REVIEW OF 2010--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 7th January 2011

The year 2010 has revealed, for all Guyanese who want to see and understand the nature and intent of the Jagdeo PPP Administration, that the President and his Government are contemptuous of the requirements for good governance, transparency, accountability and respect for the rule of law.

Guyanese are increasingly recognising that we are living under an elected dictatorship in which the President behaves as if the resources of the people of Guyana are his to utilise or dispose of as they are his private property.

The Nation continues to be appalled and embarrassed, by the frequent public un-presidential displays, by President Jagdeo who has developed the habit of engaging in regular unprovoked and vulgar attacks on outstanding citizens who express view that he does not like. It does seem that the President has difficultly observing the standards of dignity and decorum which are expected of the Head of State.

Guyana has increasingly come under the influence and control of the narco-barons and organised criminal gangs. Armed robberies and violent crime has become the order of the day. Crime and security seem beyond the capacity of the Government and the Guyana Police Force to control. The brutal slaying of Neisha Gopaul, Shema Mangar and the torture of a sixteen-year old, Twyon Thomas, at Leonara Police Station and the recent kidnappings are constant reminders of the failure of the Administration to provide public security and protection for the Guyanese people.

There has been the alarming rise in the incidence of domestic violence and the violent murder of spouses.

The failure of the government to create the conditions and environment for sustainable economic development, coupled with low wages and salaries, discriminatory practices, high levels of taxation and the corrosive impact of the VAT on the cost-of-living, has resulted in the rapid increase in the number of Guyanese living below the poverty line and in desperate states of social and economic destitution. The Administration has continued to resist calls for the reform of the systems of taxation, despite the commitment, at the time of the introduction of the VAT, to undertake a comprehensive programme of Tax Reform to ensure that the incidence of taxation, on individuals and the corporate community, does not continue to be an obstacle for the encouragement of enterprise and investment. The unconscionably high VAT 16% rate, contrary to the claim that it is Revenue neutral, has become the prime revenue garnering vehicle of the Administration.

Guyanese Youth have increasing become disillusioned and seem to have internalised the feeling of despair that there is any future for them in their native land. Those who happen to survive the failed education system and make it through tertiary education institutions are confronted with the reality that jobs are difficult to get or nonexistent. The growing army of disenchanted youth is a recipe for future disaster since many of them are falling prey to the appeals of organised crime and narco-enterprises.

The shameless and discriminatory treatment of Mrs. Whyte-Nedd, who served as Chief Education Officer (Ag.) for five (5) years, is yet another example of the type of blatant discrimination that Guyanese have experienced under the PPP/C.

The Administration has continued its campaign to destabilise the Georgetown City Council and undermine the local Government System. This is demonstrated by the callous disregarded the health and well being of the citizens of Georgetown, by the creation of the garbage crisis in the city of Georgetown, as represented by the notorious Mandela Dump site. In addition, the Jagdeo Administration has consistently blocked every avenue for the Georgetown Mayor and City Council to widen its revenue base, while, at the same time, using its payment of Rates on Government buildings to the Council as a tool for adversely manipulating the day-to-day operations of the GM&CC.

It should be evident to all that, to the detriment of the advancement of Local Democracy, the postponement of Local Government Elections, by the Administration, was due to their reluctance to complete the agreed Local Government Reforms prior to the holding of new Local Government Elections.

The farce of National consultation was exposed by the perfunctory state-managed consultations on the LCDS. The miners and the indigenous people of Guyana have exposed this farce. There has, to date, been no meaningful consultations on how the funds, to be obtained from the Government of Norway, are to be allocated and what are the national priorities for the use of these funds. In addition, it is unclear whether there are adequate and acceptable mechanisms to ensure transparent public accountability through the National Assembly.

It is noteworthy that, since the signing of the Communiqué in 2003, the Administration has failed to honour their commitment to establish a National Broadcast Authority and to Table and pass Freedom of Information Legislation, in the National Assembly. Every promise and deadline set, since then, has not been met.

The financial affairs of the Nation continue to be conducted under conditions which are far from transparent and certainly in avoidance of accountability. As the annual reports of the Auditor General reveal, the Administration has continually refused to adhere to the requirements of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act 2003 (FMAA), for example, the misuse of the Lotto Funds and the “single sourcing” of the procurement of drugs for the Health system through their favoured friends in the Queens Atlantic conglomerate. In addition, the annual reports of the Auditor General continue to reveal the unabashed escalation of corruption at all levels of the Administration.

