Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Labour Union threatens protest over APNU/AFC proposed Budget cuts

The Guyana Labour Union(GLU) has expressed its disappointment with the opposition over their proposed cuts to the 2012 Budget which it's General Secretary, Carvil Duncan says will affect the working class most. 
He is of the view that such a situation should not occur given the state of the economy.

Duncan said that his union stands ready to take the streets in an effort to let their displeasure be known and urged the opposition to work along with the government to take Guyana forward instead of trying to destabilize the country.

Workers, GPL consumers defy APNU thugs to protest opposition Budget cuts proposal

Upset workers holding up their placards 
APNU agents who sought to disrupt the otherwise peaceful picketing exercise

Hundreds of workers, GPL consumers and ordinary Guyanese on Tuesday staged a protest outside parliament, denouncing the combined opposition of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance For Change's (AFC) proposal to slash the 2012 national Budget by a whopping GY$26B, mainly targeting several agencies and programmes funded by the Offices of the President, Prime Minister and the Ministry of Finance. 
The protesters called on the AFC/APNU to trash the plan which they said would put hundreds on the breadline.

Meanwhile several known APNU/PNC thugs and party activists descended on the peaceful picketing exercise where they sought to confront, intimidate and hurl insults at the protesters. Racial and other remarks where hurled at some of the workers who were of Indo-Guyanses ethnicity. 

The proposed APNU/AFC Budget cuts and how one aspect will affect thousands

If the APNU/AFC proposed Budget cuts were effected, GPL will have no option but to implement the 19.5% tariff increase filed with the PUC in January of this year.   This will increase the cost of living of its 160,000+ customers and will have its greatest impact on the poor and vulnerable.  Businesses may also cut back on employment when faced with such an increase and this could render hundreds jobless.   

Ruling party condemns Stabroek News and others for their criticisms of APNU, government dialogue

The ruling People's Progressive Party yesterday issued a press statement in which it was forced to condemn  several opposition aligned outlets, including the Stabroek News, over their deriding of any attempts by any opposition party in reaching an understanding with the government whilst preaching the need for cooperation among political parties.

The statement read as follows:

PPP Rejects agents of confrontational politics

The Peoples Progressive Party has consistently advocated the need for greater unity and cooperation amongst the political parties in Guyana.  We have never closed the doors on consensus politics in Guyana.  Even when we held a parliamentary majority, we remained open to engagements with the political opposition.  Through such engagements Guyana was able to craft the most inclusive constitution in the region.

This commitment to political consensus has not waned. In his address to the Tenth Parliament of Guyana, the President, His Excellency Donald Ramotar underscored the importance of all the parliamentary parties working together in the spirit of consensus and compromise to bring about development. Indeed one of the main objectives of the Donald Ramotar administration has been to work for greater political consensus and cooperation. 

The progress being made in this area however obviously does not enjoy the support of a vocal minority with a penchant for giving lip service to the need for political consensus but  who in practice adopts a Jekyll and Hyde attitude towards political cooperation. Amongst this vocal minority are sections of the media (re: Stabroek News editorial of April 23, 2012) which is fond of trumpeting political cooperation only when it involves agreement amongst the opposition parties and who revel in berating and deriding any attempts by any opposition party in reaching an understanding with the government. The ultimate objective of these critics is to support political cooperation only when it involves the opposition parties ganging up on the government.  

The Peoples Progressive Party will not be distracted by these pernicious elements whose main goal is political confrontation and who see any attempt by the opposition to engage with the government and as opportunity to invoke the language of “betrayal”, “sellout”, “secrecy” and “back room dealing”.  We will not be detoured from the goal of building political unity and in finding consensus to move our country forward towards prosperity and a better life. 

We call on patriotic Guyanese to reject these purveyors of division and to support the attempts that are being made by the government to achieve political consensus across political lines.

Further the PPP will not be held to ransom by any anti-national, anti-development demands which can reverse progress, cutting jobs and derail the rapid transformation of Guyana. 

Sugar workers picket AFC Berbice office of APNU/AFC Budget cut proposal

Sugar workers today picketed the AFC's Berbice office in protest at that party and the APNU's proposed Budget cuts proposal which would deny the Guyana Sugar Corporation(GUYSUCO) a $4B government bailout, thus putting them out of jobs. 
The group also protested attempts to deny government subsidy to the Guyana Power and Light Company(GPL) and funding to several government initiatives such as the Low Carbon Development Strategy(LCDS)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Linden to get gradual electricity tariff increase, additional TV stations following PPP/C,APNU talks

Talks between representatives of the governing party and main opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) have resulted in an agreement which would see a gradual increase to electricity tariff in Linden and selective application. Both parties agreed to the integration of Linden into the national grid as well the setting up of a special financing facility as part of the talks.

Also coming out of the talks was an agreement for additional TV stations for this community

Linden protest a case of the dependency syndrome grounded in assumptions of entitlement

A protesting Lindener

Lindeners are protesting. One of the weaknesses of the welfare state is that in its drive for equity it can foster a dependency syndrome grounded in assumptions of entitlement. Take Linden. Years ago, before Burnham nationalised the bauxite industry – and the citizens named the town after him – the workers enjoyed the highest wages in the land. And had free electricity and water to boot. This was when other rural folks drew water from canals and had “bottle lamps” for light.
But the PNC ran the industry down – under Burnham’s boy wonder Haslyn Parris and the hard times rolled in. Burnham wasn’t too sympathetic – he is on record berating the workers for thinking they didn’t have to work because the company was nationalised.
Hoyte agreed for the company to be nationalised – but the new owners refused to provide free electricity. So in stepped the PPP government and subsidised electricity where Lindeners paid  three to five US cents per Kilowatt hour while the rest of the country forked out fifteen times that rate to GPL.
OK. Linden had faced hard times. But billions had been poured in under LEAP and LEAF, etc to foster entrepreneurship. Nothing doing. Part of the reason is the dependency syndrome has set in. A bit of tough love is needed at this time.

