October 26, 2014

GPHC monitoring woman for Ebola

The Emergency Unit of the Georgetown Hospital

The Emergency Unit of the Georgetown Hospital

…had travelled to West African country

By Alexis Rodney

A Guyanese women who recently returned from a West African country is in voluntary isolation as the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation’s Ebola Response unit monitors her condition for the deadly virus, which has killed close to 5000 people so far.

In a statement, the GPHC said on Friday it was notified by a private physician of a patient who had recently travelled to a West African nation where Ebola is not present. “She went to the physician for evaluation and treatment of leg pains.” The hospital said during the physician’s interview, the woman reported some mild joint pain and was concerned about Chikungunya infection. The private physician referred her directly to the Georgetown Public Hospital. The GPHC said the woman had recently returned from a leisure trip to a region in West Africa. The Ebola response team was immediately summoned and convened and she was placed immediately in isolation for investigation. “She reported returning to Guyana, via Suriname, from a West African country where Ebola is not currently present. She has not had contact with anyone with sickness of any kind in the last 21 days. She has not had fever at any point, but had taken non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for joint pains the previous day. This medication could mask a fever of any origin,” the GPHC release stated.

According to the GPHC, out of an abundance of precaution, she was monitored by Senior Infectious Disease Specialists until enough time had passed for the medication to wear off. “She remained free of fever and had no other symptoms,” the hospital said. As such, she was discharged from isolation with any suspicion of Ebola Viral Disease discounted. “She will be followed on a daily basis to ensure that fever or other symptoms do not develop. As her exposure was very low-risk and she has no signs or symptoms of infectious disease, she will be kept in voluntary isolation.” There is no threat to her family or the community, the GPHC assured, adding that a team has been assigned to monitor her daily and this work has already commenced even in the first hours following her discharge.

Restrictions

Only last week the Guyana Government placed restrictions on the issuance of visas to nationals of Ebola-hit West African countries, as this country takes steps to stave off the virus. Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett said in a statement on Thursday that as of September 9, 2014, Guyana’s consulates in West African states were instructed to stop issuing visas to those nationals. Via her Facebook page, the Minister said: “On September 9, 2014 all of our embassies and consulates abroad have been instructed by me not to issue visas to nationals from West African countries for the time being.

The consulates and embassies have not issued any visas since.” She noted, however, that this does not stop persons from coming to Guyana from those countries, but that no new visas will be issued. “While this does not constitute a travel ban for persons from African countries, it is one measure aimed at dealing with this deadly virus,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said.

Amid criticism of its efforts to ward off any possible threat of the Ebola virus here, Government recently announced that it will train some 1600 medical personnel to deal with the virus.

This is according to GPHC Internal Medicine-Infectious Diseases Consultant, Dr Johanna Cole. Speaking at a Continued Medical Education (CME) session at the Regency Hotel, Hadfield Street, Dr Cole noted that the Health Ministry has taken on a mass preparedness approach towards the virus. She pointed out that 1600 medical professionals are to soon commence training on dealing with the virus, and the necessary approach towards administering care to persons who have contracted the virus as opposed to those who are suspected to have it.

In addition, emphasis will be placed on safety and precautionary measures for health-care providers, who may come in contact with an infected person or environment, as the Ebola virus is highly contagious and spreads rapidly through direct or indirect contact with bodily fluids.

She added that surveillance at all ports of entry, including airports and shipping ports, as well as screening is being done. Further, meetings have been held to educate persons working at these points.

Dr Cole noted that isolation capacity is ready at the airports and the largest isolation housing unit is at the GPHC.

Guyana has also moved towards establishing an action plan to deal with the deadly virus, and in this regard a wide-cross section of stakeholders from various organisations had a recent meeting to discuss and establish the measures to be undertaken in order to put the plan into operation.

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Pilot’s error blamed for Caribbean Airlines 2011 crash

From left: Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Director General  Zulfikar Mohamed; Transport Minister Robeson Benn; lead investigator Paula Mc Adam and GCAA Chairman Hugh Denbow during the media brief to release the report

From left: Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Director General Zulfikar Mohamed; Transport Minister Robeson Benn; lead investigator Paula Mc Adam and GCAA Chairman Hugh Denbow during the media brief to release the report

By Bhisham Mohamed

Some two years after a Caribbean Airlines Flight, BW 523, with 157 passengers and a six-member crew, skidded off the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, investigators on Friday disclosed that human error was the instigating factor for the crash.

This was according to head of the investigative team, Paula Mc Adam. The team comprised several high-level aviation experts from Guyana, the Caribbean and the United States of America. “Our findings show that there was pilot error and more so, poor cockpit management,” she said. There was little or no communication between the pilot and co-pilot. She added that they both had duties to carry out and from all indications, both of them erred.

