Saturday, September 26, 2009

Government refuses to disburse to the Critchlow Labour College monies budgeted and approved by Parliament

Stabroek News Letter to the Editor, September 25, 2009. There should not be double standards.

Dear Editor,

I am prompted to reply to public statements made by Mr Norman Faria, Guyana Honorary Consul to Barbados condemning several positions I have taken on contemporary issues and more so those pertaining to Guyana. I wish to reiterate my position that I stand on the side of justice and fair play regardless of who heads the government. I stood against what I perceived to be the unjust actions of all former governments, and I shall continue to stand against any form of injustice at this time when it is clear that those who are given the privilege to lead consider the country their personal property and the citizens their subjects.

As Honorary Consul to Barbados it is Mr Faria’s responsibility to, among other diplomatic tasks, represent the rights and dignity of Guyanese citizens in Barbados.

This is however not without noting my serious concern about his willingness to export and advance the partisan politics of the PPP government, whose disregard for human rights is being exposed daily.

I am concerned that while he seeks to tell us about the transgressions in respect of Guyanese rights in Barbados, at the same time he remains silent on rights violations by the Government of Guyana in relation to some Guyanese. This is a double standard.

I am sure as Honorary Consul he is aware the Government of Guyana continues to refuse to disburse to the Critchlow Labour College monies budgeted and approved by Parliament, and moreso seeks to deny the college any future allocations. The funding that I am referring to belongs to the taxpayers and was given to the college from its inception in 1968. This college provides training and education for taxpayers, some of whom are prepared to upgrade their skills and desire a second chance to complete a high school education. The fact that this denial affects a student population which is predominantly African, feeds the Social Sciences programmes at the University of Guyana, raises questions about the partisan nature of the government’s decision. Additionally, the government has also refused to disburse to the Guyana Trades Union Congress a grant approved by Parliament, and has since established a parallel trade union federation which validates its human rights abuses. This grant was in place since independence and was never denied even though there were instances when the trade unions and former governments were at logger-heads.

The Consul is also aware of the many state agencies that employed a dominant African labour force, which over the years were either closed, or significantly downsized and no efforts made to create employment opportunities for those affected or protect their pension plans, despite the fact that proposals have been offered by the trade union community and other interest groups. Juxtapose this with the government’s continued investments in the Indian dominated economic sectors, such as in sugar and rice, among others, and the impact of our concerns becomes even more disconcerting.

Repeated attacks on Dr Kean Gibson, UWI Lecturer, to the extent of writing the General Manager, Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, Television, was nothing short of attempting to deny her the right to freedom of speech in sharing her understanding of the racial and political oppression in Guyana. Similar attempts have also been made to silence or demonise others in and out of Barbados who have spoken out against the transgressions inflicted on Guyanese at home. This assumed role is inconsistent with the mandate of Honourary Consul since no government should be involved in attacking its citizens’ rights regardless of where they are located.

Within recent years law and order in Guyana have been under siege. There have been many murders where the guilty parties and the reasons for such actions remain a mystery. Many have fallen victim to murder, drive-by shootings, profiling, single executions, violence and robberies, but justice is yet to be served. Persons deemed to be criminals have been murdered by the police and army and no inquest held consistent with the law. Hundreds have died at the hands of the death/phantom squad(s) supported by rogue elements in the Guyana Police Force and Guyana Defence Force, and without being discountenanced by officialdom. Had a civilized approach been taken the appropriate investigations would have been conducted; those identified would have been charged; evidence presented in court; found guilty; and the victims’ families would have received justice, having been clear in their minds who was responsible for the death of their loved ones. The society too would have been better served from these experiences.

Guyana is in crisis. As a Guyanese I share the concerns of those desirous of seeing the country return to normalcy, where our laws are respected and everyone, regardless of race, sex, creed or political persuasion, can have equal access to the country’s resources. Every citizen who believes in a just society has a responsibility to uphold the constitution and laws. It should however be noted the government and its representatives have a greater responsibility and as such Mr Faria’s voice is needed to speak out against the lawlessness, injustices and inequity committed daily.

Yours faithfully,
Lincoln Lewis
General Secretary (on leave)
Guyana Trades Union Congress
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the President’s friend Dr Bobby Ramroop benefits from State concessions

Stabroek News Letter to the Editor, 26 September 2009. No level playing field

Dear Editor,
In November 2006 the Jagdeo administration suddenly and arbitrarily withdrew all state advertisements from the privately-owned Stabroek News. Mr Jagdeo, after being persistently press-ed for a reason, explained to a non-believing public that the decision had been made on the grounds of readership and economics.

When President Jagdeo on April 8, 2008, equally suddenly and arbitrarily, announced that he was relaxing the ban, some saw it as the result of the tireless struggle for just such a removal, by the late Editor-in-Chief of Stabroek News, Mr David de Caires and others. Others saw in it, to use an elegant term, a sleight of hand. Among the latter group were those who were aware that the Presi-dent’s friend Dr Bobby Ramroop, already the recipient of improper contracts from the Ministry of Health, was about to set up a newspaper under a package of unlawful concessions for his business which also benefited the newspaper.

That cynicism and suspicion were justified in a most glaring manner last Wednesday when the Ramroop newspaper, the Guyana Times, with a modest circulation, had state advertisements equivalent to those of the Kaieteur News and Stabroek News combined measured in terms of column inches. Undisputedly, these newspapers have a total circulation of approximately ten times that of the Guyana Times.
Of the many implications of this state of affairs, I find the following three most disturbing:

1. The extent to which the President is prepared to give away state resources in the form of government-owned property and taxes to favoured persons.

2. That like the Guyana Chronicle and the NCN, the Guyana Times is being subsidised by taxpayers to promote the partisan interests of the government and the private interests of the same favoured persons.

3. That the PPP/C, a self-described working class party, is prepared to divert the taxes paid by the working class to those who already have.
Instead of those in the private sector and the Private Sector Commission heeding the not too subtle call by President Jagdeo to boycott the Kaieteur News, all Guyanese should be thankful to the Stabroek News and the Kaieteur News for their resoluteness in the face of this increasingly undemocratic and pernicious onslaught.
Yours faithfully,
Christopher Ram
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fear today worse than in Burnhamite days - MP Moses Nagamootoo" - … Public Freedom of Information forum

Kaieteur News news item, Thursday 24 September 2009 - "Fear today worse than in Burnhamite days - MP Moses Nagamootoo" - … Public Freedom of Information forum

Moses Nagamootoo, who worked as a journalist during the days of the regime of Forbes Burnham, when his newspaper was denied newsprint, has described the fear in Guyana today as worse than the “Burnhamite days.”

Enrico Woolford, U.S journalist Herb Frazier, and Moses Nagamootoo, at the public forum

Enrico Woolford, U.S journalist Herb Frazier, and Moses Nagamootoo, at the public forum

Nagamootoo was among the speakers at a U.S. Embassy-sponsored public forum on Freedom of Information legislation. He said that what Guyana needs is a new wave of democracy.

Nagamootoo, a practising attorney, and Member of Parliament for the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP), said that he is seeing in Guyana “large doses of fear” by the media in reporting stories that could be deemed offensive to the administration. He said he is sensing in Guyana an “unease” that has never experienced before.

Nagamootoo, who also once served as Minister of Information, posited that while there are costs that would be associated with the government enacting and implementing Freedom of Information Legislation, it is a cost that is necessary and important for Guyana.

Executive member of the Guyana Press Association and Capitol News Editor-in-chief, Enrico Woolford, bemoaned the fact that the government is yet to table Freedom of Information legislation in Parliament despite President Bharrat Jagdeo’s statement in April that this was being drafted and would be tabled in two months.

It is now five months since Jagdeo made the statement at a press conference held on the hems of the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

In early July, the President said that the Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation would likely be introduced in the National Assembly in October when Parliament comes out of recess.

Late last month, Jagdeo promised that there will be broadcast legislation by next year. Woolford posited that “freedom of information delayed is freedom of information denied.”

The public forum yesterday was one in a series of discussions on responsible journalism and principles of press freedom, with specific attention paid to the U.S. experience and it’s Freedom of Information Act.

The feature presentation was by US journalist Mr. Herb Frazier, whose experience ranged from covering health care and the criminal justice system, to numerous U.S. presidential elections.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sunday editorial contained misrepresentations and distortions

Sunday editorial contained misrepresentations and distortions

Stabroek News letter. September 22, 2009.

Dear Editor,
The Government of Guyana has noted the editorial carried in the Sunday Stabroek of September 20 under the caption ‘Blackmail,’ and feels constrained to correct the misrepresentations and distortions contained therein.

Firstly, the editorial makes a deliberate attempt to distort the President’s comment on the option of an interim management committee (IMC) being installed by stating that “the President called a sudden press conference in which he said that if PNCR Leader Robert Corbin agreed, an IMC could be in place tomorrow.” In fact, the comment made by the President on the IMC option was offered in response to a question asked by a reporter at the press conference. Instead, the editorial attempts to suggest that the purpose of the press conference was somehow to announce a desire to have an IMC installed.
Secondly, the editorial seeks to suggest that “Freedom House or the Office of the President or both want an excuse to impose an Interim Management Committee on the capital,” and that the government somehow wishes to demonstrate that the city council can’t manage the city.

In this regard, the city council needs absolutely no assistance in demonstrating that they are woefully incapable of managing the city.

