Vol. 26
The Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region must not become a Cinderella province
The Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region has become a zone of gross governmental neglect. The Region‘s mining and logging resources have been exploited for over a century and continue to enrich the national treasury. Its physical infrastructure, however, remains undeveloped. Its small, scattered population is exposed to criminal violence. Its lush environment is under threat of degradation. The economic potential, precarious security and political importance of the Region demand that a comprehensive development plan be designed to develop the material resources and improve the quality of life for residents. Environment: Reckless mining practices have created a health hazard. Studies funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through the Guyana Environmental Capacity Development Project (GENCAPD) showed that 89 to 96 per cent of the population surveyed in one village – Isseneru – had almost double the reference level for humans of mercury contamination as recently as October 2013. High waters in the rivers and other waterways occasionally lead to flooding in parts of the Region. Owing to the floods, cassava and other staples rot in the ground and create food crises. Employment: Opportunities for the large number of school-leavers are few. The presence of Brazilian and other foreign mining companies has hardly provided relief. Qualified young people, in the absence of new investments, seek low-level jobs in the mining and logging industries or migrate to neighbouring Venezuela or other regions in search of work. Cost-of-living: Household expenses in the Upper Mazaruni are at their highest level ever. The cost of buying manufactures goods from the coastland is prohibitive. Gasoline sells for $2,800 - $3.000 per gallon at Kamarang making riverine transport and the cost of taking farm produce to market expensive. The cost of the one-hour aircraft flight from Ogle to Kamarang is about $28,000, inflating the cost of commodities.

Indigenous issues: The Region‘s toshaos have resisted the PPPC administration on a wide range of local issues. Toshaos – mainly from the Upper Mazaruni – collectively expressed ―great displeasure‖ over the conduct of proceedings at the Government -controlled National Toshaos Council Conference last year. They said that the way that the conference was managed undermined their right to freely speak on issues affecting their communities. Physical infrastructure: The vital 180 km-long Bartica-Potaro trail which was built over a hundred years ago to connect Bartica in the Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region to Mahdia in the Potaro-Siparuni Region is in dire need of reconstruction. The Parika-Bartica river-boat service cannot cope with the current needs of the two populous riverine townships. There are many airstrips but they require regular maintenance. Public services: There are only three secondary schools in the entire Region. The Waramadong Secondary School is overcrowded and the staff is insufficient for the estimated 600 students. Attainment has been adversely affected by the large number of dropouts from the primary and secondary schools and of failures at the National Grade Six Assessment examinations. The main hospital – the Bartica Regional Hospital – is underequipped and understaffed. A ‗river ambulance‘ is needed to service the riverine areas. Hospitals further inland occasionally run out of drugs to treat prevalent complaints. Public security: The frequency of fatal aircraft accidents and boat collisions is disturbing. The prevalence of trafficking in persons and the incidence of armed robberies and everyday banditry are notorious. The Guyana Police Force‘s sub-divisional headquarters at Bartica, however, is ill-equipped to respond promptly to violent crimes, especially in the Region‘s gold- and diamond-mining districts. The Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region should not be allowed to degenerate into a ‗Cinderella‘ province. A Partnership for National Unity calls for the promulgation of a plan to meet the social, economic and political needs of this important part of Guyana‘s territory. There should be established, now, a new development authority to harness the Region‘s economic potential, encourage investment and, most of all, to protect the people from environmental hazard and criminal violence.

Minister resigns

- “He did a lot of damage’ - Granger

In a surprise development yesterday, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Ganga Persaud, announced his resignation from the position, effective January 31st. The announcement came as the National Assembly sat for the second time for the year. Persaud, as a Member of Parliament, was not present in the National Assembly. Several of the Parliamentarians, especially on the Government‘s side, were seemingly caught off-guard.

