Declaration of Sophia
by Forbes Burnham
Posted on 2010-05-04
Declaration of Sophia
Address by the Leader of the People's National Congress, Prime Minister Forbes Burnham, at a Special Party Congress to mark the 10th Anniversary of the P.N.C in Government.
Venue: Plantation Sophia, Georgetown, Guyana.
Date: 14th December, 1974
Out of Chaos A New Road
1.1 Ten years ago today, the People’s National Congress entered into office as the major partner in Government of what was then British Guiana, a colony “enjoying” internal self-government, the final constitutional stage before independence.
1.2 This was after seven years in the wilderness as the Opposition, and after the country had gone through a three-year period of upheavals and racial strife bordering on civil war.
1.3 Our junior partner in the coalition government which was then formed was a right-of-centre party – the United Force – with which we worked in uncomfortable harness for nearly four years until 1968.
1.4 There may seem at first blush an inconsistency in our Party – a socialist one – coalescing with a party which was right-wing or capitalist. But the circumstances so dictated.
1.5 Our country had been brought to the brink of ruin by a phrase-mongering, soi-disant leftish party – the People’s Progressive Party – whose leaders stirred up, emphasised and south to exploit racial differences in this a multi-racial society for mere narrow political purposes.
1.6 The economy was run down and had to be retrieved. Many of our people were confused and lacked self-confidence. Mutual suspicion stalked the land and there was an obvious cleavage in our society thanks to colonialism and seven years of mismanagement, corruption and misrule.
1.7 Our first tasks in Government were to bind up the wounds, remove the tensions, restore national self-confidence and proceed to political independence as rapidly as possible.
1.8 The people reacted magnificently and within less than six months the Government was well on its way to achieving the first three objectives. Christmas 1964, as you all remember, was the first relaxed Christmas for many a year.
1.9 The achievement of political independence offered somewhat more difficulty, however. The disgruntled Opposition opposed it under one guise or another and actually sent emissaries to the United Kingdom to lobby “friends” in pursuit of its anti-national stance. Our coalition partners raised many obstacles. Their attitude was born of fear of their supporters losing their former economic dominance, and sprang from a preference for enjoying the crumbs that feel from the imperialists’ table rather than being mere equals – as they saw it – in an independent Guyana.
1.10 Exercising the utmost patience and tolerance, the People’s National Congress, almost dragging the United Force along, succeeded in having settled a date and a Constitution for Independence. As part of the compromise in the circumstances, we had to accept the monarchical system for four years after independence and the typical independence Constitution with all its inhibitions and checks and balances, including the entrenchment of the Privy Council as the final court of appeal.
The Little Man a Real Man
1.11 After Independence the coalition began to fall apart more obviously. This was inevitable, since our partner was essentially a capitalist group and we were socialist. The former not only had a narrow, if any, popular base, but believed in privileges for the few and saw development in terms of local and foreign capitalist expansion.
1.12 The P.N.C, on the other hand, placed emphasis on people – on the proletariat and poor peasants, from which it drew and draws its strength. It encouraged self-reliant at community and national levels. It counted human effort and labour as capital and saw development as primarily the task of the Guyanese people.
1.13 It was bent on transferring economic power to the masses and their representatives and set as its goal the attainment of social justice.
1.14 It identified the co-operative as the instrument for making the Little man a real man. For him, on the contrary, the United Force had scant, if any, regard, contending that that pre-eminently capitalist institution – the privately owned limited liability company – was the best instrument for development and national prosperity and was in fact an advanced form of the co-operative!
1.15 In addition, our coalition partner was inveterately opposed to Guyana’s assuming republican status at any time in the future. It was irrevocably wedded to the monarchical system with the Queen of England as the Queen of Guyana and represented by a Governor-General. These points of view were diametrically opposed to those of the P.N.C who had always, for psychology and other reasons, favoured Guyana’s becoming a republic but had had to make a temporary compromise in 1966 so as to achieve formal independence.
1.16 The coalition eventually disintegrated in 1968 shortly before the General Elections of that year at which the P.N.C gained an overall majority.
1.17 On 23rd February 1970, Guyana became the first Co-operative Republic in the world and the first Republic in the Commonwealth Caribbean.
1.18 Ours is not the first or only government in the developing world to place major emphasis on the use and development of the co-operative as an instrument of development or in the thrust towards socialism.
1.19 We, however, named Guyana a Co-operative Republic to highlight the fact that the Co-operative will be the principal institution for giving the masses the control of our economy, to emphasise the fact that we aim at making the Co-operative sectors the dominant sector and that the Co-operative is and will be the mechanism for making the little man a real man.
1.20 I shall return to this topic later, but may I at this point observe that any party member or leader who does not hold this as an article of faith and act, work and behave accordingly, is untrue to his membership of the Party. In fact, he is unfit to continue holding such membership.
Protest and Struggle
1.21 In its early days, the P.N.C was really an organisation of protest and struggle; protest against the corruption, misrule and narrow partisanship of the political government then in office, a government which nearly ruined our dear country; struggle against imperialism for independence.
1.22 In those days and with those two specific objectives, we sought to mobilise the maximum number of persons who, for varying reasons, shared our objectives. Then, and for some time after, ours was the aim to have a large number of members. We remarked each year on the thousands who flocked to the fold, held membership cards and declared their adherence to the P.N.C. There was no time to pause and examine the bona fides and real commitment of these members, some of whom were, particularly after the P.N.C’s accession to office, mere bandwaggoners.
