May 30, 2015

Carter Center calls on GECOM to release polling station-level results data

By Vahnu Manikchand

Just over two weeks since Guyana held its General and Regional Elections, the Carter Centre has released its Preliminary Report

The Carter Center team at a post-elections press conference

The Carter Center team at a post-elections press conference

on the findings from their observations of the local electoral process, recommending the implementation of stringent campaign financing laws as well as election reforms. It has also called on the Guyana Elections Commission to release polling station-level results data and make the complete data available as quickly as possible. “This is a recognised international best practice that can enhance public confidence in the process and its outcome,” the Centre said. The release of the results is a subject of court action initiated by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).
The report was released on Thursday by the United States (US)-based Carter Centre, which was one of the international observer missions in Guyana monitoring the electoral process.  In the report, the Centre outlined its key findings and made several recommendations to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the Government, and to the political parties.
Amongst the recommendations, the Cater Centre, which had also observed previous elections in Guyana, calls for the implementation of legislations that are crucial to ensure greater transparency in the financing of political parties.
The Centre noted that the reforms should include requirements such as: the disclosure of sources, not just in the context of elections; establishing party finance regulations with clear, rigorous, and enforceable regulations for reporting; and requiring electoral contestants to make reports on their campaign expenditures publicly available, with strong penalties for those who do not comply with regulations.
“In addition, Guyana should consider establishing and enforcing realistic limits on campaign expenditures to help promote equity and avoid inequalities in access to resources, which undermine the democratic process,” the report added. Campaign finances have been a contentious topic in Guyana. The previous Government had come under constant attack with allegations spewing of misuse of state resources to fund political activities.
Furthermore, the Carter Centre suggests the Guyana Government consider reforms that would see the involvement of political representatives in the organisational structure of GECOM. The report stated that this would “reduce the politicised composition of GECOM and move toward an election management body with a structure, composition, and operations that are more consistent with international good practice and obligations, ensuring the independence and impartiality of the election management body”.
Additionally, the Centre’s recommendations to Government included the urgency of hosting Local Government Elections. It stated, “Guyana has not held Local Government Elections since 1994, and the repercussions for development and the ability of Government to serve its people are visible at the local level throughout the coastal region. The Government should recommit to holding Local Government Elections, utilising the legislation that was approved in the last Parliament as the foundation for a new consensus law.”
The Centre also propose that political party agents, as well as domestic observers, be allowed to play their critical roles in increasing the transparency of the electoral process without having to sacrifice their right to vote when they are stationed at polls where they are not on the voters’ list. “To this end, reform should focus on allowing agents to vote in the polling stations where they are deployed,” the US-based organisation outlined.
In addition, the international observer body calls for the Code of Conduct to be signed by political parties earlier in the electoral process, and contain a more stringent enforcement system. According to the Centre, the Code of Conduct at the recent elections was signed two weeks before Election Day and more than two weeks after Nomination Day. This timeframe, the report stated, does little to improve the overall campaign environment.
Consolidation of the electoral law and accessibility to the electoral laws; the right to be a candidate and the freedom of association, and the registration process of political parties were some of the other areas that recommendations were submitted on to the Government.  On the other hand in its recommendations to the Elections Commission, the Carter Centre calls for GECOM to make available, at the earliest time possible, results from the polling station level. This will be in accordance with international best practices and will enhance the public’s confidence in the process and its outcome.
The observer mission further advised GECOM to review its policy on access to information and the openness of the Commission’s meetings. “Ideally these should be open to media and observers. In any case, agendas should be published well in advance and decisions should be made public,” the report detailed.
Another area that the Carter Centre felt needed to be improved is the tabulation process. According to the report, while the tabulation system is thorough, the slow pace of the process creates a vacuum of information that fuels suspicion and mistrust.
“Guyana should consider a full review of tabulation procedures, possibly including steps such as a double-blind data-entry system to enhance accuracy and confidence. Improved tabulation procedures and timely dissemination of information will increase trust in the overall process,” the Centre noted.
Other recommendations to the Election Commission includes improved accessibility for voters with disabilities; neutral location of polling stations, and building confidence in the voters’ lists.
The Carter Centre also made recommendations to the local political parties, calling on them to move beyond divisive politics and cooperative for the development of the country.
“While the political system enables a vigilant and energetic opposition, there must be a level of strategic cooperation to ensure that the state can perform its basic functions and regular Local Government Elections can be held. The institutions of the state should not be held hostage to continuing cycles of inter-party conflict,” the Centre mentioned.
Nevertheless, the observer mission stood by its initial conclusion on the electoral process, dubbing it free and fair. The Carter Centre noted that the voting process went smoothly throughout the day, with well trained polling staff directing the process to protect the integrity of the vote.
On the issue of the counting process, the mission observed that anxiety was high during this period with several minor incidents delaying the transfer of electoral material and the processing of results at some locations.
However, the Carter Centre highlighted that following the May 11 polls, while its observers were given unlimited access to GECOM’s data-entry rooms, it was made aware of the detection of fraudulent Statements of Poll but took notice that these were not processed and there were no significant report of irregularities during the post-election tabulation and verification of results phases.
The Carter Centre had some 53 observers from 26 countries at 297 polling stations in all 10 Regions, observing the voting and counting process. However the mission had presence in Guyana since in mid April.

