President Bharrat Jagdeo lambasted journalists yesterday for not reporting the news accurately and for distorting the facts to make the government look bad, labelling them the “new opposition.”
He was at the time speaking at the 12th death anniversary of the late President of Guyana and leader of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Dr. Cheddi Jagan held at the Babu John Crematorium at Port Mourant, Corentyne.
He said a few reporters go to the press conferences and “coordinate their questions” and that “no matter how much information you give their job is to go back, take something and distort it.”
He said “some do that because of lack of understanding or to make the government look bad. They are the new opposition. Some of them do that routinely.”
Further he pointed out that, “There are many good reporters so I don’t want them to say I criticize all the reporters. But some of them are like that and some papers are like that.”
According to Jagdeo, “I get so frustrated sometimes at press conferences; I guess it is the ignorance that comes out. What I am frustrated about is that these are the people who have to educate the people….”
He also told the gathering – which was not as large as in previous years – that “when you sit here at Port Mourant or Tain you assume that what you read is of a high professional standard, that the facts have been verified, that it is accurately portrayed, but absolutely not.”
He said too that in many cases the news is just “fabricated or misleading because they want to evoke a response. Some of the newspapers even carry misleading headlines so that the government would then respond to the headline and then they have something else to write about.”
The president said too that “this is all a tactic, so we the Cheddi Jagan party, need to be wise about these things and educate people about these things.”
With regard to the CLICO issue he declared that the banking system in Guyana is sound and that he would ensure that the savings of “all the policyholders are protected.”
He made mention of a front page comment in the Kaieteur News yesterday regarding the funds from the National Insurance Scheme. He said the report spoke on the law, which “has no relevance but they quoted it because it made the article look credible.”
Jagdeo said that government does not tell people where to invest their pension funds and that while their money would be lost in the United States, a decision was made in this country to protect the people’s money.
The Head of State also pointed out that Guyana is not the only country that was feeling the effects of the global financial crisis and said many persons invested in the stock exchange in the United States and have lost more than half of their money.
He mentioned too that many people in the US are losing the value of their homes; what they bought for US$300,000 is now being sold for US$60,000. According to him some workers in that country have opted for a cut in wages just to stay on their jobs. In Guyana, he said, the prevailing condition is for workers to strike for more wages.
He said that government is building “firewalls” to protect its “reserves”. He also said the new Port Mourant Hospital would soon be opened.
Jagdeo admitted that the sugar industry is in a critical state where only 226,000 tonnes of sugar was produced last year instead of a target of 315,000 tonnes. This, he blamed, on poor weather conditions and other issues.
Despite producing 100,000 tonnes less, he said the staff did not change and that the company cannot survive in such a situation. The workers, he said are asking for bonuses but are not meeting the production target.
He also said that there has been poor turnout of labour, noting that if the Guyana Power & Light created a problem that has nothing to do with Guysuco, its workers would strike.
He said government would be making changes in the industry so there would be better management, noting that the PPP is committed to the workers.
The president, while speaking on the drop in food and fuel prices said that persons have called on Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh to resign but he “would not swap Ashni Singh for 100 Christopher Rams.”
He urged persons not to fall prey to propaganda and said that there is a “big budget” which would continue to be spent on “things that are important.”