July 31, 2014

Greenidge knocks “crooked” PNCR

PNCR Leader David Granger
PNCR Leader David Granger

internal elections machinery  

People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Executive Member and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge said the PNCR should reform its “crooked” internal electoral process with modifications to its electoral staff.

Greenidge said he did not believe that the electoral machine was well-oiled to deliver free and fair elections, but insisted that the structure that was established under the Linden Forbes Burnham PNC Administration was still there and shou

Shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge
Shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge

ld be adhered to.

According to Greenidge, there was a major issue with the persons installed to overlook the process and they should be held responsible for failed or rigged elections. The PNCR’s 18th Biennial Congress which was held over the weekend was marred by accusations of vote rigging, “list padding”, protests by Lindeners, resignations, and a gunshot that was fired to quell a tense crowd.

PNC stalwart Aubrey Norton had withdrawn from the race for the leadership of the party, citing serious “flaws” in the process. He told Guyana Times that he cannot be part of a process that is flawed.

Greenidge also told this publication in an interview that as a result of the poor display at the Congress, the populace now has the impression that the PNC is unable to successfully organise its internal elections, but this was not the case. Greenidge said he believes that the party has the infrastructural capacity to deliver well-organised elections that are void of allegations of corruption.

Personnel issue

When questioned by Guyana Times as to whether PNCR General Secretary Oscar Clarke should be culpable for the outcome of the Congress, Greenidge said he would not comment on that aspect of the situation. On Sunday out of disgust, Greenidge had called for the long-standing General Secretary to be sacked. Despite his initial reluctance, Greenidge said: “If you don’t have a good electoral machinery and that is happening, then you need to look at the personnel… it is a very straightforward process.”

He said it may be a case where the people who were appointed were not completely cognisant of their responsibilities to deliver transparent elections. He said such an occurrence only came to the fore in the last three Congresses, during which there were widespread allegations of wrongdoing with fingers being pointed at each incumbent leader.

“These things were not common when I was a minister under Burnham…. we must not operate that way, there are rules and they need to be clearly followed,” the Shadow Finance Minister argued.

Voting privileges

Responding to questions about the alleged unavailability of lists, Greenidge said he believes there should have been a cut-off point in the collection of names of delegates for the Congress. “But this was not done hence the ensuing confusion over voting privileges at the 18th Congress.

“I don’t have time for these complicated explanations as to why Mr Sharma queried his lists,” Greenidge stated. He articulated that had there been a cut-off date there would have been ample time for each person to scrutinise their lists and make the necessary queries without all of the confusion.

“It wasn’t Region 10 alone,” Greenidge said, explaining that other regions were also affected. It was explained that Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon would have provided a list to the Accreditation Committee, but later provided another list with names that were not on the previous list. This had served to slow down the process of verification.

But, PNCR Vice Chairperson Volda Lawrence had said that with respect to the “lists” of delegates provided by Solomon, the General Secretary and the Committee had met with him to iron out some issues but to no avail. “He was supposed to go and look back at some of the persons that he had listed there given the information the General Secretary provided. They were making changes all the time,” said Lawrence.

She said both Aubrey Norton and Solomon had preapproved the final list on Saturday evening. “With regard to Mr Norton and the new list, Mr Norton brought the list, he asked a few questions, they were answered, then he himself concluded that he wouldn’t worry about Region 10 … to hear all of these things, it is rather strange.”

PNCR Chairman Basil Williams had also highlighted that there were no “monumental” modifications to the List of Delegates from Linden. “There were slight corrections which were based on what Mr Sharma would have queried, so there were no monumental changes on the list. Up to the 11th hour, we were in that room trying to answer questions by Mr Norton or Mr Solomon… they left the room and came downstairs, it was only then that we were informed that they were not contesting…” said Williams.

Resignations

As a result of the highly flawed elections and accusations of the party being undemocratic, the PNCR now stands to lose one of its stalwarts, Clarissa Riehl. The former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly told reporters on Sunday that she intends to dissociate herself completely from the party. Riehl contends that the party has lost its way under the stewardship of David Granger.

Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM) National Secretary Adel Lilly had also said he would resign as he cited the death of democracy under Granger’s tenure.

Despite all of this, Granger, who was returned as leader, was adamant that the Congress was successful. He said while the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) may have attempted to sabotage the Congress, they had failed.

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Gregory Smith file missing from GDF

The Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (CoI) opened its fourth session on Tuesday with news that the personal file of the alleged assassin William Gregory Smith could not be found.

