Dear Editor,United States Ambassador to Guyana, His Excellency Perry Holloway, recently issued a wonderfully balanced recommendatory piece on the urgent need for the establishment of a Sovereign Wealth Fund as Guyana positions itself on the threshold of establishing a petroleum-based economy.Ambassador Holloway observed: “Guyana is poised to be a very rich country for this region, with considerable revenue streams in the future.”It was therefore a matter of considerable shock and surprise to read the response of Minister Winston Jordan — that the Ambassador’s comments “may give the impression that the Government of Guyana, and by extension the Ministry of Finance,…has not made significant progress on this important piece of legislation.”Minister Jordan’s reaction led me to conclude — and I am sure that many who read the Ambassador’s comments concluded similarly — that Minister Jordan was impulsive, and spoke from the top of his head, he not having read the Ambassador’s comments in detail, and seemingly just reacted to the headlines in the newspaper.Ambassador Holloway, referring to his comments, said: “In writing this, I do not imply that work is not being done to develop a Sovereign Wealth Fund. In fact, I strongly commend the Government of Guyana for working on a draft bill and preparing to have a fund in place by 2020.”Notwithstanding his deliberate effort to be at his diplomatic best and not appear to be critical of the Government, Winston Jordan roundly rebuffed the Ambassador.Just so Ambassador Holloway understands, Guyanese understand Minister Jordan to have told you, “Don’t poke your nose in our affairs. The oil money is ours. Mind your own business!”No one could have failed to notice that, in his comments, Ambassador Holloway emphasized the need for Government to have “consultations” and “conversations” with the people of Guyana in the development of a “framework that protects and effectively leverages wealth to transform the nation.”Ambassador Holloway is temporarily resident in Guyana. He is, no doubt, aware that wherever Government is with the development of a Sovereign Wealth Fund legal framework, it has not involved the people of Guyana in “consultations” and “conversations” in this regard. It is this underlying theme of people involvement in the Ambassador’s comments that I suspect has irked the rulers much more than just his call for a Sovereign Wealth Fund.The truth is Ambassador Holloway does not know the nature of the APNU/PNC beast. He has been told to exercise restraint in relation to Guyana’s business. In other words, Minister Jordan has told Ambassador Holloway that he and Guyana can do without his advice.The only thing that this undemocratic regime needs from the US Government is for visas to be given freely to PPP/C supporters to facilitate their travel out of Guyana in the run-up to the 2020 elections, so that the support base of that party can be significantly reduced. Additionally, this inept, blundering regime, as Kaieteur News columnist Freddie Kissoon says, would be happy if the USA were to keep the PPP/C out of Government, and to turn a blind eye to their known potential for elections rigging. The PNC, the prime mover in APNU, is well aware that the USA looked the other way as they, in the past, for about nearly three decades, brutalized the people of Guyana, trampled upon their dignity, and mercilessly violated their basic human rights and freedoms.The time is now for Ambassador Holloway to reassure the people of Guyana that, come 2020, the only interest of the USA will be in a rig-free election, free from fear and patently fair.Sincerely,Selwyn Persaud
Dear Editor,On May 5, 1838, some 180 years ago, the first batch of 128 East Indian immigrants landed at Plantation Highbury, East Bank Berbice. It is important that, as Guyanese, we do not allow the historical significance of Plantation Highbury to diminish.Over the last thirty years, on May 5th, Guyanese gathered at this prestigious site to reflect and show gratitude for the sacrifices of our ancestors.Through the generosity of the Indian Government, Guyana has received a monument to commemorate this historical occasion. The controversial Palmyra site selected for such a monument still baffles the mind of the majority of Guyanese.While Guyanese are extremely grateful for this monument, the reasons given for the selection of this site over the Highbury site have indeed displayed the ignorance and subsequent lack of emotion of those who were instrumental in deciding for the Guyanese population that Palmyra is the best place for such a monument.The reasons given thus far are that Palmyra is at a junction where the Berbice bridge — the way to the Corentyne — and the town of New Amsterdam can be accessed. More people will get to view it.Security at Palmyra would be superior to that at Highbury. The area is more populated, Highbury is too isolated.There is not enough space at Highbury to accommodate such a monument. There is enough land space at palmyra.The roads to the site are not that good, and it’s too far away from the urban