Sexual fascism in Guyana: Maniacs in the corridors of power
BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER FEATURES / COLUMNISTS, FREDDIE KISSOON
The irony pierces your psyche and lacerates your soul as you read more and more of the condemnations of some perverted politicians in the corridors of power of sexual abuse. Surely, if God exists, he would strike down these hypocrites.
Times like these I ask God where is he. He doesn’t speak to me so I retain my faith in the philosophy. Sexual horrors permeate the corridors of power. I say in evanescent language, most emphatically and unambiguously no PNC Government, under Burnham and Hoyte, and no Caribbean country since self government right up to the present time would tolerate the level of sexual vulgarity, libidinous bestiality and sexual degeneracy that have taken place among high political elites in the power establishment as what we have seen in Guyana since Cheddi Jagan died.
I have made my judgements against the leadership qualities of Cheddi Jagan but I doubt he would have allowed some of his underlings to retain high offices after he found out about their sexual rapacity. I cannot discuss the CN Sharma court case because it is sub judice but some political elites should be investigated too. Here are a few episodes of sexual animalism that ought to galvanize you saving Guyana’s future.
There is this well known figure in the Hindu religion who did crazy things to his innocent secretary. I will live with the regret that I didn’t save that girl’s life. I see her image in front of me now – petite, small visage, long, flowing, curly hair and the look of innocence.
I met her the week before she committed suicide. I went to the government office where she worked for this man that Jagan nurtured for so long in Jagan’s career. She was depressed. She spoke to me of her status as a sexual servant to this man, all in the promise that he would get a visa for her. But the revelation had dawned that he wasn’t going to get her one. She submitted to all kinds of sexual unorthodoxies just to get her visa. But she was caught in a no-win game. She kept serving him to get her visa but he wasn’t going to let her go because she was a source of endless sex.
She told me he refused to return her passport after a relative agreed to attempt to get her a visa. He abused her, threatened to expose her and tore up the passport in front of her in his office. She went home the same day and committed suicide. If ever this government changes hands, I will walk this entire country demanding the prosecution of this aging religious hypocrite. Why talk about Sharma when this guy deserves to be in jail.
What about the little fourteen-year-old girl from the West Coast whose last name is that of a prominent opposition figure? You want to see fear in the eyes of someone, then, talk to her mother about the rape of her daughter. She is so scared that one day they will come and kill her.
This 14-year-old was raped at a known East Bank business place by three wealthy men who give money to a powerful political party with all-powerful politicians. As they were driving her out, a hugely powerful politician was driving in. He stopped to speak to the people inside the car that was leaving. The rape victim saw him, he saw her. The same day, their operatives went to kill her and they threatened her mother. A good man got her to Canada where on investigation by the Refugee Board, she was granted asylum. The Board did send down an agent here to collect evidence. Canada cannot deny this Mr. Big a visa because refugee cases are confidential.
What about the other mother who was given a house lot and one million dollars after one of Janet Jagan’s favourite cadres who holds an important portfolio ravished her fourteen-year-old daughter (seems that they pick on fourteen-year-old girls). Instead of taking her to her home as requested by the mother, he took her to Ogle when he denuded and penetrated her. The mother said to me” “Freddie, I am not going to talk to you about it; you should know nothing will come of it, so why shouldn’t I take the money and the land.” Her last words to me as I left the Ministry where she works was, “Freddie, please don’t write about it; I’m begging you.”
One last example. This other Mr. Big who functions in the legal sector, beat up his lover in his office (he’s married with grown up kids), then literally kicked her down the steps. These people make CN Sharma look like an angel.
Guyanese doctor duel: A real doctor Tarron Khemraj vs fake Russian doctor Guyana president Bharrat Jagdeo on economics
Deconstructing Dubious Growth
SEPTEMBER 25, 2011 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER AFC COLUMN, FEATURES / COLUMNISTS
By Dr. Tarron Khemraj
The PPP government – or most likely the Jagdeo loyalists – have been making a lot of noise about the half-year GDP growth rate, which Minister Ashni Singh claims to be 5.9%. This number is in itself interesting because typically the Bureau of Statistics does not release quarterly GDP statistics. It has never been done. Suddenly before the election we are told about an estimated half-year GDP growth.
