February 10, 2016

The grass isn’t green…

…over in the States?
Used to be that cost folks US$12,500 to get a visa for the US. This was what the fella from INSIDE the Embassy – Carroll – charged with his local confederate who now heads the local Guyana-Cuba Friendship Society. After Carroll and his accomplice were both charged, convicted and jailed back in 2000, the movement of bodies to the States handle skipped a beat. A decade later visas – or getting bodies into the states by whichever way possible – were still going for over US$13,000 a pop.
Until two years ago, that is! Suddenly you couldn’t even get someone to fork over US$100!! What happened? The short answer is the bottom dropped out of the market. In international trade, some foreign companies can destroy markets in a country by selling the product below what it even cost them. It’s called “dumping”. For the fellas who couldn’t even practically give away visas, the US Embassy was suddenly “dumping” visas”.
And because it was all done OFFICIALLY – not like on the side with Carroll – there was nothing they or anyone else could do. Suddenly anyone who walked into the Embassy was not only given a visa – but for “ten year” ones! Word spread like bushfire and folks started coming out of the woodwork – not to mention even from Hicksville – to apply for and receive visas.
Forget the baker, butcher and candle stick maker. Canecutters, watchmen, panhandlers and your mother-in-law could now get visas. Suddenly you were asked by your gardner for “leave” because he, his wife and kids had visas to go Stateside. And their tickets were paid for by his “cousins”.
Well, your Eyewitness’ anecdotal evidence was just confirmed by the new US Ambassador. Last year he revealed, more than 39,000 Guyanese lined up along Duke Street for visas and “more than half” – meaning 20,000 at least – got the lucky stamp.
The Ambassador allowed that only five years ago there were only 6000 applications. So why the explosion? The good, ole southern boy explained it was because “the Guyanese economy has grown over the last few years”!! Well not to take anything away from the PPP that ran Guyana during the said years – with GDP growth rates of 5 per cent annually – but we’re still a “lower middle income country” with only Haiti above us in the Caribbean!
Nah… we gotta look elsewhere. And not far. The effect is actually the cause. It’s simply the US DECIDED suddenly to start giving away visas like hot southern biscuits.
And every Tom, Dick and Harilall now knew they had more than a 60-50 chance of hitting the lotto!!
How sweet it is!!

…over on the West Bank
For decades the “West Bank” has connoted misery and turmoil in the mind of anyone with even the scantiest knowledge of what went on (and down) in the Mid-East. Well, it looks like the government’s determined to create our own “West Bank” in the image of the original. Our “West Bank” of course, is that part of Demerara where Wales is located.
If you want to see a section of Guyana that’s literally a stone throw away from Georgetown where a hundred six-storey buildings are reaching for the skies – but yet mired in poverty and desperation, then you’re talking about the West Bank of Demerara.
178 years after slavery and bitter sugar, the latter isn’t only “King” but it’s the only game in town. And without even deigning to tell the people what’s going down, the government takes away sugar.
All that’s left is the “bitter”.

…with rice either
So it won’t be accused of discriminating, the government’s also leaving rice in the lurch. Nagamootoo took the credit for the record crop last year. But after the one-two sucker punches of loss of the Venezuelan market and the El Niño drought, now it’s “not our business, man”!!

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Hot air…

…on wind farm

There’s a whole lot of hot air blowing from Lloyd Singh, the fella who financed the new AFC headquarters according to Khemraj Ramjattan. Ramjattan allowed as to how there are no ulterior motives and he and Lloydie are just “good friends”. But when Finance Minister Jordan laid his Budget in Parliament, he let on the Government was considering a proposal to have power supplied to GPL by a Wind Power generating company. Turned out the majority shareholder was no other than good old Lloyd Singh!!

As the Opposition Leader whose constitutional duty is to keep the Government on the straight and narrow, former President Jagdeo opined that in view of Ramjattan’s admission of the “close friendship”, the prospective deal appeared to be “incestuous”. And maybe to prove it ain’t so, there ought to be some “public bidding” on the deal. Well, well, well! How dare he suggest that!! Don’t “friends” buy $60M buildings and give them to political parties every day of the year? What a cynic is this Jagdeo!

