October 31, 2014

Phone tappers Glenn Lall, Gildharie on the run?

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

The Kaieteur News reporter embroiled in the illegal recording of a conversation with Attorney General Anil Nandlall has left the country under the guise of being suspended from the publication, even as his boss Glenn Lall has been dodging investigators, well placed sources, including the Police, have told this newspaper.

Senior Reporter Leonard Gildharie is being sought by the Police as they investigate a complaint filed by Lall that Nandlall made threats to him in the recording.

Although he could be seen posting on Facebook statuses such as “Scared”, Police said that the reporter has been reluctant to give a statement in the case.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Police said that with reference to Lall’s report, the Publisher has submitted three prepared statements as well as an audio recording and a transcript of that recording in relation to the report made.

The Police said investigators in this matter have identified a number of issues in the prepared statements that require clarification.

According to the Police, they have made several attempts to contact Lall in order to have this done, but their efforts have been futile.

Leonard Gildharie

Leonard Gildharie

“Yesterday, Wednesday, October 29, 2014, the Police Divisional Commander of ‘A’ Division wrote to Mr Glenn Lall, which was received at his office, advising that he subject himself to a Police interview in order to address the required clarification.

“However, unto the time of this press release, Mr Glenn Lall has not presented himself for the interview, nor has he made contact with the Divisional Commander regarding the letter,” the Police statement added.

Additionally, Police said they also made telephone contact with Gildharie in order to interview him concerning the matter. However, he has so far shown reluctance in meeting with the Police.

“The Guyana Police Force wishes to inform the public that without the clarification regarding the statements made by Mr Glenn Lall, it would be severely limited in pursuit of this investigation.”

Observers believe that both Lall and Gildharie might be dodging the Police in light of the illegal recording. The Interception of Communications Act of 2008 prohibits the interception of communication unless a warrant is issued by a Judge based on an application.

Law is clear

The law is also clear that any recording or tapping of citizens’ private communication must be authorised by the Chief-of-Staff of the army, the Commissioner of Police and the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority.

However, these officers would first have to apply to a Judge for a 90-day warrant to intercept communication, which will be illegal otherwise. According to the law, anyone found guilty of illegal wiretapping would be liable to a fine of $5 million and a jail term not exceeding three years.

A Judge, before granting the warrant, the law states must be satisfied that the information obtained would likely assist investigations. There is also a proviso vesting authority in the Minister of Home Affairs in the case of national emergency.

Additionally, personnel acting in good faith under the ambit of law would be immune from liability for their actions.

President Donald Ramotar on Wednesday maintained that Lall broke the law when he recorded the conversation without the knowledge of the Attorney General.

“It was illegal,” President Ramotar said referring to the recording.

“Clearly, what was done to the Attorney General was an illegal act to record him,” the President told reporters at the International Conference Centre.

The President said the conversation was not meant for the public’s ears and that “this serious breach exemplifies that persons do not respect the laws of the country”.

While the Head of State repeatedly described the act as illegal, he said it is for the Police to take any legal action.

“The Police are supposed to take legal action,” Ramotar said when asked.

Ramotar registered strongly that the recording by Lall was illegal.

“You seem to be missing the point. It was illegal… That’s the first point we must deal with,” the President told reporters.

The embattled Lall in recent months has been fingered in one alleged illegal criminal activity after another.

Lall, his wife Bhena Lall, and a remigrant couple are currently before the Georgetown Magistrates Court facing charges of tax evasion to the tune of some $100 million.

The charges allege that between June 18, 2013 and September 20, 2013, at Lot 200-201 Camp Street, Georgetown, they made and subscribed to false declarations on two Lexus LX 570 motor vehicles to be US$44,158 respectively, contrary to Section 217 (1a) of the Customs Act, Chapter 82:01.

The Lalls are also before the court in another matter relating to allegedly evading paying some $5.7 million in property taxes to the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) for their property at 24 Saffon Street, Charlestown, Georgetown, where the Kaieteur News is located.

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Canadian acquires Hotel Tower for US$8M

By Alexis Rodney

New owner of Hotel Tower Mike Mosgrove

New owner of Hotel Tower Mike Mosgrove

After being closed for over five months, Canadian businessman Mike Mosgrove on Thursday announced that he is the new owner of the Hotel Tower.

The hotel, located on Main Street, Georgetown was in a state of disrepute sometime in May of this year, when former employees mounted several protests in objection for not being paid.

The employees had taken to the streets in front of the establishment protesting the decision by the company to abruptly close its operations, and not paying them.

Those employees, it is reported have still not been paid. Mosgrove, who is also President of the Panther Recycling Corporation, said he is hoping to have the hotel reopened by December of this year.

At a press conference on Thursday to announce the new ownership, Mosgrove said although the initiative is his personal investment, it will soon be transferred to the Panther Recycling Corporation.