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PPP/C moves to court for elections results

Former AG Anil Nandlall

Former AG Anil Nandlall

By Vahnu Manikchand

Almost two weeks after the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) declared the final results of the May 11 General and Regional Elections, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has approached the High Court with a constitutional motion to have the electoral management body release documents used to tabulate the count.

In the motion, which was filed on Monday, the Party is asking the Court to grant an Order Rule Nisi of Mandamus to the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, compelling him to release several documents that were used to tabulate the final results of the elections. Only on Thursday, the Carter Center in its preliminary report on the elections here urged GECOM to release polling station-level results data. The Center said GECOM should make complete data available as quickly as possible regarding results at the polling station-level. “This is a recognised international best practice that can enhance public confidence in the process and its outcome,” the Center said.

Meanwhile, since the announcement of the results on May 16, which gave the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition a 4000 plus votes win over the PPP/C, the PPP/C has been claiming that it was robbed of votes.

PPP/C Elections Agent Ganga Persaud

PPP/C Elections Agent Ganga Persaud

The PPP/C claimed that its polling agents were intimidated and forced to leave the Polling Stations before signing the Statements of Poll (SOPs); as such, it requested a total recount, but this was denied by GECOM.

The Party subsequently wrote the Commission, requesting all the ballot boxes and SOPs, but GECOM never responded. The Writ of Mandamus was filed by former Legal Affairs Minister and Attorney General Anil Nandlall on behalf of Ganga Persaud, who was a PPP/C Elections Agent during the electoral process. According to the legal document, PPP/C is requesting the results from each Electoral District disaggregated by Polling Division and the report from Information Technology (IT) Department of GECOM, separated by polling stations.

Furthermore, the Party is asking for the Court to compel GECOM to release the results from each Electoral District disaggregated by Polling Division as was compiled by the Returning Officer of each Electoral District.

PPP/C is also requesting copies of the SOPs from each polling station that were submitted to the CEO and copies of those SOPs from each Polling Station that were submitted to the Returning Officers from Electoral District.

Legal duty

In the affidavit in support of the Motion, Persaud disclosed that on May 16 he wrote the Elections Commission requesting each ballot box of votes cast, both valid and invalid, and a copy of every SOP that was used in the tabulation of the final results. Then on May 20, he said he caused Attorney Nandlall to write the CEO asking for the same documents. Additionally, Persaud further detailed that on May 22, former President Donald Ramotar, in his capacity as the Representative of the PPP/C List of Candidates, also wrote the Elections Officer requesting the same information while highlighting its importance.

According to the applicant, “all of the aforesaid demands were futile … I have been informed by Messrs Mohamood Shaw, Athmaram Mangar and Sase Gunraj, Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission, and do verily believe that similar requests were made to the said Chief Elections Officer and were met with a similar response,” he remarked.

Persaud went on to point out in the legal document that the PPP/C Commissioners have made several attempts to get the Elections Commission to meet, but these have been futile.

He noted that for the past 20 years, he was involved in the electoral process thus he was aware that the requested information was readily disseminated to political parties upon the declaration of the final results.

He highlighted that he believes the delay in releasing the information, which is tantamount to a refusal, is “suspicious and sinister”.

“Indeed, I fear that there is a clandestine operation being carried out to manipulate and change documents to alter the true will of the electorate expressed on 11th day of May, 2015. The People’s Progressive Party/Civic has made public pronouncements that these elections were marred by several severe and multiple irregularities, illegalities and unlawful actions and omissions, generally, but more specifically by officials of the Guyana Elections Commission,” the court document mentioned.

Persaud outlined that the Chief Elections Officer has a legal duty and national obligation to ensure transparency, as it relates to the administration of the elections and the tabulation of the results.

On this note, he added that the failure to provide the information requested portrays unreasonableness, unfairness as well as amounts to a violation of the principles of natural and open justice.

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No shutdown of sugar industry – Granger

…as GuySuCo, GAWU battle over $154M credit union dues

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union has temporarily closed down its Cooperative Credit Union Society Limited

GAWU President Komal Chand

GAWU President Komal Chand

across the sugar industry owing to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) failing to remit over $154 million of workers’ contributions.
Contacted for a comment, an official from GuySuCo, said the unions’ account on the credit union dues owed is inaccurate. The official told Guyana Times that sometime back in 2013, GuySuCo begun collecting union dues but it was not remitted in a timely manner. However, the official said GuySuCo has since been remitting the dues but there may still be some outstanding amount. The Corporation is currently in the process of securing financing and as soon as that is done, the remaining amount will be remitted.
At a time when GuySuCo is facing threats of closure due to lack of funding, this is more bad news for the Corporation and workers. GAWU in a statement said it has instructed GuySuCo to cease deductions from workers’ earnings, Credit Union savings with effect from week-ending May 30, 2015.
“The Society’s regrettable but unavoidable decision is occasioned by GuySuCo not remitting workers’ savings to the Credit Union contrary to the extant Agreement between the Credit Union and the Corporation.”
GAWU said as at the end of April 2015, the Corporation failed to provide a huge sum of $154,410,525 which represents workers’ savings for five months. GuySuCo promised the Credit Union some payments not later than the third week of this month (May 2015), but same did not materialise.
“The Credit Union is now unable to continue to facilitate savers’ withdrawals in the light of the non-payment of the workers’ savings by the Corporation in accordance with the relevant Agreement,” GAWU’s statement read. Additionally, the Credit Union has taken consideration of the fact that it was now unable to secure further loans to satisfy savers’ withdrawals. The sad decision, if it was not urgently redressed by the Corporation, will cause the jobs of the Credit Union’s employees to be in jeopardy. The Credit Union, therefore, looks forward to receiving as early as possible from the Corporation the workers’ outstanding savings so that its dependable services to thousands of sugar workers would resume as early as possible.

