April 25, 2015


…leaked or leaking?

David Granger’s complaining his Manifesto was “leaked”. But he should be more worried about how leaky it is!! All that happened is that the folks out there got a sneak preview of what’s ahead for them – if by some miracle he and Mr 11 per cent get into office.

Right off the bat, this Manifesto’s like no other ever seen in the history of party politics – which introduced Manifestoes. And it’s not because it’s “historic” in the usual sense of the word!

Up to now, Manifestoes spell out the party’s programme that they plan to roll out in their next five years. If people like what they’re seeing they’ll vote for that party. So Manifestoes are all about developing the country economically, socially, politically, culturally and every other ‘-ally’ you can think about!

In fact, it was for this reason that Chief Justice Chang slapped down the Opposition for chopping the Government’s budget.

In effect, the Opposition was “crafting” the programme of the Government on which the electorate had put them into office based on their Manifesto. But in this “leaked” PNC-led APNU/AFC coalition Manifesto all of that thinking has been thrown out of the window.

Instead, occupying centre stage is an extended section describing how the spoils of office would be divvied up between APNU and AFC!! This is déjà but all over again!!

The two parties negotiated for over a month in a hot sweaty room – and while people thought they were hammering out a programme of action for developing Guyana – the framework of a Manifesto, in other words – it was finally revealed that they’d agreed on not a single developmental initiative – just who was going to get what big positions.

Developing themselves is what it turned out to be. And it all had to do with rewarding Mr 11 per cent and his cohorts!! But they didn’t stop at positions…their Manifesto also goes on to describe the role of a “referee” who’ll mediate between APNU and AFC!!

Can you believe that? We heard about the announcement of the “marriage” – even thought just the month before AFC leader Ramjattan had ventured that the AFC would be “dead meat” if that was ever consummated.

But all the promises of positions obviously worked since there was the “Wedding at Whim”. And these are modern times – so what the Manifesto’s describing is the “pre-nuptial” contract.

And if PNC leader Granger and his band of merry military men ever decide to screw Mr 11 per cent and the AFC crew …they have a referee who will twist the screws on the APNU boys.

But then again, maybe they don’t mind getting screwed!

…and money

This Eyewitness knows that all the Opposition PNC-led APNU/AFC coalition can do is to make promises. And more promises! The PPP/C on the other hand, has been in Government for the last 20 years (you can’t count the last three, can you?) and had been executing one project after another. And so for sure they’ll be a few stumbles.

The question for the Opposition that folks have to ask…is whether the promises are realistic. The first one should do with money: where will they get all the money to cover just the salary increases they’ve promised?

When you add Public Servants (what…15,000?) teachers (10,000+), Policemen (3500+), etc, all promised another $10,000 per month EACH, you’re talking about a hefty sum.

And since there weren’t enough “big” positions around for the big egos in the coalition, they had to create a dozen or so new ones! With big President-like salaries.

Which, the Manifesto didn’t say, was going to be reduced! Quelle surprise!

…fake out??

There are some old heads who swear that APNU/AFC’s “leak” was just a manoeuvre to gain some free publicity. And to float some balloons in the meanwhile as the PPP/C launches.

What about more time to deconstruct!!

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GRA has zero tolerance for unprofessional conduct

Dear Editor,

Given its mandate to collect and secure revenue for the state, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) cannot and will not countenance any misdemeanours or slippages where security is concerned.

In the past those slippages have cost the GRA great shame, criticism and unwarranted public attention, all of which have prompted management of the Authority to put corrective measures in place.

As taxpayers visit the Authority’s central office in large numbers on a daily basis, security officers on the ground floor are responsible for directing members of the public to the appropriate area.

They also regulate the queues and number of taxpayers in the lobby area in an effort to ensure timely and orderly transactions.

This policy is reiterated in response to a letter in the April 22 Edition of the Guyana Chronicle, captioned “GRA security distracted by non-security activities,” which alleges that “the security personnel stationed at the entrance of the building was occupied with activities, mostly not security related”.

The public should be reminded that directing and conversing with the public is part of the security’s inevitable responsibilities. Nevertheless the GRA can only reiterate that it expects its officers, whether security or otherwise to act professionally, particularly in the eyes of the observant taxpaying public.

