October 24, 2014

In fighting poverty, be guided by the story of teaching a man to fish

Dear Editor,

I have been reading Dr Clive Thomas’s weekly column in the Stabroek News of Sunday, 2014-10-19, entitled   “The   Minimum   Wage, Trade Unions and Guyana’s Fight Against Surging Inequality and Poverty”. I would like to caution my fellow MP of the Sixth Parliament to look in a different   direction, start at another end, and focus our attention   on improving   production,   productivity,   quality and competitiveness to bring about the improvements in our lives which we all want.

Dr Thomas, as he says, puts three blunt propositions, focusing mainly on distribution   and redistribution   of income, and a living wage, without   reference to production,   productivity,   quality and competitiveness.     His blunt propositions,   I admit, constitute the ‘gospel’ for most of us, “since morning”. But this ‘gospel’ has not got   us far.   I believe   (from   the   evidence   of so many years, and in comparison with a number of countries), because it kept us from focusing on the “main-chance”   things – improving production,   productivity,   quality and competitiveness.

In the fight against poverty, we should be guided by the story of teaching a man to fish and feeding him for life. Poverty is to be fought by somehow or the other organising for everyone to be working and working steadily more productively, to satisfy some needs near or far. Like a farmer sowing a crop with hopes for many bags of harvest and good prices at the marketplace, we will have expectations and aspirations;   we can set targets,   but earning levels, minimum   wages, living wages in their totality are outcomes, results of our production.

I take issue with Dr Thomas that   poverty,   absolute   poverty   is surging   but income distribution    may well   be widening – as economic   activities   occur some persons   may   happen   to   be in more   favourable     places.   How   to   moderate a widening   income spread?   Dr Thomas,   in one of his earlier   columns, allowed that our budgets with our relatively   high tax levels are a major means of redistribution of income.   Taking account of the calls from many sides during our last elections for lower tax levels, we have probably   gone as far in this direction   as our society would tolerate.

It has been, no doubt,   natural   for us to focus on the distribution     and the redistribution     of income,   of the goods and services produced   and available – but that has not got us far.   To take, perhaps, the most extreme   case which the Indian Arrival Committee   (lAC) pointed   out a few months   ago, Singapore,   like us, was in the US$300 per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1960, while now we are at US$3500, Singapore is at US$54,000. There are a number   of other examples where the comparisons are not so unfavourable.   One of the drives in Singapore was to “provide   the world a German quality workplace   at about 70 per cent of what the Germans were paid”.

Improvements     in production,     productivity,     quality   and   competitiveness cannot,   and should   not, be left to take care of themselves,   or be left to others. Indeed, I have always felt that a fatal flaw of many of us of the socialist   ‘left’   has been our ambiguity,   if not reluctance   to consistently   call for, to advocate,   and to celebrate     steady     improvements       in   production,       productivity,       quality     and competiveness.

It is not that fairness in distribution     and redistribution     is to be ignored,   but it is very limited   in the improved   lots which it can bring – a zero-sum game; and   the   redistribution       of   goods   and   services   must   be  coupled   with   the redistribution     of responsibility     for   savings   and   investments,     if the   seed-grains needed to plant next year’s crops are not to be eaten today, with   no crops in the future!

I referred   to Dr Thomas as my colleague of the Sixth Parliament,   because of what   I understood   him to say in the debate   on the Caricom Single Market   and Economy   (CSME), that   although   our   hourly   pay was then   so abysmally   low, nonetheless, our low productivity,   low quality, high rates of re-work, etc, led to such a large number of labour-hours in each unit of goods or services that the customer would accept and purchase, that our labour cost in that unit was among the highest of labour costs, and we were uncompetitive!

I was hoping since then, and I would still like, to encourage Dr Thomas, with his credibility and standing, particularly with Labour and Unions, to follow upon that insight, and lead in directing our national focus to improvements   in production, productivity, quality and competitiveness. It must become the major concern and task of each of us – worker, manager, or business person. As Dr Bho Tewarie proclaimed some months ago, we are equally blessed with the human imagination, the ingenuity, the innovative-ness, and we are equally placed to spot and implement opportunities   for improvement   in whatever production in which we are engaged.