The lead investigator said that the probable cause of the accident was that the airline (which was coming from Piarco International Airport just after midnight) touched down approximately 4700 feet beyond the runway threshold.

The broken CAL aircraft

The broken CAL aircraft

This, she noted, occurred as a result of the captain maintaining excess power during the flare, and upon touching down, failing to utilise the aircraft’s full deceleration capability hence the aircraft overshot the remaining runway and the fuselage was fractured.

Mc Adam further stated that the pilot increased power to maintain the glide path and did not significantly reduce power when crossing the runway threshold. Also, during the investigation, it was proved that the crew did not command maximum brake pressure until the aircraft was 250 feet from the end of the runway. While the runway was wet, this did not affect the braking capability of the aircraft.

On this note, the report confirmed that the aircraft could have been brought to a safe stop on the remaining pavement if maximum braking pressure had been applied.

Mc Adam said that while investigations proved the accident stemmed from human error, the team still did not manage to ascertain exactly what took place. “I don’t know what happened in the cockpit. We did a report on the information that was presented to us…The captain is a veteran who has some 25 years’ flying with Caribbean Airlines; the co-pilot is fairly new but they both have a lot of experience flying into Cheddi Jagan International Airport… There is really no explanation for why certain things happened.”

Poor coordination

The official also admitted that there was poor coordination in the cockpit and the cabin during the landing, a physical phase of the flight. She explained that during their investigations, it seemed as though the suddenness of the incident prevented the cockpit crew from giving warning to the cabin crew. In addition, she noted, there was damage to the aircraft which affected the communication equipment in the cockpit.

Due to the findings, a number of recommendations were made to Caribbean Airlines, including the training of flight crew to ensure that they confirm with and operate within Standard Operating Procedures.

Another recommendation, however, stated that cabin crew must be trained to develop the correct procedures that are pertinent to operating the exits when aircraft are in unusual situations.

On July 30, 2011, the Caribbean Airlines Flight touched down at approximately 4700 feet of the approximately 7448-foot runway – some 1700 feet beyond the runway touchdown zone. The aircraft ran off the runway, broke through a fence and came to a halt at the bottom of an earthen embankment.

Due to the impact, the aircraft broke into two in the vicinity of the first-class bulkhead causing both engines to be destroyed, but fortunately there were no post-crash fire and only one passenger sustained injuries – to his leg which was subsequently amputated.

Moments after the crash, the Guyana Rescue and Fire Fighting Unit based at the CJIA went into action in keeping with the Airport Emergency Manual. Fire-fighters entered the aircraft and assisted passengers and crew members to evacuate.

Soon after, Caribbean Airlines ground handling staff entered the plane and took precautionary measures to prevent an explosion or fire. Due to the location of the wreckage, the runway was temporarily closed for an estimated 10 hours.

During this time, the aircraft was defueled and fuel samples were taken for testing. The same day, Caribbean Airlines officials out of Trinidad and Tobago arrived in Guyana as well as members of the National Transport Safety Board.

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Norway clears US$35M for Guyana

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar

The Government of Norway on Friday announced the latest payment under the Guyana-Norway forests and climate change partnership of US$35 million.

Norway will pay Guyana the US$35 million for the global climate services provided by its forest during 2012. The latest payment will bring total funds earned under the Partnership to US$150 million.

In an address to the nation, President Donald Ramotar said the announcement by Norway is also a strong rebuttal to those who have tried for several years to kill the Low Carbon Development Strategy and the Guyana-Norway partnership. “For many years, vested interests in Guyana tried repeatedly to prevent our country from receiving this money from Norway. On failing to do so, some politicians tried in three successive national budgets to stop the money from being invested in our people’s future. More recently, they attempted to kill the flagship of the Low Carbon Development Strategy, the Amaila Falls Hydro Project. I hope that they will now abandon their efforts to destroy one of Guyana’s most pioneering national initiatives,” the Guyanese leader said.

He said Guyana is on the threshold of achieving what few countries in the world have managed. “We should stop to reflect on the fact that we have spent five years building the foundations of a genuinely low carbon economy. We are maintaining 99.5 per cent of our forest, and showing the world that it is possible to do this while simultaneously generating jobs and economic growth from sustainable forestry and mining practices. New low-carbon economic sectors are growing fast; small businesses are creating low-carbon jobs; Amerindians are achieving secure tenure over their land; and we are starting to invest in critical flood protection infrastructure.”