Lieutenant Colonel Patrick West representing the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) told the tribunal investigating the death of the late academic and historian that Smith’s file could have been destroyed during the massive flood of 2005. The announcement by the GDF comes on the heels of the Guyana Police Force also declaring that a number of critical files from their investigation have gone missing. Both the GDF and the Police Force were highly politicised and controlled by the Forbes Burnham-led PNC Administration during the period before and after Rodney’s killing.

GDF Lieutenant Colonel Patrick West emphasises a point at the CoI

GDF Lieutenant Colonel Patrick West emphasises a point at the CoI

PNCR leaders

Several of the top officers then, including former GDF Commander, Brigadier David Granger and Lieutenant Colonel Joe Harmon are now leaders of the PNCR. The GDF has been tasked with locating files which could determine whether the now dead Smith had been in its employ during the time Dr Rodney was killed. Lieutenant Colonel West told the Commission that while he did not find a Gregory Smith, records indicate that there was a William Smith in the Army during that period.

The Army Sergeant and electronics expert William Gregory Smith, who became an active member of the Force on June 27, 1975, had been accused of handing Dr Walter Rodney a bomb planted in a device, which exploded and caused his death on June 13, 1980.

When news of the explosion spread, fingers pointed at the accused which led investigators to the army. But head of the military body at that time, Major General Norman McLean, had stated that there was no such officer in the Army with that name. However, during his testimony close to two months ago, Mc Lean said that he was later informed by staff that instead of a “Gregory Smith”, there was rather a “William Gregory Smith” with regimental number 4141. According to Mc Lean, the investigation revealed that he was a deserter.

But Colonel West during his testimony said that the investigation, carried out by staff at the Army’s Personnel Department showed that there was no record of the Sergeant being Struck off Strength (SOS), Absent without leave (AWOL), deserting the Army or ever being dismissed.

In fact, records that he presented to the tribunal included a payroll, an alphabetic numbering ledger and the male numbering ledger all with regimental number 4141 with name William Smith. The records however show that Smith received a salary until June of 1979. However, according to West, that does not mean that Smith had left the Army, it only indicates that the payroll records for the time of Smith’s death could not be found.

West said that if an officer is discharged, a publication is made. He explained that in excess of seven days, the officer’s salary is withheld. If it prolongs for 21 days, he is deemed Absent without Leave (AWOL). In such instance, the officers’ name will be published. However, no record of any such publication for Smith has been found.

Inactive

Mc Lean had told the Commission that Smith was not an active member of the Force and when a photocopied form with regimental number 4141 was presented to him by Counsel for the Commission Glen Hanoman, he concluded it was a cut and paste. Commissioners and legal representatives pressed the Army official for clues surrounding the disappearance of Smith’s personnel file, when his other records are still in place.

West said he did not know but could only assume that the 2005 flood may have destroyed some of these files. West, questioned by Hanoman on Army protocols, was asked if it was normal practice for officers working undercover to sport an afro and beard. He responded in the affirmative.

Former Police Corporal Robert Gates had told the Commission that when he saw Smith a few months before Dr Rodney’s assassination, he had an afro and was heavily bearded.

Further grilled on the issue, West directed Attorney Hanoman to the Army Intelligence Unit, which he said could furnish him with such information. Smith was accused of handing Dr Rodney a walkie-talkie device with a bomb hidden inside. Claims are that Smith was used by the PNC Government to carry out the assassination.

The PNC Government then and the leadership of the party have always denied the allegations, although recently party Leader, David Granger had admitted that the then Government had a right to protect the state from a civil rebellion” which was led by Rodney and the WPA. This protection included the widespread surveillance of political opponents and plots to kill top leaders of the WPA at the time.

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Two shot in botched robbery

Two persons are now nursing gunshot wounds to their torsos after a lone gunman Tuesday evening attempted to relieve a woman of her valuables, but failed in his bid.

Bernette Campbell, of 60 West Road, Plaisance who is in her 30s, and 20-year-old Delroy Carr are listed as stable at a city hospital after the shooting.

Guyana Times understand that Campbell boarded a Route 44 Minibus, BRR 4735, at the Plaisance bus park in Georgetown and was followed by the gunman who has since been identified as Sheldon Benjamin, a known criminal of the East Coast Demerara.

Campbell, who was decked out in an array of gold jewellery, explained that she boarded the minibus, but was cognisant that she was being followed. However, it was not until the gunman who sat in the back of the bus stopped to get out that her worst fears were confirmed.

