Sunday, June 28, 2009

Obituary-Ranji Chandisingh, January 5, 1930 − June 15, 2009

Obituary-Ranji Chandisingh, January 5, 1930 − June 15, 2009

Posted By Stabroek staff On June 28, 2009 @ 5:09 am In Features, Sunday | No Comments
Ranji Chandisingh, January 5, 1930 − June 15, 2009

Ranji Chandisingh, a former Vice-President of Guyana, Ambassador to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Minister of the Government, died on June 15, aged 79.

Ranji Chandisingh was a communist. He became seriously involved in politics in London when he was appointed editor of Caribbean News – a newspaper that had been launched in 1952 by the Jamaica-born, Royal Air Force World War II veteran William ‘Billy’ Strachan as the left-wing answer to the foreign edition of the right-wing Gleaner newspaper. Strachan was a well-known member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and was also President of the London Branch of the Caribbean Labour Congress. He and Chandisingh became comrades.
When, for example, Strachan addressed the CPGB’s ‘Conference of the Communist and Workers Parties within the Sphere of British Imperialism’ in April 1954, speaking on ‘Terror in the West Indies,’ Chandisingh, referring to the suspension of the constitution, deployment of British troops and the state of emergency, spoke on ‘Terror in British Guiana.’ Billy Strachan recommended Chandisingh to his friends, Cheddi and Janet Jagan, who were the leader and general secretary, respectively, of the People’s Progressive Party which had returned to office when democratic elections were restored in 1957.

Chandisingh started his political career in 1958 as journalist on the PPP’s Thunder, then still a newspaper; it later became a quarterly journal and he was appointed editor. He was elected a member of the Legislative Assembly for the Lower Demerara River constituency, which included East Bank Demerara, in the August 1961 general elections. At the age of 31, he was appointed Minister of Labour, Health and Housing in the Council of Ministers in the PPP’s 1961-64 administration.

The labour ministry in early 1960s, however, was a bed of thorns. There was turmoil among the country’s three main political parties of the day – the People’s Progressive Party, the People’s National Congress and the United Force – behind which not only were the major trade unions mobilised but the major ethnic groups were also aligned. Political contests could readily trigger a chain reaction that would degenerate into racial rivalries that were played out vicariously through labour disputes and, ultimately, in street and village violence. In 1962, 1963 and 1964, it was not uncommon for those disputes to erupt into strikes, arson, murder, riot and sabotage.

Holding the labour portfolio, Ranji Chandisingh was in the eye of the storm. Particularly in 1963, his introduction of the Labour Relations Bill which sought to “ensure the compulsory recognition by employers as bargaining agents on behalf of workers, those unions which, after due enquiry, appear to the Minister of Labour to be truly representative of the workers in the particular industry…” ignited a political and industrial firestorm.

Richard Ishmael, the President of the British Guiana Trades Union Council, the displacement of whose union – the pro-UF Manpower Citizens Association by the pro-PPP Guiana Agricultural Workers Union – was thought to be the ultimate objective of the proposed legislation, opposed the bill and coaxed the BGTUC into a general strike on April 18, 1963. The protracted nature of this strike is now known to have been ensured with the aid of CIA money. It was not until Robert Willis, a good officer dispatched by the British TUC, was invited to Georgetown that an agreement was signed at Red House on July 6, ending the strike after 80 days. Failed in its bid to gain recognition in the sugar industry through legislation, GAWU tried other means, calling a strike against the British Guiana Sugar Producers’ Association, the next year in February 1964.
Ranji Chandisingh [1]

Ranji Chandisingh

It was thought that the strike was really a pretext for the PPP’s political campaign to derail the proposed general election under the system of proportional representation which, by the ethnic arithmetic of the day, the PPP was not expected to win. Given the pattern of political relations and the volatile situation in the country at that time, the GAWU strike quickly degenerated into communal violence that continued even after it was called off in July. In December that year, the PPP was replaced in office by a PNC-UF coalition administration.

Chandisingh, in his own words, considered it his mission in the PPP “to help develop cadres with a communist outlook, loyal to Marxism-Leninism and the principles of proletarian internationalism.” Thus, he became the party’s leading ideologue and was appointed director of studies of the ideological institute, Accabre College, first at Success Village, ECD, then at Land of Canaan Village, EBD. He was also a member of the party’s General Council and Executive Committee and served as Secretary for Education, Secretary of the New Guyana Company Ltd, the PPP’s commercial arm, and was a member of the delegation to the Inter-American Conference for Freedom and Democracy in Venezuela in 1961.

Chandisingh’s life-changing experience occurred in the mid-1970s as the result of personal, national and international changes. The PNC, to mark the 10th anniversary of its accession to office in December 1974, published its Declaration of Sophia, a manifesto proclaiming among other things, that its goal was to build socialism in Guyana. By that time, Guyana had become a republic and had started to develop diplomatic and trade relations with the USSR, PRC, DPRK, GDR, Cuba and other communist states, support anti-colonial liberation movements and play a leading role in the Non-Aligned Movement. The administration also embarked on a programme of nationalisation of the “commanding heights” of the economy.

When Dr Cheddi Jagan, then designated as general secretary of the PPP, went to Havana, Cuba, to attend a conference of Latin American communist parties, he was persuaded by Cuban Vice-President Carlos Rafael Rodriguez and members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba to modify the PPP’s traditional hostility to the PNC which the international socialist movement was convinced had taken the road to Marxism-Leninism. As a result, at its 25th anniversary conference in August 1975 at Annandale, the PPP announced a change in its political approach from one of non-cooperation and civil resistance to one of “critical support.”

This new situation provided an opportunity for Chandisingh, and others who had become disenchanted with the PPP’s policies, to leave that party and join the PNC. Chandisingh published his letter of resignation to the PPP General Secretary and Central Committee in which, in some detail, he explained his reasons for leaving the PPP. In a later PNC elections pamphlet, he wrote:
As a socialist, I functioned in the PPP for 18 years, believing that the leadership of that party was committed to the cause of socialism. To my deep regret and dismay, however, I discovered from bitter experience – at a crucial period in Guyana’s history when the PNC has demonstrated its commitment to socialist transformation and development in deeds, not merely in words – that the PPP leaders were less interested in socialism and the unity and well-being of the Guyanese people than in furthering their ambitions for personal power and prestige.”

Chandisingh, became Director of Studies of the Cuffy Ideological Institute − the PNC’s answer to the Accabre College. He was appointed a member of the party’s Central Executive Committee and was later to serve as General Secretary. Government appointments followed. He became Minister of Higher Education in 1980; the following year, he became Minister of Education, Social Development and Culture and, in 1984, he was appointed Vice-President, National Development and Deputy Prime Minister. In a peculiar, Guyanese, political paradox, he served as a member of the PNC delegation to negotiate a reconciliation and unity agreement with his old colleagues in the PPP. He was later the appointed Guyana’s Ambassador to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and had the responsibility, ironically, to close the mission in a country that he admired.

He published several articles in the Thunder journal, including ‘The Erosion of Civil Liberties’ (1969) and ‘Socialism and Democracy’ (1975). His two major pamphlets included: Why I left the PPP (1976); and Education in the Revolution for Socialist Transformation and Development, which originally, was delivered as an address to the 3rd Biennial Congress of the People’s National Congress in August 1979.

Ranji Chandisingh was born in San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago, the son of Dr Charles Washington and Amelia Chandisingh. His uncle, Joseph Chamberlain Chandisingh served as principal of the Corentyne High School which was later named after him. He was educated at the Buxton Methodist School on the East Coast Demerara and the Modern High School, in Georgetown and, at the age of 16 years, went up to Harvard University in the USA in 1946. Intending, initially, to study the natural sciences in order to pursue a medical career like his father, he was caught up in the post-war political ferment on campus and switched to the Social Sciences, graduating with a BA degree in Social Science in 1949. He was the only Guyanese known to have received the Lenin Centenary Award from the USSR in 1970 to mark the anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, regarded as the founder of the Soviet state.

Ranji Chandisingh is survived by his wife Veronica, née Persaud, and his son Yuri,

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In the relentless war on drugs.Guyana's done what no other country in the hemisphere has -President Jagdeo

Guyana Chronicle news item, Sunday 28 June 2009 - "In the relentless war on drugs.Guyana's done what no other country in the hemisphere has -President Jagdeo" -

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo said Friday that Guyana is doing the best it can to combat drug trafficking here, and that no other country this side of the Atlantic has done what we have to preserve the integrity of its the law enforcement agencies.

“I think we are doing the best we could in terms of combating the trade. I keep saying that very few countries in the world …[certainly] none in this hemisphere that I know of, would have polygraphed their narcotics unit twice in six months and gotten rid of the people who failed,” he told reporters during a press conference at his office on Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, the former New Garden Street, here in the city.

He was at the time responding to queries as to whether he was satisfied with the way Guyana was progressing in the fight against the narcotics trade, and pointed to the fact that the last polygraphing exercise was extended to include other key law enforcement agencies.

“We did not keep it just in CANU (Customs and Anti-Narcotics Unit), but we extended it to the police narcotics unit and to the airport. So clearly it shows a strong commitment on the part of the government to ensure that the people who work in these agencies… are clean. That is the best I could do… and provide them with the resources,” he said.

He said the reason Guyana adopted the foregoing measures was so as not to be accused of having a “hidden agenda” or of “covering up,” and to avoid placing corrupt personnel in certain key agencies.

“We have a rigid time-tested process of weeding them out,” he said, adding that had we the resources, we would have been better able to monitor the situation.

