Recent events re­view Satur­day, May 19 to Fri­day May 25


Satur­day, May 19

Sus­pected ban­dits killed after bid to rob city store­owner

Two sus­pected ban­dits were killed yes­ter­day after an at­tempt to rob a city store­owner. The dead men have been iden­ti­fied as Trevor Bar­row, 26, called ‘Bud­dha,’ of 1010 Nor­ton Street and Ceme­tery Road, and Calvin Ed­wards, also known as Calvin Dover, 27, of Lot PP 6 Bent Street, Wort­manville, who po­lice say at­tacked the owner of Les Va­ri­ety Store at 22, D’Ur­ban and Har­dina streets, Wort­manville, Ge­orge­town. Bar­row was fa­tally shot inside the store by owner Roy My­ers, act­ing Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Paul Wil­liams said yes­ter­day. Ed­wards, mean­while, was later shot and killed by po­lice dur­ing a stand­off in a house along Bent Street, where he al­legedly sought refuge after man­ag­ing to es­cape from the scene of the rob­bery.

Youth kept for years in Sophia pig pen res­cued

A 22-year-old man, said to be men­tally-ill, was yes­ter­day res­cued from a pig pen at back of his fa­ther’s North Sophia, Greater Ge­orge­town home, where he was re­port­edly kept for at least three years. Re­spond­ing to an anony­mous tip that a fa­ther was keep­ing his son in a pen for al­most a decade, mem­bers of the Guyana Women Min­ers Or­gan­i­sa­tion (GWMO) found Gopaul Et­wa­roo naked in a pad­locked en­clo­sure at the back of his fa­ther’s Lot 23 Block ‘R,’ North Sophia home. He is now at the Ge­orge­town Pub­lic Hospi­tal re­ceiv­ing treat­ment, while his fa­ther, Cle­ment Et­wa­roo, and step­mother, Par­bat­tie Sukhu, are in po­lice cus­tody. When the GWMO and the Guyana Po­lice Force (GPF) ar­rived at the res­i­dence, they were greeted by a pad­locked fence nearly 10-ft high.

Award of 600 blocks to Exxon sub­sidiary was vi­tal to bor­der se­cu­rity - Trot­man

Min­is­ter of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Raphael Trot­man yes­ter­day said that the award of 600 oil blocks to ExxonMo­bil’s sub­sidiary, Esso Ex­plo­ration and Pro­duc­tion Guyana Lim­ited (EEPGL), in 1999 was le­gal and the gov­ern­ment would not be claw­ing back any as it was vi­tal to bor­der se­cu­rity that the US com­pany re­tain con­trol of the en­tire stretch. Ad­dress­ing the Na­tional As­sem­bly’s Sec­toral Com­mit­tee on Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Trot­man also said it would be the last time he would be an­swer­ing ques­tions on petroleum is­sues as he has given up re­spon­si­bil­ity for the sec­tor. Trot­man’s ref­er­enc­ing of bor­der se­cu­rity was the first time since oil was dis­cov­ered here in 2015 that a se­nior gov­ern­ment official has pub­licly stated that the award of 600 blocks was a strate­gic move to blunt any pos­si­ble ag­gres­sion from neigh­bour­ing Venezuela. The usual max­i­mum num­ber of blocks that should be as­signed is 60 and ques­tions have per­sisted in recent years as to why the 1999 Janet Jagan ad­min­is­tra­tion awarded more than 10 times this amount to the US oil gi­ant’s sub­sidiary.

Sun­day, May 20 ‘We tried to talk to him’

The fam­ily of Calvin Ed­wards, also known as Calvin Dover, one of the two sus­pected ban­dits shot and killed after they at­tempted to rob a city busi­ness­man on Fri­day, be­came aware that he chose a crim­i­nal path after his con­stant ar­rests and their re­lent­less ef­forts to steer him away bore no fruit. “It was a shock when they learnt that he was in­volved. That’s why the fam­ily was re­lent­less. In our fam­ily, we don’t have a [crim­i­nal] his­tory. We have never seen no­body in our fam­ily thief and that is why we were shocked, we wanted to know where he get this kind of men­tal­ity from,” Wayne Dover, a cousin of the dead man, told Sun­day Stabroek yes­ter­day. Ed­wards, 27, of Lot PP 6 Bent Street, Wort­manville, and Trevor Bar­row, 26, called ‘Bud­dha,’ of 1010 Nor­ton Street and Ceme­tery Road, were killed on Fri­day after they al­legedly at­tempted to rob busi­ness­man Roy My­ers.

