December 5, 2013 By
December 5, 2013 By
– calls for revelation of findings
In one of his strongest repudiations of international reports, President Donald Ramotar has questioned the transparency and authenticity of the research of the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.
On Tuesday, TI reported that Guyana had scored 27 out of 100 points in its 2013 report, a decline of one point when compared to last year’s rankings. Since this revelation, the government refused to accept that the country’s situation is that poor and is challenging the findings.
The president on Wednesday requested the disclosure of the four surveys upon which the pronouncement was based, along with the sources used and the persons who worked on the report. He made this call while at the 124th Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Gala and Awards Ceremony.
According the president, he wants these revelations to be made since he has reservations about the authenticity of the findings. “(I want them) to give the associates who they spoke to, which target groups and what was the duration of the study that was done.”
“I have seen some of the local stars of Transparency International, who talked about conflict of interest in the delegation of the APNU meeting with diplomats and I know one of them, their son is a candidate member of one of the political parties but they lecture us about conflict of interest,” Ramotar stated.
He reminded that his government had introduced the public bidding tender system for contracts. “It is this government that every tender bid is opened publicly. Let us talk about transparency – the transformation made in this area is even as advanced as some developed countries of the world.” He went on to say that tenders are now opened before the media and even the award of contracts are announced publicly.
The president noted that persons are accusing the government of being corrupt, but failed to recognise the developments made. “No one is speaking about how much we have done in this area and how far we have gone… no one is saying that some of the very sources they used, the Auditor General’s report, was not sent from this country for a long time but it has been appearing every year since we have been in government and not only that, but added too is the fact that the Ministry of Finance issued a Treasury Memorandum in trying to deal with some of the problems we still have,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon on Wednesday said until the details and findings of the report are disclosed, he would not make a formal statement on the matter. However in a visceral response, he explained that the TI is “uncharitable” to the government.
“They failed to recognise the efforts that the government have been making over time, leaning backwards in addressing the issue of transparency and accountability,” he said, adding that they may have also “fallen prey” to the wickedness perpetrated by some of the media by making unsubstantiated claims about the government, corruption, and lack of accountability.
December 5, 2013 By
Guyana, one of the best-conserved high-biodiversity countries in the world, will advance in its efforts to implement its Low-Carbon Development Strategy with US$16.9 million in financing from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The financing is the first of two programmatic policy-based loans to support the creation of regulatory, institutional, and monitoring instruments to help Guyana implement its development plan and mainstream environmental issues into institutional strategies. Guyana has about 85 per cent of its territory covered by forest and wooded lands.
The IDB-project will support measures to update the country’s regulatory framework to maintain low rates of deforestation and forest degradation caused by mining, logging, and agriculture, as well as to improve the government’s institutional capacity to enforce legislation.
Moreover, the project will support measures to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, the main entity in charge of promoting and implementing the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). This project is designed to foster the creation of government systems to measure, report, and verify forest carbon emissions resulting from deforestation and forest degradation.
The IDB financing is made up of two loans of US$8.46 million each. The first loan comes from the IDB’s ordinary capital, with a 30-year maturity, and a 5.5-year grace period and a fixed interest rate (SCF-Fixed). The second loan comes from the bank’s Fund for Special Operations, with an interest rate of 0.25 per cent a year, and a 40-year maturity and grace period.
The IDB also approved this week a US$3.8 million non-reimbursable technical cooperation grant to Guyana to support measures to help the country establish an enabling framework and to build capacity for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+).
December 5, 2013 By
– urges probe into staff at national archive
The management of NEW GPC INC says it views with grave concern an article in Thursday’s edition of the Kaieteur News, headlined, “Dr Ramroop spies on Kaieteur News”.
In a statement on Thursday, the management of NEW GPC stated that the headline and story are misleading and are aimed at continuing the “witch-hunt and campaign of hatred against the business sector and, more particularly, the Executive Chairman of Queens Atlantic Investment Inc (QAII), Dr Ranjisinghi Ramroop”.
