PRESS STATEMENT - Thursday 17 March 2011



The PNCR extends greetings to all Guyanese, but more particularly, the Hindu Community, on the occasion of the festival of Phagwah and expresses the hope that the significance of the festival will inspire all Guyanese to work together to ensure that good overcomes evil;
The PNCR extend condolences to the all the families of Japan who have suffered losses in the recent Earthquake and Tsunami equally as solidarity is extended to the people and Government of that country as they struggle to overcome the consequences of this disaster, including a possible nuclear meltdown;
The recent natural disasters in New Zealand and Japan should put the Guyana Government on Notice that the Guyana Civil Defence Commission and the Country’s disaster preparedness should be matters of national priority as Guyana continues to experience the adverse effects of torrential rains.
President Bharrat Jagdeo and Mr. Donald Ramotar’s wicked plan to politically victimise persons by the seizure of lands under the new Land Title Act and or the Acquisition of Lands for Public Purposes Act must be resisted by citizens.
President Bharrat Jagdeo and the PPP should hang their heads in shame as the country continues to be embarrassed by the continued lack of transparency and possible corruption in the OLPF Project;
The PNCR again urges all Guyanese to uplift their National ID Cards even as it urges those eligible unregistered persons to be prepared to use the final opportunity under the Claims and Objections Process to get their names on the Voters List;
Bishop Juan Edghill should set the example of monitoring the Broadcasts of the NCN Radio and Television if he wants to have any moral authority to speak about Media Monitoring during Elections over which he has no Constitutional or Legal Authority.



PHAGWAH GREETINGS TO ALL GUYANESE



The People’s National Congress Reform extends sincere Holi greetings to the Hindu Community of Guyana in particular, and Guyanese in general, on the occasion of the celebration of the Festival of Phagwah in Guyana.



The significance of Phagwah is two-fold. Its secular significance lies in the advent of the season of spring, and its real and allegorical implications of fertility rebirth, renewal and regeneration. The religious significance of Holi lies in the conquest of good over evil, manifested by the destruction by Prahalada of his demonic father, King Hiranyakashipu.



As the celebrated Indian national, Kulapati Vani wrote many years ago, “… festivals are gatherings for refreshing the spirit and enjoying life.” We urge all Guyanese to use this occasion to refresh their spirit and enjoy life and to participate fully in this colorful festival and enjoy the rich elements of our religious and cultural diversity.



We are conscious, also that our spirits are becoming increasingly sullen and sour, in the brooding darkness that now engulfs our land. Violent crime, runaway cost of living, pervasive joblessness, creeping despotism, nay real despotism, societal disintegration and deepening poverty, stalk our land; partisanship, discrimination and executive lawlessness compound bad and vindictive governance; our Economy and Society are in tatters and our Nation can only see dark clouds on the horizon, clouds even made literally darker with the onslaught of the La Nina.



We urge all Guyanese people to see some spiritual inspiration in this Festival and to brace themselves against these many evils that are in our midst, and resolve, at this juncture, to take steps to end these calamities that now bedevil our country, and to restore equity, justice, peace and prosperity to our dear Motherland.



Again Happy Holi to all Guyanese!



CONDOLENCES TO THE PEOPLE OF JAPAN



The recent earthquake, tsunami and related consequences in Japan have brought unexpected hardship and suffering to the people of that country amidst continuing fear that the worst is yet to come. The explosions at their nuclear electricity plants and the compulsory evacuation of thousands out of fear that radioactivity from uranium may result in further suffering has also caused global concerns. It is a time, therefore, for serious reflection by all nations of the world about their preparedness for dealing with such disasters. The people of Japan have been prepared over the years for such eventualities, but it is doubtful if they ever contemplated the scale of recent events. In these circumstances, the people of Guyana need to empathize with these events, albeit, our citizens have been led to believe that our unique situation renders us free from the earthquake and hurricane belts.



While Guyana may be in no position to make any technical or financial contribution to assist in the present circumstances, we, nevertheless, owe a humanitarian duty to extend our solidarity with the Government and people of that country as they struggle to mitigate the effects of the current disaster. The People’s National Congress Reform, therefore, wishes to record its deep sense of loss and extend condolences to the all the families of Japan who have suffered losses in the recent earthquake and tsunami equally as solidarity is extended to the people and Government of that country as they struggle to overcome the consequences of this disaster, including a possible nuclear meltdown.



