March 10, 2014 By
March 10, 2014 By
Several bills including one to radically revamp the education sector are currently in draft format before Cabinet for review, Presidential Adviser on Governance, Gail Texeira said.
According to Teixeira, the bills in varying stages of draft are expected to be tabled before the National Assembly in the near future. These include the highly anticipated Education Bill.
Teixeira, who was speaking to media operatives at last Friday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, noted that the other bills include the Solid Waste Management Bill and the Hire Purchase Bill.
Speaking with Guyana Times, Education Minister Priya Manickchand noted that the education legislation when comes it into force will repeal the current Education Act and allow the Education Ministry to adopt a more modern and hands-on approach to various issues impacting the education sector.
The Bill, among other things, seeks to address issues such as private schools licensing, requirements for persons to be employed as a teacher and students admission age at the nursery level.
She noted too that the current Education Act does not have much regulation as it relates to private schools. She noted that there are clauses in the Bill that will stipulate how private schools should function and be managed.
The Minister also related that the Bill will address the highly contentious issue of corporal punishment. The Bill was drafted after extensive stakeholder consultations countrywide.
The Minister added that the regulations governing the Bill are expected to be tabled at the same time.
As it relates to the equally anticipated Hire Purchase Bill, earlier this year, acting Tourism Minister Irfaan Ali had said when this legislation comes into force, consumers will no longer be at the mercy of hire purchase schemes, noting that the current system that prevails is disadvantageous to consumers.
“We are working on having the hire purchase legislation laid in Parliament before the recess,” he said, adding: “I know we have been having a lot of problems with the repossession in the automobile industry and now also with the gold miners… we have persons paying as much as 80 per cent and just because of the remainder not being paid, they lose the items and the money they would have already paid.”
This, he explained is a grave disadvantage to consumers.
Ali also added that the bill is not only being drafted with the protection of the consumer in mind, but also that of the companies which offer hire purchase plans to consumers. As it stands right now, consumers who would have failed to complete payments on items bought on hire purchase would have their items repossessed by the stores. This would be done even though the consumers have paid a large part of the total amount of monies owed for the item. Ali further stated that the Bill is not only being drafted with the protection of the consumer in mind, but also that of the companies which offer hire purchase plans.
With regards to the Solid Waste Management Bill, acting Local Government and Regional Development Minister Norman Whittaker early last month said government is very close to tabling the Bill in the National Assembly.
The Finance Minister was asked to have a second look at the section of the bill that deals with the issue of financial arrangement.
The Solid Waste Management Bill seeks to, among other things, bring order to the way in which solid waste is managed, primarily by the way of a Solid Waste Management Authority.
March 10, 2014 By
Scores of rice farmers on the Essequibo Coast last Friday staged a peaceful protest against low paddy prices and the chronic delays in payment for their products.
Farmers milled around the Anna Regina High Bridge armed themselves with placards, chanting “we want more price for paddy this crop, we want we money now.”
The protest organised by the Essequibo Paddy Farmers Association (EPFA) commenced at 10:00h. The placards had various messages such as: “If paddy price remain $3000 per bag, no paddy to Venezuela”, “We have no confidence in RPA in EBO”, “Essequibo paddy farmers wake up RPA from their sleeping slumber”, “Farmers will continue to protest until demands are met”, “Is there any Agriculture Minister representing Essequibo farmers?”.
Speaking on behalf of the farmers, Alliance For Change (AFC) Councillor Naitram, said the protest will continue until the farmers’ demands are met.
Naitram, who is the chairman of the Essequibo farmer’s group, said a request was made one year ago for the farmers’ group to meet with President Donald Ramotar and Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, and to date, a meeting cannot be organised.
Naitram said that there has been a significant decrease of $1000 for a bag of paddy as compared to the last crop. He is of the opinion that the rice industry is not being given the attention it deserves. The chairman of the group also explained that some farmers are owed for approximately seven months and they need the money to keep their businesses afloat.
The AFC Councillor said farmers were promised assistance by the Agriculture Ministry during the paddy bug infestation period, but that has not been delivered.
