Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee
International police officers to assist local Force – Rohee
Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee outlined an elaborate plan that promised significant changes within the Guyana Police Force and other entities under the purview of his Ministry.
Facing a gag order in the National Assembly at the time, the Minister took the opportunity to use a forum conference to detail a five-year plan that would see a name change for the Police Force, the Guyana Prison Service as well as the Guyana Fire Service; the employment of specialist civilian professionals within the Police Force and the possibility of international police officers as consultants.
Addressing more than 100 people in the auditorium of the Police Officers’ Training College, the Home Affairs Minister noted that Government’s Public Safety and Security Strategy is on the cusp of a critical but necessary phase. He cautioned that if that phase is not implemented, the result would be a backward step for the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Security Sector as a whole. The 2013-2017 strategic plan for the Guyana Police Force, he explained, would see the implementation of a Strategic Management Department, which will have oversight of the plans’ implementation.
The body, Rohee said, would have in its employ 10 high level civilian professionals in certain positions within the Force to ensure that a high degree of professional technical and efficient input guarantee the implementation of the plan itself. The plan was drawn up by a United Kingdom-based consultancy group.
$254M ‘illegally transferred’ from GGMC to NICIL – AFC
The Alliance For Change (AFC) raised an alarm over a $254M transfer from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) in January 2012, describing it as an outrageous and illegal act by government.
According to AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, the money was transferred to the bank account of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
GGMC is the government’s semi-autonomous agency tasked with regulating the natural resources sector, excluding forestry. It collects royalties, taxes and other fees from gold mining and quarrying activities, among others. NICIL is the government agency in charge of managing state assets.
According to Ramjattan, the monies should rightly go the Consolidated Fund, where all revenues for the state are controlled. “To place these monies elsewhere is a breach of financial regulations of the country. The government is fully aware of this.”
A senior official of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, which has the ministerial responsibilities for GGMC, confirmed that the monies were transferred to NICIL. The official, who asked not to be named, explained that the money was for the repairs and maintenance of several key hinterland roads…roads that are critical to the mining community.
Appeal Court rules in favour of Toucan Suites owner
The matter involving Norman Trotz, owner of Toucan Suites Guest House (which was located at Eccles, East Bank Demerara), the Attorney-General of Guyana, the Commissioner of Police and the Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, was heard by Chancellor Justice Carl Singh, Justice B.S. Roy and Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards.
The court ordered “It is by consent ordered that the Terms of Settlement dated the 7th day of January, 2013, by and between the parties herein be and is hereby deemed an order of this court.”
Back in 2008, Justice Jainarayan Singh Jr. presiding in the High Court, awarded judgment in the sum of $125M with six percent interest to Norman Trotz, the owner of the Toucan Suites Guest House, which was destroyed by the Joint Services during the final hours of a confrontation between the army, the police and Linden London called ‘Blackie’ in February 2000.
The judgment was handed down in October 2008 following lengthy submissions by the then Attorney General Doodnauth Singh representing the state, and attorney at law Andrew Pollard, counsel for N&R Co. Limited, owned by Norman Trotz. The Government appealed that decision, but a ruling was in January 2013 made in favour of Trotz. But even before the appeal, Attorney General Doodnauth Singh had consented to judgment in favour of Trotz. He so advised the Bharrat Jagdeo government.
Opposition moves to cap benefits to former Presidents
APNU’s shadow Home Affairs Minister and security expert, Winston Felix, said that there should be a limit to the number of “guards” assigned to former President Bharrat Jagdeo. This newspaper had reported that the former President still had his full complement of security personnel, consisting of fulltime members of the Guyana Police Force.
According to Felix, Carl Greenidge’s Bill which he tabled to amend the President’s Benefits and Other Facilities Act of 2009, has proposed to slice away chunks of benefits that Jagdeo is presently entitled to and limit them to a maximum of 10 years. Felix said that the wisdom of Greenidge’s Bill is obvious. He said that there needs to be a “cap” on the benefits because there is no limit.
Felix further noted that whatever Jagdeo receives should be “sensible” and not run into excess or waste. But Government Members of Parliament say that the Bill will in no way affect former President Jagdeo since Bills cannot be applied retroactively.
Former EZjet boss, Sonny Ramdeo
Former EZjet boss extradited to Florida
Former boss of the collapsed charter airline, EZjet, Sonny Austin Ramdeo spent a mere nine minutes in a Florida court shortly after his extradition from New York on an indictment of wire fraud. He is charged with filching some US$20 million from Promise Healthcare Hospitals and transferring the money to his charter airline, EZjet.
Appearing before Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon, Ramdeo again waived the formal reading of the indictments and pleaded not guilty. Earlier, he was informed of his rights and at his request to address the court, he pleaded indigence (that he had no money to afford counsel) so that the state would appoint a defender.
In New York, Ramdeo also waived the formal reading of the indictment and had also pleaded not guilty. He remained in jail until his extradition to Florida on Old Year’s Day (December 31, 2012). He was given until February 4, 2013, to file all necessary pre-trial documents in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Ramdeo was again refused bail.
Major donor nations up pressure for 2013 local govt. polls
Guyana came under increasing pressure to hold local government elections. In a joint statement by the local diplomatic missions — the US, Canada, Britain and the European Union— all said that it was a campaign promise by political parties leading up to the November 2011 General and Regional Elections to hold local government elections soonest.
The statement underlined the growing discontent over the functioning of the local government arm of Government which has been a source of criticism from stakeholders over the years. Government had moved to replace a number of Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and even townships with Interim Management Committees (IMC). The move met with some resistance, like in Kwakwani, Region Ten. Residents blamed the state of especially NDCs and town councils for failing infrastructure, garbage problems and other critical issues.
