August 30, 2015

Bankruptcy looms if subsidies based at present rates

Berbice Bridge toll reductions…

…Directors duty-bound to inform stakeholders

Despite the subsidies promised, the Berbice Bridge Company Inc (BBCI) indicated that while it sup-ports moves to

Toll booths at the Berbice River Bridge

Toll booths at the Berbice River Bridge

make the Berbice crossing more affordable, it could go bankrupt if Government arbi-trarily moves ahead with the toll reduction without fully honouring the legally binding agreement be-tween the Company and the Government to have tolls adjusted within specified timeframes.
Both the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU/ AFC) precipitated this situation when they used their one-seat majority in the 10th Parliament to pass a motion on March 10 2015 to lower the Berbice Bridge tolls without taking into consideration that the move was an in-fringement on a legal agreement and that the Company would incur significant losses. At that time, the company had applied to the then PPPC administration for the legally specified toll adjustments.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan on Friday blamed the Bridge Company for the setback in the toll reductions, which Government announced would take effect on September 1.
“With September 1, fast approaching, the Government is concerned that these delaying and dilatory manoeuvres

Finance Minister Winston Jordan on Friday blamed the Bridge Company for the setback in the toll reductions

Finance Minister Winston Jordan on Friday blamed the Bridge Company for the setback in the toll reductions

appeared designed to frustrate the reduction in tolls and hold the travelling public hostage,” Jordan exclaimed.
However, in response, the Bridge Company issued a release, expressing its rejection  over the Minis-ter’s accusation.
The Company explained that its Directors are constrained by the Berbice Bridge Act and Regulations and the Concession Agreement – the legally binding agreement between the Government of Guyana and the BBCI; therefore, it cannot introduce a reduction without proper discussions with its principals  the shareholders, bond holders and trustees.

Discussions ongoing
In fact, the Company pointed out that no fixed agreement ha even been reached in relation to toll reductions as the discussions are still ongoing between Government and the BBCI Directors.
“Discussions also took place concerning the timing of subsidy payments, but BBCI team made it clear that nothing could

Despite the subsidies promised, the BBCI indicated that it could go bankrupt if Government haphazardly moves ahead with the toll reduction without honouring the legally binding agreement between the Company and the Government

Despite the subsidies promised, the BBCI indicated that it could go bankrupt if Government haphazardly moves ahead with the toll reduction without honouring the legally binding agreement between the Company and the Government

be agreed upon until the matter had been brought before its full Board and stakeholders,” the Company stated.
It also noted that Government has other obligations to honour before the Company agrees to toll reductions.
“The Government proposed a schedule of subsidies to commuters based on the existing toll struc-ture. But the Minister also accepted that “the Company would like further discussions to take place on the proposal and an extension in the concession period from 21 years to 40 years: or for the Govern-ment to give consideration to an application for an increase in toll made to the PPP/C Government on March 15, 2015.” The Minister has accepted that no agreement was reached with BCCI,” BBCI stated.
The Company also noted that, “the Government in other fora proceeded as if its proposal was au fait accompli, simply to fulfil a campaign promise on the BBCI tolls, which was made without any consultations with the BBCI.

The au fait accompli was that its proposed commuter subsidy would be based on the existing toll structure, and that the revised toll structure as adumbrated in the Concession Agree-ment, and brought to the attention of the Government, would be ignored. The other win-win scenario of an extension of the concession period that would have allowed the present toll structure and the subsidy levels proposed by the Government would presumably also be placed in doubt.”
Against this background, the Directors convened an Emergency Meeting on August 27 to discuss a way forward on the toll reductions.