areas.Again, the question is: Where is the historical justification for the selection of this Palmyra site?Please permit me to give reasons why Highbury is the best place for such a monument.1: Our forefathers landed at Highbury, not at Palmyra. Highbury was declared a heritage site due to its immense historical significance. The imprints of the feet of our forefathers will forever be in the hearts of us, their descendants. Those with genuine appreciation for the sacrifices of our forefathers will always feel that emotional attachment to a place like Highbury. This site was always graced by the presence of distinguished individuals from 1988 to date. Presidents Desmond Hoyte, Samuel Hinds, Bharrat Jagdeo, Donald Ramotar, and in the last two years, his Excellency David Granger, Indian High Commissioners past and present, Ministers of Government, members of the diplomatic corps, and thousands of Guyanese as well as foreigners, the likes of Yesu Persaud, Ravi Dev, former Prime Minister of Trinidad Basdeo Panday, have all paid homage to this place of pilgrimage. On the historical 100th anniversary of Indian arrival, the then Deputy Prime Minister of India together with the Prime Minister of Guyana joined the gathering under the sacred bel and peepar trees which are still present there today to commemorate this occasion.1. Both domestic and regional tourism can be boosted by the enhancement of Highbury heritage site. With persons making that journey to Highbury, not only will it give them that experience, but also will boost the economic growth of the area. Local shops, fruit juice vendors, subsistence farmers as well as boarding houses can all benefit from the sale of their products and services. Along the way to the site, one can also see a Hindu architectural wonder in the Gay Park Sri Krishna Mandir, the Bermine site, where bauxite was once mined, nature’s own variety of plant and animal life seem untouched, and the breath of clean, fresh air, wide savannah lands that stretch towards the horizons. The poor condition of the roads to the area is not an excuse anymore, as the stretch from Everton to Highbury is already paved, and work is currently being done to have a fully paved road, along with street lights, connecting the town of New Amsterdam to Everton.2. A monument at palmyra after time will lose the interest of the public, as it will be just a pass-by as it is with other monuments in the country that are sited based on the thought that “most people will see it here”. Once the appreciation is there for our rich history, then the question of long journey to Highbury will not even arise.3. Wherever the monument is placed, it must be secured. So the cost of security will not differ based on location. As with every national heritage site, the Government provides assistance in preserving our heritage, and Highbury has receive much needed support from the Government in recent years, and I am confident that such will continue in the future.4. As further development works are earmarked for the site, appropriate security measures will be put in place. The Berbice Indian Commemoration Committee is tasked with the responsibility for the Highbury Heritage Site, and will ensure that the assets are secured.5. The Highbury site can accommodate over three thousand under the roof itself. Sanitary facilities, potable running water, as well as a cooking area are currently at the disposal of the public. This place is used for farmers’ meetings, seminars, medical outreaches, school tours among many other things. The placement of the monument will further enhance the outlook of this site and serve as a stimulus for further development.Mr Editor, it is clear that the justification given for the placement of this commemorative monument at Highbury far outweighs that of the palmyra site. Together with the likes of Dr. Yesu Persaud, Mr. Nourang Persaud and other Guyanese, particularly Berbicians, I am pleading with the relevant authorities to correct this unfortunate situation.Yours faithfully,Ramesh Maraj(PRO- Berbice Indian Cultural Committee)
Dear Editor,About three weeks ago, I wrote about a leaking Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) water main in North-eastern Georgetown. The problem has since been rectified.As a citizen of this country, I challenge others to make their contribution, however fractional, to its development and progress in word or deed. Most persons do not go beyond word, which is for the most part complaining. I believe that even after complaining, one should be prepared to propose feasible solutions. I also believe that we must be honest when there is meaningful change or resolutions and the appropriate credit or praise be given. It is in this good spirit that I must publicly recognise the remedial action of GWI by ending the leak and loss of hundreds of gallons of water.GWI, under the good stewardship of a former Health Minister, Dr Richard Van West-Charles, has made several interventions since 2015 to improve water distribution nationally. However, the quality of potable water to