1.23 Since I am not recording the history of our Party, it is not my duty or intention to refer to every event subsequent to 1966. That task I leave to those who are now embarked upon writing a detailed history of the P.N.C.
1.24 It is enough form my present purpose to note that, since 1970, many of the leadership and membership began to address their minds to basic reform of the Party and its Constitution, to the latter of which, there have been some amendments particularly since 1968.
The Role of The Party
2.1 In November of last year (1973) there was a Special Congress four months after our Party had won a two-thirds majority in Parliament. At this Congress, there were serious examination and a definition of the role of the Party in the new circumstances.
2.2 It was agreed after lengthy discussion that the emphasis should be on mobilising the nation in every sphere and not merely for periodic elections and in support of specific action and programmes. It was also decided that the Party should assume unapologetically its paramountcy over the Government which is merely one of its executive arms.
2.3 The comrades demanded that the country be given practical and theoretical leadership at all levels - political, economic, social and cultural - by the P.N.C which had become the major national institution.
2.4 It had been customary at succeeding Congresses, for delegates to criticise the attitudes of persons serving in various other institutions and agencies and to complain that such persons were not alive to, or appreciative of, the Party's and Government's thrust and policy. In fact, in some cases, there were allegations of sabotage.
2.5 While one cannot deny categorically that there have been instances of the latter, one must also admit that a man who has not been told, and set an example, cannot be expected to perform according to new norms and principles. We must realise that we cannot wish away the legacies of our colonial period.
The Party Constitution
2.6 That Special Congress first tackled the question of The Party Constitution and having fixed certain principles, committed to the General Council the task of redrafting our Constitution. That redraft comes up for consideration and ratification and/or amendment later in this Congress.
2.7 While a Constitution is a mere document and cannot itself bring about a change of attitude, organisation or direction, nor yet again by its mere formulation achieve a new emphasis or orientation, it certainly can provide the framework within which all these things can be realised.
2.8 I do not propose to examine the draft constitution in detail. I would merely like to refer to some of its significant features.
2.9 That ours is a Socialist Party, committed to practising Co-operative Socialism, is declared, and the objects are fully and clearly set out.
Some of these are:
(1) To secure and maintain through the practice of co-operative socialism, the interests, well-being and prosperity of ALL the people of Guyana.
(2) To pursue our commitment to the Socialist ideal and more particularly to ensure that the people of Guyana own and control for their benefit the natural resources of the country.
(3) To provide every Guyanese the opportunity to work for and share in the economic well-being of the country and to ensure that there is equality of opportunity in the political, economic and social life of the country.
(4) To motivate the people of Guyana to improve by their own efforts and through the Party, the communities in which they live.
(5) To pursue constantly the goal of national self-reliance.
(6) To work for the closest possible association of Guyana with her Caribbean neighbours and to maintain a link with International Organisations and Agencies whose aims and objectives are consistent with those of the People's National Congress.
The Restructuring of The Party
3.1 There will be seven (7) classes of membership. But what is very important is that every individual over 14 years of age must and I quote "satisfactorily serve a period of attachment to a group for a period of not less than one year as a probationary member before he is admitted to youth or ….adult membership." In addition, every member, here again I quote, "shall take a pledge of membership."
3.2 In light of these latter provisions, there can be no question of a Party member or would-be Party member (except a child member) not understanding what the Party stands for and what are his obligations.
3.3 It should also be noted that it is proposed to strengthen the Secretariat notably by the addition of Executive Secretaries responsible to the General Secretary for certain specific subjects and matters.
3.4 Provisions are also envisaged to ensure easy and meaningful communication within the Party structure, between the Officers and Executive Committee, the General Council, the Region, the Districts, the Groups and the Members, and in communication in both directions. Parliamentarians, including Ministers and P.N.C Local Government Council members, should and will be allocated specific Party duties and roles.
3.5 All officers and functionaries at all levels will be responsible not only for such formal matters as summoning and attending and speaking at meetings, but they will also have to be involved in organising activities in the various communities, activities aimed at carrying out the Party's objectives and supporting relevant programmes in all fields.
3.6 It is not intended that they should be little Caesars giving orders. Rather they must inspire and in proper cases, give leadership by work example and personal involvement. At the same time, they can and must learn from the comrades with whom they deal and with whom they work and perform.
Training and Education
3.7 In the meantime, there has already commenced a series of courses for Party Officers and activists as well as comrades in the public sector. These courses which last several weeks each, are calculated to be a means of training and education at both practical and theoretical levels. It would do your heart good to see on the last course but one, number of very senior Public Servants, including Permanent Secretaries, rising early in the morning, doing their callisthenics, tending the fields, planting, cleaning up and then proceeding to attend lectures and discussions. Already we have begun to witness salutary results springing from an understanding of what the Party and Government are after and the need for intelligent and energetic responses. These courses will continue indefinitely at various centres throughout Guyana.
3.8 Every member, every officer, every leader, be he at the centre or at the group level must be a trained activist, organiser and educator in every sense. He must have no reservations about the Party's philosophy and programme of which he must be fully informed to the last minute, and which he must impart by example and by precept.
3.9 The Party Regions will correspond to the Governmental Administrative Regions instituted last year and the Party Districts roughly to Local Government Areas under the Municipal and District Councils Act. The Groups, however, will be more limited that now in geographic extent, to enable more thorough organisation and greater contact between members of the same Group.
