September 30, 2014 By
September 30, 2014 By
When the Tourism Ministry sat down with the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) on Monday to discuss the 2015 tourism budget, high on the agenda was the introduction of an incentive regime for tourist operators.
According to acting Tourism Minister Irfaan Ali, the Ministry has recognised that with the type of tourism product Guyana has to offer, there is a high cost to access them.
“Tourism for us is a very expensive endeavour in relation to the type of tourism we offer and the placement of the tourism: river, savannah, interior locations…the sector has raised their concerns in relations to incentives to promote easier mode of travel and in acquisition of assets to benefit the sector and how we will link that to growth and development and taxation,” the Minister explained.
Ali said that the Ministry will be focusing on a joint collaboration and expansion regarding its marketing approach of the sector as he dubbed 2015 the year of marketing.
“Marketing, as we know, is a responsibility in this entire sector and the Government also has a major stake. We would like to see 2015 being the year of marketing and compliance,” he said.
On this note, the Minister said the intention of his Ministry will be to focus heavily on compliance and adherence to regulations within the tourism sector.
The Minister foresees 2015 being the year of tourism and hopes that all of Guyana adopts this concept as they market Guyana internationally and actively pursue targeted markets so that Guyana’s tourism product can achieve its full potential.
Meanwhile, THAG President Shaun Mc Grath emphasised the need to develop the tourism product to international market level, which requires an incentive regime at the national level that is suitable to the industry.
“We do a lot of stuff in the interior, a lot of transportation and it makes our product very expensive and in general you will find people who come down and use Guyana currently, one of their biggest concerns is transportation within the interior in terms of the condition of the road, the type of vehicles that are used and they all make Guyana’s tourism product very expensive,” the THAG President pointed out.
Additionally, Mc Grath called on Government to give due recognition to the tourism industry, stating that the sector has continuously brought in decent income.
“We are an export industry and just because nothing leaves the country don’t mean we are not an export industry, we export our product but our product doesn’t leave the country, which is very unique. We earn higher currency and anywhere in the world would classify as being an export industry. Even in Guyana, there are incentives in place for export industries and we would like to see that applied to us as well,” he urged.
On the other hand, former THAG President Kit Nascimento pointed out that for Guyana to compete with other tourism destinations in the Caribbean and Central America, its domestic product needs to be competitively priced.
“It is expensive to get to our product once you land in Guyana because our product is fundamentally nature tourism and it’s in our hinterland… are we therefore competitive? We are not at this point, but we can be if the Government takes into account the need for incentives and they are applied to make us competitive for the Caribbean and Central America,” he stated.
Minister Ali is hoping to wrap up discussions soon and present the Ministry’s tourism budget to the Finance Ministry by the end of the week.
September 30, 2014 By
President Donald Ramotar has called on Guyanese living in the United States of America (USA) to return home and invest in the country’s booming economy.
The President, who travelled to the USA to attend and address the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, used the opportunity to meet Guyanese living there. He met the Guyanese community in Queens, New York on Friday evening and those in Washington on Saturday evening.
President Ramotar updated the several hundreds of Guyanese on developments taking place in the current and prevailing political uncertainty. He spoke of the eight successive years of economic growth in the Guyanese economy, infrastructural advancements and Guyana’s success stories in the social sector, particularly housing, education, and health.
“This says a lot and really drives a nail in the lie that our country wasn’t going anywhere. And why have we been able to do that? We have been able to do that despite the fact that 1) traditionally, one of the most important sectors of the economy – sugar, was not doing very well… broadening the base of our economy, what we had promised from since 1992 about broadening the base of our economy and making it more immune from external shocks, we have succeeded in a very large way… because rooted in the philosophy of the PPP is the fact that the economy must serve the people in an inter-related and connected way, while the economy will serve the people, the people will have to build the economy.”
The President noted that his Government always believes in the fact that the most important factor for development have been the people, and his Government has been investing heavily in its people to build capacity, pointing to the way in which the Government has been allocating resources.
“Let me give you one startling figure that you never see in the press anytime. When we came into office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was getting more money than the Ministries of Education, Health, Housing and Agriculture, all put together. Today, we have the opposite situation, where the bulk of our investment, if you examine our economy, goes to the social sector – health – education gets the biggest in this, 30 per cent of our budget,” he explained.
