October 8, 2015 By
October 8, 2015 By
Govt’s mega salary increases scandal…
… calls for decision to be rescinded
The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition came in for much criticism on Wednesday from the Opposition with respect to the massive pay hike they awarded themselves.
Earlier this year, when Guyana Times had reported that the new coalition was planning to give Cabinet Members a hefty salary increase, the new Government categorically denied this.
However, in the official Gazette dated September 25, 2015, it was revealed that Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and all Government Ministers have been awarded a salary increase, which is much larger than what the Administration had given to public servants in its 2015 Budget.
On Wednesday, General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Clement Rohee called for the Government to rescind its decision to dole out such large increases in salaries for its Vice Presidents, Ministers and MPs.
During a media briefing at Freedom House, Rohee stated that this course of action taken by the APNU/AFC was “ugly”, politically motivated, and is evidence of the Government’s self-interest.
“Only two months ago…spokespersons in the Government were loud in their denials….that whopping salary increases were in the offing…allowing them to line their pockets with tax dollars,” said Rohee.
The PPP General Secretary emphasised that sometime in June, when the coalition came into power, its officials were trumpeting statements declaring that the Treasury was without funds and was, therefore, empty. This, he deems, was an act by the APNU/AFC to “dupe” the nation.
“The question now being asked is how with a bankrupt economy and an empty treasury can such whopping increases be afforded?” he questioned.
According to Rohee, the “big lie” has now been exposed for what it is and as such, this Administration will have to ‘take the blows’ from infuriated and offended Guyanese who will outwardly reject this “meat for the boys and bones for the workers’ salary increase(s)”.
On Tuesday, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon had defended the increases, stating that persons need to be paid well by the Government if the Government wanted them to perform.
“I am not going to say that I make any apologies whatsoever for Ministers getting increase in salaries, they deserve it,” Minister Harmon had told the media.
Rohee further noted that “Chief apologist for the APNU/AFC Coalition Administration, Joseph Harmon had declared in June 2015 that APNU/AFC had essentially found the cupboard bare meaning that the public treasury had no money and that the “country was bankrupt…The APNU/AFC Coalition had promised to bring Guyanese ‘a lean and mean government’. Also, a “good life” was promised to all Guyanese and all of this has now ‘gone fuh channa’.”
In relation to Minister Harmon’s most recent statement on the matter, that is by increasing these salaries corruption will be prevented since Ministers will be motivated to work ‘harder’, Rohee said there is no evidence to support the Minister’s claim.
As such, the PPP General Secretary questioned the basis on which such a conclusion was formed by the State Minister.
“Where are the studies and data supported evidence showing that higher salaries will make a better politician or motivate elected Government officials to work harder?”
Guyana Times was further told by the PPP spokesman that the Party was not convinced that the “overgenerous” pay hikes are well-deserved.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo will be benefiting from a whopping $20,580,000 per annum, while the other Vice Presidents will each receive $11,135,064.
Under the APNU/AFC Government, a Cabinet Minister will be given a hefty sum of $10,439,124 – annually – more than $300,000 over previous Ministers and a Junior Minister or a Minister within a Ministry will be paid $8,346,492 per annum.
The Attorney General will receive the same amount of money that the Chancellor does and the Speaker of the National Assembly is slated to benefit from $10,39,124 every year (the same salary which a Cabinet Minister will be paid).
In addition to the increased salary for Prime Minister Nagamootoo of $1.7 million monthly, an increase of over $200,000 each month, he will be drawing vacation benefits and perks totalling more than another $500,000.
Additionally, every other member of the National Assembly is to be paid $2,402,532 each year.
Guyana Times further understands that the three other Vice Presidents positions, which did not exist under the PPP/C Administration, Sydney Allicock, Carl Greenidge, and Khemraj Ramjattan will earn some $1.13 million, double the $579,000 which they would have earned as Ministers. In addition, the vacations and other benefits are also $500,000.
