August 23, 2014

Human Services Ministry has been involved in suicide prevention

Dear Editor,

In response to a letter headlined, “An open letter to the Human Services Minister”, which was published in the August 18 edition of Guyana Times, I wish to commend the writers on their proposed response to our growing problem of suicide, which is indeed a troubling one, and a concern which we share.

The Ministry has been involved in a number of initiatives aimed at addressing the issue of suicide prevention, and is not averse to extending its support to other initiatives aimed at achieving the same objectives.

It is heartening to see renewed interest in the prevention of this social ill that has plagued our society. The Labour, Human Services and Social Security Ministry has long recognised the need for partnerships and extended networks to advocate suicide prevention.

In February this year, the Ministry partnered with the New Jersey Arya Samaj Humanitarian Mission, and several local entities, including the Ministries of Education and Health, the Regional Democratic Council Region Six, and some private businesses to begin a new awareness and education project aimed at preventing suicide.

This event was well attended by leaders and members of faith-based organisations, with more than 300 students from secondary schools along the Corentyne Coast, and members of civil society in attendance.

They were enlightened by presentations made by a number of specialists including Psychiatrist, Dr Bhiro Harry, business leaders, and Dr Sharma of the Regional Health Authority.

The First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar and I have also addressed this issue and we sought to identify some of the root causes, and how these issues should be addressed. Let me reassure the writers of Government’s commitment and growing concerns for this issue.

The presentations were followed by an interactive session and informative suggestions/presentations emerged which serve as guidance for continued work in this area. Many of the resource persons engaged at this forum have since continued the work in various areas.

Similarly, the Government of Guyana was engaged in an effort to train about 600 members of faith-based organisations to prevent and care for, counsel and support persons affected by social ills, including suicide.

I wish to mention that the Ministry also works closely in collaboration with a number of NGOs, and through its Probation Officers, a core group of professionals, who are assigned to the 10 administrative regions, have expanded its network to conduct public education and sensitisation awareness activities on this issue, as well as the issue of gender-based violence. Their interaction allows for all levels of contact, from the grassroots level to all levels in society.

During a country-wide campaign against gender-based violence, the Ministry, through its Women’s Affairs Bureau and Men’s Affairs Bureau, has addressed the issue of suicide, especially with the children in schools.

This issue was dealt with also with men in their own grouping and young girls. The Ministry is also supporting a suicide prevention committee working in Corentyne with various groups.

Last year, the Ministry began efforts to address this issue in the work place and held sessions with employers and employees at their places of work, including the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, the Guyana Business Coalition on HIV, and staff at the Skeldon Sugar Estate. These are just some of the efforts undertaken to address the issue of suicide.

However, I wish to highlight the fact that the Probation and Social Services Officers of the Ministry address these issues on a smaller scale on a daily basis as they continue their work in communities, homes, the prisons, orphanages, homes for the elderly, religious groups, and wherever else their work might take them as servants of the people.

These are by no means sufficient, as suicide continues to occur in Guyana. Hence, the Labour, Human Services and Social Security Ministry again wishes to reiterate its call for greater partnerships to boost its capacity to better address the issue of suicide prevention in Guyana.

With respect to the issues raised regarding attitudes towards mental health issues to combat the taboos, misinformation, biases, I wish to assure the writers that Minister of Health, Dr Bheri Ramsaran and the Health Ministry have developed a Mental Health Strategy which will be formally launched by October 10 in observance of World Mental Health Day.

The Health Ministry has also conducted training sessions in areas of depression and suicide for 250 persons with the support of an international psychologist, Dr Doorn.

We also thank Caribbean Voice for its interest and efforts and would like to extend an invitation for them to meet and interact with some of the Ministry’s managers to share our experiences, and to learn more about your efforts as we seek ways of collaborating and improving the services we provide to the Guyanese people. We remain committed to supporting initiatives aimed at reducing this abhorrent trend in our society.

Sincerely,

Jenifer Webster

Human Services and Social Security Minister

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Kaieteur News photos are misleading

Dear Editor,

The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has made it very clear that no logging has taken place at Kwebanna by Bai Shan Lin for 2014, and that the photographs of logs taken by the Kaieteur News are logs that were harvested in 2013.

This tells John Public that the photo evidence of that paper is totally misleading, which instead rubbishes its own unfounded and mischievous claims that logging activities are taking place at Kwebanna.

But what is important to note as well is the hypocrisy of the hullabaloo over logs exportation by Bai Shan Lin shown by some media houses.