A statement from the Minister said his resignation was because of personal reasons. ―My resignation as Minister of Local Government and Regional Development is based on personal issues presently engaging my attention as well as some additional responsibilities to which I am committed.‖ There was speculation that Persaud‘s resignation is timed to coincide with preparations for Local Government Elections where he is expected to play a key coordination role. Persaud was a surprise pick by President Donald Ramotar to his Cabinet, following the November 2011 General and Regional Elections. He did not indicate whether he will be stepping down as a Member of Parliament but made it clear that he will continue to back the ruling People‘s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C). Chief Whip of the PPP/C, Gail Teixeira, said the resignation was a personal one by Persaud. ―He is still a Member of Parliament,‖ she said. Opposition Leader, David Granger, had ―no clue‖, but said that Minister Persaud, as the point person for local government organs, had done a lot of damage, installing a number of Interim Management Committees (IMCs) throughout the country. Granger was still hopeful that Local Government Elections, last held in the 90‘s, can still be hosted by mid-year. ―It was a distinct pleasure for me to have served as a Member of the Cabinet. I am extremely grateful to His Excellency, Mr. Donald Ramotar, for the confidence he placed in me and I wish to declare my fullest support to him and his Government. I pledge to do all that I can to support the PPP/C Government in everything that it is doing to bring greater, happiness and comfort to all of us as Guyanese,‖ Minister Persaud said in his statement. According to the statement, Persaud has full confidence in President Ramotar‘s ability to lead Guyana to greater heights and bring more opportunities for success to all Guyana. ―His Excellency‘s leadership styles are admired by many and I am always amazed at the ease with which he deals with issues, particularly delicate and sensitive issues.‖ Ganga stressed that as Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, there were significant achievements during his tenure. These include strengthening of the Local Government Department, centrally and regionally; establishment of a Local Government Department to provide support to the NDCs and Municipalities; enhancement of relationships with communities across Guyana, through constant outreach programmes and visit to villages. There was also significant movement in the direction of informational technology that resulted in the improvement of the Ministry‘s communication network. ―I am extremely proud that together we, at most times, worked as a team to achieve all that have made us proud. I wish to thank my colleague Minister, the Hon. Norman Whittaker, PS Collin Croal, PA Chitra Singh, Confidential Secretary Geetanjali Curicca, Chauffeur Vedesh Lall and staff of my Ministry, as well as all in the RDCs, NDCs, Municipalities and CDCs for the support given to me and urged that they continue to work as a team for the good of all Guyanese.‖

Ganga, in the statement, insisted that as a member of the leadership of the PPP, he is committed to working with the party to enhance its chances at the next General and Regional Elections so as to reclaim the majority in the Parliament. ―This is so important for Guyana‘s continued growth and development since no other political party can assure our country‘s development other than the PPP.‖ Meanwhile, in a separate interview yesterday afternoon with Kaieteur News, the Minister expressed gratitude to media workers for the almost two and half years he was minister. He said that numerous factors would have led to his resignation including a number of future job opportunities and his desire to spend more time with his family. The Minister did not disclose what moves are next. He stated also that it is likely to be in service of Guyana in another field. The Minister has been in the hot seat, especially concerning the state of Georgetown and late last year, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a US$30M recycling plant. Government abandoned the MoU after revelations that the company may not have had the experience or resources for such a project. The administration admitted that proper due diligence was not followed.

Accounting reports of NICIL, GuySuCo, GPL should be included in National Budget

– Opposition

By Kiana Wilburg A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)‘s Shadow Finance Minister, Carl Greenidge, says that the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh should provide information to help account for the governance of agencies such as NICIL in the National Budget. Greenidge is also insisting that detailed accounting arrangements for funds provided to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) should be treated in like fashion. Expressing similar sentiments was Vice Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Moses Nagamootoo. ―When it comes to NICIL there is an outstanding display of stubbornness to make full disclosure of the moneys that are not going into the consolidated funds. The company, which is headed by Winston Brassington, operates like a sub-treasury to which state assets are directed and it decides how resources from state assets should be spent, whereas these resources should be part of treasury. The Company literally contributes to the deformity of the financial system. It operates as a mini-elected government by itself and any entity that is the recipient of funding from taxpayers ought to be accountable to parliament, either by way of periodic reports or review by the economic and services committee.‖

Nagamootoo added, ―Any request to make them more accountable should not be spurned as unreasonable. The government must see the call for full disclosure to Parliament as an act of fiscal responsibility.‖ Greenidge said that he had emailed the Minister of Finance on these requests, but he is yet to respond. The APNU parliamentarian also disclosed that he had submitted to the Minister a list of his issues relating to the 2013 budget, and the issues are by and large those that need to be addressed for the effective management and accountability of the expenditure and revenue of the country. ―While these issues were brought to the table when the 2013 budget was being examined, APNU is of the firm belief that the issues need to be addressed, since it extends to the budget process as a whole.‖ In addition to this, Greenidge noted that APNU in its deliberations on the 2013 Budget had several concerns about a number of factors which form the background against which ―economic policies are to be cast‖. While he highlighted these issues, the Former Minister of Finance explained that this attempt to bring to the surface their concerns with the budget should not be misconstrued to mean that the faction is trying to prohibit the government from its right to fashion the budget. He insisted, however, that the budget must also serve as an instrument which promotes national development, and it is to that effect that the Opposition made its concerns with the budget process known. Greenidge stressed that several issues are not taken into account by the Minister of Finance when drafting the budget. ―For example, the widening income and wealth disparities within the society, the spiraling cost of living and the plight of the poor and vulnerable including the old, young unemployed females and males, especially those without adequate education and the need for better pay and conditions of work for the poor, as well as nurses, teachers and public servants across the country.‖ In preparing the Budget, Greenidge suggested that the Government and its advisers should seek to address job creation, training, education and health facilities which can be accessed by the less fortunate. After reminding that the budget does not only examine the expenditure but also revenue, he then stressed the need for the ―completion of the tax reform process of which the Value Added Tax was an important element‖. He explained that in response to this concern about both the level of taxation and the unfair weight borne by some segments of the community, President Donald Ramotar established a Commission to examine the tax regime. The APNU Member of Parliament said that he is yet to see a report on the work of the said team and this needs to be included in the budget.