Dead: Intaz Roopnarine
Businessman gunned down in hotel yard
A gunman dressed in a white tee-shirt and black pants chased 37-year-old businessman Intaz Roopnarine to the back of the Cool Square Hotel in Marigold Street, West Ruimveldt, and then shot him dead. Roopnarine, called ‘Bobby’, of 169 Mandela Avenue, collapsed and died near a septic tank. There was a bullet wound on the dead man’s head.
The attack occurred just as Roopnarine was leaving the hotel. Police sources said that surveillance footage shows Roopnarine, with his licenced firearm in hand, and a security guard, fleeing for their lives, with the alleged killer, gun in hand, in full pursuit. Roopnarine was reportedly wearing several pieces of expensive jewellery at the time and Kaieteur News was told that one of the slain man’s gold bands and a gold chain were missing. A police release stated that the perpetrator may have fled with the victim’s personal jewellery, which seemed to confirm reports by family members that robbery was the motive. Police recovered the businessman’s firearm near his body. A female friend who was with Roopnarine escaped unhurt.
GDF dispatches team to investigate ganja-smoking soldiers at Cuyuni
The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) dispatched an investigative team, headed by a Lieutenant Colonel and Guyana Police Force ranks to the Cuyuni district to investigate allegations that some rogue soldiers raided mining operations there and relieved miners of various amounts of raw gold.
The allegations were carried in a Kaieteur News article in which a local miner claimed that five soldiers from the GDF base at Eteringbang carried out the act.
According to the local miner, the ranks landed at the Julian Ross Landing, Devils’ Hole, Cuyuni and appeared to have one purpose in their minds-—banditry.
“They did not come with any police, no Immigration, no GGMC personnel,” the miner told Kaieteur News. He said that upon arrival at the landing, the soldiers confronted some small time drug pushers, seizing their drugs, which they consumed in the full view of the public.
DEAD: Jason Wills
Gold miner slain in Meadow Brook house
A 33-year-old gold miner was riddled with bullets by at least two unidentified gunmen who stormed the Pine Grove, Meadowbrook residence in which the victim was staying with friends.
Jason Wills, called ‘Teddy’, of Mahdia, was shot at least seven times at close range with what appeared to be an M-16 assault rifle and a .45 automatic pistol as he sat watching television in the bottom flat of the two-storey house.
The father of seven was shot once behind the ear, twice in the armpits, once in the left shoulder and also in the abdomen. A close friend of Wills, and the friend’s mother-in-law were the only other two occupants. They escaped unharmed. Several bullet casings from an assault rifle and a pistol were retrieved from the scene, while bullet-holes were clearly visible in the living room.
The gunmen reportedly scaled the fence and entered through the open front door. A source said that Wills’ friend told police that they were all watching television when he and his mother-in-law went into the kitchen. The friend alleged that he was dishing out a meal when he heard gunshots and he reportedly immediately took cover behind a gas stove. After the gunshots ceased, the two persons ventured to the living room where they found Wills’ bullet-riddled corpse.
Soldiers charged following raid on mining camp
An Officer and four Other Ranks of the Guyana Defence Force were detained in relation to their alleged involvement in criminal conduct, reportedly committed in the Cuyuni mining district. This was disclosed in a GDF press release following a visit to the area by Chief of Staff Commodore Gary Best, in the wake of allegations that a group of rogues soldiers from the army base at Eteringbang had carried out an authorized raid. The arrests bring the GDF closer to instituting court martial proceedings against the soldiers after they were positively identified by miners as being present and entering the mining camps. The five were escorted by GDF investigators and brought to Camp Ayanganna.
Govt. disappointed over Delta’s planned pullout
Delta Airlines’ surprise announcement that it was pulling out of the Guyana route left Government puzzled.
Not only was the US airline doing well, indications are that it was commanding near full passenger loads, this year racking up its highest percentage…89 per cent, according to a government spokesman. Its average loads when it started in June 2008 was 77 per cent full on average.
Minister of Transport, Robeson Benn, in expressing government’s “dismay” at Delta’s announcement that it was discontinuing the Georgetown to New York flights from May, denied that the airline was unhappy over reports that it was pressured after the luggage of former President Bharrat Jagdeo was searched.
One newscast suggested that Delta was not pleased after Government intervened after the incident.
Benn said he was not aware of that incident and that neither Delta nor Jagdeo has made any official complaint.
Airline sources said that Delta could have been upset because it lost all Government business to Caribbean Airlines (CAL), including the transfers of mail and diplomatic pouches. CAL and Delta were the two only remaining airlines on the lucrative Georgetown/New York route after Redjet and the EZjet folded in 2012.
US$300M to be spent on new Harbour Bridge
Government is eyeing two locations for the construction of a new reinforced concrete Demerara Harbour Bridge, either from Versailles, West Bank Demerara (WBD) to Houston, East Bank Demerara or from Patentia West Bank Demerara to New Hope, East Bank Demerara.
This was revealed by DHB’s General Manager Rawlston Adams, during his presentation at the recent Public Works Ministry third Engineering Conference. He said that the preferred location to erect the 2.25 kilometres structure is from Versailles to Houston. The company contracted for this project must have the capacity to design and build. Though the Public Works Ministry will not design the structure, it has outlined its requirements which include a reinforced concrete bridge with at least four lanes; pedestrian walkways; navigational channel of 100 metres; air draft of 50 metres; and maximum gradient of five percent.