“If we had more resources, yes! We may be able to better patrol our waters; if we had more resources, we may be able to have radar coverage over our whole country; and maybe be able to fly and police all of our borders but we cannot do those things. But the little resources we have, we are deploying it as best as we could.”

Voicing his concern that enough is not being done where addiction is concerned, the president drew reference to the fact that even an advanced country as the United Kingdom is having problems in this regard, judging from a report coming out of there saying they have the highest incidence of drug use in the world.

“Over a million people in the UK considered using drugs; that is more than our whole population,” the president said, adding that it was because of the government’s concern about the high incidence of addiction here that it has been lending as much support as it can over the years to the Salvation Army.

“…For the past two or three years, I have been giving grants to the Salvation Army to support their programme because they do more rehabilitation [work],” he said, adding: “…I hope that we can increase [the grant] and work with other non-governmental organisations to ensure that people have a ‘second chance in life’. As you know, anyone can make a mistake in life and start using drugs but you need to provide that (support)…”

In 1987, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly decided to observe June 26 as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.

Incidentally, Friday was being observed the world over as ‘International Day Against Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking’.

President calls for corporate governance probe

Guyana Chronicle top story, Sunday 28 June 2009 - "President calls for corporate governance probe" -

President calls for corporate governance probe

Looks like this is the lead. Put on one of the early pages

THE financial crisis triggered by bad corporate governance in the United States is more than lesson enough for the corporate sector in Guyana to be put under closer examination.

That’s the word from President Bharrat Jagdeo, who has asked the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) to place corporate governance here on the table.

At a press conference Friday, he agreed that Guyanese should go after the government on governance issues because they have a right to keep the administration on its toes.

But he argued that somehow, the corporate sector here gets “a free pass,” although some companies have been cited by the Securities Council for breaches.

The President said there should be adequate information about the dealings of these entities, including details about the visible and invisible compensation packages of the public companies.

“Have we examined…the public companies which have thousands of small shareholders? Is there adequacy of information about the dealings of these entities?” he inquired.

Mr. Jagdeo recalled that the Securities Council took some of the corporate entities to court, but that the media has never reported on the issues.

He charged that this was because “your editors rely for ads from some of these companies. So you don’t want to get in the bad books of some of these companies.”

“But you go and look at the public record and ask yourself whether this is serving the interest of the small shareholders who put their money and who expect shareholder’s value to be created, (and who) expect these companies to be run in a clean, efficient way (and) not…like private companies,” he said.

Corporate governance is the set of processes, customs, policies, laws, and institutions affecting the way a corporation (or company) is directed, administered or controlled. Corporate governance also includes the relationships among the many stakeholders involved and the goals for which the corporation is governed.

The President noted that the crisis in the US was triggered because of bad corporate governance, with people “just investing a bunch of money in questionable instruments, largely because their bonuses were linked to high rates of return…getting maybe US$150M a year in bonus.”

He said that among other issues prevalent here, is the inter-locking directorate as well as “excessive inter-company transactions,” and that “maybe, legislation is needed to regulate in a greater way inter-connected party transactions, the inter-locking directorate which is so prevalent in our country.”

He noted that at a forum this week, the Canadian High Commissioner here was speaking about corporate governance, and the participants were talking about how the Central Bank must be strengthened.

“It’s gone right back to the government – not corporate governance, governance in the private sector – the Stock Exchange, self regulation, all of these things, compliance with the Companies Act, transparency in their accounts. Immediately it gets shifted back to the government – what is the Central Bank doing; this is the easy way out,” the President said.

He urged the media to delve deeper into corporate governance here.

The NCC is a public-private entity established to take ownership of the National Competitiveness Strategy (NCS), and act as the central point of policy leadership that will ensure ongoing development and implementation of the NCS.

Through a ground-breaking partnership approach between the government and private sector, a new draft of the NCS was developed and formally launched at the May 2006 Presidential Summit on Private Sector Development.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Government is seeking to pre-empt a decision of the court

Government is seeking to pre-empt a decision of the court

Posted By Stabroek staff On June 27, 2009 @ 5:07 am In Letters | 5 Comments

Dear Editor,

When a government uses its clout and lays Orders in Parliament which are design-ed to bypass the judicial process and give legitimacy to an illegal act, that government can only be considered to have rendered the rule of law of a country a nuisance and an irrelevance. Such a government then becomes the chief inspirer of criminal actions across the society.

A recent action by the Government of Guyana exemplifies the state of lawlessness into which this country has sunk. On Wednesday, June 10, 2009, the government, by way of Order No. 6 of 2009 made under The Public Corporations Act 1988 (No. 21 of 1988), vested ownership in a disputed piece of property to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Ltd (NICIL) in the most devious fashion and at a time when litigation is before the courts of Guyana to determine the rightful owners of the property.

The property at issue is a piece of land on the East Bank of Demerara, the ownership of which is the subject of a dispute between the Guyana Fisheries Ltd and Marfriends Coop Society. Marfriends Coop has been in possession of and has been farming the land since 1970. The case has been engaging the attention of the courts since 2005 and just when the court was about to give a ruling, the government, in its determination to subvert due process, then laid this obscene Order in Parliament transferring ownership of the property to NICIL. It is clear that the government, by way of Order No. 6 of 2009, has pre-empted the findings of the court by favouring the claim of Guyana Fisheries to ownership of the land.

The members of Marfriends Coop Society have, over the years of their occupation of the land, worked very hard to make their society a viable one. They have been able to secure grants to aid its development. They have impressed an international donor agency about their seriousness to the extent that that agency is presently involved in carrying out a pilot project with them. Just as importantly, the land provides them with an opportunity to earn and live and hold their heads up with pride and dignity. They have been forced to spend over $400,000 in litigation fees in pressing their claim to ownership of the land. However, it seems as if all of their efforts are to be nullified by the government’s distasteful intervention.

Government has not only demonstrated yet again that it cares little or nothing for Guyana’s judicial process and the rule of law, but it has also clearly signalled to the members of Marfriends and to other Guyanese whom it deems as humbugs, that it cares nothing for the hard work they have put in on the land and the sacrifices they have made over the years to develop their society, their community, their families, while also making a contribution to Guyana’s agricultural drive. Is the society not engaging in low carbon development?

As Guyana continues the slide down the slippery slope, the WPA wishes to use this opportunity to call on civil society, particularly members of the legal fraternity and all who care about natural justice, to stand in defence of Marfriends. Give them your support against this high-handed, discriminatory act of the government. Surely, it cannot be that laying over the Order in Parliament represents the end of the matter.

Yours faithfully,
Desmond Trotman
For WPA Executive Committee
5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "Government is seeking to pre-empt a decision of the court"

#1 Comment By Brandon Samaroo (Have we gotten our money’s worth from the PPP after 17 years?!) On June 27, 2009 @ 8:47 am

Desmond you are dead wrong my friend dead wrong.

Judicial process? since when does a dictatorship care about judicial process?

The jagdeo govt has a reputation for not only passing laws to subvert the judicial process but they simply ignore the courts at will. How many rulings has the PPP and the PHENC both in cahoots ignored the rulings of the courts?

The PPP is a full blown dictatorship, these are the things that happen under dictatorships. Come on man lets be honest with ourselves.

#2 Comment By BORAPORK On June 27, 2009 @ 9:22 am

The dictatorship is at work and the populace remain remain silent or bleat like sheep.

#3 Comment By Vigilance On June 27, 2009 @ 9:44 am

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Just when you think that the PPP cannot further diminish the authority of Government…

PPP Members of Parliament, with their snouts deep in the trough, are happy to do their part to drag Government further into the filth.

NICIL does not report to the Ministry of Finance, only to the Office of the President. The stink of corruption pervades that high Office and contaminates all that it touches.

#4 Comment By Caesar Agustus On June 27, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

If this occurs, it had it’s inception also during the PNC/UF illegal regime.

#5 Comment By decanadianCarlVeecock On June 27, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

This is outrageous!

Could such government action be appealed?

Did the PPP ever speak of “return to democracy”?

I have a hazy recollection of something like that, but then
again, I might hvae not been paying full attention !

Democracy vs Dictatorship.
I suppose one is the adjunct of the other in the minds of
the PPP.

#6 Comment By eric phillips On June 27, 2009 @ 4:01 pm

ethnic cleansing…..jagdeo is giving away house lots equally…but the real crime is the distribution of commercial lands…it is all about ethnic marginalization when the hidden information on this commercial racism comes to light

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Cabinet cannot waive tender procedure - Jagdeo

Kaieteur News news item, Saturday 27 June 2009 - "Cabinet cannot waive tender procedure - Jagdeo" -

Ministries can apply a waiver of the Tender Board procedures to source supplies once it is done within the confines of the law.
Yesterday, President Bharrat Jagdeo, in response to the recent reports that Cabinet was in violation of the Procurement Laws of Guyana, said that the procurement law clearly states that Cabinet acts on the recommendation of the Tender Board.
“We cannot say that if a recommendation comes from the tender board ‘we don’t approve with you and give it to the next person’,” the Head of State said.
He further explained that Cabinet can disagree with the Tender Board recommendation, by stating its reason and recommit the disagreement to the board.
This means, he said, that the technical processes have to be done at the levels of the Tender Board.
If a Ministry, the Head of State said, wants a waiver of Tender Board procedures, it has to get approval from that body and then send the waiver to Cabinet for ‘no objection.’ In such a case, the President said, the Ministry will have to go the tender process.

