…G Division Police to collaborate with stakeholders to curb growing trendsThough several programmes and proposals have been put in place countrywide to address the issues of truancy, teenage pregnancy and children involved in criminal activities, the prevalence of these matters is worrisome to a large number of Essequibians.G Division Commander Khali PareshramOver 50 residents of Charity Village in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) on Sunday last attended a “Face the Community” meeting hosted by Commander of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) G Division, Khali Pareshram, where they voiced several concerns. Guyana Times was told that over 80 per cent of the issues affecting those residents stem from actions by school age children.Commander Pareshram told this publication that the meeting was held at the Charity Secondary School, and was art of his administration’s drive to improve public trust and create partnerships in “improving Police postures and community relations.”He explained that at the top of the long list of concerns raised was the matter wherein several persons pointed out that a specific group of young men was committing crimes in their community. According to the Commander, those pinpointed are the same individuals who had alleged “Police brutality” when they were earlier apprehended by Police ranks in relation to other crimes committed.“The residents called on the Police and the relevant stakeholders to quickly address the very unpleasant situation with the young boys, which has now become unbearable.”Complaints were also made about other children between the ages of 10 and 14 who are also said to be engaging in criminal activities. Many of these children should be attending school, but, for reasons unknown, they are not in classrooms but are reportedly involved in illegal actions, he noted.“These children that the residents are complaining about, apparently they are all delinquents, they are not going to school. The residents also said that there are children living in stalls at the Market Centre. A request was made for a truancy campaign (to be launched),” he disclosed.The residents also pointed out that a growing trend in their community is the issue of an increase in teenage pregnancies. Commander Pareshram noted that they also highlighted that there are young females in their area who are involved in “sexual favours.”As such, the collective request was that there be an official mentoring programme for the children in that village; and in light of the pressing issues that involve children, it has been decided that an action committee be formed to address them.The Police Commander added that, due to the nature of these concerns, ‘G’ Division will be partnering with stakeholders from respective Government agencies and regional authorities to tackle these problems, which are resulting in negative effects in that community. (Kristen Macklingam)
A fire suspected to be arson has completely gutted three buildings in Mc Doom, Greater Georgetown, in the wee hours of Friday.The fire reportedly started at around 01:30h in one of the buildings, which rapidly spread to the others located in the same yard.Guyana Times understands that the fire started in the lower flat of the Lot 50 Middle Street, Mc Doom, house owned by Yvonne Josiah who resides overseas.Jermaine Josiah, 40, the woman’s son was the lone occupant of the house at the time of the fire. He was subsequently arrested. “When I became alerted of the fire, I peeked outside and I see Jermaine just standing on the road looking as the house was being burnt with his hands folded,” a resident told this publication.Neighbours were alerted and quickly lent assistance to the occupants of the other houses.One of the other houses was owned by Olivia Welch, who was at home with her children when the disaster struck. Speaking with this publication, the woman’s daughter, Onica Welch, explained:“We were inside asleep when the neighbours woke us up and tell us that the house was on fire. Our mother just gathered me and my brothers and sisters and we all ran outside.”The third house was owned by Fanda Smith, who was also asleep when the fire started and was awoken by neighbours.Residents worked vigorously to douse the flames, however, their efforts proved futile.The Fire Service was called but according residents four fire tenders went to the location without water.An investigation has been launched by the Police and Guyana Fire Service.