Moreover, as an agency with a mandate to provide quality service, the GRA expects nothing less than a high quality performance from its staff so that the services required of the Revenue Authority by the various clients are delivered.

In light of the foregoing complaint by the taxpayer, the matter is being addressed with a view of taking corrective measures if there is such a need. The GRA also wishes to thank the concerned person for highlighting the issue.

Public Relations Dept


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Toll gates and food as weapons

Dear Editor,

As a young adult in Guyana I weighed 110 pounds because of the limited amount of food that was available to me in the 1980s. This was because food of any kind was in short supply.

The PNC/APNU wanted to starve Berbicians into submission because of their supporting for the PPP.

Berbicians tried to supplement their food supplies by going to Suriname to bring back sardines, potatoes, salt fish, peas and other basic food items. These were considered contraband – the equivalent of the possession of cocaine, and punishable by fines and jail times.

To punish Berbicians even further, the PNC/APNU installed toll gates. These were installed to further penalize an already malnourished population. But to further insist on showing their hatred the PNC/APNU installed three toll gates in the Corentyne area.

The toll gates were used not only to extort money from an impoverished section of the population but to seize food items coming from across the border and to intimidate the people of the Corentyne.

The toll gates were used to stop and frisk everyone who traveled on the public road. The women were forced to stay away from traveling on the public road to save themselves from the embarrassment of being fondled by the thugs guarding the toll gates.

I am once again being threatened by Moses and the PNC/APNU that I should not remember those horrible days. I am further afraid that if I do not inform the current generation of the horrors I suffered by people like David Granger that I would have neglected my responsibility as a human being.

Let my experience serve as a guide to what can happen again if you let yourself be fooled by Moses and his new found friends. Say never again to anyone who tells you to forget the past.

Let your history serve you to its fullest.


Ganesh Persaud

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Let’s stand with the youth leader and the new order

Dear Editor

Marissa Nadir is the youngest political leader in Guyana today, the youngest presidential candidate in Guyana, a qualified attorney at law who came through TUF’s youth arm the Guyana United Youth Society (GUYS).

I as the oldest (in membership) serving member of TUF am proud to have this young patriotic youth coming out to give our young people a voice in Parliament. Yes, young people of all walks of life, of all races, of all religions especially the growing youths out there.

When Marissa enters Parliament after the next elections it would not be Marissa alone in Parliament, and all the other youths of our party, but it would be all tens of thousands who for the first time will be having a say in matters concerning them.

In the past, as a young teenager Marissa would sit at our Executive meetings, she would draw up a chair away from us and listen attentively to our debates which were not only about party matters, but also matters of the nation. When her father was not too keen on having her at a particular discussion he would tell her to ask the Chairman for leave.

Marissa’s elevation to leader and presidential candidate of TUF was done at an Executive meeting when I nominated her for that post. If voters could remember well there was a lot of commotion as to Valerie Lowe who well benefited in the 2011 election amidst all the challenges.

Valerie Lowe had switched and immediately became a member of AFC (Always Fooling Citizens). Lowe got into Parliament after that election.

Today, as Marissa and her party enter this 2015 elections we have been telling our supporters that this election is not about one race verses the other as in the past, or the rich verses the poor. This election is about youth verses the past. It is the first time and praise to God the young people out there will be able to hold their heads real high and proclaim title.

This can only be realized by supporting a party like TUF. Our young people have for too long been only a pawn in the political game. I as an elder person with my family will be voting for Marissa and TUF on May 11 and, when those votes are counted, I as an elderly person can say I on my own have made a contribution to the future.

Youths, you too can contribute to the development of young people. This can only be done by voting for the “Sun” symbol of TUF. Marissa Nadir and company need your support young people and those of us who would live to see youth leading our land will be proud.

Marissa is not of the bourgeois class, she like her father was born in Albouystown (at the corners of James and Hogg streets). Her door is always open to anyone with problems. I know my children had and she was there for them. I first met her as a child of eight years old when I went to see the Nadirs.

At that time they were living opposite Sophia in Garnett Street. I came up on my cycle and went to the yard. She was at the pipe and I asked this child does Mr Nadir live here? With that she shut the pipe and shouted, “Daddy, someone is here to you. Now here was this middle age man who this child had never seen.

