Apr 07, 2019 News Comments Off on SUNDAY
Guyana Goldfields received US$50M in tax exemptions in last three years …Duty free concessions for Peruvian company being questioned
In the early 90s, there were little investments coming. Guyana was seen as not so attractive.
Guyana managed then to bring two major investments, including Malaysians for Barama Company Limited and a US company for the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Limited.
Over the years, to attract investments, Guyana offered tax incentives, including duty free concessions and holidays as a means to woo overseas businesses, which had the resources and skills capacity.
After evidence emerged pointing to widespread abuse in those tax incentives, there were attempts made locally to streamline it.
A few of the abuses include the import and sale to the local market of materials, including steel and paint, and equipment including trucks, SUVs and even heavy machinery.
While in the beginning there was a focus more on creating local jobs, in recent years, the attention has been on getting a good deal on investments for Guyana.
According to Government, and tax officials, there should be a formula that allows Guyana to get a fair share.
However, in last few years, several of the agreements that consecutive governments signed with investors that have been coming to light, have pointed to an alarming situation.
In many cases, Guyana has foregone billions of dollars in taxes to receive a pittance in royalties and income tax from employees of those investors.
In other words, valuable resources like gold and bauxite were being mined with Guyana not getting its fair share.
One company that came under the spotlight was Canadian-owned Guyana Goldfields Inc. That company had been exploring for years in its Cuyuni concessions and finally raised money to invest in the largest gold mine in Guyana.
Taxi driver runs down wife with car, then butchers her
In broad daylight, as she was making her way to work on foot through a street in Williamsburg, Corentyne, 21-year-old Omwattie “Anjalie” Gill never expected what was heading her way when her own husband drove into her with his rented car before he hacked her death in front nearby villagers.
Gavin Gill, 31, a taxi driver of Port Mourant, was arrested by the police with a bloodied cutlass in hand while he stood near his wife’s lifeless body lying on the parapet of the street. He said nothing to authorities and did not attempt to escape.
Subhnauth Dickram, called ‘Jerry’, who witnessed the disturbing events Saturday morning, disclosed that he was sitting in his swing under his house, located at Dr. Tulsi Street, Williamsburg (two doors from the public road) when he heard a loud noise.
“When I got up, I saw a person roll off the bonnet of a white IST vehicle and she fall in front my house gap. I run out to go and assist but then I see the driver (Gavin Gill) exit the vehicle and he was armed with a knife. This girl was lying face down and this guy come out and start jook up the girl in she back and side and so,” Dickram recounted.
At that point, as he attempted to save her, the woman’s husband ran back to his car and this time around had armed himself with a machete and charged towards Dickram but he ran into his yard while Gill in a rage dealt several chops to his already injured wife. “He come back with the cutlass and start wuk chop pon the girl neck and then he raise she head up and like he was going to cut out the girl head but then the police come and tek he over.”
Gill was arrested at the scene and the woman was transported to the Port Mourant Hospital by Dickram where she was pronounced dead on arrival. The car used to run her over was lodged at the Rose Hall Outpost and her killer husband was transported away to the police station.
Meanwhile, back at the home of dead woman’s mother, Tejwattie Jinkoo, called ‘Sharda’ in the very street, she was killed, relatives had gathered to mourn the loss of the young woman they described as pleasant and kind.
Her mother told reporters that her daughter married the suspect in January 2018 and lived with him in Port Mourant. However, they shared a turbulent and toxic relationship although they shared a seven-month-old child together.
Guyana left dangerously exposed by absence of reformed laws for oil industry – Ram
From 2015 to now, not a single piece of petroleum legislation has been updated. In fact, a regulatory framework for the oil sector is still to be implemented. It is on this premise that Chartered Accountant, Chris Ram, made the conclusion that the government seems no less or no more equipped, informed, and prepared for dealing with the events that are to unfold when first oil comes on stream next year.
During an exclusive interview with this newspaper Sunday, Ram said that when it comes to reforming the required legislation, he believes that the government does not know what to do and how to get it done. Some of the laws and regulations which need updating include: the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission Act; the Mining Act; the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act, No 3 of 1986; the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act Regulations, 1986; the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act, 1998, Chapter 65:10; the Environmental Protection Act; and the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Chapter 99:01. Ram said, “This state of affairs leaves Guyana dangerously exposed in terms of regulating, monitoring and supervising the sector. The oil companies cannot be blamed for this but they must be wondering what really is going on and the government seems missing in action. It is over three years since I pointed out the absence of any new legislation. Our legislation is over 30 years old. And the Natural Resource Fund Legislation cannot be confused with petroleum legislation and regulations.”
