PNCR GENERAL COUNCIL APPROVES METHODOLOGY FOR IDENTIFYING PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 16 July 2010




SUMMARY:
• The emotional and misguided response of the ERC to the PNCR’s last Press Statement has avoided the essential issue of its unconstitutionality and, typical of the PPP style Propaganda, has attempted to divert attention from the main issue: An issue which the Chairman, as a purported man of the cloth, should be most concerned;
• The PNCR General Council has approved the methodology, which includes wide consultation and participation of all its members, groups and supporters, that would be used to identify a Presidential candidate for the 2011 General and Regional Elections;
• The Central Executive Committee of our Party has decided that this year’s observances of the 25th Death Anniversary of L.F.S. Burnham will spread over the entire month of August and would be countrywide in scope;
• The last ditch efforts of the Jagdeo regime to hide their political and racial discrimination by the belated expenditure for infrastructure and other works in neglected areas, such as Region Ten and the villages on the East Coast of Demerara, and the institution of law suits for libel, will not fool the people of Guyana, who have suffered from the burdens and indignities visited on them by the Administration, over the past eighteen years;
• The deplorable state of the garbage situation in the capital city, although the responsibility of the M&CC of Georgetown, is reflective of the spitefulness of the Jagdeo Administration that they are prepared to subject the citizens to dangerous health hazards to achieve their narrow political objectives;
• The nomination of the two persons to sit on the Public Service Commission require the vote of a simple majority and as happened in 2007 the PPP/C used its majority at the Committee level to recommend its two nominees and then used its majority in the National Assembly to adopt the report of the Committee on Appointments.

THE ERC AVOIDS THE ISSUE OF ITS UNCONSTITUTIONALITY

The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) has studiously avoided the issue of its unconstitutionality in the emotional and unprofessional response through one of its hirelings. Bishop Juan Edghill, however, needs to be put on notice that erratic statements will neither silence the People’s National Congress Reform, nor divert public attention from the essential issues raised by the PNCR in its Press Statement, of Friday 9 July 2010.

The main thrust of that Statement was directed at the Bharrat Jagdeo Administration for being ludicrous, in forwarding a matter to the ERC in the context of the misuse of the State-owned media, by the PPP and the Government, for the dissemination of misinformation and libelous publications, and their failure to address the priority issue of the unconstitutionality of the ERC.

The final two paragraphs of the Statement also warned that partisan behaviour by the ERC, as illustrated by two examples presented in that Press Statement, has ensured the non achievement of the noble objectives envisioned for the ERC by the framers of the Constitution.

Any rational person would have been more concerned with the Constitutionality of the body he heads, especially since the efficacy of such a body is dependent upon public confidence in its work.

The position of the PNCR on this matter is not new. The concerns of the Party were effectively stated in the National Assembly of the Parliament, since 2007, when the PPP, in clear violation of the Constitution, used their majority to pass Resolution #36, entitled “Appointment of Members of the Ethnic Relations Commission”, dated 9 August 2007, which stated, inter alia, “That the National Assembly calls on the President to take such steps so as to enable the Ethnic Relations Commission to continue to carry out its constitutional responsibilities in the interim.” The Opposition members voted against this resolution, which was in contravention of the provisions of Articles 212B (1) (a) and (b) that confers no such authority to the President.

Article 212B specifies, inter alia, that the ERC shall consist of,

“(a)not less than five and not more than fifteen members nominated by entities, by a consensual mechanism determined by the National Assembly, including entities, representative of religious bodies, the labour movement, the private business sector, youth and women, after the entities are determined by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all elected members of the National Assembly;”

The entities that were agreed upon, to be consulted through the consensual mechanism, were unanimously approved by the National Assembly. The entities elected their representatives who constituted the first Commission. Among the representatives were three from religious bodies, (Christian, Hindu, and Muslim). Bishop Edgill was the representative of the Christian community and he was subsequently elected Chairman. Both the life of the Commission and the tenure of the Office of the Chairman came to an end in 2007.