“We had a policy some years ago that the Ministry of Health will buy from the UN agencies because they offer us the lowest price internationally. Then several years ago we said that if the local producer could match the UN prices then (the health Ministry then can procure from them.” At the time, he noted, the only local producer was Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation.
“The waiver of Tender Board procedures is to buy from UN alone, because they give low prices and if the local producers match those prices you buy here.”
Guyana’s procurement law gives a 10 percent margin of benefit for local suppliers.
In such a case, if the local person can bid even up to 10 percent above that margin, it can be favoured but in this particular case it does not work, since it is agreed in the case of Pharmaceutical that the company has to match the UN price or offer a lower cost.
According to the Head of State, the issue with the Ministry of Health has been resubmitted to the Tender Board and has been resolved.
He added that the law also allows for single sourcing.

Earlier in the week, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Hydar Ally, along with a team of officials from that Ministry appeared before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee to submit to scrutiny and to offer explanations for discrepancies highlighted in the 2006 Auditor General’s report.
One of the issues that featured prominently was the way in which the Ministry purchased its drugs, which according to shadow Finance Minister, Winston Murray, was in violation of the Procurement Laws of Guyana.
Ally told the House that the Ministry was not in violation of the procurement and provided the PAC with three letters from the National Procurement and Tender Administration.
According to Murray, Cabinet did not have the authority to waive the tender process that is outlined in the law. Today President Jagdeo said that Cabinet does not, that it simply offers no objections.
Murray noted that further directing the Ministry to purchase from the New GPC was a vexed issue.
When the issue was first raised by this newspaper in August last year, Health Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, had admitted that his Ministry made a mistake as it relates to the procurement process in purchasing drugs and medical supplies. The recent Auditor General’s report in question stated that the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), which is now a separate entity from the Ministry of Health, continued to use the Ministry’s Cabinet approval to purchase drugs and medical supplies from specialised agencies, both locally and overseas.

In essence, the Health Ministry kept breaking the law when it did not seek the tender board’s approval for the purchase of drugs and medical supplies, totalling hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Murray.
But yesterday, President Jagdeo said that his government had nothing to do with the tender procedures, that every issue goes to tender.
The Auditor General report stated that the Health Ministry spent $608.4 million on drugs and medical supplies and could not “totally account for (these) drugs and medical supplies.” According to Minister Ramsammy, this has now been corrected.
The Auditor General’s report had also stated that, during 2006, amounts totalling $608.4 million was expended on drugs and medical supplies, for which the corporation could not give total accountability.

Blatant violations of several laws uncovered

Kaieteur News news item, Saturday 27 June 2009 - "Blatant violations of several laws uncovered" -

The Auditor General’s report for 2007 on the Public Accounts of Guyana and on the accounts of the Ministries Department and Regions was made public on Thursday.
Auditor General (ag) Deodat Sharma had said that there were several issues that reoccurred in the report.
In the report, it was pointed out that the explanations for the impact of movements in the underlying economic assumptions and parameters used in the preparation of the annual budget proposals, changes to revenue policies during the year, and slippages, if any, in the delivery of the budget measures were not disclosed in the End of Year Budget Outcome and Reconciliation Report in accordance with the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.
This, Sharma pointed out, were the reasons for the respective positive variance of $17.9B and negative variance of $7.3B between the estimates of revenue and the actual Government receipts for current and capital revenue not being resolved.
Further, the $3.8B and $2.4B over the allotments between the estimates of expenditure and the actual amount of expenditure during the year for current and capital expenditures could not be ascertained.
He noted, too, that amounts of US$1.1M, equivalent to G$209.5M disbursed as grants to various Government agencies under the United Nations Development Programme, were not incorporated into the revenue of the Public Accounts.
Again this year, the Auditor General in his report said that the Contingencies Fund continued to be abused with amounts drawn from the Fund being utilised to meet expenditures that did not meet the eligibility criteria as defined in the Act.
According to the Statement, amounts totaling $3.1B were drawn from the Fund by way of 115 advances and as at 31 December 2007, sixty-four of these advances totaling $1.459B remained outstanding.
According to Sharma’s report, amounts totaling $623.1M were shown as Contingent Liabilities for entities no longer in existence. The Ministry of Finance and the Accountant General’s Department have still not taken steps to have these liabilities transferred to the Public Debt, the report noted.
Sharma also highlighted the fact that there were several transfers from other accounts to the Consolidated Fund that were not effected. Several accounts had overdrafts.
As it relates to non-effected transfers, the report stated that approximately $7.6B representing balances held in 13 special accounts, a balance of $34.4M held in the General Account, the balance of $9.1B held in a Non-Sub Accounting Ministries and Departments Bank Account as well as 20 inactive bank accounts, of which six had balances in excess of $1M.
As it relates to the overdrafts, the report pointed out that the old Consolidated Fund bank account was overdrawn by $46.9B at the end of December 2007. A further 42 inactive accounts had overdrafts totaling $685.9M.
Of these accounts, 24 were overdrawn by amounts in excess of $1M.
The report also pointed out the continued lack of reporting and accounting for all gifts to Ministries, Departments and Regions and resulted in the Miscellaneous Receipts of $9.9B at the end of December 2007, being understated by an undetermined amount.
Again in 2007, there was a significant amount of overpayments that occurred on measured works for contracts undertaken by Ministries, Departments and Regions.
It was further pointed out that the entities are facing serious challenges in the quest to recover the amounts overpaid.
“Even more troubling is the perceived managerial action in relation to the troubling trend, since there was no evidence to suggest that disciplinary action of any kind has been meted out to engineering or other staff involved in the assessment of works in progress and the certification of progress payments.”
The Auditor General’s Report added also that the slow processing of pay change directives in several Ministries and mainly in the Regions, resulted in overpayments of salary, including related deductions that are paid over to various agencies.
“Ministries, Departments and Regions have faced serious challenges in recovering such sums, particularly because banking institutions require authorisations from account holders to do so, and statutory agencies, such as, the Guyana Revenue Authority and National Insurance Scheme have not complied with requests to refund sums overpaid.”
Some other specific findings by the Auditor General, were that the Guyana Elections Commission overstocked items of stores, resulting in considerable losses due to the expiry of large quantities and in other cases damage by water or obsolescence.
In a related matter, the Commission in April 2007, had entered into an agreement with a local firm to utilise its stock of 268 cartons of Polaroid film in order to salvage its value before the expiration date at the end of that month.
The estimated value of $30.5M is still to be recovered from the firm.
The report said that in instances, the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) failed to observe the requirements of the Procurement Act for its capital works and where these were observed, blanket waivers of these requirements were obtained from the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
“As a result, capital works executed on vessels were not publicly advertised, with the result that there was a failure to determine whether contracts were awarded at the most competitive prices or to the best responsive bidder.”
It was pointed out also that the Ministry of Education was exposed to great financial risks because of deficiencies in the preparation of contract documents, that rendered them powerless should contractors renege on agreements, provide substandard works or fail to show due diligence in the execution of works.
Also, in contravention of the Constitution of Guyana, a Public Procurement Commission to monitor public procurement and the procedures has not been appointed.
The Auditor General pointed out that as a consequence of the Commission not being established and in accordance with the Act, the National Board has the responsibility for the making of regulations governing the procurement of goods and services, determining the forms and documents for procurement and reporting to the Minister of Finance on the effectiveness of the procurement system, while organising training seminars regarding procurement and adjudicating debarment proceedings.

To rely on PPP sources alone is to give only ‘one side of a historical narrative of guilt’

To rely on PPP sources alone is to give only ‘one side of a historical narrative of guilt’
By Stabroek staff | June 26, 2009 in Letters

Dear Editor,

In his reply to Dr David Hinds (‘David Hinds history,’ KN June 19) Mr Ralph Ramkarran makes it clear than he does not like “shallow” reasoning or subjective considerations. He tolerates no “anecdotal” history and no “flawed” analysis. These, he says, are no good for societies like Guyana’s: “They add nothing to serious debate in Guyana.” I agree. They have never added anything useful, even when made by the PPP. He says that “Dr Hinds uses a subjective… approach that seeks to sustain one side of a historical narrative of guilt.” This is the first time I see a leader of the PPP allowing that there is more than one side of the historical narrative of guilt.

But Mr Ramkarran has more than anecdotes. He has note of my “state of mind” as it was in 1953 during the leadership debate of 1953 and even in 1956 and 1957. He rules his own evidence to be in order! He should also read PPP documents. I had a “warped” mind long before young Dr Hinds. As Chalk Dust would say, “I was in town.” And I don’t blame younger people for not “being in town” in those days and for questioning those who were there, questioning not some of them but all of them.

It was not Mr Burnham who proposed me as a person to break the leadership deadlock after the 1953 elections. The proposal came from one of the ultra-left. My immediate rejection did not allow discussion. Mr Burnham sat there, swinging his long key chain and said, “I would work under him.” Integrity was not an issue. Dr Jagan had led the public agitation between at least 1947 and 1953, most often as a lone voice in the Legislative Council. Jagan used to pick me up after school on many Friday afternoons for the Corentyne where we would hold a series of meetings even before the party was formed. So after all that, when the party won the elections, my question was – Why change him?

I do not think that my support of Cheddi Jagan in 1952 and 1953 was an integrity issue. For me it was a matter of logic. Jagan and his work in the 1947-1953 Legislative Council and among the people placed him ahead of all others for that role at that time. His activity in and out of the Council was the chief single source of encouragement before 1950 and of party building after 1950.

I had worked along with Jagan for about three years before I ever knew Burnham. But I had nothing against the newly returned lawyer. We had worked closely. I was in no way hostile to Burnham. I had sat in the court with him doing some of the work of junior counsel to him when he defended some ritual murder accused in New Amsterdam.

Next, why did I oppose a move before the 1953 election to postpone the election of leader of the legislative group on the ground that there was only one member, Jagan? The West On Trial records this, but puts words in my mouth I did not use and would not have used. I said, “This motion will be a vote of no confidence in the present holder of the office.” Somehow, the mover and seconder did not pursue the motion.

