Sunday, August 30, 2009

BK International has been awarded a $267 million contract

Regional Chairman admits using sub-standard materials to repair bridges
August 30, 2009 | By KNews | Filed Under News

- West Demerara rice farmers fed up with poor infrastructure

By Neil Marks

When a loud scream of “lie!” came from a rice farmer, it was clear this was not going to be an ordinary meeting.

Soon, many more accusations started flying, and Region Three Chairman, Julius Faerber, bore the brunt of them.
Rice farmer Kamal Ramraj says this bridge was built using sub-standard materials and is not suitable for the passage of heavy-duty cane harvesting equipment.

Rice farmer Kamal Ramraj says this bridge was built using sub-standard materials and is not suitable for the passage of heavy-duty cane harvesting equipment.

As soon as he started speaking at a meeting yesterday with West Demerara rice farmers, organised by the Rice Producers Association (RPA), Faerber was shot down.

Rice farmers are fed up with the excuses regarding the poor state of infrastructure as they head into second crop harvesting.

Faerber started off by declaring that the Regional Administration has assisted farmers in draining the rice dams.

Then is when he received the stinging rebuff of ‘lie” from one of the farmers who gathered at the Windsor Forest Primary School.

The meeting was called for the farmers to discuss their problems with key officials. Those in attendance to meet with the farmers, apart from Faerber, were Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud; Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) Lionel Wordsworth; Senior Engineer with the Agriculture Sector Development Unit, Frederick Flatts, and General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board, Jagnarine Singh.

When Faerber complained that the Regional Administration was experiencing difficulties, namely an out-of-order bulldozer, in grading the dams to allow for easy access, it was irritating.

“Wait fo rain fall!” a farmer shouted at him. When Faerber said the administration was facing difficulties in accessing “crush and run” to make the dams more “comfortable” farmers threw their hands in the air in anger.

But Faerber kept on detailing other projects the Regional Administration had undertaken to assist the farmers.

He pointed out that the Region had built three irrigation structures, but farmers said these were so badly constructed that “dem done rotten out.”

In fact, chairman of the Vreed-en-hoop/La Jalousie Water Users Association, Kamal Ramraj, said the structures “done blow way.” It was money wasted.

When farmers requested the costing for the projects, Faerber could not provide it and instead told the farmer to meet him at his office tomorrow.

There were claims that the Regional Administration had repaired several bridges before the last crop started.

But the farmers said this was another lie, and that in fact the bridges were constructed after the last crop. Even so, Ramraj said that the bridges, which Faerber said cost $3.2 million, were built using sub-standard materials.

Faerber was forced to admit that the Regional Administration used sub-standard material, because it was their judgment that some of the materials could be “use back” to repair the bridges.

Ramraj said this was a fool-hardy decision, and even with the sub-standard material used, the bridges would not withstand the pressure of the heavy duty rice harvesters and as a result after this second crop, more money would have to be spent to repair the bridges.

Water Users Associations (WUA) have been formed to empower farmers with responsibility to rehabilitating, sustaining and managing drainage and irrigation systems. The Minister of Agriculture urged “every single farmer” to take ownership of projects in their communities, but in a constructive way and not to go and “cuss down” the contractors.

Persaud told the farmers they should attend the bi-weekly meetings the WUA has with the contractors and the supervisory consultants to express any concerns they have with government projects. Contracting firm BK International has been awarded a $267 million contract to construct a total of 34 drainage and irrigation structures between Vreed-en-hoop and La Jalousie. The project also entails the replacement of 13 bridges and the re-construction of 11 kilometers of access roads.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture has expressed concern about the pace of works and is expected to meet with the contractor tomorrow.

Morgan case offers more clues for money laundering probes

Morgan case offers more clues for money laundering probes

Posted By Stabroek staff On August 30, 2009 @ 5:17 am In Local News | 7 Comments

Peter Morgan’s imminent sentencing in the US for conspiracy to import drugs offers another lead for local authorities to figure out why they failed to uncover his activities, in the same way that Roger Khan was untouched for many years.

Morgan’s case revealed a pattern of huge currency declarations on arrival in the US –
presumably the proceeds of his drug business. For each declaration in the US, there should have been a corresponding declaration at the Timehri airport. Those declarations in turn should have triggered questions about the nature of his business here and whether it warranted investigation.

Stabroek News has been unable to get any information from the Immigration Department to ascertain whether they have declaration records between December 2001 and August 2003, the period Morgan admitted that he trafficked in narcotics. But even before that time, the confessed drug dealer was declaring large sums of money, as he has admitted in court documents. In entering a guilty plea to charges, Morgan admitted that he and family members may have made over 60 trips to the US carrying large sums of money. He had claimed that the money was to conduct business on behalf of Morgan Auto Sales, his company here.

It is unclear how the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), a one man organisation for many years, operated in those years. Contact was made with director Paul Geer but he was overseas at the time and asked that he be contacted some time this week when he would be in Guyana.

The full implementation of the recently assented to Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Terrorism Act is supposed to boost the powers of the FIU, which would be able to enter into formal and informal information exchange agreements with local and international institutions with similar responsibilities in order to curtail money laundering and related crimes.

The act was passed with the full support of the National Assembly on April 30 after spending almost two years in a Special Select Committee. The government has been heavily criticised for not having such a law in place many years ago. A less severe law was on the books for years but not a single charge was brought under it.

The new law provides for oversight of the export and insurance industries, real estate, and alternative remittance systems, and sets forth the penalties for non-compliance. It also establishes the FIU as an independent body that answers only to the President, and defines in detail its role and powers. The new law is believed to be a significant improvement on previous anti-money laundering legislation and covers, among other things, the freezing and forfeiture of assets owned or controlled by persons suspected of engaging in money laundering activities.
Black market

currency exchange

For his part, as he attempted to mount a defence prior to entering a guilty plea, Morgan claimed that the reason he and his relatives travelled with large sums of foreign currency was because he benefited from favourable exchange rates using Guyana dollars to purchase ForEx which was then used to pay overseas suppliers of his company.

It would have to be believed that for almost 20 years Morgan used market fluctuations to trade for profit in currency, because the unusual economic conditions in Guyana forced most businessmen in this country to pay vendors in other currency. He claimed that his business, which was established in 1991, utilised the New York bank account of Sabena Manufacturing, established by his father, James Morgan at the JP Morgan Chase Bank way back in 1985. Since the establishment of that bank account Morgan and his relatives made over 60 trips to the US carrying large sums of US and Canadian dollars along with British pounds totalling millions of dollars, all of which were declared.

But what Morgan did not say in his explanation was that JP Morgan Chase account was closed by US authorities and the proceeds given to the state as it was the same bank account his sister Sabrina Budhram and her husband, Arnold, admitted to using to launder money for Khan and others. The account was in the name of Morgan’s father, who is currently serving time in the United Kingdom for a drug offence. According to the prosecution in the Budhram matter, the account was used to launder money from drug pushers in Guyana. The Budhrams have pleaded guilty to certain aspects of money laundering and while Arnold has been sentenced to three years’ probation and his wife to one year in prison.

However, Morgan claimed that his business, which he said he built into a profitable enterprise, involved buying, importing and selling previously owned and/or reconditioned automobiles, trucks, machinery, automotive parts and other products. To develop his business, he said he travelled extensively to find vendors and create business relationships and while customers were located in Guyana and paid in Guyana currency his vendors were located in Singapore, England, Japan and China. It was noted that Guyana currency is not accepted outside Guyana and as such he used US, British and Canadian currency when conducting business outside Guyana.

However, the US Government argued that his explanation simply illustrated how drug dealers in Guyana, like those in Colombia, could take advantage of a black market currency exchange to launder drug proceeds with individuals paying Guyanese dollars in Guyana in order to have drug dollars in the United States wired to accounts across the world to pay for legitimate expenditures.

In any event, the US government argued, even if the court was informed that Sabena Manufacturing’s bank account was used to pay vendors for Morgan Auto Sales, which engages in a car business in Guyana, that would have made no difference in the probable cause determination considering that multiple drug couriers specifically identified the residence of the Budhrams as a drop-off point for drug proceeds and toll records showed that their telephone was in contact with identified targets of the narcotics investigation.

Had the case gone to trial, the government was expected to present evidence that would have shown that David and Susan Narine [David is awaiting sentencing in the US for drug trafficking while Susan has been released] hired couriers to carry drugs from Guyana to the Eastern District of New York, which resulted in several seizures at John F. Kennedy airport and numerous arrests. The evidence would have also shown, according to the government, that the Narines received dozens of kilograms of cocaine from Morgan and that the drugs supplied by the defendant were delivered to New York, as well as to Canada and the United Kingdom, and drug proceeds generated in the New York area were delivered to and laundered by the defendant’s sister, Sabrina Budhram.

Morgan was nabbed in March 2007 in Trinidad by Trinidadian and US authorities while he was in-transit at the Piarco Airport. He was extradited to the US on August 23, 2007, after he withdrew a last-ditch appeal he had made in the Port of Spain Appellate Court.

When he pleaded guilty, Morgan told the court that he fully understood what he was doing. When asked to explain what he did, Morgan told the court that between December 2001 and August 2003 he conspired, with David Narine, to get cocaine in and out of Guyana and that he was fully aware of his actions and his conduct. He said agreed with Narine to import cocaine into the US.
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7 Comments To "Morgan case offers more clues for money laundering probes"

#1 Comment By Cummins On August 30, 2009 @ 6:11 am

Stabroeknews, you are doing the work of the Guyana police. But then again I can hear the commissioner saying “bring the evidence” so they can file charges. God knows, Guyana Police Force must be the laziest law enforcement agency in the world; never going out to investigate (suspected) crimes but always wants “ready done work”.

#2 Comment By BORAPORK On August 30, 2009 @ 6:37 am

These people have sullied the reputation of all law abiding Guyanese by making us all drug dealing suspects. I hope his sentence is of very long duration and all his assets in Guyana are seized, based on his admission in a court of law that he was implicated in drug trafficking. There had to be facilitators and they must be exposed and face justice regardless of their positions in the highest chambers of power. Guyana is a lawless country run by a morally corrupt and bankrupt government, fortified in the knowledge that its most ignorant supporters will blindly follow wherever led and do as commanded.