It was explained that Benjamin exited the bus at ‘Rolex Corner’ along Prince William Street, Plaisance, and as he stepped out, pointed a gun at Campbell ordering her to hand over her jewellery. But Campbell refused and the gunman fired two shots in her direction before proceeding to make good his escape. Campbell was shot twice and one of the bullets passed through her and hit Carr who was sitting adjacent to her in the front of the minibus.

Persons in the area said that Benjamin was a known criminal element and was responsible for several robberies in the area.

Police Crime Chief Leslie James confirmed that the Police have the man on their radar, but he has proven to be elusive.

It was alleged that Benjamin was responsible for a robbery on a senior salesman attached to Edward B Beharry and Company Limited, Mohindra Persaud. On that occasion, the alleged perpetrator managed to escape with $100,000.

According to information reaching Guyana Times, Persaud had made a stop at a shop located in Better Hope, ECD, to deliver chowmein when an unidentified man ran into the shop behind him and discharged a round at the ground.

The shooter then turned to Persaud and shot him to his knee. Despite being injured, Persaud tried to make his way back to the delivery bus, but was pursued by the shooter who then shot him to his head. The shooter then made his escape on a bicycle.

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Car driver on bail for charge of causing death

RicardoRicardo

RicardoRicardo

An East Coast Demerara (ECD) car driver who allegedly caused the death of a 26-year-old Berbician has been placed on $500,000 bail.

Ricardo Ramcharran Approo, 19, of Le Ressouvenir, ECD, appeared before Magistrate Rhondell Weaver on Monday in a New Amsterdam Magistrate’s Court to answer to the charge of causing the death of Vickram Ramlakhan by dangerous driving.

Approo is accused of causing the death of Ramlakhan, of Number 11 Village, East Coast Berbice who was a pedestrian at the time of the accident. The Bell Loader operator of the Albion Sugar Estate was killed last Thursday after motor car PRR 9655, driven by Approo, slammed into him. At the time, Approo was using the car as a private taxi.

He was granted his pre-trial liberty with conditions. In granting bail, Magistrate Weaver ordered that the defendant’s passport be lodged and the defendant reports to the Sparendaam Police Station every Monday and Friday. Bail was granted after Police Prosecutor Sergeant Godfrey Platter offered no objection to a bail application.

Approo told the court that his passpor

t had been vandalised, but produced an expired passport instead. The matter will be called again on September 2.

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Pre-qualification for Pharma supplies ANSA McAL failed to provide manufacturer’s authorisation

….IPA warehouses deemed shoddy

Managing Director of ANSA McAL Beverly Harper

Managing Director of ANSA McAL Beverly Harper

Trinidad conglomerate ANSA McAL was disqualified from the Pre-qualification exercise to supply medical drugs to the Government of Guyana after failing to provide the authorisations of the manufacturers of drugs – a key criterion in the bidding exercise, the experts who evaluated the tenders have said.

This was a threshold issue that was not satisfied, so that there was no need for the evaluation panel to investigate further.

The company is one of two that have raised objections after failing to qualify during the exercise – the other being the International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA), which although meeting all the administrative requirements of the examination, failed miserably with its warehouses, which were described by the evaluators as “poorly ventilated”, with “boxes thrown about and not properly stored”.

NEW GPC INC was the only company to have pre-qualified and would now have to join a list of international agencies. These include the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Ever since the announcement that NEW GPC was the only company to have pre-qualified, there has been consternation the two companies, fuelled by skewed reports in some sections of the media.

Managing Director of ANSA McAl Beverly Harper had even argued that she was surprised that her company did not qualify, saying that they satisfied all the criteria. But she was later forced to admit that they have neither the required warehousing area nor the requisite temperature controls.

As a letter writer had noted, “I wish the companies that lost out in the pre-qualification exercise would conduct themselves in a professional way”. ANSA McAl, for instance, claimed they have the “temperature controlled” warehousing for “some drugs”.

According to the evaluators report, which was seen by this newspaper, 15 companies would have uplifted tender documents, but only eight actually submitted bids. The eight include  Western Scientific of Trinidad and Tobago, Telecom Solutions, Meditron Scientific Sales of Guyana, ANSA McAL Trading, IPA, Global Health Care Supplies, NEW GPC, Trading  and Distribution Inc of Guyana, and A&S Enterprise of Guyana. Global Health Care Supplies is said to be owned by IPA.

