Friday, December 30, 2011

IDB President says regional economies on right path

The Latin America and the Caribbean region is closing a year marked by economic gains, but it remains exposed to external shocks, Inter- American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno said in a year- end report. In recent remarks to the IDB’s board of executive directors, Moreno summarised the region’s challenges, the institution’s performance over the past year, and its priorities going forward. Although uncertainty in international markets reduced the rate of the global recovery during 2011, Latin America and the Caribbean averaged a 4.3 per cent economic growth rate. Capital inflows to the region’s larg est countries reached a record US$ 354 billion. The percentage of the region’s population in poverty continued to fall, dropping to about 30.4 per cent. Urban unemployment also dipped, to 6.9 per cent. “ The region is on the right path,” Moreno said. “ We have stronger economies with solid foreign exchange positions, low levels of indebtedness, and a sound and well- regulated financial sector. We also have democratic governments that are increasingly effective in reducing structural poverty, expanding the coverage of public services and in building infrastructure.” However, Moreno added, Latin American and Caribbean nations should not be satisfied with their strong performance over the past few years. The region’s outlook is still vulnerable to external factors such as the European financial crisis, the U. S. fiscal deficit or a deceleration of the Chinese economy. “ Although we have reasons to feel good about what we have done, I want to emphasise that the task is not complete. The risks are there and we still have a long to- do list for the region to strengthen its achievements and keep moving forward,” Moreno noted. “ Our worst enemy is complacency.

To think we can lower our guard and diminish our drive for reform would be an unforgivable mistake.” As an institution devoted to development, the IDB must focus on priority issues, taking a long- term view. In his message to the board of executive directors, which represents the bank’s 48 member countries, Moreno listed some of the biggest challenges the region faces, issues that will determine the institution’s working agenda over the coming years. Increasing productivity is one of the region’s strongest imperatives. Among the problems hindering its progress are the poor quality of education, in sufficient spending on scientific research and techno logical development, and a big backlog in terms of infrastructure.

“ Although investments have increased in recent years, they are still not enough to put us on a par with other emerging economies,” Moreno emphasised.

In terms of social policy, Moreno said Latin America and the Caribbean should not lose their capacity to innovate in social programmes, or to take on issues such as informal employment. The region should also learn the lessons from the European crisis, such as the need to build financially sustainable social security systems, including pensions and health care programmes. Another challenge the region must address is the fight against violence, crime, and corruption, Moreno added. Countries should also strive to set a sustainable development agenda in light of climate change. “ Regardless of the difficulties in reaching a global consensus, we can show the rest of the world that the people of Latin America and the Caribbean are capable of progressing responsibly towards the adoption of sustainable approaches,” he said.

Guyana gets five million euros for protected areas

The governments of Guyana and Germany have finalised another agreement to utilise five million euros in funds for the development of the Guyana Protected Areas System ( GPAS.) The funds are expected to be channeled through the German Development Bank, with the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA), under the Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry, functioning as the implementing agency for the continuation of the project. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud said the funds will help to realise the Protected Areas Commission, a major component of the National Protected Areas Act. This act was passed in the last Parliament and assented to by former President Bharrat Jagdeo.

Persaud said in addition to protect ed areas identified in GPAS Phase One which include: the Kaieteur Falls, Kanuku Mountains and Shell Beach, others will be added.

He said the new resources will allow government not only to have institutional arrangements put in place, but also ensure that the areas are properly managed, consistent with national and international obligations.

“ While we have a very aggressive policy in terms of utilisation of our natural resources: forest and minerals... we will insist that this is done within a sustainable development framework,” the minister said.

Persaud noted that the project will not infringe on or affect Guyana’s ability to utilise the natural resources, the forest and other areas which possess natural wealth. It will however give greater capacity to proper utilisation of these resources and will be consistent with the sustainable development trust. Persaud believes that the project will also create a greater impact, with emphasis to be placed on the Low Carbon Development Strategy LCDS. EPA Director Dr Indarjit Ramdass said his agency has been working on the GPAS project over the past five years. EPA has made interventions since its implementation 2006.

Dr Ramdass explained that two pilot areas were selected initially: Shell Beach and the Kanuku Mountains.