She did not run up the stairs in fear, nor did she look at me with suspicion or question. She treated me like a human being. Today, that child is the same race and gender neutral person, a political gift to you. Young people have been offered and Guyana accepts Marissa Nadir and party.

For the first time, a real chance is being offered. Accept Marissa and her party, they are the new order. No Manzoor Nadir and her mother had nothing to do with this. It is we the members of TUF. Let’s stand with Marissa the youth leader and the new order.

Murtland Williams

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No other party suffered denial of democracy like PPP/C

Dear Editor,

There is a saying that those who look for faults can find nothing else. As the elections fever picks up momentum, the Opposition parties will go on overdrive to paint the ruling PPP/C as inept and unsuitable to continue in office for another term.

The fact is that there is no Government known to man that could be considered flawless. The same is true for individuals. We are all prone to making mistakes.

As the great Russian leader and revolutionary V I Lenin once said: “He is not wise who makes no mistakes. There are no such men, nor can there be. He is wise who make not serious mistakes and who corrects them easily and quickly.”

Life is all about making choices and having to adjust and re-adjusting plans and strategies. In the final analysis, it is the extent to which we are successful in overcoming obstacles and confronting challenges that really matters and defines us as individuals. The same is true of organisations including political organisations.

It is in this context that the PPP/C has to be judged. In and out of office, the PPP/C has consistently championed the cause of a free and democratic Guyana. The PPP/C always fought for and remained a strong advocate for parliamentary democracy based on the principle of one man, one vote.

Indeed, no other party in Guyana suffered as much from the denial of democracy and democratic rule like the PPP/C.

In 1953, the PPP was removed from office in what could be described as a constitutional coup. In 1964 it was engineered out of office as a result of what former British Minister Harold Wilson described as a ‘fiddled constitutional arrangement.’

In the ‘elections’ of 1968, the PPP was cheated from office in rigged elections which persisted until October 1992. In the elections of 1997, the PPP/C was forced to give up two years of its elected mandate despite winning a decisive victory in certified free and fair elections.

This repeated itself in 2014 when President Donald Ramotar was forced to initially prorogue and then dissolve parliament following the threat of a No-Confidence Motion by the combined parliamentary Opposition.

In every instance, the PPP/C was the victim of an aberration of democracy and the democratic process for which it has always been the major proponent.

There are some who accused the PPP and Dr Jagan of having made tactical mistakes during the 1950s and the 1960s which resulted in him being out-manoeuvred by Forbes Burnham into losing political office in the elections of 1964.

Similar accusations were made with respect to the signing of the Duncan Sandy’s Agreement which paved the way for the introduction of Proportional Representation as opposed to the First Pass the Post method which resulted in the PPP losing power to a PNC-UF coalition in the elections of 1964.

Our present Constitution does not allow for a post-election coalition Government as in 1964. Had the electorate known in advance that the United Force and the PNC would have entered into a coalition to unseat the PPP, voting preferences might have been different and the votes for the right-wing UF which came mainly from Amerindian and East Indian segment of the voting population significantly reduced.

One positive feature of our present constitution is that it removes any doubt as to any likely post election political configuration as voters go with their eyes wide open as to which party or combination of parties they would like to form the next Government.

The APNU- AFC coalition is analogous of the PNC-UF coalition except that in the case of the former it is a pre-election marriage with an uncertain future insofar as its chances of acquiring political office is concerned.

Indeed, there are many who felt that the AFC has taken a big political gamble given the dismal record of the PNC both with respect to coalition politics and governance credentials.

The PPP/C has always regarded political power not as an end in itself but as the means to a greater end, namely to create a free, democratic and just society.

This explains the PPP approach to the politics of the 1960s alluded to earlier. Indeed, this is the defining characteristic of the PPP/C Administration and the party.

Political opportunism and dancing to the music of the rich and powerful has never been a part of the PPP/C’s political make up. This is why when it comes to principles and trust, the PPP/C remains unmatched.