We are talking, quite rightly, these days of moving along the value-added chain. Our economy is at a point where we need to spot and take profitable opportunities   for the adding of value.   It is not that exporting commodities is an abomination –   the greatest   added-value country,   the USA, exports a lot of commodities, including wheat, to us – it is a matter of economics, and what we can make work for us.

Improvements in production, productivity, quality and competitiveness are of even greater importance, as we correctly focus on adding value, for we must add value much faster   than we add cost, for   if not, we would   (with   our uncompetitive value-added products) be wasting whatever natural advantage we might have had at the commodity-stage.

We have had for many years now and, more so, recently, much talk about banning the export of logs. There is no challenge in banning the export of logs – that is easy, with no more than the stroke of a pen. The challenge is for some of us, while   paying competitive   prices for the logs, to develop the people, the production   plants, to convert the logs to wood products   which could be sold sustainably and profitably.   If not, we could end up with no log sales, no added-value sales, nothing at all. We should be warned that it is not easy – we had an added-value wood-product which won prizes, which we celebrated, but which did not survive long in the market place. What would have been required to sustain it? At what pay-rate would production have been continued, and the jobs saved? What productivity and quality improvements would have been needed? And, so on. Such questions we should have been addressing, resolving and reconciling.

Let me say that with my 25 years of chastening experience in our bauxite industry, I know that business success does not come easily, nor does it last long. As another aside, I have been concerned that we of the socialist ‘left’ have tended to underestimate,   undervalue, and even belittle the contribution of the “capitalists”, and set ourselves up to perform differently from, and better than them – which too often we cannot. About 50 per cent of business ‘start-ups’ fail within the first two years – the answer is to have a thousand ‘start-ups’ – let a thousand flowers bloom! Since failure rates are so high, we have to encourage trying, and trying again. We must learn how to comfort each other when we fail, tend to our bruises and, in good time, send ourselves back into the fray to attain competitiveness, on the basis of the production, productivity   and quality of our goods and services.

 It should be informative and instructive to know that, at least up to some years ago, lots and lots of logs were exported from North America to, mainly, Asian countries,   where   they were   converted   to furniture   and other   wood- products, and re-exported to North America. We are not North Americans – can we attain the production,   productivity,   quality and competitiveness-level   of the Asians?   We need to – we can learn from them – for it is a common way to advance along the value-added ‘train’, learning from others who are already there and are often looking to move on.

Yes, we should be thinking   of utilising our commodities   more, but we should not be thinking of banning the export of anything, once it is available to local producers at the equivalent   price. We should be aiming at utilising our commodities   more   and   more,   at   steadily-improving     levels of   production, productivity,   quality and competitiveness,   so that,   in time, there is no more commodity available for export. And indeed, then, and even before, we might be importing that commodity when, in   given circumstances, it might be advantageous to do so.

Steady improvements   in production,   productivity,   quality   and competitiveness should be the main concern and focus of us all. Let us, for the next five years, shift focus away from distribution   and re-distribution   (we already have a good set of labour laws, which must be adhered to) and focus, rather, on production.

Samuel A A Hinds, OE, MP

Prime Minister

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GRA obligated to provide professional environment for all employees

Dear Editor,

Reference is made to a letter to the editor published in another newspaper on October 17, titled “What will be uncovered if an audit is done on Mr Sattaur?” The letter was read and its content noted. We thank the author of the letter for the concerns stated.

It is important to note that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is the most prestigious revenue collection agency in this country. We are obligated to provide a professional environment and assurance of the rights of all employees.

Like all large organisations, we uphold the standards and best practices required to treat with and motivate staff at all levels. Accordingly, to ensure that all staff at all levels are treated fairly and professionally, there are human resource policies, such as, the Grievance Handling Procedure, where all staff are advised to channel their complaints/concerns through a systematic process.

These matters are resolved with impartiality, due care, and confidentiality. Sadly, however, this was not followed in this case and it is rather unfortunate that the ‘staff member’ chose such a medium to raise his/her concerns.

The organisation respects the right to publish articles. However, this right also has a commensurate responsibility that requires a newspaper to substantiate the facts before bringing the organisation into disrepute.

It is urged that in cases where letters/articles relating to staffing issues within the GRA are sent for publication, it will be prudent to adhere to the known principles of journalistic protocol before publishing, by allowing the GRA an opportunity to respond to these statements/conjecture which are deemed to be unfounded.