Ram also bemoaned the fact that the Government is yet to give guidance on the status quo surrounding the Petroleum Commission Bill.
“The government has not indicated, so far as I know, whether it is still pursuing this Commission or whether it is satisfied that it has set up a mere Department of Energy…”
Further to this, the Chartered Accountant said it is understandable that the government had to address the issue of the No-Confidence Motion. He stressed however that it appears as though everything has been put on pause while the oil companies continue their plans and preparations with very little guidance or direction. Ram said, “We cannot ignore the fact that we are now only months away from first oil and the government seems no less or no more equipped, informed and prepared for dealing with the events that are to unfold.”
Ram was also critical of the fact there is no Depletion Policy or a National Oil Spill Contingency Plan in place. He said, “The fact that we have no plan is dangerous from an environmental perspective, from a monitoring perspective, and from a regulatory perspective. In other words, we are walking into the dark when it comes to the oil sector without even a torch light in hand.”
Assess Guyana’s strengths and weaknesses to craft an effective Local Content Policy – Hughes
An effective Local Content Policy is not possible without an assessment of the country’s ability to provide goods and services to the petroleum industry.
And for Guyana to be successful in its endeavours to complete such a policy, Attorney-at-Law, Nigel Hughes is calling on the framers of the draft policy to urgently gather data on the country’s strengths and weaknesses.
“We first have to harvest data on what our immediate capacity is and what our short, medium and long term capabilities for local content are. There is no point having a Local Content Policy that is not based on existent reliable data on what we have and how we could migrate over the short, medium and long term areas in which we can actually provide services at competitive prices.” He added, “The important thing about local content is that we want to remain competitive. We want to keep an eye on being competitive… I think we need to establish a world class, deep water oil industry that in terms of competitiveness, it is second to none. We have to set up the overall framework and then factor in local content in that context rather than just positioning it as an objective without baseline information.”
To his knowledge, this baseline data on the existing needs and capabilities of the nation has not been harvested as yet.
Quite often, local content policies are designed without sufficient consideration of the resources available nationally and the changing nature of these resources. They are also done without co-operation with partner companies.
It is in this vein that another international organization, Chatham House, called on Guyana to be cautious in its design of a Local Content Policy. It stressed that in the haste to have such a policy, Guyana must avoid simply mimicking other countries’ local content policies.
It is urging Guyana and other emerging oil producers to first develop a “thorough understanding” of the local context. This would include the scale of discoveries, availability of skills and infrastructure, availability of oil/gas in country etc. The global organization said that governments should then assess what skills will be needed through the lifecycle of the project(s). It said that this can be done in collaboration with foreign oil companies. The organization stressed that this assessment should be the basis for defining local content policy and targets that would be realistic and achievable.
Manganese company ordered to halt exploration
-more Chinese workers brought out
-two test positive for Leptospirosis
Public Health officials have ruled out Swine Flu (H1N1), Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue, Influenza A and B, as possible causes of the recent spate of illnesses and death in Matthew’s Ridge.
“Thus far, there has been no evidence of person to person transmission of infection. It is noted that only persons who were directly exposed to one common area became ill,” the Ministry of Public Health said in the statement Monday.
The Ministry said that it has instructed the mining company to halt further exploration until the Ministry of Public Health and a team from the Occupational Health and Safety Department of the Ministry of Social Protection advise further.
“The Ministry of Public Health along with partners will continue to monitor the situation closely until resolution.”
On Saturday, it was announced that one Chinese worker had died with seven air-dashed to the city from Matthew’s Ridge, Region One, where a manganese mining has restarted. The mining area had been closed for decades, with suspicions that workers contracted something while working in areas that had been closed off.
Monday, eight more workers were brought out.
According to the Ministry, as of Sunday, a response team comprising EPA, Surveillance, EH, doctors and nurses, was dispatched to Region One to support the efforts taken in the Region to address the illnesses.
