September 23, 2017

Archives for September 5, 2017

Conman gets 9 years jail for several counts of fraud

A conman, who was recently released from prison, and who clearly did not learn his lesson, will have the next nine years to rethink his approach after Magistrate Judy Lathcman sent him to jail on several fraud charges.

Troy Webster, 37, initially pleaded guilty with explanations to the six charges read to him but later confessed.
The charges against him allege that between August 17 and 21, 2017, at Georgetown and with intent to defraud, he obtained from Lisa Prince, Tamara Summerset, Marissa Williams, Kenisha Boyce, Nekeisha Haynes and Anesia Jones G$7000 each, pretending to be in a position to offer them a job.
When asked to provide his explanation to the court, Webster remained tight-lipped thus forcing Magistrate Latchman to have the matter stood down.
When recalled, Police Prosecutor Shawn Gonsalves revealed that defendant would pose as a businessman seeking females to work either in the Parika, East Bank Essequibo (EBE) area or on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD).
He would request a sum of G$7000 along with a copy of their identification card but will however; vanish after informing them that he would make contact with them to commence work.
The matter was however reported to the Brickdam Police Station and the defendant was apprehended, arrested and charged with the offences.
However, what prompted the harsh sentence is the fact that Webster was previously before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan and jailed for the same offence.
Magistrate Latchman sentenced him to 18 months in prison for the six charges, which will run consecutively.
In handing down the sentence, Latchman told the accused “it is obvious that you did not learn your lesson”.

Berbice teen stabbed to death

…after he intervened in early morning brawl

Nineteen-year-old Vishram Mohabir of 258 Williamsburg, Corentyne Berbice died early Sunday morning after he sustained stab wounds to his neck as he attempted to act as a peacemaker between his younger brother and 44-year-old Williamsburg resident Ivor Thom, with whom he had an ongoing issue.
Mohabir’s 16-year-old brother received several lacerations on his hands from that altercation.

Dead: Vishram Mohabir

This newspaper was told that after Mohabir had reportedly been stabbed to the neck by Thom, the suspect was immediately taken into custody by police officers who were patrolling the area.
Police ‘B’ Division Commander Paul Williams told Guyana Times International that members of the Community Policing Group (CPG) had shut down a bar-b-que and lime in the village at some time around 3am on Sunday, and the police action had allegedly drawn rebuke from a group of individuals, of which the accused was part.
According to the Police Commander, the group had re-converged, and the 16-year-old was passing when the accused confronted him. At that point, the older brother stepped in to separate the two, and the accused whipped out a knife and stabbed him in the neck, before inflicting injury on the hands of the 16-year-old with whom he had a beef.
Commander Williams said the suspect was immediately taken into custody by a police patrol that was just a few yards away.
At the home of the deceased, an older brother told Guyana Times International that his two younger brothers had gone out during the evening, and sometime later, his 16-year-old brother returned home to drop his bicycle. While the teen was on his way back to meet his brother, he was confronted by the accused, who began to “hassle” him. According to the sibling, his brother Vishram intervened and asked, “Man, what you really doing?” and was then reportedly stabbed by the accused.
The dead man’s mother, Davika Ranjas, said she was awakened at some time around 4am on Sunday and told the dreaded news about her second child.
“That was after four this morning, I get a call to say come Ajaj (Vishram) get bore in his throat. I go to the hospital and went to the emergency room. When I got there I see me son on the bed. I said, ‘Boy what happen with you? He said ‘Ma’. That is all I hear from my son”, the grieving woman told this publication.
She said she was asked to leave the room, and sometime later was informed that her son had died.
The distressed mother said that, as a single parent, she was devastated by the sudden death of her son, whom she said had become the breadwinner of the family.
Police investigations into the tragic incident continue.

President trying to “frustrate process” if he rejects third GECOM list – Gaskin

Now that a third list of nominees for the post of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has been submitted to President David Granger, close attention will be paid to how the President responds to this new submission, especially after he rejected two previous lists.
Outspoken political commentator and economist, Ramon Gaskin, thinks if the President rejects this list, it would send a clear message that he is more focused on complicating the process of selecting another Chairman for one of the most important constitutional offices in Guyana.