The President said his Government remains committed to continuing the transformation of Guyana, but needs the help of all Guyanese, since he does not have a development partner in the Opposition, pointing to their anti-developmental stance since they won a one-seat majority in the National Assembly which they used to cut critical budgetary allocations, defeat important legislation like the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill and block transformational projects like the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, the Amaila Falls Hydro Power project, and the Specialty Hospital, among others.
The Presiden, meanwhile, said his Government has never denied there is corruption in the country, but pointed to the various efforts successive People’s Progressive Party/Civic administrations have been making to tackle this issue, “but let me make this point to you, our achievements could not have been possible without improvement in our economic democracy, we could not have survived and strive in an international atmosphere when you had a grave financial and economic crisis gripping the world”.
“I would not stand in front of you here and tell you that we do not have corruption in our country, we know, we talk about it ourselves, but we have put in place many, many things to fight corruption. When we came to office there was no bidding system for Government contracts or procurement of services. We didn’t know how much corruption was taking place (under the PNC Government), because the Auditor General was prevented from doing auditing of Government books. The last Auditor General’s report came out 10 years before the Government changed. The last Auditor General’s report under the last regime was in 1982… they had all kinds of accounts; they had an account in Canada which no one was allowed to audit and they are making these kinds of accusations against us. Since we got into office, every year, the Auditor General report comes out. That report goes to a Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly and that Committee is always chaired by a member of the Opposition.”
The President urged the diaspora to return home and invest in the economy so that Guyana can reach its full potential.
Many Guyanese living abroad responded positively and requested that they be informed of how they can work with the Government to set up their businesses in Guyana.
September 30, 2014 By
A senior Government official on Monday criticised the move by Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman to gag the man whom he allegedly sexually violated when he was 12.
In a four-page letter to the Editor of Guyana Times, Presidential Advisor on Governance, Gail Teixeira said the injunction granted to Trotman by the High Court last week “is so terribly dangerous; it has undermined the entire tenets of justice for victims of sexual violence. This terrible precedent victimises the accuser all over again. In my opinion, this injunction should never have been granted.”
Trotman last Monday secured the injunction restraining his accuser, Johnny Anthony Welshman from making any statements or publishing any materials about the issue. Trotman has since denied the allegations. In the court documents, Trotman is also seeking a whopping $50 million for libel contained in articles published in the Stabroek News and the Guyana Times last week Monday and materials circulated on Welshman’s Facebook page.
The ex-parte affidavit in support of the application for an interim injunction states, “…restraining the defendant whether by himself, his servants and or agents howsoever from publishing and/or attempting to publish whether in print, electronic or any other media any material relating and or pertaining to allegations of sexual assault by the plaintiff on the defendant”.
Meanwhile, in her letter, Teixeira said it was with utter disbelief and alarm she read about the injunction against the young man who alleges that when he was a child, he was sexually abused by the Attorney-at –Law, who is also the Speaker of the National Assembly and a known politician. “I also note with even more alarm that the rights groups, or those who have held themselves out to be rights groups have been deafeningly silent on the issuance of the injunction.”
Teixeira said no allegation of sexual abuse whether made by a male or female and whether current or going back to their childhood should be muzzled. “One expects that the accusation will be subjected to the scrutiny of the justice system where the accuser and accused will be heard and a judgment made by a jury. A young man has made an allegation of sexual abuse claiming that this was done when he was a child. His complaint should always be taken seriously and be heard and our facilities, institutions, services and environment must always be ones that promote and facilitate such a complaint being made.”
This, Teixeira said, should never be an occasion or an opportunity to gag the accuser. “From reading the injunction, it seems as though it was granted because there was a claim that the complainant was depressed and suffering from other mental health problems and because the accused, the politician, claims that the accusation was politically motivated. The accused claimed that it was causing him to lose his reputation and be embarrassed.
“A complaint of sexual abuse by a child or an adult against another will always cause that other to lose his/her reputation, assuming there was one to lose. It will always be something embarrassing. It will always be harmful to the accused. It is after all a criminal offence to rape or sexually assault someone. In no other accusation of a criminal offence is the issue of the reputation of the accused put under the microscope.”
Additionally, Teixeira said according to worldwide research, almost every person who is raped or abused will suffer some form of depression and other mental health issues.
“The claim by the accused that it is a political setup is easily something that can be determined by the Police and/or a jury. It would be a matter of fact that should not, according to our laws, be determined by a judge alone. This injunction sets such a dangerous precedent. It opens a door where any and every person who is accused of rape can go to the court, claim that his/her reputation is being damaged, that the person making the allegations is sick, and that it was a plot or ploy by another person/persons and secure an injunction against the person who is making the claim.”