The Quality of Membership
3.10 These are in out some of the provisions in the draft Constitution and their implications.
3.11 As the Party completes its tenth year it has embarked on a radical restructuring for the next and subsequent phases. At the same time it will have, in some instances, to purge itself, to strengthen itself. We no longer want nor can we in our circumstances afford the hanger-on, the bandwaggoner, the opportunist, the luke-warn.
3.12 It follows, therefore, that our quest is now not for large numbers of members, but a high quality of membership. If, of course, we were able truly to achieve the latter along with the former, we shall be happy at such a circumstance, if not miracle.
3.13 Party membership must be a reward to be sough after, a qualification which has to be earned. It must not come by, unless the applicant has gone through the crucible of training, testing and performance. It cannot, I repeat cannot, be bought.
3.14 At this point, a distinction must be drawn between the Party member and the Party supporter. The latter may be one who generally supports the Party's programme or parts thereof; one who admires and recognises the significance of the Party's achievements, but is not willing to make the sacrifice of time and energy to organise, to lead and to inspire. He may be impressed by the Party's accomplishments in some or all fields but is not grounded in its ideology either through lack of interest or predisposition. He is important, he is useful to the cause, but he has not yet qualified for membership of the P.N.C. Maybe with the effluxion of time and further exposure, and with the aid of patient persuasion, he will.
3.15 On the other hand, though membership should be a reward and a badge of honour, it is not, and the Party should see that it does not, become, either a means of self-aggrandisement or some thing to be used as 'royal purple' to be arrogantly vaunted abroad. Arrogance and insensitive behaviour do not go with service to the Party and the Nation, and in the Revolution. Understanding, humility and example are the instruments of persuasion.
A Socialist Party
4.1 You will have noticed that the first article of the draft Constitution declares that the "Party is a Socialist Party." That connotes or means that the Party's ideology is Socialism.
4.2 In the courses referred to earlier, and in the Party literature published from time to time, the concept and the tenets of Socialism have been and will be fully discussed. At this stage, therefore, I do not propose to go into an in depth treatment of the subject.
4.3 It is important, however, at this juncture to note and observe certain - at least two - basic differences between capitalism and socialism.
4.4 The former contemplates, and is primarily based on, the production of goods and services for profit to the individual, while the latter premises production for the use of and service of the people, to human beings. In the latter case, surpluses are sought in certain operations and undertakings. These surpluses, however, are not intended to be pocketed and owned by private individuals as a means of enrichment and power, rather to be further invested in development and/or deployed to provide services to the people.
4.5 This distinction between the two systems is pivotal. Since the P.N.C is a Socialist party, its members, and more particularly it leaders, cannot be involved in ruthless private profit hunting. As we shall see later, since socialism represents a goal or ideal towards which we are working and striving, we cannot hope by the waving of a magic wand to banish overnight from Guyana, all traces of capitalism and capitalist attitudes. While we seek to educate and re-orient we shall have to face the realities of our present stage, but, it is axiomatic that the capitalist oriented cannot lead a Socialist Party, or Guyana to Socialism.
4.6 Capitalism premises the existence of a society of classes; socialism aims at establishing a classless or egalitarian society. In the latter case, though there will be functional superiors and inferiors for organisational purposes, every citizen is valuable and has an important social task to perform. There is no automatic preferment because of wealth or birth and there is equality of opportunity for all, based on ability, aptitude and the society's needs and priorities. The emphasis is on the value of the human being as part of a whole society.
4.7 Those, therefore, who are riddled with the capitalist ethos of class distinctions and the power of wealth to buy or earn individuals anything, have not yet qualified for membership of the People's National Congress. In fact, their influence on the society and its thinking has to be guarded against and fought strenuously. At the same time, the P.N.C must work on such persons with the object of curing the disease so as to save the patient whose abilities and energies can contribute to the achievement of our goal. We will not succeed in all cases - every doctor knows that - but we can in some, if not many.
4.8 Under the capitalist system, one of the important items of wealth is property - in Guyana particularly in land. It is considered sacrosanct, a projection of the owner's personality, an index of success, a reward from the Divine for good deeds and the gateway to social prominence.
4.9 We socialists hold that property is for the use and benefit of the society and nation, and not for hoarding, profiteering and manipulation by private individuals for their own ends and benefits.
The Social Use of Land
5.1 In 1973, in pursuance of a programme launched years before, the Party, through the Government resumed, on behalf of the people, possession of several thousand acres throughout Guyana "owned" by the Sugar Estates, left idle and proposed for speculation. Some of these lands have been earmarked for or turned into Housing Estates for the people, and some - thousands of acres - have also been put under agriculture, notably rice, by co-operative groups. This has directly contributed to two objectives of our socialist oriented programme - feeding and housing the nation by 1976.
5.2 It is important to note that the party's programme of feeding, clothing and housing the nation is a pre-eminently socialist programme, because if each of those objectives were to be attained it would mean that there will be a direct service to the people and our economy will have been operated primarily to benefit people.
5.3 Meanwhile, in at least three cases we have taken possession of housing land, formerly rented for several years by estate owners to tenants, and we have transferred this land to housing co-operatives.
