Thursday, June 30, 2011

Migration is influenced by many factors

It is funny that when government critics rant about our high migration rate they quickly point to statistics which show that like most other countries we experience this phenomenon. Where they find themselves in a conundrum is when they use migration to infer mismanagement on the part of the government.
While we may have statistical evidence of persons leaving and entering Guyana, there is no statistical compilation of their reasons for doing so.
And people have various reasons for migrating. One such reason is a Mother and Father might've left Guyana in 1984, during the PNC reign of terror and destruction. They would've no doubt left relatives behind. Being now settled and possibly home owners in 2011, they then, in Guyanese parlance, 'put in' for other relatives.
All this contributes to the migration statistics, but it does not say that this family left Guyana because of the country's mismanagement etc.

All local schools to have duly elected student's councils

The Ministry of Education recently announced that all schools will have duly elected Students’ Councils and this in our view is a positive move.
We say so because schools in most parts of the world have instituted Students’ Councils which serve as the students' representative body. They initiate and direct student activities and acts as liaisons with administrative staff.

Such a move in Guyana should be welcomed by all since it helps students to share ideas, interests and concerns with teachers and school principals. Today's youths have an integral part to play in our nation's future and giving them such an opportunity bodes well for the country's future.

China opens world's longest cross-sea bridge.

This photo taken Wednesday, June 29, 2011 released by China's Xinhua news agency shows the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. China opened Thursday, June 30, 2011, the world's longest cross-sea bridge, which is 42 kilometers (26 miles) long and links China's eastern port city of Qingdao to an offshore island, Huangdao.

AFC targets PNC supporters with Flier

Using a series of fliers that were distributed and posted around Georgetown, the Alliance For Change (AFC) is seeking to capture dejected PNC supporters by pointing out the death of the party whilst presenting itself as the alternative.
I was at the Berbice car park last evening when the flier posted above was handed to me by a known AFC activist.

Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) responds to untruths in US 2011 TIP Report

Minister of Human Services Priya Manickchand speaking to the media at a press conference held at the Ministry of Home Affairs on the US State Department 2011 TIP report. Also sharing the press conference were Ministers of Home Affairs and Amerindian Affairs, Clement Rohee and Pauline Sukhai

MEMBERS of the Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons (TIP), comprising Ministers Clement Rohee, Priya Manickchand, and Pauline Sukhai, yesterday responded to the recently published 2011 United States (US) State Department report on TIP at a press conference at the Home Affairs Ministry’s boardroom, Brickdam. A press release was also released in which a detailed response to sections of the report was made.

Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) response

We find objectionable the entire tone of the report but we wish to highlight a few of the untruths declared about Guyana by our friend the United States in the2011 report.

By its recommendations and specific statements the reports suggests or states

  1. That because of our now proven justified protest about last year’s report, we encourage trafficking in Guyana.
  2. That an open atmosphere of discussion about the problem of trafficking does not exist in Guyana
  3. That NGO’s and officials feel unable to discuss human trafficking because of public statements made by the GOG about the small scale of the problem.
  4. That we do not offer support to NGO’s to identify and actively help women men and children subjected to trafficking.
  5. That we punish victims of trafficking rather than help them.
  6. That we are aware of complicity by officials in the area of trafficking and have done nothing about it
  7. That we have not done enough to raise awareness on the issue of trafficking

RE # 1: That because of our now proven justified protest about last year’s report that we encourage trafficking in Guyana.

The Government of Guyana has a duty to defend the integrity of the people and State of Guyana. We make no apologies for exposing the last US report for what it was...that is, dishonest, unfair and a misrepresentation of the reality that exists in Guyana. We shall not be bullied into staying quiet by this now suggestion that our public statements regarding the state of Trafficking in our country could result in harm to our people and victms. Instead we wish to say to the US that if you are so concerned about what messages our protests about your inaccurate reports might send then you have a greater duty to ensure acuuracy and honesty in your reporting not only about us but about every country you seek to monnitor or judge.