Mon­day, May 21

In­vestors nervy at chal­lenges to deals un­der for­mer gov’t –sources

In the af­ter­math of the ques­tion­ing of in­vest­ment deals struck years ago and charges against for­mer of­fi­cials over them, sev­eral in­vestors mulling ma­jor agree­ments here have be­gun ex­press­ing reser­va­tions that these may not be up­held if the gov­ern­ment changes. The con­cerns of the per­sons that Stabroek News spoke to stem from recent de­vel­op­ments which sug­gest that as gov­ern­ments change there can be a “politi­cis­ing” of busi­ness in­vest­ments. With trep­i­da­tion about the fu­ture po­ten­tial im­pli­ca­tions of con­tracts en­tered into, at least three banks and two re­gional con­glom­er­ates have now turned to their le­gal an­a­lysts to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion be­fore com­mit­ting to in­vest­ing here, sources say. “You have Wales Es­tate in­vestors telling gov­ern­ment that they want to pull out be­cause they are not to­tally sure that down the line ques­tions would not be raised about their in­vest­ments. Peo­ple are con­cerned and this does not bode well for the econ­omy and coun­try,” one source told the Stabroek News. Ad­di­tion­ally, another source in­formed that bankers of the Repub­lic Bank (Guyana)-led syn­di­cate of lo­cal and re­gional banks, which will pro­vide $30B to GuySuCo in bonds for the re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of its re­main­ing sugar es­tates, have also voiced their con­cerns.

APNU+AFC gov’t has been vi­sion­less – David Hinds

Al­though laud­ing the three-year-old APNU+AFC gov­ern­ment for strides in the areas of hu­man rights and indige­nous peo­ples’ outreach and de­vel­op­ment, po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist David Hinds says it has been vi­sion­less with few tan­gi­ble achieve­ments to show Guyana’s cit­i­zenry. “Just three short years later, our coun­try has lost hope again. The gov­ern­ment that came to power with such mam­moth good­will has turned out to be the most unimag­i­na­tive since in­de­pen­dence,” Hinds said in com­ments to Stabroek News which were also con­tained in a col­umn in yes­ter­day’s Kai­eteur News. “It has given Guyana noth­ing big and trans­for­ma­tive to hold on to. It gov­erns as if it has no sense of its own place in his­tory. Its laud­able vi­sion out­lined in its elec­tion man­i­festo has not been trans­lated into pol­icy. It stum­bles from one po­lit­i­cal er­ror to another. It is a coali­tion gov­ern­ment that gov­erns like a sin­gle-party gov­ern­ment,” he added. Ref­er­enc­ing ad­ver­tise­ments and other medi­ums used re­cently by gov­ern­ment to boast of achieve­ments since tak­ing of­fice in 2015, Hinds said that it was clear it is all a cha­rade and “we are back to square one” where the peo­ple are again show­ing signs of “hope­less­ness” and be­ing tired of Guyana’s pol­i­tics and politi­cians

Po­lice com­man­der says no sign of Sindi­catos

Amidst con­cerns among min­ers of the pres­ence of “Sindi­catos” gangs op­er­at­ing in the Cuyuni River, Di­vi­sional Com­man­der Kevin Ado­nis says that the Guyana Po­lice Force has not found any ev­i­dence of such in a recent re­ported attack on a min­ing camp and ques­tioned the mo­tives of the min­ers. “I have seen min­ers min­ing on both sides of the coun­tries’ bor­ders with per­sons trav­el­ling back and forth but no­body can say who are a part of this gang they are call­ing the Sindi­catos,” the com­man­der told Stabroek News yes­ter­day. Ado­nis’ com­ments come in the wake of Pres­i­dent of the Guyana Women Min­ers Or­gan­i­sa­tion Urica Primus’s recent ex­pres­sion of hope that that the re­sus­ci­tated Hin­ter­land In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee can put mea­sures in place to pro­tect min­ers against the Sindi­catos gangs re­ported to be op­er­at­ing in Guyana.