#3 Comment By amenra[jackass seh de wurl na level] On August 30, 2009 @ 7:08 am

He was able to trick the guyana govt, because guyana laws are weak when it come to money laundering, but he couldn’t fool the u.s because they had him on surveilance for years, you do the crime now do the time, now it’s time for guyana to get it’s act right and seize all his assets.

#4 Comment By SWAT On August 30, 2009 @ 8:36 am

It is hard to comprehend why the GY press continues to call individuals engaged in the drug trade “businessmen”. Let us see if the GY government has the intestinal fortitude to enforce the money-laundering laws on the books and seize this guy ill-gotten asset.

#5 Comment By Brandon Samaroo (PPP is now the new and improved PNC Dictatorship) On August 30, 2009 @ 8:48 am

Trick implies that the Guyana govt did not know what was going on.

I beg to differ they absolutely knew what was going on they turned a blind eye. Did they ever stop and frisk morgan on his several trips out of timehri? absolutely not!

#6 Comment By macattack On August 30, 2009 @ 9:02 am

The submission of outgoing Currency Declaration forms falls under the perview of the Customs and Excise Department.This declaration is submitted to the Customs and Excise Officer ,no questions being asked nor verification of the amount of currency being taken out .At the end of the shift all forms are bundled together and placed in a box and periodically sent to Customs House.
This system was abused by businessmen acting in collusion with Customs and Excise officers who facilitated the export of foreign currency by signing and countersigning false declaration forms .
These forms are routinely destroyed after the business man had departed Guyana’s shores with large quantities of foreign currency.
There will be no Currency Declaration forms for Peter Morgan at Customs House.
Note that Peter Morgan sold a number of bush trucks to Customs Officers and was well connected with the officers of the Customs and Excise Department.

#7 Comment By turbo On August 30, 2009 @ 9:59 am

it’s amazing the questions people asks about this ppp govt. when
they fully know that once you are a ppp friend you are untouchable
and free to do what you want in guyana

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Suriname to reopen ‘backtrack’ route

Suriname to reopen ‘backtrack’ route

Posted By Stabroek staff On August 24, 2009 @ 5:10 am In Local News | 18 Comments

Surinamese authorities have decided to reopen the illegal route across the Corentyne River from today following discussions between Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud and his counterpart in Nickerie yesterday.
Robert Persaud [1]

Robert Persaud

According to a release from the Ministry of Agriculture, Persaud met with Agriculture Minister of Suriname, Dr Karamchand Ragoebarsingh and the Commissar of Nickerie, B Shankar to discuss that country’s recent closure of the illegal route.

Following the discussions, the Surinamese authorities agreed to lift the closure, allowing border crossing for people, goods and certified agricultural exports.

Persaud, according to the release, welcomed the reopening of the route, and restated Guyana’s commitment to work collaboratively with the Surinamese authorities in the areas of agriculture development, particularly in plant health surveillance and management. The Surinamese Agriculture Minister also used the opportunity to give his commitment to work with Guyana and assured that there will be no barrier to certified agriculture trade.

Stabroek News reported earlier this week on the actions taken by the authorities in Suriname, with officials at Nickerie closing the route sometime last Monday, citing the presence of the plant disease, Black Sigatoka -a yeast disease affecting plantain and banana plants -as rampant in Guyana.

The Ministry of Agriculture here was informed of the claim by the Surinamese and Persaud subsequently issued a statement, noting that he was due to meet his Surinamese counterpart to discuss the issue.

The two ministers will continue to hold discussions and work towards greater cooperation at the technical level.
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Endorsement of an illegal operation

Endorsement of an illegal operation
August 29, 2009 | By KNews | Filed Under Letters

Dear Editor,
I voice my disgust at what I feel is an abuse of power or something like a government official showing blatant disregard for the people and the country as a whole.
I made mention of backtracking in a letter that was published on Saturday August 15, 2009.
In that letter I mentioned the benefits of this illegal trade and I also discussed how much more can be achieved by shutting down the backtracking.
I guess a few people read that letter and I am sure that the Honourable Minister must have gotten news of it and guess what?
Many people at home and abroad read the article captioned “Suriname to reopen backtrack route” (SN Monday, August 24, 2009). The first paragraph reads: “Surinamese authorities have decided to reopen the illegal route across the Corentyne River, from today, following discussions between Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud and his counterpart in Nickere, yesterday”.
Was it an error that the word illegal was printed in that paragraph, or do I not understand it correctly when I read, illegal route?
On the international scene we as a nation must be quite the laughing stock now that our minister made special efforts to have an illegal act come back into operation and this honourable minister welcomed the reopening of the illegal route.
As a religious person, I believe in re-incarnation and so as a people we must have done some terrible things in our previous birth to have a man such as this minister to be a leader. There are questions that come to mind, and I do not know why some of the more consistent writers did not address the issue.
Our minister is pushing an illegal trade and he is still a minister - we sure are gone as a nation. Is this how we work ‘collaboratively’ with our neighbour?
Since this minister is so bold, as has been indicative by his endorsement of the reopening of this illegal route, does he have the courage to make the necessary representation to legalize this back track? That is necessary because people are still being charged for leaving the country illegally.
Guyana has to find ways to raise additional funds so that we can maintain our new status as a ‘middle income developing country’, so my guess is that the minister is out to give the nation the impression that it is ok to go backtrack and deep within his mind he sees a source of revenue, because some of these people will be caught and sent back, after which the Guyanese police will charge them and each will be fined $20,000.
This is an ingenious way to source funds because we do not get much from the state of the art Skeldon Sugar Factory.
I wish to suggest to this minister who was described by a lecturer at the University of Guyana at a public function, some time ago, as the future president of this country that it is folly to believe that one can thrive on anything illegal.
The minister will have to explain to the hard working taxpayers, why the ferry stelling at Molson’s Creek was built with their money and at the same time the illegal trade is being pushed.
Charrandass Persaud

Agri Ministry asks Auditor General for more scrutiny of projects

Agri Ministry asks Auditor General for more scrutiny of projects

Posted By Stabroek staff On August 29, 2009 @ 5:19 am In Local News | 5 Comments

The Ministry of Agriculture has requested the assistance of the Office of the Auditor General to carry out additional comprehensive audits of its ongoing projects.

According to an undated letter released by the Ministry of Agriculture yesterday and addressed to the Auditor General Deodat Sharma, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud stated that the Agriculture Ministry is implementing a series of capital works, all designed to promulgate several new export-led commodity chains.

Persaud stated that it is imperative that full value is obtained from all projects carried out by the Ministry, if the department is to be successful in its thrust in agricultural development and the raising of the quality of life in Guyana.

The move by the ministry comes amid a series of reports in the Kaieteur News questioning whether contractors have been overpaid and whether value for money is being obtained from projects.

Persaud stated that the Agriculture Ministry is seeking the support of the Auditor General in order to obtain the full value of investments made and to ensure that there is continued public confidence and support for the investments made in the sector.

According to the letter, Persaud noted that several weeks ago the Agriculture Ministry had established an internal mechanism to receive feedback from the public on the state of implementation of projects, noting that other projects which were implemented were published in the media while copies of same were shared with the respective shareholders for additional monitoring.

Persaud also stated that two persons, Frederick Flatts, Senior Engineer attached to the Agriculture Sector Development Unit of the Agriculture Ministry and Vishal Budhoo, Field Auditor attached to the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), have been identified as the main liaison officers to provide the requisite information regarding projects being implemented by the Agriculture Ministry.
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Why no Office of the Ombudsman

Kaieteur News Editorial, Saturday 29 August 2009 - "Why no Office of the Ombudsman" -

The Office of the Ombudsman has not been filled for years. This is one of the constitutional offices in the country and it is often held by a retired judge or someone of equal qualification.
The job of the Ombudsman is to adjudicate in cases that are brought by members of the public against Government officials suspected of wrongdoing. He is independent of any obstruction and his ruling is equal to that of a court. There could be legal challenges to these rulings, often to the court.
Eusi Kwayana is one of the people in not so recent memory —nearly 40 years ago—who went before the Ombudsman against two Government Ministers in the wake of complaints that they were involved in wrongdoing. The two were then Works Minister Hamilton Green and the then Housing Minister, the late David Singh.
The complaints against both men were that they were using their offices to procure material owned by the government for their personal gain. Hamilton Green was accused of using metal sheets on his home at D’Urban Backlands having allegedly procured these unfairly and in a manner not befitting a leader of the people. A similar accusation was leveled against David Singh.
In those days independence meant just that. There was no intervention by any leader. The then Prime Minister, Forbes Burnham, was the head of the country and although much has been said about his dictatorial ways, there is no one who could say that he meddled with things legal. He never intervened in the legal process, and in his book, it was let the chips fall where they may.
The Ombudsman found David Singh guilty and this Minister was forced to resign. He died soon after.
Hamilton Green was cleared but the Ombudsman noted that there might have been some aberrations.
In the face of the current allegations that contracts are padded and that there are constant irregularities, one of which, as one columnist noted, involved the signing of a number of remigrant declarations, all of which were fraudulently obtained, the public has no recourse to the Office of the Ombudsman.
President Bharrat Jagdeo has been asked repeatedly about appointing an Ombudsman but he has failed to do so for reasons best known to himself. And it cannot be that there is a shortage of candidates. Guyana has many retired judges who had performed with distinction and whose mental acuity is still there.
Some retired recently while others might have been off the bench for a relatively long time, but these people are available to the state.
Every society needs checks and balances; every society needs a forum to which people could channel their complaints because far too often when they go to the political directorate with complaints against officials their complaints are either ignored or are shelved to a date that never seems to approach.
Today, in the wake of revelations about a pump station at Stanleytown, West Bank Demerara; bridges at various locations in the country; river defence structures and certain road constructions, there seems to be no forum to which people could turn for explanations and if necessary, corrective action.
This is not to say that the Head of State is not keen to have an Ombudsman appointed, but he must be made to explain his reason for this obvious flaw in national life. He must be made to realize that there must be systems to ensure the smooth running of the country.
Guyana is not a playground for the rich and famous, nor is it the milch cow for people in Government office. People elected to high office must be accountable, and in cases where there is no public forum to guarantee accountability, people with complaints are often frustrated.
The response by the Finance Minister to complaints about the contracts was an insult to the intelligence of the people of Guyana and something that clearly supported what some feel was legalised dishonesty.
There was the story of the lowly clerk who bought a house for $60 million. The Commissioner of the Guyana Revenue Authority has promised an investigation, but he has no compunction to either conduct such an investigation or to report the findings to the nation.
The Ombudsman would have held public hearings and the various answers to the queries would have been in the public domain.
The Head of State is immune from investigation by the Ombudsman, but surely he would be operating in the best interest of the country if he allows his Ministers to justify their actions to the public if there is a perception of wrongdoing.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Nation must condemn raping of country’s resources - AFC/GAP