A rice farmer and his family were left traumatised after bandits on Wednesday carried out a daring robbery in their rice field in Crane, West Coast Demerara.Rice farmer Ramkissoon Ramnarine and his wife, Indira, recounting the terrifying ordeal of being robbed at gunpoint on WednesdayThe farmer, Ramkissoon Ramnarine; his wife, Indira and their 26-year-old special needs daughter reside in Canal Number One Polder, West Bank Demerara; however, on the morning of the incident, the mother and daughter were resting in hammocks under a makeshift shed when the gunmen attacked.According to information gathered, the two men pulled up alongside the shed on a motorcycle, got off and approached the trio. One of the men, who was said to be dreadlocked, reportedly pulled out a gun from his waist and ordered the rice farmer and his family not to raise an alarm.The family told Guyana Times that the man picked up the bags which were under the makeshift shed and ran back to the motorcycle where his accomplice was waiting. The two men then rode away.“I was ploughing some rice land and one workman was sitting not too far from the camp; one of the persons from de motorbike run under de shed, pull out a gun and he scramble me wife’s three bags and he escape on the bike where a next guy was waiting for him,” the distraught farmer noted.Ramnarine further told this publication that the bags contained $90,000 in cash, medications for his wife and daughter, cosmetics, as well as his driver’s licence and Identification Card.The man said this was the third time that he has been robbed. He revealed that it was during their first encounter with bandits in 1995 that his daughter stopped speaking. Ramnarine added that his wife was unwell.“Meh wife is a sickly person; she had all she medication in one [bag],” the farmer noted. The Police were contacted and have since launched an investigation into the matter.Crime has drastically increased in the Vreed-en-Hoop area over the last few months, with 20 robberies being recorded in a one-week period. In response, acting Commander of D Division (West Demerara), Leslie James had met with concerned residents and businesspeople and he had committed to providing more Police ranks and patrols in the area.
Government on Thursday, using its parliamentary majority, brushed aside concerns over its legality and approved in excess of 0 million as part of the start-up fund for the controversial State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA).The matter came to the fore as the House resolved itself into a Committee of Supply to consider the Administration’s second supplementary request from the national coffers to the tune of some billion.Monies allocated for the Legal Affairs Ministry was the first up for consideration, at which point concerns were raised over a $90 million transfer of monies for SARA.Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams indicated to the House that SARA falls under his remit following assent to the Legislative Instrument by the President on May 4, last.Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira attempted in vain to have Government postpone the consideration of the monies for SARA since, according to the law, there was no provision for a Minister to make a request but rather the Director of the outfit would present the budget directly to Parliament.The Attorney General insisted that he was within his remit since the Director was not being represented in Parliament.Concerns were raised too by former Minister within the Finance Ministry, Juan Edghill, who questioned on what authority Government was making a supplementary provision available for a unit for which there was no original budgetary provision.Coming to the aid of the Attorney General was Finance Minister Winston Jordan, who insisted that a Supplementary Paper was meant to amend the original budget in any fashion.“I fail to understand the question, this is a supplementary paper amending the original budget so that it doesn’t have to have a previous budget line item or whatever.”Bishop Edghill insisted that the Finance Minister show to the House under which section of the laws he was authorised to make such a provision.According to Jordan however, “I have answered that question already… if he feels we violated laws or the Constitution he have remedies… as for now, this is the last comment on the matter.”Former Minister with responsibility for Commerce, Irfaan Ali also raised concerns over the manner with which the monies for SARA were being pursued.FMAAAccording to Ali, the Financial Paper presented by Jordan failed miserably to meet the minimum requirements of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA) which dictates what substantively must accompany such documents when being presented to the House for approval.The former Minister drew reference to contentions raised by now Vice President Carl Greenidge who was in Opposition at the time and had vehemently questioned the format with which the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Administration was presenting its budget.The discourse, however, attracted the intervention of Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, who drew reference to a 2013 ruling by the then Speaker of the House (himself).Trotman had ruled following the objections by then Opposition Member of Parliament Greenidge and had found that the Speaker did not have the power to dictate to Government in what format a budget should be presented.According to that ruling, it was for the House to accept or reject the financial requests being made by Government.Ali contested the notion and the applicability of the ruling since, according to him, the query did not deal with format but rather substance as dictated by the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.The former Speaker insisted that the format in which the Financial Paper was presented to the House followed precedent and that Government would in fact continue along the same vein.Former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall, also attempted to no avail to sway the Speaker’s judgment on the matter.He too contended that the ruling referenced was not applicable to the situation at hand, since the PPP’s objection did not deal with format but rather substance.SubsidyAccording to Nandlall, if it is the laws had been violated in the past, “then that is so but at some point in time we have to comply with the law.”Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland eventually informed the House that he had heard no arguments to sway his decision and that the House will be guided by the 2013 ruling made by Trotman.The $90 million allocation was represented as a Subsidy and Contribution to Local Organisations from the Legal Affairs Ministry to be turned over to SARA but another $26 million was also sought from the Legal Affairs Ministry budget for capital expenditure.According to the Legal Affairs Minister, the unit fell under his ministerial responsibility and as such the Ministry would be making the purchase of the two pick-ups and furniture and other accessories and they will be turned over to SARA.Questioned on the allocations that had been made to the State Asset Recovery Unit (SARU) – the outfit that preceded SARA – Attorney General Williams was unable to provide any answers since according to him, the Unit only fell under his remit from May.Some $19.7 million had been allocated to SARU for the purchase of vehicles but at the end of today’s process, parliamentarians were none the wiser as to what obtained with those monies.As it relates to the staffing of the Unit, Williams told the House that the Former Director, Professor Clive Thomas along with the deputy continue to hold the post.Grace periodOpposition Chief Whip Teixeira had pointed out to the House that it is the Parliamentary Committee of Appointments which is mandated to appoint a Director.Williams contends however that there is a four-month grace period that has not yet elapsed, and as such, the SARU Director continues to hold the post under the new SARA outfit.Opposition members during the course of the hours-long grilling session complained bitterly to the Speaker over the Attorney General’s refusal to provide information, instead opting to lay over at a later date.Among the information promised included the names and remunerations of those in the employ of SARA as well as breakdowns of monies already spent on the SARU outfit which was housed in the Ministry of the Presidency.He did indicate to the House that the SARA will be looking to rent its own accommodation with the approval of the funds.By the end of the session, related to the Legal Affairs Ministry and SARA in excess of $115 million had been approved by the coalition Government – despite the protestations of the Opposition – to operationalise SARA.A total of $89.9 million was voted as current expenditure to cater for salaries, rental, utilities and other such recurring expenditure; while $13 million was approved for the purchase of two pick up vehicles for the unit and another $13.4 million for the purchase of furnishing and other equipment.
DDL financial reportDemerara Distillers Limited (DDL) and its subsidiaries have recorded increased profits as a result of impressive performance on the international markets, where their turnover grew by 20%, despite the domestic turnover increasing by less thanKomal Samaroo, Chairman of the DDL Board of Directorsone per cent over the first six months of this year.Komal Samaroo, Chairman of the DDL Board of Directors, noted that “while turnover in the domestic market was relatively flat, increasing marginally by 0.5 per cent in the period, turnover in our international markets grew by an impressive 20%.”Samaroo this past weekend presented the DDL Interim Report for 2017, in which he reported that the company’s turnover on the domestic market remained ‘flat.’The consolidated report has incorporated the accounts of subsidiaries Demerara Contractors and Engineers Limited, Demerara Shipping Company, Tropical Orchard Products Company (TOPCO), DDL Trinidad and Tobago, DDL St Kitts and Nevis, DDL United States of America, Demerara Rum Company Inc and Breitensteing Holdings BC. Also incorporated into the group’s accounts are National Rums of Jamaica, Diamond Fire and General Insurance Inc, and DDL Hyderabad.According to the information supplied in the company’s interim financial report for the first half of 2017, turnover for the first half of the year grew by seven per cent, increasing from $8.5 billion to almost $9.1billion.Samaroo has since indicated that the DDL Group will continue to place “great emphasis on the development of its brands, particularly in its overseas markets.”The company did manage to secure an increase in profit before taxes over the period when compared with last year, earning just about $154 million more.The DDL Group, for the first half of 2017, earned $1.3billion before paying taxes. This compares well with the $1.1billion it had earned during the previous year.“Profit after taxation for the first half of the year was $936 million, compared to $805 million in the previous year,” according to Samaroo, the company’s Chairman.The company currently boasts assets valued at the end of June at some $26.7 billion, down from the audited position at the end of 2016, which appraised DDL’s total assets to be $27 billion.With just over $1 billion as cash in hand and at bank, its inventory at the end of June was recorded at just over $11.1billion, while its property, plant and equipment have been appraised at just over $9.5 billion.According to the company’s consolidated statement of financial position, it has in excess of $346 million earmarked as recoverable taxes for the first half of the year, while its investments and investment properties total just over $2.7 billion.The company is not without liability, since, according to its financial statement, it has close to $2 billion in loans which are due after one year, and another billion earmarked as deferred tax.The company has also secured a bank overdraft in excess of $2 billion, while its trade and other payables stand at just over $1.1 billion.