In addition to this, he said that it is also imperative that the country put in place arrangements to ensure that the resources of the state are appropriately and fairly managed as well as distributed. Greenidge then suggested that the first step in this direction would be to establish acceptable standards of financial administration and management at the national level. He noted too that there is a serious need for the discussions on the budget to also cover all measures affecting revenue, which include the disposal of state assets and criteria for such action. Moreover, given the importance of the capital programme in the overall budget, Greenidge asserted that it is imperative that there be arrangements for the careful consideration of the major elements of that programme. ―The criteria and rationale for the overall programme are missing. The key documents on which decisions are based have yet to be seen by any member of the Opposition, let alone by independent technical teams,‖ Greenidge said in conclusion.

APNU to sanction Finance Minister over NICIL failures
Kaieteur News, January 23, 2014 Within the next two or three sittings of the National Assembly, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) will be moving to have Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, sanctioned for his failure to adhere to the resolutions of a motion passed by the House. This was confirmed by Finance Spokesperson for the coalition, Carl Greenidge, who told this publication that the process has already started. The motion that the House passed, instructed the Finance Minister to take a number of measures regarding the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and its operations. Reminding that the Government has already made public its position that it is not obligated to adhere to the resolutions, Greenidge said that it was ―utter nonsense.‖ According to the parliamentary standing orders, members of the House are bound by the rules, and as such, Greenidge insists that the Finance Minister must reign in the holdings company headed by Winston Brassington. Greenidge said that APNU will be employing a number of strategies this year to deal with NICIL and the first wave will come when the House gears to make a prima facie case for his committal to the Committee of Privileges of the Parliament. The operations of NICIL have been the source of severe criticism for a number of years to the point that it has been described as a ―rogue company.‖ NICIL owns and control a number of state entities as well handles government privatizations. In recent years it has been involved in a number of controversial large scale investments such as the Berbice Bridge, the Marriott Hotel, the Amaila Falls Access Road and was also pursuing the construction of the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Plant. It is now pursuing the construction of a new river crossing over the Demerara River.

At the last sitting of the National Assembly, Dr Singh tabled belatedly, NICIL‘s annual report for 2012. That report documented that of the $7B in revenue that it earned, only $1B was handed over to the Guyana Government. According to the 2012 report, NICIL‘s assets in terms of property and equipment were just over $1.4B while it holds another $5B in investments. Having never collected any dividends from the Berbice Bridge Company Inc, the report disclosed that in 2012 NICIL sold all of its shares to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) for $950M. By the end of 2012, the company had also invested almost $3B in Atlantic Hotel Inc, which is building the Marriott Hotel in Kingston. The report also documents that during the year 2012, NICIL also sold all of its shares in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company for US$30M. As at the end of 2012, NICIL received US$25M for the sale with the remaining US$5M payable in two years. The report stated that other than Brassington, who has a contract for service with NICIL, there were no other contracts between the company and any of its Directors. The Directors for NICIL, at the end of 2012 were Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, Sonya Roopnauth, a Director in the Finance Ministry‘s Budget Office, Nigel Dharamlall who is also the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and the Executive Director, Winston Brassington. In November Greenidge had lashed out at the Finance Minister for failing to comply with the resolution which came out of the motion on NICIL that the opposition had voted for. That motion in the House arose from general concerns about the unaccountability on the part of NICIL for a variety of actions; how it had taken decisions with Government resources in a number of projects and also because NICIL was originally established as a holding company which was intended to oversee the allocation of assets that came out of the privatization. It was also responsible for advising on how properties are disposed of but the government instead, ―uses NICIL to get these lands and distribute them to its friends without having to go through any proper procedure for vetting or for setting prices or anything like that,‖ according to Greenidge. ―State lands are not supposed to be handed out at personal whims and fancies, which is what the government has been using the company to do…This is the heart of the problem.‖ And so a motion was passed in 2012 calling on the Government to account for the lands that it has been entrusted with and to explain the basis upon which these lands have been handed out. It was also asked to ensure that the agency brings its accounts up to date and that they hand over the monies and excess funds to the treasury.

