PNCR CONDEMS PPP/C’S RESPONSE TO FLOOD CRISIS IN REGION TEN--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 23 July 2010




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR congratulates the NDP on their victory and President Desi Bouterse on his election to Office;
• The People’s National Congress Reform empathises with the people of Region #10 who have been the victims of the devasting floods throughout the Region;
• The People’s National Congress Reform is appalled at the most recent revelations by the United States Embassy that, on average, 14 Guyanese leave Guyana daily to take up permanent residence in the US;
• The Central Executive Committee of our Party, in keeping with its decision that this year’s observances will spread over the entire month of August and would be countrywide in scope, has finalised the programme of activities for these observances.

PNCR HAS DESPATCHED A CONGRATULATORY MESSAGE TO THE NEWLY DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED PRESIDENT OF SURINAME AND THE NDP

The PNCR has dispatched a congratulatory Letter to the new democratically elected President of Suriname, Mr. Desi Bouterse, and to the NDP, on their overwhelming success at the recently concluded elections in that country. In that letter, the Leader of the PNCR expressed the hope that the friendly relations between Suriname and Guyana, developed over the years, would continue and grow even stronger.

The PNCR’s foreign relations policy dictates that priority should be given to ensuring good and strong friendly relations with its neighbours. This has been the policy implemented by the PNC while in Office and continues to be its priority. This policy is essential, both as an integral part of Guyana’s development strategy and in the interest of the preservation of Guyana’s territorial integrity. It is in this context that the PNCR, even in Opposition, has sought to ensure that this policy was maintained.

Several years ago, when our maritime boundaries became the subject of dispute, the PNCR undertook an initiative with the full knowledge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure support for Guyana’s position from political parties in Suriname. At that time, the NDP had taken a public position in the Parliament of Suriname similar to that of Guyana, i.e., joint development of the disputed area until the decision was made by the Arbitration proceedings by the Tribunal.

A PNCR delegation, at its own expense, travelled to Suriname to hold discussions with the NDP, then in Opposition, to garner support for Guyana and reaffirm their position. That visit led to a written and signed understanding which was made available to the then Minister of Foreign Affairs immediately on the return to Guyana of that delegation. Despite being fully aware of the nature and accomplishments of that visit, the PPP, for narrow political objectives, sought to misrepresent that visit and publicly criticize the PNCR. The PNCR, in the interest of national security, refused to respond. In hindsight, the PPP may now recognise the wisdom of the PNCR’s initiative.

Whatever may be the views of individuals and Governments in the Region and wider afield, the PNCR believes in the principle of self determination of states. The recently concluded elections in Suriname reflected the will of the people of Suriname and must be respected by all. The response of the people, particularly the youth, of that country to the results, have placed beyond question the popular will of the people. The PNCR, therefore, unreservedly congratulates the NDP on their victory and President Desi Bouterse on his election to that Office.

PNCR CONDEMS PPP/C’S RESPONSE TO FLOOD CRISIS IN REGION TEN

The People’s National Congress Reform empathises with the people of Region #10 who have been the victims of the devasting floods throughout the Region. These floods are the results of a combination of factors, including, the recent long periods of heavy rainfall experienced in the hinterland communities, the unusually high spring tides afffecting our three main rivers - the Berbice, Essequibo and Demerara - the blatant neglect of the maintenance of drainage infrastructure and the discriminatory allocation of resources to Region #10 by the PPP/C Administration, thus undermining their capability to carry out their proposed work programme, intended to promote development as well as prevent suffering of their citizens.

Significant flooding have occured in communities, such as Rockstone on the Essequibo, Kwakwani, especially the water front and the Lamp Island area, other communities along the lower stretches of the Berbice River, Malali, Muritaro, Butuba, Coomacka and other communities in the upper Demerara River, Three Friends, Maria Elizabeth, and, many sections of the Town of Linden especially adjacent to the Demerara River.

As citizens continue to grapple with the effects of these floods that have caused significant losses to them. The PNCR notes, with great concern, the inconsistencies, inefficiencies, and, in some cases, discrimination in the response by the Administration. These occurrences have led to a growing sense of frustration among many of the affected residents. While aid, particularly in the form of flood relief, has been distributed, by the Government and other concerned organisations and citizens, to some areas, others have been neglected by the Government. For example, affected residents in the areas of Silvertown, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Alleys and Christianburg have so far received nothing to help to alleviate their condition.

Additionally, in what has become regular, but unwarranted occurrences, major traffic arteries to Region #10 have become impassable due to the neglect of the current Administration, despite constant calls of its constituents for the establishment of a decentralised approach for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the Linden to Lethem road, as well as the Linden to Kwakwani road. This is the third time for this year, 2010, that the Linden to Lethem Road has been cut off as a result of damage to the roadway from heavy rainfall, but still the response to this situation has to be mobilised from Georgetown, resulting in days of lost commerce and traffic along this important corridor. The devastating effects of this approach, by the PPP/C Administration, was illustrated after the accident that occured recently at Kwakwani where lives were lost and the injured were left to mercy flights which were also affected by the poor state of the Linden airport runway. This sad situation was exposed by the PNCR in a recent Press Statement.

Meanwhile, numerous businesspersons are left at the mercy of an uncertain future as logging operations have ground to a halt. Trucks laden with lumber are forced to stop at the 300 metre stretch of water, 5 to 7 feet deep, that has swamped the road to Kwakwani at Cabacabra. Residents and other persons trapped in these interior locations, such as Kwakwani, Aroaima and Hururu, have given voice to their exasperation and doubt the interest of the state in resolving this infrastructure mess, since there is little evidence that this situation will be resolved soon. It is also evident that the equipment currently mobilised at this site, as well as the two small culverts taken there, would be woefully insufficient to adequately address this situation. Residents of Region #10 are, therefore, calling for the establishment of a regional road maintenance unit, provided with the appropriate equipment and other resources, to address the upkeep of these vital hinterland roads, especially since the road building and heavy duty operating skills are readily available in these communities.

The gross irregularities in the process of evaluating and awarding tenders in the Regional Administration of Region #10 have been highlighted by the PNCR in the past. This situation has directly affected the system of awards of tenders to the extent that intereference and changes of tenders, by officers of the Regional Administration, have been the deciding factor in ensuring that certain tenders are successful while certain others are not. This too is a result of the PPP directed impotence of the Regional Democratic Council in the management and control of their staff, especially, the Regional Executive Officer who takes instructions from Central Government rather than the Region that he is expected to serve. This issue has been regularly brought to the attention of the relevant authorities by the Regional Democratic Council but, as is the case in Region #4, the PPP is comfortable with this sorry state of affairs and has refused to take any remedial action. This situation makes a mockery of the Local Democratic system and exposes the PPP’s deception that they are interested in Local Government Reform.

The PNCR also supports the calls, by residents, for the more equitable distribution of aid for those affected by the flooding in the various communities, as they struggle to return their lives to a sense of normalcy.

In its 16 July 2010 Press Statement, the PNCR drew attention to the huge allocation of expenditure, by the PPP, over the past months 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 total disregard and neglect, by the PPP, of areas not considered politically supportive is reprehensible. For example, the annual work programmes submitted by the Region Ten 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 Regional Democratic Council in Region #10, Upper Demerara/Berbice has annually requested funds for the adequate maintenance of the Kwakwani-Linden road. The practice has been to neglect the Regional request but await the end of the year to award huge contracts from the center to favorite contractors who could not adequately complete any significant work in the traditional rainy season. The result is the continued deplorable state of the road despite huge annual expenditure directly by the Central Government.

The PPP/C 2011 political campaign programme in these communities, to carry out special projects in those neglected areas will fool no one. The recent cabinet outreach at Linden by President Jagdeo and his merry bunch, where hundreds of millions of dollars were announced to be spent on various projects, in the Region. will not deceive the people of the Region. Most of these projects formed part of the Regional submission over the years and these were denied by the very PPP/C Administration.

As the PNCR stated in its last Press Statement:

“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 on them by the Administration, over the past eighteen years.”

FAILED POLICIES OF PPP/C ADMINISTRATION FORCE GUYANESE TO EMIGRATE IN LARGE NUMBERS

The People’s National Congress Reform is appalled at the most recent revelations by the United States Embassy that, on average, 14 Guyanese leave Guyana daily to take up permanent residence in the US.

This confirms the observations of the PNCR and others that the PPP/C Administration, particularly under the Presidency of Bharat Jagdeo, has failed to create the national conditions which would encourage Guyanese to want to stay at home to contribute to national development.

The Leader of the PNCR, Mr. Robert Corbin, in a Press Release, dated 11October 2009, had pointed out that, based on the statistics recorded in a United Nations Development Programme Report (UNDP), Guyana had the highest emigration rate in the CARICOM region. Mr. Corbin also noted the alarming emigration of skilled and experienced Guyanese workers to the USA and our CARICOM neighbours.

Factors which compel Guyanese to want to emigrate, apart from the high levels of unemployment, include: working conditions; low salaries and wages; high levels of taxation; racial and political discrimination; the cost of housing; the widespread corruption at all levels; and the crime and security situation. All of these contribute to creating a feeling of hopelessness among Guyanese of all ages, particularly the growing army of young people, who have graduated from the schools and tertiary institutions, such as the University of Guyana, only to be faced with long periods of frustration because they cannot find a job. Many have no choice but to emigrate.

Many of these young people are, unfortunately, lured into a life of crime, including narco-trafficking. Many would like to attend the University of Guyana but cannot do so because of the high level of poverty in our country. Parents are busy paying bills and putting food on the table with meagre salaries and the high cost of living burdening them. It is also true that, due to the failures of our school system, a large number of our young people are leaving school functionally illiterate and even innumerate. This means that there is, sadly, a large segment of our young who are ill equipped for the demands of employment in a modern economy. This adds to the feeling of desperation and despondency which pervades many of our communities, with the young seeing no hope if they remain in Guyana.

As observed by Dr Tarron Khemraj, in his letter of 28th October 2009, “Since many Guyanese might have lost hope to find a job, they tend to drop out of the labour force.”

On the other hand, skilled and experienced artisans are finding it impossible to make ends meet on the low wages along with the high rates of personal taxation. In addition, the crippling impact of the unconscionable 16% VAT on the cost-of-living is, for many Guyanese, the last straw.

Those Guyanese who cannot obtain a US Visa have been forced to turn to sister CARICOM countries where, out of desperation, to provide a living for themselves and for their families who remain in Guyana, many of them have to undertake jobs and tolerate living conditions that they would not accept in Guyana. Many Guyanese families are totally dependent on the remittances from these arrangements or from relatives and friends abroad.

In April 2002, the Women’s Advisory Committee (WAC) of the Guyana Teacher’s Union (GTU) held a conference on migration and how it affects female teachers. It was revealed that the more experienced teachers with special skills are being recruited to work in the schools of sister CARICOM countries with the result that it is having a negative impact on educational standards in Guyana. Speaking at that conference was the then Assistant Secretary General of CARICOM, Byron Blake, who pointed out that “.......the human resource is the key to economic advancement and that is what the region is being drained of. In addition, other sections of the society are deprived of the use of the skills of teachers.”

The former National Secretary of the Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM) and former Member of Parliament, Ms. Lurlene Nestor, in a letter to the Stabroek News, dated 24th January 2002, stated that “the teacher migration phenomenon is still not being recognised as important enough by the authorities. It now appears that the governments of Botswana, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and others seem to have, as part of their yearly education programme, the recruitment of Guyanese teachers.” Ms. Nestor also argued that such a situation probably led to the USA authorities being encouraged to do the same.

The situation is not very different when it comes to the emigration of trained and experienced nurses. The Health Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, himself has attested to the fact that even though Guyana spends some $600Mn annually for the training of nurses. Half of the trained nurses are lost to emigration.

Then there is the crime and security situation in Guyana, crime is on the rise. Some members of the Guyana Police Force continue to operate in a state of disrespect for the Laws of Guyana that has lost them the trust and confidence of Guyanese citizens that they could rely on the GPF for “service and protection”.