Old Age pension to be further increased following Ramotar, Granger meeting.

Government on Wednesday agreed to increase the Old Age Pension from $8100 per month to $10, 000 with effect from May 1 following talks on the 2012 National Budget with Opposition Leader David Granger.
The meeting was held at the Office of the President on Shiv Chanderpaul Drive at the behest of President Donald Ramotar and followed on the heels of a request  by the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament Volda Lawrence for government to consider meeting with the main opposition party to consider potentially problematic and questionable areas of the budget that may not benefit from the support of the 33-seat opposition block in Parliament.

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, who formed part of  the government’s delegation headed by President, Donald Ramotar explained that the administration has always been open to receiving the views and inputs of opposition parliamentary parties and stakeholders who can play a part in guiding government’s policies, lending assistance so that Guyana can realise its developmental aspirations.

Christopher Ram behind controversial AFC Budget cut proposal

Liveinguyana has learnt through one of our undercover operatives that Christopher Ram is the architect of the AFC's failed Budget cut proposal which would've put hundreds of public servants out of jobs.
The picture above was secretly taken by an agent in Parliament where Ram was handing over documents detailing the proposed cuts to Ramjattan.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The AFC's 'indecent proposal' which could put hundreds out of jobs


APNU Linden protester advocates for Prime Minister's murder

An APNU Linden supporter sported this placard during a protest organized against the government's plan to bring this community in line with the rest of the country with respect to its electricity rates. 

Hundreds of Public Servants protest AFC's proposed Budget cuts that would put them out of jobs

Hundreds of public servants today turned up wearing white arm bands and bearing placards to show their disapproval of the Alliance for Change's(AFC) parliamentary proposal which if approved could put many of them out of jobs. The protesters shouted various anti-AFC slogans and were supported by various government officials who were also on the picket line. 

As expected there were attempts by known APNU protesters who are advanced in age and unemployed to disrupt the peaceful proceedings by provoking and trying to intimidate the workers. The police intervened and they were dispersed.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

If there's any MP that can be bought it is Ramjattan himself

If there's any Member of Parliament that can be bought it is none other than the AFC's Khemraj Ramjattan who himself warned fellow party comrades of a plan by the ruling party to 'pay off' several MPs in order to secure their support of the 2012 Budget at a recent party confabulation. Ramjattan has always shown an inclination for making a quick dollar and it was this which led to his expulsion form the PPP. Whilst occupying a PPP seat in parliament Ramjattan sold several duty free concessions granted to him and was reprimanded for only representing drug dealers in the course of his private law practice.


Liveinguyana has learnt that the current low-key public profile of former treason accused and Buxton/Agricola 'Freedom Fighter' gang intellectual author, Mark Benschop, is as a result of his contraction of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome AIDS. Benschop fell ill recently and after several tests were done was diagnosed with the deadly, sexually transmitted disease.

Following his divorce from ex-wife Maria, Benschop took to a sexually promiscuous lifestyle which often resulted in encounters with known prostitutes and women who frequent certain night spots. Many persons have been speculating about the reasons for his current dispensation given his penchant for being in the news. They noted his frail-looking appearance during a recent picket exercise outside the High Court.

Former Commissioner Felix using radio-set to tap into police secrets

Felix caught on tape as COP with PNC official Basil Williams

Former Police Commissioner-turned Politician Winston Felix has in his possession a Very High Frequency (VHF) radio set belonging to the Guyana Police Force which is still tuned into the police frequency and is being used to tap into police secrets. This revelation was made by Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee on Saturday. According to Rohee, Felix who retired as police chief almost six years ago, is still in possession the communications equipment issued to him, is not authorized to have the equipment and should return it immediately or face the full force of the law.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Williams Lacks the Moral Authority to Speak on the Criminal Justice System

It was a classic case of Basil Williams once again putting his foot in his mouth during the fourth day of debates on the 2012 national budget in the National Assembly. Basil Williams is a man with aspirations to one day become the leader of the PNC and subsequently the President of Guyana. Should this ever happen, God Forbid, Guyana would end up becoming a state engulfed in criminality of the worst kind, more than anything that would have taken place in Rwanda or Bosnia.
This man Basil Williams is the PNC’s shadow Legal Affairs Minister in Parliament, is known for his sexual harassment of young interns at his office and those attached to the offices of his colleagues in the legal fraternity. Speak with any young intern and immediately Basil’s amorous advances will be highlighted. The venue of choice is usually the sidewalk café frequented by Williams and his colleagues.
It was interesting to note that in his attempts to catapult himself into the leadership limelight of the PNC when the five criminals escaped on February 23rd 2002, which led to Guyana descending into a state of criminality where women were brutally raped and executed, an elderly man died after being made into a human torch and police were randomly executed; Guyana was at the mercy of these killers and their political masters Basil was seen partying with the leader of the Buxton Five Dale Moore on Buxton Line top celebrating the murderer’s birthday. Why did he chose to be in such company is obvious, the Mash day Jailbreak was orchestrated by the PNC so to was the subsequent events that followed, where members of the PNC became the intellectual authors of the crime spree, indoctrinating the criminals with a murderous brand of political ideology, known as PNC savagism.
What has therefore become the biggest travesty and the public ought to be cognizant of this fact is that, Basil is now heavily critical of the DPP chambers suggesting inter alia that the that office has lost its way in Guyana’s justice system. This coming from someone who tried to undermine the justice system by being in collusion with the Buxton murderers not freedom fighters. It is in fact Basil who has lost his way.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Aubrey Norton's allegation is emblematic of the political prostitution of one’s soul

