Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Delayed $400M conservancy project now hinges on World Bank

Kaieteur News news item, Tuesday 27 October 2009 - "Delayed $400M conservancy project now hinges on World Bank" - http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2009/10/27/delayed-400m-conservancy-project-now-hinges-on-world-bank/

By Gary Eleazar

The $400M funded World Bank Project that involves works to be carried out on the East Demerara Water Conservancy was at one time placed on hold because of the fact that the lone bidder had submitted a bid that was over inflated.

A Hymac undertakes remedial works in the conservancy

A Hymac undertakes remedial works in the conservancy

Today that project hinges on a renewed proposal to that bank.

According to Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, ever since the cancellation of the bid that is in keeping with the Procurement Guidelines established by the World Bank and the Government of Guyana, his Ministry has requested the reformulation of the Pre- Investment Studies in light of the current situation that obtains with respect to climate change and the country’s Drainage and Irrigation Master plan.

Persaud, in an interview with this newspaper, disclosed that his Ministry has provided all the technical information relevant to the project.

“We had undertaken a number of works in the Conservancy under the NDIA (Hope Canal Project) and the World Bank Technical Team has since reviewed and resubmitted Terms of Reference that only includes the work that needs to be done but has not been completed.”

He did emphasise that it should be noted that by completing these works NDIA has effected cost savings on the Project.

“This means that the likelihood of having a successful bidder has increased significantly because of the intervention of the government.”

According to Persaud, NDIA has since received the document and he was informed that the review is complete and will be forwarded to the Bank for Final review and No-Objection yesterday.

He stated that the Tender document and the Expression of Interest have already been prepared simultaneous and once the No Objection is received, “we will be launching the EOI and then the Calls for Proposals before the end of the Year.”

“In my view, the World Bank can move quickly to assist in early implementation,” Persaud said. The World Bank approved grant funding for the project some two years ago. The Conservancy has been a source of grave concern recently, given unusual periods of heavy rainfall.

When the conservancy, which holds water to irrigate farmlands during the dry season, is overwhelmed, it threatens the integrity of the dam, which, if compromised could cause widespread flooding on the heavily populated East Coast Demerara.

In recent years, during the rainy season when the water built up in the Conservancy, the government has had cause to release the water into the Mahaica and Mahaicony Rivers, flooding out the farming communities along the rivers.

Some residents have had to abandon their homes and farmlands and have taken up housing offered by Food for the Poor. The World Bank, on October 11, 2007, approved what it called ‘The Conservancy Adaptation Project’, for overall, US$3.8 million.

The project aims at strengthening the government’s and donor understanding of the EDWC system and coastal drainage patterns through the integration of advanced mapping and engineering analysis.

The project also aims at implementing infrastructure investments to improve drainage performance, to strengthen the institutional capacity for managing water and floodwater levels, and to guide interventions to reduce Guyana’s vulnerability to floods.

According to Minister Persaud, after the Request for Proposals was closed for Component 1 of the project, which involved the pre-investment studies for the engineering design of works, one tender was received.

He indicated that the evaluation committee recommended that the tender be annulled since the Bidder exceeded the set budgeted price by more than 100 per cent.

Accordingly, the tender has since been reformulated and will be launched internationally shortly.

He noted that World Bank is financing the development of the technical foundation for a master plan of future interventions within Conservancy and lowland drainage systems, as well as specific upgrading works and operational improvements aimed at enhancing the flood control capacity of the EDWC.

“The tools developed under the analytical component will be used by the (government) and donor agencies to guide future investments,” Persaud stated.

The objective of Phase One is to provide the hydrologic baseline necessary for contemplating rational interventions aimed at increasing the current discharge capacity of the flood control system.

The Conservancy system includes a reservoir, fronted by an earthen dam; drainage channels, used to release excess water from the reservoir during the rainy season; and a network of canals used to provide drinking water and irrigation during the dry seasons.

Because of this system, farmers are able to realise two harvests of sugar cane and rice annually.

The drainage relief structures were created to protect the EDWC dam from overtopping and collapsing during rainy seasons.

As the sea levels rise, the hydraulic head between the EDWC water control structures and sea outlets is significantly reduced. The smaller head reduces both the flow rate and discharge window available to discharge excess water from the system.

In addition, sea level rise has shortened the discharge window for the coastal plain. At present, flood control is managed on an emergency basis and control efforts focused on responding to immediate needs rather than the development of long-term control strategies.

This system of flood control is no longer effective and there are limitations on the ability to manage water levels in the coastal plain and prevent flooding.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The police probe and Roger Khan

The police probe and Roger Khan
Stabroek News Editorial. October 26, 2009.

After years of unremitting pressure, the government seems to be attempting to do something about the elephant in the room – the rampage of Roger Khan and his cohorts in these parts. It came in the form of an announcement by the police inviting all and sundry to testify before the police about what they know about alleged murders committed by Mr Khan’s gang and by the notorious `Fineman’.

Whoever thinks that this was the initiative of the police force is deluded. Nothing about Roger Khan will ever see the light of day without the political directorate carefully scripting the act and putting the force’s figurehead in front of a teleprompter. It must be remembered that when pressed by the media on several occasions about the allegations flowing from the Brooklyn court about Roger Khan and what it revealed about his government, President Jagdeo brushed aside the matter by saying that it was up to the police to investigate these alleged murders and other matters. It was to put it lightly an unvarnished attempt to fabricate a parallel reality. Roger Khan is a political hot potato for the police force and is therefore a no fly zone. The discerning public is well aware of this. Second, President Jagdeo would no doubt be fully cognisant that the police force is intrinsically incapable of investigating any of these murders and other aberrations of the Khan and `Fineman’ rampage and so this would have been futile from the start.

This sop to the public is probably the result of the pressure that has been applied here and abroad over the Roger Khan debacle. It is also a pre-emptive strike to blunt any embarrassment at the upcoming meetings over REDD and the climate campaign at Copenhagen particularly in light of the governance issues that will be raised by donor countries and multilateral institutions. It won’t, however, amount to much and in the crucial weeks leading up to Copenhagen President Jagdeo and his spin doctors will have much explaining to do.

The bland announcement by the police force is an insult to the years of death, maiming, bloodshed and grief that rained upon the populace beginning in 2002 at the hands of the escapees who fled Camp Street in 2002 and the phantom groups that were subcontracted to go after them. And the timing, days after the sentencing of Roger Khan adds further insult to injury. Is it the case that the police have only now been convinced that Roger Khan is worthy of investigation simply because of his sentencing in New York? Even though he pleaded guilty months ago to conspiracy to import cocaine into the US and a dangerous witness tampering charge? Even though for years ordinary citizens here have harboured grave concerns about what he was engaged in and had repeatedly pressed the authorities in various ways to act?

And this is why the invitation by the police to members of the public is likely to be viewed with pure cynicism and trepidation. Can the police and the government reasonably expect people to come forward and testify when there are irresistible leads pointing to collaboration between Roger Khan and the police/government? The earliest indicator of this was his apprehension at Good Hope with high-powered weapons and the spy equipment, the clear reluctance to charge him and his subsequent acquittal on all of the charges. More recently, this view has been cemented by the shenanigans surrounding the spy equipment, several pieces of which Khan was able to import and one of which his now convicted lawyer Robert Simels apparently spirited out of the country. Also knotted into this are the allegations swirling around Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy and his alleged facilitating of the purchase of one of the spy machines. So organized was this assistance programme for Khan that a trainer was dispatched here to school those who would be using the equipment. Surely if the police were serious about investigating Khan’s organization they would have already ferreted out information on the trainer’s movements here and tracked down who he was in touch with and relating to.

Do the police expect the public to have any confidence in their probe when Roger Khan operated here as the number one drug kingpin without so much as being hauled in for questioning? If in the six or seven years he functioned here as a drug trafficker and as the head of a violent criminal network that allegedly murdered dozens of people without being investigated by law enforcement authorities and prosecuted is it realistic to believe that the police can make any meaningful inroads in this investigation so long after the fact and with many of the potential witnesses not here or in the great beyond? How can these lapses – the length of the Essequibo – be squared with what the police are now attempting to do?

Do the police expect the public to come forward when dozens of serving and former law enforcement officers were known to be in the employ of Mr Khan? Many of the phantom killings were attended by strange movements of police vehicles and personnel as if to ensure that there was no hindrance or apprehension of those involved. Who is to say that these men are still not in the employ of the force or retain the ability to penetrate the upper echelons and gather information about what witnesses are presenting to the police? Remember it was Mr Khan himself who bugged the office of Commissioner Felix probably with the assistance of some ranking police officer.

Do the police expect the public to take this probe seriously when there are myriad recourses to the courts in New York for sworn affidavits, testimony and witnesses? If the force acted only after Roger Khan was sentenced in New York should it not have immediately applied to the courts there for all of the relevant testimony, access to witnesses and Mr Khan himself? There are state-to-state mechanisms in place for this as reported in yesterday’s Sunday Stabroek but does the government really want to find out about Roger Khan’s drug business and the dealings of the phantom gang? Will Minister Rohee, as head of the designated agency under the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters now formally approach the US government for material which may not even have been made available to the courts and publicise this request so that the public can judge the government’s seriousness?

Yet, it is sage advice as provided by the Guyana Human Rights Association that this current investigation – warts and all – must be tested to fullest so that the sincerity and the machinery of the law enforcement agencies and the government could be assessed. Perhaps it could lead to a broader enquiry. However, before this is done the police force and the government need to put confidence-building measures in place or else the hotlines will remain silent and the force bereft of any meaningful leads. Considering that the force is riddled with corruption and that some of its serving members were colluding with Khan and may have taken part in some of his extrajudicial operations, the government has to enable a decent distance between those who might want to testify and the police force. One way of doing this is to have a team of credible civil society members and perhaps a senior law enforcement officer from within the Caribbean, be part of the investigating process. This will comfort potential witnesses who are likely to be skeptical that their accounts will be taken seriously by the police.