Practically every resident of Georgetown, and every right-minded Guyanese, knows of the city council’s ineptitude in collecting rates and taxes due, and of its incompetence and lack of accountability in managing its expenditure.
Thirdly, the editorial seeks to suggest that the council does not have enough revenue to discharge its mandate, and argues that even if the council was the most efficient body in the hemisphere that it would still not have enough funds to run the city. This most astonishing assertion is made without absolutely any empirical evidence, without data on revenue or potential revenue, and without any analysis of the council’s expenditure. In fact, when the records are examined, the fact of the matter is that the council has billions of dollars that are not being collected from ratepayers in default, including the likes of Congress Place which owes City Hall over $100 million in outstanding rates and taxes and has thus far blatantly refused to discharge this liability.

Indeed, it borders on the unbelievable that, instead of calling for more efficient management of existing resources at City Hall, including stepping up collection of currently outstanding rates and taxes and by reducing expenditure in non-critical areas, Stabroek News chooses to call for a broadening of the revenue base of City Hall. The latter call, were it to be granted, would inevitably and obviously lead to more local government rates and taxes having to be paid by the private sector and households living in Georgetown. This call reflects, more clearly than ever before, that the authors and editorial teams at Stabroek News are completely out of touch with reality and with the sentiments of the average Georgetown resident. There is absolutely no appetite for higher rates and taxes to be paid, especially knowing that the resources that are currently collected by City Hall are so woefully mismanaged.

Fourthly, it is striking and revealing that the editorial steers clear of the real issue, this being the fact that the city council has failed continuously to collect its potential revenue, has mismatched and mismanaged its expenditure, and has therefore failed to deliver on its mandate over the years since 1994. This fact, however, has failed to meet the attention, or serve the agenda, of the editor of Stabroek News.
Yours faithfully,
Kellawan Lall
Minister of Local
Government and
Regional Development

Editor’s note
It is perfectly true that the main purpose of President Jagdeo’s press conference was not to float the possibility of the installation of an Interim Management Committee and it was not the intention of the editorial to suggest that it was. However, it really doesn’t matter how the issue arose, the point is that during the course of his briefing the President was frank in expressing his view that an IMC would be the solution to the current travails in the capital and that if Mr Corbin co-operated one could be installed “tomorrow.” If that is the government’s preferred route then it would explain a great deal about otherwise inexplicable behaviour, such as allowing garbage to pile up for two weeks in a tropical city, representing a major threat to public health.

Where the collection of outstanding rates is concerned, we would direct Minister Lall’s attention to the leader from the week before, where it was stated that the municipality no longer had the tools to compel defaulting rate-payers to meet their financial obligations to the city. The problem is not, therefore, a question of “ineptitude” in terms of collection; the most the council can do is present the ‘carrot’ of an amnesty to defaulters in terms of interest payments (which it has done), but it no longer has a ‘stick.’ While the editorial of September 13 did not actually say so, it did carry the implication that the remedy ultimately to address this particular problem lay in the first instance in central government taking the initiative.

The ‘stick’ referred to above, was parate execution, and therein hangs an interesting tale. In 2007 another Sunday editorial made a point similar to the one which Mr Lall has made above, namely, that even if the revenue base of the city was not to be expanded, the municipality could do a more efficient job of collecting the rates and levying on the properties of defaulters. In response, we received an erudite letter from attorney-at-law, Mr Leon Rockliffe, which was published on November 19, 2007. He alerted us to the amendments to the Municipal and District Councils Act and the Local Government Act which were passed in 1988, and which he said had “the untoward effect of stultifying the parate execution process for rate recovering…” He also explained to us the various other impediments which stood in the way of reviving parate execution. He then said: “It is clear that the existing legal situation calls for drastic executive action, firstly in removal or attenuation of the paralytic effects of the Amendment Acts of 1988 and a serious meeting of the entire Local Government body with the Registrars of Deeds, Lands and the High Court and with appropriate legal advice. There is no alternative to urgent executive action.”

We would be more than willing to make available to Minister Lall the full text of Mr Rockliffe’s letter if he so desires.
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Stabroek News. September 20, 2009. Editorial | 18 Comments

So finally the President has shown the ruling party’s hand. The citizens of Georgetown have to endure the piles of refuse and the serious health hazard that these represent, because the denizens of Freedom House or the Office of the President or both want an excuse to impose an Interim Management Committee on the capital. The theory is that by demonstrating that the Mayor and City Council can’t manage the city, we would all be amenable to an IMC, which would then proceed to clean up GT – backed by ample resources from the central government, of course. After that out of gratitude, we would all traipse cheerfully to the local government polls and vote for a PPP council.

On Friday the President called a sudden press conference in which he said that if PNCR Leader Robert Corbin agreed, an IMC could be in place “tomorrow.” Technically, he doesn’t need the PNCR’s agreement; it’s just that Georgetown has not traditionally been a PPP preserve, and the party does not want to be accused of acting in authoritarian mode. Perhaps they feel that Mr Corbin may be ready to co-operate with them at this point, as he did in the case of Linden, where he acceded to the removal of the town council and the installation of an IMC. The fly in this particular ointment, of course, is that Mayor Hamilton Green now sits as a member of the central executive of the PNCR, so it is difficult to see Mr Corbin abandoning his senior party colleague for Mr Jagdeo.

It is true that Georgetown had an IMC once before, but that was prior to the 1994 elections. It must be noted too that despite the fact that this PPP/C committee cleaned up the city with some vigour, courtesy of funds from the central administration, it did not have much of an impact on the voting habits of the residents.

Two things about the current situation bear repeating: the first is that the M&CC has very little power under the law, and the second is that the city’s revenue base is too slender to allow the municipal authorities to discharge their functions adequately. While the government has spent the last fifteen years blaming the council for the capital’s shortcomings, as was said last week the person with the most power in relation to the municipality is not the Mayor, but the Minister of Local Government.

This has even been acknowledged by government spokesmen, although not directly in relation to Georgetown. In a letter in our newspaper published on August 22 this year from Mr Clinton Collymore, it was stated: “Minister Lall in his capacity of Local Government Minister is by the very nature of his office, already in full control of every single NDC in Guyana… This total control is by virtue of laws passed by the dictatorial PNC regime in the 1969-73 period, when Burnham ruled.” While he is talking of Neighbourhood Democratic Councils here, with some qualifications it applies to municipal authorities as well.

While the council prepares the budget, and has oversight committees, it does not actually handle the money or have any direct control over the municipality’s senior officers. Power in relation to the latter lies with the Minister of Local Government, who is the only one who can suspend or fire the top officials if they are not performing or if they are corrupt. The Mayor has no authority to discipline the senior staff. This has enabled the President in the past to bypass the Mayor et al, and just deal with the Town Clerk and senior officials directly when he has wanted some project carried out. And for all the government’s complaints about inefficiency and corruption at City Hall, it took years before it exercised its considerable powers and moved to do anything about it.

This is not to suggest that the M&CC is blameless, or that given more authority it would discharge its duties more competently; it would not. It is simply to recognize that its ability to act is severely circumscribed, and that in critical areas Minister Lall has more leverage in city affairs than does the Mayor.

We will repeat too what we said last week about financial resources; the M&CC does not have sufficient revenue to carry out its functions. In a sense that was by implication conceded by the President on Friday when he listed all the things the government had paid for in the past. Even if the council was the most efficient body in the hemisphere, it still would not have enough funds to run the city. (The rates are too low, and as elaborated on last week, there is no effective sanction now against defaulting ratepayers.) Mr Jagdeo’s present grouse (excuse?) seems to be that the council has been given money by central government to cut the grass and it cannot even do that properly. But that is irrelevant to the present crisis, which, as everyone knows, has come about because the M&CC cannot pay its contractors to remove the garbage.

So we have a situation where central government habitually allows crises to develop (it likes the garbage ones best, for obvious reasons), then complains about corruption or incompetence or inefficiency at City Hall, before stepping in eventually to ‘save’ the citizenry. However, to put the health of residents at risk for as long as two weeks for the sake of a political advantage appears extraordinarily cynical.

Since the aim of the latest drama is to install an IMC, one can reasonably conclude that the ruling party would want it in place for long enough to demonstrate the wonder of its works. As such, therefore, it is also reasonable to conclude that contrary to all its protestations that it wants local government elections held soon, it may not at all be averse to a delay. The government holds the election purse strings, for example, and it has not yet explained why De la Rue, which had been contracted to produce the ID cards was not paid until June 11 (it needed 90% up front), when it was known that the period of production was four months. There were other delays too, which could not all be placed at the door of Gecom.

Could it be that what it really wants is for local government elections to take place at the same time as national elections? If so, it should come out in the open and say so, and let the matter be debated publicly in a rational way.

At the time of writing it was not known what the President offered in his meeting with Deputy Mayor Robert Williams and city officials yesterday. One can only hope that he will indeed spare a thought for the health of those who have to live in the capital and come to some arrangement to solve the immediate crisis. As for the longer term, something else needs to be in place, and that something is not an IMC. Hopefully, Mr Corbin will see the current ruling party manoeuvres to get a management committee installed for what they are – a form of blackmail.

