May 4, 2015

Jagdeo wants Bond charged

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo addressing the Bath rally on Sunday

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo addressing the Bath rally on Sunday

…for Facebook post on Disciplined Service vote


By Alexis Rodney

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is calling for immediate legal action to be taken against Attorney-at-Law and People’s National Congress (PNC)-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change candidate James Bond, for spreading information on social media about the results of the Joint Services vote on Saturday, which he could not have verified.

This call was made by former President Bharrat Jagdeo who was addressing another massive crowd at the PPP/C’s rally at Bath, West Coast Berbice (WCB), on Sunday. The former Head of State was particularly peeved over the information peddled by the lawyer, dubbing it “illegal”. According to him, the matter needed immediate legal intervention. Bond, moments after the military men and women, had cast their ballots Saturday evening , took to his Facebook page declaring that Disciplined Forces had given the Opposition some 94 per cent of their votes, continuing that it was up to the coalition “to take this landslide home”.

He continued that on “May 11 every vote we lost to complacency in 2011 we are taking it back. Every new vote must go to APNU+AFC everyone who did not vote in 2011 must vote for APNU+AFC in 2015. We CAN DO IT. It’s crunch time!” the lawyer said on his page. He went further, divulging information he appeared to have about the voting patterns of Joint Services ranks who cast their ballots at the Whim Police Station.

James Bond

James Bond

“An example of what occurred today at Whim Police Station…total number of voters 165… Number of votes cast 147… APNU+AFC 140…PPP/C 7…” he said.

The former Head of State, restating his allegations of the Opposition’s track record of disruption at the polling places, told the crowd that it was impossible for the Attorney to have come across such information. “How could James Bond know about the military vote that took place last night and it was not counted. How did he know about Whim and the percentage about how much they got and how much we got? It’s impossible to do that. Remember we talked about subverting the military, about subverting the Police?” Jagdeo queried.

Put a stop to it

He said the action by Bond was nothing strange, as it was a representation of the continuous ploy by the PNC to subvert the polls and Election Day activities. He said the issue was a serious one. “It is illegal and we have to charge him now. We have to charge him and send a signal to this country.”

He said there was a pattern to all that has been happening, noting that “if we don’t put a stop to it, on Elections Day, there shall be consequences”. “And so I ask the people who are entrusted by our Constitution and our laws to make sure that our elections are organised properly in this country. That we do not sit and become complacent and view these attempts as isolated and average, but how do we deal with these illegal attempts leading up to the elections to subvert the polls will do a lot with what takes place on Elections Day.”

He made a public call on Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally and Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield to apply the law for such behaviour, urging them not to make any excuses in such regard as it was a “testing ground for what will happen on Elections Day”.

He said the Opposition was running scared and has also introduced another programme, aimed at causing confusion on Election Day. Jagdeo related that the programme, referred to as “Project GPS”, aimed at getting voters to take photographs of their Statement of Polls (SOPs) and send them to the Opposition, which will in turn post it on Facebook as an unofficial announcement of its results.

Dr Surujbally had on Saturday, however, dismissed the claims by the Attorney, revealing to this publication that he (Bond) could not make such statements with any “definitiveness of accuracy because he does not know how the people have voted”.

Dr Surujbally had explained that the envelopes containing the votes of the Joint Services were going to be mixed with the other votes on May 11; therefore, no one would know how they voted. The GECOM Chairman also reminded the public that “that is the reason why the system has been developed so you can’t count the vote of the Disciplined Services because they will be mixed with the votes on May 11”.

Jagdeo also condemned the mayhem that attended the PPP/C’s Warlock, East Ruimveldt, Georgetown meeting last week when a APNU/AFC supporter burned the PPP/C’s flag and other threw stones at some of the speakers in an effort to disrupt it. “This is not something to laugh about. It’s it just a characteristic of the PNC; it is illegal for anyone to destroy the paraphernalia of another political party. She should be charged now.”

Last Sunday, the former Head of State had made a public call on the international observers participating in this year’s General and Regional Elections to pay close attention to the occurrences unfolding on Elections Day, particularly as regard the track record of the PNC.