Adams said that because the channel (the deepest part of a river) of the Demerara River is closer to the East Bank Demerara the 100-metre navigational channel and 50 metres air draft will be situated there. He further explained that since the bridge will have a maximum gradient of five percent it will pass over the existing East Bank Demerara Public Road to aback Houston. There it will connect to the Southern Approach Road sending traffic directly into Georgetown. The Southern Approach Road will be erected east to the East Bank Demerara Public Road connecting to the Mandela- Sheriff Road.
Marriott Hotel is a complete sellout – Christopher Ram
The former Bharrat Jagdeo government handed the Chinese firm a Marriott Hotel project that essentially sold Guyana and its soul, chartered accountant and attorney, Christopher Ram, has said.
“The contract for the construction of the so-called Marriott Hotel involves selling out Guyana and its soul,” Ram wrote in his Business Week column of the Stabroek News. The deal smacks of contempt and lawlessness, he added.
He described the project as a “scheme” that was conceived by Jagdeo after one of his friends failed to buy the Pegasus Hotel.
Ram grouped the Marriott deal in the same bracket as other projects in which public assets were sold under very questionable circumstances and to questionable people.
CANU makes massive coke bust at Soesdyke sawmill
Agents of the country’s main anti-drug unit unearthed a massive quantity of cocaine which was stashed in hollowed out lumber destined for Europe, Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), James Singh, told reporters. Some 314 kilograms (692 pounds) of the illegal drug were extracted from ‘lumber boxes’ at a sawmill located at the Soesdyke/Linden Highway junction.
Among those detained was a European national. This publication was further informed that the drug shipment which was headed for The Netherlands (Holland) was being shipped by a local timber establishment. Reports are that various state agencies were involved in the probe which was allegedly initiated by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC).
According to information, the forestry agency had suspicions about the company’s lumber shipments after it repeatedly failed to adhere to policies. The drugs were found in a container which was said to have been cleared and was due for shipment. The GFC reportedly insisted that a complete check be done of the containers in the presence of Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and CANU agents. Sources said that the timber company had experienced ups and downs with GFC after the latter had cited insolence on the part of the company in relation to adherence to rules and regulations.
NICIL has been made into a parallel treasury - Former Auditor General
Numerous state properties were transferred to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) from 1999 to date, but the proceeds from their disposal were not paid into the Consolidated Fund. Rather, the proceeds, to the tune of billions of dollars, remained in NICIL, and therefore outside of the authority of Parliament which would approve spending from such funds.
According to former Auditor General, Dr. Anand Goolsarran, when state assets vested in NICIL are sold, a windfall gain is achieved, since NICIL acquired them from the Government free of cost.
In his arguments, Dr. Goolsarran contended that NICIL was incorporated under the Companies Act to monitor Government’s investments and to ensure that all revenues derived are promptly collected and paid over to the Consolidated Fund.
However, with effect from 2002, NICIL’s operations took on a different complexion through three highly controversial actions. These included the transfer of Government’s shares in public corporations and other entities; “the hiving off of the Privatisation Unit of the Ministry of Finance; and transferring it to NICIL and the vesting of state assets in NICIL.”
The former Auditor General suggested a few recommendations for government to correct the situation.
These include realigning NICIL to what it was prior to 2002 or alternatively wind up its operations.
Government should also ascertain precisely how much should have been paid over to the Consolidated Fund from 2002 to present date against what was actually paid and initiate an investigation as to what happened with the difference. Disciplinary action should also be taken against concerned officials if it can be established in a Court of Law that laws have been broken.
Linden COI finds police culpable in shooting deaths
The five-member Commission of Inquiry found the Guyana Police Force culpable in the deaths of three Lindeners who were slain on July 18, 2012, when protests erupted in the bauxite mining town. The report also fully exonerated embattled Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee in the events that led to the tragedy, while chastising the organisers of the protest.
This was revealed by sources privy to the Commission’s report, which was handed over to President Donald Ramotar by the Commission’s Chairman, former Chief Justice of Jamaica, Lensley Wolfe. While President Donald Ramotar was unable to answer questions on the findings, the Commission’s Chairman, former Chief Justice of Jamaica, Lensley Wolfe, hinted that recommendations made will see justice and once implemented, will “positively” impact the relationship between Lindeners and the government and police.
Hugo Chavez dies at 58
President Hugo Chavez died on March 5 in Caracas after a prolonged illness. He was 58. During more than 14 years in office, his leftist politics and grandiose style polarized Venezuelans. The barrel-chested leader electrified crowds with his booming voice, and won admiration among the poor with government social programs and a folksy, nationalistic style.
U.S. Army doctor shot dead in C’tyne backlands
The body of overseas-based Guyanese U.S Army Service member, Cpt. Dr. Max Kungel, 42, was discovered inside a vehicle in the Number 71 Village, Corentyne rice backlands. The body bore two gunshot wounds. When the discovery was made, all the doors of his rented white Toyota Tundra were sprawled open. From all indications Kungel was robbed, since his iPhone as well as two other cell phones and three pieces of jewellery were missing; his wallet was empty, save for a few U.S coins and a US$20.
Dr. Kungel, a medical doctor in the U.S. Military, arrived in Guyana on March 7 2013 to attend a religious function to commemorate his grandmother’s ‘one- year’ death anniversary and was staying at his sister’s Anjanie’s residence at Number 72 Village, Corentyne.
Private media protest unfair distribution of radio licence
Premised on the notion of “if you don’t stand up for something you will fall for anything,” staffers of this Kaieteur News took to the streets in protesting mode to express concerns about the unfair distribution of radio licences.