Finally, the President’s refusal to include the Mayor in his meeting with the city officials does him no credit. It doesn’t matter what he thinks of Mr Green the man, as head of state he is required to show the office of Mayor public respect.
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18 Comments To "Blackmail"

#1 Comment By Marc(Welcome to the Garden City) On September 20, 2009 @ 7:40 am

Editor:I guess you love your garbage so much that its starting to manifest in your editorial.The city stinks and it is the responibility of the M&CC to keep it clean so stop putting a political spin on this stinking affair,the city is being cleaned up at present thanks to the Presidential intervention and thats what matters.This “Garbage City” affair is about incompetence and not about votes.The IMC works,you yourself said so in this article.

#2 Comment By LIND On September 20, 2009 @ 9:22 am


#3 Comment By Sase Singh On September 20, 2009 @ 9:23 am

I really enjoy these “focused and factual” editorials on Sundays. Bharat Jagdeo created Mayor Green and tolerated him all these years so why all of a sudden, Mayor Green is bad. Mayor Green is a creature of Jagdeo. If Jgdeo was serious about Georgetown, he would have dispensed the services of Hamiton Green since then, why now?

All the iniatives at fund raising y City Hall were ignored by The President. THIS IS LIVE BHARAT JAGDEO – SQUEEZE YOUR POCKET AND THEN CRITICISE YOU. He did it to so many PPP cadres.
His turn will come when he does not have control of the purse string of Guyana and PPP anymore and his turn will come when the PPP will put him out in the pasture to dry out and then he would really feel the true impact of how he has inconvenience thousands for his personal agradisment.

This is exactly how Stalin operated in the Soviet Union.
He will instruct officials to go after Ramjattan, Trotman, et all but he will never send them by Corbin because he is the biggest fan of Corbin. Jagdeo without the PNC is nothing. He has a vested interest in preserving the PNC. Look out AFC, over the next 2 years, you will be under the microscope and you will feel the full brunt of the state. Police will be used against you, other officials will be used against you, you will be taken to court for libel, slander. The same will be done to Stabroek and Kaietuer News. It all in the book Hegemony or Survival.

It sicken me on how messed up these people are. I pray for 2011 to come fast so that we can a stable head like Luncheon or Ramkarran as our head of state. Time is up for the petty minded in charge, it is time for real men to take charge of Guyana.

#4 Comment By Raj On September 20, 2009 @ 10:05 am

Congrats SN. This is one of your better article. Move this quality of writing to your news section and Guyana will grow into a better society.

#5 Comment By Stakeholder On September 20, 2009 @ 10:26 am

Great editorial. What might also be in the mind of the President and his strategists is that the Georgetown garbage situation would not play too well in the international arena where the President is proud of the recognition he is getting as an environmental steward. Of course the folks in the international arena are not aware of the corruption, discrimination and dictatorial behavior over which the president presides at home.

#6 Comment By Marc(Clean City By Presidential Decree) On September 20, 2009 @ 11:24 am

Stop being bitter, the President has finally learned to be the type of leader the lawless Guyanes people deserve.Being strong like Burnham is the only way things can get done in Guyana.

#7 Comment By George Bell On September 20, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

Why don’t you tell everyone, why you are so bitter. You are probably the only person who has ever actually applied for the job as Minister of Finance. You sent in CV and references. Because you did not get the job, now PPP bad. You are delusional. Bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping that your enemy dies.

#8 Comment By SKY On September 20, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

Great editorial and also great comments (mostly).

#9 Comment By Danny DeAbru On September 20, 2009 @ 4:52 pm

BLACKMAIL! Nothing in this article adds up to blackmail.Political strategies.GT needs a ‘cake shop’ government,then all the persons who are not satisfied & has easy access to air their discontentment would be happy.The mayor has no shame.

#10 Comment By yasuman71 On September 20, 2009 @ 6:09 pm

Marc, please don’t start another Bastille Day here. We may not always agree with the SN editor, but we must show decorum in return for the forum only SN has generously given us.
Citizen Marc, redirect thy lance to there brawling Brandon!

#11 Comment By L. C. Lee On September 20, 2009 @ 6:48 pm

I am so sorry for us, our president is prepared to gamble with our lives to achieve political “success.” This is why Guyanese are disrespected at airports around the world, we have and continue to degrade ourselves.

#12 Comment By Keck and Kwence On September 20, 2009 @ 7:10 pm

Very brave editorial; thanks for call it like you see it. The actions of the “imperial president” and the PPP cabal is blackmail pure and simple.

#13 Comment By Berbician On September 20, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

I spent 3 weeks in Guyana last month,the STENCH in the CAPITAL Georgetown was most disgusting!!
Surprisingly the residents are oblivious to the stench.The cleanest drain in the city is in front of City Hall,yet the canal on the avenue of the Republic has about 8 feet of silt inside.
Your Editor in chief considers it blackmail when Govt ask for changes in return for help,this only confirms what is already known,
that is,stench in the capital in good for BIG Business.

#14 Comment By michael tannassee On September 20, 2009 @ 8:12 pm

….burnham was only strong as green an de police an de army mek ‘e ! beyond dat he was just de regulah thug dat he was ,,

ah hare dem seh ,, dat yuh can duh as much as yuh like ,, but nat as lang as yuh like ,, caz if to anyone anything dem doin is nat enuff dem ,, “time” is clearly nat pon dem side ! caz all good things must come to an end !……. aks burnham he gon tell yuh !…..

#15 Comment By Cochore On September 20, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

Excellent analysis here Stabroek News, thank you very much for laying out the pertinent facts in a time line about the complicated relationship between the Central gov’t and the City/Local gov’t.

Very fair and very balance in identifying the strategic moves of a cunning leadership, who deliberately implement childish schemes to game the Georgetown citizenry into voting for them at election time. This is cheap politicking at the expense of a Public Health disaster.

Once again great job Ndugu, however, I think that another interesting topic to explore in an editorial would be to figure out how one elected public servant decides in public that he does not want to work with another duly elected public servant for the benefit of the electorate. What is the protocol, relationships and responsibilities for diplomacy and cooperation between elected Public Servants, if any at all.

#16 Comment By Sase Singh On September 21, 2009 @ 2:04 am

Dear George Bell:

If you read carefully my article. I never said the PPP is bad. I still believe that the PPP will get the largest chunk of votes come 2011 and the best the AFC can do now is to work hard to become the main opposition.

The problem in Guyana is not the old head in the PPP like the Luncheon’s and the Ramkarran, it is the inexperience political tactics that is making the Government look foolish. I am convinced that the older head are waiting out this period of tribulation.

Now let me put a myth to rest. A lie repeat a million time will become a truth for some people and your statements are a blatant lie that I applied with CV for Minister wuk. In my books people like Rajendra Rampersaud were more qualified than me politically and worked more with Dr Jagan to understand what he wanted. For me, Rajendra Rampersaud should have been the Minister of Finance ages ago.

I am not bitter, I am disgusted by the waste of time and money that is currently occuring. I saw Cheddi Jagan worked, I know what the PPP is capable of and thus I am disgusted that all that great potential is being put to waste. You have a situation where Guyana is no longer important to the leading cabal, it is all about friends and family.

This is why I am disgusted because country is not being put first. The minute Guyana is put first, then I will fade away since I am very happy with my current life and do not need any Minister wuk to secure self satisfaction. But until this cabal continue to play games with every little aspect of Guyana for their personal agrandisment, I will write and it is affect them becuase what they are doing is wrong. They will hide and write foolishness under phantom names like George but I always remember a saying that Jagdeo said to Ramjattan, when you come to crab march you must get mud on your skin. What George and the other do not know, I am immune from the mud.


#17 Comment By Sase Singh On September 21, 2009 @ 2:14 am


you raise a very ethical point. The people of GT elected Green (my views on Green and the PNC is public knowledge) and thus until the people elect another Mayor, he is the duly recognised Mayor.

How does it work when one elected official refuse to work with another elected official at the expense of the citizens of the city?

This is quite an interesting concept? Please note this is not the first time that the city is allowed to stink and then some political gransatanding is done. It will be done again so look out for another stinking session next year.

#18 Comment By amenra[jackass seh de wurl na level] On September 21, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

Stakeholder they know now, because we were there protesting him, you can see the shame and embarrassment on his face, we had our placards and we highlighted all the attrocities that is taking place under his watch.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009


Kaieteur News Editorial, Sunday 20 September 2009 - "GOOD MEN AND WOMEN MUST ACT!" -