Nation must condemn raping of country’s resources - AFC/GAP
August 28, 2009 | By KNews | Filed Under News

…parties commend KNews for investigative journalism

The Alliance For Change (AFC), along with Everall Franklin of the Guyana Action Party (GAP), held a press conference yesterday, where the nation was urged to voice its condemnation at what was described as “the raping of the nation’s resources”.
The request was made in the context of several articles written by this newspaper after scrutinizing several contracts for works done by the Agriculture Ministry.
According to Franklin, who was at the time reading a prepared statement, “in the midst of our sugar workers demanding fair pay for work, along with civil servants calling for a living wage, we are seeing in the most graphic ways how the wealth of this nation is divided among a selected few.”
“Our nurses and teachers are overworked and underpaid and the most experienced leave these shores to secure their family’s future…Constantly we are told by this government that there is no way that the wages and salaries can be bettered and in the midst of ‘squandermania’, we organize telethons, fundraisers and beg to finance medical care for our sick children and other persons in dire need.”
Franklin emphasised that “the nation is insulted constantly by the sheer outrageousness of corrupt practices being perpetrated against us, the people of this country” adding that the recent exposure of a few contracts, which left many people shaking their heads in bewilderment, is but a small portion of the uncontrolled mismanagement meted out to the Guyanese population.
He cited the small pump house at Stanleytown which according to him “less than 15 gallons of paint (under seventy thousand dollars) could give more than six coats to that size building, and it cost this nation one million, seven hundred thousand dollars (with labour included), indeed very expensive labour.”
He said that the example he alluded to illustrates the scale of the “runnings being executed in our name.”
Franklin also drew reference to the now infamous Stanleytown pump for which $61 million was spent and it was later published that the same equipment was sourced for less than $12 million.
“If this is not a case for the Auditor General nothing else will ever be…I would not repeat the Minister of Finance’s uncharacteristically uneducated response on this matter but would say that either the engineers sent to monitor these projects are most likely absent, incompetent or corrupt, take your pick.”
He posited also that only a government which benefits from corruption will keep still.
“This is how the people’s wealth is being squandered…If we continue to bury our heads in the muck which is now evident, we leave exposed the most vulnerable parts of our anatomy for further violation and abuse…This cannot be allowed to continue, we all have to raise our voices in condemnation with the aim to stop this rape of our resources.”
When asked if the elected leaders were not scrutinizing the expenditure of taxpayer money, the politicians insisted in the affirmative, but pointed out that the opposition and media could expose these glaring anomalies, but it is ultimately up to the Government to curb the practice.
It was pointed out also that the Auditor General’s Office must be adequately staffed and allowed to do its job in order to provide a better service to the Guyanese people.
“Yes we can bring it up…Yes we can highlight it,” said Franklin, adding that as is the case during the budget debates there is very little that could be done, save and except for highlighting it to the populace, “and show how truly outrageous it is how the wealth of this nation is being squandered.”
According to Vice Chairman of the AFC, Sheila Holder, the government lacks the will to establish the Public Procurement Commission, which is a forum where a significant level of corruption as it relates to the spending of the taxpayers money could be weeded out.
The Public Procurement Commission is a Constitutional body that is yet to be established given the controversy surrounding a satisfactory list of nominees from the government. Leader of the AFC, Raphael Trotman, in his remarks said that there is absolutely no will within the administration to weed out corruption.
“It is going on unabated in a senseless matter that is akin to rape or a feeding frenzy…hopefully come the next elections people will exercise better judgement.”

It is easy to obtain quotes for the cost of a pump via the internet

It is easy to obtain quotes for the cost of a pump via the internet

Posted By Stabroek staff On August 27, 2009 @ 5:03 am In Letters | 4 Comments

Dear Editor,
I refer to a report in KN dated 23.8.09 on the Stanleytown project containing a response by the Ministry of Finance to queries raised earlier in that newspaper about the price paid for the pump.

In my opinion it was highly irregular for a contract to be awarded based on only one bid. The ministry did not mention if there was an engineer’s estimate for the project. It is very easy via the internet to obtain a quote from the US for the cost of the pump and for the government to purchase it and then tender for a quote for its installation. I am sure the government would have received many quotations. This would remove any suggestion of hanky panky with the tender.

The manufacturer normally supplies installation instructions and a wiring diagram for the pump.

It is no big deal to install the pump, since all you need is qualified electrician and a foreman with mechanical know-how; a few labourers and a lifting crane with supervision from the engineer.

I am sure it would have cost far less to supply and install the pump. That is how all the pumps were installed along the coast during the ’60s and ’70s.

I am also concerned about the repair of the two pumps at Liliendaal. These pumps among several others were purchased in 1969, installed in 1977 as well as repaired I believe, on at least two occasions by the city council. It is ludicrous to spend nearly US$440M to repair these pumps that have passed their life expectancy of 25 years. One of the pumps also had holes in it.

It would have been far cheaper to purchase new pumps and install same as described above. All you have to do is lift out the old ones with a crane and install the new ones and make adjustments to tie in to the discharge pipe outlet through the sea defence coping wall. The existing electrical sub-station would have required some minor upgrading.

The money remaining from the Liliendaal project would have helped in the cost of re-conditioning the main supply drain, cleaning the basin, etc, to maintain an adequate supply of water so as not to burn out the motors of the pump.
It is evident that the government is lacking in engineering expertise both in the D&I and Sea Defence sectors.
Yours faithfully,
Malcolm Alli
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4 Comments To "It is easy to obtain quotes for the cost of a pump via the internet"

#1 Comment By Raymond Persaud On August 27, 2009 @ 8:44 am

The type of pumps and other water controlled structures currently used, needs to be assessed and changed.
The old pumps are not ver good when dealing with foreign objects (such as garbage) in the water. Additionally, even when the water levels in the trenches are high these old pumps are often starved of water after a few hours pumping since the size of the trenches leading up the the pumps are inadequate.
My suggestion is to use the screw/auger type pumps that can even handle a tyre passing through as well as low water levels.
Additionally, there need to be a change from the manually operated wooded sluices to stainless steel ones and also the use of flap valves on the outlet structures that will close itseld as the tide come in.

#2 Comment By Mohamed I. Ally On August 27, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

Brother, if we government paying hundreds of millions of dollars to construct wooden sluices, then it will pay billions of dollars to build “stainless steel ones”.

More `Fowl Cocks’ will crow, dear brother.

Brother, we will in a time and country where the impossible now becomes possible.

God bless Guyana.

#3 Comment By GUYFLAG On August 27, 2009 @ 5:24 pm

MR. MALCOLM ALLI, HAS MADE PROFESSIONAL, SIMPLE AND CLEAR POINTS.. THAT SURELY SHOULD BE ADDRESSED , by the Govt. agencies involved.. they may have alternative justification for the approach they take, but lets hear it….THIS brings me to the point I would like to make… THE MINORITY PARTY(S) .. that for 15 yrs. seek to unseat the GOVT… during those years they have made NO EFFORT,… TO EMBARRASS THE GOVT. IN ways that would matter to decent law-abiding guyanese.. They have refused the avenues of challenge, in a civilised society,.. i.e, the PARLIAMENTARY PROCESS, .. AND SUBSTITUTED INSTEAD , protest and BURN..and so has left the entire section of lawfull, responsible, and honest citizens at the mercy of the Govt. of the day,.. whether good or bad”… I have never seen a credible, rational, nor informed challenge by the opposition on matters that would really affect the life and developement of guyanese… just year after year of threats, violence, name calling and acts of destabilisation, that benefits NO ONE,.. not even the architects of the activity…. for example.. was there a need for a challenge to the siting of the Berbice river bridge ? i thought so.. this was a national project with significant economic and social implications…(opposition not interested); .and there are quite a few of questionable projects and decisions by the Admin… but who pays attention.. the citezens who matter would pay attention if there was a group of respectable arbiters on their behalf,.. using the parliamentary and constitutional avenues available… the newest minority party has come along, and those of us who had expectatios of an enlightened voice on our behalf, ,are numbed by disapointment, on their approach, which, in many ways mirrors the bankruptcy, of the other failed minority group… Is our only hope ,the Govt. of the day?…this is so hard to accept…

#4 Comment By BORAPORK On August 27, 2009 @ 11:49 pm

“It is ludicrous to spend nearly US$440M to repair these pumps that have passed their life expectancy of 25 years. One of the pumps also had holes in it.”

What kind of pumps cost that type of money to repair? There must have been a typo.

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Using the polygraph test- In a kleptocracy of lies

Using the polygraph test- In a kleptocracy of lies
-And some Kudos to the Kaieteur
Stabroek News, August 28, 2009 @ 5:05 am In Daily, Features
Frankly Speaking… By A.A. Fenty

This should be a relatively short one for your reading pleasure (?), no interest, today. My simple, basic views on the use of the polygraph – lie detector – testing with respect to the nation’s public employees, especially.

My own view is that public servants should not be routinely subjected to these integrity tests. New, or young recruits should not be asked to undergo this testing as part of entrance requirements or such like. Why? Because, to me, it reeks of an aura of suspicion of an innocent who has not even begun to do right or wrong on the job. It’s as if the government-employer is trusting no one, even the “untested”.

Mind you, perhaps this government wants to be unique, doing a unique thing. That is making this scientific but mechanical integrity measure a part of its recruitment/appointment requirements. I suppose then that the lie-detector will become ubiquitous, in terms of hiring and firing, if proposals hinted at, are to become the implemented norm.

