Bharrat Jagdeo the owner of one of the most Eco unfriendly residential properties in Guyana try to scare up support at the 13th annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development (STC-13).
Bitten by one’s own bug
The daughter of the late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan leveled a blistering attack against the party her father founded and there has been nary a criticism of her comments. In fact, they passed almost unnoticed because in the first instance, the woman is not known as a public figure. In the second instance the children of former presidents who choose private lives are not really newsmakers.
That the woman chose the heart of the party to address the people is significant. She must have watched the shenanigans from her home and must have read the various media reports. She must have been shaken by the steady stream of reports on the criticisms.
Indeed, she saw the homes of people who worked for salaries and knowing that her parents were also salaried people who could only afford a modest home, she had to ask questions about these people. What is not known is whether she had held discussions with some of the targets of her criticisms and whether she got answers that she found disapproving. What is known is that she was angry and perhaps ashamed that the party her father founded is not what it was intended to be.
Kaieteur News was the first of the media outlets to target the corrupt actions of people in government office. It started to examine some of the contracts that were actually over-priced. In addition, the work was slipshod and the taxpayers were asked to foot the bill.
Investigations revealed that many of the contractors were required to pay graft to secure the contract. This meant that less money was available for the particular project. In the end a compromise was reached. The contractor was allowed to overbid so that the project would not suffer unduly and the person collecting the graft got his share from the top.
The next area of focus was on the acquisitions of certain people. Many of these appeared to be part of the noveau riche when by no stretch of imagination they should have been anything but comfortable. There has been a difficulty in tracking down the finances but there has been no difficulty in identifying the assets these people acquired.
Ms. Jagan-Brancier also saw these things and she was pained. She addressed people who have been with the party from the day they were born and told them of these things. There must have been a state media presence but they never reported a line because their controllers would not have been happy with the publication and because of the embarrassment.
It would have been easy to attack the critic, had he or she been someone somewhat removed from the party but to have the criticism coming from someone so close—Ms. Jagan-Brancier and her children made a public show of joining the party when her mother died—it must have been gut-wrenching.
Surely, the hierarchy of the government must have noticed the same things that Kaieteur News and Ms. Jagan-Brancier have been talking about for so long. There were also the reports by the office of the Auditor General. These highlighted so many irregularities that surely there should have been a revamping of the financial system. There were cases of unsupported expenditure and undocumented monies, unsupported cheque accounts reports of monies being paid to contractors in excess of what they should have earned.
There were also reports of senior officials making purchases with money that they could not have earned and while an investigation was promised nothing was done.
Ms. Jagan-Brancier would have been aware of the time her mother was invited to a house opening in what is now known as Pradoville and on reaching the location, refused to attend the function when she saw the house. Mrs. Janet Jagan was asked to ask how was it that one of her party members could own such a house. Since then Janet Jagan was aware that all was not right. Her successors never took note.
In the Forbes Burnham era no one could display unexplained wealth. There was the Remigrant officer who simply had a car that appeared to be beyond the pale. This man was investigated and prosecuted. He died before going to trial.
Despite the various exposures of obvious corruption nothing has been done. Ms. Jagan-Brancier has added her voice to this rampant irregularity. While the private media have reported her contention and the state media have remained silent, the authorities cannot escape the fact that there is rampant corruption in the highest circles. The public awaits action.
Guyana’s opposition looking to put an end to Former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s plundering of the Guyanese tax dollars
UPDATED: Guyana’s opposition moving to slash former presidents benefits.
Almost one week after government announced meagre increases in Old Age Pensions and Public Assistance, Guyana’s opposition political parties on Monday signaled they would be moving to scrap the Former President’s (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act 2009.
A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) Carl Greenidge is tabling a motion for the law to be scrapped- a move the Alliance For Change (AFC) will support. AFC Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan also plans to table an amendment for the law to be repealed.
Ramjattan says the AFC will likely support APNU’s motion in exchange for support for its amendment to be repealed. While the combined opposition can use its one-seat majority of 33 seats to pass Greenidge’s motion and the AFC’s amendment, Ramjattan says the president can refuse to assent the amendment but face public ridicule.
“The president might very well not assent to the Bill but he will have to show the nation, their supporters, the ordinary people how they are hypocrites and their rhetoric does not match their reality,” Ramjattan told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com )
But government spokesman Dr. Roger Luncheon on Thursday appeared bemused at Greenidge’s motion.
“I don’t see what on earth a parliamentary motion can do in the face of statute. If I could be presumptuous and I suspect I would be considered so … he would know that the only way you could repeal a piece of legislation is not by parliamentary motion, that indeed an act of parliament to amend or repeal the extant legislation is the only way to so do.”