Led by Publisher, Mr Glenn Lall, the peaceful demonstration which commenced shortly after 10:00 hours, and lasted approximately two hours, attracted the support of several passersby and equally concerned citizens. Strategically positioned in front of the 24 Saffon Street, Charlestown, Georgetown offices, the KN staffers were soon joined by several other representatives from private media entities including Editor-In-Chief of Capitol News, Mr Enrico Woolford and Mr Charles Griffith of HBTV Channel Nine.
Govt. unveils $208.8B budget
Several measures, including a $2,500 monthly increase in the old age pension and lowering of the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax rate to 30 per cent, were introduced as Government unveiled its 2013 National Budget to the tune of $208.8B – its largest ever.
During a three-hour-long budget presentation in the National Assembly, Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, also announced plans to allow homeowners who have mortgages to deduct their interest payments from the taxable income. While the tax threshold for workers will remain at $50,000 monthly, the PAYE rate was reduced from 33.3 per cent to 30 per cent.
“As a result of this reduction in the personal income tax rate, more than 184,000 taxpayers will benefit with higher take home pay, and an additional $1.8 billion of disposable income will be placed annually in the hands of the taxpaying public,” Singh said.
Regarding the measures, Dr. Singh said it is Government’s objectives to ensure that the debt remains within manageable levels. In addition to $1B to assist the ailing sugar industry which fell to its lowest production last year, Government allocated $11.2B to the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) to assist the state-owned agency meet its cash flow requirements.
Ogle Int’l Airport now a Regional Class facility
LIAT, the Caribbean Airline, made its inaugural flight to Ogle International Airport signaling the facility’s status as a certified Regional Class Airport. The airline expressed its intention to commence operations at Ogle by mid-year, hence pulling all flights from Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
This was indicated by LIAT’s Chief Executive Officer, Ian Brunton who piloted the aircraft, a Dash-8, from Antigua to Guyana. All crew members were Guyanese.
Aircraft like the Turbo Prop, Dash-8s and ATR flights operated by LIAT and Caribbean Airlines, as well as executive-type aircraft could now utilise Ogle Airport.
“Flying into Ogle would also mean reduced flying time… flying time round-trip less an average of 10 minutes per flight. This of course would result in a significant annual fuel reduction for LIAT- approximately 19,300 gallons per annum,” Brunton informed attendees at the official commissioning of the facility.
Plaisance protests bear fruit… Government rescinds decision to erect tower on playfield
The Government decided in April to seek an alternative location to erect its transmission tower to support its e-governance programme. The tower was to have been constructed at the Plaisance Community Centre ground on the East Coast of Demerara. This change of heart came as a result of three days of protest by residents of that community. The scrapping of the project was confirmed by Project Manager of the e-governance programme, Alexei Ramotar, who said that his team will be seeking an alternative site for the tower. He said that the decision to site the tower at Plaisance had many considerations, one of them being the decision to supply the community with a wireless service since Plaisance would have been one of the hotspots for the e-governance programme.
The e-governance project is expected to facilitate the linking of Government’s fibre optic cable that has been laid from Lethem to Linden, to the coastline, to enable internet access. It will be one of 54 towers that will be erected in densely populated areas along the coast. Ramotar said that the team wanted to avoid any charges of discrimination since towers would be established in other communities along coastal Guyana. He said that proximity to the Sparendaam Police Station was another consideration. The e-governance programme would allow the electronic storing of information on cars, firearm licences, driver’s licences and other similar documentations.
Two foreigners perish after plane crashes into Sparendaam house
A scene from the April 13 plane crash at Sparendaam, ECD
Two foreigners, owner and pilot American Pierre Angiel and his passenger Canadian Scientist, Nick Dmitriev perished when the twin engine plane in which they were travelling went down on a house in the Sparendaam Housing Scheme, East Coast Demerara just after it took off from the Ogle airport.
The victims’ unrecognizable remains were discovered among the rubble of what was once a wooden house occupied by pensioner Florence Tyndall and three others. Miraculously, Kendall, who was in the house at the time of the crash managed to escape. The crash sent scores of residents rushing to the area, but they could only stand back and watch as the American-registered aircraft burst into flames, with the two men trapped inside.
Eyewitnesses believe that the two occupants of the plane lost consciousness or were killed when it crashed.
The aircraft, a twin-engine Piper Aztec with registration number N27-FT, was on a technical survey mission for the Amaila Falls Access Road. It had been in Guyana for a week prior to the incident and according to senior local aviation officials, it had already done some surveillance missions. Public Works Minister, Robeson Benn, who has responsibility for Civil Aviation, told members of the media at the crash site that the aircraft took off from Ogle with approximately six hours of fuel.
Govt pays ‘Bobby’ Ramroop $3.6M every month to air Learning Channel
TVG, owned by Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, best friend of former President Bharrat Jagdeo, is being paid $3.6 million a month to put the Guyana Learning Channel on the air. This was revealed in a written response by the Minister of Education Priya Manickchand to Parliamentarian Jaipaul Sharma.
Jagdeo is the one who had championed the setting up of the Learning Channel, which was launched in April 2011.
“The Guyana Learning Channel has the use of a teleport that was created at the time of its set-up since there was no other teleport capable of up-linking video signals in existence in Guyana before or since,” Manickchand said in response to questions raised by Sharma. According to the Minister, every wireless communication device utilises electro-magnetic spectrum and the Learning Channel has minimised use of the electro-magnetic spectrum by reusing the same channel in different regions of the country such as Channel 3 in New Amsterdam, Lethem, Mabaruma and Ituni; and Channel 10 in Kwakwani, Orealla, Linden and Port Kaituma. She said that for the Learning Channel to send the signal to the satellite, it would have had to set up a commensurate service that would have required an initial capital outlay of US$150,000 plus monthly recurring costs of over $4M in bandwidth rental and associated services.
