FEBRUARY 26, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
-police say “due process” is being followed
Relatives of a 12-year-old girl, who was allegedly raped, are very upset with the actions of the police ranks at the Anna Regina Police Station.
They are far from pleased with the actions of the officers claiming that the matter is being dealt with in a “slow manner” and thus stalling the outcome of the case.
Reports are that the young girl and the 16-year-old boy attend the same secondary school on the Essequibo Coast. The girl is a first form student and the boy is in fifth form.
On February 9, last, the victim and the suspect were said to have left their school at 15:00hr and were walking along the seawalls when the incident took place.
According to the girl’s aunt, the matter was reported to the police at the Anna Regina Police Station the same day.
“My niece come home and tell me what happen and I took her to the station where a report was made. But this boy uncle works there and they seem to be taking so long to deal with the matter. It hasn’t been called up. No court matter and the boy not arrested and I don’t know if it is being covered up,” complained the aunt.
Kaieteur News contacted the police on Friday and was told by a senior officer that the matter was “following due process.”
The officer noted that while the report was made at the police station, the matter must be dealt with accordingly, therefore the actions of the police have to follow a certain process.
“We had to take handwritten statements from everyone, peruse them, type them out and investigate too. Then send the file to the Director of Public Prosecution’s office for advice and so on. We are presently in a process. The matter is not being covered up. It is being dealt with accordingly,” stated the police man.
The girl’s aunt is certain that it was not consensual sex because her niece explained to her that she did not “give consent” to the suspect.
According to the aunt, the two students were friends for a short time, since they only met when the girl started attending classes there during September.
Dealer blows lid on Education Ministry’s book scam…Billions spent on outdated text books
FEBRUARY 26, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
– manipulates procurement procedures
“You have to understand that there is no clear-cut text book policy in Guyana. Many of the books being ordered…there is no way to determine whether they are relevant to the curriculum or not. So books are being ordered and sometimes even the teachers don’t want them.”
A local book dealer is calling on President Donald Ramotar to immediately launch an investigation
Former Minister of Education Shaik Baksh
into the system of text book ordering. He is claiming that there are widespread irregularities and fraud involved in the process.
According to Bholan Boodhoo, owner of the Horizon Bookshop in Alberttown, and a long time dealer of text books, the procurement system is deliberately being manipulated so that specific companies are granted the contract.
The Auditor General’s report covering government accounts of 2010, excerpts of which were published in this newspaper last Sunday, found instances in which hundreds of millions of dollars were written up in cheques, months before the contracts were awarded.
It not only signaled that there were serious irregularities but also that there was the shocking possibility that the procurement process in Guyana through the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board may have been compromised.
The report also suggested that books were also being partially delivered.
Kaieteur News was told that people high up in the Ministry of Education and specific dealers awarded the contracts, deliberately delivered short and would split the proceeds.
Text books dealing in Guyana is a billion dollar business.
According to Boodhoo, the way the procurement system is being run in Guyana is hugely unfair to other dealers and may even threaten the level of education in the country.
“You have to understand that there is no clear-cut text book policy in Guyana. For many of the books being ordered…there is no way to determine whether they are relevant to the curriculum. So books are being ordered and sometimes even the teachers don’t want them. They are distributed in the schools and left in the storeroom.”
Another major issue over the ordering of text books is that a large percentage ordered are called infringed copies– photocopies. A business on West Coast Demerara (name given) is the main supplier of photocopied text books.
“This is a clear violation of several regional and international laws. It saves money but how could a ministry and government by extension, sanction an illegality? We have legitimate book dealers in Guyana who are answerable to their companies.
Text book dealer, Bholan Boodhoo
“We have books that we are scared to even put on shelves because they are being bought and then photocopied or infringed and then resold,” the businessman said.
Many of the contracts awarded are through sole sourcing procurement procedures, meaning that the Ministry has already decided which company will get the contract.
“This is clearly a breach of what sole tendering is all about. For one company to be eligible as a sole tender, the ministry will have to show that it can’t buy from anywhere else and the orders must be with all the relevant specifications included.