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Ramotar assures Berbicians of more jobs

President Donald Ramotar as he delivered his speech to residents at a rally at Bath Settlement, West Coast Berbice, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice)

President Donald Ramotar as he delivered his speech to residents at a rally at Bath Settlement, West Coast Berbice, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice)

PPP/C Bath rally:


…modern, better infrastructure

By Andrew Carmichael

President Donald Ramotar on Sunday promised West Berbicians a more modern society, where better jobs will be created for young people and a “new kind of infrastructural development” will take place once his party is re-elected on May 11.

He made the comments while addressing a gathering of around 15,000 at a rally at Bath Settlement, West Coast Berbice, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice). He said Guyana was soon to become a country where no one wanted to leave, as its economy continued to grow. However, in order for this to be done, a new kind of infrastructural development must take place, Ramotar noted. He said the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was aiming at building a strong and modern economy with all modern facilities available and Guyana will once again became the most developed country in the Caribbean.

Among some of the developmental plans for Berbice is a deepwater harbour to be established in Region Five. This, the President said, will be tied to the road to Lethem which will connect Guyana and Brazil. “This is how Guyana will become an economic hub for the whole Caribbean.”

Ramotar noted that his Administration was pushing to develop the agricultural sector unlike previous administrations. “Under the PNC Administration there were only 11,000 acres under cultivation. We now have over 100,000 acres under cultivation.”

Meanwhile, a free economic zone is to be created in Berbice where jobs will be created for the people of Region Five and Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne). Cash crop farmers, Ramotar added, are going to benefit tremendously from the deepwater harbour as they will be able to export their produce easily and directly to North America resulting in it reaching its destination fresh. “Our cash crop farmers will be able to have a much better life being able to export their produce right from Region Five.”

Apart from the deepwater harbour, there was also to be a new airport which will assist in exporting produce in a timely manner. This, the President said, is also needed to develop the tourism sector. “The BBC said that people should try to come at least once in their lives to Guyana and we have to put systems and structures in place to ensure that we realise that dream,” he noted.

According to Ramotar, his Administration is also focusing on the physical infrastructure. “Comrades, we are also working on the roads. We have improved the road work tremendously. You can now move very easily to Georgetown with your product and in the areas where there is traffic congestion we have built wider roads so that you can move faster and safer to your designation.”

These are just some of the plans Government has for the next five years. However, Ramotar warned that Government faced the danger of not being able to implement those developmental plans as a result of the machinations of the joint opposition. “We have to stop them at these elections because they have shown what they want to do. They don’t want to pass the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill. The Bill that is designed to fight against organised crime in our country. The Bill will make Guyana’s laws hostile against the criminals. But we must not be surprised about that, because the Opposition has a history of supporting criminal activity,” the President said.

The Head of State said that his Administration has already started investing in the country’s human resources. Under the previous Administration, Ramotar said, only 30 per cent of the country’s children attended secondary school, while today under the PPP/C Administration more than 90 per cent of the country’s children can go to secondary school. “Very soon, every single child will be able to attend secondary school,” Ramotar boasted.

Social sector

Also speaking at the rally was Prime Ministerial Candidate Elisabeth Harper, who stressed on the need to further develop the social sector which has been receiving the biggest chunk of the National Budget. She said special emphasis will be placed on developing the social well-being of all Guyanese, including women, children, the elderly and the differently disabled. “We will safeguard their life by adopting programmes that will see more protection for our children, providing continued educational programmes and providing support in order to empower our youth.”

Harper noted that the current Administration has recommitted itself to reducing maternal deaths in Guyana. Special programmes will also be implemented to provide assistance to single parents. These will include programmes to allow them to continue their academic studies and to access technical and vocational training. “Programmes will be put in place for the sensitisation of adolescents for them to make the right choices and we will be working with civil groups and faith-based organisations in an effort to reduce suicide.”

According to Harper, the PPP/C Administration will ensure that youths are part of the decision-making process and will have policies in place to ensure this. Harper also touched on the job market, which in some sectors have a closed-door policy for youths. Many of them cannot get employment because employers demand work experience despite one being qualified. However, Harper said policies would be put in place to ensure that employers provide on-the-job training for young persons.