Tues­day, May 22

SOCU ques­tions ex-Fi­nance Min­is­ter Kow­lessar over land deals

As the Spe­cial Or­gan­ised Crime Unit (SOCU) con­tin­ues to in­ves­ti­gate sus­pi­cious state land trans­ac­tions made dur­ing the PPP/C’s time in of­fice, for­mer Fi­nance Min­is­ter Sais­nar­ine Kow­lessar was yes­ter­day de­tained for ques­tion­ing and he was later re­leased on $200,000 bail after de­clin­ing to an­swer ques­tions. Kow­lessar vol­un­tar­ily turned up at SOCU’s Camp Street head­quar­ters, where he was placed un­der ar­rest and faced with ques­tions for about two hours. A source told Stabroek News that Kow­lessar was Fi­nance Min­is­ter dur­ing five trans­ac­tions which are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by SOCU, as a re­sult of the foren­sic au­dit of the Na­tional In­dus­trial and Com­mer­cial In­vest­ments Lim­ited (NICIL). As a re­sult, the source said Kow­lessar was re­quested to at­tend an in­ter­view, which he did, but “he didn’t co­op­er­ate. He said that based on the ad­vice of his lawyer, he had noth­ing to say.” Kow­lessar held the post of Fi­nance Min­is­ter from 1999 when his pre­de­ces­sor Bhar­rat Jagdeo was ap­pointed pres­i­dent, un­til 2006, when Dr. Ashni Singh took over the port­fo­lio.

Har­mon to run for PNCR Chair­man­ship

With Min­is­ter of State Joseph Har­mon declar­ing his can­di­dacy for the post of Peo­ple’s Na­tional Congress Re­form (PNCR) Chair­man at its up­com­ing bi­en­nial congress, po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Dr. David Hinds says that the ex­pected con­test would likely sig­nal which sup­port base holds sway over the party. “…Har­mon would have a big­ger chal­lenge since he is not a tra­di­tional party mem­ber— he has not come up through the party ranks. But it could also tell us which wing of the party holds sway—the tra­di­tional wing, which I think will go for [cur­rent Chair­man Basil] Wil­liams or the newer ex-army and APNU types, which I think will favour Har­mon. This makes it a fas­ci­nat­ing race,” Hinds told Stabroek News hours after Har­mon pub­licly an­nounced his in­ten­tion to run for the post. Har­mon, who is a PNCR ex­ec­u­tive, is the cur­rent Chair­man of the gov­ern­ing coali­tion part­ner APNU, of which the PNCR is the largest con­stituent. Har­mon’s po­ten­tial chal­lenge is seen as po­lit­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant given that Wil­liams, the cur­rent At­tor­ney-Gen­eral, has been hold­ing the post for two terms. Party sources have told this news­pa­per that another ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber, Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Health Volda Lawrence, will also be vy­ing for the post. The Chair­man is the most se­nior party official after the Leader. Pres­i­dent David Granger is cur­rently party leader.

Cop freed of shoot­ing teen, agrees to $2M com­pen­sa­tion

The pro­ceed­ings against for­mer cadet of­fi­cer Franz Paul, who was charged with shoot­ing a then 15year-old Alex Grif­fith dur­ing a game of Rus­sian roulette over four years ago, were with­drawn yes­ter­day after an agree­ment by the ac­cused to pay a to­tal of $2 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion to the youth. Paul, of Lot 189 Free­man

Street, East La Pen­i­tence, was on trial for al­most four years over the shoot­ing of Grif­fith, which oc­curred on April 30th, 2014, in Ge­orge­town. He was charged two months after the shoot­ing. The trial, which be­gan in Septem­ber, 2014, was in the fi­nal stages as the ac­cused had led his de­fence in the mat­ter in June 31, 2017 and the de­fence closed its case in Fe­bru­ary of this year.

Wed­nes­day, May 23

Her­stelling man ac­cused of drown­ing es­tranged wife

APNU+AFC coali­tion yes­ter­day ex­pressed deep con­cern after 27 year old fa­ther and poul­try farmer Carl Man­gal was sen­tenced to three years’ in­car­cer­a­tion, for the pos­ses­sion of eight grammes of mar­i­juana. In a state­ment the party noted that it is not ques­tion­ing the de­ci­sion of the mag­is­trate in any way as it rec­og­nizes that the mag­is­trate, as is the case with all her col­leagues, are “con­strained by the law with re­gard to the is­sue of cus­to­dial sen­tenc­ing for pos­ses­sion of small quan­ti­ties of mar­i­juana.” The party ar­gued that pos­ses­sion of small quan­ti­ties of mar­i­juana is “an of­fence which is a mere er­ror in judge­ment and not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of crim­i­nal be­hav­iour” but cus­to­dial sen­tences serve, in large mea­sure, to crim­i­nal­ize young peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly young men who have been caught with these small quan­ti­ties.