“With an investment of more than US$8 million of my money and an additional $1 million to $2 million of refurbishing, we can have one of the nicest hotels in downtown Georgetown,” Mosgrove told reporters in the boardroom of the Sleep-in Hotel, Brickdam.

He said his company is interested in the project for several reasons.

Among them is the fact that “it is a nice asset for us to have and provides jobs and gives a clean atmosphere to the downtown quarter which we like”.

The financers behind the project, Mosgrove said include Scotia Bank and Lenders Direct, Toronto, Canada.

Mosgrove, who has been active in Guyana over the last couple of years working on the recycling project, said he has always had an eye on the hotel, which he said seemed as something that could be advantageous.

Other investment

Over the last two days, he said he had been making arrangements for the purchase of the hotel as well as 200 acres of land on the Linden- Soesdyke Highway that the group could used to create a resort.

“It is a gorgeous area, its back into the wooded area and offers something to people that is coming, other than the demographic between the younger people and the older visitors who may want to come here to relax, we can make this more of a destination place for people, more than what exists.”

The company has also hooked up with three other hotels that it is working on in Ontario, Canada. All those things combined, he noted fall under the Panther Recycling Group, which has been separated in order to keep its assets in various groups.

The group today is worth somewhere between $150 million and continues to grow, Mosgrove said.

The building was bought from Salim Azeeze, whom Mosgrove said is still a shareholder in the hotel. Mosgrove explained that he is not buying the company which exists, since he does not want to be a part of the liabilities attached to Hotel Tower.

He said he is trying to keep the tower as part of the name change, since the Internet has been very “mean to that hotel and so if we want to take another life, we must look to incorporate the name Georgetown Tower or something that would reflect that”.

Mosgrove, speaking on the financial status of the former owner, said he is aware of the somewhat financial difficult position that prevailed.

But, he said as far as he knows now, Azeeze is still in reasonable standing with the bank.

Speaking on the liabilities attached to the hotel, Mosgrove said he is not interested in that aspect. The liabilities include the employees who lost their job during the period the hotel came into foreclosure.

He said it is his opinion that the company has the ability to pay off its debts and employees, especially after it has just recently received that large sum of money from the business transaction.

“If that money is being payed, then the former owners are in a position to pay its bills.”

Meanwhile, Mosgrove said he is sure that now is an excellent time for him or any other business person to get into the hotel business in Guyana, even though the competition seems to be mounting.

“It is a good time because the more hotels coming in, the more business it will draw. The more business options will be available for many. Whether you will stay at the Hilton or whether you will stay at the Pegasus, as long as you can get the amenities you want as long as you can afford. The more hotels, he reiterated open doors and opportunities for Guyana. That, he said will in no way hurt business in Guyana.”

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Govt honours top students

President Donald Ramotar and Education Minister Priya Manickchand standing in the presence of the country’s top performers in the field of education

President Donald Ramotar and Education Minister Priya Manickchand standing in the presence of the country’s top performers in the field of education

Amid much fanfare at the National Cultural Centre, more than 34 students and four schools from across Guyana were given due recognition for their outstanding performance in 15 categories.

In the presence of President Donald Ramotar, Education Minister Priya Manickchand, Chief Education Officer Olato Sam and a packed audience, New Guyana School’s Jorrel De Santos, Aliah Mohamed of School of the Nations, and Ravi Singh from Westfield Prep were presented with trophies for outperforming their colleagues in the 2014 National Grade Six Assessment.

In the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) – Best Junior Secondary Performers Category, Bharti Bhoge who graduated with 17 grade ones from the Skeldon Linepath Secondary School received the top prize. Three other students received awards in this category.

But it was Queen’s College student Elisa Hamilton who stole the spotlight. Hamilton gained 19 grade ones and one grade two in this year’s CSEC examinations. She led the batch of six students who were honoured as the country’s Best Senior Secondary School Performers. Additionally, she was deemed the Best CSEC Performer and the most outstanding performer.

Her colleague, Larissa Wiltshire, who was also among the best senior CSEC performers, was praised for being the best science performer. In addition to Hamilton, Special Awards went to Ryhand Chand of Queen’s College who gained 13 subjects in Business Education; Aliyyah Abdul Kadir who copped 15 subjects in the area of Humanities; and Kishan Crichlow of New Amsterdam Secondary with 12 subjects in the area of Technical–Vocational Education.

In the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) Best Performers Category, Deowattie Narine, Cecil Cox, Andy Sattan, Prashat Shivdas, Keleshwar Singh and Benedict Sukra, all of Queen’s College, were presented with trophies. However, it was Narine who received the Best CAPE Performer Award, after gaining six grade ones and one grade two.