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Linden cop shot accidentally by colleague

An off-duty Policeman was shot to his left shoulder after a round was accidentally discharged by one of his colleagues Sunday morning in Linden.
The Policeman was in the process of making an arrest when his firearm went off. Police Constable Nathaniel Giddings, 22, was injured while in the vicinity at the time of the arrest attempt. The incident occurred around 05:40h at Greenheart Street, Linden.

According to a Police release, two ranks, one of whom was armed with a service revolver, were making efforts to arrest two suspects in a larceny case when a round was discharged, hitting the off-duty Police Officer who was apparently in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Reports indicate that Giddings was on his way to attend a party in the area when he noticed the on-duty Police Officer attempting to arrest two men who were resisting arrest. It was then the officer reached for his gun which went off and the bullet struck Giddings.

Giddings was admitted to the Georgetown Public Hospital. The matter is currently being investigated. Meanwhile, the two suspects were arrested and were in custody.

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There could be consequences if true – GECOM Chairman

Bond Facebook comments on Disciplined Services voting:

…President Ramotar slams move to stir up confusion

By Michael Younge

Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally on Saturday rubbished statements made by People’s National Congress Reform-led A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU-AFC) coalition candidate, James Bond, which sought to paint a picture that he had privileged information about the manner in which the Joint Services cast their ballots and the outcome of the process.
Bond, known for controversy and misinformation, moved to his social media Facebook page to share information about the outcome of the joint services voting process around 19:55h on Saturday. james bond fb page 2
“The Disciplined Forces gave us 94 per cent of their votes; it’s up to us to take this landslide home. On May 11 every vote we lost to complacency in 2011 we are taking it back. Every new vote must go to APNU+AFC everyone who did not vote in 2011 must vote for APNU+AFC in 2015. We CAN DO IT. It’s crunch time!” Bond said in his post which created confusion across the country, especially amongst the Joint Services ranks themselves.
However, Bond, when rebuked about his comments from other Facebook users and supporters of the ruling party, maintained his position and even defended his post.
He went further, divulging information he appeared to have about the voting patterns of Joint Services ranks who cast their ballots at the Whim Police Station.
“An example of what occurred today at Whim Police Station…total number of voters 165… Number of votes cast 147… APNU+AFC 140…PPP/C 7…” he said.
In an invited comment, Dr Surujbally said that the matter would be dealt with after being looked at today. He said Bond could not speak about the ballots cast with any certainty, as he could not be privy to how people voted.
“He cannot make that statement without any definitiveness of accuracy because he does not know how the people have voted. The envelopes are going to be mixed with the votes on May 11 so you don’t know how they will be vote,” Surujbally said firmly.
The GECOM Chairman also reminded the public that “that is the reason why the system has been developed so you can’t count the vote of the Disciplined Services because they will be mixed with the votes on May 11”.
He reiterated his position that “we would take up the matter as early as tomorrow…I can’t preempt what the discussion will be”, when asked about what action could be taken against the young politician for his statements.
Up until press time, no other senior member of the coalition had either liked or commented on Bond’s Facebook post.james bond fb page

His statement comes days after the coalition signed a Code of Conduct which called on all candidates and politicians campaigning to refrain from making divisive and false statements on the campaign trail that could have far reaching implications in the country.
When contacted, Senior Executive of the coalition Amna Ally distanced herself and the grouping from the statement made by Bond.
“I wouldn’t be able to answer to that because if one of my members make such a claim, then that is his business,” she said.
“Mr James Bond is his own big man and if he made an assessment then that’s his problem,” she told this newspaper.