Yesterday, Lloydie expanded on the “Wind Farm” he’s hocking. Your Eyewitness quotes the Muckraker so he won’t be accused of doing a “muckraker” on Lloydie: “Singh said that he is now renegotiating the price with the new government. “We are in discussion about lines agreement, interconnection agreement, power purchase agreement and an MOU. We are also renewing our environmental permit.”

Now if Lloydie is “renegotiating” all of these things – what the heck’s he accepting from the previous proposal the Government had been presented with by investors Lloydie says he’s bought out? The paper on which it was written? Lloydie wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants the sweet from the previous contract – the govt had considered it …but wants all the terms redone in his favour.

Take the price at which he wants to sell the power to GPL. Back in 2010 when the original contract was written up, they’d asked for US 10.5 cents per Kilowatt hour (pkwH). Lloydie now wants 12 US cents (yesterday the printer’s devil made it come out as 28 cents) EVEN THOUGH OIL PRICE IS NOW LESS THAN HALF IT WAS BACK THEN!!! (US$71/barrel) And to make matters worse, wind power generating costs have come down from the US 1 or 2 cents in 2010.

Now don’t get your Eyewitness wrong. With COP21’s decision to push “renewables” in power generation, there’s no question we’ll have to explore solar, wind, ocean tides…and let’s not forget Hydro!

But if just building the ROAD to Amaila was dubbed “incestuous” by LLOYDIE’s best friend, Ramjattan, shouldn’t we have open bidding when Lloydie’s going for the whole hog?

…on agreement

Lloydie’s also speaking with a forked tongue: the original wind power contract from a Curaçao fella was never signed, sealed and delivered. As late as 2014, PM Sam Hinds – with responsibility for the Energy Sector – commended the Wind Farm initiative but pointed out (in the Stabber News) : “the wind farm needed to be studied fully: very detailed studies had begun which would have taken account of, amongst other things, the additional costs that GPL would have incurred to maintain stability in the grid. For example, the cost of maintaining a number of spinning reserves to meet the rising and falling of the varying speed of the wind which would have had to be discounted against the savings in heavy fuel oil purchases (avoided costs).”

So the US 12 cents per KWH Lloydie’s demanding isn’t all GPL will be forking out. “Stability in the grid” means having backup generators and fuel to run them for when the wind isn’t pushing the turbines at full speed.

Even LLOYDIE’s spewing of hot air won’t be constant!

…and Budget

Today, the Budget Debate begins. Let’s hope the Speaker doesn’t continue his blatantly partisan rulings. Surely they have SOME confidence with Nagamootoo as “head of government business”!!

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Money…

…search and seizure
A fundamental pillar tenet of justice – inherited from the British – is “a man’s home is his castle”. And just as in private law, the other fellow’s right to throw his fist ends at the tip of my nose, the right of the state we created to protect us all, ends at the door to our castle. But in Guyana…  more.
Last year, this new Government bullied their way in Parliament to pass legislation – over the trenchant objections of the Opposition PPP – giving the Police the right to enter your home if they “believe” you have more than US$10,000 in your possession. Now this US$10,000 isn’t just cash – of any country – but jewellery, traveller’s cheques banker’s drafts, bearer bonds, or bearer shares. Imagine that!! We know in Guyana who’ve been shown to have large amounts of cash at home. Not to “launder” or “finance terrorists” – but because as primarily rural folks, they’re not socialised into using banks and credit cards. And those same folks have inherited gold jewellery made when gold was $30/oz. One traditional necklace’s easily worth more than US$10,000.
Now in the US, they take the citizen’s right to privacy very seriously since the whole point about rebelling against Britain was the unreasonable intrusions of King George. If the police wants to enter homes to conduct any search, they have to produce a warrant signed by a judge, to whom the said police had to show “probable cause”. That is, a damn good reason why they “believe” the law would be served by violating the sanctity of the citizen’s home. In Guyana it was the same – until APNU/AFC decided otherwise and placed the matter into the hands of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
That’s right dear reader. The same folks who executed that pinpoint surveillance of Winston Brassington might just be bursting through your doors demanding you get all your savings from under your mattresses. And get this – it’s not a case that you’re innocent until proven guilty: now you’re guilty until you can prove you’re innocent. So you’s better be getting some notarised document every time you get a gold band for Christmas or your birthday!
So what brought on your Eyewitness’ rant? The latest news that SOCU did in fact conduct such a raid as above. Now your Eyewitness isn’t saying we mustn’t go after the bad guys who launder cash and finance terrorists. But the old question of “who guards the guardians” can’t be ignored.
Especially when we notice a pattern of arbitrariness in the raids.

