PRESS STATEMENT By the People’s National Congress Reform At the Press Conference on Thursday November 14th, 2002 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia.



SUMMARY:

* Jagdeo’s failure at Governance and as a failed Economist.
* A Bloated Government.
* The Bauxite Sector: The Experiences at Linmine and Bermine.
* Foreign Policy Failure.
* Jagdeo must resign.

JAGDEO’S HABIT OF FAILURE:

When Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo acceded to Office as President of the Republic of Guyana, many people in and out of Guyana hailed him as a man of promise and hope. There were many even in the ranks of the opposition who believed that his youthfulness and apparent enthusiasm would compensate for whatever deficiencies may have existed in his capacity and his lack of experience in administration and government.

Mr Jagdeo has been a profound disappointment to his supporters and an embarrassment to all patriotic Guyanese. It is increasingly obvious that Mr Jagdeo has promised much and delivered little but failure and the deterioration in everything he has touched in every sphere of life in Guyana.

He is presiding over disaster upon disaster and he has outlived whatever useful purpose he may have served.

It is appropriate at this time to evaluate his presidency in an objective and dispassionate manner.

FAILED GOVERNANCE:
Mr. Jagdeo does not seem to have grasped the reality that, as President, his primary responsibility is the creation of a national environment that guarantees the safety and security of all citizens and the maintenance of the rule of law. This should be his priority! Instead, the record shows that:

 His regime has done severe damage to the Guyana Police Force and presided over the deterioration of the morale and capacity of the force to deal with the national crime and security situation. What is even more disturbing is the frustration of the core of professional and well meaning officers of the force who see all their years of training and dedication jeopardised by the current environment of incompetence, impotence and corruption.

 His regime has facilitated and managed the rampage of the Black Clothes Squad which has terrorised the country and ruined public support and confidence in the Guyana Police Force as the upholder of law and order. This has damaged the credibility of the Force and its capacity to gather the quality of intelligence without which it has been overwhelmed by the crime wave.

 His regime has presided over the Thomas Carroll affair in which government Ministers and members of the GPF have been implicated in the visa racket and money laundering scandal at the American Embassy. Guyanese have had to endure the embarrassment of the government and police being sullied in the American courts and Jagdeo has refused to investigate, discipline or deal with the named and identified perpetrators. Rather he has sought to protect the wrongdoers and allowed the Police Force to be further sullied.

 His regime has allowed the continuation and seems to have encouraged the wave of extra-judicial murders by its agents. This has served to terrorise citizens and contributed to the deterioration of the political and security situation. This has also besmirched Guyana's image and human rights record.

 His regime has fostered an atmosphere and “culture of corruption” which has meant that the country is now regarded by the development agencies and banks as a poor investment risk. Despite the efforts of groups inside Guyana and the IFI’s, there continues to be serious irregularities in the tendering and awarding of government contracts. Corrupt ministers and public officials seem to be protected and routinely ignore approved and statutory systems and procedures, as evidenced by the recurring reports and revelations of the Auditor General.
How can we explain the unwillingness of the President to dismiss or discipline the Minister of Health when it has been revealed that he committed or tolerated a wide range of irregularities at the GPHC? The President has been all too anxious to defend or minimise widespread slackness. There appears to be no level of corruption which would cause a minister in this government to resign or to be dismissed.

 It is under his regime that Guyana has become a key focal point in the international drug and crime scene. The drug barons openly display their hardware and are conducting a bloody war. However, there has been no serious response from the state.

 His regime seems to hold out no prospect of any credible plan to restore Guyana to peace and tranquillity. No one can feel safe in Guyana least of all the neighbours of the Minister of Home Affairs who may have believed that proximity to Mr Gagraj would have ensured their safety. The escalation of the crime spree and the murder and mayhem that is evident all around us gives rise to the question of whether Mr. Jagdeo has the will, courage and capability to save the nation from the ravages of some of his most incompetent and corrupt colleagues. Why is President Jagdeo protecting the incompetent and dysfunctional Mr. Gajraj?

BLOATED GOVERNMENT:

When the PPP acceded to office in 1992, they found in place a modernised system of governmental administration which had been reorganised and rationalised. The number of Ministries had been reduced to 11 and the integration and rationalisation of related arms of government had begun.

The PPP/C claimed that they would create and maintain a lean and clean government. However Mr. Jagdeo has created a bloated and unwieldy mishmash of 24 Ministers and a vast political bureaucracy. This has facilitated the waste and incompetence which is the most observable characteristic of the PPP/C regime.

It is small wonder that the government has instructed the Guyana Revenue Authority to squeeze taxpayers even more with special audits and other threats as the means of increasing the collection of revenue to pay for its profligacy.