Ramotar calls for action
Meanwhile, President Donald Ramotar strongly condemned Bond’s comments describing it as an attempt to stir up problem and create confusion in society.
Ramotar, speaking with this newspaper during a telephone interview, called on all Guyanese to condemn the statements, saying they are indicative of a coalition bent on creating mischief in the country and doubt among the voting public about the integrity of the electoral safeguards that were in place for the Joint Services voting.
“I am calling on the Guyana Elections Commission to take stern action against him and look urgently at the statements he made which are aimed at creating confusion in our country and can in no way serve this country well.
“His statements are very calculated. These statements must be condemned strongly,” said President Ramotar.
Several ranks who voted on Saturday expressed their concerns over the statements made by Bond and their own personal security.
“If it is true and he know how people vote already and de ballot ain’t counted that means that me squaddie them could know too if I vote for de PPP. That’s serious and I do not think I feel safe. That’s wrong”, a solider attached to the Guyana Defense Force said when contacted late Saturday.
They too wanted a guarantee from the Guyana Elections Commission that the integrity of their ballots was secured and Bond reprimanded for his statements.

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Few hiccups as Disciplined Services vote

All four polling stations in Region Six (East Berbice-orentyne) opened their doors late as the Military and Police Officers cast ballots on Saturday.
Commander of B Division, Assistant Commissioner Brian Joseph was the first to cast his ballot at the New Amsterdam Town Hall where both soldiers and Police casted ballots ahead of the May 11 General and Regional Elections.
Joseph was out of the polling station at 06:25h, and 11 minutes later so was the second person; Senior Superintendant Terrence Paul, who is the Officer in Charge of Crime B Division, emerged from the polling station.

Soldiers outside the New Amsterdam Town Hall waiting to cast their ballots

Soldiers outside the New Amsterdam Town Hall waiting to cast their ballots

The process was considered slow at the New Amsterdam Town Hall where 288 Police Officers and 35 soldiers were expected to vote.
Polling also took place at the Prisons Sports Club in New Amsterdam where 76 Prison Officers were expected to cast their ballots.
Although opening late, the process was much faster. Persons there stated that the voting process took about three minutes to complete.
Ballots were also cast at the Whim Police Station on the Corentyne where a further 165 Police Officers were expected to vote, while at the Springlands Police Station 94 Police Officers and 11 Soldiers were expected to vote. Officers from that division also casted their ballots at the Fort Wellington Police Station in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), where some 170 Police Officers were listed to vote.
Meanwhile at the New Amsterdam Town Hall, one officer who claimed that he was listed to vote there said that when he went into the polling station he was told that his name was not on the list to vote.
Polling Officer for the Peoples National Congress Reform-led A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition, Barbara Pilgrim, told this publication that the party was concerned that all of the polling stations in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) were opened after 06:00h. She said that since they were opened late they should also close after the 18:00h scheduled close.
“At the New Amsterdam Town Hall, it is taking more that 12 minutes to cast a ballot. The system is too tedious. Persons are spending too much time in the line. The Ballot Officer has to do everything and then go and help you to dip your finger in the ink. He needs help. Only 18 people have voted after one and a half hours.” Pilgrim said.
She noted that the ballot boxes should have been at the polling stations at 05:00h but they never arrived until after 05:30h.
In an invited comment People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) representative Fizal Jaffarally said that the PPP/C was satisfied with the way the process was going, even though he acknowledged that polling stations were opened after the scheduled opening time. He however said that by 10:00h the process was moving smoothly at all polling stations.

Fair Voting

Commander of B Division, Assistant Commissioner Brian Joseph   giving instructions to Officer-in-Charge Central Police Station Sergeant   Marlon O’Danaghu after  the Commander cast his ballot

Commander of B Division, Assistant Commissioner Brian Joseph giving instructions to Officer-in-Charge Central Police Station Sergeant Marlon O’Danaghu after the Commander cast his ballot

Commander of ‘G’ Division Kevin Adonis, said that the joint services balloting in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) was conducted smoothly and mannerly. Adonis said that the five polling stations, namely Charity, Suddie, Anna Regina, Leguan and San Souci Police Stations were open as early as 06:00h.
Adonis further explained that 279 discipline service ranks are on the official list of electors for G Division. Out of 279, Adonis said, 250 voted giving a percentage of 90 per cent. Charity and Suddie voting were fully completed, while the other stations were still waiting for few officers to vote.
He noted ranks had no hiccups or any difficulties in exercising their franchise. All the stations were equipped with polling agents and party representatives.
Ranks who spoke with Guyana Times said that they were very happy to vote. They had their finger inked and spent the rest of their day executing their normal duties. Police officers whose names were on different list outside the region were given time off.