Meanwhile, farmers who spoke with Guyana Times said the prices being offered are unacceptable and cannot support them financially. The farmers explained that $3000- $3500 cannot cover the crop expenses. Farmers said they are thankful that millers are accepting the paddies at their factories; however, the prices offered are unreasonable.
Bhimsain also known as “Cat Eye”, owner of five acres of rice lands, noted that the Agriculture Ministry is not representing rice farmers’ welfare. Another farmer, Jerry Sankar, also noted that the drop in paddy prices cannot pay, deeming it a disaster for those farmers who are renting rice lands.
He said when expenses are taken out, farmers are not left with any profit. Another farmer, Dinesh Deonarine from Richmond, said millers need to be reasonable with farmers when it comes to pricing.
Meanwhile, in addition to the low prices, farmers said the delay in payments, poor weight and measure and drainage and irrigation problems are factors hampering their business. Farmers are calling for a “bailout” in the same manner the government bails out the sugar industry. They are requesting a subsidy for fertilisers and fuel.
The decrease in prices offered by millers is said to be as a result of the low prices for rice in the European and Caribbean markets. Meanwhile, harvesting is in full swing and approximately 1500 acres have already been harvested.
The average yield per acre is 36.3 bags. Approximately, 37, 200 acres of rice is expected to be harvested and production is expected to surpass the target of one million bags of paddy.
March 10, 2014 By
Almost two weeks after Crime Chief Seelall Persaud said the police are on the lookout for two suspects linked to the gunning down of Eccles, East Bank Demerara money changer Bridgelall Persaud, there has been no new development.
With the evidence at their disposal, the police are still searching all corners for clues that will crack the case, but this is not likely anytime soon. A police rank said that while they are in possession of the descriptions of the alleged gunmen, locating them is another issue.
The police are reportedly looking for a “high complexion” man while the other might have been sporting dreadlocks. According to reports, the armed men disembarked a white motor car which was reportedly trailing the businessman.
These men might have already absconded to the interior or even out of the country, the official stated. Bridgelall’s death is being treated as a robbery/murder, but relatives and close friends think otherwise.
Darren Persaud, a son of the dead man, said his father was the pillar of his family and with his loss; it has left a void that cannot be filled.
He said the police remain tight-lipped with respect to investigations, while noting that the car in which his father was executed was handed over to the family.
Persaud added that his family is coping with his father’s death and much emphasis is being placed on his younger siblings. The 42-year-old businessman was gunned down in the vicinity of the lumber yard, and the gunmen escaped with a bag containing $1 million.
According to information received, the man was in his blue Toyota Raum, and as he approached the truck park at Lombard Street, two men armed with handguns exited a white car that was parked some distance away, walked up to his vehicle and opened fire. He was shot once in the head and once in the abdomen.
At the time of the shooting, traffic was moving at a snail’s pace due to the frequent congestion in the area. After shooting the businessman, one of the robbers reportedly reached into his car and removed the bag containing the money.
They then made good their escape in a waiting vehicle which went through a cross street, then into Princes Street and vanished. The businessman was rushed to the Georgetown Pubic Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The businessman was operating in the vicinity of America and Water Streets for the past 20 years. Pathologist, Dr Vivekanand Brijmohan has confirmed that the businessman was shot twice. Police are yet to say what type of weapon was used in the shooting since ballistic tests are still to be conducted on the two warheads recovered at the scene.
March 10, 2014 By
Students from secondary and primary schools on the Essequibo Coast now have wider knowledge of Parliament and its various functions after selected Members of Parliament (MPs) conducted an outreach in the area last Friday.
The legislators were involved in an interactive session with the students at the Anna Regina Multilateral Secondary School. Speaking to students, People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) MP Dharamkumar Seeraj said it is the desire of Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman to inform students about the work of the National Assembly.
Seeraj said the aim of the outreach is to bring Parliament to young people. During the interactive sessions with students, Seeraj told them about the various roles of Parliament. A dramatic play on what usually takes place in Parliament was done.
Another Region Two PPP/C MP Alli Baksh informed the students about the Mace, Constitution and Standing Orders.