Mr Ramkarran does not know what record he is defending. He chides Dr Hinds for not giving me credit for just trying to be fair. From my point of view, the PPP has never given Martin Carter “credit” as the intellectual fountain of the liberation movement of those times. When I was a WPA member of parliament, the PNC placed Jagan’s 40th anniversary (1987) in the Legislative Council on the agenda. I spoke of Jagan’s pioneering work and of his flawless representation of all working people between 1947 and 1953. Since I had become critical of Jagan’s later lapses, both PNC and PPP were astonished. After the session I visited Freedom House where there was a reception to celebrate the event. While I was viewing the exhibits, a senior sugar worker of about my age came up to me and said, “Comrade, I am not seeing your photo.” It was not there of course. Freedom House does not record that I was one of the persons who received trespass notices from 13 of Bookers estates – another subjective anecdote. Mrs Jagan wrote and published in 1995 in the generous mood of victory, Children’s Stories of Guyana’s Freedom Struggles. All of them were of one race. The only non-Indians featured in any part of this book were the author herself and the illustrator, Paul Harris. It was “dedicated to the children of Guyana.” Even Walter Rodney was missing. If Mr Ramkarran relies on PPP documents to explain the past he will find himself in a tunnel.

When I returned from the Peace Conference in Europe (1952-1953) I told Jagan that I was not interested in running for parliament. I had the organizer and educator bug, being uneducated myself. He said to me that if I was not running for a seat, he was not running. I did not expect that answer. As I did not want to take on the responsibility of depriving the people of their most consistent and well-prepared representative, I shut up.

As a loyal PPP member, I was also against a PPP victory in1953 and moved a motion in the Executive Committee that the party should contest no more than about eight seats. This was to allow a greater space for more understanding and unity among the working people. Continued opposition to a colonial regime by a multiracial team and not by one man this time, would be the best way to develop, encourage and ensure interracial understanding and reduce suspicion, so as to withstand shocks that would surely come. This required patience and much linking with the people and their organizations. Only Martin Carter seconded and supported the motion. The two top leaders both said, “If we fighting, we fighting to win.”

My concern arose because I was sure the party could win. I did not carry out an objective poll. I just understood the responses of people all along the coast and in the Essequibo islands. When I told the two top leaders, standing together, “You all winning, you know,” both brushed me aside. When it happened, the top woman leader at the Bourda Green victory meeting described it in her speech as “My baby.” How objectively subjective! I am sure some of the city’s political class swallowed hard.

Mr Ramkarran makes much of the fact that I did not break with the PPP until 1957. He means publicly. There is a saying that we have – ‘Leaf fall ah wata, ’e nah a-ratten same time’ (A leaf may fall into the water but it does not rot at once). My rebellion against the PPP leadership began in 1954. The PPP had taken a decision that all who were restricted should keep the restriction and await May Day 1954. The party would then apply for the traditional parade. If permitted, it would mobilise the event. If denied the party would decide who were to break the restrictions and be arrested. After this, Jagan and Burnham, who had returned from India and Egypt, and the UK were restricted, along with the five of us who had been detained at the US Air Base, and others previously restricted.

Dr Jagan broke his restriction when the governor refused permission for him to travel to Mahaica where he had opened a free dental clinic on Saturdays. He stopped a man at Buxton Public road and sent me a message saying that he was breaking the restriction. I omit details of this conflicted anecdote. In my opinion, which could be unpopular, the party leader was acting against a clear decision of the Executive Committee. Dr Jagan was arrested and most of the activists in Georgetown came out in a protest demonstration. They all were arrested, tried, defended by party lawyers and sentenced to prison. The ultra-left, except me, led that protest. In the 1956 Congress they were not wanted, but I, as a more public face, was wanted (see West On Trial).

Mr Ramkarran did not read me right when he said that I did not “fall out” with the PPP until 1957. . In1956 the Soviet Union invaded the Hungarian People’s Republic. The PPP was not as Mr Ramkarran points out, a communist party, but it remained silent about the invasion. I wrote a letter to the press condemning the invasion and saying that this was not Marxist policy. From the time we read the 1956 Congress paper prepared by Dr Jagan, we knew that we could not follow where the PPP was going. Before the Congress some of us had met with Jagan illegally at Lionel Jeffrey’s house in Queenstown, sitting on the floor to avoid police attention in the emergency. We had met to discuss differences with Jagan. He sat on the floor with us for about two hours and listened to us but said nothing. It was clear that he had settled on a course of action. He had already prepared his Congress paper, ‘On the Political Situation,’ which we saw only after the Congress in New Amsterdam. We were all barred by restriction orders from attending, but Jagan’s voice was in his paper.

Although Jagan and Burnham were top leaders and much admired as a pair until1955, in the rural areas people were well aware of the long joint activity among them of other people, including Jagan and me. After the 1955 split, which agonized the whole nation,

I did not want to give more comfort to the rulers. Although I opposed the split, I had disagreed with Jagan well before the split when he broke his restriction order against the policy of the Executive Committee in 1954.

It was not Dr Jagan who visited me about the chairmanship of the party, which Mr Brindley Benn, who did not even know me at the time, thinks “Eusi wanted it” (Beerbalsingh: Oral History of PPP). He sent two men, one a senior GIWU trade unionist and Mr CR Jacob, a Water Street merchant, faulted both in The West on Trial (Jagan) and History of Trade Unionism in Guyana 1900-1961 (Ashton Chase) as a man “not to be followed.” The ultra-left comrades, in Georgetown, still in the party, knew that Mr Bhadase Mahraj of Trinidad and Tobago had advised Jagan to “make King Chairman.” Mr Ramkarran does not like anecdotes though he admits that they “weave back into the broader historical tapestry.” Dr Jagan and Mr Ramkarran’s father and one other person visited me before the 1957 elections to “offer you a seat.” I declined. Dr Jagan left saying, “We will fight you.” To do that effectively, he chose a fellow supporter with me in his 1947 campaign, namely Mr Balram Singh Rai, a person with strong links to the Hindu community. Dr Jagan acted according to his values. He was surely affected by the split

I am glad that Mr Ogunseye had commented on the PCD process. In spite of my differences with him, I regard him as one of the finest homegrown activists Guyana has produced. I have said before that any race-leaning politics in Ogunseye springs from his disappointment with the PPP. A decade after him others of less history but of fine quality, men and women, emerged in sugar and bauxite and elsewhere. I shall have the greatest joy in bringing them to light. They should be writing books about their vision and their experiences.

What I have never said to anyone is that during the more recent PCD agonizing a PPP member told me that the member thought I would make a good consensus candidate. My response was in the negative. I had already made my “generation” statement. I am not prepared to name the member so it is no point believing or not believing. The member is alive and well. I mention this anecdote as unsworn evidence of my lack of political ambition. It is seen as foolish, but it is how I want to be. It rivals no one, cheats no one.

Whether we see race as an objective or real factor or not, look what havoc it is creating in Guyana and how ethnic differences are becoming at least the setting of so many conflicts. Common sense demands that it receive every attention. If we are discussing political issues in Guyanese society and ignore the subjective side of things, or the ethnic factor, as though they are unreal, I can risk naming the century when we arrive at a solution.

The question though is whether the PPP should apologise. Mr Ramkarran seems to think that only “one side of a historical narrative of guilt” should apologise. To be subjective again, in 1978 I apologised not for making race a part of the debate, but for the way I handled it in 1961. No one had urged me to apologise. An apology is worth something only when it comes from inside a person or collective. I can perhaps ask whether X or Y has anything to apologise for. Both sides, if they are serious, have need to take responsibility or apologise to the nation.

My little book, Guyana: No Guilty Race, did three things. First, it blamed PNC supporters for the January 1998 citywide assault on Indians as Indians. Secondly, it defended Africans against historical framing and slander. Thirdly, it set down in terms no one has yet contested the growth of political violence in Guyana and the responsibility for each outbreak (1961-1964 and not 1962-1964). I can say, without fear of contradiction, that each side sparked its carnage and that the carnage grew as time progressed. The only year in which I found no central direction was 1961. I used to think that the absence of “central direction” was a positive factor.

Mr Ramkarran gives credit to Walter Rodney as an icon for having good relations with the PPP and Dr Jagan, unlike Dr Hinds. He gives no credit to a young country boy, David Hinds, who on his own decided to bring others to the Workers Stage, a cultural unit of PPP persons and to work in it. He gives him no credit for his anti-gunman activity in the bad days when PPP supporters were under attack. He gives no credit to Ogunseye, now an outcast, who defended PPP’s Arnold Rampersaud on the streets, something the PPP could not do for itself. He does not give Dr Jagan credit for being so flexible as to turn his back on Walter Rodney and mock him publicly after his execution. During the 1980 election campaign at Grove Jagan put the worst possible interpretation on Rodney’s phrase about a “Christmas present” and added, “All they got was Walter Rodney’s head on a platter.” If Mr Ramkarran relies on approved sources of the PPP all he will find is “one side of a historic narrative of guilt.”

Yours faithfully,
Eusi Kwayana

Friday, June 26, 2009

Any breaches of the law must be penalized - Ramjattan

Any breaches of the law must be penalized - Ramjattan
June 25, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under News

Now that there is a functioning Auditor General’s Office, the reports highlight the many monumental breaches of the law and the patently corrupt acts.
There must now be major reforms, both administratively and institutionally, which by necessity must involve penalizing those who commit breaches of the law and acts of corruption, said Khemraj Ramjattan.
The Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC) yesterday told this newspaper, “Under the PNC regime Guyana did not have a functional Auditor General, except for the latter years of Desmond Hoyte. The PPP used to criticise this most vigorously….It used to be champions for financial probity and scrutiny.”

