- calls for national inquiry on governance problems
The Private Sector Commission on Thursday slammed the authorities over rain-fuelled flooding that has gripped the city and it declared that its confidence has been further diminished in the effectiveness of big ticket items such as the Doppler radar and the Hope canal.
The PSC statement follows:
Rainfall has once again resulted in major floods in the City of Georgetown and the Coastal Plains of Guyana and the business entities and poor households will once again suffer hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
While the quantum of rainfall may have been unusual for the time period it fell and natural causes will obviously be blamed as in the past. The PSC is concerned that once again it seems that the leaders of the nation have been caught off guard. The alert mechanisms, forecasters and administrators both in central and local government have disappointed us in their proactivity and reaction to this development.
This situation is unfolding even after the millions being spent on the Doppler weather stations, hundreds of millions spent on drainage and irrigation annually, billions spent on the significantly delayed Hope Canal Project and the billion dollars currently being spent on the cleanup campaign. Our confidence in the effectiveness of these programs has been further diminished.
The PSC is calling on the Government, both central and local to provide urgently, the necessary assistance to ensure:
1. That the areas affected are drained as soon as is practical. (The Private Sector will explore opportunities to assist).
2. Support provided to aid clean up and recovery of households affected.
3. Adequate systems are put in place to facilitate advisories being sent out to the public with regard to the expectations of the next few days.
4. Assessment of damages for possible financial assistance to aid recovery of those affected and uninsured must be considered.
5. Medical advisories are sent out so that additional disasters are not ignited.
The PSC also calls on members of the public to allow the spirit of goodwill and friendship to prevail at this time so that communities can work together to overcome this problem.
The PSC is of the view that the flooding is as a result of both a natural phenomenon and a governance problem. For the governance problem, a national inquiry must be done this time to ensure that the true causes for the various lapses in the systems can be identified so that our alert and reaction processes can be improved in the future.
A high-level team from HESS Corporation on Wednesday met with Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud to discuss collaboration in the oil and gas sector.
The team included Tim Chisholm (Hess Exploration Vice President), Michael Dalkin (Hess, Environmental Manager), and Mark Johnson (Senior Commercial Manager Exploration International).
The Minister was accompanied by acting Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission Newell Dennison.
Hess Corporation is a leading global independent energy company engaged in exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. The company has a global portfolio in onshore, offshore and exploration and expertise in deep water drilling ventures.
Discussions were centred on anticipated investment and collaboration with ESSO in their deep water offshore concessions.
Minister Persaud welcomed Hess Corporation’s presence and indicated support for any joint venture effort which could materialise.
- testimony to confidence in the economy
Unicomer Guyana Inc, home of the Courts and Lucky Dollar brands, has commissioned a new multimillion dollar distribution centre on Wednesday at Eccles Industrial Site, East Bank Demerara.
The 60,000 square feet facility has the capacity to offload 18 trucks or containers simultaneously and can house about 20 containers in the compound.
The distribution centre sits on four acres of land and replaces the warehouse that was located in Montrose, East Coast Demerara.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, Unicomer Guyana Inc Managing Director Clyde de Haas said the expansion was necessary to facilitate growth in business as the company had outgrown the previous facility.
He noted that a lot of burden was taken away from management with the establishment of the facility and now they can channel their attention towards providing better services to the customers.
“We are able to focus on our primary function as a retailer and that is making sure that customers are getting the five-star service and simultaneously with that we have now is proper logistics function. This is not a warehouse anymore, it’s a distribution centre and we have a proper logistics function whereby the planning of the incoming stocks, the planning of the out bond stocks is all being done in a manner that is simple flow and things are not going against each other,” de Haas explained.
The commissioning ceremony was attended by several officials of the Unicomer Group including the Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President Guillermo Siman, who stated that the US$6 million investment in Guyana is reflective of the company’s confidence in the country’s economy and expressed gratitude to the Government for embracing the drive of the company.
“We look forward to our continued participation in the development of this country by fostering investments, generating employment and facilitating international trading and commerce by being a good corporate citizen in Guyana,” the Vice President stated.
The mega distribution centre currently provides employment for 50 persons and the number is expected to increase in the near future. These persons underwent training sessions in order to effectively operate the new stock picking machines and mechanised facilities in the warehouse.
President Donald Ramotar said Guyana has been making significant investments in developing its human capital.
“We have been investing heavily over the recent years. We want to provide for Government and for the investors as a whole, a workforce that is highly educated and second to none in the world,” he stated.