No shut-down of industry

GuySuCo CEO Dr Raj Singh

GuySuCo CEO Dr Raj Singh

On Wednesday, President David Granger during an interview with this newspaper said that the politicisation of the sugar industry has been responsible for much of its worries. “It’s bad economics, making political decisions and political appointments. That is one of the reasons why GuySuCo is in such a plight today.”
He said, “We will be making some decisions very soon to put the industry on a sound footing. The Board has been too heavily politicised… We are looking for competence first and foremost,” President Granger said.
Questioned about the way forward now for the industry given the announcement by GuySuCo during the course of last week that it could not afford to pay its staff and may have to shut down operations, Granger said short-term arrangements were being put in place, but a long-term solution was also being looked at.
“I think the PPP [People’s Progressive Party] tried to spring a surprise on us. They knew that the Corporation was in dire straits. They don’t seem to have had answers to the problems facing the Corporation for the last decade or more, but we will solve the problem. We are not interested in shutting the industry down, but right now we are looking at ways and means of ensuring that the workers are paid and that production can be restored.  As you know, productions are far below expectations,” he said.
Granger had in the past called for the privatisation of the industry, but of recent he has floated the commissioning of an intense investigation into the operations of the industry, particularly since there have been numerous reports of workers not turning up for work, among other things.
“We’ve been calling for a turnaround plan. We were asked from time to time for subventions but we had asked them [the former Government] in turn what was the plan to make the industry viable…that is the stage where we are at now… to ensure that the industry doesn’t collapse and the means of financing are identified,” the President continued.
GuySuCo on Monday threatened to shut down operations across estates owing to the lack of funds, which has affected its ability to pay staff. The announcement was made by the labour unions representing sugar workers – GAWU and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE).
The two unions in a joint release said they were informed at a meeting with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Rajendra Singh on Monday that the Corporation was unable to pay senior and junior staff members this month’s salary.
According to the release, Singh said the Corporation may have to cease its operations on all estates with effect from Sunday unless funding to the Corporation becomes available within a few days.
“Should the Corporation cease its operations, the CEO explained all employees – waged and salaried – except security personnel would not be provided with work from (Sunday), May 31, 2015,” the unions expressed in the release.
Meanwhile, speaking to the Guyana Times on Monday evening, the GAWU President Komal Chand said the new Administration needed to at this time be clear on its intentions for the sugar industry in Guyana.
He said while the CEO needed to provide answers on the financial dilemma being reported, as he sees it, millions of dollars are urgently needed in the industry or else there could be a major collapse.
GuySuCo on Friday said that it had missed its first-crop target by over 5000 tonnes of sugar and blamed it on bad weather. It said at the close of the first crop, the Corporation had achieved some 81,194 tonnes, some 5007 tonnes below target.
The industry had set a first-crop sugar production target of 86,201 tonnes. According to the Corporation, Skeldon Estate began grinding four weeks later than scheduled as a result of the late arrival of critical materials required for the completion of the modification works on its pump dumper which commenced during the last out-of-crop period.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder, in an earlier interview with the Guyana Times, had said he intended to commission an inquiry into the operations of GuySuCo as one of his top priorities after assuming office. He noted that it was absolutely necessary that a Commission of Inquiry be conducted since the sugar industry was a vital part of the country’s economy.
He said it was not, and would never be, the Government’s intention to close the sugar industry, stating that it was important that the problems hindering the development of the industry be identified and worked upon so that it could once again bloom.  The Commission of Inquiry is expected to be commissioned in June.

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Granger defends list of awardees

National Awards:

… says some were nominated before he took office

By Gomatie Gangadin

Guyanese leader David Granger has defended the 52 National Awards, which were announced on Tuesday at his inauguration ceremony and Independence Day celebrations at the Guyana National Stadium, saying that some of the persons were already nominated by the committee, while he nominated others as Chancellor of the Orders of Guyana.

In an interview with Guyana Times on Wednesday, President Granger said that the appropriate and required consultations were done by the board and committee, which is in place to make the recommendations for those who deserve National Awards.

According to the President, the recommendations were already made over the past years, but were not acted upon. As such, he disclosed that upon assumption of Office, he simply gave the necessary approval for the announcement to become a reality.

“I am Chancellor of the Orders. There is an Act which establishes the National Orders of Guyana. There is board; a committee which makes recommendations and many of those recommendations were made over the years and were never implemented by Mr Jagdeo or Mr Ramotar. It is my information that there were consultations before they were sent to me and all I did was approve the recommendations,” Granger disclosed.

