President, Ming in battle of words over police force
Stabroek News
May 17, 2002

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His statement that the Guyana Police Force was worse off than it was in previous years has drawn sharp criticism from President Bharrat Jagdeo, but PNC/R Parliamentarian Stanley Ming maintains he was only reporting a fact.

Ming, at a press conference last Thursday, reiterated a call made by the PNC/R for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into the operations of the entire force to examine, among other things, its leadership, structure and general ability to fulfil its mandate to give service and protection to all the people of Guyana.

During that meeting, the businessman stated: "No right-thinking Guyanese could dispute the fact that the state of the Guyana Police Force [is] the worst that it has ever been. The vindictive policy of the PPP/C regime, since 1992, of starving the GPF and the other disciplined services of vital financial and material resources, has resulted in a demoralised Force...."

But President Jagdeo, on Sunday last, said, "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 $1 million for capital equipment."

The President pointed out that at the same time, one person working at the Foreign Affairs Ministry was making $12 million, 12 times more than the Army's capital budget per year.

But Ming, in a telephone interview on Wednesday, told Stabroek News that he would leave it up to the Guyanese public to judge whether his statement was true or not. Whether or not the members of the armed forces were poorly paid and dangerously under-strength, whether or not they were estranged from the various communities on which they should be depending for cooperation and assistance, whether they were able to combat and control the upsurge in violent crime and the rapid expansion of the drug trade, to cope with the escalating white-collar corruption and crimes, and whether or not they were ill-equipped and de-motivated.

"What is unfortunate, is that if the PNC/R makes a statement, why does he [President Jagdeo] single out Stanley Ming?" Ming queried. He emphatically stated that, although he stood by the statement, he was merely expressing the views of the party.

"I was the biggest critic of the PNC during the Burnham era...[and] if the GPF did not get the resources ten years ago, that is no excuse for not giving it to them now," the MP stated. He said at this point in time, Guyanese expected better from whichever government was in power. "If we are not getting it, I will talk out...I am standing up as a Guyanese."

During Sunday's television interview with Prime News Editor Adam Harris, President Jagdeo also refuted allegations of racial discrimination by the government. He said no Guyanese, regardless of their ethnicity, was being treated better than another. He said the main opposition party has tried to promote the view that government was only concerned about the welfare of Indo-Guyanese, while neglecting the other racial groups in the country. "Seventy-five per cent of the people on 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," President Jagdeo stated.

On the issue of economic management, the President said that the past PNC administration left the country in bankruptcy, where 94 per cent of the revenue earned had to be paid 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 government on economic management," the President said, as he urged Guyanese to judge for themselves, the progress made over the years.