GUYANA DISASTER PREPAREDNESS



The recent natural disasters around the world, including, the earthquakes of New Zealand and Japan, should put the Guyana Government on notice that the Guyana Civil Defence Commission and the country’s disaster preparedness should be matters of national priority as Guyana continues to experience the adverse effects of torrential rains. The experiences of Guyanese during the massive floods of 2005 demonstrate that we have not yet developed the capacity to deal with such disasters. It was fortuitous that the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) Dam was not seriously breached at that time as it is still frightening to contemplate how, with inadequate facilities, evacuation of citizens from the below sea level coastline would have been accomplished. That danger still, however, exists as the persistent rainfall over the past two weeks has demonstrated.



After only two weeks of rain, several villages along the coast as well as those along the banks of our main rivers are inundated. Rice, ground provision and green vegetable farmers have suffered severe losses, while many villages have been under water, thus curtailing normal economic activity. The residents who are suffering these adverse effects are none the wiser of any principled approach to the assistance being offered by the PPP/C Administration, leading to the conclusion that what should be humanitarian efforts and national responsibility are political interventions.



It is, therefore, appropriate that the PNCR urges the PPP/C Administration to treat as a matter of national priority the effective and efficient organisation of the Civil Defence Commission. Nothing can be more unsatisfactory than the lack of public information about standard operational procedures, should any serious eventuality occur, such as, the flooding of major sections of the coast as a result of any major breach of our sea and river defences coupled with a major breach on the conservancy dam. What is the evacuation plan? Where is the equipment and facilities to facilitate the execution of any plan at all? Where are citizens to assemble in the various villages in such eventualities? Where are the temporary housing facilities after evacuation? Unless these questions can be answered positively and the answers are known to citizens, the likely result is the creation of national panic and pandemonium that can lead to escalation of the effects of a disaster.



In 2005, despite the fact that it took days for flood water levels to rise in the various villages, it took weeks before there were some limited availability of boats to distribute the politicised flood relief supplies. The situation might have been more tragic if, instead of taking flood relief to citizens, there was the necessity to move citizens away from the coast. Another significant phenomena was the absence of an organisational plan for the distribution of those supplies leading to the effort being managed by politicians, led by the President, who used the opportunity of peoples misfortunes for partisan politics, rather than engage in an objective and sincere humanitarian effort. The NCN radio and television appeared more concerned with the publication of PPP functionaries taking relief to citizens in need, rather than disseminating public service information that could have been of benefit to the victims of the flood.



These past experiences illustrate that there remains an urgent need, not only for a disaster preparedness plan, but for the details of that plan to be well known to citizens to avoid any panic during emergencies. It would appear, however, that despite the expressed international concern for global warning, climate change and the consequences, President Jagdeo is content in leaving this important domestic issue in disarray to create the conditions for political manipulation during emergencies thus enabling the politicisation of flood relief and compensation. The Champion of the Earth appears more concerned with an international reputation and the use of the LCDS to extract money for political advantage rather than championing the cause of suffering Guyanese. The PNCR, therefore, calls on the Jagdeo regime to address this issue as a matter of national priority, so that citizens can be assured that their welfare is of paramount concern to the Administration.



POLITICAL VINDICTIVENESS BY LAND SEIZURES AND ACQUISITION



The PNCR has already publicised its concern about the haste in which the PPP/C Administration sought to infringe on rights already acquired by citizens through the passing of the “Title to Land (Prescription and Limitation) (Amendment) Bill 2011” in the National Assembly last Thursday 10th March 2011. After refusing a request from the PNCR to delay the consideration of the Bill by one week to complete consultation with affected stakeholders, the Government proceeded to pass the Bill, which was only laid one week before in the Parliament.



The PNCR had warned that one of the motivations of this Bill was to deprive citizens who may have acquired rights, from obtaining Title of ownership of State lands, which, they would have already acquired for thirty or more years and, which, under the present Law, they would be now entitled to own. The PNCR also warned that the arbitrary removal of the rights of citizens to prescribe against the State may affect constitutional rights of citizens as guaranteed under Article 142 of the Guyana Constitution. Information now in the possession of the PNCR confirms that the PNCR was correct in its predictions.



In less than a week after the passage of this Bill, which has not yet become Law, the PNCR has been advised that the PPP/C, led by its proposed Presidential Candidate, propose to use this Act for political witch hunting to drive fear and intimidate potential opponents. Several occupiers of State land who have already satisfied the requirements of undisturbed possession for in excess of thirty years have been warned that their lands would be taken away. The subliminal message being conveyed is that should they not “behave in an appropriate manner” then no political discretion would be exercised. More disturbing, however, is the information that political patronage would be exercised to sell these, soon to be acquired, lands to friends and lackeys of the PPP/C Administration should they co-operate to support the anticipated PPP Presidential Candidate, Mr. Donald Ramotar. It appears that Mr. Ramotar is hoping to continue the same vindictive politics practiced by his President should he succeed.