Please note that inaccurate statements published may lead to litigation/s which would serve to defeat the purpose of a daily newspaper.

Hence in future, it is requested that contact is first made with the GRA for comments before publishing those articles and/or letters.

Submitted by,

Public Relations Department

Guyana Revenue Authority

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Time to increase jail time for armed robbery

Dear Editor,

It is high time that our judges and magistrates increase the jail time for armed robbery offenders. I am also asking for the imposition of hefty fines to go along with the jail sentence.

My reason for saying this is the gravity and prevalence of the crime with no apparent end in sight. All matters pertaining to the use of a firearm and the forceful taking of another’s cash or valuables should receive swift and decisive punishment.

Let us take a close look at a matter presently engaging the court. A repeat offender is accused of holding up a 69-year-old businessman and snatching $2 million from him. Now, two things immediately catch your attention.

The first thing is this is a repeat offender, someone who has done this before. With previous successful heist(s), he was encouraged to go that route again. So it begs the question: Why these felons are not given just punishment for their crimes?

Obviously, he was given little or no time at all for the previous offences so he would have come to the conclusion why not continue to tap into this lucrative criminal activity.

Guyana is inundated with this type of behaviour from the criminal community, that is, stake out hapless business victims with large sums of money and carry out an armed robbery. The proceeds are then divided up among the group and the criminal’s lifeline is financially remunerated.

Well, my plan addresses the fact that the criminal should be given a substantial amount of jail time, enough for him not to benefit from his criminal proceeds; I am speaking of upwards of 10 years’ incarceration.

In addition, he should be fined or forced to make restitution in the amount he is accused of stealing.

If he cannot recover the stolen amount, then his jail time increases. When criminals are made financially accountable for their actions, this would act as a deterrent for any future decisions they might want to take.

The point is felons are getting away too easily with their criminal enterprise, both by way of the paltry time given to them and the ability to benefit from the large sums of stolen loot.

My submission to the authorities is that the criminal must be denied the enjoyment of loot, as well as given enough time to sit in jail and effect a change in his behaviour pattern.


Neil Adams

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The auspicious light of Diwali

Dear Editor,

Greetings of peace to my dear Guyanese brothers and sisters. In the Hindu philosophy the light is referred to as divine and connotes a powerful meaning. This universal divine light symbolises an abundance of joy, truth, wisdom, love, peace, purity and harmony.

The light connects our souls to our original selves taking us to the righteous path of the Supreme Light or energy. When this happens, negativity is destroyed, humanity evolves and positive strength is drawn. This entire process helps each individual’s life to blossom with ease unto a beautiful path.

The lighting of the diya is a magnificent experience. The whole act of this lighting is an expression of purity, joy and happiness and has great significance. For example, the clay diya represents the human body.

The pouring of oil or ghee signifies the pouring in of knowledge which includes spiritual knowledge. Placing the cotton wick into the diya relates to steadfastness or willpower. The flame signifies the soul and the entire act of lighting the diya depicts how every individual’s life is being illuminated in a virtuous way.

The Cosmic Goddess of divinity regarded as Mother Lakshmi is represented as the Goddess of Light. She is unique, beautiful and is always a donor or giver. This Divine Mother gives continuous blessings and sometimes she is celebrated in various forms like Mother Durga, Mother Lakshmi, Mother Saraswati or Mother Sita.

In festivals like Navratri and Diwali, the Cosmic Goddess is worshipped and in these seasons her luminous vibrations are at the highest peak. Many divine messages, pujas, satsanghs, chantings, meditation, singing of bhajans, and classical dances are being rendered.

These glorious opportunities come to rejuvenate, awaken, and purify our minds and heal our entire being and to remind us of our divine essence on earth.

The Goddess Mother Lakshmi is regarded as ‘mother’ because she is universal and is manifested as absolute energy. She is an embodiment of virtues and resides in every one of us. Our true Lakshmi is really a wealth of knowledge and a wealth of noble qualities and values. We are all part of the Goddess Mother Lakshmi.

Our journey on earth is a sacred one and we should try to enhance our true self with more of the Goddess Mother Lakshmi’s virtues. Every individual has the power to tap into their inner or true self to activate their natural existence.

There is a divine plan for all human beings and Goddess Mother Lakshmi is a powerful gateway to help us to realise our true purpose on Earth. The feminine vibrations are very much potent in the Cosmic Goddess.

