January 27, 2015

Ramotar is PPP/C’s Presidential Candidate

It’s official:

President Donald Ramotar was on Monday confirmed as the Presidential Candidate for the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) for the May 11 polls.

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar

This was disclosed by General Secretary of PPP/C Clement Rohee at the party’s weekly press conference held at Freedom House, Robb Street, Georgetown. According to Rohee, Ramotar was selected and decided upon at a meeting which was convened last week. He noted that Ramotar was the only Presidential Candidate and there no other competitors in the race for the position.
“The only thing that has been decided upon is the fact President Ramotar is the Presidential Candidate. There was no other Presidential candidate,” he said. He noted too that this is not likely to change anytime before the polls.
Questioned on whether this was a wise choice given the fact that the party would have lost a majority Government under the leadership of Ramotar in the 2011 General Elections, Rohee noted that was simply an assumption and it was not proven that the candidate was the primary reason for this.
“There were a number of reasons why that happened and after the 2011 elections, we did an analysis and made it known the factors that responsible for us losing control of the Parliament. We had also pointed out over the years that we have taken corrective measures to address those issues.
“Now I believe that we are in a better position and we are still working to ensure that we are way ahead of the game.  That is just an assumption and we are not going into the elections with that kind of assumption. We are going to win elections,” Rohee explained.
Meanwhile, Rohee, who also holds the post of Home Affairs Minister, related that the Prime Ministerial candidate is yet to be chosen, but there are several nominees for the position. It is possible that Prime Minister Samuel Hinds will be replaced.
“The party is still discussing this. Anything is possible. If the PPP/C has the Presidential Candidate then the Prime Ministerial Candidate would come from the Civic. There are a lot of people working,” he disclosed. Rohee noted that the party remains optimistic that it will regain its majority at the polls slated for May 11.

Confident
After serving as PPP/C’s General Secretary for 14 years, Ramotar was selected as the 2011 Presidential Candidate in April that year, ahead of the November 28 elections. Subsequent to his decision to prorogue Parliament on November 10, 2014, President Ramotar told reporters that he was “confident” that he will be the next PPP/C Presidential Candidate.
The President has consistently said that he is not afraid of the electorate and emphasised that he will secure a majority in the next election. “This time I am going back for the majority bigger than before,” he had declared.
Winning the 2011 elections with a plurality, Ramotar became the first President not to have a majority in the National Assembly. In the 65-seat National Assembly, PPP/C secured 32 seats while A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) secured 26, and Alliance For Change (AFC) 7, resulting in the collective Opposition gaining a total 33 seats.

Campaign
Already President Ramotar has featured in a campaign television advertisement which has begun airing. In the two-minute advertisement, the President detailed plans for jobs security, investments in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), higher education opportunities and modernisation of the country’s infrastructure.
“Unlike the other parties and individuals, I commit to further investments to secure the sugar industry and an agriculture diversification plan that would move us into value added production.
“I present to you a platform that would see us achieving universal secondary education and expanded health care. I commit to a future where resources would be used to improve the life of every citizen through increased spending in the social sector, creation of a knowledge based economy and a future where every Guyanese own their own home,” he said in the advertisement.
President Ramotar also highlighted the developments made over the years under his watch in the areas of tourism, mining and agriculture. He pointed out that the country’s foreign debt was also reduced during this time by half and its international reserve is at its highest ever.
“We cannot risk these gains, the work must continue. Let us move forward together. I am Donald Ramotar, and I ask you and your families to support this future. Join us in moving forward together,” he ended in true campaign-like momentum.
At the end of the ad, the PPP/C symbol was boldly displayed. The advertisement also features clips of the President interacting with the young Guyanese, visiting Marriott Hotel site and touring housing developments.

Share Button

CSEC, CAPE exams moved from E-Day

– Guyana to bear costs for adjustments

By Devina Samaroo

Amid the furore over the holding of elections on May 11 as they clashed with Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) examinations, the Ministry of Education on Monday announced that the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) for Guyanese students have been rescheduled for June 15-16 respectively.