Six students from the Carnegie School of Home Economics received awards. In the area of Garment Construction, Latonya Andrews walked away with the top prize. She was followed by Nashayia Bovell (Commercial Food Preparation); Royden Wilson (Catering and Hospitality); Leonna Kissoon (General Cosmetology); Kamalita Heralall (Garment Construction – Craft Production Design Division) and Makebia Thomas (Visual Arts – Craft Production and Design Division). Another batch of six was honoured for their outstanding performance in the Guyana Technical Education Examination at the Government Technical Institute (GTI) while Sean Davis from the Linden Technical Institute copped the top spot at the regional level.

The Best Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) Award went to Duviena Badray from the Anna Regina Centre (Primary); while a special prize went to Rosemarie Ramitt who despite her blindness copped five grade ones.

Meanwhile, Rama Krishna Primary was identified as the most improved Primary School, while East Ruimveldt Secondary and Zeeburg Secondary received awards for being the most improved junior secondary schools. President’s College was deemed the most improved Senior Secondary School.

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PPP/C pays tribute to Navin Chandarpal

PPP/C General Secretary Clement Rohee paying tribute to the late Navin Chandarpal at a Red House event held in honour of the former Presidential Adviser on Science and Technology. In the audience were Prime Minister Samuel Hinds; Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh; other officials; and family and close friends

PPP/C General Secretary Clement Rohee paying tribute to the late Navin Chandarpal at a Red House event held in honour of the former Presidential Adviser on Science and Technology. In the audience were Prime Minister Samuel Hinds; Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh; other officials; and family and close friends

The People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/Civic) on Thursday paid tribute to the late Navin Chandarpal who died at his home on Tuesday after losing his battle with cancer. He was aged 63.

The Party’s General Secretary, Clement Rohee, noted that Chandarpal played a major role in the development of the PPP/C and that they have lost “a good soldier” who fought valiantly for the restoration of democracy to this country. Rohee said when the Party was going through rough times while in opposition, Chandarpal worked side by side with Dr Cheddi Jagan to ensure that members remain mobilised and did not lose sight of the mission. “Although it wasn’t an easy path; I watched Navin struggle, really struggle for the Party,” Rohee said.

General Secretary of the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO), Sheila Veerasammy broke down in tears as she delivered her tribute. Veerasammy reminisced on the time when Chandarpal vowed to always be there for her even though he knew his life was nearing an end. “I sat next to him on the stage and held his hands and asked if he knew what he meant to me and the WPO. He said “yes”. He said he will always be there… even though he already knew he was diagnosed with stomach cancer,” Veerasammy tearfully related.

The General Secretary of the WPO said she lost a mentor and the WPO lost its greatest support, political guide and biggest critic. Chandarpal was a vibrant member of the PPP/C who served as Presidential Adviser for a number of years before being appointed Minister of Agriculture.

Selfless

Director of Sports and PPP/C Member of Parliament, Neil Kumar, said Chandarpal was his dearest colleague from the Progressive Youth Organisation. He described his late friend as the kind of man who gave up his personal interest for the interest of the people in Guyana. Additionally, Seepaul Narine, Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) General Secretary, said Chandarpal was a humble soul. He said during his tenure as Minister of Agriculture, he paid special attention to the happenings in the sugar industry and met with many ordinary workers to get their ideas to solve problems which were facing the industry. “He believed in the ordinary working-class people,” Narine said, adding that Chandarpal’s association with GAWU started in the 1980s when he participated in their education Programme. “He led by example….he marched to protest for democracy all over Guyana. Navin was an exemplary husband and father,” Narine noted.

Also speaking was General Secretary of the Guyana Rice Producers Association (GRPA) Dharamkumar Seeraj who reflected that Chandarpal was not only a politician but a poet who was known for his favourite quote “If the child resembles you it’s biological and if it resembles your neighbour it’s environmental”.

He reiterated that the former Minister of Agriculture is the main reason the GRPA is standing so firm. Also in attendance were Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, other Ministers of Government, close relatives and friends.

Chandarpal had been battling stage four stomach cancer for two years. He was born on April 25, 1951 in Corentyne. He attended Massiah Primary School and then progressed to Berbice High School. He then studied at the University of Guyana where he became the President of the Student Society. Chandarpal had the opportunity to further his studies in London, but he gave that up to stay and fight for the restoration of democratic rule in his nation. Chandarpal joined the PYO at an early age, rising to the post of the first Secretary of the organisation.

He was actively involved in the fight for fair elections in Guyana. Because of his dedication to the political arena, he soon became a member of the Central and Executive Committees of the Party. At the time of his death, he was the Presidential Adviser on Science and Technology.

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President stands by AG

… as Opposition parties call for sacking

By Devina Samaroo

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar on Wednesday maintained that Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall broke the law when he wiretapped a conversation between one of his reporters and the Attorney General Anil Nandlall.

“It was illegal,” President Ramotar said, referring to the recording which Lall has rendered in filing a complaint with the Police alleging that Nandlall made threats on his life and those of his staff.

Illegal

“Clearly what was done to the Attorney General was an illegal act to record him without telling him he would be recorded,” the President told reporters at the Guyana International Conference Centre.

