Dear Editor,It would seem that the Working People’s Alliance [WPA] has just woken up. For three years, with all the scandals — including the move by the Coalition Government, of which it is a part, to hide the US$18 million signing bonus — the WPA has been silent.Now it claims that it was never “consulted or briefed on the negotiations and other official deliberations” on oil and gas.This all seems very convenient because we are months out from the Local Government Elections and it would seem that the promise of “advocacy” from the WPA is intended to influence some voters. You can see this convenience being exposed, because while the WPA has said that it endorses the call by Professor Clive Thomas for petroleum money to be given directly to households, the WPA also admits that its positions are not about “economic correctness”. How can economic correctness not be a factor?Worse than being convenient are the other comments that have been made by the WPA. First, the WPA said “the primary function of any State, regardless of ideological orientation, is to look after the welfare of its people.” But the WPA has not held its partners in the Coalition Government accountable in this regard. All of the increases in taxes and the move to impose measures that hurt people’s welfare — as well as the Coalition Government’s general incompetence, especially in the health sector, which hurts peoples’ welfare — have already happened. In all of this, the WPA has said nothing.Second, the WPA has said the Coalition Government must “not make final policy and governance arrangements” without inputs from stakeholders. But the WPA has said nothing when the Government ignored the advice of its own Petroleum Advisor, who is no longer employed.Third, the WPA has said, “We must never underestimate the developmental challenges associated with managing the petro economy.”But the WPA has said nothing about the fact that we are two years away from “First Oil” and there still is no management framework in place. The WPA has said nothing about “development challenges” when the list of local companies engaged by ExxonMobil demonstrated the need for a strong local content framework.Fourth, the WPA said, “The Government take is estimated at 50 to 60%.” But the WPA, in quoting a big percentage, has said nothing about the millions in pre-contract costs that have been claimed by ExxonMobil, and it has said nothing about what will happen when oil prices drop, and it has said nothing about what the Coalition agreed are costs that ExxonMobil could claim as cost oil. So the WPA can say that Government take is 50% – 60%, but 50% – 60% of what?Editor, all the WPA has done is expose itself as being conveniently opportunistic and unwilling to face reality, as I pointed out in the four points above.Yours faithfully,Attiya Baksh
Dear Editor,According to a recent letter in the local media, “people of questionable character are forming NGOs and going around the world under false pretence, professing to be doing all kinds of good service in Guyana when in reality no one in Guyana is benefiting from these entities”. In some cases, they have never been heard of here. Many of these institutions are collecting millions of dollars from members, donors, foreign and local governments, but there is no accounting of how this money is being spent.Many NGOs in Guyana do not comply with either their own constitutions or the Friendly Societies Act which governs their operations.The Caribbean Voice is a New York-registered NGO and not-for-profit organisation with almost two decades of experience in activism. And from the very inception, collaboration has been the pivot on which we have been operating. Thus we have collaborated with the New York City Department of Education to sponsor an essay context for students; with NBC TV and the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry to raise funds for Caribbean hurricane victims; have held highly successful business and international awards; have published The Caribbean Voice magazine and newspaper for over a decade; have helped other Caribbean NGOs in the diaspora in myriad ways, including mediating internal problems and collaborating with other NGOs on social issues activism, especially abuse and suicide.Thus when we decided to launch our Suicide Prevention campaign in Guyana, we used the collaborative approach with the National Suicide Prevention and Related Issues Conference held in August 15 in Georgetown, and this was attended by over 75 stakeholders nationally. We have since collaborated with numerous entities, NGOs, faith-based and community-based organisations, local and regional governments, mass-based and special-interest groups, and fellow diaspora NGOs.All NGOs we have worked with are manned by volunteers who are caring, passionate and dedicated; who give so much of their time, effort and resources to make a difference every which way; and who are generally transparent with respect to both their work and the funds generated for such work.So while there may be “People of questionable character professing to be doing all kinds of good service in Guyana when in reality no one in Guyana is benefiting,” TCV has no experience of such. If