Education Minister Priya Manikchand, CXC Registrar Glenroy Cumberbatch and Chief Education Officer Olato Sam engage a Guyana Times reporter shortly after their news conference

Education Minister Priya Manikchand, CXC Registrar Glenroy Cumberbatch and Chief Education Officer Olato Sam engage a Guyana Times reporter shortly after their news conference

Education Minister Priya Manickchand made the announcement during a special press conference at the National Centre for Educational Research and Development (NCERD). The Education Minister disclosed that CXC would mark all scripts and issue all results at the same time CXC/CAPE results were originally scheduled to be delivered.
Additionally, she assured that the Ministry would ensure all students were duly informed of this change. The Council will also be officially informing candidates of the timetable alteration. Manickchand explained that several possible options were explored, and it was decided that the rescheduling of the examinations would be the best solution. She explained that the major concern was the availability of places for examination venues, given that schools were often designated as polling stations.
“The entire decision making process was attended to by our paramount consideration … we had several things to take into consideration … we were guided by the general concerns raised by the public.”
CXC Registrar Glenroy Cumberbatch also reiterated that the decision was made in keeping with the best interest of the students.

Back-up examination papers
He explained that the Council wanted to provide students with the same conditions and environment for the sitting of their examination as any other candidate on any other day, and as such, allowing them to write their examinations on Election Day would have placed them at a disadvantage.
He further stated that protocols were in place to ensure the integrity of the examination papers was maintained and that they were equal in value and weight.
Cumberbatch explained that CXC usually prepares “back-up” examination papers in the same subject area in the event something goes amiss. The assumption of students in Guyana contacting other students across the region for “prohibited assistance”, as it relates to preventing the contents of the examination papers from leaking, was also addressed during the press conference.
“They (the papers) will not be the same exact wording and questions and numbers and so on, but they will be parallel in terms of difficulty, conflict and demand,” the CXC Registrar explained. Moreover, he disclosed that the Government of Guyana will have to bear the cost of this adjustment in the timetable for Guyanese students. On that note, Minister Manickchand reassured that students would not be burdened with any additional costs.
Meanwhile, Manickchand said that all the options for a possible date for elections were during the examination period. She explained that the Guyana Elections Commission had submitted a list of possible dates, all of which were scheduled during the examination period. The Minister said the clashing of the dates was inevitable. In fact, she pointed out that the rescheduling of an examination date due to similar problems was a common practice throughout the world.

Buying time
The issue about the clash in the election date was first raised by Opposition Leader David Granger, who also suggested that a new date be set for the polls. However, Minister Manickchand responded sharply saying that the Opposition was calling for a new election date because of their unpreparedness for the polls.
The Minister had said that she was baffled as to “what the uproar is about” as it relates to the setting of election date.
“It’s only in this country you see this nonsense being perpetuated; in other countries, people eat, sleep and go about their daily lives at elections time. Maybe the Opposition isn’t ready for elections, so they want a new date,” she said.
Manickchand had assured that students who would be writing examinations during that time period would not be affected. “I see it as my sole duty to ensure that students are not disadvantaged during the period of elections,” she said.
A copy of the CSEC timetable obtained by the Guyana Times shows that the subjects scheduled to be written on May 11 include Agricultural Science (Double and Single Awards); Theatre Arts; Electrical and Electronic Technology (Technical); and Food and Nutrition Paper Two. CAPE subjects scheduled to be written on that day are Geometrical and Mechanical Engineering Drawing Unit One – Paper Two; History Unit One – Paper Two; Art and Design Examinations  Unit One, Papers Two and Three, and Unit Two, Papers One and Two; and Communication Studies Paper Two.
The newspaper had pointed out that had the Government accepted Granger’s concerns and rescheduled the election date, the next available Monday would be June 15. This is because elections are generally held on Mondays and for the entire month of May and in early June examinations would still be in progress.

Share Button

India hails ties with Guyana

…at 66th Republic Day observance

The Indian High Commission here on Monday celebrated that country’s 66th Republic Day Anniversary with a reception, where acting High Commissioner Madhumita Sengupta said thather country is committed to strengthen its ties with Guyana.