NEW GPC headquarters at Farm, East Bank Demerara

NEW GPC headquarters at Farm, East Bank Demerara

According to the report, at the opening and examination of the eight bids, it was found that Western Scientific did not fill out the distributorship section, but referred to it in its bid. Besides, financial statements were required for five years, but only the years 2010-2012 were provided.

Additionally, the company submitted no copy of a bank statement, as was required, and no personnel, neither brokerage, again as was required. Copies of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were required, but this company only submitted summarised points and did not complete product information as was required.

As regards, Telecom Solutions, the report stated that based on the preliminary examination of the bids, the company did not apply for the bidding documents as required. It noted that Health 2000 applied for the documents, stating that it was desirous of being prequalified. Telecom Solutions eventually submitted a tender instead.

The report stated that it was the opinion of the evaluators that no further consideration for evaluation should be given to the company and as such disqualified it.

Meditron Scientific Supplies on the other hand, the report states, was registered in the name of Andrew Debiden, according to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), and not Meditron Scientific Supplies. Besides, no SOPs were submitted, neither any bank statement.

Regarding Global Health Care, the report stated that a financial statement submitted was not signed and it was only for a period within a year. Besides, two of the manufacturers’ authorisations submitted, namely Emcure and Scientific Supplies are the same as that of IPA. It has been claimed that Global Health is owned by the same principals as IPA. For its part, Trading and Distribution Inc failed to provide manufacturers’ authorisation for the products submitted.

Based on the administrative criteria it was then recommended that the NEW GPC and IPA be shortlisted for a physical inspection of their warehousing capacity, as required in the bidding documents.

According to the report as part of the inspection a physical inspection of the warehousing capacity was conducted by the evaluators on April 30 and it was the unanimous opinion of the committee that only NEW GPC met the total warehousing capacity, including cold storage requirements.

Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon in announcing that NEW GPC was the lone local prequalifier, had stressed the need to deal with reputable companies to avoid the problem of fake drugs that plague the industry in Guyana.

Last year, former Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy warned, “We don’t want to buy medicine from companies that are manufacturing fake medicine. In the last five years, out of the 74 times that we went into the private sector to test malaria medicine, 54 times they failed, so we have to be careful.”

Ravie Ramcharitar, General Manager of NEW GPC had told Guyana Times that the company invested billions of dollars to create the proper storage for pharmaceuticals.

“It is not appreciated how complex was the infrastructural network to man the pharmaceutical supply chain for Government. We hired hundreds of qualified Guyanese to create a world-class manufacturing facility. We were the first in the Caribbean to produce anti-retro viral drugs to fight HIV/AIDS. The truth is we know we out-pointed all the others by the openly stated pre-qualification criteria because they were unwilling to make that investment,” he said.

Ramcharitar also pointed out that pre-qualified suppliers do not provide all the pharmaceuticals to the Health Ministry and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). Under the rules, there is direct bidding that results in some of the companies, such as IPA, that failed to pre-qualify, winning hundreds of millions of dollars bids for pharmaceuticals and equipment.

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Muslims urge peace to mark Eid

Spiritual Adviser and Director of Education at CIOG, Sheikh Moeen ul Hack greets a Muslim brother

Spiritual Adviser and Director of Education at CIOG, Sheikh Moeen ul Hack greets a Muslim brother

As Muslims around the world concluded Ramadan fasting activities and celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr, a message of peace and generosity was delivered to Guyana’s own Muslim brothers and sisters at the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana.

Spiritual Advisor and Director of Education at CIOG, Sheikh Moeen ul Hack, who delivered the charge early Monday morning urged that the Islamic community continue in their established ways. “Our five daily prayers did not start with Ramadan and must not end with Eid,” said Hack.

Over the last decade and even more recently, several terrorists attacks in the United States, Middle East, the United Kingdom and parts of Africa have been blamed on the Muslim community, but ul Hack said although it was popular opinion that Muslims are a violent lot, it was up to the brothers and sisters to prove that this was not the case.

“We must promote love instead of hatred, unity instead of disunity, this behaviour is important at a time when there is so much violence and killing and the Muslims are viewed as a people who are intolerant … it is incumbent on us to practise and promote Islam as the way of life that bring peace…there is no need to respond to the evil of man with anger,” he said.

He also urged that generosity be practised in is full capacity without hindrances. The CIOG official said unity must prevail despite the existing situations.