Linden to shut down on Saturday over barren agreements Solomon
Stabroek News, January 23, 2014 Linden will be shutting down on Saturday during a planned visit by President Donald Ramotar as residents look to express their ―disgust‖ over the fact that none of the agreements signed in 2012 have been honoured, says Region Ten Chairman Sharma Solomon. Word has gotten to the Chairman that Ramotar is scheduled to visit the Region to attend the opening of a People‘s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) office and Solomon says they plan to make the most of the visit. He told Stabroek News yesterday that all of Linden‘s important sectors, including the business sector, have signalled their commitment to the undertaking, and added that residents have been asked to come out in support. Solomon says that he, along with the people of Linden will be awaiting Ramotar‘s arrival, upon which he will present the President with a letter. The letter, Solomon explained, will reiterate the region‘s ―dissatisfaction‖ and ―disgust‖ at the fact that none of the commitments made by government 17 months ago have been honoured. In July of 2012, a protest by Lindeners against government‘s proposal to raise electricity tariffs turned ugly after policemen responded with force leaving three men dead and sparking a riot. A residents-led blockade then ensued. By the time an agreement was struck between the government and regional officials to bring the unrest to an end the area had been shut down for weeks. Additionally, several buildings were torched and the cost of living in the region shot up as lanes to and from the capital city were blocked. Coming out of the agreement were a number of committees, including the Technical Review Committee which was given the mandate to examine the issue of electricity rates. An Economic Committee and a Land Selection Committee were also agreed upon, and the government committed to allowing the region to have its own Television Station. Seventeen months and several disputes later though, none of the agreements have come to fruition. Government and regional officials are still deadlocked on the appointment of a Chairman to the Technical Committee following the resignation of former Chairman Narvon Persaud, and, just recently, the Economic Committee also saw its Chairman resign. Unlike the Technical Committee though, the Economic Committee is yet to commence its work as the government has insisted that a replacement Technical Committee chairman be agreed upon before the committee begins its work. For the work of the Land Selection Committee to get underway its complete mandate has to be assigned and personnel from the Lands and Survey Commission have to be made available. The region has also been told that it cannot receive a broadcasting licence until a court matter challenging former president Bharrat Jagdeo‘s distribution of several licences before he left office comes to an end, Solomon shared.

Solomon also said that residents of Linden plan to voice their displeasure on more than just their dissatisfaction about the agreement. Nurses from the Linden Hospital Complex plan to be present to reiterate their dissatisfaction with the 5% wage increase issued by government last year. Linden‘s nurses were among members of the public sector who took strike action after the government said it could not afford to give a larger increase. Despite such action though, it does not seem as though a larger increase is forthcoming. Workers who argue that they were wrongfully dismissed by the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI) in November 2009 are also expected to be part of gathering which will welcome the president when he visits.

Linden‟s stalled development politically-engineered – Granger
Stabroek News, January 22, 2013 The government‘s apparent reluctance to boost development in Region 10 is politically -motivated, according to APNU leader David Granger, who says there is need for a new development plan for the region. At a coalition press conference last Friday, Granger charged that the collapse of physical infrastructure, school systems and the spread of poverty throughout the region is a political manoeuvre by the PPP/C administration because it did not enjoy political support from residents in the region. He noted that it was the same for other regions affiliated with other political parties. He stated that there was an apparent erosion of the education sector, with the large number of dropouts in schools, failures at exams and the deterioration of infrastructure. ―Some schools still lack running water; classrooms are without lights… some are physically unsafe or insanitary and repairs to others are incomplete,‖ he said. Employment availability is also meagre in the region even though companies like RUSAL and BOSAI had provided relief, he said, while adding that the government has failed to fulfil its promises of new investments and the materialisation of the proposed school of mining. He proposed that a river ambulance should be provided to the region to deliver riverine services to areas such as Calcuni, Kimbia, Wiruni and Sand Hills because the region is essentially a riverine one. He also stated that the collapse of some roads was causing residents to pay higher minibus fares and spend longer periods commuting. Granger added that the PPP/C administration had promised to implement a five-year plan which would reduce the region‘s dependency on mining; the plan had targeted the agriculture, infrastructure, and manufacturing, transport and tourism sectors. However, he said, the plan was never fully implemented. ―The Partnership laments, also, that the PPP/C administration has still not implemented the essential elements of the 21st August 2012 agreement between the Central Government and the Regional Administration 17 months after signing it,‖ he stated, referring to the deal brokered to end the unrest in the town sparked by a plan to increase electricity tariffs and the killing of three men during a related protest. In light of the situation, Granger said that there was need for a new plan to resume the development of the region. APNU MP Renis Morian also said that the government had given an investor that was interested in reconstructing the region‘s airstrip a ―royal runabout,‖ causing a pullout on the investor‘s end.

