By Jomo Paul
Amerindians protesting the disapproval of funding for a $1 billion development project by the combined Opposition for a second day clashed with a handful of demonstrators drawn from A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) who were calling on the Government to be more accountable to citizens.
Though police were well-positioned to guard against any altercation, caustic taunts and remarks were hurled by the opposing sides during the protest.
In a swift response, the Amerindian Affairs Ministry condemned what it described as the Opposition’s intimidatory tactics “targeting Amerindians who were protesting peacefully the Opposition imposed cuts of $1.1 billion earmarked for Amerindian development”. According to the Ministry, supporters of APNU and the Alliance For Change (AFC) “were mobilised by the Opposition to intimidate hundreds of Amerindians on the second day of their protest action outside the Parliament.”
The Ministry noted that the Opposition supporters hurled derogatory, discriminatory and threatening remarks at the group of more than 400 Amerindians from various regions across Guyana. “The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs (MOA) is concerned about this development and urges the Opposition to desist from this known tactic of intimidation and bullyism in efforts to deny Amerindians’ right to protest and freedom of expression. The MOA insists that Amerindians have legitimate rights to protest against a matter which has severe consequences for their livelihood and well-being.”
From their position across the road from Parliament, the Amerindians chanted: “We want development….Granger must go… Renita is a shame”. Renita Williams is a recent addition to the APNU benches, representing Region One (Barima/Waini).
Speaking with Guyana Times, one man who only gave his name as Charles said he was there protesting, because he wanted the Opposition to take a decision to restore the funds that it disapproved. “I’m protesting, because I want them to give us back our money, it is for our development, we need it in the villages,” he said. When questioned on how he would have made his way to the city from his home in Kamarang in Region Seven, he related that he became aware of the actions taken by the combined Opposition as the news had spread like wildfire through the villages in the interior. He added that the National Toshaos Council provided transportation for them to reach the city and stand in solidarity against the action by the Opposition. “I came here to protest because what they are doing is wrong, nobody did not pay me, I am not receiving payment for this, we want the monies from the budget to go into our villages,” Charles posited. Another young protester voiced similar statements and added that she would be directly affected, since she was part of the Youth Entrepreneurship Apprenticeship Programme (YEAP), which will be severely affected since $796 million of the disapproved $1.1 billion was dedicated to that project.
On the other hand, the APNU supporters claimed that the Amerindians’ protest was part of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic propaganda. These protesters waved their placards, demanding more accountability from the Government.
The PPP/C said claims by Amerindian representatives of abuse of money are baseless, noting that part of the allocation cut by the Opposition includes the apprenticeship of more than 2000 Amerindian youths involved in management, community development, planning and providing much needed assistance to the Captains and Councils of Amerindian villages. This programme, which had previously employed in excess of 900 Amerindian youths, was overwhelmingly endorsed by the leadership of the villages. In the 2014 Budget provisions, were made to ensure that every Amerindian village would have these young people learning and providing much needed support to their communities.
The 2000 young Amerindians will go on the breadline, the ruling PPP/C had said on Monday, as a consequence of the disapproval of the funding. Among the programmes that are now affected by the Opposition’s negative vote are: the Secure Livelihood Initiative in Region One; the annual subvention to the Bina Hill Institute; grants to 10 villages to support eco-tourism projects; and $200 million which goes annually to Toshaos for initiatives they have been tasked by the villagers to pursue.
Equally shocking, the party said was to see six Amerindian Members of Parliament from the Opposition – Dr George Norton, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, Eula Marcello, Renita Williams, Sydney Allicock and Dawn Hastings, voting against the further advancement of their people.
“Imagine that we are 10 per cent of the population and we cannot get one per cent of the budget,” former Chairman of the National Toshaos Council, Yvonne Pearson said.
Government on Tuesday said it was unaware that the prime real estate on the West Coast of Demerara that was sold to businessman Ed Ahmad for wood processing is now being converted into a housing development.
The announcement was made in a release by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Ltd. (NICIL) in response to a Kaieteur News article on Sunday headlined “Ed Ahmad gears to make $600M on $80M GuySuCo land”.
Kaieteur News had reported that according to the website South American Wood Inc, the Leonora Projects is planning to construct 87 homes on the site.