President Donald Ramotar, Acting Indian High Commissioner Madhumita Sengupta, First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar, Acting Foreign Minister Robeson Benn, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elizabeth Harper  and other Indian officials at the 66th Republic Anniversary of India

President Donald Ramotar, Acting Indian High Commissioner Madhumita Sengupta, First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar, Acting Foreign Minister Robeson Benn, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elizabeth Harper and other Indian officials at the 66th Republic Anniversary of India

The reception was held at the Georgetown Club and was attended by President Donald Ramotar, several ministers, member of the Diplomatic Corp and top ranking Indo-Guyanese officials along with India-based nationals living in Guyana. Sengupta in delivering her remarks explained that since India’s economy was liberalised in 1991, the country has seen sustained growth in its domestic sector, investments and in international trade and commerce. She continued that the country was taken out of poverty with the implementation of several schemes such as the right to employment, food security among others.
The acting High Commissioner said that this approach will continue as the current Government will be focusing in areas such as housing, medical facilities and social insurance facilities to the people of the country. She underscored that India has been active on the international scene, advocating for peace and security while at the same time helping to boost the global economy by supporting other countries such as Guyana.
“Our warm and cordial relations with the Republic of Guyana are based on historical and cultural links, shared values of democracy, freedom, equality and belief in unity and diversity,” Sengupta pointed out while adding that President Ramotar’s recent visit to her home country offered a platform for further impetus to the already strong relationship between the two countries.
The acting Indian High Commissioner went onto say that India provided over 300 Guyanese with technical training under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme and provided more than 30 scholarships under the Commonwealth Scholarship Programme for Guyanese to pursue higher education in India. She added that the India government has also extended financial assistance for infrastructural projects.
“Construction of the Cricket stadium at Providence is one such project. Several initiatives have been taken by Government of India to provide assistance to Guyana in the field of road construction and upgrade of sugar industry. Most importantly, India is committed to setting up a Centre of Excellence in Information Technology, and also provided financing for the purchase of a ferry for the North-West of Guyana through loan and grant,” she stated.
Additionally, Sengupta spoke about the noticeable number of Indian medical specialists that are currently working in local institutions. She further mentioned the successes in the business sector, revealing that the bilateral trade between the two countries has increased by 30 per cent in the past five years.
In the meanwhile, President Ramotar in his brief remarks reiterated that the relationship between the two countries has been a strong one and will continue this way in the future. The President expressed his appreciation for the assistance of the Indian Government for the East Bank and East Coast road link as well as the ferry acquisition. He added that with the establishment of a Centre of Excellence, Guyana is bound to develop even further. Ramotar also acknowledged the critical role that businesses of the two country play in deepening the relationship.

Share Button

Jagdeo yet to decide on election campaign

Elections 2015:

…but Rohee says otherwise

It is not yet certain whether former President Bharrat Jagdeo will be on the campaign for the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) ahead of the 2015 elections, set for May 11.
However, PPP/C General Secretary of Clement Rohee on Monday announced that the former President will be hitting the campaign trail for the party at the its weekly press conference held at Freedom House, Robb Street, Georgetown.

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo

When Guyana Times contacted the former President for a comment in the wake of the announcement by Rohee, Jagdeo indicated that he is yet to decide on joining the elections campaign.
According to Rohee, the former leader has a track record for receiving support from the Guyanese population and for being a part of the PPP/C.
Rohee, when questioned on whether Jagdeo’s candidacy will be a plus or a minus for the party especially heading into the elections, said it will be a plus since the former President has played an active role in the part’s activities. To this end, he noted that the former President is seen as a great asset to the party and as such, there is no reason why he will not be present in the part’s campaigns in the lead up to elections.
“He is an asset to the PPP/C and we are not going to let go of him because of the attack in the Kaieteur News and Inews and so on. He is an asset to us. He is one of us and so it will come as no surprise to anyone that that he will be on the PPP/C’s elections campaign,” Rohee expressed.
Rohee, who also serves as Home Affairs Minister, told media operatives that the party was in the process of putting together a powerful package for the elections and this included the former President.
“Mr Jagdeo is a member of the party’s executive; he is a member of the party’s good standing; he is a former President, and he has made useful contributions, so it would not come as a surprise to anyone for him to be a part of the campaign or the party’s list of candidates. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to see all the leaders of the party on the campaign,” Rohee said.
This, he said, was to ensure that the party regains its majority at the polls.  Questioned on whether the former President will be given any power position in the party when the campaigns begin, Rohee responded by saying that the party was still finalizing its list of candidates, and until everything is agreed upon, the possibility exists that he may.