the letter writer is aware of such, we urge that he reports them so they can be brought to task before creating significant harm.However, we are aware of entities registered as businesses but are promoting themselves as NGOs, and of a handful of individuals for whom social activism is a fashion statement and an ego-boosting excursion.Also, we are aware that the cumbersome and burdensome Friendly Societies Act has brought a number of NGOs to a standstill, while impeding the work of others. So we believe that the regulations governing NGOs need to be simplified, and the registration process made easier and less demanding. Thus three persons should be sufficient for registration purpose, instead of the stipulated minimum of seven. As well, the process should easily facilitate not-for-profit and tax-exempt status, which is currently not the case. And there should be a simple procedure to facilitate diaspora-based NGOs to operate in Guyana as well as to set up local branches of their organisations. Currently, over 100 diaspora-based NGOs operate at some level in Guyana.TCV also suggests there should be oversight to ensure registered businesses do not project themselves as NGOs, or fundraise as such. In fact, we also suggest establishing a data base/registry of NGOs, so all NGOs can be easily tracked and monitored and so that stakeholders’ collaboration can easily be built for any aspect of activism, such as suicide or abuse prevention, for example. This database/registry should be available to the public.All NGOs should also lodge copies of their constitutions with the relevant Ministry, and user-friendly mechanism should be set to facilitate complaints and quick and conclusive investigations. While we do absolutely agree that transparency and accountability must be in place, we suggest that monitoring be standardised, so as not to be onerous and breathing- down-the-neck demanding. As well, anyone who supports charitable work and social activism via any NGO should not only have the right to demand accountability, but should be able to access same via the database/registry.Sincerely,The Caribbean Voice
Dear Editor,With great pomp, it was announced that the appointment could be made as early as Monday.The Opposition Leader was prepared to cooperate with such a move.Instead of facilitating, the call is now for certain names to be placed on the list.It begs the questions – whose list is it and was the announcement of a Monday appointment genuine?It seems the OL made a mistake in being magnanimous in granting suggestions of names to be made for now it seems that if the demand for certain names on the list is not met, the stalemate continues.God help Guyana, please.Sincerely,Shamshun Mohamed
– Phoenix Recovery Project on a campaign to raise awarenessBy Rennella BourneIn observance of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which is celebrated worldwide on June 26, local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Phoenix Recovery Project (PRP), has embarked on a campaign to raise awareness of the facility to rehabilitate persons who are victims of drug abuse.According to the PRP, in light of the prevailing drug abuse problem plaguing our society, efforts are being made to raise awareness of the existence of rehabilitation centres across the country for those seeking help.The PRP is the only rehabilitation residential centre that caters to both males and females in Guyana and is located in Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.PRP Coordinator Clarence Young told Guyana Times that despite the International Day being observed, the NGO was unable to conduct any programmes that would deter drug abusers. “We had rigorous training with the staff, so unfortunately, we would not be keeping any programme to facilitate the day being observed; however, we are still keeping with the theme, “listen first” that we will apply here. We will use the theme sometime in the … week.”He noted that the Education Ministry had reached out to the rehabilitation centre requesting its partnership at some schools to speak on the topic of drug abuse.According to Young, the PRP opened its doors to the public in 2000, serving approximately 450 persons from then to the present. The PRP has a population of 22 residents – 6 females and 16 males.Young related that the success rate over the years at the rehabilitation centre was between 40 and 60 per cent. He said, “We don’t necessarily view relapse as a failure, because some persons [who relapsed] have fixed themselves up and have become successful.”The coordinator added that the clientele at the PRP usually fluctuated, but the centre remained optimistic towards rehabilitating many other drug abusers. After 17 years of being a drug addict, Sandra, who was known as “Granny” in the streets of Albouystown, is now one of the many recovered drug abusers PRP has produced.For 17 years, Sandra felt the brunt of the effects of the most debilitating substances, which left many persons battered and unchanging.Young told this publication that Sandra was doing excellently and has returned to normalcy. “She has been clean of drugs for eight years now and has become an employee of the same rehabilitation centre.”