Muslim brothers and sisters offering prayers to Allah

Muslim brothers and sisters offering prayers to Allah

“Piety and righteousness implies that we must love the creation of Allah and respect the humanity of every individual, irrespective of their race or religion,” said the spiritual leader.

“The best human beings are those who are most beneficial to mankind, service to humanity is service to God Almighty… real charity is not to give when there is an excess but to give when there is more need for it.”

Meanwhile, Acting President Samuel Hinds said the month of Ramadan should serve as a reminder to not only the community but also Guyana’s entire populace. Hinds said emphasis must be placed the ideals of unity and it must not be forgotten in pursuit of worldly riches. “The month of Ramadan reminds us that we must not become slaves to the material things for which we work,” the acting President said.

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Fishermen call for protection

…as two more bodies wash up

By Andrew Carmichael

Dead, Omesh Derhup

Dead, Omesh Derhup

Fishermen on the Corentyne Coast are calling on the authorities to provide more protection against the snares of armed pirates who recently attacked a vessel and reportedly killed all five crew members – the bodies of two of them were found on Monday.

The crew of five were reported missing last week. They left on July 11 aboard the fishing boat Miss Seema and were expected to spend 12 days at sea before returning. Their vessel was found on the Whim Foreshore, Corentyne on July 25.

Police said, in a release, that the decomposed body of Omesh Derhup, 36, of Skeldon, Corentyne, was found on the foreshore at Kildonan, Corentyne, Berbice. Then later, the decomposed body of Naresh Persaud, 22, of Number 72 Village, Corentyne, was found on the foreshore at Alness, Corentyne.

Multiple injuries

Post-mortem examinations were performed on the bodies by Pathologist Dr Vivekanand Brijmohan who gave the cause of Persaud’s death as multiple injuries. He has not yet disclosed his findings in relation to h Derhup. The investigations are ongoing.

The body of Derhup was discovered on Sunday evening by fisherman Vishal Mangal. He told this publication that he became scared upon making the discovery. “Where me bin going in last night, me see the person an me run out back an me go to the Station and make a report.”

Mangal noted that on Monday he took persons to the location of the body, which was in an advanced state of decomposition. “He had mark on he skin and he one side foot come out.” The detached limb was found some distance away. The other missing crew members are the boat captain, called “Rajin”; Ramesh Persaud also called “Papo”; and “Prakash”.

Speaking with Guyana Times, Derhup’s mother, Kamila Simon, said she had not seen her son for the past six months. On Monday, she received information that a body had washed up on the shore.

According to Simon, her son was never married and had no children. She said he had no enemies. “All body knew me pickney easy, he na tell nobody nothing.” Derhup leaves to morn his mother, four brothers, and six sisters.

The owner of Miss Seema, Beeram Persaud, explained that after the men did not return to shore as expected, he became worried and on Thursday, started a search for them. According to Beeram Persaud of Number 60 Village, Corentyne, he received assistance from Suriname authorities in the search, but no such assistance was forthcoming from Guyana. The senior fisherman was also unhappy that regional officials have in no way expressed concern.

The search commenced after Miss Seema was discovered without her crew. The boat’s registration and the missing men’s clothing, hats and haversacks were discovered inside the vessel. The engine was intact but no fish, seine or anchor was found. Beeram Persaud believes that the crew were victims of piracy. “Is five of me men loss and two is my nephews; the two just like my sons.”

He said Government needs to do more for fisherfolk. The boat owner, who was shot at his home in 2000 during a robbery attack on his family, said stiffer penalties are needed to deter acts of piracy. “We need it to be like in Suriname… If they catch you is 25 or 35 years you getting, but in Guyana they find a man with the boat engine in he house and they put he on $500,000 bail.”

According to Persaud, both Government and law enforcement agencies have to share the blame. “When you catch a pirate and the Police put them in the lock-ups, somebody calling the big ones in the Police and the Police at the station got to put them on bail and is done the story done there. These are things that the Agriculture Minister supposed to look into; not jus sugar an rice,” Persaud claimed.

Fisherfolk

He added that the way Government has been treating fisherfolk is one of the reasons many of them leave the industry. “The Suriname Government looking [out for] their people and have gun boats to look after their people. That’s what this Government needs to do, look after we own people first.”

Meanwhile, Naresh’s brother, Arvin, who buried his younger sibling on Monday, said he was still looking for the other one. He noted that to date no one from Government has visited the family or offered any assistance in the search. Commenting on piracy, the grieving Persaud said systems must be put in place to have boats equipped with devices that can alert the Police as fishermen in Suriname have.