…it is clear to me they are planning to rig the elections – JagdeoThe People’s Progressive Party (PPP) believes the President’s unilateral action in appointing retired Justice James Patterson as head of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is but the first shot in a pathway to a rigged 2020 elections.As such, the Party has moved to set-up an internal group meant to combat any rigging attempts by the David Granger-led Administration, including the early training of its polling agents among other measures.The counter measures were announced on Wednesday by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo who was at the time speaking at a media conference at his Church Street Office in Georgetown.Jagdeo was adamant that the fight for free and fair elections was not one for the PPP but for all Guyanese.The Opposition Leader told media operatives that in light of what transpired over the appointment of the GECOM Chairman, the Party now has a healthy distrust for the list of voters.“This is not about who wins the election,” the Opposition Leader told media operatives, as he disclosed that among the outreaches, the Party will also be reaching out to the United States of America, Britain and Canada.According to Jagdeo, the PPP currently harbours concerns about the database at GECOM over what happen in this period.”The Opposition Leader in pointing to his party’s belief that Government is setting the stage for a rigged 2020 elections, pointed too to fears over the potential tampering of birth certificates at the Ministry of Citizenship headed by Minister Winston Felix.“We are training our polling agents already,” he disclosed as the party prepares to ensure that votes cannot be stolen at the level of polling place.Speaking to media operatives on the matter, the former President used the occasion to point out the furor that has been sparked across the country by civil society organisations, the Private Sector, religious leaders and individuals to speak out against the appointment.Jagdeo insists the matter flies in the face of the rule of law and said the only persons in support of the President is the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and its apologists.He was adamant about the President’s departure from the 25-year-old precedent accepted by both the PNC and PPP in the form of the Carter Formula.According to Jagdeo, the President’s actions have “grave implications for our future and for the well-being of the country.”“This seems to be the first shot in a path that would lead to rigged elections… that this is just the precursor of many other similar undemocratic acts that will follow that will lead to a denial of free and fair elections in Guyana,” Jagdeo told journalists on Wednesday.He reminded that “this fear is justified given the documented history of the rigging of elections by the PNC”.Jagdeo used the occasion to also react to those that have been calling for the Opposition to drop the matter and move on, reminding that the action of the President is in fact a violation of the Constitution.Speaking to the matter of constitutional reform, Jagdeo told those in attendance at his Church Street Office, that the PPP was looking for compliance with the constitutional provisions.Turning his attention to the perceived disdain with which the President views the Chief Justice’s ruling, Jagdeo pointed to Granger’s reported assertions that he did not have to provide reasons for the refusal of any of the 18 names provided since it was unenforceable.According to the Opposition Leader, the pronouncement by the Chief Justice was not a statement – as it was referred to by the President – but rather a court ruling that has to be complied with.He was quick to point out also that while the President may be immune from personal prosecution, his decisions can be challenged in court.The Opposition Leader also used the occasion to expand on his party’s decision to adopt a campaign of non-cooperation with Government but clarified that elected and constitutional positions will not be shirked.According to the Opposition Leader, the Party is looking to be guided by three core principles in this regard. “Where ever we have to perform statutory function by virtue of being elected by the people, or function required by the Constitution and by law the Party will participate,” he declared.Jagdeo said too that the PPP will remain engaged in activities where it can be afforded the opportunity to expose the wrongdoings and corruption on the part of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change Administration.He reported too that the Party has since taken a position on its participation in the National Assembly. According to Jagdeo, “We will go to Parliament,” as well as to continue to field its GECOM Commissioners.Jagdeo explained the position saying, “our fear is they could very well take decision that in our absence will be inimica….it is clear to me they are planning to rig the elections and we are not going to disappear because that is their intention… We are not going to cringe up and go into a corner… and we are not going to get away from the country and hand it over to them.”According to Jagdeo, “we will participate in bodies where we can advocate for the benefit of the people and we can defend their interests.”He was adamant, however, that the Party will not be participating in any Government related activities that are on the periphery of its core focus.The Opposition Leader told media operatives that as the PPP ‘ups the ante,’ the President will be met with protest action in each of the regions he will travel to.According to Jagdeo, President Granger will be “faced with protest action exposing the illegalities he committed.”Jagdeo said he is convinced that the President “and the others knew that he was acting unconstitutionally and against the Chief Justice’s ruling and that is why they hurried in the late hours of the night and swore in Patterson.”The Opposition Leader is adamant that the action on the part of the Administration to swear in Patterson at 20:30h was in order to prevent the Opposition approaching the court to halt the entire affair.Jagdeo will, on Friday, lead a delegation to Berbice where the Party intends to continue with its sensitisation campaign following the unilateral appointment of Justice (rtd) Patterson – in the process rejecting a total of 18 nominees submitted by the Leader of the Opposition.He this past weekend, fielded a delegation to Region One (Barima-Waini) as part of the Party’s reaction to the GECOM fallout.