PPP/C General Secretary Clement Rohee

PPP/C General Secretary
Clement Rohee

Since leaving the Presidential Office in 2011, Jagdeo has kept out of the local political spotlight.  During Jagdeo’s tenure as President, major economic and social reforms were undertaken in Guyana.
When he relinquished office, Guyana was concluding its fifth consecutive year of strong economic growth, often out-pacing all other countries in South America. External debt had been almost halved, and external reserves were almost three times their 2006 level.
Unprecedented investment in social services took place during the Jagdeo Presidency, enabling significantly improved access to education, rehabilitation of the health system, far-reaching land reform, the biggest expansion of the housing sector in Guyana’s history, expansion of the water and sanitation systems, and large-scale development of the road, river and air transport networks.
New public procurement and competition laws were passed, and reforms to the tax, fiscal and investment regimes were implemented.
In 2003, in his role as lead Head of Government for Agriculture in the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Jagdeo spearheaded a process (known as the Jagdeo Initiative) to create a more competitive and sustainable agricultural sector in the region by 2015.
In his final term as President, Jagdeo became a global advocate for international action to avert the worst extremes of climate change, and was described by the Chairman of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change Rajendra K Pachauri, as “one of perhaps half a dozen Heads of Government who truly understands the issue”.
In line with the former President’s global advocacy, Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) sets out a national scale, replicable model to protect Guyana’s 18 million hectares of forest to address the 17 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions that result from deforestation and forest degradation, and re-orient the Guyanese economy onto a long-term “low deforestation, low carbon, climate resilient trajectory”.
As part of building this global model, Norway is partnering with Guyana to provide up to US$250 million, by 2015, for avoided greenhouse gas emissions from Guyana’s forest. Guyana is using these payments and domestic resources to attract private investment to opportunities in clean energy and new low carbon economic sectors, as well as to make significant public investments in other social and economic priorities. This has been described by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network, the UK-based climate policy network, as “maybe the most progressive Low Carbon Development Strategy in a low income country”.
Jagdeo was a signatory to the UNASUR Constitutive Treaty of the Union of South American Nations in May, 2008. Guyana has ratified the Treaty. In November, 2009, Jagdeo hosted the Heads of Government of South America in Georgetown, as he took over the one-year Pro Tempore Presidency of UNASUR.
On November 26, 2011, Jagdeo made a far-reaching farewell address ahead of the nation’s elections on November 28, 2011. He spoke of accomplishments, such as the economy and defense issues, and emphasised his optimism in the future of Guyana.

Share Button

Bandit shot dead in gas station hold-up

The Choke Gas Station

The Choke Gas Station

A young bandit is now dead after he was shot by the owner of a gas station at La Bonne Intention (LBI), East Coast Demerara Sunday evening.

The unidentified man, along with an accomplice stormed the Choke Gas Station sometime around 20:40h, robbing a pump attendant of her BlackBerry cellphone, her house keys, and close to $40,000, part of the day’s sales.

“I saw the men coming in, but there was a car blocking them,” the pump attendant who asked not to be named told the Guyana Times.

She explained that as the persons drew closer, she realised that they were not who she thought they were.

“So he come up to me and tell me ‘give me your bag’”. By that time the gunman was pressing the gun to her stomach. The pump attendant said she was not “really afraid”, because the owner was standing just behind her. It was then that the gunman was shot by the businessman.

This is the second time in less than two weeks that the business, which has been in operation for some 13 years, has been robbed. The last time the gunmen carted off $30,000.

The owner explained that he was standing outside when the two men approached and held up his employee, taking away the items. He said: “I shot him in his stomach and the Police carried him away to the station.”

The second bandit was reportedly shot in the buttocks by the owner.

The bandits were subsequently taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital where the first succumbed while the second remains hospitalised under Police gaurd. When the Guyana Times visited the hospital, drops of blood lined the pathway to the Emergency Room.

Share Button

US deporting fewer criminals to Guyana

Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy Bryan Hunt

Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy Bryan Hunt

…overall drop in deportations cited  

By Vahnu Manikchand

Fewer convicted criminals have been deported here from the United States over the past five years –something which Caribbean leaders had fought Washington on since 2002.