Political and social commentator, Ramon Gaskin

“It would mean that he is fooling around and that he wants to put his own person there. And it also means that he is trying to get (Bharrat) Jagdeo frustrated, because once Jagdeo stops submitting lists he could say that he has no list in front of him,” he opined.
Gaskin reminded that the Constitution allows the President the option of appointing someone of his choice, but only on the basis that the Opposition Leader fails to submit a list. “The Constitution says (David) Granger could pick somebody. That is what I think he would like to do. He may not get away with it, but that is what he may want to do,” the political commentator added.
He continued, “(David) Granger is only confortable with people he picks. He has to pick the person who he is comfortable with. He likes to pick military people and People’s National Congress (PNC) people. He wants to be able to pick the person… he has strong dictatorial tendencies.”
Gaskin also made reference to the recent incident which was brought to the public’s attention, where the President through Minister of State Joseph Harmon, instructed the Police Service Commission (PSC) to put a hold on promotions for senior Police ranks. The commentator reminded that this move breaches the Constitution, as Granger cannot dictate when senior Police ranks should be appointed.
Shifting his attention back to the GECOM chairmanship, Gaskin said he sees no reason why the President would want to reject the third list of nominees. “I would hope that he chooses somebody from the third list. There are some good candidates there and I hope he chooses one. I don’t think he can say that this list is no good. You have people there who are more qualified. He should be able to find somebody.”
On submitting the third list on August 25, the Opposition Leader said he is hopeful that the President would take into consideration the ruling of the acting Chief Justice (CJ) in regard to the constitutional stipulation governing the appointment of a Chairman for the GECOM.
This list of nominees for the GECOM chairmanship includes Major General (retired) Joseph Singh; Teni Housty; Sanjeev Datadin; Annette Arjune-Martins; Onesi LaFleur and Krishnadatt Persaud.
In a letter to the President accompanying the list, Jagdeo said arriving at the six names was not an easy task. He said that regarding the antecedents in relation to the matter and a subsequent meeting with the President at State House back in June, he continued to elaborate and protracted consultations with various stakeholders in an exercise that lasted for several weeks.
During that process, Jagdeo said he solicited their views and sought nominations in efforts to ensure that six names were presented to the President that satisfy the requirements contemplated by Article 161(2) of the Constitution.
Regarding the nominees, Jagdeo explained that one is a former Chairman of GECOM, while two are attorneys with over 10 years of “good standing” at the Guyana Bar, and both are qualified to be appointed as Judges of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in Guyana.
Another of the nominees, he explained, is an attorney with over 40 years of good standing, and is a former Magistrate who served in that capacity for over 20 years; another nominee is a business executive in the local airline industry, and has received national and international acclaim for her work in protecting Guyana’s biodiversity; while the other person has distinguished himself as an agriculturalist, and has made a sterling contribution in Guyana and the Caribbean in the area of education and religion.
Following the rejection of the second list, a consultation was held among Jagdeo, Minister Harmon, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall and PPP/C parliamentarian Irfaan Ali to find an amicable solution to the issue.
It was agreed that in the event that the third list is rejected by the President, a high-level team would be established, representing the President and the Opposition Leader, to begin working instantaneously on exploring modalities to bring a resolution to the matter. However, there has been no word on this team.
GECOM has been without a Chairman since February 28, 2017, when Dr Steve Surujbally stepped down after 15 years at the helm.

Double champions return home

Double champions Guyana Under-19 team with Government and GCB officials after landing at the Eugene F Correia International Airport