IPI says Guyana situation “dangerous”, “unusual”
..as private media files radio licences complaint with int’l press body
A powerful global press body renowned for its fight to protect journalists is now considering complaints by owners of a number of prominent media houses in Guyana. In a highly charged meeting, the controversial issuance of the several radio licences by former President Bharrat Jagdeo, days before he stepped down from office in 2011, was raised.
The situation prompted Alison Bethel McKenzie, Executive Director of the International Press Institute (IPI), to describe the situation, as reported, to be a highly “dangerous” and “unusual” one. Dangerous because of the ease which government seems to be moving against private media houses and unusual as there is not another likely scenario where the President of a country is also the Minister of Information.
McKenzie disclosed that IPI has the power to “hit” where it hurts the most –the pocket. The body indicated that it could approach the US Government and other donors and apply pressure, she said. She listed instances, including Turkey, as an example where pressure was mounted on its embassies over journalists who were locked up. There were immediate positive results.
Budget passed minus $31.4B
- Ramotar agrees to Tripartite Budget Committee
After almost a month of arguments, the National Assembly approved the 2013 National Budget, but $31.35 billion less than what was originally presented to the House.
Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh had presented a $208.8 billion budget on March 25. After a series of amendments, the budget was reduced to $177.4 billion. The largest cut occurred when $19 billion was cut from the allocation for the Low Carbon Development Strategy. The opposition argued that the money had not yet been approved by the Inter-American Development Bank, but once approved, the government could return to the National Assembly and ask for approval. The second largest cut was $5.6 billion under the Ministry of Public Works. The opposition had only intended to cut $5.3 billion for the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport expansion plan, citing lack of transparency. However, owing to a mistake, the opposition had no choice but to cut funding for the airport expansion plan and other transport projects, including for hinterland airstrips, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Ogle Airport. The third largest cut was $5.2 billion in subsidies for the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated. The other cuts were $1.25 billion for the Specialty Hospital on the grounds that there was a lack of transparency, and a total of $217.1 million from the Government Information Agency and the state-run TV and radio NCN, on the grounds that the entities were only pushing propaganda and shutting out opposition voices.
Cop killed after stopping suspicious car
Slain police corporal Romain Cleto
Police launched a manhunt for a gunman in a silver-coloured car who gunned down one of their colleagues in the busy downtown Georgetown area. Corporal Romain Cleto, 25, was riddled with bullets and later pronounced dead at the Georgetown Public Hospital where he was rushed by his colleagues.
Two other policemen – Anil Raj Persaud, 28, of Claybrick Road, Number Two Canal and Randy Daly, 20, of Mahaicony – were injured when the gunman sprayed their patrol vehicle with bullets. The incident occurred on the busy Avenue of the Republic near Regent Street, just outside the Bank of Baroda.
Police in a brief press release said that ranks of a mobile police patrol came under fire from the occupants of a motor vehicle in the vicinity of Regent Street and Avenue of the Republic, Georgetown.
“Corporal 20196 Romain Cleto was fatally shot, while Constable 21240 Randy Daly was shot and injured to his left arm and Constable 21144 Anil Persaud was injured by glass from the shattered windscreen.
High tides swamp coastal communities
Coastal Guyana was drenched with flood waters due to extremely high tides combined with severe winds. Affected areas included the East Coast Demerara highway, communities on Essequibo Coast and communities in Berbice. Inundation caused several inches of flood water to wreak havoc on the residents of the various communities. High tides caused overtopping of the seawall between Liliendaal and Vlissengen Road, Georgetown, Rupert Craig Highway and parts of Bel Air, Subryanville, Skeldon, Den Amstel, Leonora and Uitvlugt.
Police cornered off sections of the East Coast as authorities cleared silted sections of the drainage system on the highway. An advisory was issued by the Ministry of Public Works for persons not to converge at the Georgetown seawalls.
At Hampton Court, Essequibo, a Koker door collapsed and authorities were mobilized to the area to repair the structure. Public Works Minister, Robeson Benn confirmed that although the Lilliendaal pump was working, several drains and trenches in the area were blocked, preventing the water from running off the land.
Benn explained that the tide was 3.11 metres high plus another 1.5 metres of waves were riding on top.
Glenn Lall highlights broadcast licence issue in Curacao
…Regional media executives to monitor legal challenge
Kaieteur News proprietor, Glenn Lall, staged a one-man picketing demonstration in Curacao to highlight the current campaign to regularise the granting of radio broadcast licences in Guyana. Lall’s demonstration took place in the presence of regional journalists from 17 countries, academics, activists and media law experts observing World Press Freedom Day at the Renaissance Curacao Hotel.
Lall received expressions of solidarity from several regional journalists in attendance and was warmly greeted by members of the Curacao Media Organisation (CMO), including its President, Stanley Ignacio. Guyana’s broadcast licensing conflict featured throughout the day’s proceedings with indirect reference made by President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), Wesley Gibbings, who asked in his opening remarks: “Are broadcast licences opening the doors or shutting them in our faces?” Executive director of the International Press Institute (IPI), Alison Bethel-McKenzie, fresh from a recent visit to Guyana, said that her organisation was “concerned” about the issue.
Worry for Guyanese as Delta flies out
Almost five years after adding the Guyana/New York route to its flights, US-based Delta Airlines left Timehri for the last time on May 6, putting pressure on Government to attract other operators. The last Delta flight arrived at 07:00 hrs at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), and left one hour later.
Delta touched down in Guyana for the first time in June 2008, conducting three to four flights weekly between JFK and Timehri. The number of flights during peak periods became daily.
