– says spite and short-sighted politics costing Guyana billionsFormer President Donald Ramotar has stated that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) is to be blamed for the recent lawsuit against Government for environmental taxes imposed on companies importing beverages in Guyana.Last month, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams revealed that SM Jaleel & Company Limited and its local subsidiary, Guyana Beverages Inc, have filed proceedings in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as they seek a refund of the now repealed environmental tax that was paid in Guyana over a seven-year period. This action comes in light of a CCJ ruling last year in a similar lawsuit filed by Surinamese company Rudisa Beverages, which was awarded $1.6 billion in compensation by the Court. According to Ramotar, this situation is the result of the APNU and AFC’s “short-sighted and vindictive politics”, noting that if those parties while in Opposition had shown an iota of patriotism, the current situation would not have happened.He recalled that the environmental tax matter arose several years ago when Rudisa Beverages sued the Guyana Government for violating the Caribbean Community (Caricom) agreement in relation to the treatment of Member States-based companies operating in Guyana.The environmental tax that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government had imposed on companies importing plastic bottles affected mainly soft drink companies.The contention was that the local companies, mainly Banks and DDL, were not subjected to the same tax making it discriminatory towards overseas companies.Ramotar noted that this case should never have reached the CCJ for a decision because the PPP/C Government had reached an agreement with Rudisa that if all the companies were treated the same, then the company would drop the case.The former President added that his Administration consulted both local companies and while there was not full agreement, a decision was taken to cut the tax by half and apply it to all the companies operating in Guyana.“We thought that the Opposition would find no difficulty in supporting this, that the Opposition would realise the cost to Guyana’s taxpayers and support the amendment to the law. Unfortunately, the Opposition saw this as another tool to damage the PPP/C Government,” he stated, adding that despite forceful and convincing arguments by his Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Legal Affairs, the then APNU and AFC Opposition parties used their combined majority to vote against the relevant bill.This, Ramotar outlined, resulted in the case going before the CCJ, which ultimately ruled in favour of the beverage company incurring a billion-dollar bill for the Guyana Government to honour the award.The former Head of State outlined that this could have been avoided and the money injected into the sugar sector, thus preventing any closure of estates, if the then Opposition had listened to the pleading of his Administration.“The PPP/C had also warned that would not be the end of the matter. It was pointed out then that some companies from Trinidad and Tobago could also take us to court because the case with Rudisa was the same. APNU and AFC seemed delighted to hear this, seeing that it would hurt the PPP/C Government. That seemed to spur them even more to vote against the amendment. As things turned out, it is those parties that are in Government now and had to pay the $6 billion which they so delighted in imposing on the Guyanese taxpayers,” he remarked.According to Ramotar, what the PPP/C had warned about was now coming to pass and companies from T&T were now suing the Government as well. He pointed out that this could cost the taxpayers of Guyana much more than the Rudisa judgement as some of those companies were much bigger, thus the award could be even greater.The former President posited that this situation was totally unnecessary and completely avoidable; however, APNU and the AFC had displayed a strong unpatriotic stance.“These are the parties that now wield power in our country. The level of vindictiveness and hatred is unprecedented. The cost of such an attitude is great. The bill is climbing,” Ramotar commented.
…at Dharmic Sabha’s annual motorcade in EssequiboBy Indrawattie NatramCreativity was at its best at this year’s annual Dharmic Sabha motorcade held on Monday evening at the Anna Regina Community Centre ground on the Essequibo Coast, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam).Mandir members displayed intricate sculptures depicting the true meaning of the Hindu festival, Diwali. Young girls were dressed like Goddess Lakshmi in huge floats, giving an illustration of the Hindu Goddess.The winning float from the Golden Fleece mandirOutshining 11 other illuminated floats was Golden Fleece Vishwa Jhotir mandir. This mandir managed to retain its first position from last year by wooing the judges with expertly crafted and a modern designed float. The float depicted Goddess Lakshmi and her consort Lord Vishnu. The float also depicted how Goddess Lakshmi came into being (by the churning of the milky ocean). Young girls from the mandir were beautifully dressed in colourful saris for the competition.The Airy Hall Mandir; with a well-crafted float, neatly decorated with lights, won the second position. Two mandirs, Reliance and Aurora Estate, jointly copped the third prize. Adventure mandir and Anna Regina mandir copped the other prizes.Consolation prizes were awarded to the Queenstown, Richmond, Affiance, Huist Deen and Spring Garden Vishnu mandirs.Floats were judged based on dress, discipline, music, originality, punctuality, lights (quantity and arrangements), creativity, relevance, oral depiction, theme and banner. The designs were traditional, which was testimony that members from the various mandirs prepared for the activity long before the actual night. At various floats youths were seen actively involved. They were clad in decorative Indian wear, paying homage to their ancestral history. The Chief Judge was Radha Lall and she was assisted by dance teacher Bhooma Devi Ramnarine and Demerara Bank Manager Devendra Persaud.Meanwhile, in her address to the large gathering, President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, Dr Vindhya Persaud, called on