May 6, 2016

Nigel Hughes takes indefinite leave from AFC

AFC Chairman Nigel Hughes

AFC Chairman Nigel Hughes

– “defers” resignation

Attorney and Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC) Nigel Hughes has agreed to have his letter of resignation as Chairman of the party deferred, while he proceeds on indefinite leave of absence, as leaders of the party make careful consideration of his decision.

The new development took place on Wednesday, following a high-level meeting involving party leader Khemraj Ramjattan, General Secretary David Patterson and Hughes.

According to a release from the party, during the meeting detailed and frank discussions were held on the current political environment in Guyana and in particular “the coalition Government’s first year in office, the party’s relationship with its coalition partners and the AFC’s performance during this period.”

It said after a “most productive working session”, it was agreed that consideration by the party of Hughes’s resignation letter will be deferred and he would instead proceed on leave of absence from the duties and responsibilities of Chairman for a period of reflection and review after which a mutual decision will be taken.

According to the release, Hughes has reiterated firmly and unequivocally that he remains fully committed to the AFC and its development agenda for the country and he will remain an active and vocal member of the party.

It was further agreed that during his absence from active duties as Chairman, he will continue political and policy work on behalf of the Party by concentrating his efforts on three critical and important pillars of the AFC’s agenda, including Constitutional Reform, Broadcasting Legislation and other core legal matters which the AFC has committed itself to advance in the interest of Guyana.

It said the party’s leadership “wholeheartedly recognises the significant contribution of the Chairman and accepts his decision to recalibrate his focus and attention at this time as the Party continues its historic mission on setting Guyana on a firm and steady path of sustained progress”.

On Monday, Hughes announced his decision to relinquish the post of Chairman of the AFC, saying the following day that it had become “difficult and untenable” for him.

Hughes made the decision to resign his post during a statutory committee meeting on Monday. While the statement published by the party immediately after did not give any specifics, it did indicate that the party’s leader and Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan was expected to meet with Hughes, in the hopes that he (Hughes) would reconsider his decision.

AFC insiders say the Attorney quit over a strongly-worded statement issued following an Executive Council meeting on Sunday, which called for a trimming of the powers of Minister of State Joseph Harmon.

That meeting was not attended by either Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman or Ramjattan. Another statement by the AFC followed, distancing both Ministers from the call by Hughes.

This is not the first time the Chairman has tendered his resignation to the party. In August 2013, Hughes submitted his resignation after a publication by Kaieteur News disclosed him as the Company Secretary of the Amaila Falls Hydro Power Project. The project, which was being propelled in the National Assembly then by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration of the day, was heavily criticised by both the AFC and the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Opposition.

He later rescinded that decision.

Hughes has been with the AFC since July 2011 and was elected Chairman on August 4, 2012.

Essequibo man crushed to death by falling door

Dead: Paddy sweeper Ganesh Narine

Dead: Paddy sweeper Ganesh Narine

– employer distances self from liability

A labourer attached to the Arnold Sankar Rice Mill at Airy Hall, on the Essequibo Coast, was killed on Monday after a door from the building fell on him. Dead is 56-year-old Ganesh Narine of Pomona Housing Scheme, Essequibo Coast.

According to information received, Narine was on the night shift with other workers and was sweeping paddy when the door collapsed. He was reportedly pinned by the fallen door but was pulled from under it by his colleagues.

Narine sustained severe injuries to his abdomen and ribs and was taken to the Suddie Public Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The autopsy, which was conducted on Tuesday by Government Pathologist, Dr Nehaul Singh revealed that the labourer died as a result injuries to the chest. The Police have launched an investigation into the alleged industrial death.

A relative of the dead man told Guyana Times that although Narine was killed at the rice mill, the miller is not taking responsibility for his death. He noted that the businessman has since offered his condolences to the dead man’s family and donated a few grocery items to facilitate a wake.

The relative is claiming that a life was snuffed out and feels that the Police should investigate the incident. The scene where the incident occurred was visited by Commander Kevin Adonis and Detectives from the CID department.

Narine, who leaves to mourn his seven children, was described as a very good father. He was employed as a seasonal paddy sweeper at the time of his demise.  Only recently, 29-year-old Christopher Boyer of Wauna Village, Mabaruma, was crushed to death after a tree fell on him at Wauna Hill, North West District.