I have read Minister Rohee’s position on the issue. I am even persuaded by much of his argument regarding the usefulness of trying to measure an employee’s honesty, character and integrity as these have a bearing on government’s “probity and the tenets of good governance”. And I’m sure that the (Stabroek News) reading public is appreciative of the Minister’s simplified exposition on polygraph and what the testing seeks to do.

However, in this corrupt-friendly society, the big serious crooks are not the nation’s employed poor – the young Public Servant. Yes, certain categories do specialize in looking for criminal opportunities, but I don’t feel that all should be painted with one stroke of one brush. Rather, insist that certain key types be considered for the scrutiny of your detector. Like contractors, bidders, on-site engineers and overseers, all those who are involved in multi-million dollar state projects. Oh! But who will dare to suggest that to those prominent professionals of alleged “unimpeachable integrity”?

After the polygraph

A few columns ago, I shared the view that I did not and still do not – feel that our poor, beautiful, blighted country has not become a full-fledged Kleptocracy. And I dare not suggest that our governmental managers are kleptocrats, or kleptocratic. All I’ll risk is saying that a kleptocracy is “A Government or state in which those in power exploit national resources and steal”. And that perception in Guyana is often stronger than reality. And that there are times that kleptocrats use surrogates and subordinates, consultants and contractors to execute their exploitation.

More telling, of course, is when perception is reinforced by evidence! But I digress before concluding the polygraph issue.

Where thievery, corruption and a new immorality that “blesses” wrongdoing as acceptable thrives, let us imagine a new public servant being subject to the then compulsory lie-detector/integrity testing. She passes with flying colours of honesty and innocence.
She is soon promoted to be responsible for sensitive records and millions of dollars. Her single-parent instinct kicks in when her two year old falls seriously ill

She is old fashioned honest and as “Christian” as she was conditioned to be. But she compromises all that enough to want to “borrow” the State funds she supervises. She is later accused. So? A previously polygraph-tested successful employee is now a prime suspect. Another polygraph test!? Besides internal, perhaps police, investigations?

The moral of that story is, or should be: that the polygraph/lie-detector test can pass you fit for a period; and that other character–investigative criteria have to be employed. Suspected wrong-doing should see the lie-detector test as merely one instrument to identify suspects or persons–of-interest.
And remember the new gospel: in a real kleptocracy, lies are not deemed untruth! (Figure that out.)
My kudos for the Kaieteur

The “my” in this sub-head above emphasizes, of course, that these views are quite personal – possibly not shared. I now read the Kaieteur News even though I have five good reasons for not being a genuine, regular admirer of the publication. I am aware though, that Kaieteur’s sales and distribution department cares not whether I admire or “like” the ‘paper, so long as I buy it! (Incidentally Kaieteur, you need at least, five really good proof-readers.)

This is to congratulate you for your now sustained scrutiny, in words and pictures, of the finished national products and projects being funded by both the Guyanese taxpayers – both PPP and PNC/AFC taxpayers – and foreign donors. It’s been an old on–the–street perception, perhaps reality: millions are being misappropriated by hand-picked phony contractors.
I agree that the Tender Board people should engage the Kaieteur as to how these tenders are awarded. But it’s what happens after the award. Keep at it Kaieteur! Even if you get some wrong, you may apologise boldly, but Guyanese – and the crooks – will know you are scrutinizing on our behalf. Other private media should join the Kaieteur campaign.

*1) And Dr. Ashni Singh was one Minister I held in high regard.

*2) Kaieteur or Mr. Sharma or Somebody is it not another scandal with our money where the new Ministry building is under construction at High and Princes Streets, where the old GBC used to be?

*3) Imagine where we are – and how our young should react – when our officials welcome the “re-opening” of illegal, “backtrack” crossings!
*4) Great high-level debates from the lawyers in the letter pages.
‘Til Next Week!


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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Due diligence, Government of Guyana-style, as detailed by ghostwriter

Tendering is procedural open to all contracting services
PLEASE permit me to respond to a letter titled: ‘Why are there so many sole bids?’ in the Wednesday August 26 issue of the Kaieteur News.

Letter writer Dexter Fordyce stated that he noted recently that there have been many single bids. ‘It is as though there is a game going on in the tendering circle’, he asserted. Mr. Fordyce ranted about the apparent monopoly certain contracting firms have on certain projects; raved about how different things seem now from the time he was resident in Guyana; and asked what the functions of the procurement board are, in an effort to intimate that Government has been demonstrating nepotism in its award of contracts.

My immediate response to Mr. Fordyce’s missive is thus: When Government needs to contract out projects it does so by publishing invitations for bids. All contracting firms have equal access to invitations, and consequently, the right to respond accordingly. The National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) considers the bids procedurally and awards the contract based on set criteria. If only a few contracting firms, or even ONE, would register interest in bidding for projects, it is no fault of NPTAB or the Government. Perhaps, appreciating their capabilities or lack thereof, certain contracting firms would enter the bidding process, or by the same token, abstain.

Additionally, while from an impulsive perspective, one may conclude that government has ‘relinquished’ the procurement of certain equipment; government actually procures equipment and machinery to execute certain projects which can be handled by people within its employ with the relevant expertise. A case in point is the move by the Ministry of Agriculture, through the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), to execute earthen works as a preparatory phase of massive civil works currently executed in Regions Three, Four and Six. The drainage and irrigation works are executed by the NDIA at a cost of $200M. Had the project been contracted out, it would have depleted the national treasury by an additional $500M. The government does not have the capacity or expertise to undertake every project it wants executed; it certainly does not decide what the contract cost of a project would be. That is the right of the firm offering the service.

Is Mr. Fordyce a contractor? Did he ever respond to invitations for bids? Does he have proof that there is nepotism on the part of NPTAB or the government? Is he aware of NPTAB’s tendering procedures? The answers to these questions may in turn answer his questions.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Office of the President staffer, Marissa Lowden

Standing firm on macroeconomic fundamentals
August 26, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under Letters

Dear Editor,
Last year, during the month of September, the world’s economy began a downsizing trend. The fall of Lehman Brothers opened the eyes of millions globally to the reality of the severity of the damages caused by the US sub-prime mortgage crisis.
Banks became fussy to lend, which eventually led to a global recession causing an outpour of analysis and debate about the austerity of the crisis.
Leaders worldwide were and are still now busy arranging meetings to discuss how the global economic crisis has affected their countries’ economies, and what type of government policy responses are necessary to help cushion the effects of the crisis.
Despite this crisis, developing countries were not severely affected as the United States (US) and European Union (EU) economies, since the banking systems of developing countries are small and had no involvement with the sophisticated financial systems abroad. However, the economic crisis still had some spillover effects on all developing countries, inclusive of Guyana.
Developing countries felt the effects of the financial crisis particularly in areas such as: trade, credit, remittances, private capital flows, and aid.
As a result of the financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that world trade is expected to contract by 11%. Also the interconnectedness of the banking systems has posed a problem for developing countries to access credit from banks because of capital shortages in foreign banks. Remittances are one important asset and developmental tool to the economies of developing countries and the financial crisis has led to a decline in growth of remittances in the second half of 2008. Private capital flows and financial aid are expected to decline, which are crucial for the promotion of growth and development in poor countries.
The Global Financial Crisis has proved itself that no country is immune to its unexpected economic shocks which are responsible for the fluctuations in national income, output and employment. However, Guyana managed to maintain good macroeconomic fundamentals, with quite a stable inflation rate.
And, the IMF acknowledges this. The IMF report from the concluded Article IV consultation with Guyana lauds Government for the effective implementation of some policy initiatives and their ability to maintain macroeconomic stability, achieve real growth rate of 3.1 percent in 2008, following rates of 5.1 and 5.4 percent in 2006 and 2007, respectively, and stabilizing inflation rate; the inflation rate for 2008 was 6.40% which was lower than the 14.05% rate in 2007amid the global financial crisis.
The IMF Public Information Notice (PIN) No. 09/61 states that, “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.”
Guyana experienced the impact of the rise in world fuel and food prices at the beginning of 2008. Food prices in Guyana increased by 27.2%; and Government increased the tax threshold by 25% from $28,000 to $35,000 per month and removed the Value Added Tax (VAT) from a number of items. The IMF report commends Government for the successful implementation of VAT and progress in the area of fiscal reforms. The IMF report states that, “the Guyana Revenue Authority introduced a Total Revenue Integrated Processing System allowing for better monitoring of taxes and risk profiling.”
The IMF report commends financial sector reforms, which include measures to improve compliance with Basle Core Principles and the preparation of legislation facilitating the creation of a credit bureau, on money transfer agencies, and on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism. The recently completed Berbice Bridge — a major public-private project — bodes well for increased private sector participation in the economy.
According to the IMF report, 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.
The IMF recognises the economic achievements of Guyana, and so Government remains committed to stabilize price levels and exchange rates, make certain that fiscal deficit is controlled, reduce unemployment, and keep an eye on the cost of borrowing money.
And in order to maintain this, Government intends to restructure the economy by reforming policies and investment strategies.
Marissa Lowden

Arson cripples Wales Estate

Arson cripples Wales Estate- workers sent home
August 26, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under News

Over 180 punts of cane were destroyed by arson as protests over inadequate remuneration in the sugar belt spilled over to West Demerara, crippling the Wales Estate.
The cane was reportedly set alight on Monday afternoon and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), stands to suffer untold losses as the final crop of the year undergoes a torrid beginning.
Kaieteur News understands that several persons were seen by the GuySuCo security personnel shortly before the fire completely engulfed five fields of sugar cane.
The destruction of the cane came in the midst of a stifling strike by cane cutters, and this has forced the estate to completely shut down its entire operation.
According to a source, all the field and factory workers have been sent home until further notice and the only workers remaining on the estate are the security personnel, medical and some clerical employees who are responsible for preparing payments.
The source pointed out that should the cane cutters not return to work soon, more staff will have to be sent home.
“The estate is already in a very bad shape and the demands being made by the cane cutters is really taking a toll,” the source said
Kaieteur News understands that a meeting between the union representing the striking cane cutters, the Guyana Agricultural & General Workers Union (GAWU) and the management of the GuySuCo Wales Estate was held on Monday and it was agreed that work will resume after the sugar estate adjusted from its initial position.
However, yesterday none of the cane cutters turned up.
“Most of the workers sent home yesterday are members of GAWU, and they too will feel the effects of the stance taken by their cane cutter colleagues. The sugar estate cannot sustain those people who are not on strike,” the source told Kaieteur News.
This newspaper understands that the happenings at the Wales Estate have not been highlighted, since strikes have been occurring on and off since the start of the crop.
The cane cutters are claiming that a higher wage should be paid since the fields are full of obstacles (weeds, etc.), and have to be cleared in addition to the manual harvesting of the sugar cane.
The present situation at the Wales Estate appears worse than the out-of-crop season, when most of the workers are laid off.
According to a senior GuySuCo official, soon the estate will have to remove all of its equipment from the fields, and this could signal the possible closing of the estate.