Therefore, we females are all part of the Goddess Mother Lakshmi’s divinity. Females are powerful in a positive way. They are supposed to be divine, pure, tender, beautiful, compassionate, content and gentle.

Unfortunately, many females underestimate themselves and do not recognise their sacred qualities, spiritual power and the Lakshmi that resides in them. Also, a lot of our young girls do not value, honour or cherish their entirety. It is important for all females to awaken their Shakti (divine powers) or wisdom and consciousness within them.

Today many young females find themselves getting involved in alcohol, drugs, teenage pregnancy and other destructive activities. Before this situation gets worse in our Hindu community, I suggest that our Hindu leaders play more pivotal roles in moulding our young ladies to realise their ascension pathway.

I know that we have competent Hindu leaders and trust that this Diwali message will help them to become even better change agents within our Hindu realm.

It is very important to build that connection with the Cosmic Goddess energy so that the light within each of us can continue to be illuminated dissolving all vices in our lives. I call upon everyone to recognise the pure meaning of Diwali and celebrate it with peace, love and unity.

Happy Diwali!

Yours truly,

Sandra Lalita Tularam

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Kindle the light of love and hope

Dear Editor,

Diwali is a time for celebration, but it is also a time for reflection – a time when we must remember that there are always others less fortunate than ourselves. This holiday reminds us that we should commit ourselves to helping those in need.

On behalf of the Humanitarian Mission of New Jersey Arya Samaj Mandir Inc, and its Guyana and Canadian Chapters, I am pleased to extend “Shubh Deepavali” greeting to all my Hindu brothers and sisters in Guyana and across the globe on the occasion of this joyous occasion.

At this time we must renew <<our>> commitment to kindness, to think of all those less fortunate individuals, especially all those who are sick, invalid, lonely, abused, and our seniors.

A significant event in the Hindu religious calendar, Deepavali celebrates prosperity and shower <<its>> light over darkness. On this very special occasion that is cherished and loved by many people across the world, Diwali is now celebrated by all communities in Guyana and across the globe.

It is a beautiful recognition; that light is something which is universal and important and significant for every one of us. A single “diya” or lamp holds infinite beauty and hope from within us. We need to kindle the light of hope from within our personalities so we can brighten ourselves and the people around us.

 From time immemorial, Diwali has been a celebration of victory over evil or darkness and also symbolises the coming of a New Year. But if we think deeply, what is this darkness that we want to remove? How can we remove the darkness from within us? Where there is darkness, we need light and there is tremendous darkness with each one of us, so let us kindle the light from within us.

Light means to follow a virtuous path such that our thoughts are always pure; our words are sweet and peaceful and thus bring joy to the listeners. Also our actions are always beneficial first to ourselves and to others, as well as the environment. On this Diwali we need to pray and get rid of all the darkness from within our society and ourselves.

Darkness is when our thoughts are negative and when these thoughts are reflected in our words or actions, they bring hurt and sorrow to others at every step.

In reality, evil or darkness does not have an identity of its own – it exists due to a lack of goodness or light. Knowledge, power, and all that is pure are very real characteristics since they are part of us; perhaps hidden yet existing. The Festival of Lights is the fight against evil forces and the creation of peace and happiness.

As we celebrate Diwali, its message is a reminder that we are the “Deepak”, that inner being, to have that experience of enlightenment. When the light of the soul is lit, that fire brings light not only to my own life and my relationships, but also, to all the Deepaks that are in me and you.

When all the Deepaks and the souls are lit with love, truth, peace and respect, they create a rosary. In “Deepmala”, the rosary of Deepaks, the souls have been lit with the light of truth and we are able to bring optimism to ourselves, the people around us, and the whole world.

It is clear that the world contains a lot of darkness. Every one of us are instruments that bring that light into this world of ours, so that we are able to move forward to a world that’s truly loving, harmonising and bringing peace.

So instead of celebrating Diwali, let us experience Diwali in positive ways.

As we clean our homes, let us clean our minds and intellects too. As we wear new clothes, let us also get rid of our old, unwanted, and disturbing habits of anger, jealousy and worries. Let’s our new but original qualities of peace, love, bliss and happiness emerge.

