`Stop playing politics’
-- PPP urges PNCR
Guyana Chronicle
July 24, 2004

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THE People's Progressive Party (PPP) is accusing the main Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNCR) of trying to discredit the government to divert attention from the massive ongoing developmental projects around the country.

It says these projects include a bridge across the Berbice River bridge, new hospitals for Linden, Lethem and New Amsterdam, a new cricket stadium, massive infrastructure works and efforts to provide educational opportunities for all, including those in hinterland communities.

At a press conference yesterday at the PPP's Freedom House headquarters, General Secretary, Mr. Donald Ramotar said the party has noted with "disgust, the continuing attempts by the PNCR to discredit the PPP/Civic administration and its leaders in the eyes of the Guyanese people and international community.”

“No doubt embarrassed by its rejection over the George Bacchus affair in which it attempted to implicate the PPP/C in the murder of George Bacchus, the PNCR has now resorted to cheap political propaganda by attempting to implicate the administration in fraudulent practices with respect to wildlife, including the unauthorised export of dolphins", he said.

Ramotar said the PPP was totally and unequivocally intolerant to corruption and corrupt practices, and it is precisely because of this position that mechanisms were set up by the PPP/C administration to deal with issues of corruption, transparency and public accountability, including establishment of the Integrity Commission and strengthening the Office of the Auditor General.

He added that the party was aware of the measures taken by the competent authorities to deal with the unauthorised exports of wildlife which have generated much attention in the media.

"The PNCR, obviously fishing for issues to attack the administration, has seized on the issue purely on the basis of anecdotal reports,” Ramotar charged.

"The PPP is convinced that like the George Bacchus affair, the truth will ultimately prevail over the lies and distortions by the PNCR, calculated to do damage to the integrity and credibility of the PPP/Civic administration and its leaders," he said.

On the issue of dialogue with the PNCR, Ramotar reiterated the party's commitment to the process, stating that the records will show that it has always sought genuine dialogue on important national issues.

He said that both in and out of government, the PPP has never walked away from dialogue and that position remains up to now.

He added that on the other hand the same record would show that it was the PNCR that has always paid lip service to dialogue.

He noted that President Bharrat Jagdeo in the true spirit of reconciliation agreed to the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry on the allegations against the Home Affairs Minister despite no substantial evidence to justify the claims.

The General Secretary accused the PNCR cleverly omitting in a press release that the President reiterated his commitment to the dialogue process and the desirability of continuing talks at the leadership level.

"The PPP calls on the PNCR to stop playing politics with the lives of the Guyanese people and focus on the issues of substance.

“It is time for the PNCR to re-enter Parliament and make a more constructive contribution to the development processes unleashed in the current PPP/Civic administration," Ramotar urged.

Asked about the PNCR's absence from Parliament Thursday, he contended that it is an implication that the Opposition party does not consider matters of education as being important.

In relation to the harassment of the business community during recent protests in Georgetown, Ramotar said stronger actions should be taken in such instances as such behaviour contributes to scaring investors.

He said too that his party is "anxious" over the holding of Local Government elections because it strengthens the democratic process, and pointed out that a recent visit by an expert on local government electoral systems explored the idea of having an electoral system here which reflects the proportionality of the contestants but preserves the element of representation.

However, no agreement on the preferred electoral system has been concluded, Ramotar reported.

On the threat facing the sugar industry, he said recent pronouncements by the European Commission were of grave concern to the nation as a whole, and the PPP fully supports the efforts of the government and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) bloc in resisting the proposed changes.

Proposed changes to the guaranteed preferential prices by the European Union to ACP sugar producers could have a devastating impact, government and industry officials have said.

Ramotar noted that in the present context the Skeldon modernisation project is vital to the industry in Guyana.

He said the PPP feels that with hard work and sacrifice by all concerned the sugar industry would be able to successfully meet the challenges and continue its contribution to the national economy and developmental process as a whole. (CHAMANLALL NAIPAUL)