The Cabinet Ministers, who are the 15 senior Ministers in Government, will now benefit from $1 million – an increase of over $400,000 or 74 per cent each month.
It must be noted that the 12 Ministers within the Ministries (Junior Ministers) will each earn $700,000 monthly and like their senior Ministers will be entitled to the $500,000 in benefits.
In addition to their huge salaries, all 27 Ministers will each be receiving a duty allowance, an entertainment allowance, $45,000 housing allowance, chauffeur allowance of over $100,000 and annual vacation allowance of $420,000.
October 8, 2015 By
– after allegedly finding man under bed
A triangular love affair turned deadly in the wee hours of Wednesday after a miner turned up at his reputed wife’s home
at Pike Street, Kitty and discovered a male under her bed.
Dead are Mark Moses and his reputed wife Amanda Mohan.
According to reports reaching Guyana Times, 25-year-old Moses of One Mile, Wismar, Linden, went to visit Mohan at her Lot 248 Pike Street home about 21:30h on Tuesday and found a male under her bed. Reports stated that he left the home, but returned about 04:30h with a gun and shot Mohan twice to the chest before turning the gun on himself.
The two were rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital where 20-year-old Mohan was pronounced dead on arrival. Moses succumbed to his injuries some seven hours later.
According to information received, the young miner works in the interior and made a surprise visit to his reputed wife’s house, where he found an employee attached to Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Company hiding under the bed.
However, relatives of the dead woman are holding out that the person under the bed was actually a family friend and Moses might have misunderstood what he saw. The gentleman was reportedly in the woman’s bedroom playing games on her laptop when Moses entered the house, this newspaper was told.
Ryan Mohan, brother of the now deceased woman, said that Moses turned up at the house unannounced and as he went into his reputed wife’s bedroom, he realised something was amiss since she was breathing heavily.
Guyana Times was told that Moses enquired why Mohan was breathing heavily but she did not respond, prompting him to search the room.
This newspaper was told that Moses allowed the man to leave the house after which he reportedly pulled out a gun and
threatened to shoot Mohan. Mohan’s brother told this newspaper that his sister attempted to explain the situation to Moses, telling him that the young man was a family friend and her sister hid him under the bed so not to cause a misunderstanding.
The brother went on to say that Moses left the house although the mother of his child begged him to stay. He, however, returned at 04:30h and shot Mohan then himself.
Mohan’s brother said he heard the shots and ran to his sister’s bedroom where he saw her lying in a pool of blood, while Moses was lying on the bed. Moses, he noted, was panting for breath, but his sister, from all indications, was already dead.
He, along with a friend, picked up the couple and rushed them to the Georgetown Public Hospital where his sister was pronounced dead and the young man was taken into theatre for surgery but subsequently died at 11:00h.
At the home of the dead woman, relatives congregated to comfort the grieving family.
An uncle of the dead woman, who gave his name only as Farouk, said that he was in his apartment when he heard three gunshots and immediately rushed to the upper flat of the house where he saw his niece and Moses lying in a pool of blood. As he looked closer, he said, he saw a gun on the bed.
He added that the family was in shock at the manner in which Moses handled the situation.
Meanwhile, attempts to contact the relatives of the dead man proved futile. The Police have launched an investigation into the matter. An unlicensed .9mm pistol and three spent shells were recovered at the scene.
October 8, 2015 By
– two crew members arrested
A misunderstanding between several fishermen out at sea turned fatal, leaving one man dead and two others in Police
The dead man has been identified as Ronald Emanuel Reid called “Manny”, of Lot 25 Castello Housing Scheme, Georgetown. According to reports, the 27-year-old man sustained a fatal stab wound to his back. The incident occurred around 14:00h on Tuesday.
Police investigations have revealed that the incident occurred onboard a fishing boat off the Lichfield Foreshore, West Coast Berbice.
“Investigations have revealed that Ronald Emanuel Reid was involved in an argument during which he was fatally stabbed to his back. Two men have been arrested and are in Police custody assisting with the investigations,” the Police disclosed in a release.