Second as was the case during the very limited investigation of former Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj, there is an irrefutable need for witness protection. Remember that George Bacchus paid with his life after deciding to spill the beans. How this can be achieved in the present circumstances is unclear. There is, however, plea bargain legislation which could be employed to convince some who may not have committed the most serious crimes to tell of what they know in return for lighter penalties.

Third, if there are remnants of Roger Khan’s network engaged in illicit activities and continuing businesses in his name, the police, CANU and the Financial Intelligence Unit under the new anti-money laundering act, should immediately set about investigating even if this is shamelessly after the fact. There should also be a careful review by a security expert from outside the disciplined forces on why they failed so shockingly to detect and investigate Mr Khan over the drug business. This should entail detailed interviews with the police commissioners in question. Such moves would encourage members of the public to believe that the police are serious about getting to the bottom of this brutal phase of our history. It will be an uphill task.
8 Comments (Open | Close)

8 Comments To "The police probe and Roger Khan"

#1 Comment By coolieman On October 26, 2009 @ 9:27 am

Time to move on

#2 Comment By tkhemraj On October 26, 2009 @ 11:00 am

Very good editorial. Only Stabroek News could say it like this.

#3 Comment By tkhemraj On October 26, 2009 @ 11:05 am

EDITORIAL: “Do the police expect the public to come forward when dozens of serving and former law enforcement officers were known to be in the employ of Mr Khan? Many of the phantom killings were attended by strange movements of police vehicles and personnel as if to ensure that there was no hindrance or apprehension of those involved.”

Well that more or less sums up the spurious nature of the inquiry!

#4 Comment By Bismattie Ramsawak On October 26, 2009 @ 11:42 am

A courageously honest editorial by the Stabroek News… very courageous indeed.

Article printed from Stabroek News: http://www.stabroeknews.com

URL to article: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/editorial/10/26/the-police-probe-and-roger-khan/

Saturday, October 24, 2009

GuySuCo says fees for trademark litigation reasonable

GuySuCo says fees for trademark litigation reasonable

Posted By Stabroek staff On October 24, 2009 @ 5:19 am In Local News | No Comments

The Guyana Sugar Corporation is currently engaged in defending its rights to the trademark ‘Demerara Gold’, both in the United States and in Canada against claims made by Bedessee Imports Inc. and Bedessee Imports Ltd, and according to the corporation the fees being charged by the lawyers are moderate and reasonable.

In any event and more so in a case as complex as this one, the fees are nothing close to the US$1,500 an hour as reported by the Kaieteur News in its edition of October 20, 2009, GuySuCo said in a news release yesterday.

The Guyana Government and the Minister of Agriculture are also parties to the litigation in the US.

GuySuCo is maintaining that it has the exclusive right to the trademark ‘Demerara Gold’ and expects to be vindicated in the pending proceedings in furtherance of its strategic plan to develop ‘Demerara Gold’ as a flagship product.

GuySuCo’s lawyers in the US are Foley Hoag LLP, a firm with offices in Washington, DC and Boston. This is the same law firm that successfully spearheaded the case for the Government of Guyana in the maritime boundary dispute with Suriname, the release added.

Article printed from Stabroek News: http://www.stabroeknews.com

URL to article: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/stories/10/24/guysuco-says-fees-for-trademark-litigation-reasonable/

Phantom probe should be tested – GHRA

Phantom probe should be tested – GHRA

Posted By Stabroek staff On October 24, 2009 @ 5:37 am In Local News | 24 Comments
– police say no response yet

The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) yesterday said it is important to test the bona fides of the announced investigation by the police into the alleged murders by drug convict Roger Khan by collaborating with their call for public cooperation.
Seelall Persaud [1]

Seelall Persaud

The GHRA, in a press release yesterday entitled `Phantom enquiry must not be a charade’, suggested a number of initial steps which it said would establish both the parameters of the task at hand and provide the force with an opportunity to demonstrate the authenticity of the initiative.

The first step, according to the GHRA, should be the compilation of a list of all the unresolved cases of deaths which occurred between February 2002 — the year and month five dangerous prisoners escaped triggering one of the worst crime sprees in recent history — and the arrest of Khan in 2006. The list should be published for public scrutiny and for additions and subtractions by any interested party.

The second step, the human rights body said, should see the police providing updates of the status of as many cases on the list for which they have information.

The third step should then see an agreement involving all parliamentary parties as to how to deal with the rest of the list. If normal criminal procedures are not possible for a variety of reasons then the relevant parties may jointly need to agree to a process, which while not strictly judicial, “will bring a measure of closure, justice and healing to the families most affected by the deaths as well as to the society in general.”

No response

Meanwhile, Crime Chief Seelall Persaud, who is heading the investigative team, told Stabroek News yesterday that since the force’s announcement on Tuesday there had been no response from members of the public.

Asked if the force would be contacting some of Khan’s close associates, including a number of former policemen one of whom is in jail on a murder charge, the Assistant Commissioner of police said that the police had an investigative team “out there” and “wherever the investigation leads them they would investigate and question people.”

Three former policemen, Ricardo Rodrigues, Shawn Belfield — for whom the police have issued an arrest warrant in connection with a double murder — and Mark Roberts, now in jail on a double murder charges, were held with Khan in Suriname in 2006 before the drug convict was taken to the US.

Following the police’s announcement the PNCR said that it was not “impressed” by what it described as the “latest manoeuvre” by the government “to deceive the world that it is taking some action against the atrocities committed in Guyana.”

The opposition party at its weekly press conference on Thursday said the force’s belated call for individuals and groups to provide evidence is “another attempt to fool the public that the police are not in possession of any evidence.” It said it was a serious indictment on the force after more than 200 gangland-style executions were committed in this jurisdiction.

The major opposition party said it rejected the announcement as it was clearly another attempt to deceive the people of Guyana and to shift the focus of the demand by the opposition for an international inquiry which would not hone in on Khan alone, but on criminal activities in Guyana where the force and the government were involved.

Three days after Khan was sentenced in a Brooklyn Federal Court to 15 years in prison for drug trafficking, witness tampering and a 16-year-old gun-running charge, the police announced their intention to set up a special unit to investigate the charges that he had been directly or indirectly involved in killing locals.

Khan had operated a drug trafficking enterprise here for more than eight years, US prosecutors said, and he headed the violent ‘Phantom Squad’ that was responsible for many deaths. Khan had publicly said that he worked with the security forces to stem the crime wave following the 2002 prison break.

According to the police press release, the special unit will be based at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters, Eve Leary. The force called “on all individuals, organisations or groups who may have information or vital evidence concerning these alleged murders involving the Fineman gang, Roger Khan’s gang or any other gang or individuals who may be involved to come forward and provide whatever information or vital evidence may be available.”

Persons can also dial telephone numbers 225-2227, 226-6978 or 225-8196.

Alliance For Change (AFC) Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan questioned the “genuineness” of the move.

He added that he hoped it was an authentic move to do a “thorough and professional” investigation as the police‘s behaviour prior to the announcement gave the impression that they did not want to conduct an investigation into Khan’s activities.

Two lists

Meanwhile, the GHRA said as a first step it will shortly submit two preliminary lists to Seelall with the first one comprising deaths at the hands of police/disciplined services between March 2002 and June 2003. It was the same list the rights body submitted to the Disciplined Services Commission of Enquiry in 2003. A second list would have some 30 deaths mainly during the months of October and November 2003, including that of Police Inspector Leyland October, and a range of deaths typical of many more during the 2003-2005 period, which may have been drug or politically inspired or simply criminally motivated.

Whether the human right body submits more lists in the future will depend on the manner in which the enquiry is conducted with respect to political independence, transparency and acceptance of constructive cooperation with all interested parties.

According to the GHRA the new initiative by the force faces major credibility challenges. It posited that the dispelling of the skepticism will be key to public acceptance of the new undertaking.

Some of the challenges faced by the initiative include persuasive evidence of strong links between government officials, drug lords and senior elements of the force; the undermining of efforts of former police commissioner Winston Felix to confront drug barons by government officials; and the generalized failure to investigate, prosecute and protect witnesses in a large number of murders, possibly 200 or more which occurred under circumstances that suggest either political or drug-related factors at work.

Many calls have been made – more recently by the opposition parties – for an investigation to be conducted into Khan’s activities in Guyana. The calls had been made even as he was awaiting sentencing in the US, having pleaded guilty to exporting large quantities of cocaine into that country from these shores.

The opposition parties had specifically asked that an International Commission of Enquiry be conducted into the many dimensions of Khan’s activities, particularly his alleged links to the government.
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URL to article: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/stories/10/24/phantom-probe-should-be-tested-ghra/

Friday, October 23, 2009

GRA issues arrest warrant for Roopan Ramotar and five others

GRA issues arrest warrant for Roopan Ramotar and five others

Posted By Stabroek staff On October 23, 2009 @ 5:18 am In Local News | 24 Comments

The Guyana Revenue Authority has issued arrest warrants for six persons charged with the breach of tax laws including contractor Roopan Ramotar.

In a press release yesterday it said it had charged several persons with failing to file Income Tax, Property Tax and Value Added Tax returns and 346 matters are pending in the courts, five of which are before the appellate court, while arrest warrants have been issued for six others. The six are Lloyd Rose of 5-6 Eccles Industrial Site, East Bank Demerara; Jaipaul Rampersaud of Lot 3 Bel Air, Blygezight, Georgetown; Joyclyn Bentick of 85 William Street, Kitty; Tacquin Soochan of 34 King Street, Georgetown; Roopan Ramotar of 10 Spring Gardens, Essequibo Coast and Chetram Jagatnarine of 20 Canefield Settlement, East Canje Berbice.

The GRA said in a news release that over the past nine and a half months 21 persons have been convicted for various infringements of the tax laws.

Other offences for which persons have been charged include failure to remit taxes deducted from employees earnings, failure to pay income tax, and intent to defraud the state by dealing in uncustomed goods and harbouring and storing uncustomed goods.

