STATEMENT BY THE GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE PPP, MR. DONALD RAMOTAR, MP - PNC/R DISRUPTION CAMPAIGN


The recent walk out by the PNC from Thursday 23rd October sitting of the National Assembly, represents yet another manifestation of that Party’s obstructionist tactics calculated to disrupt the smooth functioning of the nation’s affairs. The fact that substantial sums of money were involved in the holding of parliamentary sessions more so at this time when repairs to Parliament Building is in progress, seemed to be of no consequence to the PNC, which seemed to have established a reputation for extravagance and waste. The pretext of the walk out this time was that the Bill was lodged with the Clerk of Parliament beyond the time prescribed by the Customs Act.

If the PNC felt so strongly about this issue, why didn’t they before the sitting, indicate to the Speaker or the Leader of the House, or the Parliamentary Management Committee so that the sitting could have been called off before and a lot of money could have been saved. They did not do so. They waited until the Parliament was in session and then began their theatrics.

In passing, it is apposite to point out that during the PNC’s period in Office, Bills and Orders going in late and suspension of the Standing Orders were more the rule than the exception.

This type of behaviour of the PNC is not an isolated episode. It is a pattern that we can see since the conclusion of the 1997 Elections

We would recall the violence that the PNC unleashed after the 1997 Elections. They called for a “forensic audit” of the elections.

A CARICOM team came here and did such an audit. They reported that, not a single fraudulent ballot was found.

That did not stop the PNC from continuing their violence when the audit found the elections to be very clean. The PNC continued to attack the elections and took the issue to court.

This time they argued that the Voter I.D. Card was unconstitutional. This was after they sat with the PPP, WPA and TUF and they all agreed to use the Voter I.D. Card. It should also be noted that no one during or after the 1997 elections, made any complaint about the Voter’s I.D. Card. Lo and behold the PNC challenged it on that ground.

It is clear that, acting in a principled way is not one of the PNC’s strong points.

In the whole process millions of dollars had to be spent in this exercise.

The PNC showed disinterest in constitutional reforms before 1997. This was seen in the almost one year non-participation in the Bernard Commission set up in 1995. After that election, they became enthusiastic about a new constitution.

In the process they played a full role. It was the PNC that held the position of Secretary and headed the secretariat of the Commission that was established to examine the constitution.

After they lost the 2001 elections they began to demand another new constitution. Clearly they seem intent on wasting more of the Nation’s scarce resources.

The story does not end here. In the run-up to the 2001 elections, the PNC was doing its best to disrupt the preparation for the elections.

In their efforts to sow doubt on the database at the Elections Commission, they issued a list of names of people they claimed did not exist. In the matter of a few hours it was shown that the PNC was intent on mischief making. Almost all the persons were found, which included the brother of the then chairman of the Elections Commission and a popular Radio hostess.

The Elections Commission then went on a very expensive exercise with the Earle’s Field Test. The checking and registration process showed that the test was done sloppily, because almost all the people Earle claimed he could not find turned up, were registered and photographed.

That exercise cost millions, once again.

Still not satisfied, the PNC continued their efforts to disrupt, this time just at the close of the claims and objections process they objected to thirty seven thousand Indo-Guyanese names. In some villages on the Corentyne they tried to disenfranchise all the people.

Again, they were proven wrong. However, the cost to our country was once more, enormous.

We also know of the damage they did by the politically motivated violence in the post 2001 elections.

Only recently, the PNC once more raised the issue of the systems Security of the database. At great expense the Elections Commission brought a computer specialist to check on the database. This is what he had to say, “We have investigated all the evidence that the PNC/R have provided us from the security logs. We have found no evidence to support any allegations that the security of the database was breached, or that the system security at GECOM was at risk…”

The result of the specialist check revealed that the database is clean. They now seek to challenge the credibility of the expert.

The behaviour of the PNC on Thursday 23rd October is clearly the continuation of a pattern which is designed to waste resources in an effort to frustrate government’s programmes designed to uplift the working and living conditions of all Guyanese. Any disruption that they can create or piggyback on others (as we saw during the up-surge in crimes during the February 23, 2002 to May 2003) they do not hesitate to do. They seems to be working on the premise that the worst they can make it for the country the better it would be for them.

It is time that the PNC changes gear and becomes more constructive in the interest of our country.

Peter DeGroot Criticisms:

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is concerned at the misrepresentation of its positions to the international community made in a speech by the head of the social Partners’ initiative, Dr. Peter DeGroot at a luncheon with diplomats stationed here on 12th September 2003.

We would like to set the record straight.

 

In the first place the PPP welcomed the initiative and gave it unconditional support when it was proposed to us.

We did express the view then that the social partner group should have been broader. Significantly, the farmers’ organisations were not invited to be involved and the religious bodies were not chosen to be a part of the initiative.

At that time too we noted that the labour movement was not united. Some of the largest unions had withdrawn from the TUC and they too were excluded. The Berbice Bar of the Bar Association was not consulted.

The PPP’s position was for more inclusion so that the group could have been more representative.

Nevertheless the PPP worked with that body even though it felt that the other social groups should not have been excluded.

Dr. DeGroot’s interpretation that the Government representatives had the “.. perception … that the Social Partners Group would possibly develop into a third political force ..” was totally misplaced. That was never a consideration on our part.

What Dr. DeGroot failed to state was the fact that the lack of achievement had to do with the constant changing of the position of the PNC during the process.

For example, on the question of the crime communiqué we all thought that we had an agreement to be signed after all the earlier concerns of the PNC were attended to. However, at the final meeting the PNC abandoned all those positions and presented new ones, which prevented the communiqué from being signed. That was what frustrated the efforts of obtaining a crime communiqué.

The PPP is deeply concerned that such jaundiced views on its positions are made at such high forums. Such actions do not engender confidence nor trust.

More Accountability

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) wishes to congratulate the Auditor General (ag) and his staff in completing the audit of Government Accounts for 2002. That report was handed over to the Speaker of the National Assembly last Friday.

Guyana’s Government accounts are the most up-dated in the Caribbean and certainly among the top in the broader international community.

The Auditor General’s report is now becoming a tradition, something to look forward to. It allows Parliament to scrutinise it and to recommend corrective measures.

The Auditor General’s report is a major tool of governance. It promotes openness in public affairs and is an important tool in dealing with corruption.

This speaks well of the entire process of accountability and transparency in the management of the nation’s financial affairs to which the current PPP/Civic administration is totally committed.

This is a refreshing change from the pre – 1992 days, when audits were as rarely done, the last being more than a decade before the PNC left office.

Ramadan Greetings

The PPP wishes to take this opportunity to salute its Muslim brothers and sisters on the commencement of the month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is the time of the year when Muslims are expected to exercise abstinence. This sacrifice that brings our Muslim brothers and sisters closer to the sufferings of the underprivileged and lead to a greater commitment to making a more compassionate and caring society.

The PPP calls on all Guyanese to draw inspiration from this selfless act of sacrifice by our Muslim brothers and sisters during this auspicious month.


November 03, 2003