…and political investments
Well, well, well! Guess your Eyewitness has to give a hat tip to former Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman for honesty. Fella says he sees nothing wrong with folks making an “investment” in politics and politicians. He was defending the chap he’d blurted out was unfit to be leader of the AFC – Khemraj Ramjattan. At the opening of a new AFC headquarters Ramjattan had boasted as to how one of his old buddies (drinking and carousing?) Lloyd Singh had pretty much paid for the building. Seems it was an “investment”.
Now we may be a hick society and all that, but we all know when we make an “investment” we expect a “return” – which has to be greater than the investment. So inquiring minds – such as your humble Eyewitness – wants to know exactly how will the AFC be paying back the return on Lloydie’s investment? If AFC needs handouts to buy a building, their coffers can’t be exactly bulging!
The power purchase agreement Lloydie’s wind farm with GPL @ US.28 KwH wouldn’t be the payoff return, would it?

…and Wales
We hear there’s a plan for Wales that’ll be unveiled in October. Your Eyewitness is willing to take bets the land’ll be sold to some fella who also made an “investment” in politics. The NJ AFC financier from Canal #1?

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Workers of Guyana…

…uniting or fissioning?
Your Eyewitness has been struck by a seeming anomaly in the pictures of the striking/protesting/”vigiling” sugar workers at Wales and more recently some other sugar estates in Demerara and Berbice. You’d be forgiven for thinking sugar workers are only Indo-Guyanese – which fits right into the dominant narrative, no? Truth is – it just ain’t true!!
Afro-Guyanese form at least 20-25 per cent of the sugar workers on most estates – and in the case of Wales, that percentage could be as high as 35-50 per cent!! But you’d never guess that from the pictures, would you? What’s going on? Are Afro-Guyanese sugar workers camera shy… or is something else going on here? Because whatever the fate of the Wales Estate – and no one save the government thinks that their economic fate won’t be VERY dire – it’ll fall one both groups.
The conundrum is an old one in Guyana: why don’t the workers see their “class interest” – read “ethnic interest” – and unite to defend those interests when threatened? The reasons the Afro-Guyanese sugar workers aren’t storming the barricades gotta be the same why Indo-Guyanese didn’t do the same when the PPP was in office. When politics intersects with economics in Guyana – politics trumps all.
And this is nothing new. Back in the day, when Jagan and Burnham started up our “modern politics”, they bemoaned the incipient ethnic orientation. They hoped their socialist/Marxist call for “working class” unity would transcend that divide. Some folks forget after Burnham broke from Cheddi and launched the PNC… he still insisted the latter was “socialist”. Yet even Dr Jagan considered himself fire-breathing Marxist took pains to put forward “ethnically balanced” slates. When it came to politics, folks wanted to be represented by “their own”…and it’s clear they still do.
Because when it comes to Wales, it’s the GOVERNMENT that’s closing down the estate… and cudgels on behalf of the workers are being taken up by the OPPOSITION PPP. So the issue isn’t simply an ECONOMIC one but also a POLITICAL one. And as we said, politics trumps all in Guyana. And that’s why we only have Indo-Guyanese workers marching under the Wales protest banner.
It would thus appear that Marx’s call for: “Workers of the world unite!! You have nothing to lose but your chains!” hasn’t found fertile ground in Guyana. We can’t even get the workers of a single sugar estate to unite. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying, should it?
The trick would be not to make it “political”. Is that possible?