By Ramona LuthiIn light of construction being recommenced on the Kitty Market, Town Clerk of Georgetown Royston King announced in a statutory meeting on Monday that the structure will be completed at the end of two months.According to King, this information was relayed to him by City Engineer Colvern Venture prior to the meeting, highlighting the availability of relevant materials.“With regards to the Kitty Market, I’ve received a report from the engineer who has given me a new date of about two months to complete with the availability of the appropriate materials to get the work done,” the Town Clerk noted.The rehabilitation of the Kitty Market began earlier this year, and the announced deadline was Guyana’s 50th Jubilee Anniversary on May 26. However, construction halted, causing many persons to refer to the work as an election gimmick, under the refuted claims that the Mayor and City Council had become cash-strapped and unable to pay contractors for the restoration.During the latter part of the previous month Guyana Times was informed by City Engineer Venture that the reconstruction on the Market had already resumed but was delayed because of the inclement weather.Meanwhile, earlier in this month, vendors related to Guyana Times that the contractor has recommenced works on the structure and the relevant materials were bought and delivered to the location.
The duo that was jointly charged for the recruitment of persons to traffic cocaine had the charge against them dismissed on Thursday at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.Rolston Bacchus and Mark Sawyers pleaded not guilty to the charges which alleged that they recruited Safraz Jalaladeen to traffic 6.04 kilograms of cocaine out of Guyana from April 1-May 19, 2016.Rolston BacchusMark SawyerPresiding Magistrate Judy Latchmam said a prima facie case was not made against the defendants since the evidence of the prosecution’s witness, Gilalidine, was manifestly unreliable.Just over two weeks, Jalaladeen appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan and was sentenced to four years imprisonment for the offence. He had since been cooperating with the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) assisting with the investigations.Ranks attached to CANU were able to finger the men after Jalaladeen was busted at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport with the drugs concealed in Kerrygold milk packets in two of his suitcases.While Sawyers walked out of court a free man, Bacchus still remains remanded as he has another drug matter pending.
The Bangladeshi Contingent serving with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) said at least 3200 young Liberians have benefited from their skills training program.This was contained in a statistic released by the Bangladeshi Engineering Contingent that manages the Bangladeshi Skills Training Program, stationed at the Bangladesh-Liberia Friendship Center (BLFC) in Ganta City, Nimba County.Speaking to the Daily Observer in Ganta recently, the Contingent Commander, Lt. Col Mohammed Anwar Uddin said, “So far, more than 3200 Liberians have been trained in this center.”This center conducts training in computer, nursing and medicare, generator operation and maintenance as well as tailoring.BLFC was established in 2007 by the UNMIL Bangladeshi Contingent under the command of Lt. Col Hoque. Through this center many Liberians were able to acquire skills in many disciplines where today some of them are self employed.Lt. Col Uddin disclosed that every year, the center conducts four packages of training in order to build the capacities of hundreds of Liberians for the job market.Meanwhile, the Engineering Battalion commander, who presently manages the center, is calling on Liberians to utilize the center by coming to get skills for future jobs. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
For several years now this newspaper, the Daily Observer, has been calling the attention of the Agriculture Ministry, the Liberian government and people to the poor state of agriculture in this country so rich in fertile land and rainfall.But the more we have written, the more not only we, but the problem itself, have been ignored.The person chiefly responsible for making sure that the nation’s farmers are working successfully and their farms doing well is Agriculture Minister Dr. Florence Chenoweth. But the more we have written, the more she has been in denial. She has even dismissed the Daily Observer as nothing more than a “tabloid,” which she says she no longer reads. But despite her dismissive and unconcerned attitude, we have remained undeterred and have persistently reported that Liberia continues to import most of what we eat, including not only our staple, rice, but even such basic items as pepper, tomato, bitter balls, peanuts and even fruits, most of which are regularly brought in from Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.Now the global organization chiefly concerned with food, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has added its voice to this disturbing, grave