National flood control master plan needed – APNU
Stabroek News, January 22, 2013 Main Opposition group APNU is calling on the PPP/C administration to urgently launch a comprehensive national flood control plan, saying its current response to monthly flooding is not financially or environmentally sustainable. ―APNU sees the development of such a plan and engagement with qualified persons who can assist in its formulation as a matter of urgency,‖ the group said in a press release. In pursuance of this objective, Leader of the Opposition David Granger, APNU Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister of Agriculture Dr Rupert Roopnaraine and Shadow Minister for Public Infrastructure Joseph Harmon met with a number of engineers and civic society members on Monday at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition to share ideas that could inform the said plan. The group also said that ―The PPP/C administration‘s lack of a coherent response to the monthly flooding is economically and environmentally unsustainable, and the loss of household goods, domestic and agricultural equipment, livestock; destruction of farms and homes etc., demand an alternative strategy.‖ Civic society members who attended the meeting were Bert Carter, Terry Fletcher, John Piggott, Anthony Vieira, Horace Nurse, Edward Gonsalves, Jocelyn Dow and Hamley Case, the press release said.

Human Rights body advocates for independent investigation of Police Brutality case…Challenges government to foot medical expenses
Kaieteur News, January 19, 2014 It is the opinion of the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) is engaged in a ―cover-up‖ rather than an investigation of the brutality to Colwyn Harding. This, the body says it has concluded after an alleged eyewitness of the incident came forward and disclosed that he was asked by some police ranks not to give a statement. The body voiced that it is therefore calling for the appointment of a respected and independent person to investigate all aspects of the matter and for vigorous implementation of all the recommendations such an investigation might produce. Additionally, it is calling for sustained public vigilance over any subsequent proceedings while recommending that the Government assume all costs of medical treatment required for the full recuperation of the young man. The eyewitness, who identified himself as Stephan Joseph Phillips called ‗Muslim,‘ told Kaieteur News that he, along with his 17-year-old son, was detained at the Timehri Police Station from November 14 to 15, around the same time Harding was brought to the station.

According to the GHRA, the reports of the brutality dealt to the young man extend the perception of a ―supposedly disciplined services‖ being out of control. It said that such efforts at ―cover -up‖ undermine the credibility of the upper echelon of the Guyana Police Force. The body added that the police‘s efforts to defend themselves against charges of negligence and laxity in responding to the original allegations of the assault are not convincing. ―Police officers allegedly present when the beatings and sexual assault took place apparently took no responsibility to either stop the assault, to assist Harding to get prompt medical attention, nor to report the incident to higher authority,‖ it said. Describing it as ―a belated scramble‖, the body pointed out that the investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) was only prompted by interventions from the press. ―In other words, extreme physical brutality, an offense which merits years in prison if committed by a civilian – let alone the allegations of sexual assault – was treated as a routine disciplinary incident when involving a police officer.‖ The GHRA expressed that another reason for the failure to report could be the perception that such reports are unwelcome by superiors. It said that the state of things internally in the GPF, and in the event it is more widespread than it seems, suggest that the institution is beyond internal reform. ―Where the vitality and vision for renovation is to come from is unclear, but it seems safe to say that it will not be from within the GPF or the political party sphere,‖ the body posited. It added that it deems calls for the resignation of the Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs as ―understandable‖ and identified that bodies such as the Police Service Commission and the Police Association, which should be channels for re-vitalizing the GPF, are moribund. ―The only guarantee of re-invigorating the GPF with standards of integrity and professionalism is greater direct public involvement in decision making at all levels of public life.‖ The body made reference to an attempt, almost a decade ago, to renovate the GPF as an institution, noting that the opportunity was lost when the ―watered down‖ recommendations produced by the Disciplined Services Commission were ―kicked into the long grass‖ by Parliament. With respect to the SWAT team, the Human Rights body posited that here is not where priority should lie but at instilling respect throughout the Force for the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners. It opined that Senior Police officials and politicians responsible for law and order should regularly and publicly promote and implement these standards. ―The total silence by senior authorities on these standards send a signal to lower ranks that use of excessive force is no big thing.‖ As such it is calling for a process of renovating the leadership of the GPF in a manner which underlines and ―ring-fences‖ professionalism from political party interference.‖