Lost revenue
“Based on the figures that had been submitted to the Government, because tolls had not been in-creased based on the Toll Formula under the Concession Agreement, revenues of $1,228,523,720 had already been lost,” the Company said.
It also noted that because of the then Opposition’s successful move to lower the tolls in the 10th Parliament, the Company is already heavily indebted due to revenues lost.
“In June 2014, based on its financial model and debt commitments, BBCI began to repay the principal on its bonds. This increase in demand for cash was supposed to have been met by increases in tolls. However, such an increase was deemed untenable particularly after the then Opposition passed a mo-tion in the National Assembly on May 15, 2014 to reduce tolls by more than half. This motion was first tabled in December 2013,” the Bridge Company said.
Therefore, the Company said any agreement to a subsidy without honouring the toll adjustment formula set out in the Concession Agreement will result in the BBCI defaulting on its obligation to re-pay debt in 2015 and possible insolvency.
“In 2015, over $500 million in debt repayments to investors is required.  Directors cannot change the agreements reached with the investors in the bridge as represented by the Trustee for the debt and the Shareholders for the equity. Such a decision must involve an agreement with the Trustee and the Shareholders.
As such, any change in the Concession Agreement and the Toll Order which is made by the Govern-ment (the last one was made in 2009 by the Minister of Public Works), requires the approval of the Trustee and the shareholders.  All investors relied on the toll making adjustment in the financial model that is referenced in Schedule Four of the Concession Agreement and projected in the financial model referenced in the Concession Agreement,” the Company explained.
“A subsidy divorced from honouring the BBCI Concession agreement could very well result in bank-ruptcy for the BBCI,” it reiterated.
The Company noted that it is willing to provide the best service to the Berbice Bridge commuters at an affordable cost but reminded that it also has to fulfil their fiduciary responsibilities and also act in accordance to the law.

Reduced toll
During his budget presentation, Jordan had indicated that from September 1 this year, the toll for passenger vehicles crossing the Berbice Bridge would be reduced from $2200 to $1900.
The move, he said, was the first of a phased reduction of the tolls which he said have been a worri-some issue for Guyanese, particularly those living in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
The annual subsidy for the BBCI, Jordan informed, stands between $120 million and $140 million.
However, it was already established by observers that the toll $300 toll reduction will not benefit those who really need it, given that the everyday commuter who normally uses public transportation given that bus drivers and taxi drivers already insisted that they will not lower their fares, citing its in-significance.

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Bankruptcy looms if subsidies based at present rates

Berbice Bridge toll reductions…
…Directors duty-bound to inform stakeholders

The Opposition Party, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), led by Bharrat Jagdeo has signalled its willingness

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo

to participate in debates with the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government about matters surrounding CLICO, the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and the Berbice River Bridge.
On Friday, Jagdeo told the House that it was his duty to respond to Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, after the Government Official addressed the issue of NIS’ “reckless investment” in CLICO costing the insurance scheme to lose billions of dollars.
However, the Opposition Leader stood his ground when he notified the National Assembly of the former Administration’s role in the transactions stating that the PPP/C had ensured that Guyana is the only country in the region to pledge that the face value would be redeemed.
“We believe we are the only country in the region that pledged that we will redeem the face value. We are the only country to do this…the defaulters of all the contributors to CLICO…even in Trinidad they are doing so at a discount and we have only done this through sound financial management.”
He stated that his Party would “welcome a debate on this” as he lashed out at the coalition Government for its position on the Berbice River Bridge.
“This is the Government that is now truncating the revenue stream of the Berbice River Bridge. They say it was a milking cow for friends and family of the PPP/C and now we are hearing that dividends have not been paid to the investors. You have to be consistent,” he told the Government side of the House.
He emphasised that should a debate be granted he would be able to tell the National Assembly of the early days when Minister Jordan was in the Office of the Budget and the APNU/AFC’s Vice President was Finance Minister; how the NIS money was used then being given to the City Council at zero rated bonds.
Jagdeo then alluded to the fact that calculations done by Minister Jordan and his statements during the Budget presentation stated that Guyanese will be benefitting from the Budget through greater disposable income.
“But the calculations have been very convenient, and when tomorrow when the people of this country wake up and they see, they look at their pay cheques and their benefits then they are going to realise how misleading many, much of the calculations made by the honourable Minister of Finance has been. The interest subsidy on NIS contribution has been removed. The Minister of Finance did not tell us the figure for that, how much the treasury will benefit, how much disposable income would be withdrawn from people based on the removal of the interest subsidy. But he told us that removing the interest from NIS contribution would contribute to 1.3 million people’s disposable income,” Jagdeo posited.
In his address, he continued to explain that similarly the PPP/C did not obtain from Minister Jordan a net calculation of the withdrawal of disposable income from every family in this country that has children going to school.
“We have heard about the $500 increase in uniform, but we did not hear much the cost of the removal of the $10,000 grant from school children and our calculation is this is close to $1.7 billion. We have heard about by extension benefits for rice farmers, the country was happy to hear that this Government is now putting in the Budget an incremental sum in their view of $23 billion to help rice farmers, and in the Budget Debate we saw honourable Minister of Finance dodge the question of where the money is budgeted using technicalities,” the PPP/C Leader also explained.
He further stated that while everyone has heard about the $3.8 billion that the rice industry was given, the Finance Minister again dodged the question as to whether or not the money came from the Consolidated Fund.
“And if this money came from the Consolidated Fund in the absence of a Budget he would have committed an illegal act. So if it did not come from the Consolidated Fund where did it come from? And if we can’t be told where it came from, did GuySuCo (Guyana Sugar Corporation) actually receive the money?” he questioned.

