March 8, 2014 By
March 8, 2014 By
How can a nation, deprived of food, man’s basic necessity
Be expected to produce in the name of a recovery
Wasn’t this the ruling policy that triggered a mass migration When people scattered, escaping slavery and starvation
The Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) or Empty Rice Pot
It took brains and sheer guts to survive, I never forgot
People who stayed had no choice, either Produce or Perish
To have a friend or family overseas was everybody’s wish.
It was a time when any kind of food was in high demand
Thus giving rise to the lucrative business, contraband
Because of the very high volume of business, traders got rich
Despite the fact that many times the goods they had to ditch.
All kinds of wheat were banned, including Champion and Robin Hood
The Cabaca said they had too many chemicals and were no good
He said to cut cane your supply of energy and will power
Could be had from 79 or Starbonnet White Rice Flour.
The Agri man agreed and said a very rich source of Vitamin E
Was from sunlight or young and tender eddo leaf bagee
His henchmen swore on their grandmas saying that lime leaf tea Had all the vitamins: A B, C D, E, F and G.
Me, I forgot the taste of real good ground coffee
I had been drinking too much recycled green tea
(To recycle tea, you must first boil it a little
Squeeze it and then dry it til it gets back brittle).
My wife threatened that for the kids contraband I had to seek
That quest sent me navigating the foreshores of Crabwood Creek
I saw men literally run through bush and mud with bags on the heads Because if caught the empty jail cells they would have fed
What about the blade of grass thing and the Venezuelan border? Our soldiers were stationed there to maintain law and order
But when attacked, to the Venezuelans they surrendered all ammunition
In exchange for cigarettes, aloo, butter, mackerel and onion.
And what about using a rolling pin to flatten a tube of toothpaste
Or cut it open and scoop out everything not a drop to waste?
Yo! Its thirty years since I have left that country
And, despite everything, that bloody habit is still in me.
Recall the Knowledge Sharing Institutes, libraries they should have been
They were the main grocery stores selling from sardine to kerosene Many times I joined their lines unaware of what was selling
Maybe some salt, soap, a loaf of bread to buy I was hoping.
Many times I lined up for hours to reach the counter place “Sorry, Mister, everything done,” you’re told straight in the face
But stay a little, and what couldn’t escape your observation
Were the ladies leaving with bags and bags of ration.
But the ERP brought out from within us the best of creativity
I mastered the art of making ochro fried rice and kareela curry
And people wanted to know how I did cook rice flour chowmein
Five pounds of it with bora, ripe plantain and one pound of chicken.
Under the ERP, not only humans suffered, animals also had to perish
My cat used to wade in the muddy drains looking for eel and fish
The poor dogs used to climb sucker trees for a half ripe banana
Or sometimes comb the farm for fallen mango or a rotten guava.
It was real bad and some got through well because they were smart They didn’t care if it wasn’t time for them and their children to part
The ERP was the force that drove parents to the contraband area
To look for a savior in the form of a son-in-law or daughter-in-law.
March 8, 2014 By
I am thrilled for our children. Why? It is that the Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket Programme is now back on the scene, after a two year no-show. I was lucky to run into a couple of the children who had a taste of this already, and they were so happy.
Already I am thinking of the dual benefit of this competition. First, the Health Ministry is all for promoting a healthy life style for the children. We are being drowned with all kinds of fast food and the school yard snacking is not to quite what we want to promote.
A big part of being healthy is all about diet. So when the children will be involved in competitive cricket, quite naturally the issue of eating right will come up.
Let me make a note here, regarding the role of a good diet and actual mental sharpness of students. Eating the right types of foods helps boost brain power.
This is common knowledge and where students are involved in sports, right eating naturally comes to the fore. Their masters make a big fuss out of this.
This boosting of mental powers is also related to playing. Research shows us clearly that play supports early brain development in very impressive ways. Through play, children learn about the world around them.
They also end up learning to develop ways to make sense of their world, and even learn the words used in different parts of life. In terms of actual sporting competition, children reflect the behaviours that they see modelled elsewhere.
So we really cannot lose when we get our children totally immersed in some kind of sporting activity.
Over 2400 students are expected to participate in the Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket preliminary and county festivals, while more than 4000 students will be involved in the coaching education programme. We cannot go wrong with this.
