President refutes racial discrimination allegations
Guyana Chronicle
May 15, 2002

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`Seventy five per cent of the people on the Government payroll are Afro-Guyanese. You do not see them being dismissed every day...' - President Bharrat Jagdeo

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo has strongly refuted allegations of racial discrimination against his Government, saying that no Guyanese, regardless of their ethnicity, was being treated better than another.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said that in an interview Sunday with Mr. Adam Harris, Editor-in-Chief of the TV `Prime News' programme, the President noted that his Government has been accused on many occasions of racial discrimination in various areas, especially by the main Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R).

According to him, the Opposition has tried to promote the view that the Government is concerned only about the welfare of Indo-Guyanese while the other five ethnic groups in Guyana - Amerindians, Portuguese, Europeans, Chinese and especially Africans - have been neglected.

President Jagdeo said this allegation was not fair and is a total misrepresentation of what the reality is, GINA reported.

"Seventy five per cent of the people on the Government payroll are Afro-Guyanese. You do not see them being dismissed every day, or about 10,000 people being laid off at the same time. I think we are to be blamed to some extent (for the accusations) because some people are hell bent on creating mischief, racial mischief, because it all links to political power and maybe we do not speak enough about these things and publish these statistics," Mr. Jagdeo said.

He referred to PNC/R Parliamentarian, Mr. Stanley Ming, who issued a statement that the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was ruining the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF).

According to the President, Ming's criticism that the budgets of the Army and the Police Force have been lowered over the years was totally inaccurate.

"If Stanley Ming was to go and look at the budgets, he would see that in the 90's the Army was getting $400,000 and that was when the exchange rate was already $126 to US$1. It moved in 1991 to about $1M for Capital equipment," he said.

The President also said that Guyanese can check the estimates available in Parliament that were done by the PNC/R Minister of Finance at the time, Mr. Carl Greenidge.

"At the same time one person working at (the Ministry of) Foreign Affairs was making $12M annually. This man was making twelve times more than the Army's capital budget per year," the President pointed out.

"It's a total lie and what they are hoping for is that people will forget that period," he argued.

On the issue of economic management, he said that the PNC/R Administration had left the country in bankruptcy, with 94 per cent of the revenues earned having to be repaid to service the country's huge debt burden at that time.

"They left the country totally bankrupt. People were starving in this country at one time. There were food shortages and so on. Young people do not remember that. And the PNC/R wants to lecture the Government on economic management," the President declared.

He feels the media and civil society need to play a more active role in refuting these allegations and bringing the truth to the front.

"Stanley Ming will get away with it because maybe we are not responding enough to say he is a liar. But civil society and the media should have picked that up immediately and say `What is he talking about?'

"These people go around saying that they are reputable but they lie every single day," he charged.

According to the President, Guyana has come a far way and he urged that Guyanese judge for themselves the progress made over the years.