5.4 Today, there are still several estate owners who are not productively occupying their private lands. Others, including some of these, hold State leases for lands which are similarly neglected. Still others, including some of both the former categories, hold licences 'During the President's Pleasure' for which they pay two stivers or 3.2 cents per annum per acre. The land involved, they either lease in a state of abandonment, or under-utilisation or sublet all or part to tenants at several dollars per acre, thus profiteering on the nation's property
5.5 These practices will and must be brought to an end shortly. In fairness it may be stated that one licensee has had the good sense to concede voluntarily Government's right on behalf of an agricultural rice co-operative to resume land which was held under such a licence on the East Coast of Demerara. But he is exceptional. Therefore, statutory measures will have to be taken to have these large, very large, areas of land allocated to co-operative farmers.
5.6 Further, we cannot in the context of socialist convictions and of the national goal of feeding, clothing and housing the nation, permit land held under government leases (which are somewhat different from licences 'During the President's Pleasure') and even under freehold to be unproductively owned or possessed and/or used as a means of exploiting tenant farmers under a system of reminiscent of feudal serfdom. We believe that land should go to the tiller.
5.7 This subject I discussed in 1971 with the then Leader of the Opposition and failed to get his support for legislative action. Since, in some instances, action would have involved a Constitutional amendment to be passed by two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly, his refusal to support ensured a continuation of this objectionable situation.
5.8 Now, however, the P.N.C holds over two-thirds of the seats in Parliament and we can and will proceed with the implementation of our policy uninhibited and untrammelled by the bourgeois P.P.P.
5.9 You will remember that on at least three occasions recently we have been faced with the need to amend the Constitution, in pursuit of our declared programme and policy, which have gained the support of the overwhelming majority of Guyanese, including some who are opposed to the P.N.C. These occasions arose when we sought to nationalise Demba, when we abolished the Privy Council as the Nation's Final Court of Appeal and when we reduced the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen. We still have to deal with the social use of land and other property and the introduction of the Agency Shop.
5.10 Earlier today I spoke of the "typical Independence Constitution with all its inhibitions and checks and balances" which we had to accept as part of the package in 1966. Certainly it is clear that this patchwork of amendments from time to time is both unsatisfactory, untidy, and un-aesthetic, and that the moment has arrived for a review and rewriting of the Guyana Constitution. The drafting and subsequent promulgation of a new Constitution will, therefore, be undertaken shortly, that is from January 1975. This is a project in which the Party, the Public and finally the Parliament will be fully and openly involved.
5.11 As we complete our tenth year in office, and proceed to the country's tenth anniversary of independence, we cannot do so with a Constitution out of step with modern trends, and our own ideas and ideologies; a Constitution which reflects for the most part the beliefs and ideology of our former imperialist masters; a Constitution which was taken out of the drawer, so to speak, as were several others for various ex-British colonies; with the minimum relevancy to the Guyanese peoples' needs, aspirations and thrusts. The Constitution must go and in its place a new and relevant Constitution must be substituted.
5.12 But back to the question of land ownership and occupation. It is clear that in too many cases privately owned land which can and should be put under cultivation as part of the national effort is not under the plough or is used for exploitation. We must produce more for the use of our population, and old concepts have to be swept aside in the wake of the socialist revolution. Earlier next year, legislation will be presented to limit large holdings and specify the maximum holdings permitted to private individuals or companies. The main criteria will be capacity to use productively and the end of landlordism.
Foreign Trade and Private Investment
6.1 As we move to control land in the interest of the nation, we will also take control over all foreign trade - import and export. Already, through a marketing committee on which the Sugar Producers are represented, the Government is responsible for sugar exports. Our other major exports - bauxite, rice and forestry products - are already handled by public agencies. This pattern will be extended to all other exports. The object is to ensure quality and reliability, as well as an effective monitoring of the system. In addition, your Government as the agency finally responsible for the whole economy, must be in a position to decide, after consultation, on directions of trade in the general national interest.
6.2 Similarly, import trade cannot continue as it is now, subject to whimsical preferences on the part of private importers, which preferences are frequently dictated by tradition and agency agreements rather than consideration of quality, price and relevancy to Government's international agreement and national policies.
6.3 These controls will be introduced, not for the sake of controls, but to ensure consistency to maximise benefits to the nation, including reasonable prices to consumers directly and indirectly. Trade is an integral part of economic planning, the justification and need for which are not only an article of faith with the P.N.C, but universally accepted in Guyana. Who then, but the Government, must in practice be responsible for foreign trade?
6.4 So far as internal trade is concerned, there is or can be a somewhat different approach, primarily because it is internal to Guyana where your Party and Government can more readily ensure the protection and furtherance of the people's interests.
6.5 As part of our policy of having three sectors in the economy - the public, co-operative and private - agencies of all three sectors may be engaged, and can be engaged in such internal trade.
6.6 There can be no argument against the co-operatives being thus involved, but some there are who tend to believe that it is wrong for the Government to be in the distributive activities of the community. It was never intended that such activities should be the exclusive domain of private enterprise. Indeed, it has always been our position that Government should be in this field directly and it is further its duty, by encouragement, assistance and patronage, to extend the co-operative share. This follows naturally from the declared objective of making the Co-operative sector the dominant sector eventually.