On the expiry of the life of the Commission and Commissioners, all the entities were constitutionally obligated, using the process stipulated by the consensual mechanism, to either identify their new representatives or determine if the current representatives should continue. This process was, however, stymied when the PPP sought to subvert it by arbitrarily adding another specially created religious entity, the IRO, to the already identified list of entities to elect representatives to the ERC. At the same time, the PPP demonstrated their marked reluctance to agree to the inclusion of others entities, such as professional organisations, as advocated by the PNCR. The PNCR pointed out that the IRO represented a duplication of religious bodies that were already included within the bodies representing the Christian community. Therefore, this would result in double representation.

It became obvious that the PPP’s obsession with the inclusion of this new entity, the IRO, was directly related to their desire to maintain Bishop Juan Edgill’s membership on that Commission. He was one of the main activists of this PPP created new entity. Therefore, a new opportunity was being prepared for him to remain on the Commission, should the Christian community not renew his mandate. The PPP, fortunately, could not unilaterally impose their amendments as they have done on so many occasions in the past, because the change required a two-thirds vote in the National Assembly. Instead of finding a compromise or proceed with the already approved entities, they opted to stymie the process for the reconstitution of the ERC and used the opportunity to present the Motion, which they later passed by a simple majority in the National Assembly, to invite the President, contrary to the Constitutional stipulations, to intervene in the process.

In its Press Statement, of Friday 16 November 2007, the PNCR stated that:

“This procedure (identified in the motion dated August 9, 2007) was transparently unconstitutional, since the Constitution does not confer any such authority on the President.

The PNCR wishes to make it clear that the ERC is a Constitutional body which is governed by Article 212B, which states clearly how the ERC is to be constituted and which Groups of Entities should be invited to elect a substantive and alternate representative for appointment to the Commission. The only Constitutional role for the President, in the above process, is to appoint the elected Commissioners representing the Christian Religion, the Hindu Religion, the Muslim Religion, the Trades Unions, the Private Sector Organisations, Youth Organisations and Women Organisations.

In the light of the foregoing, the PNCR wishes to make it clear that the ERC, as presently constituted, is illegal and would not be recognized by the Party.”

The non recognition by the PNCR is, therefore, not new and Mr Juan Edgill, obviously out of self interest, has both facilitated and publicly defended this unconstitutionality. Article 212D (x) lists as one of the functions of the Commission to, “do all acts and things as may be necessary to facilitate the efficient discharge of the functions of the Commission”. In this context, it is difficult to find any Act by the Commission to remove this cloud of unconstitutionality that has impeded the efficient discharge of its functions.

Additionally, the original representatives and their alternates on the ERC have, for varying reasons, ceased to be active members of the Commission placing in doubt the legitimacy of purported decisions of the now dwindled three-person Commission, even if, as argued by its Chairman, the body is constitutional.

The call for evidence by Mr. Edgill is surprising since his very appointment by President Jagdeo, in violation of the Constitution, makes him a creature of the President, placing his impartiality in doubt.

Mr Edgill also seeks shelter, from the PNCR’s assertion of the disparity in his activism, by claiming that no reports on some matters were made to the Commission. This is either an obvious attempt at deception or a lack of knowledge of the functions of the Commission provided for in Article 212D (p) which enables the Commission, “to investigate on its own accord or on request from the National Assembly or any other body any issues affecting ethnic relations.”

Mr. Edgill may also wish to explain why he moved with such activism to deal with alleged discrimination at a store in Regent Street but failed to take any action or even visit Kwakwani when serious allegations of a similar nature were made by bauxite workers. He may also wish to explain to the public why he failed to take action, of his own accord, with respect to the blatant abuses of privilege, by the state-owned media, which could damage ethnic relations.

The experience of the PNCR, with its Court action challenging the constitutionality of the Integrity Commission, was one factor which influenced the Party to not institute another similar action. The Party has, however, recently made some further proposals to the Appointive Committee of the National Assembly in the hope that good sense will prevail to bring the present unconstitutional existence of the ERC to an end. Mr. Edgill and his co conspirators should be put on notice that their days are numbered.