Immediately after the announcements were made, criticism came pouring in that the administration did not consult with any group, organisation or any other body before the awards were bestowed. When contacted by the Guyana Times on Wednesday for a comment on whether they had been consulted in the process, Lance Hinds, President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), and Ronald Mc Garrell of the Inter Religious Organisation (IRO) said that they were never consulted in the process.

They, however, admitted that they were not aware if the Constitution provides for them to be consulted in that process as a board is in place to make recommendations. There were also criticisms that several of the awardees have ties to the People’s National Congress Reform.

Among the awardees were Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green, Senior Counsel Brynmor Pollard and Sister Mary Noel Menezes who have been accorded with the Order of Roraima – Guyana’s second highest National Award-when the list of awardees was announced at the Independence Day celebrations at the Guyana National Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Green’s honour was a surprise to many, given his disastrous management of the capital city, but according to Eshwar Vevakanand Persaud, Protocol Advisor in the Ministry of the Presidency, Green was honoured for his long and outstanding involvement in the struggle for independence and his role in providing public service for three generations.

Meanwhile, Cacique Crown of Honour Award was also announced to several persons for their long, outstanding and dedicated service in the fields of politics, public service and community work.

Among them are: Edith Bynoe, former Minister of Government; Oscar Clarke, General Secretary of the People’s National Congress Reform; Yvonne Harewood–Benn, former teacher and Minister of Government; LLewelyn John, former Minister of Agriculture, Home Affairs and Local Government; Professor Winston McGowan; Eshwar Vevakanand Persaud, Protocol Advisor in the Ministry of the Presidency; Supriya Singh-Bodden, Founder of Guyana Foundation; Justice Donald Trotman; and Elsworth Williams, Apostle Full Gospel Fellowship.

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Guyana Goldfields set for June start-up

guyana_gold_field-604x330– gold production pegged at 50,000 ounces this year

 

Canadian based gold firm Guyana Goldfields Inc (GGI) has announced that it is on track of starting up its Aurora, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) gold project next month, and has projected to produce between 30,000 to 50,000 ounces of gold in 2015 and approximately 120,000 to 140,000 ounces in 2016.

In a statement, GGI announced that the mill commissioning process has commenced and the Aurora Gold Project remains on track for projected initial gold production in mid-2015. According to the company, overall project construction is approximately 85 per cent complete with GGI focusing on operational readiness training and commissioning.

GGI has commenced the commissioning of the following areas: SAG Mill; power plant generators, and water and air support systems. The company said it will continue the commissioning phase during the second quarter of this year and is in the process of completing the remaining piping, electrical and surface conveyor construction. “GGI is on track to start up the gravity gold and saprolite production circuits for mid-2015, which would allow for earlier gold production (pre-commercial production) through the processing plant. The commissioning and start up of the hard rock crushing circuit is projected to be completed in the third calendar quarter of 2015,” the statement read.

According to the company the mining fleet is fully operational and all materials required for construction are on site. “All surface, on-site construction and bulk earthworks are completed, except for the river dike and runway expansion. The company is currently operating at peak construction and manpower levels with over 1000 personnel at site. The operational readiness team has been hired and is undergoing initial training.” Guyana Goldfields said that initial open pit mining at Rory’s Knoll has defined the pit outline with excavation below river level with no inflow of water, as expected.

Expectation

Meanwhile, the company said it is expected to produce between 30,000 to 50,000 ounces of gold in 2015, and approximately 120,000 ounces to 140,000 ounces of gold in 2016. “GGI has approximately US$44 million as at March 31, 2015 of capital expenditures remaining to projected initial production.

The total initial development costs for all facilities as well as mining equipment, owner’s costs, indirect costs, etc., remains forecasted to be US$249 million. The project is tracking on budget with US$52 million available as an overrun facility, if needed,” the statement added.

Commenting on the operations, President and Chief Executive Officer of the company Scott Caldwell said, “The commissioning of the mill circuit is a major milestone which we’ve been able to deliver on schedule and brings us one step closer to initial production. I am proud of what our team has accomplished in just a little over a year.

The energy at site is vibrant and I would like to thank all our employees and contractors for their dedication and excellent work. At this stage in the game, we are so close to production that it has eliminated a large portion of capital overspending risk.

Our next focus is producing ounces at or above our target for 2015 gold production, and joining the ranks of producers.”

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Guyana received $53B in foreign investment last year

The flows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the Caribbean sub-region shrank 4.7 % in 2014 to total US$6.027 billion dollars, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said on Wednesday in its annual report Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean 2015. However Guyana has recorded a 19% growth with figures showing US$255M (GYD 52,836,704,490) last year comparing to US$214M in 2013.

The report was presented during a press conference at the organisation’s headquarters in Santiago, Chile. This nearly 5% decline in FDI directed towards Caribbean countries is less severe than the 16% drop registered in Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole, where flows fell to US$158.803 billion dollars in 2014 from US$189.951 billion dollars in 2013. Nevertheless, since 2008 FDI inflows into the Caribbean have fallen 37%.

ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena

ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena

The percentage of Foreign Direct Investment as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is relatively high in the Caribbean compared with other regions of the world, the study indicates. On average, these flows represent 4% of the sub-region’s GDP, and more than 10% in some of its economies, while in the rest of Latin America that percentage is fewer than 3%.

This dependence, combined with the concentration in terms of the receiving sectors (tourism and increasingly natural resources) and the countries of origin (mainly Canada and the United States), means that Caribbean countries are highly vulnerable to variations in FDI flows, the document stresses. ECLAC’s report analyzes the situation of 16 Member States in the Caribbean. Tourism is the sector that receives the most FDI in countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, while in other nations natural resources predominate (Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago). In Haiti and Jamaica FDI is principally aimed at the transportation and telecommunications sector.

The Dominican Republic is the biggest economy and the top recipient of FDI in the sub-region (21% of flows go to natural resources, 26% to manufacturing and 23% to tourism). In 2014 it received US$2.209 billion dollars, up 11% from 2013 but still a far cry from the over US$3 billion dollars tallied in 2012. This country was followed by Trinidad and Tobago, which had inflows of US$1.394 billion dollars in 2014 (down 30% from 2013), Jamaica, which registered US$699 million dollars (an increase of 7%), and the Bahamas, with US$374 million dollars (9% less than in 2013).

Barbados jumped from US$5 million dollars in 2013 to US$275 million dollars in 2014 and Guyana rose 19% (to US$255 million dollars in 2014 from US$214 million dollars in 2013), while Antigua and Barbuda received US$167 million dollars (up 66% from 2013), Belize US$141 million dollars (48% more), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines US$139 million dollars (down 13%), and Saint Kitts and Nevis US$120 million dollars (down 13%).

Countries that had inflows of below US$100 million dollars in 2014 include Haiti (US$99 million dollars, down 47% from 2013), Saint Lucia (US$75 million dollars, down 21% from 2013), Grenada (US$40 million dollars, 64% less than the previous year), Dominica (US$36 million dollars, equivalent to a 36% increase), and Suriname (US$4 million dollars, down 97%).

Meanwhile, Cuba updated in 2014 its legislation regarding foreign investment with the objective of improving the country’s allure in this area and giving greater protection to investors. Currently the biggest investments in that country are co-financed by the State, although improving diplomatic relations with the United States are being watched closely, along with other factors.

According to the study, the reason for the significant amounts of Foreign Direct Investment going into the Caribbean lies in the active promotion policies applied by countries in the subregion. These policies range from actions to improve the overall business climate to the use of financial measures to stimulate FDI inflows, such as exemptions on income tax and customs duties. Upon analyzing the available evidence regarding the impact of these incentives, the organization recommends that Caribbean countries revise their usefulness, taking into account the high fiscal costs that these measures imply for their economies and the competition generated between countries in their bid to attract projects.

One aspect to take into consideration is the fact that, on average, the repatriation of profits derived from Foreign Direct Investment is equivalent to more than three-quarters of the FDI inflows into the Caribbean, especially in countries such as Barbados, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

Currently, in the framework of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), proposals have been made to align these benefits, which could be useful for taking full advantage of the potential of FDI, including the possibility of improving economies’ competitiveness, the text emphasises. In this sense, ECLAC encourages countries to advance towards a coordinated policy of FDI promotion, based on the concept that attracting bigger flows is less important than their impact on productive diversification and their convergence with long-term national development plans centered on equality of rights and environmental sustainability.

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Gunmen in daylight ‘stick up’ on Brickdam

Moments before a businessman and his wife were slated to depart Guyana, they were attacked and robbed by two armed bandits along Brickdam, Georgetown on Wednesday. Singh (only name given), who was visible shaken, was relieved of $800,000 by the two men who were on CG motorcycles.

Based on information received, prior to the robbery, the couple withdrew the money from Demerara Bank located at the corner of Camp and South Road, Georgetown. According to investigators, the men might have been monitoring the businessman’s movements.

As the couple continued their journey, they made a stop at a store in Brickdam with the aim of collecting some items to take with them on the trip. As Singh stopped the car, the two men appeared at the front passenger window and discharged a round, shattering the window.

The perpetrator then ordered the man and his wife to hand over the bag with money, threatening to shoot them if they resisted. Out of fear, the woman who was holding the bag containing the money handed it over to the two men, who then made good their escape. By this time, persons who were in the vicinity and witnessed the robbery, immediately alerted ranks at the Brickdam Police Station who subsequently arrived at the scene.

At the scene, ranks retrieved one spent .9mm shell and an investigation was immediately launched. A Police Officer stated that the Force is presently acquiring surveillance footage from nearby buildings to get a clear understanding of what occurred and more so, to determine if the two men are known to the Police.

A description of the two men who are reportedly in the late teens wase given to the Police as they continue their investigations.

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Pres Granger inaugurated amid pomp, ceremony

A section of the mammoth crowd at the Guyana National Stadium on Tuesday evening

A section of the mammoth crowd at the Guyana National Stadium on Tuesday evening

By Bhisham Mohamed

Thousands from near and far flocked the Guyana National Stadium for the inauguration of Guyana’s Eighth Executive President, His Excellency David Arthur Granger which was held to coincide with Guyana’s 49th Independence Anniversary.