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December 7 likely date for Local Govt polls – Bulkan

Contending that the “minor” legislative amendments are not impinging on the operations of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan said December 7 is likely to be the date for the country’s long overdue Local Government Elections (LGE).

Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan

Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan

Attorney Anil Nandlall

Attorney Anil Nandlall

“I am told by GECOM that despite everything, the December 7 date is not in jeopardy,” Bulkan recently told <Guyana Times.
He noted that the early December period would be ideal for the staging of LGE as it will not interfere with Christmas celebrations.

GECOM on Friday explained that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration was blocking its attempts to fully prepare for the Elections by not taking adequate steps to remove the legislative blockade in the way of the hosting of the Elections under a new and improved system.

On the other hand, Minister Bulkan told this publication that these amendments should not severely affect GECOM.
“Those minor legislative amendments are not expected to impinge or impact the timetable that GECOM currently possess in relation to the holding of these elections… The minor legislative amendment is not the issue holding up elections,” he insisted.

Instead, Bulkan sought to blame the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) for the holdup.
“I’ve learnt that the Opposition raised a number of concerns in relation to several activities… There are a number of reservations being advanced by the Opposition… the Opposition seems to be playing a cat and mouse game to prove a point that we are misleading the public and that the date we desire is unrealistic,” the Minister speculated.

Minister Bulkan is holding out that the Government is currently at a standstill until GECOM further advises.
Government already budgeted $2 billion for the hosting of the LGE.

But GECOM is holding out that the Government knows what it has to do to enable GECOM to officially commence active steps to carry out its mandate as regards Local Government Elections.

GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield maintained that GECOM cannot proceed to prepare a Preliminary Lists of Voters for the conduct of Claims and Objections for the purpose of finalising the respective Registers of Voters that will be necessary to conduct LGEs in the 65 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and the six municipalities in Guyana.

GECOM is also stating that existing legislation relative to the preparation of the Preliminary List of Voters requires that the Lists be prepared from the Official List of Electors that was used for the 1992 General and Regional Elections, explaining this legislation must be amended to clear the way for the Lists to be extracted from the up-to-date National Register of Registrants.

The Commission said too that the proposed (draft) amendment, among others, has already been prepared in one document which was discussed and fine-tuned between GECOM’s Legal Officer and the Chief Parliamentary Counsel of the Ministry of Legal Affairs.