Tonight, we will settle our old account books and begin new ones; simultaneously, let us settle our old karmic accounts, any unpleasant relationships and begin our relationships in a new, positive way. We are all aware of the pollution caused by firecrackers, but it is Diwali. We need to burn crackers, so why not burn all the crackers of evil characteristics within ourselves.

This burning will in fact purify our minds and the environment. As we exchange sweets, let us also exchange meaningful sweet words, good wishes, and blessings. If we really experience Diwali, we will succeed in invoking (calling upon) Goddess Lakshmi. Her name comes from the word, “laksh”, meaning “the goal”.

Experiencing Diwali will help us reach our ultimate goal of heavenly perfection – which Goddess Lakshmi stands for. Worshipping Goddess Lakshmi is good, but what is even better is making the wealth of spiritual knowledge and qualities, a part of our life. A divine character alone can attain prosperity and peace.

 In an attempt to be a unifying force, the devotions during Diwali will seek to encourage greater unity, amity and understanding. “On this auspicious occasion of Diwali, let us pray for our leaders that they will confront the many challenges that are currently abounding in the society.

And even as Diwali is celebrated, we pray that Maha Lakshmi brings the true wealth of peace, health, happiness, and love to all of God’s creation. May the spirit of Diwali extinguish any darkness in every human personality and illuminate their souls with the light of God.

Let us all burn like diyas – giving light and life to others, and then we can truly say that we are celebrating the “Festival of Light.”

Submitted by, 

Pt Suresh Sugrim

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Has Sharma Solomon fulfilled his commitment to APNU and Region 10 residents?

Dear Editor,

As a Lindener, Sharma Solomon, our so-called Regional Chairman has agitated me to respond to his missive published in the October 19 edition of another newspaper: “Baishanlin has failed to fully honour its commitments to agreements, residents and Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice)”.

My question to Mr Solomon is, where is the money you collected to aid the construction of a new school from businessmen, well-wishers and other corporate citizens and companies that were sympathetic to the children and people of Linden?

Why is Mr Solomon ranting and raving about accountability and commitment to the people of Linden and Region 10, when he himself is culpable of deceiving the people of Linden?

This is one of several other misdemeanours which have resulted in APNU distancing itself from Mr Solomon. He has lost the respect of his fellow Lindeners and residents of Region 10.

I wish to point out several inaccuracies in his letter which he continuously regurgitates such as: Baishanlin is violating Guyana’s laws and disrespecting and threatening our environment.

Also, he is peddling lies that Baishanlin is underpaying some of its employees. Who in their right senses in Guyana works for $500 per day? Maybe ‘junkies’ – residents of Region 10 are not ‘junkies’, Mr Solomon. It is said when you tell a lie often, others tend to believe; it’s true.

While Mr Solomon is Regional Chairman, his support and that of APNU continue to dwindle. As such, it is mindboggling on whose behalf he is speaking.

The people of Linden do not take Mr Solomon seriously anymore, particularly since he is holding office at a time when approximately G$12 million has disappeared. This is hideous, and he must be fully castigated for misleading the people of Linden and Region 10.

With regards,

Christine Cadogan 

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Diaspora, remittances and illegals in foreign countries

Dear Editor,

Guianese and later Guyanese started to leave the country before independence. They left in droves for the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, and during the racial clashes in the mid 1960s, more and more started to leave for all parts of the world for a better way of life.

However, the consolation is that most of them are doing extremely well in their professions and businesses. Some excelled and made Guyana proud. What is more important is that a large number of members of the diaspora assist their friends and relatives back home and hundreds send remittances on a fairly regular basis.

While most of them are in overseas countries legally, there are tens of thousands who are illegal in several countries mainly the United States, Canada and a few Caribbean countries.

The latest report from Port of Spain is that a total of 110,012 illegals are in that oil-rich country. Incidentally, the illegals comprise one-tenth of the total population and as a result the Ministry of National Security is taking drastic action to deport and even to prosecute some of them.

Guyana has the largest number – 25,884, followed by Jamaica with 19,500.

The illegals in Trinidad and Tobago are from 16 countries,  mainly from six Caricom countries, as well as from Venezuela – 10,570, and nearly 10,000 from St Vincent and the Grenadines; Colombia – 6388 and as far as Nigeria and Bangladesh.

It might be surprising to the readers that as many as 7169 illegals are from Barbados and 4391 from St Lucia.