He noted that today under the PPP, the Auditor General is there doing a good job and discovering massive corruption and “what does the PPP as Government and Party do and say in light of these revelations of monumental breaches of the law and patently corrupt acts?… It simply consoles itself with the fact that there is now an A.G. who investigates, as against the PNC time when there was none.”
This is most unsatisfactory to the Guyanese people, and is an insult to them, Ramjattan added.
He said that this PPP is no different from the then maligned PNC and does nothing to remedy the obvious causes of corruption, even when the AG and the Public Accounts Committee forcefully recommend what has to be done.

“We are stuck in the same boat.”
According to Ramjattan, Guyanese are getting fed up with President Jagdeo as leader of Government and Ramotar as leader of the Party for their intransigence. “When a little Indian or Negro boy thief even a mango to feed himself, this Government wants him locked up.”
He cited the utterances of Minister Clement Rohee who recently announced, “Larceny must not be condoned no matter what the circumstances.”
“Yet when millions and even billions are stolen from the government coffers by officials in the hierarchy, that is economics; not larceny or robbery.”

Ghost writer, Elizabeth Daly - quoting ghost writer, Paul Taylor!

Tarron Khemraj continues to hurt himself
June 26, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under Letters

Dear Editor,
Tarron Khemraj in his letter in Kaieteur News on June 25, 2009, with the title, “Daly’s outpouring of the ‘fundamental principles of democracy’ is suspicious at best; and it attempts to propose working solutions. However, he once again rationalises all issues based on the implicit economic benchmarks of the developed world; grossly unfair since Guyana is still a developing country.
Mr. Khemraj must note that the Government of Guyana is not God and does not have all the solutions necessary for Guyana to be perfect, but at least they are still attempting to rectify the errors made by the past. So, degrading Guyana (my country) and referring to it as a Donkey-Cart Economy is unacceptable; Cheddi Jagan’s reference to a ‘donkey-cart’ economy carried different parameters. Guyana is a developing country making progress and requires the support of its people to continue progressing, and Khemraj’s mischievous and transparent political agenda is only hurting our young striving nation.
Khemraj rambles that political cooperation is necessary for production transformation, yet still he and his confederates deliberately try to create acrimony among our people, instead of promoting political cooperation. Khemraj certainly has been boxing the texts, however, it must be noted that the text alone will not do, as developing Guyana requires both street smart and book smart approaches. So Mr. Khemraj trying to fame your name is not the game that will improve Guyana; it requires a little bit of common sense, a lot less ignorance, and a lot less silly implicit benchmark comparisons with the West.
Since Mr. Khemraj seems to be a man who likes to box the books, I refer him to the National Development Strategy (NDS) of Guyana, which lists a whole host of development strategies for Guyana regarding Macro-economic Strategies and the Management of the Economy, The Environment, Information Technology, Energy, Agricultural Institutions, Agricultural Institutions, Education, Health, Housing, Poverty Eradication, The Private Sector, etc. Since, Mr. Khemraj is so predictable, he will obviously nitpick on each and every strategy, however, I want him to note that the road to development is not straight, and he is just one obstacle that Guyana will overcome to see its way.
I want the people of Guyana to note that these nitpickers will one day eventually fade away and so will their ignorance and hate which are puncturing the tires of our poor country; but luckily Guyana has a pump.
I quote from an International Monetary Fund (IMF) Public Information Notice (PIN) No. 09/61, which states that “Despite external shocks and social pressures, macroeconomic stability was preserved in 2008. Growth decelerated to about 3 percent owing to a sharp shortfall in sugar production, but end-2008 inflation declined to 6.4 percent (6.8 percent target). The fiscal deficit widened to 7.9 percent of GDP (6 percent target) due to measures adopted in early 2008 to reduce the impact of high fuel prices, most of which have since been eliminated. So far, the financial system has been relatively unaffected by the global turmoil.” Also, the notice further states, “Significant progress has been made in the area of fiscal reforms and the VAT is now well established,” and the Executive Directors noted that, “by implementing prudent fiscal and monetary policies, the Guyanese authorities had maintained macroeconomic stability in 2008 despite external shocks and social pressures. Sustaining these policies will be critical to reduce vulnerabilities associated with commodity price volatility and possible spillovers from the global crisis. Directors commended the authorities’ commitment to further entrench macroeconomic stability, strengthen the financial system, and implement structural reforms.” If Mr. Khemraj truly likes debating, then I challenge him to challenge the IMF and World Bank (WB).
Also, Khemraj knocks the ‘Grow more Food Campaign’,” for his own selfish reasons. I refer him to a letter by Paul Taylor in SN on August 9, 2008 captioned, “The Ministry’s “Grow more Food Campaign,” is helping”; which states that “With the current ‘Grow More Food Campaign’, I have seen food prices reducing drastically in the various regions of Guyana. I travel a lot in the Caribbean and speak to friends and family in the North American countries and they are seriously complaining about the hike in food prices in these regions.
Through the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture, we don’t have to do any such complaining in Guyana.”
I also refer Mr. Khemraj to the Bureau of Statistics and Ministry to Finance to argue against the Per Capita Gross Nation Product (US$1214.3) for the year 2008. Do some research Mr. Khemraj; it might do you some good.
Khemraj should start interpreting all the books he has read and rationalise and analyse the information and apply it to reality.
Instead, he portrays himself as a mad man which will only do him more harm than good and will further hurt his academic credentials.
Elizabeth Daly

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Auditor General 2007 Report to be released today

KN news item, Thursday 25 June 2009 - "Auditor General 2007 Report to be released today" -

The 2007 Auditor General’s report that was recently handed over to the Speaker of the National Assembly will be made available to the public today.
At the time of the handing over the Auditor General (ag), Deodat Sharma had told media operatives that the problems that have been highlighted in previous Auditor General’s reports have reoccurred in the latest one.
According to Sharma, the Contingency Fund is still being abused; there are still overpayments on contracts, missing vouchers, “old bank accounts not being closed as yet, especially those big overdrafts that continue.”

He said that the proceeds from the lotto fund are still not paid into contingency fund, and those funds are still being abused.
The report was delayed this year because of the staff constraints at the Audit Office. However, Mr Sharma promised to present the 2008 report by December. He also stated that the first value for money audit would be handed over come next month.

Acting Auditor General Deodat Sharma (right) hands over the 2007 report to the Speaker of the National Assembly

Acting Auditor General Deodat Sharma (right) hands over the 2007 report to the Speaker of the National Assembly

The 2006 report was used by the opposition to accuse the government of massive corruption, adding that the report was evidence of such corruption. The Auditor General’s Report for 2006 highlighted breaches of the Procurement Act, as well as the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.
The Opposition parties have long been calling for the Audit Office to be outfitted with its full staff complement. They have also been calling for the appointment of Deodat Sharma to the substantive post of Auditor General, rather than to have him remain in an acting capacity.
According to the 2006 report presented yesterday, to the Auditor General, the Contingency Fund is continuously abused, with amounts drawn from the fund being utilised to meet expenditure that did not meet the eligibility criteria as defined in the Act.

“According to the Statement, amounts totalling $3.945 billion were drawn from the fund by way of 138 advances. As at 31 December 2006, forty-nine of these advances, totalling $1.721 billion, remained outstanding.”
In relation to the Customs and Trade Administration, the Auditor General noted that 17 Permits for Immediate Delivery (PID), with a total value of $2.832 billion, had not yet been perfected at the time of the audit in January 2007.
Incoming vessels at ports in Guyana numbered 1,089 for 2006. However, completed ships’ files in respect of 243 ships were not submitted to the Quality Review Section, and as such were not made available for audit examination.
It was also noted in the report, that several Ministries and departments recorded overstatements on their appropriation accounts, and the unspent amounts have not been refunded.
“Subvention agencies are not returning the unspent portions of amounts paid over to them for specific expenditure.”

The Auditor General also stated in his report what he called the overpayment of contracts. “Several Ministries and regions have not recovered amounts overpaid on various contracts in prior periods. In addition, some of these Ministries and regions, such as Education, Amerindian Affairs, Regions Two, Three, Six, Seven and Ten, continued to have overpayments on various contracts during 2006.
“One such example was recorded under the Ministry of Education, where $10.982M was overpaid on eleven projects which were mainly for the rehabilitation and extension to schools.”
But Finance Minister Ashni Singh, in an interview with this newspaper, said that it was regrettable that in some instances, the Auditor General’s Report did not in every case reflect the explanations that would have been proffered by the various Government ministries and departments. The Auditor General is required by law to have included in the report explanations for issues that raised an eyebrow.
“I would say that, in the overwhelming majority of instances, the issues that have been reported by the Auditor General have explanations that in many cases would have been offered by the respective Government Ministries and departments.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Is the government encouraging corruption?

Kaieteur News Editorial, Tuesday 23 June 2009

Is the government encouraging corruption?

June 23, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under Editorial

The Auditor General has once more revealed what can only be termed blatant disregard for accounting procedures and for the rule of law. The most damning comment to come out in the wake of the report has been the findings on the award of contracts to the local drug manufacturing company.
The law states that sums from the public treasury over a certain sum for certain contracts must go to the Central Tender Board. However, the Auditor General has unearthed the splitting of contracts to avoid going to the Central Tender Board. This is corruption at its worst.