GFC not informed about Malaysian investment
Stabroek News, January 19, 2014 The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has no knowledge of a proposed US$500 million agricultural and forestry investment by the Malaysian syndicate, Wee Boon Ping Group of Companies. When contacted a senior official of the GFC said that the commission had no knowledge of the investment and it was done through the Ministry of Agriculture and Go-Invest. Stabroek News had reported earlier that Bornion Guyana Inc (BGI) – the local subsidiary of the Wee Boon Ping Group of Companies – had begun the first phase of what it envisions will eventually be a US$500 million investment in Guyana‘s agricultural and forestry sectors covering oil palm, rubber and soya, among other crops. Minister of Agriculture Dr Leslie Ramsammy had told Stabroek News that BGI has been allocated 10,000 acres in the Canje Basin to plant rubber. The company has already started its nursery for the rubber plants, he had said. Stabroek News had learnt that the company plans to establish a state-of-the-art industrial complex by 2017 to produce value-added products based on the commercial scale cultivation of 120,000 hectares of rubber, 100,000 hectares of oil palm, 60,000 hectares of corn, and 30,000 hectares of cassava. During 2018-2020, it is envisioned that 80,000 hectares will be cultivated with acacia, rice and assorted beans. ―The 10-hectare industrial complex will include a large laboratory, several plants for processing and packaging rubber and food crops, a refinery for processing and refining palm oil and other ancillary infrastructure that will see Guyana producing and exporting a range of processed, value-added products,‖ according to information provided to Stabroek News. In setting up the complex, full use will be made of green energy sources. Another major item in the planned investment is the construction of a pier with warehouse and refrigeration facilities on left bank Corentyne River to ensure timely movement of large volumes of goods being exported. The company envisages that up to 5,000 people will be employed in nurseries, tending operations in plantations, food processing in factories, rubber and palm oil processing, in support services, and in research. Chairman of the opposition coalition APNU, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine had said that he will be seeking further information on the proposed investment in the National Assembly. Roopnaraine had said that he read the story in the Stabroek News and it is not satisfactory to have to rely on the newspapers to get the details on such matters. Last month, Roopnaraine had called on government to come clean on two potentially major agriculture investments. The two Memoranda of Understanding for large agricultural projects which were quietly signed by the government with Indian and Chinese companies raised disquiet as their terms were not publicized. Roopnaraine had said that the first knowledge of dealings with the D Y Patil Group and China Paper came to his attention through reporting in the Stabroek News. He said that ―with these MoUs we are of the firm belief that they need to be fully ventilated and brought to the National Assembly.‖ Prior to the reportage in the Stabroek News there had been no information from the government on the details of MoUs clinched with the two companies. In addition, apart from a release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) in April 2012 reporting on the visit of Wee Boon Ping Group officials, there has been no word from the government on this deal either.

APNU calls for renewed development strategy for Region 10
Kaieteur News, January 18, 2014 Leader of the Political Opposition faction, David Granger, has made an urgent call for the renewed regional, economic and social development initiative to improve the economy and as well as the quality of life of residents of the Upper Demerara-Berbice Region (Region Ten). This he expressed at a press briefing yesterday which was held at his office on Hadfield Street, Georgetown. Also present at the conference was Member of Parliament (MP) and Regional Democratic Councilor of Region 10, Renis Morian. Granger, before highlighting some of the key points to justify his call, firstly noted that the region is the real gateway to much of the hinterland and indeed the rest of South America. He then reminded that the region‘s mining and logging resources have been exploited for decades and that the agricultural potential of its vast intermediate savannahs is still untapped, while its physical infrastructure is undeveloped and its tourism resources are largely unexplored. During his address, Granger expressed his disappointment that the residents continue to remain poor whilst the Region is rich in resources. The Opposition leader also expressed his concern for the region‘s current state, given its economic potential as well as its strategic importance, and taking into consideration as well that ―the People‘s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Administration has been so reluctant to implement comprehensive administrative measures to improve the quality of life for residents of the region‖. The Member of Parliament went on to discuss a few topics of interest which he believes should be made the focal point for the review of the plan to develop the region. Granger spoke to the importance of educational attainment, the need for an increase in employment opportunities, the unavailability of technicians to operate the equipment at the Linden Hospital and a ‗river ambulance‘ for the riverain areas such as Calcuni, Kimbia, Wiruni and Sand Hills. He also spoke to the terrible terrain which continues to make transportation an arduous task for residents. He said that some schools within the region are physically unsafe as basic necessities such as lights, proper sanitary facilities and running water are not in place. He noted too that even with the presence of the Russian Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc and the Chinese Bai Shan Lin and BOSAI companies, who have ―provided slight relief‖, several labour issues still remain unsettled. Granger also made reference to the fact that transport has been severely affected by the withdrawal of the of the Berbice river-boat service which has affected agricultural production and marketing in the region. He also mentioned several roads, including the Linden-Ituni-Kwakwani roads, which are currently in a terrible state. ―The Linden Economic Advancement Fund (LEAF) — the successor to the Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP) has been starved of funding thereby depriving many poor people from escaping from poverty,‖ Granger said. He further asserted, ―The PPPC administration, seven years ago in 2007, did indeed promise to promulgate a five-year development plan. Its objectives were to be the reduction of the Region‘s traditional dependency on mining and the achievement of long-term economic diversification and collaboration between the state, the private sector and the community. That plan targeted the agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing, transport, tourism, information communication technology and mining sectors.‖

APNU, he said, laments the fact that the PPPC administration never fully implemented that plan. ―The PPPC administration has still not implemented the essential elements of the 21st August 2012 agreement between the Central Government and the Regional Administration seventeen months after signing it.‖ It is upon this background that the leader of APNU made a call for a new plan which he believes is now needed to resume the task of the development of the Upper DemeraraBerbice Region. This call was also supported by Morian, who also later elaborated on the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition.