Arbitrary polygraph testing…

Unfolding situation is indeed a very serious one
August 26, 2009 | By KNews | Filed Under News

Arbitrary polygraph testing…
The Government is still ignoring the suggestion that it should lead by example, said President of Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Patrick Yarde, when he commented recently about government’s response to the union’s take on the use of polygraph tests.
Yarde at a press conference had highlighted the notion that the manner in which polygraph tests are imposed in this country, clearly exemplifies the pursuit of narrow political objectives, and therefore cannot be perceived as in the national interest. As a result he had disclosed that the union has advised public servants not to take any polygraph tests.
However, Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon, at his most recent press briefing told media operatives that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
GPSU President, Patrick Yarde

GPSU President, Patrick Yarde

According to Dr Luncheon, although Yarde has the free will to tell the workers not to take the test, the administration would advise them to conform. “Why don’t you await - if it does occur - a resolution of these conflicting instructions from Patrick Yarde there… I suppose is their putative boss, or from the administration.
“We are talking here specifically about screening polygraphy. I think the gentleman might be somewhat confused about screening polygraphy and investigating polygraphy. We don’t need polygraphy to investigate…We have good people to investigate…for example the arson at the Ministry of Health.”
However, Dr Luncheon did note that it would be mandatory that persons entering the system be subjected to screening polygraphy in order for them to continue providing the service for which they were employed.
But according to Yarde, the response was only forthcoming sometime after the union’s pronouncement. According to him, “people had to go back to the drawing board. I know they would have had problems responding to us.”
Further, Yarde said that he has noticed that the response from the government side completely ignores the fact that they should lead by example. “They aren’t touching that. They seem to feel that they should not lead by example. They seem to believe they are above the law and can do anything and not be accountable.”
As such, the Union President noted that the government’s action suggests that there are different classes and privileges in the society.
Commenting on the recently concluded Robert Simels case, Yarde emphasised the fact that neither those who gave evidence or were convicted were forced to undertake polygraph tests. For this reason, he said that he will continue to be bothered by the fact that demands for the use of the polygraph test is mandated here.
The Union President had expressed his belief that there seems to be a conspiracy and even deliberate act by government to find ways and means to dismiss people randomly. Added to this state-of-affairs, Yarde had disclosed that it has been recognised that there is a double standard which must be analysed as it relates to the use of the test.
Citing specific cases, he highlighted that the GPSU has observed Government’s intent to arbitrarily use polygraph testing on those who are employed in the operational arm of the state as well as government agencies. And this unfolding situation is indeed a very serious one, he added.
As part of the new initiative, Yarde underscored that government has blatantly and immorally exempted holders of important public offices and policy makers, including government ministers and permanent secretaries from such tests. The exempted persons, the GPSU president said are required by oath to lawfully and faithfully discharge their functions with outstanding and unquestionable integrity.
Moreover, the GPSU President questioned why such individuals should not be required to be tested equally, given the fact that the regime holds the polygraph testing process and mechanism in high regard.
According to him given that there are many questions about the conduct of public office holders their innocence should also be determined by the tests.

Why are there so many sole bids?

Kaieteur News Letter to the Editor, Wednesday 26 August 2009 - "Why are there so many sole bids?" -

Dear Editor,
I note with amazement that quite recently, there have been a lot of single bids. It is as though there is a game going on in the tendering circle. It is as if the various contractors have marked off their territory.
I do not want to believe that things have reached the stage where Guyana has been partitioned into lots with various contractors having exclusive rights to certain tenders.
I do not want to believe that one contractor will have exclusive rights to sea defence works, another for road works, another for bridges, another for kokers, another for schools repairs, one for the construction of new schools, and one for hospitals. But this seems to be the case. If a contract pops for something they all seem to know that they should not compete against the other.
If this is the case then in some areas many have failed although given a free reign. The construction of the new Ministry on High Street is just an example. One got the job and cannot complete it. Perhaps this is why the contracts are so high so as to allow contractors a lot of latitude.
I say this because I noticed for some time that there is a single contractor for the roads programme. In the past there would be BK International and Courtney Benn Contracting Services. BK, with more equipment would do the major roads and Benn appeared to have the monopoly on the smaller roads like some in the city.
BK International also seems to have a monopoly on the sea defence projects these days although not so long ago there were others making a bid for such projects. But this could be understood since large projects demand a certain level of sophistication in equipment.
As an engineer I know and I have been coming to Guyana from time to time. I have visited projects and I have seen what happens, sometimes with sadness in my heart.
However, my major concern is about those projects that have to do with procurement. At one time the government would have done its own procurement and at a cheaper cost than to involve a middle man.
In every case, be it procurement for pump stations, public transport as we knew it then, equipment for the medical institutions and pharmaceuticals, the government kept a tight rein on these things. It sourced these things using the people in its employ. I lived in Guyana during those days.
The government procured generators for Guyana Power and Light as recently as a few months ago when it started its expansion programme. The new Kinston Power Station is just one case in point. The generators, when the nation was experiencing a serious generation shortfall, came in as a direct result of President Bharrat Jagdeo’s intervention. I follow these issues online.
I now wonder at the shift that allows a solitary bidder to import drainage components on behalf of the government. Only one person bids for those contracts - Harrychand Tulsie. Is it that he is the only person with access to the suppliers of drainage pumps?
Your newspaper was also able to access the suppliers, and Sir I hasten to say that I have been able to do the same with a query of my own. In these days of computers, the simple Google search engine affords anyone a chance to access suppliers in any part of the world.
As a friend jokingly told me, there must be only one pumper in Guyana. The government must explain why it relinquished procurement of such equipment. There is a procurement board. What are its functions?
Sadly, the government does not answer questions, but these are simple questions that should be answered.
Dexter Fordyce
Engineer and Guyanese
Belmont, Wisconsin

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Democratic centralism in practice

Anyone cognizant with the workings of oligarchies should not be surprised Corbin has been returned as leader

Posted By Stabroek staff On August 24, 2009 @ 5:06 am In Letters | 7 Comments

Dear Editor,
“It is organization which gives birth to the domination of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organization says oligarchy.” These famous words of Roberto Michels, derived from his study of political parties, still hold good today and pervade all our political parties, trade unions, co-operative societies and similar organisations. Evidence of this is the simple fact that there is rarely any radical change of leadership in these organisations, and when there is, it is usually by way of co-option, i.e., the leadership itself promoting one of their ilk.

Michels’ “Political Parties” (1911) showed that oligarchy develops naturally from our desire to be organisationally effective. Of necessity, organisations have leaders who because of their very location and organisational specialisation have tremendous power. Members and supporters tend to leave everything to the officials: the former rarely attending meetings and the latter often not even bothering to join. They sometimes develop feelings of gratitude and loyalty to the leaders, especially those who have suffered for the cause. The leaders develop megalomania and “This overwhelming self-esteem on the part of the leaders diffuses a powerful suggestive influence, whereby the masses are confirmed in their admiration for their leaders, and it thus proves a source of enhanced power.”

When the organisation is large and has an income and funds, it appoints full-time officials, establishes newspapers, training schools, etc. The party leaders now have patronage, i.e. the power to appoint people to paid jobs, and these appointees are their heirs apparent. According to Michels, the possibility of a career within the party and perhaps within the government the party is likely to form if it wins office, attracts a less idealistic kind of person. These people control the agenda, the minutes and membership records (members’ names, contact information, positions, activities, etc). Thus, for Michels, democracy and large-scale social organisation are incompatible. When this “iron law of oligarchy” is hoisted atop that Bolshevik folly know as “democratic centralism” the result is even more horrendous for internal organisational democracy.

So widespread is this practice in the trade union movement generally that there have even been some ingenious justifications. Thus Steve Fraser (Dissent; 1998) was pilloried for claiming that union democracy can cause harm and well as good. Since democracy is acceptably suspended when nations are at war and since labor is at war with capital, union democracy could conceivably be an unaffordable luxury! Here again, the history of our own trade union movement is testimony to the pervasiveness of the “iron law.” Therefore, anyone cognizant with the workings of oligarchies should not be surprised that Mr. Robert Corbin has been returned as the leader of the PNCR.

It has been suggested that one radical method of dealing with oligarchies is to allow the development of electoral factions within organisations. Almost every political leader – Burnham and Jagan included – has railed against factionalism in their parties. My favorite anti-factionalist is Joseph Stalin, who in a speech ‘On the American Question’ to the Executive Committee of the Communist International in May 1929, not only alerted his audience to the dangers of factionalism in the Communist Party of America but also provided a good idea of a leadership perspective of the depth of oligarchic behaviour. One admiring comrade, in his preface to that printed speech, told us that in dealing with the claim that the faction’s position had the support of 99% of the American Communist Party, Comrade Stalin, with historical accuracy, pointed out that “[the leader of the faction] is indisputably an adroit and talented factional wirepuller” who only had a majority because the membership regarded the faction “as the determined supporters of the Communist International!” No doubt with a similar historical certainty, by the time Stalin had finished dealing with factionalism in the Soviet Union, well over three-quarters of a million party members, including some of the top leadership, had left the party or been exiled or killed!

The American party arrangements (primaries, etc.) have had some success in mitigating the effects of the “iron law.” Do you think for one moment that Barack Obama would have been president today if it had been up to the Democratic Party’s bureaucracy? A proper understanding of the nature of these types of organisations is a sine qua non for those who join and or wish to make challenges from within them.