Taking a swipe at the justice system, the former Home Affairs Minister said considering the abysmal state of our rate of prosecutions and convictions in cases of sexual offences as exposed by the Guyana Human Rights Association and the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, we can ill afford as a country to have any more obstacles placed in the way of securing justice for our victims of rape and sexual assault, where the victims are predominantly women and children. “A court ought to be aware of these dimensions of rape and sexual assault and the research on these issues should be what informs the court’s decision. Anything less would be to short-change the people of Guyana.”
Stamp it out
Teixeira recalled that in a long and countrywide campaign to “stamp out sexual violence” in 2007- 2008 (prior to the enactment of the new Sexual Offences Act), the people of Guyana spoke on the issues that were affecting them relating to the reporting, investigation and prosecution of sexual offences. She said they detailed how they thought men with power and/or money got away with rape and other sex crimes; they complained against the sloth of the system; and they expressed frustration at the then laws being impractical in securing a conviction, particularly where children were the complainants.
“The lawmakers listened, heard and drafted laws that saw Guyana passing revolutionary and new legislation to cater for those weaknesses in our system, including making provisions modern and real, such as removing the need for corroboration of a complainant’s account, allowing for special measures that remove the aura of heavy formality in the courtroom, allowing a witness to be shielded from an accused, etc…”
“This injunction now negates the work of the women’s rights movement over the last 30 years and the work of the Ninth Parliament which drafted the laws and more importantly the thousands of Guyanese who contributed to that process. All the work that has been expended to foster an environment to encourage victims of sexual violence to trust the system (Police, social workers, prosecutors, and judges) and report these cases has been severely eroded.”
She added: “This injunction sends a dangerous but clear message that accused persons can use their money and might to go to court and secure an injunction against a complainant from talking about or “publishing” the ordeal that the victim suffered. It places more burdens on an already traumatised and very confused, depressed, etc person whose very dignity and sense of safety were snatched from them by the very person being protected by the court.”
She said with the precedent set by the injunction, a victim could now legitimately form the impression that a politician can rape and get away with it and that it makes little sense complaining as that person will use his/her power and money to get an injunction. “A victim can now easily decide not to complain against a lawyer for rape, because the accused will go to the court where they will reign amongst their friends and make the victim into the bad person and use the heavy hand of justice to gag them. Regrettably, the injunction validates once again public opinion of the judicial system. And can one blame people for that viewpoint ??”
September 30, 2014 By
September 30, 2014 By
The Guyana National Museum is now modernised to meet the demands of a 21st Century society as the Government continues investing in keeping with the thrust to transform and update.
Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, said that the museum recognised the need to improve itself in light of the current era of computers and digital technology; hence, the decision was taken to bring it into the 21st century.
“We started to talk about it; instead of perhaps trying to read the sign, they can have a headphone and listen to the narration of what they are seeing. Or maybe if you want more in-depth information, you will be able to access that,” Minister Anthony said, according to the Government Information Agency (GINA). “We want to make the exhibits more interactive,” the Minister added.
Nadia Madho, the Museum’s Administrator, explained that the “Modernisation and Digitisation Project” was awarded to a contractor, Digital Technology, and work commenced late November 2013 and was completed on August 5, 2014.
She said the project is the database of the National Museum’s collection of artefacts and displays with a website format, and provides expanded history on artefacts. Madho added that the project is expected to continue to provide learning experiences for everyone who visits the museum using modern technology.
The project includes three 21-inch interactive touchscreens and one 84-inch customised interactive touchscreen with necessary individual wiring, server and attachments. Two screens are on the upper floor of the museum and the other on the lower floor.
The National Museum’s Library is currently being rehabilitated and soon all collections will be accessible to the public.
Further, museum staff members are being trained in digital technology to be able to properly carry out their duties. At present, a small amount of data from the National Museum can be accessed online via the Culture, Youth and Sport Ministry’s website.
Minister Anthony said a process has been started to digitise holdings at the museum, and “that’s where we want to go and today we are taking a step in that direction. It will be much more appealing to the young people to be able to interact with on-screen displays. It is a first step on the long road of making the museum a 21st Century museum and eventually we hope that a lot of our holdings can be accessed online.”