6.7 Further, in view of the anti-social operations of several individual private sector agencies, as evidenced by black-marketing and hoarding, it may, indeed, has become necessary for certain essential commodities, henceforth, to be handled exclusively by Government and Co-operative outlets and agencies. We cannot and will not permit to develop in Guyana what we have witnessed in other countries where a relative handful of companies and individuals reap fantastic profits while the consumers - the people - pay correspondingly fantastically high prices for essential goods. We are socialist and the people's interests are the primary ones.
Local and Foreign Enterprise
6.8 There was an earlier allusion to Guyana's tri-sectorial economy. Our commitment to the development of the co-operative is well known with and without the Party, as also is the fact that no sub-sector, apart from those reserved to the Government, is closed to the co-operative.
6.9 In the circumstances of our Party's policy, however, there will be a place and role for the private sector. There will be certain sub-sectors like public transport and communications which must and will be owned and controlled exclusively by the Government. But there will be others in which any of the three sectors will be free to be involved on terms decided on by your Government.
6.10 We are frequently asked about our Policy in relation to foreign private investment. The time has come now to give, indeed to repeat, the answer once and for all. Private investment from abroad is welcome in specific fields in consortium with Government and/or co-operatives, provided that in each case Government will shortly be appointed to set our clearly the fields and areas contemplated for such joint ventures as well as the attendant terms and conditions, one of which will be a guarantee against confiscation. The work of the Committee will have to be completed by March 31st 1975. When the list is adopted and published there can be absolutely no doubt or grey areas.
6.11 On several previous occasions I have stated - and found unanimous agreement at various Congresses - that the tasks of developing Guyana is one primarily for Guyanese. Yet, there are still too many of our citizens, fortunately not a majority, who explicitly or implicitly put their faith in foreign assistance, government to government, or foreign private investments as the main instruments of development.
6.12 We certainly are not unmindful of the substantial aid we have received from several friendly countries and international agencies. We cannot be forgetful of the financial assistance this from our neighbours Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuala. But all this, apart from being insufficient on its own, is no substitute for our own people's effort. In addition, even if there were the will, the capacity on the part of would-be aid donor is doubtful at this time. Therefore, not only national dignity, but also a sense of realism dictates our philosophy of self-reliance.
6.13 We have done will in the past. By now we, as a people, have contributed over $100M in self-helf at community and national levels since the P.N.C's accession to office. Important and vital infrastructure works have been executed by this means but I have a feeling that in some quarters there is now a tendency to relax. Though in some areas self-help projects go on apace, in others there is too great a time-lag between commencement and completion.
6.14 If my judgement is right, this would represent a slipping back at a time when more than ever the supreme effort is needed if we, as a nation, are to reap the full harvest from our earlier achievements.
Ownership and Mobilisation of National Resources
7.1 During the period ahead, your Party intends to proceed with the implementation of the policy of ownership and control of national resources. We have been paid the greatest compliment when we see other developing nations doing likewise, and by one means or another seeking to get a greater and reasonable share of the profits which flow from the exploitation of their natural resources.
7.2 Guybau has been successful in its operations and has contributed significantly to saving the economy from ruin this year. It continues its expansion programme and in 1975 will be entering the field of international shipping.
7.3 We must also have noted with interest our hosting of the Council of Ministers Meeting of the International Bauxite Association. That meeting endorsed what the P.N.C Government has long articulated, and the formation of the Association itself represents the successful culmination of our efforts which started way back in 1970. We have been proved right. This I observe without beating of drums and boasting. This is no time, nor was there ever a time for such vain exercises.
7.4 In the meantime, you know of the refusal of the remaining foreign owned bauxite company to pay the levy imposed by your Government. Instead it has brought an action in the Supreme Court, which action is proceeding at the moment, and at the same time, through a spokesman, has said that it will not pay regardless of the outcome of the case. What impudence!
7.5 I myself do not desire to make any comment on the merits of the case which is now engaging the attention of the Court, being tried by His Honour the Chief Justice, but shall content myself with observing that this same company has paid a similar levy to the government of Jamaica and Haiti. Obviously, the fact that your Government has announced its intention of nationalising the Company's holdings in Guyana - a matter entirely distinct from that of the levy - is responsible for this company's obduracy.
7.6 As Party Leader and Head of Government, I have been encouraged and heartened by the several resolutions and messages of support to the Government from various Party groups and affiliated organisations, as well as from thousands of other persons and organisations.
7.7 I am sure, therefore, that you would like to know that this morning the President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana at 9 o'clock signed an order fixing the January 1st, 1975 as the date on which the relevant property of Reynolds Guyana Mines Limited at Kwakwani and Everton will vest in the Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana. Talks will proceed on quantum and terms of compensation to be paid later.
Our Financial Resources
7.8 Our mineral and other natural resources are not the only non-human resources which we possess. There are our financial resources.
7.9 Notice was given since 1970 of our intention to miniaturise foreign owned banks and to make the Guyana National Co-operative Bank, THE BANK for mobilising and deploying Guyanese savings in Guyana. Those of us who listened to the Budget preparation by the Comrade Minister of Finance on Monday last must have been impressed by the rapid growth of the Guyana National Co-operative Bank - total resources rising from $9.2M at 31st December, 1970, to $70M at 30th June, 1974, and savings time and demand growing from $6.9M at 31st December, 1970 to $36M at 30th June, 1974.
7.10 The Government, Party and Party members must make a united effort to achieve our oft stated objective during 1975 and bring and end to foreign banks taking and investing local deposits during next year.