For the past two years the Auditor General has been reporting on this, but it continues. There is blatant disregard for the procedures and utter disrespect for the people of Guyana. The least one could have expected would have been some effort to curb the practice in light of the exposure.
This past week, the Parliamentary sub-committee called in the officials of the Georgetown Public Hospital and the Ministry of Health to account for certain disbursements ostensibly for the purchase of drugs from the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (GPC).
Of major focus was the Cabinet ‘No Objection’ to contracts. A piece of correspondence dated May 7, 2009, indicated that there was a Cabinet ‘No Objection’ for the procurement of drugs worth US$76,681 ($15.3 M). The National Procurement and Tender Board by way of a note stated that once the contract was awarded between the Ministry of Health and the New GPC, the sheet should be returned to the tender board. This was not done.

Two weeks later there was again a Cabinet ‘No Objection’ for an award of US$2,681,293 ($536 million). This should have been the preserve of the Central Tender Board but once more there is this disregard.
Last year, when this was brought to the attention of the Minister of Health, he acknowledged that there were mistakes in the contracts and that having taken note of the Auditor General such mistakes would be corrected in light of the new legislation. Nothing has happened and the lawlessness continues under the guise of administrative instructions. Mr. Winston Murray, a member of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, stated that Cabinet did not have the authority to waive the tender process that is outlined in the law.
He is correct. Excuses that the new law allows for a waiver of the tender process cannot hold water because it does not. “Public tendering is mandatory under the law and for such tendering an invitation to tender must be had,” Murray said.
Murray also said that a provision in the law for selective tendering, given complexity or specialized nature, is available only from a limited number of suppliers but he emphasized that such suppliers shall be invited to submit.

Now this was made clear since last year, but the government continues the process of operating outside the regulation. This is clearly a total disregard for the law and for conventions.
We are still at a loss to understand why the government still refuses to pass the Lotto Funds through the Consolidated Fund. This was mandatory and for years the various Opposition Members of Parliament have been making this case. Whatever they say has been falling on deaf ears because the government simply ignores any argument made for the upholding of the law.
There is a lot wrong here. It is small wonder that there is so much fraud in government ministries and departments because the disregard for the law allows these departments to do whatever they wish. Queries are then answered either with an apology and a promise to adhere to the law, or with basic silence as if to say to the public that it is none of your business.
In some countries, there would be a clamouring for prosecution of those who breach the law, but in Guyana there is a stony silence on the part of the majority of those who are supposed to look after the interest of the nation.
The society should remain silent no longer. It is their money that is being spent in so cavalier a manner. The government must be made to account for its indiscretion.

Cabinet breached the law- Parliamentary Committee

Kaieteur News news item, Tuesday 23 June 2009

Cabinet breached the law- Parliamentary Committee

June 23, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under News

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Hydar Ally, along with a team of officials from that Ministry yesterday appeared before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee to submit to scrutiny and to offer explanations for discrepancies highlighted in the 2006 Auditor General’s report.
One of the issues that featured prominently was the way in which the Ministry purchased its drugs, which according to Shadow Finance Minister, was in violation of the Procurement Laws of Guyana.
Ally told the House that the Ministry was not in violation of the procurement and provided the PAC with three letters from the National Procurement and Tender Administration which stated, “Please be advised that Cabinet has given no objection for the contract, ‘Purchase of Drugs and Medical Supplies for the Ministry of Health’ to be awarded to the New GPC Inc.

The letters indicated approval for the purchase of drugs from New GPC for as much as US$2.6M.
This, he said, was evidence of the Tender Board waiving the need to go through the tender process.
According to Murray, Cabinet did not have the authority to waive the tender process that is outlined in the law.
He noted that further directing the Ministry to purchase from New GPC was a vexed issue.
According to Murray, public tendering is mandatory under the law and for such tendering an invitation to tender must be had.
Murray also said that a provision in the law for selective tendering, given complexity or specialised nature, is available only from a limited number of suppliers, but he emphasised that such suppliers shall be invited to submit.

He added that in any case there must be a competitive process before arriving at a supplier.
Chief Executive Officer of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, Michael Khan, also appeared before the committee and was questioned about the hospital’s drug purchasing policy.
Khan told the members of the Committee that purchases below $6M would be done through the hospital tender board and invitations for bids would be made public.
He noted however, that purchases above that limit would see the Ministry’s Procurement Department identifying a supplier.
When the issue was first raised by this newspaper in August last year, Health Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, had admitted that his Ministry made a mistake as it relates to the procurement process in purchasing drugs and medical supplies.
The recent Auditor General’s report in question, stated that the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), which is now a separate entity from the Ministry of Health, continued to use the Ministry’s Cabinet approval to purchase drugs and medical supplies from specialised agencies, both locally and overseas.
It was explained that before the Procurement Bill was passed in Parliament in 2004, the Health Ministry would seek Cabinet’s approval for the purchase of the drugs and medical supplies, which, according to Dr Ramsammy, was legal.
However, when the Procurement Bill was enacted into law in 2004, the Ministry had to receive the approval from the tender board.

This was not done, as the Ministry continued to seek Cabinet’s consent. In essence, the Health Ministry kept breaking the law when it did not seek the tender board’s approval for the purchase of drugs and medical supplies totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Auditor General report stated that the Health Ministry spent $608.4 million on drugs and medical supplies and could not “totally account for (these) drugs and medical supplies.” According to Minister Ramsammy, this has now been corrected.
“The Procurement Act says that the tender board approves and that Cabinet has its chance to give no objection. So we can’t change the recommendation; we can tell them that we don’t like the recommendation,” Minister Ramsammy noted.
He added, “The Auditor General is not saying it is corruption; the Auditor General is saying that it is the process, but people are making a big deal as if some hanky panky has happened, but it’ s nothing like that,” Dr Ramsammy stressed.

The Auditor General’s report had also stated that, during 2006, amounts totalling $608.4 million was expended on drugs and medical supplies, for which the corporation could not give total accountability.
Minister Ramsammy explained that when the supplies were purchased, the corporation did not have the storage space for them. In this regard, the GPHC asked the supplier to release the supplies over time.
“So, if I have ordered 100 crates and I have space for only five, I would take the five and collect the rest later. So we took possession of the 100, but we only have five with us, and then as we move on, we take the rest. We have always accounted for our supplies,” Dr Ramsammy said. He said that some of the drugs would be stored at a small GPHC bond and the remainder at the Health Ministry bond. When the Auditor General checked, he could not find all the drugs at the GPHC.
Dr Ramsammy said his Ministry sent an explanation to the Auditor General but it would seem that the response was ignored.

Monday, June 22, 2009

This Govt. is unlike any other in progressive societies

Kaieteur News Letter to the Editor, Monday 22 June 2009

This Govt. is unlike any other in progressive societies

June 22, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under Letters

Dear Editor,

The revelations in the Auditor General’s (AG) report of the financial lawlessness by the Government are appalling. It’s a crime what the Government is doing with our money. Every Guyanese should be shocked and outraged.

It is not enough for the PNCR in its response to the AG’s findings to say the Government’s rascality and skullduggery would have resulted in resignation were it taking place in another country. Do something about it. Make use of the constitutional right to dissent/protest.

In this technological age, shared information, interaction and action can be done at minimal cost and the PNCR, AFC, WPA and GAP/ROAR need to be more proactive. For example, contact regional and international institutions and governments and lay bare the case of Guyana’s threatened democracy with the burgeoning corruption and lawlessness of this government. The AG provided the evidence; the political parties, trade unions, churches, business community, civil society and human rights association must now act on this evidence.

The principle underpinning democracy - government of the people, by the people, and for the people - is not evident in Guyana. Democracy is much more than voting. A party’s whose victory is guaranteed only on racial loyalty and does not respect human rights and the rule of law is not practising democracy. A government that fearlessly applies Hitler-like tactics to eliminate people and ‘deal’ with its opponents is not a decent government.

A government that illegitimately spends and refuses to document taxpayers’ money is not democratic. A government that destroys a pension plan, a bank and insurance companies and denies employment to a people or region is not a government for the people.

A government that discriminates through the denial of educational opportunities, stifles independence or dissent, and refuses tax payers access to their money is a ruthless government.

In an open media environment a government that denies speech through withholding or selective licensing is an oppressive government. A president who presides over a narco-economy and criminalised state, and uses his parliamentary majority to pass a Former President Benefits Bill he knows the society cannot afford is not operating in the interest of the people.

The lawlessness and criminality are not only threatening our statehood, it is seeping into other Caribbean countries. Witness the continued attacks on Barbados by President Jagdeo - unfortunately supported by others - to impose his government disrespect for the rule of law, sovereignty, conventions, treaty and guidelines, when neither CARICOM nor CSME endorses these practices.

This Government is unlike any government in progressive societies. Yesu Persaud recently received a deserving Honorary Doctorate from the University of the West Indies, which cited, among other things, his major role in Guyana democracy and his international lobbying in that regard.

Given the preponderance of evidence and dire state of affairs Guyana finds itself today, Mr. Persaud must have realised his work is not yet over. It is hoped, he along with the many activists and media of the 1980s-1990s, know that we are counting on them to play their part once again. There voices are needed now more than ever to support those protesting the degeneration of Guyana.

M. A. Bacchus

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Good governance lacking in Guyana

Kaieteur News news item, Sunday 21 June 2009

Good governance lacking in Guyana – Volda Lawrence

The evidence is persuasive that the Jagdeo Administration does not understand or subscribe to the exercise of good governance, People’s National Congress Reform member, Volda Lawrence said Friday.
During a press briefing, Lawrence said that even though it claims to be a ‘democratic administration’, it has signally failed to conduct the business of the nation in a timely and transparent manner and render itself accountable to the Guyanese people.
“This regime has presided over the now endemic and rampant corruption, at all levels of public activity in the post-independence history of this nation.”

