Never a dull moment during GECOM’s statutory meeting (Pt 1)

first_imgDear Editor,Another statutory meeting of the Guyana Elections Commission(GECOM). Tuesday starts on time. It is as if the Chairman, having just recently signed his contract has decided that meetings need to start at 13:00h (1:00pm). Imagine, he did not even send his secretary to find out if there was a quorum, as is his usual practice.Even the CEO and DCEO had to rush to catch up. Fortunately, there is a quorum, and a longer than usual meeting starts on time. Refreshing.It is election season, so there are many issues to be discussed and the minutes are longer than usual because, at last, the report from the Admin and Finance Subcommittee is included. The minutes are of a meeting held since October 16, 2018, so people’s memories have faded and when, for example, Commissioner Trotman does not like the record of what he is reported to have said, he tries to correct it so that his contribution sounds better.The CEO is unusually belligerent today (Tuesday), and the DCEO is very much present but speaks only when she is spoken to. I am convinced that she continues to be overwhelmed with the realisation of how much she does not know about elections management. I do hope that she is a fast learner!One positive note today (Tuesday) was a report by the PR manager who is rolling out the Civic and Voter Education (C&VE) for the LGE. She was able to report on the social media page which seems to be very informative and managed well, but she reported that she pays for infomercials on television. It is my view that LGE education constitutes public service announcements, so by law, they should be broadcast free of cost. I hope Ms Ward follows up with the GNBA, up to today (Tuesday) no one can say what the C&VE budget is, or of there is an identifiable budget for this purpose.Questions revealed the information that the agencies contracted to prepare the C&VE materials, were taken from a list left on record by the previous officer with no attempt to advertise for the service. Of course, the previous contractors said that the material used in 2016 could not be edited for use this year! What could anyone expect them to say? So completely new material was paid for, and we were assured that from now on, this new material can be reused in future. I, for one, am taking this with a grain of salt. I bet we will hear another excuse for the elections of 2020!There is no visible activity in the compound. The chaos of last week is over and purportedly ballots have been enveloped for the voting on November 2, 2018, by the 7918 listed members of the Disciplined Services at 81 ballot stations using 63 ballot boxes countrywide.The political parties’ representatives/chief scrutineers met with the CEO and his team on Tuesday and were given the D-day logistical details, which were shared with the Commissioners on Wednesday. They look very good on paper. Let us hope they translate into smooth movement on D-day. I asked and was assured that eight aircraft and several buses will accommodate GECOM staff as well as party scrutineers with no one left behind. Let us hope that all goes as well as it looks on paper and no party agent will be told that there is no room on the bus or plane! There have been too many such instances in past elections.I seemed to have aroused a hornets’ nest with my inquiry as to who will be allowed to visit any ballot station on Friday November 2, as well as Monday November 12.You see the law allows for any listed candidate to do so, but experience has shown that candidates have, in the past been refused entry into ballot and polling stations. The CEO mumbles that persons like the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Scrutineers can visit, but discussions reveal that persons, candidate or otherwise, will only be allowed in of he/she is wearing some form of identification issued by GECOM! All Commissioners have IDs. Commissioner Corbin speaks very knowledgeable about ‘Candidates to the Poll’ so it turns out that the CEO will have to be given a list by the relevant stakeholder of persons who wish to visit ballot/polling stations, so that they can be issued with GECOM accreditation IDs! Equal treatment even for the Leader of the Opposition!Well I suppose the Ballot Officers/ Presiding Officers can always say that even former Presidents are not exempt from being properly badged and tagged!Sincerely,Bibi Safora ShadickCommissioner –GECOMlast_img read more