The State and government both have an obligation in free societies to support the media by allowing access to public officials and information. The availability of this information contributes to an enlightened polity and thus informed choices. The ability to make such choices strengthens democracy and creates conditions whereby citizens feel that their views will not only be known but acted upon, thereby reducing the chasm between politicians and the people and brining the latter closer to the decision-making process. In this regard, the media acts as a conduit between the policymaker and the citizens, allowing a flow of information and feedback.
The media is also the watchdog for citizens, guarding against excesses and incompetence, corruption and ineptitude. The media as a watchdog serves a function that benefits the people, the State and government.
In Guyana today, it would seem as if there is a lack of appreciation by the government for the important role the media plays as a watchdog. The trials and tribulations that this newspaper has been subjected to simply for reporting on matters of public concern has reached the stage whereby it is being forced to defend a slew of libel cases, but even more tragically, is having grave difficulties in obtaining matters which any government ought to have been willing to provide readily to the media.
After this newspaper broke certain stories in the media, one minister actually encouraged the media to continue its work, by asking for the help of the media in monitoring all government contracts falling under his portfolio.
However, despite repeated requests to government officials for information on certain contracts, this newspaper remains empty-handed, thereby making a mockery of that minister’s invitation to the media. This newspaper has also sought additional information concerning contracts in the education sector. We are still waiting.
How then is the public interest served? How can we provide the necessary investigative journalism when there is a virtual embargo against us when it comes to obtaining information on government tendering, something that has been the subject of major controversy in this country?
We shall continue to persevere and keep the nation informed as to our frustrations in obtaining details of government projects. We however remain open to exploring all avenues so as to bring matters of public importance to the people. As such, if the doors of officialdom continue to be slammed shut in our faces, we shall pursue our cause through the international financial institutions that fund public works since all of these institutions and also the donor countries are, we believe, firmly committed to openness and transparency in the award of contracts funded by these countries and international financial institutions.
Not all contracts are, of course, funded by the international financial institutions. As we have seen there is significant work being undertaken using resources obtained from taxpayers. These taxpayers have an obligation to know how every cent of their money is being spent. This newspaper therefore will continue to make efforts to bring to the attention of the public how their monies are being used, regardless of how often we are rebuffed.
There are, of course, other bodies in whose faces doors cannot be shut and who can play an important role, in keeping with their mandates, in ensuring public transparency and accountability. We refer here to the Office of the Auditor General who has powers to investigate whether public funds have found its way into anyone’s bankbook and whether there has been value for money in relation to works executed with the use of public funds.
The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly is also empowered to demand records and interrogate public officials about the use of public funds. We hope that when the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly is convened, it will as the first order of business summon the requisite parties and demand explanations as to the award of the contracts, particularly those that have in recent weeks been highlighted in this newspaper.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jagdeo defends contracts

Kaieteur News news item, Saturday 19 September 2009 - "Jagdeo defends contracts…says engineer’s estimates just a guideline" -

By Gary Eleazar

Head of State, Bharrat Jagdeo, defended contracts undertaken by government agencies yesterday at a press briefing citing the open tender process.
According to Jagdeo, media operatives need to be educated on the various tender processes, adding that there are several agencies that Government gets funding from in the form of loans and grants with each of the agencies having their own procurement rules that are different to that of Government.
“In some cases you have an open tender and you have a point system…the persons who get the highest points based on technical capacity and the price… they get the contract.”
He noted that in other cases it will just go to the lowest prices after that contractor would have been pre-qualified, “in another situation like with the Inter-American Development Bank you have a two-envelope system.”
Jagdeo pointed out that this system was in place in the past where, “you only open the envelope for the highest ranked bidder…so the highest ranked bidder on technical terms might have the highest bid in financial terms, but you don’t get to open the other bids.”
He said that this was the case because that bidder would have been the highest ranked, “and you have to negotiate with them.”
He explained that it was only when the negotiations fail then talks will be opened with the next ranked bidder. “Our laws say the lowest evaluated bid.” According to the president, there was a time when the engineer’s estimate were secret and “many of the people could be corrupt…if you have three bidders they have a point system where they would say the closer you get to the engineer’s estimate the highest points you get.”
As such, he explained that if one were to know what the engineer’s estimate was, then that contractor would have had an advantage over the other contractors, “many of the contractors used to bribe people to get the engineer’s estimate.”
The president however noted that to the government, the engineer’s estimate was just a guide, “everyone should know the engineer’s estimate even before the bid, “because what happens is it is the lowest evaluated bid that we go with, “so if you know the engineer’s estimate it doesn’t matter to us…it is the lowest evaluated bid through a public competitive process that we go to.”
A point to note is that this newspaper has for several weeks now been requesting the engineer estimates for several projects but is yet to receive any of them.
“So a man can easily come like Kaieteur News could come and say we will get the pump,” Jagdeo continued.
He pointed out that they had defined the specifications of the pump, “and we go out to tender…we go with the lowest price once the people meet the specs(specifications)…so Kaieteur News comes along and says we could have gotten it for $10M cheaper.”
The president said that he did not know whether the pump that Kaieteur News managed to source for far less than what was actually spent was to the desired specification.
Jagdeo also suggested that if this newspaper could have sourced the pump cheaper then it should have entered a bid of its own, “because we have to operate on bids.”
The president noted that soliciting sole sourcing of items was not a transparent process in that it would involve the preferences of the purchaser, “the only transparent system that you have is a public tender.”
He said too that there may be some times when the lowest public tender is higher that the actual price but insisted that the public tender process provided against corruption.
“Whether we will get ripped off sometimes where we buy because of the tender higher than the actual prices are, or the tenderer makes a huge profit, there may be circumstances where this happens…I can’t put my head on the line for every contractor in this country or every Government Officer…I can’t put my head on the block for anyone.”
The president reiterated there is a public tender tendering process, unlike in the time of the PNC where according to Jagdeo, the Auditor General failed to probe contracts.
As it relates to the insinuation that the corps of contractors may have been inflating prices, the President did not group them in his answer, but said that it would be unwise for a single contractor to inflate the price in their bid, given that it would not be in their best interest as the lowest evaluated bid is used.

Friday, September 18, 2009

BK International and Roopan Ramotar Investments - contractors awarded the lion's share of all government contracts

Guyana Chronicle, 17 September 2009.
Work on Crabwood Creek control structures half way complete
By Tajeram Mohabir
REGION Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) Chairman Mr. Zulfikar Mustapha has reported that civil and earthen works on the Crabwood Creek control structures are some 50 per cent complete.

Speaking with the Guyana Chronicle, Mustapha pointed out that current civil works on the creek structures will control the flow of water from the back lands to the cultivation and residential areas.

That project is being executed by BK International, with a 15-month duration.

He also said the number one, two and three drainage canals at Crabwood Creek have been rehabilitated and very soon earthen works will commence there.

These canals, the Chairman noted, will link with the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) main canal, providing irrigation water for farmers affected by the prevailing dry weather.

Apart from the multi-million dollar Crabwood Creek project, Mustapha said earthen works on the rehabilitation of canals in the Number 52 to 74 areas will begin next week.

He disclosed that more than 25 canals are listed to be rehabilitated; and on that score, as long as 50 to 75 per cent of the earthen works are completed, civil works will commence on projects there.

The Crabwood Creek project is part of a wider $1.2 B programme to improve drainage and irrigation structures and access roads at the Vergenogen/Bonasika, Den Amstel/Fellowship and Vreed-en-Hoop/La Jalousie areas in Region Three (West Demerara/ Essequibo Islands) and Golden Grove/Victoria, Region Four, (Demerara/Mahaica).

The Vergenoegen/Bonasika, Den Amstel/Fellowship initiative has 20 months duration, Crabwood Creek 15 months, and the Vreed-en-Hoop/ La Jalousie and Golden Grove/Victoria projects one year each.

This newspaper made several attempts to contact officials from Regions Three and Four to provide an update on the works of the projects there, but efforts proved futile.

The contracts involve the installation of 12 main head regulators, 30 secondary head regulators, 37 secondary check structures, 13 secondary tail regulators, 17 secondary culverts, one main tail regulator, 12 main outfall sluices, two secondary inverted siphons, 80 bridges and 112 kilometers of farm-to-market roads.

These are expected to increase farmers’ productivity as well as their economic status.
They are being supervised by BK International and Roopan Ramotar Investments, and monitored by project staff as well as internal and external supervisors.

Other D&I works being pursued are the rehabilitation of pump stations in Regions Four and Six, rehabilitation of D&I control structures and access roads in Canals Number One and Two Polder, and D&I systems at Cane Grove, Black Bush Polder.

Altogether, these undertakings seek to raise income of farmers on the coastal plain through increasing efficiency of agricultural production.

Specifically, the aim is to rehabilitate D&I structures, organise farmers to operate and maintain these structures, and support rice research and agriculture diversification.

Senior CANU Officer under investigation

Senior CANU Officer under investigation
September 16, 2009 | By KNews | Filed Under News

In wake of recent allegations made against a senior Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) officer about his involvement with persons purporting to be known drug dealers, an investigation has reportedly been launched.
This newspaper has been reliably informed that the Officer and several of his ranks have been ordered to submit written statements to the Office of the President.
The ranks are said to be those who went on an operation on Friday last at a location in Queenstown.
Meanwhile, sources say that the ranks who were concerned about instructions which were given to them by the senior officer to “stand down” are now worried about the possible perceptions about their credibility and professionalism.
They allege that they had received information from the Drug Enforcement Agency in the USA, about six months ago, concerning the activities of a businessman, and had been conducting surveillance since then.
The ranks related that four units surrounded the building, and were met with heavy grill work. They then reportedly spoke with persons in the building who refused to allow them entrance to the property to conduct their search for illicit substances.
They said when they finally got to speak to the businessman, he telephoned CANU and allegedly spoke with a senior officer, and they subsequently received a call directing them to stand down and remove from the premises.
The ranks alleged that they were told that the same building was being monitored by the Guyana Defence Force as well.
They told this publication that about 45 minutes after they left the premises, four vehicles arrived and removed a quantity of items to an unknown destination.

privately held Chinese company Bosai Minerals Group Incorporated has announced plans to resume production

OSAI slated to recommence operations
September 18, 2009 | By KNews | Filed Under News

Bosai Minerals Group Incorporated has announced plans to resume production at its refractory grade (RASC) bauxite operations here, having ceased production earlier in the year due to the dramatic deterioration of global demand.
The privately held Chinese company has reported to Industrial Mineral that it would restart at least one of the two kilns operated by its Guyana entity, Bosai Minerals Group (Guyana) Inc. (BMGG). The site is located at Linden.
Despite the start up of the kiln, demand for bauxite remains sluggish compared to previous years, and a production target of some 280,000 tonnes for 2009 has been reduced by 80,000 tonnes.
This compares to a total sales volume of about 500,000 tonnes in 2008 when the market was at its peak.
Speaking to local media operatives, Steven Ma, BMGG General Manager said that the company was scheduled to meet with workers to provide an update on the market and to quell rumours that it will mothball the operation.
Bosai has been operating in Guyana since 2007 having purchased 70 per cent shares in the operation for US$46M from Canada-based IAMGOLD Corp.
The government of Guyana owns the remaining 30 per cent.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ramsahoye, according to reports, had been searching for Surujdin’s brother, whom he had given $10 million worth of raw gold to sell in Suriname

Stabroek News news item. September 16, 2009. Ramsahoye, photographer on $2M bail over abduction -victim unwilling to proceed

Neurologist Dr Walter Ramsahoye and an alleged accomplice were yesterday charged with holding a man against his will and assaulting him after a business deal reportedly worth $10M fell through.
Dr Walter Ramsahoye [1]

Dr Walter Ramsahoye

Ramsahoye, who also practices general medicine, and photographer Clairmont Marcus were released on $1 million bail each by Magistrate Haymant Ramdhani at the Mahaica Magistrates’ Court, after the virtual complainant Girdharry Surujdin indicated that he wanted to end the matter.

