PARTY CHAIRMAN'S WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS
 
Mr. Robert H.O. Corbin
Chairman of the People's National Congress/Reform

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION
Cde Leader, Members of the Diplomatic Community, Special Invitees, Overseas guests, Fellow Members of the Central Executive Committee, Esteemed Delegates and Observers;
 
Welcome to this 13th Biennial Delegates Congress of our Party being held under the theme, "RESCUING AND REBUILDING THE NATION: CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUCCESS". This Congress reflects the National character of our organisation to the extent that we have representatives from all of the ten (10) Administrative Regions of our country. That our delegates and observers have travelled from such distances at great difficulty and expense is indicative not only of their commitment to our Party but their determination to make a contribution to the shaping of our beloved country, Guyana. We therefore need to pay special tribute to them;
 
 
TRIBUTE TO OUR DELEGATES REGION 9; RUPUNUNI
 
I have singled out for especial mention our delegates from Region 9,Rupununi.  I want to pay special tribute to them for travelling overland from the southern-most part of the country, Rupununi. Regrettably, because of the difficult terrain and despite the fact that our comrades left three days ago, they have not yet arrived. We heard from them last, two nights ago, when they were at Kurupukari and I hope that they will arrive soon. I salute them in their absence, however, and urge your acknowledgement and appreciation of their efforts.
 
 
REGION 2. ESPECIALLY POMEROON RIVER
I pay similar tribute to our delegates from Region 2. More especially, tribute should be paid to those who travelled from all the way up the Pomeroon River. I recall some of the earlier days in our Party when some of our comrades from this area paddled long distances by boat to attend Party functions. For example, the name MABEL SANDY immediately comes to mind. I am sure that, had she the strength, she would have been here at this Congress today, but her spirit is with us. In any event, our own Neville Callistro, Mighty Chief, despite his illness, has picked up the torch and came all the way from Kabakaburi to be with us today. I salute him and all the comrades from the Pomeroon.
 
 
REGION 1
We need to pay tribute to our Comrades from Region 1; From Moruca, Matthews Ridge, Hosororo, Wauna, Mabaruma, who, with great difficulty have travelled to Congress. At a time when limited financial resources are available to the Party and we are unable to keep in regular contact with our comrades who are far removed from the coast, they have remained steadfast.

 

Indeed, they have given full meaning to one of our slogans authored by another Party stalwart, Dr PA Reid, "STEADFAST IN SEASON AND OUT OF SEASON".
 
 
Again I salute those comrades from Region One who have come, led by our own dear friend, Cde Joan Romacindo.
 
REGIONS 7 and 8
I also pay tribute to our dear comrades from Regions 7 & 8. There is no doubt that these are the most difficult regions from the perspective of geography, topography, and terrain. The Pakaraima mountain range with its picturesque landscape, poses difficulties to our comrades who live there. Yet, my dear comrades, we have seen our comrades overcome those difficulties and they are here to participate in our congress. They deserve a special round of applause.
 
REGION 10
It is an inspiration to see our comrades from Region 10, even though faced with the impending collapse of their communities. The fact that you are here indicates your continued confidence in our Party and your indomitable spirit. We salute you dear comrades.
 
 
REGIONS 3, 4, 5, 6
Our coastal comrades from regions 3, 4, 5, and 6 comprise the largest contingents to the congress. While it may be said that you are near, the obstacles and distractions are many. The crime and insecurity situation, and the difficult economic climate have no doubted tested the resolve and determination of our members. I salute all of you who, despite these obstacles, made it possible to be here.
 
 
THE CHALLENGES OF OUR CONGRESS
Our congress is being held at a most challenging period of both our Party and country's history.
  • The economic and social challenges facing our nation are numerous;
  • There is no doubt that the Nation's economy is in crisis; and, perhaps, this is an understatement of the situation;
  • The collapse of major industries, the closure of several businesses, bankruptcies in many others;
  • Joblessness and the absence of work opportunities for thousands of our young people who leave the educational system yearly;
  • Lack of development in so many communities and the growing marginalisation of many others;
  • The escalation of serious crime;
  • The virtual breakdown of internal security;
  • An unresponsive Government which rebukes offers of assistance and uses the serious crime situation for political propaganda, rather than dealing with the root causes of the problem;

Yes, my dear comrades this is the climate in which we meet.  At the level of our party we also face challenges, particularly the growing expectations of our members, coupled with their rising impatience.

 

EXPECTATIONS OF CONGRESS

It is obvious that in the present atmosphere, there are great expectations of this Congress; from our members and from society in general. Great responsibility is therefore thrust upon us at this 13th Biennial Congress:

  • We must be prepared to make an objective analysis of our Party and our country and chart the way forward for success;
  • We must be unafraid to make changes, if change is necessary, for the future;
  • We must resolutely examine our structure, organisation and our constitution, and, if necessary, be bold enough to make changes if any are deemed necessary;
  • We must not be inhibited in our discussions on new forms of governance to make democracy a reality in Guyana;
  • We must be prepared in our own party to give meaning to the term inclusiveness;
  • We must not be afraid to confront and address the real problem of ethnic insecurity in our country today and come out of this Congress with meaningful solutions;

 

LET FREE AND FRANK DISCUSSION REIGN:

There is no doubt that our Party has always practised democracy and that this democratic tradition is still alive and well. The election campaign of some of our candidates contesting Office at this Congress provive useful evidence of this and has certainly removed any doubts, if any existed, about the democracy in our Party today.

