Friday, June 6, 2008

New daily launched- President bristles over concessions remark

New daily launched- President bristles over concessions remark
Stabroek News news item. Friday June 6, 2008

Employees of the Guyana Times with the newspaper at the launching last night at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel. (Sara Bharrat photo) The Guyana Times, the nation’s latest daily publication, was last night launched amidst much fanfare in a crowded room at Le Meridien Pegasus.

But sparks flew after President Bharrat Jagdeo took on a leading businessman who suggested that the breaks extended to the newspaper’s principals who gained tax holidays for textile and pharmaceutical ventures should be granted to others. The total investment is around US$30M.

Queens Atlantic Investment Inc (QAII) launched the publication together with a modern press capable of a number of applications. The first issue of the full-colour paper was previewed last night and officially comes out today. The sale price for the daily is $50 and it is not yet known what the thicker Sunday edition will cost the reader.

The President launched a scathing attack on prominent businessman Yesu Persaud, Chairman of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) for his suggestion that other local companies should be similarly considered for tax concessions so that the investment climate will be one that is attractive.

A staff member of Queens Atlantic Investment Inc (QAII) last night displaying some of the items that have been printed at the company’s facilities at the former Sanata Textiles complex. This was during the launch of the Guyana Times and the state of the art printery at Le Meridien PegasusThere is room for a “serious” newspaper, Jagdeo said, one that can be critical, truthful, fair and sees public officers as fair game “but a paper that stays away from scurrilous attacks on people.” He said that for too long “we have feasted at that table.”

“It is not enough to criticize the ills in society…I hope the newspaper recognises the good in the country,” he said, adding that the efforts of people should not be sacrificed on the altar of sensationalism. “I think people with a corporate interest will benefit from a country that is viewed in a positive light,” Jagdeo said.

The President took Persaud to task on his comment about QAII being allowed tax concessions on the strength of negotiations and he said that this displayed an ignorance of the laws on Persaud’s part. “This is one of the things I hope this newspaper will correct. This is a profound ignorance of the Tax Act,” he said, explaining that the legislation provides for investors to benefit from tax concessions on the basis of investing in certain far-flung geographic locations, and in pioneering industries. He mentioned that when Persaud’s company was involved in medical transcription services, it benefited from tax concessions, “but this project failed.” “You are falling into the trap of ignorant people,” Jagdeo said.

The President emphasised that the newspaper is not getting the benefit of duty- free concessions on its equipment and consumables. “The textile and anti-biotics [ventures] will get the tax holiday,” Jagdeo said.
“I have asked Winston Brassington (Head of the Privatisation Unit) to hold a seminar on the tax laws,” Jagdeo said, stating that Persaud should be one of the persons attending.

President Bharrat Jagdeo (centre) speaking with retired Major General Norman McLean (left) and other persons during the launch of the Guyana Times at Le Meridien Pegasus last night. Managing Editor of the Guyana Times, Avery Gomes said that the publication will feature a Page Six foundation for children who fall on hard times. He said that 60 per cent of the advertising revenue will go towards making the lives of these children better. He said that the rates of advertising for page six will be ten per cent higher than any other page. He said that the Foundation’s members and staff of the newspaper, among other people, will contribute to the funding for the Page Six Foundation.

Chairman of the Board of Directors at QAII Ramroop Ramnarain said that the company recognised that there was need for a different publication. “This is why we made a conscious business decision to publish a new newspaper,” he said.

QAII set up at the old Sanata Mill complex in a privatization deal that has attracted a lot of attention.

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