and urgent national crisis.The FAO Country Representative to Liberia, Jean-Alexandre Scaglia, bluntly stated last week that Liberia is hungry, and that she faces a very serious problem of FOOD INSECURITY.Deliberately shunning diplomacy, he backed his statement with a series of grim statistics, which showed that people in all the counties are hungry. These include the people of LOFA County, historically the nation’s breadbasket.Lofa is food insecure to the extent of a whopping 61.3%! Bong County, the nation’s second breadbasket, is even worse, 64.6%; while Sinoe, like other southeastern counties, is even harder hit, 65.1%. Grand Bassa’s is 60.8%, while Agriculture Minister Chenoweth’s own home, Grand Cape Mount County, is a staggering 78.8% food insecure!Montserrado County, where the Agriculture Ministry sits, stands at 67%. Nimba, another important food producer, stands at 41.5% insecure and Margibi at 63.2%.We have constantly complained of the absence of agricultural extension agents in most parts of the country. But here again Agriculture Minister has been in denial.Clearly, the President of Liberia herself seems to have played a deaf ear to the Daily Observer’s consistent and unrelenting reports on the crisis in the nation’s agriculture. Yes, she fired Dr. Chris Toe years ago when it appeared that the rubber sector, especially two of the major plantations, Guthrie in Bomi and Cavalla in Maryland, was being mishandled. But Dr. Toe’s successor, Dr. Chenoweth, has been in office for nearly seven or more years and the agriculture sector has continued to flounder.It is simply amazing that people who have been trained at the highest level in agriculture have failed to help their own country in this most critical and vital sector. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?There was another PhD Agriculture Minister during the Taylor years–Dr. Roland Massaquoi. And what did he accomplish?Last week President Sirleaf blamed the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank of Liberia for the decline in the value of the Liberian dollar compared to the United States dollar. Unfortunately, she did not mention the woeful lack of productivity in the agriculture sector. Upon what does a country depend for foreign exchange? It seems to us that the primary reason for the Liberian dollar’s decline is the US$300 million we spend annually importing rice alone, and even more money on almost all of the other foods we eat, including fruits, meat and vegetables. And what do we produce on the farm for export?Nothing, especially since the world rubber price has drastically dropped.As we recently suggested editorially, we need to reinvigorate the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC) and empower it to work directly with the farmers toward increasing agricultural production. Ambassador Charles A. Minor and Vice President Joseph Boakai, who both ran LPMC, are around to advise on this.The President must pay very serious attention to agriculture and determine what must be done to improve the sector. Her people are hungry and this should be to her a matter of extreme urgency. The GOL, including the Central Agricultural Research Institute, must also empower the agricultural cooperatives to work with farmers to grow more food.The President must do some drastic to arrest the nation’s agricultural decline, which threatens not only food security but security in general. Remember April 14? Florence Chenoweth most certainly does.She was Agriculture Minister then, too.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Despite a stern order issued Acting Minister of Health & Social Welfare, Matthew K. Flomo, by the plenary of the Liberian Senate instructing his Ministry to reinstate dismissed leaders of the National Health Workers Association of Liberia (NHWAL), credible information received by this paper indicates that the two are still out of jobs.NHWAL President Joseph Tamba and Secretary General George Williams were among 22 health workers declared dismissed by Health & Social Welfare Minister, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, during a nation-wide go slow by health workers.hrough the intervention of the Senate and the Liberian Council of Churches and other national institutions, an agreement was reached during which Minister Gwenigale agreed after hours of meeting with some Senators at the John F. Kennedy Hospital, to reinstate all those dismissed, including the two leaders.The Minister reinstated 20 health workers, leaving out the leadership, a decision which prompted the Senate to invite him to appear before the plenary. But due to the absence of the Minister out of in the country, Acting Minister Flomo was invited to the Senate, and in a strong-worded mandate he was given 72 hours to reinstate the two leaders. The Senate further mandated the Ministry to ensure that the two leaders be given all benefits enjoyed prior to their dismissal.During that hearing last Tuesday, Deputy Minister Flomo informed the Senators that the decision by Minister Gwenigale to reinstate 20 of the 22 dismissed health workers and leaving out the president and his secretary general was as a result of their role in the health workers go slow.