PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform At the Press Conference, Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia Friday April 25, 2003



PPP/CIVIC ATTEMPTS TO UNDERMINE INTER-PARTY TALKS: The PNC Reform notes with grave concerns the views of Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy published in a letter in Stabroek News of April 22, 2003, which attempts to "reinvent reasons" for the stalled dialogue process and current impasse in the National Assembly. We hope that the misleading statements of the good doctor who is not a member of President Jagdeo’s team which is settling the agenda for talks with our Party Leader do not reflect the views of the PPP/C leadership.

For the record we wish to once again state that the then Leader of the PNC Reform, Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte discontinued his dialogue with President Bharrat Jagdeo because of the non-implementation of decisions reached in the dialogue process and the PNC Reform left Parliament because the government refused to .implement agreed constitutional reform and to establish the Parliamentary Management Committee.

President Jagdeo’s announcements that he was proceeding unilaterally to establish the Service Commission came after the two parties had reached agreement on the Parliamentary Management Committee. Since the setting up of the management committee was the stumbling block, Mr. Jagdeo’s announcement can only be seen as mischievous. We are of the view that this was a devious effort to avoid compliance with the new provision of the constitution and to allow the PPP/Civic free reign to stack the service commissions with political hacks. Mature PNC Reform actions prevented this disaster.

The PNC Reform is concerned over the new efforts to undermine the Constructive Engagement between Party Leader Mr. R.H.O. Corbin and President Bharrat Jagdeo. We are of the view that such actions are unpatriotic and can only impact negatively on the nation. We therefore call on the PPP/Civic to put the interest of the Nation first and allow the country to breathe.

THE AUDITOR GENERAL HAS SPOKEN; IT IS NOW TIME TO ACT:

The PNCR notes with serious concern the nonchalant attitude of the ruling party with respect to the Ramsammy Hospital Scandal. The Auditor General in his report has seriously implicated Dr. Ramsammy for grievous wrongdoing, but the Government is refusing to act.

Part of the Auditor General’s functions is to monitor proper management of national resource. It is expected that in cases where the Auditor General finds that there was impropriety there will be firm action in accordance with the law. In cases where public officials seriously breech established financial procedures it is also expected that they will be dealt with

The PNC Reform now calls on the President to act. The Minister of Health Dr. Leslie Ramsammy must be removed in the public interest and the matter should be placed in the hands of the Director of Public Prosecution. The failure to act would contribute to the atmosphere of lawlessness that pervades the country.


ATTEMPTS TO ANNIHILATE BUXTON WILL DEEPEN NATIONAL SECURITY CRISIS:

The PNCR expresses concern over the recent statement by the President to the effect that he has instructed the security forces to “clean out” Buxton and demands a clarification of this ambiguous statement

Has the President forgotten that Buxton assumed its present demeanor in response to irresponsible, reckless and illegal policing and extra-judicial killings, which traumatized and radicalized an entire village? Has the government not learnt lessons from its previous blunders in dealing with the Buxton situation?

The situation in Buxton has complex causes, not least among which is the social and economic decay the community has experienced. It was not by chance that Buxton was the first village that the PNCR determinedly placed on the list of depressed communities for priority attention.

The PNCR hopes that the proposals of our late Leader, Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte and the present initiative of our new Leader, Mr. Robert Corbin will feature prominently in any solution contemplated by the government to deal with the situation at Buxton.

While the PNCR has not and cannot condone the criminality among some that has resulted from this socio-economic, cultural and psychological dynamic, there can be no justification to treat the situation as one which requires only a policing response and at that, a violent response. Further, we firmly believe that there is no “one-stroke” solution for addressing the Buxton problem. Buxton cries out for hard socio-economic, cultural and psychological analysis and solutions of that ilk. In that regard Buxton only epitomizes the general state that pervades the country. But alas the PPP/C seems incapable of or unwilling to proceed with such a studied and comprehensive response.