Baksh told the students that whatever they may want to become in the future, to set their goals and work towards achieving them. He said education is better than silver and gold and they should make the most out of it.
Interactive sessions were done at the Taymonth Manor and CV Nunes primary schools and the Cotton Field and Abram Zuil secondary schools.
Similar outreaches were conducted in Regions Four, Eight and 10. Attending the outreach were Regional Education Officer Baramdai Seepersaud, District Education Officer (Nursery) Shondele Hercules, and PPP/C MP Cornel Damon.
March 10, 2014 By
The Culture, Youth and Sport Ministry will be looking at changing the Mashramani parade route to accommodate the growing number of spectators, subject Minister, Dr Frank Anthony said.
The parade usually starts at Camp and Church streets (heading east), north into Irving Street, then into Dr JB Latchmansingh Road, proceeding west into Thomas Road, culminating at the National Park.
“The crowd did not disappoint us this year, some would say it was over 9000 people, and we need to seriously contemplate to change the route of the parade,” Minister Anthony said during the annual Mashramani awards ceremony, to culminate the month of activities in observance of Guyana’s 44th Republic Anniversary.
Speaking at the prize- giving event at the Umana Yana, Kingston, Georgetown on Friday evening, Minister Anthony expressed gratitude to all who played a role in making the celebration a success, especially the corporate sponsors.
Dr Anthony pointed out that a lot of work was put into the celebration, noting that the calypso, soca and chutney monarch, and steel band competitions would have created an opportunity for persons to experience the creativity of Guyanese music.
The magnificent children’s parade and many other activities for children, Minister Anthony said were very successful. He said, he was impressed with the level of creativity shown at the children’s parade, contending that it is now rivalling the adult parade in terms of creativity and colours.
Another special feature was the street fair; there were also the child art and essay competitions which saw great participation.
The Republic Lecture Series and the exhibitions at the National Museum and Castellani House were also well received by the public.
Minister Anthony disclosed that for the 45th anniversary, the Mash Committee will be looking at ways to make the festival grander, and will be hosting stakeholders’ consultation and engaging the public on their views on how the route of the parade can facilitate the growing number of spectators.
At the prize-giving ceremony, awards were distributed to competitors in the children’s, chutney, masquerade, bright up Guyana, steel band, child art and essay, calypso, Carib Soca Monarch, costume and float parade competitions, and other special awards.
Shontelle Gittens won the Junior Calypso Monarch, while in the senior category, Lester “De Professor” Charles, copped the prize, followed by Roger Hinds in second and Kenroy “Mighty Believer” Fraser in third spot.
Pooran Seeraj, Fiona Singh and Roger Hinds secured first, second and third place respectively in the Chutney Soca Monarch, while for the Carib Soca Monarch, Kawasi Edmonson was placed first; Jumo Primo, second; Orlando Johashen, third; and Jonathan King, fourth.
Digicel Guyana and the Culture, Youth and Sport Ministry received prizes for gaining first and second in the Large Band Full Costume category. In the medium group, the Tourism Ministry was placed first, followed by the Labour and Amerindian Affairs Ministries at second and third place respectively.
Small Full Costume category
In the Small Full Costume category, the Education Ministry, GT Recyclers and the Local Government and Regional Development Ministry secured the top spots.
In the Semi-Costume category, the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) received the first prize, followed by the Federation of the Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) in second, while in the Medium category, Digicel brought first, while Region Five and the Health Ministry tied for second.
The Amerindian Affairs Ministry was awarded the King and Queen Costumes, while Digicel Guyana got the male individual costume and the Tourism Ministry, the female individual costume.
The Culture Ministry also received the prize for topping the Non-Commercial Float category. Designer Olympia Small-Sonaram once again won the Designer of the Year Award, for the fifth consecutive year, while Melissa “Vanilla” Roberts was named Road March Queen.
March 10, 2014 By
Scores of Essequibians are calling for a snap election if the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) (AML/CFT) Bill is not passed by the opposition in Parliament.
