Desperate times demand desperate measures

first_imgDear Editor,The present situation in Guyana is of much concern to Guyanese, more so to the PPP/C former government officials, the party support base, and respected persons who criticised the APNU/AFC coalition government. The disrespecting and humiliation of two distinguish gentlemen, Dr Ashni Singh and Mr Winston Brassington, who served their country with distinction, is clear evidence that the Government is losing support, and as such is showing signs of desperation by using methods to appease and cling on to its supporters, who are very much upset about its FAILURE in Government after three years. This situation reminds me of an article in the Washington Post News by Lewis Simons, dated October 4th 1977, title, “Indira Gandhi arrested in India”. It is a true reflection of what is transpiring presently in Guyana. The arrest was described as a political one by Indira Gandhi because trips and political meetings by Gandhi were receiving enthusiastic turnouts in various parts of India. The Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, ordered her arrest, thinking that he would have satisfied widespread plaudits. But unfortunately, Prime Minister Desai lost the next elections to Indira Gandhi. This is actually happening presently. Cde Bharrat Jagdeo and the PPP are getting favourable responses in every corner of Guyana, and as such, can be faced with more victimisation to create fear among supporters as efforts are made to try to derail a sure victory for the PPP.  These incidents are not about corruption, they are a clear sign of political discrimination against the PPP, hoping that this will enable APNU/AFC to win the majority in the General Election in 2020.The PPP is strong enough to withstand any amount of political pressure and fear from APNU/AFC. Don’t allow this disease of political victimisation to silence us, because democracy will surely die in this darkness.Yours sincerely,Zamal Hussainlast_img read more

Is SARA living in a bubble?

first_imgDear Editor,Several media houses reported that “SARA was awaiting additional information from Teixeira on signing bonus complaint” or similar such words. All reported that this emanated from the Deputy Director of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA), Heath-Retmeyer.For the record, I wrote three letters to the Director of SARA, Dr Clive Thomas, in 2018. I have had no dealings with the Deputy Director.In the first, dated April 16, 2018, l called on SARA to investigate a number of cases which l chronicled with regards to corruption, breach of the procurement laws and wastage of taxpayers’ monies and state resources: –1. The Public Health Ministry’s $620 million purchase of drugs and medical supplies without any recourse to the procurement process;2. The Public Health Ministry’s contract for the rental of the Sussex Street house as a pharmacy bond without resort to any procurement process;3. The construction of the Jubilee D’Urban Park facilities costing over $2 billion with no resort to public procurement. (The Auditor General to date cannot access required documents);4. The pre-feasibility study of a New Demerara Harbour Bridge in violation of the procurement laws (this matter was sent to the Public Procurement Commission and its report was sent to the Special Organised Crime Unit by me to bring criminal charges against the subject Minister and a copy was shared with SARA);5. The Petroleum Production Sharing Agreement with Exxon in 2016;6. The US$18 million signature bonus deposited in an interest-bearing foreign currency account in the Bank of Guyana and not deposited in the Consolidated Fund as required by the Constitution nor reflected in the country’s revenue;7. Breaches of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA) identified in the 2016 Auditor General ReportI received a reply from the Director of SARA, Dr Thomas, on April 19, 2018, in which he acknowledged “receipt of the complaints in your letter. SARA does not and cannot initiate investigations without first receiving a complaint such as yours….”I then responded in a 5-page letter dated April 21, 2018, in which l made additional complaints which “fall squarely in your remit: –1. The acquisition of a house and land in Bel Air Gardens, then State-owned, below market value at that time and with no recourse to any procurement process by the former Minister of Finance of the PNC Government and now second Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge of the APNU/AFC coalition.2. The PPP/C Government responded to the Burnham family’s request for land and issued 5 acres of prime land in Georgetown at no costs to former Vice President and First Lady Viola Burnham and widow of President Forbes Burnham in D’Urban Backlands.3. The acquisition of a huge tract of land to the People’s National Congress for their party headquarters, Congress Place, in Sophia, at no cost and where sections have been sold over the years at market value and for profit, the most recent sale took place after the 2015 General and Regional Elections.As such, l am now formally laying my complaint with reference to the cases regarding corruption, abuse in public office and violation of the Constitution, Procurement Act, and financial laws listed in my letter dated April 16, 2018, and those listed above and call on SARA to investigate them.The most egregious case relates to the sale of our national patrimony in oil and natural gas well below what is observed internationally and “relatively favourable to investors by international standards,” as stated in the International Monetary Fund report prepared for Guyanese officials. Follow the trail Dr Thomas, you will find the answers and the accounts of those who benefitted.In closing, l note your statement that “the goal is to repel procurement fraud, stolen state assets, corruption so that Guyanese of all walks of life can be assured their roads, national patrimony, gold and other state assets [which] are used for the betterment of all Guyanese”. In other words, all the cases l brought to your attention in my first letter and this follow-up falls into that stated goal.On June 5, 2018, Dr Thomas responded to my April 16, 2018, letter in which he listed 6 of the 7 cases l referred to, excluding the US$18 million signature bonus requesting “that any evidence which you might have in relation to any unlawful conduct in this matter be forwarded to us to aid in our consideration and investigation”.I then responded on June 15, 2018, to Dr Thomas advising that the information l referred to in my letters were all publicly available. Further, l advised Dr Thomas where he could find the information with regards to each case. (I have attached a copy of this letter to Dr Thomas)That was the last l heard from the Director of SARA, Dr Thomas, or anyone from SARA until l saw Heath-Retmeyer’s comment today.What information is SARA waiting on with regards to the US$18 million signature bonus? The letter from the Finance Ministry to the Bank of Guyana advising it to deposit the US$18 million in an interest-bearing foreign currency account was published in the media in December 2017, a year after the Government received the money. The US$18 million has, to date, not been deposited in the Consolidated Fund, despite the matter being raised in National Assembly on several occasions and in the media on numerous occasions.Is SARA living in a bubble? An expensive bubble for the Guyanese taxpayers with budgetary provisions of $260 million in 2018 and $285 million in 2019, yet the Deputy Director wants to give the public the impression that SARA cannot investigate unless l, the complainant, provide more information on the US$18 million? This is his response on a serious violation of the Constitution?!What a pathetic whimper from SARA!Maybe SARA should first “clean up” its own act. The Act was assented to on May 4, 2017, more than two years ago, yet a Director has not been appointed and approved by the National Assembly within the 4 months of the commencement of the Act. Or does SARA need a complaint to be filed and additional information on this matter too?Sincerely,Gail Teixeiralast_img read more