…are sheep?
So your Eyewitness is still kinda confused. Why do workers put their own livelihood on the back burner just to help out politicians? We know these worthies will promise them the moon and the stars – and maybe throw in a few asteroids! But you don’t have to be an anarchist to accept – at the end of the day – workers generally will still end up doing what they’ve always done: WORK their fingers to the bone.
OK… maybe sometimes they’ll get thrown a bone – like a “significant” salary increase and such like. But then even when it happens, it’s still a bone. The politicians and the elites get the meat. So what’s in it for the small man – who knows he ain’t never going to be a “real man” – excepting through his own blood, sweat and tears?
Your Eyewitness thinks it has to do with the people at the bottom IDENTIFYING with those at the top – and because of that they feel reflected in the glory above.
Man doesn’t live by bread alone?

…are in for it
So with the six sisters – sugar, rice, gold, diamonds, bauxite and forestry – not exactly setting Guyana, much less the world on fire – it’s clear the above ruminations will be tested in the coming year.
At least workers gotta have SOME bread, no?

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Taking out motes…

…and putting in logs
Ever since the PPP slipped into office back in 1992, the PNC in its various incarnations – PNC- Reform, PNC/R, PNC-RIG, APNU, APNU/AFC – had been beating the PPP Governments over the head about the skyrocketing number of “contract employees” they recruited for the Public Service. This wasn’t quite cricket, cried the PNC and its handmaiden, the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU).
These “contract employees” weren’t subject to Public Service pay scales…and it wasn’t because PPP were giving them slave wages. Au contraire, cried the PNC and its ally, the GPSU – they were as a matter of fact given SUPER salaries. The PPP’s explanation during the annual Budget inquisitions – these were skilled personnel, necessary for the functioning of modern governance – didn’t cut any ice.
What the PPP was really doing, cried the PNC and its acolyte, the GPSU, was going around the loyal, impartial and professional stalwarts in the traditional Public Service and bringing in their “own people”. And these “people” were pillaging the funds of the Government for the PPP. Billions and billions “siphoned off”. The traditional Public Servants were paragons of service to the people of Guyana – and they would heartily attest to that, if asked.
But the PPP didn’t budge and so it remained until they were voted out of office (OK, your Eyewitness is so stipulating for the time being – since the PPP hasn’t made any noises of rigging recently). When the axe began to fall and heads were rolling in the halls of the Ministries like ninepins, the explanation given by the PNC-led APNU/AFC Govt was simple: the PPP fat cat “contract workers” had to go. Charges about “ethnic cleansing” filled the air…then died down.
Well, expect a new storming  of the barricades after the latest revelation – by someone the new Government themselves had hired to audit most of the departments of government left by the PPP – Chris Lalloo Ram.  To follow the trail of the siphoned billions. Well, the audits are done – and Ram couldn’t point to any siphoning. But he did point to the new Government having MORE CONTRACT WORKERS THAN THE PPP!!! Even after all the firings.
Well, the Minister of the Presidency quickly retorted: the numbers aren’t as large as Ram claimed. But that isn’t the point, is it? If there was no need for contract workers under the PPP, how come they’re now necessary under the PNC?
And what about the feelings of the dear, old faithful GPSU?

…on oil
Is the glass half empty or half full?? “Half full!!” cried the new US Ambassador who has a ton of experience fighting the war against drugs. While folks here might be fretting about the  oil market’s collapse and who’s gonna buy our oil when we finally get it out from under the ocean, the Ambassador said we’re looking at the situation from the wrong angle. Things aren’t really bad just because prices have collapsed.
Look at the bright side. With the collapse in the industry, drilling rigs and engineers and all the other paraphernalia to explore is now very cheap. So full steam ahead with drilling!! Well, that might very well be true…but it’ll still cost more than US$60 to pump out a barrel of oil, no? Who can say prices will rise? The Saudis don’t look as if they’re going to blink against US shale oil. And them pesky Iranians are going full steam ahead with their production.
So what do we do in a market that’s still under US$30? The glass might be half empty.

…on local government
What’s with this Government and youths? A lot of money was spent (and not all of it by locals or even our now Government!!) to get out the youth vote last elections.
Then…no jobs for them in the central Government. Now still nothing in the G/town LGE? That’s cold!