If this data is indeed available why only Minister Ashni Singh has access to them? The Bank of Guyana (BOG) ought to be using the quarterly data in its monetary policy forecasts and implementation. This kind of quarterly breakdown will indeed make it easier for the central bank to manage the nation’s money supply and meet its various monetary targets.
Several Caribbean countries – Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados – do have quarterly GDP compilation. We call upon the government to give the Bureau of Statistics the necessary resource to do the same in Guyana.
THE JAGDEO RATE OF GROWTH
The average rate of real GDP growth under President Jagdeo has been 1.95% from 2000 to 2010. This is hardly spectacular. Even if we assume the one-time 5.9% rate of growth for the entire of 2011, the Jagdeo period realised an average rate of growth from 2000 to 2011 of 2.3%.
To put things into context, the Guyana economy grew at an average of 6.8% from 1992 to 1999. The PPP has a habit of telling Guyanese how well Guyana is doing in spite of the global crisis and problems. What it does not want to face up to is the fact that when the world economy achieved a boom from 2000 to 2007, Guyana grew at a meagre 1.45% in the pre-crisis period. Why has this been the case? This column explains some reasons for the mediocre growth performance under the Jagdeo Administration.
A country must have investments if it is to continue growing. Growth, in turn, is critical because it leads to employment creation for citizens. If investments are zero then there will be no growth. We particularly value private investments given the private sector’s ability to generate growth. When analysing private investments we must take the private investment rate (PIR), which is calculated as the dollar amount of private investments divided by GDP. If we look at the PIR since 1992 it has declined continually. It continued to decline into 2010 as data released by the BOG show. Therefore, it is a mystery how growth has picked up given Guyana’s declining PIR.
Government investments have however increased while PIR is declining. Government investments have two main facets: (i) a non-tradable aspect such as construction of roads, schools, bridges, etc; and (ii) a tradable component such as investments by GuySuCo and GuyOil – notable state-owned enterprises.
The problem is government investments have been very inefficient to date. The Skeldon sugar factory is a disaster, while infrastructure works continue to break up after a few months of being constructed. Only recently we learnt major design flaws were found in the Fip Motilall road. It is therefore a mystery how Guyana can achieve 5.9% growth with grossly inefficient public investments and falling domestic private investments. If we are to believe this growth rate then it cannot result from productivity gains but most likely temporary good luck in sectors such as gold. This kind of “good luck” growth is never sustainable and has nothing to do with shrewd policies in the Jagdeo years.
While the Minister appears keen to report half-year GDP we still do not have regular statistics on the Guyana labour market. The unemployment rate continues to be a mystery and it is a number typically subjected to political abuse. We also need to know what the rate of labour force participation is, which is calculated by dividing the labour force by the population.
Regular labour statistics – as quarterly GDP – are critical for the proper management of the economy. In the United States, for instance, they even know the ethnic and gender profile of unemployment. The AFC will be a government of transparency and every effort will be put in place to see these data get collected and reported regularly. We are serious about managing the economy in as scientific a manner as possible. Therefore, we need regular quality statistics.
UNDERGROUND ECONOMY AND REMITTANCES
These two have served as an important source of consumption. Guyana receives approximately 40% of GDP in remittances each year. This is one of the highest percentages in the world. Remittance inflows are stable and altruistic. Even when the North American economies enter into recession, Guyanese abroad still remit funds home. Remittances have served as an important pressure valve and have propped up family consumption for years.