He said the conversation was not meant for the public’s ears and that “this serious breach exemplifies that persons do not respect the laws of the country”.

While the President repeatedly described the act as illegal, he said it was for the Police to take any enforcement action.

WPA Leader, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine

WPA Leader, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine

“The Police are supposed to take legal actions, not me,” Ramotar said when asked. The President stressed that what was done was illegal: “You seem to be missing the point. It was illegal… That’s the first point we must deal with,” he said.

On Monday, hours after the recording was made public, Government said, in a statement, that the recorded conversation was manipulated and distorted by Lall.

“There are many ways for a keen listener to discern the said manipulation. For example, a listener to the manipulated conversation would easily recognise that on many instances the person’s voice at the other end of the conversation was inaudible,” he said.

President Ramotar clarified what was meant by the statement:

“It was taken out of context. What is being done is to take everything out of context, that’s why we talked about manipulation. We’re not talking about doctoring the tape. We’re saying it’s not contextual,” he noted.

In his Police complaint filed on Monday, the Kaieteur News owner claimed the Attorney General was aware of a scheme to destroy him and his newspaper.

Lall, in his short statement to the Police, further claimed that he received several warnings of the imminent danger that threatens his life, and this danger also encompasses the numerous staff at his Saffon Street, Charlestown, Georgetown media house.

Meanwhile, the two parliamentary Opposition parties Alliance For Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNC) have both defended Lall and called on Ramotar to sack Nandlall.

Ramjattan had accompanied Lall to the Police when the AG made the report.

AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan

AFC Leader
Khemraj Ramjattan

In its defence of Lall, APNU said the Attorney General as head of the Guyanese Bar and the Government’s legal adviser holds a pivotal position in the maintenance of law and order in this country.

“He has breached that trust reposed in that Office by the Guyanese people and must perforce pay the price. APNU calls for the immediate resignation of Anil Nandlall from the Office of Attorney General of Guyana.”

Also defending Lall, for its part, the AFC said it was shocked beyond disbelief at the conversation between the AG and the reporter.

The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) – a key part of APNU – also defended Lall in a separate statement, saying it was convinced that the recording was genuine and was appalled by the Government’s decision to question the authenticity and accuracy of the transcript and recording and to stand by Nandlall.

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Govt mulls extraditing couple in remigrant scam

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

A US-based Guyanese couple who allegedly facilitated Glenn Lall defrauding State million in taxes through the importation of two luxury vehicles through the remigrant scheme could be extradited from the US, sources close to Government has said.

The couple Narootandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanan had fled the jurisdiction when word got out that a probe had been launched against Lall and despite them being charged on several counts of tax fraud, they were not present at the first hearing last month.

Guyana Times was told that authorities here have been trying to locate the couple and could move towards activating the extradition treaty Guyana has with the United States to have the couple brought back here and charged.

Sources at the GRA believe that the absent couple could possibly stall the case, which could temporarily let Lall off the hook. Lall and his wife, Bhena Lall are jointly charged with the couple.

“We are looking at ways in which we can get the couple stand in court and extradition is definitely an option,” a source said. Guyana has a valid extradition treaty with the United States, which was amended back in 2009 to correct a lacuna that had prevented Guyana from extraditing fugitives wanted in the United States. The case comes up back on November 24.

The tax regulatory body is claiming that remigrant couple, of Number 61 Village, Corentyne, Berbice, had imported two Lexus LX 570 motor vehicles into Guyana.

However, the two vehicles were not kept or used by the remigrants and Gharbassi reportedly does not have a driver’s licence. This is in breach of the Customs Act and the conditions of the grant of the duty-free concession.

GRA has said that investigations had revealed that the vehicles were being driven by Lall and his wife and they were seized at a house in Nandy Park. The four persons are charged with two joint counts of knowingly committing fraudulent evasion of import duties.

The charge stated that between June 18, 2013 and September 21, 2013, together with others unknown at Lot 200-201 Camp Street, Georgetown, they knowingly aided and abetted each other, in the fraudulent evasion of import duties of customs due and payable to the Revenue Authority on one Lexus LX 570 motor vehicle registration number PRR 8398 with engine capacity 5700 cc, Chassis number JTJHY7AX6 D4094851 and number JTJHY7AX6 D4096745.

The Lalls are charged jointly with two counts of knowingly dealt with goods with intent to defraud the revenue of duties on the said motor vehicle.

The particulars of the offence read that between June 18, 2013 and August 30, 2014, at Lot 110 Regent Street, Charlestown, Georgetown, they knowingly dealt with goods with intent to defraud the revenue of duties on one Lexus LX 570 motor vehicle bearing registration number PRR 8399 with engine capacity 5700 cc, Chassis number JTJHY7AX6 D4094851 and number JTJHY7AX6 D4096745.