Between 2008 and 2013, a total of 1035 persons were deported here, 803 of whom were non-criminals. On a much broader scale, the United States has deported thousands of convicted criminals to the Caribbean annually since 1996, when Congress mandated that every non-citizen sentenced to a year or more in prison must be kicked out of the country upon release.

In all, the US is responsible for about three-quarters of the region’s returning criminal deportees, with the United Kingdom and Canada accounting for most of the other ex-cons arriving in the Caribbean. It is a phenomenon that also afflicts many parts of Central America, where street gangs that grew out of Los Angeles spread to the region through massive deportations. Brutal and powerful, one such gang, the “Maras” are blamed for rampant violent crime, extortion and, more recently, acting as enforcers for drug cartels.

Some years ago, Caribbean Governments had said that deportees were exacerbating crime in nations with high levels of violence. The US in attempting to defuse tensions had introduced a programme to help reintegrate deportees, but the programme which was coordinated by the International Organisation for Migration recorded moderate success and was scrapped. Some Caribbean countries such as Guyana had also enacted laws, which gave lawmen the power to monitor criminal deportees.

Downward trend

Speaking to the Guyana Times last week, United States Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Bryan Hunt said that the number of Guyanese being deported from the US has been spiralling downwards over the past few years.

Hunt said that the numbers have always been tremendously small. “A vast majority of Guyanese who leave the United States end up doing so voluntarily and are not deported,” he noted.

According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, there has been a decreasing trend from 2008 to 2013 in the number of persons who were deported from the US back to Guyana. Statistics on the US agency’s website shows that in 2008 some 508 persons were sent back, while 492 were deported in 2009. The following year saw 428 Guyanese deported back to Guyana and 411 in 2011. Approximately 360 persons returned home in 2012 and another 292 the following year. The figure for the year 2014 was not yet available.

These persons were deported on a criminal/non-criminal basis.

Visas

In other migration matters, Hunt noted that Guyanese on short-term visas (tourist, business or student visas) did not usually overstay the time prescribed by the immigration officer upon entry in the US. He noted that they usually returned to Guyana before that time was up or departed for another country.

“But in the main, most people (Guyanese) comply with the terms of their visas and depart by the time that they’re supposed to and stay within the category that they are operating in,” Hunt stated.

As it relates to the issuing of visas, the Chargé d’Affaires explained that the US Immigration Law provided a great deal of discretion to the Consul Officer at the window in the Embassy. He noted that US Immigration Law makes the presumption that everyone who comes through the doors of the Embassy to get a visa intends to immigrate to the United States unless persons can convince the officer otherwise.

“So the burden is really on the applicant to convince the officer who is interviewing them that, for whatever reasons the applicant can identify, he or she is going to leave the United States and return to Guyana. Generally, people do that by showing that they have family they are leaving behind in Guyana that they intend to return to, they have a very well paying job they intend to return to, that they have previous travels to other countries where they have left within the timeframe and a host of other intangible factors that one can bring to the window,” he pointed out.

Hunt posited that at the end of the day, it was a judgment call by the Embassy’s officers and was of the belief that they, more than often, made the correct judgment call. However, the Chargé d’Affaires mentioned that those persons who believed that their cases were not adjudicated correctly had the option to re-apply and be re-interviewed by a different officer. This way, he added, they would have a second opportunity to make their cases as to what their ties to Guyana were.

The US Embassy official underscored that persons have to be realistic when applying for a visa. He outlined that someone who just started a job, did not own a house here, was unmarried and had never travelled overseas may not have a good chance of getting a visa if they applied right now. “You have to look at your individual circumstances and ask yourself honestly, is what I’m going to present to a visa officer going to convince them that I’m really going to come back to Guyana,” Hunt added.

Petitions

On the issue of persons who have Permanent Visa petitions ongoing applying for Tourist Visas, he said success depended on the individual circumstances. Hunt noted that there were cases where people who have immigration petitions pending were still granted non-immigrant visas, particularly if they showed that they had no immediate intention of immigrating to the US and were up front with the officer that they had an immigration petition pending, but would not be moving any time soon.

The Embassy official stressed that the process had no “hard and fast rule” that made it impossible. “What I will say is that if you conceal from the visa officer that you have a pending visa petition, they will know that and that will undercut the credibility of your entire story if you conceal something like that. It’s always better to be honest and up front,” he noted.