Hydar Ally

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Dr Gonsalves praised Dr Jagan in NY

Dear Editor,

With regard to the headline, “St Vincent PM lauds Cheddi Jagan”, in another media, Dr Ralph Gonsalves made similar laudatory remarks about Dr Jagan at a seminar/conference at City College of New York (CCNY) around 1980 or 1981 at the Finley Student Center (South Campus).

This response was not published. Hundreds of Guyanese and many more other Caribbean students were enrolled at the campus at the time, although only a handful came to the lecture.

Dr Joey Jagan also spoke at that symposium which was on Caribbean politics. Guyanese Chuck Mohan, a host and well known figure at the campus, and fan of Cheddi, was there.

Prof Samad Maragarita Matias, who has held Dr Jagan in high esteem, spoke at the conference. Eusi Kwayana, another of Prof Matias’s fan, was invited but was not at the event; I don’t recollect if his wife Tchaiko Kwayana was here.

Prof Matias extolled the virtues of Dr Jagan and Kwayana, though noting they were not successful in bringing the races together to oppose “Burnhamism” and racism in the society during the PNC era of governance.

I don’t recollect if Tim Hector of Antigua was there, though his name was popular on campus among left wing Caribbean activists.

The CCNY seminar on Caribbean politics was organized and co-sponsored by the Black Studies Department and the Undergraduate Student Government where I was serving as an elected Senator representing the Natural Sciences.

I was an ardent supporter of events pertaining to the Caribbean and never hesitated to advocate for the students Government funding for same, including for that particular conference. My colleague Vassan Ramracha, did same.

Dr Gonsalves was a Professor at UWI Cave Hill campus at the time and he was invited, especially to speak on politics in the Caribbean at a time when several islands had shifted leftward because of the progressive movement that was sweeping the region.

Dr Gonsalves focused on left wing movements in the region and Dr Jagan was among his heroes. Burnham was condemned for being in bed with the imperialists and for practicing racism against Indians and other ethnic groups not supporting him.

I remember Ralphy (as we called him then, and he did not object), describing Dr Jagan as the most honorable politician in the Caribbean and the “Dean of Socialism” in the region.

The late Maurice Bishop also referred to Dr Jagan as the “Dean of Socialism” in the Caribbean in several of his talks as reported in the Caribbean Contact and Caribbean Review Magazine.

Bishop was among those who condemned election rigging and the racism practised by the PNC to deny Dr Jagan his rightful place as leader of Guyana.

At the conference, after Joey spoke about Guyana’s politics and the struggle for free and fair elections, an Afro-Guyanese student asked a question indicting Dr Jagan for racial politics in Guyana.

Joey defended his father saying Cheddi was not the one to introduce race in Guyana’s politics and that his father fought for the upliftment of every worker regardless of race.

Dr Gonsalves blamed Forbes Burnham for the injection of race in Guyana’s politics and for allowing himself to be manipulated by imperialist forces to divide Guyana along ethnic lines.

Dr Gonsalves said Dr Jagan did not have a racial cell in his body and praised him for his incorruptible honesty, decency, and humanitarian qualities that are incomparable in the region.

Vishnu Bisram

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Freedom to protest did not exist during PNC era

Dear Editor,

Dr Bheri Ramsaran’s invective response to a female protester is unacceptable and must be condemned by any right thinking person. Kudos to Government officials for condemning the Minister’s uttering to the female activist.

The fact that a female protester provoked the Minister into attacking her is not justifiable reason for him to behave in an uncouth manner. However, I should note that this is not the Dr Ramsaran I got to know during the late 1980s and thru the restoration of democracy in 1992; he served Berbicians well.

And during this oppressive period, protests against the PNC or its officials were not tolerated. Critics of the regime were brutalized, and if you engaged in protests, you were beaten or arrested.

Democracy has been flourishing since 1992 that people can confront any Minister or official of Government in the most derogatory and uncouth manner and can pen or say any nonsense in the media.

The female activist, who is not a reporter, and who was the subject of Bheri’s verbal irate response, did not have a right to disrupt the Minister. She has a right to ask questions but not to disrupt the right of reporters who were engaging the Minister for their media report. Her freedom of speech should not have ended just a few inches from the body of the Minister and the reporters who engaged the Minister.