The inflows have also created a false sense of success among government Ministers. From an economic growth perspective, remittances could contribute to a reduction of labour supply and willingness to work. Remittance is the dual of migration of Guyanese – itself a symptom of the failed policies of the PPP since 1992. The World Bank reported that 89% of skilled Guyanese migrate. It is difficult to achieve sustainable economic and productivity growth when a society is haemorrhaging skills at this rate.
The illegal underground economy has been particularly destructive in terms of security and has made it difficult for legitimate businesses to compete. Drug trafficking and money laundering lead to corruption of at all levels of the society. The WikiLeaks revelations are bringing these out clearly. However, we must note that these illegal activities do not contribute favourably to long-term GDP growth and prosperity. Drug dealing increases the cost of doing business among legitimate business investors.
One consistent pattern of the Jagdeo economic framework is to allow the illegal underground economy to flourish. The WikiLeaks have revealed Roger Khan, the notorious and convicted drug lord, leaving the Office of the President. Another WikiLeaks cable reported that Khan built housing schemes without bank financing. This is not the way to run an economy. This is not only morally wrong, but also makes it difficult for legitimate businesses to compete. It corrupts the public officials who must lay the foundation for private investments. Therefore, the narco-economy crowds out the official economy. Hence, we question the 5.9% GDP half-year growth and its sustainability.
Russian trained economist & Guyana PPP/C Executive President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo putin the con in Guyanese eCONomics
This is what happens when the corrupt PPP/C give a grocery store owner the contract to build a highway in the Guyana jungle.
Amaila Falls Hydro Project…Price tag now at staggering US$835M
The figure was announced by President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday during the commissioning of a US$18.4M Wartsila plant at Kingston.
According to Jagdeo, that cost of the 165-megawatts hydro power project includes both construction and the “costs of capital”.
Earlier this year, Sithe Global during a series of consultation meetings across the country, said that it has committed US$200 million to the project and that it could cost as much as US$700 million to complete it.
The President did not elaborate yesterday on how the project will now reach US$835M.
He lashed out at critics of the project whom he described as “gripers” and noted that they were going after every project of government and then would make an about turn and support it after it is completed.
Stressing that it was not “Fip Motilall” that was building the hydro project, Jagdeo said that Blackstone, the parent company of Sithe Global, is a respected business that has managed to gain financing from China Development Bank.
Motilall, whom government said initially proposed to government to construct the facility, was handed a US$15.4M project to build the access roads leading to the project area. His company, Synergy Holdings, is way behind on the contract and has since been granted an extension to the end of December to complete his works.
According to Jagdeo yesterday, the Chinese contractor, China Railway First Group, won the bid for the construction in an open process.
In July last year, the Guyana Government signed off on a loan deal to build the project and formalize the cooperation between the Guyana Power and Light Company, Sithe Global, China Development Bank and China Railway First Group Company Limited
The President’s benefit package is a revelation
SEPTEMBER 14, 2011 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
In reading about former Presidents’ Benefits and Other Facilities Act No.12 which was passed in Parliament – 2009 – as presented by Alissa Trotz in the Diaspora under the caption: “The distance between Government and the Governed: Another look at Pensions in Guyana”, S.N July 18th, I was reminded of an Anancy Story.
In that story, Brer Anancy named himself “All of you” so that every time the servant brought the various foods on a platter and placed it on the table which Anancy and the other animals sat around, saying “this is for all of you”, Anancy smiled and took it all for himself.
He would then explain to the animals that the reason for treating him so special was an expression of love and appreciation. Thus all the animals were left hungry as he glutted himself.
This lavish benefit package which Trotz wrote about, and which the ordinary man in the street hardly knows anything about, explains the entitlements that are guaranteed President Bharrat Jagdeo during the remainder of his life after he demits office.
We learned also that even if he takes another job in a governmental position, it does not affect his pension package.
