PRESS STATEMENT - Friday 18th February 2011




SUMMARY:

· The PNCR pays tribute to the former First Lady, the late Mrs. Joyce Noreen Hoyte and extends its condolences to her family and friends; the Party also extends condolences to Mr. Winston Bentham, the First Chairman of its Youth Arm, and family on the passing of his wife, Dorothy last Sunday and condolences to Mrs. Cynthia Fraser and family on the passing of her husband, Mr. Henry Alphonso Fraser who died last Monday;

· The One Lap Top Per Family Project (OLPF) continues to expose the incompetence of the PPP/C Administration as well as their proclivity for deception and corruption;

· The PNCR condemns the PPP subtle and disguised attack on the Freedom of Religion as guaranteed by the Constitution by its proposal to establish a State Controlled Religious Television Channel while at the same time breaching all agreements with respect to the issue of new Television Licenses and the establishment of a National Broadcasting Authority;

· As Barticians commemorate the third anniversary of the massacre, the continuing high incidence of crime particularly, narco-related, domestic violence and gun crimes, lead to no other conclusion than, one of the miserable failures of the PPP/C Administration after almost nineteen years in Government has been in the area of national security;

· The PNCR extends Mashramani Greetings to all Guyanese as we prepare to commemorate the 41st Anniversary of the Co-operative Republic.



CONDOLENCES



The Leader, Central Executive Committee members and members of the People’s National Congress Reform convey our condolences to the family, relatives and friends of the late Mrs. Joyce Noreen Hoyte, former First Lady; Mrs. Dorothy Bentham, wife of PNCR stalwart and First Chairman of its Youth Arm, Mr. Winston Bentham; and Mr. Henry Alphonso Fraser, retired Commissioner of Police.



Joyce Noreen Hoyte nee De Freitas: 1934-11-30 - 2011-02-14

Joyce Noreen De Freitas was born on the 30th November, 1934 and grew up in Georgetown, the capital of then British Guiana. She was fortunate to have had a good childhood while growing up in Russell Street, Charlestown and later she blossomed into an attractive and sociable young woman. Even in her youth she was to display qualities of alertness and mental quickness which were to characterize most of her life. Joyce De Freitas joined the then British Guiana Telephone and Telegraph Company where she not only did her work proficiently but also created a wide circle of friends of all ethnic backgrounds.



In 1965, Joyce De Freitas married Hugh Desmond Hoyte, who was at the time a rising Attorney. Desmond Hoyte was to join the People’s National Congress in 1968 and this decision was to change his life and that of Joyce Hoyte forever. Joyce Hoyte was to learn that being the wife of a politician was a particularly exacting job and required a shrewd understanding of the development of her husband’s career and the incessant demand on his time. She also understood that this would also have an impact on the lives of their two children, Maxine and Amanda. It is a tribute to Mrs. Hoyte’s capacity to learn quickly; that she recognized that a politician’s life in Guyana is a particularly difficult one; that she made the required adjustment and became a loyal and devoted wife. It can be said without fear of contradiction that she provided the domestic environment in which Desmond Hoyte could find himself and pursue his political career without hindrance.



Mrs. Hoyte would relate later in life that her husband’s appointment as Prime Minister in 1984 made her apprehensive. In hindsight it seems that her fears were justified. For approximately a year after her husband’s appointment the vehicle in which she was traveling to a May Day Rally in Linden, was involved in an accident, as a result of which she lost her only two children, Maxine and Amanda. She herself was badly hurt and only regained consciousness in a hospital in Cuba. This tragedy did not stop her. Mrs. Hoyte reached deep down within herself and despite her injuries played the role of First Lady with poise and graciousness after her husband became President in August 1985. As First Lady she supported the work of her husband as President and was at his side as he visited communities in various parts of the country and on diplomatic visits abroad. She also engaged in charitable work and cared for the young as well as the elderly and the less fortunate amongst us.