PNCR GENERAL COUNCIL APPROVES METHODOLOGY FOR IDENTIFYING PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

The second meeting of the PNCR General Council, for 2010, was successfully held at the Party Headquarters, Sophia, on Saturday 10 July 2010, last. The meeting considered the report of the General Secretary, the Address by the Party Leader, and reports from the Regions on the preparations for the 25th Anniversary of the Death of Party Founder Leader and first Executive President, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham.

There was healthy discussion in the plenary sessions particularly, on the subject of the Party’s programme and strategy for the period ending with the 2011 General and Regional Elections. Among the issues were the options of shared governance, alliances and coalition which the Party could pursue in the immediate period ahead. In this direction the General Council approved the options recommended by the Central Executive Committee.

There was also extensive discussion on the issue of identification of a Presidential candidate both in the context of an Alliance or in the context of the PNCR facing the elections alone. The General Council finally approved, by a Motion that was unanimously passed, the methodology to be used in the identification of the Party Presidential candidate.

The motion resolved,

- that the PNCR’s Presidential candidate should be identified, as early as possible, by a transparent system that includes wide consultation with bona-fide Party members, groups and supporters;
- that the process to be employed in arriving at a consensus Presidential Candidate should include:

1. The identification of an inclusive group appointed by the CEC by 31st August 2010 to conduct consultation with the Party members, Party groups and supporters;
2. The person selected to be the Presidential Candidate must have the full confidence of the membership of the PNCR, be of sound and unquestionable integrity, possess the skill, expertise and networking capability as well as command respect and support of Guyanese generally; and
3. The Group will make recommendations to be approved by the CEC and General Council on the system, criteria and procedures to be employed for the identification of the candidate.

AND
- that the Central Executive Committee make recommendations on the system, criteria and procedures to be employed for the identification of the candidate to next General Council.

The General Council is the highest forum of the Party in the absence of Biennial Congress and it meets every three months.


25TH DEATH ANNIVERSARY OF LINDEN FORBES SAMPSON BURNHAM, FOUNDER LEADER OF THE PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONGRESS AND FIRST EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT OF THE CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA

This year marks the 25th Death Anniversary of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, Founder Leader of the People’s National Congress and first Executive President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana whose death anniversary occurs on 6 August 2010.

As was earlier indicated the Central Executive Committee of our Party decided that this year’s observances will spread over the entire month of August and would be countrywide in scope. As we meet today plans are well advanced for the hosting of these celebrations. Some highlights include the floral tribute ceremonies at the mausoleum in the Botanical Gardens on the morning of Friday 6 August 2010 at 07:00hrs and in the afternoon at the Burnham Bust in the fore court of the headquarters of the National Congress of Women , 44 Public Road and Stanley Place Kitty at 16:30hrs. This latter activity will also serve to formally launch the month of activities.

Other countrywide activities include religious services, symposia, concerts, debating competitions, community enhancement projects and exhibitions depicting the life and legacy of L.F.S. Burnham as well as a variety of sports activities countrywide culminating with a cavalcade of sports at the McKenzie Sports Club Ground Linden in Region #10.

A detailed programme of all the activities planned will be released to the media shortly.

BELATED EXPENDITURE ON INFRASTRUCTURE IN NEGLECTED AREAS WILL FOOL NO ONE

Over the past months, the PPP has allocated huge expenditure for infrastructural and other works in many areas neglected by them over the eighteen years of their Administration. The PNCR had continuously highlighted the political and, in some cases, racial discrimination that have led to the neglect of these communities over this period.

The dialogue process, between the late Opposition Leader, Mr. Desmond Hoyte, and President Jagdeo, had resulted in an agreement to implement projects identified in marginalised areas by the Parties. A list of such projects, aimed at improving the quality of life of citizens in those areas, was prepared and submitted by the PNCR for action. President Jagdeo was unhappy with the classification of these areas as “marginalised” and, eventually, the politically acceptable word of “depressed” areas replaced it. Despite this acknowledgement by the Administration that there were depressed areas which were in need of special attention, the PPP/C Administration quickly abandoned the agreement, as soon as the first few identified projects were undertaken.