Why LGE was not held since 1994
While in Opposition, APNU and AFC lambasted the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration for not holding LGE, claiming that they will host the LGE immediately after occupying office, casting blame upon the then Government for robbing citizens of their democratic right to elect the leaders for their Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and town councils.

But then Attorney General Anil Nandlall had contended that this is not so and explained how the main Opposition actively participated in the postponement of those elections.

He had chronicled a series of events in his attempt to explain how such an imperative event has been put off time and time again.

The former Attorney General recalled that in 1997, the then Government of the day went to general elections and since Local Government and General Elections could not have been facilitated in the same year, the decision was made to hold General Elections with the PPP/C Presidential Candidate being the late Janet Jagan. That election was followed by massive social unrest, riots, violence, street protests, and arson, which resulted in a team from the Caribbean Community (Caricom) intervening. This resulted in the LGE being delayed thereafter.

Further, for every year for onward for that period, there were amendments to the law, postponing Local Government Election.

“The Constitutional Reform Commission assembled and it began its work; that Commission recommended several changes to the Constitution that affected governmental structure generally, but more significantly that affected local government at the time,” Nandlall had explained.

However, when that process was completed another general election was held in 2001 and again during that period LGE was being postponed consensually by all the political parties in the Parliament. Following the 2001 election was more violence and unrest, which led to the postponement of LGE once again.

At that time, the Constitution provided for the establishment of a Local Government Commission, it did not provide for the way that the Commission will function, the powers that the Commission will have, the way the Commission will staff itself, all of which were supposed to be the subject of ordinary legislation.

“So while the Constitution laid the foundation, ordinary law would have outlined the way the constitutionally enshrined Commissioner was to function,” Nandlall stated. Subsequently, a task force was assembled to work out the modalities and to come up with draft legislation.

Again, as this process was being carried out, an amendment was moved in the National Assembly repeatedly and on an annual basis to postpone Local Government Election; this went on until 2009/2010.

Elections could have been held then, but a decision was taken for the hosting General and Regional Elections instead.
Then in 2011 when the 10th Parliament was convened works began on the local government bills which took about two to three years.

Nandlall had noted that only in 2014 the APNU started its “new enthusiasm” for LGE, making the then Government appear to be culprits in the process of postponement when for nearly 15 years they supported the process.

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Slothful Govt response affecting Corentyne rice farmers

More than 1500 acres of rice in under threat from lack of water in the 52-74 area in the Corentyne, Region Six (East

The head table at Thursday’s meeting (left-right) Chairman of the 52-74 IMC Rishieram Motie, Regional Chairman David Armogan, Waters Users Association Chairman Arjune Poonai, Regional Vice Chairman Dennis DeRoop and Regional Engineer Rupesh Persaud

The head table at Thursday’s meeting (left-right) Chairman of the 52-74 IMC Rishieram Motie, Regional Chairman David Armogan, Waters Users Association Chairman Arjune Poonai, Regional Vice Chairman Dennis DeRoop and Regional Engineer Rupesh Persaud