According to Dr. Luncheon, the move by the APNU parliamentarian is mere “grandstanding.”
Decisions to challenge the Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act 2009 were made known after last Friday’s announcement in the National Budget that Public Assistance will increase from GUY$5,500 to GUY$5,900 monthly and Old Age Pension from $7,500 per month to $8,100 per month.
The opposition has been voicing concern that while Former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s pension alone would be an estimated GUY$1 million monthly, the law tabled in 2009 gives him another GUY$2 million monthly in electricity, telephone, vehicles, fuel, security personnel and other staff.
“It is now obvious that when compared to what the ordinary pensioner is getting, the facilities and benefits must go,” Ramjattan added.
The Guyana government has vehemently denied that Jagdeo is getting such a hefty package of benefits and other facilities.
Greenidge, in his motion, agrees that the National Assembly should make appropriate, adequate and reasonable provision for a president to enjoy a comfortable and dignified retirement. At the same time, he argues that it must be linked to the ability of Guyana to pay.
“Former President’s (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act 2009 has caused concern and resulted in adverse reaction among sections of the citizens of Guyana, in particular as to the ability of the country to sustain the benefits set out therein,” says Greenidge in his Motion.
He wants the 65-seat House to “immediately take steps to repeal the legislation “without prejudice, however, to the payment of benefits.”
Greenidge, a former Finance Minister, instead recommends that a Parliamentary Committee examine the Pensions (President, Parliamentary and Special Offices) Act, Part II Section 4 (Rate of President and Calculation of Pension 7/8 Ceiling of Pension) and to make proposals for their revision.
He will also ask the House that a Special Parliamentary Committee submit as a matter of urgency a revised superannuation benefit package for those persons to whom the Parliamentary and Holders of Special Offices Act applies and for those other categories of employees catered for by other government pensions and arrangement/plans.
The revised superannuation package, he says, must be sent by the Special Parliamentary Committee for consideration and approval by the National Assembly.
TheSpec – Lending a hand in his native land.
Ticat Ryan Hinds returned to his roots in Guyana to promote a campaign to improve health care for children.
When I try to explain what it meant to return to my native Guyana for the first time in 18 years, I struggle to put feelings into words. I always feel like my descriptions are never doing it justice.
But there’s one image that always seems to work: it’s of an isolation room in the pediatric ward of the hospital that bears a strong resemblance to a jail cell. From the paint chipped walls, to paper thin mattress, and the caged tank of a toilet without a seat.
Every time I think of the room, I think “this is the room where children in the worst condition are forced to stay.”
Henry Greene forced out after rape allegations
Embattled Commissioner of Police Henry Greene’s resignation has been finalized;
ending months of speculation over his continued tenure as the country’s Top Cop in the face of rape allegations made by a 34-year-old mother of two.
While senior government officials have declined to confirm Greene’s departure, Greene was offering ‘no comment’ to queries from various sections of the media.
The latest call for his ouster came from former Minister of Human Services and Social Security Priya Manickchand, who was responsible for piloting the new Sexual Offences Act of 2010.
Manickchand, who is now Minister of Education, is the highest ranking government official so far to call for Greene to step down.
Yesterday, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee refused to confirm reports of Greene’s resignation, advising that the administration was likely to issue an official statement on the matter.
He also advised this newspaper to contact Greene himself.
Two days ago Rohee said that the jury was still out on Greene’s return to the top police post.
Acting Commissioner Leroy Brumell also declined to comment when approached by this newspaper.
Greene, who is over the age of retirement, had been on administrative leave since December 17, last year, to facilitate the investigation into the allegation made against him.
In what eventually turned out to be the scandal of the year, the 34-year-old woman alleged that she was raped by the Commissioner of Police at a city hotel.
The woman alleged that she was forced to have sex with Greene after she was induced with cash and a promise to assist her in a matter that is presently engaging the attention of the police.
Greene had dismissed the woman’s claims as mere allegations and had declared that god will be his judge, although he later admitted to having consensual sex with her.
Following weeks of investigations by a team of detectives from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, under the supervision of Crime Chief Seelall Persaud, the Director of Public Prosecution advised that Greene be charged with rape.
However, Greene successfully got the High Court to overturn the DPP’s advice with Chief Justice Ian Chang ruling that the decision to charge Greene was irrational.
Greene’s admission to having consensual sex with the woman was another major bone of contention, since it is being argued that he used his office in an improper manner.
The first to call for his resignation was his predecessor Winston Felix, who had told the media that it would have been the most honourable thing to do.
Felix’s call was followed by others from the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers and other women’s groups, and the main opposition political parties, the Alliance For Change and A Partnership for National Unity.