Under Section 216 of the Customs Act, Chapter 82:01 persons who knowingly deal in uncustomed goods or harbour same with intent to defraud the revenue of any duties thereon will be liable to a fine of treble the value of the goods and one year imprisonment and the respective goods forfeited, the GRA stated.

Further, persons who file returns or pay taxes after the due date are required by law to pay a penalty of two percent of the tax assessed.

And where the Commissioner-General has issued a demand notice to a taxpayer for the submission of a return, a penalty of five percent of the tax assessed will apply if the return is not submitted within the time specified in the notice.

According to the GRA, interest is charged on all late payments of taxes at the prime lending rate as published by the Bank of Guyana, plus 500 basis points and is applied to the total principal tax due or payable, and which includes penalties which form part of the tax assessed.

Commissioner-General of the GRA Khurshid Sattaur said the agency will impose and enforce penalties in accordance with the law, noting that a number of taxpayers continue to break the law despite being served with notices.

He said further that persons should not even attempt to use ignorance as an excuse given the huge sums spent yearly to produce thousands of printed materials that are distributed to taxpayers and the general public at various forums.

Moreover, he pointed out that many radio and television programmes have been produced by the GRA to make taxpayers aware of their obligations under the tax laws.

However, there is blatant disregard for the law as many persons repeatedly commit the same offence, Sattaur observed.
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URL to article: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/stories/10/23/gra-issues-arrest-warrant-for-roopan-ramotar-and-five-others/

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cabinet Secretary mum on pharmaceutical contractor’s identity

Cabinet Secretary mum on pharmaceutical contractor’s identity
October 22, 2009 | By KNews | Filed Under News

The Health Ministry is expected to be boosted, after the Cabinet approved a contract for the procurement of drugs on Monday last.
This disclosure was made by Head of the Presidential Cabinet Dr. Roger Luncheon, at his weekly press briefing at the Office of the President.
According to Dr. Roger Luncheon, a US$ 885,900 contract got Cabinet’s no objection.
When asked about the suppliers for contracts Luncheon said that he would not use his press conference to name the contractor.
He pointed out that it ought not to be a difficulty for members of the media who are interested, to find out the identity of the contractor. He said that the media is always welcomed at the Tender Board, which is opened on Tuesdays.
When told about the fact that some members of the media were locked out of the tender board drawings he said that he would have to investigate the matter. He said that at the opening at the Tender Board, the information such as the contractor and his bid can be known.
Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, when contacted told Kaieteur News that the contract would help the Ministry buy some 4,000 different types of drugs.
He said that the drugs are normally bought on a yearly basis. When asked about the identity of the contractor Ramsammy said that he would not be able to divulge such information. He said that he does not know if it would be one contractor or multiple contractors.
The Cabinet also approved a contract for $79.3M for the procurement of fuel for drainage and irrigation.
Last week Dr Luncheon said that Cabinet had approved eight contracts.These were awarded in the area of sea defence and public works.
The first contract was for $49.4M for the river defence works at Moleson Creek, Berbice.
The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority/Ogle Airport was awarded 168,800 Euros for the supply of airport runaway lights and for the guidance system in keeping with the second phase of the development of the airport.
The Cabinet Secretary disclosed that two contracts were awarded for the security sector a $200M contract was awarded for arms and ammunition for the Guyana Defence Force, and a further $106 million for body protection equipment.
In Region Four the rehabilitation of Quamina Street in Beterverwagting would attract a further $21.4M.
Linden’s water sector is expected to be boosted with a contract to drill a $9 million potable water well at Amelia’s Ward.
In the Human Services Sector, Dr Luncheon said that a contract was awarded to build a home for the homeless at Region Five. That home is estimated to cost $340.8M.
Finally the Presidential Secretary said that some $207M was allocated for the procurement of a container scanner. The scanner is to gain revenue protection and security for the Guyana Revenue Authority.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

These are questions I would like Mr Ramkarran to answer

These are questions I would like Mr Ramkarran to answer

Posted By Stabroek staff On October 22, 2009 @ 5:02 am In Letters | 16 Comments

Dear Editor

I am responding to Mr. Ralph Ramkarran’s letter, `The stealing of books is a serious offence’ (SN, Oct 18.). The average mind in Guyana has to be amused at Mr. Ramkarran. This gentleman belongs to a ruling party of a country that Transparency International classifies as having the worst incidence of corruption in governmental structures for the English-speaking Caribbean and one of the worst in the world. No need to dwell on that but I am sure that given his position in the party he is rubbing shoulders with people who didn’t have time to steal books to educate themselves but stole money from the Treasury

I need to remind Mr. Ramkarran that at his party’s congress in 2008, the returning officer was Neermal Rekha. Now it wasn’t Frederick Kissoon, or Christopher Ram, or the PNC, or the TUC, or the AFC but the Guyana Revenue Authority that investigated Mr. Rekha in April 2004 and found that he signed more (emphasis mine) than fifty bogus duty-free letters in his capacity as Secretary to the Treasurer. I’m sure Mr. Ramkarran knows this because it did not occur 39 years ago but four and a half years and was headline news in the two independent dailies. Can Mr. Ramkarran tell me if he objects to sitting in the PPP with some names that are questionable like the politician Prime News accused of interfering with a female child, the mother of whom this columnist spoke with and who belongs to a PPP group on the lower East Coast?

Let’s move on. In the fifties, a young clerk at Bookers Stores stole a number of bicycle tires and was charged.

That Mr. Ramkarran can easily find in the newspapers for that period because I came across it in my research in the mid–eighties. That clerk is now one of the best legal luminaries the English-speaking Caribbean produced and practices law in Guyana. I don’t see Mr. Ramkarran writing about that. And he shouldn’t. That happened sixty years ago. Who cares? Maybe except Mr. Ramkarran, a contender for the presidential slot for the PPP in 2011.

Mr. Ramkarran has to know that as a public figure and one who casts blame on other public figures he must expect citizens to ask questions. Here are some questions for Mr. Ramkarran, none of which carry a value judgement. Can he say by what procedures his two sons were granted duty-free cars? I am asking for the particular position they were in at the time to entitle them to have duty-free letters.

My understanding is that the duty-free concessions were given to them as “remigrants” for studies abroad in Trinidad at the Hugh Wooding Law School.

If that is so, can Mr. Ramkarran tell me why there were letters in the papers by a number of law graduates who wrote to say that the concession were not granted to them because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not see Guyanese laws students in Trinidad as qualifying for remigrant status.

I may be wrong so I am asking Mr. Ramkarran to clarify this situation. I would ask Mr. Ramkarran to go into details. Secondly, was it under his chairmanship that Guyana Airways Corporation went bankrupt? Was there any investigation? Can Mr. Ramkarran say what percentage of state allocations his law firm, Cameron and Shepherd receives? Can he briefly tell us how many state institutions his firm represents apart from the two that we read about in the newspapers – Guysuco and UG? As Mr. Ramkarran can see no direct accusation was made against him. In closing let me say that Mr. Ramkarran is doing an excellent job of projecting himself as a suitable candidate to run Guyana in 2011. Just in case younger minds did not get it; I’m being stupendously cynical.

Yours faithfully,
Frederick Kissoon
16 Comments (Open | Close)

16 Comments To "These are questions I would like Mr Ramkarran to answer"

#1 Comment By Raj On October 22, 2009 @ 6:17 am

Freddie, I like you in this mode. You are becoming a thorn in their backside. Keep it now. You have my support

#2 Comment By LIND.CREEK On October 22, 2009 @ 6:30 am

Over to you Ramkaran let us hear your rebuttal…..speakup.

#3 Comment By LIND.CREEK On October 22, 2009 @ 6:33 am

Did they bring these cars back with them or did they purchase the vehicles in Guyana duty free.

#4 Comment By yasuman71 On October 22, 2009 @ 7:01 am

First, Freddie tried to tarnish the impeccable image of Cheddi Jagan. Then Freddie tried to demonize the humane image of Janet Jagan. Then Freddie tried to slingshot the Jagan’s son, Joey. Then he barked and he barked viciously at Ralph Ramkarran. Now he wants to smear the good names of Ramkarran’s two sons. I’m sure Ralph Ramkarran is more than capable of answering Freddie. But Ralph must be careful in how he supplies the facts. If the facts don’t please Freddie he may make some outrageous allegation.

#5 Comment By Sam On October 22, 2009 @ 7:09 am

I actually like Mr. Kissoon in this mode. He seems rational, focussed (for the most part) and makes some telling points. This is the sort of commentary that we need to see since it is more effective than what we have seen in the past from him. Good job.

#6 Comment By patriot On October 22, 2009 @ 8:59 am

Freddie is grasping at straws. Leave the discussion alone. Apologize for your youthful indiscretions and show you can bury the hatchet. This will endear you to those whose attention you so desperately seek.

#7 Comment By Diamond Dog On October 22, 2009 @ 9:09 am

yasaman 71. Let’s be fair. What’s good for the goose, is also good for the gander. Freddie has family also. Ramkarran should have thought about that before he started his slander. That is why we must think before we act. Actions have consequences. Guyana needs more people with back bone like Freddie to stand up to these shameless people.

#8 Comment By Errol Arthur On October 22, 2009 @ 9:27 am

Vintage Kissoon. When cornered he changes the subject to evade dealing with the issues. The issue here is that Kissoon is accused of defrauding the Guyana Public Library. Now Kissoon, what your response ?

#9 Comment By Kingshark On October 22, 2009 @ 10:24 am

i am surprise that a man of Ramkarran ability will get caught up in mudslinging the future Presidential candidate

#10 Comment By RDMAN On October 22, 2009 @ 10:46 am

Thanks Freddie,i like your style,you are giving them hell,they are trying all kinds of things to catch you,look how many years story they brought back,you are a thorn in their side,keep pressing them man,you and Peeping Tom are great,without you all corruption would have been more barefaced in Guyana.