President apologises to APNU leader for oversight
Presidential Adviser on Governance Gail Teixeira during an interview with the National Communications Network said that President Donald Ramotar has issued an apology to Opposition Leader Mr. David Granger. This followed the decision by members of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), to walk out of a meeting convened to discuss the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill. The opposition left the meeting after they were instructed not to take part in any further discussions by APNU’s leader. This was as a result of a perceived slight by the Opposition over a letter not being shared with them by the President.
47th Independence Anniversary…
Don’t use differences to stall Guyana’s progress; work with me – President Ramotar appeals
As Government and the Opposition continue a standoff over passage of a number of critical pieces of legislation, President Donald Ramotar on the eve of Guyana’s 47th Independence anniversary promised to pull out all stops to ensure progress continues.
The Head of State, in his address at the National Park, also appealed for trust. He said that he is willing to work with all stakeholders.
“On this the 47th anniversary…I appeal to our political leaders to join me in creating conditions of improved political trust that would allow us to work together, in spite of our differences, to build this country of ours and to make it truly great so that we can take a bigger part in resolving regional and global issues.”
He asserted that he was convinced that despite the current challenges, all Guyanese share the common desire for an end to poverty and a modern country, in which all can prosper in an environment of peace and unity.
“I believe that at this time when our economy is doing better, we are well positioned to move closer towards achieving this vision. We should not let this moment pass; we should not squander this opportunity. I implore all of our political leaders to join me in working to build a grand future for all of our people.”
Guyana averts sanctions
…Must pass anti-money laundering legislation by November
The government in June avoided being put on a financial blacklist. Speaking in Port of Spain Trinidad, President Donald Ramotar confirmed that Guyana had until November to bring up to speed, laws governing the financial crimes of money laundering and financing of terrorism.
Ramotar had dispatched Attorney General Anil Nandlall to Nicaragua where the country was expected to inform the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force about Guyana’s progress in countering financial crimes.
The Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Paul Geer, was leading Guyana’s delegation, but with the government failing to rush the opposition to make amendments to various pieces of legislation, Nandlall was later added to the team. The government wanted the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2013 (AML/CFT) passed before it faced the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) review panel in Managua.
AFC demands PPC, revocation of radio licences
—at meeting with President on political deadlock
The AFC demanded the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission and “clean-slate start” with respect to radio licences
One day after meeting with representatives of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to stave off a brewing political crisis, President Donald Ramotar met with leaders of the Alliance For Change (AFC) with the latter demanding that the administration take a hands-off approach on government contracts.
There were indications that Government might be willing to make a few concessions to the Opposition.
While there was no official word from Government on the talks which would centre on the budget cuts earlier this year and the stalemate over the non-passage of critical legislation in the National Assembly, the AFC outlined several demands it made during the meeting with the President, who was accompanied by his Chief Advisor, Dr. Roger Luncheon, and Political Advisor, Gail Teixeira.
APNU, in its statement, did not go into details.
AFC’s Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan was head of the team from his party that included General Secretary David Patterson and Treasurer Dominic Gaskin.
According to the AFC, President Ramotar wanted a “direct communication line with the leaders of political parties so as to express his views on the major political and economic matters of concern, and also to hear very directly the views of the political parties on these issues.”
The AFC said it made it clear that the party, which controls seven seats in the National Assembly, did not want this new development to become a talk-shop with an excess of political chatter.
On the issue of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC), which would oversee government contracts, the AFC did not agree with the President’s stance that the administration’s Cabinet should maintain its no-objection role in the tender process.
“The AFC maintained our position that there should be no Cabinet involvement in the tender process, that the PPC must be established under the existing legal framework.”
With regards to the controversial issuance of radio licences by former President Bharrat Jagdeo, the AFC said that the President “avoided discussion on whether or not Jagdeo acted in bad faith”.
Rather, the Head of State blamed the Leader of the Opposition, saying that the delay in naming a nominee to the Guyana National Broadcast Authority essentially prevented the early commencement of the new Broadcast Act of 2011.
Eleven radio licences were controversially granted by Jagdeo in 2011, days before he left office, sparking widespread anger and a number of court cases. Most of the licences and a majority of the frequencies went mainly to close party supporters, giving the administration total control over the airwaves. Several private media houses were overlooked and the matter has been criticised by the diplomatic community and local and international media groups.
The AFC said that it made it clear that it wants a “clean-slate start, with the revocation of the grants made in 2011 and a reversion of these by the NFMU (National Frequency Monitoring Unit. Everybody should apply fresh to a new Broadcast Authority.
One laptop each for top NGSA performers – Education Minister
Each child that falls within the top performing one per cent of the 2013 National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) will be given a laptop, compliments of the Guyana Government.
This announcement was made by Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, who officially released the results at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD). The decision, the Minister said, was made by President Donald Ramotar himself, who according to her, is extremely pleased with the performance and the fact that the results have been released early this year.
In fact, the unveiling of the results was deemed an historic undertaking, as according to the Minister it was determined that it was the earliest that the results have ever been made available. A total of 16,811 candidates participated in the Assessment, and according to the Minister, “We are very proud of our children who took this exam; we are proud of their performance and their consistency over the years.” The highest possible score obtainable by candidates was 560.
CPL says New GPC was ‘targeted’ for Guyana franchise
…value of franchise kept confidential
The Caribbean Premier League (CPL) says it specifically targeted the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (New GPC) to buy the Guyana franchise. The League promises to become the Caribbean’s most lucrative and popular form of cricket, the game which has established itself as the national sport in territories across the Region.
“CPL (has) been very specific in targeting strategic partners who we understand can bring a lot of value to the teams, the locality, the community and the league,” Rhonda Kelley, spokesperson for the League told Kaieteur News. The CPL did not disclose any information about the cost of the franchise in Guyana or the other five territories, namely Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua.