Re# 2: That an open atmosphere of discussion about the problem of trafficking does not exist in Guyana.

Hundreds of public meetings are conducted all over Guyana, and particularly in the regions that might be most vulnerable to trafficking. Great effort is made to ensure all community members and officials including police, teachers, social workers, NGO’s, health workers, regional officials, trafficking focal point persons etc etc attend

Prior to hosting any such meeting we spend a considerable amount of time mobilising said person so that we can make maximum use of the resources including time and money that would be expended to conduct the meetings.

We reiterate our invitation to the representatives of the United States who are with us in Guyana to accompany us on any and all of these journeys to meet and inform and educate persons about the issues of trafficking as well as to learn ourselves of any instances/vulnerabilities that may be existing in communities.

If this invitation is taken up the US GTIP shall learn these discussions are as open as open can get.

RE# 3That NGO’s and officials feel unable to discuss human trafficking because of public statements made by the GOG

Guyanese would know that government makes statements and NGO’s in Guyana have never been shy to refute said statements and/or to wholly contradict them. To suggest that the US GTIP is not hearing from NGOs on this matter because said NGO’s feel constrained by government’s public rejection of the United States report is to make a careless, destructive and unsupported assumption.

However, what is amazing in this particular matter is that the suggestion that NGOs did not speak up is entirely dishonest. Two NGOs spoke on this issue. Both are on record as having been heavily critical of Government on other occasions in other matters. And Both spoke. They are the Help and Shelter and theGuyana Human Rights Association. They spoke but they didn’t say what the US GTIP wanted to hear. What they said would not have supported what the US has been saying about us all these years. Not a word was mentioned about these two correspondences in this year’s report. Do you believe if these NGO’s had said that there is trafficking and given instances that these instances would have been left out of the report?

In the case of Help and Shelter in a public letter to the newpapers published in the Kaieteur News on the 29th June 2011 quoting the 2010 TIP report which based its conclusion that we were not doing enough as a country because inter alia, we did not have appropriate shelter, H&S said

... The main shelter [incorrect location] focuses on domestic violence and reported it did not assist any trafficking victims; it is unclear whether this is an appropriate service provider for trafficking victims….
These statements apparently form the basis of the report’s finding that Guyana has failed to ensure that trafficking-specific shelter and care is offered to victims of trafficking, yet the first leaves room for misconception and the second is simply an unverified expression of doubt…..

And after detailing certain facts H&S continued with the following

…….. We are concerned not only that the impression may have been created that we do not provide assistance to trafficking victims but also that the our appropriateness as a provider of services for trafficking victims has been called into question simply – it would appear – due to lack of requirement for them.
Our provision of shelter services to victims of domestic violence while standing ready to assist victims of trafficking prevents a waste of material and human resources in a country that cannot afford either.
We invite representatives of the US Embassy to visit our shelter to see for themselves that – to quote from the Action Guide – “potential victims are [sic] provided [with] appropriate shelter and care…”

Additionally, the GHRA in a letter dated 18th August 2010 to the political affairs officer of the US embassy here in Georgetown and copied to the Hon Minister of Human Services and Social Security said

“……As with human rights concerns in general, we believe the issue of Human Trafficking be addressed in accordance with international procedures with respect to facts, policy and principle. The GHRA’s assessment of TIP reports produced in recent years by the US state Department fall short of internationally acceptable standards.

On the questions of fact, it is our view that the evidence of trafficking provided in the US trafficking Reports…is inadequate….the evidence is more speculative than factual….

….On issues of policy, it is appropriate to place emphasis on national arrangements to prevent, protect and redress cases of trafficking. …. The case for concluding that the response of the Government of Guyana in terms of such arrangements is inadequate has not been justified. The GHRA is of the view that this situation has arisen because well established principles governing international fact-finding have been overlooked[by the US]…”

The GHRA then went on to quote relevant sections from the UN declaration on Fact Finding as a guide to how the US may fairly acquire facts on Guyana.