The newspaper claimed that company officials said a house lot is now being sold for at least $7 million and that it is building homes for at least $30 million each.
However, in a response, NICIL detailed the sequence of the transaction, saying that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) entered into an agreement on November 21, 2008, with South American Wood Inc for the sale of a portion (approximately 16 acres) of Plantation Groenveldt on the West Coast of Demerara for a wood processing facility for the sum of $80 million.
According to NICIL, it acted as an agent, at the time, for the sale of a number of State properties listed for privatisation, including GuySuCo.
“The sale of this land was subject to two prior bids: in 2003, the highest valid bid amounted to $30 million. In 2004, the land was again tendered for bids and none were received. Following the lack of any tenders, the land was sold at a price comparable with valuations established for GuySuCo land on the East Coast Demerara at $5 million per acre,” NICIL said.
NICIL said GuySuCo, in fact, entered into a Restrictive Covenant as set out in the terms and conditions of the sale, published in the Vesting Order effecting the transfer of title, that “the property shall not be used for any other purpose other than for the construction and operation of a wood processing facility with the option of future development in manufacturing, industrial and commercial activities including the construction and operation of shopping mall, providing that the construction of the wood processing facility is commenced first” and “ that construction of a wood processing facility shall commence within one (1) year of the execution of this agreement”.
According to NICIL, in January 2013, at a press conference, hosted by President Donald Ramotar, details of all of the privatisation transactions on behalf of GuySuCo, numbering 21, including this transaction, were listed in a public document, entitled “Privatisation in Tables-Phase 11 (1993-2011).
“Neither Government, GuySuCo, nor NICIL have any knowledge of any change of the agreement which was entered into with South American Wood Inc,” the NICIL statement ended.
The parents of a four-month-old baby are seeking answers after their son died while being cared for at the Mother’s Union Day Care Centre located on Robb Street, Georgetown Tuesday morning.
The child has been identified as Phillip Pratt of Lot 631 South Sophia, Georgetown. Guyana Times spoke to the mother of the child, Philion Winter-Archer, who is a ward maid supervisor attached to the Georgetown Public Hospital. She recounted the events of the morning leading up to the unfortunate death of her youngest child.
The woman said that she dropped off her son just after 07:00h and went to work. However, she received a call from the day care around 09:57h that her son was not breathing. She noted that she immediately rushed to the day care where she observed her son’s motionless body. Winter-Archer explained that he was not breathing at the time and was frothing from the nose, which was also bleeding. “When I reach there, I see froth coming out his nose and I realise he dead because he was not breathing,” she stated.
The mother added that by the time she got there, the staff had alerted the police and after a while, they came and took the child to the Georgetown Public Hospital where the child was pronounced dead on arrival. She disclosed that the head of the day care told her that one of the staff went to move the child when she noticed he was frothing. The woman was puzzled as to why the staff did not take the child to the hospital and instead called her.
“I don’t know why no one bring him at the hospital, they just leave him there… even if he wasn’t breathing, they should have brought him here to see what was wrong or if anything could be done,” the mother cried.
Winter-Archer revealed that she has been taking her child to the day care since February 25 and never encountered any problem. She noted that she usually sends Nestum and milk for the child; however, that morning she fed her child around 04:00h and he was not given anything to eat at the day care. The mother told reporters that she was also giving the child Haliborange Baby and Toddler Multivitamin Liquid.
The devastated mother said her son’s body bore no signs of physical injury, which is making it more difficult to understand what caused his sudden death. The infant is the last of four children and only son of his mother, while he is the only child of his father.
Relatives of the dead child who were gathered at the hospital at the time were upset, because no one from the day care went to the hospital as an act of concern or sympathy for the family, not even the head teacher, they pointed out. They are now waiting for the post-mortem examination to be conducted so that they can get answers as to what transpired.
Meanwhile, when this publication visited the day care located between Cummings and Orange Walk, Bourda, the staff refused to divulge details of what transpired and informed reporters they should talk to the head of the day care who was reportedly not there at the time. This newspaper was informed that the day care takes children from three months of age. The body of the infant is at the hospital mortuary awaiting the post-mortem examination, which is expected to be done today. Police investigators have since launched a probe into the matter.