Global injustice

Ramotar said the LCDS is grounded in a recognition that climate change is a clear expression of the inequality and injustice that exist in our world – as a problem primarily caused by rich countries, but whose negative impact is felt primarily by poor countries. He reminded that five years ago, Guyana was one of the first countries in the world to set out a vision on what practical steps were needed to begin correcting this global injustice, and called on the world to act before it was too late.

“We also set out a vision whereby Guyana would not just advocate for others to act. Instead, we said that we too would play our part in fighting this global challenge if partnership for international action was forthcoming. And we were able to establish that international partnership with the Government of Norway in late 2009.” “As I said, we have now earned about US$150 million. Moreover, in the coming months the independent, international validation of deforestation rates in 2013 will be completed and Guyana will receive the fifth payment under our partnership with Norway. We expect that this will be an even higher payment than the one announced today – and the total payments earned by Guyana will soon come close to US$200 million, all of which is being invested in our Low Carbon Development Strategy.”

Setbacks

President Ramotar stressed that earning the funds through the partnership with Norway has not been easy. “But we prevailed against these setbacks, and money is now flowing into our priority investments – both from our own budgetary resources and from the money we have received from Norway. Most of this money is now allocated to transformative projects, and in most cases, it is flowing to create real benefits for Guyanese.”

Ramotar told the nation that over 11,000 Amerindian homes have electricity for the first time – powered by solar units. He said low-carbon industries are growing fast – ecotourism in the Rupununi is growing by 20 per cent a year; “our business process outsourcing sector has more than doubled employment in less than five years, and we are seeing innovative initiatives in agricultural development. We can become the world’s most inclusive digital society as 90,000 vulnerable households gain access to computers and training.”

He said using money received from Norway for climate services, “we are working with local banks and other financial institutions to stimulate the creation of 2200 low carbon jobs over three years in small businesses and vulnerable communities. GBTI has started to lend money to local entrepreneurs as part of this programme, I want to pay tribute to their initial efforts, and I look forward to the other private banks following suit.”

The payments from Norway, he said, are also enabling the advancement of the LCDS Amerindian Development Fund. “One hundred and eighty-seven Amerindian villages, communities and settlements produced impressive Community Development Plans. In the last year, 26 of them received funding through this programme – creating low-carbon opportunities in ecotourism, sustainable agriculture and manufacturing. In the coming year, the remainder of the plans will start to be implemented. “

President Ramotar said individual examples of local leadership are starting to emerge in communities across the country – such as the eco-lodge in Santa Mission which was funded through the LCDS Amerindian Development Fund, and is enabling the community to leverage its already attractive ecotourism offerings. “Thanks to the fund, in the village of Karrau, the community is cultivating five acres of cash crops and has completed their processing facility to focus on the production of farine and tapioca from cassava,” Ramotar said.

Additionally, he said the payments from Norway are also enabling the rehabilitation of the Cunha Canal. “This 600 million Guyana dollar project is about to start, and will be a major achievement in dealing with the impact that severe weather has on the Conservancy. In the past, the Government has been forced to protect Georgetown from floods by letting water flow from the Conservancy into the Mahaica River and sometimes causing it to burst its banks and damage local farms and communities. But in the near future, we will be able to use the Cunha Canal to discharge the water into the much larger Demerara River which will be able to cope with far greater volumes of water than the river system to the east.”

According to the President, alongside these priority investments, “we are continuing to upgrade our domestic standards and capabilities in our traditional sectors. Global certification of our standards will facilitate increased investment in Guyana and improve the potential for value-added industrial activity, all while ensuring that our natural resources are managed in a sustainable and accountable way.”

Since 2009, Norway has been contributing to Guyana’s efforts to enhance economic development while maintaining over 99.5 per cent of its 185, 000 square kilometre forest. Friday’s announcement of the US$35 million payment to Guyana is based on Guyana’s deforestation rate in 2012, as well as the country’s progress on indicators that will enable agreed goals for forest governance.

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UN unveils $62M anti-HIV/AIDs initiative for Guyana

Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Leslie Cadogan, UN Representative Khadija Musa, UNICEF Country Representative to Guyana Marianne Flach, and other UN representatives from the various agencies

Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Leslie Cadogan, UN Representative Khadija Musa, UNICEF Country Representative to Guyana Marianne Flach, and other UN representatives from the various agencies

The United Nations (UN) launched a joint programme for HIV/ AIDS that puts emphasis on sex workers and homosexuals.

UN HIV/AIDS Joint Programme of Support (UNJPS) for Guyana is estimated to cost US$306,400 (GY$62,260,479)

The programme will involve the close cooperation of all of the UN agencies within Guyana as well as those initiatives and strategies that have begun internationally.