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Desperate…

…for relevance
The owner of the Muckraker, Glenn Lall, is fighting for relevance in a world where he’s outlived his usefulness to the powers that be. But like a spoiled brat who’d been indulged in his every whim, he’s kicking and screaming for attention. We all knew he was one of the major supporters of APNU and the AFC during the past several years.
He’s formed FUCOP – Funding a United Candidate for an Opposition Presidency – to which he strong-armed a number of businessmen to contribute heavily in the last campaign. Then, of course, there were the scads of free ads he printed in his rag. But most of all were the daily “quotes” from Harmon and Ramjattan he was able to secure on any subject under the sun – and then some.
But it wouldn’t have escaped his supposed beneficiaries that, like the crazed Ancient Mariner of yore, he was transfixed by his hatred of the PPP, Jagdeo – and Ramroop. Lall’s albatross was his “sketchy past” (in the words of the US Embassy’s political officer). Backtracking, shipping powdery stuff into the US and ratting on friends were only the tip of his iceberg of sins. But, of course, he blamed everybody but himself for his turmoil of inadequacy.
So, while the then Opposition might’ve humoured him in the past, now they’re in Government, they refuse to be driven by the agenda of a man driven by his inner demons. And before the Mook could say, “Wha wraang!”, his “sources” had stopped talking to him. But the Mook hadn’t climbed to the top of the dung heap just like that…he began to use his Muckraker to accuse FUCOP’s beneficiaries of going soft on Jagdeo and Ramroop.
Not satisfied that he’d gotten his way for audits to be done on every department of the Government – at the cost of hundreds of millions…he refused to accept the audits hadn’t shown any of the hanky panky he’d claimed was rampant under the PPP. And started concocting absolutely false claims and conclusions he claimed the audits had “uncovered”. This weekend he claimed Goolsarran’s audit of NICIL had shown Government had spent US$5M to clean up the Sanata Complex. Knowing full well, Ramroop’s QAII had footed the bill.
Well, it’s time for Goolsarran to evolve from the invertebrate phylum – and like the Government Ministers, tell the Mook where to get off. Silence, in this case, means being party to a libel suit that’ll challenge even his bookkeeping skills to compute!!
He should heed the lesson that Lall will be taught: “knock got knock back!!”

…and jumping the gun
Poor Jordan…our Finance Minister’s under the gun. What with his second Budget about to be put through the wringer by Bharrat Jagdeo and his band of hungry Young Turks looking to make their reputation. For a fella whose claim to fame was having experience in the Budget Office, his first Budget wasn’t that auspicious. It led to accusations of governmental “blundering”.
Anyhow, rather than keeping a low profile in the calm before the storm, he chose to weigh in on the aforementioned audits which were supposed to find PPP’s “siphoning off of funds” and other skulduggery. He claimed a “preliminary” review of the audits showed State entities “violating the law with impunity”. But at the same time he announced as to how the Auditor General’s office had now been asked to audit the audits!! So how in the world can he make such accusations on data which he’d requested a second opinion?? No wonder former President Ramotar’s challenged him “to bring it on” – if he has the evidence.
So is Glenn Lall yanking Minister Jordan’s chain also?

…for a voice
Unable to string two sentences together but wanting to be heard, Lall’s been demanding a Radio Licence for a while.
But unable to fill out the application form, he’s demanding other people’s Radio Stations be taken away.

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Salvaging…

…the junior partner
Well, now we know why Nagamootoo’s been rushing over to NY at the drop of a beer bottle to shower accolades on his NY financiers. The party’s new headquarters had to be funded! So take a back seat, Asquith Rose…money talks and a letter writer balks! And if Nagamootoo needed $72M to air-condition and “fix up” the PM’s residence that Sam and Yvonne Hinds had occupied for 23 years, you know he’d insist on (literally) feathering the party’s nest! How’d you keep them down at Whim once they’ve seen the bright lights of Main Street!!?

But it’s not just Nagamootoo and Ramjattan who lusted for the new office…so did their erstwhile partners from APNU. It’s critical for the PNC to have its two layers of cover to hide the characteristic mark of the hyena from the sixties to “slow fyaah; mo fyaah”. The first layer – producing APNU, didn’t fool anyone: even the hicks in the sticks couldn’t see, say, Keith Scott standing up to Granger and Harmon!! (Quick now…what’s the name of Scott’s “party”?)

