Jagdeo's stance on land committees forecloses dialogue possibility

Stabroek News
November 6, 1999

PNC leader Desmond Hoyte says that President Bharrat Jagdeo has "foreclosed the possibility" of a meeting between them because the PPP/Civic has no intention of giving up control of land selection committees.

Addressing a crowd of several thousand at a PNC meeting at the Square of the Revolution on Thursday evening, Hoyte claimed that Mr Jagdeo, in a letter to him, said that the land selection committees would not be reformed because the PPP had no intention of giving up control of them. According to Hoyte, the land issue is one of the most important agenda items which any meeting between him and Mr Jagdeo would have to address. So in effect, the PNC leader said, the President "has really foreclosed the possibility of a meeting."

Stressing that land is a pivotal issue to descendants of Africans, Hoyte said that in the old days emancipated slaves bought land and established villages such as Victoria, Buxton, Plaisance and Queenstown from plantation owners. As the state controls land today, Hoyte contends that the state has to act fairly and justly. Therein lies the problem, he said, claiming that the PPP/Civic has been acting in a blatantly unjust manner.

He charged that the land selection committees were controlled by the PPP/Civic and they pursue a political agenda.

On the "big hue and cry" over correspondence between himself and Mr Jagdeo, Hoyte said, "he understands what I said because he tells me and he has told you that he is not the leader of the PPP." Hoyte said Mr Jagdeo claimed he was not the PPP's representative for the purpose of the Herdmanston Accord. If he was not the party's representative, Hoyte asked, "What is he? Whom will I be talking with?"

In his correspondence with Mr Jagdeo, Hoyte said, he had stated that for a meeting to be possible "we should create a suitable climate. I said to him among the things you should do is publish a report on the Mon Repos breach. He said that he will not do that." Hoyte contends that Mr Jagdeo will not publish the report "because that report has some damaging statements about Mr Jagdeo."

The PNC is saying to Mr Jagdeo that he has to give some evidence that he is prepared to act fairly and in good faith. But he claims that Mr Jagdeo is going around making a lot of promises.

Looking at Mr Jagdeo's record, Hoyte said that in his 1997 budget he promised safety in homes, a wages policy, a private sector bank, tender board reform, job creation, a stock exchange and an investment guide and investment code all of which are yet to come into being.

Instead Mr Jagdeo has asked the private sector to draft an investment code, which is a function of the government, Hoyte said. Commenting on Mr Jagdeo's visit to Trinidad to attend the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting Hoyte said that he went to burnish his image. However, CARICOM leaders there, he said, realised that he showed no evidence of tackling corruption including the stone scam, the Mon Repos breach, tender board reform, the Charity wharf collapse or other known irregularities.

He compared Mr Jagdeo's visit to Trinidad to "a bull in a China shop" and "'lil boy going to big man party" believing that he knew more than all those CARICOM heads who have been in the system for years. According to Hoyte, Mr Jagdeo's statement that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy will not take place was one of the reasons why Trinidad Minister of Trade, Mervyn Assam, said not to bother with Jagdeo because "he suffering from newness".

He said that what was amusing about the issue was that the newspapers made a song and dance about Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Basdeo Panday's apology, when in reality Panday was not saying that Assam was wrong. All Panday was saying, Hoyte said, was that the man was a guest in your own house and you were wrong to attack him. (Miranda La Rose)

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