The launch took place at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) building. The representatives from the various UN agencies within Guyana as well as from the Health Ministry announced that UNJPS is being tried in Guyana with the aim of eliminating HIV/ AIDS from the country.

Marianne Flach, United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative to Guyana, informed those in attendance that the programme was “developed to strengthen the dialogue between the United Nations agencies and the national HIV stakeholders, and responds to agreed priority areas, which address the issues and challenges of the HIV epidemic in Guyana.”

She remarked on the ‘delivery as one’ (DAO) idea that the UN agencies are aiming for, as they will use their specific expertise within each agency to target the HIV/ AIDS issue as a unit. The DAO initiative was added to the programme to enhance coordination among UN organisations, specialised organizations and civil societies. By doing this, UNJPS will also be aiming to achieve the sixth Millennium Development Goal (MDG), which concerns the HIV threat and other diseases.

Local input

A presentation of the 2013- 2016 UNJPS was given by the UNAIDS Country Director, Roberto Campos. He informed that the UNAIDS division in Guyana will be heading the UNJPS. In his presentation, he explained that the programme started last year; however, the launch in Guyana was done on Friday to observe UN Day.

He shared that the programme responds to the country’s priorities and concerns, and is not done in isolation without the input of local institutions or bodies; instead it makes a pint to have them involved as much as possible to enable success. The UNAIDS Country Director to Guyana stated that the programme is aiming to achieve “Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support”, thus its alignment with the National HIV Strategic Plan (HIVision 2020) in a bid to attain five of the 10 targets on the plan by 2020.

These targets are: the reduction of HIV sexual transmission, the elimination of mother-to-child transmission and tuberculosis deaths, enabling more access to Antiretroviral (ARV) treatments and the elimination of stigma and discrimination.

According to the 2013- 2016 UNJPS, the latter is still a problem in Guyana. This and the “removal of punitive laws related to sex work and buggery” will be particularly looked into by the programme.

The programme detailed that such legislation acts as an obstacle to the true elimination of HIV/ AIDS as “female sex workers and men who have sex with men (MSM)” are the groups that have been recognised as the most affected by HIV/ AIDS. According to statistics, 16.6 per cent of the female sex workers are HIV/ AIDS positive, while 19.4 per cent of the MSM are as well (BBSS 2009, NAPS/ MoH).

The UNJPS programme describes this as a challenge, noting Guyana’s socioeconomic culture.

Even so, the UN has detailed a plan to make possible the “support of HIV-related human rights initiatives of MSM, SW and transgender…” It is expected that once formal settings have been established where these groups can be heard and listened to, this shall activate a change in the statistics.

Otherwise, the static state of things will simply “derail the progress made in the response”. The very fact that Guyana is too dependent on international support has been listed as one of the challenges to overcome in order to ensure not only the achievement of the targets and goals, but the sustenance of them as well.

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Glenn Lall, Kaieteur News lie, libel once again

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

– Accounting body unaware of any ‘probe’ against GRA Head

In the face of a fresh smear campaign being employed by the Kaieteur News and its publisher Glenn Lall against Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Khurshid Sattaur, the GRA Head says he is unaware of any probe by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana (ICAG) against him.

This revelation comes after the October 23 edition of the Kaieteur News with an article headlined, “Sattaur faces lifetime ban if found guilty”.

The article went on to indicate that Sattaur, if charged and found guilty of any criminal offence, could face “lifetime blacklisting by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)”.

The article was attributed to an anonymous local accountant who had indicated that the ICAG had launched an investigation into Sattaur’s work.

But Sattaur explained to Guyana Times on Thursday that he made contact with the Administrative Officer of the ICAG Cardilla Agard, who informed him that she was “totally unaware of any letter issued by the local body concerning any disciplinary action or investigation against Sattaur.

GRA Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur

GRA Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur

“Kaieteur News continues to publish these very slanderous articles concerning me and is now inserting veiled threats of life disbarment presumably done in their continued attempt to intimidate me into not pursuing the audit,” said Sattaur.

“The once self proclaimed exposer of Government wrong doings is now apparently being exposed himself, so he is behaving like the proverbial cow going to the slaughter house,” he said.

“It would appear to me that Lall, having committed a serious error of judgement by publishing  two fabricated emails using information he illegally obtained, and he is now threatened with a breach of privacy and other illegalities, is now in a very serious predicament that he is more or less caught with his pants down.

“How is he going to explain to a judge or court the origin of other taxpayers’ information, which without a shadow of a doubt he has in his possession, and alarmingly not even a letter or one figure was published concerning his company.

“He is now engaged in the famous (Joseph) Goebbels’ theory of repeating a lie often enough and it assumes attributes of the truth itself.