Fishermen at sea late Monday reported that a third body was discovered. Police are yet to confirm that report. However, Beeram Persaud says the source of the information is authentic.

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Lindeners have no confidence in Granger’s PNCR

… Solomon says never seen such chaos

BY SVETLANA MARSHALL

The recent events that have unfolded within the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) have created a vivid picture of the major division that exists within the party, but Regional 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon said the district stands willing to resolve the long-standing issues.

Addressing reporters at the Critchlow Labour College on Monday, the Executive Member of the party said the PNCR’s 18th Biennial Congress has left a bitter taste in the mouths of supporters, primarily in his district, but said supporters should not live in the past.

“The PNCR like any other politica

Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon

Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon addressing reporters on Monday

l party or mass based organisation have had its share of glitches in previous elections, but never of such magnitude, never with such unresolvable grievances and such chaotic outcomes where the integrity of the entire process can be questioned or where almost an entire regional delegates list was disenfranchised,” Solomon said as he registered his dissatisfaction.

According to him, the clear disregard of the party’s Constitution during the just concluded Congress had resulted in him being denied the opportunity to be accredited as a delegate.

Flaws

According to him, General Secretary and Chairman of the Accreditation Committee Oscar Clarke should be held responsible for the flaws that overwhelmed the electoral process during the 18th Biennial Congress that ended with David Granger being re-elected as the party leader.

“Those who accepted responsibility for matters must be held responsible. Mr Clarke is the Chairman of the Accreditation Committee and he was responsible to ensure that we had an election that people were satisfied with and I could say to you, the entire region was not satisfied.”

Nevertheless, he said Region 10, a district dominated by PNCR supporters, is stretching out its hands of cooperation to resolve the burning internal issues that have been on the table for the past two years, but exploded with the “illegitimate” suspension of Member of Parliament Vanessa Kissoon.

According to him, the concerns included the electoral processes and other matters that gave rise to the chaos, long before Congress was convened.

“These are conditions that Region 10 perceived months ago and were desperately seeking to have addressed internally; with the avoidance of conflict through the party decision-making forums and the Accreditation Committee which was unfortunately never allowed to function effectively to produce credible end results.”

Internal issues

However, Solomon declined from divulging further details on the internal issues within the party when questioned by Guyana Times. He would only say that the situation has worsened.

“This deterioration in governance is made worse with the recent denial of members’ right to vote in a fair, transparent and fearless process to elect a leader of their choice.”

Despite their dissatisfaction which the electoral process which led to the return of David Granger as the leader of the PNCR, the party supporters in mining district said they are ready to move the party forward by mending the rifts, correcting the weaknesses and building on its strengths.

“Region 10 remains committed to leading this change and this effort to unify our party to achieve the goals that are necessary for our development and for the development of all other regions and the people of Guyana.”

The Regional Chairman further stated that the people of Region 10 should be part of the process to strengthen democracy within the party.

According to him, despite the challenges that prevailed at the moment, the PNCR remains the vanguard party where members are prepared to challenge their leaders and hold them accountable. He made it clear, that no member is above the Constitution of the party and therefore should comply with the Constitution or held accountable.

“I am certain that Sunday’s incident will give considerable voice to those who are voiceless. Our party is a party that is prepared to lead Guyana and if we are prepared to do so, the same accountability we ask of the Government, we must be prepared in our party, to ask of our leaders.”

Though shaken by the recent chaos at the 18th Biennial Congress, he said the party will grow from its experiences. He made it clear that there is great belief in the foundation in which the party was built; hence, there will be no acts to jeopardise the internal structure of the party.

During the 2006 General Elections, some 6000 Lindeners voted for the PNC but in 2011, the number of voters jumped to 13, 000 due to a strong and aggressive campaign. Solomon has vowed to foster growth within the party, but maintained that the party’s Constitution must be upheld.

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NEW GPC must compete with top int’l agencies

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar

Pre-qualification exercise: not sole sourcing

 

…to supply medical drugs to Guyana

Despite being cleared as the sole pre-qualified company to supply medical drugs to the Guyana Government, NEW GPC INC would still have to compete with a number of top international agencies that gained automatic qualification.

These agencies include the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

There has been some confusion regarding sole-sourcing of drugs with some reporters equating the NEW GPC’s pre-qualification clearance as being sole sourcing. Speaking at a news conference on Saturday, President Donald Ramotar was again asked about the issue of sole sourcing in the context that a sole supplier can sell at exorbitant prices because of the supposed monopoly.

