Recent events review Saturday, November 4 to Friday, November 10
Saturday, November 4
No decision yet on Top Cop’s removal
Although government views the recommendations from the recent Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the alleged plot to kill the president seriously, no final decision has been taken on the way forward, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said yesterday. “They [the recommendations] are still in the contemplation of His Excellency but I can say to you that we are taking those recommendations very seriously and actions will be taken on them,” Harmon told a post-Cabinet press briefing. His comment came a day after the final report of the CoI, which was conducted by retired Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe, was laid in the National Assembly. The CoI concluded that Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud’s ability to continue to hold the post has become “untenable” and recommended that he should be made to resign under terms considered appropriate by President David Granger, or if he fails to do so, be removed for misbehaviour.
Gov’t seeking $3B in supplementary funds
For the third time this year, government is seeking supplementary financing – this time around $3 billion – and the requests this time around include $171 million for the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) for its involvement in several security operations and $100 million for consultancies on border matters for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Financial Paper No.3 of 2017 is seeking $519.9 million in current estimates and $2.45 billion in capital estimates. The supplementary request for the GDF underlines the additional cost to the country from the Camp Street prison break on July 9. The GDF is seeking the $171 million to cover additional office equipment, vehicle spares, maintenance cost, transportation and for the maintaining of equipment such as stoves and generators. The sum requested will also cover rental of tents, chairs and the purchase of other necessities. With stepped up activity on the border controversy with Venezuela, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is seeking an extra $100 million for consultancy services. The earlier voted provision was $200 million.
911 system re-launched
The 911 emergency system was recommissioned yesterday after several years of problems. The new system, which is being run out of a section of the Brickdam Police Station, is designed to respond to emergency calls from citizens across Guyana and includes features such as customised reporting, selective call transfers, automatic caller identification, SMS messaging and local tracking. During a tour yesterday, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan said that the system is expected to work smoothly since over 40 police officers have received training to operate it. Ramjattan described the recommissioning as a huge development in the country’s security sector and lauded service providers GT&T and Digicel for their support. “This is a big development, huge development and we want the people to promote it, to love it, to love the equipment, to take care of it, to maintain them,” Ramjattan said.
Sunday, November 5
SOCU’s legal advisors responsible for ensuring solid cases –Harmon
The legal minds advising the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) have a responsibility to ensure that solid cases are taken before the court, according to Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who says that government will continue to pump resources into the unit to boost its investigative capacity. “SOCU, they are gathering information and if, in fact, the persons who have the legal eye to see what is it that will stand up in court, allow it to go through, how could you blame the investigators?” he asked during a postCabinet press briefing on Friday. Harmon was asked how concerned the government was about SOCU’s apparent inability to bring solid matters before the court and the recent contention by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that the unit was not doing quality investigations. Following its investigations, SOCU is advised by the DPP, legal advisor retired Justice Claudette Singh and a team of special prosecutors handpicked by government.
Monday, November 6
Private Sector Commission submits proposal for Enmore Estate
The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has submitted a proposal on its interest in the acquisition of the Enmore, East Coast Demerara sugar estate, sources say. “We have made a proposal, through the PSC to government, showing our interest in privatizing one of the estates,” Chairman of the PSC, Eddie Boyer, told Stabroek News when asked on Saturday. “In our proposal we indicated that there should be a credible body to ascertain the values for the estate property, lands and other assets,” he added. But even when probed he would only confirm his organisation’s submission of a proposal for an estate but would not specify which it was. However, reliable sources have told Stabroek News that the PSC recently made a proposal to government about its interest in the managing of the Enmore Estate but will await the valuation of assets process before engaging further. The proposal would be the first from any major local body to undertake the running of a sugar estate.
How PNCR will retain office after 2020 ‘big question’
Addressing a PNCR conference on Saturday in Georgia, USA, President David Granger inveighed against elitism in the party and said a big question for members is how the party will retain office after 2020 when elections are to be held. Reaching back into history and the circumstances of how the People’s National Congress (PNC) came to power in 1964 and subsequently how its leader, Forbes Burnham lobbied for Guyana’s independence, Leader of the PNCR, Granger, told the party conference that the same diligent attitudes are needed now. He urged members to condemn elitism if it is ever evident and not to forget that the party was birthed from poor “common folk” who wanted better for their nation. “Most people were extremely poor even into the late 60s where an average salary was $70 dollars a month…The PNC was created as a party of a new time. We fought for independence, we fought for the West Indies Federation, we fought for the working class, and we fought to establish a multi-ethnic party. We fought to bring rural and urban and hinterland together. We established a democratic party,” Granger said during his ‘Leader of the Party’ address at the North America Region conference. And as he gave a timeline of how the then PNC came into office back in 1964, he reminded that many persons lost their lives in their work of supporting the party. The PNC entered office then in alliance with the United Force though the PPP had a plurality.
Teacher found unconscious on side of road
The family of a 22-year-old teacher of Richard Ishmael Secondary School is seeking answers after she was found unconscious on the side of the road in the vicinity of Princes Street and Louisa Row, Georgetown, yesterday morning. Kescia Branche, a mother of one, of Cummings Lodge, East Coast Demerara, is currently hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital nursing head injuries and a broken foot. Her father, Alfred Branche told Stabroek News that his daughter is currently battling for her life and is on a life support machine. The elder Branche told Stabroek News that his daughter was last seen at a local night spot during a Saturday night outing. He stated that his daughter is an outgoing person.
Tuesday, November 7
President’s unilateral Gecom appointment undemocratic – TIGI
President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission is undemocratic and has been compounded by his refusal to provide reasons for the rejection of nominees by the Opposition Leader, according to a lengthy statement from Transparency Institute Guyana Inc (TIGI). TIGI yesterday also said that the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo has also not helped democracy by selecting some persons who would have been clearly unacceptable to the President. TIGI’s criticism of the unilateral appointment adds to the broad civil society rejection of the appointment by Granger of retired Justice James Patterson. TIGI’s views will also carry weight as a result of its affiliation to global watchdog group, Transparency International. Contending that the post of Chairman of Gecom can be regarded as the proximate custodian of democracy of which elections are one of the vital components, TIGI said it is imperative that the appointment of the Chairman “adhere to the highest standards of transparency and accountability”.
China donates over US$2.6M in vehicles, equipment to police
The People’s Republic of China yesterday formally handed over vehicles and other equipment worth a total US$2.6 million to the Guyana Police Force, as part of its continued support for the government’s crime fighting strategies. At a ceremony at the Police Officers’ Sports Club, at Eve Leary yesterday afternoon, China’s Ambassador to Guyana Cui Jianchun handed over 56 pickups, 44 motorcycles, 35 ATVs, 5 motor buses, 550 protective gear items, 70 computers (desktops and laptops), 10 scanners, 10 printers, 10 photocopying machines, 30 decibel meters and 5 generator sets. Speaking at the event, President David Granger noted that the donation recognised the need to enhance the spatial deployment of the Guyana Police Force to every region, which aligns with the government’s plans to expand the number of police divisions from the existing seven to ten, which he has previously spoken of. He also said that the under the auspices of the United Kingdom, a security sector reform office will be opened next year to implement the recommendations which are now being crafted by a security adviser.
Couple accused of trying to smuggle 4lbs of raw gold
A husband and wife were yesterday granted self-bail, after they were accused of attempting to smuggle just over four pounds of raw gold, worth an estimated $14.6 million, out of the country. Shazam Khan, 47, and Bibi Khan, 45, where hauled before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan, who read them a charge which