Scare tactics

“He is hoping to scare me enough not to prosecute him for being in possession of highly classified, private and confidential information and to save his cohorts and co-conspirators  from prosecution and jail.

“He is attempting to suggest that since GRA is the owner and source of the information, this will exonerate Lall and associates as to how they themselves received it,” said Sattaur.

The GRA Head said his lawyers will soon be filing legal action against Lall for contempt of a court order obtained against him and his associates from publishing libelous information about him.

“In the contempt proceedings we will be demanding that he tells the court the source of his information used in his  fabricated emails. If he fails to do so he will be in even more trouble than he thinks I am in.

“Publishing information on taxpayers’ affairs carries a penalty of up to two years imprisonment.

Alleged murderer

“Unlike the leaked information which no one other than Lall seems to have an interest in, even though the information has absolutely nothing on his newspaper, as Commissioner General myself and well over 250,000 taxpayers in Guyana all want to know how this alleged murderer obtained information on his competitors.”

Sattaur said this seems to be a regular ‘game’ of Lall to solicit information as he himself once asked him (Sattaur) to give him information on the source of supply of Guyana Chronicle printing ink and on certain aspects of the Guyana Times operations.

“I refused to divulge any confidential information on taxpayers’ affairs. It is surprising that Lall knowing this would now fabricate evidence and publish false reports to suggest that I am involved in the very activities he encouraged me to engage in, but I refused.

“It’s evident he found other compliant sources,” explained Sattaur.

He said it is clear that Lall is extremely dishonest in his publications and is “economical” with the truth.

He added that the public should be made aware of these dishonest actions of Lall, since he has portrayed himself as a “virtuous and righteous” person when he evidently is not.

Tax experts have surmised that numerous businesses owned by Lall and his wife Bhena Lall appear to exist only as a front to shield his questionable money and ownership of several properties in Guyana and the United States.

Lall has been strenuously trying to avoid his recent spate of suspected illegal criminal activities reaching the court, or facing form of investigation.

He continues to claim that his newspaper is being muzzled and that effors are afoot to shut his media house down.

A self-proclaimed campaigner against corruption, it has been a torrid few weeks for Lall, as one startling revelation after another has surfaced about his alleged illegal criminal activity.

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“Rid yourselves from the devils of the past”

Acting Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Irfaan Ali

Acting Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Irfaan Ali

Minister Ali to Lindeners:

Acting Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Irfaan Ali said Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) should not isolate itself from national and international developmental initiatives and the community should rid itself of the “devils of the past”.

At the time, Ali was delivering remarks at the Linden Chamber of Industry, Commerce and Development’s Annual Luncheon. Isolation, he said, can be a stumbling block to economic growth and development, preventing the local economy from capitalising on existing opportunities on the national and international scene. With Guyana experiencing eight years of consecutive economic growth through rapid Private Sector investments, Ali said the leaders of Linden and, by extension, Region 10 should mobilise their people to capitalise on the economic transformation taking place.

He made reference to the controversial Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, telling the regional leaders to think about the potential benefits that can evolve from such a multimillion-dollar initiative that would bring cheaper electricity to Guyana.

The domino effect from this project, which was estimated at US$800 million, would have resulted in Guyanese being provided with reliable and affordable electricity. Additionally, it would have created hundreds of jobs and simultaneously boost the country’s economy.

The project was designed to be constructed where the Amaila and Kuribrong Rivers meet. Electricity produced at the plant would have been delivered to Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, and its second largest town, Linden, by an electric transmission line.

CJIA expansion

The Commerce Minister also alluded to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Expansion Project, the Marriott International Hotel, Hospitality Institute and Agro Processing Plant. However, Minister Ali said in moving forward, communities must rid themselves of things from the past. “We need to rid ourselves of the devils of the past. In order for us to move forward, we have to collectively understand that we have to rid ourselves of the devils of the past.”

He argued that communities must confront the present and aspire to the future with recognition that whatever occurred in the past that created negative energy should be a lesson to learn from and not one that dictates process.

“If we cannot release ourselves from that trap, then we would not be able to achieve the ideals, the visions and the objectives laid out.”

He stressed that Linden as the gateway to the interior should unlock opportunities and create a new environment based on cohesion and trust. Businesses, he said, would not prosper and achieve full potential if the society is not cohesive.

Three main problems

Meanwhile, Linden Chamber of Industry, Commerce and Development President Kevin De Jonge said research has indicated that there are three main issues blocking growth and development in Linden, despite its wealth of resources. Politics, lack of unity, and high unemployment were the three factors identified.