The calls were made at a public forum held at the Anna Regina Town Council on Friday. Persons from both public and private entities voiced their opinions on the Bill, and said the opposition is using its one-seat majority in Parliament to slow down development in Guyana. Essequibians who attended the forum said they believe the delay in the passing of the Bill will significantly affect Guyana’s economy. As such, many suggested a snap election. Others called for picketing exercises against the opposition to hasten the passing of the Bill, which will mean change for Guyana.
Speaking on behalf of women in Region Two was Juliet Coonjah, who said if the Bill was not passed, women in particular will suffer. Coonjah said most Guyanese depend on the extra money received from their families overseas to assist them and if the Bill is not passed, many persons will suffer. She stressed that the opposition should not bring politics into the passing of the Bill, but rather should think of Guyanese welfare.
Former PPP/C Member of Parliament Farouk Khan told the gathering that Guyana is advancing and if the Bill is not passed, it will send the country back into the “dark days”. Representing farmers from the Pomeroon was Vilma Da Silva, who also called for the passage of the Bill. She said many farmers in the Pomeroon are in the business of exporting and are earning money from overseas investments. She noted Guyana being blacklisted will hamper foreign investment.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh explained in detail the Bill and cautioned Essequibians of the consequences of not passing the legislation. The Minister said the opposition parties in Guyana continue to employ delaying tactics by proposing three amendments to the AML/CFT Bill that the National Assembly’s legal drafters had difficulty drafting. Government had proposed that the Bill be passed in its current form, and the opposition amendments be considered later.
The opposition refused to accommodate this suggestion and voted against proceeding with the clauses on which there is agreement and which would have addressed the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) recommendations.
Instead the opposition insisted that the committee be adjourned until the drafters could produce a draft of the Bill based on its instructions, thereby effectively making it impossible for the Bill to be passed by the recommended deadline.
This refusal by the opposition to proceed, Singh said, continues to frustrate passage of the Bill far beyond the deadline, thus jeopardising Guyana’s economy and bringing hardship to the Guyanese people.
The Finance Minister noted that money laundering is an issue that should be put above politics. “This Bill if it is not passed will not just affect PPP, it will affect Guyanese at large.”
Dr Singh said Essequibians has a voice and a duty to support the Bill. He urged the opposition councillors who were present at the meeting to advise their leaders about passing the Bill.
Examining the consequences for Guyana if the Bill is not passed in a timely manner, the Finance Minister said the country will be sanctioned.
He called on Essequibians to pause for a minute to think about the impact on the economy if the international banks refused to conduct business with Guyana. The CFATF blacklisting is already taking a toll on Guyana’s financial sector.
Speaking also to Essequibians on the bill was Minister within the Agriculture Ministry Alli Baksh. Baksh, who is in charge of the Region Two constituency, called on all Essequibians to support the Bill and to take time to reflect on how life was in Essequibo when the opposition was in government. Baksh, who is also a parliamentarian, explained the current situation in Parliament.
Another PPP/C Parliamentarian, Manzoor Nadir, who also addressed the meeting, called on Essequibians to rise up and spread the message about the Bill. Nadir said the opposition is pushing Guyana back to 30 years ago when the opposition was in government. Nadir said Guyana has gone a far way in all the sectors and will continue to prosper.
Minister within the Finance Ministry Juan Edghill also spoke at length about the Bill. Attending the public forum also were Region Two Chairman Parmanand Persaud and Regional Vice Chairman Vishnu Samaroo.
March 10, 2014 By
After alleged attacks on media operatives, the police have now turned their attention to a former beauty queen whom they reportedly assaulted while she was awaiting justice at the Providence Police Station.
Former Miss Guyana Universe contestant Ali Williams was on Saturday allegedly manhandled in front of her husband and children at the Providence Police Station. Williams queen is calling on the higher authorities to institute charges against an officer who she feels acted unprofessionally.
In a statement to the media, the Advertising and Marketing Executive said that while driving to work on Saturday morning, she was involved in a minor accident when another car crashed into hers, causing damage to the bumper. As such, she decided to visit the Providence Police Station with the intention of filing an official report which would ensure that the errant driver stands all expenses to repair her car.