Berbice-Corentyne).
The farmers are calling on Government to act swiftly and have a pump installed so that they can have access to some much needed water for their rice fields.
More than two dozen farmers met with regional officials and members of the Waters Users Association on Thursday afternoon at the Tagore Memorial Secondary School with the hope of addressing the issue.
“They spending time on sending home people and investigating this and that and not paying any attention to we the farmers,” one of the farmers told the meeting which was chaired by Regional Chairman David Armogan and included Regional Vice Chairman Dennis DeRoop, Chairman of the Waters Users Association Arjune Poonai, Regional Engineer Rupesh Persaud and Chairman of the 52-72 Interim Management Committee (IMC) Rishieram Motie.
According to one farmer, the water in his field dried up on Thursday and the next two days are critical for his rice crop. Other farmers are facing a similar dilemma. About 14,000 acres of rice are being cultivated in the 52-74 area.
Guyana Times understands that the pump which supplies those farmers has been out of operation for three months.
The Region Six administration has written to the Agriculture Ministry seeking its intervention for funding to repair the pump.
Regional Chairman David Armogan says it is unfortunate that all he has received to date from the Ministry is a letter of acknowledgement. “It has a lot to do with slowness and I am not satisfied that we are getting the kind of quick response that we want with this new Administration. We used to get quicker response with the previous Administration. I don’t know if it is because we have new Ministers in the Ministries; a lot of them don’t seem to have their footing on the ground as yet and by the time they get their footing, farmers could be suffering,” the Chairman told Guyana Times.
Meanwhile, there is another urgent matter which the farmers would like to engage the attention of the Agriculture Ministry.  This publication was told that most of the dams leading to farmlands in the 52-74 area have been destroyed during the rainy weather.
Armogan told this publication that representation has been made to the Ministry for funding to repair the access dams. “I don’t know if funding will be released to do these dams… We will have to get this process moving otherwise we will run into serious trouble in terms of getting farmers to get their paddy out of the field,” he said.
Farmers are now forced to sit and wait to see if it will rain to save the crop or if the Ministry will come to their rescue.

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Santos stun Fruta Conquerors to lift title

iNet Communications U-13 Football…

BY AVENASH RAMZAN

Santos pulled off a dramatic 3-1 victory on Saturday afternoon to deny Fruta Conquerors the iNet Communications Under-13 Football title on familiar turf at the Tucville ground.

The Santos boys pose for a photo after copping the title on Saturday afternoon (Avenash Ramzan photos)

The Santos boys pose for a photo after copping the title on Saturday afternoon (Avenash Ramzan photos)

With both teams enjoying solid support behind the lines, Fruta Conquerors surged ahead in the first half, before Santos equalised in the second to force the game into extra time.

Now with the momentum and confidence, Santos drove home two more goals in extra time against a visibly tired Fruta Conquerors unit, whose defence did little to maintain their unbeaten run in the competition.

In the blazing afternoon sunshine, Jermain Garrett put the host ahead in the 20th minute, much to the delight of the Fruta Conquerors supporters. At that point, it was hard to believe it was going to be their lone moment of joy.

After the break, Fabian Abrams, the eventual Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament, equalised for Santos in the 30th minute to send his teammates and supporters into high-octane mode.

As the game headed into extra time, the Santos lads were the eager of the two teams, as relinquishing their slim lead seemed to have taken a toll on the morale of the Conquerors boys.

The body language would transform into goals, as Santos blasted two unanswered goals to lift the title with ease. Darren Niles put Santos up 2-1 in the 49th minute, before Jermaine Padmore easily converted a penalty stretch his team’s advantage.

Earlier in the day, the third place game was awarded to Renaissance after their opponent, Western Tigers, failed to put in an appearance.

Fabian Abrams (backing camera) sets off in celebrations after scoring the equaliser for Santos

Fabian Abrams (backing camera) sets off in celebrations after scoring the equaliser for Santos

At the presentation ceremony which followed, Abrams received a trophy for being adjudged MVP, while Tyrese Gouveia of Fruta Conquerors copped the Best Goalkeeper award and Bevney Marks of Renaissance was the leading goal scorer with eight goals.

The competition was coordinated by the Fruta Conquerors Football Club, and its Secretary Daniel Thomas hailed the final as “one of the best Under-13 games we’ve seen in a while”. He lauded the courage of both teams, especially the Santos players for their remarkable comeback in the latter half of the game.

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Uniting Amerindians under the Golden Arrowhead

The importance of the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) was previously broached to highlight the violations of an indigenous right enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The Communities Ministry has confirmed its intention of establishing a flag for each administrative region, despite that when questioned on the issue of regional consultation during the 2015 National Budget Debate, Minister Bulkan was unable to confirm that citizens were part of a consultation exercise. While the Government defended in the House that the regional authorities would have been presented with the draft flags, they are not representative of nor speak on behalf of the Amerindian communities, but instead are political appointees. This arbitrary process goes against the very principle that Minister claims he is advocating: to wit, to increase local autonomy.