According to him, there is a perception that politicians are pursuing their own agenda rather than fulfilling their mandate to serve the people. Though the Linden Chamber is not a political institution, De Jonge said in keeping with its constitutional requirement, the Chamber would serve as a key link between the Private Sector and the Government of the day.

He pointed out that prior to the operationalisation of the Linden Enterprise Network (LEN), the Chamber was in frequent consultation with the Minister within the Finance Ministry Juan Edghill. Meetings have also been held with the Public Works Ministry.

The Chamber’s President explained that representation was made on behalf of the people of Linden to have the local body play an integral role in the execution of major projects in Region 10. This, he said, is necessary to ensure that the projects are executed in accordance with the scope of work or standards laid out by both the Government and the region.

Alluding to the issue of lack of unity, De Jonge said Linden was known as a town of togetherness, that spoke in a united voice but there has been a shift. However, he said the Linden Chamber stands ready to serve as a catalyst for such unity to be developed again.

In the area of unemployment, De Jonge said it was a known fact that after graduating from high school or even the University of Guyana, youths are often faced with the issue of unemployment.

According to him, since Linden shifted its focus from primarily bauxite, the town appears to be confused about “what to do next”; however, the time has come for residents to think outside the box. “Rather than wait for somebody to bring employment, we need to start creating employment,” he emphasised.

In addition to welcoming investments being made by foreign companies such as Troy Resources, De Jonge said the Chamber will remain a strong advocate for entrepreneurship, positing that the Tourism and Agriculture Sectors are areas to be fully exploited.

Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon; the Mayor and Town Council (M&TC) Interim Management Committee (IMC) Chairman Orin Gordon; and the Private Sector Commission’s Secretary Ramesh Dookhoo were among officials present at the annual luncheon.

Digicel Guyana Inc; Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED); Guyana and Trinidad Mutual Fire and Life Insurance Group (GTM); Linden Utility Services Co-op Society Limited (LUSCSL); Troy Resources Guyana Inc; National Communications Network (NCN); LEN and the US Embassy were among entities represented at the event held under the theme “Developing our gateway for a better Guyana”.

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Male nurse killed on Kitty Seawall

A male nurse attached to the Dr Balwant Singh Hospital was on Thursday stabbed during an altercation with another man at the Kitty Seawall, mere hours after the annual Diwali motorcade had passed.

According to information from the Guyana Police Force, James Peter, a 31-year-old of Camp Street, Georgetown, died while receiving medical treatment at the hospital where he worked. The circumstances surrounding the stabbing are still unknown to the Police and hospital officials were tight-lipped when contacted for information on the young nurse.

He apparently received two stabs to the shoulder and another in the vicinity of his neck, which may have been the fatal stab. Guyana Times understands that Peter is an Indian national but has been employed at the medical institution for some time.

The incident occurred around 23:30h a while after the extremely large Diwali crowd dispersed. The Kitty Seawall is notorious for criminal activities that occur there, with robberies, shootings and stabbings being frequent features.

Only recently, officials had instituted a ban on part of the seawall preventing persons from being there after certain hours; however, persons ignore this ban and are there almost any day of the week, ignoring the dangers to which they may expose themselves.

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Guyana averts blacklisting by FATF – Nandlall

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

From all indications, Guyana, once again, has been able to avert being placed on a blacklist by the Financial Action Task Force, largely due to the high level commitment of the Government coupled with demonstrable actions taken in the country’s attempts to comply with recommendations made to address the technical deficiencies identified in the country’s AMLCFT regime.

However, Guyana will continue to be subjected to an “Ongoing Process in Improving Compliance” to ensure that it discharges its obligations under the Action Plan which was worked out with the AARG and submitted as Guyana’s action plan, Attorney General Anil Nandlall said Thursday night. He said a statement will formally be issued today to this effect and will also identify the actions which Guyana is required to take within time frames which will be specified therein.

Loopholes

Earlier in the week Guyana had committed to fixing loopholes in its anti-money laundering regime during the first day of its review by the Financial Action Task Force, International Cooperation Review Group FATF-ICRG, in Paris, France. On Monday when the review commenced Nandlall reiterated the country’s commitment to international financial legislation, and reported that an action plan was worked out between Guyana and the Americas Regional Review Group (AARG) in which certain technical deficiencies were identified in Guyana’s AMLCFT regime and timeframes were agreed upon for these deficiencies to be rectified.

Significantly, the Attorney General highlighted that a national task force has been established, comprising very high ranking members of Government and important stakeholders/agencies of state, and that the national task force is currently reviewing a five-year plan for Guyana’s AMLCFT regime.