The tragedy of the death of her children, her own injuries, and the death of her sisters here in Guyana and New York and finally the death of her husband would have reduced any other individual to inactivity and despair. But displaying a will of steel and a sense of purpose Mrs. Hoyte carried on, protecting the legacy of her husband and making her quiet contribution to the development of the Party he led and the country he loved.



And so departs a former First Lady of grace, resilience and pride. Her friends and associates will miss her, her family will miss her and the nation as a whole will miss her.



Mrs. Dorothy Bentham

Winston and Dorothy Bentham were married for 52 years and the union produced nine children, six girls and three boys; one of the boys predeceased her. She was a loving and generous mother and her husband and children adored her; so much so that her passing has left a void which remains a challenge for the family to overcome. Her funeral service will take place on Monday 21st February 2011, at the Holy Redeemer Anglican Church, West Ruimveldt at 15:00 hrs after a viewing of the body at her home in Roxanne Burnham Gardens from 13:00 hrs.



Mr. Henry Alphonso Fraser

Retired Commissioner of Police, Mr. Henry Fraser died at the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital on Monday 14th February 2011 at the age of 88 years. He leaves to mourn his wife, Cynthia, six children and ten grandchildren. A strict disciplinarian, Mr. Fraser was well liked in the Guyana Police Force during his 36 years of service, during which he earned the name, “Uncle Henry” for his father-like disposition. He will be long remembered for the many innovations which he superintended during his years as Commissioner of Police, such as, the Police Consumer Co-operative and the introduction of Community Policing.



May their souls rest in Peace!



THE CONTINUING SAGA OF THE LAPTOP FIASCO



President Jagdeo’s arrogance has apparently affected his reasoning as he struggles to defend his incompetent micro management of the One Lap Top per Family Project, (OLFP), in the face of continued media exposure over the lack of vision and planning, as well as, the possibility of discrimination and corruption during its implementation. First, he branded Kaieteur News as the New PNCR Opposition, because that newspaper exposed the blatant lies which emanated from the Office of the President over the purchase of Lap Top computers.



Second, he sought to divert attention from the substance of the PNCR’s last Press Statement by launching a personal attack on the PNCR Presidential nominee, Mr. Carl Greenidge, who read the PNCR’s statement. He then sought to mislead the public about the reasons why a Public Procurement Commission has not yet been established.



Finally, he attempts to divert public attention from his Administration’s incompetence by suggesting that the criticisms so far of this project have been directed against the proposed beneficiaries, rather than the Government. Unfortunately, every utterance from the Office of the President on this issue confirms the criticisms made so far. The President ought to be aware, however, that the people of Guyana are much more perceptive than he gives them credit for and will not be deceived.



No critic, to date, has denied the possible benefits of accelerating computer literacy to the country and its citizens. The criticisms have been about the location of the project execution unit; the absence of an available project document that allows its implementation to be properly monitored; the lack of transparency in documentation, proposed procurement procedures and the activities of the implementation unit; the conflicting and mis-information fed to the public by the Government on this project; the apparent absence of proper planning; and, the possibilities for discrimination, mismanagement and corruption during its implementation.



Both in its last Press Statement, (Thursday February 10, 2011) and in the Budget Debate in the National Assembly, the PNCR questioned the failure of the Government to circulate a detailed project document providing information on the method of procurement, as well as, the rules, guidelines and method of distribution of the laptops over the project period. The Party also urged the need for transparency in the spending of tax-payers money on this project and questioned the location of the implementation unit at the Office of the President.



As events subsequently revealed, there appears to be a lack of transparency even within the Government, as evidenced by the conflicting information being fed to the public.



