Dear Editor,Finance Minister Winston Jordan during his press conference on Friday, April 13, 2018, announced that the economy expanded by only 2.1 per cent, the lowest growth rate in recent times. Incidentally, it was Black Friday; was it coincidence?The Minister, among other things, charged that sugar production of 137,307 tonnes in 2017 was responsible for the poor economic showing. The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) will not rehash the reasons for the poor production which we shared publicly on more than one occasion. Though the Minister seeks to use sugar as one of his punching bags in seeking to explain what is clearly a worrying situation, at the same time, the admission by Minister Jordan serves to demonstrate the importance of the sugar industry to the wider economy.As GAWU has been saying consistently, the sugar industry cannot be seen solely and only from the financial/profitability argument the Government, like a horse with blinders, is focused on. Important as that is, the GAWU strongly believes, and must reiterate, that sugar has to be seen from its wider economic impact in terms of direct and indirect employment, taxes whether be income or consumption, foreign exchange receipts, among other things.The four closed estates aggregately paid its workers $11.9 billion in 2014, using data available from the Sugar Commission of Inquiry report. To illustrate the significance of what the economy has really lost, we contrasted what obtains in the Private Sector. Using most recently available data concerning employment costs at Banks DIH Limited, Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI), and Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited – four publicly listed companies in Guyana and among the country’s largest enterprises – we learnt they spent aggregately G$9.6 billion.Also, it is estimated that the now jobless workers of Skeldon, Rose Hall, East Demerara and Wales, conservatively, utilised about 85 per cent of their earnings on the purchase of goods and services. In other words, directly shopkeepers, market vendors, fisherfolk, transportation providers, etc have lost $10.15 billion. Indirectly, using the income multiplier formula, a further $70 billion has been removed from the economy. This is a massive and substantial hit and one which many, especially in rural Guyana, may not be able to recover from.With now four closed estates, some resuming operations in a minimalistic way at this time; it would be interesting to know what the 2018 figures would reveal. Clearly, from all appearances, the wiser economic decision was to keep the industry going while working to make it profitable and viable as the Special Purpose Unity is now seeking to do at Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt. What is clear, as Minister Jordan is reported in the April 14, 2018 in sections of the media to have said sugar is too big to fail.Yours faithfully,Seepaul NarineGeneral Secretary
Dear Editor,A section of the media on November 11, 2018 reported that the Integrity Commission named 87 public officials who failed to submit the declaration of their assets to the Integrity Commission in keeping with the law. The Commission listed Ministers, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Opposition Parliamentarians, and other public officials.The Chairman, Mr Kumar Deoraisami, and Members of the Integrity Commission must be commended for calling on these high public officials to obey the law, which they themselves made. The President, David Granger and the Opposition Leader, Bharat Jagdeo must demand public accountability from the Speaker, Ministers and the Parliamentarians. The public is pleased with this approach by the Integrity Commission. Please keep the general public and the citizen-voters informed of non-compliance, and take promptly, the required legal recourse in keeping with the law.It may also be appropriate for the Commissioner General of GRA to intervene as may be appropriate without fear or favour. What of SOCU and SARA? Off you go.What an example and message being sent to the national community from ministers, the Speaker of the National Assembly, and members of the National Assembly. What a shame! The people must be informed of non-compliance by these public officials.Yours faithfully,Joshua Singh
– says “Dread Shop” is known for unsavoury activitiesDespite an Injunction, the Mayor and City Council in the wee hours of Thursday moved in and dismantled the famous ‘Dread Shop’, located at Russell Square, Stabroek, Georgetown, a business which has been in existence for some 48 years.The council workers sometime around 03:00h began the demolition.The proprietor Anthony Forde, 74, who could not hold back his tears said he was not informed that his building would have been demolished and had only learnt at 09:30h that his business was destroyed.He explained that the “Dread Shop” night spot has existed since 1968 and noted that he has been paying rates and taxes for years.Forde and his nephew related that they did not get an opportunity to retrieve their valuables and that “junkies” made off with many of the items.Among their lost property were a pools table and television sets. The nephew who preferred not be named, was of the view that the government has “no concern” for ordinary businesspeople.Attorney Nigel Hughes, who is representing Forde, stressed that City Hall has shown “disregard” to the courts as the matter is still being addressed.“This has got to be the most outrageous act I’ve seen in a long time because [the matter is] actively going to mediation on the recommendation of the Court of Appeal and then they failed to turn up at the mediation and the Court of Appeal still has conduct of this matter and they believe they can disregard this act,” Hughes posited.The attorney explained that after he called the City Engineer on Thursday afternoon, Town Clerk Royston King then confirmed that demolition actions were indeed taken.