So the wooing of the AFC was launched and consummated. Some hicks in the sticks did believe Nagamootoo could do what Scott and Company couldn’t do. They clearly didn’t consider he wasn’t even made dogcatcher in the PPP after 50 years – because he was just a windbag! The PNC could now have its cake-cover and eat it too. It knew Nagamootoo just wanted a big title and the opportunity to mouth off big time. The Cummingsburg Accord was just for the Berbicians: Nagamootoo always knew he was getting Larwah.

But now that Nagamootoo’s been stripped to the buff (power wise, please…the literal connotation assaults the sensibilities!) and shown to be a sheep in sheep’s clothing, how does the PNC keep its cover? It has to make the ABC line that Guyana has a “multiracial” Government, plausible, doesn’t it? Well…duh! Just don’t make the same mistake it did with Keith Scott and Company.

So the AFC must keep its name (APNU+AFC) and have all the paraphernalia of a party – flag, symbol, “Executive” – and now concrete headquarters. Never mind the said Executive are scared shi*less to hold their “Convention”. Or to ask whatever happened to the Cummingsburg pre-nup, or the Committee, headed by BurchSmith, looking into it?

They’re following the traditional advice to abused wives: “Ah wha yuh guh lef he fah? Think about dem Pickney.”

The said Pickney, of course, being the titles, salaries and SUVs. And the “Daady” gets to open the new house as the PNC keeps its cover. It’s a win-win for all – except Guyana.

…Burnham’s legacy
Burnham’s claim to fame is he brought independence to Guyana on May 26, 1966. Actually, from the now declassified files of Britain and the US, we now know he actually BOUGHT it by pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the right wing assault on socialism and the progressive left.

Machiavellian that he was, Burnham thought he could outsmart the Americans – but he found out that Faustian bargains aren’t that easily sloughed off.

The Devil always wants his pound of flesh. And so it was, “Independence” became an ironic bitter curse by the 1970s as the economy and society collapsed ignominiously around Burnham’s ears. Folks actually demanded that “the white man” return. Burnham also claimed he’d brought “multiracial unity” to Guyana with some Indian leaders who switched camps from the PPP. It didn’t work then, and it wouldn’t work today.

But the newly-ensconced disciples of the comrade leader will now spend $300 million to convince us “Independence” was an achievement. And not 30 pieces of silver!

…education?
Your Eyewitness has cautioned this Government about seemingly spending on education for “Education” sake. In the Budget, $40 billion was allocated to the sector.

But to what end if there’re no jobs created to employ all those “educated” citizens.

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Lying…

…through Nagga’s teeth
Moses Nagamootoo revels in being “Prime Minister” of Guyana. When he goes to the States to give the AFC money men their regular accolades and backscratching, he enjoys the State Dept Security detail that whisks him around in black SUVs. It kinda reminds him of the $62 million black Landcruiser he demanded to visit his “constituents” at Whim. Meaning Juggo and Markon at the back street bar.
Anyhow on his last visit to the Big Apple, he dropped in to the Maressa’s Place. The drinks are OK even though the cutters are soggy. And as is his wont, he grabbed a mike to wax long and loud about what he’d done for the 11 per cent he delivered to APNU. And also what he’ll be doing for them in this year. But seems he forgot where in the cow’s anatomy all “smart flies” like him end up.
Brought about by his insatiable urge to flex the one atrophied muscle left him by his coalition partner – being in charge of the Chronicle, with his lackey and shill Imran Khan. They insisted that a reporter accompany them to record the wit, wisdom and bon mots (!) Nagga insists flow from his lips. And that’s how we know high office has done absolutely nothing to curb Nagamootoo’s lying ways.
So let’s go to the record from the Chronic of Jan 18 – and match it to what we know to be the reality – gleaned from Minister Jordan’s Budget of last Friday. Nagamootoo started with sugar – which looms very large in his “constituency”: “Last year we put $12B, this year we are going to put another $12B. We are going to try to protect the jobs of the sugar workers,” he declared.
What’s the reality? 1700 sugar workers at Wales are going to lose their jobs! But maybe Wales don’t count since it isn’t in Berbice? Rather than Nagamootoo’s $12B, Jordan announced he was putting aside just $9B for sugar. So much for Nagamootoo’s “power” – a reduction of 25 per cent! Rice is also big in Berbice: “We have, last year, produced more rice than we have ever produced. We sold every grain of rice, but we had 9% less price for rice, but we had ten per cent more rice.”
Can you believe this man telling rice farmers to be happy they produced more rice to earn less money??!! Because Nagamootoo’s Govt refused to save the Venezuelan rice market!
Finally, according to the Chronic, “the Prime Minister told those present that, within two years’ time, oil and gas will be pumped offshore from Guyana.”
We’re informed that at best that’s five years away! Nagamootoo’s nose must be touching Berbice by now!