For example, the Minister in the Finance Ministry misled the Parliament when she attempted to provide information on the cost of the Laptops procured to date, and, when she indicated that the proper tender procedures were utilised in their procurement. Later, the President advised the nation that all the laptops so far distributed were gifts from a private Chinese Company. After denying that laptops were purchased for the project, the Office of the President, in the face of publication of invoices by Kaieteur news, later admitted that the lap tops purchased were indeed for the project, but to be used by the project execution Unit. Regrettably, a public Officer employed at the Office of the President has been dismissed over this exposure and it is still a mystery whether the rules of natural justice have been applied.



Speakers of the Government in the National Assembly also perjured their souls when, in response to the criticism of the absence of a detailed project document, they assured the House that such a document existed. In response to another exposure in the media about the inadequacies in a Draft Project document, an official of the Office of the President has now confessed that there is no final project document albeit, more than four drafts exist.



In this context, Guyanese must view with skepticism any “so-called” information from the Government on this project. Public suspicion is justified.



Good governance demands that such an elaborate and expensive project would not only be properly conceptualised, but carefully documented, and evaluated before implementation. The fact that money has already been approved by the Parliament and the project has been launched including, inviting tenders for the supply of laptops, suggest, either an unfathomable incompetence or a deliberate attempt to create certain flexibilities for misuse of the project for political purposes, and /or, corrupt practices during this election year.



Why was there need for secrecy if, indeed, the laptops distributed so far were gifts to the people of Guyana from a private company in China? Are there any strings or conditionalities associated with this gift, hence the need for secrecy? Or, is it that the President, for political propaganda reasons, wanted to deceive the young people of Guyana by pretending that he had used his initiative and the Government resources to jump start the project in their interest?



Was there any technical appraisal of the project to provide the Government with an objective professional study of the best lap tops suitable for such a massive project and the average market prices that would apply in order to facilitate a proper preparation of tender documents?



One newspaper recently published that the Government’s One Laptop per Family Project (OLFP) envisages mandatory community service as a condition for receiving the laptops. Another news paper has reported that the MOU to be signed on receipt of a free laptop include a condition that a fee of US$400.00 would be charged if the laptop is damaged. Surely, the publication of an official document will avoid speculation, unless it is a deliberate effort by the Administration to hide certain aspects of the plan in the election period?

When will President Jagdeo make available to the National Assembly and more importantly, to the people of Guyana the Official Project document?



It is evident that until this is done the Nation would be justified in assuming that this project is deliberately tailored to satisfy a partisan political agenda in an election year and facilitate continued corruption that has become endemic in this administration.



It is also amazing, though typical of recent Presidential behaviour that Mr. Jagdeo would use the occasion of the criticism of the procurement debacle in the laptop issue to mislead the nation of his Government’s failure to establish the Public Procurement Commission as required by the Constitution. At the PNCR’s last Press Conference, the Leader of the Opposition opined that the presence of a Public Procurement Commission would have curtailed some of the excesses of the PPP/C Administration, so evident in the Laptop Project. In response, President Jagdeo stated at a media conference that the PPP had submitted names for the PPP/C but that they were rejected by the PNCR. The truth is that the PPP has failed for more than a year to submit nominees for the Public Procurement Commission to Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly that is responsible for its appointment. Consequently, despite the PNCR submission of the names of five nominees, the Public Accounts Committee cannot proceed to evaluation and selection.



It boggles the mind that the President of Guyana would engage in such misinformation when the facts can be so easily verified by the records of the National Assembly. This, however, illustrates the desperation of the PPP/C Administration, which, having run out of excuses for their failure to have this constitutional body appointed despite written commitments in the Communiqué signed between the President and the Leader of the Opposition since 3rd May 2003 and subsequent public undertakings given by the President to the people of Guyana. It is, however, too late for the PPP and President Jagdeo to redeem themselves. The time is near for the people of Guyana to decide on replacing them with a responsive and accountable Government.