The studied and determined failure to establish the constitutionally mandated Public Procurement Commission has enabled the Administration to violate the rules of fairness, equity and transparency in the award of contracts. The corrupt and incompetent management of the award of contracts is reflected in the manner in which the fiasco of the infamous “short” G$500M Supenaam Stelling has been handled. Another glaring example of the corruption and nepotism with which the business of the People of Guyana is being conducted is the manner of the award of the Amalia Falls Hydro Power Road Project to Synergy.

The arrogance and callousness of the Administration, in the use of public funds, was demonstrated, as late as the 30 December 2010 Sitting of the National Assembly of the Parliament of Guyana, when the Government approved over $3.0 Bn in Supplementary Provisions, under the dubious heading of housing development, without providing any details or coherent explanations of how these funds will be spent.

Despite the claims of huge expenditures in the Health Sector, the construction of alleged modern health facilities, and the significant increase in trained health personnel, particularly doctors from Cuba, the year 2010 left the citizenry feeling more and more insecure about the foundations of a competent, just and equitable health service delivery system. The number of maternity deaths has reached alarming proportions.

It is obvious that the PPP has already begun to plunder state resources for the expressed purpose of electioneering in 2011.

It has been more than twelve (12) months since, beginning on 22 November 2009, in the exercise of their constitutional and legal rights, the bauxite workers of BCGI, at Kwakwani and Aroaima in Region #10, proceeded on strike over the unacceptable conditions being imposed on them by BCGI, which is owned jointly by the Russian company, RUSAL, and the Government of Guyana. In retaliation, BCGI issued suspension and dismissal letters to most of the workers, fifty-seven (57) of whom are union leaders.

Some workers were, upon resumption of work and upon condition of being in continued employment, forced to sign a company prepared petition requesting the de-legitimization of the Union. On 1 December 2009, the company notified the Ministry of Labour, that it had arbitrarily terminated the Collective Labour Agreement and commenced the process of derecognising the legitimate union.

The Minister of Labour is charged with the responsibility of ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Labour Act Cap. 98:01 and the Trade Union Recognition Act, Chapter 98:07. These Laws confer substantial powers on the Minister of Labour to take prompt and decisive action to settle cases of trade disputes and protect the rights of Guyanese workers. Section 37 (1) of the Trade Union Recognition Act further empowers the Minister to make regulations generally for carrying out the provisions of that Act, including, regulations prescribing anything which is to be prescribed under this Act. In addition, the Government of Guyana is a signatory to ILO Conventions Nos. 87, 98, 135, 154, 158 and 163, which impose the obligation on the Government to protect and advance the rights and interests of Guyanese workers.

In his letter, dated 13th January 2010, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin, M.P., urged the Minister of Labour, Mr. Mansoor Nadir, MP, to ensure that the Company honours the C.L.A and the Laws of Guyana, He expressed his deep concern, and that of the People’s National Congress Reform, over this prolonged dispute and called upon him to intervene, as he is legally empowered to do, in the interest of the affected Guyanese workers. At that time, the Minister was advised that the Company was engaged in Union busting tactics of compelling workers to sign withdrawal of membership Forms from their Union as a precondition for retention of their employment and also forced to sign a company prepared petition, requesting the de-legitimization of the Union.

Since then, the evident refusal of the Minister of Labour to intervene in the dispute at BCGI has reinforced the conviction that this blatant display of naked discrimination, in the approach of the Government to industrial relations, makes this a display of political spitefulness signalling the determination of the Jagdeo regime to punish the bauxite workers for standing up to RUSAL. The anti- working class position, of the Jagdeo PPP/C Government, has been manifested by their unbridled support for RUSAL’s hostility and disrespect of the bauxite workers in their employ, and for the laws of Guyana.

The arrogance of the Administration was amply demonstrated by the response of the Government spokespersons, particularly the Minister of Labour, Mr Manzoor Nadir, to the Motion of No Confidence in him, that was Tabled by the PNCR. The Motion called, inter alia, on the National Assembly to express its lack of confidence in the Minister of Labour, Mr. Manzoor Nadir, over the manner in which he has failed to carry out his legal responsibilities for the settlement of industrial relations disputes, particularly, the dispute between the G.B. & G.W.U. and BCGI, which is owned by the Russian company, RUSAL, and the Government of Guyana. In addition, the Motion also condemned BCGI’s unlawful, arbitrary and unilateral de-recognition of the G.B. & G.W.U. in violation of the Trade Union Recognition Act and called on the Government of Guyana to present to the National Assembly the Terms of Agreement between the Government of Guyana and RUSAL whereby RUSAL was allowed to carry on bauxite and other business in Guyana.