We understand Aubrey Norton’s angst. Really we do. Summarily thrown out on his ear from the chairmanship of the PNC by Hoyte (the “General Secretary is my ‘creature’”), he’s had a devil of a time in getting back into the swing of things. For a while he thought he stood a chance when he betrayed his buddy MacAllister in the Team Alexander manoeuvre to oust Corbin. But Corbin, like Burnham decades before with Hamilton Green, knew about naked ambition and ensured Norton remained on the periphery.
Granger followed suit, even though Norton worked his butt off in Linden last November. And Norton keeps trying to show he’s of value so that he could sit at the big table once again. He’s reduced to writing letters to the press cussing out the PPP for one reason or another – not that he needs a reason. Then along came the budget.
He writes that the budgeted amount for spending on Region Four – where APNU won – is proportionately far below what the PPP spends on regions that the PPP won. He doesn’t bother to let the readers guess what his alleged figures mean, he spells it out. The PPP’s spending paints “a picture of discrimination and political favouritism” against PNC/APNU supporters – read “African Guyanese”..
This allegation is emblematic of the political prostitution of one’s soul that has guaranteed that this country will never get anywhere. The truth of the matter is that most of the spending for governmental services in Georgetown comes out of the central government’s budget – not the Region Four budget. Take Georgetown Hospital – which is the local hospital for Georgetown residents – the government foots the bill. Take all the schools – the best in the country, mind you – ditto. And so on and so forth.
What makes Norton’s diatribe so depressing is that the government points out the facts every year – but like clockwork, the PNC, now APNU, and AFC regurgitate the inflammatory lies. And the Kaieteur News and Stabroek News print them without the editorial notes they regularly append to interventions of defenders of the government.
Norton’s desperate bid for political relevance, we can understand – a drowning man will grab at any straw – but we hope the APNU/AFC leadership gets out of the gutter this time.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The opposition is busy stirring the boiling cauldron in Linden.

The opposition is busy stirring the boiling cauldron in Linden. Ramjattan set the fire going when he accused the government of spiting Lindeners in proposing to phase out the electricity subsidy. Since 2006 alone, that subsidy has amounted to $13.7 billion! Since 1992, over $50 billion. Has this subsidy suddenly become an inalienable right? Where is the fairness to other citizens?

Who will guard the guards themselves?

The carefully orchestrated Opposition ploy to get rid of a Commissioner of Police is working even better than they expected. The CoP, who did not violate his oath of office by conniving with opposition executives to subvert police actions against criminals waging war against the state, is dangling.
The chief justice might now be collateral damage. In rape cases, it is accepted that the complainant’s character from previous actions is irrelevant. So nowhere in the more than 50 pages of Justice Chang’s ruling does he go into her prior character.
One would have hoped that all those good burghers – including Minister Manickchand and Deputy Speaker Backer – taking pot shots against the ruling would have extended the same observance of the forms in the specific matter brought before Justice Chang. Many of them, including the two named officers are even lawyers, we are told. All the court was required to pronounce on was whether the DPP’s advocated charge would ‘rationally’ lead to a conviction. And this is what Justice Chang adjudged.
Now because of the gutter charges being hurled at the chief justice, we understand he is considering resigning. We urge him not to give in to political pressures against which the judiciary is the final bulwark. Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? And such guardians!

GT&T waging a desperate rearguard action to keep its monopoly

Back in 1990, the PNC government privatised the local telephone company. It was one of forty corporations the dictatorship had on the block even though it was a lame-duck administration. Elections, scheduled for that year had deferred to 1992 because of a padded voters’ list. Most of these corporations were practically given away – with money obviously flowing like rivers under the table.

80 per cent of the Guyana Telecommunications Corporation (GTC), which was earning about US$3 million annually, was sold to the totally unknown ATN of the Virgin Islands for a measly US$16.5 million. This was a bigger ‘fire sale’ than the clothes from the Jaigobind’s Regent Street fire! It was on the back of GTC – renamed GT&T – that ATN became a communications player. The PPP government had always committed to selling off its 20 per cent stock in the company and introducing competition into the field.
Matters intensified after the 20 year monopoly of the company came up for renewal last year. GT&T waged a desperate rearguard action to keep its monopoly. A couple of weeks ago, the CEO of GT&T Yog Mahadeo launched an unprecedented attack on the government of Guyana. He as so much as accused the government of passing on the corporation’s expansion plans into new technology to rivals! He was pretty miffed that the government was launching its own LTE network – even though the government had long announced this initiative for e-governance and educational use. It was rather surprising that the government did not slap down Mahadeo for his impudence.
Now that the government has sold its 20 per cent share so that – among other things – they cannot be accused of peddling ‘inside’ information, the Kaieteur News is up in arms. For what? They don’t know – but it doesn’t matter, does it? Their mission, after all is to oppose and depose the government. The best charge they could muster was that the US$5 million (of the US$30 million) to be paid in 5 years could come out of dividends. And therefore the shares are being sold for US$25 million!
Don’t the dolts realise that even if the $5 million was paid up front, the $5 million of dividends would have later all been kept by the buyer? It’s “six of one; half-a-dozen of the other”.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