In his response on behalf of the United States dated August 19th 2010 the Political Affairs Officer said inter alia that “the [convention] applies to UN fact finding missions and does not apply to reports compiled by [the US]….”

So it is not that the USGTIP is not hearing from NGOs because those NGOs are afraid of Government. The USGTIP is not hearing what it wants to hear from NGOs because Guyanese who live and work here are not of the view that we have trafficking on the scale that the US is claiming. Surely the Government, individuals and NGOs all can’t be wrong and only the USGTIP right.

How “truthful” is this report when it fails to tell its readers that the US was written to and about by these two NGOs. There is great effort to detail even single instances of trafficking so any excuse that the Us treated the complaints and objections by these two NGO as general would have to be rejected out of hand.

Re#4: That we do not offer support to NGO’s to identify and actively help women men and children subjected to trafficking

The Government gives to the Shelter all the money the shelter says it needs to manage and operate said shelter and that amounts to $10,000,000.

In kind support has been given to many other NGOs. This support includes training and facilitation of training and sharing of experiences and resources.Guyana is a developing country with the constraints on its budget that developing countries face. NGOs are funded by agencies other than the government hence their name “non- Governmental....” It is true that not many NGOs work in the area of trafficking. Why is this? Could it be because the scale of the problem has been determined by these NGOs not to be big enough to warrant their help. Could it be because the said NGOs have determined that their efforts could be directed at other bigger social problems that Guyana face?

Could we all be wrong on this issue and only the USGTIP right?

Re #5: That we punish victims of trafficking rather than help them.

This is simply untrue. We challenge the US to provide evidence of this.

The one case that was mentioned regarding the girl that was charged for wandering happened in these unfortunate circumstances. The young lady was rescued by our TIP department. She was placed at the Shelter and ran away. After much heartbreaking searches and great worry, we found her again. She was placed in the care of her grandmother with full financial and other support from us. She ran away again and spent time on the road committing other offences. She was then kept at the Police Station again with visits from us and full support. The law enforcement felt the only way this child could have been kept safe away from predators was by having her in a facility where she could be watched and monitored. She was sent to the New Opportunity Corps. It is to be noted that she was not sent to NOC because of any trafficking related instances. Is this the best thing for this child? I would be the first to tell you no. If I had known personally of this victim I assure you this would not have been the route that we would have taken to protect her. But, is it fair for a picture be painted that we do this with the majority of our limited number of victims? If you look at the US report on itself where it gave itself a gold star and tier 1 ranking you will see that even in the US there are victims who are unwilling to co-operate with law enforcement officials (and experts would tell you this is for avariety ofvery complex reasons) .I quote directly from page 3 of the US report about the US

“...NGOs reported isolated incidents of officers citing victims risking withdrawal of benefits when faced with reluctant victims; NGOs also reported continued challenges in getting law enforcement to recognize reluctant victims for protection purposes…”

Can we conclude that the US treats all of its victims this way? That would be as silly as their unfounded conclusion about the way we treat victims their said conclusion being based on one incident.

Re #6: That we are aware of complicity by officials in the area of trafficking and have done nothing about it

This is absolutely unverified. I know of no complicity by officials of the government. I wish to assure the United States that almost immediately after we react to their routine and routinely unfair reports about us, we forget GTIP even exist. Officials could tell you that my and our protests to the US government and about said reports are never repeated in local routine meetings on trafficking. When we meet with officials to plan the way forward and when we lay down policies and programmes, we do so with firmness which sends a clear message that any one sleeping on the job of addressing trafficking and any complicity would be dealt with condignly.

Official complicity would not be tolerated by the Government of Guyana on any issue of crime.

However, I wish to reiterate what we said officially to the US Government at our February Govt to Govt meeting. And that is if you know of something like this where officials are complicit in trafficking then we want to be told so that we can address same. Saying it in a report is hardly helpful and can hardly advance the cause for eradicating trafficking without providing whatever evidence you have which shall be treated confidentially. This report this year contradicts all the previous reports which specifically say there is no official complicity in trafficking. It is the same officers working in the area. So how come all of a sudden they have become complicit. However, i repeat with sincerity, if they we want to know about it.

