PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform For the Press Conference on Thursday January 30, 2003 In the Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia.





SUMMARY:

• Though our Congress was called at short notice and will only last for one day, it will be very intense and successful. We will demonstrate that the PNCR is a focused, strong, united and powerful national Party.

• We have also had a top level group working on ways to further enhance our inclusive and broad-based character, since we believe this to be an essential priority for our political work.

• It is a painful duty to note the poor state of our security, the growth in communal insecurity, the continuation of crime, robberies and drug trafficking, the continuation of extra-judicial killings and the general air of lawlessness and incompetence which terrorizes all law abiding citizens.

• GPL is once again demonstrating to the Guyanese people that its sole concern is the extraction of profits from the suffering Public, unprotected by the incompetence, weakness and corruption of the Government

• The President and the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs must stop inventing obstacles to prevent the implementations of the agreed Parliamentary Reforms.


Ladies and gentleman of the media, I welcome you to our weekly Press Conference.

At this time, the PNCR, are concentrating its energies on establishing our directions and future as a Party as well as our policies and strategies for dealing with the wider issues which face Guyana as a whole.

The death of Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte has created a void which must be filled and came at a time when the Party was engaged in an active rethink of its policies and approaches to many issues at the suggestion or prodding of Mr. Hoyte himself. These matters must be taken to their active conclusions for though we mourn the passing of our great Leader, we also recognise that the business of working towards national reform must continue. Indeed, Mr. Hoyte would have been the most perturbed person if we were not to take up the challenges he has left with vigor and imagination.

The Party’s Central Executive Committee considered all the options and decided, after deep and mature consideration, that the most appropriate and legally satisfactory way forward, at this time will be to do three things.

1. Elect a new Leader of the Party to succeed Mr Hoyte;
2. To receive reports from groups which were tasked with revising Party tactics and strategy in certain key areas identified at our 13th Biennial Congress in August of 2002; and
3. To debate and discuss the key issues of Party strategy and the national political situation.

The indications are that there will be full representation at this Congress, including the members from our hinterland areas who are making special efforts to get here at great trouble and expense. We know, therefore, that though our Congress was called at short notice and will only last for one day, it will be very intense and successful. At the end of the Congress, we will march to the Square of the Revolution where there will be a Public Rally. The main item will obviously be the Address from the new Leader who will be expected to give some clear indication of the PNCR Charter for 2003 and beyond.

ELECTIONS:

The Party Secretariat has sought and received nominations for the position of Party Leader and there have been responses to that request. The candidates for the position of Leader have been asked to indicate whether they will stand for this position. We expect that whoever is elected Leader will leave the Congress with the full endorsement of the Party.

PARTY REFORM:

The Party at its Biennial Congress last year made a series of initiatives which are intended to modernise the Party and ensure that it successfully carries out its task of winning office and restoring competence and integrity to governance in Guyana.

Some of these initiatives, which have been under active consideration, include the review of our practices to ensure that the Party’s management and organisational structures are further enhanced to cope with the demands of policies which in the new millennium.

We have also had a top level group working on ways to further enhance our inclusive and broad-based character, as we believe to be an essential priority in our political work.

The Party has also set up a high level group with responsibility for revising and updating the Party's policies and ideological positions to ensure that our fundamental values are preserved yet at the same time making sure that the development policies of the PNCR are in step with the modern world environment.

At the last Congress, the Party gave its blessing to the establishment of a parallel development organisation which would be tasked with community development work and we expect to hear of the progress made in that direction.

Intensive work is on-going in the PNCR on the issues of governance, including the possibilities for alternative and broader forms of governance in Guyana. This work has already led to the issue of a discussion paper by the PNC Reform and at this Congress, we will take steps to further the national debate on this important matter.

CONGRESS DEBATES:

There will be several important matters for debate at this Congress and we expect that the Party will take firm positions and, if necessary, pass the necessary resolutions to affirm or reaffirm our policy positions on various national issues. For example, we expect that delegates will debate the PNCR position on national security, crime prevention and human rights issues. The Party will also debate the deteriorated state of the national economy and the accelerated collapse of the systems of governance, law and administration.

One of the most important issues to be debated will be the failed Dialogue process and the parliamentary impasse which has dominated political life over recent years. We expect that the Congress will review the situation and determine what shall be our future positions on these matters.

One interesting item, which has been tabled by one of our Party districts, is the need to establish proper and appropriate memorials to former Presidents Burnham and Hoyte.

NATIONAL SECURITY:

It is always a painful duty at our Press Conferences to note the poor state of our security, the growth in communal insecurity, the continuation of crime, robberies and drug trafficking, the continuation of extra-judicial killings and the general air of lawlessness and incompetence which terrorizes all law abiding citizens.