The Ministry said that the fortified health response focused on providing uninterrupted health services to the residents of Matthew’s Ridge and on conducting health assessments of all persons working in the mining area.
“The decision was taken to transfer all the patients with the acute respiratory illness, rash and fever to our tertiary institution GPHC where critical care can be provided should the need arise. While the specialists continue to work on the seven patients admitted on Saturday, results have shown that two patients tested positive for Leptospirosis, which is known to be spread by direct contact with rat urine or faeces. Further tests are being conducted locally and samples will be sent overseas with support from PAHO and CARPHA to get further tests done to rule out other possible infections.”
According to the Ministry, it is taking all necessary precautions to ensure staff and members of the community at Matthew’s Ridge are kept safe.
Business Minister Dominic Gaskin resigns as MP – sources
Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, has reportedly resigned as a parliamentarian amid a raging debate over politicians and the issue of dual citizenship. On Sunday, Gaskin, the son-in-law of President David Granger, reportedly met with top executives of his party, the Alliance For Change (AFC) which is the smaller faction of the Governing Coalition.
Sources said that Gaskin, who was born in the United Kingdom, reportedly opted to keep his dual citizenship and offered to resign as a Member of Parliament for the government.
Kaieteur News was told that the AFC decided to accept the resignation.
He will likely be replaced in the National Assembly by Donna Mathoo, a senior official of the party, who heads up the NCN operations in East Berbice.
Monday, Minister Gaskin declined to comment, and would not entertain questions denying or confirming.
Former AFC leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, the current Minister of Public Security, also said he had no comments.
“I am surprised that we are discussing this matter,” he said.
However, several sources confirmed that it happened.
The resignation would come after the High Court ruled earlier this year that persons who have sworn allegiance to foreign powers, holding two passports, are in breach of the Constitution of Guyana.
The ruling was sparked by a historic, shock no-confidence vote that was tabled by the Opposition and deemed carried by the House.
The vote, by government parliamentarian, Charrandass Persaud, according to the Constitution should have triggered early elections within 90 days. However, the Government has challenged the legality of the vote in court with the fact that Persaud had dual citizenship.
Hours after that vote, Persaud, under the protection of the Canadian High Commission, left Guyana for that North American country.
Government is also challenging the 33 votes that were carried, arguing that for such a vote, an absolute majority is needed.
Couple perishes in bike-jeep collision
A horrific accident involving a jeep and a motorcycle on the Amelia’s Ward Hilltop just after eight o’clock last night, has claimed the lives of a young Linden couple. Dead is Sheshyka Ettienne, a registered Nurse attached to the Linden Hospital Complex and her fiancé Oneil Deyounge, a driver attached to the Bauxite Pensioners Association.
Deyounge had reportedly just picked up Ettienne from work and was taking her home in Amelia’s Ward, when a speeding white Jeep Sport Wrangler slammed into them, in the vicinity of the Amelia’s Ward bus shed.
The horrendous scene proved to be too much for relatives and friends who wailed uncontrollably.
One friend exclaimed, “this life is a funny thing, the two of them just pass me down the road, now dey dead!”
Sheshyka’s death is a double blow for the Ettienne family who only last Saturday buried her Grandfather.
The driver of the Jeep is in police custody.
Dual citizenship court rulings…Four Ministers resign as MPs; no longer part of Cabinet
Four senior ministers in the Coalition Government have resigned their Parliamentary seats.
The four- Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vice President Carl Greenidge; Minister of State, Joseph Harmon; Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin and Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, who has responsibilities for public service–by virtue of the resignations can no longer sit as ministers in the Cabinet.
The government statements would come hours after an exclusive story carried in Kaieteur News Tuesday confirming that Gaskin had resigned his MP position, after declining to relinquish his citizenship of the United Kingdom. He was born there.
Gaskin is from the Alliance For Change, the smaller faction of the Governing Coalition.
Greenidge and Roopnaraine also have dual citizenship with the UK while Harmon with the US. They are all among some of the more powerful ministers in the Coalition Government.
The resignations would stem from court rulings that reinforced the Constitution of Guyana which bars persons with dual citizenship from sitting in Parliament.
An initial High Court ruling earlier this year on the legality of a no-confidence vote against the Government that was carried in December had also ruled that persons without dual citizenship cannot sit in the National Assembly by virtue of the fact they would swear allegiance to another country also.