NEW GPC also believes that the Kaieteur News is on a mission to intimidate anyone who is perceived to be conducting investigative research on the newspaper’s owner and publisher Mohan “Glenn” Lall, “who has been named in U.S. cables as being involved in human smuggling and having “links” to the criminal underworld, which serves his “muckraking” media enterprise well.”
NEW GPC also condemns the actions of all those who clandestinely took photographs of its staff members who were conducting legitimate research in the archives. “NEW GPC has taken careful note of the article and knows that the photographs were taken by staff members of the Dr Walter Rodney Archive, Homestretch Avenue, Georgetown as a means of serving the intimidatory agenda of the Kaieteur News,” the company stated.
The company added that it has received information that the principals at Kaieteur News allegedly offered various forms of compensation, from as low as $2000, to anyone who would stoop to its level of hatred and vindictiveness directed at businesses which are simply outperforming the entities with which the owner and publisher of the newspaper is involved.
NEW GPC states that that any attempt to intimidate its employees will serve no purpose, as they remain committed to their assigned duties, notwithstanding the fact that one staff member in a sister company has resigned in “fear” of Lall, as stated in the employee’s own email to a member of the management team. The pharmaceutical company is also calling on Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony under whose portfolio the Dr Walter Rodney Archive falls, to immediately conduct an investigation into the operations of this entity.
December 5, 2013 By
At next sitting of House
– firearm bill to be piloted by attorney general
Government will be re-tabling the anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) and the firearms amendment bills, among several pieces of legislation voted down by the combined opposition when the House meets again next Thursday.
Speaking specifically on the AML/CFT bill at his weekly-post Cabinet briefing on Wednesday at the Office at the President, Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Georgetown, Cabinet Secretary, Dr Luncheon said the re-tabling of the bill is the only course open to government after the pronouncement by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) on November 21.
He told media operatives that government will not be daunted by the fact the bill was turned down twice by the parliamentary opposition, who had claimed that the amendments to the bill were incomplete.
“We are not going to let the spectrum of an unfavourable welcome prevent us from going back again… it doesn’t matter, we are going back to Parliament. If they say we got to put it on the roof, we are going to have to put it on the roof, if they say we got to put it down in the drain, we will put it down… We are interested in having that amendment bill enacted and I can safely say that whatever is presented to us in the context of its reintroduction are obviously interventions that we have to consider,” Dr Luncheon said.
Following the voting down of the anti-money laundering bill by the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) last month which caused Guyana to miss the CFATF deadline, the country was blacklisted.
However, Guyana was given until February next year to get its affairs in order and pass the bill as CFATF has warned its members against possible money laundering and financial terrorist risks here.
Meanwhile, the firearms amendment and evidence amendment bills initially presented by Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, but snubbed by the opposition, will also be re-tabled. The APNU and the AFC had indicated that they are not prepared to work with the home affairs minister.
Dr Luncheon said these bills will now be re-tabled by the attorney general.
The Cabinet secretary also disclosed that the government will be introducing new bills such as the Summary Jurisdiction Procedure Bill.
“Essentially that provides, you, errant traffic offenders, with the option of paying your fines in Georgetown regardless of wherever the offence for which fines were being levied occurred,” he explained.
Also engaging the House’s attention are the three financial papers and the accompanying appropriation bill. The first financial paper deals with constitutionally enabling the statement of excess provisions; the second paper looks at the Contingency Fund and the advances from that fund; while the third paper covers applications for provisions to meet expenditures for fiscal year 2013.
Meanwhile, there will be the second reading of the Procurement Amendment Bill, which allows government to retain involvement in the process of procuring goods and services.
Dr Luncheon also noted that government anticipates the sitting of the parliamentary select committee dealing with the two telecommunication bills, before the next holding of the National Assembly, to elect a chairperson.
December 5, 2013 By
BY MICHAEL YOUNGE
For an organisation that claims to want to shed light on public sectors, to make them more transparent, the local arm of Transparency International (TI), Transparency Institute Guyana Inc (TIGI) does not live up to its own standards.