D’Souza nails Harripaul's big lie

Earlier this week, we referred to the Opposition fascists in our midst, using Goebbelsian propaganda tactic. They repeat the big lie so often eventually some people begin to believe it. The comment was prompted by APNU-convert Malcolm Harripaul’s letter denying Burnham was a dictator. He elaborated on supposedly “worse atrocities” committed by the PPP.
As an illustration, after poignantly mentioning being in “Lil ABC and Big ABC” with women’s activists Karen D’Souza in Leguan, Harripaul wrote, “… about the time in late 1992 when the PPP was restored to government and Karen and a group of WPA women supporters tried to picket Parliament. The police tried to strip search Karen and baton charged the group forcing them to flee up Brickdam whilst some of Janet Jagan’s “intellectuals” clapped their hands in glee.”
Well it didn’t take long for Harripaul’s whopper to be nailed. D’Souza sent a note to the press: “This incident actually occurred some time before 1992”. Meaning, of course, that the baton-charge and attempted strip search of Ms D’Souza took place during the Burnhamite dictatorship! Such brutal and public humiliation of opposition politicians was quite the norm during those days – Harripaul himself has written of being on the receiving end of such “condign” treatment (Burnham’s words) from Burnham’s goons. Amnesia? Nope. Just fascist bile.
When it was not the police breaking up gatherings, PNC big wigs like Hamilton Green would swing into action – such as his famous outing against strikers outside Guyana Stores. The most ubiquitous were the dreaded House of Israel, which was given overt state support specifically for this purpose. The infamous stabbing-murder of Fr Darke was committed by a House of Israel thug only a stone’s throw away from Brickdam Police Station.
After protests that saw sections of Georgetown going up in smoke; hundreds of citizens beaten and brutalised; armed “Freedom Fighters” taking on the state and killing dozens of innocent citizens, where has the PPP restricted political picketing in that fashion?
But this is the record that the fascists are trained to ignore. Ms D’Souza reminded the opposition that, “we must be accurate in our making those criticisms (of the govt)”. We’re not holding our breath. The big lie is the fascist way. Democracy will only be preserved when ordinary citizens close their minds to them.

CGX to fund US$250,000 dormitory

Canadian oil and gas exploration company CGX Energy will be funding the construction of a US$250,000 dormitory at the University of Guyana (UG) to accommodate visiting experts in the field of science and technology.

CGX Energy is currently drilling for oil offshore Guyana.

The Hall of Residence is slated to be completed by December and will accommodate visiting faculty and technical experts engaged in research, technology transfer and educational outreach. CGX will also be paying for the furnishing of the facility. This project is being spearheaded by the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) and UG.

Speaking at a sod-turning ceremony yesterday for the facility, Professor Suresh S Narine, Director of IAST, said, “it is important that as we prepare for what we hope to be a lucrative sector that we have to take the responsibility as well of ensuring that we prepare our people, our education system, our governance system and our entire society to be responsible for managing what we hope to be a successful outcome.”

This undertaking is CGX Energy’s first major social outreach initiative in Guyana. Vice President of Exploration, Dewi Jones, said the company places emphasis on social responsibility and is pleased to be associated with this project

The opposition is exploiting a sensitive social and legal issue to achieve their political end

Whatever decision is taken on the Henry Greene matter, whether by himself or the government, Guyana should take careful note of what is going on. The opposition – in all its combinations and permutations – is exploiting a sensitive social and legal issue to achieve their political end. Lurlene Nestor is the latest APNU partisan to exploit this “occasion” for their war. The sensitive issue is that of rape. None of us can deny the trauma that women endure through this heinous act.

But like any crime, to allege its commission is not enough to convict the alleged perpetrator. In our judicial system the DPP is given a tremendous leeway to decide whether there is sufficient evidence under the law to charge the alleged perp. The DPP’s discretion, however, is not infinite: the test is whether a conviction is rationally likely. He/she cannot be wilful or capricious.
And it is the courts that decide whether the DPP has not exceeded her remit. Nestor is wilfully ignorant of this simple fact. The case is a landmark one all right. It has identified a remedy for vigilante prosecutions, prodded by vigilante mobs. OK Nestor and APNU?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Corbin more expertly positioned to deal with allegations of rape.

PNC’s Debbie Backer issued a torrid criticism – as opposed to a critique expected from a member of the bar – on Justice Chang’s ruling. On the question of allegations of rape and as to the best way to deal with it, we thought PNC leader Corbin might have more expertise in the matter?

Why should we praise Hoyte for accepting the 1989 IMF programme when he had plunged us into the mess to begin with?

A few days ago, we spoke about the beatification of Burnham by his revisionist acolytes – some like Kissoon and Harripaul, newly converted by the opportunism of “the enemy of my enemy is my saint”! The common enemy – need one say – is the PPP. Well, it appears as we were writing our piece, Burnham’s hand-picked successor, Desmond Hoyte was also being canonised – by former head of the reform, Stanley Ming.

It would appear that these fellows would leave no stone unturned in justifying their dancing with the devil. Who was Desmond Hoyte? In 1967, he was Burnham’s point man on the Elections Commission that introduced rigging into Guyana. You wouldn’t hear about that from Ming. Hoyte was rewarded with the strategic post of Minister of Home Affairs in 1969. Ming talks about Hoyte reforming Guyana’s economy in 1989, but disingenuously omitted that it was Hoyte, as Finance Minister between 1970 and 1972, who oversaw the disastrous experiment into co-operative socialism that ravaged our economy.
So we should praise Hoyte for accepting the 1989 IMF programme when he had plunged us into the mess to begin with? So what about the fact that in 1985, Hoyte rigged the elections to give himself a majority greater than anything Burnham had ever dared attempt? There’s all this talk about him being the ‘great democrat’ for ‘accepting the 1992 elections results’! He had no choice! The USSR had fallen. The Americans had no problems with Jagan then. They just pulled the rug from under the PNC. Carter delivered the news first hand.
And directly out of office, he paid back Jagan’s no witch-hunting, no recrimination policy towards the PNC by declaring the PPP had started “ethnic cleansing”. He unleashed protests and riots in the streets of a burning Georgetown after the 1997 elections. People forget that Andrew Douglas was a lieutenant of the criminal Blackie London whose coffin Hoyte draped with Guyana’s flag. Just yesterday Kissoon (approvingly) reminded us of Hoyte’s “mo fyah, slow fyah” strategy that nearly tore the country apart.
And for all of this he’s a ‘saviour’ and a ‘saint’? There are none so blind as those who would not see!

