PRESS STATEMENT By the People’s National Congress Reform For the Press Conference on Thursday July 3, 2003 In the Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia



CARICOM HEADS OF GOVERNMENT MEETING IN JAMAICA: The Peoples National Congress Reform notes that the Caricom Heads of Government are meeting this week in Jamaica and express our hopes that this meeting will be fruitful and productive.

The Party’s long standing commitment to, and continued support for, the integration movement, are well known. We are, therefore, anxious that some of the major issues on the agenda, such as regional and national security, governance, the reform of the secretariat and the acceleration of the development of the Single Market and Economy, benefit from the usual enlightened, imaginative, decisive and timely attention. We wish the conference every success and look forward to improved benefits to the people of our Region.

PNCR MEETING WITH DONOR COMMUNITY ON PUBLIC PROCUREMENT ISSUE:

The PNCR wishes to thank the Donor Community for the holding of the historic meeting, on Monday 2003 June 30, to discuss the Party’s concerns about the state of Public Procurement in Guyana.

The discussion was frank, open and fruitful and our Party hopes that this represents the beginning of a new era of openness by the Donor Community in Guyana.

VICTORY OF THE WEST INDIES CRICKET TEAM:

The PNCR joins in the celebrations, with all lovers and supporters of Team West Indies, and congratulates our team on its welcomed victory in the recently completed short series against Sri Lanka.

The emergence of exciting new talent, the evident team spirit and sense of purpose are welcomed signs. We would hope that the example of the Regional Cricket Team will serve as inspiration and example for our regional political leaders meeting in Jamaica.

GOVERNMENT, THE DRUG TRADE AND ORGANISED CRIME:

The PNCR notes with concern the deliberate failure of the Jagdeo Administration to provide the Guyanese people with accurate and timely information on the shipment of illegal drugs to the UK - information which, in the discharge of their official responsibilities, the Guyana Forestry Commission and the Customs Administration must have.

The PPP/C regime’s political interference in the operation of the security forces, its failure to take decisive action with respect to the drug related execution of former CANU boss Mr. Vibert Inniss, the clear evidence of Government’s involvement in the procurement of sophisticated computer equipment found in the possession of the drug underworld and the protection of the Good Hope trio (one of whom was alleged to be wanted by the FBI), all provide ample evidence that the Jagdeo regime is in alliance with the Drug Barons and organised crime in Guyana.

One recent example is the recently reported incident that occurred in May, 2003 in which members of the CANU raided a home in Canal No. 1, West Bank Demerara and unearthed over 220 passports from various countries and 6 firearms. Of the 6 firearms, licenses were produced for two and it was explained to the CANU officers that Freedom House, the Office of the President and the Ministry of Home Affairs, supplied the other four. The ranks arrested the person involved and took him into custody at CANU headquarters. It was further alleged that the Minister of Home Affairs and high-ranking police officials ordered his release. Not surprisingly, nothing has come of the arrest and our information is that the firearms and passports have since been returned with an apology.

It is evident to all who have eyes to see that the objective of the Minister of Home Affairs is to render CANU as a toothless poodle void of authority and no longer capable of apprehending the big fishes. The previously high rate of interdiction boasted by CANU has fallen dramatically within the last 14 months and many of the well-trained ranks have quit their jobs while others have been compromised and/or executed. The PNCR is also reliably informed that efforts are being made by the Minister of Home Affairs to have the current head of CANU replaced by a Freedom House lackey.

Section 22A, of the Narcotic Drugs And Pyschotropic Substances (Control) And (Amendment) Act 1999, gives legitimacy to the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit to operate through the Comptroller of Customs, or any other person authorized by him/her to be an officer, to discharge any function as if a member of the Guyana Police Force. There is no provision whatsoever for a Minister of Government to exercise administrative control of the Unit. Therefore, the imposition of administrative direction of the CANU by the Minister of Home Affairs is a specific illegality which must cease immediately.

The experience of other countries that have traversed this road to become engulfed in drugs and drugs related crimes and violence has shown that the successful conduct of large scale drug operations demand sophisticated arms and ammunition, a parallel ‘defence force’ and a corrupt government. Unfortunately, all of these conditions exist here in Guyana today. The drug cartels and their operatives have publicly demonstrated that they have the sophisticated arms and ammunition and, with the help of the PPP/C regime, they have created a parallel defence force - categorized by the Head of the Presidential Secretariat as the Phantom Squad - controlled by the state-drug alliance. The pervasive and endemic corruption of the PPP/C regime, which provide the protection and cover for drugs and drug trafficking, is no secret in Guyana and must be a matter of concern to all thinking Guyanese and the Diplomatic community.

All Guyanese, including supporters of the Government must be aware that the state-drug alliance has serious negative consequences for the pursuit of Guyana’s foreign policy, for the security of the citizenry and our security Forces. This unholy and dangerous alliance also undermines governance, criminalizes the state, sanctions extra-judicial killings and summary executions, increases drug related homicides, results in the intensification of drug related gang wars for turf and the killing of innocent citizens in the process.

The PPP/C regime has, by its deep involvement in the criminal drug enterprises, destroyed whatever little credibility it had by presiding over the breakdown of law and order and the undermining of social stability.
The PNCR condemns this alliance and warns the regime that it has taken Guyana down a wrong and dangerous road. We demand that the Government ends this alliance forthwith and let the law take its course in the fight against illegal drugs, drug trafficking and all other forms of crimes and criminality.