The NEW GPC facility at Farm, East Bank Demerara

The NEW GPC facility at Farm, East Bank Demerara

Higher standard

The President, in his response, agreed that overpricing could be an issue with a sole supplier, saying “… maybe what we have to do is encourage broader participation and higher standards and hopefully some of those who did not reach the criteria will reach them”.

Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon had earlier explained that the pre-qualification exercise is not “sole sourcing”, which is when only one supplier has items. After pre-qualification, NEW GPC will still have to compete with the international pre-qualified suppliers. Dr Luncheon announced last Wednesday that NEW GPC was the only one of the seven companies that had applied for “pre-qualification” status to fulfil all the requirements.

This, however, does not mean that NEW GPC will become the “sole supplier” as was assumed by a reporter at the press conference, but will join the list of international suppliers mentioned above that were automatically pre-qualified and against which NEW GPC will have to bid.

The term “no-bid contract” or sole-sourcing is a popular phrase for what is officially known as a “sole source contract” which means that there is only one person or company that can provide the contractual services needed, so any attempt to obtain bids would only result in that person or company bidding on it. United States laws permit the Government to award sole source contracts under specified circumstances.

Legal reasons for sole source contracts in the USA include: only one firm has a product that will meet the project needs or only one firm can do the work; the existence of an unusual and compelling urgency; for purposes of industrial mobilisation or expert services; an international agreement; sole source is authorised or required by law, eg, socio-economic programmes; national security; and the public interest.

Expert scrutiny

President Ramotar told the news conference held at States House on Saturday that the other six companies that had submitted bids to be considered as a pre-qualified supplier had failed to meet their criteria. The Head of States again clarified that the decision of awarding the contract was done strictly at the level of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) and not at the level of Cabinet.

The NPTAB had selected a panel of experts who scrutinised the applications. From the onset, some of the disgruntled companies had complained that the criteria were “too high” and required substantial investments in infrastructure and human resources.

On Saturday, NEW GPC General Manager Ravie Ramcharitar told Guyana Times that the company invested billions of dollars to create the proper storage for pharmaceuticals.

“It is not appreciated how complex was the infrastructural network to man the pharmaceutical supply chain for Government. We hired hundreds of qualified Guyanese to create a world-class manufacturing facility. We were the first in the Caribbean to produce anti-retroviral drugs to fight HIV/AIDS. The truth is we know we out-pointed all the others by the openly stated pre-qualification criteria because they were unwilling to make that investment,” he said.

Ramcharitar also pointed out that pre-qualified suppliers do not provide all pharmaceuticals needed to the Health Ministry and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). Under the rules, there is direct bidding that results in some of the companies, such as International Pharmaceutical Association (IPA), that failed to pre-qualify, winning hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts for pharmaceuticals and equipment.

Change criteria

Responding to queries about whether the criteria should be changed to allow for more than one company to supply the health sector with drugs, so as to allow for competitive pricing, the President noted that changing the criteria to allow for the entry of another firm that could not meet the prior criteria would allow for the danger of being supplied with poor-quality drugs.

“That is a serious issue when you are talking about the health of people in the country, because you know there is concern about some of the types of drugs we have been getting in the country and so forth,” the President said.

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After bullet, tainted ballot

Members walked out of Congress Place

Members walked out of Congress Place

… Granger continues as PNCR head

By Jomo Paul

Retired Brigadier David Granger, ironically billed as a “disciplined leader untouched by the political muck and stain of the PNC” by some supporters, was returned to its helm on Sunday at an election mired in allegations of extensive fraud, intimidation and bullyism.

His main challenger Aubrey Norton had pulled out the race in disgust and amid a gunshot fired during the voting and widespread claims of “disenfranchisement”.

The unsavoury events on Sunday afternoon further condemned the People’s National Congress Reform-the party of the late Forbes Burnham, as being unable to move away from its past characterised by vote rigging and thuggery. It raises serious doubts about the PNCR’s internal workings, which will certainly undermine its role as the “leading light” in the fledgling Opposition coalition – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).

The Congress Place fiasco also makes a mockery of Granger’s own “democratic” sententiousness following the 2011 elections when he led his troops on the streets protesting what he alleged were irregularities by the Guyana Elections Commission.