“This may be true if you are ordering a Wartsila engine or Caterpillar set…then you will have to go to the company that makes them. In the Guyana case, only some books could be ordered through sole sourcing…not all as is being done,” Boodhoo stressed.
However, in many cases, the contracts are just being awarded as sole sourcing without evidence being presented that the books are not available elsewhere.
And how is it being done?
“On the approval granted by the Cabinet, the list will more than likely have general descriptions of texts but no names of the books wanted. This is another way in which legitimate dealers are being shafted because they don’t have a clear idea of what is needed.”
In many cases, the Ministry of Education just does not advertise for the books.
“In the absence of a Procurement Commission, it is hard to complain,” the dealer said.
That commission is the body which would have heard complaints being filed by aggrieved parties on alleged instances where government’s procurement processes were not followed. The commission, despite public clamouring, has not yet been established by the government.
“Many of the books being ordered are not revised and outdated.”
At least three businesses are now selling infringed copies of text books at a fraction of the costs. One is located in Water Street and another on Croal Street.
“Those infringed copies are of poor qualities and in black and white in most cases. In almost all the cases the businesses selling the books are not dealers or are just not authorized.”
Meanwhile, Kaieteur News was told that when text books are purchased, whether they are infringed or not, they are delivered to the Ministry of Education’s Book Distribution Unit.
The Auditor General report on the Ministry’s 2010 accounts found that in most cases, records of that unit did not match up with what was ordered. Insiders are saying records are deliberately not being provided to state auditors.
In most cases, the Book Distribution Unit is not provided or made aware of what was ordered from the supplier…only what is being delivered.
Further, even records being kept at the unit are poor and sources at the Education Ministry again say that this is deliberately so that in cases of checks, it will be hard to track instances of short delivery, among other fraudulent activities.
In the Auditor General’s report of the 2010 accounts, auditors found one instance where a massive $110M order was made for text books but two cheques for the amount were made months before the contract was awarded.
According to the report, the fact that the payments took place in the fourth and ninth months of 2011, confirms the use of a strategy to defeat the controls as set out in the government’s Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMA), by the withdrawal of sums appropriated in one year and holding them for extended periods for spending in another year during the life of another Appropriation Act.
“It is even more disturbing that such a serious breach is aided and abetted by the Ministry of Finance, through a process in which stale dated cheques are extended for use at current dates. This was the case of the second cheque which was updated on June 9, 2011.”
In charge of the Ministry at the time was Minister Shaik Baksh, who was not included in the current Cabinet under new President Donald Ramotar. He was also embroiled in a questionable contract involving the delivery of computers to a number of schools.
In 2009, cheques were also written up days before the end of the year for book orders that would have been delivered in 2010, an occurrence that the state auditors found disturbing.
It was this same supplier who was given contracts in 2010 to the tune of $230M but cheques were drawn up in December 2009. There were several discrepancies also with those contracts including one that was “surprisingly” dated one year later on January 21, 2011.
According to the report, the Tender Board approval did not disclose details of the orders, including the book titles, authors, quantities or even costs.
On request, the Ministry of Education provided two contracts and three book lists that give details of the order.
“The Audit Office was unable to validate delivery on the orders, as the state of accounting at the Book Delivery Unit (BDU) made accounting for the books impractical. It should be noted that the BDU provided delivery invoices with supply details of several books. However, these invoices were not referenced to the related orders and did not include the prices of the books supplied.”
National Centre of Educational Resource Development (NCERD), an arm of the Ministry of Education, is the department that is reportedly in charge of ordering text books.
Robert Persaud wants Guyana Geology and Mines Commission to buy an elephant for his anchor babies to play with
Robert Persaud’s Ministry has no authority to spend money
FEBRUARY 22, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
…still to be gazetted-Greenidge
While there are those that laud the creation of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment,
there are those that criticize the expansion of Government.
Others question the legality of the operations of this new entity.
Former Finance Minister in the People’s National Congress Government, Carl Greenidge, said that he is yet to see the new Ministry officially gazetted.
Greenidge believes that all of the monies being spent by the new Ministry can be considered illegal.