Janet Bulkan has relatives in Joint Venture arrangements with Bai Shan Lin and Kwebanna Wood products. In this regard, it would be interesting to know what are her views. If Bulkan was a genuine expert on forest matters, she would have humbly made herself available to apply her expertise in Guyana’s forestry sector.

But no, Bulkan, like some media houses and the political Opposition, always wages an anti-Government agenda, particularly on forest matters under the pretext of forest expertise.

Kaieteur News’ photographs of logs on the ground are not factual evidence of Guyana’s forest assessments. What the photographs represent is mischievous, misleading and erroneous information about Bai Shan Lin’s logging activities and matters that pertain to Guyana’s forest sector.

 

Yours sincerely,

Peter Persaud

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The people being trafficked matter

Dear Editor,

I am writing to you in hopes that I could get these words out. Words that need to be said but I don’t know yet if they will make sense and have a point.

Well, the point is to let you know about human trafficking, a modern-day crime. But, most of all, why it matters. The people being trafficked matter. And just like any other crime, it needs to be stopped. But, perpetrators of human trafficking are hard to be held accountable, especially in Guyana.

The United States ranks the world’s countries yearly based on their efforts to end human trafficking in a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. Guyana, according to the TIP Report for 2014 ranks as a Tier Two Watch List country.

We are just below the par for Tier Two, and one step down to Tier Three. And the US Department of State has penalties for countries on Tier Three, such as imposing various sanctions that would prevent financial assistance under certain guidelines.

This past Tuesday, there was an article in Guyana Times about the need for the mining community to get rid of its trafficking in persons stigma. Getting rid of the human trafficking stigma may not mean much but, to someone who is being abused physically, mentally and otherwise, it may mean everything.

Just as there is the crime of human trafficking there is the possibility to end it, and we must do more than just get rid of the stigma. We have to work proactively towards ending it.

 

Sincerely,

Sasha R

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Making Guyana better not on the Opposition’s agenda

Dear Editor,

The Opposition today claims they have our best interests at heart, but I’m confused because all I’m seeing and hearing are complaints from the AFC/APNU. They’re set out to “cut” again. Clearly the Opposition is wasting hard earned tax-payers money. They are being paid salaries to make our lives uncomfortable and insecure.

The Government is doing its best, and apparently making Guyana a better place to live is not on the Opposition’s agenda. We are confident that we can make strategic adjustments, so that we do not harm the momentum we have built in recent years, especially our investment in the quality of our country.

The strength of a country is the excellence of its people, and we will strive to protect this excellence. To protect as many jobs as possible the Opposition needs to stop this nonsense of “budget cuts”. They should act decisively and not foolishly.

Finally, we must stay true to our core values and goals as we make any financial decisions, instead of undermining the beneficial decisions of the nation; beyond doubt would be shortsighted and a failure for all.

Do the Guyanese people really support the drastic cuts to the National Budget? The “service cutters” often claim popular support, but that’s only in the abstract. The poor suffers and the correct answer in poll after poll is no. No budget cuts, it’s simple as that. If they want a balanced approach that asks most of those with the most to give, not the least.

Let’s have a budget plan that truly reflects the will of the people.

Respectfully,

R Persaud

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Relief aid to residents of southeastern Ukraine

Dear Editor,

We welcome the final agreement concerning all variables involved in the urgent delivery of Russian humanitarian relief aid to southeastern Ukraine using the Izvarino-Lugansk route.

This is the result of intense and multi-dimensional efforts which, in addition to the practical organisation involved in transporting a large batch of food, medicines, essentials and electric power generators – already a major logistical challenge – involved maintaining intensive contacts across various areas with the Ukrainian side, as well as the leadership and employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other international partners.

As a result, we have managed to facilitate the speedy and effective achievement of our main goal, which was to deliver and distribute the much needed humanitarian aid to southeastern Ukraine.

We would like to express our appreciation to the ICRC leaders and employees for their effective cooperation. It was not easy, but we managed to achieve the desired interim result.

Notably, we have reached agreements regarding the delivery, under the auspices of the ICRC, of humanitarian aid to southeastern Ukraine from other Ukrainian regions. Importantly, the convoys should now be able to reach their destinations without any mishaps.

The Russian side confirms its security guarantees for the ongoing relief effort. As is known, similar guarantees have also been provided by the Ukrainian authorities and self-defence fighters. We warn against possible provocations with the goal of disrupting the delivery.

We urge the conflicting sides to declare a cease-fire for the duration of this delivery and suggest that the UN Security Council make a statement to this effect. We count on the support of the international community regarding further efforts to alleviate the humanitarian plight in southeastern Ukraine.

