PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference on Thursday, November 20, 2003 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:

• If the PPP/C were as diligent and prompt in their responses to matters to do with the communiqué as they are in evasion, the Constructive Engagement process might not have developed the problems which we have detailed.

• The Minister of Home Affairs is an incompetent liability and we again call on the President to remove him from office and replace him with someone competent and energetic.

• Rashleigh Jackson’s book on foreign policy describes the golden years of Guyana’s Diplomacy.

• The appointment of Lisa Ramotar is blatant and unjustified nepotism.

CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT PROCESS – PPP/C RESPONSE:

The PNC Reform has observed that the response of the President to a letter from the Leader of the Opposition is a letter which has been well-orchestrated media campaign which does nothing to make an impact on the real issues. The letter which has been tendered by the government was signed by the Prime Minister Mr. Hinds but the convoluted style and evasive attitude is obviously the work of another prominent government figure. The PNC Reform intends to ignore this letter and the attendant propaganda campaign. We have stated that there are problems with the progress and achievement of the Communiqué process. We have no time to allocate blame for this situation nor do we intend to fend and prove with Mr. Hinds. We stand by our party’s position that the Communiqué process is in trouble and in need of revitalization and an injection of seriousness. The people of Guyana can judge for themselves the reality of our situation. The PNCR will not indulge in rhetoric. This is the time for serious action not words. If the PPP/C were as diligent and prompt in their responses to matters to do with the Communiqué as they are in issuing evasive utterances, the Constructive Engagement process might not have developed the problems which we have detailed.

THE CITY FIRE & THE GUYANA POLICE FORCE:

The consequences of the fire of last Thursday in which three major Georgetown businesses were wiped out continue to unfold. Undoubtedly, billions of dollars have been lost, hundreds have been left jobless and penniless and worst of all, the economy of the nation has had a further blow. The PNCR considers that at this time, it is unfair to blame the Guyana Fire Service for its role in this disaster when it is well known that the service is bereft of resources and more often than not lacks the support of other agencies whose role is critical to fire fighting. Citizens from depressed communities have for some time been crying out at the destruction which come about when the service is unable to protect them from fire damage because of inadequate tenders and empty hydrants and clogged drains.

Today, the people of Guyana stand helpless after being stripped of all protection, which is to be expected from state agencies such as the police force, the hospitals and now the fire service. The government’s policy on security in this area remains unclear after 11 years while the charred remains of Pitt Street, New Amsterdam and Hadfield and Lombard Streets, Georgetown among others tell a story of failure and ineptitude. The buck stops with the Government and Minister of Home Affairs in particular. The valiant efforts of our men and women in uniform who are expected to wage a battle with inadequate equipment, little training and an unsympathetic administration must be recognized.

We repeat our sympathy to all those who suffered losses in the recent fire. We expect that the government will announce immediately the assistance to be given to the business owners as well as the numerous employees who are displaced at this time of year as was done in the case of the New Amsterdam fire.

The PNCR is extremely distressed by the recent spate of killings, which have intensified within the last few days. We extend sympathies to all those who lost loved ones as a result of this mayhem. There now appears to be no distinction between law enforcement and criminal activity as both employ the same barbaric methods of doing their business. Professional behavior by the law enforcement authorities would be an important first step in dealing with the situation.

The Disciplined Forces Commission is nearing the end of its first task. The PNCR has in our campaign for the establishment of the Commission argued that one of its benefits would be the opportunity for the professional police leadership to publicly discuss their diagnosis of the problems and establish possible strategies for their resolution. The professionalism and objectivity of the evidence led so far by the professional leadership of the force has justified our optimism. The candor and fairness of assessment of the security situation presented by the Acting Police Commissioner and his team have justified the calls made by the PNCR for an investigation into the functioning of the Police Force. We trust that these policemen will not be the victims of recrimination by the political overlords for being professional and honest in their assessment. The evidence justifies our opinion that the police force is finding it difficult if not impossible to keep up with the changing nature and extent of the new forms of crime we are witnessing in Guyana. It also confirms that there is absolutely no national security strategy in place. We repeat our position that the Minister of Home Affairs is an incompetent liability and we again call on the President to remove him from office and replace him with someone competent and energetic.

LAUNCHING OF RASHLEIGH JACKSON’S BOOK:

The People’s National Congress Reform congratulates Mr. Rashleigh Jackson on the launching of his book- “Guyana`s Diplomacy”. This particular book launching is significant in more than one way. Firstly it records for posterity Guyana’s History in the sphere of Foreign Policy during the days, which one presenter at the launching referred to as the Golden Years. Secondly, it is a virtual text on Foreign Policy, which can be of tremendous assistance to those who care to be inspired by our achievements of the past; and to learn from the teachings of the proven masters of the craft.




NEPOTISM IN THE PPP/C:

The attempt by the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Luncheon to sidestep allegations of nepotism against the PPP/C regime was a ludicrous piece of political comedy. Luncheon has once again placed his foot in his mouth. The appointment of Lisa Ramotar as a representative of Guyana to the World Bank can have no justification. This could only have occurred through blatant “influence peddling” by the General Secretary of the PPP/Civic. Whereas Dr. Ganga is a well-qualified and experienced professional economist, Lisa Ramotar could hardly be described as qualified for appointment to represent Guyana at one of the World’s most important multi-lateral financial institutions.

A country is normally represented at such organizations by some one who has a combination of high academic and professional qualifications and wide ranging experience in economic policy and planning matters. Ms. Ramotar is only recently qualified and has practically no experience in the public service or banking system. If the choice of Guyana’s candidate was to be based on merit given the many loyal servants of the government with greater experience and qualifications, Lisa Ramotar would certainly rank very low in the order.

Dr. Luncheon in his usual arrogant manner has said that the Government is under no obligation to justify Lisa’s appointment. We disagree. They have a moral obligation to the nation, the entire public service and their consciences. Nepotism is alive and rife in the PPP/C administration.



People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, November 20, 2003