A few galleries have been added to the museum over the past few years, in its thrust to make the museum an educational place where people can learn about their country.
The museum also provides a bus that will enable movement of exhibits to assist in the learning progress of schoolchildren. Schools are encouraged to become a part of the museum’s loan programme.
Minister Anthony said workshops and camps for young people, especially during the summer holidays are also held at the museum. Persons are also urged to explore other museums across Guyana to continue to learn about Guyana’s rich heritage among others.
The museum will also work with teachers to facilitate the schools’ curriculum and provided relevant exhibits. “We want to be a partner to our learning institutions and schools,” Minister Anthony said.
September 30, 2014 By
By Michael Younge
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall says he welcomes a decision by the Kaieteur News to share the alleged emails, supposedly sent to him by Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Commissioner-General Khurshid Sattaur, with the diplomatic community and more specifically, the local United States Embassy.
Over the last few days, the Kaieteur News’s Publisher Glenn Lall alleged that the Government was plotting to shut down his newspaper operations because of its continuous reporting on corruption and the misuse of State resources. The newspaper made these allegations after the GRA began probing an incident, which saw the abuse and misuse of Government’s Remigrant Scheme Project to avoid paying over $100 million in taxes on the importation of two luxury Lexus vehicles.
Two pensioners who are in their seventies are at the centre of the scam after they were allegedly used as fronts to import the vehicles under the Scheme by Lall and his wife, Bhena. The latter two have admitted publicly to utilising the vehicles after they were brought into the country.
It is the GRA’s contention that the Lalls provided the funds for the purchase of these vehicles by the two pensioners in the US. Lall, through the Kaieteur News, launched a brutish attack on the Commissioner-General, the Government, and former President Bharrat Jagdeo as he alleged that a plot was being executed to silence his media house because of the probe, which had widened after more anomalies were discovered.
But Nandlall, speaking during an invited comment on the matter, said that he was very happy that a decision was taken to involve these stakeholders, as he maintained his position that the Kaieteur News “will fool no one” with its latest ploy. “I am happy that the Kaieteur News has decided to involve the US Embassy in this matter. The United States’ position on invasion of privacy and more specifically, the fabrication of and interference with emails is well known”, he explained.
Nandlall said one only has to look at the WikiLeaks scandal and the fact that, to date, the perpetrator Edward Snowden remains one of the most sought-after fugitives in the world by US authorities because of his actions.
“So I hope, when the US Embassy is engaged, this matter receives its thorough examination. So I reiterate and I agree with the Kaieteur News that the US should investigate this matter.”
The Attorney General said confidently that the US’s investigation may “also enable the Guyana Revenue Authority to gather very vital pieces of evidence that would be relevant for the pending charges in the court”. The Legal Affairs Minister would offer no other comment on the allegations made by the Kaieteur News and its publisher.
Meanwhile, Commissioner-General Sattaur has confirmed that the GRA has filed criminal charges against the Kaieteur News owners and all those linked to the alleged case of tax fraud and evasion. In fact, Sattaur also expressed concern about what appears to be a breach of confidentiality within the GRA as the Kaieteur News appears to have access to the tax records of businesses and other citizens. The Commissioner-General would also be involving the Police, to determine the extent to which the Kaieteur News has a mole in the tax entity that is feeding its publisher with privileged information.
He maintained that this was a wanton breach of people’s privacy and their right to confidentiality of their records. He said that no stone will be left unturned in probing the charges laid against the Kaieteur News, regardless of the wicked and malicious attacks that it has launched on the integrity of the GRA and Government officials.
The Guyana Times was reliably informed that the emails were fabricated and concocted by Lall to create a diversion from the probe launched by the GRA. It is widely believed that the Kaieteur News, via its mole with the tax body, got wind of information that there was going to be an in-depth audit of the company’s finances and its resources.
The entity may have also hacked into the email belonging to Sattaur to create public mischief and add credence to its claims that a plot was being rolled out against it. I
n fact, the Kaieteur News continues to harp about information being released about the tax information of several media houses, including this newspaper, to former President Bharrat Jagdeo. It is doing so blatantly even though its own publication was never copied in the purported exchange of emails.
The Kaieteur News then recognising its blunder published another article explaining that its tax information was never released to the former President, but continued its myriad attacks that the Commissioner-General was in breach of oath because of the information released about other media houses.
Many believe that these are desperation tactics being employed by the publisher of the media house to avoid possible prosecution, rake up public sympathy and influence the judiciary.