Irregularities

At 13:45h Norton, who was the last candidate left standing after Sharma Solomon, dropped out in protest at the irregularities he and others, primarily from the Region 10 delegates, had identified. It was reported that he is reconsidering his membership in the PNC which he had served since 1972.

From all appearances Norton drew his largest block of support from Region 10 and also had large followings from central Georgetown and along the East Coast of Demerara. Granger, apart from securing the support of most of his Members of Parliament selected by him back in 2011, also pulled strong support from the hinterland communities, the East Coast and Georgetown. It is unclear what would have been the outcome of the elections had everything been untainted.

Although not saying which candidate he supported, Shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge who himself had narrowly lost out from defeating Granger back in 2011 as leader of the PNC, called for the sacking of General Secretary Oscar Clarke. Greenidge believes that Clarke did a poor job in accrediting delegates and did not respond in a timely manner to concerns raised by members. Norton had been a key backer of Greenidge in his challenge to Granger, apart from securing Region 10 for the PNC in 2011.

Shortly after the election by default, a release from Granger’s office declared that he was returned “unopposed” as Leader of the Peoples National Congress Reform “after longtime party member Mr. Aubrey Norton indicated that he was no longer contesting for the leadership.” The release continued that “voting was delayed for several hours due to complaints of an inflated delegates list and every effort was made to reconcile the situation, thus delaying the process.” The release failed to mention anything about the single gunshot which was heard in Congress Place during the time of voting and the chaos that erupted as delegates scampered for cover.

Meanwhile, Norton’s dropping out has now become a trend whenever anyone decides to challenge the incumbent leader in recent times, dating back to 2002. Then both Raphael Trotman and Vincent Alexander had announced their intentions to challenge Desmond Hoyte for the leadership, but on the day of the Congress both men pulled out. They received standing ovations for doing so because the membership felt they were doing so “for the good of the party”.

Alexander again dropped out a few years ago, along with Van West Charles, after challenging Robert Corbin. But this time, as in the present with Norton, the challengers threw in the towel after charging “widespread corruption” in the internal party electoral process. One party member told Guyana Times on Sunday that the writing was on the wall that the vote would have been controversial after delegates from Linden expressed concerns about the delayed issuance of party cards as well the disenfranchisement of several persons – including reportedly Chairman of Region 10 and challenger to Granger – owing to “trumped up” reasons.

“Look this thing was fixed from the word go…nobody does beat the leader at PNC elections, you don’t know that. Everybody would a glad for a change, but nobody does beat the leader,” the party member said as he exited Congress Place. Norton, himself last Friday at the opening of the Congress, had told reporters that there was a “high level of indecency within the party, which must be rooted out.”

Norton then complained bitterly that the Opposition Leader’s driver was verbally abusive to a long-standing party member. “Mr Granger’s driver called young Wayne Mason a dog… he said ‘you dog, get out of here’,” the main contender alleged, noting that a formal report was made to the party’s General Secretary. “If we are going to have a proper Congress, then there must be a certain amount of decency and respect for what is happening.”

He added: “I will have to take a position on what is happening in this party. I have been a member of this party since 1972, and I have never seen this kind of behaviour before.” According to Norton, if the matter is not dealt with in a fair and transparent manner, he will have cause to revise his relationship with the party. “I does stand up and fight the PPP and I will fight the indecency in here.” According to him, Opposition Shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge’s supporters had in the past suffered from similar levels of abuse. But he said rather significantly, “I am not Greenidge, I will not tolerate it.”

Region 10 Chairman, Sharma Solomon, a key backer of Norton had also raised a number of issues in a letter addressed to Granger last Friday also alleging that the party’s Constitution had been violated. Through letters and direct conversations, the Region 10 Chairman had reportedly lodged his complain at the General Secretary’s Office. “Region 10 delegates are still to be duly accredited and members still await their membership cards,” he said in a press statement issued hours before the opening ceremony.

According to Solomon, on July 14, he received a letter advising him that only persons with both 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 membership would be eligible delegates at the Congress, but according to him, this contradicts Rule 15 (2) (A) which states that each group shall be entitled to send to Congress, one delegate for every 10 financial members. “Region 10 has 11 groups and 950 members. Guided by Rule 15 (2), the region should be allotted no less than 96 delegates,” Solomon said in defence of his case of party irregularities.

General Secretary Oscar Clarke had told Guyana Times that issues relating to accreditation would have been dealt with “in a fair and transparent manner”. From what played out at the denouement, clearly this was not done.

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