#11 Comment By Touchau On October 22, 2009 @ 11:24 am

I hope the presidential hopeful Mr. Ramkarran will address these issues. It is important that the electorates get to know where he stands, so that they can better decide if he represents change or more of the same.

#12 Comment By La Dorada On October 22, 2009 @ 11:25 am

Keep it coming Fredo! may I point out as well that to your great credit in all your years as a columnist you have never “outed” anyone in your columns. You were forced to address this subject in order to expose the motivation behind the desperate, low-minded library book attack.

#13 Comment By Georgie On October 22, 2009 @ 12:16 pm

Yasuman71 ! I said yesterday that SN opened the door and now anyone can walk through it. I also said that maybe someone who knew Mr. Ramkarran when he was a youth might recall some of his escapades. Now lookee here , today ! These individuals are not without fault and this gov’t is under the microscope . Boom !

#14 Comment By Marc On October 22, 2009 @ 12:21 pm

Freddie,apologize for your youthful mistakes and people will forgave you instead of cussing out with Mr.Ramkarran and trying to justify your stealing books.This whole episode is turning out to be wan dutty fish market cuss-out,you guys are making Tante Merle look like she is in church all the time.

#15 Comment By Evan Thomas On October 22, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

Yasuman71, like me you need to go do an english course….it seems that english language is not our strength…I refer to you antonymic references to cheddi and janet and your fellow PPP impeccables.

#16 Comment By Light hearted On October 22, 2009 @ 12:52 pm

I hope Mr. Ramkarran is not a yes-man.

Article printed from Stabroek News: http://www.stabroeknews.com

URL to article: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/letters/10/22/these-are-questions-i-would-like-mr-ramkarran-to-answer/

Dem boys seh… Every single weeeeek Jagdeo (Mr Hap-pens) out de country

Dem boys seh… Every single weeeeek Jagdeo out de country
October 21, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under Dem Boys Seh, Features / Columnists, News

Dem boys seh that dem does always remember wha Jagdeo seh how dem people at de Waterfalls paper does fabricate story. He went on to say, “Every single day dis hap-pens.”
Dem boys know dat dem Waterfalls paper reportas does have a field day with laughter wid de way how he does seh hap-pens.
Well dem boys seh dem fed up hearing he out de country. “Every single weeeeeeek dis hap-pens”
Dem boys seh up to now he still kyaan find a story dat de Waterfalls paper manufacture but de whole country know he does get away every week.
When is a protest he does get away; when is blackout he does get away; when is de Roger Khan story he does get away; when is questions from reportas he does run away. If is about dem contractors he does hide away.
Yesterday he fly away fuh go to Canada fuh gaff wid some children. He talking bout car does bun.
Every single day something does bun in Guyana. If is not car is house, if is not house is Regent Street. Every single day this hap-pens.
Dem boys rememba that he did want to employ Kerik as he special adviser. That never hap-pen because Kerik get lock up. De same time Bharrat jump pun he plane is de same day a judge decide to hide Kerik in a jail. De judge do de same thing to Bharrat wha he does do to dem reportas.
Talk half. Lef half.

Sixty applications on file for radio licences – NFMU

Sixty applications on file for radio licences – NFMU

Posted By Stabroek staff On October 21, 2009 @ 5:28 am In Local News | 12 Comments

By Iana Seales

Chief Executive Officer of the National Frequency Manage-ment Unit (NFMU), Valmikki Singh, said yesterday that the halt to radio licence applications is temporary to facilitate the processing of the 60 applications currently on file.

He cautioned there are no guarantees because the final decision is left to government.
Enrico Woolford [1]

Enrico Woolford

The NFMU is responsible for technical evaluation of the applications, Singh said, and it now has to peruse some sixty requests that are on record. He hesitated to comment on the process of the evaluations since according to him he is not “at liberty to say”. However, he noted that the processing would have to be done within a certain framework which he was also not inclined to discuss.

The NFMU essentially evaluates the applications and subsequently offers its recommendations on a particular application, and the administration ultimately decides. The specific point about government regulation was reiterated by Singh during the brief interview yesterday, prior to his comments the CEO stated that there was only so much he could say on the issue.

Singh was not prepared to offer any details on the applications on file, but he said the NFMU will soon contact the individuals who would have applied as part of the processing period. He indicated that others who are interested in a radio licence have to be patient, stating that the decision to halt applications would be re-assessed in time. “I cannot say when we are going to decide on new requests, but at some point in time we will”, Singh added.

Singh also referred to the Appeal Court ruling on the issue of radio licences saying that the NFMU has “every intention of adhering to the ruling”. Since he is yet to see a written copy of the court decision, Singh said he would reserve commenting further because “I cannot comment based on media reports”. The court had in fact criticized the NFMU for “failing to do its job” and had observed that the agency has been procrastinating over the years with respect to applications for radio licences.

On Sunday in newspaper advertisements the NFMU announced that it was no longer receiving applications for radio licences following the Court of Appeal ruling. The announcement was made in a notice carried in the Guyana Times. It said: “Notice is hereby given that in view of the recent court ruling on radio licenses and the number of applications for radio licenses currently on file, the National Frequency Management Unit will not be accepting any further applications for radio licenses, with effect from October 18, 2009.”

The Court of Appeal, in a landmark decision last week, ruled that the government monopoly on the airwaves is unlawful. The Court led by Chancellor (ag) Carl Singh and comprising Justices of Appeal B.S. Roy and Yonette Cummings-Edwards allowed an appeal filed by local television pioneer Anthony Vieira on behalf of Vieira Commu-nications Limited (VCT) ruling that VCT’s fundamental right to freedom of expression and freedom to receive and communicate ideas and information was contravened. The Court referred to precedents in the region and other jurisdictions while citing several authorities on the issue. Ironically, Vieira has since sold his TV station to the Ramroop Group and has migrated. It has been stated that the rights and privileges which VCT enjoyed as a company were transferred to the new owners upon the sale, and that this likely includes a radio licence if granted.

VCT had applied for a radio licence since 1993 and the court said that both the government and the NFMU failed to acknowledge receipt of the application. VCT had asked that the court order the NFMU to issue it with a radio licence forthwith but the Court said there are technicalities involved in making such a decision, noting that it lacks the expertise to make such an evaluation. It said the NFMU is the entity which is well placed to make such an evaluation, and it called on the unit to “do its job”. However, the court did direct the NFMU to consider and determine VCT’s application for a radio broadcast licence which was made since the early 1990s.

Radio is a service

Media practitioner Enrico Woolford said radio is a service to the people and opined that individuals interested in a licence should prove by way “of a public auction” what it is they intend to offer the people, in particular communities. He said government should not have control of radio content, and observed that administrative oversight would be better placed in determining who is worthy based on what “they bring to the table”. Using his suggestion, he explained that while the public would be allowed to judge each application based on its worth the decision to ultimately grant the licence would rest with a newly constituted Broadcast-ing Authority.

Woolford, who is the Editor-in-Chief at Capitol News, manages his own broadcasting company- EMW Communications. He told Stabroek News yesterday that his company had applied for both a television and radio licence back in 1998, and while it had been assigned a television station there was merely an acknowledgment or receipt of the radio licence application. Woolford said he had followed up on the radio licence application as recently as April this year. “…once they are considering applications currently on file I would hope mine is considered. The whole idea of opening up broadcasting speaks to a better equipped and more viable industry”, Woolford noted.

Further, Woolford mentioned that the NFMU ought to have, at the very least, informed persons with applications on file what steps they intend to take based on the court ruling rather than “take the decision to halt applications”. He said too that there is need for a more structured approach to broadcasting in general saying that government needs to better organize the industry.

Pending application

Television owner, CN Sharma has again raised the issue of his radio licence application stating in a letter to this newspaper yesterday that his applications have been pending at the NFMU since 1999. He noted that follow-up letters were sent in April and December of 2001. He referred to the recent statement by the NFMU that no further applications for radio licences will be accepted as “most heartening but let us hope that politics will not stick its head into the decision to approve, if any, radio licence”.

Sharma expressed the hope that the court ruling will be adhered to by the NFMU and that licence applications would be processed in the order they were submitted. He noted that should his request be granted it would be beneficial to the nation saying he intends to provide a meaningful avenue for employment.

“This radio station will be for the people of this country as programming will be cheaper. Children, schools, religious bodies, political parties, NGOs and other bodies will be facilitated at a cheaper cost and some even free”, he added.
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Guyana ranked 39 out of 173 in RSF press freedom index

Guyana ranked 39 out of 173 in RSF press freedom index

Posted By Stabroek staff On October 21, 2009 @ 5:31 am In Local News | 14 Comments
-ads cutoff to SN noted

Guyana has been ranked 39 out of 173 in the latest worldwide Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, which has noted concerns on government’s relations with the press.

In 2008, Guyana’s ranking was 88 out of 173 but it appears that this ranking was low because not enough information had been gleaned.

In its annual report released yesterday, the French NGO said that press freedom is widely respected, despite sometimes tense relations between President Bharrat Jagdeo and a section of the media. It noted that the country’s leading daily, Stabroek News, was made to pay the price for this by being starved of official advertising for 18 months.

The report says that in common with most English-speaking countries in the Caribbean, Guyana has a satisfactory record in fundamental freedoms. Journalists experience very few threats or assaults, it said. The report noted that press concerns are chiefly focused on relations with the government. It adds that the state maintains a monopoly on radio which is being increasingly contested within the profession.

“The hot-headed president’s extreme sensitivity to criticism complicates the job of some media”, it states. The report cites the case of Capitol News, reporter Gordon Moseley, who was banned from the Office of the President in July 2008, “because the head of state was displeased by his report on his visit to Antigua in which he referred to comments about safety problems in the capital Georgetown and failed to respond to government calls to apologise”.

The report also noted that “the president’s touchiness was even more strongly in evidence when the top-selling daily Stabroek News was denied official advertising from November 2006 to April 2008.”