Asked to what extent national governments in the Caribbean are supporting the league, Kelley said “there is a sponsorship opportunity for each Government that CPL is offering.”
The CPL was slated to start on June 30 and conclude on August 24.
“GPC /Limacol is a fantastic example of this and we are honoured and privileged they have become the very first Franchise holders in this incredible sports entertainment product,” Kelley added.
CPL announced New GPC, owned by executive Dr Ranjisinghi Ramroop, as the franchise holder for the Guyana team.
24 radio, cable, TV licences ready for handout
Revelations by Bibi Shadick, the chairperson of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) show that Radio Guyana Inc. and Telcor Cultural Broadcasting have five frequencies from which to undertake radio broadcasts. However, one of those frequencies is being used to transmit signals to different parts of the country.
The two stations are among 24 radio, cable and TV licences which are ready for handout by the GNBA once the approved licencees pay up the licence and spectrum fees. Of those, there are eight TV licences, eight radio licences and six cable TV licences. There was no word on other existing television stations in the capital.
It was Prime Minister Samuel Hinds who announced in the National Assembly that former President Bharrat Jagdeo had handed out 11 new radio licences in November, 2011.
Among those new licencees were Radio Guyana Inc., owned by Jagdeo’s best friend Dr. Ranjisinghi Ramroop and Telcor Cultural Broadcasting, which has as its directors Jagdeo’s niece Kamini Persaud and Ruth Baljit, who is the sister of Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud.
These two licencees, the Prime Minister had said, were each granted five radio frequencies. However, Shadick said the GNBA approved six radio frequencies for these two licencees.
Govt. admits inability to investigate Money Laundering
…suspicious transactions reported to FIU filed away
Government officials have for the first time conceded a woeful inability to investigate money laundering in Guyana. Two Ministers added that ‘suspicious transactions’ that are reported to the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Ministry of Finance, are merely filed and stored for ‘future use.’
Attorney General and Minster of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall and Junior Finance Minister, Bishop Juan Edghill, addressing media operatives while at the party’s headquarters,’ Freedom House, on Robb Street, said that there are a lot of powers vested in a number of institutions locally to investigate money laundering.
Asked about Guyana’s ability to investigate Money Laundering, Minister Nandlall told media operatives, “Whether we have the capacity to investigate or exercise those powers is a different matter.” He explained that the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act that came into force in 2009, is based on a special model.
“Money laundering legislation is not the ordinary type of legislation; they invest in authorities named in the legislation a tremendous plenitude of powers and investigative capacity.”
Corruption issue takes centre stage at investment seminar
It was supposed to be a straightforward two-day forum geared to improve Guyana’s investment profile.
But the Guyana Investment Seminar, organized mainly by the diplomatic community and a number of prominent sectors, was anything but that.
At the Guyana International Conference Centre, Government went on the defensive, maintaining that the local investment climate remains healthy, but that a few things need fixing. This was minutes after a regional expert, hired to implement a crime and security strategy for CARICOM, said that there is a perception that corruption is prevalent or endemic in Guyana.
Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, made it clear that his government was unhappy over the agenda for the seminar which while it dealt in no small way with crime and security of Guyana, failed to address burning issues of cost of power and bandwidth. The Minister, clearly at odds with the tone of the seminar, also echoed President Donald Ramotar, who blamed international perception reports for negatively affecting investments to Guyana. The government was one of the organizers with the High Commission of Canada as the lead organiser.
GUILTY!!! Ex-Coast Guard ranks sentenced to death
The three ex-Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard ranks charged with the August 2009 murder of Bartica gold miner Dweive Kant Ramdass, were all found guilty and sentenced to death by Justice Franklyn Holder. The judge had earlier summed up the case and the 12-member jury returned later in the afternoon with a unanimous verdict after a little more than half an hour of deliberations.
The defendants – Sherwin Hart, Devon Gordon and Deon Greenidge – were found guilty of the murder which occurred on August 20, 2009 at Caiman Hole in the Essequibo River. The prosecution’s case was that the men forced Ramdass into their boat and took him to the aforementioned location where they relieved him of $17M in cash he was carrying in a box to Bartica for his employer, before dumping him overboard.
Senior State prosecutor Judith Gildharie-Mursalin presented the case, while Attorney at law Latchmie Rahamat represented the three accused. As the verdict was being read to the three men, one could hear loud gasps from the dock. From their facial expressions, they all appeared shocked by the verdict. One of the men’s relatives burst into tears. The woman had to be consoled by other relatives who were inside the court.
President Ramotar calls for non-interference at US pre-Independence Day celebration
The fact that the relationship between Guyana and the United States has evolved since forging diplomatic ties in 1966, was highlighted by President Donald Ramotar as he offered remarks at the 237th Independence Day celebration of the United States hosted by Ambassador, D. Brent Hardt, and his wife at their residence.
However, even as he spoke of the friendly ties the two countries share, the Guyanese Head of State, in diplomatic style, emphasised the need for the relations to always abide within “the principals of mutual respect and understanding and non-interference in each other’s affairs.”
“These are the important principles laid down by the United Nations following the terrible consequences of the Second World War, which should always be our guide. That is the right of nations to self-determination. That is what our early leaders were trying to assert in the struggle for independence and in post-Independent Guyana.”
US Consular Officer “under probe” in visa racket
More than a decade after the Thomas Carroll visa scandal was exposed, the Department of State of the United States of America was once again called upon to probe alleged improprieties involving one of its Consular Officers.
The investigations were reportedly centered on the sale of US visas at the Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana by a Consular Officer.