On Tuesday, the National Under-19 team which recently won the Regional double crown returned to Guyana to a resounding welcome at the Eugene F. Correia International Airport.
The champions landed at approximately 14:40h and were greeted by government and Guyana Cricket Board officials. Those on hand to welcome home the champions were: Minister of Social Cohesion, who is also the minister with responsibility for Culture Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton, Director of Youth and Sport, Christopher Jones, GCB’s Hon. Secretary, Anand Sanasie, the Chairman of the Senior Selection Panel at GCB, Rayon Griffith and GCB staffs:, Territorial Development Officer, Colin Stuart and Assistant Administrator, Avee Fedee-Grimmond.
According to a GCB release, Minister Norton expressed his content and congratulated the team on their double title championship.
The Minister expressed elation in taking up his designation on such a historic winning note.
It is the second time Guyana has successfully claimed double honours dating back to 2014.
Thus GCB Secretary, Sanasie, noted that winning this tournament four times is not a coincidence but dedication from all involved.
“The Guyana Under-19 has since recorded their fourth title of being the Regional Under-19 Champions. The team picked up the Regional three day championship earlier this month after defeating Jamaica in the final round of competitions where Jamaica finished its first innings on 187 all out in 100 overs., Guyana compiled 250-8 declared off 73 overs and in the 2nd Innings, Jamaica scored 139 all out after 55.3 overs and Guyana 80 for 1 off of 18.3 overs which led them to victory”, the release stated.
It further added that, Guyana recorded its sixth consecutive win during the one day tournament after defeating the Windward Islands in the CWI One-Day 50 over tournament where they won by 6 runs after putting up an unbeatable total of 217 off of 49.6 overs which Windward Islands failed to attain.
“The Executives and staff of the GCB extend best wishes to the youngsters and hope that they will unceasingly work towards continuous victory in the sport of cricket.”

Norton to head Culture, Youth and Sport Department

… still holds Social Cohesion post

Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton will from September 1 take on full responsibility of culture, youth and sport under the Education Ministry.
The announcement was made on Monday by Education Minister (ag) Nicolette Henry during a forum with staff members at the National Cultural Centre (NCC).

Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton

Minister Henry said she will now be fully responsible for education. Under the stewardship of former Education Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, Henry was specially assigned to the culture, youth and sport department; an area she received heavy criticism for over her performance.
Norton’s new appointment was confirmed on Monday by President David Granger, who in a release said Norton will, as of September 1, assume responsibility for culture, youth and sport, allowing Education Minister Nicolette Henry to focus on improving the quality of and access to education countrywide.
The release from the Ministry of the Presidency said Norton will remain Social Cohesion Minister, with the new addition to his portfolio. However, his office will now be housed at the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport on Main Street, Georgetown.
In an invited comment, Norton said he is thankful for the confidence reposed in him by the President and looks forward to the new portfolio, even while he continues to focus on building social cohesion in Guyana.
“I am very excited about this. There is no doubt about my interest in sports and I have been exposed to the various cultures across the country. In my role as Minister of Social Cohesion, I have been privileged to work with all the groups across the country and so I have an understanding of what is needed already. I have always been vocal about youth opportunities and… I certainly see the youth population as being the agents of change, who can make social cohesion a reality in Guyana and so I look forward to doing my best in both worlds,” the Minister is quoted by the Ministry of the Presidency as saying.
Before moving to the Social Cohesion Ministry in January of this year, Norton had served as the substantive Public Health Minister.

Jagdeo maintains Norwegian SWF model most successful in managing oil revenues

Government needs to come clear on how it plans to manage the funds that are expected to flow from the emerging oil and gas sector, especially since Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman has indicated that Government could be moving in another direction other than the Norwegian model of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).
This is according to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who said last Friday that countless economies were able to thrive using the Norwegian model of the SWF. However, the Guyana Government seems hell bent on going in another direction.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo

Jagdeo was again addressing the pitfalls in the oil and gas sector and Government’s seemingly inability to effectively manage what could eventually become a booming oil and gas industry.
Back in June during the debate of the Petroleum Commission Bill, Jagdeo had urged the fast tracking of the legislation that would open the way for the establishment of the SWF. He had said that government needed to build the fund around the model which exists in Norway. However, Minister Trotman was totally against it.
“Mr Speaker, all those who lecture about Norwegian models obviously are in the dark ages because the new literature says that the Norway model cannot apply to countries that are developing like Guyana”, he had said in rebuttal to the Opposition Leader’s suggestion.
At his press conference on Friday, Jagdeo said the Norwegian model remains the most successful model that has separated the management of the oil resources from the politicians.
“It is done technically. So the procedure is clear so that political people do not get their hands on the money. It is the most successful model in the world and also avoided the destruction of the economy through the Dutch Disease. Most countries have gone down the path that has seen an increase in national wealth,” Jagdeo told journalists.
Jagdeo said if Government will not be “going down this road “then it needs to state clearly how it intends to keep safe the country’s oil reserves.”
The Sovereign Wealth Fund of Norway, officially known as the Government Pension Fund of Norway, is the largest in the world, at latest count worth more than a trillion dollars. The fund was created on the back of the country’s vast oil wealth to provide its citizens with pensions.
The purpose of the petroleum fund is to invest parts of the large surplus generated by the Norwegian petroleum sector, generated mainly from taxes of companies but also payment for licence to explore as well as the State’s Direct Financial Interest and dividends from the partly State-owned Statoil.
The current revenue from the petroleum sector is estimated to be at its peak period and to decline in the future decades. The Petroleum Fund was established in 1990 after a decision by the country’s legislature to counter the effects of the forthcoming decline in income and to smooth out the disruptive effects of highly fluctuating oil prices.
Back in 2015 following the discovery of oil reservoirs by ExxonMobil, President David Granger had said that his Government would be focusing on the establishment of the much-needed fund.