Re#7: That we have not done enough to raise awareness on the issue of trafficking

This suggestion is so ridiculous it is almost not worth addressing. Guyana has spent more money and other resources on awareness of the issue of trafficking that it is disproportionate to the scale of the problem we have here.

I close by saying that I truly believe it is necessary to keep worldwide attention on the issue of trafficking. The consequences for victims and for us as a human race would be overbearingly severe if we fail to address this issue frontally with all of our resources. Although many have objected at the arrogance of the United States appointing itself Chief Judge, Sole Jury and mass executioner, I am honestly of the view that this annual reporting should be done and could be very helpful in our worldwide fight against trafficking. If the US insists on doing it alone, then the best service they can give to victims of trafficking and potential victims of trafficking is to be fair and objective in their reporting.

If these reports continue to be so grossly inaccurate, not only will friendships be hurt, but as a world we run the risk of refuting every year inaccuracies and unjustness rather than holding hands, combining resources and moving forward forcefully as one body against traffickers. When the US speaks and countries reject and he US speaks and countries reject, the traffickers may well be emboldened. Victims may well feel hopeless.

Two consequences, I am sure, that the US Congress never intended when the TVPA was conceived and passed.

I wish to clearly say that while we will continue to reject false reports about Guyana, we are committed to ensuring this horror is removed from our midst. We have work to do in and around this very complex issue of trafficking. We shall continue to strengthen our social safety nets and our other social services so as to reduce vulnerabilities amongst our people. Guyana reinforces its resolve to continue the battle against those criminals who insist on exploiting and abusing the weaknesses of others. To all traffickers and would be traffickers, we say watch out. We will catch you and we shall deal with you condignly. To all victims, we say there is help. Please do not hesitate to access that help. Our 24 hour hotline number is 227-4083.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

GT&T seems unable to accept the inevitability that its monopoly will end.

Government has made no secret of its wish that the GT&T monopoly of the country’s international telecommunications service come to an end – an inevitability which GT&T seems unwilling to accept.
DIGICEL, perhaps understandably, has been far from indifferent to the prevailing environment and to the ongoing monopoly talks and has made public its own keenness to see the monopoly come to an end.
At the core of GT&T’s argument is the view that they “deserve better”.
Hahahahha! What a cry baby, this is what happens when a company is used to being spoon fed for decades.... they get spoiled rotten.
Deal with it.
Now GT&T is getting competition, so they need to up their services and be fair. Stop complaining and fretting like some old hags.
And please don't say that I am being biased. Thanks to DIGICEL my bill is now half what it used to be before the invasion.

Guyana Gov't describes“inaccuracies” U-S Human Trafficking Report 2011.

The Government here on Wednesday rejected as “misleading and inaccurate”, the US State Department’s Trafficking in Person report 2011 which said local authorities are incapable of dealing with the issue.

The report released on Monday said while Guyana has shown some improvements in its efforts to combating Trafficking in persons and officials have managed to minimize of the potential scope of the human trafficking situation, there poor results in the area of victim protection, and lack of action against official complicity of human trafficking are major obstacles to future progress.”

However the government spokesman and Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon told a media conference on Wednesday that the administration is concerned about the failure US State Department’s to provide the evidence to support its findings in the report.

What is most disturbing continuing behaviour is the US government’s seeming reluctance to utilize, to benefit from its access to the authorities here in Guyana to deal with such issues” Luncheon said.

He posited that the government has made significant strides in dealing with the issue of trafficking in persons adding that some of the information in the report are outdated as the administration has already implemented most of the recommendations in the report.

This allegation turns out on the T-I-P report on Guyana without being in any formal way to the attention of the Guyanese authorities who have great enthusiasm and what appears to have been a mutual arrangement engaged in the eradication of trafficking in Guyana” the government spokesman complained.