Guyana Times understands that Reid has been working at sea for some seven years now and left for this trip about two weeks ago. Speaking to this newspaper, the dead man’s cousin Sonia Persaud related that they received a phone call about Reid’s death around 19:00h on Tuesday.
Persaud said that they were unsure what transpired, but were told that her cousin was killed since around 14:00h. She revealed that Reid spoke with his girl friend earlier in the day and told her that he had a misunderstanding with the Captain of the boat.
“He spoke to his girlfriend around 10:00h and told her he is trying to get a boat to come in from sea because he got in lil’ problems with some guy on the boat… He didn’t say what was the problem,” Persaud related.
This newspaper understands that Reid’s body was brought to shore sometime this morning. Persaud further detailed that when relatives went to identify and claim the body at the shore on Wednesday morning, they observed a single stab wound in his back.
“It look like he was apparently sleeping when they kill he or something… but I can’t say for sure because we ain’t get the full report as yet,” she added.
She added that based on reports received, it was two brothers who reportedly killed her cousin. “We were made to understand that this wasn’t the first time these two brothers murdered someone. It has occur a second time… they had worked in the Venezuela waters but came back to Guyana and started working Guyana waters,” she claimed.
The woman said she did not know the men nor could she say whether her cousin worked with them before this trip. Persaud, however, noted that Reid’s father knew them as he was also a fisherman. Persaud described her cousin as a cool and calm individual, noting that he was not confrontational.
Reid leaves to mourn his parents, younger brother along with several other foster-siblings and his girlfriend, who is currently two months pregnant with his first child. The police are continuing the investigations.
October 8, 2015 By
– as Chang slated to retire Feb
With the acting Chief Justice (CJ) Ian Chang soon to retire, the search has commenced for a new Chief Justice. This
could only happen, however, after meaningful consultations are done between the Government and the Opposition.
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams on Wednesday disclosed that he was currently in discussion with President David Granger about recommendations for a new Chief Justice. Justice Chang, who has been acting in the position since 2000, is heading on pre-retirement leave.
“The question of a vacancy occurring in the Office of Chief Justice would arise very shortly and when the Chief Justice goes on leave, obviously somebody has to act in his position,” Williams told a news conference.
The CJ will be proceeding on more than 10 weeks of leave.
The constitutional reform process of 2000 introduced mechanisms for meaningful consultations with the Leader of the Opposition for certain appointments. The reform process itself made the approval of the Leader of the Opposition necessary for some appointments, particularly those of the Chancellor and Chief Justice.
October 8, 2015 By
North Georgetown Inter-schools championships…
By Akeem Greene
At the completion of three categories of competition, the Bishops’ High School has emerged as the most dominant
school in the North Georgetown Inter-School championships.
Placed in Zone Two, Bishops’ High School has excelled in the swimming, cycling and field events, finishing first in all three categories.
In the field events, which were held on Wednesday at the YMCA ground, Thomas Lands, Bishops High School romped to victory, attaining a mammoth 538 points. St John Secondary placed second with 334 points, while Christ Church was in third on 244 points.
For the field events, Queens College of Zone One topped with 476 points, while Richard Ishmael Secondary gained 346 points. Chase Academy came in third with 222 points, with Government Technical Institute and Marian Academy finishing in fourth and fifth with 125 and 123 points respectively. Queens College also placed first in their Zone for swimming and third for cycling.
In the Boys Under-18 long jump, Nathan Saul of the Government Technical Institute soared to victory with a leap of 5.70 metres.
Saul, who needs to increase the speed of his run-up and remains more upright upon lift-off, will be well aware that he needs to touch the six-metre mark if he intends to medal at ‘Nationals.’
In the Under-20 category, Euclid Nedd of Queens College secured first place with a jump of 5.47 metres.
In the Javelin Under-14, Andrew Henry from Richard Ishmael Secondary threw 23.90 metres and it was enough to secure first place.