There is need, here, to reproduce part of this benefit package that Trotz highlighted for the sake of those who missed it: “A Tax-free pension, free medical treatment for him and dependent members of his family for the rest of his life, an unspecified number of vehicles to be maintained at the taxpayers’ expense, an annual vacation allowance equivalent to the cost of two first class return fares, full time personal security and security at his place of residence, payment of services for an unspecified number of personal and household staff, payment for the services of an “attendant” and a gardener, payment for services of an unspecified number of clerical staff, payment for services of “technical” staff, payment of his water rates, payment of his electricity bill, payment of his telephone bills, and toll free road transportation in Guyana.
Now this is not the story of the king in his magic suit; this is fuh real, a golden benefit package that all can see. For me this Benefit Package is insulting and vulgar. With the present pension rate at starvation level $7,500, it is a most disturbing scenario, “obscene” indeed, with a pensioner today getting just about $250 per day when a loaf of bread costs $260!
I have no idea what is the President’s take home pay and allowances but I’m sure he doesn’t have to spend one cent of it. Now I can understand Dr. Roger Luncheon’s position on this matter in which he was reported as saying that the Benefit Package is “minimal”.
I see his role as akin to that of Squealer in Orwell’s Animal Farm. Even Government. Ministers hear no wrong, see no wrong period! I can overlook opposition parliamentarians; what thoughts pass through their minds when this golden benefit package is placed
alongside that of pensioner-$7,500 per month.
How do we condemn the activities of gangsters, three-card players, chain snatchers, pick pockets, petty thieves, tax evaders etc. but fail to see or make any similarity or nexus between them and thy Golden Benefit Package Act.
The breakdown in income and spending for two pensioners shows up the unconscionable and preposterous existing state of affairs.
From $15,000 a couple must perform a miracle to take care of basics:-food, transportation, medical, electricity and phone bill. What then does the $162 billon budget matter to the poor who is left to starve on a pittance!
Nothing could be further from the solid truth that “government has an obligation to ensure the needs of its citizen are catered for” that “there could be no development if the state of the poor remains the same”
I’m in full agreement with Trotz in saying that politicians should be confronted and asked to explain their silence on this eye pass, giving former presidents a blank cheque on an immoral benefit act while pensioners must subsist on next to “nutten”.
Brazen as this whole golden lifetime package is, maybe, just maybe it could have been glossed over if there was more consideration for elder folks who having made their contribution and now sailing into their twilight were treated with more decency.
For me the main hurdle that I think we will have to get over is enacting policies/laws that allow and protect the elite class to have it way, in every-which-way.
Alissa Trotz deserves to be commended for highlighting this obnoxious act that our opposition parliamentarians avoided. Makes me ponder on the reason, the advantage/disadvantage, the difference in being frank and hold from abroad than at home.
As Forbes Burnham was fond of saying: “don’t stay abroad and cuss me come home”.
Pit latrines part of developing country syndrome, Sukhai says
By STABROEK STAFF
– ‘child-friendly infrastructure’ needed
Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, says she “suspects” that some schools in Guyana still use pit latrines because the country is still developing economically and “still grappling with removing ourselves from the level of a developing country and moving towards a higher level… which is a challenge to the government.”
Speaking to Stabroek News on the issue, following the death last week of a nine-year-old girl after she fell into a pit latrine, Sukhai said placing child-friendly infrastructure in schools needed to be examined.
The issue of pit latrines has become a matter of public debate following the tragic death of Tenesha De Souza last Monday. The child fell into a pit latrine at the Santa Rosa Primary School at Moruca on her first day of school and subsequently died. Her parents and a number of individuals and organisations have since called for flush toilets to be installed at all schools. The parents have said that they did not want any other parent to endure the hurt they were forced to suffer, following the death of their eldest child and only daughter.
However, while these calls are being made, Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh, has told Stabroek News that his ministry did not intend to phase-out the use of pit latrines in schools since they were internationally accepted as proper sanitary disposal. He had added though that maybe in another few years the issue would be addressed, but it would be a very expensive exercise.
Sukhai, while calling the death of De Souza a tragic and unfortunate one, said “we as a government” need to “examine further the preparing of child-friendly infrastructure particularly as it relates to education.