Lands available for miners

first_img… special attention for small-scale mining – Natural Resources MinisterAfter numerous consultations with stakeholders and civil society, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman has announced that lands are available for mining in Guyana. As such, according to Trotman, applications for permits are now being accepted by the Ministry.The Minister made the announcement at a recent press conference where he noted that it was agreed by the Closed Area Committee that it is ready to process applications for considerations of perspective permits to mining lands. It was further agreed that first priority will be given to small mining operations.The size of the allocated lands is approximated 422 acres, which constitutes one mining block as per the legal requirements. The Natural Resources Minister however pointed out that considerations would be made for some miners to be allocated “up to three blocks” which is equivalent to 1266 acres of land.Trotman however cautioned that this consideration would be based on a miner’s competency and upon the availability of technical and financial resources.“Many people want to mine but know little about mining or don’t have the equipment to mine and we want to ensure that persons can handle what it is that they are after,” the Minister told the media.“The [Guyana Geology and Mines Commission] GGMC will receive applications and will provide applications for the Closed Area Committee to allow the Committee to make informed recommendations to the Minister for approval,” observed Trotman.It was also explained that the lands will be given out in six mining districts, namely Upper Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); Potaro, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni); Mazaruni and Cuyuni, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni); North West, Region One (Barima-Waini); and Rupununi, Region Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo). The details for the process of making the applications and the criteria to be applied would be published in the newspapers and on the Ministry’s website.In April, a consensus agreement was signed with a group of small-scale miners in Marudi, Region Nine which was aimed at settling the conflict with large-scale mining company Romanex Guyana.Last November, miners in Marudi Mountain, Region Nine had staged a protest highlighting the threat of being evicted by Romanex Guyana. At that time, over 300 small miners had called on the Government to have their operations regularised so that their livelihood would not be affected.Mining in Marudi, Region Ninelast_img read more

CHICO-Liberia Sponsors HIV/AIDS Awareness in Salala

first_imgThe second phase of the campaign on Increasing Community Actions to Prevent HIV/AIDS and Ebola, sponsored by CHICO-Liberia,  was launched yesterday in Salala and Kpal Districts in Bong County. The program, at the estimated cost of US$4000, is targeting both young and old of both sexes in Gbarnga, Bong County and Ganta, Nimba County, according to Philip McKay of the Bong County Awareness Program (BOCAP). BOCAP is implementing the program and it is expected to educate more than 25,000 people in both counties, McKay said. In a power-point demonstration before officials of CHICO-Liberia and community leaders, including many young people, McKay drew attention to the twin dangers of Ebola and HIV/AIDS and the need for the community to become aware of these dangers. Salala Commissioner Allen Tugbah witnessed the ceremony. Placing emphasis on the experiences of young motorbike operators and their female passengers, McKay urged the community to make use of the awareness campaign that is aimed at helping young people take responsible decisions about their sex lives. “Don’t let the man riding the motorbike come for you in the night and you return home later and later with the consequences of pregnancy and childbirth without being aware of the danger you face as far as HIV/AIDS is concerned,” McKay told them. In the next three months, he said, BOCAP will offer tests and counseling, distribute condoms, provide 100 flyers with information on responsible sex life, hold group discussions, media outreach and engage 700 motorbike riders on how to be responsible in managing their relationships. Declaring the campaign open, Mr. Joseph Swen, administrator and media relations officer of CHICO-Liberia, said the construction company, in addition to providing the funds for the program, chose to become a partner with BOCAP. HIV/AIDS cannot be separated from Ebola in the danger they pose to society and therefore CHICO-Liberia decided to become a partner to ensure that the campaign is a success, he explained. “CHICO-Liberia gives high priority to its corporate social responsibility because we are a  people-friendly company,” Swen said. “We are partners in this campaign to get the message to the people.”  Swen noted that CHICO-Liberia was happy that the organizers blended awareness of HIV/AIDS and Ebola together. “CHICO will stand by BOCAP to make sure that the current awareness campaign is successful,” he said.He explained that CHICO-Liberia undertakes annual projects as part of its corporate social responsibility to communities.The first phase was held from April 27, 2015. Salala Commissioner Tugbah commended CHICO-Liberia for the educational campaign and called on the community to make use of the information provided.  The daylong program involved the provision of facts about HIV/AIDS and Ebola, Questions and Answers and a film show on HIV/AIDS and Ebola, as well as HIV/AIDS counseling and testing in Salala. The occasion was made lively by the Victory Singing Ministry of five young women who entertained the audience with inspiring Gospel songs.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Development: The Common Man’s View