FREEDOM OR RELIGION AND THE STATE CONTROLLED INTERRELIGIOUS TV CHANNEL



Article 145 of the Constitution of Guyana provides a fundamental right of every Guyanese not to be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of conscience. This freedom includes freedom of thought and of religion and to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance. The said article states that no religious community shall be prevented from providing religious instruction for persons of that community. In this context, the actions of the PPP/C Administration in terminating the TBN Television Broadcasts in Guyana through a dedicated signal, and, the announced intention to establish a Government controlled Inter religious Broadcast Channel, borders dangerously close to breaching the fundamental rights of citizens.



The PPP has, however, never paid much attention to the Guyana Constitution in pursuit of their desire to exercise political control over all aspects of life in Guyana. This has been evident in their maintenance of an unconstitutional Ethnic Relations Commission and an Integrity Commission; their failure to appoint a Public Procurement Commission; refusal to pass legislation to facilitate the establishment of a National Broadcast Authority as agreed several years ago; and, their refusal to honour a ruling of the High Court that their failure to grant a Television Licence for private transmission at Linden is a breach of the people of that Community fundamental right as guaranteed by the Constitution. It is time however for the religious community to effectively represent their interest, or the Government will continue with increasing boldness to trample upon their rights.



Two years ago, in an act of pure political vindictiveness, the Office of the President revoked and / or threatened to revoke the TV Licence, which permitted the continuous broadcast of Christian Religious Broadcast over the TBN, International Cable Network. The Broadcast was managed by Tony Vieira’s VCT Channel 28 in Guyana but, in an effort to cripple the economic base of Tony Vieira, (as they did when they threatened the Lottery company to remove the Lottery transmission from that TV Station and move it to Channel 11), they revoked the licence which immediately brought to an end the Christian broadcasts. Significantly, in what must be regarded as an insult to the Christian Community, the same signal was granted to another operator to have a twenty-four transmission of secular music videos and similar programmes.



President Jagdeo had committed his Government to passing Broadcast Legislation, in keeping with the recommendations of a report presented by a bi-partisan task force, within six months of the 6th May 2003. It was also agreed that no new TV License would be issued until the Broadcast Authority was established within that six month time frame. The clear objective was to prevent the PPP/C Administration from misusing its Authority before the new Authority was established thus making their task redundant. The Jagdeo Administration, as they have done in many such matters, refused to implement this agreement while using it as an excuse to deny all private Television Operators the opportunity to expand and/or increase their signals to other parts of Guyana. At the same time the Government has not only expanded the power of the signals of NCN Television and radio, but also built new transmission facilities at several areas in Guyana. Applications by CN Sharma Channel 6 and other licensed operators to similarly expand their signals have been denied in breach of their constitutional right to equal treatment under the law.



Instead of addressing these fundamental matters of concern, the PPP appears content in manipulating the affairs of state to maintain their radio monopoly while overpowering the area of Television signals for the continued dissemination of propaganda. To appease the religious community, they now propose to establish a state controlled Television station under the guise of giving them an opportunity to broadcast their religious programmes. It is obvious that the PPP is again seeking to abrogate the agreement for a National Broadcast Authority that would have the power to consider applications and issue TV Licences to deserving applicants. Under such conditions any religious body would be free to apply for and obtain a Licence to propagate their religion as guaranteed by the constitution. By refusing to establish such a body the Government is deliberately refusing to make this opportunity available to the religious Community, while creating the illusion of rushing to their Aid. Two recent letters in the National Media clearly reveal that the religious Community is not amused by the machinations of the Government.



The PNCR condemns the Government for attempting to control the manner in which religious bodies exercise their constitutional rights and call for the early establishment of an Independent National Broadcast Body that would enable them to have TV Stations of their own.