Additionally, the Brijnanans were jointly charged with the offences of making and subscribing to a false declaration. The charges alleged that between June 18, 2013 and September 20, 2013, at Lot 200-201 Camp Street, Georgetown, Demerara, a place in the Georgetown Magisterial District, they made and subscribed to false declarations on one Lexus LX 570 motor vehicle with engine capacity 5700 cc, Chassis number JTJHY7AX6 D4096745 to be US$44,158.00 and one Lexus LX 570 motor vehicle with engine capacity 5700 cc, Chassis number JTJHY7AX6 D4094851 to be US$44,158.00, contrary to Section 217(1)(a) of the Customs Act Chapter 82:01.

Lall and his wife were also recently sued by acting Town Clerk of the Mayor and City Council Carol Sooba for the sum of $ 5,660,142 and $60,142 for unpaid rates and taxes for the years 2004 to 2013 in relation to their property at 24 Saffon Street, Charlestown, where Kaieteur News is located.

The case is currently being heard at the Georgetown Magistrates Court. In a defence filed by attorney at law Khemraj Ramjattan, the Lalls claim that they had a “set off” arrangement with the City Council and they are not indebted for the taxes and that they repaid these taxes by publication of advertisements in the Kaieteur News.

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Clerk rejects Speaker’s flouting of Standing Orders

Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman

Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman

Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman on Wednesday said that the country is faced with a “clear and unvarnished constitutional crisis” after the Clerk, Sherlock Isaacs defied his order to fix a date for the reconvening of Parliament.

Isaacs has insisted that the power to do so lay in the hands of the Government. But Trotman disagrees saying that “all stakeholders will have to work together to resolve it”.

He said, as the sitting Speaker, “I invite all well thinking Guyanese to join me in examining all viable options and avenues to break the impasse in the interest of our beloved nation.

“In this regard I stand ready to entertain all reasonable suggestions and anticipate an early closure of this unfortunate development,” Trotman said hours after Isaacs informed him via letter that he could not accede to his request.

Trotman had written Isaacs earlier this week instructing him to set November 6 as the date for the House to reconvene. The Clerk then consulted with his Caribbean colleagues and on Wednesday responded to Trotman.

National Assembly Clerk, Sherlock Isaacs

National Assembly Clerk, Sherlock Isaacs

He had held the same view earlier when Trotman had asked his opinion on the matter, citing two previous attempts when a similar was made and were turned down by the then clerks.

“Not for the first time in the forty-eight year history of the National Assembly, the Speaker and the Clerk are at odds over the power of the Speaker to convene the sittings of the National Assembly.

Today, October 29, 2014, I was formally notified by the Clerk of the National Assembly that after consideration, my request for the National Assembly to be convened on Thursday, November 6, 2014, cannot be given effect to by him because he is of the view that the Speaker lacks the authority to convene sittings of National Assembly under Standing Order 8 (1) and (2).”

Trotman said in his statement that he will be writing to the Clerk to register his disagreement with his interpretation of the Standing Orders and his consequent position adopted.

“I will also so advise in writing, as well as to the Leaders of the political parties in the House. This is a most unfortunate position arrived at, and obviously arises out of a very narrow interpretation of the Standing Orders, and of the prevailing circumstances whereby the National Assembly entered into recess and has emerged from that recess, and a majority of Members desire to meet.”

Trotman insists that the National Assembly must resume sittings and cannot be bound by the whims of the Executive branch to have to await its consent before meeting.

He said such an interpretation flies in the face of the doctrine of separation of powers, and the constitutional right of the elected representatives to meet to perform their functions.

“The roles of Speaker and Clerk of the National Assembly are regulated by the Constitution and the Standing Orders.

“As constitutional officers, both are expected to work symbiotically for the National Assembly to be able to properly discharge its constitutional roles and functions. It is the duty of the Clerk to convene the sitting by making all arrangements including, summoning and ensuring the attendance of Members, and the preparation and circulation of the Order Paper.

“The Speaker performs the role of “Presiding Officer” once the Assembly is convened; whilst the function of convening National Assembly remains the sole preserve of the Clerk.”

According to Trotman the effect of the Clerk’s decision not to convene the sitting has the effect of crippling the ability of the Members of Parliament to meet.

This in itself, he said brings the Constitution into derision and disregard and cannot be what the framers of our Constitution intended. “As a majority of Members have indicated their desire for the National Assembly to meet, the nation is confronted with we have a

Meanwhile, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has “strongly condemned any attempts to delay the reconvening of the National Assembly.”

APNU affirmed that the present ‘dilly-dallying’ is not in the best interest of the nation, demanding the convening of the National Assembly without any further delay.

After soliciting the advice of his CARICOM colleagues, Isaacs told Guyana Times prior to Trotman’s statement that his initial interpretation still stands. According to Isaacs when matters are not provided for in the Rules, reference is made to practice and precedents.