By Jarryl BryanAt the age of 76, Brenda Fox lives with a chronic case of Lymphatic filariasis. She still moves about, but aided by a walker. And on occasions when the pain becomes unbearable, Mrs Fox is sometimes left bed ridden in hospital.Fox, who resides in Werk-en-Rust, Georgetown, does not remember the exact circumstances under which she first contracted the disease. But it only takes one fateful bite from a mosquito carrying any one of three varieties of nematode worms in order to transmit it; and as such, she knows the importance of prevention.“Every day I gotta take tablets. It’s just something that happened. I had a lot of pain, went in hospital, come out, all of that. But I use to work (until) I get fever and I fell sick. Then afterwards I start getting (swollen lymph nodes) and the foot (started) paining,” she related.Swollen feet which characterise filariasis, as exhibited by Brenda FoxMrs Fox noted that her persistent illness raised a number of questions in her mind and tests later confirmed exactly what she had. It goes by forbidding names such as Elephantiasis or “big foot”. But essentially, Mrs Fox was diagnosed with Lymphatic filariasis.She credits her husband, as well as her son and primary caregiver Brian Fox, for her life being as undisrupted as possible. Brian noted that while his mother’s filariasis has been exacerbated by a stroke, her infection is not the end of the road, as she still maintains a certain level of mobility.Global phenomenonGeneral Medical Officer, Dr Whitney MunroeAccording to information from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the disease is caused by three species of thread-like nematode worms, known as filariae – Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori. Male worms range from three to four centimetres in length, and female worms eight to10 centimetres.The worms target the lymphatic system, which is an essential component of the body’s immune system as they are essentially a network of nodes and vessels that maintain the delicate fluid balance between blood and body tissues. But when someone is infected, the male and female worms form “nests” together in this vital system.Filarial infection can cause a variety of clinical manifestations, including lymphoedema of the limbs, genital disease (hydrocele, chylocele, and swelling of the scrotum and genitals) and recurrent acute attacks, which are extremely painful and are accompanied by fever – a symptom mentioned by Mrs Fox.The majority of infected people are asymptomatic (no symptoms), but virtually all of them have some kind of damage to the Lymphatic system and as many as 40 per cent can register kidney damage, with proteinuria (excess protein in the urine) and haematuria (blood in the urine).Back in 2000, the WHO launched the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic filariasis (GPELF). According to the WHO, mass treatment for Lymphatic filariasis is ongoing in 45 countries. Ten countries have not started treatment or have submitted evidence indicating treatment is not required.But data from the Organisation also indicates that of 73 countries listed by the WHO as having endemic lymphatic filariasis, 18 countries have completed interventions and are conducting surveillance to validate elimination. China and the Republic of Korea were declared to have eliminated lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem in 2007 and 2008, respectively.An additional 22 countries have conducted Mass Drug Administration (MDA) in all endemic areas and are described by the WHO as being on track to achieve elimination. The remaining 33 countries have not been able to achieve 100 per cent geographical coverage; 10 of these have yet to initiate preventive chemotherapy or submit evidence that MDA is not required.In GuyanaBut how exactly can one ensure they are protected? In the years gone by, the then Health Ministry laid out an aggressive drive to distribute and raise awareness about the use of diethylcarbamazine (Dec) salt.Recently, National Coordinator of Guyana’s Elimination of Lymphatic filariasis Campaign, Dr Fabu Moses had said that there were hiccups with administering the ‘Dec salt’ programme. According to her, mapping showed that 90 per cent of the populace was at risk but keeping track of the amount of persons using ‘Dec salt’ was difficult.The current Government has been focused on the distribution of tablets intended to insulate persons from contracting the disease. The workers attached to the campaign can be seen braving the scorching sun and sometimes the soaking rain. But they have a mandate to deliver and for the most part, they fulfil this mandate.Guyana Times sat down for an interview with General Medical Officer, Dr Whitney Munroe, who oversees distribution activities in the district extending from Durban Street to Carifesta Avenue and is based at the South Road Clinic.