Share Button

Banks DIH blames flash floods, crime for dip in profits

Banks DIH Managing Director Clifford Reis delivering the 2014 report in the presence of the Board of Directors at Thirst Park

Banks DIH Managing Director Clifford Reis delivering the 2014 report in the presence of the Board of Directors at Thirst Park

BY: ANASTACIA CLEMENTSON

Banks DIH Limited Managing Director Clifford Reis said the company’s 2014 economic performance was negatively affected by crime and the series of flash floods that affected the nation.

The beverage giant has recorded a $270 million decrease in profits for 2014. It posted a profit before tax of $3.473 billion and profit after tax of $2.265 billion when compared to the $2.538 billion recorded in 2013 after taxation.

Reis made this disclosure on Saturday at Banks DIH Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Thirst Park, Georgetown.

In delivering the company’s report before hundreds of shareholders, the Managing Director explained that Banks DIH made substantial progress in 2014 but it was marred by crime and the daily floods.

Shareholders1“Consumers are once again dealing with fear and uncertainty which has contracted spending and thus the income statements of most businesses,” he said.

However, the Guyana Police Force said at the end of 2014, some 147 murders were recorded in comparison to 155 for the same period in 2013, a decline of five per cent. Serious crimes also decreased by 15 per cent from January 1 to December 31, 2014 when compared to the same in 2013.

Nevertheless, Reis said that many businesses were also forced to close their doors due to the series of flash floods that affected not only Georgetown but other flood prone communities across the country.

The Managing Director said he is trying to comprehend how “in this age of the 21st century with the availability of science and technology that our capital city experienced flooding after a short period of rain.” This is he said is “unacceptable.”

He said floods not only affect businesses but families as well, noting that the damage to properties often result in “the unnecessary financial losses.” According to Reis, it is time the relevant authorities put effective measures in place that would bring this age old problem to an end. Many of the stakeholders present endorsed the sentiments expressed by him.

Banks DIH recorded an operational profit before tax of $4.971 billion while the profit after tax paid to shareholders was $2.660 billion.

The Net Asset Value per share was increased from $21.55 to $23.20, that is, an eight per cent increase. The company has maintained the dividend payment of $0.64 per share with the overall cost being $640.0 million.

Throughout 2014, Banks DIH maintained its policy to replace and/or upgrade its production capacity through the installation of a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant and other machinery that enhanced its competencies that will ensure competitive advantage regarding the conversion of raw materials into quality fresh, finished products.

Additionally, the company managed to complete the brewery and cellars modernization programme and also commissioned the palletiser along with a new pasteuriser for the Beer Plant. The restaurant production capacity was enhanced, as the company was able to secure more equipment.

Banks DIH has also managed to achieve stage one of the re-certification of the Food Safety System Certification, which means that the company’s products were in compliance with those strict standards.

“As a corporate entity we have a continuing commitment to contribute to sustainable economic development while improving the quality of life of our workforce and their families as well as our communities and society at large. In this regard, we are committed to supporting environmental sustainability by complying with all applicable statutory and other requirements,” Reis said in his report.

He said the company will continue its efforts to strengthen its community partnership by upholding its corporate responsibility to its suppliers, employees, customers, government bodies, trade unions and shareholders.

Share Button

Money changer shot

Riburn Fraser’s home where the shooting took place

Riburn Fraser’s home where the shooting took place

…robbed $800,000 in South Ruimveldt

A money changer who operates in America Street, Georgetown is now a patient at the Georgetown Public Hospital after he was robbed and shot in front of his residence on Saturday evening.

Riburn Vibert Fraser, 48, of Lot 2688 Manatee Place, South Ruimveldt, Georgetown, was reportedly shot twice to his body by one of the bandits who was armed with a handgun. The incident occurred at approximately 00:10h as the man was about to enter his yard.

It is believed that the two bandits who appeared to be on foot followed Fraser to his house from a nearby drinking spot. The two men reportedly confronted the money changer and demanded the money he was carrying in a bag.

He reportedly put up a fight, but one of the men whipped out a gun and discharged two rounds, hitting the businessman. They then relieved him of the bag containing $800,000, an undisclosed sum of foreign currency, and several important documents. The men then made good their escape.