The Leader of the Opposition again wrote the Minister of Labour, on 19 November 2010, seeking an urgent meeting with him, on this issue, and urged the Government to honour their legal and constitutional duty. Even after that meeting, the Minister has stubbornly continued to avoid his and the Government’s responsibility to the bauxite workers at Kwakwani and Aroaima.

The most recent expression of the contempt of RUSAL for the industrial relations laws and norms in Guyana is captured in the letter, dated 29 December 2010,from the General Secretary of the Guyana bauxite and General Workers Union, Mr Lincoln Lewis, to Mr Ruslan Volokov, Managing Director of the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc:

“Be advised the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union turned up today at the Ministry of Labour to attend the convened meeting with the parties, your company including. The union was advised of your letter to the Deputy Chief Labour Officer, which informed that your non-attendance is based on the absence of a Collective Labour Agreement between the parties.

You are advised that there exists a Recognition Agreement, issued by the Trade Union Recognition Board and Certification Board, which legally mandates the parties to me. The Guyana Trade Union Recognition Act 1997, Section 23. (1) ‘Compulsory recognition and duty to treat’ expressly states: “Where a trade union obtains a certificate of recognition for workers comprised in a bargaining unit in accordance with this Part, the employer shall recognise the union, and the union and the employer shall bargain in good faith and enter into negotiations with each other for the purpose of collective bargaining.”

And may we further remind you that over the last year, in as much as there exist this Agreement, the company has refused to acknowledge any request made by the Union to address issues on behalf of the workers in employed.”

It is significant that, 6 years after the Guyana Chronicle, on 17 December 2004, proclaimed RUSAL as the Russian aluminium giant riding into Guyana with promises of increasing bauxite production from the then existing level of 1.3 million tonnes per year to 2.5 million tonnes by the year 2006, that RUSAL has, to date, for 2010, exported under 800,000 tonnes and is expected to export less than 900,000 tonnes for the year.

This is the giant that was expected to make an investment of US$20 million for the opening of a mine in the Kurubuku bauxite deposit, the construction of roads to transport the bauxite to Aroaima, on the Eastern bank of the Berbice river, via a conveyor bridge across the Berbice river and the installation of a new dryer at Aroaima to process the increased production.

All these promises were reiterated in January 2006 when the full privatization of the industry was announced, along with mutterings of production increasing to 3.0 million tonnes per year.

In fact, the 2010 production, with the closure of the Aroaima mine, has been based on rummaging the discarded Bermine stockpiles (using even discarded capping) and exploiting a number of remnant deposits at Kwakwani which were not even included in the original privatization agreement.

There has been no Kurubuku, no bridge and conveyor across the Berbice river and now RUSAL is talking about exploration to determine if Kurubuku does, in fact, contain bauxite!

The Guyana Police Force (GPF) celebrated its 171th Anniversary in 2010 and, as is usual, the PNCR continued to encourage those honest, responsible and professional police men and women to lead by good examples.

Commissioner of Police, Mr. Henry Greene, complained repeatedly that the Police Force is 20 per cent under strength and there are not sufficient constables to conduct anti-crime patrols and to man far flung Police stations and respond to crimes. If Police pay and conditions of service continue at the present deplorable levels, it would be impossible to recruit the calibre of policemen needed to man a modernised and scientifically equipped Guyana Police Force, which has the capabilities and capacity to apply the forensic and other high-tech investigative and detection techniques, needed to combat the increasingly sophisticated and well resourced criminals.

The frightening reality is that the Guyana Police Force is ill equipped to apply the needed modern investigative and sophisticated forensic methods necessary to combat and control the escalating and apparently out-of-control crime and security situation which has confronted the society. It is clear that, once recruited, our policemen and policewomen must be exposed to all of the modern techniques of investigative policing, which are driven by hard and relentless intelligence as opposed to confrontations and brutality.

The unacceptably high percentage of unsolved serious crimes is evidently largely due to the lack of proper training and equipping of the members of the GPF.

Reform and Modernisation of the GPF:
Seven years after the submission of the Report and Recommendations of the Disciplined Forces Commission, there is no evidence that the PPP/C Administration is serious about the implementation of the more than one hundred and fifty recommendations. This fact was evident as the National Assembly finally debated, on Thursday 10 June 2010, the Motion to accept the Report of the Special Select Committee that was established, since 2004, to determine which of the Recommendations should be accepted.

The legislation passed, which allowed the Minister to pronounce on the granting of firearm licences and the decision to allow ranks of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to make arrests, are completely contrary to what was recommended. Of significance too was the refusal of the Administration to deal with the issues in a holistic way, as emphasized in the Security Sector Reform Project.

The Government and the Minister of Home Affairs, to the detriment of strengthening the crime fighting and security maintenance capabilities of the GPF, have continued their stone walling tactics, since the receipt of the very clear Recommendations for the reform of the Guyana Police Force. Many of the recommendations were not dependent on Finance but on political will and the fact that the PPP/C has refused to act exposes their insincerity.

The Government seem to be of the view that the spawning of Community Policing Groups, particularly in their strongholds, is a substitute for the development of a modern, well equipped and trained professional Police Force. In addition, new legislation is passed which extend the scope of responsibilities of the GPF, without the commensurate provision of the resources to effectively and efficiently discharge the legislated functions.

The Deaths of Policemen:
The 19 year police constable, Vickram Singh, was gunned down in cold blood, on 2nd July 2010, in Lamaha Springs, Georgetown.

The post mortem report of Assistant Superintendant of Police, Ivelaw Murray clearly indicated that there were two bullet wounds to his head, any one of which, experts have stated, would have been fatal. The possibility of both wounds being inflicted by the deceased was, therefore, remote. The PNCR renewed its call on the Commissioner of Police to hold a proper and impartial investigation into this matter. Until then, the credibility and the image of the Guyana Police Force would remain questionable.

Violation of the Human Rights of Citizens:
The year began with the arrest and imprisonment of a woman and a baby at the Wisroc Police Station lockup and the detention of Esther Perreira, on Wednesday 30 December 2009, at the East la Penitence Police Station for six days without justification. She was eventually released on the afternoon of Monday 4 January 2010 on station bail but no information on the alleged offence had been filed at the Sophia, Alberttown or the East La Penitence Police Stations.

The Police have continued the unlawful practice of arbitrary arresting youths in selected communities on Thursdays or Fridays and detaining them until Monday without pressing any charges.

We also had the shooting of seventeen-year-old Osafie Johnson, on Sunday 4 July 2010 , by a policeman while on a search for alleged wanted man called “Cobra”. According to the teenager and other eye witnesses, the Policeman who shot and later arrested him knew that he was not the wanted man.

The year ended with the arbitrary and unlawful arrest and detention of Mr Linden “Jumbee” Jones on Christmas Eve and released on Monday 27 December 2010, “...following queries and intervention by the Assistant Commissioner (Law Enforcement)....”

The Escalating Murder Rate:
According to the Head of the Criminal Investigation Department, of the Guyana Police Force, Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Seelall Persaud, as at 31st October (the 304th day of the year 2010), the Force has recorded 116 murders. This number represented a rate of one death every two-and-a-half days. With 61 days remaining between 1st November and 31st December 2010, it is likely that, given the record of the PPP/C Administration, there will be about 24 more murders by the end of 2010. This would give Guyana a total of 140 murders per annum, about the same rates as in 2002 and 2005, at the height of the Phantom Squad killings and the Extra Judicial executions by the Guyana Police Force.

Independent International Investigation of Phantom Squad Murders:
The PNCR continued its call for the establishment of an International Tribunal to investigate the links between the Jagdeo Administration and the criminal enterprise led by self confessed drug lord Roger Khan who has been linked to the murders of hundreds of Guyanese youth who were victims of extra-judicial killing by the Phantom Squads. The Party also reminded the various PPP/C operatives, including Dr Leslie Ramsammy, who had been directly fingered in the Roger Khan spree of criminality and murder that the passage of time will not help them.

Armed Robberies:
According to the Head of the Criminal Investigations Department of the Guyana Police Force, Mr. Seelall Persaud, there were 623 ‘robberies under arms’ up to 31st October 2010. Of these, 449 involved guns and 174 other weapons. This gives Guyana the appalling rate of two armed robberies every day or one every 12 hours.