New Building Society announces $772M profit

Housing mortgage lender, New Building Society (NBS) has recorded $772 million in profits for last year, an increase of 34 per cent over the previous year, the bank’s chairman, Dr Nanda Kishore Gopaul said. Dr Gopaul will read his report at the institution’s annual general meeting slated for later this month.

He said this performance was achieved despite the bank reduced its mortgage rates for lower, middle and higher income mortgagors at the beginning of the year from 4.75 per cent, 6.95 per cent and 7.95 per cent to 4.25 per cent, 6.25 per cent and 7.45 per cent respectively.
“We will continue to strive for better terms and conditions for our mortgagors, since our main objective is still to ensure that as many persons as possible own their homes. This remains an objective that existed since 1940 when we were first established,” Dr Gopaul, who is also the labour minister, said. He noted that during the year under review, the NBS disbursed mortgage advances for the year totalling $4.2 billion, another record, which was 43 per cent higher than the previous year. The mortgage portfolio is 52 per cent of assets or 61 per cent of total savings. This must be viewed as being sound in financial terms, Dr Gopaul asserted.
According to him, although total mortgages increased by nine per cent, and is currently $23,572 million at year-end, asset quality continues to be excellent “as we recorded very low levels of arrears of 0.4 per cent, and a similar percentage for provisioning on loan impairment”.
With respect to those persons who are in arrears, Dr Gopaul said they are generally mortgagors who genuinely fall on bad times or those who are bad managers of their affairs or those who have no intention of paying. “Fortunately, the percentage for the last category is very small where the overwhelming majority of borrowers view their repayment obligations very seriously. For those few who face financial difficulties, the society will do its best to assist including repayment re-arrangements. We however, will not shirk in our responsibility to protect the society’s interest against defaulters.”
The society’s savings balance as at December 31, 2011 was $38,474 million or 85 per cent of total assets, and grew by eight per cent over the previous year. This growth is due to the higher interest rates which on average are paid by the society and is the benefit of the mutual status of building societies, and the fact that they are not profit-maximising businesses, Dr Gopaul explained. He added that building societies are mutual organisations and are dependent on the funds provided by their investing members to make home loans affordable and readily available. They are thus committed to ensuring the integrity of all deposit funds under their care.
Meanwhile, with respect to total assets, it grew by nine per cent to $45.4 billion, while reserves stood at $6.7 billion, representing 15 per cent of total assets or 17 per cent of Members’ Funds. These ratios are among the highest in the financial sector and offered greater protection for depositors, whose funds are of paramount importance, Dr Gopaul said.

Lowering VAT will not help average wage earner - GRA Commissioner General

Amid criticisms for government refusing to lower the rate of the Value Added Tax (VAT), Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur said he has not seen any case to justify such a move.

Airing his views on a TVG programme titled “Under the Microscope” on Monday, Sattaur said a reduction in VAT would not benefit persons whose income are below the threshold since the items they consume on a daily basis do not get taxed.
In defence of the tax, Sattaur said all commentators who have been pontificating on the tax system fail to explain how a reduction in the VAT rate would improve the circumstances of the average wage earner. By increasing the income tax threshold, the government has placed more purchasing power directly in the pockets of all Guyanese earning over $40,000 per month, said Sattaur.

Opposition criticisms of sugar subvention shameless

AGRICULTURE Minster, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy has lashed out at the combined opposition parliamentary parties for criticising Government’s recent move to provide a $4 billion subvention to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo). The Opposition has referred to the allocation as a fiscal bailout and the minister said that is far from the truth and misrepresenting.
“When it was announced in Parliament that the Government would be giving $4 billion subvention to GuySuCo, I heard certain members of the AFC and APNU talking about a fiscal bailout... and I have no desire to get into any argument on this issue,” he said.
Ramsammy declared that those comments are slanderous and said the Opposition should be ashamed for going to such an extent, even after their rhetoric during the election period for Government to support the industry.
The minister said it is still unclear why these parties would have an issue with the Government being supportive of the corporation, even though persons are aware that sugar plays an integral role in Guyana’s development.
According to him:“It was APNU who said that the Government should help GuySuCo, during the November elections, leaders of the AFC and APNU said we should support the sugar workers and they spoke about a 20 per cent increase.”
Minster Ramsammy said GuySuCo has been the backbone of Guyana’s economy for years and it provides direct employment to approximately 22,000 persons and 100,000 persons indirectly.


He noted that every citizen is a beneficiary of GuySuCo and it is also responsible for between seven and 10 per cent of Guyana’s economy.
“I stand as Agriculture Minister and say that this is an investment being made by Government and it is the right thing to do and one who apologises for this subvention is out of their minds,” Ramsammy said.
He said members of the Alliance for Change and A Partnership for National Unity, who are critical of the investments being made by Government, simply do not have the interest of the sugar workers at heart.
Ramsammy added that the Government has no problem with supporting the sugar industry and GuySuCo at large during its financial crisis, since this is one of the sectors that gives back to the country greatly.
“You cannot take seven to 10 percent of the economy every time around and then not want to support GuySuCo during its struggle… I think those who are critical of this investment are shameless,” he maintained.
He insisted that, instead of being so critical of the investment, the Opposition should be the ones asking why only $4 billion, since they were the ones who fueled the fire for such an investment.
“Why is it that they are being so critical? Why don’t they ask why $4 billion? Why not $6 billion? Why are we jumping on the sugar workers now? should be their questions, he said, adding they should be ashamed of themselves.
The minster said the critics should be more consistent in their calls for support as they were doing during the elections period.
He is of the view that those people are not looking at the real issues and taking note of the major investments and improvements that are being made to add to the lives of every citizen.