Ramsahoye, a general medicine practitioner of 330 Church Street and Marcus, a former Stabroek News photographer and ex policeman of 2206 Flying Fish Street, North Ruimveldt were also charged with assault, for which they were each placed on bail in the sum of $50,000. While the men were not required to plead to the abduction charge, they denied carrying out the assault.

Before announcing bail, Magistrate Ramdhani pointed out that the charge “reflects crimes against society” and stressed the seriousness of the offence. The police are said to be looking for two other men.

According to the particulars of the charges, on September 14 at Chateau Margot, East Coast Demerara, the two defendants abducted Surujdin and allegedly assaulted him. On Friday, when the duo returns to the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court, it is likely that the charges will be dropped.

It was related that around 8 pm on Monday, Surujdin’s sister turned up at the Beterverwagting Police Station and reported that “people” went to her brother’s home, broke down the gate, dragged him out of the house and bundled him into a car before driving off. Some time later, the police received information that a man was in a drain at Church Street. When policemen went to investigate, the man turned out to be Surujdin and he was in a drain outside Ramsahoye’s residence.
Clairmonte Marcus [2]

Clairmonte Marcus

Stabroek News was told that Surujdin, who was suffering from an injury to his ankle, alleged that he had been taken from his home by Ramsahoye and Marcus and forced into a waiting car. He was then taken to the doctor’s home where two other men were waiting. The man told police that he was placed on a chair and that Ramsahoye picked up a hammer and began beating him.

Ramsahoye, according to reports, had been searching for Surujdin’s brother, whom he had given $10 million worth of raw gold to sell in Suriname. The man later said that he was robbed and did not have any money.

During the beating, Surujdin was told that he was not going to be released until the money was handed over. However, he managed to escape by jumping through a nearby window after the telephone rang and distracted two of the men.

When the police arrived at the house, only Ramsahoye was present and he and the injured man were taken to the Sparendaam Police Station.

While Surujdin was at the hospital seeking medical attention, Marcus, according to a senior police source, turned up at the station to check on the doctor. Based on a description that was given, he was detained and subsequently identified as one of the persons involved in the incident.
‘I don’t want a problem’

However, in court yesterday Surujdin, whose right foot was in cast, indicated that he did not want the matter to continue. “I don’t want a problem,” he said moments after he hopped to the bar to address the court. The man, who was clearly uncomfortable, was being supported by persons in order to stand. Meanwhile, Ramsahoye, who was dressed in a green and white striped shirt with olive coloured pants and Marcus, who wore a grey track suit, were expressionless as they entered and headed for the docks. Associates of the doctor and relatives of Marcus were present to lend their support.

Senior Counsel Bernard De Santos, who entered an appearance for the duo in association with Petal De Santos, indicated that he was “reliably told” that the virtual complainant had given a signed statement to the police stating that he did not want the case to continue.

He pointed out too that the abduction charge had not been sanctioned by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack, whom he had earlier spoken with. De Santos told the court that the DPP has advised that in a case where the virtual complainant does not want to proceed, she will discontinue the matter.

But prosecutor Bernard Browne later said that he was unaware of the statement by the complainant and the court was adjourned to allow him to verify the claim. When the hearing reconvened, the prosecutor said that he did not have any such document or statement in his file, while De Santos asked the court to inquire from the police officer who was swearing to the charges whether he was aware of the statement. The magistrate later indicated that the offence was becoming prevalent and as such the court would have to read the charges as opposed to putting them aside.

In making a bail application, De Santos said Ramsahoye is a holder of special degrees and conducts his practice at North Road and Light Street, Georgetown. The doctor, he pointed out, has been practicing medicine in Guyana for the last 34 years.

“He is extremely well known to the length and breath of this country and comes from a distinguished family,” the attorney said, before pointing out that Ramsahoye had an unblemished record and was not a flight risk. He also informed the court that Ramsahoye was severely diabetic and had to receive insulin while at the Sparendaam Police Station.

Marcus, De Santos said, also had no prior problems with the law and was a former member of the police force. He added that Marcus, due to the nature of his work, is generally well known and also did not pose a flight risk.

However, Browne objected, pronouncing on the nature of the allegation, the section under which the charges were laid and the likelihood of witness tampering and obstruction. Before granting bail, the magistrate pointing out that it had nothing to do with status but rather what is clear.

The Magistrate again asked Surujdin his position and he again indicated that he did not wish to proceed with the matter. The fact that the section under which the charges were laid was bailable and because the virtual complainant did not want to proceed were enough to convince the magistrate to grant the duo bail.
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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ramsammy’s signature

Gov’t very committed to police probe into Simels trial disclosures – Jagdeo

Posted By Stabroek staff On September 13, 2009 @ 5:11 am In Local News | 6 Comments

President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday said that his administration is “very committed” to launching an investigation into allegations made in the US during the Robert Simels trial, but it would be done by the police.

He once again staunchly rejected calls by the opposition parties to have a commission of enquiry done into all aspects of the revelations.

“From the first instance I said the police should deal with this matter. Once any act of criminality is committed on our soil, it has to be thoroughly investigated and not by a commission of inquiry [but] by the law enforcement agencies,” the President said on Thursday when asked about the issue at the commissioning of the East la Penitence health centre.

Testimony in the Simels trial has linked the government to confessed drug trafficker Roger Khan and more specifically Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy, as having been in contact with Khan and also authorising the purchase of the infamous spy equipment that was seized from Khan in 2003. Both the government and Ramsammy have denied the allegation and while testimony in the US court stated that Simels had exported the said equipment back to the US, the police and the government have stressed that the equipment is here. Commissioner of Police Henry Greene recently briefly produced two items for the media.

While speaking to reporters the President again mentioned that the Commissioner has written to his American counterparts and he has been told that he has to wait until the case is over “and we are still waiting, but he has to conduct an investigation.”

Asked why the police did not begin their investigation by merely checking the immigration records to verify entry into the country by a Carl Chapman, who court documents and testimonies indicated came to Guyana to train Khan and others on the use of the spy equipment, the President said the company that sold the equipment bears some responsibility.

He qualified his statement by adding: “We never restrict the export of the equipment, it was the US government, so assuming Ramsammy signed this letter or even Jagdeo or Luncheon and said ‘we want you to sell this equipment to Guyana’, the company had to seek permission from the US government because it was the US government that was prohibiting the export not Guyana. So even if they had my approval they still couldn’t sell it to Guyana because they had to seek permission from the exporting country. Did they seek permission? The [answer] is no, so clearly the company has to be held responsible… if you had a letter from God himself… they had to seek the US permission saying we have a request now from God and we would like to export the equipment is God the right person to export the equipment to.”

As an example to what he was talking about, the President mentioned that when Guyana wants to bring certain weapons into the country it had to seek permission from the exporting government.

“So we need to ask these questions because… you see we don’t know what went on in the US court and that’s what we are trying to find out and to get help from the US government.”

The President pointed out that Simels was convicted of witness tampering and while a lot of allegations were made the investigation has to be done on the basis of fact.

He said that Ramsammy, who was listening in on the interview, has made it clear that he is willing to subject himself to an investigation “we have said it is the police who should investigate.”


Asked what would be the position should a letter be produced with the minister’s signature giving permission to purchase the equipment, the President said: “But that’s it, we need to see the stuff. And even if he had done that, I don’t know if he had said he has not signed any such document, so we would have to… I don’t want to deal with hypothetical, I could deal with a hundred hypothetical [situations] but at this point in time what the government is committed to is to get the police to investigate . . .”

The revelations in the US court flowed mainly from the testimony of Selwyn Vaughn, a paid US informant who said he was a member of Khan’s ‘Phantom Squad’. More claims were made later when Simels took the stand in his own defence.

Vaughn made a string of disclosures including telling jurors that Khan had connections to the government through Ramsammy.
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#1 Comment By Dandy Andy On September 13, 2009 @ 6:01 am

Extracted: “Asked what would be the position should a letter be produced with the minister’s signature giving permission to purchase the equipment, the President said: “But that’s it, we need to see the stuff. And even if he had done that, I don’t know if he had said he has not signed any such document, so we would have to… I don’t want to deal with hypothetical, I could deal with a hundred hypothetical [situations] but at this point in time what the government is committed to is to get the police to investigate . . .”

