Dear Editor,I have read the statement from Dr David Hinds on behalf of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) and I saw its call for all civic organisations to begin discussions on the prospects of the coming oil and gas and the call for the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Government to not make final policy and governance arrangements without inputs from these discussions. I find it very strange that this call would come from the WPA so late, especially since civil society people, like Christopher Ram, have been speaking consistently about oil and gas issues, but have been ignored. Even on the Al Jazeera programme on Guyana’s oil and gas sector, Christopher Ram pointed out that the APNUAFC coalition Government is unwilling to accept contributions from civil society.I have also read what seems to be a defence of the APNU/AFC coalition Government’s failure to ensure that the necessary legal framework for the oil and gas sector is in place. The WPA said, “This rapid development is partly responsible for the lag in setting up the institutional and legal framework.” I find it very strange that such a weak excuse would from the WPA. Is this all they could manage, three years after the APNU/AFC coalition Government said it started working on a legal framework? Is the WPA trying to excuse the incompetence of the APNU/AFC coalition Government?I read too that the WPA said the developmental challenges associated with managing the petro economy should not be underestimated. This again, I find very strange, since the WPA, until now, has ignored all the calls for the same thing and has not supported civil society voices who have called for a change.The WPA should not try to make fools of Guyanese people with the strange calls that have been made with even stranger timing.Regards,Arnold Sanasie
Dear Editor,General and Regional Elections 2019 are seen by many uninformed persons as ‘the grab for control of oil money’. This is a most unfortunate conclusion, not supported by facts. The 2019 Administration will in fact face the massive challenge of rebuilding an economy devastated by APNU/AFC profligate spending and wanton waste that reduced reserves by US$350 million, increased debt by US$900 million, increased taxation in every sector, and lowered export earnings.The hard work of rebuilding a thriving economy based on Agriculture (sugar, rice, fisheries); Mining (gold and bauxite), Forestry and Commerce has been largely undone by the Granger’s Oil inebriation. The job will be made that much more difficult by the continuous reckless claims of fabulous Oil wealth from ‘first oil’. Oil revenues are expected to inject US$300 million per annum for the first five years. The incoming administration will have to deal with expectations made by these claims of windfall riches versus the reality of the contractions of 8-30% in all the productive sectors of the economy.The recent Oil and Gas forum exposed the vacuity of the APNU/AFC administration. The political decision to host an event for ‘youth’ and have no answers to the very real thirst for knowledge about the industry and, importantly, the jobs available to Guyanese was a misguided exercise in puffery. To boast, “Guyana has benefitted directly to the tune of over US$65 million from local content in 2018 alone,” to 500 young people who have not earned a dollar of that, or seen a positive impact on their lives demonstrates the problem caused when the rubber of propaganda hits the road of reality.Guyana needs an administration that understands the importance of a job to a person’s psyche, their sense of wellbeing. Our people want to earn a living by honest means in any sector of the economy. Talk of a sovereign wealth fund means very little to a citizen without job prospects.Guyanese need to listen carefully, over the coming weeks, to the utterings of those seeking support at the polls. Distinguishing between plans for developing all of Guyana and promises meant as comfort to fools has never been more important.Yours truly,Vickram Bharrat
By Rennella BourneVendors of the Kitty Market, which is currently under renovation, have expressed frustration at the slowOngoing renovation work at the Kitty Marketpace at which the work is being carried out, since it is affecting their businesses.Rehabilitation works on the dilapidated market got underway some two months ago, after many years of neglect. Vendors had been relocated nearby to facilitate the process.However, according to them, the process seems to be taking “too long” to be completed.Guyana Times visited the market on Monday, where vendors, who were relocated to the eastern side of the market, related their distaste for the temporary location.According to one of the vendors, C Persaud, the process seems to be moving at turtle pace much to their discomfort.“I don’t know when they will finish for us to go back in there. Don’t you see they have not gone anywhere with the top much less to start the bottom and that is where we have to go,” Persaud said.He added that he and the other vendors were relocated on February 5 and were told that they would be able to access their new stalls in May.As one vendor who asked not to be named said, “It looks like Christmas will come and reach us here and pass us too.”During the visit on Monday, this publication noticed that several stalls were unoccupied as a result of the heavy downpour on Monday.According to the vendors, the temporary location is costing them dearly since they are not getting adequate sales to sustain themselves and families.“I did not get a sale for the day here and people don’t even know where we are; I have to be looking for customers on the road to catch my hand a little,” another vendor told this newspaper.Vendors complained too that the small spaces they were allotted at the temporary relocation area are preventing them from displaying their goods hence hampering their sales.The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) had estimated that the rehabilitation of the landmark would take three to five months to be completed.The Kitty Market was established in 1882 at the railway line. In 1970, it was extended after it was taken over by the M&CC. The Market was meant to be utilised by Georgetown’s Atlantic Coast neighbourhoods in the city’s east end including Bel Air, Campbellville and Prashad Nagar.