After waiting for over 30 minutes for a police officer to take her report, Williams said she inquired what was holding back the process, but this spurred a reaction by the police officer who thought that she was not in authority to question their work.
The woman added that after some time, the report was eventually taken but upon completion, the policeman informed her that her vehicle had to be lodged at the police station for the night and demanded that she hand over the keys. Not too happy about the request, the woman began to question the reason for the police keeping her vehicle after she would have already filed a report and photographs of the damage could have been taken or provided.
Williams said she went into the station and was followed by “Officer Tracey”, who instructed her to sit on the bench and told her when she was ready to hand over the keys, she should inform him. She again refused to do such, telling him he needed to give an explanation for keeping her vehicle overnight. She then took out her mobile phone and contacted a family member relating her ordeal.
“Officer Tracey then grabbed me by my arm, pulled me up from the bench, dragging me more than 10 feet while wringing my hand to take away my personal phone, then chucking me to sit on the station bench like a common criminal in the presence of my two crying children,” she said in the statement.
Williams said she has since made a report to the higher authorities and requested that charges be instituted against the police rank. She also obtained a police medical certificate which stated that she had lacerations to her wrist and legs.
Williams said she will file an official complaint with the Police Complaints Authority and moreso, will seek an audience with the Police Commissioner and the Office of Professional Responsibility.
March 10, 2014 By
The Jewan Ka Nritya Dance Troupe of West Coast Demerara on Saturday danced its way to the top spot in the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha’s annual Folk Dance Festival held at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.
The dance troupe, which consisted of just over 20 talented dancers, thrilled the audience and the judges as they performed a masterpiece to retain the title for the second consecutive year.
Well decked out young men and woman portraying Hindu gods acted a script from the Mahabharata (holy Hindu text), wowing the audience with every step they took on stage.
It was a presentation that undoubtedly left the packed conference centre craving more. From Lord Krishna to Ram’s consort Sita, the setting created the right atmosphere to usher in Holi, which will be celebrated next Monday.
Tying for second position were the members of the West Demerara Dancing Delights and the Kanhaiya Dance Troupe from Essequibo. They also performed to the satisfaction of the crowd. Their presentations were very colourful and powdery, but it was worth the while.
The first prize was $50,000 plus a trophy while the second place winners received $35,000 each plus trophies. The trophies were donated by the Guyana Bank of Trade and Industry (GBTI) and Digicel.
The dance troupes that participated in the event were rewarded with trophies and monetary awards. These were the Central Corentyne Dance Troupe, the Indu’s Dance Works, the Neha Flix Dance Troupe out of West Berbice and the Saraswati Dance Troupe from Essequibo.
Members of the Neha Flix Dance Troupe had the audience cheering lustily as they perform an excellent routine, one that was led by a young man who definitely exposed his talent in the form of dance.
The night started with some spectacular singing from melody kings Jeffrey Iqbal and Purnash Durgaprasad.
Their smooth voices set the tone for a fabulous evening. Dishing out songs from the old to new, Iqbal, who is one of the judges for the E-Networks singing competition, showcased his talents.
These talented young men were backed by the E-Networks Orchestra which comprises musicians from India and Guyana.
Also singing at the event was Omesh Singh out of Canada, who stayed on stage for a short while, but he had his fans singing and cheering along. From famous Phagwah to filmi songs, he performed exceptionally well.
Rekha Singh, Sookrane Bookdhoo, Mona Gowkarran, Aarti Sookhai, Govinash and Arisha Pooran as well as two singers from the E-Networks singing competition also took the stage.
In addition, more than 30 dancers from the Sabha’s own Dharmic Nritya Sangh performed several breathtaking choreographies.
The bazaar also featured numerous food stalls that offered a variety of sumptuous dishes and sweets, mehndi booths, games for all as well as great shopping deals on everything from Indian clothes and jewellery to Phagwah supplies.
The occasion was attended by President Donald Ramotar and First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar, Cabinet ministers and other dignitaries.
March 10, 2014 By