first_imgWe are excited about this series of editorials on development. Development is a very widely used term with varied definitions and perceptions. But every man, woman and child knows some element of what it means – from the highest echelons of society to the common man on the street. Whatever the sophisticated definitions of development are, the bottom line is that no government can fool the common man as to whether his country is developed or not. He knows what development is supposed to look like. As such, when he complains that his country is not developed, he knows what he means. With mobile technology and increased access to the internet, the ordinary man has seen development. When he pays L$50 at the local video club, he pays to see much more than just a match between Barca and Madrid. He pays that L$50 to see DEVELOPMENT. Ever wonder how the ordinary Liberian knows so much about European football? That’s because it makes sense. He follows the DEVELOPMENT of the game. He sees professionalism and discipline pay off, and indiscipline penalized. He sees the stadium built to seat hundreds of thousands. He sees Europe. That is how he knows that his country is not developed.When he watches American movies, he gets to see roads. Train stations. Multi-lane highways. Bridges. Sky scrapers. Overpasses. People going to work. Twenty-four hour electricity and, by God, running water! But those are just the basics of development. Much more than that, the ordinary man watching an American movie gets to see the standard of living of the citizens of the country. He gets to see QUALITY of life. Jobs. Food. Science. Art. Entertainment. Tourism. What modern day housing is supposed to look like. Freedom of speech and of religion. Effective government. Law and order. Zoning laws enforced. The legal system in action. He gets to see an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. Commerce. Industry. Aviation. Technological advancements. Countless rags to riches stories. EDUCATION and all of the many fruits thereof. In the mind of the ordinary man, that is development. That is what his country is supposed to look like. The fact that he has not set foot in a classroom is in no way an indication that he does not know what development is.The problem is that his government underestimates his “uneducated” mind. After all, the people don’t know any better. Every other day on the airwaves, however, a multi-million dollar agreement is being signed. Aid is coming into the country (in cash and kind) in the name of development. Oil blocks are being negotiated. Foreign investors are doing business here. Taxes are being collected.It is in fact said government, it turns out, that is uneducated about how much its people know and expect. Said government creates expectations, repeatedly fails to deliver, and then expects that the people will forget! And so when Takun J released “The People Lied to Us”, he knew what he meant. As a matter of fact, we all did. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Local poultry farmers thrown off-balance by smugglers