The father of five was reportedly cutting logs at Wauna Hill when one of the trees fell on him. Boyer sustained severe injuries to his head and was rushed to the Mabaruma Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

These deaths come on the heels of activities launched as Guyana observes Occupation Health and Safety Month.

Court quashes Bulkan’s selection of Mabaruma’s Mayor, NDC Chairmen

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has moved to the High Court to block the selection of a Mayor and Chairmen for five Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs), after there were ties between the Councillors during the electing process.
PPP’s Commissioners attached to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Tuesday accused Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan of selecting five Chairmen and a Mayor for six Local Authority Areas (LAA) where there were equality of votes – a move the Commissioners say was outside the remit of the laws governing the selection of Mayors and NDC Chairmen.
On Wednesday, the Opposition Party filed six writs of Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus at the High Court. The legal documents were filed by Attorney Anil Nandlall on behalf of the applicant, PPP Executive Secretary Zulficar Mustapha.
The matters were heard by Justice Diana Insanally the same day during which she granted a series of orders as requested in the affidavit with respect to the Minister’s inability to select a Mayor within the Mabaruma District and Chairmen for several NDCs.
The court orders seek to nullify the selection of Kervin Crawford as Chairman and Gail Thomas as Vice Chairman, of the Gibralter-Fyrish NDC; Audrey Thomas as Chairman of the Industry-Plaisance NDC; Peter Livingstone as Chairman and Royan Junior Thomas as Vice Chairman of the Malgre Tout-Meer Zorgen; Carol Nurse as Chairman and Wilbert Vhypius as Vice Chairman of the Woodlands-Bel Air; Gershon Clarke as Chairman of the Woodlands-Farm and the selection of Rupert Henry Smith as Mayor and Astrille Gamell as Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Mabaruma.

Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan

Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan

The Order or Rule Nisi of Certiorari granted by the Judge is directed to Minister Bulkhan, quashing his decision of the selections on the grounds that it is contrary to and in violation of Municipal and District Councils Act Chapter 28:01 and the Local Government Act Chapter 28:02. She said that the decision “is in excess of and without jurisdiction, made in bad faith, is unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious, based upon irrelevant and in proper considerations, mala fide, malicious, vindictive, unlawful, ultravires, null, void and of no legal effect.”
Justice Insanally further ordered that the Councillors selected by the Minister be restrained from acting as or performing the functions of Chairmen, Vice Chairmen and Mayor of their respective NDCs and municipality on the grounds that to do so, would be contrary to and in violation of municipal and District Councils Act Chapter 28:01 and the Local Government Act Chapter 28:02, is unlawful, unfair, unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious, in excess and without jurisdiction, oppressive, malicious, illegal and ultra vires.
The court also quashed the decision of the NDCs in electing Vice Chairmen and of the Town Councils in selecting any or all committees, citing the above mentioned grounds. The Judge further ordered that the Overseers of the NDCs and the acting Town Clerk of Mabaruma appoint a day for the election of Chairmen and Mayors from among such candidates by the voters whose names appear on the Register of Voters for the local authority area of the respective NDCs and municipality.
The Minister as well as the appointees were all called upon by the court to show cause why the Order or Rule Nisi of Certiorari should not be made absolute. The matter has been adjourned to April 20, when it will be called before Chief Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards.
On the other hand, Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan on Wednesday maintained that he broke no laws as claimed by the PPP Commissioners. He was at the time speaking to reporters following the swearing in ceremony of the nine Mayors and Deputy Mayors by President David Granger.
The Minister pointed out that he is baffled about the PPP’s interpretation of the laws, noting that the legislation allows that for the intervention of the subject Minister when there is a tie in electing a mayor or NDC Chairman following two election meetings.
Nevertheless, Bulkan express confidence that his Administration is ready to defend his decisions during the court proceedings and will even get a favourable outcome.

GRA favours settlement in interest of investment – Chairman

BaiShanLin luxury vehicles seizure

As the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) continues to investigate the non-payment of millions of dollars in duty owed to the entity by Chinese logging company BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc, the revenue collection body may consider settling the matter outside the realm of the judiciary.