The injured money changer, according to information received, jumped into his car and drove to the Georgetown Public Hospital where he was immediately admitted. He subsequently underwent a successful surgery to remove a bullet lodged in his body.

When the Guyana Times visited the man’s home at South Ruimveldt, there were blood stains by the gate and several pieces of broken items including a necklace. A neighbour told this publication that he arrived home five minutes prior to the shooting incident.

He explained that he was in his home when he heard the two gunshots and immediately ran to his window to investigate. As he peered out, he saw two men running up the road while Fraser collapsed to ground. He said that one of the men was tall and the other was not that short. It was dark hence their faces were not recognisable.

The neighbour stated that when he reached the scene, he saw the injured man driving off with his female companion beside him. He later learnt that the man drove to the hospital. A niece of the money changer when contacted told the Guyana Times that her uncle was taken into emergency surgery and as such, he did not get to tell them much about the incident.

She could not confirm how many times he was shot, but was thankful for his life being spared. This was not the first time the man has been attacked – a few months ago, in a similar manner, three men confronted him and one pulled the trigger of a gun, but the gun did not go off.

The Police, in a release, stated that they have launched an investigation into the incident. No one was arrested.

Share Button

Police complete probe into Trotman paedophile allegations

…file to be returned to DPP today

Police have completed their investigations into the rape allegations against Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman and will be forwarding the file to the chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) today.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman

Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman

When contacted on Sunday, a source told the Guyana Times that the file has been prepared and will be directed to the DPP so that recommendations can be made on the way forward for the case. However, the source related that the file was incomplete as it was missing a medical, but this was impossible to obtain in this case, because a number of years would have already elapsed and nothing can be proven by a medical at this point in time.

In September last year, 22-year-old Johnny Welshman accused the Speaker, who he fondly called “Uncle Raphael”, of sodomising him when he was a 12-year-old boy. Since the allegations were made by the 22-year-old, Trotman has moved to the courts to attain a gag order and filed a $50 million lawsuit against his accuser.

As per the gag order, Welshman was ordered to remove all malicious content from his Facebook Page. Welshman, in return, had also moved to the High Court, seeking to have the injunction discharged. The Speaker at that time had expressed that he was of the strong belief that the allegations were politically motivated in an effort to divert attention from the no-confidence motion that was scheduled to be heard in the House shortly. He noted that he was fully prepared to cooperate as he placed his trust in the hands of investigators. “I have every confidence that not only would the Police do a good and thorough investigation, but I am confident that I would be completely exonerated,” he had said.

Sloth
On November 11, acting Chief Justice Ian Chang had ruled to uphold an injunction filed by Trotman that prevented Welshman from repeating his allegations of sexual abuse until the conclusion of the matter, much to the anger of the alleged victim.

Johnny Welshman

Johnny Welshman

After more than 30 minutes of deliberations, Justice Chang had upheld the injunction. This was confirmed by the Attorney representing Trotman, Nigel Hughes, who told reporters outside the Chief Justice’s Chambers that “the injunction continues until there is a determination of the matter”.

The young man had previously told the Guyana Times that he was frustrated by the slothfulness of Police in probing the matter. On Wednesday, November 12, he attempted to take his own life in frustration over what he called the slothfulness and perceived wrongdoings in Guyana’s justice system.

Welshman was taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital after reportedly consuming a large amount of chlorine-based liquid. He was treated and sent home.

“I can’t take it anymore: I wanted justice and I am the one that is constantly harassed on the road. Well, live with yourself at my death… I know I will be in hell ‘cause I committed suicide, but I rather die than to continue living in pain… Uncle Raphael, my father and Colin, I will never forgive you’,” Welshman posted on his Facebook page the day of his suicide attempt.

The young man, who had indicated that he was no longer being represented by Attorney Peter Hugh, said he was awaiting the arrival of another Attorney from Trinidad and Tobago before he proceeded in a legal direction.