Thurs­day, May 24

GuySuCo com­plains to Agri Min­is­ter over SPU

The Guyana Sugar Cor­po­ra­tion (GuySuCo) has lodged a com­plaint with Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture Noel Holder al­leg­ing that the unit set up by the gov­ern­ment to over­see pri­va­ti­za­tion of es­tates is de­mor­al­iz­ing and desta­bi­liz­ing the Cor­po­ra­tion. Ac­cord­ing to a let­ter seen by Stabroek News, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of GuySuCo Paul Bhim wrote Holder on May 18 set­ting out a litany of com­plaints about the Spe­cial Pur­pose Unit (SPU) which is func­tion­ing un­der gov­ern­ment hold­ing com­pany, NICIL. It was the lat­est salvo in a bat­tle over the role of the SPU which has seen a sharp di­vi­sion in the gov­ern­ment over a new board for GuySuCo. A board that was gazetted to be headed by SPU Head Colvin Heath-Lon­don had to be scrapped and the process re­verted to Holder’s ju­ris­dic­tion. The SPU has been en­trusted with re­spon­si­bil­ity for four shut­tered es­tates: Wales, Rose Hall, East De­mer­ara/ Wales and Skel­don. How­ever, the pur­ported HeathLon­don board had also at­tempted to flex its mus­cle in re­la­tion to the es­tates which have re­mained open.

Bar Coun­cil raps At­tor­ney Gen­eral over com­ments on pri­vate lawyers

Recent com­ments made by At­tor­ney Gen­eral Basil Wil­liams SC that pri­vate lawyers who fail to hand over cases in­volv­ing the state should be charged, are out of place and un­nec­es­sary, the Bar Coun­cil of the Bar As­so­ci­a­tion of Guyana said yes­ter­day. “The Bar Coun­cil ….views the com­ments made by the At­tor­ney Gen­eral as an en­tirely un­war­ranted attack on the pro­fes­sion­al­ism and the in­de­pen­dence of the mem­bers of the le­gal pro­fes­sion, un­be­com­ing of a mem­ber of the In­ner Bar”, the As­so­ci­a­tion said yes­ter­day in re­ac­tion to the con­tents of an ar­ti­cle pub­lished in the Kai­eteur News on May 18, 2018. The As­so­ci­a­tion said that it was very much con­cerned about the com­ments at­trib­uted to the At­tor­ney Gen­eral and Min­is­ter of Le­gal Af­fairs. “The At­tor­ney Gen­eral, in re­fer­ring to the con­duct of lit­i­ga­tion by lawyers in pri­vate prac­tice for the State, is re­ported to have said that crim­i­nal ac­tion needs to be taken against lawyers con­duct­ing such lit­i­ga­tion and that he `be­lieves that [lawyers] need to start be­ing charged now’. These state­ments of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral, in ad­di­tion to ig­nor­ing the fact that it is the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions, a con­sti­tu­tional of­fice-holder, whose duty it is to de­ter­mine when and un­der what cir­cum­stances per­sons should face crim­i­nal charges, may give the in­cor­rect im­pres­sion to the pub­lic that there is some­thing wrong, sin­is­ter or un­law­ful with lawyers in pri­vate prac­tice con­duct­ing lit­i­ga­tion for the State”, the re­lease said.

Court of Ap­peal rules against Grand Coastal in $31M VAT case

The Grand Coastal Inn will have to pay to the Guyana Rev­enue Au­thor­ity (GRA) the more than $31 mil­lion it owes in value added taxes (VAT) after the Guyana Court of Ap­peal on Mon­day ruled that the pro­ce­dure used by the Rev­enue Au­thor­ity to as­sess its VAT li­a­bil­ity was law­ful. In fact, the court noted that it was the process used by the ho­tel to mount its chal­lenge against the GRA which was un­law­ful hav­ing re­gard to statu­tory stip­u­la­tions which it con­tra­vened. In this re­gard, the ap­pel­late court pro­nounced that Grand Coastal’s ac­tion sought to falsely se­cure for them the temporary fi­nan­cial respite at the ex­pense of the na­tion as the case wound its way through the court for over seven years. The court noted that not only will Grand Coastal now have to pay the full sum of $31,290,473 which it owes in taxes for 2007-2008, but all con­se­quen­tial in­ter­est im­posed by the VAT Act.

