Tony Vieira's Comments
22 October 2017

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The National Development Strategy
(Aired 2 July 2003)

    On several occasions during the talks leading to the Communiqué and at the follow up meeting between Mr. Jagdeo and Mr. Corbin on Wednesday 18th June 2003, the President has been calling for the re-tabling of the National Development Strategy in the Parliament for subsequent implementation of it.

   The National Development Strategy was a document prepared by civil society and financed by the Carter Centre in 2000 and was in fact a 10 year development programme for the country for the ten year period 2001-2010

    Mr. Jagdeo's poverty eradication document which was presented to the International Funding Institutions in September 2002 was based on the National Development Strategy {the NDS}. Now last evening and the evening before, at my request this newscast played two commentaries which will set the stage for further commentaries on the NDS, I was one of the few people in the country who understood the importance of the NDS and even read it from cover to cover, I did so in consultation, almost daily, with Dr. Kenneth King when I came to parts that needed explanation, and I questioned him carefully about what the NDS' intentions were. Its main function is to heal the rift between the PPP and the PNC and take us forward by cooperation, consultation and empowering the National Assembly. All my commentaries in one way or the other are influenced by what this important document tells us is the way forward. The PPP could accuse me of all sorts of transgressions from being anti government to being an apologist for the PNC but it is this same Strategy which Mr Jagdeo now wants that has guided me throughout.

    I understood it and I applauded it but nothing happened, it languished in the parliament for almost two years until this government wanted to borrow 73 million US from the IDB [which could be as high as 224 million US$ now] to eradicate poverty in the country, the lenders told the PPP that they will not lend this money because they perceived that much of the money would go to buying Prados and fancy homes for our not so poor Ministers and other public functionaries whilst the really deserving poor in our nation, for whom it was intended in the first place, remained in abject poverty.

    President Jagdeo had no choice but to put on the charade of making changes to the accountability system in the way public funds are spent in this country to satisfy the International Lenders but came up short in implementing them; promising us a completely impartial and independent constitutional Public Procurement Commission whilst at the same time torpedoing it, by putting in place a National Procurement Administration which is controlled by him. I will now stop the Charade and stop cussing Kowlessar, that man is in charge of nothing at the Ministry of Finance, Bharrat Jagdeo was, and is, to all intents and purposes the Minister of Finance since 1995 and given our economic situation today, I am not convinced that he has done a good job.

    Mr. Jagdeo may have his own problems now, the recent reshuffle of the Ministers and the Permanent Secretaries has left a situation in the office of the President which prompts me to pause and to take note.

    I don't know the exact reason for it, I can only report what I see and hear, I can however attempt to formulate a possible explanation for it. There are 15 members in the PPP's Central Executive Committee; ladies and gentlemen 7 of them, nearly half, are now physically located in the Office of the President, they are Hydar Ally the secretary of the PPP, Navind Chanderpal, Reepu Daman Persaud, Dr. Roger Forbes Luncheon, Jagdeo himself, Kellawan Lall and Robert Persaud; now not all of these people are known to be completely loyal to Bharrat Jagdeo, some of them are long time PPP die hards and their loyalty is to Mrs. Jagan, so what gives? Are they trying to hogtying him by surrounding him with nearly half of the EX CO members of the party? for the PPP to do this establishes in my mind that paramouncy of the PPP party is alive and well, and they are concentrating their power in the Office of the President and it can be for two purposes only, to control Jagdeo or to support him, Jagedo is either losing control or getting stronger and surrounding himself with high officials of the PPP to give more power to the Office of the President, so we must watch it carefully, if it is a fact that the PPP want that much power in the Office of the President at this time of dialog with Corbin, it is not a good sign, but it explains something that has been troubling me, Jagdeo consistently agrees to one thing and something else, completely different, happens; first with Desmond Hoyte and now with Robert Corbin, if this is the case then the dialog is a waste of time and Robert Crobin may as well give it up. We should not go through this obscene charade when the end result will yield nothing tangible.

   To comply with this National Development Strategy Mr. Jagdeo will have to dig deep into the constitution which was created by Forbes Burnham for a socialist state to bring justice, equity and peace to the country. My two commentaries that came before this one clearly identifies the problems that have to be faced and the hard decisions that will have to be made to democratise our system.