It should also be noted that in all of these organisations there are periodic challenges to the oligarchic leadership, and history teaches that this is particularly true when a political party is out of office; there is a greater degree of disenchantment with the leadership and less patronage and spoils. What has occurred in the PNCR is little different from what has happened in that party historically and what has occurred and is happening elsewhere.

That said, in our times more than ever, leadership must be collective or it will most likely fail. Indeed, even bereft of oligarchies, democracy does not always give us what we want and at times gives us what the majority does not want! The PNCR leadership election is now over and polities such as ours need strong, astute and modern leaders. The internal struggle for democracy and participation in the PNCR should not cease or be postponed, but it needs to be proceeded with responsibly, bearing in mind that the task of an opposition party is, inter alia, to adopt a course that promises a better life and then convince the populace that it is united and steadfast in its chosen direction.

Yours faithfully,
Henry B Jeffrey
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KNews given ‘run around’

KNews given ‘run around’
August 25, 2009 | By KNews | Filed Under News

The Ministry of Agriculture responded promptly to the front page photograph carried in our August 24 issue.

Kaieteur News commends the prompt response, said its management.

Noting this, though, the management is in puzzlement as to why the Agriculture Ministry has not seen it fit to respond in like manner to requests for a financial breakdown on all contracts being executed by the ministry, through the Agriculture Sector Development Unit (ASDU) and the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA).

For more than a month, according to its editor, this publication has simply asked the Chief Executive Officer of the NDIA, Lionel Wordsworth via email, for a breakdown of these multi-million dollar contracts.

Yet, to date, details of only two projects have been released—namely the $78.2 M Stanleytown Pump Station and the $154 million De Willem Sluice.

In the documents supplied to this newspaper by the NDIA for the De Willem Sluice, the Ministry did not release the engineer’s estimate of the project, but rather referred the reporter to the National Procurement and Tender Board for the engineer’s estimate.

The Tender Board has since told this newspaper that all documents relating to contracts are returned to the Ministry of Agriculture. Kaieteur News therefore is still awaiting the engineer’s estimate of that project.

Also on the list of which a breakdown has been requested for by this newspaper are the details of the Liliendaal Pumps that are being repaired at a cost of $76.2 million.

When this publication visited the site approximately one month ago, it was observed that one of the two pumps was in mint condition and was operational while the other with weathering, rust and gaping holes, was an eyesore.

When this newspaper spoke to a man at that site, he confirmed that the works were incomplete.

He said that some works had started and after the completion of the number two pump the works came to a halt to allow for the CARICOM Heads meeting.

As watchdogs for the taxpayers, the editor said, the newspaper awaits the financial breakdown of the works and costing for the pump.

It is also awaiting the workmanship costs as well. This is being done in the interest of ensuring value for money received, the editor said.

“Is that too much to ask of Mr. Minister and other officials?” the editor queried.

Finance minister responds to Stanleytown pump queries

Finance minister responds to Stanleytown pump queries
August 23, 2009 | By KNews | Filed Under News

The Ministry of Finance has noted with concern misleading assertions being made in some sections of the media about the prices paid by certain Government agencies for works done or goods supplied.
Stanleytown Pump and Engine

Stanleytown Pump and Engine

These assertions have included, most recently, a story by Kaieteur News on 20 August 2009 in relation to the price paid for a drainage and irrigation pump at Stanleytown, in which that newspaper claimed to be able to obtain the same pump at a fraction of the cost paid.

The Ministry wishes to point out that this project was publicly tendered, with advertisements published in the national newspapers, including Kaieteur News. The contract was awarded to the sole tenderer. Any supplier was free to submit a bid, as is the case with all other publicly tendered contracts.

Indeed, if the author or editor of Kaieteur News is able to access these items at such low cost and to execute works at costs significantly lower than are currently being paid, the Ministry would urge that they participate in future tenders by submitting a bid and competing for the award of the contract themselves.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

An Institute of Public Policy for Guyana

An Institute of Public Policy for Guyana

Posted By Stabroek staff On August 22, 2009 @ 5:02 am In Daily, Features | No Comments

Dr Bertrand Ramcharan, Ph.D. (LSE), Barrister-at-Law, is a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists, and Professor at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. He is one of the founders of the newly established Guyana Institute of Public Policy, of which he is a Director. The Institute aims to generate thinking on issues that can help in the future cohesion and development of Guyana

20090822bertrand [1]By Dr Bertie Ramcharan
Public policy is defined in the academic literature as an area of study that deals with issues affecting the public interest and the general welfare. Some universities offer courses of studies and post-graduate degrees in public policy. A classic example is the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where this author was a Fellow in 2004. Florida International University offers a post-graduate degree in public policy. Some institutes of public policy are thus university-based.

Some institutes of public policy have been established by national parliaments as independent think-thank institutions to bring fresh thinking on topics of their own choosing. This is the case, for example, with the Singapore Institute for Public Policy and the Kenya Institute of Public Policy. In Singapore, where its post independence growth and success have been built on drawing on the best minds available in the country, the institute of public policy plays a particularly dynamic role.

Some institutes of public policy are non-profit organizations. In Canada, the Institute for Research on Public Policy is an independent national, non profit organization that seeks to improve public policy in the country by generating research, providing insight and sparking debate that will contribute to the public policy decision making process and strengthen the quality of the public policy decisions made by Canadian governments, citizens, institutions and organizations. The Public Policy Institute of California is a non-profit organization dedicated to independent, non-partisan research on California’s economic, social and political issues.

In Guyana, the need for independent public-policy reflections is a striking one. The national independence movement of the 1950s had some clear policy objectives. One of them was to bring about Guyana’s independence. Another, controversial at the time, was to bring schools under Governmental rather than Church administration. In the 1960s one could discern governmental policy objectives for development. The current national development strategy is a contemporary example of a public policy document – leaving aside how it has fared in practice. Ever since its independence, unfortunately, Guyana’s development has been stultified by a lack of national political consensus. This is a difficult issue, one on which we must work in good faith.

Debates on public policy issues, ever since independence, have been affected to a great degree by partisanship – which goes well beyond the partisan political debates that are inevitable in any country. During the time of PNC-rule, its public policy initiatives were tainted by public perceptions about the ‘paramountcy of the party’ – even if some of the public policy initiatives were undoubtedly sound.

During the period of PPP governance, one can point to some sound public policy initiatives but, overall, they have been adversely affected by the lack of political consensus and by a broad feeling in the society that the governmental talent pool of the party is somewhat thin – by choice. Public policy debates in Guyana are, unfortunately, trapped in political bickering on all sides.

In the midst of all of this, the country has so far not yet succeeded, in its fifth decade of independence, in negotiating a system of governance that inspires confidence in all the peoples of Guyana. Both major parties have responsibility for this. The PNC overthrew the immediate post-independence system of governance, on which there was a reasonable degree of consensus, and brought in, through rigged voting, a system of governance that gave all power to the ruling party. The PPP gleefully inherited this system and has so far only been willing to tinker with it. This is shortsighted and does not serve the national interest.

Our fundamental problem thus remains the lack of consensus on the system of governance. On top of this, different parts of the society have different perceptions of our historical experiences. We need studies and dialogue in this area. Furthermore, there are long-range national security issues on which there is little or no debate or discussion in the country. It is on these matters that an institute for public policy can be helpful to Guyana in the long term.

In the Guyanese literature and media there are undoubtedly many superb contributions to public policy debates. The writings of our own Professor Clive Thomas on development challenges, globally and in Guyana, for example, are of the first order of quality. The pages of the Stabroek News contain many superb examples of public-policy contributions. The articles by the late Lloyd Searwar were fine examples of this.

One has the impression, though, that these and other fine contributions, are scattered and do not accumulate in a way as to be readily available for consultation by future, broad-minded Guyanese leaders. This is a gap that could, conceivably, the filled by a Guyana Institute for Public Policy.

The aim of the institute is to help bring together, on the Internet initially, and through publications and other activities if these prove feasible, selections of the best public policy thinking from Guyanese, and about Guyana. If we see good, concise public policy contributions in the media or in the literature, we will ask the authors to place it in on the web site of the institute. We will also invite contributions from those in a position to help shed light on present or future issues of national concern. We will bring these together in a book from time to time.

Participation in the institute is thus open to anyone. There is no membership fee! An advisory board is being posted on the Internet. To be selected for posting on the website of the institute, essays will be referred to three members of the advisory board, two of whom must support posting. We will be careful in our selections. It is our hope to bring together key essays in a print publication from time to time and to make it broadly available to the Guyanese community. We have so far not sought funding from anyone for any activity. We might do so in the future for specific activities, for example, the holding of a conference, a public lecture, or the publication and dissemination of policy publications.

We think that by proceeding in this objective and careful fashion we might be able to offer a contribution to the promotion of national consensus and development in Guyana. Experience will tell. We will not be partisan, are not aligned to any political party, and will avoid commenting on particular political developments or controversies. Unfortunately, Guyana is so full of this. The recent experience with the legislation on local government is a case in point.

One can say that, in Guyana, we have been blessed or cursed by our political leadership. We have so far not been successful in having as a leader someone who can help us transcend our divisions and bring us together. The national outpouring of feeling for Dr Cheddi Jagan after his death probably indicated that he was viewed by broad sections of the society as a genuine national leader, but his tenure was unfortunately a short one and he is reported to have been disgusted by the corruption within his government. When the current President came into office young people, especially, looked to a post-strife period. That, unfortunately, has not materialised. He was a fresh face, and faced daunting challenges for someone so young. He came, however, with tentacles that proved enduring.

The talent pool on offer for future leadership from both main parties, far from inspiring, causes groans and despair throughout the land. Talent there is, elsewhere. But as the late President Desmond Hoyte once famously said, Guyanese politics still remains largely a two-horse race.

I have found from my academic career that young people will look for the best thinking in the literature and hold on to it. We have to hope that at some time in the future, fresh minds will gain access to power in Guyana and will be looking for the best ideas to bring about national consensus and development. We have those fresh minds in view in wanting to help assemble a good pool of policy ideas from which they might draw.