Sweet May’s: A Guyanese business that instills healthy eating

A United States – based Guyanese entrepreneur is crediting her upbringing in the land of many waters for her decision to establish a bakery in New York on the basis of “pure flavours and natural ingredients”.
The establishment; Sweet May’s is a unique, gourmet bakery, specialising in custom- designed cakes for weddings, birthdays, baby showers, christening, bridal showers and more.
With freshly baked cakes available on a daily basis, the owner, ‘May’ as she is popularly known, is a highly experienced cake artist.
Through her delicious edibles, she promotes high-end USDA-approved organic, quality all natural ingredients- placing emphasis on pure flavours so as to eliminate the use of harmful additives, dyes (artificial foods colors) and preservatives.
Sweet May’s is famous for its exceptional Guyanese “Black Cake”, West Indian fruitcake, and Guyanese pineapple tarts, cheese rolls, cherry sponge, carrot cake, strawberry shortcakes, cupcakes, pies, and much more.
In an interview with this publication, ‘May’ related that she was born and raised in Guyana, but she later moved abroad where she resided in Britain and several states in the United States, before she finally moved to Queens, New York, which she regards as the most culturally diverse community in the world.
She explained that over 30 years ago, there was a huge anti-Genetically modified organisms (GMO) movement in the United Kingdom and Europe. As such, the harmful effects of pesticides, hormones, preservatives, artificial colours and additives in our foods can have on adults and children, were brought to light.
On this basis, ‘May’ decided to bring back the pure flavours that many yearn for, and to reinforce the need to consume more organically produced foods.
“All cultures gravitate around desserts, cakes, and sweets. Cakes are the center of gatherings and holidays. It would be unrealistic to deprive oneself of these rituals of celebration without cake! To see happy smiles and joy of all ages is to be fulfilled, and I hope to do so for you! That’s my promise to each individual,” May said.

ECD man dies in hit-and-run accident

The Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a Better Hope, East Coast Demerara (ECD) man, who was found on the Vryheid’s Lust, ECD roadway with multiple injuries about his body early Sunday morning. However, a post-mortem examination conducted on Monday, concluded that 45-year-old Abdool Wahab Khan died of multiple injuries consistent with that of a motor vehicle accident.

The house for which Abdool Wahab Khan was caretaker

The lifeless body Khan, of Market Street, Better Hope Scheme, was discovered by a passerby at about 06:00h on the eastern parapet of the Vryheid’s Lust access road.
According to information reaching this newspaper, the man was a heavy drinker and lived in the area for over 20 years.
However, he is originally from Berbice and his family has been notified of his death.
Police initially reported that they were unable to say whether the man died as a result of a hit-and-run accident or if he was murdered. When Guyana Times International visited the scene, residents said that the man was discovered with several wounds about his body.
Upon visiting the dead man’s home, this publication was told that relatives requested that his body be transported to Berbice for funeral.
It was related that he was the caretaker of a property – since the owners are overseas on vacation – and would do odd jobs around the community.

First Lady’s ICT remedial programme graduates 57

The First Buxton Information and Communication Technology (ICT) workshop and Buxton Youth remedial programmes graduated 57 youths.