“I believe that where people decide that they are not going to obey the law of the land and where they are not going to obey the outcomes of the court proceedings to deal with this particular piece of property then we are in a very dangerous state,” the attorney warned.“There is a dispute right now between Mr Patterson’s Ministry and the City Council about who actually owns this square because it was donated by the Russell family [while] the Ministry [of Public Infrastructure] claims it is their territory and the city council claims it is their territory,” the attorney further explained.Meanwhile, also slated for demolition is the nearby “Island Snackette” which has been in operation for almost 50 years. Daughter of the original proprietors Abeola Fung told this newspaper that her family has invested “millions of dollars” to improve the standard of the business. They claim that City Hall said their structure will also be torn down. Fung further related that some years ago City Hall had approved a plan for rehabilitation works to their structure.City Hall has been relocating vendors and stall owners in a move that it said will see a transformation of the Stabroek Market Square. While some vendors have welcomed the change, others have protested the initiatives of City Council viewing them as “unfair” and “uncaring”.‘UNSAVOURY’ ACTIVITIESMeanwhile, City Council in a statement Thursday afternoon, explained that a technical team attached to the Municipality’s Engineer’s Department carried out a removal exercise that saw “the flattening of the so called ‘dread shop’ located west of Parliament Building”.Attorney Nigel Hughes“The Town Clerk’s office had given earlier notice to the structure’s operators, while making specific reference to what was described as ‘unsavoury’ activities taking place there, particularly on Friday nights. Operations at this facility was also said to be in direct breach of city public health laws,” the statement added.
A Lindener who pleaded not guilty to a trafficking in narcotics charge was on Wednesday remanded to prison by Magistrate Clive Nurse.The accused, Jamal Marcus, of Lot 789 Determa Street, Mackenzie, Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), appeared at the Linden Magistrate’s Court to answer to the charge which stated that on Monday June 6, he had 38 grams of cannabis sativa (marijuana) in his possession for the purpose of trafficking.The incident is alleged to have occurred at Ituni, in Region 10.Facts on the case presented to the court indicated that on the day in question at approximately 08:30h, the defendant was observed along the Ituni Public Road acting in a suspicious manner, which led to Police ranks conducting a search on his person. The narcotic was found concealed in a bag in his crotch.However, the defendant maintained that the cannabis sativa was not found in his possession. He is scheduled to make his next court appearance on July 26.
BY SHEMUEL FANFAIRWhile the High Court case regarding the non-consultations of unions over the severance and redeployment of workers attached to the Wales Sugar Estate continues, some 99 workers believe that in the meantime, they should be paid for the time they have been unemployed. According to information reaching Guyana Times, the workers have petitioned the Wales Estate manager for payment in lieu of work.This newspaper was told the workers are contending that their severance packages were approved since March 22, 2016, and as such, are requesting that they be paid from April 22, 2016 up to point at which they will be paid their redundancy allowance. The petition, along with letters sent to the estate’s manager, was seen by the publication.“I hereby request that I be paid my redundancy allowance and payment in lieu of work from April 22, 2016 up to the point of the payment of my redundancy allowance in keeping with Clause 6(2)(i) of the Collective Labour Agreement between my Union, GAWU, and the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc,” one of the letters stated.After the Sugar Corporation confirmed the closure, workers, without the requisite union consultation were given the option of transferring to Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara, or receiving severance packages. As many of the workers were against the move to transfer to Uitvlugt, they opted to receive their severance.Using the injunction as its justification, GuySuCo has maintained that it was unable to pay the 105 Wales sugar workers their severance packages even though these workers on March 22 received letters which stated that they would have been paid on May 4. The Sugar Corporation then gave employment to six of the 105 workers, suggesting that 99 remain without the Estate’s employment. Many of these workers have said that they have found some difficulty in garnering alternative jobs.The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has rejected the Sugar Corporation’s stance of non-payment, noting that the agreement between the workers and GuySuCo was reached before the injunction was granted.The court action was first brought on after GuySuCo began discussions with individual employees of the Wales estate to negotiate severance packages, without informing or involving the unions. At one point, workers had been given a three-day ultimatum to make their decisions but GuySuCo later backpedalled from this move.Unions, GAWU and NAACIE are also seeking damages in excess of $1 million for breach of statutory duty owing under the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act, Cap 99:08, Laws of Guyana. The judges had granted an interim injunction, restraining GuySuCo from proceeding to implement their decision to sever the employees until the hearing and determination of a Summons returnable in Chambers.GuySuCo has since requested time to respond to the litigation. Sugar operations at Wales will close by the end of 2016.