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The Jagdeo 10 year economic report card

The Jagdeo 10 year economic report card

Posted By Stabroek staff On August 19, 2009 @ 5:01 am In Daily, Features | 17 Comments

Development Watch

By Tarron Khemraj

This month marks ten years since Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo became President. I will dedicate this column to an analysis of several economic variables from 1999 to 2008. The indicators I have chosen are fundamental to the stability and well-being of a country. However, in order to perform a meaningful analysis of the President’s 10 years in office it requires that I compare the variables with other similar small countries like Guyana. I have chosen several sister CARICOM countries. The Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance (CCMF) has done a remarkable service by summarising the data on various Caribbean economies. I use the CCMF data for the Caribbean economies.
Tarron Khemraj [1]

Tarron Khemraj

However, I believe it is important that we look at other small developing economies such as Botswana, Mauritius and Fiji. Mauritius and Botswana are seen as two remarkable success stories in Africa. On the other hand, Fiji is a small Island economy (sugar-based like Guyana) that suffered from ethnic and political conflicts during the period of analysis. For these non-Caribbean countries, I sourced my data from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators (WDI electronic access). For all the economies, I obtained foreign direct investment (FDI) data from the same WDI electronic access.

It is important to use other small economies like Guyana when performing such an analysis. First, the economies are all susceptible to global shocks and harsh world price conditions. These economies take world prices rather than make prices. Second, one country, Suriname, also suffered from significant floods like Guyana. Other Caribbean Islands like Jamaica and Grenada suffered immensely from the destruction by hurricanes. Third, these economies have a similar British historical legacy.

Some economists would argue that it is important to “control” for geography/location when making these cross-country comparisons. I believe the geography variable is covered by my small sample – Suriname is also on the South American mainland right next to Guyana; Belize is on the mainland of Latin America. But I want to make it clear that the purpose of this column is not to explain economic variations across these economies; rather the column summarises several economic variables in order to place the Jagdeo years in office into context. It will take a lot more than a 1,200 word column to explain the stylised variations.

Nevertheless, some readers would have observed by now that my thesis for Guyana’s underdevelopment is rooted in policy failures – both political and economic in nature. In other words, policy matters in my analysis. For instance, our policy makers at Office of the President (OP) have constantly failed to grasp the purpose of IMF and World Bank policies which they follow like model students without a second thought (Yes, did the Leninists at Robb Street ever once ask the OP planners where is the industrial strategy?) The policy tools of the Bretton Woods institutions are meant for short-term stabilisation and palliative (pain-relieving) poverty reduction. The task of long-term transformation still rests with the government and people of Guyana.

The development economics literature has several candidate explanations for variation in economic performance among countries. These include investment rates, the level of financial development, natural resource endowment, geography/location, institutions (property rights, historical origins, etc), and education and skills of the workforce. On the other hand, a formidable list of heterodox scholars has emphasised the importance of getting policies right (and not only prices). Therefore, in my opinion both economic and political policies matter – Guyana has failed since 1966 on both fronts. I will continue to develop this thesis over the coming weeks, but for now let us observe the data.

Before we move on, I report data on the EC Currency Union, which is made up of eight member countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The CCMF reports aggregate data for this sub-regional grouping.

Macroeconomic performance
The average growth rate for the period 1999 to 2008 was calculated for each economy. This is reported in Table 1 below. The data revealed that only Jamaica and Barbados clocked a lower rate of growth over the ten years (there is a virtual tie with Barbados). However, this data should be interpreted with caution. The per capita GDP numbers show that Guyana is the least developed country in this list with an average for the 1999 – 2008 period of US$1, 076. Barbados and the Bahamas, while recording fairly lukewarm growth rates, have per capita GDP of US$9, 165 and US$17, 647, respectively. Both of these economies and most of the others (especially Mauritius) underwent important structural transformations through active policies since the early 1980s. It is well known that the rate of growth of an economy slows down the more developed it gets. However, Guyana is the poorest (on average) and grows at an anaemic average rate.

With respect to inflation, two countries recorded double digit inflation – Mauritius (10.66%) and Suriname (28.86%). All the others appear to have been quite stable from an inflation perspective as Guyana. Guyana has achieved a relatively low debt service ratio – that is the percentage of each export dollar spent on servicing the external debt. The significant debt relief Guyana received since 1996 has now reduced the debt service burden of the country. Significant amount of funds were released for social services, yet the country is still a mediocre growth performer. The point is the debt burden as an excuse ought not to be made for the mediocre performance over the past 10 years.

From a current account balance perspective, Guyana has the second most severe average deficit for the review period – minus 16.4% compared with the highest of minus 21.9% for the EC Currency Union. Remember, the current account balance measures how well the country is doing vis-à-vis the rest of the world.

Figure 1: Macroeconomic indicators – averages for the period 1999 to 2008

200908219GDP [2]

Table 2 reports average FDI inflows for the period 1999 to 2007 (note FDI data for 2008 are not available yet in WDI). Again I calculated the average over the period to make a comparison. It should be noted I could not obtain FDI data for the EC Currency Union as a whole. However, I am able to report this data for the following members – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Guyana received more FDIs than two countries on the list – Dominica (US$24,762,317) and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (US$ 56,814,033).

Figure 2: Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) – averages for the period 1999 to 2007
200908219FDI [3]

Once we strip away the PNC alibi and compare Guyana to its global peers of small open economies – which face the same global shocks – there is not much to shout about and celebrate. Also, as we saw last week “slow fiah, mo fiah” could not have been the only factor contributing to the post-1997 economic downturn.

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17 Comments To "The Jagdeo 10 year economic report card"

#1 Comment By Seopaul Singh On August 19, 2009 @ 7:58 am

Tarron Khemraj wrote:
“The indicators I have chosen are fundamental to the stability and well-being of a country. However, in order to perform a meaningful analysis of the President’s 10 years in office it requires that I compare the variables with other similar small countries like Guyana. I have chosen several sister CARICOM countries… In other words, policy matters in my analysis. For instance, our policy makers at Office of the President (OP) have constantly failed to grasp the purpose of IMF and World Bank policies which they follow like model students without a second thought (Yes, did the Leninists at Robb Street ever once ask the OP planners where is the industrial strategy?)” All of this is cheap pot shots at the President.
In reviewing the Ten Years of President Bharat Jagdeo’s Tenure, Tarron Khemraj did an astute analysis of the GDP Rate of Earnings between the years 1999 to 2008, but unwittingly sought to show the slow ‘anemic’ progress Guyana made over that period compared Guyana with, of all Countries among others in CARICOM, Barbados and Bahamas. What did all of this have to do with the President’s performance by the way? The relevant variables are there.
He slotted into his years of relief, the Debt Burden erased in 1996, to show a sort of impact on the debt-service relief on the overall performance of the Economic Sector of Guyana. This was good and bad for his otherwise frugal analysis. What was the idea behind bringing in 1996? It is clear he intended to show that relief had impacted the average indebtedness of the country somewhat more positively.
Tarron further noted, “These economies take world prices rather than make prices. First, the economies are all susceptible to global shocks and harsh world price conditions. Second, one country, Suriname, also suffered from significant floods like Guyana. Other Caribbean Islands like Jamaica and Grenada suffered immensely from the destruction by hurricanes. Third, these economies have a similar British historical legacy.”
What the analyst did not zero in on were the horrendous economic impact of the three major floods which rocked Guyana in 1996, 2005 and 2006. I am convinced that Suriname was not so adversely affected not according to the ECLAC Report on Guyana. Do not lump Guyana in the basket of misfortunes (global shocks) with others and tell us Suriname and Fiji were similarly affected.
We the readers also need to know what were the significant setbacks on the economy of the 1997-98 civil disturbances lead by the PNC after Mrs. Jagan’s election victory and the racial strife which ensued; and the 2002 East Coast Blockades by “Freedom Fighters” who were also politically motivated. May be as an Economist he is not required to compare these to the Fiji Civil Disturbances.
Added to this we still did not get the picture of the intermittent strikes in the Sugar Industry over those years and the losses the nation suffered as a result, not to mention the loss of the European Market. The Geographic variables would also spotlight a definite form of impact on the economy.
Could the analyst give us the details of the losses which affected the overall average over the years analyzed? Apart from the cyclic flooding The unseasonable Weather patterns account for hundreds of Millions of Dollars losses to Rice farmers yearly. This is needful data to understand the issue of Disaster Preparedness and National (Economic) Development.
I am no economist just a layman who wants to know in the economic equation how the losses to the nation set back the GDP average over the those years in question directly, and the succeeding years which were also adversely affected starting from 1996 as he had to refer to that year.

#2 Comment By Joe On August 19, 2009 @ 11:15 am

SS for a layman you offer an awesome counter argument. I like the presentation by TK rather than those produced by the government that presents fancy GDP graphs and other economic indicators in total isolation of other external factors.

That kind of information is good for the local bean counters, but a tally clerk can do that. One for me, one for you and so on and so the economic forecast looks great,until the people ask “what about us” Oops, sorry folks we forgot, listen next harvest season you will be inculded, promise, and remember you are the true heroes of the economy so keep up the good work.


#3 Comment By Evan Thomas On August 19, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

Terron, given your limit of 1,200 words, I suggest you present your analysis instead on some seeming ‘antidotes’. It takes away from your essay and it looks devoid of sufficient evidence. Leave that for the blogs; there you can use those pieces to satiffy the likes of the Seopaul Singhs.

And to Seopaul: I prefer Disaster Management and Economic Development. This is where the realtionship is located. In Guyana’s case then the question becomes a matter of Business Continuity Planning (BCP). Disaster prepardeness is a part of BCP.

#4 Comment By Seopaul Singh On August 19, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

Hi Joe, Thanks for the compliment.

#5 Comment By tkhemraj On August 19, 2009 @ 1:55 pm

Seopaul Singh: “In reviewing the Ten Years of President Bharat Jagdeo’s Tenure, Tarron Khemraj did an astute analysis of the GDP Rate of Earnings between the years 1999 to 2008, but unwittingly sought to show the slow ‘anemic’ progress Guyana made over that period compared Guyana with, of all Countries among others in CARICOM, Barbados and Bahamas. What did all of this have to do with the President’s performance by the way? The relevant variables are there.”