The Auditor General’s report, for 2007, she said, is a reminder that it has engaged in an “orgy of corruption, mismanagement, incompetence, illegal spending, and the abuse of the relevant financial rules and regulations.”
“Contracts have been overpaid, unspent funds have not been refunded and large sums of money are being returned by our overseas missions.”
The contingencies fund, she added, continues to be abused with sums of money being drawn from it to meet expenditure that do not meet the eligibility criteria as defined in the Act.
The Auditor General has pointed out, she said, that some $3.945B was drawn from the fund by way of 138 advances.

“All in all, the Report paints a dismal picture of a most corrupt Administration.”
It must be the concern of every Guyanese that the national accounts for 2007 have once again been presented late to the National Assembly, Lawrence pointed out, adding that the Auditor General has continued to speak out about the lack of staff.
This is being done even as the President continues to direct the Auditor General to provide services for special audits across the country, she said.
“It must be noted that the complement of staff for the Auditor General’s office stands at 226, while the actual staffing situation is only 114 members. This situation is scandalous.”
The Auditor General’s office must be given the staff required for it to deliver the national accounts on time, she urged.

“The position of Auditor General should be filled by a qualified person, who is independent and who is prepared to carry out his duties without fear or favour.”
On June 5, the Auditor General of Guyana (ag), Deodat Sharma, presented the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran, with a copy of the completed 2007 report.
It was however pointed out that problems highlighted in previous Auditor General Reports, have recurred in the latest version that was laid in the National Assembly.
According to Sharma, the Contingency Fund is still being abused; there are still overpayments on contracts, missing vouchers, “old bank accounts not being closed as yet, especially those big overdrafts that continue.”

He said that the proceeds from the lotto company are still not paid into contingency fund; and those funds are still being abused.
The report was delayed this year because of the staff constraints at the Audit Office. However, Mr. Sharma promised to present the 2008 report by December.
Sharma also stated that the first value-for-money audit will be handed over come next month.
The Public Accounts Committee is currently scrutinising the 2006 report, which was replete with questionable scenarios at the various Ministries.
The 2006 report was used by the opposition to accuse the government of massive corruption.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Khemraj is misrepresenting Guyana

Ghost writer, Elizabeth Daly, is a busy 'lady'.

Khemraj is misrepresenting Guyana
June 20, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under Letters

I note Mr. Tarron Khemraj’s letter in the Kaieteur News on June 17, 2009 titled, ‘The nature of a donkey-cart economy.’
His critique of the Governmental initiative aimed at boosting development and growth in Guyana is dishonorable and only facilitates an injustice to Guyana and its people. I want Mr. Khemraj and his confederates to be more sensitive, and at least acknowledge the numerous accomplishments of our striving nation.

Yes, it is inevitable that there will be gaps within the development strategies of Guyana, but to completely ignore our developmental gains is disappointing. It is healthy to make critiques but it is dangerous to stain a young nation like Guyana with negative comments, especially when most of these comments are erroneous.
Guyana has come a long way since 1992 and has achieved a sound macroeconomic environment. Such an achievement will only open the doors to other opportunities, since it gives international organisations some level of satisfaction, making it easier to access loans and grants to continue development.
The sugar industry has recently subsided because Guyana has always been dependent on the European Union for preferential price arrangements; and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) coerced Guyana into a 5% sugar cut, which is expected to increase to 36%. As a result, Government has developed a ‘turnaround’ plan to resuscitate the sugar industry.

In 1992, the inflation rate of Guyana was an astounding 101%; however, Guyana has now successfully managed to contain its inflation rate at 5.8%. Guyana also has reached a point where there is a reduction in its interest rates, balance of payments deficits, and has a stable exchange rate. These accomplishments can be criticised by the opposition, but the reality is, these accomplishments have opened new avenues to achieve sustainable development. Through strategic planning and policy making, Guyana has played its cards right and has managed to win the hearts of its international lending agencies, and so, more opportunities now exist.

Today, the fundamental principles of democracy and the best practices of Human Rights are restored to this nation. Per capita income is now US$1214.3 as compared to US$231 in 1991.
The decline of agriculture in the Caribbean coupled with the erratic global food prices and the growing food import bill led to the establishment of the Jagdeo Initiative on Agriculture in 1992. Today, agriculture is more than the production of food, it is a mechanism for job creation, it increases export earnings and the income of stakeholders, especially farmers, and explores opportunities for developing agro-businesses.

The Grow More Campaign in 2008 benefited farmers with the distribution of seed, planting materials and breeding stock, and so the livestock and other crop sectors grew by 7.4% and 7.7%, respectively.
In 2008, the mining and quarrying sector recorded a 6.1% growth, the bauxite industry grew by 22.8% in the first half of 2008 and gold production increased. However, the manufacturing sector output varied, products such as rum, other beverages, and paints increased but the production of flour decreased.
Last year, Guyana’s growth rate was 3%, and according to the Bank of Guyana’s Half Year Report 2008, the overall balance of payments at the end of June progressed to a surplus of US$47.6 million from a deficit of US$12.3 million for the corresponding period in year 2007.

With increased trade, the total transactions on the foreign exchange market continued to grow and the key monetary aggregates grew with increased economic activity.
Today, Guyana’s infant mortality rate is 30.43 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 120 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1991. Maternal mortality rate has decreased by 1.3% over the last 13 years. The immunization rate in children increased to 95% compared to 65% in 1991.
Guyanese now benefit from the increase of housing and water access; infrastructural works serviced 2,965 house lots in housing schemes such as Cummings Lodge, Orderneeming, Plantation, Goedverwagting, Farm, Hope/Lowlands, Speightland, Westminster and Bath. In addition, 2,366 lots were allocated and 2,434 land titles processed in 2008. The investment to improve access to housing, potable water, electricity, education and health care to the people of Guyana is vital; for this reason, Government will continue to expand the housing sector to ensure that all Guyanese own their own home.

In the 1980s and 1990s our nation experienced a loss of trained teachers which resulted in poor teaching quality and limited access to a solid education. However, efforts to spend more in the education sector resulted in the improvement of CXC performance; and also the enrollment of students to secondary schools increased to 76% compared to only 35% in 1991.
It is easy to paint Guyana with a negative brush, especially, when the critic is guilty of lying in a bed of roses. The fact is that Guyana is a poor country and misrepresenting its economic gains will only hurt the nation, and the efforts of the people to make Guyana a better place for all.
Elizabeth Daly

US flouts Guyana’s invitation to clarify TIP report

US flouts Guyana’s invitation to clarify TIP report
June 20, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under News

By Gary Eleazar
The United States has on several occasions received invitations by Guyana to come and clarify what Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Priya Manickchand, calls erroneous reports on Guyana as it relates to Trafficking In Persons (TIP).
According to Manickchand, the invitation remains open to the Americans which is a friendly State.
She was adamant that again this year the US State Department report on Guyana is wrong.
Manickchand, speaking with media operatives yesterday, said that in 2004 Guyana had attracted the uninvited attention of the US on TIP, and this was shortly after they had passed their own TIP legislation.
She noted that at that time they had said that Guyana had trafficking on a large scale to warrant their attention and Guyana was placed on a Tier 3 rank. “I believe that information was scarce both on their part and on ours.”
Minister of Human Services and Social Security Priya Manickchand

Minister of Human Services and Social Security Priya Manickchand

Given that lack of information at the time and the consequences inherent, Manickchand said that the Government set out to ensure that this was not the case, firstly enacting in 2004 the Combating in Trafficking in Persons Act, “and thereafter a whole menu of measures were taken.”
She noted that these very measures that Guyana has taken to curb whatever presence of TIP there is in Guyana has been recognized by the US as if reflected in its very own report.
“They themselves have said that we have done a lot of work to protect, prevent… and we have taken all these measures and awareness campaigns.”
She did point out that the one complaint that the US seemingly has with Guyana was the fact that persons were not being convicted in Guyana for TIP in large numbers.
The Human Services Minister was adamant that any report of TIP will be investigated and persons will be prosecuted but following that it is up to the courts to preside over the situation, given that the Executive and the Judiciary were separate entities and the Executive will not interfere in the affairs of the Judiciary.
“Never has a case come to us about TIP that we have not addressed…The US has never said that we failed to charge people.”

She noted too also that in Guyana a person was innocent until proven guilty.
Manickchand was adamant that Guyana does not have a large number of TIP cases, drawing reference to the US law which states that a country must have a significant number of TIP cases for the country to be included in the yearly report.
“Guyana kept saying that we don’t have significant numbers…You (USA) come here and show us where those numbers are…forget what we say you (USA) have no evidence that we have significant numbers so we ought not be in the report.”
Manickchand also drew reference to the fact that the USA has amended its laws to remove the requirement for significant numbers, “that could well lead one to think justifiable that here is the US State Department recognizing that all along they may have been including countries without significant numbers….the decent thing to do would offer an apology to those countries that were dragged into the report when they ought not to have been in the report.”

She noted, too, that Guyana does not fit the criterion that the US Secretary of State has to take into consideration before ranking a country.
Although the Guyana Government enhanced its assistance to victims, augmented training for law enforcement officials, and initiated a nationwide network of community focal points for victim identification and criminal investigations, the government has not yet convicted and punished any trafficking offenders under its 2005 anti-trafficking law.
According to the US report, the government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.
The US alludes that despite these overall efforts, the government did not show evidence of progress in prosecuting and punishing acts of trafficking warranting Guyana being placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

Ministerial Task Force rejects US TIP report

Ministerial Task Force rejects US TIP report
June 19, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under News

The Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) has said that it firmly rejects the United States State Department’s labelling of Guyana as a “Tier Two Watch List Country”.
The Task Force said that it remains adamant that the State Department’s TIP Reports continually mischaracterise Guyana as a TIP haven.
The Task Force said that it seriously questions the authenticity of the US State Department’s report based on it heavy reliance on second-hand data and the credibility of its TIP country report begs the question of the quality of the sources of information.
It appears that the architects of the US Report are less willing to use information from official sources and prefer to base their reports mainly on “other sources”, some of which may have strong anti-government agendas and have already demonstrated their partiality to embellish issues for political reasons, the Task Force said in a press release.