Glenn lall

Glenn lall

rawle lucas

rawle lucas

On Tuesday, officials from the GRA’s Customs Department seized a Lexus SUV with registration number PRR 2888 and a Nissan minivan with licence plate number PRR 3888; both belonging to the controversial Chinese company. Guyana Times was told that the Chinese logging company allegedly has over $50 million outstanding in duties, which they failed to pay within the stipulated timeframe.
This newspaper contacted GRA Chairman Rawle Lucas on Wednesday who related that he was still awaiting a report from the team that conducted the operation. “I have not received that report as yet. All I got from them was an email indicating that they were still preparing the report and as soon as the report is ready, it would be sent to me,” Lucas said.
Asked whether the Revenue Authority will be filing criminal charges against the foreign company or would move to settle the matter, the Chairman explained that at this point, the course of action is yet to be determined. However, he noted that the latter option might be more feasible since Government wants to maintain its relationship with investors but at the same time ensure that they operate within the confines of the laws of Guyana.
“Remember what we are trying to do is to make sure that we can try our best to maintain a reasonable relationship that we expect between the Government and the investors; so one should, therefore, expect prudent actions to be taken in order to deal with the matter,” he pointed out.
The Chairman could not say, when asked, whether there were any efforts by BaiShanLin to engage the GRA in having the matter settled as he is yet to receive the report. “I’m not sure what would have transpired in the operation and what communication would have been indicated by the company,” Lucas stated.
In 2014, when the GRA seized two Lexus luxury vehicles and filed charges against remigrant couple Narootandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanan, along with Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall and his wife Bhena Lall, for allegedly defrauding the Revenue Authority of more than $100 million of customs duties on the two vehicles imported under Government’s Remigrant Scheme Programme, the parties later arrived at “amicable resolutions” outside of court and had the cases dismissed.
Guyana Times understands that BaiShanLin has been under the radar of the revenue collection body for years. It was reported that the GRA has been trying to recoup the monies owed by the company for some time now; however, recent efforts by the Authority to confiscate the vehicles were blocked by a Government official.

Mayors and Deputy Mayors take Oath of Office

– President urges new officials to put politics aside for development

Newly elected Mayors and Deputy Mayors of the nine municipalities of Guyana took the oath of office on Wednesday at the Ministry of the Presidency before President David Granger.

President David Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, and Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan surrounded by the newly-appointed Deputy Mayors

President David Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, and Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan surrounded by the newly-appointed Deputy Mayors

Taking the oath to serve faithfully with fear or favour, ill will or affection, the Mayors appeared before the President vowing to responsibly execute their purpose in office.
In the presence of their families, President Granger in delivering the charge to the elected officials encouraged them to strive to fulfil their tasks to the best of their abilities, putting aside favouritism.
Speaking on granting townships to the once three villages, the Head of State highlighted the Government’s plan for these towns and how he plans to develop them into sustaining settlements.
As the towns have proven to be capable of handling its affairs and producing for not only itself but the country generally, Granger said there places are all deserving of the township title. Thus, the President charged the Mayors to take up the mantle of ensuring that they are effective in adopting change in the respective towns.
Regardless of political background, Granger said there should at all times be cooperation in the levels of Government, putting aside differences and enmity.
“When I swear you in, I don’t see PPP, APNU or independent. I see people who are committed to the development of this country,” the President said.
He assured that there should not be fear in working alongside the central government and in addition no fear in executing their functions despite social group or ethnicity.
As taken under oath, he encouraged them to fulfil the vow to which they had solemnly affirmed to work without favouritism.
“That is the vow, and if you don’t fulfil that vow, God be with you,” Granger cited.
The Head of State reminded the Mayors that Guyana is looking forward to their service and there is much work to be done that will build the future.
He tasked them additionally with fulfilling the need for economic growth so that as a town it will thrive.
Granger commended the newly elected officials for their decision to take up the responsibility to ensure that growth is consistent in Guyana.
Of those being sworn in at the ceremony were Mayors from the seven municipalities, including Patricia Chase-Green of the Georgetown Municipality, Kurt Wynter for New Amsterdam, Ganesh Gangadin for Corriverton, Carwyn Holland for Linden, Henry Smith for Mabaruma, Gifford Marshall for Bartica, and Vijay Kumar for Rose Hall.
Present to witness the proceedings were Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of State Joseph Harmon, Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan and Social Cohesion Minister Amna Ally.
On March 18, Guyanese went to local government polls after more than 22 years. However there was a mere 47 per cent voter turnout at the election.
The Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) pulled significant votes in the Proportional Representation (PR) component of the historical Local Government Elections. The results updated on the Election Commission’s website showed the PPP reining in a total 123,564 votes, some 24,894 more than the coalition Government which gained 98,670 votes.
The results were made available some four days after the election.
Out of the 507,584 eligible voters in LGE, 239,070 persons or 47 per cent voted. Out of the total votes cast, 2744 were invalid.