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has sacked the Customs officer who was
allegedly caught packing cocaine in a mailbag at the Cheddi Jagan
International Airport last Friday.
Revenue Authority Head, Khurshid Sattaur told Guyana Times the agency’s
policy is that any serious offence on or off the job that attracts the
attention of the police is subject to summary dismissal. A subsequent
release from the GRA said that once again its surveillance system has
proven effective as the actions of the officer, who worked at the Customs’
Guyana Post Office Corporation location, were caught on camera.
“An internal investigation was immediately launched after reports surfaced
across the media that 644 grams of cocaine was found in mail bound for New
York on a Caribbean Airlines flight”, the release said. Sattaur said that
the officer’s actions are a clear breach of the organisation’s Standard
Operating Procedure and that the entity will “work on putting more robust
systems in place to weed out corrupt elements.” He noted that officers
fail to realize that they have a responsibility to act with integrity and
protect the image of the agency. Sattaur reiterated that the GRA will not
allow corrupt individuals whether officials or taxpayers. He said the GRA
will do all within its power to eradicate corruption.
The customs officer attached to the Guyana Post Office Corporation (GPOC)
at Timehri branch was on Monday morning arrested in connection with the
cocaine. According to information, the young man was taken into police
custody after a thorough investigation following the bust, which unearthed
644 grams of cocaine in several envelopes in a mail bag.
The bag was about to be loaded onto a Caribbean Airlines flight bound for
the John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Based on reports, Police
Narcotics Branch ranks were conducting a routine search when the illegal
substance was discovered in several envelopes.
The lawmen became suspicious after the officer did not turn up for work
the day after the discovery. He was reportedly contacted and interrogated,
but denied having any knowledge of the cocaine.
In a similar incident in May 2013, a 19-year-old employee of the GPOC at
the CJIA was charged following the discovery of 15 kilograms of cocaine in
a mail bag destined for the United States. It was reported that on March
21 at the CJIA, Syaer Grantstuart worked the 06:00h to 14:00h shift and
went home, but returned to the mail bond with a bag in his possession
He subsequently asked the security guard on duty at the time to allow him
access to the bond, since he had forgotten his mobile phone. The security
guard was kind enough to allow him into the bond without searching his
bag, and after spending almost 10 minutes, he left.
On March 22, the bag containing the mail was being prepared to be taken on
board a Caribbean Airlines flight when Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU)
ranks realised that the weight affixed on the tag of the mail bag did not
match the actual weight. This prompted them to check the bag and the
illegal substance was discovered.
The Guyana Police Force say there is no big demand of an Anti-Kidnapping
Unit given that over the last five years there were only five such
In a statement on Tuesday the Force said that there were reports in 2009;
two in 2010 and one in 2011. There were no reports in 2012 and 2013, the
The information was contained in a statement by the police responding to
an article published in the Kaieteur News under the heading “Confusion
rages over Anti-kidnapping unit”, in order to clarify a misquote of the
acting Commissioner of Police Mr. Seelall Persaud, DSM.
The article quoted the acting Commissioner as saying that the Police
Force’s approach was to have several persons trained and whenever there
is a kidnapping, those officers who were trained will pool ideas to
address the situation, which is being refuted. “What the acting
Commissioner said is that a team will be pulled from those trained
officers and will investigate the kidnapping under the leadership of the
officer in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department (Crime
Chief).” According to the Police there is a material difference between
“pooling ideas” and “investigating”.
Further, the Force said that there is no confusion about a kidnapping
unit. “The Guyana Police Force does not have a permanent kidnapping unit
because it sees the demand for such a unit as being very low…”
The Police said should a permanent kidnapping unit be in place, it will be
highly under-utilised. “Therefore the posture of the Guyana Police Force
is to have a number of ranks undergo specialised training and whenever
there is an incident, a team/unit is mobilised to investigate under the
leadership of the Crime Chief.”
According to the police the unit isdeactivated after the investigations are completed and the ranks return to their respective permanent deployment.The Police Force has beencriticised for its handling of the recent abduction and subsequent murder of a businessman of Foulis, East Coast Demerara