households appears to be an ongoing challenge for that entity. There is just too much discolouration, high iron and sedimentation content in the water entering most of our homes.The United States Environmental Protection Agency considers iron in well water as a secondary contaminant. There are no proven results of its direct impact to health based on the secondary maximum contaminant level set at 0.3 milligrams per litre. Nevertheless, the high iron content is known to cause other forms of damage. Some of the most notable effects are stains, clogs, odors and unpleasant taste.GWI’s management team is encouraged to further address the concerns of its water quality, and in so doing fulfill the CEO’s commitment when he was appointed in October 2015.Yours faithfully,Orette Cutting
Dear Editor,The terrible road accident at Friendship, East Bank Demerara, that claimed the precious lives of those five people on October 15, 2019, is indeed very sad. After viewing the surveillance camera footage, it is clear that the driver of the private car was not at fault. I was looking at the accident and thinking with a shudder that it could have easily been myself and family in that private car on that fateful day.This was something that was waiting to happen. I have heard countless experiences by drivers who encounter these blazing fast outriders. Here in Berbice, a close friend of mine and a popular businessman, was telling me some time back when Mr David Granger visited Region Six, Corentyne, how he was almost forced off of the road in his attempt to avoid a collision with one of the outriders that was travelling at a dangerously high rate of speed with absolutely no concern for other road users. What is the reason for these officers and convoys to be driving at this high rate of speed? What is the urgency? Is someone usually on life support in the presidential convoys and needs to get quickly to the hospital? It makes absolutely no sense at all. We the good citizens of Guyana have summed up that it is just for publicity, to give us all a sense that “he” is around. Take your time please, drive carefully and try not to kill more innocent people.I now wish to draw your attention to another horrific incident in Berbice in which two bodies were found, two others are missing and presumed dead. This was a few days before the road accident that sadly claimed those five precious lives. However, neither the President nor any of his Ministers visited to extend condolences to the grieving relatives of the boat incident, nor, to a lesser extent, offered monetary help.The police are here for the protection of the citizens of this country at all times and they are doing a great job in spite of bad conditions. They are not employed to guard a single person (who is in no risk of being hurt) in all conceivable directions.Sincerely,Shane Lindie
Alexander Street shootingMurdered: Mahendra PersaudMurder accused, Raul VeraThe man who allegedly shot and killed Wakennaam businessman Mahendra Persaud was on Tuesday slapped with a murder charge when he appeared before Magistrate Fabayo Azore at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.Raul Vera was not required to plea to the indictable charge, which stated that on April 19, at Robb and Alexander Streets, Georgetown he murdered 26-year-old Persaud during the course of a robbery.Magistrate Fabayo Azore adjourned and transferred the matter for reports and fixtures until May 16.According to reports, Persaud who would usually travel to Georgetown to purchase goods for his family’s business was about to enter a store to transact business at about 11:00h, when he was pounced on by a gunman who demanded that he hand over his money.Persaud resisted the bandit’s attempt to relieve him of the bag he was carrying and was shot once to his chest.He was taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital where he subsequently died.
A minibus driver was on Tuesday sentenced to four years imprisonment and fined more than .5 million, after he was found guilty of possession of 12 kilogramms of compressed marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.Ossie Mc Farlene, 35, of Hopetown, West Cost Berbice, was found guilty of the charge by Magistrate Rhondell Weaver at the Blairmont Magistrate’s Court.It was alleged that on September 29, 2015, Mc Farlene drove his car through a roadblock in front of the Fort Wellington Police Station after which he was apprehended and found with the quantity of narcotics.Prosecutor Inspector Althea Solomon presented evidence to establish that after Mc Farlene failed to stop at the roadblock, officers gave chase and caught him at Plantation Hope, West Coast Berbice.A search was conducted on the vehicle he was driving and eight packets of compressed marijuana were discovered in the trunk.Defence Attorneys Mursalene Bacchus and Perry Gossai had argued that their client was innocent of the allegations, pointing out that he was oblivious that marijuana was in the trunk of the vehicle. This was however insufficient and did not influence the decision of the court.
