…as Committee awaits presentation of 2015 reportThe Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly is expected to begin its work on the 2016 Auditor General Report in a matter of weeks, during which time the Government’s latest fiscal indiscretions will be put under the microscope.During an interview with Guyana Times, PAC member and Member of Parliament (MP), Juan Edghill related that work was still being done on the preceding 2015 Report. He noted that another meeting would have to be called at the Committee level to finalise the report.PAC member Juan EdghillEdghill explained that during the last sitting of Parliament, the Committee was able to clear the backlog of reports dating from eight years ago. As such, the Opposition-chaired PAC dispensed of the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Auditor General Reports. Regarding the 2015 Report, Edghill stated that it was close to completion.“That (2015) report is being prepared to send to the Parliament and the 2016 Auditor General Report, which was tabled in Parliament at the end of September, we’ll start examining now. Within weeks, the Public Accounts [Committee] should start moving (on that),” Edghill assured.Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Issacs“But we have to have a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, for them to bring the report to us and approve it. The Committee completed its work on the examination of the 2015 Report and it is now for the Clerk to do the write-up, format the report, and get our approval for it to be sent to the House.”Once the report is submitted, the Finance Ministry will have 90 days to account for the financial anarchy found by the Auditor General to have occurred since 2015 and documented in his report. This includes abuse of Guyana’s Contingency Fund and widespread overpayment of contractors.At the time of the examination, the Committee had been the scene of turmoil with several accounting officers having to be cautioned and evicted from the Parliament’s chambers for being untruthful to the Committee. In the wake of this, there was a major reshuffling of Permanent Secretaries among various Ministries.Efforts to contact Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, were futile.2016 ReportThe 2016 Auditor General report had re-flagged the fact that the consolidated fund of Guyana was in overdraft. At the end of that year, the Fund reflected an overdraft of $67.5 billion and the cash book, $86 billion. In 2015, the Fund was overdrawn by $42.6 billion.According to the Auditor General, the difference of $18.5 billion between the bank and the cash book was due to a deposit of $6.7 billion not being debited to the cash book. There was also some $22.7 billion in unpresented cheques. It was also revealed that deposits totalling $5.3 billion were not credited to the bank account, while debit advances of $1.6 billion were not credited to the cash book.In its response, the Ministry affirmed that the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act 2003 makes provisions for the account to be overdrawn in order to make up for cash shortfalls while implementing the Budget.
Berbice Under-19 Captain and national junior cricketer Kevin Sinclair will be named Cricketer of the Year when Guyana’s leading youth and sports organisation, the Rose Hall Town Youth & Sports Club, MS, hosts its 28th Annual Awards Ceremony at the St. Francis Training Centre today.His national Under-19 team mate Kevlon Anderson would receive the runner-up award in what would be the biggest sports award programme in Guyana.Club Secretary/CEO Hilbert Foster has said all plan are in place for a highly successful event, and has said the planning committee, consisting of himself, Vice President Mark Papannah and Asst Secretary Simon Naidu, is working very hard to make the event a success.VNet Communications CEO Safraz Sheriffudeen makes donation to RHTYSC Secretary/CEO Hilbert FosterPresident David Granger, Patron of the Club, would be unable to attend due to pressing national duties, but would be sending a representative. The President has also donated $1 million towards assisting the Club to fulfill its list of activities for 2018, especially its Patron’s Fund.Under the Patron’s Fund, the Rose Hall Town Youth & Sports Club assists less fortunate youths and clubs with financial grants. Vice President Mark Papannah disclosed that the Club would be honouring a total of 60 members, Police Officers, Teachers, Retired Educators and students, while donations would be made to dozens of schools, cricket clubs, and also to a young cricketer under the Rose Hall Town Youth & Sports Club’s Dare to Dream programme.The Club last Thursday received several donations for the Awards Ceremony. Long time sponsor Kings Jewellery World handed over a West Indian Cricket Medallion towards the player who would receive the Benefit Year Award, while VNet Communication contributed a large amount of souvenir school bags for the club’s Say No/Say Yes Programme. Other donors included De Sinco Trading, Fitness Express, Dr. Phillip Da Silva, Paul Persaud, Jumbo Jet, Impressions, Gizmos & Gadgets, National Sports Commission, Ricky Deonarine of 4R Bearings, and ANSA McAL.Dr. Barton Scotland, Speaker of the National Assembly, has donated trophies for the top two awards and a large quantity of medals. Bakewell donated a quantity of souvenir clocks, while Mr. Patrick Sukhlall of Impressions contributed souvenir cups towards the hosting of the Club’s biggest ever sports awards programme.Foster has hailed the co-operation of corporate Guyana, and has said the membership of the Rose Hall Town Youth & Sports Club deserves to be honoured as they are the ones who worked tireless to make sure that the Club retains its status in Guyana.Among those to be honoured are Shemaine Campbelle, Jeremy Sandia, Jonathan Rampersaud, Mahendra Gopilall, Shabika Gajnabi, Erva Giddings and Mariam Samaroo.