– call for the age of criminal responsibility to be raisedBy Indrawattie NatramA public consultation was on Wednesday held in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) at the Richard FaikalA section of the gathering that attended the draft Juvenile Justice Bill 2015 consultationPolice College in Suddie to educate persons on the draft Juvenile Justice Bill 2015.The consultation was the third of its kind and was a collaborative effort between the Public Security Ministry and UNICEF.Delivering opening remarks was Region Two Chairman Devanand Ramdatt who said that the consultation should be standardised so that agencies and key stakeholders can express their views on the Bill.Speaking to key stakeholders, which included the heads of various youth groups, members of the Police Force; representatives of the Region Two Administration, Suddie Public Hospital, and New Opportunity Corps (NOC) and Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) officials, Ramdatt said he was happy members of the NOC were involved in such consultations.The Regional Chairman noted that the age of criminal responsibility in Guyana was 10 years and he believed this should be raised. He opined that for the Bill to be passed, there must be a multi-stakeholder and inter-agency approach, and thorough networking, recommending that the Minister with responsibility for youth be the main advocate for sensitisation on the Bill.According to Ramdatt, most of the probation reports on juvenile cases lack quality and often young victims are wrongfully sentenced to the NOC. This, he said, can be eliminated with proper understanding and investigations. Often, he noted, children are being sent to the NOC for minor offences such as “wandering”, while other offenders spent less than a year at the NOC which he believes is insufficient time to socially rehabilitate them. Ramdatt said a key component of the Bill should be education and ways in which the teens’ lives could become meaningful through a business trade.He also recommended Government should play a role in providing quality infrastructure/holding facilities for children who are being sanctioned. He called on major stakeholders to express their views on the draft bill before it is passed, noting anything that involved children was important.Representing the Public Security Ministry was Courtney Samuels who said on April 27 and May 11, the Ministry convened the first and second consultation on the draft of the Juvenile Justice Bill in Georgetown and New Amsterdam respectively. Expounding on the purpose of the Bill, Samuels said it was to amend and consolidate the law in relation to criminal justice for juveniles as well as to provide establishment facilities for custody, education and rehabilitation for juvenile offenders and to repeal the Juvenile Offenders Act and the Training Schools Act.The consultations, he said, are expected to strengthen the existing draft and spur action for reforms/discussion in areas such as alternatives to sentences, the removal of status offences such as wandering, increasing the age of criminal responsibility and greater accountability and action across all sectors for the prevention of, treatment for and response to children in contact with the law.The Bill, he said, also plays a pivotal role in ensuring that detention is used as an absolute last resort, and there are programmes which promote prevention of children in contact with the law. The draft Juvenile Justice Bill is a comprehensive document which will tackle significant issues related to juvenile justice in Guyana.Attorney-at-Law Simone Morris Ramlall explained in detail key aspects of the Bill. The entire Bill, she said, is principally intended to reform young people to move on and lead a productive life after contact with the law, and to ensure their records are sealed and not used against him or her.Ramlall further explained that the Bill reflected the modern philosophy of juvenile justice in an effort to strengthen and make the justice system more responsive. The Bill also sought to provide a framework where professionals are in the forefront to support the State in assisting juveniles, as far as possible.The main focus, Ramlall noted, is to ensure that juveniles understand what wrong they did and for a sanction to be given for the error, but at the end of the sanction period, the child must be able to reintegrate smoothly into society. The Bill also focused on the role of the Police.Persons who attended the consultations called for an increase in the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14. There was also a call for intervention from religious organisations for first-time offenders in terms of counselling before putting the matter before the courts.Once the Bill becomes law, the Minister responsible for Public Security will have the responsibility of establishing facilities for juvenile custody and detention throughout Guyana.
Participants in the walkathon pose for a photo with Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen CummingsWomen have been urged to endorse exclusive breastfeeding, which is the best option for the majority of infants, as Guyana begins its observance of National Breastfeeding Week 2016.“Today, I urge you all to continue to promote exclusive breastfeeding in whatever way you can, so that our babies can enjoy healthy lives from birth and that you use all available channels to spread the virtues of exclusive breastfeeding,” Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummings told a walkathon on Sunday morning which kicked off the week of activities.According to the Government Information Agency (GINA), the walkathon saw the participation of Minister Cummings, patient care assistants and midwives and doctors of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).Launched under the theme, “Breastfeeding: a key to sustainable development”, the week of activities seeks to further equip maternal healthcare workers, mothers and even fathers with the requisite knowledge and information to achieve 100 per cent exclusive breastfeeding across Guyana.Exclusive breastfeeding is a distinctive process that provides perfect nutrition for infants, and contributes to their growth and development.The Public Health Ministry will be heightening promotion and awareness of the need for mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding.Nurses and other maternal healthcare personnel also advocated for the implementation of the six-month exclusive breastfeeding policy in Guyana, since the current rate stands at only 23 per cent, according to a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report.The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that women should breastfeed their babies for six months, since it reduces the risk of babies becoming infected, creates bonding between mother and child, and prevents ovarian cancer.Minister Cummings said, “Registered dieticians, nutritionists and dietetic technicians should continue efforts to shift the norm of infant feeding away from the use of human milk substitute towards human milk feeds.”Assistant Director of Nursing Services Keith Alonzo highlighted that the theme for this year’s observance of National Breastfeeding Week lent it to creating awareness of the links between breastfeeding and sustainable development.Alonzo said there were five main areas related to breastfeeding and the Sustainable Development Goals. These are nutrition and food security, health and well-being and survival for human beings, environment and climate change, work productivity empowerment, social protection and sustainable partnership, and the rule of law.National Breastfeeding Week will continue with a number of countrywide symposiums and workshops that will further educate mothers and promote exclusive breastfeeding.