Revolutionising Our Educational System
8.1 As we husband and seek to develop and exploit our material resources for the benefit of our people, we must at the same time develop and in many cases, reorient, our human resources in the service of the nation.
8.2 The Party, through Government, has already begun the process of revolutionising the formal education system, a process aimed at eradicating the old colonial and capitalist valuers and introducing and emphasising new and relevant ones.
8.3 We have not been completely successful, for not only are the attitudes deep-rooted, but even those responsible for training in many cases need retraining. To this day, there are still some misguided teachers and lecturers who have no concept of and even resistant to the Co-operative. They prefer to inculcate in their wards, and emphasise, selfish individual objectives instead of those directed at the progress of the group, the community and the nation as a whole.
Ours Is a War
8.4 Further, it is not sufficiently appreciated that education and training in and out of the formal system are an integral part of the national development process. That explains why there are so many misfits whose energies and potential lie idle and unused so far as the national programme and objectives are concerned.
8.5 Ours is a war. It may not involve a clash of arms and the unleashing of weapons of destruction. But it is still a vital struggle - one against poverty, ignorance, unemployment, hunger and exploitation and we cannot afford the luxury of having uninvolved citizens, especially youth, who seek to get and not to give.
8.6 A massive campaign has been launched in which there can be no place for the disinterested and nonconformist who envisages freedom in terms of indulging in the practices and attitudes which were part of the old colonial order. We did not win political freedom from colonialism to protect the freedom of colonialism to poison and mislead our society and divert us from our national goals.
8.7 Outside of the formal education institutions, others like Trade Unions and co-operatives should be viewed as part of the total national education system. Our sponsorship and patronage of the co-operative in this regard must continue and must increase, and more public funds must and will be expended on trade union education, especially through the Critchlow Labour College.
8.8 The new Teachers' College has been built, not as part of a general programme of building and construction, but to provide the environment, atmosphere and facilities conducive to the training of some of the nation's most important teachers.
8.9 Primary schools will have to be expanded, re-equipped, restaffed. Curricula will have to be changed as part of this campaign. In this context, there is further scope for carrying on our national tradition of community self-help.
8.10 More assistance will be extended to private secondary schools so long as they fill the gap caused by an insufficient number of Government Secondary Schools. But all Private Secondary Schools, whether government-aided or not, will be regulated and will only be permitted to function if they conform to certain physical and professional standards. It is time that we get rid of some of these cramshops which call themselves schools and operate for the pecuniary benefit of a few individuals. Education is the nation's responsibility.
8.11 The multilateral schools now being completed, and the Community High Schools soon to be instituted, will add considerably to the non-fee-paying education establishment. Already all co-operative, technical and agricultural training is free, and the goal, not far from achievement, is a system of completely free post-primary education. Primary education, as you know, is already free and as from September 1975, tuition fees at the University of Guyana of Guyana will be abolished.
National Service - Total Involvement
8.12 National Service, which has got off to an excellent start, is part of our total education system. The purpose and role of this Service have already been discussed and stated elsewhere and I do not propose to continue the discussion here. I shall satisfy myself with making three observations:
(1) The Service bestrides the whole society, involving youths in and out of formal schools - those who were formally referred to as delinquents and social outcasts, those in correctional institutions, and other adults.
(2) The response from the citizens has been most enthusiastic.
(3) The Service has been the object of congratulatory comments for its underlying objectives and philosophy, as well as for the performance of its members, these comments coming from a wide spectrum of Guyanese and non-Guyanese.
The Co-operative:- The Little Man's Institution
9.1 Now for a few words on the Co-operative. After 10 years in office and seventeen years of existence, the P.N.C needs no preaching on the Co-operative to evoke conviction. That it is essentially and by definition the little man's institution and instrument of liberation is accepted. So also is the fact that it is a most important mechanism in the development of the nation. Thousands of co-operatives have been formed over the last ten years, and they dot the countryside.
Certain Weaknesses and Deviations
9.2 Growth, in numbers and capital employed has been rapid and impressive, but not only can this be greater, but also a number of weaknesses and deviations have become obvious.
9.3 While it is true that co-operatives are to be found in several sub-sectors where they were not hitherto, one notes that in some sub-sectors like logging and saw-milling, the number is not significant relative to private entrepreneurs.
9.4 In some of these case the problems are those of having competent and dedicated organisers and easily available credit for the purchase of the equipment. The latter problem can now be overcome since the establishment of the Agricultural Co-operative Development Bank, but the former requires for solution the availability, after training, of fully skilled organisers. This takes some time.
9.5 Then again, one finds persons purporting to form co-operative societies which are not really co-operative societies, but private companies using the advantages of co-operatives.
9.6 Further, there are some members of co-operative societies who operate like shareholders of private companies, displaying no interest in the work of the respective societies, but merely, intent on collecting dividends.
9.7 There have been a few instances in which co-op members have employed at a wage, other persons do their duties in the given society. These are some of the examples of the capitalist attitude and approach seeping into the Co-operative and which will destroy the institution if left unchecked.
Strengthening the Co-operative Sector
9.8 The Co-operative College at Kuru Kuru and several Co-operative Institutes have been set up to provide orientation and training relevant to the management and running of the co-operatives. But the facilities are still inadequate, as also are those for producing the proper type of persons as Co-operative Officers. Many of the latter were originally recruited on the basis of academic qualification or past service in the public sector and lack both the appreciation of objectives and the necessary dedication and commitment; they are merely civil servants in the old mould. It is clear that the system of training, identification and recruitment have to be changed radically.
