PRESS STATEMENT By the People’s National Congress Reform To the Press Conference on Thursday August 14th, 2003 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia



PRESIDENT JAGDEO’ S DUPLICITY ON THE QUESTION OF CONSENSUS BUILDING: On February 8, 2003 the PPP/C Government in the person of the President, Bharrat Jagdeo made a presentation and policy declaration, under the caption ‘Towards Greater Inclusive Governance in Guyana’, the theme of which was ‘Building Trust to Achieve Genuine Political Co-operation’. Under the sub-head – “The Struggle for Good Governance”. It was asserted that among the issues which the PPP/C campaigned against were: Subversion of independent institutions, corruption and accountability and Party paramountcy over the institutions and organs of the State’.

In the said presentation Mr. Jagdeo referred to previous pronouncements such as “I extend a hand of friendship to those who are in opposition and invite them to sit with us and iron out differences so that we can have a common cause to serve – a cause in service to our people and nation” and “It is critical that we engage one another in dialogue. We should always reach out and talk to each other. In this way, we could be fulfilling the mandate of all Guyanese as we share our differing views in the search for national consensus on the common objective of making this country a better place for all”.

Notwithstanding the PNCR’s call for shared governance, which represents a paradigm shift in governance, and an advance on the PPP/C’s position, the PNCR recognizes the President’s pronouncements as acceptable movements along the continuum of the paradigm shift in governance. However, recent events have told quite a different story.

The PPP/C with time on its hand refused to take the Procurement Legislation to a Select Committee and insisted that their view was the only valid view. That represented three departures from their own pronouncements. They refused to even use the consensus building mechanisms (the Select Committee of the National Assembly); to seek consensus by way of addressing the concerns which were raised by the PNCR; and to slacken their control over the procurement process by removing the invisible hand of the Minister and the presence of his/her nominees throughout the system. In fact, the pervasiveness of the Minister’s hand at all levels of the system leaves much to be desired and leaves the doors wide open to corruption, the lack of accountability and Party paramountcy. This can hardly be considered to be the conscious effort at building trust and establishing confidence which the President called for in his presentation.

That might have been considered as a one off departure from the declared principles. However, the recent exchanges on the Broadcast Legislation, confirm that the PPP/C is back to its old ways. The most glaring case of the PPP/C’s old ways is evident in Robert Persaud’s gross misrepresentation on the issue of the National Frequency Management Unit. The Communiqué is unequivocal in its call for the two options presented in the report to be put forward for further ventilation. But lo and behold Robert Persaud concludes that “There is no comment from the Leader of the Opposition and that the Government was quite in order to propose an option” thus denying the populace an opportunity to comment on the two options. Where are the consensus, trust and confidence building in such blatant misrepresentations and grandstanding? To make matters worse the President joined the fray and is reported as having said ‘the Government will not give up its rights to propose legislative changes, pass those changes which are proposed, and face the consequences at the polls’. What is the applicability of the President’s position on a piece of legislation which is grounded in a consensus report of the two Parties? Why should anyone take the time and effort to arrive at consensus if one Party is going to arbitrarily disregard the consensus? Why does the President on one hand call for the ‘ironing out of differences’ and ‘the search for consensus’ and at the same time put his foot in his mouth about giving up his rights?

The PNCR is certain about where it stands on these matters. The President and the PPP/C has got to be unequivocal about how it stands, least it courts disaster by its duplicity

SUBMISSION TO THE DISCIPLINED FORCES COMMISSION:

The PNCR is ready to make its formal submission of a memorandum today Thursday, August 14, 2003. The Party has been in fact ready with its submission for sometime but used the opportunity provided by the Commission’s extension to further develop and refine its positions and recommendations. Apart from the written submission to be made, the Party expects to be called by the Commission to give evidence, and intends to make a fulsome oral submission at that time.

The submission seeks to answer every Term of Reference in some detail and there is undoubtedly an emphasis on the Guyana Police Force. The focus of the Party’s presentation is not to provide a bitter re-hash of past events but to be forward looking and innovative in making practical recommendations which will benefit all of the forces and ultimately, the nation. We believe that all of the Disciplined Forces will be satisfied with our comments as we are recommending increased wages and salaries, and better training and conditions. We earnestly hope that the government will itself make a submission, which puts the members of the Disciplined Forces first by agreeing that there is much work to be done and by helping to craft recommendations for their upliftment.

The presentation will be done this afternoon at 3:00 pm at the Disciplined Forces Commission’s Secretariat at the Law Library, Georgetown

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday August 14th, 2003