The media has heard that the rankings are based on two things: information gathered in surveys and “expert” opinion from the likes of the World Economic Forum, Global Insight Country Risk Ratings and the World Bank.
The TIGI website unfortunately has very little information that is useful. Nowhere in their website do they have links to the source data and their surveys are unpublished. Is this the transparency they are talking about?
Many studies conducted have shown that the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is a flawed assessment. The World Bank, one of CPIs source materials, has even criticised the CPI as a method of ranking corruption, saying “changes in sample base and methodology have complicated year-to-year comparisons” while “survey respondents in different countries describe corruption in different terms”. The fact that the CPI is used to show progress in fighting corruption as well as compare it to the rest of the Caribbean is exactly how TIGI and critics of the government are using the CPI. It is used as a political tool to attack the government.
The World Bank report goes on to state that the methodology used by the CPI is also flawed. “There are two main problems: (1) Previous survey results have an impact on new survey results and (2) because indexes combine several measurements, it is difficult to set one number that accurately reflects a country’s level of corruption.”
The report goes on to state that a cyclic system easily develops where reports are based on a previous year’s report and actual efforts implemented to fight corruption are ignored.
The World Bank, however, is not the only critic of the CPI. Alex Cobham in an article for foreign policy stated that “The index corrupts perceptions to the extent that it’s hard to see a justification for its continuing publication.”
In his article, Cobham roundly criticises the CPI for using none evidence-based information to guess at what corruption exists. This has been an issue that even Transparency International has recognised. As an example of how skewed the CPI is, in 2010, the CPI ranked Brazil as 69th, however, that year’s Global Corruption Barometer showed that a larger percentage of Americans pay bribes than do Brazilians. The surprising thing is that the CPI and the barometer are both published by Transparency International. How is it that the reports cannot agree? Does this not ring an alarm?
What about the source data? For the CPI, Guyana only exists in four of the 13 source data used. The fact that countries are being compared to each other when less source material is available is ludicrous.
The data within those four data sources are also unreliable. For example, the World Economic Forum, one of the data set used, claims that Guyana has a better railway system than Serbia, a country with over 4000 km of railway lines. This incorrect data has been present in the World Economic Forum reports for many years now. This is a clear example of the cyclic issue that the World Bank warned about. This is an indication of the data used to measure corruption.
One of the saddest parts of the use of the CPI is donor countries’ attitude. Recently, the British high commissioner stated that the UK would pull funding from Guyana based on the “perception of corruption”. This is an incredibly grave statement that even TI warns against, stating that bad rankings should not incite punishment.
The World Bank also warns that “international donors use perception-based composite governance indicators to make decisions on vital investment and aid”. It goes on to state “that there is a bona fide risk that important decisions are being made on the basis of inaccurate measures”.
The media is faced with a tremendous task of analysing the CPI. However, most only use it as face value which causes the perception of corruption to rise again. If critical analysis to the methodology of the CPI is not undertaken by opinion makers, they will become complicit in doing more harm than good. It takes an extra amount of work, and journalists are under pressure to deliver. However, checking the source material is a foundation of good journalism.
December 5, 2013 By
Police ranks who failed to attend court to testify, as in the case of the Orange Walk shooting incident, which saw the shooter walking scotch free, should be disciplined, if not, face criminal charges.
These were the sentiments of Police Complaints Authority (PCA) Chairman, retired Justice Cecil Kennard on Wednesday during a telephone interview.
Justice Kennard said it is sad that despite the fact that sufficient evidence was gathered for the case, the police ranks did not show up in court.
“If it is a case where the police ranks all teamed up and decide not to give evidence in the case, then I think that they should be charged with conspiring to defeat the course of justice.” First, he said the police will have to determine if that was the case.
He added that this is one of the issues that have been hampering the judicial system over the years, but will take some time to correct unless something drastic happens.
The retired justice also highlighted that another sad affair was the missing footage of the shooting which was supposed to be presented in court.
Once there is no video evidence presented by the state and more so by the investigating officer, it is a clear indication that the entire proceeding was planned, he added.