According to him the practice is that Sittings are requested by the Government. He added that the Parliament of Guyana there are two precedents one involving Frank A. Narain, C.C.H., former Clerk of the National Assembly and the other involving Elwyn Viapree, former Clerk of the Legislature.

The Alliance For Change (AFC) has been urging the swift reconvening of Parliament particularly to deal with the No-Confidence Motion it tabled last August against the Government.

However, Trotman is proposing that the House should proceed with the matters that were on the agenda and if need be, add new ones.

In a letter to leaders of the three sides in the House Trotman on Monday outlined his interpretation of the Standing Order that deals with the reconvening of Parliament and also his instructions to the Clerk to fix the next sitting.

In his letter to Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Leader of Government’s Business; Opposition Leader David Granger and AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan, Trotman recalled that at the last meeting of the Parliamentary Management Committee on October 15, the issue of the date for the resumption of sittings of the National Assembly came up, and it was unanimously agreed that the Government and Opposition Chief Whips would continue in their efforts to agree on a date.

He said recent communication with the Whips, and pronouncements in the media attributed to both, clearly lend to the view that the positions are intractable and that the likelihood of a date been agreed upon soon is unlikely.

“There is gridlock, and we are faced with the untenable and unhealthy situation of the National Assembly not meeting since July 10, 2014. I am sure that you will agree with me that this cannot be allowed to continue any longer as there is no state of national emergency or otherwise that prevents the Assembly from not meeting.

“In fact, on the contrary, I make bold to say that there are myriad issues of national import that require our immediate attention.”

Trotman said in his letter that notwithstanding the process in which the Whips were involved, “I chose to engage the Clerk and former Speakers of the National Assembly with a view to enquiring how best we can have the sittings resumed.

“I have received opinions from Mr Sherlock E Isaacs, and Messrs Sase Narine, OR, SC, and Ralph Ramkarran, SC. In the case of Isaacs, he is of the opinion that Standing Order 8 (2) does not authorise the Speaker to call a sitting where there is no fixed date for the next sitting; recall that on July 10, the House was adjourned to “a date to be fixed”.

Mr Isaacs’ opinion is in consonance with two previous opinions rendered on the very Standing Order, and I am, in fact, in complete agreement with him in so far as Standing Order 8 (2) is concerned.”

However, Trotman said that this cannot mean that the National Assembly cannot be convened unless by agreement; especially where such agreement appears elusive or even impossible.

“In this regard, I have found favour with the opinion rendered by the former Speakers of the National Assembly, which in effect states that the National Assembly shall meet “day by day”; unless otherwise decided by the National Assembly, and that as the Assembly automatically went into recess on August 10, so too did it automatically come out of recess on October 10, 2014. Therefore, the House should have been convened forthwith on the first working day thereafter.

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Massy Group opens $200M distribution centre

… as company is rebranded

By Jomo Paul

The Massy Distribution facility at Montrose

The Massy Distribution facility at Montrose

The Neal and Massy Group of Companies which was an umbrella company for Geddes Grant Limited, Demerara Oxygen Company Limited, and CCS stores, was on Wednesday officially rebranded to Massy Industries- a move that will see all of the subsidiaries being changed to Massy.

The rebranding comes as the regional conglomerate opened a $200M distribution facility at Montrose, East Coast Demerara at what was once known as the Starlite Drive-In Complex and will serve as the company’s primary distribution center for all of products in Guyana.

Aside from those previously mentioned, those facilities and corporate services include Associated Industries Limited, now Massy Industries, NM Services Limited, now Massy Services Guyana Limited, NM Security Solution now Massy Security and Marketing and Distribution, now Massy Trading.

Massy Group of Companies offers services in the insurance industry, auto sales and rentals, pharmacy, distribution, supermarkets, and agricultural services, among others. All of these services will still be offered under the Massy brand which came complete with a soca-styled theme song “I am Massy”.

Massy Industries operates in Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, Bahamas, Nederland Antilles, the USA, Canada, Columbia and Africa. It was explained that the rebranding process initiated in Trinidad and Tobago, then Barbados, then Jamaica and it now arrives in Guyana, the country which holds a wide array of Massy subsidiaries.

Group Chief Executive Officer Gervasse Warner told the gathering of private sector and government officials that the decision to change the brand of the company came as a result of a widespread consultation, which also saw several other changes being made including the development of a company manifesto. Warner explained that the group which is over 90 years old has and will always be change-friendly and sees this historic modification to its brand as a positive propellant for the company.

“Everything is now Massyfied” said Warner.

The company believes that redefining its brand will somewhat strengthen the cooperation that is already evident throughout all of its subsidiaries. The company said that as the subsidiaries grew, the bond however weakened and all of the subsidiaries working under one unique brand will now reinvigorate that lost bond.

In addition, it will also provide customers with an enhanced sense of loyalty knowing that all of the companies are linked. “The rebranding maximizes marketing efficacy by powerfully connecting the equity of strong subsidiary brands with the corporate brand vice versa.”