The project was extended and later involved the EPA creating 46 other community projects, especially in the Mazaruni River in Region Seven.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

$50M new Tipperary Hall 95 percent complete

The new $50M Tipperary Hall at Buxton, East Coast of Demerara, is 95 percent complete and the deadline for the project will be announced shortly, Presidential Advisor on Empowerment, Mr. Odinga Lumumba indicated yesterday. In an interview he said the aim of the construction is to provide recreational and sporting facilities in the community and even for persons outside it, who wish to use the building for such purposes.
He admitted that the building was scheduled to be finished a few weeks ago but said there were a few setbacks. However, works are being done to ensure smooth and continued progress.
According to him, the completion was affected because “everyone has been busy with the elections and other factors, so we were unable to finish.”
Lumumba, himself a Buxtonian, said what is left to be done is the internal walls of the structure and tiling of the bottom floor.
He said he will soon be meeting with the various associated stakeholders to make sure that the building is functioning effectively for the New Year.
“Some of the items are costly since we made some adjustments to improve the original design,” Lumumba explained.
The residents believe that the edifice will serve as a vehicle to unite them and engage the youths meaningfully.
The original Tipperary Hall was built in 1909 on the same site but, in 2010, the erection of its replacement was initiated following meetings between former President Bharrat Jagdeo and villagers, to whom he had given an undertaking

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Guyana Police Forces records marked improvements in Narcotics fight in 2011.

The Guyana Police Force ( GPF) has recorded marked improvements in its fight against narcotics this year in comparison to 2010.Statistics released by the force earlier this month indicated that in most areas the force has been able seize sizeable amounts of narcotics. As it relates to cannabis, 121.5 acres of land were eradicated this year, compared to 104.25 last year. There has been a decline in the amount of cannabis seized by the law, as this year 4480.1 ki lograms were confiscated, while in 2010 7613.5 kilos were seized.

Additionally, there was also a decline in the number of persons being charged and placed be fore the courts for being in possession of cannabis and related offences. One hundred and seventy- six persons were charged this year, while last year 478 persons were placed before the courts.

The quantity of cocaine ( crystalline and crack) seized within the last year increased, compared to last year. In the case of crystal cocaine, 287.2 kilograms were seized this year, while last year 44 kilograms were seized. There was a small increase in the amount of crack cocaine seized, as 1.8 kilos were confiscated this year, while last year 1.5 kilos were seized.

ECLAC projects 4.8 % economic growth for Guyana in 2012

The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean ( ECLAC) has projected a growth rate of four per cent for Guyana next year, saying this will be driven mainly by buoyant commodity prices and increased production of gold, bauxite and alumina, along with agricultural crops such as rice and sugar.
ECLAC said too that the ruling party’s reduced majority in Parliament could affect the growth in credit to the private sector, saying that the situation will create uncertainty as to whether the government will be able to maintain all aspects of its policy agenda. These observations are contained in ECLAC’s Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean 2011.

However, in the report, ECLAC said the Guyanese economy continued to post robust growth in 2011, despite the continuing difficulties in the major export markets of the United States and Europe. The estimate for 2011 is for overall growth of 4.8 per cent, while the forecast for 2012 is for an expansion of four per cent. According to ECLAC, policymakers in Guyana are expected to pursue the Low Carbon Development Strategy ( LCDS) in light of the victory of the ruling party at the polls in November, despite a much- reduced majority in Parliament. Under the agreement with the government of Norway for the joint implementation of this strategy, Guyana will receive some US$ 30 mil lion in financing in 2012 and up to US$ 100 million annually through 2020.

In 2011, ECLAC said the fiscal deficit will widen due to higher capital outlays. The budget deficit is an ticipated to be 3.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product ( GDP) in 2011, but may be as high as six per cent in 2012, due especially to the investment in the Amaila Falls hydroelectric project. In the first half of 2011, some US$ 32.2 million in debt relief was received through the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative; the International Monetary Fund ( IMF); the International Development Association; and the Inter- American Development Bank ( IDB). Debt servicing will be higher in 2012, and the debt- to- GDP ratio will also increase due to borrowing for investment purposes.

Ramjattan's insistence that Nagamootoo becomes House Speaker stalling Opposition negotitations

Liveinguyana was made to understand that talks between the opposition Alliance For Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) for the two parties to come to a consensus on a possible Speaker of the National Assembly have been dogged by the insistence of the AFC's Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan, that Moses Nagamootoo is the only suitable choice for that position.

Ramjattan told a undercover Liveinguyana operative during the Christmas weekend that his party is maintaining the position with Nagamoooto and that’s that. He further said that in his opinion Nagamootoo is the best person and that such a position should be held by an AFC person.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lurlene Nestor uses her blog to blast the APNU over its parliamentary list

A Partnership for National Unity's (APNU), Lurlene Nestor used her One Voice News Network (OVNN) blog to blast the leadership of that party over its non-selection of several persons whom she felt should've been sent to represent the interests of their constituents in parliament.
This came a mere days after a seemingly mobilized group of APNU supporters from the Linden and Plaisance threatened to wreck havoc if former PNC General Secretary Aubrey Norton was by-passed for parliament. The act led to the convening of a meeting between those in charge of the selection process and Norton in an effort to smooth things over. Norton did not take his non-selection lightly and told members of the media that it was PNC leader Robert Corbin who had a hand in his omission. The two have not been on speaking terms ever since the Murray/Corbin leadership tussle.