He added that the issue remains how silent countries are in developing bilateral in these areas, noting that were there communication with the US authors of the report and authorities here, the information in the report could have been more realistic.

President Bharrat Jagdeo had signaled his intention to write to the president of the US barrack Obama, asking him to review the process in which the reports are constructed since they are misleading.

In 2009 the International Police (Interpol), had indicated that Guyana has not been designated as a country involved in trafficking in persons, neither is Guyanese being sought for any offence related to trafficking in persons.

Minister of Human Services Priya Manickchand had noted that the conclusions in the report were based on an earlier inaccuracy about large numbers of trafficking victims that existed in Guyana. She stated that despite sincere and comprehensive efforts, the State Department failed to have the inaccuracies corrected.


Help put Guyana & the Caribbean on the map as a place for software innovation by voting for "Team Codec" in the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011, International Technology Competition.
Team Codec is the Imagine Cup team representing the Southern Caribbean Region in the Finals which will be held on July 2011 in NY City.

Follow the instructions below to vote:

Click Here to go directly to website

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ramjattan says APNU is actually the PNC in disguise

-Granger says Ramjattan lacks vision and AFC will loose badly at upcoming elections

AFC and the PNC/APNU are at each other again. This time the AFC's Presidential candidate Khemraj Ramjattan in an interview says that APNU is actually the PNC in disguise.
In response PNC/APNU's Presidential candidate, David Granger says Ramjattan lacks vision, the AFC is afraid of APNU and it will do badly at the upcoming elections

Guyana jumps one place in latest US TIP report

Guyana has jumped one place to tier two, improving its standing on the United States’ state department Trafficking In Persons report 2011. The report says the government of Guyana is making significant efforts to fully comply with the standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons. It notes that the government has achieved an important milestone during the year under review. The report pointed to the first conviction of a trafficking offender and there was information that some public servants made efforts to try to rescue potential victims.

However, the US state department recommends that government raises awareness of forced labour and forced prostitution, as well as opportunities for help in and around mining areas.

Crime fighting boosted as CCTV cameras are being installed around Georgetown

Technicians installing CCTV cameras today at the junction of Mandela and Homes Stretch Avenues.

Monday, June 27, 2011

CORRUPTION-The new rallying cry of an Opposition seeking to hide its short-comings

Corruption appears to be the new "beating stick" of the opposition in Guyana, this lovely land of ours.
The failure of actions such as "coalitions" and what is supposed to be injections of new faces to re-invigorate disillusioned supporters have left them void of ideas. So corruption is the new rallying cry.

But sad though is the fact that those who are vociferous in their shouts of corruption when challenged to produce evidence of the same are overcome by a sickening silence. When it is put to them that it was the PPP/C government in 1992 which reintroduced the yearly auditor general's report which was on a prolonged absence prior to then they hardly even murmur. Most of the corrupt acts they pinpoint were in fact exposed as a result of measures put in place after 92 to tackle corruption. It was these very critics who spoke against the sacking of several CANU and Customs and Trade officers after they failed polygraph tests. It is amazing how quickly they have forgotten the action taken against Customs officers fingered in the "Polar Beer" scam. Further, many of them who rile against perceived corruption are themselves beneficiaries of it.
The PNC while in office incurred in excess of US$2B in external debt, the benefits of which this nation has never seen. We heard tales of high ranking officials siphoning huge sums and depositing them into Swiss bank accounts.

What is also remarkable is that yearly declarations of assets, income etc to the Integrity Commission is mandatory for certain categories of public servants, members of parliament et al and you'd think that those who preach against corruption would be first in line to display adherence to regulations which are geared towards tackling it. But no! The PNC was the first to announce their intentions to not confirm with these regulations.

Demerara Waves part of the PNC anti-ERC agenda

Demerara Waves in an attempt to fulfill its mandate as part of the Opposition media published a story today in which it falsely claimed that the chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), Bishop Juan Edghill is acting in contravention of a court order obtained by APNU leader, Robert Corbin. The order seeks to stymie the work of the ERC and was condemned as such by the ruling PPP/C and various stake holders.