According to Greenidge, what is even more reprehensible is the fact that the Minister is even instructing entities outside of his purview to undertake expenditure.
Greenidge was referring to a request by Persaud to have the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) expend monies from its revenues to purchase an elephant for the Zoological Park.
Greenidge said that A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is proposing to request of the Government (and we are at one with the Alliance For Change on this) to have all of the agencies such as the GGMC which are semi-autonomous in nature and manage their own revenue to be brought under the purview of the Consolidated Fund.
He explained that these agencies are supposed to manage revenue in trust for the state but given the manner in which the entities have been operating Greenidge is pushing for them to be brought back under the purview of the Consolidated Fund.
“We have seen that these things have been extensively abused….It is not only a NICIL (National Industrial and Commercial Investment Ltd) problem or a rogue official.”
Greenidge said the fact that the Minister happens to be assigned two different Ministries does not give him the power to simply take money from one operating entity and use it for another, let alone instructing the entity itself to be making purchases that do not fall
within his competence and for which the articles of association and the article establishing the entity stipulates.
Greenidge did warn that it is the board of the GGMC which is ultimately responsible “so if the board is foolish enough to respond to an illegal demand by the Minister they will be held accountable.”
“So what you see taking place in NICIL in the past is not peculiar to NICIL, it is a phenomenon of the PPP operation under the presidency especially under (Bharrat) Jagdeo.”
He explained that one worry that the opposition has as it relates to public pronouncements is the fact that “between Messrs Persaud and (Dr Leslie) Ramsammy, for example, you hear a number of public pronouncements which clearly are inconsistent with the law and the regulations.”
Greenidge reminded that, “I have not seen the new Ministry gazetted and without that happening no monies should be spent by anybody purporting to run or have oversight over these Ministries.”
The former Finance Minister said that the issue at heart is but a part of the problem plaguing Guyana. “What is the President doing just allowing Ministers to run riot irrespective of the law? So there is in all the points of tension that have arisen in recent times between the opposition and the government, the question of legality.”
Greenidge said that regardless of whatever positive statements are being made by President Donald Ramotar, “his ministers don’t seem to recognize that we are under a new dispensation and under the new dispensation granted by the electorate we have a mandate to bring the activities of the executive as the legislature properly under the law.”
The agencies that fall under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment includes: the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, the Guyana Gold Board, the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Guyana Wildlife, the National Parks Commission and the Protected Areas Commission.
New Chinese ferries to cost $50M per month
FEBRUARY 22, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS.
– Diesel-run Caterpillar engines unsuitable, more expensive
Two new Chinese-built ferries that will ply the Parika/Supenaam route are likely to
cost Guyanese taxpayers millions of dollars more to operate and maintain than the older class Makouria vessels, officials have said.
It is now more than likely government will have to subsidize the operations.
The two vessels, Sabanto and Kanawan, arrived late December as a “gift” from the Chinese Government and are said to worth around US$14M ($2.8B).
However, assuming that the vessels operate on a 30-day basis, it could cost as much as $50M to run them.
While figures of how much the older vessels cost to run were unavailable, officials said that it will be millions more for the new ones.
Each vessel has three decks and can hold up to 800 persons, 44 cars, and 20 lorries and can travel at a test speed of 12.5 knots. They come equipped with standard Caterpillar engines.
Personnel are currently being trained to work on the ferries while modifications
One of the two new Chinese ferries, the Kanawan, shortly after its arrival in Guyana in late December.
are being done to the Parika and Supenaam stellings in the Region Three area.
According to officials knowledgeable of the ferries’ test runs, while Caterpillar engines are dependable, they cost more using diesel as against the cheaper Bunker C fuel utilized by the older turbo-driven vessels like the Malali which are scheduled to be placed on other routes.
“In all likelihood, Government will have to subsidize the running of these two vessels as Transport and Harbours Department is unlikely to recover costs from its daily operations.”
The ferries will continue to provide a crucial link between Essequibo Coast, Region Two, and the city. Rice and cash crop farmers are heavily dependent on the vessels to transport their produce. They also provide a link to Wakenaam and Leguan, two islands in the Essequibo River.