Terrence Mclean, 34, who claimed he is attached to ISIS after attempting to rob the Guyana Bank for Trade andTerrence McleanIndustry (GBTI), was today sentenced to three years imprisonment by Magistrate Judy Latchman after pleading guilty to the charge of demanding $10 million from the officer in charge of the card centre, Dahana Ramjist, with the intent to steal.The prosecution’s facts stated that on Tuesday, June 28, Mclean entered the GBTI, Regent Street, Georgetown branch at 09:20h and requested to speak with the Manager and handed over a note stating, “ISIS, there is a bomb in the bag, give us $10 million or you will all die.” The accused then demanded $10 million.An alarm was raised which summoned Police ranks. Upon the arrival of the Police, Mclean dropped the haversack he was carrying and shouted “Allah Akbar.”The accused was subsequently arrested and the bag was searched, revealing documents and a knife. No evidence of a bomb was found.Magistrate Latchman sentenced Mclean to the maximum imprisonment for the charge given the seriousness of the crime and the effect it can have on the commercial bank.Mclean was unrepresented in court and prior to his sentencing,he told the court, “They should have given me the money because they will all die the next time.” He further added that procedures that were taken to arrest him “were all flawed.”McLean is said to be of unsound mind and underwent psychiatric evaluation at Dr Bhiro Harry’s clinic. It was confirmed by Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum that McLean is a deportee who was also charged in 2007 for the possession of a gun and ammunition.
Construction workers contracted by the Chinese company, CICO, are complaining of traffic violations and insults hurled out to them by drivers as they pave the road between Red Light and Fendell.Some of the workers, who spoke to the Daily Observer on February 26, complained that drivers and owners of vehicles— specifically those bearing RL, SEN and REP plates— failed to observe signs on the road and throw derogatory languages at them (workers).According to the workers, though they are not clothed with the authority to speak for the company, disrespectful treatment towards them from government officials are an abuse of their rights as citizens of Liberia; and as such, they are compelled to express their feelings to the press under the cloak of anonymity.CICO is responsible for the portion of the Red Light-Ganta Highway from Red Light to Gbarnga. This portion has been assigned to one group of workers between Coco Cola Factory and Fendell while the others are spread out along the highway.Workers usually install signs on the part of the road they are paving while directing vehicles to use a different route in order to avoid inconvenience for motorist.In spite of these efforts, the workers claimed government officials plying the road insult them without any regard for their humanity.“As we stand by with signs to direct cars coming to where we are working, drivers and owners of these cars put their heads out of their windows and insult us. They tell us that we are useless laborers without technical knowledge who are ‘following behind the Chinese’ doing unskilled work. They refuse to go along the path on the road we prepare for them to follow. They want to use the part of the road we are fixing because they do not want their cars to get dusty,” one worker complained.According to them, Police vehicles are also involved in the violations. “Even the police who we expect to help us enforce the rules break them. They use their power to drive past the sign, this is causing embarrassment for us,” he said.The workers noted that they could be like any other Liberian who chooses to sell cold water or anything else for a living, but they respect their work with the road construction company because it is meant to help the reconstruction process of the country.“We are not doing bad by working with CICO to pave this road. We are helping because they cannot do everything alone. That is why our officials should not see us in wretched clothes working on the road and treat us as if we are not human,” the anonymous worker said.CICO officials’ contacted Wednesday, February 26, afternoon about the alleged abuse said they have not received and formal complaint from their workers. Efforts made to contact the workers’ Chinese supervisors along the road proved fruitless as they do not speak English and there was no one present to interpret from Chinese to English.The aggrieved Liberian contractors said their relationship with the company itself is very cordial one. “Only our Liberian brothers and sisters in big positions see it fit to cuss us on this road since we’ve been working here. Let them know that it is for their own good we stand here to direct them. They must not cuss us just because they are in big cars,” another worker noted.Giving some backgrounds on how the work is done, one contractor said, “aside from the base made of crushed rocks; two additional layers of coal tar are laid upon it (the base) before smoothening it out.The contractor said the construction work would last for three years and seven years would be used for maintenance before turning it over to the country.He also disclosed that the portion between Fendell and Red Light would be completed this Dry Season.Meanwhile, the road from Red Light to Ganta is sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).Two Chinese construction companies including CICO and CHICO are carrying on the construction for a period of three years.CICO takes on the road from Red Light to Gbarnga, while CHICO begins from Gbarnga to the Guinea-Liberia border in Ganta, Nimba County.The two companies have begun intensive work on the road as there are various sub groups in separate locations working.