Essequibians to uphold the Hindu tradition and culture with pride and dignity and not to allow anyone to dim the lights on the festival. She pointed out that this is the 42nd year that the Sabha was hosting Diwali motorcades throughout Guyana, and as such, thanked all the Sabhas throughout the country for preserving the mandate of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha.Persaud also commended the efforts of participating mandirs for their creativity and urged them to journey their beautifully designed floats to take part in the float parades which was held on Tuesday night at Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara and the grand Georgetown float slated for this evening. The Sabha’s President also noted that every year, the Essequibo motorcade has been improving and she is happy that persons are taking the time to place more emphasis on the festival and its meaning. She said the concept of the motorcade was conceptualised by her father, the late Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud.She also urged her fellow Hindus not to be afraid and to hold hands in an effort to upkeep the Hindu tradition, customs and beliefs.Dr Persaud thanked the Essequibo population for always supporting the Dharmic Sabha’s activities throughout the year and urged residents to stand up for what they believe and to never surrender to difficulties.Shubh Diwali greetings were also extended by the Vice President of the Sabha, Pandit Jagmohan Persaud. He used the opportunity to urge Hindus to celebrate the festival on Thursday since it’s the appropriate date. Region Two Chairman Devanand Ramdatt also graced the occasion and used the opportunity to extend Deepvali greetings to his fellow Essequibians. Ramdatt said Diwali is a time for togetherness, and as such, called on all Hindus to celebrate the festival with love, peace and unity.The cultural programme featured items such as dances, live tassa drumming and songs. Dances were performed by popular dance troupes Dharmic Swarswattie Dance Academy and the Khandhiya.Persons who did not make it to the Anna Regina Community Centre ground cheered the floats on as they made their way through the various villages on the Essequibo Coast.
Outspoken economist Ramon Gaskin is backing calls for Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) President Komal Chand to step down, as he believes that the Union head has betrayed the workers on several counts, especially as it relates to the issue of severance pay.Former presidential advisor and economist Ramon GaskinThe economist and public commentator told Guyana Times on Wednesday that he believes Chand made a huge blunder when he and his team met with President David Granger on Friday, January 19, and agreed to accept a decision to pay some of the sugar workers their full severance, while others have to wait.Gaskin, a former advisor to late President Cheddi Jagan, said, “Komal Chand has not given proper leadership to the workers over the years….Komal Chand is incapable and he should resign. The GAWU has failed the workers abysmally. It’s a complete and total failure.”He said GAWU under Chand’s leadership has spent more time writing to newspapers and responding to letters than actually coming up with tangible ideas that would help to ease the suffering of sugar workers.“They just writing letters in the newspaper and wasting time, instead of putting to the Government ideas that make sense to get jobs for these people or alternative jobs,” he opined.“They came out of a meeting with the President (David Granger) talking about being happy. Happy about what? The severance pay should be paid in full. They betrayed the interest of the workers, absolutely.”GAWU President Komal ChandThe economist told this newspaper that he is of the firm view that eventually some 10,000 plus workers within the industry would be fired.He said, “Once you close four estates, you have to send home 10,000 people. That’s the bottom line…”On Tuesday, hundreds of sugar workers said they were dissatisfied with Chand’s leadership as many called on the GAWU President to resign.Several workers in the sugar belt, who spoke with this publication, said they felt betrayed when GAWU agreed to accept that only some sugar workers who were dismissed would get their full severance pay at the end of January.The meeting the workers were referring to was held between the Union and Government on Friday last, to discuss severance payments. The Union had initially stated its disapproval of having workers receive part of their severance pay, but at the end of that meeting, Chand was quoted in the press as saying that he was pleased with the outcome, as he noted that the Union was now committed to working with the Administration.A worker from Enmore, who asked not to be named, told Guyana Times that the situation in the sugar industry has only worsened under Chand’s leadership. The sugar worker claimed that Chand has lost his zeal and could not now serve the interests of the workers anymore.Another worker noted that Chand, although having been leader of the Union for many years, had presided over the firing of thousands of workers, sending them into hopelessness. He added that having for years collected Union dues, GAWU should have done a better job in representing the workers at their darkest hour.Another former estate worker believes that for GAWU to win the battle in these difficult times the industry faces, the Union would need a new leader, one who has the capacity to represent and deliver.“There are other good leaders in the Union who are being suppressed. He has served his time, and needs to give others a chance to represent the workers. The Union is lacking strong representation with Chand at the helm, and this is the time we need strength to fight,” the worker opined.And only recently, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Anil Nandlall raised concerns over GAWU’s handling of the issue and the retrenchment of sugar workers. Nandlall stated outright that he did not agree with the manner in which GAWU has approached the matter.“Quite frankly, I believe that GAWU should have ensured, demanded and taken a non-negotiable position when it comes to severance that all must be paid, or arrangements must be put in place for all to receive, in some kind of staggered manner,” Nandlall told this newspaper.