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AFC is ‘dead’, subsumed in APNU

…deceiving voters of existence – Jagdeo

By Alexis Rodney

Executive Member of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and former President, Bharrat Jagdeo has warned Guyanese not to be deceived by the political ploy of the Alliance for Change (AFC) members who are allegedly carrying out campaign activities, as the political party is not in existence anymore.
Jagdeo said he has been informed that party members, including Prime Ministerial Candidate of the PNC-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Moses Nagamootoo, are going into villages, campaigning as a single entity named “AFC”. He said if this is indeed true, then the party is only seeking to deceive the electorate since there “is no more AFC”.
“A number of people have come up to me and ask me why the AFC continues to campaign as if it were a party again in their villages”. Jagdeo said the move is a deliberate strategy of the AFC because Nagamootoo “has promised to deliver sizeable votes”.
The Prime Ministerial Candidate is on record as promising that he will offer to deliver some 11 per cent of the overall votes to see the recently formed coalition to a successful win at the upcoming May 11 polls.
Critics had it that this 11 per cent was also decisive of a pact made between the two parties on February 14 earlier this year, where the acquiring of the AFC’s 12 seats in Parliament is dependent on its ability to produce the 11 per cent votes.
However, APNU’s General Secretary Joseph Harmon had told this publication, that the APNU/AFC’s pact was not premised on the latter being able to deliver 11 per cent of the votes at the upcoming election. “It is based on an agreement between the two parties where they sat down and negotiated over a long period of time, and that is how they arrived at that,” Harmon claimed.
Jagdeo told a media conference on Thursday that the AFC’s game plan is that APNU will campaign predominantly in its strong holds, in its traditional constituencies, while AFC will seek to repeat what it did in 2011, by seeking to take away some votes from the PPP/C in the party’s stronghold. “That is an electoral ploy”, he stated flatly.
The former President explained explicitly that the AFC is now “dead” at the moment for the electoral purposes of the upcoming elections.
“There is absolutely no AFC. They exist on paper only. That from nomination day, when a single list of candidates was presented to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and from that day onwards, the AFC we knew in the past ceased to exist”, he said
According to him, when the electorate cast their ballot in favor of the AFC, “what you are voting for effectively is to make Granger President of Guyana”.
He said under Guyana’s Constitution, the President has executive power. “He is Head of State and Head of Government. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, and if on day two, Granger decides to fire Nagamootoo, he has absolutely no recourse”, Jagdeo said.
He further pointed out that even if the former PPP/C Executive wishes to take his 12 members of Parliament and walk out, because of a fallout between his party and APNU, it would be a waste of time, “because there will be no 12 AFC MPs. Even if they disagree, on issues and Nagamootoo were to vote against projects in Parliament from APNU, Nagamootoo can be recalled, because it is against the legislation to vote against its own party”.
Jagdeo said the AFC has “absolutely” no leverage, as it had in 2011. At that time the two Opposition parties were separate, and could have made deals with each other.
“Now they are subsumed. Granger will decide everything. They are baggage to APNU; they are peripheral to APNU’s main thrust. So when they come into the village they only come with a little yellow flag to fool people, they no longer exist”.

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Gov’t “revitalised” bauxite industry

… slams Opposition for spreading lies
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has slammed the PNC-led A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) chartcoalition for peddling misleading information about the Linden Bauxite Industry, by extensively outlining the efforts by its Administration towards the recovery of the once ailing industry.
According to the PPP/C via a press release, the Opposition appears to be “out of touch” with the Government’s function as the PPP/C played a pivotal role in reviving and saving the bauxite industry.
It must be noted that the industry was on the verge of a complete breakdown, putting the lives of all those who are dependent upon it for a livelihood in jeopardy.
In chronological order, in 2003 the Government had embarked on a venture to restructure the industry and its community with a published plan entitled “An Integrated Plan for Region 10 – Revitalising the Region.”
The plan set out to enable the industry to become internationally competitive, stimulate the expansion and diversification of the region’s economic base, upgrade the region’s infrastructure and enhance the region’s social and recreational services.
In keeping with the plan, the Government had heavily invested into the development and expansion of small businesses in the region; the training of entrepreneurs; enhancing utility services like electricity and water; invested in the development of housing, roads, river services and urban development. Additionally, other areas including health and education were greatly enhanced.