If the government was committed it would have moved swiftly to get a copy of the letter to do a signature analysis. Had this been a case of a ranking army officer using GDF letterhead stationery to buy dangerous weapons from overseas for criminal gangs, the government would have wasted no time in getting a copy of that letter. Anyway, let us watch the Jagdeo do his last dance, shall we?

The only thing Jagdeo’s government is committed to is protecting itself against the inevitable fallout from the Khan-Simels fiasco. Right now, it is playing for time with the hope that the US would not pursue any further action against Guyanese officials for the role in Khan’s shenanigans in Guyana. As of now, Bharrat Jagdeo has zero credibility when he speaks about the Roger Khan case or even the Robert Simels case. Zero as in a big fat O!

#2 Comment By BORAPORK On September 13, 2009 @ 6:45 am

To believe the police were unaware of the level of criminality within Guyana’s borders is the taking of self-deception to the stratosphere. To then have this corrupt organization investigate the statements from the Simels trial is laughable and ridiculous. Members of the phantom gang were ex-police officers and are suspected of having an incestuous relationship with the present directorate and the ruling party. The ruling party has also shown its vindictiveness by refusing to confirm the Chief Education Officer and others in their positions and I pity the police officer who presents information that puts the government in a bad light. He/she would be banished to the Cleveland of Guyana for the rest of his career never to be heard from again. An international commission is the only way forward and forget the refuge of sovereignty as a reason.

#3 Comment By johnander On September 13, 2009 @ 6:51 am

Socialists do not believe in god, what an anology.

It seems the best way to get an international body to investigate, is for the people to call for the police to investigate, jagdeo’s natural reflex is to do opposite, he will call on the international body to investigate.

#4 Comment By amenra[jackass seh de wurl na level] On September 13, 2009 @ 6:58 am

I think the president should keep his mouth shut, because everytime he speaks he talks nonsense for a president of a country, he just don’t make sense.

#5 Comment By LIND On September 13, 2009 @ 7:22 am

so which year day or month this police investigation will take place will the Police commissioner travel to the US to gather information???????. This matter is DEAD before it starts just like all the others.

#6 Comment By Mike Persaud On September 13, 2009 @ 8:02 am

I may sound like a cynic of the govt. – but I am not. Just realistic.

Could this Police Force under Commissioner Greene conduct an investigation into the all but complete drug-takeover of the State?

This Commissioner says he has the eavesdropping equipment in his office. But everyone knows the equipment was displayed in a New York court. Which one is the dummy equipment?

The equipment was once seized from Khan’s vehicle on the ECD – but it later turned out Khan still had the equipment. Did the police return the equipment?

One month has passed since the Hogg Island boat mishap in which two men were killed and a 10-year-boy went missing. And, Commissioner Greene has still refused or failed to hold a press conference to tell the public what is going on with this case – and the President has also refused to assume the role of a take-charge president and take over the case? There are very serious allegations and credible evidentiary material suggesting these murders were done by people manning the Coast Guard vessel. One month later this nation of 700,000 souls is still waiting for answers from Commish Greene.

Now Greene would be entrusted with conducting a major major drug investigation. And, so says the President. And, so ordered by presidential decree.

Give me a break!

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

30 versus 128: Let’s hear from President Jagdeo

30 versus 128: Let’s hear from President Jagdeo
September 12, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon

I know I would have had the last laugh. I wrote about me having the last laugh twice after Mr. Jagdeo boldly proclaimed three times that the human rights group based in New York, Freedom House, put Guyana in front of over a hundred countries that enjoy press freedom.
He cited Guyana’s standing at number 30. I wrote that President Jagdeo will face tremendous embarrassment over the joy he enjoys at Freedom House’s ranking because Freedom House is one of several prestigious organizations, many of which see Guyana in a negative light.
Mr. Jagdeo is indeed facing humiliation. If he accepts Freedom House’s placement of his country in terms of press freedom why should he reject the classification on the corruption scale by an equally recognized international organization, Transparency International (TI).
It has categorized Guyana, in its latest publication as the most corrupt country in Caricom and the fifth most corrupt country in the Americas. It puts Guyana at 128 out of 180.
My presentation here needs to include the fact that our Caricom neighbours are way ahead of Guyana in terms of clean government on TI’s list. Important to note for readers is the fact that TI measures governmental corruption.
Its outline excludes financial irregularity outside of the state structure. If TI was to include all kinds of financial nastiness, Guyana might be at number 180.
There was more bad news for Mr. Jagdeo. The World Bank has fixed Guyana at number 101 out of 183 states where business facilitation by the government is slow, full of obstacles and not encouraging.
So what will Mr. Jagdeo do? Here is what he will say. Here is what his Ministers will say.
Remember when the Justice Department of the United States put Roger Khan’s lawyer on trial and incriminating evidence emerged against the Government of Guyana (I say the Government of Guyana because I don’t for one single moment believe Dr. Leslie Ramsammy acted on his own)? What was the response of the political elites?
It was a stupid, comical stance to adopt but they adopted it anyway.
The Guyanese nation was told that what we read about Dr. Ramsammy in the New York court room was from the two independent newspapers in Guyana so why should the Government believe what these newspapers print?
Imagine a criminal trial is going on in the US and the leading members of a modern (I hope it is modern) government in today’s world tell its citizens you can only know what is taking place in the trial by being there and do not worry about what the newspapers report because how do we know that they are reporting the truth.
Do you realize the implication of that weird attitude? Remember the media asked Robert Persaud to comment on Joey Jagan’s exclamation at the launching of Dr. Baytoram Ramharack’s book, “Against the Grain: Balram Singh Rai and the politics of Guyana” that he would have slapped this columnist if he (the columnist) was present at the event, for criticizing his father Dr. Cheddi Jagan.
Persaud said that he could not comment because he was not there. So if you ask Persaud what he thought of right–wing extremists who shot and killed an abortion doctor at his clinic in the US, Persaud would not be able to offer an opinion because he was not there.
Readers must understand that according to the leaders of the PPP Government, when you see Serena Williams playing this weekend at the US Open, the strokes she plays cannot be determined because remember, it is channel 7 that is showing you Williams; you, the viewer are not really seeing Williams in action.
By the same logic, when you see BeyoncĂ© performing, you don’t know if she is singing; it is the channel that is showing you that she is singing; we don’t know if she is performing. So we don’t know if Simels was convicted; the Kaieteur and Stabroek wrote that; we don’t know if that is true.
Can you imagine this was the stance the Government took in relation to the revelations in that New York court room? So when the newspapers publish the findings of Transparency International in the coming days, we will be told that is not what Transparency International found; that is what the newspapers reported.
It sounds funny. It is funny but it is real and happening in Guyana. There can be no doubt about it – the elected dictatorship in Guyana has many, many things about it and one of those things most definitely is asininity.

Small Business Development Council stymied by funding headaches

Small Business Development Council stymied by funding headaches

Posted By Stabroek staff On September 11, 2009

More than $500m needed for creation of fund

More than three years after the establishment of the Guyana Small Business Council (GSBC) under the Small Business Act of 2004, the Council is yet to accomplish even a small measure of the functions for which it was set up and which are regarded as crucial to the charting of a course for the country’s small business sector.
Guyana Small Business Council Chairman Keith Evelyn [1]

Guyana Small Business Council Chairman Keith Evelyn

What makes the protracted underperformance of the GSBC worrying is the fact that it is charged with creating a framework for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the small and medium-sized business entities that comprise an estimated thirty per cent of businesses operating in Guyana. Signs of mounting frustration over the frustratingly slow pace of the substantive implementation of the Small Business Act are evidenced in unending complaints by small and medium-sized entrepreneurs about official neglect. Head of the Guyana Small Business Association (GSBA) and serving member of the Council, Patrick Zephyr told Stabroek Business in an invited comment that the available evidence suggests that in countries where small businesses have been successful there has always been evidence of a strong input from government towards the creation of an enabling environment.

Council Chairman Keith Evelyn agrees, pointing out that moving the Council beyond the stage of its mere existence has become an urgent priority given what he says is the challenge which the Government of Guyana has set itself “of seeking innovative ways of stimulating indigenous entrepreneurs to become more vibrant and to build a modern economy.” Evelyn says an improved business environment, technical assistance and capacity-building, access to capital and access to information – are the four critical factors necessary for the growth and development of small and medium-sized enterprises. As it happens, however, the fashioning of these tools for the strengthening of the sector depends crucially on kick-starting the GSBC.

Funding, Evelyn says, is a critical problem. Financing the work of the Council is the responsibility of the Government of Guyana and the simple fact is that government has been unable to come up with the cash. A source close to the Council said that the body received less than $3m in state subventions during the first two years of its existence. “The situation was so absurd that at one stage the Council stopped meeting altogether,” the source said.

The broad range of its responsibilities set out under the Small Business Act requires that the Council receive considerable levels of financing if it is to be effective. Critical to the transformation of the small business sector is the setting up by the Council of an operational arm, the Small Business Bureau, the functions of which will include serving as an advocate for small business issues, coordinating programmes for small business development, monitoring the implementation of the Act and preparing an annual report on its activities. “All of these functions,” Evelyn says, “require a considerable financial outlay for the creation of an administrative structure and the recruitment of technical staff to perform the various functions.”