Recently, the Court of Appeal upheld the illegality of persons sitting there and holding dual citizenship. The Government is appealing the dual citizenship ruling in the CCJ.
Leader of the AFC, Minister Raphael Trotman, in a taped message Tuesday, explained Tuesday that it was the intent of President David Granger and Cabinet after extensive discussions that they would respect the ruling of the courts- both the High Court and Court of Appeal.
Opposition signals legal challenge to house-to-house registration-cleaning up list can take two weeks- Nandlall
The Opposition has written to Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, informing him that a legal challenge will be mounted if the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) goes ahead with plans to hold house-to-house registration.
In a letter dated April 2, 2019, former Attorney General and lawyer for the Opposition, Anil Nandlall, said that he is acting on behalf of Robeson Benn, a People’s Progressive Party (PPP)- `nominated Commissioner of GECOM.
“I am instructed that despite my client’s vehement objections, GECOM has made a decision to embark upon a house-to-house registration.”
The move to house-to-house registration is said to be predicated upon the ground that the Voters’ List is “bloated” with dead persons and persons who have migrated.
The Opposition has insisted that the house-to-house registration is a mere attempt by the administration to buy time and delay elections.
The reason proffered for this proposed exercise is to sanitise the list of these two categories of occupants.
The issue of early elections arose after a shock December 21 no confidence vote against the Coalition Government was carried but is being challenged in the courts. While the Court of Appeal has struck down the vote, the matter is still to be heard by the Caribbean Court of Justice.
In the meantime, GECOM is making arrangements for early polls.
According to Nandlall, Tuesday, it cannot be disputed that the list can be cleansed of dead persons by a simple engagement between the Chief Elections Officer and the Office of the Registrar General.
“Such an engagement of comparing the relevant data and making the adjustments can be accomplished with relative ease within a fortnight. Naturally, this does not require the tedious, expansive and anachronistic methodology of a house-to-house inspection – a process to which there is rarely resort in this technological age, elsewhere.”
However, it is the decision to resort to house-to-house registration with the express intention of removing persons from the List, who maybe out of Guyana, that is agitating, Nandlall said.
“In my considered view, such an exercise is fraught with hazards, including, the violation of the Constitution and the constitutional rights of qualified electors to vote and creating the potential for a subsequent vitiation of the entire elections.”
He insisted that a convenient point to begin is Article 59 of the Constitution.
Taxi driver begs magistrate to see dead wife’s face one last time
Appearing at the Albion Magistrate Court before Magistrate Renita Singh, shackled at the feet and wrists was 31-year-old Gavin Gill, a taxi driver of 10th Street, Whim Village, Corentyne, Berbice.
It is alleged that on Saturday March 30, 2019 at Dr. Tulsi Street, Williamsburg, Berbice, he murdered his wife, Omawattie Gill, called ‘Anjalie’.
He was not required to plead to the indictable charge. He was also not represented by an attorney.
Gill broke down in tears when he was asked by the magistrate if he has any children. He said that he is the father of three girls, ages 12, 11 and seven months old. He stated that it is not his first time before the court since he was previously charged for various traffic offences along with a charge of transporting persons with firearms in his vehicle.
Gill said that the latter matter was dismissed against him.
Prosecutrix Althea Solomon told the magistrate that the file was complete and ready. April 23 was given as the date for the commencement of the Preliminary Inquiry.
Gill was subsequently remanded to prison but before he exited the courtroom, he made a strange request, baffling Magistrate Singh and others in the courtroom. He requested to see his now dead wife, giving the impression that he is unaware that she is dead.
He said, “Can I ask one question? Can I see my wife? I just want to see her face one last time.”
The Magistrate responded, “Your wife is dead sir.” But he continued to ask to see the woman he butchered to death. He walked out the courtroom escorted by two ranks.
As he made his way to the Albion Station lock-ups, just a stone’s throw away, he noticed the mother of the woman he murdered crying and he stood for a few seconds looking at her.
It appeared at one point that he was attempting to say something to her but the police ordered him to walk.
Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, moves to renounce status
PPP Parliamentarian Gail Teixeira has initiated the process of renouncing her foreign citizenship. Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo informed the media of this development during a weekly press conference held at his Church Street Office, Wednesday.