   So if this Communiqué and dialog process is some sort of game to get the money for the Poverty Eradication Programme to buy new Prados and to build bigger houses for the Ministers, the Regional Chairmen, the REO's, the Permanent Secretaries and the inner core members of the PPP and when they do get it, it will be business as usual, then we don't need a Communiqué. Let's have it out now, and I am not talking about violence I want to be very specific on this, violence and marching are not the answer, let's call a general strike or some other nationwide protest and bear strain to the bitter end and get it over with, since the overriding majority of us are dying a little every day waiting for some sort of change. Mercy killing is now widely accepted in Europe, this country is terminally ill and suffering in great pain, only a very few are benefiting from it, around 2%, the rest Indo and Afro Guyanese alike are being pauperised and punished daily with no end in sight, so let's put her out of her misery.

   Once the PPP insists on holding on to its dictatorial powers at all cost, not the Indo Guyanese ladies and gentlemen they want peace and justice as much as anyone else, it is the PPP itself who is responsible, and this is not the PPP of Dr Cheddie Jagan, this is something else, it is diabolical in its deceptions, If Dr. J. were to come back right now, he would not last 10 minutes, he would have another heart attack immediately, it is time for us to ask if this political party has not outlived its purpose, it is time to ask its supporters if this is what they were promised since 1992, a country that is dying and taking them along with it, whilst everywhere around them they see completely incompetent and illiterate people, who cannot get a job anywhere in the world except as manual labourers being enriched beyond all reason with their money.  

   The National Development Strategy document begins by telling us that for anything to result from the implementation of the strategy there must be good governance. Governance is described in this way by the strategy and I quote it "the United Nations has defined governance as the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management of a country's affairs. Governance comprises the complex mechanisms, processes, relationships and institutions through which citizens and groups express their interests, exercise their rights and obligations, and mediate their differences. Good governance is characterised by participation, transparency, accountability, effectiveness, equity and strict adherence to the rule of law. Let's see how the PPP shape up.

    Good governance is characterised by participation, where is this participation? Can any of you see it? Even those who are supporters of the PPP can you see it? I don't see it? Strike one! Transparency? I also don't see it, the establishment of the public Procurement Commission would make some parts of the government's excesses transparent but they will not implement it, strike 2!  Accountability? We all know the answer to this one, has anyone seen it in the functioning of this government? I don't, and neither does the Auditor General, strike 3! Effectiveness? We got kicked out of the ocean in pursuit of our oil, we build schools, roads and conservancy dams that don't last, we can't control a few criminals, we cant protect our citizens, our people are on the verge of civil war, our economy has collapsed, the business community and the rice farmers are bankrupt, do you see an effective government at work here? I don't, strike 4! Equity? Using every conceivable excuse this government and its President have refused to sign an equality clause into the constitution even though it was passed in the parliament over 4 years ago, do you see equality? I don't, strike 5! Strict adherence to the rule of law? the biggest law breaker in this country is this Government, they have endeavoured, successfully, to destroy the rule of law itself, it was not too hard since Forbes had done a good job of starting the process, but if this country had a functioning judicial system the matter of the Procurement Administration being shoved at us would be in the court now, since it is unconstitutional, the constitution says that we must have a Public Procurement Commission with members of known integrity selected in a proper and transparent manner by the Public Accounts Committee and approved by a two thirds majority vote of the Parliament, this makes the Procurement Administration body unconstitutional since its members are not selected in that manner, strike 6!

  So of the six essential and basic requirements of good governance the PPP have failed ALL.

  Now ladies and gentlemen this is only page 7 of the NDS, the first paragraph of the concept of good governance and the PPP is down for the count of six out of six, what would be the count if we went on to the last page, number 348?

   But our President keeps telling us that he wants it, that it is necessary to take us forward, well Mr. Jagdeo you can't pick out only those concepts which are convenient and acceptable to you, you have to take the whole package or it is a waste of time, are you prepared to do that? And with those six other Ex. Co. PPP members peeping over your shoulder day and night, can you, even if you are prepared to do so, do it?

    All of this is summed up in one line of Mr. Reepu Daman Persaud's speech in Parliament, the PNC and the WPA objecting to the Procurement Administration Bill, walked out of Parliament but Persaud's comment was to the effect that they had full and meaningful discussion on the matter and notwithstanding that the PNC and the WPA walked out of the Parliament, his party went ahead and broke the constitution by passing the Bill anyway. If the PPP think that this was full and meaningful discussion they are sadly mistaken, if they think that they did not break the constitution in this matter, go ahead and sue me, I dare you. That's the only way that Carl Singh will allow this matter to be heard in the court anyway.

   In my first commentary after I returned from my holiday, I told you that we will forget old matters, that we will start fresh, with cooperation, understanding and healing, so remember that I did not start this.