first_img…situation to return to normalcy by mid-AugustLocal poultry farmers were thrown off-balance by chicken smugglers and as such when the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) clamped down on the illegal trade, this triggered a shortage of chicken on the market.This is according to the Guyana Poultry Producers Association (GPPA), which on Wednesday in an advertisement in the local media said that the smuggling of chicken from Suriname contributed to a surplus of chicken in Guyana, because the local poultry farmers could not estimate the amount of smuggled chicken entering the country and continued producing as per norm.According to the GPPA, smuggling of chicken in large quantities began in early 2018.It explained at that time Suriname only had a five per cent duty on imported chicken, which resulted in the meat bird being imported into the country in large quantities from the United States and Brazil legally. The poultry was then smuggled across the Surinamese border into Guyana.Further, the GPPA stated that the surplus lasted from May 2018 to March 2019, which accounted for the largest glut of chicken Guyana has ever experienced.The GPPA further noted that last month, the duty on imported chicken to Suriname climbed from five to 40 per cent which dented the smuggling business.Moreover, it said the Enforcement Department of the GRA got wind of this illegal trade and stepped up its campaign against the smuggled chicken. “It appeared that their efforts resulted in large seizures of chicken brought in illegally from across the border.”In March of this year, the Poultry Association said farmers were left with excess birds in their pens which were between 12 and 15 weeks old although the normal growth period was six weeks.This, too, played a part in the current shortage.“The delayed time for this excess chicken to be sold resulted in long delays before farmers could start a new crop of chicks, since new crops require the pens to be empty,” the organisation explained.NormalcyPresently, hatching egg imports have increased and local farmers have placed adequate supplies of chicken on their farms that will reach processing age in another week or two which is expected to bring an end to the shortage of local chicken, the GPPA assured.“The GPPA would also like to assure the Guyanese public that chicken supplies would return to normal by mid-August,” the statement said.Further, it said this problem was unlikely to reoccur now that the disruption has been rectified. As such, the grouping expressed gratitude to the Enforcement Department of the GRA for its efforts in clamping down on the illegal entry of chicken into Guyana.Last week, the Guyana Livestock and Development Authority (GLDA) announced a shortage of chicken on the local market. It said it was “monitoring the situation”.In a statement on its Facebook page, the Authority said based on its records, there has been a reduction in the number of cases of hatching eggs imported compared to 2018, which perhaps could have contributed to the shortage.Additionally, some farmers have also been complaining of reduced growth rates and higher mortality.“The major players in the sector were consulted and assured that the situation would be rectified during the week. This is based on the hatching and grow-out time for the chickens. They have also assured that they are able to maintain supply to their major customers,” the statement noted.Days after, a major fast food establishment, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) came out saying that it has been affected by the recent chicken shortage, causing it to limit the meals that are available.In a public notice, the fast food franchise informed customers that some of the combos they are accustomed to ordering would not be available owing to the poultry shortage.last_img read more

NEAT presents Music and Discussion on Wed.

first_imgThe Northern Environmental Action Team is inviting residents to a night of music and discussion.On Wednesday night (Feb 25th), Toronto-based reggae/rock band “Nine Mile” will perform a benefit concert at the Whole Wheat and Honey Cafe. NEAT is advertising the night as one of discussion and Music, to go along with this month’s NEAT theme, of “Environment and Music”.The all-ages event starts at 7pm – with $5 tickets available at Whole Wheat and Honey, in advance, or at the door. – Advertisement –last_img read more

Approaching IOCs to sell first lifts could lead to corruption – financial analyst

first_img…questions Dept of Energy’s explanation for method to sell oilThe Department of Energy’s decision to approach several International Oil Companies (IOCs) to sell Guyana’s crude has not only raised eyebrows at the Audit Office of Guyana (AOG). It also has finance professionals questioning the move.In an interview with financial analyst and accountant Sase Singh, he was of the view that the transaction leaves the entire process susceptible to corruption. This is not unique to Guyana, as many oil-producing countries have fallen prey to corruption in their dealings with various IOCs, who have been documented paying off officials.“While we should have been able to go to the market in a transparent way to auction our oil, we have not done it. What is happening is a very opaque, dark, non-transparent transaction that is susceptible to corruption,” he said.Singh does not believe in the explanation given by the Energy Department that the oil has to be subjected to tests not only in the refinery but also on the market. According to the financial analyst, persons’ familiar with the industry already have an idea of the value of Guyana’s crude and what kind of price it will fetch.“Absolutely ludicrous. The world has already tested different shades and shapes of oil on all the markets. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Selling oil is a standard operating procedure across the globe. People know what grade of oil to sell. People know what the market is like and how it operates. People know where the supply and demand is. There’s no testing needed for Guyana.”“Seeing as they dropped the ball in 2019, they could have sold the first lifts to Exxon and say hey, we need some time to go to the market transparently, but we’re already doing business with Exxon. So sell the first and second lifts, this then gives us time to set up a system that is transparent. Why this deliberate attempt to go the dark way? It has exposed the transaction to corruption.”The Energy Department had announced that it approached a number of IOCs, with a view of having them vie to sell Guyana’s crude. These companies include Exxon, CNOOC, Hess, BP (British Petroleum), Chevron, Shell, Total, E&I.This news was immediately criticised by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.In addition, Auditor General Deodat Sharma has said in sections of the media that his department would look into the transaction.Singh also spoke about the general lack of preparation for the oil sector. For one, first oil, he said, has come and met Guyana without critical safeguards like a Local Content Policy and related legislation.He pointed out that the coalition Government knew definitively since May 2015 that Guyana had oil reserves. Singh pointed out that they had four years and change to put in place the necessary measures so that Guyana could comprehensively manage the sector. In that time, however, all the Government has completed is the National Resource Fund Act.“Team Granger’s priorities is all pageantry, politics and parades. What they should be doing is spending more time on public policy formulation, conceptualisation and implementation, so that the good life can come to the people,” he said.“But they only parrot this term the good life, without backing it up with actionable strategies. So they can come to the people and say, we have done this for you on this oil investment. And you can expect this and that by such and such a time. There is no project planning.”last_img read more