The financial challenges that continue to impact the effective implementation of a regime of mechanisms designed to provide meaningful support for the growth of the small business sector go beyond the costs associated with the setting up of the Bureau. The Small Business Act also makes provision for the creation of a Small Business Development Fund that helps provide access to financing for small business, finances productivity and competitiveness initiatives for SME’s, provides institutional support for organizations representing, promoting, supporting and strengthening small businesses and financing the cost of running the Bureau. An estimated $600m is required for the initial setting up of the Fund and financing its establishment is the responsibility of government.

The fact that financing for the Fund has not been forthcoming up to this time has hobbled the Council‘s pursuit of key aspects of its mandate. On paper the Bureau has listed a range of support services which it intends to offer registered small businesses including a research library, internet access, conference facilities, training rooms and display and exhibition facilities apart from its key functions of providing loan guarantees, technical and financial assistance to the small business sector and training. All of these remain unmet.

The recommended approach of identifying ten sub-sectors in the small business sector for significantly enhanced support led last November to a decision that a consultant be recruited to identify those sectors as well as their strengths in order to provide data that would inform the treatment of those sectors. Delayed by several months as a result of funding, the study, Stabroek Business understands is now underway. We learnt too that agro-processing, art and craft and aquaculture are three sub-sectors that are likely to be identified in the study for focused attention.

Despite the challenges, particularly the financial constraints, Evelyn says he remains optimistic that the Small Business Act can serve as an effective framework for the development of the small business sector in Guyana. Last year the Council set itself a number of short-term objectives including the establishment and full staffing of the Bureau and the setting up of the Fund.

Other short-term objectives included the incorporation of a central Small Business Development Centre with access points throughout the country that would provide various support services for the small business sector including advisory and technical assistance services the preparation of a policy paper for the sector; the implementation of a public relations programme on the benefits of the Small Business Act and the completion of a data base on the sector and an assessment of the size and scope of the sector embracing its capitalization needs and an assessment of the potential of the various sub-sectors with the sector.

Most of these objectives remain unmet up to this time and Evelyn says that he is acutely aware of the importance of them being accomplished as part of the process of establishing the credentials of the Council. Among the more challenging of these tasks is the assessment of the size and scope of the various enterprises that comprise the small business sector. There are few if any existing data bases to support the assessment exercise and to accomplish its goal of creating an effective small business data base, the Council will have to depend heavily on organizations like the Institute for Private Enterprise Development (IPED) whose role as a small business lending agency and training incubator for small and medium-sized enterprises has provided it with both considerable expertise and data on the sector.

While Evelyn says that he believes that an enabling environment for the growth and development of the small business sector is definitely a ‘front burner issue” for government, he concedes that hastening the pace of progress in setting up key structures under the Small Business Act is ‘highly desirable.” He says that in the period ahead government support for the functioning of the Council will be critical in a number of areas including the creation of a Secretariat with which both the Council and the Bureau can function, which secretariat should include a Small Business Centre and providing the Council with regular access to key state agencies and officials.

Up until now the handful of goals that have been realized by the Council include a limited analysis of the needs of the small business sector and an incomplete review of the Act. Additionally, some work has also been done on the collection of data on the number and nature of local small businesses.

Unlocking funding for the work of the Council has become a critical priority and Evelyn says that hopes for progress now depend heavily on the work of the high-profile National Competitiveness Council (NCC) through which the Small Business Council now has greater access to high level decision-makers.

Other sub-sectors in the small business sector including art and craft and agro-processing have gradually come to more focused national attention and have secured support and incentives from government that have created greater opportunities for their development. In the art and craft industry, particularly, Evelyn says that marrying opportunity with potential can provide a breakthrough for the sector. “There is, in my view, a market for as much indigenous craft as we can produce. What we need are the support mechanisms that can help to properly organize the industry and these are the very mechanisms which the Small Business Council and the various other attendant institutions are seeking to deliver.”

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Doing business in Guyana still tedious–ranked at 101 of 183 countries in World Bank report

Doing business in Guyana still tedious–ranked at 101 of 183 countries in World Bank report

Posted By Stabroek staff On September 11, 2009 @ 5:19 am In Local News | 15 Comments

Guyana ranked 101 out of 183 economies surveyed in this year’s Doing Business report, the seventh in a series of annual reports prepared under the auspices of the World Bank.

Doing Business 2010: Reforming Through Difficult Times, released this month, investigates regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it. Guyana’s rank on this index last year was 105 of 181 countries, while for the previous year it was 95.

According to the report, between last year and this year Guyana implemented reforms in two areas that ease doing business here – starting a business and trading across borders.

With regard to starting a business, Guyana’s rank this year was 97, while last year it was 103 and for trading across borders it ranked 76 this year, the same as last year.

“Guyana eased business start-up by applying a flat registration fee for all companies, regardless of their capital amount, and removing the duty payable on incorporation,” the report said. “It also streamlined registration with the tax authorities with the introduction of a single tax identification number for corporate, value added, and labour taxes.

Implementation of an electronic declaration system reduced customs clearance times for exports and imports.”
Guyana’s ranks for the other business indicators this year were: dealing with construction permits (39), employing workers (87), registering property (72), getting credit (150), protecting investors (73), paying taxes (113), enforcing contracts (75) and closing a business (129).

The report noted that setting up a business in Guyana involved procedures that could take more than three months to complete. If for instance, the entrepreneur needed to build a warehouse s/he would have to obtain a building permit from Mayor and City Council which takes 90 days; obtain a planning permit from Central Housing and Planning Authority which takes 90 days and follow up with the Fire Department on a building permit which takes 90 days; receive inspection and obtain approval upon completion of a project from the fire department, which takes 60 days.

Sewage connection takes 43 days; electricity connection, 60 days; water, 14 days and telephone 30 days. It however noted that some of these tasks could be done simultaneously.

In terms of cost, the most prohibitive is electricity connection. This is because in the city enough electricity at the correct voltage is usually not available.

The business would need to secure a transformer and must pay the additional cost for it which is about $500,000.
Meanwhile, regionally, Guyana’s rank placed it at 19 among 32 Latin America and Caribbean countries surveyed. Puerto Rico, St Lucia, Colombia, Chile, Antigua and Barbuda and Mexico were the top five countries in the region. Guyana came in just below Panama, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic and Grenada. The countries at the bottom of the regional table were Honduras, Haiti, Suriname, Bolivia and Venezuela.

The most reformed country in the ease of doing business this year was Rwanda, while Singapore continued to claim the top spot for the third year running. Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo occupied the bottom spots as they had for the past few years.
15 Comments (Open | Close)

15 Comments To "Doing business in Guyana still tedious"

#1 Comment By freespeech On September 11, 2009 @ 6:08 am

electricity 60 days, telephone 30 days.
what happen to 1 or 2 days. this is not rocket science.
every other bloody thing is 90 days.

i know the employees need their hands grease, for them to start working. “TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE”
they need to place a bucket of grease at the door so they can use that each morning to get them going. lol.

#2 Comment By Brandon Samaroo (Dissent is the hightest form of patriotism) On September 11, 2009 @ 8:52 am

!7 years, what is the big hee can o mist doing?

Let me hear the stooges holler that I am being too critical of the big boy. 17 years what economic policies to encourage business growth and economic growth both organic and foreign has this government made easier or encouraged.

Please save me the goinvest nonsense that was a step in the right direction that however does not change the laws of the country and improve overall business process and lower the cost of doing business in GY. So save me the nonsense and oh forget the ow laudo 28 years phenc save all the excuses but them in a bank and let them earn lazy interest.

#3 Comment By Truth On September 11, 2009 @ 8:58 am

This report is a more accurate assessment of doing business in Guyana. It is impartial and free of political agenda, unlike the Heritage Foundation’s report which is a conservative think tank spreading unbridled capitalism. The same type of captialism that sent the world into a recession.

Investors take this report seriously when analyzing a country. This is an opportunity for the Government of Guyana to look at areas to improve. Their plan should be to be one to two points more competitive in each area next year.

#4 Comment By rasputin92 On September 11, 2009 @ 9:54 am

“Ask five economists and you’ll get five different answers – six if one went to Harvard.”
– Edgar R. Fiedler, economist.

#5 Comment By Brandon Samaroo (Dissent is the highest form of patriotism) On September 11, 2009 @ 10:19 am

What has the big economist been doing for the past 17 years?

#6 Comment By MXQBH(1 blood donation can save 3 lives) On September 11, 2009 @ 10:25 am

“Tedious” – a euphemism, unless you are able and willing to ‘lubricate’ the process …

#7 Comment By rasputin92 On September 11, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

“The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.”
– H.L. Mencken(1880-1956), American writer.

#8 Comment By amenra[jackass seh de wurl na level] On September 11, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

hey hackett what’s up man see you enjoying yuhself, don’t forget to bring me back some good gt pepper sauce when you coming back to canada, hee hee hee haw.

#9 Comment By amenra[jackass seh de wurl na level] On September 11, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

According to this report it seems guyana is improving alittle.

#10 Comment By Danny DeAbru On September 11, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

I don’t know who to believe because most guyanese that i meet says that they are ‘businessman’& how they know how to run their business’across the borders and in GT.They say ‘runnings always deh’& business is nice.