It stated that the Government Information Agency (GINA) never provided any explanation for the boycott. Over an 18-month period, public advertising in the daily was limited to a few inserts on the part of the tax authorities. Bharrat Jagdeo has never tried to conceal his annoyance with the paper’s editorial line, which has been more critical of him since his re-election in 2006, the report states.

For 2009, Jamaica had the highest rating in the Caribbean at 23 followed by Trinidad at 28. Suriname placed 42, Haiti 57 and Cuba 170. The countries that tied for first place were Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden.

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Mr Ramkarran should say why there have been no prosecutions in the multitude of serious scams

Mr Ramkarran should say why there have been no prosecutions in the multitude of serious scams

Posted By Stabroek staff On October 21, 2009 @ 5:02 am In Letters | 5 Comments

Dear Editor,
With reference to a letter in your letter columns captioned, “The stealing of books is a serious offence” in the Sunday Stabroek (Oct. 18, 2009) by Mr. Ralph Ramkarran, I wish to make the following comments.

Mr. Ramkarran is comparing the theft of books by a lawyer, Mr. Hardat Misir, who was sworn to uphold the law with that of a seventeen year old youth from the ghetto of South Georgetown, who made a mistake like most desperate youths from the ghettos.

At least Freddie was charged under the so-called cruel Burnham dictatorship. True, stealing in all forms must be condemned but can Ralph Ramkarran provide answers to the following:

Mr. Ramkarran in his own words had admitted “Today, because of the continued stealing of books from the law library of the AG’s chambers, it is a mere shadow of itself.” Who does the stealing now Mr. Ramkarran and why aren’t the culprits prosecuted under this “democratic” government?

Book stealing is a serious crime but it can never be serious as stealing from the people and the treasury.

I would like Mr. Ramkarran to read the Auditor General’s Report and ask why was no one ever prosecuted for the millions of dollars missing?

Why was no one prosecuted in the dolphin export scam, the stone scam, the laws of Guyana CD scam, the lotto funds scam, the construction scams, fuel scam, etc.

Mr. Ramkarran, can you name one major drug dealer that was ever prosecuted in Guyana?

Everyday government officials and corrupt contractors steal from the people and yet no one was ever charged. Stealing from the people is more serious than stealing books.

Why the big fuss with Freddie Kissoon and his stealing books, something that happened since 1974?

People are being framed up on all types of charges now in Guyana just because they are speaking out against the government.

I know of one man who has robbed people of millions of dollars in a visa scam and was never charged by the police just because of his close association with the police and the ruling party. I grew up with Freddie Kissoon in Georgetown and was a family friend of the Kissoon’s household and I knew of the poverty of the Kissoon’s family and the humiliations his father suffered at the hands of the middle class and higher class ruthless capitalists at the GCC ground.

I can recall whilst attending secondary school I was studying Accountancy privately and I could not afford to buy the text book, Carter’s Advanced Accounts. When I told Freddie of my plight, he delivered a brand new Carter’s Advanced Accounts to my home in Kitty. I do not know how he acquired this book, but it was certainly not a library book but the compassion in the man, he wanted to see me continuing my studies in Accounting.

At age eighteen when I opened my evening Accountancy school at the Maha Sabha on Lamaha street, Freddie would wait for me until my class was finished for us to go and lime on the seawall. One evening whilst waiting for me he was hungry and he picked two sapodillas from a tree in the Maha Sabha compound and was caught by Mr. Sase Narain, the President of the Sabha and Speaker of the National Assembly. Freddie was thrown out of the compound and I was immediately thrown out of the Maha Sabha building.

I was not working and was depending on the part-time evening classes at the Sabha to help in my studies and also to help Freddie with his meals at Chinese restaurants.

In those days myself, Freddie and a few others used to be in all the libraries in Georgetown until closing time.

Finally, I think Mr. Ralph Ramkarran and others should dedicate their time and resources to make Guyana a better place by eliminating corruption, encouraging good governance and stop wasting their energies behind Freddie Kissoon’s book stealing that happened over thirty-five years ago.

Yours faithfully,
Balwant Persaud
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5 Comments To "Mr Ramkarran should say why there have been no prosecutions in the multitude of serious scams"

#1 Comment By MeAgain On October 21, 2009 @ 7:29 am

I’m on your side Mr Balwant Persaud, but some technical questions: are you sure it was sapodillas? Can you pick sapodillas and eat them right from the tree? Would you if you were hungry choose sapodillas to pick?

#2 Comment By Diamond Dog On October 21, 2009 @ 8:12 am

Mr. Persaud. Thank you for a very informative letter. Freddie’s story is one of success. He did not let poverty keep him down. Instead of Ramkarran praising Freddie for beating the odds and becoming a productive member of society,, he had to bring up this blimp on Freddie’s past.

#3 Comment By Touchau On October 21, 2009 @ 8:29 am

Mr. Ramkarran’s interest will be better served if he can just zip it. Every time he writes, Mr. Donald Ramoutar must be happy – for his own personal reasons. LOL

#4 Comment By Balwant Persaud On October 21, 2009 @ 9:06 am

I am 100% sure it was sapodillas, it was the only fruit tree in the Maha Sabha compound. It was late in the evening and I do not know if they were ripe or not. But Freddie always had a weakness for raiding fruit trees. I grew up with the guy, so I know him very well.
Sammy Baksh in one of his songs said ” Poverty is a crime”.

#5 Comment By Decoder On October 21, 2009 @ 11:05 am

Balwant, keep the comments flowing, truth be told. Freddie is the fair minded person who tells the true story about governmental disparity, and the country is better off for him.

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URL to article: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/letters/10/21/mr-ramkarran-should-say-why-there-have-been-no-prosecutions-in-the-multitude-of-serious-scams/

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sugar lawsuit could cost GuySuCo $200 million

Kaieteur News news item, Tuesday 20 October 2009 - "Sugar lawsuit could cost GuySuCo $200 million" - http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2009/10/20/sugar-lawsuit-could-cost-guysuco-200-million/

Utterances by Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud had cost the government millions of dollars. And this high expenditure will continue until well into the new year.
By the time the matter is disposed of in the courts, GuySuCo could spend some $200 million.
The issue began when the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) decided to challenge a United States-based Guyanese man, Vernon Bedessee, over the use of the label Demerara Gold on sugar packages.
GuySuCo was already marketing a product, Demerara Gold, on the European market but the company discovered that Bedessee was marketing a product of the same name but instead of sugar made in Demerara, the product marketed by Bedessee was from Mauritius.
And Bedessee made it known on the label that his Demerara Gold was a product of Mauritius.
GuySuCo immediately challenged the apparent trademark infringement. In fact, the sugar company is in the final process of preparing legal documents to defend its trademark.
Its Washington-based lawyers, Foley Hoag and Company, have already secured a qualified registration in the United States as part of the challenge to Bedessee’s apparent trademark infraction.
It successfully made the application a few weeks ago.
Following the discovery of the apparent trademark infraction, Agriculture Minister made some statements critical of Bedessee’s action.
These statements were published by the local media and reproduced in the overseas editions of some of the local newspapers.
Immediately Bedessee sued for libel and slander.
In Guyana, the local lawyers, Cameron and Shepherd, have already set about defending the lawsuits filed in Guyana by Bedessee. Representing Bedessee is the law firm of Hughes, Fields and Stoby.
The Washington-based lawyers do not come cheap, according to a GuySuCo official. Chief Executive Officer of the sugar company, Errol Hanoman, declined to comment and referred all queries to the local lawyers, Cameron and Shepherd.
A spokesman in the local law firm of Cameron and Shepherd said that United States law firms do not operate like those in Guyana. Lawyers charge by the hour. The spokesman said that top lawyers charge US$1,500 per hour.
Foley Hoag and Company lawyers charge slightly less. Investigations have revealed that the lawyers on the GuySuCo case are charging about US$1,000 per hour. Two lawyers are working on the matter.
The Cameron and Shepherd spokesperson said that at this time and for the next few months the two lawyers could be working eight hours a day, each, preparing pleadings.
The bill is bound to be high, he said.
When these are completed the charge would drop to almost nothing. GuySuCo does not pay retainers to foreign lawyers.
These charges at present average between $15 million and $20 million per month. The spokesperson said that the charges will go up again when the trial begins.
In the end, the cost could be very high but according to the spokesperson, this money could be recovered when the sugar company demands costs from Bedessee.

NFMU not taking any more radio licence applications

NFMU not taking any more radio licence applications

Posted By Stabroek staff On October 19, 2009 @ 5:11 am In Local News | 13 Comments

The National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) is no longer receiving applications for radio licences following the Court of Appeal’s announcement last Wednesday that the government has an unlawful monopoly on the airwaves and that the NFMU is not doing its job with respect to considering radio licences.

This announcement was made in a notice carried on page nine in yesterday’s edition of the Guyana Times. It said: “Notice is hereby given that in view of the recent court ruling on radio licenses and the number of applications for radio licenses currently on file, the National Frequency Management Unit will not be accepting any further applications for radio licenses, with effect from October 18, 2009.” The notice seemed to imply that consideration of the licence applications on file will begin shortly.

In a landmark ruling, the Court led by Chancellor (ag) Carl Singh and comprising Justices of Appeal B.S. Roy and Yonette Cummings-Edwards allowed an appeal filed by local television pioneer Anthony Vieira on behalf of VCT ruling that VCT’s fundamental right to freedom of expression and freedom to receive and communicate ideas and information was contravened.. Ironically, Vieira has since sold his TV station to the Ramroop Group, publishers of the Guyana Times, and has migrated.

VCT had applied for a radio licence since 1993 and the court said last Wednesday that both the government and the NFMU failed to acknowledge receipt of the application. VCT had asked that the court order the NFMU to issue it with a radio licence forthwith but the Court said there are technicalities involved in making such a decision, noting that it lacks the expertise to make such an evaluation. It said the NFMU is the entity which is well placed to make such an evaluation, and it called on the unit to “do its job”. However, the court did direct the NFMU to consider and determine VCT’s application for a radio broadcast license.