MY RESPONSE: it is important to compare Guyana with other small economies. That is normal research procedure in economics. It also allows us to isolate relevant variables – in my case the policy failures. Of course, the President does not influence what goes on in Barbados or Botswana (that’s the whole point for using them as a context). Of course, we could also use the PNC’s 28 years as a benchmark. I have done that in previous columns and the government people do that all the time. Guyanese however also need to see how the country fares vis a vis other small developing economies. It is time the Guyanese masses start asking these questions.

Seopaul Singh: “what the analyst did not zero in on were the horrendous economic impact of the three major floods which rocked Guyana in 1996, 2005 and 2006. I am convinced that Suriname was not so adversely affected not according to the ECLAC Report on Guyana.”

MY RESPONSE: This would require finding out the average rail fall for both countries and for the said periods. Perhaps you are right that Suriname was not affected to the extent as Guyana. But what if the rain fall levels are the same? Could the difference in impact be attributed to the fact that the infrastructure in Paramaribo is better maintained? Could Suriname have done more to change the production structure of the economy that they are not affected to the extent as Guyana? In other words, could the difference in performance be attributed to policy choices? These questions deserve further analysis.

Seopaul Singh: “We the readers also need to know what were the significant setbacks on the economy of the 1997-98 civil disturbances lead by the PNC after Mrs. Jagan’s election victory and the racial strife which ensued; and the 2002 East Coast Blockades by “Freedom Fighters” who were also politically motivated. May be as an Economist he is not required to compare these to the Fiji Civil Disturbances.”

MY RESPONSE: Please note there is continuity in the different columns. Last week I addressed this issue. However, it is important when making global comparisons to use similar countries. I think Fiji faced ethnic conflicts, it is a bi-communal society, and it still has plantation mode of production.

Anyhow, on the issue of civil disturbances see the following: [4]

#6 Comment By tkhemraj On August 19, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

I need to make one comment about the article that I should have clarified. That is, the intention of providing the level of per capita GDP was not to suggest that the Jagdeo Presidency should have achieved that same level as some of these economies were ahead in level of per capita GDP by the time Jagdeo came to power. It would be unfair to suggest that. The levels were provided to show the context of the slower growth of the more developed economies like Barbados and the Bahamas. The latter economies would have already achieved some level of maturity and therefore could grow slower than Guyana.

#7 Comment By Evan Thomas On August 19, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

Editor, I still look to see my blog on this piece, the comments are fair and hope you publish it.

#8 Comment By Gerhard On August 19, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

Mr. Seopaul Singh while I am not in agreement with what you have said, I still tip my hat to you and I hope the Ghost-writers Club (GC) can learn from you.

The Gov’t’s writers, going under names such as Elizabeth Daly, Kimberly James, Erica Smith and now Todd Morgan simply go into personal attack mode and avoid addressing anything in a substantial manner. On the other hand, you use your real name and you attempt to deal with the issues under discussion.

I did not get a chance to respond to you in the discussion on my last letter because I was caught in the interior for a few days. What was supposed to be a one day trip ended in disaster for me because of the deplorable condition of the GT to Lethem road. The only thing I can say right now, is that us younger politicians, Raphael Trotman included, have enough time ahead of us to prove ourselves.

Anyway, please keep it up – it doesn’t matter that we don’t see eye to eye, but civil discourses are much needed in this time of high tensions.

#9 Comment By Cummins On August 19, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

I read two different viewpoints here on Guyana’s economy. Khemraj seems to think that it is policy failures by the government that is causing the economic stagnation; Seopual seems to think that Guyana is a very unlucky country where external(and internal) events, both manmade and natural, always affect its economy more than anywhere else.

I see Khemraj’s data and have no reason to dismiss them. Seopaul, can you prove to me and others that Guyana suffered the most on the list in question and under the period of consideration? I am interested in seeing DATA such as disaster relief expenditures as a percentage of the national budget, independent estimates from reputable bodies of the total economic loss caused by these events as a percentage of the GDP and how these values stack up against the countries on this list and for the same period. My thinking is that if these values were not recorded and are not available then the event was considered negligible. If the values are available then they must show substantial difference among the countries on the list for your argument to hold weight. In the absence of this data or if the data among the countries is changing in the same way(reason and assumptiom why similar geography/economies are used) one can conclude, like Khemraj did, that the economic shocks were on a similar (or lesser) scale hence need not be used in comparative analysis.

One of the things that frustrate me is the way the government always finds an event to blame for bad times in Guyana even without attaching an economic impact estimate for that event from some independent source. One would think that if major events are the norm in Guyana, as Seopaul is suggesting, then the government would want to budget for them and take the necessary steps to prepare for these events so that when they do come along the country is better prepared to absorb the shock . Nobody there is taking responsibility for anything that happens so either way the government is at fault. I know Seopual doesn’t think like that because he knows that working here in the states requires that the arguments you make be supported by evidence for it to make sense and for the people around take you seriously

#10 Comment By Seopaul Singh On August 19, 2009 @ 6:13 pm

In economic analyses we are fed with the same process as in comparing the behavoir of human beings. The assumption in such comparisons is that (though apologetocally acknowledged) the same conditionalities prevail in which the humans live.
Analysts seek desperately to fit all countries into a similar mold for the sake of applying common factors as measurements. This is grossly misleading regardless of the details which are common. The variables may be uneven or winding into different paths, which are not so easily straightened by the methodologies applied in economic analyses.
Every country is a ‘beast’ with its unique behavorial characteristics, its gamut of geographic conditions, its Physical / Relief structures, its colonial heritage , its Developmental history , its Political fragmentation, its ethnical/ cultural enclaves, its nationhal Academic / Technological achievements, its patriotism, its cohesion and collaboration etc. etc.
We are yet to find a Plitician who has been able to forge a more complete Union or unism of a Nation. Policies are therefore often onesided or more appropriately opposed by the otherside. So developmental goals are sidetracked and sometimes sabotaged.
So taken individually, we may be surprised by the Gigantic Strides we made as we weigh in our achievements compared to our own failures. It is like competing with the Joneses. Let every nation extol their own virtues and revel in their own successes.
We often have to stand back and agree with the view “Oh he has come a long way” as we reflect on a bungling youth as he approach manhood. This is by no means infering that President Jagdeo is so referred to, but for the analysts let the variables in each country determine their individual triumphs.

#11 Comment By Roger Williams On August 20, 2009 @ 3:52 am

I am not sure that the complimant was warranted … given some of the apologist nature of your observations.

When you say ” …What the analyst did not zero in on were the horrendous economic impact of the three major floods which rocked Guyana in 1996, 2005 and 2006. I am convinced that Suriname was not so adversely affected not according to the ECLAC Report on Guyana. Do not lump Guyana in the basket of misfortunes (global shocks) with others and tell us Suriname and Fiji were similarly affected … ” you are avoiding the more realistic position.

Perhaps your time would be better spent answering age-old questions resuscitated by Lall Kumar Ramsingh in the SN of January 7 (“If So Much Money Has Been Spent on Drainage, Why Is It Not Working?” ( [5] ).

Apart from the indictment the story provides itself, Hackett’s comments below on that page further illustrates the “strange explanations” being given to these developments regarding flooding rather than the more reasonable one: a stunning abdication of good policy in favour of … greed!

#12 Comment By Cummins On August 20, 2009 @ 10:46 am

Wow!!!………This is quite a move from your first blog Mr. Singh. Originally it was about economic policy analysis now it is about the evolution of a country and mankind. As you try to make a case against the established methods of economic analysis I suggest that you present your paper to the various bodies rather on this blog site.I am sure the guys here have no power to change those methods. You do sound like a very smart guy so I can’t understand what got you caught up in this mess. I know you are better than this blog suggest.

The three points you should take away from this discussion are:

i) Government should be making good economic policies at all times

ii) Government policies should prepare a country to absorb shocks, especially when they happen as often as you and others suggest they do in Guyana.

iii) Government is responsible, no matter what, for the country’s economy and should be held accountable. They can’t just past this off to somebody else or an event.

#13 Comment By Gerhard On August 20, 2009 @ 10:46 am

Well said Mr. Singh. Indeed, no one can dispute that there has been progress. Only yesterday my father was regaling me at the excellent treatment he received at the Licence Office, and he always tells how well he is treated at the Georgetown Hospital (I am sure you too will be shocked at the responses this statement might elicit from some of the hardcore PPP bloggers here, though of course, you will understand that these services are not gracious favours). My father, a long time supporter of the PPP (since 1946) is now with the AFC, having followed me there.

The issue my friend, is not that nothing has been done, but that we could have done better. Substantially so in my humble opinion. Further, to people like my dad and I who have known the PPP for most of our lives, what the PPP has become since the death of Dr. Jagan is too much to bear.

You can email me at any time Mr. Singh: [6]

#14 Comment By tkhemraj On August 20, 2009 @ 11:29 am

Seopaul: your point is well taken. However, very clever economists have utilized a method known as multiple regression analysis with suitable instruments to address your concern.

Once you have controlled for all the variables in your model, use the relevant instrument (s), and you have a well-behaved residual, then the analysts have a decent model.

As these columns are developed into a book manuscript,I am sure some of these concerns will be addressed in more detailed academic format. At this point I see no reason why Guyana should not be compared with its global peers of small open economy.

In my opinion, the PNC alibi stop flying a long time ago!

#15 Comment By Roger Williams On August 20, 2009 @ 11:43 am

This is another example of the apologist rhetoric … almost resembling intellectual gibberish … that Seopaul Singh has degenerated to.

Focus, man … address the details …

A crisis of leadership and credibility attends to a hapless Jagdeo. He has singlehandedly squandered 17 years of international and local goodwill on the altar of … greed!

We can only appreciate the stunning incompetence, or the criminal irresponsibility, associated with various iterations of the greed scenario by reading efforts like Tarron Khemraj’s above.

#16 Comment By Griot On August 20, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

Can you summarise this in plain english for us? Would it sound something like “The PPP has done better than the PNC did”?

#17 Comment By Somdat On August 21, 2009 @ 10:54 am

Tarron: Excellent analysis. I am particularly happy with the discussions. Regarding Mr.Seepaul’s concerns about other variables which I think from a mathematical point of view he means confounding variables that could affect the outcome, he should rest assured that not only multiple regression techniques would easily address this concern, but we can also tell to what extend any variable of interest contribute to an outcome. Of course, some people would never be satisfied even with established methodologies. Best!

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