9.9 In an attempt to cure these various ills, and more not referred to, the Co-operative Division of the Ministry of Co-operatives and National Mobilisation has had its vote for Co-operative Development substantially increased. This is to assist the Division and Ministry in carrying out their task efficiently without at least the inhibition of lack of financial resources.
9.10 Learning from the mistakes and failures of the last period, we can undertake the revolutionary changes that are necessary if the Co-operative Sector is to become the dominant sector and means of involving the little man in the process of self and national development. This depends not only on the availability of credit provided for through kindred institutions, but also on education and training and supervision in its best sense.
The Task Ahead
10.1 The task that lie ahead as the P.N.C completes its first ten years of stewardship are many and tremendous. We have alluded to some of them, and the catalogue is not complete. Basically, ours is the burden and privilege of revolutionising our economy and society, removing all traces and incidents of poverty and exploitation, and building a new system and state in place of the old, which have proved inadequate. We have to develop Guyana into a prosperous and just society where the people's welfare and happiness are transcendental.
10.2 But this is not achieved by mere enthusiasm, rhetoric and the passing of resolutions. The opposition is and will be great. The legacies of the old order based on man's exploitation of man are attractive to the uninitiated. The tactics of the enemy are varied and subtle.
10.3 The most disparate human vehicles from arch conservatives to phrase-mongering "revolutionaries", will be used to defeat our purpose. In the circumstances, the Party must be highly organised and well trained to mobilise the nation, give leadership to the people and identity and rout the enemy regardless of the guise in which he clothes himself.
The Party Membership
10.4 We have already agreed that membership of the P.N.C should only be conferred upon those who have been tried and tested.
10.5 Each member must be grounded in the ideology and programme of the Party. He must be not merely a member, but an active member of a co-operative. He must engage himself prominently and unapologetically in community activities and self-help projects. He must educate others as he has been educated. He must take part in all relevant Party exercises and programmes. He must inform and be informed by the people among whom he lives and with whom he works. He must make the sacrifices he calls upon others to make, and more. He must display ingenuity and initiative. His primary loyalty must be to the Party wherever he is or finds himself.
The Party Group
10.6 The Group has been described as the basic unit of the Party's organisation. Every Party member must be attached to a Group. It is through the Group that activities have to be carried out and communication maintained with the other Party units and agencies. It is through the Group that the education of members will be carried out and it is from the Group eventually that the Central Secretariat and leadership will get vital information and advice. The Group is the means through which the Party will maintain direct contact with the people, the masses.
10.7 Because of the importance of the Group, it is proposed to limit its geographical scope so as to ensure thoroughness and intensity of organisation and mobilisation. In most cases, particularly in built-up areas, a Group will cover at most two blocks. The District and Regional Committees and Conferences are important, but their effective functioning is directly related to the reliability and vitality of the Groups.
10.8 In the new structure, performance and hard work will be stressed and rewarded. There will be no room for eye-catching manoeuvres; and preferment from one level of leadership to the higher ones will come to those who do rather than to those who talk. On this basis, top leadership posts will be open to all Party members.
10.9 We now are a Party seriously intent on redefining our new role in the nation. We have undertaken as a mass party, and the major national institution, to lead Guyana to the socialist ideal.
10.10 I have said on other occasions and in other places, this is a goal. It must not be imagined that by mere declaration and resolve Guyana will become socialist. It is a process which has to be planned and hastened. But we are not yet at the end of the process, which will take some time - we hope the shortest possible - to be completed.
A Code of Conduct
11.1 Positive action is required to move the nation along the road. Cardinal to this movement are the conduct, attitude and example of the leaders of the Party. And I now propose for adoption and/or amendment a "Code of Conduct" for P.N.C Leaders and members: This Code is not exhaustive and will have to be expanded from time to time as circumstances demand and permit, with respect both to the categories of persons described as leaders and the areas covered by its provisions.
A Party Member
(1) Shall not accept or ask for any gift or money or property or benefit of any kind whatsoever for anything done or to be done or omitted to be done by him in the execution of his duties as a member.
(2) Shall not accept any gift whatsoever unless it is not contrary to paragraph (1) and is given by a relative or personal friend, or as a conventional diplomatic courtesy, a customary public expression of appreciation, or a mere advertising token distributed to the public. If an allegation is made against a member under this or the previous provision, the burden shall be upon him to prove that the gift falls under an exception.
(3) Shall not put to his own personal use, unless permitted by the General Secretary, any property whatsoever received on behalf of or belonging to the Party.
(1) Shall not hold shares or stock in any company save as a nominee of the Party or Government.
(2) Shall not hold a directorship in any company save as a nominee of the Party or Government.
(3) Shall not rent to others any dwelling house owned by him save with special permission of the Party Leader who may delegate his power in writing to any other Officer of the Party. Such permission is only to be granted if the leader is posted for a period of not less than six months away from his normal dwelling house on Party or Government business.
(4) Shall not rent to others any land for any purpose.
(5) Shall not use to his personal advantage or to that of any other person any information obtained by him by virtue of his being or having been a leader.
(6) Shall not engage in any private business enterprise unless he personally works in it and does not employ more than ten other persons.
(1) A registered Co-operative Society shall not for the purposes of Part B be deemed to be a company or private business enterprise.