The President added that grand partnerships such as these between Government and private sector are crucial in order to transform Guyana into a modern and developed society.
He pointed out that his administration is focused on achieving this as he referred to the billions of dollars that is being plugged into the social sector every year.
The President spoke about the strides made in the education sector, noting that Guyana is on the verge of attaining Universal Secondary Education.
Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) President Lance Hinds recognised the contributions of the company to the local private sector and encouraged it to continue fulfilling its corporate responsibilities.
Acting Tourism Minister Irfaan Ali stated that Unicomer Guyana Inc has played a key role in the development of the private sector.
The Unicomer Group has been serving Guyanese for the past 20 years.
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has approached the Alliance For Change (AFC) to form a broad coalition, but a response from the small party is still pending.
The proposal was renewed during a meeting held last week between the two Opposition parties.
This was confirmed by Opposition Leader David Granger on Friday during his weekly press conference at his Hadfield Street Office.
“The matter was raised… and I would say the ball is now in the AFC’s court,” Granger told reporters, noting that the AFC has not given any clear indication whether it will buy into the proposal.
But earlier this week, AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan denied that such discussions were held. According to him, there are no plans in the pipeline to have the two Opposition parties merged.
When contacted by Guyana Times International, Ramjattan yelled “It is nothing of the sort!” before disconnecting the call. A second attempt to clarify his statement, the hostile political leader said, “Tell (newspaper name) to haul its *ss.”
He was alluding to an article carried in a local newspaper under the headline, “APNU/AFC in advanced coalition talks — Roopnarine makes way for Nagamootoo as MP Candidate.”
Critics say they have a greater chance of winning the elections as a coalition, but failure to do so can result in the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) returning with a majority in the National Assembly.
The People’s National Congress (PNC) which forms part of APNU has not won an election in 22 years. After ruling the country for 28 years, the PNC suffered a major defeat in the 1992 General Elections.
But even with the PNCR joining with the Guyana Action Party (GAP), the National Front Alliance (NFA), the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) and the Justice for All Party (JFA) in 2011 to form APNU, it was still unable to defeat the PPP/C.
The coalition has 26 seats in the National Assembly.
On the flip side, the AFC has never won an election. Since it was formed in 2005, the AFC has only managed to win 10.3 per cent of the votes, gaining a mere seven of the 65 seats in the National Assembly.
Individually, the Opposition parties are powerless in the National Assembly, but as a combined Opposition, it has proven to be a force to reckon with.
With the AFC pushing to have the No-Confidence Motion debated and pass in the National Assembly, it is critical for the Opposition to form an alliance.
Since the 2011 General Elections, there have been many changes; changes that can negatively impact all of the political parties during the next General Elections; hence, their decisions during this period are critical.
Regions Five (Mahaica-Betbice) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) have experienced a sharp decline in their populations by 16,969 persons.
According to Guyana Population and Housing Census 2012 Preliminary Report, the regions’ population fell from 176,123 persons in 2002 to 159,154 in 2012.
Regions Five and Six form part of the coastland regions, which also include Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Three (West Demerara-Essequibo Islands), Four (Demerara-Mahaica) and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice). Collectively, the six regions have a population of 666,261 persons when the last census was conducted on September 15, 2012 while the overall population was recorded at 747,884. Regions Five and Six are PPP/C strongholds.
Additionally, the advent of a majority Opposition in the National Assembly has resulted in major protestations from all sections of society when key issues were being dealt with.
The joint Opposition have been greatly criticised for the cuts effected to the 2012, 2013 and 2014 budgets, which have negatively affected key developmental projects, including the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, the Specialty Hospital and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) Expansion Project.
But this is just a tip of the iceberg for APNU. The leadership of the partnership is battling to keep the party’s spirit alive in one of its stronghold, Linden, Region 10.
Since mid-year, the mining town has been plagued with a major division since the leadership moved to appoint Sandra Adams as the party’s Regional Coordinator.
This appointment was opposed by Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon and the region’s APNU representative in the National Assembly Vanessa Kissoon.
- Parliament to reconvene on Monday
Just days after declaring that it would be “foolish” of him to call Local Government Elections, President Donald Ramotar Tuesday night declared his intention to hold those polls “in the second quarter of next year.”
However, he said this is contingent on whether the opposition rams through its No-Confidence Motion against his administration. In that eventuality, he would use his powers to prorogue or dissolve Parliament, paving the way for fresh General Elections. While both options would precipitate General Elections, in proroguing Parliament the President would be avoiding his party be the first to fall on an Opposition No-Confidence Motion.