Based on questions posed by the parliamentary Opposition about the Guyana People’s Militia, the National Assembly was told that 1608 persons have been recruited into the resuscitated group. Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said these persons were recruited at various levels, and they were between the ages of 18 and 35, and physically and mentally stable for entry. These persons, he said, are not forced to join the Militia, but do so of their own free will and are paid $2829 per day.Thus far, 36 persons have been recruited from Region One (Barima-Waini); 154 from Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara); 365 from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica); 204 from Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice); 405 from Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); 93 from Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni); 42 from Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni); 45 from Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and 264 from Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).According to the Minister, recruitment teams are deployed to the various regions to sensitise persons on the programme and to recruit those interested. Special consideration is given to highly-skilled retired military personnel and skilled professionals. Advertisements are also placed on social media, radio, and television and flyers are distributed to attract interest.The officers are required to attend specialised training three times per week in the regions. The training entails personal drills, map reading and navigation, jungle and weapons training, internal security, national policy and more.Eighteen years after it was disbanded, the Guyana People’s Militia was reactivated on December 1, 2015 in keeping with the defence policy of the six-month-old administration.At the relaunching, the then Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Mark Phillips explained the advantage of having the Militia as a separate entity rather than being part of the GDF as the 2nd Infantry Battalion, as since August 1997.The Chief-of-Staff said several drill halls countrywide would be rehabilitated and Regional Companies would be strengthened through recruitment and the provision of more leadership training for officers and senior non-commissioned officers.The Militia was first established in 1976 in accordance with the Defence Act at a time when the country had been facing internal and security threats.An estimated 1000 persons have been recruited in 2014 and 2015. Phillips said a number of the 55 persons who went Absent Without Leave (AWOL) have since been taking steps to return to duty.Government also expects to boost the GDF’s Engineer Corps to be involved in infrastructural development in the hinterland. The GDF plans to acquire more aircraft and patrol vessels during the next few years.
A man was on Friday jailed for two years by the Chief Magistrate after he appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts charged for wounding his reputed wife.Ivor Gills, who was represented by Attorney Adrian Smith, admitted to the offence when the charge was read to him. Police stated that on November 26, 2018, at Middle Road, La Penitence, Georgetown, he unlawfully and maliciously wounded Keron Blaze with intent to mane, disfigure or disable her.According to the facts of the case presented by Police Prosecutor Gordon Mansfield, the victim was relaxing in a chair at the above address when Gills requested that they speak.The Virtual Complainant reportedly refused and in doing so proceeded to a bathroom in the house. However, as she was exiting the said bathroom, the defendant used a scissors to stab her several times about her body.Blaze was rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital where she was treated. Gills was later arrested and charged with the offence.He was sentenced by Magistrate Ann McLennan who ordered that he seek counselling while in prison.
Students of the Mae’s Schools Annex on Thursday raised their voices against social issues plaguing society through a Mashramani walk around the city.Commencing from Middleton Street, Campbellville, the parade continued through several streets until they were back in school where other activities were lined up.Dressed in colourful costumes to depict the Mashramani festivities, the students paraded with banners bearing slogans, which condemned acts of racism and child abuse among others. On the way, the children were also cheered on by passersby who looked on at the spectacle.One of the banners which demonstrated unityRevelers parading along the routeDirector of the School, Simone Nurse, gave a synopsis of their activities as she pointed out that child abuse, the use of drugs, child labour and violence were some of the areas where awareness was heightened for the Mash walk.She added that this was done to inform the public that the school recognises these issues and are committed to eliminating them. Through this initiative, the students were having fun while being enlightened about the social topics.“We’re excited because we’re on the road with our children to be a part of our Republic celebration for 2019. Our children are beautifully decorated and we’re celebrating the fact that we’re one people, one nation and one destiny,” said Nurse.“The things that we’ve depicted are things that relate to children, abuse of drugs, child labour so we’re highlighting it to the public to let them know that we’re concerned with all of those things,” she added.The Director noted that over 200 children from the preschool and primary levels were present, and more were expected throughout the day as it is customary for the school to participate in the Mashramani celebrations.“We have approximately 200 children here and some of them will be here later on. When we’re done and get back to school, the children will have a celebration there. This is an annual event. We do it every year and we try to do something different every year.”The official Mashramani celebration will unfold on Republic Day, this Saturday, after the flag raising ceremony at fmidnight on February 22.