It could be that this may be the route to curbing some of the school violence we have been experiencing recently. I am happy for our children and my hope is that we will have more entities thinking along this line.
March 8, 2014 By
Because I make a yearly trip to this country I may be in a better position than most Guyanese to look at what is going on in our society and make an objective evaluation.
On this occasion, I believe that I have encountered an environment that seems to have forgotten to some extent the cultural and religious values with which we Guyanese have been traditionally nurtured. I was pleasantly surprised by all the new buildings, domestic and business, that have been constructed since I was here last, and the apparent larger spending power of people generally.
However, below this superficial progress, I have observed that Guyanese have become absorbed in the rat race which is so manifest in the metropolitan countries, and this does not bode well for the development of principled living in our society, and the peace and harmony which we all desire for the future of our nation.
It is understandable that people are striving to achieve a good standard of living, and the happiness and significance that this can bring. That is normal, but it seems that they are being duped to believe that material progress will satisfy these needs and forget that this can only be temporary, and not really fulfilling their human aspirations in a real and permanent manner.
This not only drives them to use up their physical and mental resources towards acquiring more and more possessions, but they would also be tempted to neglect the urgings of their conscience to act morally to achieve this result. This tendency to want to “keep up with the Joneses” can only result in fractured relationships, a materialistic outlook in life and violations of moral and civic laws.
Standard of living must be measured in more than one dimension, and the way we live out the values which we have inherited, and which really contribute to our well-being, must figure in this assessment.
May we use the spirit of this season of Lent to undertake some amount of sacrifice which can empower us to recapture the essence of the principles and values we need for real and lasting progress, re-inculcate these in our lives, and so win the race to an ethical way of life that really matters.
March 8, 2014 By
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is aghast that Lincoln Lewis, on behalf of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), would denounce the National Assembly which unanimously voted to restore the subvention to the Critchlow Labour College (CLC), once the GTUC amended the labour component on its board to have an equal number of representatives from the two umbrella labour organisations – the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) and GTUC.
For the past six years there have been calls from many quarters, especially the political opposition and anti-government public figures, to restore the subvention which government had suspended, citing that there must be accountability and democratic governance within the CLC.
The rejection by the GTUC of the National Assembly’s unanimous motion is a clear indication that all the hullabaloo they made about the restoration of the subvention, had nothing to do about money and the students, but was merely about politics.
The GTUC leadership has stood steadfast that it would prefer to “rule over ruin”, a sick philosophy of many in the People’s National Congress (PNC), rather than come to a consensus that would be in the interest of all stakeholders of the CLC and the national labour movement as a whole.
Recently, in the National Assembly, there was that consensus – every one of the Members of Parliament registered their vote for reform in the governance of the CLC, by ensuring that the collective voice of the organised labour movement is represented on its board.
The swift and complete rejection by the GTUC is not only a slap in the face of the Alliance For Change (AFC) which brought the motion and the amendment, but it also reflects on the labour aristocracy which has hijacked the CLC.
A dictatorship that is not intent on managing the CLC for the development of our youth and the unity of the labour movement, but to achieve the objective of making the PPP/C government look bad. It is this dictatorship that is hurting the CLC and preventing the unification of the labour movement.
Labour Minister, Dr Nanda Gopual, in his contribution to the debate, said that it is inconceivable that one of the smallest unions in the country, with under 200 out of an organised labour population of 50,000, could hold the Presidency and General Secretary positions of the GTUC and for so long. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) in all of its conventions and policy statements speaks to the state and stakeholders consulting with the “the most representative organisations of labour”. The GTUC, and certainly the composition of the board of the CLC cannot and does not, pass this litmus test of the ILO.
At least two former CLC principals, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine and the late Godwin McPherson, wanted to ensure that the CLC would revert to being an institution of education rather than a vehicle of politics. Dr Roopnaraine, who is also Deputy Leader of APNU, in his contribution to the motion, acknowledged that there was need for the broadening of the labour representative on the CLC board.
Dr Roopnaraine, who spoke his heart that night, had worked hard toward bringing the financial records of the CLC up to date and to deal with the accountability aspects of the CLC. He was at that time providing for the requirements which were asked of the CLC by Education Minister Priya Manickchand.