Giving the media an update on the matter, Jagdeo said that Teixeira, the Opposition Chief Whip in Parliament, will be renouncing her Canadian citizenship. Jagdeo said he has seen documents to confirm that she has started the process and he is hoping that the process could be expedited.
In relation to PPP Member of Parliament (MP) Odinga Lumumba, who has US Citizenship, Jagdeo said he (Lumumba) had indicated his intention to renounce, but he has not started that process. With respect to PPP MP, Adrian Anamayah, the Leader of the Opposition said that he will not be renouncing his US citizenship and will resign as a Member of Parliament.
Both the Opposition and Government Parliamentarians were under the microscope for their stance on MPs of having allegiance to a foreign land after the High Court and Court of Appeal passed definitive rulings upholding Article 155 of the Constitution, which states that ‘No person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly who (a) is, by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state’.
The Government on Tuesday announced that four of its Members of Parliament who have dual citizenship would be resigning from their positions and also giving up the position as Ministers, but later explained that three of them have indicated that they would renounce their foreign citizenship Jagdeo had stated, at a previous forum, that “the PPP will uphold the law,” as it relates to dual citizenship and parliamentarians.
Companies in Natural Resources Sector opposed to contract disclosure – Trotman
About two years ago, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman pledged that all contracts in the extractive sector would be made public. But as it turns out, many companies in the industry are not open to cooperating with the government on this front.
This was noted Wednesday by Minister Trotman during a press conference that was held at the Alliance For Change (AFC)’s Kitty Headquarters.
There, the AFC Leader was asked by Kaieteur News to respond to criticisms that the government is taking a piecemeal approach when it comes to the release of contracts.
The Attorney-at-law categorically stated that this is not the case.
“We did publish the oil and gas contracts, but what you should know is that each and every contract has a confidentiality clause in it. Therefore, a government on its own cannot go and publish the said contracts. So for all the oil companies, we wrote them about the intention of government to publish and they had to refer to their principals and then the contracts were published.”
The AFC Leader continued, “We have written to other concessionaires for the mining and forestry sectors and some expressed objections to the publications. Some of them said they need further clarifications. Therefore, if we just go ahead and put them out there then we would be opening ourselves to a lawsuit. It is not that we are doing it in a piecemeal manner. We have made efforts …”
Trotman added, “When we took over, we found that some contracts were negotiated by the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) and some by the Ministry of Finance. So there is no one repository of all of them. Some of them have gone missing…So it is not as easy as with oil and gas, because all of those were with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) …”
The Minister of Natural Resources further noted that the companies have not given legal clearance on this issue as they are worried about their competitors having access to their information. He added as well that the government is not in a position to compel the companies to engage on contract disclosure in the absence of legislation.
AFC calls for Constitutional Amendment
Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC) , Raphael Trotman, is of the firm conviction that the time has come to amend the constitutional provision, which stipulates that a dual citizen cannot sit in the National Assembly.
He expressed this view Wednesday at his party’s press conference, which was held at the AFC’s Head Office in Kitty. Responding to questions from Kaieteur News on the said provision, Trotman noted that it essentially shuts the door on the Diaspora. The lawyer commented, too, that it is doing the nation a disservice.
Trotman said, “I believe that I can give a take that is the party’s take. There isn’t any one of us who doesn’t have a relative living in one of the developed countries, either in Canada or the US or the UK…And I remember about 15 years ago, I read a World Bank report that said, of all the countries in the world, Guyana was the most affected by the brain drain. It went on to say that 86 percent of all of our graduates now live and work in a developed country.”
The Minister said this means that 14 percent of the citizenry is left with the task of managing a country. Trotman stressed however that this is an impossibility. Furthermore, Trotman said that of the 14 percent, half is preparing to leave and for the most part, the other half is caught in social divisiveness.
The AFC Leader said, “…It is impossible for Guyana to be developed by a small group when the critical mass of our talent resides outside of Guyana. The AFC has always stated publicly that we wish to have Diaspora representation not just in Parliament but also in government, and we maintain that. We will be pushing for this amendment. We have to take a second look at it, because this is going to do damage…”
He added, “I don’t believe that the framers of the Constitution who sat – and I have to admit that I was one of them at the time – … intended that we would lock the door on the Diaspora. The truth is, and we wouldn’t want to admit it, but we cannot develop Guyana in the manner and pace at which we wish to if we close the door to the Diaspora.”