Copyright Legislation on parliamentary agenda

first_imgIn an effort to protect local entertainers from infringement within the music industry, the government is mulling to have Copyright legislation passed in Parliament in the near future.This is according to Minister of Tourism and Public Telecommunications Catherine Hughes, who informed that Copyright legislation is on the current parliamentary agenda for discussion.The minister said the government is not oblivious of the concerns of local performers in relation to their work being protected and therefore it is their duty to have the legislation laid in Parliament.Over the years, local musicians had lamented that being a performer in Guyana is somewhat of a risky business, since persons have the constant fear of having their work copyrighted.The delay in passing the legislation had also captured international concern, as the United States had criticised the absence of the legislation sometime late last year.In addition, the Ministry of Public Telecommunications along with government is making it possible for musicians to apply for a waiver under the criteria that the performers are Guyanese and their piece coincides with the country’s culture and music.Hughes said once the entertainers applying for the waiver fits the requirements, the ministry is more than willing to grant them it.This would increase the chances of musicians actually being able to reap expansive benefits when they hold shows in Guyana.Most importantly, the minister pointed out that entertainers would stand a better chance of increasing the finances gained from their performance to foster their development.It means when you look at the bottom line it makes it a little more profitable for performers to be able to hold shows and be able to cover their costs and more importantly to put aside something from those performances that can lead to the development of that specific art from.With the consideration of Guyana’s entertainment industry and the aim to have it thrive on both a local and international map, government had recently cut back on entertainment taxes.This was announced in this year’s National Budget, where the ministry of finance had announced a reduction of entertainment taxes for musicians and entertainers who are required to pay when performing in Guyana.Hughes said there are just some incentives by government to protect and promote the growth of its entertainers, even as Guyana progresses as an independent nation.last_img read more

Guyana, Kyrgyzstan establish diplomatic ties

first_imgGuyana and the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan) established diplomatic relations on Friday, September 23, 2016, with the signature of a Joint Communiqué in the margins of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly.The Communiqué was signed by Carl Greenidge, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Erlan Abdyldaev, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyz Republic.Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge and Kyrgyz’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Abdyldaev after signing a Joint CommuniquéThe Communiqué now provides a framework for Guyana and Kyrgyz Republic to begin exploring areas of mutual interest. Minister Greenidge expressed satisfaction with this step taken by the two countries, noting that the Communiqué allows for more bilateral interaction including economic cooperation.The Foreign Minister of Kyrgyz Republic in echoing these sentiments said that his Government is interested in having a mutually supportive relationship with Guyana, the Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed in a press statement.Kyrgyz Republic is located in Central Asia and was part of the Soviet Union before gaining independence in 1991. The country is rich in natural resources and has vast potential for the development of industrial production, hydropower, agriculture and tourism.The establishment of diplomatic relations with Kyrgyz Republic is part of the wider thrust of the Government of Guyana to pursue new partnerships with the aim of advancing the country’s economic growth and development.last_img read more

LEC Removes ‘Death Trap’ on Benson & Lynch Streets

first_imgFollowing the Daily Observer’s story last Thursday about a dangling LEC light pole that has since January 25 posed a grave danger to traders, pedestrians and residents at the intersection of Benson and Lynch Streets in Monrovia, the LEC management has removed the hanging pole and replaced it with a new one.The pole hanging precariously overhead was seen as a death trap causing fear in the community over the tragedy it could cause if it fell on pedestrians, petty traders, vehicles and buildings in the area. But immediately after this paper published the story, the LEC management dispatched a team of engineers, among them, linemen, who combined their efforts to replace the pole with a new one.By replacing the dangling pole, which was knocked off its base on Sunday January 25, allegedly by a speeding vehicle, the community at the intersection are now at ease and grateful to the LEC management for its overdue but welcomed intervention.One resident only identified as Temacaus, whose fianceé trades along with other women under the pole, described LEC’s removal of the damaged pole, as a “good effort to save the lives of ordinary persons on the streets.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more