This angered the GTUC dictatorship, who began to put pressure on him, and even threatened to fire him, causing him to quit in disgust, saying that the CLC was being run like a “cake-shop”. McPherson, for all his efforts to put education first and politics behind, was padlocked out of his office when he was Principal.
It is this bitterness and stubbornness of the GTUC dictatorship that is now turned on the National Assembly. The PPP/C notes that both the GTUC leadership has now zeroed in on the character assassination of Dr Roopnaraine and Dr Gopaul. True to form, the leadership of the GTUC would oppose all initiatives to bring democratic governance to the CLC.
The PPP/C, a party of workers, feels vindicated that it has all along correctly spoken about the leadership of the GTUC’s efforts to keep out democratic governance from being the norm. This has been the plague of the GTUC since the days of the PNC dictatorship, when at one time even two ministers of the PNC regime sat on the GTUC Executive – another element which is against all of the ILO conventions.
This refusal to bring democratisation to the GTUC has also been the cause of the split in the labour movement and the formation of the FITUG. Last week’s unanimity in the passage of the motion in Parliament was a rare show of consensus where the CLC was concerned. However, these hopes are once again being dashed by the minority that calls itself the GTUC.
Public Relations Unit
March 8, 2014 By
Does anyone really believe Eusi Kwayana actually wants an answer when he inquires:
“Will someone say whether the MPs know that at the last general elections, the President’s party polled under 50 per cent of the votes, won under 50 per cent of the seats and yet appointed 100 per cent of the ministers from his own narrowly defeated party? And does anyone believe that all the present (sic) unfairness and (sic) abuse of power and discrimination could be possible with a mixed Cabinet?”
What’s brewing? Could the recent poke at the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) by the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), via Dr Clive Thomas, for its failure to pass the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) Amendment Bill be revealing confirmation that their “brother” Dr Rupert Roopnaraine will soon transform from their agarbatii incense stick into a mosquito destroyer still smoking?
Can anyone recognise any mischief afoot to inject confusion or will we genuinely find some crossing the floor changes? No doggie has been able to catch its tail even if its spinning velocity is given more gas but they are welcome to try. “The eye sees not itself but by reflection,” says (Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar).
To let Kwayana imbibe his own words, as a late blooming constitutional expert to comprehend the legalities by Guyana’s democracy is governed. It was Kwayana who himself wrote: “The PPP has a lawful minority President because of the 1980 Constitution (which) they had no part in making…. But the same constitution has a balance, whether some want to accept it or not, to the minority Presidency. It is the power of the same President to restore balance.”
Has anyone now in the WPA, Alliance for Change (AFC) or APNU even the Buxton saga ever consistently advocated the racial balancing of the armed forces and civil service all exclusively funded by taxpayers as their official policy?
Both President Donald Ramotar and the Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee are certainly also under eyewitness scrutiny regarding the finality of the racial balance of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.
Such type of balance or equality does not concern Kwayana or the AFC which was to make the biggest difference. “The fault lies not in our stars but ourselves that we are underlings” makes Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar such an excellent Guyanese prophet.
In his legendary rush to defend kith and kin, Kwayana’s excoriates both sides of the National Assembly for requirement of Federation of Independent Trade Unions in Guyana (FITUG) board membership at the Critichlow Labour College (CLC) in return for taxpayer funding.
He writes: “I don’t excuse whatever faults the unions have. But it seems quite easy to reach a consensus to bully the unions.” Yeah right! Nice try. It would seem Kwayana arrogantly feels he is anointed with Papal power to excuse or ratify sins and faults like the Catholic Church selling of indulgences.
With his extraordinary cunning method of madness, how quickly
Kwayana changes his camouflage to swiftly lambast the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government and dagger APNU, whom he is behind.
In the initial termination of taxpayers funding for CLC, Kwayana charges: “The denial was a selfish, heartless act and a breach of what Parliament, that is the National Assembly and the President, had approved in the Appropriations Act.”
Furthermore, he rails how now, without hearing the affected trade union body, the National Assembly has imposed a condition larded with phrases of reconciliation and labour unity. Why does Kwayana find it so repulsive even when the combined National Assembly makes a tiny step to advance anything to do with reconciliation and unity?
As if the current political gridlock is not stultifying enough, Kwayana prefers moving it up by his agenda into the cabinet to be hidden from public eyes. With the Trojan horse safely within, Kwayana would like us to believe he will permanently have sailed away to imperialist America.