However, Kennard explained that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would have had the evidence in her possession when she reviewed the case, and as such, should recommend that charges be reinstituted against the shooter Carlyle Barton.
However, there might not be anyone to read the charges to since the cricketer hurriedly left the country. He said that Barton was charged with an indictable matter whereby he was not required to plead, noting that the charges can be reinstituted.
Appeal the case
He encouraged the family to appeal the case and set up a meeting with the DPP if they are not satisfied with the outcome. His office, he added is always open to give advice, he said.
Kennard said that a life has been taken and justice must be served. He said, to date, no one from Nelson’s family has visited his office.
There were rumours that the cricketer would have paid a hefty some to “get off” and soon after it happened, he left the country.
Months after Barton was charged for the murder of Shawn “Red Man” Nelson on Orange Walk, Georgetown earlier this year, he was freed, owing to the absence of witnesses, among them police detectives.
Magistrate Fabayo Azore discharged the case at the preliminary inquiry (PI) stage, saying that a prima facie case was not made despite there being video evidence of the cricketer – Carlyle Barton – when he allegedly shot Nelson, with whom he had a long-standing friendship.
Lack of evidence
Magistrate Azore announced that she was forced to set him free, owing to the lack of evidence since the witnesses failed to show up.
Barton made his first court appearance on May 28 before Magistrate Sueanna Lovell and was not required to plead to the indictable charge, which stated that on May 27 at Orange Walk, he murdered Nelson.
The matter was then transferred to another court where the PI had commenced. As the PI continued, several prosecution witnesses did not show up to testify, which brought a halt to the proceedings and forced the case to be adjourned.
The entire shooting incident was captured on surveillance cameras and based on the evidence, the cricketer was charged with the man’s death. The surveillance recording that was uplifted from a nearby business was reportedly not presented in court.
On the day of the shooting incident, Nelson had left his D’Urban Street home and was walking to his Robb Street job when he was shot.
He was rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries the following day. After driving away from the scene, a panicked Barton crashed his car a number of times on his way home. Barton later surrendered to the police in the company of his lawyer.
December 3, 2013 By
– Kennard… says proposal should still be pursued
BY MICHAEL YOUNGE
Former Chancellor of the judiciary and sport administrator, Cecil Kennard said he would welcome any well thought out and structured attempts to create a Bourda sports academy and stadium at the facilities of the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) and the Georgetown Football Club (GFC), which will result in resounding benefits for Guyana.
Justice Kennard also sternly criticised sections of the media attempting to undermine the proposed investment by the NEW GPC INC/CPL OP CO in the venture. He said that were the proposal to be accepted by the membership of GCC/GFC, attempts would have to be made to have the investors reconsider their stance.
The comments were made in light of misinformation being carried by Kaieteur News about a proposal that would see some $US30 million injected into the construction of a world class stadium and sport academy at the venue.
Both sporting entities are currently struggling to keep their heads above water financially and administratively, as the entire infrastructure is in a state of decline and disrepair. Kennard is a long-standing member with more than 25 years to the GCC. He is also a member of the board of trustees.
He said that the idea of merging the two facilities and ground is not new and therefore he is not surprised that discussions about pursuing such a course are being given due consideration yet again. “I think this was being discussed prior to the World Cup in 2007 and talks were taking place between the GCC and GFC about a merger, but because the government had gone ahead with plans to establish a stadium at Providence, further discussion did not take place,” he noted.
He said there is need for new life to be pumped into the facilities that were owned by the GCC, explaining that space and other modern advancements must now be considered. Kennard said that he would have no objections to any proposal that would benefit the club and sports in general.
Must be condemned
Kennard, who is also president of the Kennard Memorial Turf Club, said he was shocked when he saw the Kaieteur News report that GCC was being sold. “I think any newspaper which is discouraging investors from coming into the country must be condemned. I was disturbed when Kaieteur News gave the impression that the club was being sold,” he said.