Ramotar made the comments during an address to the nation aired on State broadcaster, National Communications Network (NCN) Tuesday evening. Government had up to then been resisting holding Local Government Elections, citing a range of reasons why it was not feasible. The main Opposition-A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), however, which is currently engaged in countrywide protest actions, had demanded that the Head of State set a date for the poll.
In fact APNU had made the local government election issue the centrepiece of its struggle; giving lip service to the Alliance For Change- sponsored No-Confidence Vote. The President would appear to be calling APNU’s bluff and would be forcing the latter to take a stand. Observers say APNU would be in a “most uncomfortable” place when Parliament reconvenes on Monday as the President effectively gives it two options: one of going ahead with the AFC-sponsored No-Confidence Motion and face fresh General Elections or supporting its own agenda, which would see its hard fought campaign for local government elections being realised. Opposition Leader, David Granger in reacting to the President’s statement said that the opposition will not be threatened or intimidated.
“A Partnership for National Unity –APNU is extremely disappointed by the views expressed by President Donald Ramotar in his address to the nation… It is clear that President Ramotar is trying to intimidate the opposition by threatening General and Regional Elections and putting Local Government Elections far into the future. APNU will not be threatened or intimidated,” Granger said.
He said after deliberately delaying the post–recess sitting of the National Assembly by several weeks, “APNU feels strongly that the President’s new found urgency to bring to the floor of the National Assembly “urgent matters…in the interest of the people of Guyana” to be disingenuous. He said APNU views the President’s ‘threat’ to prorogue or dissolve the Parliament as cowardly. “The Parliament is intended to be a place for debate. President Ramotar is choosing to dissolve Parliament instead of facing up to a debate on the PPP/C’s abysmal record in office,” Granger charged.
Importance of Parliament
Meanwhile, stressing the importance for the National Assembly to recommence following the end of recess on October 10, President Ramotar said both sides of the House should use the opportunity to address critical matters that were on the Order Paper prior to recess. These matters include: the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, the Telecommunications Legislation, the Education Bill and Financial Papers. “These matters will allow us, all our people, to build a better society and a more resilient economy.”
However, the President warned against opposing forces that may seek to disrupt the current standing order. “I also wish to declare that were this not to be so, and I am provided with reasons to believe that the Parliamentary Opposition intends to disrupt Government’s business by forcing a debate on their No-Confidence Motion, I resolve to respond immediately by exercising my Constitutional options to either Prorogue or Dissolve Parliament paving the way for holding of General Elections.”
Nevertheless, he said if the No-Confidence Motion against his Administration is passed, it will lead to General Elections.
With President Donald Ramotar setting Monday, November 10 for the first post-recess sitting, the Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaac on Wednesday moved to notify the 65-Member Parliament, supplying each with the Order Paper.
A packed agenda has been set for the 89th Sitting of the National Assembly but on the 33-page Order Paper, the No-Confidence Motion against the Government of Guyana has found itself down at the bottom of Page 23.
In addition to the presentation of 21 papers and reports by Members of the House, the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) are slated to ask 19 questions with sub-questions on issues ranging from the University of Guyana Student Loan Fund, the Broadcasting of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) press conferences on the National Communications Network (NCN) to the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry and Land Allocation.
In addition to the trail of questions, the Government will be presenting the Food Safety Bill and the Motor Vehicles Insurance Amendment Bill for their first readings while the Education Bill and the Land Surveyors Bill will be read for a second time. Additionally, a motion would be put by Government for the consideration of Financial Paper Number 1/2014- Statement of Excess on the Current and Capital Estimates.
Notably, the Telecommunications Bill and the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill though listed, will not be dealt with during this upcoming sitting.
Following all these items, the No-Confidence Motion tabled by the Alliance For Change (AFC) would surface. The AFC had signalled its intention to suspend the Standing Order, paving the way for the No-Confidence Motion to be given priority.
AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan told Guyana Times International that his party will be proceeding with the motion during the first sitting.
“It will be the first and only sitting,” he said, noting that the Opposition would be moving ahead “full force”.
Though the PPP/C would want the 65-member of the National Assembly to debate the historic motion, Ramjattan said this would not be permitted, explaining that only a percentage of the members would debate.
The mover of the motion, Moses Nagamootoo will be leading the debate with support from Cathy Hughes, Ramjattan said.
“We will prove that the Opposition is united on this motion,” the AFC Leader declared, as he said the smile on Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee’s face would be transformed into a frown.
Tourism Awareness Month 2014 was launched Friday evening with the aim of raising awareness of the country’s tourism potential, as the Government continues to promote tourism as a sector that has potential for significant economic growth.