Oil exportation licence scrapping…says cancellation of contract unwiseOpposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo said that Guyana only has a mere 24 days fuel reserve capacity, pointing that the decision to revoke an oil exportation licence granted to China Zhonghao Inc is not a wise move for the country.Opposition Leader Bharrat JagdeoJagdeo made this comment at a Wednesday afternoon news conference at his Party’s Robb Street, Georgetown headquarters.According to the Opposition Leader it is odd the Government would want to deny a company which wants to invest in Guyana’s bulk fuel storage capacity, noting that the State oil company, Guyana Oil Company (Guyoil) having a measly 14 days storage capacity, which simply means, if the country is unable to import fuel for more than three weeks it will be out of supply.“Some countries try to encourage people to build more storage… we have 24 days of storage capacity. We should encourage people to invest and build more storage capacity. The Chinese can’t fetch away the tanks when they build them there, they can’t fetch them back to China, they are investing in our country,” he argued.The former President rhetorically questioned why the Government would go after a legitimate company, which was intended to boost Guyana’s low bulk fuel storage capacity.Duplicitous approachJagdeo also lambasted the APNU Administration for what he described as a duplicitous approach, pointing to a recent statement by Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, who said that the Governments of Guyana and Brazil were holding discussions to approach the Chinese Government to fund the Linden to Lethem Highway contraction and other infrastructural projects here.“So on one hand there is this big assault on the Chinese companies … and then on the other hand they are looking for money from the Chinese Government to build the road from Brazil to Guyana and the other infrastructure… looking for money from the Chinese Government and on the other hand chasing away all the Chinese investors,” Jagdeo highlighted.Jagdeo urged the Chinese Ambassador to Guyana to intervene and say clearly to the Guyana Government that the harassment of Chinese investors must cease.Abide by the lawsJagdeo also made it clear that if any company, Chinese or otherwise, break the laws of Guyana in anyway, then they must be sanction; however, the Government must not target these companies because of a hidden agenda.“I must point out that the Chinese and any foreign investor must comply with all our laws. If they sign agreements, like BaiShanLin and the others, they must comply, if they don’t comply then there must be penalties, but they must not be treated unfairly,” he reasoned.Possible litigation costsEarlier a legal expert told Guyana Times that the State faces the possibility of humongous litigation costs if the Chinese take legal action over a breach of contract without any solid justification.“Contracts can only be terminated for just cause in accordance with the terms of the contract, since many contracts provide grounds upon which they can be terminated,” the expert, who practises civil law… In other words said “a contract cannot be whimsically and arbitrarily terminated. If that happens, the affected party can launch legal proceedings for damages and compensation for wrongful and/or unlawful termination of the contract and that can run into hundreds of millions of dollars depending on the subject matter of the contract,” the civil lawyer outlined.The expert said while not being fully privy to the terms of the contract, based on the trend in recent months, said that there seems to be some misperception by the Government that contracts signed prior to their assumption to office could be arbitrarily quashed.“The Government seems to believe that they are not bound by contracts entered into under the previous Government. That is a terribly flawed view. Contracts with the State of Guyana, entered into by the Government of the day, continue to be enforced, notwithstanding that there may be a change of government,” the expert highlighted.The Government and the company have not officially commented on the termination of the contract.Only recently there were reports of fuel smuggling in Guyana with prominent businessmen names being called din the illicit ring. In one instance, the High Court granted an injunction after several local businessmen moved to the court following accusations of inducement to smuggle fuel from Venezuela.