“We all consider it a tragedy in the case of Santa Rosa. Again, I would want to say it was very unfortunate. It may not be a prevalent incident, but it is … one too many. That is what I would say; we cannot say it doesn’t concern us,” Sukhai said.
She said that while her ministry was not entirely responsible for the infrastructure of schools, “I wouldn’t say it is not a concern to us… due to the fact that a child died in a pit latrine [we cannot] divorce ourselves from having any concern at all.”
She said the government, “may not be able to address the conversion of all pit latrines to flush toilets or what we call it – water closets, but definitely I think we would have to consider for the future, making more safer facilities available to our children.”
She added that this should not only apply to schools and children but also to institutions for differently-abled persons and the elderly.
“I think generally while we would still have to work and live with many communities using pit latrines, I am sure that our policy makers need to examine, for the future, how we [would] move from where we are. I suppose as Guyana is able to acquire more resources that we will be able to improve on it.”
Meanwhile, well-known Amerindian rights advocate, Guy Marco, commenting on the issue on Stabroek News’ website said the village council of Moruca “should stop the villagers from sending their children to school until workers from the Ministry of Education arrive there with at least one toilet bowl and other materials to begin working on the flushable toilet.” He said there was no excuse since Moruca was one of the locations that was “within reach easily.”
“If the government can spend so much millions of dollars to create an Amer-indian Village for Carifesta… And since the President [Bharrat Jagdeo) himself said that he would not hesitate if he had to do it again… Then Mr President we don’t want another village to be built but just buy us one toilet bowl, materials to build the septic tank and pay the workers,” Marco said.
He pointed out that two persons from Moruca have since been made Amerindian Affairs ministers and questioned why they “couldn’t negotiate with the government for at least two more flushable toilets?”
The school has two flush toilets. One is currently out of order, but they are only for teachers’ use.
Meanwhile, the parents of the child, Robin and Vanessa De Souza said they are still grappling with the tragedy. They lamented that they almost lost her eight years ago when she fell into a pond, resulting in the loss of her speech, and as such, it was hard to accept that she died when she fell into a pit latrine on her first day at school.
Guyana does not observe the eight sub-rules of the rule of law
Mr Anil Mohabir Nandlall evades my request (‘Not the rule of law’ SN, March 22) for him to state his opinion as to whether Guyana observes Lord Bingham’s eight sub-rules of the rule of law and instead immodestly invites me to examine his legal career: (‘Not a response to letter on mischief caused by prescriptive title’ SN, March 25). I leave an examination of his career to those with the interest, time and inclination to do so, but welcome the opportunity to examine his assertion that “the presence of the rule of law in a society… can be measured by an examination of the workings of the democratic institutions in the society.”
While Mr Nandlall and I may differ on their order of importance, we can at least agree that the principal institutions include the constitution itself, the president, the state, the parliament, national elections, local government elections, the judiciary, the Ombudsman, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the police force, the Audit Office and the Public Procurement Commis-sion. Let us examine them.
1. A fundamental tenet of the rule of law is that all are equal in the eyes of the law while our constitution endows one person with the privileges and immunity of a monarch under the divine right of kings doctrine. Mr Nandlall’s hero Cheddi Jagan, had vowed to change what he and his party referred to as the Burnham constitution, a constitution that hangs like an albatross around the nation’s neck, notwithstanding the timid changes under the St Lucia Accord. If at least ten articles of the constitution have not been operationalised, do we need further evidence that even this “undemocratic” constitution is not working?
2. Few would dispute that over more than a decade, this President has routinely violated the constitution, the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act 2003 and the Procurement Act 2003, broke (tax) and bends (procurement) laws to help his friends; creates jobs for his political cronies whose sell-by date has long expired; heads an office where procurement takes on a special meaning; and who surrounds himself with persons not deserving of respect. In short, the Office of the President is the very antithesis of the rule of law and the constitution.