“What about the $50,000 threshold? They are not giving us credit for the things that are being done but they are looking to create problems where there is none,” Ramsammy observed.
He pledged that the Government will continue to support the people of Guyana and exhaust all avenues in doing so, regardless of what is misrepresented.
Remarking that this year’s Budget is a people friendly one, he said, in previous years, persons used to be afraid of Budget, but now, under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration, persons look forward, each year, to hear what increases they benefit from and so on.
Minster Ramsammy said Guyana will continue to grow with fiscal prudence and the leaders of this country will always strive to ensure that Guyana is a country that does not live above its means.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Will the AFC act responsibly, or will they continue to rubber stamp everything APNU does?

HARRY GILL: THIS year’s record-breaking $193 billion national budget has been presented by Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh for passage through Parliament, and remarkably, there is no mention of any tax increase or new taxes anywhere in this budget. The debate that follows will determine the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition, their follies and their agenda. And Guyanese will determine how serious these law-makers are at putting personal differences aside, and finding common ground in the best interest of our nation. But most importantly, the true character of the Alliance For Change -AFC will be defined. Will they act responsibly, or will they continue to rubber stamp everything APNU does?

On its merit, the budget is commendable. Guyana achieved a 5.4% real growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2011, making this the sixth consecutive year of positive growth in the economy. And despite allegations of corruption and lack of transparency, the PPP/C Administration continues to manage the country’s resources responsibly. Hats off to former President Bharrat Jagdeo, who must be given credit for this. This time next year, we will be able to judge the performance of newly elected President, Donald Ramotar to see if he can continue the upward trend in the country’s economic growth.
Overall, I believe the budget as presented is a good one that favours most Guyanese, and certainly, it appears to be working-class friendly. With passage, the Income tax threshold will be increased from $40,000 to $50,000 monthly. This in itself is remarkable, considering 21,000 workers will be removed from ever paying income tax. In fact, this can be seen as a $3 billion living allowance that these workers will be able to use as additional disposable income.
In keeping with its ongoing policy, Government will invest another $3.6 billion in the housing sector, to increase access to affordable housing, improve the quality of infrastructure of housing schemes and regularise squatter settlements.
Twenty two million dollars has been allocated to enable the Small Business Bureau to discharge its functions, and over the next four years, government proposed spending an additional US$10M to finance the development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises –SME.
Public Assistance will increase from $5,500 to $5,900; and Old Age Pension from $7,500 to $8,100 per month.
Although I would have preferred to see a much larger increase in benefits for both Public Assistance and Old Age Pensioners, this may have been compromised by the sizable bailouts to GUYSUCO and the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) amounting to some $10 billion.
GUYSUCO is the nation’s largest single employer, and earns more foreign exchange than any other industry in Guyana. It is precisely for that reason that government must rescue this industry. But a bailout alone will not resolve the problems there, and taxpayers must be assured that this will not be repeated next year. Serious reforms must be implemented to greatly improve efficiency and productivity, by ridding the industry of incompetence and ineptitude.
GUYSUCO must find ways to increase production at a comparatively lower production cost. For had it not been for the saving grace of various agreements and arrangements: EU/ACP Sugar Protocol; the EU/SPS programme; the USA sugar programme; and the Common External Tariff (CET) which allow preference to the entry of Guyana’s sugar at prices that are usually higher than the cost in the non-preferential market, the economy would be in distress. I was pleased to hear the Finance Minister’s reassurance that government will spare no effort to ensure that the sugar industry is transformed to a viable and competitive one, and I expect no arguments from the opposition in this regard.

However, immense pressure must be brought upon the CEO of the Guyana Power and Light to demonstrate his ability to effectively manage this vital utility as a business, or be replaced for incompetence. Internal corruption within GPL must be eradicated completely, and dealt with severely. Merely admitting a loss of $4.5 billion last year is totally unacceptable, when it’s common knowledge that senior officers at GPL are blatantly involved in corrupt practices. And the decision to rent a US$900,000 generator for US720,000 annually demonstrates poor judgment in spending taxpayers’s money. Is management that dumb or is someone getting a handsome kickback from this deal?
I can understand why the government would want to bailout these two, but the subsidies to GUYSUCO and GPL must come with some real ‘teeth’, no more business as usual.

Although space does not permit me commenting on other aspects of the national budget, I must commend Dr. Ashni Singh for having the courage and fortitude to discontinue the subsidy on electricity for the town of Linden. According to Dr. Singh, since the privatisation of the bauxite operations in Linden and the Berbice River, government has been subsidising electricity rates in these communities.
“Currently, in Linden, electricity costs between $5 and $15 per kWh, while on the GPL grid customers pay an average of $64 per kWh.” He said that the total cost of this electricity subsidy was $2.9B last year, the equivalent of 10 percent of GPL’s total revenues. And for those who believe the decision to remove the subsidy was politically motivated, this may be so, but it was also necessary.
I am very pleased with Government’s tangible commitment to health care; education; water purification and distribution; sanitation; and the development of our youth.
Government’s decision to vigorously pursue all major projects initiated by the Jagdeo Administration is highly commendable, as these are vital to the continued growth and development of Guyana. The national budget is one that inspires confidence and pride: The Amalia Falls Hydroelectric Project; the Specialty Hospital; The Airport Expansion; and the Marriott Hotel, will not only provide jobs and a better standard of living for all, tourist arrivals will drastically increase, and all Guyanese will benefit from life-saving medical procedures at home. I sincerely hope that the AFC will allow commonsense to prevail and give critical support to bring these to fruition.
Sadly, I do not have the confidence that APNU will ever capitulate in the national interest. After all, their opposition is motivated by sheer envy. The PPP/C is doing for Guyana what they would have loved to do but can’t. As the former PNC, they were always bankrupt of ideas and the few that they’ve had, bankrupted the economy. Remember those days?