THE FAILED ECONOMIST:

When Jagdeo acceded to office, he was hailed as a boy wonder economist who would be able to turn around the country’s economic fortunes. Instead, his polices have proved him to be the worst news for the Guyana economy.

 He has presided over the punishing deterioration of the rice industry and, in the midst of the crisis; he has made promises to the suffering farmers that he has not kept. Where is the debt relief to farmers which was so widely trumpeted by the PPP/C propaganda machine?

 He has presided over the deteriorating fortunes of the sugar industry and flip-flopped over the restructuring of the industry and undertaking the necessary reforms. Instead, the government has gone ahead with its quixotic Skeldon project against the best advice it has received. One could well ask why has Booker Tate not demonstrated its confidence in the industry and the project by taking some equity in the corporation?

 He has presided over the severe decline of the Tourism sector in Guyana. The entertainment industry is also in similar dire straights.
The recent performance of the Minister of Tourism gives us little cause for encouragement. There was a period when it might have been hoped that Mr Nadir would bring some badly needed integrity and plain dealing to the PPP/C administration. Instead, he has quickly learned the ways of Freedom House and become an expert in the art of three card tricks. The executives of THAG have correctly and accurately pointed to the fallen levels of tourist and recreational visitor arrivals in Guyana. They are the ones to tell the truth because they are the ones who have suffered from the falling levels of business. Many of the THAG members have facilities that are experiencing their worse levels of occupancy ever and many are in serious financial difficulties. Mansoor Nadir’s “slight of hand” and his attempt to misrepresent visitor arrivals with tourist arrivals is unworthy of the man.

 He has presided over the rapidly escalating cost of living. For the ordinary Guyanese family this is having a devastating effect. Many families are simply struggling to survive the brutal escalation in the costs for electricity, water, transportation and basic food items such as milk, flour, salt, cooking oil, bread, chicken, rice, sugar, etc. The costs for cooking fuels such as cooking gas and kerosene have also gone up significantly. There appears to be no hope of relief. The ranks of the poor continue to grow at an alarming rate.

This is the Jagdeo legacy!!!!

THE BAUXITE SECTOR:

Mr. Jagdeo’s capacity for speaking from both sides of his mouth is most starkly demonstrated by the developments (or lack thereof!) in the Bauxite Industry since the PPP/C regime came to office in 1992 and markedly since his accession to the office of President.

It is evident that, since the Bauxite Communities in Guyana are not perceived by Freedom House and the Government as being their supporters, they have singled out Region 10 for special treatment. This Region has been targeted to become one of the depressed Regions of Guyana!

Accordingly, the regime has let loose their major destroyer - the negative, backward and blinkered Mr. Sam Hinds – on the Industry and have given him a free hand to fulfill his own prophesy that there will be no Bauxite Industry in Guyana by 2010.

In Suriname, Jamaica, Brazil, Venezuela and every other country where there is a Bauxite Industry, the Government has developed forward-looking and innovative strategies to expand the industry so as to increase its contribution to the development of their economies. In Guyana the Government is so blinkered and backward that it is unable to see the development potential of our Bauxite Industry. Therefore, the regime is pursuing a path for the eventual elimination of this industry from the resources-development landscape of Guyana. Isn’t this shameful?

In the case of Guyana, which is generously endowed with deposits of high quality Gibbsittic bauxite – that has enabled the industry here to boast the most diversified product-mix internationally – Mr. Hinds’ negativity has succeeded in turning back every serious effort to breathe new life into our Bauxite Industry. Have you ever heard him say anything positive about our Bauxite Industry?

The Experience at Linmine:

When the PPP/C came to Office in 1992, the MINPROC contract - which benefited from US$26.0Mn of IFI funding for the rehabilitation of the Linden Operations to restore its competitiveness - was activated under the supervision of Mr Hinds. The US$26.0Mn was spent (though the Government has never informed the nation how it was spent) but MINPROC left the Linden Operations worse off than how they had found it. Ask Mr. Morris Stuart who Mr. Hinds has now put in charge of the Berbice Bauxite Industry!

Studies were undertaken, including the very detailed study by Mr. P.Q. De Freitas, which informed the Government and Mr. Hinds what needed to be done to breathe new life into LINMINE. However, they were like casting pearls to swine! Mr. Hinds ensured that they were all buried by his obfuscation and negative tactics.

Centrotrade submitted their proposal to provide financing for LINMINE and to undertake the marketing of RASC. This was killed by the machinations of Mr. Hinds and his cronies.
Gerald Metals expressed their interest in financing the resuscitation of the Alumina Plant at Linden to ensure that they are positioned to benefit from the predicted upsurge in demand as the Aluminium Industry recovers.
Once again Mr. Hinds struck his negative and destructive blow to prevent progress!