Over the period since then, there have been total disregard and neglect, by the PPP, of areas not considered politically supportive. For example, the annual work programmes submitted by the Region Four Regional Democratic Council were either not approved by the Ministry of Finance or funds were released too late in the year for the optimum achievement of the programme. The variation of the submitted programme and the control and manipulation of central Government funding by the PPP had enabled them to punish or reward communities as they deemed fit. The same pattern was experienced by the Regional Democratic Council in Region Ten, Upper Demerara /Berbice.

The PPP/C continued with its deliberately discriminatory policies, despite the many complaints and allegations by citizens and political parties, as well as, the published findings in reports from reputable international institutions such as the UN.

In an effort to begin their 2011 political campaign in these communities, however, they embarked on a programme to carry out special projects in those neglected areas. The plot is sinister. After denying the approval of projects over the years, the President and Cabinet visit the Community and many of these disapproved projects are suddenly approved, on the spot, to give the impression to the residents that the projects had not been represented before by their elected representatives and to falsely convey the impression that they are concerned. The state-owned media then goes into overdrive, using the video footage to attempt to refute the daily exposure of their discriminatory practices.

For example, in late 2009 and early 2010, the PPP/C began approving and undertaking elements of the work programme submitted by Region Four over the past years. Last week the action shifted to Region Ten with the cabinet outreach at Linden. President Jagdeo, like Santa Claus, spent millions merely to mobilise, feed and transport people in Region Ten to Watooka House where, according to the advertisement, “all their problems would be resolved.” By the end of the week-end, hundreds of millions of dollars were announced to be spent on various projects in the Region. As in the case of Region Four, most of these projects formed part of the Regional submission over the years and these were denied by the very PPP/C Administration.

Jagdeo was, however, sadly disappointed since, after approving the spending of in excess of eight million dollars, the five thousand crowd promised by a hired local organizer did not materialise. Instead, a crowd of approximately one thousand persons, most of whom were bussed in from outlying areas on promise of payment, together with the staff of the various Government Offices in the Region that were directed to go to Watooka House. Sources revealed that Dr. Roger Luncheon walked with millions in cash to pay out and was demanding certain assurances of future loyal support before making the cash payments. Lindeners were, however, not duped.

Guyanese are also not fooled and, with the vigorous exposure by the private media, the PPP/C wants to ensure that they are silenced. The filing of a libel action, by the President recently, is just another step in their strategy to cause Guyanese to forget their discriminatory policies.

These last ditch efforts of the Jagdeo regime to hide their political and racial discrimination, such as belated expenditure for infrastructure and other works in neglected areas as Region Ten and the villages on the East Coast of Demerara and the institution of law suits for libel will not fool the people of Guyana who have suffered, from the burdens and indignities visited upon them by the Administration, over the past eighteen years.

THE GARBAGE CRISIS IN THE CITY REFLECTS THE SPITEFULNESS OF THE PPP REGIME

There can be no doubt that the garbage situation in the capital city of Georgetown is of great concern to the citizens of Georgetown as it should be of the Government, particularly, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Tourism. This situation has not developed overnight, but has been a matter which has been developing for some time, since the procrastination of the PPP Administration over the development of the new dump site at Haag Bosch.

Several years ago it was known that the Mandela dump site was incapable of further expansion and that an alternative site was necessary. The Government announced grandiose proposals for the new site and the Nation was assured that the necessary environmental impact study had been completed. Residents of the surrounding communities of Republic and Eccles Park were invited to meetings where the details of the plan were explained and assurances given that their health concerns were addressed. Nothing was heard of these grandiose plans for years until a few weeks ago when the belated announcement was made that the new site would have been completed by 1 August 2010.

The contractor has made it abundantly clear that such expectations were ill founded as the contract completion was 2011. The reality which now faces the Mayor and City Council is that they have to continue using the Mandela site with all its imperfections and the health hazards that it poses for the citizens in the surrounding area. It is, therefore, disingenuous for the Government and, particularly, the Minister of Local Government, to try to place this debacle at the feet of the Council.