Charlestown man gunned down execution style

A Charlestown, Georgetown, man was gunned down late Friday evening, execution style. The incident occurred sometime around 21:30h in Charlestown.
The dead man has been identified as Walton Taylor, also known as “Tuffy”. According to reports reaching Guyana Times, the man was sitting on the corners of Adelaide and Sussex Streets, Charlestown, when two men rode up on a CG motorcycle and opened fire on him.
It was reported that Taylor’s body was riddled with bullets. The injured man was picked up and rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital where he succumbed while receiving treatment.
When contacted on Friday night, Commander of A Division (Georgetown) Clifton Hicken told this newspaper that investigators were on the scene gathering information on the shooting.
Hicken said initial reports revealed that the man was sitting on the corner of the road when the gunmen discharged several rounds in his direction before escaping. He could not confirm how many perpetrators they were and how many shots were fired. However, the Commander noted that “Tuffy” sustained multiple gunshot injuries.
Meanwhile, at the Georgetown Public Hospital, family members and neighbours gathered as the news spread of the shooting. One of the dead man’s relatives related to this publication that the man’s death may be linked to the recent killing of a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) member earlier this week. However, the man opted not to divulge further details.
Kevon Payne, 22, also known as “Lil Boy” and “Scar”, a Lance Corporal attached to the GDF Coast Guard, who resided at Lot 36 Sussex Street, Charlestown, was shot at least five times on Tuesday evening at the corners of Lyng and Sussex Streets. From reports received, two men on a CG Motorcycle rode up and opened fire on Payne.

Meten-Meer-Zorg supermarket robbed

The owner of People’s Choice Supermarket is now counting his losses after his business was broken into in the wee hours of Friday morning.

Harry Singh who has been operating the family business for five years said he is still in dismay as the details of the robbery remain sketchy.

According to the man, the bandits made off with over $400,000 worth of groceries and car products.

It is understood the thieves pried open steel windows to get into the supermarket, ransacking the interior.

Speaking with Guyana Times Singh said a friend of his father had spotted two men on different occasions carrying weighted baskets and acting suspicious.

Singh said that out of curiosity the man begun questioning one of the thieves who dropped the basket and fled the scene.

Upon checking the items, the man realised that it was taken from Singh’s supermarket.

The distressed businessman said he received information through his father, approximately three hours after the incident, informing him that his supermarket had been broken into.

Singh said he was no way prepared for what he saw when he turned up right after receiving the report.

He noted that computers, processors and other electronics which the supermarket utilises had been ripped and stacked in corners with the seeming intent of being carried away.

In addition, food items, car equipment, cosmetics and other items were removed with others packed in baskets and bags, presumably to be fetched away.

However, they were unable to do so since they were spotted by the man who had reported the information to Singh.

Singh said he had taken the report as a joke but still cannot come to grips that someone would have raided his business in this manner.

“Being April fool’s Day, I thought somebody was playing a prank on me. I didn’t expect this kind of loss; I thought it was something smaller. These thieves took off with all the expensive items I sell.”

After the check was made at the supermarket, a report was made to the Lenora Police Station and ranks arrived to investigate.

They however came up empty handed, as there were no visible clues or anything that lead to the perpetrators.

Finger prints were also checked for but Singh said it appeared the thieves had used gloves.

Further investigations are continuing.

Though a huge loss for Singh, he said he is grateful there was no one present at the scene at the time because that might have resulted in a different scenario.

5 injured as GPH ambulance slams into minibus

Five staffers of the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH) are now being medically attended at their workplace after the ambulance they were in while on duty slammed into a minibus Friday afternoon.

INews understands that two attendants, two nurses and the driver of the ambulance (PSS 654) were injured while they were transporting a patient from GPH to the St Joseph Mercy Hospital for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan.

A source told the online publication that the patient escaped major injuries and “is safe”.

The accident is said to have occurred at Camp and Lamaha Streets, Georgetown.

Meanwhile, passengers of the minibus are reported to have sustained injuries as well, with one woman suffering a broken arm.