In the Boys Under-20 category, Queens College’s Amani Thomas came first with a throw of 24.50 metres.
In the Boys Discuss event, Kelvin Jones of Government Technical Institute swung his arms to first place with a throw of 24.45 metres to win. In the Shot Put, Queens College’s Brian Peters won with a distance of 10.82 metres.
The events, which are being used as a yardstick to select the district’s best team for the upcoming National Schools Championships, will continue on next Tuesday at the Police ground where the track events of the inter-school competition will take place. (email@example.com)
October 8, 2015 By
– no assurances on date for Parliament
The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and Telecommunications Bills may be tabled in Parliament sometime this year. This is according to Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, who on Monday said that while the Bills have been completed, they were still with the Cabinet Sub-Committee awaiting approval. While the Minister has assured that the Bill will be ready for Parliament this year, he could not give a commitment as to when this will actually take place.
“I had said before this is something that will be done this year. I can’t say if it will be done next week, but it will be done this year,” Patterson said.
In August, the Government had announced that it was appointing two legal consultants to harmonise the amendments of the PUC Bill and complete the Telecommunications Bill in order for them to become law. Overseas-based Janice Brendman and Geeta Ragubir were appointed as consultants to complete the work on the Telecommunications Bill.
Patterson on Monday reported that the consultants have returned the drafts, adding that the Cabinet Sub-Committee will study the two pieces of legislation before Cabinet gave its approval for them to be presented to Parliament.
“Obviously, now we will go through it to ensure it contains all the aspects with which we, as an Administration, would like included there… As long as it passes through that process, it goes to the CPC (Chief Parliamentary Counsel) and then to Cabinet. Immediately after, we will lay it in Parliament,” he stated.
Furthermore, Patterson stated that the revised Telecommunications Bill would now see companies having to re-apply for telecommunication licences.
“From the draft Bills, obviously everybody were required to re-apply,” he pointed out.
The Bills, which was first introduced in 2011 and revised in 2013, was at the level of a Select Committee when the 10th Parliament ended. The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration is now moving to have the Bill passed in the 11th Parliament.
The Telecommunications Bill seeks to create a competitive regime in the telecommunications sector. It provides for an open, liberalised and competitive sector that will be attractive to new market entrants and investors, while preserving the activities of the current participants.
By creating this competitive environment for telecommunications, the Bill is expected to result in greater choice, better quality of service and lower prices for consumers. The Bill also specifically addresses the expansion of telecommunication networks and services into unserved and under-served areas, through the institution of a new universal access/universal service programme, in an effort to further national, regional, social and economic development.
Following the prorogation of Parliament in November 2014, former Digicel Guyana Inc Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gregory Dean had lamented the state of affairs on the Telecommunications Bill, pointing out that it was another missed opportunity for the sector to be liberalised.
Meanwhile, former Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) CEO Radha Krishna Sharma had said that the company was prepared for Government’s plans to liberalise the sector, pointing out that the company – which began 20 years ago – was looking forward to contributing to the refinement of the legislation. He had stated that there were tremendous opportunities within a “liberalised” sector. Upon assent, this Bill would in essence break the more-than-20-year-old monopoly enjoyed by the GT&T.
The Telecommunications Bill is among 12 other Bills that will have to be recalled in the 11th Parliament. The others include the Customs (Amendment) Bill, the Broadcast (Amendment) and Education Bills.
October 8, 2015 By
Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday said the United States of America was too much involved in the border controversy between Guyana and the Spanish-speaking country, and its ongoing interference would only “damage brotherly relations” between the countries.
Maduro raised his country’s condemnation over what it said was the US’ meddling in affairs which concern the peoples of Guyana and Venezuela.
Meeting the Guyanese Press for the first time on Monday, new US Ambassador Perry Holloway said the controversy which continues to brew between the two countries still warrants a peaceful resolution through diplomatic means.
He said his country’s stance remained that the two countries must maintain peace and adhere to international law. The Ambassador reaffirmed the need to respect the 1899 ruling on the border.