(2) Interest or dividends earned on money deposited or loaned to the Guyana National Co-operative Bank, the Guyana Co-operative Mortgage Finance Bank, the Guyana Agricultural Co-operative Bank, any Building Society, or from Government of Guyana securities shall be deemed not to have been earned from a private company or in a private business enterprise.
The Party General Council may from time to time specify other financial institutions similarly exempt.
(3) Every Leader shall, not later than 31st March, 1975 or within one month of his being appointed a leader, whichever is later, submit to the Party Leader a sworn declaration in writing of all his assets, wherever situate or held, and those of his spouse and unmarried children under the age of 18 years as well as their liabilities.
(4) Any leader who does any prohibited act through a trustee or other agent, shall be deemed to have committed the said act.
(5) Any complaint alleging a breach of the provisions of this Code shall be made in writing to the Executive Committee and addressed to the General Secretary.
(6) The Executive Committee is empowered to make rules for the making and hearing of complaints and appeals and shall hear and determine all complaints.
(7) Any leader admitting or found guilty of any breach or breaches of this Code shall be relieved of his post as leader and in addition may be expelled or suspended from the Party. Such leader may appeal to the General Council and the Biennial or a Special Congress of the Party successively, but the penalty awarded by the Executive Committee shall remain operative pending any such appeal or appeals. The Executive Committee shall also have the right of appeal to the Biennial or a Special Congress of the Party.
(8) The provisions of A 1, 2 and 3 and B 5 shall come into effect forthwith.
(9) The provisions of B 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 shall come into effect on 1st July 1975.
Each of the following shall be deemed to be a Leader under the provisions of this Code:
1. The President of the Republic of Guyana.
2. The Prime Minister.
3. A Minister of the Government.
4. The Attorney General.
5. A P.N.C Member of Parliament.
6. A Party Officer as defined under Clause 13 of the Constitution of the Party.
7. Such other office-holder as the General Council of the Party may from time to time designate.
8. The spouse, and children under eighteen years of age of any of the above.
This Code may be varied, expanded or amended at any time by the General Council, the Biennial or a Special Congress.
We Are in The Vanguard
12.1 As we meet here exactly ten years after the Party's accession to office, we must all feel that 1974, significantly, has been a good year. Faced with the economic crisis of the world arising from a rapid inflation of the prices of goods Guyana had to import, and the substantial increases we have had to pay for refined oil and other petroleum products, your Government was put to the test.
12.2 Fortunately our national thrust of feeding, clothing and housing the nation, started some years ago, came to our rescue in some respects.
12.3 Our ownership of the major bauxite undertaking nationalised in 1971 served us in good stead. The receipts from sales by Guybau boosted our foreign reserves, and the enhanced price of its products produced profits for the nation's use. Both the reserves and the profits would have gone elsewhere if Guybau were not nationally owned.
12.4 By superintending the marketing of sugar we were able to take advantage of the high prevailing international prices for that commodity and to contribute substantially to the national coffers from the levy imposed.
12.5 Our timber exports expanded and again we earned for Guyana, especially through the nationally owned Guyana Timbers Limited.
12.6 Rice in the context of a world food grain shortage contributed most significantly to the producers' and the country's economy.
12.7 Then our oil producing neighbours to whom I earlier made reference came to our assistance with loans when we needed them.
12.8 Your Party and Government introduced several restrictions and bans on un-necessaries to conserve foreign exchange. We explained to the people and received their understanding and firm support. They made the sacrifices and redoubled their efforts. At the same time, the nation's economy was carefully and competently managed. Eventually, not only were there no wholesale retrenchments, but rather there were increased employment opportunities available during the last six months to 1974.
12.9 We have even learnt that there is a sizeable surplus left on the Current Budget for this year while our foreign reserves are in a relatively healthy state.
12.10 Let us not, however, indulge in trumpet blowing and vacuous boasting. It is true that we have, for reasons well known, avoided the worst consequences of the international crisis. It is true that we are not faced with famine and a depleted treasury. It is true that we have been able to hold down inflation to what is a minimum in the circumstances. But the world crisis has not passed. In some countries it is deepening. We as a country are still vulnerable and can find ourselves in the same position as in January 1974. Guyana, moreover, is still a poor, developing country plague by unemployment.
12.11 We can fritter away our surplus and hope for manna from the skies in 1975 and the years to come. Some there are who would counsel the lifting of all the restrictions and bans so that they may satisfy their foreign luxurious tastes.
12.12 Instead, however, you will have noted that whatever surpluses there are will be spent on further development for the nation to expand and strengthen its economy and provide productive employment for the people.
12.13 Sacrifices and continuing dedicated effort are still, perhaps more, necessary if we are to build our dear Guyana. We are not yet out of the woods and we are far from achieving our development objectives. Our foreign reserves must not be used for unnecessary consumption of imported items and feckless travel around the globe. They must be deployed for the purchase of developmental goods to push further our programmes.
12.14 Every section of our nation must play its part and make its sacrifices. But Party Leaders and members must make the greatest sacrifices and undertake the heaviest, nay, superhuman, workloads. We are in the vanguard. We are leaders. There is no better way of leading than by example.
12.15 As the eleventh year dawns, that is our task, that is our duty, that is our privilege.
LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE'S NATIONAL CONGRESS!
LONG LIVE THE CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA!