PNCR IDENTIFICATION OF A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE PROCESS CONTINUES TO GAIN PUBLIC SUPPORT--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 21 January 2011




SUMMARY:
 Despite the boast of it being the largest, the PPP 2011 Election Budget ignores the plight of ordinary Guyanese
workers who remain saddled with the unreasonable 16% VAT and with no commensurate increase in wages and salaries;
 The PNCR reiterates that it will not attend any State sponsored programme for the UN Year for People of African Descent unless the expressed concerns of legitimate African Organisations are addressed;
 The PNCR supports the Demands by the GTUC for compulsory Arbitration in the dispute between the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers (GB&GWU) and the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI), which commenced since May 2009, and calls upon the Minister of Labour to discharge his legal and constitutional duties.
 THE PNCR Presidential Candidate nomination process continues with Town Hall Style meetings across the country here the nominees have been able to address various concerns of Guyanese and answer their questions;

THE 2011 ELECTION BUDGET: NOTHING TO SHOUT ABOUT

As predicted, the $161.4 billion, 2011 Election Budget, presented to the National Assembly on Monday last, (January 17, 2011) fell mighty short of offering a better quality of life for the workers and poorer classes of Guyana. Despite the usual boast of it being the “largest Budget ever”, Guyanese workers are still saddled with the unconscionable, 16% Value Added Tax, (VAT), which makes a mockery of all the alleged increases in old age pensions, and social assistance, and, the raising of the Income Tax threshold from $35,000.00 to $40,000.00. Given the recognition of the need to raise pensions by 14%, one would have expected that, at the minimum, wages and salaries would have been increased by the same 14%. The raising of the income tax threshold, therefore, will have no impact on most workers who are in fact receiving less than $40,000.00 per month, which is grossly inadequate to cope with the high cost of living in Guyana. It is obvious that the Minister of Finance, abusing his parliamentary privilege, feels that the length of his Budget speech is a substitute for substance and coherent measures that can promote the development of Guyana.

The absence of consultation with stakeholders which characterised previous Budgets remains a continuing deficiency and the huge figures announced for capital expenditure give no assurance in the area of transparency, accountability, and value for money. More important, the Budget has become a most unreliable source of determining the activities of the administration, which has been notorious with the regular passage of huge supplementary provisions later in the year. In December 2010, alone, the Government approved some $6B under the amorphous head of Housing Development. Parliamentary scrutiny, however, exposed the reality: the money was really intended to undertake a number of projects which could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be classified as Housing projects. The reality was that the PPP had commenced accumulating their election slush fund to be utilised in 2011 for the expressed purpose of buying votes. The 2011 Budget was merely an extension of this objective. The PPP, however, fails to realise that the people of Guyana are far more intelligent than they give them credit for.

The huge expenditures announced gives no assurance that the result will be a better quality of service in the various sectors. For example, will the $14B announced for the Health sector impact the extraordinary high level of maternal deaths at Government Hospitals? Or, will the $1.4 B allocated to the water sector ensure the delivery of potable water to the many villages on the Atlantic Coast that have suffered from the most unreliable distribution system? Will the residents of the East Coast still have to endure the experience of obtaining water in containers, drawn from pipeline in trenches and holes in the ground, because of the absence of water pressure? Or, will the huge allocations in the security sector guarantee greater security for our citizens. The daily newspaper reports of escalating crime confirm that the 2011 Budget will do very little in responding to the major security crisis in our country. In the Budget Debate that commences on Monday, January 24, the PNCR Members of Parliament, led by newly appointed Shadow Minister of Finance, Volda Lawrence will expose why the much touted largest 2011 Election Budget is nothing to shout about.

YEAR OF PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT

The hypocritical call by President Jagdeo for a united programme for the UN’s Year for People of African Descent was clearly political gimmickry, when by proceeding with the state controlled Launching ceremony on Wednesday last, he was rejecting the call by the authentic African organisations in Guyana for its postponement until a mutually agreed upon, “National Programme for the UN's Year for People of African Descent” was accomplished.

Instead of addressing the legitimate concerns raised by African Guyanese Organisations, in a letter to them dated 10th January 2011, the Government, using the old Slave Master Strategy of divide and rule against African ancestors, whereby they created house slaves versus field slaves, began approaching individuals within the African Guyanese Community to participate in the so-called launch in the hope of advancing the propaganda that African Guyanese groups have been involved. Having had their invitations declined, they then sent a belated invitation, two days before the event, to the Leader of the Opposition, inviting him to deliver, “the remarks”. In response, Mr. Corbin urged the Government to act responsibly so that the real objectives of the United Nations designated Year are accomplished. Naturally, that was too much to expect of the Regime that has over the years shown no regard for consultation, so evident in their approach to the LCDS and the recent Budget. Determined to manipulate the Year’s programme for political gain, all the PPP wanted was a PR event to propagandise to the world that Guyanese of African Descent were involved so that they can proceed, as they propose to do, to use the moneys allocated in the 2011 Budget for electioneering purposes disguised as expenditure for the Year of People of African Descent. It is for this reason that they excluded the genuine African Guyanese Organisations from planning the programme.

To ensure that they succeeded in the farcical Launch ceremony, they changed the original location from the National Cultural Center to the smaller venue of the National Convention Center. Next, they misused the NCN Radio and Television to deliver false Reports that the Leader of the Opposition was participating in the programme. Such blatant misuse of the National Media explains why after eight years the PPP has adamantly refused to pass the legislation for the establishment of a National Broadcasting Authority.