“I also highlighted the technical and strategic ongoing assistance which the Government of Guyana continues to receive from the local diplomatic community including the embassy of the United States, the British and Canadian High Commissions, and the European delegation,” the Attorney General said. Minister Nandlall handed over a Letter of Commitment from President Donald Ramotar to President of the FATF, Roger Wilkins AO, pledging Guyana’s commitment to ensure that the country implements an AMLCFT regime that meets the requisite international standard. Guyana’s’ case will continue to be reviewed over the next two days of the plenary session of the meeting, and at the end of that process, the country will know its fate.

Review

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), through the International Cooperation Review Group’s ARRG, co-chaired by Darlene Boileau (Canada) and Maria Fernanda Garcia-Yrigoyen Maurtua (Peru), had executed a targeted review of Guyana’s deficiencies with respect to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Framework earlier this year.

Nandlall prior to leaving for Paris had said that “We have come to the position of accepting the sad reality that in term of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill of 2013, the Opposition has demonstrated that they are not interested in having the Bill passed.”

According to him, the Opposition parties will do all in their power to ensure that Guyana is blacklisted by FATF due to the non-passage of the AML/CFT Bill. While the parties at the level of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee have agreed on the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill of 2013 since February; the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act of 2009 remain the biggest blockage. In May, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) referred Guyana to FATF after the country was further recognised as a jurisdiction with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies due to its non-compliance with the Action Plan developed with the regional body. CFATF had already sounded an alarm, calling on member countries to safeguard themselves from Guyana with the introduction of countermeasures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks.

But despite the prevailing challenges, Nandlall said Government is doing everything that is possible to enable compliance with Guyana’s treaty obligation with regard to non-legislative requirements.

In the absence of the required legislation, the Government has moved to establish the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). SOCU, when it becomes operational, will be investigating suspected cases of money laundering and terrorism plots, in close collaboration with the FIU. SOCU will be led by Lieutenant Colonel Sydney James. Just days ago, the Guyana Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Kingdom for SOCU’s officers to be trained and monitored by the latter.

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File back with DPP for final decision

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

Glenn Lall’s alleged threats to Sattaur:

Embattled Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall will soon know whether or not he will be formally slapped with using threatening language against Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur, as the Director of Public Prosecutions Shalimar Ali-Hack is soon expected to make her recommendations in the matter.

The file was initially sent to the DPP chambers on October 14 and returned to Crime Chief Leslie James on October 15. Based on reports received, the DPP would have returned the file to the Police requesting clarifications on several aspects of the allegations. The Police, on the other hand, would have included that information requested by the DPP and resent the file to her chambers on Wednesday.

With the necessary clarifications noted, the DPP will now decide if there is enough evidence to institute charges against the publisher of the newspaper. Guyana Times understands that according to the Customs Act, Lall could spend up to three years in prison for attempting to impede Sattaur from the discharge of his mandate and issuing threats to him via the telephone in August.

Sattaur had made a complaint to the Brickdam Police Station when the incident occurred. Up to last week, Sattaur told this newspaper that he was fearful for his life given recent revelations about Lall’s involvement in the vigilante-style killing of an East Bank Demerara resident years ago.

GRA Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur

GRA Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur

“This individual has a certain propensity to be very vicious. Recent reports I have seen … have made me most fearful for my life right now. I would only hope that the DPP would act very swiftly in having whatever advice should be given to the Police on the report I made … I don’t know what more I can do, I have filed a complaint,” he had said.

Fearful

Sattaur explained to the Guyana Times that Lall had shown that he has the “propensity to deliver” on the threats he had made. Sattaur said: “I am not a type of person to make a report against a taxpayer unless I have a belief that those threats are likely to be executed, or I have a fear of those threats. I receive threats all the time.

In this case I chose to go to the Police because of the likelihood that this individual would come through on his threats … He said he is going to give me fire; I don’t know if it’s literal fire or metaphorical fire. The metaphorical has been proven already and I pray to God every day that he does not mean the literal fire.”

Further, the Commissioner General conveyed astonishment at the reaction the issue garnered from civil society and the fact that the usually opinionated Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are silent on the issue. “I am shocked to know that I have to endure all of this as if I am not human. This is a dangerous game he’s playing. He is setting a dangerous precedent to other people who have access to the media,” said Sattaur. He quickly added that in addition, he has not seen “the press association (Guyana Press Association) coming out and denounce him for misusing the media … this individual who is using the media to sully the image of the GRA is being allowed to do so without much criticism.”

Director of Public Prosecutions, Shalimar Ali-Hack

Director of Public Prosecutions, Shalimar Ali-Hack

“Don’t we have any civil-minded people in this country who are prepared to stand up and express their disgust at what is going on right now?” questioned the Commissioner General.

