an end to the attempts at de-recognising the G.B. & G.W.U.

Solidarity Forever!

THE SASH SAWH MURDER/EXECUTION: PPP AFRAID OF RESULTS OF AN INVESTIGATION

Recent revelations by the late Minister Sash Sawh’s family, concerning the Government’s failure to adequately pursue the perpetrators of the slaying of the late Minister, coincide with the long held belief of the PNCR that the PPP administration was deliberately avoiding an investigation into criminal violence in Guyana for fear of what it will reveal. The PNCR had called for an international inquiry into the slaying of the late Minister, but this call had also gone unheeded by the PPP/C Government.

Save for the self-serving statement by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Henry Green, no genuine efforts were ever undertaken to ascertain the truth or solving this crime. Similarly, no serious attempt has been made to track down and arrest the killers of Ronald Waddle notwithstanding the revelations in the Roger Khan and Robert Simel's trial in the United States. Those fingered continue to roam the streets of Guyana boasting of their untouchable status.

The PNCR Commiserates with the late Minister’s family and reiterates its call for an international forensic investigation and inquiry into the late Minister Sash Sawh’s death.

PNCR REGION #6 REGIONAL CONFERENCE 2010

The People’s National Congress Reform continued to hold its Regional Conferences in accordance with its Constitution. The second such Conference in the month of March was held by the Regional Executive Committee on Sunday 21 March 2010 at the Vryman’s Erven Multilateral School in New Amsterdam. The first was the Pomeroon/Supernaam, Region #2 Regional Conference held on 7 March 2010, at Dartmouth, Essequibo Coast.

The Regional Conference in New Amsterdam was well attended by delegates from New Amsterdam to Corriverton, and East Bank Berbice. Several presentations were made to the conference including, the Regional Secretary’s Report and the Regional Chairman’s Report. Delivering the feature address was Chairman of the Party, Mr. Bishwaishwar (Cammie) Ramsaroop.

Participants discussed a wide range of issues including the Party’s approach to Local Government Reform and Local Government Elections at the plenary session following the presentations. Mr. Allan Munroe, Central Executive Member and Party Director of Training conducted the elections of office bearers. The following officers were elected to form the new Regional Executive Committee: -


Dr. John Austin, M.P. - Regional Chairman
Mr. Khemraj Seecharran - Vice-Chairman
Mr. Winston Hope - Secretary
Mr. Arnold King - Treasurer
Ms. Debra Hurst - Committee Member
Ms. Beverley Crawford - Committee Member
Ms. Isabella Smart - Committee Member

Dr. George Norton, M.P, Vice-Chairman of the PNCR delivered the installation and charge to the newly elected officers.

PARTY”S FIRST GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING FOR YEAR 2010

The first quarterly General Council Meeting of the Party will be held on Saturday 27 March 2010 at Congress Place, Sophia. The General Council will receive reports of the Party’s work from the ten (10) Regions during the last quarter and discuss Party programmes and strategies for the next quarter and beyond. The highlight of the meeting will be the Party Leader’s address, which will form the basis of the discussion that will follow.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday 25 March 2010