Dear Editor,It is known that some persons who are interested in seeing development in their communities and serious about getting their supporters on the voters list, are now calling for clarity. Hence, it is imperative that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) circulate the lists according to the relevant constituencies with the correct boundary descriptions. Citizens must know the clear boundaries and make sure that their names are in the specific constituency.Last Local Government Elections (LGE), changes to the original configuration of the various Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDC) impacted results. It is observed that the Division #333122 in La Parfaite Harmonie/Two Brothers was made up of two Sub-Divisions that are #3332122A and #3332122B. These two Sub-Divisions form part of the Canals Polder NDC which is listed as comprising of Divisions: #333121, 333122, 333123, 333124, 333125, 333126 and 333127.However, in the list for LGEs in 2016, the Sub-Division #333121A was annexed on the GECOM list without any consultation with political parties, to the Malgre Tout/Meer Zorgen NDC which was originally listed as comprising of Divisions #333241, 333242, 333243 and 333244. This Sub-Division #333122A was then used to create constituencies for the Malgre Tout/Meer Zorgen NDC, and persons residing in this Sub-Division, casted their votes as part of the Malgre Tout/Meer Zorgen NDC.A careful look at what took place is a revelation as persons in Division #333122 voted in two different NDCs. While persons in Division #333122A voted for Malgre Tout/Meer Zorgen and persons in Division #333122B voted for the Canals Polder NDC. We must therefore ask GECOM if that kind of voting was legal? Further, citizens are seriously concern with the original composition and are asking if the changes were official.More serious is the fact that the La-Grange/Nismes NDC is tasked with the responsibility for the removal of garbage in Sub-Division #333121A. These boundary issues will come to a head-on confrontation as they impact the choice of Councillors to represent the NDCs and communities. GECOM must do their job and resolve these issues now.Finally, one very important observation is that GECOM needs to establish markers on the ground which defines constituencies. This is essential as the demographics of many areas have changed due to development. An example can be noted in the description for Division 412235 as follow:Division 412235 (Sugar Cane Fields – Eccles Ramsburg):This Division extends from the common boundary between Eccles and Rome from the western boundary of Sugar Cane Field Number 3 in Eccles (North), to the common boundary between Eccles and Sage Pond, the common boundaries between Rome and Sage Pond, Rome and Profit, Rome and Henry, Rome and Perseverance to the centre line of Mocha Village Public Road and its western prolongation from the Lamaha Canal to the western boundary of Field Number 3 in Ramsburg, at its southern extremity, and from the Lamaha Canal at its western extremity to the western limits of Sugar Cane Cultivation in Fields Number 3 in Ramsburg 27 and 28 in Providence, 87 in Pater’s Hall, (South) 84E in Peter’s Hall (North) and 4 and 3 in Eccles South respectively at its western extremity.The questions are obvious because many of these names are no longer used and cane fields have become housing developed areas. Could GECOM actually establish for the benefit of the public the following?1. Where sage pond starts and ends now.2. Where field Number 3 & 4 starts and its extremity lie. And,3. What are the Geographical parameters for places called Profit and Henry?The resolve must be to make the process simple and transparent!!!Sincerely,Neil Kumar
Dear Editor,The Caribbean Voice is thrilled at the work the Sexual Offences Court has been doing and we laud the expected move to have this court also set up in Berbice and Demerara, as many have been calling for. We are especially pleased that sentences handed down hover around the maximum rather than the minimum and we hope that this would be the permanent standard.We expect that the court is, or soon will be, informed by the recently launched Model Guidelines for Sexual Offence Cases in the Caribbean Region created by the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project in the Caribbean, an initiative of the Canadian Government, in collaboration with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). And we strongly suggest this court urgently consider adding domestic violence to its portfolio? Also, we urge the Government to set up a similar special court for child abuse. As well, a mobile court is urgently needed for the hinterland, given the problems of distance and transportation. Such a court should combine the roles of the sexual offences and child abuse courts.Finally, we hope that these courts would consider counselling for victims as part of their mandate.Sincerely,The Caribbean Voice
Dear Editor,Stabroek News’ Sunday article on the sale of land to Scady contains a number of inaccuracies. One major inaccuracy related to attributing a footnote in my report (attached for ease of reference) dealing with the sale of the Scady land, when the footnote related to the sale of the land to GBTI for their banking headquarters. Pages 34 and 38 of my report (transaction #66) deal with the Scady transaction.The reporter erroneously treated footnote #66 shown on page 43, as relating to the Scady property sale. My report clearly references this footnote to Transaction #63, “Sale of Tract A, Young Street ”. This land was sold to GBTI for their headquarters based on a public tender. Interesting enough, the tendered value and sale price of $201 million is less than 50% of the private valuation from Mr Rodriques.GBTI has spent billions of dollars to develop the approximately three acres of land acquired, contributing in no small way to the improvement of the landscape. And while Scady has not yet developed the land acquired, although detailed designs have been completed, at least US$150 million has been invested in the Berbice bauxite industry since 2004 as a result of RUSAL’s involvement. In fact, RUSAL helped to save the Berbice bauxite industry and almost 1000 direct and indirect jobs. At least at the time of the sale in 2008, I can also say that the sale price per acre of the land sold to RUSAL’s principal shareholder is the highest sale price/acre for underdeveloped land on the East Coast that I am familiar with. Part of the confusion on prices that the reporter make reference to related to the budgeted cost of an access bridge to access the land from the public road, a set-off against the G$150 million sale price in accordance with the Cabinet decision of Sept 2008 (10 