Share Button

Guyana’s development fast-tracked through policy of continuity

Election 2015 issues…
History has shown that while there can be impatience at the pace of change in moving a society forward, there is an even greater need for

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar

continuity to ensure the stability that ensures the change becomes lasting.
But as they have done since the elections of November 2011, the Opposition will be questioning as to why President Donald Ramotar has not veered from the path of his predecessor President Bharrat Jagdeo. They are sure to stringently question the continuity in Ramotar’s campaign for the May 11 elections that is already underway. The Americans have an apt and pithy statement that answers the question.
It was a southern saying,  popularised during the Jimmy Carter presidency when Bert Lance, his Director of the Office of Management and Budget declared in Congressional testimony that he could save Uncle Sam billions if he could get the government to adopt the motto, “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!”
And that is a truth that Guyanese could well understand ― governments should fix the things that are broken and leave those that are not, well alone.
President  Ramotar obviously learnt that lesson well from Dr Cheddi Jagan and that is why even though he faced the Opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance For Change (AFC) that tried to block every one of his initiatives with their one-seat majority, Guyana was able to outperform most of her neighbours in the region, including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica.
What were some of the broken “things” that President Jagdeo fixed to place Guyana on a more stable trajectory?
Suddenly thrust into the Presidency in 1999 after the People’s National Congress (PNC) street violence forced President Janet Jagan out of office, Jagdeo moved to alter the political system that had been corrupted by the Burnhamite PNC regime after 1964.
The most extensive constitutional changes were signed into law by Jagdeo in 2000 that began by dismantling the central edifice of Forbes Burnham ― the all-powerful President who was for all intent and purposes, a constitutional dictator.
For example, the power of appointment of constitutional commissions was removed from the President and transferred to the National

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo

Assembly. The supervision of the work of the Auditor General was transferred from Government to the National Assembly.
The President’s discretionary authority over pensions was removed. Burnham’s perfunctory methodology of consultation with the Leader of the Opposition was strengthened to ensure “meaningful consultation”.
The head of the critical and autonomous Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) was to be appointed by the President from a list provided by the leader of the Opposition. Should President Ramotar not have maintained continuity with these policies?
But power is not exercised in a vacuum, and the Jagdeo constitutional changes also created, or augmented, powerful new centres of countervailing power for the Opposition.
In the National Assembly, four new Sectoral Committees were created ― Economic, Social, Natural Resources and Foreign Affairs ― which could scrutinise the entire ambit of Governmental activities in real time.
The Opposition Me,bers of Parliament (MPs) rotated the chairs of these committees as well having a proportional share of members. There was also a Standing Committee on Constitutional Reform. Outside the institutions of the state shared by the Executive and the Opposition, the wider society was brought into the power structure through the creation of four “Rights” Commissions and an Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC).
They are the Indigenous Rights Commission, Rights of the Child Commission, Women and Gender Equality Commission and a Human Rights Commission. Was President Ramotar not to have maintained continuity with these?
But his most significant contribution was to introduce, pass and sign into law the constitutional stipulation creating a two-term limit to anyone elected to the presidency after 2000.
Even though there was an extensive campaign in 2009 within his party and in the wider community  to convince him to run for a third term, Jagdeo steadfastly held them off and in 2011, established the precedence for the first time in Guyana for a President to voluntarily vacate office. And he did this even though he was 46 years old.
Even though the Opposition has never given him credit for this act, Jagdeo’s remarkable fidelity to the rule of law did not pass unnoticed in the international community.
When he went as head of the Commonwealth team to observe the just concluded Sri Lankan elections this was how the newspaper Ceylon Today viewed his role:
“Many foreign polls observers are here from different bodies in the world. The Commonwealth has sent former Guyanese President Jagdeo who limited the passage of the presidency in that country to two terms and signed that constitutional decree having completed his second term in office as President, he gracefully retired and went home. In contrast, President Mahinda Rajapaksa cut short his second term, to seek a mandate for a third term through the constitutional amendment he got passed in Parliament where the President office could contest any number of times.
“The arrival of Jagdeo as a Commonwealth polls monitor to monitor Mahinda’s third presidential poll looks extraordinary in nature as he comes as a man who had limited the tenure of the Office of a President two terms coming to monitor the election of a president who seeks a third term by virtue of an amendment passed in his favour.”
Is this one of  Jagdeo’s transformative innovations, the Opposition would have President Ramotar jettison after his second term which he will begin after May 11th?  (To be continued)

Share Button