Although Guyana topped the list of illegals in Trinidad for the country with most illegals; there are several thousands of illegals including Brazilians, Chinese, Colombians, and Caribbean nationals who are in the Cooperative Republic.

It is believed that the immigration authorities in Guyana are not as vigilant and harsh as their counterparts in other countries especially the United States, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.

The Treaty of Chaguaramas makes provision for freedom of movement in the Caribbean Community, but the Treaty is not always being adhered to by a few countries especially Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Antigua and Barbados.

Jamaica has recently been criticised for deporting Abu Bakr, a Muslim from Port of Spain who went to Kingston to attend the 19th anniversary celebration of the Million Man March which was attended by Louis Farrakhan and other black leaders.

The Jamaican immigration authorities said that Bakr was sent back to Port of Spain in a chartered jet in the interest of public safety.  Bakr plotted and tried to overthrow the Trinidad and Tobago Government in a coup in the Parliament Chamber more than two decades ago.

Gerald Pereira, Chairperson of the Black Consciousness Movement in Guyana, was also denied entry to Jamaica. Pereira lived in Libya for many years and served in the Green March, an International Battalion for the defence of the Libyan Revolution.

People tend to move from country to country to seek a better way of life for their families.


Oscar Ramjeet

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Ramjattan, Nagamootoo owe Hindus an apology

Dear Editor,

I write to condemn the AFC for its religious insensitivity in calling for the convening of Parliament on the eve of Diwali, the most significant celebration for Hindus in Guyana and one in which almost every Guyanese enjoys through its participation in the motorcades, concerts and meals (delicacies).

Hindus in Guyana were fuming with rage that my very good friends Moses Nagamootoo, Khemraj Ramjattan and Veerasammy Ramayya and other MPs and executives of AFC have the audacity to sign on to the party’s demand that Parliament meet on the eve of Diwali.

At the West Coast motorcade and various other Diwali-related events where I was present and in the mandirs on Sunday morning, it was a subject of discussion – like myself, they cannot understand how the AFC, a party that should have been different from the others, could display such gross disrespect for Hindus on insisting that Parliament meet on October 22 when Hindus are in the midst of celebrating their festival, which is followed by a public holiday in recognition of the importance of the religious event.

Worse yet, they feel Moses, Khemraj, Ramayya, all of whom come from Hindu families, and have Hindu neighbours, should know better to seek the convening of Parliament on such an auspicious occasion for Hindus.

These gentlemen are my friends, but I cannot let them off the hook by not criticising their insensitivity towards Hindus.  It shows they don’t even know their own culture. How could these men allow themselves to be led astray to disrespect the entire Hindu population?

Here it is that non-Hindus and non-Indians could appreciate Diwali, but the AFC MPs can’t show any respect for the festival. Openness and tolerance of other faiths must begin at the very top of any organisation.

When Hindus themselves don’t understand their practices and traditions, they open themselves to humiliation and become the laughing stock of others. Hindus, in fact all Guyanese, are disappointed in the AFC for its religious insensitivity. A public apology is needed.

Diwali is an eternally sacred Hindu event of great spiritual significance in the Rig Vedic Adivasi Puranic culture of Hinduism and Hindus. The extraordinary secular features of public displays of pomp and splendour should not detract from the essential protocols of devotion and worship and respect for those who do.

Recognition of the Shakti (invulnerable divine powers) of Maha Lakshmi Devi, the Divine Mother, is of paramount importance to Hindus in Guyana.

I expect my friend Moses, for whom I have great regard and consistently extolled his virtues, and, by extension, the AFC to be mindful of Diwali being a national festival with spiritual, religious and temporal features in respect of which any form of disrespect or violation will redound to the discredit of the country and the nation. DIWALI is a legacy of our illustrious indentured immigrant ancestors and should be seen and duly respected as such.

Calling for reconvening Parliament on Diwali Eve is very disrespectful – it is no different than reconvening Parliament on Christmas Eve or the eve of Eid.

Diwali is not a one-day event. It is observed over a five-day period and it really comes to an end on the sixth day with Goberdhan puja, the day after official observance of Diwali. It is for this reason that Parliament goes into recess in many societies (India, Mauritius, Fiji, Natal, Durban, Guadeloupe, etc) with a large number of Hindus – they don’t wish to appear insensitive to Hindus.