The 20th Tourism Awareness Month was launched under the theme: “Tourism entrepreneur and ambassadors mobilised”. The tourism ambassador programme is not unique to Guyana, but is patterned after a Trinidad model.
Speaking during the launch at the Amerindian Village located in the Sophia Exhibition Complex, Tourism Minister (ag) Irfaan Ali stressed on the need for Guyanese to be reminded of the importance of the sector in Guyana’s future. “The growth of this sector cannot be achieved alone, we need partners in order to move forward,” the Minister said.
He stated that the Ministry has a vision that is critical for the development of the sector. Minister Ali said that the industry is in its developmental stage, where protocols and guidelines are being established.
The need for sport fishing and its potential was reiterated by the Minister as he went on to state that the Ministry has implemented incentives to aid in reduced cost for local travellers to explore the beauty of Guyana.
The need for infrastructure and an environment which meet international standards to attract tourists was highlighted while the Private Sector was urged to become members of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) since it will open opportunities for the enjoyment of the income expected from the 100,000 Guyanese who are anticipated to return to Guyana in 2015 as ‘Guyana Homecoming 2015’ takes off.
The Ministry is working with THAG and various airlines to design a marketing strategy for the homecoming campaign. Extensive social media marketing is an aspect of the strategy. Better yet, with Guyana adopting a booking engine, designed by an international company, bookings for trips to Guyana will be done easily and simultaneously, which will increase tourists and income. This feature will be added to the tourism website and is expected to be up and running by the end of November.
Newly appointed THAG Chairman/ President Shaun McGrath, said, “As a hotelier in Guyana for the past 25 years, I have heard people say tourism is not going to happen in Guyana. They say they have to clean up the place first, but the truth is, tourism is well and alive in Guyana.”
Hotels in the interior are filled, McGrath said. He talked of the fact that Guyanese need to be made aware of the tourism potential of Guyana. Caribbean countries such as Barbados, Jamaica and others have implemented programmes in schools to start tourism awareness in the minds of children. This is an initiative which Guyana has now taken up.
“Guyana, South America undiscovered”
THAG has, for Tourism Month, organised a school essay competition and the winning essay will be featured in the Guyana 2014 Magazine. Among other activities to raise tourism awareness are the launch of Restaurant Week – November 10 to 16; World Travel Market on November 3 to 6 in London, which will include the launch of the Explore Guyana magazine; school talks, and customer service and servers training. It was stated that part of the funding from the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) will go towards the development of tourism.
Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) Director Indranauth Haralsingh said Tourism Month is a time when the achievements of the sector are celebrated and the challenges are reflected upon. He said it is one of the most important multi-functional sectors since it creates employment, attracts investments, and contributes to economic growth and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- product to be sold to major markets around the world
The NEW GPC INC is proud to announce that it is about to rollout its iconic Limacol splash-on in most of the major markets of the world.
According to Executive Chairman, Dr Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, the launch follows a timeline built into Limacol’s expansion strategy that was initiated when the brand became the major sponsor of several major sporting events in Guyana and the Caribbean.
The ensuing broadcasts in every continent made the Limacol Brand a talking point in all the nations where sports, especially cricket, were played.
In the US, the Limacol Brand will be associated with baseball as well as with the new cricket leagues being launched. Now that the Limacol Brand awareness has reached the critical benchmarks set in the strategy, the decision to launch was made.
Limacol – and several of its brand extensions – will now be introduced into major new markets in Australia, New Zealand, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Africa and the Middle East.
In the US, Canada and Britain, it will strike out into mainstream outlets, in addition to the traditional Caribbean ethnic market where it has always had a loyal following and customer base. The increased sales in its home Caribbean markets will also be augmented.
This major marketing push will see the Limacol production facilities at Farm, East Bank Demerara ratcheted up to deal with the increased demand.
NEW GPC INC has always been in the forefront of boosting the local manufacturing sector with Limacol and numerous other products.
All of these had been shipped to the traditional export markets. With the massive Limacol expansion occasioned by the new market roll outs, it is projected that Guyana will benefit substantially both in terms of increased employment opportunities and in earning foreign exchange. Dr Ramroop emphasised that his company is very bullish on Guyana.
Limacol is a unique body splash on, manufactured in Guyana since the 1920s. Its signature slogan “Freshness of a breeze in a bottle” is known across the Caribbean – and now it will be on lips across the globe.
- Opposition mounts pressure for AG’s sacking
By Devina Samaroo