 

THE PNCR AND GUYANA'S FUTURE

We must continue to be well organized, ready and prepared with the appropriate policies and programmes, to form a successful alternative government. Our task must be to save our country from its descent into anarchy and destruction and place it squarely on the road towards becoming a modern, viable, prosperous state. As we pursue our programme, we must, however, maintain respect for the rule of law and an absolute commitment to the Constitution of our Republic whilst working for constitutional change.

 

We must successfully revise our party's constitution and re-design its internal structures if this congress considers it necessary.  From our perspective, there ought not to be any contradiction between the principles of accountability, transparency, openness, inclusion and involvement articulated in the Constitution of Guyana and those that must underpin a revised constitution of the PNCReform.

 

We need to ensure that those who will be charged with special responsibilities by this Congress carry out their tasks expeditiously. We would expect them to consult with our party groups throughout the country and submit appropriate reports for consideration and approval by the next congress of the party or before, at a Special Congress, if that is deemed necessary. We must leave this Congress with clear proposals on the political situation.

 

We must also immediately begin to put into practice all the commitments made and unanimously agreed to, and contained in our Congress resolutions. We must leave this Congress with clear proposals on the security situation. Indeed, we must consider and propose strategies to reverse the alarming trends of unrelenting violence.  The absolute priority must be to ensure the safety and security of every citizen so that we can all begin to rebuild our confidence in the future.

 

We must leave this congress with solutions for the worsening race relations in Guyana. We must immediately find ways of ending the corrosion in relationships between our two major races.  The beating, robbing and killing of innocent civilians irrespective of their racial origin, are abhorrent and degrading.  The continuation of these events will sound the death knell for our country.

 Our unreserved condemnation of these trends must now be transformed into practical means of improving relations.  The increasing tensions within, and between, our villages on the East Coast in particular, must be addressed. In this task, I am sure that the Congress will urge all political parties, civil society, religious leaders elders, community leaders, women and the youth to join in the task of helping communities to talk, work and live together.

 

We must leave this Congress with proposals to address the plight of young people, particularly those in depressed communities. Even in our depressing economic conditions, we must find new ways of mobilising community, private sector and other resources and support to demonstrate that a serious start can be made in attending to this chronic problem in our society.

 

Yes comrades, this congress must come up with answers, not only dwell on the problems. There will be great opportunity for discussion both at the plenary and at the workshop sessions. Let us make full use of them.

 

SOME OF THE QUESTIONS LISTED FOR DISCUSSION INCLUDE:

  • What should be the party's tactics for the next two years to best serve Guyana's interests?
  • How do we reform and retool the party to effectively carry out our strategy for the next two years?
  • What should be the pillars of our economic policies? How can we find a way forward?
  • What are the options and practical steps we can put forward to salvage Guyana?
  • What is the PNCR's position on poverty and community development?
  • What polices do we advocate and what programmes can we implement for youth?
  • How can we articulate and demonstrate the importance of women in the rescue of our Nation?

 

I URGE THE CONGRESS AND ALL DELEGATES TO USE THE TIME WISELY so that at the end of our deliberations the mood of expectancy which exists both within and without our party would be justified.

 

TRIBUTE TO OUR STALWARTS

Finally, I want to pay tribute to all our stalwarts who have left this earthly plane over the past two years since our last Congress. Many of our good and faithful soldiers have fallen. They, however,  made significant contributions while they were with us and their contributions will never be forgotten. A special session of Congress will be identified when we can identify them by name, recognise their contribution and pay tribute to their memories.

 

I would also like to pay tribute to those stalwarts who are still with us,who despite age and other difficulties have continued to work solidly in support of the Party. I refer first of all to Dr. Ptolemy Alexander Reid. Despite age and other difficulties he is never missing from major Party occasions. We must therefore send a special team from this Congress to find out the reasons for his absence and to also wish him well.

 

TRIBUTE TO OUR LEADER

I also want to pay tribute to a man who has served this party with distinction for years; a man who I know felt that he had fought a good fight and that the time had come for him to hand over the baton; a man who despite those convictions answered the call of his comrades and who, I believe, has been persuaded to carry on for a while longer. I refer to none other than our own Leader MR H.D. HOYTE. Our Leader, has served this Party for several years. I hope he will forgive me today, but I believe that one should not wait until a person is dead to pay tribute to them.

 

Some time earlier this year our Leader whispered to some of his close colleagues that he was ready to demit office. He later confided with me the time he had identified to do so. Quite frankly comrades, I was deeply concerned when he disclosed this information to me because it was at a time when Guyana was faced with so many difficulties and problems. Those economic and political problems, and, indeed, the crisis still exists. I believe that in such a situation we need strong and determined leadership. What therefore we need at this Congress, if you insist that our Leader must carry on, is the resolve to identify a band of strong and united persons, a team, to give our leader the necessary support and keep the Party strong and united.

 

I thank you again for coming to this Congress, I have faith that in our usual tradition we will have a successful event. Enjoy the lighter moments of Congress. Enjoy the social exchange. Don't forget, however, the important agenda which we have before us so that, come Sunday afternoon, we can report to ourselves, to our members, on whose  behalf we have been delegated to be here, and to Guyana as a whole that we deliberated and are ready to offer a new and bright vision for the future of this country and creating opportunities for success.

Thank you very much and welcome to you all.

 

LONG LIVE THE LEADER
LONG LIVE THE PARTY
LONG LIVE GUYANA