Even in the US, Congress is in recess as in Canada and Britain. In neighbouring Trinidad and Suriname, Parliament has been in recess for the festival. But in Guyana, it appears it is okay for the AFC to disrespect Hindus.

It is also noted that while Diwali is officially celebrated as a holiday on October 22, the day before and after Diwali are very auspicious in which all Hindus engage in fasting and performing pujas.

Also, this year, because of the eclipse and the position of the moon, some experts have claimed that Diwali is on October 22 while others claim it is on the 23th.  Because of the interpretation, and to please Goddess Lakshmi, many Hindus are observing the festival with celebrations on both nights and some mandirs in New York are having special pujas on both evenings.

At any rate, it has been the custom in Guyana that diyas are lit in front of homes of Hindus on the eve of Diwali and business close up early on that day to facilitate rituals.

Parliamentary business cannot and should not be conducted on that day as it is inauspicious for Hindus – Hindus close out business on that day for the old year in the Hindu calendar; they don’t engage in new business.

AFC should seriously think of attending cultural sensitivity courses and to learn about the religious practices of the various faiths in Guyana. The party leadership needs training in religious sensitivity. They have to be trained to follow the practices of peers in India, Durban, Mauritius, Fiji, Guadeloupe, St Lucia, etc, all of which show their respect for the Indian population.


Yours faithfully,

Vishnu Bisram

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GRA has unenviable task of ensuring Govt gets fair share of taxes

Dear Editor,

Mr Khurshid Sattaur is a man of moral uprightness and one to be emulated. A fearless, no-nonsense public servant who is doing an excellent job in a hostile and unfriendly atmosphere.

As head of the Guyana Revenue Authority, he is given the unenviable task of ensuring that our country gets its fair share of taxes. Simply put, he is in a crucial position, a make or break situation if you please – the collection of revenue for the smooth running of the state we call Guyana.

For us to succeed as a nation, the all-important dollar – millions of it – must be collected in a timely and honest manner. This means that his success is our success and conversely, his failure will automatically be our failure.

In this regard, all illegal and unsavoury practices to undermine the rights of the people to earn their fair share of taxes is a criminal act and should be condemned for all its worth. At this juncture of our development, we can ill afford the likes of those who intentionally rob us.

Tax cheats ought to be exposed and brought before the courts for non-payment of their dues. They have to pay what they owe, not Khurshid Sattaur, but they owe the people of Guyana.

This is why the Commissioner General would remain my mentor and my hero. I join with the countless number of persons in support of your good work. We salute your most valuable contribution to this nation.

Yours truly,

Neil Adams

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No-win situation for all parties

Dear Editor,

One of my lasting memories of Cheddi was his love for people and his constant desire to meet, chat and discuss matters which were very important to them – be it personal or community-related, whether he was in Opposition or the Executive President of Guyana.

Today, we are witnessing a different breed of his students and party comrades. In this context, Cheddi, therefore, had set aside one day in each month in order to meet the public at Freedom House.

Those of us who knew him and who worked with him would know he always prepared for a very long and hard day. He would work well into the following day, until the last person was seen and their problems discussed and giving the necessary instructions to those Ministers who were assigned to work with him on that day.

Sometimes he used to remain in the Office of the President, busy getting matters done. At the end of the exercise, an assessment of the day’s work would be prepared by all of his Ministers and the actions taken, together with the notes for future reference.

People came from all walks of life and from all over the country, both coast and hinterland areas. Today, if you have an appointment with a Minister, you cannot find him in office. The problems raised with Dr Jagan were many and varied.

People with problems that could not be resolved at the local level looked to Cheddi for the necessary representation. He made sure that the matters raised and discussed were dealt with promptly and the decisions made and passed expeditiously.

Cheddi was a serious President, regardless of your position – be it Office Assistant, Minister or General Secretary, you knew you had to perform. He was a source of inspiration.

He would tell us where there is a problem, there is a solution. Smilingly, he said that your success served to prove whether you had leadership potential and abilities. There was no doubt that he was by far the most popular PPP politician among the party’s grassroots supporters.

He is known to have got the highest number of votes at each PPP Congress.

In the meantime, the PPP is in crisis. Many observers believe that the party will need the most intelligent, able and acceptable candidate to lead the PPP at this time. The reality is that rough times are ahead. This election could lead to a no-win situation.

Yours faithfully,

Mohamed Khan

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