“The distribution process has been for two weeks, starting the 16th October and it ends the 29th of October. Before that, we had training sessions which extended a little while. Presently we have 42 distributors,” she related.Dr Munroe noted that the distribution efforts have been largely successful thus far, with residents usually willing to receive their pills. The doctor attributed this to the increased awareness of the dangers of ‘big foot’, buoyed by the Government sponsored advertisements. She also went into details about exactly what medication residents are receiving.“The campaign is about filariasis. Presently in Guyana, we are using two tablets; albendazole and diethylcarbamazine. Depending on the age range, different amounts (are distributed). So what we are basically doing, we are attacking the worm that causes filaria,” She stated.“Wuchereria bancrofti (worm) is the main one that affects the Guyanese populace. And that is the worm we are attacking. This year, the distributors will be moving in different locations for approximately two weeks.”Dr Munroe noted that while the campaign of roving pill distributors will end today, distributors will be at fixed locations such as health centres to ensure that everyone is given a chance. This extension will last until November 9.“Our target for this location is approximately 38,800. And thus far, we have captured 75 per cent of that. So we are doing well thus far (and) despite some shortcomings, we are pressing on,” Dr Munroe said.
Nine males, including three foreigners, were arrested on Tuesday evening following the discovery of two high-powered weapons along with matching ammunition and other prohibited items in Region One (Barima-Waini).The suspects just before they were flown to the city for further interrogationAccording to reports, after receiving information that a gang of armed men was in the Churches Landing Mining Community acting in a suspicious manner and appeared to be a mix of foreign nationals and Guyanese, a party of Policemen from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in F Division (Interior locations) and ranks from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Coast Guard travelled to the Barima River, North West District (NWD), to investigate.There, they underwent a stake-out for almost 24 hours before intercepting a metal boat with four occupants, including the captain. The vessel was also towing a blue and grey fibre glass boat carrying another five passengers.The high-powered weapons and other illegal items found in the suspects’ possessionUpon searching the boats, the lawmen unearthed an AR-15 rifle and an AK-47 rifle, along with one magazine each, and a total of 19 live rounds of ammunition, one bullet proof vest and 1.5 kilograms of cannabis.The discovery led to the arrests of nine suspects, three of whom are foreign nationals from Cuba, Jamaica and Venezuela. They are 53-year-old Delroy Mairs, a mason of Albouystown, Georgetown and of Jamaica; 33-year-old Rafael Ramon, a Venezuelan citizen; and 25-year-old Samuel Alvaroz from Cuba.Meanwhile, the Guyanese suspects have been identified as 19-year-old Junior Jack, a sailor of Mabaruma, NWD; 38-year-old Donstant Rodrigues, a boat captain of Mora, Moruca, NWD; 49-year-old Shawn Phang, a miner of Port Kaituma, NWD; 44 year-old Dexter Valensuela, also a boat captain of Crane, West Coast Demerara (WCD); 48-year-old Corwin Griffith, another boat captain of Grove, East Bank Demerara (EBD), and 62-year-old Carrigon Khan, a boat captain of Pomeroon River.The suspects were escorted from Mabaruma to the Police Criminal Investigation Department Headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown, via air on Wednesday afternoon for further investigations.According to the Police Force, these arrests are significant since there were reports of piracy a few weeks ago in the Waini River area, several miles from the Police Floating Base MV Tamakay.