Lall and his wife were last Monday arraigned in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts on multiple tax evasion charges.

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 two Lexus LX 570 motor vehicles to be US$44,158 respectively, contrary to Section 217 (1a) of the Customs Act, Chapter 82:01.

They were also slapped with two counts of aiding and abetting in a conspiracy to defraud the Government of due taxes. These taxes amounted to $102 million.

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Police pilloried for “shoddy” probe into Rodney killing

Crime Chief Leslie James at the Inquiry on Wednesday

Crime Chief Leslie James at the Inquiry on Wednesday

Rodney CoI:

By Alexis Rodney

The Guyana Police Force (GPF) of the 1980s was on Wednesday severely criticised for its inefficiency in carrying out its duties particularly with regard to the investigation into the killing of Dr Walter Rodney.

The gaps ranged from the failure of the Special Branch Unit, which was working in concert with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), to take into consideration the first-hand testimony provided by the only known witness to the June 13, 1980 explosion, Donald Rodney and use it to speedily apprehend the alleged assassin – former army electronics expert William Gregory Smith, to the failure of the Police to safely keep the clothing worn by Dr Rodney for evidence.

All these loopholes in the investigation had caused an “innocent man” as it was implied to be charged for a crime he did not commit. At the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry, Crime Chief Leslie James said that while the Police back in 1980 did carry out investigations into Dr Rodney’s death, they may not have been efficient in the execution of their duties. James was at the time under cross-examination by the Attorney representing the interest of Donald Rodney, Keith Scotland.

Perusing the statement given by Donald Rodney and the 1980 files provided by the Police Force’s CID, Scotland said that the Special Branch Police had failed to hand over the first-hand information provided by Donald Rodney to the CID. And despite his testimony that it was the former Army Sergeant Gregory Smith who had handed over the explosive device hidden in a bomb, Donald Rodney was still charged and placed before the court.

Donald Rodney had claimed that on the evening of June 13, 1980, he went to the home of Gregory Smith on behalf of his older brother Walter. On opening his door, Smith appeared to be “surprised” to see him (Donald) there, Dr Rodney’s brother had explained. Scotland pressed and the Crime Chief agreed that that “surprise” could only suggest that Smith did not expect to see Donald Rodney that evening, confirming the earlier testimony by Rodney’s wife Patricia, that Donald was not part of the meeting plan that night.

Scotland asked the Crime Chief to use his expertise as an investigating officer within the Force and give a probable explanation as to why the Police, after receiving the evidence of Donald, made no effort to arrest Gregory Smith.

Attempts at formal

arrest in 1996

James responded that he could not say, but as far as his perusal had taken him, there were some efforts by the Police to apprehend Gregory Smith days after the incident. There are reports that the Police had gone to the home of Smith in Russell Street, Georgetown, and his childhood home of Kwakwani, Berbice River, seeking him out. It was reported too that an attempt at a formal arrest was, however, only sought n 1996, while Smith was living outside Guyana.

Another incident noted was the raid carried out on the office of Smith’s alleged girlfriend Joan Melville, whose drawer at work was invaded in search of his picture which she kept with her there. The Crime Chief had suggested that among other things, the Police could have been searching for the photograph to seek the public’s assistance in locating him.

James maintained that efforts to apprehend Smith were made, but he could not say when they were first made.

The Attorney even cited the participation of senior officers within the Force   including then Assistant Superintendent of Police Ignatius McCrae and then Crime Chief Cecil “Skip” Roberts who were all part of the investigation process. Yet nothing came out of it, although Donald Rodney’s statement was collected by the officials some four days after the explosion.

Scotland asked James to consider all the evidence in the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) file and the statement of Donald Rodney and draw a conclusion on whether he thought the Police Force back then had indeed failed in that regard.

Scotland sought to establish too that while arguments suggested that Dr Rodney was involved in the gathering of arms and ammunition, and while his death allegedly resulted from an explosive device, the Police failed in any effort to investigate whether or not he was dealing with such a device at the time of his death.

Other arguments surrounded the fact that the Police, instead of keeping the clothes Dr Rodney was wearing at the time of his death, had sent them out for Dr Rodney’s widow, Patricia, to identify.

All of these occurrences demonstrated the Police’s inefficiency in carrying out their job.

But Crime Chief James said although he was not present at the time of Dr Rodney’s death, nor had no dealings with the operations, based on his perusal of the evidence, the Police did carry out some amount of investigation. However, it was not as stringent as it should have been.

Dr Rodney met his demise on June 13, 1980 after the bomb planted in the walkie-talkie device he was about to test close to the Georgetown Prison’s fence exploded, killing him instantly.

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