Jagdeo ought to be advised, however, that there is no confusion in the African community about this year’s events or its significance. While there was no adequate Press coverage of the event, the Civil Society Committee for the UN Year For People of African Descent have already held a launch Ceremony with an appropriate Programme on 31st December 2010 at the Girl Guides Pavilion at which several Guyanese, including the Prime Minister were invited. Since October 2010 that Organisation had recognised that the direction of the Government was inimical to their interests and had organised an alternative. As a Kaieteur News editorial correctly analysed, “Something had to be horribly wrong for the government to single-handedly plan a year of activities for Afro centric people in Guyana. Even if the United Nations expected governments to take the lead, there would have been the need for national consultations.”

The PNCR has already stated that any national programme must include tangible actions to address the many concerns of the African dominated communities, which have been the subject of discussion for many years. The issue of marginalized communities, ancestral lands, infrastructure in various communities and employment are only a few that must assume paramountcy. The proposals by the late Leader of the PNCR, Mr. Desmond Hoyte for a model programme of development must be brought back on the table for discussion and implementation. Additionally, the Motion which the PNCR took to the Parliament on ancestral lands must be recommitted for discussion if Guyanese are to take seriously the programme for 2011. If Jagdeo wants Guyanese to take him seriously, he must also during this Year, agree to an International Inquiry into the Death Squad, which was responsible for the deaths of over four hundred Guyanese, including Ronald Waddell, most of whom were young Guyanese of African descent.

The PNCR, however, reiterates, that it will not attend any State sponsored programme for the UN Year for People of African Descent unless the expressed concerns of legitimate African Organisations are addressed. If indeed the PPP/C Administration refuses to engage in proper consultation for a Nationally agreed Programme, the Organisations will have no alternative but to arrange an independent programme of their own, which the PNCR will support.

MINISTER OF LABOUR MUST ENSURE ARBITRATION IN THE DISPUTE BETWEEN THE GB&GWU AND (BCGI) RUSAL GUYANA

The Minister of Labour, Mr. Mansoor Nadir, appears more absorbed in discussing financial matters, rather that carrying out the responsibilities under his portfolio and ensuring that workers of Guyana obtain justice. The failure to ensure that the just cause of the dismissed and victimised bauxite workers at Kwakwani are addressed is a sad indictment on the Jagdeo Administration that boasts of being a working class Government. This dispute has continued for more than a Year with the Minister refusing to apply the Labour laws of the Land. In a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition, when he intervened on behalf of the Bauxite Union, the Minister admitted that he had not done all that he could to have the matter resolved. One naturally expected that in keeping with his undertaking at that meeting, in the presence of his Officials, that he would have expeditiously resolved the matter. Regrettably he has again failed to deliver, but finds time to deal with matters outside his portfolio.

The PNCR notes that the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) has now written to the Minister of Labour urging him to impose compulsory arbitration, which the Law permits him to do. In their letter dated, January 15, 2011, the GTUC stated that the failure of the Ministry in using its powers under the law to bring the Company to the bargaining table is of continuous and serious concern to the Congress. According to the GTUC,
“having observed the series of protracted industrial dispute between the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers (GB&GWU) and the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI), which commenced since May 2009, and given the apparent reluctance of the Ministry of Labour to seek a resolution, is calling for compulsory arbitration to resolve the matter. The GB&GWU is the sole representative for workers employ at BCGI -a fact the Ministry consistently acknowledges- and has been pursuing the issue of negotiating increase wages/salaries and improved working conditions for its members, and to date has found it difficult to arrive at a resolution in as much as same has been engaging the Ministry’s attention since November 2009. “

The PNCR supports the Demands by the GTUC for compulsory Arbitration in the dispute between the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers (GB&GWU) and the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI), which commenced since May 2009, and calls upon the Minister of Labour to discharge his legal and constitutional duties.

PNCR IDENTIFICATION OF A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE PROCESS CONTINUES TO GAIN PUBLIC SUPPORT

THE PNCR Presidential Candidate nomination process continues with Town Hall Style meetings across the country where the nominees have been able to address various concerns of Guyanese and answer their questions. Last weekend meetings were successfully held at Corriverton and Manchester on the Corentyne and at Hopetown West Coast Berbice. The meetings have all been well attended with citizens expressing great admiration for the transparent process adopted by the PNCR as well as eliciting from the various candidates their perspectives of issues which concern the development of Guyana. The meetings will continue. Today, Friday January 21, one such meeting will be held at the St. George’s Secondary School, i.e. behind the St, Georges Cathedral, Church Street, Georgetown at 5:00 PM. Members of the Public are invited. Other meetings over the week end include, Saturday January 22, Supply Primary School – East Bank Demerara and Sunday 23 Buxton Community High School – East Coast Demerara.


Friday 21 January - 5.00 p.m.
St. George’s Secondary School
4

Saturday 22nd January - 5.00 p.m.
Supply Primary School - EBD
4

Sunday 23rd January - 5.00 p.m.
Buxton Community High School
4

Wednesday 26th January - 5.00 p.m.
Calcutta Primary School
5

Thursday 27th January - 5.00 p.m.
Vreed-en-Hoop Community High School
3

Saturday 29th January - 5.00 p.m.
Mabaruma Community Centre
1

Wednesday 2nd February - 5.00 p.m.
Bartica – St. John’s Primary School
7

Friday 4th February - 5.00 p.m.
Constabulary Hall, McKenzie, Linden
10

Saturday 5th February - 5.00 p.m.
Arapaima Primary School
9

Wednesday 9th February - 5.00 p.m.
New Amsterdam Multilateral School
6

Saturday 12th February – 4.30 p.m.
North Ruimveldt Multilateral School
4

Sunday 13th February - 5.00 p.m.
Silver City Secondary School
10

Monday 14th February - 5.00 p.m.
Mahdia Primary School
8

The PNCR Central Executive Committee has also approved the broad guidelines for the Party Special Congress scheduled for February 26, 2011 at which the delegates would elect the Presidential Candidate.
People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 21 January 2011

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