The PNCR however, wishes to make it pellucidly clear that while it stands ready to collaborate in addressing the socio-economic problems of the various communities and the country at large, including fighting crime, it will not stand idly by and condone the proposed annihilation of an entire village and its people.

Crime can only be alleviated if the causal factors are identified and dealt with. Any other approach will only result in an escalation of crime and deepening of the national crisis. To this end the PNC Reform calls on the Government to urgently address the root causes.

TIME TO START WORK ON THE COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR LINDEN:

Now that the situation in Linden has stabilized and the residents await the results of government promises, it is time to reflect on the lessons learnt from the preceding three weeks and to use the experience to craft a new attitude to governance in the country.

Lesson 1: the justified lack of trust and confidence the people of Linden have in the national government.

The People’s National Congress Reform has noticed comments in some sections of the media that the prolonged blocking of the bridge even after promises were made by President Jagdeo was a “…telling sign of the breakdown of law and order…” and that this showed a lack of respect for President Jagdeo.

On the contrary, the real reason for the prolonging of the crisis is not lack of respect for authority but rather it is the break down in confidence and trust between ordinary citizens and those elected to govern fairly and effectively. Governance in Guyana has slipped to this sorry state where the people cannot trust the word of the government; not even the word of the President himself. The Kwakwani experience is all too fresh in the memory.


It is obvious that an uncaring and discriminatory government has nurtured the attitudes of the people in Linden with false promises which they never intended to keep. The Minister of Housing and Water, Shaik Baksh’s famous promise a few months ago to address the water situation at Linden is a notable example

The PPP/Civic policy of governing for some of the people and treating sections of the society as second-class citizens has backfired. The PNC Reform accepts that if the President’s promises could have been accepted the blockade in Linden by residents could have ended sooner but asks the question, “who is responsible for that?” The answer is simple, the PPP/Civic, as a result of its track record of deceit and spite.

The PNC Reforms hopes that the Government has recognized that its backward discriminatory policy can only but harm the entire nation. No one will benefit. We now call on the PPP/Civic to join the PNC Reform in a genuine effort to free Guyana of the policy of spite and to work towards a genuinely inclusive and caring system of governance.

Lesson 2: the need for an integrated and comprehensive development plan for Linden, drafted by major stakeholders, particularly residents and their representative bodies

The PNC Reform has noted the numerous reports of President Jagdeo’s activities in Linden. The President seems to have lost his way. The Leader of the PNC Reform, Mr. Robert Corbin, invited Mr. Jagdeo to Linden to, among other things, address the long-term future of Linden. However, it appears that Mr. Jagdeo cannot see beyond patching roads and digging drains. The PNC Reform reiterates its position that Linden needs a Comprehensive Development Plan. The President must stop playing politics and get on with what he was elected to do – govern effectively in the interests of all.

Any effort by the President to suggest that he can be involved in the day-to-day formulation of the development plan is foolhardy. He neither has the time nor all the multi-faceted skills that are needed to develop such a plan. We therefore call on the President to urgently engage competent professionals to start work. We suggest that this plan for overall long-term economic development address the revival of the bauxite industry, diversification of the economic bases and the attraction of investments through structured investments.

Lesson 3: the damage to industries and the economy in general that insensitive and unresponsive governance could cause.

The announcement by Linmine Chief Executive Officer that the company lost US $1M as a result of the recent collapse of the water and electricity services in Linden should not go un-noticed. It is well known that the company is in serious economic difficulties and can ill afford to lose money for any reason. These losses will no doubt affect the long-term viability of the company and the community as a whole.

The social unrest that flowed as a result of the utility services collapse has also impacted negatively on a number of businesses, including OMAI which is a significant contributor to the national economy. This obviously has impacted negatively on the already fragile and declining economy that has been destroyed by PPP/Civic corruption and incompetence and will no doubt set the country further back.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Friday April 25, 2003