PRESS STATEMENT By the People’s National Congress Reform At the Press Conference on Thursday, February 27th, 2003 In the Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia



PNCR CONDOLENCES: News of the passing of Mr. Joseph Henry Pollydore, O.R., C.C.H., the venerable and highly respected leader of the Guyana Trades Union Movement, was received with mixed emotions. On the one hand, death has finally put an end to any pain and suffering which he endured with declining health due to old age – he was in his 90’s – on the other hand he was loved and revered by Guyanese from all walks of life due to his unswerving commitment to the cause of the working people of our country.

In the coming days, much will be said and written about this great Trade Unionist whose contribution to the growth and development of the GTUC will forever adorn the pages of our history.

On behalf of the People's National Congress Reform we wish to express heartfelt condolences to the family and relatives of Mr. Joseph Pollydore and to the Leadership of the Trades Union Movement in Guyana.

THE PPP/C’S MONSTER GPL LET LOOSE ON GUYANESE:

The PNCR is once again restating its position, that it will not stand idly aside and allow the rights and interests of Guyanese consumers of electricity to be trampled on. Our Party will be active in its solidarity with those who have been abandoned by this uncaring, ruthless, incompetent and corrupt PPP/C Government.

The PNCR would like to place on the record that the PPP/C flatly refused to accept a freeze of the electricity rates. The PPP/C made the ridiculous claim that a freeze of the electricity rates was not in the best interest of the country. Statements by The Prime Minister and Minister Shaik Baksh sent the strong signal that the GPL rate increase was a “done deal” and asked for the PNCR to support “ … the lowest sustainable rate …” The PNCR could not accept the PPP/C’s position that the Guyanese people should be asked to continue to bear the costs for GPL’s inefficiencies and incompetence.

GPL, with the connivance of the regime, has already begun to callously subject the public to frequent blackouts, as part of their tactics to terrorise the customers into submission. The message is clear, “Submit to our wishes or be blacked out!” What are the 2 Government Directors doing to protect the nation’s interests? They should tell the public about the corruption, some of it imported, which has become embedded in GPL. When will they start earning their sumptuous Board fees?

The PPP/C Government’s total abandonment of the Guyanese consumers of electricity to the ravages of the predatory monster, GPL, which they created, epitomises the regime’s attitude to their responsibilities for delivering good governance. This “is not me!” Government seem to interpret their responsibility as being discharged whenever they provide lame excuses for their abysmal failures. It is the same attitude that we have all seen in their inept handling of the crime and security situation.

Is there a Government of Guyana? Does this Government care about the interests of the people of Guyana? The Prime Minister and Minister Shaik Baksh have shown the nation clearly whose interests they are representing!

The Government has armed GPL with unrestrained monopoly power. The Public Utilities Commission, which was established by the PNCR to protect the interests of Guyanese consumers from the unfair exercise of monopoly power by Public Utilities, such as GPL, has been totally emasculated. In the case of GPL, it has been relegated to checking the arithmetic of GPL’s regular Tariff increases as it passes on its inefficiencies to the long suffering and abandoned consumers of electricity. Nevertheless, the PUC, in 2002 July, bravely ordered GPL to return their unjustified imposition to the consumers by the payment of G$1.3Bn in compensation. Of course, aided and abetted by their benefactors, GPL has resisted the PUC order. Mr. Ramon Gaskin has now submitted that GPL, by their failure to “maintain its property and equipment in such condition as to provide service to the public that is efficient”, is extracting an unjustified G$1.994Bn which should be returned to consumers in 2003.

The Government ignored the advice and protests from the PNCR and the rest of the nation that its sweetheart deal with AC Power was not structured in the best interest of the Guyanese consumers. In fact, devious as they are, the Government refused to share the contents of their agreement with AC Power with the Parliamentary Opposition. We now all know why they hid their deeds from public view. They knew that the PNCR and the rest of the nation would rightly have been opposed to their one-side agreement for 50% of GPL. What was the significance of the half of a British £10 note which was reported to have been found in the Tender submission?

The people of Guyana are now being confronted by yet another invidious secret deal with AC Power. This time, we understand that even the limited role of the PUC is being recklessly set aside. In the interest of transparency and accountability, the PNCR demands that all the past, current and proposed GPL agreements be laid in the National Assembly for approval by a two-thirds majority of all of the Members of Parliament.

AC Power receives a whopping Management Fee of US$915,000.00 each quarter (US$3.66Mn each year), payable in advance. They have already received payment for the first quarter of 2003. AC Power has received a total of US$10.98Mn in Management fees since GPL was made operational. Yet system losses have climbed to 44.4% instead of being reduced to 23% as their agreement with this Government envisaged. The Government proposes to waive this requirement!

AC Power should have invested US$23.45Mn up-front to improve the overall system, particularly the Transmission and Distribution system. Instead, they have been allowed to pay this in four instalments the last of which, US$3.45Mn, they have refused to pay. Why has AC Power been allowed to renege on their commitment to bring in new funds for investment in GPL’s plant and systems?

The responsibility of the Prime Minister is clear. Will he do the decent patriotic thing and resign?

