Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Matters to be resolved part 2
(Aired 16 February 2003)

   In 2002 when we were presented with the budget, we were told by Minister of Finance cowlessar that BEFORE December 2002 he will present us with a new tax regime that will seek to broaden the tax base in the country which will have the effect of easing the level of taxation on the traditional sitting ducks for PAYE, the Civil Servants, Teachers, Nurses, Police, Army, Sugar workers etc, nothing has happened.

    Is he is now telling us that the 2003 budget will be presented soon to the Parliament and that there will be another attempt to broaden the Tax base this year. We must remind the Minister that there are those among us who listen carefully and want more than just promises. Additionally I have this advise for the minister, article 77 of the Constitution says and I quote it "the development programme of each region SHALL be integrated into the national development plan, and the government SHALL allocate funds to each region to enable it to implement its development programmes" it says SHALL allocate, Minister, not condescend to allocate, so ladies and gentlemen I have discovered that by allocating such small amounts to region 4 which affects its development plans, this government is violating the constitution and they should be aware of it, my suggestion to whoever is doing this year's budget is to give region 4 and Georgetown their fair share of the budgetary allocation in keeping with their numbers and development needs.

   Ladies and gentlemen we have a serious crime situation in the country, Mr. Gajraj tells us that he is arming the police to better fight this crime spree, he does not tell us what economic measures will be put in place to offer new jobs or to create a healthier climate for the private sector which will create job opportunities for the young people in the country, he also does not seem to be spending one cent on better investigative tools for the police to combat crime, better information gathering, better forensic tools, no that is too difficult for Gajraj, he is buying more guns, more lethal weaponry to eradicate the criminals without benefit of trial. If you don't know where the criminals are or indeed who they are, how will you combat crime, Minister? I don't care how many AKs you have, if you don't know who you are looking for and where they are, one million AKs won't help.

   The police tell us nothing about who the wanted killers are, there are no wanted posters, no issuance of names or photographs to the media but we suddenly hear that so and so was killed and he was wanted in connection with 13 murders. Anyone wanted for 13 murders should have his photograph posted on every lantern post in the land. Why is it a secret which criminals are wanted for what crimes?

   There are those in this country, like me, who are trying to level the playing field, we are speaking up for the rights of our afro Guyanese brothers, but those among you who have some influence can't you stop this madness? The inexplicable shooting of police officers, the totally unnecessary and irresponsible murders in the execution of routine robbery under arms, it makes what we are trying to do more difficult, crime will not just disappear we all understand that, it will take time, but why all the violence? It gives credibility to the Indo Guyanese's claims that these are racial attacks and not just criminal acts. How sad it was to see that photograph in the newspaper of people having to desert their homes in Annandale and to escape almost daily attacks by bandits. It is very sick indeed. 

   The international community are looking on and any claims that we commentators make about the injustices being metered out to the Afro Guyanese, is being negated by this totally unnecessary violence. They will turn a blind eye to the fact that your civil rights may be trampled upon in an attempt to eradicate the criminals.

   Since the government is extolling the virtues of the constitutional reform process let me say this, NONE of the constitutional reforms that have taken place has sought to address the necessity of an inequity clause being entrenched in it, Trinidad has such a clause, most other countries have such a clause, without it for example if GTV competes with a private broadcaster in an unfair manner, they can do so with impunity, if the GDF competes unfairly with private aircraft owners it is OK, if a Government Minister enjoys better protections under the law than any of you, you cannot legitimately object to it in a court of law. This means that under this ridiculous constitution, even the amended one, the state can legitimately impose the law in an unfair and in-equitable manner.

   During the entire constitutional reform process ladies and gentlemen, there was no attempt to provide for a specific equality clause by either of the two major parties, this means that I have less protections under this constitution than some other citizen or the state. I don't know about you, but I find this obscene. 

   This government maintains a website hosted by the Government of Guyana and the UNDP, director of GINA, Dr. Prem Misir is the host on behalf of the Government Information Service contained in this site, of course we all know that Prem is not exactly the most honest of reporters, it told the world for example that the PNC has been responsible for 50 years of terror in this country, that Peter D'Aguair and Burnham met at a certain street corner in 1962 and planned the arson of major sections of Georgetown, that in 1963 the PNC and the TUC got together to implement the infamous X-13 plan. We are also informed that the repository of all of Guyana's history Minister Leslie Ramsammy, had said on GTV that in 1964 when the PNC got into power the violence ceased since the "lion was caged" Ladies and gentlemen it was a violent time but who trained PYO youths in Cuba to blow up aqueducts, waterways and fire cane fields with mosquito coils? Who killed the Abrahams' family? There were 53 political killings recorded during 62-64 and only approximately half were PPP supporters. If the PNC was evil in the 60's then so were the PPP. But why is that important today? Is this the way forward? To dialog, cooperation and consultation?

    Recently this same lie-site had recorded for our edification, the PPP's achievements in education since coming to power in 1992. The billions of dollars that have been spent on renovating 800 of 1200 schools, there is no question that the PPP have renovated schools ladies and gentlemen, billions have been spent on these renovations but there has been no improvement in the EDUCATION SYSTEM, the rebuilding of schools therefore may have nothing to do with a RENOVATION of the education system but the corruption in the awarding of the contracts to renovate these schools. We have seen endless claims by the public, that such and such school, after costing 80 odd million dollars to be renovated, is falling to pieces within 3-4 years.

   We have seen our Miss Guyana contestants, all of whom have had the major portion of their secondary education during this government's stewardship, embarrassing this nation with their complete lack of comprehension of the world around them, their poor English, their bad grammar etc. this has highlighted the problem for the public, suddenly we see many letters in the newspapers recently, condemning the contestants, and blaming the education system, we even see letters from managers who hire graduates of the University of Guyana telling us of the appalling standard of education of these graduates, when Dr. Ian Mc Donald was telling us of the CXC failures of the Guyanese children over the past 10 years, we were not listening.

 No ladies and gentlemen we have not spent these Billions on the education SYSTEM getting better teachers etc. since there is no possibility for corruption there, we spent it on BUILDINGS. As usual the PPP have gotten it wrong again, but there was a reason for it this time, it was not incompetence, it was corruption. Like everything else this government's track record in EDUCATION has been an abysmal failure. The youth of this country have not benefited form it, only the contractors and corrupt officials did. 

   In researching this commentary to be absolutely accurate, I would have liked to present you with some numbers of the amount of our students taking CXC examinations the amount of passes ect. over the past 15 years or so, compared to the other West Indian territories, so I asked our Evening News reporter Roy Babel to ask the Ministry of Education for the necessary results, they refused to issue this information to him; Babel went through the entire system up to and including Mr. Caesar the PS ministry of education, who does not want to disclose the information unless we write him and tell him what it is that we want, it is apparently, a classified document. Why is it a secret, if it is such a success story?