Workers attached to the Community Infrastructure Improvement Programme (CIIP) at the country’s largest Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC); the 52/74 NDC on Monday staged a picketing exercise over unpaid salaries for January.On Monday, the workers said that their salaries are now more than one month overdue.CIIP workers picketing for their unpaid salaries“We need money and this is two months now and we aint get one month pay. The cheque come and the Chairman can’t sign the cheque and me get children to go to school. What will happen to my children,” one of the workers on the picket line said.The CIIP workers holding placards, which read ‘No money. ‘No Work’ and ‘NDC Chairman must go’ demanded that they are paid before returning to work.CIIP workers are paid $25,600 monthly. They are required to work sixteen days per month and four hours per day.The work entails cleaning drains, bushes and removing solid waste in some instances in the NDC area.NDC Chairman Anil Nandand“It hard for us we need money right now,” another worker said.Meanwhile, the 15 other NDCs in the region which were in existence prior to the November Local Government Elections have been able to make payments to staff in January using the same signatories from the previous NDC.All other NDCs do not have this problem since they continue with the previous signatories to the account until the ministry gives the letter of permission for the new set of signatories to be sent to the bank.When the NDC Chairman asked some Councillors and the Vice Chairman of the NDC about the CIIP workers demonstration, they were directed to the senior regional official who they said is the main persons that orchestrated this matter to go beyond control.“We are waiting on the letter from the Ministry of Communities because the REO is saying that they can’t give us the letter from the Ministry so that myself and the other person who is going to be signatures to the account, can sign the cheques,” NDC Chairman Anil Nandand said on Mondau.However, the Chairman said following the picketing exercise he was able to get the Communities Ministry officials, who has promised to have the relevant letters issued on today. Nandand says before the end of to the end of the week the workers are expected to receive their January salaries.
…previously accused of financial fraudThe National Communications Network (NCN) Berbice Manager, Donna Mathoo, is being considered as a possible replacement for Business Minister Dominic Gaskin as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Alliance For Change (AFC).Business Minister Dominic GaskinChairman of the AFC, Raphael Trotman, on Wednesday told the media that there has been deliberations within the party on a replacement for the post of the Business Minister, who resigned as a Member of Parliament because of his dual citizenship status.Minister Gaskin was born in the United Kingdom. However, according to Article 156 (1) (a) of the Constitution states: “A member of the National Assembly shall vacate his or her seat therein if he or she resigns it by writing under his or her own hand addressed to the Speaker or, if the Office of the Speaker if vacant or the Speaker is absent from Guyana, to the Deputy Speaker”; while Article 156 (4) (a) says: “The Speaker shall declare the seat of a Member of the National Assembly vacant where – (a) the Speaker receives a written declaration of the Member of the National Assembly… or (b) the Representative of the List issues a notice of recall…”As such, Trotman reiterated that this situation is somewhat different from other parliamentarians, who attained citizenship in another country after birth. Nonetheless, he said the AFC will comply with the requirement and Donna Mathoo is one of the persons being considered. Once confirmed, they will announce the individual selected for the ministerial post.NCN Berbice Manager Donna Mathoo“We are in the process of identifying a replacement who is suitable and we are examining the various lists and we will be making that announcement in due course. There are a number of persons who are eligible, Ms Mathoo being one of them, and so there is active consideration of appointing her,” the AFC Chairman stated.The AFC executive mentioned that they are seeking to fill Gaskin’s position with someone who embodies competency, loyalty and delivers their time during parliamentary sessions. However, Mathoo was accused of being involved in fraudulent practices which reportedly saw over $3 million disappearing from the NCN’s coffers.“We’re looking at competency, a person’s ability to represent us, their degree of loyalty if I’m to be upright… We look at their ability to attend sittings of the National Assembly… Looking at the near and longer-term, we need to take several matters into consideration,” Trotman related.Mathoo was sent on administrative leave in 2017, and in March 2018, she was back on the job. The State-owned NCN has been silent on the outcome of an internal probe into the allegations.Meanwhile, Trotman said Gaskin will continue to hold the post as Treasurer of the AFC and will serve in other capacities in the future. It was indicated that the Business Minister requested some weeks ago that he intended on resigning from his post and affirmation was given recently for this to take place.Advocating for amendmentHowever, going forward, he said the party will lobby for an amendment of Article 155 of the Constitution, so that persons with dual citizenship can serve as parliamentarians. He is of the view that the oil sector will demand human resources, which can be achieved through the recruitment of persons in the Diaspora.Apart from Gaskin, three other Government MPs namely Minister of State Joseph Harmon; Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge; and Public Service Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine have all resigned from their respective posts because of the dual citizenship rule.In February, Chief Justice Roxane George had ruled on the case filed by Compton Reid over the dual citizenship of former AFC Member of Parliament (MP) Charrandas Persaud. In the case brought to the Chief Justice, Government had argued that Persaud’s dual citizenship status invalidated his vote in support of the No-confidence Motion that brought the Government down.The Court of Appeal later upheld the January High Court ruling that it is illegal for persons holding dual citizenship status to be sitting in the National Assembly.