Ramsammy hails Gajraj death squad rebuttal
Stabroek News
April 17, 2004

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Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy yesterday congratulated Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj for his stern refutation of the allegations levelled against him by self-confessed death squad informant George Bacchus.

The show of support came at the end of his speech on the last day of the budget debate in the National Assembly.

On Thursday, Gajraj launched a thunderous verbal attack on the media and the PNCR for the allegations linking him to a death squad.

"I do know that [there were] death squads before 1992," Ramsammy said, citing the cases of Father Bernard Darke and Walter Rodney, both of whom died under mysterious circumstances in the days of the PNC.

He said that the PNCR had a tendency to deplore the killing of bandits by policemen, calling them murderers while lionising the criminals by draping the Guyana flag on their coffins.

In giving his assessment of the budget for 2004, Ramsammy said that it offers advancement without placing further hardship on people.

With reference to the political scenario, he said that there must be compromise if consensus cannot be reached, saying that that is what makes good governance and that is what a democratic society is all about.

He said too that the PNC's past is an albatross that will follow them all their lives, "until they come to this House and apologise and take responsibility."

He called the PNCR's non-participation in the National Assembly a shirking of responsibility and said that too often the party is absent and not representing its constituents. "I am certain that when they [PNCR members] boycott the House they don't give up their salaries. Do they give up their duty-free privileges?"

He said that for the health sector the budget made an allocation of $6.7 billion, 9% of the $75.6 billion budget. Ramsammy said that this is more than US$60 per capita on health this year. He said that among the plans for the health sector is a sight-screening programme for schools in Regions Two and Three, where the schools would be provided with optical charts. The services of an ophthalmologist and an optometrist will be contracted to test children's eyes and to compile a register of those children and their optical condition.

Minister of the Public Service, Jennifer Westford said that the government placed emphasis on higher levels of production and growth and for that the government has allocated $35M for local and overseas training.

She said that there are currently 246 persons overseas who are pursuing studies in various disciplines.

In applauding the budget, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Gail Teixeira charged that there are those who give the impression that nothing has changed in Guyana. She said that persons are coming back to Guyana to see that things have changed.