The Audit Office has recommended that the Finance Ministry take a definite decision and action toward regularising the status of the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) since it is operating as an autonomous body, while still receiving funding from the Public Health Ministry as though it is a “department.”The Linden Hospital ComplexDuring 2015, the Public Health Ministry transferred to the LHC amounts totalling $261.129 million from its current provisions. The sum was to have met the operational costs of the hospital. However, the operation of the current appropriation to fund the hospital was questioned since funding for that entity was included under a programme in the budget of the ministry, as though it was a department, while funding was disbursed as if it was a subvention agency under the ministry, the Auditor General’s Report disclosed.It stated that the Linden Hospital Complex was approved by Cabinet decision dated November 24, 2015 to function as a board during the period of December 1, 2015 to November 30, 2016. It was highlighted that the Complex was not an autonomous or semi-autonomous body regulated under an Act of Parliament and that it was managed by a Board of Directors and was not required to provide the ministry with financial or other reports that would indicate that some form of ministerial supervision was exercised over its processes.Nevertheless, the report indicated that it was explained by the Head of the Budget Agency, that the hospital provides receipts and statements to cover all expenditures incurred to the ministry.Therefore, the Report suggested that the ministry take affirmative action to discuss this matter with the subject minister and, if necessary, the Office of the Budget of the Ministry of Finance, with a view to having definite decisions and actions toward regularising the status of LHC.Additionally, during 2015, audit checks the hospital revealed a number of other discrepancies; examination of the payroll and other related documents revealed that pay change directives for the termination of employment in respect of one employee was forwarded late to the Central Accounting Unit of the hospital, as a result, the employee was overpaid; the Stores Regulation require that a master inventory be maintained, however, the hospital has not adhere with this requirement, since this record was not maintained for the period under review; and log books presented for audits were not properly maintained to reflect the signature of the authorising officer for the journeys undertaken. As a result it could not be ascertained whether proper control was exercised over the use of the complex’s fleet of vehicles.The Report noted that the ministry acknowledged that overpayment of salaries is an issue but stated that they are trying to retrieve money.The Audit Office recommended that action be taken to recover the overpaid money, put systems in place to ensure that all records are maintained, as required by Store Regulation 1993, and present all outstanding documents for audit examination.
Alone bandit brandishing a cutlass broke into several homes in Upper Corentyne, Berbice over the weekend.Reports are the man broke in to three homes at Number 45 and 46 Villages and attempted to enter a fourth where an elderly couple lives.The first incident occurred about 22:30h on Saturday at a home in Number 45 Village. After gaining entry by forcing open a window, the man ransacked the family’s kitchen and escaped with valuables.Moments later, he went to the home of Melessa Narine of Lot 13 Number 45 Village. At the time, the seven months pregnant Narine was asleep. The woman woke up after she felt a cold object at her neck and the glare of lights on her face. The intruder, who was wearing one of her maternity dresses and had a towel over his head, held a cutlass to her neck, she recalled, and demanded money and jewellery.Narine told this publication that she attempted to escape after handing over $22,200, a gold chain and a gold ring. She explained that she watched the bandit pick up her bicycle and ride out of the yard.According to Narine, when she went outside she discovered her car was broken in to, but the intruder was unable to escape with it since the battery was disconnected.Shortly after that incident, Somwattie Pertab, 77, and her 79-year-old husband, Pertab Rameshar, heard strange sounds in their home.Pertab told this publication that her husband recommended that she turn on the exterior light and remain quiet. She explained that after switching on the light, the sound stopped and shortly after she raised an alarm.This alerted neighbours who rushed to their assistance and they discovered that attempts were made to open a window on the lower flat of the two-storey house. The would-be intruder left behind a towel which he had used to attempt to hold the window open.Meanwhile, at Number 46 Village, Kerpal Dammar said he saw a strange bicycle parked on the road in front of his yard which was something unusual at that time. “The bicycle look like a new bicycle.”The licensed firearm holder noted that he loaded his gun and waited to see who would be coming for the bicycle, as his dogs barked continuously. Ten minutes later, a man dressed in black was seen walking along the side of his yard. “He had nothing in his hands, so I decided not to shot at him, but to fire a warning shot to see if he would surrender. He did not surrender, so I fired three more rounds in the air. From there, he ran and picked up the bicycle and rode away.”Businessman kerpal Dammar fired four warning shotsDammar, who operated a trucking service, said they gave chase but only found some female clothing the man was wearing at the time.He then discovered that the entire lower flat of his home was ransacked. Sweets and chocolate were removed from a bus which was parked under his house.A bag with $8000 worth of textbooks was also stolen. “He mix tea and he drink and he eat biscuits and I had apples and grapes in the fridge and he eat out all. In the cupboard, I had two bottles of pepper sauce and I still don’t know why he took the pepper sauce,” the businessman said. The Police were alerted and are investigating.