“The Minister of Health formally wrote the two individuals informing them of their permanent dismissal from the Ministry; a copy of that communication was served the Civil Service Agency (CSA). As I stand here now I may not be in the position to tell you exactly the reason why the Minister has not been able to reinstate the two persons in question,” Acting Minister Flomo stated.Meanwhile, responding to a query on Tuesday from a Senator as to whether the health workers had been reinstated as Health Ministry was mandated by plenary, Senate Pro Tempore Gbehzohngar Findley promised to address the plenary concerning that issue. Up to press time Tuesday, it was not known whether Senator Findley updated his colleagues during their executive session which followed immediately after Tuesday’s plenary session.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has said that the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease exposed the weakness in the health sector of countries. She has warned that as a lesson from the Ebola crisis, Africans governments should now see the need to develop a robust public health systems in their various countries.Dr. Zuma, a former Health Minister of South Africa, said if this is done, it will help African governments to respond sufficiently to such outbreaks as the EVD and any other future health eventualities.Speaking in Monrovia last week, the AUC boss also said that governments on the continent should put a lot of emphasis on health and hygiene being taught in schools so that children grow up having a good understanding about health issues, including infectious diseases and among others.She was addressing a press stakeout along with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the foyer of the Foreign Ministry during a solidarity visit. Dr. also stressed that Africans should make sure that our various cultures and health should go together.Dr. Zuma, who was heading a 14-member delegation that paid a daylong official visit to Liberia, said they were in the country to express solidarity and sympathies to the government and people of Liberia.“We are very happy to be here, even though under difficult circumstances, to show and express our solidarity and to also extend our sympathies to those who have passed due to the Ebola crisis,” Dr. Zuma said.She commended Liberia for its fortitude and courage in facing this very difficult situation. “We hope that you will continue and sooner rather than later you will be successful in dealing with Ebola.”On lessons learnt from the Ebola outbreak, the AU Chairperson emphasized that health and education should be embedded in each country’s economic development plan. “If there is no health and skills, there can be no economic development,” she warned, adding, “You need both human and financial capital. All our countries should be strengthening their health services and making sure that investment in its citizens is strong.”“Countries like Japan they don’t have many mineral resources, but they invest more in health and education and we can see how far these countries are developed. So in all of our countries we need to prioritize the issues of health and education,” she said.Dr. Zuma disclosed that the AUC is trying to mobilize more human resources from member states to contribute to the efforts of the international community to contain and eradicate the virus that’s devastating the sub-region.The African Union has already deployed a 36-member team of medical personnel to assist with the fight against Ebola under the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak Operations in West Africa (ASEOWA).She disclosed that the AU is also trying to mobilize the business community within the region to contribute to the fight against the Ebola virus disease as well post-Ebola “because of the socio-economic challenges it will pose afterwards.”Meanwhile, many health experts, both continental and global, have noted that the level of devastation or destruction carried out by the Ebola Virus Disease in the Mano River Union basin since its outbreak is as a result of the fragile state of the public health systems in the region. Similar situations also exist in most parts of the African continent, they said.This rendered citizens of these countries vulnerability to any viral attacks as it is being experienced with this outbreak, health experts have maintained.The outbreak of the Ebola Virus disease further laid bare the vulnerability of countries of the African continent, situations that are most times attributed to corruption and bad governance on the continent.The AUC delegation that visited Liberia included the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA), Dr. Carlos Lopes; the head of the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak Operations in West Africa (ASEOWA), Major General Dr. Julius Oketta; and African Union Commission Ambassador to Liberia, Ambassador Toyin Solaja.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)