AFC speaks out against racist Chronicle editorial
Statement on Chronicle Editorial of July 3rd
The Alliance for Change (AFC) joins the Roman Catholic Church and all right-thinking Guyanese, including non-resident Guyanese, in condemning the racist and divisive editorial penned in the Guyana Chronicle of July 3rd last.
While we commend the acts of dismissal of the writer of the offensive editorial, Ms Parvati Persaud-Edwards, and suspension of the editor, Rashid Osman, for his dereliction of duty, this has not gone far enough. The AFC demands a full retraction of the editorial by the Chronicle and an apology to all Guyanese, and in particular, to African-Guyanese. Also, in his capacity as Minister of Information, we demand a statement on the issue from President Ramotar.
Under the PPP today, there is a prevalence of heinous anonymous writings, including scurrilous personal attacks on our citizens in the state media and on internet blogs. This is totally unacceptable and must stop. The most shameless thing about this is that taxpayers’ money is used in this enterprise; we are paying for the fomenting of division in our own society and for attacks on ourselves!
As such, there must be immediate reform in the state media apparatus along the lines of how the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) operates. We demand its immediate depolitisation and the establishment of a new board drawn from distinguished resident and non-resident Guyanese to oversee its operations. Finally, all hate internet blog sites, whether pro-government or opposition must be also shut down, with immediate effect. [END]
Statement on the Linden Electricity Issue
The AFC condemns the Government’s move to remove the electricity subsidy enjoyed by Linden at this time. We believe this act to be politically motivated, in retribution for the justifiable rejection the PPP received from Linden at the recent polls.
It is also most unconscionable, given the depressed state that Linden is in today, with some estimates placing unemployment at over 70%. Under the PPP, Linden experienced a continued decline in the bauxite industry that began under the PNC. Moreover, despite a loss in jobs from several thousand to only a few hundred today, Linden still suffers from the negative effects of the bauxite industry in the form of widespread and oppressive dust pollution. While the PPP has indeed spent significant sums of monies in Linden over the years, it has not been as impactful as it should due to a lack of proper policies and insufficient oversight.
However, we note the PPP is not the only player in this. The people of Linden are also at the mercy of BOSAI, the Chinese company that in 2006 took over the bauxite company there, and has been given free rein by the PPP ever since.
First, they allowed BOSAI to set electricity prices outside of the PUC which is supposed to be the national electricity regulator. This should not be allowed to continue as it clears the PUC of an important obligation, and we demand that the pricing of electricity in Linden be placed within the remit of the PUC forthwith.
Second, BOSAI has taken advantage of the freedom from regulation by charging an exorbitant rate for the surplus electricity it sells. To mitigate this is why the Government had agreed to a subsidy. This practice by BOSAI, therefore, must stop. They must say what they charge the distributor and the basis on which they have arrived at that charge.
Since the electricity is produced principally for BOSAI’s own use, the applicable pricing policy should be marginal pricing, meaning only for the cost of producing additional power, and not total cost
pricing. In any case, when BOSAI bought the power facility in Linden it had already been completely written off. They also buy fuel duty free. Their cost of production has to be far lower than for GPL, especially given the latter’s massive losses to the tune of 32%. So it makes no sense for Prime Minister Sam Hinds to compare Linden’s rate with GPL.
We, therefore, urge that BOSAI be picketed and lobbied as well, since they bear a major responsibility for the problem. Moreover, they are the ones benefitting from the subsidy. BOSAI initially had also promised to build a smelter, and having broken successive deadlines, are yet to install a dust control system. BOSAI must be held accountable, as no company, no matter how much they invest, can be allowed to run slipshod over our people. [END]
Time to Reshuffle Envoys
The Alliance for Change (AFC) welcomes the convening of the current Diplomatic Retreat but is disappointed that the Corps is made up mainly of the same old party loyalists and sinecure appointees. There has been no major rejuvenation of the diplomats, with a few aged envoys being on the job, one in the same station for some 20 years. It is time for a re-shuffle that should see not only re-assignment of some envoys, but the replacement of others.
AFC also notes that the Nation’s interest is not best served, and it is instead a drain of precious taxpayers money, simply to reward moribund political activists, in some cases, and exile others to foreign diplomatic postings often without consideration for their special skills, talent or aptitude. For example, the “Dean” of our diplomatic Corps, Dr. Odeen Ishmael, ought to serve in our America and the Caribbean along with Ambassador Dr. David Dabydeen, whilst High Commissioner Lallsingh and Ambassador Gajraj should make way for fresh talent from among our career foreign service. In this regard AFC welcomes the more recent postings from career staff, which helped to portray our Corps as multi-ethnic and national.
The AFC regrets remarks reportedly made by President Ramotar about Guyana’s tragic brain-drain, when he told diplomats that “we can’t do anything about that.” This is an admission of failure of policy to create jobs, to promote sustainable livelihood and an investment environment that is not contaminated by widespread graft, sleaze and corruption. This, unfortunately, is the “true picture” of today’s Jagdeo-Ramotar Guyana and no amount of diplomatic white-washing would change this, unless there is political will to return Guyana to acceptable levels of good governance, accountability and consultative democratic practices.
The AFC believes that until and unless we radically shake-up the way we run our country, and the diplomatic corps as well, these retreats would be nothing more than grand, expensive excursions, the kind of extravaganza and waste we can ill-afford! [END]