Honouring The 21st August, 2012 Agreement Between The Government Of Guyana And The Regional Democratic Council, Region 103363 27 Jun, 2013
HONOURING THE 21ST AUGUST, 2012 AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA AND THE REGIONAL DEMOCRATIC COUNCIL, REGION 10
Ms. Shadick: Thank you Mr. Speaker. When my name was put on this list to speak on this motion I understood that I would be standing here just to address the matter in the Agreement that has been numbered “3) Television in Region No. 10”; and that would have been a very short presentation. But I have listened to the mover of the motion denigrate, infer, and making all kinds of assumptions that Government’s support for certain things have to do with ethnicity rather than principle. Sir, I did not write down the actual words but one thing that got me very, very upset was the suggestion that Guyana supports Palestine’s right to statehood and supports the Palestinians because they look like us. I said I did not write the words down.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member, one second Ms. Shadick. I can assure you that before the night is out I will have the copy of the transcript and it was in error, I will call on the Hon. Member to withdraw. We will clarify it before the end of this sitting. Thank you.
Ms. Shadick: Thank you. I do not want to address the ethnicity matter I want to address the fact that Guyana has always supported the right of Palestine to statehood, it will continue to support the right of the Palestinians to a land of their own and we make no excuses for that.
Mr. Speaker: When you say Guyana do you mean Guyana Government? From the time we have been an independent nation...
Ms. Shadick: We speak for Guyana. I have always understood that those who were elected to government have to speak for the whole of the country, not for part. When this Government speaks it speaks for Guyana. Guyana, as long as this People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/Civic) Government remains in office, will speak with a voice that shows support for Palestinians on a matter of principle, not any other thing. I do not wish to address the other racist comments.
I will move to No. 3 in the Agreement. The motion has a problem. I am looking at the Agreement which is the subject of this motion. According to this Agreement I am informed by the mover of this motion that it was signed by the Regional Chairman Mr. Solomon and by the Prime Minister and caters for certain things. It caters for three committees. One, a Technical Team, and the Agreement list names that were proposed for the technical team. Two, an Economic Committee for which the number of the membership was needed in this Agreement but no names were mentioned. However, it gives days, within 90 days to name things, to meet as priority, to give report and so on. Finally, there was a Regional Land Selection Committee. Those are the three committees.
I have heard the Hon. Minister Robeson Benn talk about Colgrain House being set up with computers waiting for people to meet. I have no knowledge of those things. I have no knowledge of those committees. I wish to address No. 3 Television in Region No. 10; a very small part.
“a) the Government and Region No. 10 agree as follows:
i) That the dish and transmitter that was given to the Linden Community will be given to Region 10 Regional Democratic Council. The dish and transmitter should be transferred to the Region within 14 days of the signing of this Agreement.”
I am informed that these things have been transferred but it might not have been within 14 days.
These are not by any means the size of a plate and a cup. They have been transferred to the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), but they have to go somewhere. I do not know they can fit in the RDC compound. That document having signed, the transfer is now up to the Region No. 10 people to decide where they are going to put it, what they are going to do with it. This Agreement does not talk about where it has to be transferred. I am addressing the letter of this Agreement because it seems as if that if what we have been asked to do. I am much more interested in Roman (ii) of this document which says:
“That it was agreed that Region 10 will apply for a broadcasting licence and the government will facilitate the granting of that licence in keeping with the law.
This Agreement was signed on 21st August 2012. On the 28th August, 2012 the Minister responsible for information by proclamation issued an order bringing the Broadcasting Act of 2011 into force. The governing Board of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) was named and appointed on 4th September. I have the dubious honour of being the Chairman of that Board. That Board has worked long and hard. I have personally contacted by telephone, by letter, and by third persons whom I think have any form of charm, that could help or facilitate. The Act says that a licence shall be issued to a company incorporated or continued under the Companies Act, or to a trust. This Act does not give the governing Board the authority... it is being set up; it has not been set up as yet so the governing Board is doing all of this... cannot issue a licence to Region No. 10 because it is not a company nor is it a trust. I have asked on more than one occasion, orally or in writing, that such a body be set up and that the names of the board of directors or the trustees when registered be sent so we can examine to see it follows the provisions of the act; over 51% are Guyanese nationals and so on.
According to the Act a licence has to be applied for by the company or trust. To this date at 4:30 p.m. before the secretary of the GNBA left I called to find out if we have received an application from a company or trust on behalf of Region 10. The answer is no. The Agreement says the Government will facilitate the granting of that licence. Well, the Government has facilitated, the Government has set up the governing Board of the GNBA. The Government has that board working; rules and so on have been gazetted; people have been sent letters, approvals have been granted for licences; people are going to be issued licences; we still have not received an application.
Mr. Speaker: This application when it comes does it have to go through the rigours of a regular application or will it be approved as per Agreement?
Ms. Shadick: I am on record as having said publicly that we know about this Agreement and that the board agreed unanimously that when a proper application comes from Region No. 10 it will be processed as priority even if we have to hold a special Board meeting to do it. We are still waiting.
I do not know how the onus could be on the Government to honour this Agreement. There is an agreement between two people, two sides. One side is ready, willing and able; the other side is not doing anything. I am going to follow what my honourable colleague said, the people of Linden are suffering because they are the ones who want television, but here I have to say, television is not a cheap thing. Running a television station is an expensive exercise. It takes investment. When people submit applications they have to submit a plan of what areas they are going to broadcast to, what kinds of programmes and so on. Those are documents that have to be submitted. Before a licence is issued they have to pay fees for the use of the spectrum they will be allocated. They have to pay licence fee which at this point the minimum is $2.5 million. There is no unequal treatment of anybody in the broadcast area right now. Region No. 10 is not going to be treated unequally. We are going to treat everybody equally. That is my promise. I am saying that publicly for the Hansard, for the press, and I have said it before and I will say it again if it needs to be said. We cannot think that the TV will follow the way of electricity.
There was an interesting matter that came to my attention last Wednesday. The new Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana was visiting the installations where Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE) has centres. The people who go to the IDCE classes pay a small fee for whatever they are doing. IDCE is a drain on the University coffers; it really does not make any money. The Vice Chancellor was appalled, and I was aghast at hearing, that the IDCE centre at Linden collects less fees for those classes from the Lindeners because they cannot afford to pay. So they cannot afford to pay for electricity, they cannot afford to pay for IDCE classes which are helping them to get education after they may not have gotten a proper one in secondary school. I am hoping they will have businessmen in Linden who will pay enough for advertisements so Lindeners can get television in their homes for free.
Thank you very much Mr. Speaker that is my contribution to this debate. [Applause]
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