..about the “good life”
Reading about the “Budget measures” your Eyewitness is intrigued about how exactly does this Government conceive of the “good life”. He didn’t expect “wine, women and song” – not that he’d have minded! But jeez, $1200 more for pensioners monthly? So they enjoy “the good life” by getting one more “chicken fry rice” monthly to eat in the dark. “In the dark” because last year they cancelled the monthly subsidy on their electricity bills – which was many times the measly $1200.
Then there’s the “reduction” in gas prices your Eyewitness has been pleading for since the world oil market went bust. Why should his rich cousins in New York enjoy the good life with ten times his salary when under the REDUCED RATE FOR GAS (WHICH HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE GRATEFUL FOR), he’ll now be paying the same US$3.20/gal, as his cousins? Shouldn’t the Government be increasing his salary?
Or better yet quit raising people’s hopes, only to dash them so cruelly at Budget time?

…on growth rates?
When in opposition, the now Government used to say the PPP fudged the growth rate with the methodology it used. So why should we believe the economy shrunk only 1 per cent from projections when the same methodology was used?

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Different tune…

…from the Trotter
No…Your Eyewitness isn’t talking about pig’s feet – otherwise known as “trotters”…pickled or otherwise. He’s referring to the recently defrocked “Governance” Minister, Raphael Trotman who evidently still holds the Natural Resource Ministry. Well, even there, we don’t really know how much of that is actually his since “I is” Broomes’ been seconded to be his “Junior”. You know how those Eastern Bloc types used to send “political commissars” to their Ministries, where they were the real power holders!
Anyhow, back to the latest utterance of the Trotter on the matter of oil. Previous to now, he put his feet into his mouth (both of them!) when he boasted he’d singlehandedly solved Guyana’s economic meltdown. He’d ask ExxonMobil pay ahead for oil they’d be shipping at the very best five years down the road! We’ve been warned about “counting your eggs before they’re hatched”… but Trotter must’ve been convinced that oil is an “egg” with different teleological premises.
Turns out that Exxon’s in deep financial trouble – and it’s not just that oil’s presently selling at about twice the price it’ll cost them to getting ours out from under the Atlantic. What goes down must come up, some may reason – especially with something that literally makes the (economic) world goes round. But with a paradigm shift emerging after COP 21 to place “renewable energy” on the front burner (pun intended!) those low prices just might be the new “normal”. But while the Trotter was at COP 21, it looks like Jagdeo was right about suspecting he really wasn’t up to the job.
So Exxon can’t take a chance especially when its bottom line (and image) has taken a hit for hiding data since the 70’s that global warming was real. And the Trotter now concedes that even though Exxon’s looking to start its second drilling, Guyanese shouldn’t be expecting too much from that quarter for a while. Well…that’s a good start and it shows that maybe there’s hope for the Trotter after all.
Trouble is, he shot his load with Ramjattan forming the AFC but was then squeezed out by Ramjattan who suffered in comparison with the Trotter. And knew it. So the end run with Nagamootoo as AFC’s top draw was just the coup de grace and the Trotter had no option but to return home. With his bête noir Corbin out of the way, he doesn’t have to put up with the daily infighting with Ramjattan and Nagamootoo.
But with bauxite, gold, diamonds and forestry in the doldrums (and no oil), the Trotter should realise he’s going to be the cynosure of a lot of eyes, after today’s Budget.