A sixth form student attached to Mae’s Secondary School died while receiving medical attention at a private city hospital on Thursday after she started to vomit profusely in her classroom.The teen, 15-year-old Vanica Schultz of Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo, allegedly ingested several carbon tablets.Guyana Times understands that the teenager was seen vomiting during the lunch recess and as such, teachers in the school were alerted. Eventually, the teen was placed in a vehicle and rushed to the hospital.The Police were summoned to the educational facility and an investigation was launched.Reports are the now dead teen was part of an investigation following the alleged discovery of ecstasy pills on the school premises some time ago. The students were instructed to inform their parents to visit the school so that the matter could be dealt with. This newspaper understands that following the decision to inform the parents, the now dead teen reportedly threatened to take her life, since she did not want her parents to know about her involvement in the ecstasy investigation. However, the school has since denied the incident. During a press briefing on Thursday afternoon, the school’s administration refuted claims that the teenager ingested ecstasy.Director of the school’s secondary division, Paul Burnette also refuted claims that the drug, which was popularised at raves as a sensation-enhancing drug, was found on the school’s premises at any time. Schultz did not commit suicide owing to an investigation into the pills, he asserted.In addition, Burnette denied reports, which suggested that the teachers delayed taking the child to the hospital. In fact, he added: “I immediately rushed with her, shouting to the teacher to get her car so that we can take her to the hospital…It didn’t take her 10 minutes to get to the hospital. I stood there…in awe as I saw them work on her, flushing her stomach and all of that,” he added.The director also told the press that the now dead teen confessed to ingesting carbon tablets. The motive for taking her own life remains a mystery, but, according to Burnette, Schultz arrived at school as normal and distributed letters to her friends.The letters, according to the school’s administration, revealed that the teen had apologised to her peers for the wrong things she had done in the past and encouraged them to continue performing well in school. The school reported that the student came through the primary section and was never a problem child.Late last year, the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) revealed a worrying trend of ecstasy being sold to students in at least five schools across Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) and Four (Demerara-Mahaica). The anti-drug enforcement agency is working with education officials to address the illegal practice.Ecstasy is making its way into the nation’s schools after being already popular among many affluent members of society, CANU Deputy Head Lesley Ramlall had stated.While it was not revealed if, or how many of these affluent individuals were charged, Ramlall said CANU was working to track down the drug mules and was not inclined to carry out full-fledged investigations in schools.
…maintains $30B bond could have sustained industryNow that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has submitted its report and recommendations on the three closed sugar estates, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has warned against privatisation during this period, noting that once the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) gets back into Government, it will not recognise any such deal, since the Government has fallen following the December 21, 2018 no-confidence resolution.Opposition Leader Bharrat JagdeoJagdeo made the statement at his weekly press conference on Thursday.In 2017, Government announced plans to minimise the local sugar industry with only three estates in operation, and divest the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s remaining assets. Since then, several entities have expressed interest in acquiring the assets.On Tuesday, it was reported that PwC has submitted its report and recommendation on three bids made for the privatisation of the Enmore, East Coast Demerara; Skeldon, Berbice and Rose Hall, Berbice estates to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).However, the Opposition Leader pointed out that instead of selling off, steps should be taken to resuscitate the industry in full capacity so that the workers can start earning an income again.“We are not recognising any deals. That is not the routine. When I spoke about the routine functioning of Government, it does not involve privatisation now. Any privatisation done in this period with a Government that has fallen, with a Government that should had resigned, with a Government that is on a caretaker capacity would be seen as an illegal arrangement,” the former President added.Jagdeo told reporters that the only investor that would enter into a deal with a fallen Government is one that is into underhand businesses and with the intention of getting a lucrative deal before a new government gets into office.RecommendationsIn the report submitted to NICIL, PwC offered its recommendations with regard to three qualified entities as well as the way forward. Additionally, PwC said that the information would be forwarded to Cabinet which has the option of accepting the recommendations or rejecting them and restarting the process.Initially, the latest information prior to the report suggested that some five companies were interested in the three estates; however, in the final report PwC said that it narrowed those companies to the chosen three based on a number of criteria. Additionally, the two rejected companies did not raise an objection when they were informed according to the PwC’s Wilfred Baghaloo, who spoke to the State media on Monday.However, on Thursday, Jagdeo said what was revealing about the report is the fact that it spoke nothing to the valuation of the closed estates.