It is also disingenuous for the Minister of Local Government to disassociate himself from the problems facing the City Council and their capacity to fund the garbage collection for which they are responsible. In a Press Conference, held on Tuesday 13 July2010, the Mayor of Georgetown informed the nation of the dilemma facing the Council. Among the matters disclosed were that:

• Many parts of the city have been cleared, but all could not be cleared because of the limited resources available.
• The garbage pile-up in the city is partly due to the expectation that Haag Bosch would have been ready to receive waste from the city from the 1st August 2010;
• Maintaining the Mandela site is difficult because of the lack of equipment and other resources;
• The inability of the Council to meet its obligations, to contractors who have been working for several months without pay, largely because the municipality has not been able to broaden its revenue base and the existing tax collection cannot finance the many services that the Council is required to provide
• The main property owner in Georgetown is the government, but they have been among the most delinquent and have not yet paid taxes for the second and third quarter of 2010 which are already payable and due.
• Among the delinquent taxpayers are GUYNEC : owing 79million dollars in taxes; Ocean View Hotel : $50million dollars; Kingston Milk Plant: 62 million dollars; Fisheries limited : 121 million dollars; and
• The Council has had to resort to taking legal action to collect outstanding taxes from several taxpayers but the wheels of justice are moving very slowly.
• It is, therefore, most irresponsible for the Minister of Local Government to express the view that the issue of garbage is a matter only for the Georgetown City Council.

When will Government pay their outstanding rates and taxes to the City?

When will the Government honour its obligation to pay to the City Council an appropriate subvention commensurate with the taxes it collects from the Georgetown area?

These are the matters that should concern the Minister. Instead, the Minister, by his recent remarks about wanting the garbage pile up in the city to become a health hazard so that he can remove the Council, has exposed the real intentions of the PPP Administration in allowing the situation to deteriorate to the extent that it has.

The PNCR calls on the Jagdeo Administration to cease playing politics with the City Council and honour its responsibilities. The deplorable state of the garbage situation in the capital city, although the responsibility of the M&CC of Georgetown, is, therefore, reflective of the spitefulness of the Jagdeo Administration that results in the creation of health hazards for citizens so that they could achieve narrow political objectives.

APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

Article 200 of Guyana’s Constitution provides for the establishment of the Public Service Commission. This Commission consists of six members, two of whom are appointed by the President upon nomination by the National Assembly after the Assembly has consulted such bodies as appear to it to represent public officers or classes of public officers. The life of the current Commission expires in July 2010 and as such its reconstitution has become necessary.

By virtue of Article 119C of the Constitution the Committee on Appointments is the Parliamentary
Committee tasked with carrying out the above functions. This Committee which is made up of six Government members and four Opposition members agreed that it would consult with five bodies requesting them to each nominate two persons to sit on the Public Service Commission.

The bodies consulted were the Guyana Labour Union; The Federation of Unions of Government Employees; The Guyana Public Service Union; The National Union of Public Service Employees and the Public Service Senior Staff Association.

At the end of the consultative process the five bodies nominated five persons from which the Committee on Appointments was required to select two. The PPP/C nominated Mr. Cecil Seepersaud and Mr. Carvil Duncan while the PNCR-1G nominated Mr. Vincent Bowman and Mrs. Vera Naughton.

The nomination of the two persons to sit on the Public Service Commission require the vote of a simple majority and as happened in 2007 the PPP/C used its majority at the Committee level to recommend its two nominees and then used its majority in the National Assembly to adopt the report of the Committee on Appointments.

This latest majority decision of the Committee on Appointment did not in any way surprise the PNCR-1G as the Government has throughout the life of the Committee (2006-2010) used its majority on every single occasion to ensure that the person(s) they favour are nominated to the various Constitutional Commissions. While the PPP/C position did not surprise the PNCR-1G it lays bare the emptiness of the Government’s shrill refrains that they are a democratic Government who believe in meaningful participation. The PNCR will have to decide whether it serves any useful purpose for its members to continue to participate in the work of this committee.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 16 July 2010