APNU says it‟s being sidelined from Budget consultation…Will force implementation of reforms if concerns not taken on board
Kazieteur News, January 18, 2014 The opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) says that it remains hopeful that consultation with government over the 2014 budget would be reached. However hope is rapidly draining away taking into consideration that it will be presented in March and budget arrangements and submissions by the respective Ministries would have been done already while no substantial talks between the opposition and government have commenced. APNU said that its position was that a tripartite Budget Commission be established because of the importance of the budget, however it didn‘t happen in 2011 when it was first advanced, in 2012, or in 2013 even though President Donald Ramotar promised to initiate a new process on the first of July last year. Leader of APNU David Granger expressed that ―real face to face consultation has not taken place… there has been some engagement but the concerns of APNU have not been taken on board by the Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh up to the present time so we cannot expect that in the remaining two months we would be able to cover sufficient ground. The budget is a very complicated document with three huge volumes like an encyclopedia and it calls for a lot of data, people cannot simple produce a shopping list and expect that shopping list to be accepted. We have to be given the information on which to base our plans. The government has all that information, it has all the technicians and I would say we have been sidelined from the process up to the present time.‖ Granger added that the government is playing a very ―dangerous game‖ in denying them the opportunity to contribute meaningfully through the consultative process and feels that the budget which is in its advanced stages of preparation has not incorporated the main concerns of APNU. According to Granger, while he recognizes the responsibility of the executives for the final preparation of the budget, there is now a different dispensation in the National Assembly and as such they have called for a consultative process so that the majority can have its concerns addressed in the budget. The opposition leader said that they will continue to exercise their action to reduce funding in areas where they feel there is no ―transparency or the money is not being used for a proper purpose. ―In the case of the National Communication Network for example we cut the funding because we feel that the opposition parties do not have adequate coverage, or do not have access with the State media, the Chronicle, NCN, or GINA and many of the positions taken by the opposition is not covered so we cut that.‖

According to Granger, APNU didn‘t ―cut for the sake of cutting,‖ but cuts were made to insure that reforms are put in place as was the case with the Guyana Sugar Corporation, and Guyana Power and Light (GPL) . ―So we don‘t go to the National Assembly to cut, we go to the National Assembly to force the government to implement reforms and that is what is going to happen unless the government calls us in, consults with us and take our concerns on board.‖

Opposition reiterates demands for AML/CFT Bill
Kaieteur News, January 17, 2014 By Kiana Wilburg A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)‘s Shadow Minister of Finance, Carl Greenidge, has reiterated that if their demands on the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) bill are not met, then support for the bill will be withheld. This comes in light of the fact that Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon expressed that the Opposition is yet to disclose their grievances with the bill and as such, proposed solutions. However, Greenidge asserts that the demands of APNU were made clear even during their debates last year on the Bill when it was before the National Assembly. Since the AML/CFT Bill is now back with the select committee, Greenidge has reiterated the demands of the coalition as it relates to the Bill. Greenidge asserted that the legislation on its own needs to be improved, especially “Articles 8, 15 and 22.” “APNU will not assent to the People‟s Progressive Party Civic (PPP -C) Administration as it relates to appointing and firing all the key Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) personnel. The qualification of the staff of the FIU needs to be made relevant to their job description.” The financial point man for the coalition also said that there needs to be provision for the security of information collected by the FIU which it analyses or has analyzed on its behalf. “The bill should stipulate penalties for unauthorized disclosure of information or for its use for unauthorized purposes, including financial benefit. The Bill or related legislation should identify the Fraud Squad as the relevant agency within the Guyana Police Force with responsibility for execution of the relevant parts of the Bill and the guidelines for the operational interface of key agencies should be spelt out, as should arrangements for the identification and training of the relevant officers.” Greenidge said that failure of the government to prosecute anyone for money laundering and related activities has nothing to do with the adequacy of the legislation which the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) report described as robust.

―It has to do with the will of the PPP-C and their will is reflected in the instructions given to the key administrators, all of whom they alone appoint, to release persons and equipment seized in the course of carrying out activities/ investigations closely associated with or actually involving money laundering.‖ The Member of Parliament added, ―Those powers to oversee the administrative or executing agencies (The Guyana Police Force; Customs, The Bank of Guyana, FIU, The Guyana Revenue Authority etc.) and to appoint all their key personnel, should be overseen by civil society and not the PPPC alone.‖ ―APNU feels strongly that if this is not done nothing will change, and money launderers will continue to operate throughout Guyana without fear of ever being prosecuted.‖ ―The tendency of the Executive arm of Government, Cabinet members in particular, to behave lawlessly without fear of reprimand and legal consequences, and the dangers it poses to our fundamental rights are attributable to the refusal of the PPP-C and the Executive to put in place the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution – Independence of the Judiciary; Ombudsman; Appellate Tribunals, Public Procurement Commission; Constitutional offices etc. These problems will be compounded by strengthening the powers of the Government under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act.‖ He noted too that in the face of the failure of President Donald Ramotar to assent to Bills ―properly passed by the National Assembly‖ to limit or remedy the above, APNU will not pass any legislation laid by the Executive. ―A strong, enforceable Bill should be accompanied by measures to meet our demands for better governance, particularly as it regards fulfillment of outstanding constitutional requirements, including the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission. The two must go hand in hand.‖