 

Denis Kopyl

Head of the  

Consular Section

Russian Embassy

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Sponsorship is a serious matter

Dear Editor

It is noted that W&H Rambaran is sponsoring the Demerara Cricket Board (DCB). It also stated that this company was founded in the early 1990s and, according to a press release from the DCB executives, that the company’s aim is to propel Guyana into the 21st century to make its customers’ boating experience better in the long run.

W&H Rambaran Mariner Outboard Engines is the number one on the water, and supplies Mariner and Mercury outboard engines, spare parts and accessories.

Now that this generous company is sponsoring the DCB, they may be obliged to let the constituent members of the DCB and general public know who are the executives of the DCB.

The photograph published indicated that Raj Singh and Anand Kalladeen are President and Treasurer, respectively.

If not, this is serious indictment for a company such as W&H Rambaran. Has this company seen a financial statement from the DCB? And if so, why it is not presented to the constituent members of the DCB?

Sponsorship is a serious matter and had it been in the USA, an immediate investigation would have been launched. The anti-moneylaundering /anti-terrorism laws would have been enforced.

Yours truly

Lalman Seecharran

 

Copied: Transparency International

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Kaieteur News should desist from creating unnecessary public mischief

Dear Editor,

Reference is made to an article published by the Kaieteur News on August 19 in the newspaper pointing to questions asked during a press conference hosted by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the latter’s referral of such queries to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

There was also a follow up report in the August 21 edition of the newspaper. In the subsequent article, the issue is referenced yet again as though there is some mystery as to the process, despite GRA’s previous outline of the process through which concessions are granted, which ironically was noted in the same article.

As such, based on these continuous queries by the newspaper on the same matter and for further clarification, the GRA wishes to make it clear that duty-free concessions are only granted by the GRA if they were first approved by the relevant regulatory entities/bodies, approvals of which are then forwarded to the Revenue Authority.

The GRA is most certain that the newspaper is already aware of this and therefore its representatives had to have been mischievous to even pose such questions at the forum.

The granting of any specified concession is based on established laws and policies and would be granted taking into consideration the type of investment involved and, therefore, the newspaper’s reference to the type(s) of vehicle for which any concession was granted was most likely also malicious and reflects a complete misunderstanding of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) followed in the granting of concessions.

The GRA will not be providing any further comments on this matter since the Tax Act includes provisions for such information to be deemed strictly privileged and confidential.

The GRA therefore advises that the Kaieteur News desist from creating unnecessary public mischief and sensationalism and hopes that the newspaper will venture to do proper and thorough research in the future, especially prior to publishing articles of such nature.

Respectfully,

Khurshid Sattaur

Commissioner

General

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An unfortunate mischarge of justice

Dear Editor,

The Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) wishes to express concern over the circumstances which led to the dismissal of the case against Linden Primo, who was recently charged with discharging a firearm and threatening behaviour following the staging of the controversial 18th Biennial Congress of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR).

The PPP/C has noted too the attempts by the PNCR to cover for Primo, while using its Opposition-media agents to downplay the issue and sweep it under the carpet.

The party is aware that the chief witness in the case and several others did not attend court proceedings to give evidence, because of sheer intimidation and bullyism by key operatives at the PNC’s Headquarters. The PPP/C condemns this type of intimidatory tactics.

The PPP/C is concerned that the women were forced into silence by those who had an interest in ensuring that the truth surrounding what took place at the protest-riddled congress did not come to the fore.

While this is not surprising, the party believes that David Granger, who holds himself out as the paragon of virtue, political rectitude should now also express concern that the charges were dropped against a man whose actions clearly compromised the integrity of the PNCR’s Congress.

Granger ill-affords to be silent on this issue, given the criticisms from his own camp about the manner in which the PNCR’s Congress was conducted. He must also explain why his party, which preaches law and order, failed to cooperate with the Police during the initial stages of the investigation, and why the PNCR did not opt to furnish the Police with other witnesses.

Granger himself cannot deny knowledge of Primo’s actions as it occurred while he was present at Congress Place.

The PPP/C firmly believes that the PNC’s attempt at protecting the accused came off the heels of the party’s association with other criminal elements, including Kevin Fields, Linden “Blackie” London, and others who launched assaults on innocent Guyanese.

What is also interesting is the media’s astounding silence and lack of investigative reporting on this aspect of the PNCR’s congress. Had such developments occurred at the PPP/C’s Congress, it would have been splashed across the media and blown out of proportion.

As a matter of fact, the PPP/C would have no doubt been the subject of ridicule and widespread criticisms from the Opposition media and their interests. While the party is guided by the rationale behind the court’s ruling, it is saddened that justice was not allowed to take its full course and a full trial not held.