“We are worried about the Pricewaterhouse report and you notice that one thing has not come out the valuation of the sugar estates. Part of their TORs [Terms of Reference] is to place a value to the sugar estate and we have not seen the Government releasing their figures of what they have valued these estates at. So we will continue to be very vigilant in this regard,” he told the media.Since coming into power, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Government embarked on a mission to downsize the sugar industry claiming that it was a sinking ship. To date it has closed the estates at Wales, Enmore, Skeldon, and Rose Hall leaving more than 7000 persons without a job. The closures began in 2016 and to date Government is yet to come up with a plan to cushion the ripple effect the massive loss of jobs has had on the social development of the country.Meanwhile, as part of efforts to sustain the minimised GuySuCo and bring it into a state of profitability and financial stability, NICIL set up a Special Purposes Unit (SPU) and secured $30 billion, being sought in the form of a syndicated bond, to support the industry.Since this announcement, concerns have been raised about Government’s vision for the industry and the genuineness of its actions thus far, since that very $30 billion could have gone into restructuring the industry while keeping all of the estates open and GuySuCo’s workforce employed and engaged.Ever since Jagdeo has maintained that the $30 billion should have been used to maintain the industry without closing any estates. He reiterated this position at his press conference, adding that if re-elected, the PPP would reopen the closed estates while outlining the plan for doing so.He noted that the PPP would have to subsidise the industry for a period while he aims for profitability, but noted that the multifunctional; benefits are too many to ignore. Pointing to those benefits, he explained that drainage and irrigation was top class in those communities, benefitting not only cane farmers but others as well. Additionally, the contribution to the National Insurance Scheme and the Guyana Revenue Authority are far too large to ignore.“The bottom line is it would not be profitable immediately, but it is about keeping people in jobs. It is doable and we have to look at the multifunctional benefits. We can finance the sugar industry…we did that before and kept the economy going,” Jagdeo said.
Ten riders from the Blizzard Bike Club competed in yesterday’s Baldonnel time trial. Kevin Shaw completed the 16 kilometre distance first as he registered a time of 25:52.Taking second spot was Dawit Feyissa in 26:51, third went to Pat Ferris in 28:13, fourth was Dan Webster with a time of 29:33, and rounding out the top five was Sam Keats in 30:15.The rest of the finishers are listed below:- Advertisement -6. Josh Telizyn 30:287. Richard Wood 30:338. Dave Menzies 32:189. Nick Guliov 32:4010. Emily Shaw 35:33
EDMONTON AB. – Inconnu Swim Club members are in Edmonton competing at their mid-March meet.Nine swimmers from the club are representing the North Peace at the event including Owen Lang and Tytan Carson in the boys 13 and under group. Griffin Ternier-Smith, Cole Cook and Cameron Louie will race in the boys 14 and 15 category, while Eric Louie will swim versus participants that are 16 and older.While in the girls 15 and older group Alexandria Hedges, Brittany Welsh and Jayden Forster will represent the North Peace in the competition.- Advertisement –
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Peace Passage Skating Club will be holding a free day of CanSkate on Monday, September 23.According to Peace Passage Skating Club Head Coach, Amanda Thomas, this event is a free opportunity for participants to come out and give Canskate a try.CanSkate is a dynamic learn-to-skate program that focuses on fun, participation and basic skill development.- Advertisement -Thomas says the Skating Club will have all of their circuits set up and all that participants need is to bring is a pair of skates and a helmet.The Peace Passage Skating Club’s free day of Canskate is taking place on Monday, September 23 from 4:15 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the District of Taylor Ice Centre.For more information, you can visit the Peace Passage Skating Club’s website.Advertisement
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Huskies are on the road this Thursday, November 28, as they take on the Fairview Flyers. – Advertisement -Previous to the Showcase, the Huskies had visited Fairview on November 2 where the Pups fell 2-1 in overtime. Currently, in the NWJHL Division Standings, the Huskies are in first place with 13 wins, three losses, and two overtime losses, while the Flyers are in fourth place with 10 wins, eight losses, and one overtime loss. The Huskies vs the Fairview Flyers is this Thursday, November 28, in Fairview. Puck drop is 8:30 p.m. at the Fairview Arena.Advertisement In that game, the Huskies beat the Flyers with a strong lead of 8-1. The last time these two teams met was at the NWJHL Showcase on November 10 in Grande Prairie. Then this Saturday, November 30, the Huskies will be home for the Men’s Health and Teddy Bear Toss game.
BC residents are again being reminded there will be some changes when homeowners get their property assessments from the provincial assessment agency this year.The notices will list a property’s market value, for both July 2008 and, July 2007, with the lower of the two values being used, as the official number for 2009.The move follows an announcement by Premier Campbell last November, that the government would freeze property assessments at 2007 levels, to help people cope with turbulent housing prices.Mr. Campbell also promised to bring in a measure, which would allow homeowners to temporarily defer paying their property taxes. – Advertisement –