Aug 07, 2017  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon

It was recently reported that Bharrat Jagdeo addressed a public meeting of his party in Leonora. Jagdeo told the gathering that the PPP will return to power in 2020. The immediate question that pops up in your mind is: why would any citizen who lived under Jagdeo’s fifteen year old hegemony (included are the three years of the Ramotar presidency) want to vote the PPP back to power?
Every day the Guyanese people are given information of how lawless, depraved and destructive the Jagdeo period has been. I do not agree that private broadcasters should provide one hour of public service, to be determined by the Government, but the Broadcast Bill should be welcomed by every decent human in this land that cares about fairness as an essential part of civilized life.
Mr. Jagdeo did not recognize the limits of indecent use of power when he was president. He dissolved the radio monopoly by handing out more than a dozen licenses to favoured persons; one of which went to the party in power itself. Companies like the ones that own the Kaieteiur News and Stabroek News were turned down. Experts in television broadcasting like Enrico Woolford applied and were not successful. Radio and television frequencies were handed out by Jagdeo as if they were toys. Channels 69 and 28, whose owners are close to Jagdeo had their signals extended to reach all of Guyana while right in New Amsterdam, Berbice, there was a station whose signal couldn’t reach Skeldon in the same Berbice. That station was not a sycophant of the then Jagdeo Government.
During the debate on the Bill, the following revelations were made public; “In Regions Three and Four, E-Networks secured 10 channels: 36, 37, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48 and 49. In Regions Five and Six, the company was awarded channels 43, 44, 45, 48 and 49 – bringing the total to 13. E-Networks is owned by Vishok Persaud, who is the brother of People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Parliamentarian Vindhya Persaud and son of late PPP stalwart and minister, Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud.
freddie-kissoon-300x273Coming in second was the National Communications Network (NCN) with eight channels spanning seven regions across the country. In relation to radio licences, while NCN was granted the most frequencies of any single entity, Freedom Radio Inc – which is owned by the PPP– was granted the widest broadcast reach in the country. The broadcast area where the party’s station has been able to penetrate includes: Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, and 10. The only other radio station to compete with Freedom Radio was IRadio Inc., which was owned by then PPP Minister Robert Persaud. IRadio reached seven of the 10 administrative regions in Guyana. Persaud sold the entity to ANSA McAL after the PPP lost the General Elections in 2015.” (end of quote)
The Bill passed in the House last Friday will eradicate this morbid unfairness. Not only will these sickening acts of nepotism be exterminated by the Broadcast Act, but all those favoured license holders will have to apply from scratch. That is called equal opportunity for all citizens. We must constantly remind decent people in this country what the ruling PPP did. Under the government’s housing programme, applicants were given house lots at reduced prices and the requirements were families and married couples. In what could only be the height of moral and illegal revulsion, the PPP as an organization got itself two houselots in Bath in Region 5 where the construction on those plots were designed to house the Region 5 head office of the PPP. It stands there for all citizens to see.
It is simply amazing that a ruling party can take state resources and use it so shamelessly. Region 5 Freedom House was done through the committal of an illegal act and the state should reclaim the land. I would like to see a justification of this nasty illegality from the leadership of the PPP that writes letters everyday in the two newspapers that they wanted to destroy. Today we see Sam Hinds, Ramotar, Ramsammy, Edghill, Nandlall publishing missives on a daily basis but no mention of what happened with these houselots in Bath.
So we come now to the legal wizard in the PPP – Anil Nandlall. Here is a question directed to Nandlall. If he doesn’t reply, I will keep repeating the question. Was it legal for the ruling party under the Government’s housing policy to acquire two plots to build the PPP’s Region 5 head office? Tell us, Anil.