Submitted by,

PPP/C,

Freedom

House

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India’s independence has historical significance for Guyana

Dear Editor,

India celebrated her 68th independence from British colonialism last Sunday.  I was fortunate to be invited by the President’s staff for a reception at the President’s residence in the evening to mark the occasion. This is a tradition going back for decades – ambassadors and most prominent citizens, including the MPs and Ministers, were invited for the event to interact with Ministers, VIPs and VVIPS.

Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi was also there. It was a most impressive ceremony that included classical music from the Army bands and the National Anthem. Earlier in the morning, Prime Minister Modi addressed the nation in an hour-long speech at the historic Red Fort, a tradition going back to the time of independence.

In watching him deliver his speech, it appeared he spoke off the cuff. He certainly did not read a speech in contrast to his immediate predecessor. Modi is a masterful orator and he knows how to connect with his audience.

He is a gifted speaker – few can communicate like him. He speaks the language of the masses and he was interrupted numerous times during his speech with loud cheers. The speech was delivered in Hindi and was carried live on TV and translated into the languages of the various states.

Those who listened to the speech said it was the best delivered by any Prime Minister. Critics of the PM on national TV said they could not find anything on which to criticise Modi.

It was a speech to take India forward and appealed to the common man. The PM laid out his programme for India and talked about needed reforms to speed up India’s development.

 In terms of basic services, he plans to focus on education, improvement in electricity and potable water and road transport. Modi also wants to build modern cyber cities and bullet trains to compete with China and Japan.

India’s independence has historical significance for Guyana and indeed for all Third World peoples. Her freedom struggle and home rule served as a model for colonised peoples to fight for their own independence from colonial rule in the 1950s and 1960s.

India’s freedom in 1947 set the stage for freedom for the colonies of the world.  Not surprisingly, ambassadors from all the major countries of the world turned up for the reception to pay tribute to India’s 67th anniversary since it was freed from British colonial control. I interacted with several representatives, including many from Africa dressed in traditional African garb.

No doubt, it was a wonderful social get together allowing people from different nations to interact and to better understand each other and to appreciate the historical achievements of India that has helped to set other colonies free.

I attended several India Independence Day celebrations all over the world, including Fiji, Guyana, Trinidad, New York and India. I prefer the ones in Guyana and Trinidad that allow me to interact with people I hardly see throughout year.

This in no way takes away from the significance and charm of being invited to the celebration hosted by the President, who has to manage a huge list of invitees.

Congratulations are in order for the country reaching another milestone in her freedom. And indeed President Ramotar, President Obama and world leaders sent congratulatory messages to the leaders of the country on its achievement.

Yours faithfully,

Vishnu Bisram

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Déjà vu with well-orchestrated attacks by Opposition, media on investment

Dear Editor,

Once again I am experiencing déjà vu with the current attacks well-orchestrated by the Opposition with Kaieteur News and not far behind the Stabroek News on investment in Guyana which disenfranchise all our people.

Only a few months back, there was a huge cry from the Opposition and Kaieteur News/Stabroek News about the Muri Brazil Investment, South of Guyana. Now, it’s Chinese company Bai Shan Lin that s being castigated for large scale investment in the forest sector.

From the side lines, I have been observing the back and forth between the Government Ministry – the Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry and the Guyana Forestry Commission, providing numerous facts/clarification on this investment, which was not published.

However, the facts provided were instead twisted to suit the exposed agenda of the Kaieteur News and Stabroek News. This should not be a surprising act by either newspaper, as over the years, these media entities have churned out misinformation to victimise and extort foreign investment/companies.

I find it appalling that new foreign direct investment is continually being attacked and forced out of Guyana just because newspaper publishers want to sell their papers with scandal and as a means of extortion.

We have seen attacks by both the Opposition and hostile media on the Marriott Hotel, Amalia Falls Hydro Project, Specialty Hospital, Muri Brazil Investment, and now Bai San Lin. While I am absolutely sure this is not the end, I believe the Opposition and the Stabroek News and Kaieteur News need to be taken to task to provide real verified facts, rather than speculations and manufactured misinformation.

While I may not be a Government supporter, I would like to state that if these newspapers are practising investigative journalism as they claim, I would like to see the newspapers publish the verified facts on all that has been said about the forestry sector and Bai Shan Lin. And please, no photographs without verification.

Finally, I would like to urge the gullible reporters of the Kaieteur News and Stabroek News not to be persuaded by your editors and publishers to twist your articles, it will only come back to haunt you as an individual.

Sincerely,

Erica Smith  

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