National Budget proposes skills training, empowerment assistance for more than 2000 hinterland women.

THE National Budget for 2012 has proposed that the Single Parent Assistance Programme be expanded to Regions One (Barima/Waini) and Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni), where over 400 single mothers stand to benefit. In addition, it is intended that training would be provided to 2,000 women in areas such as small business management, basic accounting, and self-improvement, mainly to improve their capabilities and to afford them the opportunities to be able to source markets for production.
The Women’s Affairs Bureau and the Men’s Affairs Bureau will team up to launch the “No More Black and Blue” campaign; and, in addition, White Zones in several communities would be identified across the country.
“The fact that a number of women are now able to work towards providing a better quality of life for themselves and families through some of our programmes is no small achievement for this government,” Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh pointed out.
Under the Women of Worth (WoW) programme, hundreds of single mothers accessed loans for investment in small businesses. Moreover, the Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute (GWLI) has continued its work on empowering over 230 women through several capacity building programmes offered at the institute, including life skills and, for the first time, information technology.
Moreover, the Single Parent programme under the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) trained 423 parents in cosmetology, computer repairs, and electrical installation.

U.S. Facing Bold New Calls for "Drug War" Alternatives.

Washington is facing renewed calls to innovate policy its drug policy. For years, a number of former heads of state in the region have called for the United States to examine its War on Drugs and consider some more unconventional tactics of fighting the menace. However, President Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala has become the first sitting president to add his voice to these increasing calls. It is time for the U.S. to take its head out of the sand and adapt to changing times, starting by putting the national interests of the countries that are primarily affected by the Drug War first.

You can take the boy out of the sewer but you can’t take the sewer out of the boy.

The Freddie Kissoon, swears not to run away from what he calls his “impertinence”. More like wickedness, effrontery and bad-mindedness if you ask us! But Kissoon can’t run away from that – its part and parcel of his nature. You can take the boy out of the sewer but you can’t take the sewer out of the boy. And we know Kissoon ain’t no boy anymore! Ooooh… putrid!

Burnham allowed picketing so he gets a free-pass as a dictator? Sure, tell that to Fr Darke!

One of the characteristics of the fascist totalitarian mindset is its willingness to rewrite history and repeat it so often that people begin to believe the lie. We saw this with Hitler who insisted, against all evidence, that the Germans were a “pure, Aryan, master race”. Right here in Guyana, we see it in the hagiography being created around “Saint Burnham”.
Green, Granger and Co not surprisingly led the charge. Burnham plucked the callow Granger, sent him to Mons and fast-tracked him to lead his GDF. Burnham wanted guaranteed control. Green was a street thug who Burnham pitch-forked way above his intellectual pay grade. Kissoon was one of the first outsiders to join the choir. And we understand. He was summarily dumped by the PPP (as a Nagamootoo lackey) back in the 1990’s after they discovered what a weasel he was.
The “totalitarian Burnham” suddenly morphed into “the intellectual giant and political genius”, which evidently washed away his excesses and sins. Kissoon is now joined by Harripaul who waxed nostalgically that in the “horrible days” of “PNC dictatorship… the ‘dictator’ Burnham” allowed picketing in front of Parliament buildings. Note the scare quotes: Burnham was not really a dictator and those days were not really horrible! It’s all a terrible lie that the big, bad PPP painted about the venerable saint.
Never mind that Kissoon and Harripaul were prolix writers on the Burnham years and are now contradicting everything they wrote. Are they lying now or then? Doesn’t matter: it all has to do with the fascist mindset. Harripaul and Kissoon are always right! In any argument, it’s their way or the highway. And the highway is paved with abuse that the fascists dole out. The one time Harripaul was given authority (in the Customs Fraud Squad), he extorted businessmen mercilessly and yet expected them to kowtow to him.
Burnham allowed picketing so he gets a free-pass as a dictator? Sure, tell that to Fr Darke! Burnham rigged elections and picketing was a selective safety valve for politicians to let out their frustrations harmlessly. Wake up and smell the coffee Harripaul: there’s a real democracy in place now. You think Burnham would have allowed the PPP to win control of parliament? And you were still allowed to picket. Dolt! But allowing the nation’s business to be conducted.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Self-proclaimed champions of the sugar workers, Ramjattan and Nagamootoo, against government’s $4B sugar industry bail out

The main agitators in the sugar industry, the AFC, have shown once again their real agenda as they slam the PPP/C government’s budget for “bailing out” the sugar industry. Self-proclaimed champions of the sugar workers, Khemraj Ramjattan and Moses Nagamootoo, are objecting to the government’s $4 billion allocation to the sugar industry that was recently disclosed in Parliament during Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh’s Budget presentation on Friday last, which is in keeping with the doublespeak with which they have become synonymous.
Even before elections, while campaigning to wrest sugar workers’ support away from Dr. Jagan’s party in favour of the AFC, that party’s candidates have been taking different messages to different communities.
For instance, while Nigel Hughes, Freddie Kissoon and Mark Benschop were telling people in the Buxton, Plaisance and other communities dominated by Guyanese of African descent that the PPP/C has been marginalizing African Guyanese in favour of Indo-Guyanese communities, conversely, Nagamootoo, Ramjattan, Gerhard Ramsaroop and the ‘juju doctor’ were telling the Indo-Guyanese communities, especially sugar workers, that the government was neglecting their traditional supporters -- meaning Indians, especially sugar workers -- in favour of workers in the bauxite industry and other Afro-Guyanese communities.
It is no secret that many CARICOM countries were forced out of the sugar industry because of the EU sugar price cuts, which is causing massive losses every year to that sector in Guyana, with grave impacts to the workers, along with their families, who benefit directly and/or indirectly from the sugar industry.