Now days after the Court of Appeal called on NFMU to carry out its duty the body has announced that it will no longer be receiving applications for radio licences. While the NFMU used the number of applications on file to support this decision it did not state for how long this condition will exist.

Chief Executive Officer of NFMU, Valmikki Singh, could not be reached yesterday for a comment.
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URL to article: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/stories/10/19/nfmu-not-taking-any-more-radio-licence-applications/

The real business of Roger Khan

The real business of Roger Khan

Posted By Stabroek staff On October 19, 2009 @ 5:01 am In Editorial | 8 Comments

Aside from all of the other ramifications, the sentencing of Mr Roger Khan in a New York court for conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States shines the spotlight brightly on the government’s stark failure to interdict and tear down the drug trade.

Worse, in this instance, considering the claims that Mr Khan has made about his support to the state in repulsing the crime wave inspired by the 2002 jail-break a case could be made of the state deliberately ignoring the misdeeds of this drug baron and cooperating with him. The government is yet to convince the public that it did not work along with Mr Khan in going after alleged criminals. It is also still to convincingly explain how Mr Khan was able to flee to Guyana as a fugitive under US law and make a meteoric rise on the rungs of the local business sector without being recognized as a trafficker.

Even more troubling is that while alleged criminals and a range of other people were being mysteriously gunned down during this most bloody period of our history, there appeared to be a parallel war between Mr Khan’s phantom squad and his competitors. Several members of longer-established drug dealing enterprises were taken out without these cases ever being solved. It would strongly appear that while Mr Khan was supposedly helping the state against criminals, his gang was also ensuring that his competition was wiped off the map so his trade was not threatened.

There is still a lot more for Mr Khan to tell about this period either from his jail cell or in courtrooms as a cooperating witness for the US government. Time will tell whether he is willing to confess to the full range of his crimes and the unofficial cooperation he received from the state and its security apparatus beginning with his infamous interception at Good Hope, East Coast Demerara with high tech weapons and the ever controversial spy equipment. It was a spectacular bungle for him and his cohorts and success for the intelligence arm of the army which later paid a dear price for its vigilance.

Mr Khan’s sentencing has sparked an outpouring of diametrically opposed views; those who agree with the sentencing or were in favour of a more severe penalty and those who believe that he should have had a lighter penalty or escaped punishment altogether because of his “assistance” to the state.

It must be pointed out that Mr Khan was sentenced on the initial charge of conspiracy to import cocaine into the US where after expensive and exhaustive legal manoeuvring he was forced to throw in the towel and accept a plea deal after being ensnared in a sinister bid to tamper with witnesses in his case.

No law-abiding state, or indeed, law abiding citizen can tolerate collaboration with the drug trade and its architects. Those who support Mr Khan and wish for his early return to these parts are labouring under a grand illusion that is poisonous and inimical to the state and totally oblivious to the ruthlessness of the drug trade and narco-terrorism.

For those who counter that point with the rejoinder that Mr Khan saved the country from the jail-break criminals and the gangs that they mobilized, the only thing that can be said to them is that well-functioning democracies based on the rule of law do not and should not have to seek any recourse to hired guns to do the job that the state is supposed to perform. The primary task of defending the people from the rampage of the jail-break criminals in 2002 fell to the PPP/C government which had already been in place for a decade and the security sector which it had presided over for that same period. Their combined failure to tackle the criminals is what brought the society to the edge of the precipice. There were, however, other means through which this carnival of violence could have been addressed by the state such as expert help from friendly police forces or assistance from Caricom and further afield. The government steadfastly opposed this because it wanted to remain in total control of the security apparatus, and indeed, there was no shake-up in the police hierarchy over this period which is what one would have expected if the performance of the police force was so dismal.

So this canard being peddled by those who support the phantom intervention by Mr Khan is really an excuse for the abject failure of the Jagdeo administration and its security forces. Those who support Mr Khan were doing so because they refused to pile the blame on the government as they were unwilling to part ways with it under any circumstance. As to the argument that the opposition and opponents of the government were giving succour to the criminals and actively directing their violence and therefore Mr Khan was the only option available, again it remained the mandate of the state to ferret out these links and to prosecute to the fullest those guilty of this. The inability to do this was a direct result of the de-professionalising of the security forces over a long period and the unwillingness of the PPP/C to radically reverse this decline through comprehensive reforms. President Jagdeo and his government have to take full responsibility for this.

And also of note is the point that Mr Khan’s phantoms didn’t end the horrific violence. The worst was to come in 2008 with Lusignan, Bartica and Lindo Creek and the reign of Fineman and rogues in the security services. Death squads like the ones that prevailed during the jail-break years seldom create neat, surgical interventions. They worsen the problems, become self-perpetuating and fundamentally wound law and order. The gruesome murder of Dweive Kant Ramdass stands as silent testimony to this.

It leaves the question of whether this government can credibly fight the real business that Mr Khan was involved in – the drug trade. Having turned a blind eye to the trade – Mr Khan was never formally held or questioned about it in all the years he resided here – one is left to wonder whether this government has the stomach and the will for it. The fingerlings – couriers, ganja growers and the small peddlers of cocaine continue to be paraded before the courts while the big players like Mr Khan remain untouched and protected. Conceivably, those who have replaced or are thinking of replacing Mr Khan in this trade may believe that they can enter arrangements similar to the one that their predecessor carved out. This is the necrosis which this government has to address. It has to show that it is taking muscular steps against the real business that Mr Khan was involved in and the only way this can be convincingly done is to prosecute the purveyors of the trade in court and win convictions. It also has new legislation, thus far unutilized, enabling the seizure of assets accrued through the drug trade. Put it to work.
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URL to article: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/editorial/10/19/the-real-business-of-roger-khan/

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Kaieteur News Peeping Tom column, Sunday 18 October 2009 - "JUSTICE CHANG IS THE ONE WHO MADE HISTORY!" - http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2009/10/18/justice-chang-is-the-one-who-made-history/

The headlines in the Kaieteur News of Friday read: “Govt. radio monopoly unlawful”. The first line of the story reads: “Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh, yesterday made a historic ruling.”
There was nothing historic about the ruling by Justice Singh. The history was made earlier this year by Chief Justice, Ian Chang.
The recent decision by the Court of Appeal in relation to the application by VCT for a radio license rests on the very principles enunciated in Justice’s Chang’s landmark ruling earlier this year in relation to an application for a television transmitting license.
In that ruling, Justice Chang noted that a delay in responding to an application by an applicant constituted an infringement of that applicant’s right to freedom of expression. He also held that no one had an absolute right to a broadcast license. These were the very principles around which Justice Singh’s decision revolved. In fact, it would have been difficult for the Justice Singh et al to have deviated from the precedents set by Justice Chang. The landmark ruling was therefore not the one involving VCT’s application for a radio license; the history was made by Justice Chang.
In his ruling, Justice Chang ordered that the application for a television license be considered. When that ruling was made public, the President was asked about it at one of his press conferences. He indicated that the government would appeal the decision.
How interesting that now that an identical decision has been made by the Court of Appeal, one which also orders the NFMU to respond to an application for a license, the government is now claiming that the ruling is not inconsistent with its policy of liberalizing the radio monopoly.
How is it that Justice Chang’s decision was challengeable but this recent ruling is being deemed as not being inconsistent with government’s policy? Is it because VCT is now under new ownership? Has the change in ownership facilitated a change in policy, in the same way as the emergence of the Guyana Times has caused a seeming change in official advertizing policy?
Unless the government emerges with a fair system for the allocation of licenses for radio and television, there will be other challenges to government’s broadcasting policy in the same way as there have been challenges in Trinidad over the process of granting broadcast licenses. While the recent ruling called on the NFMU to deal with the application by VCT, it did not set out the basis upon which a license should be granted. It rightly did not do so because this decision is the province of the government.
However, the government must not assume that it has the authority to grant permits to whomever it pleases in the absence of a fair system of apportioning licenses. The need for an efficient, objective and non-discriminatory system of granting licenses was emphasized by the Privy Council decision in Central Broadcasting Services Limited and Sanatan Dharma Sabha of Trinidad and Tobago versus Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago (2005). In that decision, the Law Lords noted that when it comes to government controlled licensing process, the government’s legislative and constitutional role is to “ensure the efficient, objective and non discriminatory handling of license applications, securing the speedy granting of licences where appropriate and thereby also securing the constitutional right of freedom of expression.”
The government of Guyana should therefore distance itself of any notions, if any such notions exist, that it can arbitrarily and capriciously decide who should be granted radio licenses. Even in the absence of a mandatory order from the Courts, it has an obligation to speedily consider all applications for television and radio licenses.
To authenticate that it will not act in an arbitrary manner- and thus find itself being confronted by a series of injunctions crippling its authority to grant future licenses- the government needs to develop transparent criteria which will form the basis for the granting of radio and television broadcast licenses since it will be forced by the Courts to show justifiable reasons for disallowing an application.
The government should heed the suggestion made some time ago in this column in which it was argued that the telecommunication spectrum should be treated as a valuable economic resource and thus should not be handed out willy-nilly for a morsel.
A system of auctioning of radio and television broadcasting rights should be enforced since this will guard against political patronage while at the same time obtaining the best value for the use of our airwaves.
This may dampen the enthusiasm of friends of the government who may see in this recent decision of the Courts, an opportunity to spread their wings, but it will safeguard a fundamental right without surrendering the demand for a fair price for the use of a valuable economic resource.