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Press Union of Liberia last Friday awarded several journalists and institutions for their remarkable and courageous performances as news gatherers in their various assignments last year.Interestingly one of the areas was sports reporting which encompasses those in the print and the electronic media.Located at its Clay Street’s office is the Sports Writers Association of Liberia. This body is an auxiliary of the Press Union of Liberia. Its members are also registered members of the PUL.At its recent elections at the YMCA building in Monrovia, among other things, PUL President Kamara A. Kamara told the members about the important role that SWAL ‘plays’ in PUL.Kamara’s statement has come to haunt me since his infant administration did not involve the SWAL in the selection of its deserving member who supposedly made exceptional contribution to sports in the previous year.I am not sure, as it is often said jokingly; PUL President Kamara’s recent statement at the SWAL installation was a statement someone would make at a liquor table, to impress the ladies who are present.How does an organization become an important part of another when the other is ignored in an important selection process that should benefit at least one of them? What about the Reporters Association?The Secretary General of PUL, Kaihene Sengbe told SWAL members during our recent elections that he began his career as a sports reporter. Except maybe I was not paying attention to him, I want to know how in the world he would become part of a decision that overlooked a field that served as the foundation for his success as a journalist.It is of interest that while those who were honored deserve my commendation, goes against the practice of honor. How do you select yourself to receive an honor? Are your works not enough evidence that you deserve it?Someone told me the other day that what is not done properly is not done at all. It is too early for the good old Kamara and his new group of leaders to behave as if someone was telling them what to do.I am also aware of the Reporters Association also an auxiliary of the PUL was sadly ignored in the selection of deserving reporters for recognition the PUL.In all due respect, the idea that the honorees selected themselves in the first place was a bad practice that must be discouraged. We live in a society in which degree holders are not able to justify how they got their degrees.Rightly, a committee must be set up, with responsible members, along with media managers outside the PUL to manage such a sensitive issue. Also needed is a set of criteria that must serve as a guide. Why the above suggestion was not envisioned by the PUL is difficult to comprehend.Personally, I am satisfied that someone down the road the other day, offered me a bag of cold water, for reading my sports article that torched his heart. At least I did not have to nominate myself. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
PSC Chairman Norman McLeanchairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Norman McLean on Thursday said the body remains committed to its advocacy for the establishment of several commissions.These include the Public Procurement and the Ethnic Relations Commissions, as well as other commissions on children, gender and indigenous peoples. However, they remain non starters at the moment.The new Administration had promised to get most, if not all of these commissions, up and running; however, there have been some major setbacks.In December last year, Government began making moves to have the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) established by advertising through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for stakeholders, political parties, civil organisations and individuals to submit names of persons eligible to be considered commissioners.Since then, nothing further has been said or done.While on the Opposition side of the house, the new Government was very critical of the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s approach to the distribution of contracts and had called out to the PPP/C to have the Public Procurement Commission established.According to Guyana’s Constitution, the PPC shall consist of five members who shall have expertise and experience in the procurement, legal, financial and administrative matters.The Procurement Commission is usually made up of Government and Opposition parliamentarians, and is traditionally chaired by a member of the Opposition in the House.Government itself had come under fire for failing to establish the Procurement Commission earlier – a promise it made in its manifesto. The absence of the PPC had caused even more outrage against Government, particularly because of its move to carry out a number of forensic audits at State entities across Guyana, without carrying out the requisite tendering process.Meanwhile, the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) is yet to be constituted. Government had said late last year too that it was awaiting a move from the Opposition.During the 10th Parliament, the appointive committee had approved the names of nominees to be ERC Commissioners; however, despite the approval, their appointments were not assented to by former President Donald Ramotar.Similarly, the Rights of the Child Commission, the Women and Gender Equality Commission and the commission on indigenous people are also yet to be established.The last public call for the establishment of these commissions was back in early February 2015, by then Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman.He had urged that outstanding aspects of the 2001 Constitutional Reform process be deepened to strengthen the work of the Rights of the Child Commission (RCC). According to him, the Constitution specifies that a Human Rights Commission and a Rights Tribunal be established, the existence of which he believed would give potency to the work of the RCC and its findings.The RCC is one of several constitutional Rights Commissions that were established at the conclusion of the reform, which included the term limits for Presidents. The others are the Human Rights, Women and Gender, Indigenous Peoples and the Ethnic Relations Commission.