$1.5B spent in two months…„Returning voted down expenditure does not guarantee approval‟- Granger
Kaieteur News, January 21, 2014 Simply returning Financial Papers with expenditure that previously did not gain the support of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) does not guarantee approval. This is the position held by Leader of the Political Opposition, Brigadier (ret‘d) David Granger, who said that while the coalition is still to take a definitive position, some of the expenditure returned had been previously voted down as a matter of principle. He said that the coalition‘s Shadow Cabinet will meet today and take a decision on how it will be voting on Thursday.

Granger did point out that key to the decision-making process would be if the Finance Minister has provided the requisite explanatory information accompanying the expenditure amounts. Granger reminded of a previous occasion where Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman, had pointed out to Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, that he would not be allowing debates on Financial Papers, if they do not meet the requirements of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act, as it relates to providing the required information. Under the Substantive Law, after drawing down from the Contingencies Fund, ―The Minister shall report at the next sitting of the National Assembly on all advances made out of the Contingencies Fund since the previous report of the Minister, which report shall specify – (a) the amounts advanced; (b) to whom the amounts were paid; and (c) the purpose of the advances.‖ Granger pointed out too that another main consideration that the coalition will be addressing is whether the moneys that had been drawn down by the Finance Minister from the Contingencies Fund, meet the criteria. Under the law, ―The Minister, when satisfied that an urgent, unavoidable and unforeseen need for expenditure has arisen – (a) for which no moneys have been appropriated or for which the sum appropriated is insufficient; (b) for which moneys cannot be reallocated as provided for under this Act; or (c) which cannot be deferred without injury to the public interest, may approve a Contingencies Fund advance as an expenditure out of the Consolidated Fund by the issuance of a drawing right.‖ The last time the National Assembly met, Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, tabled two Financial Papers representing expenditure he would have approved in the final two months of 2013 amounting to just about $1.5B. The scrutiny and vote on the amounts is scheduled on the Order Paper for Thursday‘s sitting.

According to the details of one of the Supplementary requests to the 2013 Budget, between November 6, last year and December 31, $121.9M was transferred to the Ministry of Public Works and the expenditure was incurred in relation to providing additional support to Transport and Harbours Department. The Ministry of Home Affairs was also a beneficiary of moneys allocated over the two-month period. The Financial Paper details that $69M was used in relation to increased travelling by ranks to conduct investigations, especially in interior locations. The Ministry was initially given $616.5M for local travel and subsistence. The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) was also the recipient of $100M.

According to the Financial Paper, the expenditure was ―incurred in relation to Joint Services Operations.‖ The money was provided under the line item, ―dietary‖ for which it had already received more than $747M. The GDF also received $50M under the line item for equipment maintenance and according to the description provided, ―Expenditure incurred in relation to Joint Services Operations.‖ It had initially been allocated $320M for the force‘s equipment maintenance. The GDF spent an additional $51M, moneys which it received under the line item, ―Other Transport, Travel and Postage.‖ The explanation for this expenditure was said to be in relation to Joint Services Operations. It received a further $36M for its Vehicle Spares and Services. The Ministry of Agriculture‘s Crops and Livestock Support Services also received under its Agriculture Export Diversification Project, $257.5M. The Ministry‘s explanation of how the money was spent is, ―Provision for additional inflows specific to drainage and irrigation works including control structures, gates, culverts, bridges, pump station and rehabilitation of channels and consultancy services.‖ The Ministry of Housing and Water under its Low Income Settlement Programme, received an additional $97.6M. ―Provision for additional inflows specific to upgrading of roads, construction of core homes and supply of materials and labour for the construction of houses under the hinterland pilot component‖ was its explanation.

The Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR) today Monday 20th January 2014 made a monetary donation to Ms. Sharon Harding, the mother of 23 year old Colwyn Harding. The money was presented by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament and PNCR General Council Member Ms. Annette Ferguson M.P. Leader of the PNCR Brigadier David Granger said that today‘s donation was a first step, and was intended to assist the family with transportation and other basic needs. Granger said that the PNCR will continue to pay close attention to the welfare, wellbeing and safety of Mr. Colwyn Harding and will continue to offer support to him and his family. olwyn Harding was allegedly brutalized on November 15th 2013, while in custody at Timheri, by ranks of the Guyana Police Force (GPF).

Member of Parliament Annette Ferguson presents cheque to Ms. Sharon Harding

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