Kaieteur Radio is officially on air
– Launching marks new era for media house
On the occasion of its 25th year as a media house, Kaieteur News, Guyana‘s largest selling daily newspaper, has another reason to celebrate – the launch of its very own radio station.
Kaieteur Radio is officially being broadcast on frequencies 99.1, 99.5 and 99.7 to listeners all across the nation’.
During a simple ribbon-cutting ceremony at the company’s Lot 24 Saffon Charlestown, headquarters, Publisher and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kaieteur Radio, Mr. Glenn Lall spoke candidly, on air, about his journey to radio broadcast.
“We are celebrating 25 years of Kaieteur News. For 25 years this newspaper has been providing news, views and information to the nation. These spanned the gamut, from basic reports to reports on corruption, irregularities and skullduggery in high places. In 25 years the newspaper influenced changes in the society and helped to shape the country.”
“Guyanese should not have waited this long for the birth of this Radio Station. The denial of a radio licence (by former President Bharrat Jagdeo) violated our constitutional right to provide and ensure that the public had access to information.”
Mr. Lall said that the discriminatory denial for the licence was therefore an affront to our right to expression, “…a right which was essential to our profession. I wish to make this very clear. In fact, we were more qualified than most of those who were granted.”
The CEO stated further that “We are therefore not establishing this radio station out of financial motives. We are driven by our obligation to expand the right of free expression. Had we been granted a radio licence in 2011, Kaieteur Radio would have been by now the ‘sound of choice’ from the Caribbean all the way to Japan. But, like I always believe, nothing comes before its time.”
According to Lall, the launch of this Radio Station represents a personal triumph.
“I thank the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority, (GNBA) for undoing the historic wrong which was committed against me and the Kaieteur News Family.”
He said that Kaieteur Radio has been in the making for at least one year.
Resistance by Oil companies is no excuse to continue contract secrecy. Consultant accuses Govt. of being “disingenuous”
Even though the government has expressed the intention to release all contracts in the extractive industries, Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman recently revealed that this would not be possible as some companies are opposed to this. He said, too, that all the contracts contain confidentially clauses, as such, the companies’ permission must be provided before the said deals are released. Trotman noted that only the oil companies have given approval in this regard.
But Oil and Gas Consultant and former Advisor to the Government, Dr. Jan Mangal is not buying Trotman’s explanation. On his social media platform Thursday, Dr. Mangal said that it is “disingenuous” for the government to say it cannot publish all the contracts because the companies do not agree.
The Oil Consultant said, “ExxonMobil and the other oil companies did not want their contracts released, but President (David) Granger took the decision himself to release these contracts. If President Granger listened to his Ministers, these contracts would never be released.”
Dr. Mangal continued, “The government is not releasing these contracts (gold, diamonds, timber, sand, rock, etc) to the people because some in government (on both sides of the aisle) are more interested in generating fraudulent income for themselves and their sponsors in the private sector, and thereby defrauding the people of Guyana.”
The former Government advisor added that contract secrecy never benefits the people of the country. He emphasized that secrecy only benefits corrupt officials and business people.
He said, “Guyana is on a journey to a better place, and open/ transparent government is an essential building block. We cannot move Guyana forward without open government.”
On Wednesday as well, Minister Trotman had said that when the APNU+AFC took over, it found that some contracts were negotiated by the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) and some by the Ministry of Finance. “So there is no one repository of all of them. Some of them have gone missing…So it is not as easy as with oil and gas (contracts) because all of those were with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) …”
Integrity Commission receives over 500 declarations from officials
…but has no funds to hire investigative officers
Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Kumar Doraisami, has on several occasions, bemoaned the fact that public officials have been delinquent in filing their declarations. But he was pleased to inform Kaieteur News Friday that this state of affairs has improved. In fact, the Commission has received over 500 declarations thus far. In late February, it had only received 284 out of the 1000 forms it had sent out.
The Chairman said, “The declarations have been coming in and it is over 500 now. But I cannot say at this point if there has been an improvement in the number of ministers who submitted…I just got back from a trip overseas.”
The Integrity Commission Act also notes that the President must make declarations about his assets. On this note, Kaieteur News asked if President David Granger has filed his declaration records. But the Chairman declined to confirm same, even as the Commission has been in the habit of publishing names of other officers who have been delinquent.