Warner explained that Massy was not a decision arrived at by him or any of the company executives but rather by a consulting firm. He pointed out that Neal and Massy was already commonly known as Massy. The company felt that Massy was a rather strong name that would translate across all borders without much difficulty.

Warner also informed the gathering that the Massy groups have major expansion plans for Guyana. He said that in 18 months, the Group is hoping to open its first supermarket chain in Guyana. This initiative will create hundreds of jobs, adding to the already 394 staff count at Massy.

Meanwhile, Massy Guyana Chief Executive Officer Deo Persaud said that the transformation is an exciting event for the team and the country. He said “From today we are Massy and all of our companies carry that brand…from today Neal and Massy will be known as Massy. One brand makes it easier.”

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh who declared the “Centralised Distribution Warehouse Facility open commended the executives for placing such confidence in Guyana’s sustainability by investing in the economy. The Finance Minister noted that the commissioning of the facility was a “tangible demonstration of confidence that was worked so hard for…a strong expression of confidence in Guyana.

He noted too that the company’s continued growth over the last seven years “pays testimony” to the growth of Guyana as an economy as a whole. Over the last eight years, Guyana has experienced uninterrupted economic growth which is the longest period the country has experienced consecutive growth for.

“To those who say that investor confidence is flagging or wavering in Guyana, this facility refutes that claim” said Dr Singh.

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Glenn Lall breaches wiretapping law

… AG to test court’s ability to prosecute

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

Attorney General (AG) Anil Nandlall has signalled his intention to test the strength of the 2008 Interception of Communications Act as he moves against Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall, who allegedly illegally recorded a private conversation he had with one of the newsman’s reporters.

The gist of the conversation was evidently related to the $100 million duty-free scam in which Lall is presently enmeshed before the courts.

The Interception of Communications Act of 2008 prohibits the interception of communication unless a warrant is issued by a judge based on an application.

The law is also clear that any recording or tapping of citizens’ private communication must be authorised by the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Commissioner of Police, and the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

However, these officers would first have to apply to a judge for a 90-day warrant to intercept communication.

Only under these conditions does the Act allow the monitoring and recording of transmissions conveyed by fibre-optic cable or any other form of wire line, by wireless telegraphy, Voice Over Internet Protocol, Internet satellite and all other forms of electromagnetic or electrochemical communication.

Telecommunication service providers will be duty-bound to provide assistance on interception warrants.

Jail time

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

According to the law, anyone found guilty of illegal wiretapping would be liable to a fine of $5 million and a jail term not exceeding three years.

A judge, before granting the warrant, the law states, must be satisfied that the information obtained would likely assist investigations.

There is also a proviso vesting authority in the Minister of Home Affairs in the case of national emergency.

Additionally, personnel acting in good faith under the ambit of the law would be immune from liability for their actions.

None of these conditions existed with the recording the AG’s conversation with the reporter, which appeared to be friendly banter via cell phone.

Speaking with Guyana Times on Tuesday, Nandlall indicated that he was in discussion with his lawyer and will soon be making a complaint to the Police. He is confident that given the provision in the law, Lall was in serious breach.

Lall was accompanied by Alliance For Change (AFC) Leader Khemraj Ramjattan, when he filed a complaint with the Guyana Police Force against Nandlall for alleged threats contained in the taped conversation.

Government has already slammed the newspaper owner for attempting to taint the integrity and image of the AG by distributing a “manipulated” audio recording.

“Today, to our utter consternation, the public listened to a voice recording and was shocked at what the nation heard.

“Broadcast on social media, the recording contains a distorted, manipulated conversation between a Minister and Leonard Gildarie, a reporter from the Kaieteur News.

“It is abhorrent that someone would be so indecent and immoral to manipulate a loose private conversation, in such a dastardly way,” the Government said in a release.

It declared that it would not condone “this privilege being manipulated to distort and manipulate public opinion” about the Government Minister.

“There are many ways for a keen listener to discern the said manipulation. For example, a listener to the manipulated conversation would easily recognise that in many instances the person’s voice at the other end of the conversation was inaudible.

Negativity

“The Government of Guyana cherishes freedom of the press, but when private media operatives use the power of the mass media to manipulate public opinion, our nation suffers from the negativity.

“The Kaieteur News has sustained an intensive, vicious attack on members of the Government of Guyana, using its media power to distort even private conversations that it illegally records,” the release further stated.

The Bill was passed by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) majority Government in response to the widespread use of mobile phones in the planning and commission of major crimes.

Government members had also argued that the absence of the law was one of the reasons why it was difficult to do anything about the tapping of phones.

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PPP/C stalwart Navin Chandarpal passes on

By Devina Samaroo

Presidential Adviser on Sustainable Development, Science and Technology

Presidential Adviser on Sustainable Development, Science and Technology

Presidential Adviser on Sustainable Development, Science and Technology, Navin Chandarpal passed away at his Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara home Tuesday morning after losing his battle with cancer.