Justice Kennard, who is integrally involved in the affairs of the club, also said he immediately contacted club president, Dr Lionel Jaikaran to get assurance that the reports were false. “He said there was no suggestion about taking over the club, nor were there any discussions about selling the club. The investors were prepared to invest to improve the club,” Kennard reported Dr Jaikaran as saying.
Kennard explained that the club has a rich history which must remain intact as he reminisced on some of the “happiest memories” that he has of the entity. “But I will give 100 per cent to any investor – whether it be an individual or a company which is prepared to invest in the club.
The retired justice said that as far as he was aware, the annual general meeting of the club which was slated for Monday did not occur because of a lack of quorum. The issue, he suggested, would have been discussed and ventilated at that level to allow for scrutiny of the proposal.
“I am telling you that myself and another trustee Dunstan Barrow had a discussion last evening after the meeting was called off and if the membership of the club is giving the okay, we are prepared to have a meeting to see if this idea of having pulled out will be reconsidered,” Kennard said.
He said that he would urge the membership of the club to give serious consideration to the vision and spirit of the proposal, adding that proposals should be considered on the basis of their merit.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Times tried throughout Tuesday to get a comment from the president of the club about the scope of discussions with NEW GPC/CPL OP CO, but was unsuccessful.
December 3, 2013 By
The Rights of the Child Commission on Tuesday presented its 2011 annual report to the National Assembly, saying that it remained hamstrung by a lack of funds to carry out most of its programmes.
The constitutional body, however, praised the efforts of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which it said has assisted greatly in meeting the shortfall in cash as well as technical skills. The report was handed over to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman, at the Parliament Building before commissioners and other stakeholders.
Before handing over the report, commission chairperson Aleema Nasir disclosed that the commission had conducted several programmes and activities over the past year including: the completion of a national birth registration research and survey which allowed them to participate in the UN conference on Universal Birth Registration for Latin America and Caribbean; the signing of a birth registration declaration by 2015; the development and preparation of a five-year strategic plan, which commenced in 2011, and the successful conduct of the country’s first children’s Parliament consisting of students from secondary schools across Guyana.
Nasir noted that despite the constraints and challenges faced, the commission managed to satisfactorily complete its revised work programme, a consequence of limited funds allocated to the budget. Most of the commission’s work, she noted, was stalled because of inadequate monies; however, the government, who also helped financially. In 2011, the rights commission received $15 million and $17 million in 2012.
“The budget submission for 2012 reflects an aggressive approach to sensitise and familiarise the general public of the existence of this commission, of building relationships with our key stakeholders and most importantly, fostering the rights of a child as enshrined in the Convention of the Rights of the Child towards which Guyana has acceded and made a part of its condition,” she stated.
In addition, Nasir further disclosed that the commission recently implemented an investigative arm, whereby complaints are being dealt with. She explained that when complaints are received, the rights commission would engage the necessary agencies such as the police and the Child Care and Protection Agency, as well as doctors, depending on the nature of the issue.
The chairwoman said her agency was working closely with those other agencies since the commission was basically acting as an oversight body and have to monitor what was happening within those agencies.
Nasir called on Guyanese to contribute towards improving the lives of children in the country. “The commission wishes to emphasise the need for additional resources and encourages every adult to reflect on his or her own childhood and make every effort to provide the necessary resources and support to facilitate and provide a better future for every child in Guyana.”
Meanwhile, Speaker Trotman commended the rights commission for its excellent work over the years. “I really am impressed at the level of enthusiasm and the volume of work that other commissions have been able to do with little recognition, with great efforts and limited resources,” he stated.
The Speaker added that the National Assembly did not only want to collect the report and read it but work in partnership with the commission to realise its mandate. “We would take the reports and have them debated, we are supposed to go through this report, members of the commission will come and make presentations on … their views and how we can make things better and they can advise us what laws we can pass with children in mind,” Trotman said.
The rights commission, along with the Women and Gender Equality Commission and the Indigenous People’s Commission, was established under the Constitution of Guyana, which mandates four “rights commissions”. The Human Rights Commission is yet to be established. The other two commissions are expected to deliver their reports in January next year.
December 3, 2013 By