Clearly, the Minister did not want to engage the protesting activist. But as revealed by reporter Leon Suseran in a letter, the protester baited the Minister who fell for the bait and responded inappropriately. Bheri should have ignored her or ask to be excused or the reporters themselves should have asked her to excuse them so they could do their job.

The Minister compromised his professionalism in verbally dressing down the woman in public. That is not the Bheri I know. Corentyne people displayed great respects for him for his medical practice. And they rated him highly whenever I polled on Ministerial popularity over the last eight years.

The first time I met Bheri was in Berbice when he was a practicing doctor in Miss Phoebe, Port Mourant during the late 1980s. In every trip to Guyana from New York, I would take medicine or other supplies to medical institutions and or doctors to help the poor at a time when medicine was virtually unavailable.

Bheri’s medical office was one of the beneficiaries for my small stocks. He was among a few doctors who helped the poor and the working class and the respected Uncle Bissoon (a businessman who was known by most Berbicians) recommended that I donated my limited medical supplies to his office.

Bheri was very helpful to the poor. He charged relatively low fee and or provided free medical service. He made medicine available to the poor cheaply and or virtually for free.

Although very busy with lines of people waiting for his service, he availed himself to me for political discussions and we exchanged discussions on the struggle for the restoration of democratic governance and how to improve peoples’ lives in the area. He had enormous respect for Dr Jagan and followed every directive of the great leader and founding father of the nation.

Bheri came across as a champion of women and children causes on the Corentyne, and as I observed, most of the patients he attended to were women or little kids. I understand he did same when he practiced in Demerara and even when he worked at Georgetown Hospital.

I was shocked, therefore to learn about his uttering at the woman. It is not like him. He should not have paid heed to the woman whose behavior must also be condemned for disrupting an interview the Minister was having with the media.

As Suseran reported, the protester, who it is reported is affiliated with the opposition PNC-led coalition, repeatedly provoked, interrupted and confronted the Minister while he was speaking.

That kind of behavior is also not acceptable and must be condemned. People should be free to speak their mind without drowning out the voices of others or disrupting the rights of others to speak or violating the personal space of others.

On freedom of speech, all activists, like myself and Dr Ramharack, Moses Nagamootoo, Khemraj Ramjattan, David Hinds, Ogunseye, etc, would remember well that there hardly existed any freedom of speech or right to public protest during the dictatorship. One could hardly have questioned a Minister in private much less so in public.

In those days, Government officials did not resort to verbal abuse but physical abuse; many of us were victims of beatings even though we did not engage in any fishmonger protests like what have been taking place since the restoration of democracy.

Terror reigned on those who protested against the dictatorial Government; I was whipped for exercising my right in a protest on the Corentyne. In Demerara, we were constantly intimidated and threatened with violence by thugs who broke up our political meetings and protest actions.

Police hardly allowed protest activities. Father Bernard Darke was killed by Government thugs for exercising his right as a photo journalist. Father Morrison was constantly harassed and set upon by thugs for his reporting of Government abuses.

There were numerous other cases of abuses against free speech. But the abuses under the PNC dictatorship in no way justify the behavior of Dr Ramsaran.

Vishnu Bisram

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Many half truths, lies peddled at APNU/AFC rally in Essequibo

Dear Editor,

I was looking at a televised broadcast of the APNU/AFC rally in Essequibo. There is no doubt that a lot of half truths and downright lies were peddled by Imaam Baksh.

He said that Desmond Hoyte was responsible for bringing back free and fair elections in Guyana – this is a lie. He was pressured by the USA, Canada, UK and other countries to hold free and fair elections after the PCD, GUARD and the Diaspora had requested them to intervene.

Even after the results in 1992 showed that the PPP/C had won the elections, Hoyte refused to accept defeat. His party members rioted in Georgetown burning buildings
and beating anyone who looked like a PPP/C supporter.

It was not until President Carter read the riot act him (Mr Hoyte) that he accepted the election results.

Mr Baksh said that it was Mr Hoyte who brought back flour and other banned items to Guyana. I want to ask Mr Baksh who banned flour and other goods? It was Mr Burnham who made it a crime to have these goods.

