The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) is concerned that the joint communique recently signed by President Bharrat Jagdeo and Opposition Leader Robert Corbin says nothing about what it refers to as the glut of illegal arms on the underground market in Guyana, though these weapons have been instruments in the very crime situation the leaders have been discussing.
In a statement on the April 22 communique, the WPA says the document “is quite muted on the subject of crime and violence, including the not so publicly admitted but systematic execution of those on the `wanted list’”.
The WPA also remarked that five weeks after the signing of the communique between President Jagdeo and Opposition Leader Corbin, the “people’s initial sense of relief and hopefulness has been overtaken by something resembling the old despair and cynicism.”
The party then cautioned against over-expectation, saying “all is far from well in the Republic.” But it posited that a genuinely revitalised parliament will go some way to raise the morale of the people, many of whom “see themselves as futureless in the land of their birth.”
One notable omission in the joint communique, the WPA contended, is the “recommendation arising in the course of HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) consultations in the last phase, for an all-party Investment Commission which is a direct way of signalling all party support to beneficial investment in a highly competitive situation.”
The party in its statement commended the two leaders for again planning to spend government funds in depressed areas. The attention to Linden and other depressed communities is welcome, though the LEAP (Linden Economic Advancement Programme) programme which was launched with such expectation and so many deficiencies last year escaped attention, the statement said.
“We however do not hear enough about adequate credit and other support to those efforts by people already on the ground in various sub-sectors, whether in handicraft or agriculture or other,” the party charged.
Against that background, the WPA says it is appealing to the leaders for support for a group of cane farmers who launched a cooperative a few years ago to cultivate 80 acres of sugar cane and organic crops.
The party said further “there are the people of No. 30 West Coast Berbice and elsewhere who have plans to develop economic enterprises and have got no official help. Cases in need of credit and official help abound.”
The WPA also pointed to the long delay in reaching the recent agreements and observed that it raises the question whether “our major leaders must always be prodded by events.”
The party stated that it was humiliating to read in the Joint Communique that the issue of the parliamentary management committee had been agreed between the two sides in July 1998. Taking five years to achieve what had already been achieved, the WPA commented, “is not normally a forward step, although in our special condition in Guyana, where such constitutional bodies can be disregarded at will, we have to hope it is a forward step.”
The WPA also contended that many of the housekeeping matters discussed by Jagdeo and Corbin would appear to have been matters for the National Assembly, its committees, officials and the Speaker. “It is for the Speaker and the officers and elected officials on the spot to agree on the facilities needed as a result of the constitutional amendments and to request that provision be made for them.” The WPA added that the PNCR had been absent from two annual budget debates in which such matters might have been raised or in which provision made for them could have been questioned.
Meanwhile, the WPA is hoping that the issue of amending the Standing Orders and extending parliamentary functions and procedures to bring them into line with the new constitution do not have to go to the President for prior clearing or do not become subjects of dispute except on the floor of the House, the statement noted.