In Regions 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 where significant numbers of Amerindians live, it is the duty of the Government in keeping with the principle of FPIC, to consult with and inform Amerindians adequately of the decision, and obtain their feedback. Abstaining from such dialogue infringes on Amerindian rights. The result of this imposed decision is that several  Regional Chairmen, including Brenton Ashley of Region One, Davanand Ramdatt of Region Two, Vickchand Ramphal of Region Five, Brian Allicock of Region Nine and Renis Morlan of Region Ten have all confirmed that they were part of no proper consultation and didn’t see the relevance of such flags. The issue of undermining national sovereignty as well as the case of cultural identity were raised in justification of their objection to the regional flags.

The cultural identity of Amerindians will immediately be engaged if the Government does chose to implement regional flags. Regional Chairman Brian Allicock who is also the brother of Hon. Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Sydney Allicock indicated that the flag which was forced on Region Nine carries an eagle as the national bird but insists that this should have been the Canje Pheasant instead. He asserted that the people of the region will not support the move.

If the Government was keen on engaging Amerindians on the creation of regional flags, then there would not be a predefined core colour of green on nine of the ten drafts, with the exception of Region Four’s proposal. Ancestrally, Amerindians identify primarily to black and red, black being symbolic of the spiritual world whereas red in some instances is also tied to certain spirituality and certain rituals, while also being associated with hunting.  Nobles within Amerindian societies adopted black and red, while other members of society also wore colours such as blue and yellow. The colour code is just one aspect of Amerindian culture; symbolism is also incarnated through nature and the animal realm.

Subsequently, if the Government of Guyana implements regional flags with the intention of forging regional identities, they must not bypass the authority of Amerindian leaders, Toshaos and Village Councils alike, who are the true representatives of our first peoples.
The pattern of recurrent disregard for their authority is prolonging into one which will have serious implications if not reversed. Indeed, indigenous rights in Guyana have long, rich history. From Ordinances issued by the British Crown, to the Amerindian Act Cap 29:01 of 1976 and the Amerindian Act no. 6 – 2006, Guyana’s indigenous peoples have achieved significant progress in having their rights respected by the State.
They have become quasi autonomous in the governance and management of village affairs and their development, and now form a veritable network of communication through the Ministry whose ground staff largely outnumbered, up to recently, those stationed in administrative departments in Georgetown.

However, the policy of the recently installed Government seems paradoxical to the path of development undertaken by Amerindians.

Consequently, it isn’t surprising that young unemployed Amerindians are departing for neighbouring Brazil in search of employment and new opportunities, considering the skepticism stemming from the Government’s new agenda. For the first time in years, Amerindian development doesn’t hold a prominent place in the National Budget. All the efforts invested in lifting them up might now be in vain.

Perhaps the Granger-led administration should attempt to secure the trust of Amerindians under one national Golden Arrowhead, rather than encourage them to migrate in search of a better future.

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RHTY&SC to celebrate township’s 45th anniversary

The village of Rose Hall was granted the status of township on the September 20, 1970, by the Administration of the late Prime Minister of Guyana, Linden Forbes Samspon Burnham.

The village was sold to 57 former slaves by Henry John Baird, a European planter, and then became the fifth town in Guyana.

The Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club (RHTY&SC), the leading youth and sport organisation in Guyana, is based in the country’s smallest town and over the last 25 years has contributed to the development of the township.

The club serves residents of the town by hosting 200 programmes/activities under the sub-headings of sport, culture, charity, pro-education, anti-drugs, anti-suicide, honour/awards, youth development, community development, religious, social and personal development, among others.

To mark the town’s 45th anniversary, the RHTY&SC and its cricket teams, Rose Hall Town Farfan and Mendes Under-15, Bakewell Under-17 and Second Division, Pepsi Under-19, Metro Females and Gizmos and Gadgets Under-21 and First Division teams would be organising several activities.

