PRESS STATEMENT By the People’s National Congress Reform Thursday, March 13, 2003 In The Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia









SUMMARY:

• The PNCR has no faith whatsoever in any course of action likely to be proposed by the Guyana Police Force. The Force has no credible reputation for dealing with murders by renegades in its ranks.

• It appears as if the corruption virus has now infected the expatriate employees in the GPL organisation and some of their favoured Guyanese staff at all levels. The long suffering paying consumers of GPL have to pay for corrupt practices.

• Though the welfare of teachers and the interests of students should be a high priority for any administration and an essential foundation for national development and progress, the government seems unable to deal with the GTU strike in any just, honorable, or organised way.

YOHANCE DOUGLAS:

The issues which are at stake in the Yohance Douglas affair go to the very heart of our soul as a nation. It will determine whether we continue as a part of the free world or become one of the rogue states of the world besmirched by the stain of state terrorism and state sponsored cold blooded murder. Many groups and organizations are expressing their outrage on this matter and have joined with the students of the University of Guyana in their protest and actions against terror and injustice. We wish to make it clear that the PNC Reform is fully supportive of the work of these groups and has responded to the call from the various groups in civil society to become fully involved in the struggler for justice and reform.

Among other things we demand that no expense must be spared by the Government to ensure that Ronson Gray is provided with the best medical care needed to restore him to full health. We also demand that the identities of all of the perpetrators of these crimes must be made public.

We demand that a Commission of inquiry into the operations of the Guyana Police Force. We assure all of the forces of civil society, the UGSS, the youth groups, the churches and religious organizations, the trade unions, and the sports organizations, the PNC Reform is fully supportive of their work. We believe that the chaos, madness and injustice which have characterized this country over the past three years have gone on for too long. These outrages must come to an end.

We also wish to repeat the assurance given in the address to the nation by the Party Leader, Mr. Robert Corbin on Sunday March 9, 2003, to the decent and professional Officers in the Guyana Police Force that we understand their embarrassment and frustration.

POLICE REPORTS AND COVERUP:

When evaluating the Government’s actions in the Yohance Douglas affair, we ask the nation to remember that renegades in the Guyana Police Force have not in the recent past been punished for their wrongdoings. In fact their unorthodox, inhumane and illegal methods have in fact received high praise and commendation from the highest offices in the land. It is quite clear that the position of President Jagdeo is that renegade Policemen and their criminal henchmen can do no wrong in Guyana and can expect strong governmental support.

The infamous Thomas Carrol affair demonstrated this clearly for all to understand. This embarrassing case demonstrated in the courts of the United States that elements in the Guyana Police Force are involved in criminality and racketeering. Yet the renegades have been protected and the government has adamantly refused to take any action to clean up the Police Force. The pointless shooting to death of hundreds of young men over the last five years seems insufficient to bring a tinge of remorse to the consciences of any members of the regime.

Now that Yohance Douglas is dead and others wounded we have seen no evidence or expression that there has been a change of heart. The Police Public Relations were quite prepared to feed the nation the usual diet of lies about the young men wearing wigs and being armed to the teeth until it was realized belatedly that these were not the usual suspects. Two had close affiliation to respected Police Officers; all five were friends of senior ranking members of the force and had no brush with the law whatsoever. Another difference was that on this occasion the crimes were committed in an area overpopulated with well known and well respected citizens. Thus the nation was offered the usual fall back position of an “in-house” investigation which is offering a sacrificial lamb for public consumption in the hope that in time, some other bizarre government disaster will occur to distract the public’s attention.

If we are to go by past experience, there is little hope of a just outcome. In the case of the beating to death of Mohamed Shafeek, after a Coroner’s jury found the Police responsible the findings have been set aside. In the instance of the murder of Shaka Blair in his bedroom in front of his family almost a year ago on April 6, 2002, the inquest is still continuing but the last report received by the Coroner is that Senior Supt. Merai and Constable Keswin Benjamin, both implicated in the killing, have vanished from the shores of Guyana and are no longer active members of the Force. Where too we must ask is “Robocop” who is also a necessary witness in numerous murders including the Mandela 3 Inquest.