PPP/C CONTINUES ITS EXECUTIVE LAWLESSNESS:

The scourge of executive lawlessness by key functionaries of the PPP/C regime has now extended its influence to the nursing profession.

The general disregard for established rules and regulations by the Public Service Ministry continues unabated. On a previous occasion it surfaced in the Supreme Court Registry when it sought to justify the Government’s non-compliance with a court decision. On this occasion, the Ministry has assumed responsibility for the recruitment of students for the Nursing Schools throughout the country. What is alarming is the recruitment of under-qualified students for those Schools.

The Public Service Ministry cannot justify its usurpation of the recruiting functions of the Ministry of Health which has carried out that function for as long as one can remember. This attempt by the Public Service Ministry to have under-qualified hand-picked students write the examination of the General Nursing Council is totally unacceptable and will lead to dire consequences for the future of the Nursing profession in Guyana.

The General Nursing Council is a statutory body. It is the only authorized body to determine, within the established regulatory framework, who meets the requirements to write the General Nursing Council Examinations and thus become eligible for admission to the nursing profession. In total disregard of this, Mr. L. R. Nickram, writing on behalf of Permanent Secretary Dr Nanda Gopaul, has had the gumption to write the General Nursing Council as follow, “Our understanding is the … named students are performing very well and if they are allowed to write the exams they could pass with good grades….”. He went on to state that, “The purpose in writing you is to ensure these matters come to your attention early, so that you could do whatever is necessary to ensure the four (4) Nursing Students named …are allowed to write exams in May 2003”.

The PNCR stands ready to ensure that the standards of the nursing profession are not diluted by a regime that has no regard or respect for professionalism and the Rule of Law. The lives of Guyanese patients are too valuable to allow cronyism and nepotism to further undermine the standards of nursing care which they receive.

Dr. Ramsammy `s brazen vow to break the rules must not be allowed to become entrenched. If President Jadgeo cannot or will stop him and others of a similar ilk, such as Dr Gopaul, the PNCR will be forced to induce corrective action.

PNCR CONSULTATION AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROGRAMME:

During the past week, the PNCR continued consultation with members of the Diplomatic Corp, civil society stakeholders and residents in various communities. PNCR Leader, Mr. Robert H. O. Corbin, met with the Canadian High Commissioner and the Cuban Ambassador to Guyana. During these meetings he brought them up-to-date with the precarious situation in Guyana and the position of the PNCR on matters of national importance.

On Tuesday February 25, 2003, a delegation from the PNCR, led by its Leader, met with the Guyana Islamic Trust and the Guyana Manufacturers Association (GMA). Discussions with the Guyana Islamic Trust focused on developmental projects in various communities which could contribute to alleviating serious problems faced by jobless youths and many depressed communities around Guyana. The Guyana Islamic Trust also discussed strategies to be employed for the reopening of their Centre in Buxton which was recently closed.

The Guyana Manufacturers Association explained to the PNCR delegation the serious challenges facing the manufacturing sector in Guyana, not least of which were the impending increases in electricity charges. These increases were likely to force many of them to close their business and/or seek alternative modes of self-generation of electricity. The PNCR and its Leader undertook to continue representation on this issue to ensure the rights of Guyanese consumers are protected.

The PNCR Leader also continued his outreach programme in the East Ruimveldt area of Georgetown and Den Amstel on the West Coast, Demerara. During these visits residents interacted with the PNCR delegation and explained the numerous problems which confront them in their daily lives.

The outreach programme will continue over the next week with visits to Linden, Corriverton, and other areas in Berbice and Sophia in Georgetown.


PRESIDENT JAGDEO’S CONFUSED MISSION TO THE USA:

The present visit of President Jagdeo to Washington is yet another example of the confused thinking and behaviour of the PPP/C regime. The PPP/C government has breached all of its undertakings to the International Financial Institutions. They have failed to correct procurement procedures simply because they have no intention of changing from their widespread corrupt practices including the political awards of tenders. The Poverty Reduction Strategy remains an exclusively PPP/C design aimed at dispensing political patronage to their constituencies and cannot receive the support of the PNCR in its present form.

President Jagdeo feels that he can continue to attempt to hoodwink the financial institutions by making a personal visit to Washington instead of doing the correct thing of changing his inept policies at home. Why is he not being accompanied by the substantive Minister of Finance, Mr. Kowlessar?

Ironically, President Jagdeo is using the very visit to collaborate with some of those who were involved with him in some of the most glaring corrupt practices. His visit to Queens in New York this weekend is being sponsored by the very group, New Global Consult Inc. of 126-03 Liberty Avenue, Richmond Hill, Queens. This is the same company which was awarded the notorious contract to print the Laws of Guyana. A Contract which was exposed as another attempt by the regime to use taxpayers’ money for granting political favours.

The Permanent Secretary in the Legal Affairs Ministry took the rap for that scandal and Mr. Jagdeo claimed no personal knowledge of the company or it’s Principals.

President Jagdeo must, however, now explain his personal relationship with the members of this organization and the fact that they are making arrangements for his visit to Queens this weekend.



People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, February 27th, 2003