Dem boys seh. Third term done fail Mr Yong

Kaieteur News news item, Sunday 18 October 2009 - "Dem boys seh. Third term done fail Mr Yong" - http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2009/10/18/dem-boys-sehthird-term-done-fail-mr-yong/

Some people like hide but dem boys know that moon does run till day ketch am. Dem boys also seh that de longest rope got an end.
Well, Day ketch de Moon that run and start fuh beg people fuh give Bharrat a third term. Donald Ramotar describe de same Moon as somebody “bent on creating mischief.”
People get button and a big note talking about how Bharrat deserve a third term.
People want to know who is this mischief maker and dem even ask Bharrat if he know. Lo and behold is Bharrat friend who start de thing. De man get a contract from Bharrat fuh install cameras at de airport and up to now nuff of dem ain’t wukking.
He get other contracts because de Subway sandwich project that he had fail.
Dem boys seh that is everything he put he hand pun don’t wuk and Bharrat know this suh he tell everybody that he ain’t got any interest in a Third term. He know that it woulda fail.
Dem boys seh that Bharrat had to know who been behind de project fuh a third term. He and de man is buddy friends. He set up de man. Dem does meet at State House steady.
De thing is that all de talk bout mischief and things like that is only Donald in de dark because everybody else know.
Dem boys use to wonder whey de money come from and is now dem know is from a contract. Bharrat give de man a contract fuh campaign, That is wha dem boys seh.
But de thing woulda been a secret. Is ketch dem boys ketch he when he go to post more buttons and slogans. De post master think was some drugs and demand an inspection. De man start fuh resist. He call some big ones but de post master seh that de thing got to open.
A call come from Kwame and de post master insist and open one. Is suh de story buss out.
Dem boys now betting that is done de campaign fuh a third term done.
Talk half. Lef half

Friday, October 16, 2009

Luncheon makes policy statement on cement

Guyana Chronicle news item. 16 October 2009.
Luncheon makes policy statement on cement
By Priya Nauth
THE Guyana Government wants to ensure that there is a adequate, reliable and a competitively priced supply of cement for Guyanese, Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS), Dr. Roger Luncheon said yesterday.

He made the policy statement in response to questions about the Government’s position in the Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) controversy at his weekly post-Cabinet media briefing at Office of the President, Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Georgetown.

Noting that the matter is, indeed, sub judice, Luncheon said: “But others have spoken, not that they have spoken disregarding this principle but they have spoken.

“I want to reiterate what we are really concerned about, in this matter, what is the Government’s real concern and, of course, the answer is obvious.

“We are not in the business of buying and selling cement. We are in the business of development and housing development and housing construction is a very important part.”

Luncheon disclosed that billions (of dollars) have been spent on preparation of lands, building infrastructure and doing squatter settlement rehabilitation for housing construction.

“And this bottle neck that has been created by TCL, studiously denied of course by TCL…is the issue here,” he maintained.

Luncheon added: “That is the issue. So, if I were to comment, merely to say it’s in our national interest to ensure that cement is available, predictably available and competitively priced.”

He said the statement issued by the Administration really captured what the Government feels, and about its position on the TCL issue.

“An adequate, a reliable and a competitively priced supply of cement for Guyanese,” he stated.

Roger Khan to be sentenced today

Guyana Chronicle top story. Friday 16 October 2009.
Roger Khan to be sentenced today
By Wendella Davidson in New York

Self-confessed Guyanese drug-trafficker Shaheed Roger Khan, popularly known in Guyana as Short Man, will know his fate sometime after 2pm today in the Brooklyn Federal Court.

Khan, who has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and witness tampering charges, in addition to a gun charge, will be sentenced by Judge Dora Irizarry.

The Guyanese drug kingpin had in March this year entered into a plea bargain agreement with the prosecution.

The agreement stipulates a sentence of 15 years imprisonment, five years supervised release, and a US$300 special assessment, as well as any fine and restitution to be imposed in keeping with the law. Campbell also requests that the court impose a fine as it sees appropriate, but not greater than US$4,000,000.

This sentence, however, is left to the discretion of the judge who, it was reported, has said the decision as to how much time he should be given is solely hers.

The sentencing of Roger Khan today is the talk among Guyanese here in New York, many of whom feel that a 15-year sentence will be a slap in the face of the Guyanese at home.

Some US-based Guyanese, with whom the Chronicle has spoken, are of the view that the fact it was reported that the Judge had slipped into the courtroom and heard some chilling evidence during the trial of the former attorney of Khan, Robert Simmels, who has since being found guilty, does not augur well for Khan.

The US government has described Khan as the leader of a cocaine trafficking organisation based in Guyana, and charged him with being responsible for the distribution of huge amounts of the illicit drug in Eastern New York.

Khan, however, has denied these claims, saying he is a businessman who played an integral role in helping the Guyana Government to fight crime when the crime wave was at its peak.

Khan was a fugitive from justice in the U.S., having jumped bail from weapons charges in Vermont in 1993, and fled to his home in Guyana. His woes there began when the local Police posted a wanted bulletin for him.

He fled to neighbouring Suriname where he and some of his bodyguards were nabbed. Khan was held in jail in that country for 120 days without bail, after he was deported.

The authorities there placed him on a plane heading to Trinidad, where U.S. Drug Enforcement Agent with the help of Trinidad officials, held him.
He was subsequently extradited to the U.S. and has been in jail here since.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kaieteur News news item. October 15, 2009. TCL ‘troubled’ by Jagdeo’s statements on CCJ

The TCL Group yesterday said that it is ‘troubled’ by President Bharrat Jagdeo’s comments that there is a conflict of interest on the part of Dr Rollin Bertrand being the Chairman of the Trust Fund of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and at the same time being the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the TCL Group.
TCL has won the legal challenge it took to the CCJ against Guyana for waiving the Common External Tariff (CET) on the importation of cement.
Jagdeo’s statement, the TCL Group said, casts doubt over the integrity of the CCJ and attacked the character of TCL Group’s and CEO Dr. Rolling Bertrand.
The TCL Group said it is troubled by President Jagdeo’s comments since, in his capacity as Chairman of CARICOM, “he is expected to properly represent the integrity of regional institutions.”
In addition, President Jagdeo is a signatory to the Treaty establishing the CCJ and the CCJ Trust Fund, and as part of the original “design team” he is well aware of the institutional arrangements that are in place to insulate the Court from any kind of interference – political or otherwise, the TCL group stated.
“These robust mechanisms have even been applauded by international onlookers and will certainly be tested during the current imbroglio,” the TCL group declared.
According to the TCL GROUP, a Board of Trustees consisting of eminent persons in business, civil society and the judiciary governs the CCJ Trust Fund. During its short time, two Chief Justices have been Trustees and have been party to the discussions of the “conflicts of interest” in the cases before the CCJ (TCL v CARICOM and TCL v GoG).
The Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) has a Trustee on the Board of Trustees. The CAIC Trustee on the Board of Trustees is a TCL executive. The Board of Trustees also has representatives of the Secretary General and there are two Guyanese nationals on the Board.
The Board has no interaction with the judges of the CCJ and cannot influence the Court’s decisions, the TCL Group stated, adding that the institutional arrangements to protect the Court from politicians also protect the Court from all other parties, including Trustees.
The claim, by President Jagdeo, that Bertrand “regularly” interfaces with the Court” could not be further from the truth, the TCL Group stated.
The Court and the Fund interface through the CCJ Court Administrator and the Executive Officer of the Fund. There is the occasional exchange of correspondence between the two institutions, but the Board always sanctions these, the TCL Group stated.
In order to influence the Court, the Fund would have to be able to exercise some power over the judges - and no such avenues exist, TCL stated, noting that the Fund was established simply to manage the US$100 million initial capital raised by Member States to fund the Court, when requested.
The Fund does not decide on the Budget of the Court and it disburses moneys to the Court in quarterly installments as requested.
If the Trustees fear that the Court’s expenditure is getting out of hand, the Board of Trustees is required to solicit the intervention of the Secretary General of CARICOM to curb the Court’s expenditure plans.
Trustees have no say in Court expenses and have no veto power over any financial request of the Court, the TCL Group stated. The terms and conditions of the judges are established and altered by the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC). The Board of Trustees has no input into these matters.
“In short, the Fund is powerless against the Court”, the Group stated.
When TCL took legal action against the Caribbean Community and the Government of Guyana (GoG), Dr. Rollin Bertrand immediately declared a “potential conflict of interest” to the Board. Dr. Bertrand offered to give up the post of Chairman or even come off the Board, but after lengthy discussions and a legal opinion from eminent Senior Counsel, the Board agreed that Dr. Bertrand not step down.
In the matter of TCL versus CARICOM, there was a representative of CARICOM on the Board who was also “conflicted”. More distantly, the representative of the Caribbean Congress of Labour on the Board would have been connected to TCL and TGI’s employees and could also be said to have a “conflict of interest”.
Notwithstanding the above, Dr. Bertrand has been very cautious during the pendency of the case. He has kept out of any interface with the Court even staying away from CARICOM functions where the President of the Court would have been present, the TCL Group stated.
As far as TCL’s case went, Dr. Bertrand did not sign any affidavits nor did he appear as witness in the matter.
While the comments of the President of Guyana are very unfortunate, this incident presents an opportunity for the public to learn about the Court, the TCL Group said, noting that the media must play an important part.
The Group declared that independence of the CCJ is extremely robust.
The TCL Group anticipates that President Jagdeo would on reflection and consultation seek to correct the perceptions and damage to character and reputation caused by his recent comments.

Govt responds to TCL Group

Kaieteur News news item. October 15, 2009. Govt responds to TCL Group

It has come to the notice of the Administration that the TCL Group has sought to characterize as an improper representation of fact, President Bharrat Jagdeo’s comments surrounding media queries about the conflict of interest issue involving TCL and its litigation at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
The Office of the President advises that President Jagdeo’s comment at a recent press conference was intended to clarify ongoing media questions and reports that are focusing on claims of conflict of interest involving TCL.
The Administration further advises that President Jagdeo’s statement at that press conference was factual and that indeed the issue of conflict of interest was a subject of deliberation by the Heads of the CARICOM Community, following which, Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow was made responsible for addressing their concerns with the principals. Thus the President’s disclosure was factual and incontrovertible that the Heads of Government discussed the issue of conflict of interest by TCL.
Despite TCL’s protestations about this matter, President Jagdeo was under no obligation to be ambiguous in his representation.
Furthermore, the crux of the matter remains TCL’s inability to provide the region with reliable and competitively priced supplies of cement.