Nestor wrote that a look at the APNU's list revealed that several of those selected are mere political hacks and hangers-on with connections to the King Maker (Robert Corbin). She said the exclusion of Norton, Nicole Telford, herself and several others from the APNU list of representatives is a glaring example of all that is wrong with the system used by the APNU to select its parliamentary representatives.
She also mentioned that the failing health of the NFA's Keith Scott is enough reasons why Nicole Telford would have easily been a more effective pick. Scott she said is simply unable to perform at the very high level required of this parliament and the fact that he was chosen further reinforces that merit was not a major criteria in the male dominated, closed door, selection process.

APNU intimidation campaign continues as 7 arrested for 4 AM protest outside Police Commissioner's home

Seven opposition activists were arrested around 4 AM this morning outside Police Commissioner Henry Greene’s residence, Joint Services Housing Scheme, and later charged with illegal procession.

Those charged are Vanessa Delph, Melissa Leacock, Andrea Marks, Eslyn Jackson, Shondel Hope, Ann Adams and Annette Ferguson.

Chief Magistrate, Priya Sewnarine Beharry placed them on a peace-bond, granted them self-bail and ordered that they return to court on January 12.

Police Prosecutor, Lionel Harvey told the court that around 4 AM Wednesday, they accused were protesting outside Greene's house. When checks were made, they had no permission and they were arrested, charged and placed before the court.

They were arrested and taken to the East La Penitence Police station where they were made to sit on a bench pending charges and their court appearance.

A larger group was stopped at the Kaikan Street bridge as they were about to join the seven.

APNU names its MPS, still no place for Aubrey Norton & Deborah Backer

The opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) yesterday released its extracted list of candidates for the 2011 elections, naming those individuals set to represent it in the National Assembly.

The coalition issued the names of 25 individuals with no place on the list for Aubrey Norton whose supporters have been protesting his exclusion.

“The 26th name will be submitted after discussions and consultation are concluded for the Speaker of the National Assembly,” the APNU said.

Also missing from the list is Deborah Backer who the APNU has been touting to be first female Speaker of the National Assembly.

Norton met the APNU leadership on Tuesday and it was said that a review of the selection process would have been done.

"As I understand it they intended to do a review but no review was done," Norton told media operatives last night when contacted for a reaction.

He added that he knew that once party leader Robert Corbin was involved there was no way he would have been on the list. The relationship between the two has been strained for years.

"Essentially, it came down to a man who the electorate has rejected," Norton said of Corbin. He added that he intends to continue his political work.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Opposition takes time off from revolutionary activities to go on overseas vacation

In what has to be one of the biggest surprises of the post- election season ( No. It’s not that Corbin still controls the PNC/ APNU! That we knew all along.) We recently learnt that it was the opposition that begged for some time off from their revolutionary activities. And here we thought that the minority Executive and the president were pushing off the day of their confrontation with the big, bad opposition in Parliament.

But the president revealed that it was the opposition that asked for Parliament not to be convened until next year. Seems they had already planned their holiday getaways. Isn’t that sweet? But couldn’t they have at least informed the rest of the public a while back. Here it is most Guyanese were expecting APNU ( joined by their comrades in the AFC – now that they have merged) to be widening their activities to sing Christmas carols to the rest of the country.

So are only Surujbally, Boodoo and Greene to be serenaded? What will all of the folks in Georgetown and further afield – yea, even in the hinterland – do with all the eggnog and black cake they prepared for all those jolly APNU/ AFC youths waving candles and carolling? Well, maybe they’re not all youths – certainly not David Hinds who’s now off to Parliament – but you get the idea?