These includes a 20/20 cricket match at the Area “H” ground, an Inter-ward basketball tournament, unveiling of a 45th anniversary billboard, hosting of the Assuria Insurance 5-over cricket tournament, distribution of footwear to less fortunate students across Berbice and the launching of a leaflet on the history of the town.

The teams would also be hosting a medical outreach programme in conjunction with the New Amsterdam Public Hospital, an Inter-Primary School Spelling Bee competition, an Evening of Music with the Guyana Defence Force and a Public Exhibition.

Club Secretary and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Hilbert Foster, stated that the teams and the club would be funding most of the activities as a way of saying thank you to the township for its support over the years.

Foster also disclosed that the RHTY&SC would also be spearheading the construction of a Community Recreational Park for residents. This project would be a joint project with the Guyana Police Force B Division, the RHTY&SC and the residents under the “Say No to Crime Programme”.

The project is currently in its planning stage and is expected to be completed by March 2016. Efforts would also be made to assist sport organisations and schools in the Rose Hall Town area with sport gear/equipment.

This would be done, according to the long-serving Secretary/CEO, so that the clubs and schools can promote sport as an alternative to a life on the road for youths.

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Action continues tonight with 4 games

GT Beer Futsal Tournament…

Action in the GT Beer Futsal Tournament will continue this evening at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall with four exciting games from 19:00h.

Some action during the tournament

Some action during the tournament

Alexander Village will battle Globe Yard in the opening game of the evening in a game that might be low scoring since both teams play brilliant defence.

However, Globe Yard plays with a bit more of an attacking style and might be able to crack the defence of Alexander Village with more frequency.

The second game of the night will see Festival City taking on Kitty Weavers in a game that can turn into a goal scoring fest.
Both teams like to score and it will be interesting to see if they change their attacking styles to possibly throw off their opponents.

Agricola will then take of Queen Street Tigerbay in another game that might have little goals involved; Queen Street is more of a counter attacking team and might find it tough against an all-round Agricola team that can play both ends of the floor.
The final game of the night will see Albouystown take on Sparta Boss in clash of the titans.

Both teams can attack and defend and this one is expected to thrill the crowd that will attend the action packed night.

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Diamond family robbed on the way home from airport

A Diamond family was robbed of over US$4000 at their home immediately after their return from the United States on Saturday morning.

The Ramnarine family, of 11 Street Back-half, Diamond New Housing Scheme, East Bank Demerara had just returned from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, when two armed bandits pounced upon them as they were entering their yard. The incident occurred around 03:00h.

The bandits, one armed with a gun and the other with a knife, viciously attacked the taxi driver while threatening the family to hand over their valuables.

Eventually, after a series of threats and attacks, the bandits made their escape in a getaway motor vehicle, which was parked one corner away from the house.

They carted off with the US$4000, two smartphones, two tablet devices, medication and important documents including Identification Cards, passports, birth certificates, and travelling documents, among others.

The man of the house, Mr Ramnarine, explained to the Guyana Times that he, his wife and his 13-year-old daughter were passengers in the taxi on their way back from the airport. He stated that when the taxi pulled up by their gate, his sons came outside to assist in taking in the luggage into the house. At that time, he followed his daughter to the doorsteps and when he returned to the taxi, the bandits had already beaten the taxi driver and one was holding his wife at knifepoint, demanding money.

“My son them came and opened the gate, so I came till here by the door and then I gone back and there is the man them. They had the driver on the ground with a gun to his head and they had my wife with a knife to her neck. They were telling the driver that they will ‘kill he’ if we don’t give them anything,” he related.

According the Mr Ramnarine, before fleeing the scene, the bandits put the driver’s car into reverse and slammed it into a steel structured letterbox, causing damages to the vehicle.

“They then jumped into a vehicle that they had parked a corner away and they speed away,” he stated. Thereafter, the family summoned the Police.