It is through these investments that the region developed tremendously, which in turn contributed towards the recovery of the bauxite industry.
In painting a more detailed picture of its diligent efforts in proving its commitment to preserving the bauxite industry, the Government provided an extensive report explaining their role in the industry’s viability.
The press release noted that the Linden bauxite industry was revitalised 10 years ago in December 2004, following the conclusion of the privatisation of Linmine to Omai Bauxite (now renamed Bosai).
It also noted that the Aroaima Mining Company (in the Berbice River) was scheduled to be closed at the end of 2000 following the Unions rejection of a merger with Bermine (Berbice Mining Enterprise Limited). However, the Government, in an effort to save jobs that would have clearly been affected by the collapse, took over the Aroaima Mining Company in November 2000 on the argument that it would operate this company on a cash neutral basis.
Then in 2002, Bermine was on the verge of collapse but again, in an effort to safeguard the livelihood of many, merged with the Aroaima Mining Company.
Further, the Government realised its limitation on its capacity to invest and therefore sought to find a strategic partner to develop the industry, through which the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) was formed.
“In December 2004, investment arrangements and a management contract were executed with RUSAL which took effect in early 2005.  The formal privatisation was concluded in March 2006.
Both Linden and Berbice bauxite, since the revitalisation of the industry, is celebrating 10 years plus.”

The PPP/C noted that, over the course of the last 10 years, meaningful changes have occurred as a result of their rigorous intervention.
As it relates to employment, Bosai currently employs approximately 650 persons. BCGI employs over 700 persons. With the recent commissioning of the Kurubuka mines, resulting in stable jobs for the BCGI, 500 local workers will secure jobs for a 15 year period.
Additionally, meaningful changes are evident in the millions of dollars invested in Guyana’s economy. BCGI and its sub-contractors have insvested in excess of US$150 million in the last decade, whereas Bosai invested over US$100 million.
Also, since the companies are no longer privatised, the production for both the industries in Berbice and Linden has increased immensely and the export volumes are notably higher.

Meanwhile, the Government acknowledged the challenges in the commodities market but nonetheless, remains sanguine in the industry’s viability.
“Government remains optimistic that the demand for primary alumina will pick up in the medium term and will create new opportunities and potential for Guyana’s bauxite industry,” the release read.
It noted that with continued expansion and improvements in the production levels and products of the existing companies, overall prosperity in the industry is expected to continue.
When one puts the past few years under review, it is quite noticeable that there has been some 500,000 metric tons increase in the production coming from Guyana. Also, considering the high demand for quality bauxite from Guyana, the Government predicts brighter days ahead for the industry.
The Government also announced that a new bauxite company, the First Bauxite Company’s Bonasika Mine, is expected to be commissioned in 2015, due to the demand for bauxite.
Additionally, there are other companies who have applied for Prospecting Licenses (PL) and are being processed by the regulatory agency of the mining sector.

Subsidising electricity
Over the last 10 years, the Government has expended over G$25 billion on subsidising electricity costs to consumers in Region 10.
The statement noted that in Linden, the Government of Guyana continues to highly subsidise the cost of electricity despite Linmine being privatised over a decade providing in excess of G$22.7 billion in subsidies from 2005 to 2014 for electricity on both the east and west banks of Linden.
Following the privatisation of Aroaima Mining Company Inc. in 2006, the Government made operational a new electricity company in Kwakwani to manage the generation and distribution of electricity and has provided in excess of G$2.5 billion in subsidies from  2006 to 2014.

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Joint Services vote today!

…major parties in last-minute messages to ranks

By Gomatie Gangadin

The Disciplined Forces will cast their ballots today as the two major parties make last- minute appeals for their votes.
In contrasting messages, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Prime Ministerial Candidate Elisabeth Harper, in a letter dispatched via email said “on behalf of myself, family and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge the unwavering commitment and dedication which you, the members of the Disciplined Services, have displayed in defending our nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in maintaining law and order and in ensuring that all Guyanese are safe in their homes, streets and communities”.