Additionally, some land owners are being threatened that their land will be acquired through the Acquisition of Land for Public Purposes Act. In one such case, the PNCR understands that the PPP propose to take away land from a private citizen to build the new specialist hospital, with assistance from India, in an area where they recently sold land to a private developer and where other alternative sites are available. The PNCR will be monitoring these and other developments, but takes this opportunity to advise all citizens to be vigilant and ensure that they do not become victims of this recent machination of the PPP. President Jagdeo and Mr. Ramotar’s wicked plan to politically victimise persons by the seizure of lands under the new Land Title Act and/or the Acquisition of lands for Public purposes Act must be resisted by citizens. As the PNCR stated in its recent Press Statement, “The constitutionality of this Bill is certain to be challenged and is certainly destined for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)”.



THE OLPF SCANDAL CONTINUES



The PNCR had previously warned that the much touted and propagandised distribution of ninety thousand (90,000) free Laptops in Guyana under the OLPF Project was a developing scandal that illustrated the contempt which the Jagdeo Administration had for the people of Guyana. The PNCR acknowledged the benefits of accelerating education in the IT Sector and making all Guyanese computer literate. It was emphasized, however, that a major deficiency was the deliberate 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. This lack of transparency provided the opportunity for both mismanagement and corruption that has become endemic in the Jagdeo Administration.



As predicted the daily disclosures on this project publicised in the national media confirm not only incompetence and mismanagement, but the vindictive nature of the PPP. Already two persons associated with this project have resigned or were dismissed but these incidents leave more questions than answers.



For example, after nearly one year in their employ, the Office of the President appears pleased to announce that the person employed by them was a “blackmailer”, “scoundrel” and one who “misrepresented his qualifications”. The obvious implication of this revelation, if indeed true, is the flawed system of recruitment, an inadequate system for verification of credentials and the lack of principle in determining emoluments. It is expected that any functioning Administration would verify the qualifications of the proposed employee and his suitability for the task to be undertaken before that person is employed. Additionally, one expects that salaries and other benefits would be commensurate with standard guidelines. There would also be a system of appraisal of performance. In these circumstances, it is significant that the Office of the President would await the resignation of an employee to criticise the person for poor performance.



Another issue is the Office of the President’s claim of blackmail by an ex-employee. Why would a Government that is expected to conduct its business on behalf of the people be afraid of blackmail? Blackmail only becomes relevant if the blackmailer is confident that the victim has something to hide that may be illegal or embarrassing. The question, therefore, is what does the Office of the President have to hide on a project for which financial allocations have already been made by the Parliament of Guyana?



The absence of a published project document, therefore, appears deliberate to facilitate the misuse of this project for political and corrupt practices. The PNCR again calls on the Jagdeo regime to make full disclosures and publish the OLPF Project document so that all taxpayers would be in a position to monitor its implementation in an atmosphere of transparency. Regrettably, President Jagdeo appears unmindful of his legacy and may wish to ensure the fulfillment of the prediction and the unflattering analysis of his period in Office, published recently by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), under the caption, “Guyanese President Leaves a Tattered Legacy”.



GUYANESE URGED TO REGISTER/UPLIFT ID CARDS



The Guyana Election Commission has recently announced that it would soon commence the Claims and Objections period for finalising the List of Electors, “Voters List” for the General and Regional Elections, constitutionally due this year. This process would commence in April and would be for a limited period. It is, therefore, incumbent on eligible voters, i.e., persons eighteen years and over as of the qualifying date, to use this last opportunity to get their names on the voters list. The PNCR, therefore, wishes to urge all Guyanese to use the immediate period to ensure that their source documents to facilitate registration are procured and in order. In this context, the PNCR continues to urge GECOM to exercise its authority and insist that the PPP/C Administration speedily remove the obstacles to Registration particularly the process for persons to obtain source documents.



At the same time we urge all those persons who have registered but have not yet collected their Identification Cards to uplift them without further delay. Change will only be possible when every Guyanese carry out his civic duty.





MORALITY FOR MEDIA MONITORING



The national newspapers continue to report on the alleged efforts by the unconstitutional Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) to engage in media monitoring during the upcoming Election period. The non-recognition of this unconstitutional body and its Chairman by the PNCR are well known. It is still amazing that the purported Chairman of this Body, who insists that he is legitimate, would demonstrate his complete impotence to rein in the state owned media, NCN from their constant excesses and abuse of their position. Bishop Juan Edghill should, therefore, set the example of monitoring the Broadcasts of the NCN Radio and Television, if he wants to have any moral authority to speak about Media Monitoring during Elections over which he has no Constitutional or Legal Authority.



People’s National Congress Reform

Congress Place, Sophia

Georgetown, Guyana

Thursday 17th March 2011