Kwayana’s Brer Anancy-like efforts to get political power has reenergised his expired relevance of doom division and disaster of which he is an accomplished expert. He knows enough but fails to fully comprehend even as he admits: “I know that my letter writing watchmen will be answering this letter and especially the rest of it.”
Educated in the last century he has bravely adjusted to the reality that the members of the National Assembly can all count, one, two, three. Most of them have calculators, an educational aid unknown in his time.
For those in the opposition promising they will dish out lavish goodies when in government control of the country’s treasury they must really be delusional to believe by illegal reductions (count one, two, three now) they can, like Jesus Christ, feed more than a multitude of both believers and unbelievers with fewer loaves and nonhalal fishes. If less is more, shouldn’t it apply to the Cabinet as well?
Such Kwayana-type recalibrations to piggyback onto others to achieve his kind of equality involves imposing guilt, entitlement, division, abuse, and traditionally always demanding a change of the rules in the middle of the contest.
The PPP was split in 1955, the electoral system was changed in 1964 from first past the post to proportional representation. Overseas and proxy voting became the norm in 1968, rigging elections, changing the constitution in 1980 and forcing Guyana’s best brains to leave has all been done.
In 1964, when the PPP got the largest amount of votes and with the imposition of proportional representation which allowed the PNC-United Force (UF) coalition to become the new government, could Kwayana explain what prevented him from advocating the inclusion of that party in a national front government or equality only matters when it serves his permanent interests?
Has Guyana’s political mess been cleaned up by their solutions? Kwayana last demanded a fixed permanent election date on the calendar a la the U.S. No Commonwealth country has such a feature, but these demands by “any means necessary” are all designed to destroy the PPP/C and their supporters.
It’s either his way or the highway to extinction. Federalism can make a difference to ensure the permanent distribution of political power.
March 7, 2014 By
This February, the Akwaaba Centre of the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA) was the hive of cultural and economic activity for the celebration of African History Month. Three main activities attracted hundreds of schoolchildren, young adults and senior citizens to the centre.
The first and busiest activity was the brainchild of Violet Jean-Baptise, Aisha Jean-Baptiste, Clementine Marshall and Shamane Headley. It was ACDA’s first month long cultural exhibition.
Entitled “Sankofa”, 21 schools and seven groups from Georgetown, Berbice and Essequibo visited the exhibition. They were all treated to an emotional and educational experience, comprising a lecture, guided tour, video and storytelling. Individuals ranging in ages from six to 72 attended the event. Photographs, sculptures, artefacts, books, cloth and wooden carvings were on display.
The Museum of African Heritage provided the Guyanese history context by providing pictures and banners from slavery and the 1763 Slave Rebellion. This included a very detailed miniature sculpture of the 1763 Monument by the late icon Philip Moore. In two months, ACDA will repeat this month long exhibition format, under the theme, “Africans in Science”.
The second event for African History Month was a very successful youth entrepreneurship conference, entitled “Creating and Sustaining Generational Wealth”.
Eighty young adults from the Pan African Organisation (Guyana branch), the African Cultural and Educational Association of Essequibo (ACEA), Youth Vision of Linden, the Festival City Youth Organisation, the Sea View Cultural Group of West Berbice, ACDA, the University of Guyana (UG) and the general public were in attendance.
This one-day event, which was created to honour the 100th Anniversary of the establishment by Marcus Garvey of the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the 175th Anniversary of the Village Movement (Victoria in November 1839), was supported by Ambassador Robert Kopecky of the European Union (EU), who spoke on programmes available to Guyanese from the EU.
Other speakers included Audrey Gomes of the Small Business Bureau of the Trade and Tourism Ministry, Kevin Bonnett of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Hubert Forrester of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Craig of the Partners of the Americas, K Chattergoon of the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED), and Michelle Hennery of the Guyana Youth Business Trust.
ACDA would like to acknowledge Terrence Campbell (CAMEX Inc), Derrick Cummings (SBB), Glenyss Adams-James (Commonwealth Youth Secretariat), Dr James Rose (Director of Culture), Robert Persaud (Natural Resources Minister), Violet Jean-Baptiste (ACDA) and Nigel Johnson (Nigel’s Supermarket) for their financial assistance for this endeavour. This will be an annual event every African History Month.