She said over the years, “you have all carried out your duties while fulfilling your family obligations, at times with great personal sacrifice. Your professional efforts in this regard must be commended and all Guyanese remain appreciative.”

PNC-led APNU/AFC Presidential Candidate David Granger

PNC-led APNU/AFC Presidential Candidate David Granger

Harper said the PPP/C will continue to respect the constitutional roles of the Disciplined Services. “My Party will work with the respective agencies towards strengthening existing systems to provide the enabling conditions for enhanced professionalism and greater efficiency in the execution of your mandate.”

She added that the PPP/C remained committed to improving the welfare of servicemen and women and encouraged them to stay true to the oaths of their profession as they upheld their sacred duty to defend and secure the country and its people.

The security forces usually cast their ballots one week before the rest of the nation, sometimes called D-Day. Among the agencies that will be voting on Saturday are: the Guyana Defence Force (GDF); the Guyana Police Force (GPF); and the Guyana Prison Service (GPS). The Guyana Fire Service (GFS) does not vote on D-Day because the officers are usually from the areas that they serve in; this is according to Chief Fire Officer Marlon Gentle. He explained that the Fire Service traditionally votes on Election Day along with the rest of the country.

For his part, A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Presidential Candidate David Granger, in a full-page advertisement, told the servicemen and women that the country was gripped in a security crisis and encouraged them to vote for change. “Guyana has been suffering from the most severe and sustained security crisis in its history over the past 15 years during the presidencies of Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar.”

The Presidential Candidate pointed out that the GPF and the GDF, which should help in making Guyana safe, have been left under-resourced, under-funded, and under-equipped by the governing party. He said the combined cost of crime and incompetence has taken a toll on everyone’s quality of life in the country.

He mentioned the Disciplined Forces Commission, which was constituted under the Jagdeo presidency to make recommendations for the development of the Disciplined Forces. Granger said the Commission made over 150 recommendations and most of them were still to be instituted by the Government and those include better working conditions and better salaries for members of the security forces.

All in place
“I pledge, therefore, that an APNU+AFC coalition under my presidency will increase your pay to liveable levels and improve your condition of service.”
President Donald Ramotar had also penned a letter to members of the Disciplined Forces requesting their support earlier this week.

Meanwhile, GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield said that the Commission was in full preparation mode to facilitate the forces on voting day. He said that all systems were in place for members of the Disciplined Forces to cast their ballots on Saturday in this year’s General and Regional Elections – one week before the official day of the polls.

PPP/C Prime Ministerial Candidate Elisabeth Harper

PPP/C Prime Ministerial Candidate Elisabeth Harper

“All our preparations are very advanced…my staff, along with agents from respective parties, they’ve extracted the amount of Disciplined Services ranks who will be voting…the process of extracting is done in the presence of agents of the parties, we started that exercise yesterday afternoon [Tuesday] at 16:00h and we are going through that exercise as we speak with agents from the parties.”

Lowenfield said that at least 84 polling stations would be in use across the country as the security officers will be voting in areas where they live. “They will be intermixed as the law prescribes at the residences in the divisions’ sub division where these ranks would have ordinarily reside – that is to say: I am a soldier, I am stationed in Eteringbang but I belong to 51 Village Corentyne, I will be intermixing in District Six because as you know it’s General and Regional Elections.

GDF Public Relations Officer Lorraine Forrester related to this newspaper that thus far they were satisfied with all the arrangements put in place. She disclosed that there were 23 polling stations: some were located on the various bases and others such as the ones in outlying areas would be located in close proximity to the base. Asked whether arrangements were put in place by GECOM to ensure that GDF ranks did not vote more than once, Forrester  stated that the elections body will be taking off the names of the officers who vote on D-Day from the national list of electors before the May 11 General and Regional Elections. Apart from this, she noted that the various political parties will have polling agents present at the various polling stations who will also ensure that these persons’ names are taken off the national list.