PPP/C GOVERNMENT MISERABLE FAILURE IN NATIONAL SECURITY



Yesterday, Thursday 17th February 2011, the people of Bartica marked the third anniversary of the massacre when 12 members of their community, including three policemen, were brutally gunned down by some twenty gunmen who carried out a daring robbery. Significantly, this horrific tragedy occurred just days after a similar incident at Lusignan, where 11 persons were also slaughtered by bandits. At that time, the nation was also still pondering the unanswered questions of the slaughter of seven others at the Arokium Mining camp in Upper Berbice. Regrettably, after three long years, the PPP/C Administration has continued to demonstrate a strange reluctance to hold an inquiry to the satisfaction of Guyanese. Consequently, family members of the victims cannot bring closure to these challenging periods of their lives. The continuing high incidence of crime, particularly, narco-related, domestic violence and gun crimes lead to no other conclusion that, one of the PPP’s miserable failures after eighteen years in Government has been in the area of national security.



The Government approach to the national security situation has been characterised by political events, statements, empty gestures and, on occasions, the passage of Legislation without the political will to ensure enforcement. The reality is that the only substantive difference is the imaginative propaganda about the crime and security situation, concluding with the Boast of the Minister of Home Affairs in the last Budget Debate that there was no breakdown of Law and Order in Guyana.



Faced with several damaging US International Narcotics Control Strategy Reports, which confirmed the serious state of the narcotic trade in Guyana, as well as its growing significance in the export of drugs, the Government engaged in a high profile launch of its National Drug Strategy Master Plan (NDSMP) for 2005-2009 in June 2005. At that impressive ceremony at the Pegasus Hotel, the President and Minister of Home Affairs advised the Diplomatic Community and other participants of their serious commitment to the eradication of the drug trade from Guyana. It remained just that: a commitment which never materialised. Two years later, the US Report was again obliged to comment that, despite its impressive launch, the GOG was yet to implement any of the NDSMP’s substantive initiatives. The said 2007 report stated that:



“Guyana is a party to the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (the 1988 UN Drug Convention) but still needs to pass and implement additional legislation to meet its obligations under the convention.”



The exposure of the PPP/C Administration’s involvement with the drug barons during the trials of Roger Khan and Robert Simels in a New York Court, partially explained why the Government was impotent in seriously addressing the drug problem in Guyana.



Later the Government denounced the 2010 US State Department Report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP), rejecting the findings that some 984 children were removed from exploitive child labour from 2005 to 2009. Guyana was then placed on the US Tier 2 Watch List for the fourth consecutive year. Instead of seriously implementing programmes to address these issues, the Human Services Minister, Priya Manickchand, angrily labeled the report as “crap” and told the US Government that their report was based on “sheer ignorance and eye pass”.



The greatest indictment of the present administration is their refusal to hold 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.



Today, in Guyana, one only has to read the daily newspapers to make an assessment of the deterioration of the security environment. One recent study confirmed that, equal to concern over the escalating cost of living was, of Guyanese over their personal security. It is obvious that the PPP has failed in one of their important constitutional obligations to ensure the security of our citizens.



41st ANNIVERSARY OF THE CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA



The People’s National Congress Reform extends greetings to all Guyanese as we celebrate yet another Republic Anniversary in the life of our nation.



Wednesday 23rd February 2011, will mark the accomplishment of forty one years of Republican status consolidating our political independence and forging a future from the foundations that our leaders have crafted.



The anniversary of the Republic is an occasion for measuring the progress made since Guyana took on Republican status. By any such measurement, it must be clear, that as a nation, there is much more to be achieved, particularly, in the areas of governance.



The PNCR will later issue its Republic Day message that would include a full assessment of how far we have travelled since 1970.



CHANGE OF VENUE FOR PARTY LEADER’S BIRTHDAY EVENT



The annual Fund Raising activity of the Party, in celebration of the birth anniversary of the Party Leader, Mr. Robert H.O. Corbin, M.P., has been relocated from the Ocean View International Hotel Poolside to the Congress Place Auditorium, Sophia. Patrons are asked to take note of the change of venue; starting time remains the same.





People’s National Congress Reform

Congress Place, Sophia

Georgetown, Guyana

Friday18th February 2011