#11 Comment By Lam Debra On September 11, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

Since migrating I have visited Guyana several times and I must say that customer service is terrible….employees don’t have no hesitation in showing their displeasure at serving you….strupps teeth and rolling eyes of the eyes is not uncommon.These employees make it look as though they are doing you a favour in doing business with you and collecting your money….but the problem lies within management….no training what so ever.

For all that we have to say about the islands….their people are polite. In Barbados they stop for you to cross the road. In Guyana the drivers prefer to knock you down

I have travelled widely,but the worst service I”ve ever received was in Guyana. Ever tried getting info about the schools? Silence.We have a very long to to go in our business encouragement

#12 Comment By freespeech On September 11, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

cakeye it’s not the cost but the “TIME” it takes.
please stop trying to make things that??????????????????????????????????

#13 Comment By freespeech On September 11, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

supply them with some grease or differential gear oil.

#14 Comment By Brandon Samaroo (Dissent is the hightest form of patriotism) On September 11, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

how much lube you need down there hack?

#15 Comment By Bung Nabel On September 11, 2009 @ 6:36 pm

Hey Brandon: Don’t forget that along with the lube, send some Preparation H. Doing business in GY in a pain in the exhaust system.

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Frustrated CANU ranks question senior officer's credibility

Kaieteur News news item, Saturday 12 September 2009 - "Frustrated CANU ranks question senior officer's credibility" -

Ranks of the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) are expressing frustration and are questioning the credibility of a senior officer. This comes following several alleged orders to stand down, when matters involved persons purported to be known drug dealers in Guyana.
The most recent incident was sparked yesterday when four units of about 16 ranks swooped down on a Queenstown residence.
They allege that they had received information about a businessman from the DEA in the USA about six months ago and had been conducting surveillance since then.
Yesterday, when the four units surrounded the building, they were met with heavy grill work and reported that they then spoke with persons in the building who refused to allow them entrance to the property to conduct their search for illicit drugs and possible narcotics.
They said when they finally got to speak to the businessman, he telephoned CANU and allegedly spoke with a senior officer, and they subsequently received a call directing them to stand down and remove from the premises.
They told this publication that about 45 minutes after they left the premises, four vehicles arrived and removed a quantity of items to an unknown destination.
This move, they indicated, was the basis of their frustration, and they have expressed confusion that they had the information but were ordered to remove from the premises by the senior officer, after six months of surveillance.
They said, too, that such developments have taken place on several occasions since the employment of the senior officer.
Kaieteur News contacted the named senior officer of the unit, yesterday, and he confirmed that “we did have an operation but someone is trying to create mischief by playing mind games.”
He admitted that he did pass an order to ranks to step down and return to base, but said that “we don’t operate with the DEA and I can’t offer any operation information to compromise the ranks either.”
When told about the many allegations levelled, he said that after the ranks returned he did have a debriefing session with them, but is not aware of anything else as “no one told me anything.”

Monday, September 7, 2009

President has not given his assent to the Local Government (Elections) Amendment Bill, 2009

The nation awaits President Jagdeo response on this one
September 7, 2009 | By KNews | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon

Political conversation in the Georgetown circuit still centers on President Jagdeo’s outburst against the Kaieteur News at the dinner held at the Pegasus by the Private Sector Commission on August 28. It is certain to be displaced by the contents of page 14 of yesterday’s Kaieteur News.

If you haven’t read that page, I urge you to do so. It consists of some trenchant criticism of President Jagdeo and the competence of his Government, not by a perennial anti-PPP critic, an opposition politician but by the neutral figure of the Chairman of the GECOM, Dr. Steve Surajbally.

It is when you read what Dr. Surajbally has to say about why there were no Local Government Elections this year, then, you could put into proper context, the President’s unwarranted attack on the Kaieteur News.

The point is that perennial blame is always laid at the doorstep of the opposition, the private media and anti-government critics. But these are masks to hide chronic non-performance, abysmal incompetence and administrative ineptitude of the worst kind by the PPP Government since 1992. Let us quote from page 14 of yesterday’s Kaieteur News.

Entitled, “Late payment of requisite funds staled process,” the following is an extract from the article; “Dr. Surajbally was responding to recent assertions by President Jagdeo dismissing them as ‘unfair, deleterious, inaccurate and ill-advised statements about GECOM’ adding that some of the statements have been repeated by influential members of the PPP, Government Officials and the party newspaper, the Mirror.”

If wasn’t for space constraints, I would have repeated this section of the KN news item. This is an important observation by the GECOM boss with far reaching implications for stability in this country. When commentators make these kinds of opinions, they are accused of trying to create mischief, we will come to that below but let’s offer more quotes from the article.

Here is Dr. Surajbally in his own words; “With uncanny prescience, perspicacity and farsightedness, the President developed a scenario relative to the paths, associated with the conclusion of the deliberations of the Joint Task Force for Local Government Reform (JTFLGR) which would have been taken…This forecast was shared with the nation and published by the media…how can the President be disappointed, when he himself so ably predicted how the sequence of events would unfold?’ Now if you think that was a frank statement on the role of the President in the Local Government debacle, read the following words of the GECOM Chairman.

“To this date, neither the Chairman nor the Commission has received the final text of he Local Government (Elections) Amendment Bill, 2009…In fact, up to the time of writing, the disappointed President has not given his assent to this piece of legislation…After not being disappointed for eight years, after not doing anything to rectify and speed up the JTFLEGR’s activities, how can one be legitimately disappointed when Local Government Elections are postponed for only a few months?”

Now here is the bombshell from GECOM that should cause every Guyanese to be careful what they hear from the people who run the Government of Guyana. There is no reason for us to believe anything these people say. Here is a quote from the article; “The GECOM Chairman also questioned how the President could be disappointed with the postponement of Local Government Elections when only on June 11th, 2009, GECOM received the money to pay De La Rue for the production of ID cards.” (End of all quotes and extracts)

For over four decades, East Indians in this country have been told by the PPP of how bad the PNC is, how the WPA wanted the power the PPP has, how these anti-government commentators are working to spread destabilization messages, how the private media have its own anti-government agenda, how human right groups are front for the opposition.

The quotes you read above, the accusations made above, were not from the pen of anti-government commentator, not from the editorial of a private newspaper but from the highly neutral office of the Chairman of GECOM.

Let it be clear in the minds of those who read what the GECOM boss said – there is an intention to smear the name of GECOM in relation to not holding Local Government Elections in 2009 when those very voices that framed that intention contributed to the process that did not allow GECOM to proceed with the elections.

What other paths of shamelessness is left for certain people to walk on in this country? If you believe in God, then pray with all your might that Guyana is saved in 2011 by a change of government.

Berbice River Bridge has no provision for cyclists and pedestrians

For the bridge to be truly viable, the Berbice economy must be transformed

Posted By Stabroek staff On September 7, 2009 @ 5:05 am In Letters | No Comments

Dear Editor,

I refer to Peter Ramsaroop’s column concerning the Berbice Bridge in SN, 25 August – 2009/features/08/25/transportation-cost-%E2%80%93-hurting-our-children%E2%80%99s-future. It is indeed a heart-rending situation. Editor, can you imagine there is no provision for cyclists and pedestrians?

It is evident the construction of the bridge was not an economic venture beneficial to the community, but a political venture with dire economic consequences. Clearly there is an inability in this present PPP Government to be responsible for credible, productive, and cost efficient planning. In this case in particular, it adds unnecessary stress to the daily survival struggle of the poor.

Our AFC Parliamentarians argued strenuously against not making provisions for cyclists and pedestrians – this was of course ignored. The end result is that the bridge cannot be used by the average person regularly, and as such has become an inconvenience to the very communities it was supposed to serve. We unequivocally support the bridging of the Berbice River; however our support for this principle should not allow the government to impose additional burdens on our citizens.

Further, for the Bridge to be truly viable, the Berbice economy must undergo positive transformation (as expounded by Dr. Tarron Khemraj). An upsurge in economic activities will lead to increasing returns allowing for a more affordable situation for all. You cannot just plant a bridge, and say “Here, we have kept our promise” and be done with it.

The AFC’s Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan held community meetings regarding the initial obscene fare structure, and in February this year submitted a petition with over 4,000 signatures to the President and Government of Guyana. This petition called for reliefs from the adverse effects of the high rates of tolls and the closure to vehicular traffic over the ferry at Rosignol/New Amsterdam. It was done on behalf of the children, the disabled and pensioners who had to pay $300 more per day in travel costs, and vehicle owners who were faced with increases starting at $2,200.

Editor, reductions were implemented shortly thereafter when the Berbice Chambers of Commerce met with members of the Berbice Bridge Company Inc (BBCI). The AFC’s role in this must not be lost on those critics who say we are only talk.

However, the situation still remains untenable overall and we, the AFC, are therefore calling, with immediate effect, for:

1. Another downward review of the fare structure.

2. A shuttle vehicle from road-head to road-head, to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists, travelling at economically viable intervals.

3. Affordable monthly passes (not exceeding $500.00) to be issued to students for use on the shuttle, with this amount being reduced for parents with more than one child crossing the bridge.

4. Resume the pre-Bridge regular ferry service between Rosignol and New Amsterdam, including it being open to vehicles of all classes.

The shuttle can be a Canter type vehicle with a layout in the tray similar to a launch so that it can accommodate both passengers and cyclists. A successful implementation can stimulate small economic activities at both ends including hire-cars, similar to what obtained at the stellings.

Yours faithfully,
Gerhard Ramsaroop

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