Kaieteur News was told the Lister, Wartsila and even Blackstone engines would have been more suitable and cheaper to the Guyana condition.
It is about 19 nautical miles between Parika and Supenaam.
“Because of the high consumption rate of these Caterpillar engines, maintenance would have to be high in order to prevent problems and reduce breakdowns. This would obviously add to the costs with adequate spares for a year advisable.”
On average, it could cost $550,000 for each vessel to make two return trips to Parika. This adds up to around $16.5M monthly per vessel. However, this figure does not include the cost of running the generators on board the vessels which could tally up another $8M each, pushing the cost to operate both vessels to the $50M mark per month.
Another factor that could see the vessels underperforming is the fact that the heavy siltation of the Essequibo channels could reduce speed and would force management to lessen on the load, to avoid running aground.
The older ferries will continue to operate in Essequibo. Some will be deployed to Bartica, Wakenaam and possibly to the Berbice River.
The recent racist outpourings by Donald Ramotar should be taken very seriously.
Not only were they blatant lies, but also they were racially explosive, libelous, and has set out to taint APNU as a racist party.
This is an age old PPP trick, painting fear into the Indian population. This well worn tactic of fear mongering, and political crassness are dangerous to the development of this country.
Ramotar and the old hacks of the PPP have come to the realisation and to their senses that they can no longer run the country as they have done for the last twenty years and will dig deep to salvage whatever they can to bring disunity to this country.
I have been on the campaign trail during the last elections, attended most of the rallies, small meetings, bottom house meetings… not once did I hear a racist comment from either the speakers or the masses in attendance. Should such an occurrence happened, I would have been the first to address the issue with Mr. Granger or any of the senior party members. Thankfully, this was not the case.
Ramotar should look into the membership of APNU and count how many “Indians” were on the campaign trail, all committed to bringing an end to the rule of this divisive, morally corrupt PPP government.
I am a firm believer in “giving a man a chance”, this I was prepared to do with Ramotar. In less than three months he has destroyed what semblance of hope I had in him. Now, the election Mantra has a much deeper meaning…”no place for Donald…”
– $40M loss in expired drugs
The 2010 Report of the Auditor General has continued to make worrying revelations about the Bharrat Jagdeo-led administration, with poorly kept records being the order of the day.
At the Ministry of Health, drugs at the government’s storehouses were being entered into the system using pencils, with almost $40M in medicine being destroyed at one time in 2010 because of expiry.
Similar to the issue of the problematic old age pension programme which the state auditors found to be in a complete mess and was blasted in the report, the inventory keeping at the Health Ministry came under fire.
The report covers audits on the Public Accounts of Guyana and the accounts of the various ministries, departments and regions.
At the Ministry’s Kingston’s Stores, auditors discovered several entries in stock ledgers made in pencil with the records not balanced.
“In addition, there were instances where receipts and issues of stock were not recorded and there was a failure to reconcile stock ledgers with bin cards. As a result, the vital control mechanism for ensuring proper accountability for stock was not in place.”
In addition to the stores accounting, auditors carried out a physical count of items at the stores and found 31 instances of significant shortages and excesses.
“Some items of stock were not displayed on shelves or stored in a manner to enable easy verification of quantities on hand and in some cases there was no evidence of labeling.”
At the Farm Stores, although there were systems to account for receipts of issues of the drugs and medical supplies to stock ledgers, bin cards and a computerized system, the records were not updated “resulting in balances shown not being considered as reliable bases for determining the stock position at a point in time. In the circumstances, a proper comparison with physical balances could not be carried out.”
The Audit Office said that it carried out a sample check of 93 items and found discrepancies with 57 of them.
Store workers were shockingly using the computerized database as the basis to update the stock ledgers. “These ledgers are required to be independent records of transactions, which can otherwise be authenticated through the use of source documents, such as orders or requisitions, invoices and deliveries, receipts and issue notes.”
There were several issues being deleted and written over without the relevant required initials.
“During the period under review, the Ministry continued to suffer losses due to expiration of large quantities of drugs. Noteworthy was the fact that destruction of expired drugs valued at $39.955M had occurred and a large quantity of expired stock as still on hand, pending processing and destruction.”