Asked to say if he is prevented from making this known, he said, “No, but it would not be appropriate from the Chairman to release that type of information to the public.”
Kaieteur News then probed about the capacity of the Commission to properly investigate issues that may arise during the scrutiny of the declaration forms. Doraisami noted that at this point in time, the Commission is without the needed funds to hire personnel for this job.
The Chairman said, “We are trying to put things in place for that because our budgetary allocations do not allow for us to do this at this point. We have to get a supplementary so we can hire investigative officers. We only investigate when we find that there is a declaration with falsehoods and so on. Right now, we are checking them and some supporting documents are not with the forms.”
He added, “We make requests for the documents and we give the officials time to submit it so we can verify them. But it is only when suspicion has arisen that we could send our officers to check, or if someone complains that someone has 10 properties and we are under the impression that he declared too low or so forth, then we enquire into that. But right now we don’t have that situation.”
Be that as it may, the Chairman of the Integrity Commission said that that the body has enough resources to scrutinize all documents submitted with a fine-tooth comb. He said that the Commission has a legal and compliance officer to help in this regard.
Does Guyana need politicians?-Dr. Yesu Persaud
Philanthropist and businessman, Dr. Yesu Persaud, has made an impassioned plea to Guyanese to put aside tribalisms and other differences, in the interest of being “one people, one nation, one destiny”.
He was, at the time, delivering an address at the Pegasus Hotel on Thursday evening, during a ceremony commemorating the 25th anniversary of Kaieteur News being in existence, as well as the launch of the publication’s new media outlet, Kaieteur Radio. The event was attended by speakers who spoke of Guyana’s currently uncertain political climate, the prospect of elections, and the plight of the working class.
Strikingly, no politicians were present at the ceremony. Dr. Persaud took the opportunity to question, “What are [politicians] really doing for you, the people?”
He said that, instead of depending on politicians, the Guyanese public should shoulder the burden of making the nation a better one for future generations.
“Do you need politicians?” he asked, “All those children here, and yet to come, we owe them a responsibility – a responsibility of providing to ensure this country develops.”
The philanthropist said spoke of how Guyana’s wealth pales against the abundance of resources that the country possesses. He said, “Of all the developing countries, I believe Guyana must be the least developed with all these resources we have.”
He cautioned the audience to be skeptical of the promise of wealth from the country’s budding oil and gas sector.
“You’re hearing of these trillions of dollars to come from the oil rush. [We need to ask] how it’s going to be used. Will the people participate?”
Dr. Persaud told the audience, at this junction, “Open your hearts and your pockets, and lend a hand. I appeal to you, please. Let’s look at Guyana as a country that belongs to all of us. Not a segment or Africans, Indians, Portuguese, Amerindians. We’re supposed to be one people, one nation, one destiny. Let’s do it.”
“Reading & Robotics” Programme launched in Lethem
More than 70 community members including local leaders, parents, students and teachers turned out at the Lethem Library for the launch of Lethem’s Reading & Robotics’ programme.
The programme was launched by keynote speaker, Minister of Public Affairs, Dawn Hastings-Williams while Library sponsor ExxonMobil, was represented by Ms Suzanne De’Abreu. Mayor John Macedo, Deputy Regional Executive Officer, were also present. Town Clerk Ms Keisha Williams-Vincent served as MC for the event.
STEMGuyana Trainers Ms. Aisha Peters and Mr. Michael Sampson arrived a day early to train library staff and school teachers in club management, culture, building and programming robots and learning to code using the Scratch application. Youth between the ages of 8 and 14 will now be able to sign up for club membership at the local library. Club members will be preparing to participate in Guyana’s first national robotics competition, which kicks off next month.
Each Saturday, club members will complete 1 of 10 lesson plans which are integrated with the Ministry of Education’s Science curriculum. The lesson plans encourage students to learn concepts like simple machines—levers and pulleys and to use robotics and Scratch coding to design and create their own versions of these machines.
“The idea is to help the club members to use an integrated approach to learning by using technology to reinforce their knowledge of Science concepts, which they learn in school, while strengthening technical skills and soft skills like collaboration, communication and problem solving”, said STEMGuyana Trainer Michael Sampson.
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