In December last year, AFC leaders Raphael Trotman and Khemraj Ramjattan called for Greene’s immediate removal from office.
“As a matter of fact, based on what we have heard, we feel that he ought to tender his resignation or the President ought to dismiss him….but at the very least at this stage… an interdiction,” Ramjattan had stated.
Trotman, commenting on the issue had declared that the matter was the first real test for newly elected Head of State Donald Ramotar.
The Guyana Association of Women Lawyers (GAWL) had also condemned Greene’s actions and had called on the administration to remove him as the Commissioner of Police.
“It is reasonable to conclude that Mr. Greene has in fact lost the moral authority to lead the Guyana Police Force and should therefore no longer be required to so do,” the GAWL said.
APNU had this to say: “In renewing our call we wish to remind the Guyanese public that having passed the age of retirement Mr. Greene is no longer the constitutional holder of the office of Commissioner of Police rather he is an employee/servant of the Government and as such he can be removed forthwith.”
This is not the first time that Greene’s name has been embroiled in a controversial issue which has threatened his tenure as the country’s chief lawman
In fact, his first day on the job, six years ago, was greeted with the announcement that the United States of America had revoked his visa to that country.
The Bharrat Jagdeo Government did not budge and retained him even in the face of severe criticism from several sections of the society.
They later argued that the decision to appoint Greene as Commissioner of Police was justified when, at the helm of the force, he presided over the demise of the infamous Rondell ‘Fine Man’ Rawlins and his criminal gang.
Greene’s tenure as the Commissioner of Police was extended after he had reached the age of retirement three years ago.
Cheddi and Janet Jagan must be turning in their graves – says daughter at memorial
“My parents were probably the most incorruptible people you would ever find; their honesty and integrity were of very high standards, but unfortunately do not exist or I don’t see it in many of the leaders of the party and government.”
The comments came from the daughter of the late Guyanese leaders Dr Cheddi Jagan and Mrs Janet Jagan. She said that the current leaders of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and government lack “the very, very, very high moral standards” which her parents embodied when they were alive.
Mrs Nadira Jagan-Brancier scolded the party for putting out platforms using her parents’ name— particularly her father’s— and not living up really and truly to what her parents had stood for. “It is not enough to go out there and make lovely speeches about who my parents were, what they did and the legacy that we’re carrying on”.
She said that her parents fought for sugar workers, the poor and down-trodden in Guyana and in the world. “That’s who they stood for, and again, I think the party has moved away— not the party but certain elements in the party— from these very, very important values that held the party together and what makes the PPP what it is and so for me, when I look at some of the things happening, my parents must be turning in their graves— but they must be churning up in the waters of the rivers (in which their ashes were sprinkled)”.
She said that if the PPP is saying that it is following Cheddi Jagan and Janet Jagan as a living guide, “the only way you can follow them is to return to basics, return to who this party is which is the working- class party, obviously you have to support other people, but the base of this party is a working- class party, get back to being a non- corruptible party, so people can’t point a finger and say ‘there is so much corruption, why should we worry?”
The daughter of the late leaders then pleaded with the PPP/C leaders and members to get back to the high and moral values. “If the leaders don’t show the moral values then people won’t do it, and you’re children won’t grow up with moral values. And if your families don’t show moral values, then society as a whole will lose that”.
“Their lives were involved in politics so their time for me and my brother was very limited…They weren’t there the amount of hours that most people would have their parents around, but the times that they were, it was what they called quality time, not quantity…so the times they spent with us— memories that I will have for the rest of my life”.
She noted that her parents were very normal, simple, and humble people and a “very, very loving couple”. She recalled sitting down for breakfast in the mornings around the family table and listening to the news from Guyana or the BBC “and you weren’t allowed to talk”.
She noted that they lived very simple lives and told the gathering that the house in which her parents once lived, is now open to the public. “The house is there and I really encourage people to use the opportunity to go in Bel Air and see the house where they lived…They lived a very simple life; they didn’t have big ostentatious homes that you see nowadays that government officials and party officials have, which is a very sad thing, personally”.
Ms Jagan- Brancier also encouraged persons to visit the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre in Kingston. “This was when my father was Premier from 1961 to 1964”.
“Most people think of my mom as only writing for the Mirror and other political things; my mom wrote a lot of children stories— I hope that people who have children would know this. She was also a poet and wrote some beautiful poems.”
Mrs Jagan’s prison diary, she said, are all important documents that Mrs Jagan-Brancier urged persons to read. The Cheddi Jagan website is also another feature that she urged the public to access information http://www.jagan.org “and on this website, you will find information”.