It is simply dishonest for Demerara Waves to publish a picture that was taken long before the court action whilst seeking to carry out the bidding of their political masters. It also goes to show the distance Corbin and his agents are willing to go in order to maintain a stranglehold on their supporters. Bishop Edghill has flatly denied all of the allegations contained in the Demerara Waves article and we here at Liveinguyana urge him and the other members of the ERC to remain steadfast in the face of yet another onslaught by Opposition elements.

FEATURE: Why harp about frivolous things when there are so many positive ones taking place?

By Doza Medicine

A few days ago, Freddie Kissoon was his usual self-he was harping about the lines at the offices of GPL and VAT. One must remember that Guyana will not change overnight, and that there is the ‘local human element’ that makes for many glitches. I support with a personal example.

It was the penultimate day in the month of April, and my GT&T bill was already overdue. So I rushed off to the GT&T headquarters in Church Street, and even before the opening hour, the line meandered out into the street. I was shocked. I was given a further jolt, when I realized that I was one of many who were in the habit of doing things in the last hour. This scenario obtains elsewhere too.

At the University of Guyana, tempers flare and arguments abound for this same reason-last minute rush. So one finds that the Admission department is overcrowded, and the staff are over taxed. This as we all know is quite foolish and creates a disconcerting imbalance. No doubt it is reflective of a bad culture. Truly, people must learn to be expeditious.

My little encounter at the VAT and NIS offices were far from perfect. The VAT’s had a lot of people, but I did get through in 90 minutes’ time. At the NIS (Smyth Street’s office), I took fewer than 30 minutes. So my point is that one should not wait for that ‘final, midnight hour’ to conduct his/her business. If and when this bad practice creates inconveniences, one must do some introspection and self-censuring.

I close with a reference to two ongoing developments taking place in Guyana. Both are for the alleviating of people sufferings, and a betterment of conditions locally. The point I want to drive home is that the PPP/C does not set out to make its subjects' lives miserable. Perish such a thought. So in this regard,GRA is about to set up a mobile tax site in Wakenaam and this buttresses the fact that there is development in Guyana. This is to accommodate the taxpayers of Wakenaam, who may need to renew their Motor Vehicle Licenses. In its release, the agency stated that it will be setting up a temporary site on the ground floor of the Wakenaam Court House on Friday and Saturday of this week. The site will be manned by its Licence Revenue Officers, Tax specialists and other necessary personnel (By the way, how come detracting apologists don’t notice these innovations). One can also rejoice in the fact that Cabinet just cleared a $ 618.4M contract for new
CJIA access road. This new 2.5 kilometre access road leading to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) at Timehri is part of a three- lot project to establish a four- lane passage stretching from the Timehri Police Station to the entrance of the airport. This adds luster and aesthetics to the country as well. So again, my call is that Guyanese remain positive and happy. Good things are happening

PNC supporters express great displeasure with APNU

Over the weekend Liveinguyana solicited the views of PNC supporters as it relates to the party's announced coming together with WPA, NFA, GAP & GPP to form APNU, which is expected to formally take place on July 8th.
And they are as follows:

Mr Aaron Charles

This is indeed a sad moment, to see PNCR being reduced to nothing. Corbin is the worst leader of our time, he allowed Granger to set him up. We dumped Burnham; we dumped Hoyte: now we are dumping PNC!

Ms. Margaret Liverpool

As a young voter who supported the PNC at the last election, I am perplexed at this nonsense. Granger is making such a mess of this campaign. The PNCR is no more.

Mr. Mark Cameron

I feel the idea of coming together is excellent, but might we not be fooling ourselves to think this move, in its current shape and form, will strengthen the chances of the opposition? To dissolve the PNCR is a grave mistake. The other players are without a constituency, so this is more superficial than anything else.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Kaieteur News Editor-in-Chief, Adam Harris' wedding photo

Adam Harris and his wife on their wedding day