The undisputed fact remains that having examined the alleged emails, no mention was made of the Kaieteur News, and no information disclosed about the Kaieteur News.
September 30, 2014 By
Canadian High Commissioner Dr Nicole Giles said the Guyana Mining Information Toolkit will be relaunched within weeks.
According to Dr Giles, the toolkit which was launched back in 2012 is being upgraded based on legislative changes. The mining Toolkit was launched in collaboration with the Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry, the Canadian High Commission and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).
“Canada has partnered with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Mining Communities, Canadian and Local Mining Companies, mining and mining related associations to create a mining toolkit which is a guide for Communities to aid in the understanding of the extractive sector operations.”
It included clarifications on the mining cycle which contains four critical sections; mineral exploration, mine development, mine operation and mine closure.
In addition to the Mining Toolkit, Dr Giles said Canada continues to work closely with the Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry in building capacities that are needed in education to support development in the extractive sector.
“Both the College of the North Atlantic and the Marine Institute of Newfoundland Canada have been active in the delivery of courses for the Guyana mining school,” the Commissioner disclosed.
The Mining School has been offering skills training since it were formally launched in May 2012. The school’s curriculum has been designed to foster growth within the sector. It was explained that the Guyana Government in its venture with investors in the oil and gas sector has been ensuring that a proviso of their operation is that Guyanese must be involved in these projects, hence the need to train the workforce.
In June this year, subject Minister Robert Persaud led a Guyanese delegation to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, participating in sessions which were designed to enhance Guyana’s technical capacity in the area of Natural Resources Development.
Accompanied by the Canadian High Commission, the Natural Resources and the Environment Minister spoke to issues relating to applied science and technology for partnership with the Guyana Mining School and Training Centre Inc and the University of Guyana.
September 30, 2014 By
Foresight provides the long-term vision that is key to creating public policies, several speakers emphasized during the inauguration of the Seminar Latin America and the Caribbean 2030: World visions, continental views, which is being held at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in Santiago, Chile.
At the opening ceremony last Wednesday, ECLAC’s Deputy Executive Secretary, Antonio Prado, said that the current situation is particularly favourable for boosting the practice of foresight, given that the regional scenario for moderate growth in the medium term along with the global debate on the post-2015 agenda are forcing thinkers to explore alternatives to the development model of the last two decades.
In that debate, the United Nations organization advocates a structural change that puts equality at the center of development goals. Jorge Máttar, director of ECLAC’s Latin American and Caribbean Institute for Economic and Social Planning (ILPES), explained that this proposal requires a long-term vision.
He said that foresight allows for an analysis of the most suitable paths for these needed transformations and thereby contributes to improving the design and application of public policies.
The seminar was organised by ILPES and supported by the Korean government. The Ambassador of that country in Chile, Ji-eun Yu, recalled that since its incorporation as a member state of ECLAC in 2007, the Republic of Korea has worked together with this organisation to encourage the region’s economic and social development. He pointed to this gathering as a good example of that cooperation.
The meeting aims to consolidate a network of professionals and organizations dedicated to studying future global trends and their implications for public policy in the region. Ten experts are participating in the plenary sessions, among them William Halal, Professor Emeritus of Management, Technology and Innovation at George Washington University; Moonjung Choi, Director General of the Office of Strategic Foresight at Korea Institute of S&T Evaluation and Planning (KISTEP); Barry B. Hughes, Director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver; and Catarina Tully, Director of the School for International Futures, United Kingdom.
The presentations will address issues related to climate change, sustainable cities, emerging technologies and economic cooperation with China, among others. The audience is composed of planning authorities from throughout the region, who will give their opinion on the specialists’ proposals. These officials include Gabriel Frugoni, Director of Uruguay’s Planning and Budget Office; Hugo Gómez Cabrera, Guatemala’s Deputy Secretary of Planning; and Santiago Vásquez, Ecuador’s National Deputy Secretary of Planning and Development. Moreover, the Chilean Council of Planning and Strategy was presented on Wednesday 24.
It brings together a group of politicians, academics and diplomats interested in contributing to the development of foresight in Chile. This presentation was led by Sergio Bitar, a member of the Foreign Strategy Committee at Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During the event, the II Development Planning Sessions will also be held. Around 20 papers on planning and foresight in the region are expected to be presented in parallel sessions.
September 30, 2014 By