GOVERNMENT GIVES OVER LINMINE TO CAMBIOR-OMAI:

The PNCR wishes to express its disappointment and dismay at the insensitivity of the Government's actions in relation to Linden, the Bauxite industry and the Region #10 communities. The PPP/C Government should recognise that their backward and unenlightened policies have only resulted in the creation of conditions of depression and desperation in the Bauxite Communities. Therefore, all thinking and caring Guyanese would expect that the Government would see the wisdom of approaches which are transparent, effective and demonstrate plain dealing. Alas, it seems that the Jagdeo regime is once again preparing the ground for more disasters to follow the Beal Deal and the GPL steal.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), dated June 6, 2002 which was signed by the Government and Cambior, envisaged that the privatisation of Linmine, by the vesting of the controlling interest in Cambior, would have been completed by May 31, 2003. Cambior was expected to bring into Linmine US$25.0Mn for the rehabilitation and resuscitation of the Bauxite operations at Linden. Everyone knows that Linmine will collapse without the injection of new investment in its plant and systems. That is why privatization was considered the preferred option and Cambior was courted to take over Linmine.

Unfortunately, Cambior’s has been unable to deliver on any of the primary commitments which they made, in the MOU of June 6, 2002 for their equity investment in Linmine. However, in the face of this failure, the Government has unilaterally and progressively handed over the management and control of Linmine to Cambior. What is the rationale?

The Government’s first step was to amend the MOU to give Cambior control over all of the Bauxite reserves at Linden, though their projected levels of operations would be adequately satisfied by Linmine’s existing operating mines. The second step was the hiring of Omai as the Stripping and Mining contractor as the prelude to the third step which saw the establishment of a so-called Joint Management Team with Cambior in the driving seat. The fourth step was the extension of the MOU deadline to December 31, 2003. The present step is the inexplicable decision to hand over Linmine totally to Cambior-Omai without any investment by them in Linmine. Perhaps the Government is offering Linmine - an entity which is still totally owned by the People of Guyana - as a gift to Cambior. What is the consideration?

All Linmine employees have been made redundant as at July 30, 2003. Cambior-Omai has taken over the total operations of Linmine, including bauxite processing, marketing and shipping, from July 1, 2003. The Government will, in addition, give Cambior-Omai US$ 0.5Mn for working capital.

The President and Cambior have had ample opportunity to disclose their intentions to the Leader of the PNCR, Mr. Robert Corbin, MP. The information available to the PNCR confirms that the President was already at the point of decision when they met, on Wednesday June 18, 2003 and discussed the issue of the Establishment of the Committee to Prepare a Comprehensive Development Programme for Region #10. The failure of the President to inform the Leader of the PNCR is evidence of his intention to act unilaterally even though the opportunity for consultation has been available.

There has been no consultation with the PNCR, the Unions, the Board of Bidco and/or the Board and management of Linmine. All the decisions have been made by the Government and imposed on the management and employees of Linmine with little or no consideration for the severe social and economic dislocations which has and will befall the Linden Community as has happened in the case of the Kwakwani Community.

The PNCR remains resolute in its commitment to ensure that the future of the Linmine workers and the Bauxite Communities of Region #10 are not sacrificed on the alter of Governmental incompetence and political spite.

DISCIPLINED FORCES COMMISSION INQUIRY INTO GUYANA POLICE FORCE:

The PNCR welcomes the newly appointed Commission of Inquiry to investigate and make recommendations on the disciplined forces in Guyana. This Commission, which was formally sworn in on Monday June 30, 2003, has come after several years of agitation and struggle against forces of resistance. The late PNCR leader, Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte, passed away without being able to witness the coming into being of this august body. The Party takes this opportunity to honour his resolve and dedicated work to have such a Commission established. The PNCR expects that the Commission will discharge its mandate in a just and competent manner.

We encourage all citizens to diligently follow the work of the Commission and to participate in every way possible by giving evidence, submitting memoranda, and by encouraging others to do so. We believe that a golden opportunity presents itself for our nation to mature and to develop disciplined forces of which we can all be proud.

This Commission is not expected to be a witch-hunt. Its terms of reference encompasses matters such as the conditions of service of our policemen and women, extra-judicial killings, the perennial issue of the ethnic balance within the forces, operational efficiency and effectiveness, to name a few. The PNCR expects that no stone will be left unturned in the pursuit of the truth and no person or entity exempted from scrutiny.

The PNCR expects that, within the shortest possible time, the Commission will announce when its public work will commence and the manner and process of its public hearings and deliberations.

Our Party notes the refusal of the President to commit resources to facilitate the travel and accommodation of Ms Maggie Beirne, one of the nominees of the Leader of the Opposition, thus preventing her from being in Guyana to be sworn in with the other Commissioners on Monday last. While an arguable case may have been made on the basis of scarce resources it is difficult to rationalise why, despite the knowledge that resources could have been made available from donors, the President still refused to initiate the necessary steps to make the resources available for such an important Commission but agreed that the Leader of the Opposition should do so. The Disciplined Forces Commission is a Parliamentary Commission appointed by the President. The responsibility is therefore ultimately one for the State. It is hoped that commonsense and decency will eventually prevail. The PNCR expects that every effort will be made by the Parliament to ensure the full involvement and contributions of all of the Commissioners appointed to the Disciplined Forces Commission.



People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday July 3, 2003