president David Granger has said that, despite their sometimes limited resources, small states can influence international relations.According to the President, small states usually lack the economic, geographic and strategic powers to impose on other states their will in what he described as the contentious and confrontational amphitheater of international relations, and so must pursue their national interests through the practise of diplomacy in the international system.DEFENCE DIPLOMACYPresident David Granger addressing the opening ceremony of the 17th Heads of Mission Conference on Monday“Small states, notwithstanding (their) limitations, can seek to influence international relations in order to achieve (their) foreign policy objectives. Guyana’s involvement in the United Nations’ (UN) Mission in Haiti, which assisted in the restoration of democratic government in Haiti, and its generous assistance to Grenada in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 are examples of the country’s defense diplomacy”, the President posited.He also said that the work of diplomats is impelled by the imperatives of their country’s national interests.“The images on Carifesta Avenue, Georgetown tell the tale of where out interests lie. The flying Coat of Arms of each Caribbean Community member state displayed there reminds that everyone knows that he/she is a citizen of a country, and that country is a constituent of the Caribbean Community”, the President declared.He noted that the erection of the Caricom Secretariat, the embellishment of CARIFESTA Avenue with the flags and insignias of other states, the observance of Caricom Day as a national holiday in Guyana, and the construction of the Cubana Monument are all “expressive of the National interest — to illustrate the state’s world view at the level of citizens, country and community”.“…the duty of the diplomats gathered here today (is) to care for our citizens, country and community. The recognition of the importance of citizenship is vital to (the) national interest, since a country is made up of citizens — persons recognised under the law as legal members of sovereign states, (who) are entitled to the protection of the state,” he said. “The right of every citizen is important wherever they are.”The President said the protection of Guyana’s sovereignty is an essential element of Guyana’s diplomacy. He said Guyana lacks the economic strength to sanction other states, and the military capability to extend its power beyond its borders; but as the only English-speaking country in South America, Guyana can influence international relations both in the north and south by exploiting strategic advantages.Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, in his speech, said foreign policy is an extension of national policy, which must have as its primary aim the overall development of the nation.“This being the case, our representatives must understand their roles and responsibilities,” he posited.The foregoing remarks were made by President Granger and Minister Carl Greenidge at the opening ceremony of the 17th Heads of Mission Conference hosted by the Foreign Affairs Ministry at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown. The forum, which will end on April 8, is being held under the theme “Advancing Guyana’s Diplomacy in the 21st Century.”It will see discussions on a wide range of political and economic issues, including the challenges and opportunities presented by the current complex but evolving international situation; the preservation of the nation’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; economic diplomacy; the continuing role of the diaspora in national development; the role of foreign investment in the nation’s development; topical and urgent questions relating to the consequences of climate change; the effect of technology on modern diplomacy; and the multi-polar nature of modern international economic relations, among other issues.In addition, Guyana’s foreign relations will be examined with a view to strengthening and expanding traditional relationships, and determining whether diplomatic representation in some areas ought to be decreased or expanded. Guyana’s membership of multilateral and regional institutions such as Caricom, MERCOSUR, UNASUR and CELAC will also be given extensive consideration.
…trafficking victims, gun, ammo unearthedRanks of the Major Crime and Trafficking in Persons Units of the Guyana Police Force swooped down on two popular business establishments in Werk-en-Rust, Georgetown, and conducted a raid.Police raided two popular night spotsGuyana Times understands that at approximately 02:00h on Friday, the ranks went to the businesses, located obliquely opposite each other at George and Princess Streets, Werk-en-Rust, and conducted a search, during which several persons were arrested.Among those detained were four adult female foreign nationals said to be employees, along with the two male proprietors, one of whom was found in possession of an unlicensed firearm with 15 live rounds.The females are suspected to be victims of human trafficking, and have since been placed into the care of the Social Protection Ministry pending completion of the investigation.This newspaper was told that at least two busloads of police officers pulled up in front of the establishments and barged inside, shutting down the party. The ranks then began search the premises of the club before stripping and searching the party-goers, who mostly were males.During the hour-long raid, the officers also searched several vehicles parked around the area, including hire cars and privately registered vehicles. This publication was told that a few of the party-goers were found with small quantities of narcotics and were taken into custody.