RONAN PUTS HIS BODY ON THE LINE FOR HIS SPORT!

first_imgA Donegal man is hoping to put his body on the line today – for the sake of his beloved sport.Glentogher man Ronan Doherty will today fly the flag for Ireland at the Hercules Olympia bodybuilding competition at The Charter Hall in Colchester, England.Ronan is no stranger to the sport of bodybuilding as he has won many titles. He was a bodybuilding champion at the early age of 17, winning teenage titles here in Ireland and also as far away as the USA.He is a man that loves the sport putting many hours into his training and diet but he is enjoying every minute of the sport that has literally been a very big part of him for many years.Ronan has had his eyes on this contest for quite a while now.And is very confident that the hard work is done after putting in lots of preparation for the event over the last few weeks. Said Ronan: “I want to thank all my friends and family for all the support they have given me over the years.“They been there through thick and thin for me.” RONAN PUTS HIS BODY ON THE LINE FOR HIS SPORT! was last modified: May 11th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:body builderRonan Dohertylast_img read more

SOCCER STAR SEAMUS CELEBRATES NEW YEAR BY POPPING THE QUESTION!

first_imgSoccer star Seamus Coleman is celebrating the New Year early after proposing to childhood sweetheart Rachel Cunningham.Seamus Coleman and Rachel Cunningham have announced their engagement.The Republic of Ireland and Everton player asked Rachel to marry him earlier today.The couple have been dating for nine years. Rachel, who is also from Killybegs, told her friends her wonderful news on twitter.And Rachel, who studied at Dublin City University, said she just couldn’t stop crying when Seamus, 25, popped the question.She tweeted “Special news..Seamie jst proposed to me after 9 years. Cant believe it in so much shock and can’t stop crying! Happiest girl in the world x.”Friends of Rachel and Seamus have been flooding their social media pages with messages of congratulations. Seamus has been on fire for his club Everton scoring five goals already this season.He is already the subject of lots of speculation linking him to his former manager David Moyes at Manchester United. SOCCER STAR SEAMUS CELEBRATES NEW YEAR BY POPPING THE QUESTION! was last modified: December 30th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:engagementevertonKillybegsRachel Cunninghamseamus colemanlast_img read more

DONE DEAL! Swansea City sign Eidur Gudjohnsen’s half-brother

first_imgSwansea have signed 16-year-old Arnor Gudjohnsen, half-brother of former Chelsea and Barcelona forward Eidur Gudjohnsen.The teenager arrives from Breidablik in the Iceland Premier League on a three-year deal and will go into the Swans’ Under-18 squad for the 2017/18 campaign.Gudjohnsen, son of former Iceland international Arnor snr, told the club’s official website: “It’s great to be here. I am looking forward to the challenge and I am excited to get started.“I want to progress myself on and off the pitch while I am here and develop myself for first-team football.“My dad and brother have helped me a lot throughout my career. They have given me good advice over the years.” 1 Paul Clement (pictured) could call upon Arnor Gudjohnsen next season last_img read more