To its credit, the PPP/C administration, recognizing the terrible consequences that either majorly scaling down or closing the sector would have had on the over 100,000 persons who earn their livelihood from the industry have been battling to sustain the industry, including to date, the largest single investment in Guyana – the modern hi-tech sugar factory in Skeldon.
Rather than being supported in its struggles to keep the industry alive, many sugar workers have been largely unappreciative that these short-term trials would ultimately result in long-term benefits and have been, through the ugly rhetoric and the agitation by opposition elements, especially PPP/C defector Moses Nagamootoo, acting in ways inimical to the interest of the industry, especially through constant strikes that have caused massive losses to the industry and threats to Guyana’s sugar markets.
One wonders when GuySuCo workers would see the real faces behind the masks of concern shown to them by the opposition elements, especially Ramjattan and Nagamootoo, who have both joined with the PNC to bring the party of Dr. Cheddi Jagan down because they aspired to the positions of Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar. Their opportunistic shenanigans in and out of parliament have marked their real agenda, as this latest salvo against the budget has shown.
GuySuCo is still in trouble, although slowly gaining ground, and Dr. Ashni Singh’s budget has earmarked $4 billion to support the sugar industry’s efforts to remain a viable force in the national economic and social development construct.
While the PNC’s negative reaction to the PPP/C administration’s Budget is traditional and expected, it is the reaction of the mealy-mouthed AFC members, who are (mis)representing themselves to be very concerned over the welfare of sugar workers, that the misled people should take heed of and recognize them for the two-faced charlatans that they are.

There's a group of people in this country who simply cannot be pleased

The DPP had recommended that charges be laid against the treason trio that were just dismissed by a magistrate. The charges, it appears, had not been framed to satisfy the elements of a crime that only had two elements! So the government is embarrassed and the opposition is happy. Never mind what it says about our ability to uphold law and order by knowing our law.

Now the DPP recommends that charges of ‘rape’ be brought against the commissioner of police. The CoP submits that the sex was consensual and that the evidence presented did not satisfy the elements of “rape”. He pleads the matter to the chief justice – as is his right. After a lengthy scrutiny of the evidence, the chief justice makes a judgement that the CoP rather than the DPP is correct.

So what do some extra-parliamentary hotshots in the Opposition do? They picket the chief justice. Benschop of the AFC screams that the CoP should have resigned after he admitted to sex – consensual or otherwise – since this was a clear conflict with his duties towards a person who came to him to resolve a prior crime.

But this is a completely different matter from the CoP submitting that the elements of rape against him are not satisfied. So the opposition wants Greene to be incarcerated for three years while the DPP sorts out the charge? Dolts!

21,000 people to be removed from income tax net and take home $40,000 more annually

The Parliamentary Opposition has once again shown a lack of inclination to support a commitment to the people of Guyana by decrying Government’s move to ease the burdens of the working class.
The Alliance for Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) have both stated that a 25% increase in the income tax threshold; ensuring the continued employment of more than 18,000 workers and their families in the sugar industry and avoiding a 20% increase in electricity rates are shocking and disappointing.
Previous statements by the two parties over time continually slammed Government for not putting those same measures in place. Now that they have been proposed for implementation through the National Budget, the opposition parties in a complete reversal of their previous calls claim that it failed to address the plight of the poor.
Yet, the Budget clearly states that 21,000 people will be removed from the income tax net and take home $40,000 more annually, while over $26 B is to be spent supporting the education sector.
What is significant too, is the fact that the last three National Budgets had no additional taxes included.

Jagdeo joins Kofi Annan and other world leaders as patrons of World Sustainable Development Forum

Former President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo has become a patron of the World Sustainable Development Forum. He joins Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anna and 12 other world leaders to support the New Delhi-based institution’s work to influence global progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and advancing sustainable development.
The World Sustainable Development Forum draws on the advice of “distinguished patrons from government, industry and academia” – including Ms Tarja Halonen, the President of Finland; Mr Jens Stoltenberg, the Prime Minister of Norway; Mr George Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management; Mr Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric Company; Lord John Browne, former Chief Executive of BP; and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Opposition reaction to historic 2012 Budget all too familiar

One of the rules of politics is that one should not be too predictable: the populace gets bored and is turned off. Very soon, you’re yesterday’s news. The opposition doesn’t seem to have heard about this rule. They were so predictable in their reactions to the budget that it was like déjà vu. The income-tax threshold is raised by 25 per cent: NOT ENOUGH! Pensioners are given a raise: NOT ENOUGH! Budget is the largest in the history of the country: NOT ENOUGH!

Jeez! Enough already! There has been so much talk about vox populi – the voice of the people and the hope of a more responsible opposition. But it is obvious that this APNU/AFC opposition is confused about what they heard. So let’s remind them: YOU DON’T HAVE TO OPPOSE FOR THE SAKE OF OPPOSING! YOU NOW HAVE A MAJORITY IN PARLIAMENT! YOU ARE PART OF THE GOVERNMENT!

Let’s take the budget. Whether for a family or a country, we have to follow the same, simple rule: don’t spend more than you have or you can borrow and then “pay back”. If you don’t – you’re bankrupt before you know it. Lord knows you would have thought the PNC/APNU would remember this after bankrupting us by 1980. And in case they forget, there’s always Carl Barry Greenidge who presided over the bankruptcy, to remind them.

It’s easy to scream that the government should cut VAT (especially Ramjattan), raise the income tax threshold to $100,000 etc, etc… But how can a responsible opposition at the same time call for more spending for pensioners; more spending for the disciplined forces; higher salaries for public servants etc? Where is the money to come from?

So what would it cost for the opposition to admit, for instance, that the continued growth of the economy is not such a terrible thing? Burnham had changed their name to “Minority Parties”. Maybe we should return to this nomenclature. Maybe to name them “opposition” is to make them think they can only oppose? These are simple minded clods we’re dealing with, you know.