Over 1,000 visitors arriving daily at CJIA

OVER one thousand passengers arrived on several international flights yesterday at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, (CJIA) Timehri, where they were warmly welcomed.
The Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, in collaboration with CJIA and several private sector bodies, including Banks DIH limited, Madewini Resort and Beharry Group of Companies, provided an opportunity for passengers to sample the true tradition of the Guyanese Christmas.
Upon disembarking, the planes and entering the arrival terminal at CJIA, passengers were greeted by carol singing and masquerade dancing, and were treated to black cake and some of Guyana’s fine beverages.
Minister of Housing and Water, Irfaan Ali, who is holding the responsibility for the tourism sector, was on hand to welcome the passengers.
In an invited comment, Minister Ali told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that Guyana is the only international airport in the Caribbean that welcomes passengers so warmly on special occasions.
“This is a long held tradition of the Guyanese people to share the joys of life…we are known in Guyana for our warm hospitality, the traditional black cake and of course the finest rums,” Minister Ali said.
This welcome tradition, started by former Tourism Minister Manniram Prashad has helped to lift the celebration of festivities in Guyana, Ali said.
“On behalf of myself and the Government of Guyana, we would like to welcome all the passengers arriving in Guyana, whether it is Guyanese or tourists coming here to spend time with their families during the festive season,” Minister Ali said.
For this reason, he said, the Ministry of Tourism has planned a host of events for the festive season, including the Christmas tree light up, the Main Big Lime, and the many other festivities in and out of the city for tourists and Guyanese returning home for the holidays.
Minister Ali, sharing his thoughts on Christmas, said it is not only a time for celebrating achievements accomplished during the year, but also a time of sharing and integrating the family.
Commenting on arrival figures, he said this year’s figure has already surpassed last year’s by more than six percent.
“So the rumours of people not coming to Guyana because of national and regional elections have no merit ... in fact we have more than 1000 passengers arriving every day, that alone speaks of the magnitude of work for the airport staff and Customs,” Minister Ali explained.

Opposition wants Executive to ask permission even if it wants to sneeze

(Stolen from the Guyana Times) Oppose and Depose During the elections campaign, the PPP talked about revisiting the tax system. So did the AFC and APNU. All of them specifically honed in on the VAT. You would think that no one would have been surprised when, in one of his first acts as president, Ramotar set up a three- man panel to review the tax system. But you would be wrong. Dead wrong.

The opposition seemed surprised. They are, in fact, livid. If Roopnarine is to be believed, they expected not only to be consulted on the move but to be sitting on the panel. And this is just what we feared – and predicted – when the president magnanimously signaled that he would hold “ consult” with the opposition. He should remember that this opposition refuse to accept that they are the opposition.

They like to carp and cant about “ the rule of law”. But they wouldn’t know the rule of law if it jumped up and bit them on their behinds. The highest law in the land is the Constitution. They may not like it – even though they created it and had an equal hand in revising it in 2001.

But it’s the law. And the law delivered the Presidency and the Executive to the PPP and Donald Ramotar. And control of the legislature to the opposition.

Yet the opposition keep trying to subvert that law.

They want the Executive to ask permission even if it wants to sneeze. The Executive is the branch of government that is supposed to present its plans and policies to the legislature. The legislature will then debate and vote on those plans and policies. But it is obvious that the opposition believe that their overall combined APNU/ AFC majority gives them the right to the Executive.

They do not want to wait their turn in the Parliament.

Expect every policy or initiative of the government to be obstructed.

As Raphael Trotman said when he was an official member of the PNC: the mission is to “ oppose and depose” the PPP government. Is it any different now that he and AFC have teamed up with his old conspirators in APNU?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Parliament's opening deferred at Opposition request

DEFERRAL of the tenth Parliament this month was one of several issues agreed upon when representatives of the opposition parties, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) met the President on December 15.
The rationale was explained by President Donald Ramotar during an interview Saturday with the National Communications Network (NCN).
He said the decision was based on a request by APNU which indicated that most of its members will be proceeding on vacation during the Christmas season.
President Ramotar said he conceded to the request, quelling fears that he may capitalise on that opportunity to “spring the parliament on them” and elect his own speaker.
“I gave them the commitment that I will not do that and, if they want to go for the Christmas holidays they can so proceed…I will not convene the parliament in the month of December,” President Ramotar said.

PPP/C election promise fulfilled as President Ramotar names tax review panel

President Donald Ramotar is still holding to his promise of reviewing the taxation system in Guyana and has disclosed the names of persons who he recently nominated to a panel that will lead the review process.

Speaking on the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN) during a special one-on-one interview at the Office of the President, the Head of State spoke with high acclaim of the appointees.

They are Ronald Ali, economist Dr. Cyril Solomon and, prominent businessman Clifford Reece. “I hope that they will begin their work shortly… the terms of reference have also been completed and sent to them…,” President Ramotar said.

The promise of a tax regime review including an appraisal of the Value Added Tax (VAT) was touted during his campaign trail in the lead up to the 2011 general and regional elections. The Head of State was the People’s Progressive Party Civic’s presidential candidate at the time.

The party’s manifesto that was launched on October 23 promises to examine options for making the tax system more family friendly, including through personal income tax relief conditional on the number of dependent children.

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo had noted that the manifesto proposed a taxation system that provides enough resources to address concerns of poor people rather than acting as a disincentive to them