The Ministry, in explaining the finds, said that 100% stock count was being carried out and moves were underway to fully computerize the stock inventory.
The audit also found that while the Ministry in 2010 received a large quantity of gifts, it was not until August last year that it sought to have them recorded in the Public Accounts.
Over the weekend, Kaieteur News also published startling revelations carried in the report that indicated a possible racket in the ordering of photocopied text books for schools from a particular printer.
It was found that hundreds of millions in cheques were written months before the contracts were even approved by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board, a clear suggestion that the Ministry of Education could have known beforehand that the award would have gone in a certain direction.
The report has been suggesting that the poor records kept by ministries of the government could see the system manipulated, with fraud likely.
There have been instances of goods being ordered and services paid for, to the tune of billions of dollars, without proof that value for money was given, and even that goods and services were actually delivered.
|Written by Denis Scott Chabrol|
|Sunday, 12 February 2012 17:17|
Jamaican and Guyanese investigators did not find sufficient evidence to prove a clear case of rape against Police Commissioner, Henry Greene but they had recommended that he be dismissed, according to well-placed sources.
At the heart of their position were several inconsistencies by the 34-year old woman who has accused him of rape. Among the inconsistencies, Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) was told, was the duration of the sexual intercourse ranging from 45 minutes to four hours.
A hearing into court action brought by Greene to block police from charging him for rape is scheduled for February 20, 2012 before Chief Justice Ian Chang.
The source noted that the investigators recommended that Greene be removed from office because of indiscretions while being the Police Commissioner. The team frowned on the fact that he had sexual intercourse with someone who had gone to him for assistance. At the same time, the varied accounts by the woman did not provide the team with a clear-cut case to support her allegation of rape.
The constitution provides for the removal of a Police Commissioner if he or she is deemed unfit to remain in office. Greene has already reached retirement age.
The Guyana Association of Women Lawyers (GAWL) and the opposition Alliance For Change (AFC) have said that by Greene’s own admission he should no longer remain in office. The Guyana government has also expressed concern.
Greene, in seeking a High Court order to block police from charging him with rape, has already pointed out that his lawyers have not seen all the statements that investigators have obtained from the woman.
The Police Commissioner wants the High Court to quash the advice by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that he be charged and block Acting Police Commissioner, Leroy Brumell and Assistant Commissioner, Seelall Persaud from charging him.
Other sources say the allegation by the woman might have stemmed from Greene’s failed promise to assist the Victoria, East Coast Demerara-based woman to complete construction work on house where he had taken her after what he said was “consensual” sexual intercourse with her at a city hotel.
A team of senior Jamaican police officers had visited Guyana to work along with their local counterparts in conducting the investigation. Greene remains on special leave.
The Police Commissioner, himself a Caribbean-trained lawyer, has stated in his Originating Notice of Motion that “When we arrived at her home she identified her mother who was on the verandah. She also showed me an unfinished building which she said was her own. After she identified her home he told me that she was sure I can use my influence to get back her phone to her.”
Greene wants the court to find that the DPP’s advice was “irrational, unreasonable, unfair, unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void and of no legal effect.”
“The applicant ought not to be prosecuted for the offence charged in as much as the evidential test that there is sufficient evidence to provide a “realistic prospect of conviction” was not met,” according to the Originating Notice of Motion.
Attacking the credibility of the complainant, he said she was the subject of a police investigation into extortion.
He has, however, conceded having sexual intercourse after she had told him that she wanted to meet him socially. They, according to the Police Commissioner, did so on November 22, 2011 at the Police Officers Mess and later agreed to go somewhere private.
Greene has denied having a gun in possession on that date, disputing the woman’s claims that he had a gun in his possession while at the hotel.
The Police Commissioner said the complainant had gone to him to ascertain progress in investigations into an allegation against her on November 15, 2011. She later returned on November 22 to follow up on her original inquiry and sought Greene’s intervention in gaining access to a cellular phone to acquire a number for friends in Trinidad.
Greene recalled telling her that doing so was impossible because the matter was still the subject of an investigation and that she would have to await the DPP’s decision.