The third major activity in ACDA for African History Month was the visiting of schools to assist them in their own activities. ACDA visited the Berbice Multilateral School in New Amsterdam and participated in the very colourful North Georgetown Secondary School sixth annual Culture Day.
Apart from this, ACDA visited the St John’s Golden Jubilee Club, comprising seniors at their request, and later hosted them at the Akwaaba Centre for a lecture tour. These 16 women are all above 65 years of age and meet every Wednesday to keep each other’s company in well-structured activities.
March 7, 2014 By
The event came and went as though it never occurred. I am talking here about the University of Guyana (UG) Annual Career/Open Day Fair. It had a good theme: “Honouring the past, moulding the present, and transforming the future”.
However, the whole thing was trivialised and not well promoted, and as expected, the consequence was that it was not well supported.
If our UG is to be true to the fact that it is the premiere academic body in this land, then certain things must follow. The event is annual and so it should really be built up. The organisers should have utilised skills and experience from its publicity department.
They could have joined with communication students and gone to the various media outlets and apprised the public of what was in store. I saw neither banners nor posters on our roads or sea wall. I am very disappointed with what transpired.
I remind readers that the university was founded some 50 years ago, having as its major goal the preparation of the best and brightest minds among our people. The big cry in today’s world is the lack in human resources.
In this regard, I want to know why no one is screening potential students and advising them on areas of studies. It is always so predictable that we turn out so many people from the areas of social science, namely social work and sociology. How about gearing more people for science, mathematics, literature and language studies and careers? We do have great demands in these areas.
Right now a lot of sprucing up is done and this means money. I do emphasise here that a good building and up-to-date facility are not what universities are about. Yes, the physical infrastructure should be there, but it is the variety and quality of the student body that will ultimately matter.
I am hoping to be informed more about UG – a regular publication, spaces in the print media and special programmes on television and radio. These kinds of things will tell me that we are making progress and are an excited group of people. They will also whet the appetite of the high school students across Guyana.
Name withheld by request
March 7, 2014 By
A quick glance around the city of Georgetown for which Mayor Hamilton Green and the City Council have responsibility could only lead us to deduce that they have no plans for improving the conditions under which the citizen of Georgetown live. In such cases, the budget is merely an exercise of adhocracy.
Our government recognised this laxity on the part of the City Council many years ago. That is why, notwithstanding the fact that the existing legislation allows the council to prepare and approve its own annual estimates, government has sought through the Local Government and Regional Development Ministry to ensure that annual budget estimate of the council emanates out of a process of consultation with residents.
Government also wants to ensure that this focuses inter alia on providing core services, such as proper drainage, efficient solid waste management, vending in markets and market tarmac under good sanitary conditions, and removal of thick vegetation, ensuring that the incidents of breeches of building codes are addressed.
In addition, we have sought to work with the council to get the body to address the inadequacies and inefficiencies highlighted in the Keith Burrows’s report. These include issues of transparency of procurement, accountability, debt collection and management.
Quiet recently, more so since the appointment of Town Clerk Carol Sooba, the council has sought to distance itself from this transparent arrangement that is aimed at assisting the council to do what is right for the citizens of Georgetown and by extension Guyana.
I wish to highlight several of the inadequacies which the ministry has discerned from a close examination of the council’s 2014 budget proposals.
The council in its 2014 budget proposal plans to expend $2.302 billion dollars out of anticipated revenue inflow of $2.505 billion revenue. In other words, the council plans to spend almost 250 million dollars more than what it plans to receive.
There is no explanation as to how the council will finance this deficit. The ministry, after carefully examining the budget, has noticed that employment cost and employment overheads stand at 56 per cent of total anticipated inflow, and a mere 28 per cent of this inflow is set aside for capital works.
Overtime continues to be high in the budget and the budgeted staff strength, which in the Ministry’s 2013 review was already high, increased by four per cent for 2014. That means the council plans to add more numbers to the already underutilised staff. Provisions are also made in the budget for increases for the council’s stipend and allowances, as well as gratuity for a poor performing council. This is unheard of.
In short, the council plans to spend almost 70 per cent of rates and taxes for 2014 on themselves and staff, with a current liability of $1.3 billion dollars, including debts to the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), National Insurance Scheme (NIS), and Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Public Relations Unit
March 7, 2014 By