Fri­day, May 25

Co­conut out­put seen qua­dru­pling by 2025

With a resur­gence in the de­mand for co­conut prod­ucts glob­ally, and con­se­quent in­ter­est from in­vestors, Guyana is an­tic­i­pated to dou­ble its cur­rent co­conut pro­duc­tion within a few years, and quadru­ple it by 2025. Ray­mond Trotz, Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Trade Cen­tre (ITC), dur­ing a press brief­ing at the Agri­cul­ture Min­istry yes­ter­day, re­lated that ac­cord­ing to data from the Na­tional Agri­cul­tural Re­search and Ex­ten­sion Institute (NAREI), there are cur­rently over 25,000 acres of co­conut trees within Guyana. He stated that ad­vice from GO-In­vest in­di­cates that in­vestors are in­ter­ested in ex­pand­ing that num­ber by about 27 and a half thou­sand acres over a num­ber of years, and based on their pro­jec­tion, to about 100,000 acres over a ten-year pe­riod, as com­pared to the 2015 fig­ure of 24,000 acres. Un­der the Euro­pean Union (EU)/African, Caribbean, Pa­cific (ACP) Sec­re­tar­iat-funded pro­gramme ‘Co­conut In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment for the Caribbean (CIDC),’ Guyanese farm­ers have been ben­e­fit­ting from train­ing re­lated to mar­ket­ing, food safety, ex­ten­sion sup­port, co­conut pro­duc­tion de­vel­op­ment and busi­ness train­ing.

Third term de­ci­sion to be handed down by July 3rd

The Caribbean Court of Jus­tice (CCJ) will have to hand down the highly-an­tic­i­pated third term de­ci­sion by July 3, the day that the court’s Pres­i­dent, Sir Den­nis By­ron re­tires from of­fice, Jus­tice Adrian Saun­ders, the Pres­i­dent-Des­ig­nate said last night. Saun­ders made this pro­nounce­ment to re­porters shortly after mak­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion on `The rule of law and the Caribbean Court of Jus­tice’ at the fourth con­ver­sa­tion of law and so­ci­ety, or­gan­ised by the Univer­sity of Guyana. Se­nior ju­di­cial of­fi­cials, lawyers, law stu­dents, po­lice­men and mem­bers of civil so­ci­ety were among those in at­ten­dance at the event which was held at Duke Lodge. Dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion, the St. Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines na­tive did not make any men­tion of the case. He later ex­plained to re­porters that given that Sir Den­nis was among the judges who heard the mat­ter, judg­ment has to be de­liv­ered be­fore he demits of­fice.

For­mer SWAT Head sent on spe­cial leave – po­lice

The po­lice yes­ter­day said that with ef­fect from May 22, 2018, Deputy Su­per­in­ten­dent of Po­lice Motie Dookie pro­ceeded on Spe­cial Leave in the pub­lic’s in­ter­est, on full pay, as di­rected. It was the lat­est change in sta­tus of the for­mer SWAT Head who is fac­ing dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings over the dis­cov­ery of 30 cases of whisky in a bus he was trav­el­ling in last De­cem­ber. Ear­lier this month, he was posted to the Po­lice ‘A’ Di­vi­sion fol­low­ing his re­turn from an­nual leave amidst the probe into whisky smug­gling. Fol­low­ing con­cerns raised about this move, he was re­as­signed to Po­lice Head­quar­ters, Eve Leary a few days later. That de­ci­sion has also now been changed. Stabroek News un­der­stands that Act­ing Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice and Crime Chief Paul Wil­liams at­tended a high­level meet­ing last week Tues­day where a de­ci­sion was made to have Dookie re­moved from ‘A’ Di­vi­sion and placed at the Force Con­trol Unit, Eve Leary.

Calvin Ed­wards

Franz Paul

Sais­nar­ine Kow­lessar

Carl Man­gal

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