Many of the firearms used in these crimes were manufactured in Brazil, with which Guyana has a long, largely unmonitored border, and were brought into the country illegally.
It should be evident, to both the Administration and the leadership of the Guyana Police Force, that armed robberies on the coastland cannot be controlled without improving border security in the hinterland. Therefore, it is a matter of importance and vital necessity that there should be stricter border surveillance to staunch the influx of illegal weapons.

Domestic Violence:
There has been the alarming rate of brutal murders by spouses.

Organised Crime and Narco-Trafficking:
The incapacity of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), to deal with the increasingly bold activities of the Narco-Barons in Guyana, was fully exposed by the daring, well organised and brutally executed murder, at Cummings Lodge, on Saturday night, 4 September 2010, of Steve Jupiter called “Steve man”, Christopher Gordon 38, called “Bigga” and Sherwin Jerome 39, called “Dice head”, Jupiter’s three-year-old son Neil Jupiter and Fiona Singh.
In addition, there was the Friday 1st October 2010 gunning down of Mark Ceasar; and the Monday 4th October 2010 execution style killing of Patrick Goodluck and Godfrey Grootfaam.

The 2005-2009 National Drug Strategy Master Plan:
The People’s National Congress Reform rejects completely the attempt by Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, to mislead the public about the Administration’s counter-narcotics policy.

Delivering the feature address at a two-day National Conference on Narcotics Trafficking on Wednesday 1 December 2010, Rohee confessed that Guyana was “a bridge that facilitates easy access of cocaine from the Andean countries of South America to the Caribbean.” He acknowledged also that it had become “common knowledge that the strongest explanation for crime in the wider region in recent years is narco-trafficking” and that “the proliferation of drugs affects public health, threatens political stability by exacerbating corruption and affects a country’s national security by financing crimes.”

Rohee, nevertheless, attempted to avoid responsibility for the utter failure, of the PPP /C Administration, for five years, to implement the 2005-2009 National Drug Strategy Master Plan. Instead, he blamed their failures on the absence of foreign multilateral, financial, technical and intelligence cooperation.

Rohee, last September, met with the same representatives of the United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada to beg for support for the Administration’s counter-narcotics efforts. These countries, in the past, did provide assistance for: training; building capacity to detect and trace firearms and drugs in containers; conducting money-laundering investigations; and introducing Demand Reduction Strategies.

However, the foreign donors have come to realize that the PPP/C Administration had no interest in arresting and prosecuting the crooks who control the big drug cartels. This was clearly demonstrated by the fact that the arrest of the notorious drug-trafficker, Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan, was achieved only by law enforcement agencies outside of this jurisdiction.

The US Government is fully aware that the Guyana Government has been stalling the establishment of a Drug Enforcement Agency Office in Guyana for over a decade. It is also aware that the Administration deliberately keeps the Police and Customs Anti-Narcotics Units stunted in size, starved for funds and short of personnel.

Cocaine, meanwhile, continues to pour into the country, through the scores of unmonitored hinterland airstrips and through the rivers, by the same boats which facilitate ‘backtracking’ and the smuggling of fuel.

If Rohee and the PPP/C Administration are serious about stopping narco-trafficking, they should stop the pretence of promulgating bogus national drug strategies which they have no intention of implementing. Instead, they should provide the law enforcement agencies with the human, financial and material resources they need to challenge the cartels.

Does the Jagdeo PPP/C Administration have the political will and commitment to do so?

It is evident to all, except the Minister of Agriculture and the Administration, that the proposed G$ 4.0 Bn Hope/Doch Four Canal, by itself, will not solve the problem of providing relief from the overtopping of the East Demerara Water Conservancy , during periods of unusually high inundation.

All experienced professional advice suggest that the Northern relief should be located at Flagstaff and that that should be accompanied by the dredging of the Mahica river, along with ensuring the existing sluices are restored to their design capacity and removing the heavy siltation that has significantly reduced the carrying capacity of the Conservancy.

In addition, because of the soil and topographic conditions at Hope/ Doch Four, the location of a high-level canal there, which is likely to be about 8-10 feet above the surrounding area, will introduce the danger of catastrophic flooding of the surrounding East Coast villages, in the event of a breach.

The Government is yet to provide a convincing argument that Hope/ Doch Four is necessary.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 7th January 2011

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