Venezuela on Tuesday said the US needed to take its hands off the Essequibo (almost two thirds of Guyana) to which it lay claim, continuing that it would “not accept your interference any longer”.
Venezuela said it was further evidence of intrusion on the part of the US Government in the issues that concern only Venezuela and Guyana in its obsession to “damage brotherly relations between the countries of the Caribbean”.
It urged the US not to get involved directly or indirectly in matters which exclusively belong to the parties involved in the territorial controversy. This is contrary to the stance of Venezuela in the late 1800s when it pleaded with the US to help it resolve the border controversy and America responded by almost going to war with Britain to force it to agree to arbitration to decide the border. Venezuela and Britain then signed the Treaty of Arbitration to determine a “final” settlement of the border by an international arbitral panel. On that panel, Venezuela was represented by its powerful ally, as two Americans were part of the five-member panel that also comprised a Russian and two Britons. The panel unanimously determined the Guyana-Venezuela border which all parties agreed would be final.
Now Venezuela claims the US was “one of those responsible for the arbitral fraud” and was, therefore, responsible for the existence of the border controversy.
The criticism comes after Ambassador Holloway called on Venezuela to respect the 1899 Award. The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry responded that the parties responsible for that decision were “senior US officials in collusion with right-wing mercenaries of the old British Empire”. It was previously claimed by Venezuelans that Russia and Britain had struck a deal on the matter, although the British lost control of the hugely important Orinoco River Mouth in the Arbitral Award. Both parties accepted, ratified and demarcated the boundary. The US President at the time later told Congress the tribunal’s “unanimous decision” on the border was “equally satisfactory to both parties”, thereby “ending a long lived controversy”.
In its statement on Tuesday, the Venezuelan Government denounced the interference of the US, whom it had begged to intervene in the first place. It claimed the US was undertaking a “calculated strategy to try to validate, by way of intimidation, the null rights of ExxonMobil to carry out extractive activities in a disputed territory and regulated by the 1966 Geneva Agreement”. The Geneva Agreement was signed by Guyana and Venezuela to resolve Venezuela’s contention that the 1899 Arbitral Award was null and void. The Venezuelans have not provided any proof to support their claim.
Earlier this year, US Chargé d’Affaires Bryan Hunt said his country was ready to support the Government of Guyana on the position it had taken against the Venezuelan Government, which, in a move of provocation has warned the oil company ExxonMobil against drilling in Guyana’s waters.
Venezuela ratcheted up its rhetoric after the oil company announced a major oil find, issuing decrees that purported to claim Guyana’s maritime space off the Essequibo. The first decree was later withdrawn, but Venezuela has continued its aggression toward Guyana, deploying, among other measures, troops and military equipment to the border areas which were later withdrawn after a United Nations mediated meeting between the countries.
This new pronouncement by Venezuela comes almost two weeks after President David Granger and President Maduro held consultations in the presence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The UN has agreed to mediate the matter, with Guyana pushing for a judicial settlement of the controversy, “once and for all”.
October 8, 2015 By
The annual Flex Night International 2015 will be held on Sunday December 6 at the National Cultural Centre, organisers
“Coming as it does after the November Darcy Beckles Classic hosted in Barbados, the event brings the curtain down on the 2015 slate of male and female bodybuilding and fitness events,” Managing Director of Flex Night Inc. Donald Sinclair said via a release.
The December event is expected to attract male and female competitors from gyms in Georgetown, Berbice, Linden, East and West Demerara, as well as a contingent from neighbouring Suriname and at least one competitor based in New Jersey, United States of America.
Even at this early stage some key sponsors have already pledged their commitment to Flex Night International 2015.
Prominent among those are Southland International, Fitness Express, International Pharmaceutical Agency, Toucan Industries, Farfan and Mendes Limited, Axe Apparel and Modern Grafix. As the Flex Night date draws closer there will be further information about both new sponsors and international participants expected.
October 8, 2015 By