His son, Robin Chandarpal told Guyana Times that his father passed away around 08:00h in the comfort of his own bed. The family said his death did not come as a surprise since he was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer two years ago. They described his passing as a “peaceful going”, as he did not express any signs of trauma or pain.

“Of course, we’re all very distraught about his passing, but we look at it in the perspective that two years ago when he was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer, he was told at that time that he had about three months to live so we consider every day since then a bonus,” his son said.

He explained that his father had lost a tremendous amount of weight, and earlier this week his father was struggling to eat and drink anything. His son noted that he was not battling the disease, which had required him to receive medical treatment overseas, alone as he had many visitors and great doctors who kept him in their prayers.

Back in July this year, Chandarpal, a former Agriculture Minister, was taken overseas for treatment after his condition was said to be rapidly deteriorating. He, however, returned to Guyana and was being cared for at home.

Regarded highly by the governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) for his statistical skills, Chandarpal entered politics while a student at the Richard Ishmael Secondary School and quickly moved up through the ranks to lead the Progressive Youth Organisation.

Distinguished service

In a statement, the Parliament Office said: “It was with deep sadness that the National Assembly learnt of the passing of Mr Chandarpal, a former Minister of Agriculture and Member of the Seventh and Eighth Parliaments in the PPP/C Administration.”

“Navin Chandarpal served in the National Assembly with distinction for five years, two months and four days, and was well-liked and respected across all political lines,” the Parliament Office said.

“He will be remembered for his principled positions, his wit, and fearless and very amiable character. He was a friend to all and fierce fighter against injustice and oppression. The Speaker and Members of Parliament and Clerk of the National Assembly extend deepest sympathy to his widow, Mrs Indranie Chandarpal, MP, and his children, relatives, friends and comrades. “

Condolences

Opposition Leader David Granger also expressed his condolences. He described Chandarpal as a devoted member to his party and told Guyana Times that it was a pity that his time in the political arena was cut short.

The Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States also joined in extending condolences to Chandarpal’s family. The Chair of the Council, Ambassador La Celia Prince of St Vincent and the Grenadines described the passing of the longstanding PPP/C member as a great loss. The Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda, speaking for Caricom Member States, described Dr Chandarpal as a bright Caribbean star and expressed sympathies on behalf of the Region. The other delegations which also expressed condolences were EL Salvador, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico.

Guyana’s Ambassador to the OAS, Bayney Karran, thanked the Council for the sentiments expressed. He stated that Chandarpal was a prominent politician in Guyana where he had made important contributions to sustainable development. Ambassador Karran pointed out that he was also well-known to the Department of Sustainable Development at the OAS and that his widow, Indranie Chandarpal has served as Chairperson of the OAS’ Inter-American Commission of Women.

People’s National Congress (PNC) Youth Leader Bevon Curie wrote on his Facebook page, “I am saddened by the news of the loss of a dear friend, lecturer and colleague, former Presidential Adviser on Sustainable Development and former Government Minister, Navin Chandarpal who died this morning after losing the battle to cancer.”

Curie said Chandarpal served as the National Adviser during his tenure as National Coordinator for the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) Guyana.

“All our engagements were marked with an atmosphere of brotherhood; at no time he demonstrated partisanship or unprofessional conduct. He was a different calibre of politician. Guyana, the University community and the Environment and Sustainable Development community has lost a dedicated advocate.

To his wife, Indra Chandarpal and two children and to the members of the PPP/C leadership, I extend my deepest condolences.”

Alliance For Change (AFC) Vice Chairman Moses Nagamootoo said Chandarpal was the last of a crop of committed “Jaganite leaders” and my associate and friend for some 50 years.

Nagamootoo, who cut ties with the PPP/C in 2011, said Chandarpal was a student and youth leader, and one of the few revolutionary intellectuals of our times. “He rose to the top of the PPP/C’s leadership…” Guyana has lost a true son, Nagamootoo said. “We share the grief and loss of his wife, Indra; his son, Robin; and daughter, Geetanjali. Farewell, Comrade!”

Region Two Chairman Parmanand Persaud described the veteran politician as a committed stalwart of the PPP/C. Persaud recalled some fond moments he shared with Chandarpal.

He said while he was aware of Chandarpal’s illness, he never expected him to die. Joining Persaud was Minister within the Agriculture Ministry Alli Baksh, who said that ‘even at his age’, Chandarpal was still giving advice to party members.

Baksh said he spent days with Chandarpal doing party work and described him as a dedicated person. Another stalwart and former member of Parliament, Isahack Basir, also extended sympathy to Chandarpal’s family on his passing. Basir said he knew the politician for almost 54 years.

He said during his time spent with “Comrade Navin Chandarpal, he recognised his straightforwardness”. Basir said Chandarpal had a passion for children and a good track record working with them.

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