The PNCR has no faith whatsoever in any course of action likely to be proposed by the Guyana Police Force. The Force has no credible reputation for dealing with murders by renegades in its ranks.

GPL PLUNDER, BLACKOUTS AND CORRUPTION CONTINUE:

The legitimate consumers of electricity from GPL have every reason to feel that they are being fleeced with the connivance of a corrupt, incompetent and uncaring Administration. The energies of this regime are devoted to their major day-to-day preoccupation of seeking to prove that whatever adverse developments are taking place in the nation they bear no responsibility. They still appear not to understand that it is the responsibility of the Government to secure the legitimate interests of all of its citizens.

The Government has announced that they have paid over G$100Mn to GPL for the purchase of fuel to stop the blackouts. These blackouts have not stopped! GPL claims that this will tide them over for a week or two. What are we to expect thereafter? Has the Government taken over the responsibility for the day-to-day management of GPL? What plans do they have not only to stop the blackouts but to ensure the sustained supply of affordable, stable and reliable electricity?

When the Government admits that it has capitulated to AC Power and totally removed what little consumer protection is afforded by the PUC and agreed to remove GPL’s responsibility to reduce commercial and systems losses to internationally acceptable norms, the legitimate paying consumers of electricity from GPL will find that their burdens have increased and they have no one or any institution to turn to for assistance or protection from the plunder of GPL.

It also appears as if the corruption virus has now infected the expatriate employees in the GPL organisation and some of their favoured Guyanese staff at all levels. The long suffering paying consumers of GPL have to pay for corrupt practices such as:

 Selected large favoured customers, who are not paying their large outstanding bills, have been given untouchable status for a fee by the GPL management;

 PPP/C favourites, including those who have been removed from other agencies for fraudulent activities, have been re-cycled to GPL to take up highly paid jobs. Not surprisingly, their corrupt practices have been transferred with them. This is the regime’s version of technology transfer!

 The by-passing and manipulation of Tender Board procedures, to issue contracts to cronies worth millions of G$’s per month;

 Over-pricing of contracts;

 Multiple payments for the same job to favoured Contractors; and

 Payment of inflated salaries to re-cycled favourites.


GTU STRIKE:

The People’s National Congress Reform notes with concern the deepening crisis which faces the education system and in particular, the deteriorating industrial climate leading to strike action by the Guyana Teachers Union. Our party believes that the welfare of teachers and the interests of students should be a high priority for any administration and an essential foundation for national development and progress. We are therefore very concerned that the government seems unable to deal with the situation in any just or organised way. The claims of the teachers are reasonable and just. They are:

1. The union requests that the salary award for 2002 be sent to arbitration
2. That the minimum wages of junior teachers be paid at least the same paid to unqualified workers at the bottom end of the public service.
3. That hard lying allowances for hinterland teachers which were agreed in 2002 should be paid
4. That addition remuneration for university qualifications should be increased and
5. That the government’s promise to grant house lots to teachers be honoured.

What also worries us is the apparent lack of respect by the Minister and Ministry of Education for the teachers union and the lack of good communication and healthy climate. It seems that the Minister of Education has a particular difficulty in honouring undertakings made to the teaching profession and the teachers union. It is also apparent that the preferred mode of operation of that Ministry is to appeal to the press and make responses to the media rather than responding to the demands and proposals of the Guyana Teachers Union.

We call on the government to deal with this matter in a humane and just manner so that we do not lose another battalion of teachers to other lands. Our children and our teachers deserve better. We call on the Minister of Education to heal the breach with the teaching profession and bring an end to this crisis. We call on the government to make a reasonable offer to the teachers and to honour all the promises which they have already made.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, March 13, 2003