Across at the GPS, Director Welton Trotz also indicated to this newspaper that all systems have been put in place for ranks within his agency to cast their ballots. “On Saturday, we have arranged for the ranks to be given time off in batches to go vote so they will come in early and then go vote,” Trotz explained. He further detailed that the polling stations would be located at the Prison Service’s Sports Club located at the various prisons across Guyana.

For its part, the GPF has also related that it was ready for D-Day. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Balram Persaud, disclosed that the Force has been working along with GECOM to ensure that all arrangements were put in place in time for Saturday.

He told the Guyana Times that most of the Police stations will be used as polling stations, particularly in the outlying regions. Persaud said that stations such as Brickdam and Timehri will be polling stations for ranks in those districts. This newspaper understands that officers in Georgetown will be voting at the Officers Mess Annex and at the Police Sports Club. Furthermore, the Assistant Police Commissioner ruled out that there will be any second voting by ranks of the Police Force.

While he could not say what arrangements have been put in place to prevent this, Persaud noted that the issue was discussed. He added too that the polling agents from the various political parties will have copies of the list to ensure this does not happen.

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Unions call for unity, but didn’t ‘walk the talk’

May Day march:

By Vahnu Manikchand

As Guyana joined the rest of the world in observing Labour Day, local unions here almost in one accord called for unity among Guyanese, but they failed to “walk the talk” during the May Day march.

A section of the Labour Day procession

A section of the Labour Day procession

While it is customary for the procession to divide into two at the junction of Woolford Avenue and Albert Street, the unions separated even before they began the march from the Parade Ground.  The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG)-led procession walked ahead, taking a different route. The Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC) then followed, leading the other half of the procession through the regular route.

This division was recognised by Clerical and Commercial Workers Union (CCWU) President Sherwood Clarke, who recorded his disappointment about the segregation. “Trade unions are very important; it’s disappointing that we have two rallies when today was supposed to be workers’ day and suppose to be celebrating and reflect on the job leaders have done for the interest of the working class,” he stated. Nevertheless, Clarke called for unity among Guyanese.

Guyana Postal and Telecommunications Workers Union (GPTWU) President Harold Shepherd encouraged Guyanese to hold their peace during this elections season. “As a union, we believe that peace is the best thing for Guyana and therefore, we call on all political parties, all Guyanese and workers in general, to keep the peace and accept the results of the elections,” Shepherd urged.

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) President Patrick Yarde expressed his vision for the country’s Public Sector to progress in unity. “What I have always prayed for, hope for and worked towards, was national unity and working class wage. That is my expectation for the future; that the authorities respect trade union rights, respect the law and operate in a fair and even-handed way for workers, recognising their values and contributions,” Yarde stated.

In addition to a united workforce, leaders reiterated calls for decent wages and salaries for the Public Sector. “Whoever wins the elections, we need an increase in the salaries and wages paid to workers. We also need a reduction in the price they pay for land,” he remarked. Duncan stated that with the salary public servants were getting, they cannot afford to pay for land much less built a house.

On the other hand, Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) General Secretary Coretta McDonald was very vocal in registering her concerns about the challenges teachers face. She noted that last year the Union had entered into an agreement with the Government and while most of the terms were realised, teachers were still left waiting on the others.

Furthermore, McDonald added, “GTU is not aligned to any political party. Our message on this Labour Day is decent work for decent pay. We would want to see more emphasis on education and teachers particularly”.

Labour Day, or May Day as it often called, commemorates workers’ struggle for better working conditions. In Guyana, the Public Sector has been suffering from what most Guyanese call “meagre” wages and salaries in an economy where the cost of living is relatively high.

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11 arrested in Agricola raid

A total of 11 men and women were taken into Police custody on Friday morning following a raid that was conducted in Agricola, Greater Georgetown.
According to information received, member of the Guyana Police Force conducted searches on nine buildings in the area during which an unlicensed .38 revolver with two matching rounds and one spent shell were recovered in one of the houses. The two occupants of the house were told of the offence, cautioned and arrested.
However, the other nine persons detained were arrested for trafficking in narcotics and pending investigations into armed robberies. The Police are continuing their investigations.

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