What makes this week's duty even more painful is to have to comment on the statement on security matters made by the President of the Republic. His utterances were most unfortunate for several reasons but more particularly because he is unwittingly abdicating his responsibility as President and Head of the Cabinet and Government. He and his colleagues are responsible for policy and not the executing agencies which carry them out.

If those policies are bad and useless, he as commander-in-chief and head of government is to blame! It is both invidious and a bizarre reading for him to blame the security forces for the errors of judgment of his Ministers and himself.

Guyanese will recall that when the PNCR criticized those policies, including the poorly thought out intervention by the GDF, they were stoutly defended by Mr. Jagdeo, Dr Luncheon and Mr. Gajraj and, indeed, the responses of the government were often abusive and indecorous. Like Rip van Winkle, the President recognises his errors and now seeks to blame others. The Ministers responsible should resign as their moral duty to the country.

THE MARAUDING GPL:

GPL is once again demonstrating to the Guyanese people that its sole concern is the extraction of profits from the suffering Public, unprotected by the incompetence, weakness and corruption of the Government. We are once again being confronted with yet another unconscionable electricity tariff increase and being told unapologetically and with the usual arrogance, pay up or be cut off!

When will this nightmare come to an end? We have not had the benefit of a dependable, reliable and stable power supply since GPL came into existence. All that we have seen is the apparently never to end continuing increases in tariffs. Pay more, get less, seems to be their message! Is there any other country in the world in which GPL could get away with what they have been allowed to impose on us the long suffering Guyanese consumers?

We understand that GPL has failed to meet its obligations for payment for its portion of the equity and for inward investment in the plant and facilities of the GPL, as provided for in its license, contract and agreement with the Government. Yet the Government seems to be prostrate in their presence. Why?

Instead of reducing distribution and line losses as they were committed to, these have now skyrocketed and seem to be out of control. The People of Guyana are exposed to the ravages of GPL, behaving like an invading army and as if it is their God given right to use their monopoly powers to gouge the Guyanese Consumers.

Why are we being asked to pay for GPL’s failures and inefficiencies? That is what these Tariff increases represent, since, if GPL had met its target for the reduction of Line Losses, there would be no need for any increases! Do we still have a Government that can protect our interests as citizens?

Mr. Jagdeo and his merry band of incompetents must seriously determine whether they still have any sense of pride and patriotic duty. If they have, there is only one decent option available for them!

MORE PPP/C PROPAGANDA:

The PNCR continues to hope for the day when the PPP will tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Their propaganda machine has been once again feeding the public an a diet of lies and deception in their quest to distract attention from their bad faith and untrustworthiness with respect to their commitments and obligation to implement already agreed and legislated Parliamentary and Constitutional reforms.

We have stated publicly and so assert again that the President and the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs must stop inventing obstacles to prevent the resolution of the matters which they have steadfastly refused to settle in order to implement the agreed Parliamentary Reforms.

We of the PNCR and the rest of the Parliamentary Opposition have in vain done everything possible to bring about the resolution of these matters preventing the appointment of the Seven (7) new Standing Committees of the National Assembly. We are again setting out what the outstanding issues are to enable you to judge for yourselves why we have claimed that the PPP and the Government do not wish to resolve these matters:

 The Parliamentary Management Committee:
The Opposition Parties and the Government have agreed the text of the Draft Notice of Motion which has to be tabled in and approved by the National Assembly for the establishment of the PMG. The Opposition Parties have argued that in view of the nature of this Committee, the composition should be PPP/C 5, PNCR 3, GAP-WPA 1 and ROAR 1. The PPP/C is insisting that they should have 6 Representatives on this Committee. In addition, the PPP and the Government have ingenuously claimed that, because of the mandate of this Committee, the parity of representation between the Opposition and the Government would result in gridlock and bring the work of the National Assembly to a halt. Bearing in mind that all Standing Committees of the National Assembly must report to and take guidance from the National Assembly, the intent of the PPP and the Government’s argument is clear for all but the deliberately blinkered to see!

 The Four(4) Sector Committees:
The texts of the Terms of Reference for these Committees have been agreed with the PPP/C and the Opposition Parties have agreed that the PPP/C should have 6 Representatives and the Opposition 5.
The Opposition Parties have argued that because the legal and constitutional doctrine of the collective responsibility of members of the Cabinet and the fact that the constitutional mandate of these Committees require them to be responsible for the scrutiny of all areas of Government policy and administration including –

i. Natural resources;
ii. Economic services;
iii. Foreign relations; and
iv. Social services.

It would be inappropriate for Ministers of the Government to be members of these Committees or to chair them.
The Government has argued that unless they are allowed to have Ministers as members or to appoint additional non-Elected Ministers, they would be unable to provide enough members to represent them on these Committees.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, January 30, 2003.