Guyana fails again at CCJ

Kaieteur News news item. October 15, 2009. Guyana fails again at CCJ… as Court dismisses application for extension of time to comply.


The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) yesterday dismissed Guyana’s application for an Extension of Time as it relates to the country’s compliance with the Court’s order to reinstate the Common External Tariff (CET) on cement from non-CARICOM sources.
In considering the application for Contempt of Court by Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) and subsidiary TCL Guyana Inc. (TGI) against the Government of Guyana, the Judges directed that Guyana file its arguments in opposition to TCL’s application within 14 days.
Following that process TCL must file its response within seven days and Guyana has been directed to pay that company’s cost of filing the application.
The CCJ also stated that it regards the contempt matter as a serious and complicated issue and that it has to be heard in open Court.
On Monday, President Bharrat Jagdeo voiced his concern that the Chairman of the Trust Fund of the CCJ, Dr Rollin Bertrand, is also the chief executive officer of TCL which recently won a challenge it brought against the Guyana Government over the importation of cement.
Jagdeo’s statement came during a press briefing where he was asked about Government’s refusal to comply with the decision of the CCJ to re-impose the CET on cement imports.
The CET regulates trade with the 15-nation CARICOM, dictating that a product should not be imported from outside the bloc, once companies within the region can meet demands.
With Georgetown’s failure to comply with the Court’s August 20 decision to re-impose the CET on cement imports within 28 days, TCL and its local subsidiary again dragged the Guyana Government before the CCJ, saying the Jagdeo administration should be charged for contempt.
Jagdeo had confirmed media reports that CARICOM Heads of Government discussed Dr Bertrand’s position and cited it as a conflict of interest, since he has to be in regular contact with the Court.
The CCJ had ruled that the Government of Guyana was in breach of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas by failing to maintain and implement the CET on cement.
Additionally, the Guyana Government was ordered to pay two-thirds of TCL costs. When Guyana failed to carry out the court’s ruling, TCL and its local subsidiary approached the court again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Questions for Ravi Dev on the PPP

Questions for Ravi Dev on the PPP

Posted By Stabroek staff On October 14, 2009 @ 5:04 am In Letters | No Comments

Dear Editor,
My old friend Freddie Kissoon in his daily column, “Democracy is coffee! Democracy is Obama!,” (KN 10-12-09), has once again accused my friend Ravi Dev of being a PPP apologist. He cited Ravi Dev’s Sunday Column, “Democracy is not coffee,” (KN 10-11-09) and so I decided to read Ravi’s article with great care. After doing so several times I did have a few questions for Ravi.

Ravi wrote of the PNC, “By introducing the radical ideology of “co-operative socialism” it dismissed most of the ideals of the liberal democracy that the British had grudgingly introduced in our modern era.” My first question is, did the PPP not advocate Soviet-style Marxism Leninism or Communism which dismisses all of the ideals of liberal democracy? Would you rather have had some liberal democracy as practised by the PNC or none at all as preferred by the PPP’s brand of Communism?

Ravi also wrote, “The PNC insisted on the “paramountcy of the party” over the state; i.e. that the party in power took precedence over the organs of state.” My second question to Ravi is, is party paramountcy not a tenet of Marxism Leninism as championed by the PPP? In fact did the PPP not give critical support to the PNC during its “co-operative socialism” era? Is it not true that the PPP criticized the PNC for not implementing true socialism? Is it not true that the PPP and PNC held power sharing talks in the early 1980’s and had agreed to establish a one party state?

Ravi further wrote, “One would have thought that with the procedural aspect of democracy reinstated in the 1992 elections it would have been understood that there would be the need to make radical changes in the institutions of government and state – away from the totalitarian impositions of the PNC.” There were expectations that Dr Jagan and the PPP would have indeed usher in real democratic changes, especially with the collapse of the Communism in the Soviet Empire. But did he change the co-operative socialist state which he had given critical support? If the PPP believed in substantive democracy why then did it in January 1993 urge its members to keep studying Marxism?

Ravi wrote, “In the absence of a Democratic Pact, if(what) the opposition wanted (was) a return of a substantive democracy…were not democratic means the way to go? It was not to be. They adopted a scorched earth policy towards the new government…” Does Ravi accept that whilst Hoyte had breached procedural democracy in rigging the 1985 elections he soon after began to deconstruct the co-operative socialist state and began to slowly rebuild substantive democracy which led to the return of procedural democracy via free and free elections in 1992? Did Dr Jagan and the PPP continue to build substantive democracy? Was not Dr Jagan and the PPP’s continuation of remnants of totalitarianism the cause of Hoyte’s rage?

Ravi would probably reply, “The PPP had to act more as a player in the anarchy of the Hobbessian inter-state system than in the putatively settled intra-state order. In this milieu, the PPP has evidently chosen to be “realists” thus augmenting their own tendencies on control and power.” Is this not justification for the way the PPP has governed? Would it not have been better for the security and welfare of all Guyanese had the PPP sought help from the United Nations in dealing with the violence? Isn’t that what political parties and governments committed to both procedural and substantive democracy do? But then it would have had to relinquish its dictatorial exercise of power and control over Guyana so better to resort to extra judicial means which brings more control and power.

Yours faithfully,
Malcolm Harripaul

Article printed from Stabroek News: http://www.stabroeknews.com

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

There seems to be a dark agenda which is driving more state ads to the GT and GC

There seems to be a dark agenda which is driving more state ads to the GT and GC

Posted By Stabroek staff On October 13, 2009 @ 5:03 am In Letters | 2 Comments

Dear Editor,

Another dangerous precedent is being set by the government through its latest and somewhat continuous tirade against the two most read newspapers in the country the Kaieteur News (KN) and Stabroek News (SN). In a situation where the managements of both publications have every right to be angry, there seems to be a disenfranchisement with regards to the placement of government advertisements. Maybe they thought that nobody was checking but the SN has tabulated the numbers which the KN also published in one of its recent publications.

The information presented on the chart once again hits the nail to remind us Guyanese of the elected dictatorship we are living in today. The government has insisted that the majority of its advertisements be published in the State media namely the Guyana Chronicle (GC). That is not shocking news. We all know that our taxpayers’ monies are being spent in a newspaper which is probably the least popular publication on news stands and among newspaper vendors to date. Nevertheless, I have continued to send my letters to the GC every single time. However, any letter which, for them, contains anti- government views is not published.

I was amazed to see even the Mirror, the PPP’s organ, receiving advertisements. Who buys the Mirror? Surely, it must be only PPP supporters. That is more money again being wasted to place ads there.

Surely, government advertisements over the years have generated important financial returns for our newspapers. And the government knows this. They, in turn, for one reason or another, hurt these newspapers by diverting our monies to where they are apparently getting little or no value. In Berbice, the government dictates the same procedure. Bharrat Jagdeo and his people are loyal to only one TV station for the airing of their live programmes every time they visit Berbice. The other station in New Amsterdam gets no advertising dollar from them. Yet, this station seems reluctant to make an issue of the matter and maybe rightly so. At times, you must not stoop to levels unbecoming of your ethics in the business.

Then there is the Guyana Times (GT). This is the focal point of this current debate of the placement of government advertisements. This newspaper claims objectivity and being fair and balanced. American cable channel Fox News also claims the same. However, watching programmes on that channel tells a different story. It’s the same kind of barefacedness that is evident here.

In a recent viewpoint on Channel 28, Kit Nascimento stated that the GT publishes educational information in its Sunday issue. That is true. Sometimes I purchase that newspaper to extract that information for my classroom at school. He said that these educational articles are not evident in either the SN or KN. Well, I believe if those two newspapers wanted they’d start pulling off information and photographs from the internet for their Sunday editions too.

I have complimented the GT from its inception for its fresh ideas to the newspaper industry in Guyana. I liked its all-colour and large format. That was until the newspaper became a little too ‘boring’ for me to read. It presented nothing stimulating and in addition, it hardly ever (if at all) reports anything which the Guyanese public wants to read about or wants information about, and it does not criticize the government. That is another dangerous precedent. It is slowly becoming the GC daily. They are not publishing any of my letters as well. To prove my point of the paper not wanting to publish a letter of mine which has already appeared in the GC, SN or KN, I have sent numerous correspondences which I deliberately did not send to the GC, SN, KN or the Catholic Standard. None of them were published in the GT. That confirmed my worst fears. It will only be a matter of time until the inevitable happens.

Guyanese have always relied on the SN and the KN for objectivity, being fair and balanced, investigative and reporting that is of the highest journalistic principles. Circulation and sales, I’m sure, of these two publications combined outweigh that of the GC and the GT combined, maybe even with the Mirror. Then, any government with economic sense would seek to apply our monies more in the SN and KN. But sadly, that is not the case. There seems to be a hidden and dark agenda which is driving more money to the GT and GC in a wasteful manner which in the end shows the depths and lengths ‘they’ would go to punish the SN and KN.

I conclude by saying that this latest stunt is definitely a tactic being used by the PPP government against the SN and KN for standing up to the corruption and mismanagement that is going on in Guyana and actually having the courage to report on it. I stand in solidarity with the SN and KN on this issue and urge more prudent thinking Guyanese and organizations to publicly denounce this latest shenanigan to penalize these two publications, for it is our monies that is being used in a wasteful manner towards other newspapers which have become redundant in their reporting and fairy-like portrayal of the real and horrible situations that exist in Guyana.

I won’t be surprised if the situation with the ads gets worse over the next few months, especially if the SN and KN continue to expose certain things happening in this country.

Yours faithfully,
Leon J. Suseran
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URL to article: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/letters/10/13/there-seems-to-be-a-dark-agenda-which-is-driving-more-state-ads-to-the-gt-and-gc/