It was a magnificent showcase of colours, creativity and talent, but, most of all, the outpouring of emotions, a spectacle that will last for a lifetime especially for the young children seen taking shelter under umbrellas during the intermittent downpours. The Guyana National Stadium was bursting its seams as Guyanese assembled for an event that will be marked down as history. The stands of the stadium were packed to capacity hours before the actual commencement of the rich cultural extravaganza. Just about 15:05h, Emcee of the proceedings, Basil Bradshaw announced the first performer who is no stranger to Guyana after winning the GT&T Jingle and Song Competition in 2013, Ryan Hoppie. He took to the stage performing “Love and Unity”, a fitting rendition to get things rolling.

His performance certainly set the tone for the evening’s proceedings which saw the jubilant spectators waving the national colours with pride and joy on their faces. His performance was followed by that of Gavin Blackman who sang a remix of Eddie Grant’s “Johanna”. Reigning Calypso Monarch King Perai also did his part as he performed his winning song “Perai” dressed in his native garb including the Amerindian Headdress. As the cultural programme continued, the crowd erupted as Guyana’s own, Charmaine Blackman took to the stage singing her version of “Stand Up”.

President  David Granger and PM Moses Nagamootoo with family members watching the fireworks display

President David Granger and PM Moses Nagamootoo with family members watching the fireworks display

She made way for Reigning Chutney King Roger Hinds with his tune “Searching for a Larkhi” which even had the Heads of State and members of the diplomatic corps tapping their feet. Then the title song from the hit movie “Titanic” was sung by Jennifer Pereira, a Lindener who did justice to the lyrics and notes. As it came down to the formal proceedings, GMoney and Jovinchy out of Kross Kolors also performed their pieces. At this time, the emcee handed over to Michella Abraham Ali for the formal aspect of the Inauguration ceremony. The formal session began with the guard of honour making its way into the Guyana National Stadium to loud applause from the crowd.

As they came to a halt after their parade, it was time for the arrival of the Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo. As his conveyance drove onto the grass lawns of the National Stadium, there were roars from the crowd. As he exited the white car with his wife, Sita Nagamootoo, who looked stunning in a cream skirt suit, the Stadium went into an uproar. Both of them waved to the crowd who shouted “Moses! Moses! Moses!”. Sita Nagamootoo was then escorted to her seat in the presidential box as her husband waited on the arrival of the President.

Granger’s entrance

In similar fashion, Granger arrived to a thunderous roar from the crowd. He was greeted by the Prime Minister, and the top brass of the security services. As he exited, he waved to the crowd and made his way to greet his Ministers of Government who lined the field. Soon after, the President inspected the Guard of Honour and took his seat where he was entertained by approximately 530 children decked in colourful attire. As the shadows lengthened, a prayer was done by Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Dawn Hastings in Akawaio language followed by a welcome dance by members of the Amerindian Community, after which Hasting handed over a golden key to the Head of State which meant that he was inaugurated as the President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. Finally, as the curtains were pulled on the Inauguration Day celebrations, the skies were lit up by an excellent display of fireworks by the Guyana Defence Force. His Excellency joined by members of his Cabinet, visiting Heads of State, members of the diplomatic community and family all stood in awe as they witnessed the display.

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Granger salutes workers as true pioneers of struggle

Independence celebrations

By Bhisham Mohamed and Devina Samaroo

“Independence brings change, change from colony to nation; change from subject to citizen; change from segregation to

President Granger on the podium taking the military salute

President Granger on the podium taking the military salute

liberations; change from discrimination to the lives of dignity and equality.” These were the words of President David Granger as he addressed thousands at a flag-raising ceremony held at the rehabilitated Independence Arch on Brickdam.
Granger reflected on the struggles of Guyanese citizens in their fight for freedom as he paid homage to them for their devoted services in making Guyana what it is today – an Independent nation. “Guyana today celebrates the independence it gained on the 26th May 1966, after 350 years of Dutch and British colonisation … We’re assembled at this national monument in solemn remembrance of the lives of our heroes …. We’re assembled here to pay homage to those who agitate for decades to achieve national independence.”
President Granger recognised the ordinary workers, the legislators, and the politicians for their contribution to the struggle of freeing this nation from foreign rule. Though this struggle occurred years ago, the President reminded Guyanese that as citizens of this beloved land, it is their duty to continue the work of these brave souls in order to transform Guyana into a united nation.
He reminded too that change is a process driven by the industrious efforts of dedicated individuals as he urged Guyanese to pour all their efforts into ensuring “we live together in peace, love and harmony”. He urged Guyanese to not dwell on the pains of the past, but look forward to the future with faith.

The President lays one of the wreaths in honour of the fallen heroes

The President lays one of the wreaths in honour of the fallen heroes

In quoting the words of Guyana’s first Prime Minister Forbes Burnham in his closing remarks, Granger said: “Independence is a means to an end. The end must be the changing of our society and the revolutionising of the economy. Change indeed is never-ending. Let us resolve, therefore, to work together to change our society into one great economy. Let us try to change our economy into a great prosperity; let us change our country into a nation of love, a nation of unity. Happy Independence Day. May God bless you.  May God bless our country.”