years ago). The bridge cost will now be borne by the land owner in addition to all of the infrastructure to develop the land.If one peruses the 860-page report titled “Privatisation in Tables – Phase II”, there are literally hundreds of transactions completed during the period 1993 to 2012. I joined the Privatisation Unit in 1994 and served for over 21 years. Many of our transactions look at multiple development considerations.From 1993, large areas of vacant land have been developed. Take Liliendaal/Turkeyen for example. From the Caricom Headquarters, the Convention Centre, the 100 acres of backland sold to NHL that is now witnessing billions of dollars of investment for residential construction, the GPL substation project, the Amerindian Hostel, the Giftland Mall, the Aquatic Centre, and the US$30 million-plus Movietowne currently underway, to name a few. GuySuCo also sold many pieces of land for housing east and south of the Giftland Mall. Projects that did not proceed included the Lakeview Hotel, the Sand and Sun hotel, and the Specialty Hospital. But for the most part, significant development occurred.Large tracts of undeveloped land have been improved, creating jobs and significant investment. And while price was one consideration, economic development was important. Investment created jobs, income and taxes. I recall that in the last 25 years, over 200,000 house lots were allocated by the Ministry of Housing, at relatively low prices. Government spent initial sums to develop roads and bridges; water and electricity followed later. In more modern developments, bridges, roads, concrete drainage, water, electricity, parks, street lighting, are all borne by the developer, before the lots are sold. At GPL, I recall that over a 10-year period, the number of customers rose from 125,000 to 175,000, in no small part, from the significant investment being made by GPL (with financing from the IDB/Government), to install electricity for unserved areas. Today, home ownership is at a record level in the history of Guyana, resulting in a significant middle class and considerable economic growth. And development did not stop at price. The Eccles and Coldigen industrial estates, where plots were leased at G$1/square foot/annum, were focused on investment and jobs (see pages 77 to 84 of the Privatisation in Tables report for a list of all the companies that benefited). The peppercorn rent had nothing to do with the valuation. Today, as one flies over Eccles and Diamond, one can only marvel at the vast expanse of development that occurred in the last 25 years. Much work and effort, however, went into creating this expansion.Sincerely,Winston Brassington
Dear Editor,I am quite pleased to hear Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan suggesting that the licences of hotels caught involving themselves in trafficking in persons (TIP) would be revoked. For too long, the character/future of women has been destroyed by this unscrupulous act because of their vulnerability, and with the crisis in Venezuela, women are being taken advantage on, and I personally believe this is the most sensible thing the Minister ever suggested since taking that portfolio.At present, the authorities are doing an amazing job combating this wanton plague affecting the good name of our country. They have a long way to go, and society should assist to show that it cares. There’re many people offering jobs, and when the women go, they are being taken to strange areas, threatened, and forced to do whatever the crooks desire.But, then again, I will be looking on to see if this suggestion ever materialises; because, in Guyana, we have many in authority who partake in this illegality when it suits them, and I hope suggestions are not being put forward to betray us.Editor, the recent incident with the part-time hotel at Parika caught the media’s attention, but following the story, I didn’t see any action being taken against the hotel for allowing an underage school girl into the hotel. I believe that’s a criminal offence, and appropriate action should have been taken.Similarly, there are many places harbouring underage children during school hours, and when caught, no action is being taken against them. We have too many school drop-outs and lots of places/people creating an environment to welcome them and make them temporarily satisfied with their actions/judgment.The relevant authorities should explore the possibilities of persecuting them to the full extent of the law. At present, the school drop-outs’ rate is extremely high, coupled with the increased usage of drugs, crime and AIDSSincerely,Sahadeo Bates
West Demerara drug bustThe ex-wife of self-confessed drug baron Barry Dataram and three other persons are to stand trial starting August 3, 2016 for the 76.9kg of cannabis found in their possession earlier this month.This ruling was handed down by Magistrate Christel Lambert on Friday at the Vreed-en-Hoop Magistrate’s Court.Sheleza Khan, Dataram’s ex-wife, was charged along with Balkhrison “Johnny” Ramdass, Felicia Laundry and Andrea Karan for trafficking in narcotics.Ramdass was the lone accused who appeared in court on Friday.According to the prosecution, between June 7 and 9, 2016 at 54 Almond Avenue, Roraima Housing Scheme, West Bank Demerara, they were in possession of 76. 910kg of cannabis for the purpose of trafficking.Ramdass was also slapped with a second charge which stated that he solicited persons to traffic narcotics.According to the prosecution, Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) officers, acting on information received from a source, swooped down on the house where the drug was found.On June 13, the four defendants appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts and were all remanded, while the matter was transferred to the Vreed-en-Hoop Magistrate’s Court.It is believed that at the time of the raid, the marijuana was being prepared to be shipped abroad as most of it was in sealed plastic packages.In court on Friday, Attorney-at-Law Mark Waldron made an unsuccessful bail application for his clients, Khan, Laundry and Karan, on the grounds that they were not in control of the cannabis at the time of their arrest.Ramdass’ Attorney, Gordon Gilhuys, also unsuccessfully made a bail application.The CANU Prosecutor objected to bail on the grounds that the Unit was in possession of video footage which showed the defendants all handling the narcotics.The Prosecutor also disclosed that after the raid, it was discovered that the house had equipment like sealing machines, etc, which indicated that there was a huge operation ongoing.Bail was denied and the defendants are to return to court on July 8 for statements and then on August 3 when the trial will commence.