The embassy confirmed reports that a probe was underway, stating that “the Department of State is aware of allegations of improprieties relating to a Consular Officer formerly assigned to Georgetown, Guyana.”
“The Department takes all allegations of misconduct by employees seriously. We are reviewing the matter thoroughly. If the allegations are substantiated, we will work with the relevant authorities to hold anyone involved accountable,” the Embassy’s press release stated.
Bai Shan Lin’s operation must be reviewed—Region Ten Chairman
Region Ten Chairman, Sharma Solomon, has said that there needs to be a proper assessment of Bai Shan Lin’s entire operations and its impact on Region Ten. Solomon added that the Region had expressed disappointment that the government was more concerned with the accessing of material by Bai Shan Lin to fix the road, than with the actual fixing of the road. Disappointment was also expressed with the way Bai Shan Lin operated after receiving concessionary measures from the region to access laterite, Solomon said.
That disappointment was echoed by the Government.
“As such the Government said that Bai Shan Lin is acting dishonestly and disrespectful, of abusing the situation and of stepping out of line on several issues. More guidance and supervision from central government should be put in place in relation to Bai Shan Lin,” Solomon said.
The region also asked for a full review of the operations. It was even suggested by the government that Bai Shan Lin be fined for the irregularities perpetrated, which is fully supported by the Region.
Solomon added that the Region hopes to see action taken very soon as it relates to ‘past transgressions ‘by Bai Shan Lin. He said that the repair of the Moblissa farm road by Bai Shan Lin needs immediate attention, and that the pit from which the company extracted 47,000 tonnes of loam needs an environmental assessment, as the pit is a mere 20ft from the damaged road, and also, there are signs of erosion.
Contractor, Brassington confirm increased price tag for Amaila Hydro
Sithe Global’s President, Brian Kubeck, along with Technical Director for the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project, Winston Brassington confirmed that the price tag has increased to US$858M.
This is US$18M more than the figure quoted one week before by a number of government officials including President Donald Ramotar. A high level team from Sithe Global, along with Brassington, met with stakeholders at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC) where this confirmation was made. This was the second stakeholder consultation on the controversial subject within a week and this time around, the media was given preference in relation to clarifications on the ongoing project.
Among the details that emerged during the course of the project is the fact that the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) and the China Exim Bank will not be lending money to Guyana but rather to the Amaila Falls Hydro Power Inc (AFHI), the Special Purpose Company created for the Hydro Power facility. It was pointed out that Sithe Global owns 60 per cent of the company for its US$157M it will be investing and Guyana will own 40 per cent for the “more than US$100M” the government has committed as part of its share in the project.
Amaila will be outdated by 2019
- Professor Clive Thomas
Economist Professor Clive Thomas has asserted that the “troubled” Amaila Falls Hydro Project will become outdated in just five years. Despite a cost of at least US$840M, the largest undertaking in the country’s history, it is projected that within the next few years, other possibilities will have to be explored to generate electricity.
Professor Thomas, who is one of Guyana’s more recognized economists, didn’t dispel the government’s projection that the venture will run for some 75 years. He, however, pronounced that the project merely has the ability to service the electricity needs of Guyana for less than a quarter of its projected life span. The economist noted that looking at the Guyana Power Light Inc. (GPL) medium term, the Amaila project is simply inadequate. He referred to GPL’s declared intent to keep 50 megawatts (MW) of its present capacity going after the Amaila Falls project comes on stream.
Thomas said that indeed GPL’s plans project that 88 percent of its electricity supply will come from Amaila in 2017, but opined that by 2019, more than the promised 165 megawatts will be needed.
The Professor told Kaieteur News, “It (Amaila) has a shelf life up to 2019; it will be working but the supply will be less than what we need. It will be inadequate even if it is working at its full capacity.”
Sithe Global’s pulls out of Amaila project
President of Sithe Global, Brian Kubeck, on August 9 maintained that “a public-private partnership of this magnitude requires a national consensus in order for us to proceed further.”
Several hours later, Sithe Global pulled out of the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project, citing the reason as a lack of political consensus.
Kubeck in a statement to the media earlier in the week said, “We can only proceed further if there is a uniform consensus amongst all of PPP, APNU and AFC, communicated via Parliament, that you support this project…Without such consensus, Sithe Global will be forced to withdraw.”
Guyana faces real risk of financial sanctions – Chris Ram
Chartered Accountant and Financial Analyst, Christopher Ram, believes that Guyana now faces a very real possibility of attracting sanctions from the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce (CFATF), given that the nation is poised to miss the extended deadline it was afforded to comply with its recommendations.
Ram’s analysis of the money laundering debacle, came after the National Assembly officially begun its annual recess, but not before a Special Select Committee voted to defer considering amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism legislation. That Committee voted to defer the consideration of the amendments until October even as CFATF had warned of an August 26 deadline, prior to its next plenary consideration in November.
Ram in his analysis, has since said that “since the executive arm of the state is not in recess, there is no reason why it should not be working feverishly to address not only the problems identified by the CFATF but to identify any other deficiencies in the law and its consistency with the Constitution.”
Ram said that it would not be in Guyana’s best interest to attract the sanctions by the Regulator. He suggested that every bank operating in Guyana with correspondent banking relationships in North America, could be particularly hard hit. The US Regulator has the power to impose conditions and even prohibit US financial institutions from transacting with correspondents in a designated jurisdiction.
Anna Regina Multilateral tops CSEC
Two girls from the Cinderella County of Essequibo have continued their friendly academic rivalry and emerged to become the country’s top performers at this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations. The two Anna Regina Multilateral students secured an astonishing