“We went to the station and the Police them went and drive around the scheme, they went till to 2nd Bridge and they were looking for the car but we didn’t see it,” Mr Ramnarine said, lauding the Police for their prompt response.

Opportunity
The taxi driver, “Steve”, who is a family-friend, told this newspaper that he does not believe they were trailed from the airport.

“This car wasn’t following us. It was there when I turn in the street. I see the car was driving around, it was speeding. When I park the car by the gate here, I see back the car through another street and then it stopped and the two man rush out. Everything happened so fast,” Steve explained.

He said that he believes the perpetrators were not planning the attack but rather, saw an ideal opportunity to attack and rob.
In June last, there was a spike in the number of incidents where Guyanese are being attacked, robbed or murdered upon their return to Guyana.

Reports indicate that in most of these incidents, the victims are tailed from the airport. In other instances, victims have alleged that airport security or taxi drivers may have colluded with criminals to plan the attack and robbery.

There have been concerns from sections of society regarding these attacks and the impact it has on the country’s image and its tourism potential. Crime Chief Wendall Blanhum had vowed to review the crime fighting strategies and make the necessary adjustments with the aim of reducing the crime rate in Guyana.

Meanwhile, the family is asking that anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the documents, make contact with the nearest Police Station or contact the family on 625-6215.

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UN Mission in Guyana to discuss the Guyana/Venezuela controversy

A United Nations (UN) mission arrived in Guyana on Saturday to discuss the matters surrounding the ongoing border controversy between Guyana and its western South American neighbour, Venezuela.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister,  Sir Shridath Ramphal

Former Foreign Affairs Minister,
Sir Shridath Ramphal

Former Director General Elisabeth Harper

Former Director General Elisabeth Harper

Former Guyana Facilitator in the Good Offices Process Ralph Ramkarran

Former Guyana Facilitator in the Good Offices Process Ralph Ramkarran

The team, which was dispatched by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, will particularly discuss options under the Geneva Agreement for a resolution of Venezuela’s continuous contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 is null and void.
Guyana had already deemed the Good Offices Process as ineffective in resolving the issue and signalled its intention to opt out of it.

Vice President and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge had already declared in the National Assembly that a juridical settlement is possibly the best and only option open to Guyana to move beyond the controversy.
For generations, Venezuela has been claiming most of Guyana’s territory. The controversy surfaced again in May when US-oil giant ExxonMobil revealed it had found massive offshore oil and gas deposits.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro issued a decree ratifying maritime sovereignty over waters within a 200-mile range, including the entire Atlantic Ocean off the Essequibo Coast, as well as part of Suriname’s maritime territory.

This decree sparked a nationwide debate regarding the matter, with various regional bodies and nations calling for the peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett

Vice President and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge

Vice President and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Rashleigh Jackson

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Rashleigh Jackson

Meanwhile, the UN team will meet with former Government officials and current Government Ministers including Minister Greenidge; former Foreign Affairs Ministers, Sir Shridath Ramphal; Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett; and Rashleigh Jackson; former Guyana Facilitator in the Good Offices Process Ralph Ramkarran; Ambassadors Rudolph Collins, Elisabeth Harper, and Major General Retired Joseph Singh.

The UN Mission, which is led by the Chief of the Americas Division – Department of Political Affairs of the United Nations, Martha Doggett, will be departing Guyana on September 2.

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s President has already met with the UN Secretary General, seeking support amid the controversy.

Maduro told the Secretary General that Guyana’s President David Granger disregarded the 1966 Geneva Agreement by allowing US oil giant ExxonMobil a concession for oil prospecting in the Liz-1 Block, which is offshore the Essequibo Coast.

“The Guayana Esequiba (Essequibo) always belonged to Venezuela even since the establishment of the Captaincy General of Venezuela in 1777 and in all the stages of the Independence,” Maduro insisted.

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