Mr Hoyte was the Prime Minister during that time. Did he not agree to have these
goods banned? If he didn’t, then, if he was such a principled individual as Mr Baksh made him out to be, he should have resigned his position as Prime Minister. It showed that he agreed to the banning. Why praise him for releasing the ban?

Mr Baksh told the gathering that it was Mr Hoyte who granted rice millers (like himself) permission to export rice.

This may be true, but at what cost to the rice industry? The millers took advantage of the poor rice farmers and forced them out of the market by offering them prices that made it impossible for them to exist.

They abandoned their rice fields which caused production to drop so low that Guyana had
to import rice for domestic consumption. It should be noted that this happened under Mr Hoyte’s tenure as President.


A Persaud

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A word of thanks

Dear Editor,

Kindly permit me a small space within your letter column to show my appreciation. From the core of my being, I would like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to the Guyana Olympic Association and Dorado Speed Swim Club for consideration and nomination for two awards I received over the past two weekends.

My independent photography coverage over the past years has been on sports and social and national events, and the awards were for coverage of sports.

Never in a ‘million years’ did I ever think that my photography coverage would attract such attention and result in awards, and it will indeed take quite a while for it to fully digest.

To the persons who have always been in my corner with encouragement and never stopped believing in me, thank you.

My good friend Warren London, I have never forgotten your words to me that “I must take my work seriously.”

Even with these two acknowledgements, the fun part in me still exists.

T Pemberton

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Housing development

Guyana is said to be developing rapidly, with an improved economy and infrastructure, and homes and business seeing much growth over the years. Many persons are moving towards the city in search of jobs and subsequently a better standard of living.

Housing development has therefore led to more homes and housing schemes being built not only on the outskirts of the city, but also along the coastal areas. For this population, and those already established, comfort is an important issue and includes the natural right to a safe community in which to reside after work is over.

Perhaps the biggest story of the current Administration is the success in housing development. It is indeed a far cry now when compared to what existed under the PNC regime, when housing development was not only stunted, but it was also confined to certain areas linked to support of the then Government. At that time, a PNC party card was the only sure way to obtain the basic necessities of life.

Along with national development comes personal income improvement, and persons in these suburban residential communities construct not only their homes in these neighbourhoods for their comfort and security, but also recreational parks and sometimes, family entertainment venues to relax on weekends or holidays. These amenities would have been luxuries and were largely unimaginable under the PNC mis-rule.

Recently, the Government announced that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has committed to releasing more lands to the Ministry of Housing’s Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) in an effort to meet the growing demands for housing across the country.

This is testimony to the fact that more and more Guyanese, especially young professionals, are applying for lands to begin constructing their homes. This forces the Government to look at alternative means in helping every Guyanese achieve their dream of home ownership.

As pointed out in a previous editorial, prior to 1992, this level of optimism among young people, and citizens in general, to own their own home was unheard of, as it was very difficult to acquire a plot of land. In addition to having to deal with a very difficult bureaucracy, there was simply a lack of vision on the part of the then government in relation to housing development.

This has now changed as the present Administration’s policies on housing development make it much easier for one to own their own home. The transformation currently being experienced in the housing sector is one that every Guyanese citizen can boast of.

While there were tremendous achievements made in the areas of education, health care delivery, improving social services, etc, the gains made in Guyana’s housing sector have surpassed all others.

The incumbent Government has every right to highlight these achievements as they face the electorate to ask for another term to continue along this path. Voters no doubt will be looking closely to see which of the parties have the best policies for Guyana’s development; and housing is a key concern for many.

About 100,000 Guyanese families have received house lots across the country. A number of new housing schemes have been (and are being) developed. The Government has spent huge amounts of money for infrastructural works. These house lots that are being awarded are highly subsidized as the intention is to ensure that lands are made available for every single category of individuals.

It is worthwhile to highlight some of the useful initiatives undertaken by the Housing Ministry which resulted in the level of success we are currently experiencing. The Ministry hosted a number of “one stop shops” where applications for house lots were fast-tracked.

There are many challenges to overcome as there are quite a number of applicants who are still awaiting word from the Ministry as to the status of their applications. But an objective analysis will prove that Guyana has indeed travelled a long road since 1992, especially as it relates to gains made in housing development.

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