From left: Coordinator of the Buxton ICT workshop, Fitzroy Younge, Joycelyn Wilson, First Lady Sandra Granger, trainer Ovian Austin and Lieutenant Colonel Yvonne Smith of the Office of the First Lady along with the graduates

Held at the Friendship Primary School, East Coast Demerara (ECD) the ceremony saw the ICT workshop graduating 24 youths, including high school students as well as school drop-outs while the remedial programme graduated 33 high and low Grade Two to Grade Six students – all hailing from the communities of Buxton, Company Road and Friendship primary schools.
The ICT workshop is certified by the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) and equips graduates with basic ICT skills.
Its curriculum also includes instruction in remedial Mathematics and English courses as well as sessions in sexual and reproductive health, training in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, micromanagement development and soft skills; including ethics and time management.
Addressing the gathering, First Lady Sandra Granger applauded the graduates and revealed that some of the ICT graduates have already been employed by the National Data Management Authority.
“The world is open to you because computer skills will be required for 75 per cent of the jobs in the world. So think about it and keep that skills going, use it or lose it,” she said.
According to the First Lady, the beneficiaries of the remedial programme are doing better in school than previously.
“Mothers were proud that their children, who had entered Grade Four unable to read were reading by the end of the school year. I have been advised that the literacy rate of the Friendship Primary School has moved from 57 per cent two years ago to 87 per cent this year,” she said.
Delivering the feature address, head of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Guyana, Andreasa Morris-Martin commended the First Lady and the organisers for recognising the necessity of this type of training in a fast-paced, technology driven world.
“I really do feel that ICT and anything computing really is the sort of knowledge we need to impart in our young people because really and truly if they don’t have those skills it is very likely that they are going to be left behind,” she said.
The closing ceremony featured an IT skit performed by the ICT graduates and a musical rendition by graduate Shenika Griffith.

City Council defers vote again over controversial Parking Meter Project

The Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has further delayed discussions of the Parking Meter Project. At the Council’s statutory meeting late Monday afternoon, Councillors heard that September 7 is the new date when the matter will be discussed. The announcement was disclosed by Mayor Patricia Chase Green, who told Councillors that come next week Thursday; they must be fully prepared to discuss the project.

Mayor Patricia Chase Green

The Parking Meter Project attracted much controversy since its introduction in May 2016. However, it was when it officially rolled out in the latter part of January 2017, that citizens formed large protests where hundreds of people from various cross-sections of society gathered in front of City Hall for several weeks, calling for a rescinding of the parking meter contract. These sustained protests resulted in Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan ordering that the paid parking initiative be suspended and a committee be formed to have the contract revised.
At Monday’s meeting, the Mayor clarified that it was the elected Council which agreed to suspend the project. At the last meeting held on August 17, 2017, recommendations were compiled by the Parking Meter Negotiation Committee, headed by Councillor Malcom Ferreira, where it was suggested that the Council could discontinue the metered parking system with Smart City Solutions (SCS). Other recommendations had included continuing the metered parking system in accordance to law – relating to a legal and transparent process as outlined in Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01, and to continue the metered parking system independently or await the outcome of pending court proceedings on the subject matter.
Other concerns in the report included the transparency of the process, whether due diligence was observed – especially since the Legal Advisor of the Council indicated that he was not a part of the initial process of the formation of the contract; the termination clause; the dispute resolution/jurisdiction since the contract in its present state calls for arbitration to be conducted in a foreign court, the seize and sell clause, harsh penalties and booting.
Other issues that the Committee had noted highlighted that the contract include rates for residential parking, rates for commercial parking, group rates for taxis and minibuses, the revenue split of 80-20 per cent – with SCS holding majority – duration of the contract, tax concessions, monopoly on parking and location of meters.
Additionally, transfer of time on cards, impact on income, parking spaces for parking not in good conditions, size of parking space, wages, exemptions, traffic congestion in city, car park issues, attitude of SCS staff, economic report, designated areas for schools/differently abled, distance of parking meters from spaces, placement of meters, and the fact that the main partner was a foreign company were all matters that received attention.
According to the report, the Council can choose to continue the Metered Parking System with Smart City Solutions. However, to move forward under that option, the Committee must be mandated to renegotiate on Council’s behalf so as to address and resolve all of the points/findings listed in this report [concerns].
The original parking meter contract, which has to date not been publicly released, has a duration of 20 years, upon which the Council has the option to renew. Furthermore, it obligates parkers to pay G$200 per hour of parking. Failure to do so will result in the respective vehicle being clamped, or possibly seized.