Others sustained injuries about their bodies, mainly to their heads and faces.

Investigations are on-going into the matter.

Chase-Green elected new Georgetown Mayor

Newly elected Mayor of Georgetown Patricia Chase-Green  takes her seat as head of the Council

Newly elected Mayor of Georgetown Patricia Chase-Green takes her seat as head of the Council

… AFC’s Sherod Duncan follows as Deputy

The A Partnership for National Unity’s Patricia Chase-Green and Alliance for Change’s Sherod Duncan on Friday took their seats as Mayor and Deputy Mayor respectively of the Georgetown City Council, moments after the new 30-member council was sworn-in.

Former Deputy Mayor Chase-Green took up the mantle as head of the Council after an unchallenged nomination.

Chase-Green, member of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) was nominated to the post by Oscar Clarke, and seconded by Alfred Mentore.

She immediately took hold of the meeting and carried out the election of the deputy Mayor, but not before she expressed  gratitude: “I would like to say thank you to God, thanks to the team that worked with me particularly the people of Georgetown that supported me during elections, the party that had faith and confidence in me, and supported me” she said.

Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan being sworn-in

Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan being sworn-in

Meanwhile, Alliance for Change (AFC) Sherod Duncan moments later took up the seat subordinate to Chase-Green as he too had an unchallenged nomination.

Speaking to the media following his ascension to deputy mayor, Duncan shared his plans on the way forward: “This is no longer a campaign; we represent the citizens of Georgetown and represent them well and bring to reality the change that they expect from us. I am looking forward to a better working relation among the councillors, a different tone and so on with the public, with our vendors… I am really looking forward to some great things with this council. Like everybody else, I am eager to get to work.”

Both Chase-Green and Duncan made significant wins in their respective constituencies. Chase-Green was unchallenged in constituency 12.

Meanwhile, the 30 Councillors took their Oath of Office before Town Clerk Royston King. Among them were Tamashwar Budhoo, Carolyn Caesar, Malcolm Ferreira, Junior Garret, Akeem Peter, James Samuels, Trichina Richards and Salima Hinds, among others.

Meanwhile, Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan has promised government’s full support to the Mayor and Council of the city of Georgetown, but stressed that the posts open new avenues for the new leaders to serve.

“This ascension to office represents an opportunity for them to serve the residents of the respective constituencies as well as the residents of the city of Georgetown as a whole”. He said government remains committed to the task of rendering its full support to the upward movement of central government.

According to him, the swearing-in of the two new leaders along with the fresh 30-member council represents a rehabilitation of a “damaged system”, which existed for over two decades under the previous People’s Progressive Party administration.

He said never again will Guyana go through such a lengthy period before another Local Government Election is held.

“As long as APNU+AFC is in control the elections will be held, and that is in the next three years. It is a pledge and commitment that is being given by President Granger”.

GDF rank shot dead in Sussex Street

Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Lance Corporal Kevon Payne was shot dead outside his home in Sussex Street, Albouystown on Tuesday evening around 22:00h.

Ranks of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) gathered at the crime scene on Tuesday night where GDF Lance Corporal Kevon Payne was shot dead

Ranks of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) gathered at the crime scene on Tuesday night where GDF Lance Corporal Kevon Payne was shot dead

The 22-year-old man was reportedly shot five times. When Guyana Times arrived at the scene, a huge crowd had already assembled outside of his home and several arguments erupted over the Police’s alleged involvement in the execution style murder of Payne.
Family members strongly believe Police Officers shot the young GDF Officer; however, they were unable to detail exactly what transpired.
“I just hear the Police them shoot he but me nah know is what happen exactly,” related one of the deceased’s aunts.
Other relatives lined the street, hurling insults towards Police Officers who were also at the scene of the shooting, trying to gather information from uncooperative residents.
Another group of bystanders related that Payne was arguing with a man on a CG motorcycle when the incident occurred.
“I hear that he and some man was arguing and then next you know, the man pull out a gun and start shooting. But I hear the Police was right there, like a corner away and they didn’t do nothing,” a neighbour stated.
While information on the matter remains sketchy,  Guyana Times understands from reliable sources that Payne was indeed involved in a heated argument with an individual on a CG motorcycle, who then whipped out a gun and discharged several rounds in his direction.
The man on the motorcycle reportedly fled the scene immediately after the shooting.  An investigation has been launched into the shooting.