Many of our communities experience the daily impact of the discriminatory allocation of national resources, so they are forced to live with deplorable roads, clogged and neglected drainage and other manifestations of poor infrastructure, bad sanitation and visible neglect. It is, therefore, small wonder that the inhabitants of these communities see no hope for the future except out of Guyana.

The PNCR is convinced that the Jagdeo Administration is happy that so many Guyanese are looking outwards for their salvation, since it is evident that the adverse consequences of the Governance and management failures of the Administration are likely to grow worse. In their usual style, the Administration has resorted to their well-oiled propaganda machine to try to convince the world that all is well in Guyana. Guyanese, however, are not fooled!

The failures of the inept, incompetent and corrupt Jagdeo PPP/C Administration have turned life in Guyana, for many Guyanese, into the Hobsian prediction, “nasty brutish and short”. Many Guyanese “can’t take no more of the PPP”. Life is daily like “waiting for the axe to fall”.

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

As previously indicated by the PNCR, 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. The Central Executive Committee of our Party, in keeping with its decision that this year’s observances will spread over the entire month of August and would be countrywide in scope, has finalised the programme of activities for these observances.

Preparations are now in full swing for the month of activities to Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, Founder Leader of the PNC, Prime Minister of Independent Guyana and First Executive President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

The month of activities will commence fittingly with an exhibition of speeches, biographical material and a photographic gallery depicting his Life and Legacy. With the kind permission of the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA) this exhibition will be showcased at their Emancipation Festival at the National Park on 1st and 2nd August 2010. Visitors to this exhibition will be able to receive biographical notes and other materials on the Life and Legacy of L.F.S. Burnham.

On 6 August 2010, the programme features the official commemoration of the 25th Death Anniversary with a floral tribute ceremony at the Mausoleum; Seven Ponds, Place of Heroes in the Botanical Gardens. The Chairman of the proceedings will be Party Vice-Chairman, Dr. George Norton, M.P. Wreaths would be laid by the relatives of the late Forbes Burnham, officials of the Party and its organs and representatives of organisations and individuals.

The main event to launch the month of activities would be held at the Headquarters of the National Congress of Women (NCW), 44 Public Road and Stanley Place, Kitty on 6 August 2010 from 4:30 PM. The main speaker at that occasion would be the Chairman of the Party, Mr. Bishwaishwar “Cammie” Ramsaroop, and the programme would include a number of cultural items.

Other activities include, a Cocktail Reception on Thursday 12 August 2010; a Symposium by the Burnham Foundation on Friday 13 August 2010; a cavalcade of Sport at the McKenzie Sports Club Ground on Sunday 15 August 2010; an Intra-Regional Debating Competition in Region #4; a Celebration of the Life and Legacy of L.F.S. Burnham at the Square of the Revolution on Friday 27 August 2010 and a Gala Concert at the National Cultural Centre on Sunday 29 August 2010.

In addition, religious observances would be held by the Party’s Regional structures throughout Guyana, as well as special features on the Party’s Nation Watch programmes on HBTV Channel 9 throughout the month.

Linden Forbes Samson Burnham played a significant role in the political social and economic development of Guyana. It was under his Leadership that Guyana attained political Independence and Republican status. It was under his leadership, in collaboration with other Caribbean Leaders, that CARICOM was initiated and developed. It was under his leadership that CARIFESTA became a reality. AND, it was also under his leadership that many of the significant infrastructural developments in Guyana materialised. These include, the MMA Scheme, the expansion of the Black Bush Polder and the Tapacuma Drainage and Irrigation schemes; the Demerara Harbour Bridge and the Canje Bridge; the entire network of coastal roads from Corentyne to Essequibo; and, the National Cultural center, to name just a few.

It was under the leadership of Forbes Burnham that education was made free for Guyanese from Nursery to University, President’s College was built and initiated and the Guyana National Service was established. During the month of August, the PNCR will remind the nation of his many accomplishments.

Two years ago, on a Motion by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin, M.P., the National Assembly of the Parliament acknowledged his many achievements and placed on record his contribution to Guyana’s development.

The PNCR again invites all Guyanese to participate in the events planned for the occasion.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 23 July 2010