3. The state’s “supreme organs of democratic power” are spelt out in Article 50 of the constitution as the president, the parliament of which he is a part and of which he plays an important role in the appointment of the majority, and the cabinet which is an advisory body to the president, making the three organs largely embedded in a single individual. Is this Mr Nandlall’s concept of democracy and the rule of law and does it explain why the constitution is so frequently violated by the President with impunity, whether in relation to assenting to bills and the naming of constitutional commissions and office holders? Perhaps I can ask the learned counsel to explain the constitutionality of the President’s refusal to assent to Bill No.18 of 2000 dated December 15, 2000 and unanimously passed by the National Assembly on January 4, 2001. Let me remind him that this was no ordinary bill but one that sought to elevate certain articles from principles to fundamental rights for citizens. In any democratic country where the rule of law prevailed the President would have long had to resign.
4. And what about the National Assembly whose productivity is modest by any standard, whose priority does not see a flooding of agricultural land as a matter of urgent public interest, which regularly passes laws that are a violation of the constitution, whose members represent no one but a political party, who vote for bills they have never read or cannot understand and who receive generous duty-free concessions and qualify for pensions at the age of forty? And that protects at all costs a Minister who misleads the House about a small matter of $4B of public money!
5. National elections which are characterised by playing to ethnic and racial sentiments and insecurities (Babu John annually), patronage, bribing of sections of the electorate by the incumbent, misuse of state funds and justifying it as the privilege of incumbency, and political parties operating outside of a legal framework. Those things distort the fairness of elections and are a real threat to democracy as political debts have to be paid, often with tax immunity, special contracts and other favours.
6. I doubt that Mr Nandlall would consider the absence of local government elections since 1994 as anything but a cynical and gross violation of Article 12 which states that “local government by freely elected representatives of the people is an integral part of the democratic organisation of the State.”
7. The courts which are the guardians of the constitution and the citizens’ rights are hobbled by a law that takes away their independence while the constitutional requirement for consultation between the President and the Leader of the Opposition on the appointment of the head of the judiciary is bypassed by an acting appointment.
8. An Ombudsman, the people’s judge, has not been appointed for six years so that the poor have no avenue and opportunity for redress. That needs no comment, either about democracy or the rule of law.
9. And no discussion on the rule of law can exclude the police that in this major drug transshipment country cede their duty and responsibilities in drug case investigations; whose operational efficiency and independence are often compromised by a telephone call from the politicians; which selectively investigate a blog site critical of the government but refuse to act on another friendly to the government; which needed a drug lord to fight a crime wave; and which is involved in a struggle with its Minister as to who should and should not get a gun licence.
10. The Audit Office, the guardian of the public purse is handicapped by the acting appointment of an unqualified head and compromised by a conflict of interest involving its deputy. No wonder then that it cannot yet publish its 2005 flood report or the 2007 Cricket World Cup report; that it conveniently ignores the improprieties of the big-spending ministries and big ticket items in favour of the checking of vehicle log books and ineffective special investigations on poor people at the Palms and in receipt of pensions.
11. And even as we spend more and more billions on contracts of dubious benefit, quality and authority, the government has refused to establish the constitutionally mandated Public Procurement Commission so that Fip Motilall’s multi-billion dollar contract can pass through NICIL with its huge slush fund, and another multi-billion dollar contract is awarded to a Chinese company, Huawei, now involved in the Laptop scandal.
The litany of violations by these instruments of democracy and the rule of law is long and depressing enough to cause some to refer to Guyana as a failed state. I do not share that view, but rather consider it a dysfunctional state administered undemocratically, that facilitates, permits and protects illegalities and improprieties by a certain class. I am interested to hear Mr Nandlall’s explanation for these phenomena under a government that has been in place for eighteen years, and the reasons why he thinks the party of Cheddi Jagan is unwilling to introduce access to information legislation to give effect to Article 146 of the constitution.