PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform At The Press Conference, Thursday, February 13th, 2003 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia



SUMMARY:

• The PNCR calls on the state owned stations to operate in a fair and professional way in their coverage of national events and national politics.
• The Party notes that the impact of the visits by the PNC Reform to communities has caused an outbreak of visits to communities by the PPP/C cabinet.
• The PNC Reform notes with disgust the continued deterioration of the service offered by the GPL in both its customer service and a noticeable increase in long and inconvenient power outages which has badly affected many businesses and households at this time
• The PNC Reform is anxious for the Social Partners to press ahead with their discussions and consultations on constitutional reform and governance. We believe that healing in our nation needs open and genuine discussion with the views of all stakeholders taken into consideration.

MISUSE AND ABUSE OF THE STATE OWNED MEDIA:

Members of the media will have noted the continued abuse of the state owned media and the preservation of soviet era style tactics by the ruling party. We have already commented on the vulgar exclusion of alternative ideas from broadcasts to the people of Region 10 where the region is fed a diet of PPP/C propaganda from the state media. Even the Regional Democratic Council is denied time to make its public service announcements and to put forward its political views. The most disgusting manifestation of these tactics of recent vintage is the nature of coverage of the recent PNC Reform Special Congress by some sections of the state media. The vulgarity took many forms but the most egregious was the circulation of notice of a broadcast purporting to give an analysis of the PNC Reform Post Congress rally including the rally speech by the leader of the PNCR when the offending stations made no attempt whatsoever to cover or to broadcast that event. The spectacle of three PPP/C senior figures attempting to sell the public a point of view of a rally which the respective stations had refused to broadcast was not only demeaning and unprofessional but demonstrated a lack of respect for the Guyanese audience. The listeners could not know what points or actions were being criticized. Another obvious absurdity was of course the attempt to suggest that the comments of two government Ministers and a prominent Party Leader of the PPP/C were in fact objective comment. The situation was made even worse by the intensive coverage given to the governments’ presentation on inclusive governance by the state media even though there is no coverage or acknowledgement of the ideas of other parties and social organizations. The need for the state owned stations to operate in a fair and professional way in their coverage of national events and national politics is an important issue. An improvement in the behavior of these institutions would go a long way to build trust and improve public confidence in their operations. The continued decline in the credibility of the state media cannot be in the public interest.


TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF THE PEOPLE OF LINDEN:

The PNCR remains concerned at the state of affairs in the town of Linden. The recent breakdown in utilities and public services and the sufferings of the people in that community are matters which have deep implications for the whole of Guyana. We noted that the President did dispatch Minister Baksh to Linden in response to the PNC Reform representations on this matter. It does appear, however, that the team which accompanied the Minister did not include officials who were equipped to take immediate action and as a result the Baksh plan has yet to materialise. The only action plan in place is that put in place by the PNCR Regional Democratic Council.

Our Party also notes that the impact of the visits by the PNC Reform to communities has caused an outbreak of visits to communities by the PPP/C cabinet. The PNC Reform has no objection whatsoever to the government following our good example in reaching out to observe the realities of life on the ground! We sincerely hope that these visits will cause their eyes to be opened to the realities of poverty and alienation in both rural and urban communities and that they, even at this late stage, consider the impact of unemployment, poverty and marginalization on the people of our country.

MORE GPL WOES:

The PNC Reform notes with disgust, the continued deterioration of the service offered by the GPL. Not only has its customer service and treatment of consumers not improved but there has been a noticeable increase in long and inconvenient power outages which has badly affected many businesses and households at this time. We have heard unconfirmed allegations that these blackouts are in fact a deliberate strategy to pressurize the government into agreement to the ridiculous rate hikes which that company has proposed. We hope and trust that this is not in fact the case and will support the government in resistance to any attempt to blackmail the long suffering Guyanese consumers. The negative cycle of poor service and higher and unsustainable rate hikes must come to an end. The Party also finds some aspects of recent official comments on the issues to be quite irresponsible. If the government is a major shareholder in the company, then the shareholders whom the government has appointed are responsible for ensuring that the governments’ position on behalf of the people of Guyana are heard, understood and respected. If they do not carry out instructions, they should be dealt with in the appropriate and approved fashion. If they were not properly instructed, then the Minister responsible for that sector should be held accountable. We have had cause to comment recently and do so again on the apparent lack of understanding of the hallowed concept of ministerial responsibility for disasters in their sectors. If the President is incapable of dealing with the failures of his Ministers, in this case the Prime Minister, then the President himself must accept responsibility for the GPL disaster.

CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT ON THE WAY FORWARD:

The PNC Reform has embarked on a round of discussions with a wide variety of political, social and other groupings with a view to constructive engagement on national issues and the dilemmas and crises which face our nation. These discussions are intended to solicit the views of the various stakeholders on the way forward for Guyana including their views on the moral and spiritual health of the nation, the economy, the future prospects for young people the state of our communities, and the possible adjustments in our system of governance and the constitution which might be appropriate at this time. We are firmly wedded to the view that our Party should not regard itself as the source of all wisdom and strategies and we are anxious at this time to listen and push forward the national debate on all important issues. These discussions have only just begun and we will keep the media informed at the appropriate time of the progress of our discussion and we are sure that the various Social Partners will in their own time make known their views on these important matters. In particular, the PNC Reform is anxious for the Social Partners to press ahead with their discussions and consultations on constitutional reform and governance. We believe that healing in our nation needs open and genuine discussion with the views of all stakeholders taken into consideration. The PNC Reform will do all in our power to ensure that these discussions are constructive when they resume.

The PNC Reform is interested in crafting a vision for the future so that Guyana can survive and compete in a harsh international environment. We have opened the debate on shared governance our position paper is in the public domain and open for discussion. We do not believe it to be a perfect document nor do we believe it to have all the answers. We do believe, however, that the needs of the country and the cries of our people require radical approaches and we welcome alternative views and criticisms. We would encourage those persons who have not already done so to study our analysis of the issues of alternative approaches to governance and our vision for the future. We note in passing that the PPP/Civic has at last responded to the debate on inclusivity in governance in a paper presented by President Jagdeo last Saturday. The PNC Reform welcomes a contribution albeit long overdue on these important matters. We have studied the PPP/Civic paper closely and meticulously. It consists for the most part of a narrative which interprets the political history of Guyana in ways favourable to the PPP/Civic. The PNC Reform disagrees profoundly with much of the analysis and interpretation enclosed in that document but we do not believe that any useful purpose will be served at this time from descending to a rebuttal of the claims and misrepresentations contained therein. In any event, the policy of our Party at this time is that we are concerned about the future and a vision for our country and we do not have the time or the inclination to engage in futile debate about the history of Guyana. We leave that for the history and political science professors at the University. We are concerned about bread, justice, peace and security. The PPP/Civic has had its say. We look forward to hearing from the rest of Guyana and remain open to discussion and debate. We noted that at the end of the presentation, the President made some interesting remarks about the need for trust and confidence building as part of that process. Those were welcome words and we look forward keenly for evidence and initiatives in that direction.

PNC REFORM LEADERSHIP RETREAT:

The Leadership of the PNC Reform will be going into retreat during the forthcoming weekend from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th. At this time, we will be taking the opportunity to further clarify our programme for the future development and reform of Guyana. We will also be sharpening our strategies, tactics and tools to ensure that our Party is geared to win the next general elections handsomely and convincingly. The Party has obtained the services of well qualified and experienced facilitators from both at home and overseas to assist us in these processes. We will make the conclusions of our workshop available to the press at the appropriate time.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday, February 13th, 2003