…same song from Muckraker
While some people may try…you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Especially when the old trick has to do with sucking eggs. It’s probably a genetic thing since both dogs and chickens were domesticated around the same time by ancient man. In this case we have the Mook at the Muckraker who’d complained his old sources concocting dirt on the PPP, Jagdeo and anyone associated with him, have disappeared – now they’re in government.
But does that stop him from smearing new, concocted slime on the above-mentioned folks? Not in this life!! Without skipping a beat, he picked up some other ambitious loser to supply the dirt – the most sleazy being one Goolsarran. This is a snivelling bookkeeper who slaved away in the back rooms of the old PNC government – and went ballistic when he saw what some of his juniors earned under the PPP.
So he just told the Muckraker that New GPC didn’t pay dividends on 10% shares held by the govt! What kind of auditor didn’t know those shares were held for the workers.

…never sung
The question Goolsarran should ask, is whether the Mook’s Guyana Stores ever paid dividends to its government held employees’ 10% shares.  But don’t hold your breath!

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Where’s the stimulus…

…in Budget?
Back in the old PNC days, Budget Day was a day of trepidation as everyone waited for the foot they knew would fall – more taxes, more goods banned and more controls on businesses. Well, today once again the PNC is in power (you don’t think the emasculated Nagamootoo and the supine Ramjattan have even any INFLUENCE, do you?) and once again trepidation stalks the land.
This time however, it’s for a different reason – even though no less stressful. What the new government claimed was a temporary “glitch” when the last (mid-year) Budget was presented, has now turned into a full-fledged recession. Even President Granger admitted months ago that the “six sisters” of the economy – rice, sugar, bauxite, gold, forestry, diamond – were “ailing”. Since then, their ailments have become chronic and the patient’s dying.
So what do governments do in such parlous times? The orthodoxy from the free world since the world recession started in 2008, is “Stimulus! Stimulus! Stimulus!” The US stimulated itself as did Britain, the rest of Europe and every other economy that had economic “ailments.” So we wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect some “stimulation” today at the Public Buildings, would we?
But from some early signs it does appear like we’ll be just getting more of the “same ole, same ole”. For instance the standard tactic from government’s monetary policy options kit, was to buy short term Treasury Bills to keep Banks’ Interest rates at some targeted value. Didn’t work for us ever – save to give banks a failsafe way to make money hand over fist without taking the slightest risk. Yet a couple of days ago, the Bank of Guyana offered another $5 billion in 1-year T-Bills!
Even those of us who start reading the papers backwards – at the sports pages! – heard about this innovative Qualitative Easing (QE) America tried. Your Eyewitness will spare you the details but hopes this afternoon, the phrase may drop from the lips of Minister Jordan.
Then there’s the fiscal (spending) measure the government can take. This could mean launching projects that could employ thousands and thus pump money directly into the economy as these workers plunk down the loot for food, clothing and housing. But what signal has the government sent? Announced the CLOSING of Wales Estate, that’s what! 183 workers immediately without any wages – and the remaining 1500+ halting spending immediately since they’ll be out in the streets by yearend.
All in all, your Eyewitness really hopes Minister Jordan will surprise us all. But he isn’t holding his breath.

…to return Ramjattan’s returns
Your Eyewitness is launching a “Free Ramjattan’s Tax Return” movement. From the reports he’s been reading in the other papers (Ramjattan doesn’t speak to GTimes!) it seems the fella’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. Sattaur, the once seemingly GRA Commissioner General for life, is evidently his “friend”. But hasn’t told him (Ramjattan) who was the “big one” who copied and marched out with the Tax Return of the Vice President and Minister of NATIONAL Security.
Poor Ramjattan, even with all those overweening powers, is poignantly still human. He figures Sattaur might be “angry” with him for not revealing (when asked) that he (Sattaur) had been given the boot. Doesn’t Sattaur know about the “collective responsibility” of Cabinet?
But there’s still the matter of the “Purloined Return”. For a man in Ramjattan’s position, this is a matter for the entire country to be het up. Suppose the purloiner is a foreign agent? Our entire NATIONAL SECURITY COULD BE AT RISK!!
Blackmail, most foul!

…for rice farmers?
Once again, with his hands upraised to the gods, this Eyewitness asks: could this Minister of Agriculture just get serious about the plight of the rice farmers? The Venezuelan market’s water under the bridge, but what about water for this crop?
Couldn’t he just pass on tax-free diesel to farmers to pump some into their fields?

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