The methodological section of the Report does not provide practical indicators by which the Government of Guyana can assess its own anti-trafficking efforts, relative to the criteria by which they are evaluated.
The extensive grassroot network that Government has developed to support the fight against the scourge has given no indication that it was a problem as described in the US TIP Report.
In fact, the Task Force said, there were only two reports of persons presumed to be trafficked in 2008, and two persons were charged early in January 2009 for human trafficking.
The release stated that the 2008 Report of the Ministerial Task Force on TIP had stated, after a thorough investigation of the problem of human trafficking in Guyana, that it was difficult to corroborate the findings in the US Report.
The Task Force Report contended that the views of the US Report do not tally with first-hand experience of personnel from Government agencies that have been in the forefront of the anti - trafficking fight. Neither do they reckon with the experience of focal points from several respected Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

The Task Force Report also mentions a number of worthwhile initiatives that are obviously omitted in the US Report. A typical example is the bilateral agreements Guyana initiated with neighbouring countries such as Suriname and Brazil to respond to human trafficking. These agreements focused on improving legal, judicial and law enforcement cooperation in the fight against TIP and other forms of transnational organized crime.
In this regard, Guyana will continue to improve its performance in responding to allegations of TIP.
Already, expanded prevention measures, coupled with heightened activity from law enforcement agencies, as well as their vigorous enforcement and sensitization measures at the national level have made it difficult for human traffickers to conduct their activities. (GINA)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Freedom of Information legislation: President’s self appointed two-month deadline up today

KN news item, Friday 19 June 2009

Freedom of Information legislation: President’s self appointed two-month deadline up today

June 19, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under News

Alliance for Change leader, Raphael Trotman, yesterday lashed out at recent comments by the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Donald Ramotar, who said that the government was currently drafting a Freedom of Information Bill and there will be consultation after.
Trotman is of the opinion that the position taken is ludicrous firstly given that the AFC has already submitted a draft, which has gained consensus with the other opposition party.
He noted that rather than the government preparing the Freedom of Information Act in isolation it should have been a consultative process where stakeholder such as the bar association and media representatives among others, would have had an input and “we could all be proud of a well thought out piece of legislation.”

According to Trotman, he was quite aware of the constraints at the Office of the Auditor General as alluded to by Ramotar but stressed that those very constraints were convenient, given that, when the government wishes to hurry up a piece of legislation the AG’s office works with haste.
The Government’s long-awaited Freedom of Information Bill is currently in its final draft, according to PPP General Secretary, Donald Ramotar, who told Kaieteur News that the process was slow, not because of political problems, but because of practical reasons.
Ramotar had pointed out that there is only one Attorney General’s Office, which is already in possession of a number of other pieces of draft legislation from other Ministries.
He assured that when the draft is completed, there would be consultations with the opposition and other stakeholders.

“How can we consult if we have nothing to consult with?” Ramotar asked.
This comment was however not greeted too kindly because the AFC leader is of the opinion that there is already a very comprehensive draft FOI legislation that was tabled and could have been a basis, or any new legislation that the Government proposes.
Vice Chairperson of the AFC, Sheila Holder, recently reminded the President of his commitment to lay in the National Assembly the FOI Legislation.
The two-month deadline that President Bharrat Jagdeo set for his government to introduce FOI legislation is up today.
According to Trotman, to date, there have been no serious consultations on the Bill. He reiterated that if the government proceeds with its Bill, then it would be supported, since “the legislation is more important for Guyana than it is for the AFC.”
But Trotman did point out that as far as he was aware, there have been no consultations with any of the stakeholders, such as the Bar Association and members of civil society.
It is believed that the government is seeking to use the Trinidad and Tobago model, “which is the model we used and was developed with the help of a human rights group out of India… We adapted it for Guyana and we are sure we have a Bill that can pass international scrutiny. We are still hoping that the PPP Government will accept the Bill.”

When President Jagdeo first made the announcement, Trotman, though heartened, said that he would have expected that the Bill tabled by him would have been addressed first.
According to Trotman, the Bill that he tabled was not a piece that he “just imagined”, since it was based on a model that is in force in Trinidad and Tobago.
He added that the Bill has been thoroughly addressed by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.
According to Trotman, one would have considered that in an effort to save time, the government would have at least worked with the one that was tabled, questioning if they found the Bill in his name, “totally unacceptable.”
“We are already drafting it (FOI). It is something in my manifesto. We have already gone beyond many countries in terms of changes to the constitutional system,” Jagdeo told media operatives in Trinidad, in April.
The essence of the Freedom of Information Act, according to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), is the empowerment of the populace to request any piece of information (with few exceptions, such as medical records) held by a public authority.

Guyana’s migration has the characteristics of a humanitarian crisis

Guyana’s migration has the characteristics of a humanitarian crisis
June 18, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under Letters

Dear Editor,
Guyana Honorary Consul to Barbados, Mr. Norman Faria’s attacks on the Caribbean Congress of Labour’s (CCL) for its advice to undocumented immigrants in Barbados to regularize their status as offered under Barbados’ recent immigration policy, demonstrates once again the refusal to acknowledge there are significant differences between free movements of skills under the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and illegal immigrants.
In the attempt to make the case against the CCL’s advice, Mr. Faria sought to separate me, a Guyanese and Guyanese Trade Unionist, from the statement by questioning my commitment to workers’ rights. It should be said that the fact that I am Guyanese does not mean I will join those crusading against the principles governing the CSME, a country’s right to its sovereignty and the rule of law. For the trade union this posture is not considered workers’ rights.

The Guyana Consulate in Barbados is the representative of the Government and people of Guyana. Recent statements made by Mr. Faria in the SN favourably comparing the relationship with the Government of former Prime Minster Owen Arthur against current Prime Minister David Thompson is reckless and making a bad situation worse. This immersion in Barbados national politics while performing diplomatic duties on behalf of the Guyana Government indicates that Mr. Faria lacks an understanding of his role.
This is the type of behaviour that pit countries against countries and people against people and more so can contribute to the prejudice against Guyanese living in, or visiting, Barbados. It would have served this nation best interest had Mr. Faria used the time to educate and advise Guyanese in Barbados as to their rights and how they need to pursue same.

The establishment of CSME was not done without regard to set guidelines and respect for the sovereignty of participating countries. The CSME’s policies were made, agreed to, and signed on to, by every CARICOM government; a fact their missions abroad are aware of. It is therefore the responsibility of the Guyana Consul to give proper advice to Guyanese in Barbados.
The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which includes the CSME established the legal framework for implementation and this has been enacted into domestic law by all countries participating in the CSME.
The key elements of CSME are:
• The free movement of skills/labour
• The free movement of goods
• The provision of services
• The free movement of capital
• The right to establishment

The CSME offers every CARICOM worker the right to seek employment in any member country. But with this right comes responsibility. Under the CSME there are two categories where employment can be sought: 1) those eligible under the CSME, and 2) those not belonging to the CSME categories.
Approved categories of workers are required to obtain a Certificate of Recognition of CARICOM Skills Qualification as provided for in the CARICOM Skills National Acts of Member States. This Certificate will facilitate free movement into and within Member States as it would provide Immigration Officials and the host country with proof that a CARICOM National belongs to the approved categories.
Workers not yet eligible for free movement will have to apply for a work permit.
Once they have found employment and have a job letter in hand, they must initiate the applicable procedures as laid out in relevant Immigration and Labour Acts in Member States before accessing employment.
The fact that some Guyanese felt, and were lead to believe, that the Free Movement of Skill meant they were not obligated to CSME’s guidelines and Barbados’ laws is an indictment on Guyana’s representative in Barbados.
Attacking the Caribbean Congress of Labour; making insinuation about the sincerity of Barbados’ amnesty, and creating conflicts in Barbados, national politics, does not absolve Mr. Faria from culpability.
It is important to note that while there will always be migratory push and pull factor, it is not the trades union’s position to encourage forced migration and this is what is taking place as it relates to the undocumented Guyanese migrants in Barbados.

The ILO and UN Conventions, the Caribbean Decent Work Agenda, and the Constitution of Guyana have entrusted the primary responsibility for a people’s wellbeing to the country’s Government.
The Barbados Consul therefore cannot be comfortable to have the Government of Barbados open its doors to immigrants who are forced to leave their land of birth, yet at the same time does not want the Guyana Government to use the country’s resources for the benefit of the people of this country. Guyana’s migration has the characteristics of a humanitarian crisis and the situation is made worse by the Government refusal to create the enabling environment where the people can find legitimate work, respect their human rights and provide security and quality social services.

For too long our politicians have boasted about Guyana’s economic potential yet we continue to live in poverty, or forced to migrate, because the dream eludes us.
The PPP was elected to do better than the PNC and it must go and do its job and stop blaming others for its deficiencies.
The time has come for Guyanese, inclusive of Mr. Faria, to demand that their Government provide for them rather than demonizing others to do so.
Let us use the Barbados experience to crusade for all Guyanese to be treated equally and benefit from the opportunities Guyana can offer to Guyanese regardless of race, class, or creed.
Lincoln Lewis