Parade and salute
The ceremony was also spiced with military pomp and splendour  that included a 21-gun salute. Besides, thousands braved the rain to be part of history since it was the first time after Guyana gained Independence in 1966 that the hoisting of the Golden Arrowhead was done at the Independence Arch on the eastern end of Brickdam, Georgetown. The national colours – red, white, black, green and yellow –were on display in abundance not only for spectators present at the momentous ceremony but to the world at large.
The ceremony was slated to commence at 08:00h by which time all the diplomats, Heads of Government, Ministers of Government and other invitees trickled in under the white tent and anxiously awaited the arrival of His Excellency, David Arthur Granger and First Lady Sandra Granger.
Minutes before his arrival, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and his wife, Sita Nagamootoo, arrived at which point the Prime Minister was escorted to the podium for a military salute. Then, the sound of sirens from afar was the signal to indicate the arrival of His Excellency. Three outriders were spotted from a distance followed by a police vehicle and the presidential entourage

The Golden Arrowhead being hoisted by two members of the Guyana Defence Force as President Granger and Prime Minister Nagamootoo look on

The Golden Arrowhead being hoisted by two members of the Guyana Defence Force as President Granger and Prime Minister Nagamootoo look on

comprising three well-polished black cars. The President’s vehicle bearing the emblem of the Cacique Crown was in the middle.
President Granger stepped out of the vehicle to thunderous applause from the thousands who had assembled to get a glimpse of the man who has promised to unite the nation.  He was welcomed by Prime Minister Nagamootoo along with top military men including Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Mark Phillips; Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud; Fire Chief Marlon Gentle; and several other high-ranking officials.
Without any hesitation, the programme went into full steam with the sounding of the trumpets as the Last Past was observed in honour of Guyana’s fallen heroes. As customary, a two-minute silence was also observed. Then it was time for one of the most anticipated parts of the programme – the wreath laying led by President Granger followed by the Army Chief-of-Staff, Police Commissioner, Georgetown Mayor  Hamilton Green and other representatives. The eight wreaths were neatly placed on the base of the Independence Arch, made of quartz stone from the Mazaruni River.  After that important aspect, there was a brief address by the Eighth Executive President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, who urged Guyanese to evolve as one and dedicate their energies towards building Guyana as a nation.
The second most important part of the programme was the hoisting of the National Flag then there was a prayer done by Ashiana Narine, a student of the Bishop’s High School and the National Pledge recited by Anjanie Mohabir, a student of Queen’s College. The Guyana Police Force band took over as they played “Guyana the Free” followed by the singing of the National Anthem after which, the President took the final presidential salute and made his way to his presidential entourage to depart. As he left, he waved to those who came out to be part of the festivities to mark Guyana’s Independence Anniversary.

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Mayor Green, Bryn Pollard, Mary Menezes head list of national awardees

Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green, Senior Counsel Brynmor Pollard and Sister Mary Noel Menezes have been accorded with

Mayor Hamilton Green

Mayor Hamilton Green

the Order of Roraima- Guyana’s second highest National Award-when the list of awardees was announced at the Independence Day celebrations at the Guyana National Stadium Tuesday evening.
Green’s honour was a surprise to many, given his disastrous management of the capital city, but according to Eshwar Vevakanand Persaud, Protocol Advisor in the Ministry of the Presidency, Green was honoured for his long and outstanding involvement in the struggle for independence and his role in providing public service for three generations.

CCH honours
Meanwhile, Cacique Crown of Honour awards were also announced to several persons for their long, outstanding and dedicated service in the fields of politics, public service and community work. Among them are: Edith Bynoe, former Minister of Government; Oscar Clarke, General Secretary of the People’s National Congress Reform; Yvonne Harewood–Benn, former teacher and Minister of Government; LLewelyn John, former Minister of Agriculture, Home Affairs and Local Government; Professor Winston McGowan; Eshwar Vevakanand Persaud, Protocol Advisor in the Ministry of the Presidency; Supriya Singh-Bodden, Founder of Guyana Foundation; Justice Donald Trotman; and Elsworth Williams, Apostle Full Gospel Fellowship.

Golden Arrow of Achievement
The Golden Arrow of Achievement was awarded to the following:

Sister Mary Noel Menezes

Sister Mary Noel Menezes

Edgar Wrensford Adams, former Ministry of Works and Guyana Defence Force Officer (for long and dedicated service as Captain, Pilot Coast Guard Commander and Marine Surveyor)
Ivor Allen, Businessman and Contractor (for long and outstanding service in the public sector, in the field of politics and in business)
Jeanne Atkinson, President of the Amerindian People’s Association (for long and dedicated service to the indigenous peoples of Guyana)
Basil Brentnol Blackman, former Coast Guard and Guyana Defence Force Officer (for long and dedicated service in the Maritime Sector)
Paulette Euranie Bynoe, Director of the Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Guyana(UG) (for her outstanding contribution to environmental education, training, research and the development of national policies on natural resource management issues)
Mitzy Gaynor Campbell of the Kidney Foundation of Guyana (for long service with exceptional dedication in the public and private sectors and in social work)
Malcolm Chan-A-Sue, Executive Director of Aircraft Owners’ Association (for long, dedicated service and outstanding service in the field of aviation)
Ivor Winston Crandon, Professor of Neurosurgery at the UWI (for his outstanding service in the field of medicine, for surgery in general and neuro-surgery in particular)
Doreen Patricia Duncan, retired Head Mistress (for long and dedicated service as a teacher and as a community worker in Region Two)
Fazil Shahibbdeen Ibrahim Hakh, Proprietor of F& H Printing Establishment (for outstanding service in the printing industry for over thirty-five years)
Maruice Bertwinsdel Henry, Ministry of Regional Development and Ministry of Legal Affairs (for long, dedicated and outstanding service as a Public Servant)
Sherlock Ewart Isaacs, Clerk of the National Assembly (for long and dedicated service in regional administration, in the Cabinet Secretariat and in the National Assembly of the Parliament of Guyana)

Senior Counsel Brynmor Pollard

Senior Counsel Brynmor Pollard

Leila Jagdeo, former General Manager of Guyana Book Foundation (for long and outstanding service in the Guyana Book Foundation)
Jean Benedicta Imelda La Rose, Programme Administrator of the Amerindian People’s Association (for long and dedicated service in indigenous rights activism)
Dr Paloma Ramona Francis Mohamed, Senior Lecturer of Faculties of Social Sciences and Medical Sciences (for her extensive and exceptional contributions in education and culture at the national and international levels)
Prince Albert Pompey, Councillor of Woodlands/Farm Neighbourhood Council (for long, dedicated and outstanding service in the field of local government and in politics)
Evan Brewster Bridgewater Semple (for long and meritorious service to the People of Guyana and as a Minister of the Anglican Diocese)
Gwendolin Agatha Tross, retired Lecturer (for long and dedicated service as an educator in nursing and for her pioneer role in the establishment of the degree nursing programme at the University of Guyana)
Maurice Wilfred Veecock, Senior Lecturer at UG (for service of an exceptionally high quality as a water resources and hydropower engineer in the Ministries of Works and Energy and Mines)
Anna Catherina Islamic Complex (for its outstanding service to the community in the West Demerara area)
Olga Bone Ministry of Education and University of Guyana (for long and dedicated service in the field of education)
Wordsworth Mcandrew, Broadcaster/Folk Researcher (for long, dedicated and outstanding service to Guyana, especially for his research and celebration of Guyana’s cultural heritage and as a broadcaster)

Medal of Service
The Medal of Service was awarded to the following:
Mabel Baveghems, former Member of Parliament (for long and dedicated service in the field of politics)
Gordon Chase, Ministry of the Presidency (for long service, with exceptional dedication, in the Guyana Public Service)
Roylance Patricia David, Executive Director of the Adult Education Association (for long and dedicated service in the field of education)
Jaitun Haniff-Persaud, Confidential Secretary to the Speaker (for long and dedicated service in the Public Service and more recently in the Parliament Office)
Noshella Lalckecharan, Assistant Director of Nursing Services at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (for long and dedicated service in the field of nursing)
Godfrey Emerson Marshall Advisor on Forestry for the Guyana Forestry Commission (for long and dedicated service as a Forest Officer)
Sheik Shakur Niamatali, Managing Director of Variety Woods and Green Heart Ltd (for long and outstanding service in sustainable tropical forest management, wood utilization and marketing of forest products in the development of Guyana’s Forestry Sector)
Dionysia Niewenkerk, Chairperson of Women’s Group, Lethem (for long service in the field of women’s affairs and in politics)
Amrita Thomas, Vice-Chairman of Region 7 (For service of a consistently high quality to the residents of Region 7)
Burnell Lancelot Thomas, former Vice-Chairman of Region 10 (for his long and outstanding involvement in the field of culture and in politics)

Military Service Star
The Military Service Star was awarded to Brigadier Mark Anthony Phillips, Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, for service of an exceptionally high quality and beyond the normal call of duty in the Guyana Defence Force.

Military Service Medal
Wilbert Arlington Lee, retired Colonel of the Guyana Defence Force (for distinguished service beyond the normal call of duty as an officer in the Guyana Defence Force)
Walter Leyland Francis Morris, retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Guyana Defence Force (for distinguished service beyond the normal call of duty as an officer in the Guyana Defence Force)
Carol Audrey Lewis-Primo, former Assistant Commissioner of Police (for sustained and dedicated service of a high order in the Guyana Police Force)
David Kenneth Ramnarine, Assistant Commissioner of Police (for sustained and dedicated service of a high order in the Guyana Police Force)
Carl Vonludwig Grahame, Deputy Director of Prison (for sustained and dedicated service of a high order in the Guyana Prison Service)
Welton Cuthbert Trotz, Director of Prison of the Guyana Prison Service (for sustained and dedicated service of a high order in the Guyana Prison Service)
Desiree D’Santos-Moore, retired Station Officer of the Guyana Fire Service (for sustained and dedicated service of a high order in the Guyana Fire Service)
Peter Wilson, retired Station Officer (for sustained and dedicated service of a high order in the Guyana Fire Service)

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