We now have the situation where the Government has signed an MOU with CAMBIOR (who will become the majority shareholder in LINMINE) which require them to prepare a Bankable Feasibility Study (including a credible Business Plan) to raise US$26.0Mn in financing from the IFI’s for investment for the revitalisation of the LINMINE Operations.

There has been no publicly available information about what progress has been made by CAMBIOR to meet this commitment. However, recent utterances by the President and Government spokespersons seem to indicate that CAMBIOR, through its subsidiary OMAI, is being transformed into the status of a Contractor to take over the management and operations of the Industry at Linden.
Is CAMBIOR still committed to invest US$26.0Mn for the majority stake in LINMINE?
If so, what is the present time-frame?

The Experience at BERMINE:

We are all aware that, between 1991-2000, ABC shipped 16.4Mn tonnes of Dried Bauxite (worth US$434.6Mn) from their operations at Aroaima. They paid no taxes or other Government imposts but yet declared that they had made a loss of US$70Mn.

Instead of being declared bankrupt, the Government has issued Debentures for this debt to ALCOA in exchange for taking over the assets for US$1.00. The regime, through their chief executioner Mr Hinds, proceeded to undermine the prices of BERMINE’s products, viz.reducing the price of Metallurgical grade bauxite from US$26/mt to US$17/mt to BPU Reynolds Alumina plant at Corpus Christy, Texas; and handing over the marketing of Chemical grade bauxite to the shipping company, Viceroy, at a discount of US$5/mt on the BERMINE price of US$40/mt.

Since BERMINE was able to secure international financing to enable it to return its Calcining kiln into operation to produce Abrasive grade bauxite for the Proppants market and to overcome the negative strategy for its demise, Mr Hinds played his last trump card! He gave Viceroy exclusive use of the Berbice Loading Basin. Viceroy immediately prevented BERMINE from shipping to meet its obligations under the contract with ALCOA.

The BERMINE operations have been closed and the management of the industry in Berbice has been put into the hands of Mr. Morris Stuart of MINPROC/LINMINE fame and the trusted members of Mr Hinds’ circus.

All thinking Guyanese would expect that, since the Government is now the sole owner of the Bauxite operations in Berbice, they would seek to take advantage of all possible synergy benefits from the merger of BERMINE and ABC. Instead, they seem bent on closing the Everton operations of BERMINE and robbing the country and the industry of the benefits of the production of Abrasive and Refractory grades of bauxite.
Isn’t this anti-national?

If there was any doubt about Mr Hinds’ intentions, these have been removed by the most recent developments.

The former Centrotrade Executives, who are now with another Trading Company, offered to purchase the entire output of Abrasive grade bauxite from BERMINE.
No response!
The company then offered to lease the Everton Calcining kiln and purchase the grade of raw bauxite ore from BERMINE/ABC to enable them to produce Abrasive grade bauxite for shipment from Everton.
Again a deafening silence from Mr Hinds and his Circus!

The pertinent question for the inhabitants of the Region 10 Bauxite Communities is:
What will follow after severance pay?

FOREIGN POLICY FAILURE:

It appears that the PPP/C’s ineptitude is manifest in the disarray of its foreign policy.

The Jagdeo regime has not been able to bring the Suriname situation to any resolution. Neither is there any progress on the CGX matter thus hindering beneficial access to our offshore Petroleum resources.

The regime’s foreign policy failures continue to place barriers in the way of our economic recovery.

At a time like this the country should be utilising its influence in the United Nations system to mobilise support to help to pull the nation out of the economic, social and political difficulties caused by the ineptitude of the Jagdeo regime. Yet, it is regrettable that we are once again forced to draw the nation’s attention to the failure of the Government to appoint a replacement for the current Minister of Foreign Affairs who was the full time Permanent Representative of Guyana to the UN.

We ask again, who is performing the duties of the Permanent Representative to the United Nations?

JAGDEO MUST GO:

The sorry record of Mr. Jagdeo is a blight on our country and an obstacle to progress. We wish to repeat our call for President Jagdeo to resign as an act of patriotism. If he refuses to do so, we call on the PPP/C to remove him and replace him with someone more capable of leading this country.

It is the imperative that Freedom House should recognise and accept its patriotic responsibility to all Guyanese to save us from the dead hand of Mr. Jagdeo. He is leading the country to ruin. And whilst you are in the act of cleaning up the Jagdeo regime, please rid the nation of the scourge of the dysfunctional Mr. Gajraj.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia.
November 14th, 2002