Thursday, July 31, 2008
Guyana’s unspoilt, unique beauty has once again received notice as the BBC has done a three hour documentary that is subdivided into one hour slots showing the explorations made by an expert team of international naturalists and film makers as they journeyed north of the Amazon into the uncharted jungles of Guyana.
According to a release by the Bradt Travel Guides, the BBC’s new natural history series; Lost Land of the Jaguar will be aired on BBC for the first time on July 30.
Kirk Smock, author of Bradt Travel Guide to Guyana declared, “Lost land of the Jaguar wonderfully captures Guyana’s flora, fauna, and overall beauty and I expect that it will generate much interest in the country from potential visitors and hopefully increase Guyana’s minimal tourism numbers.”
UK's Nancy Banks-Smith on the BBC Guyana series:
The title Expedition Guyana seems to have been changed briskly to Lost Land of the Jaguar (BBC1) for extra oomph and audience appeal. Guyana, a former British colony in South America, has the largest virgin rainforest on earth. This, as Longfellow remarked, is the forest primeval. An expedition set out to explore it, hoping to pre-empt the loggers by proving its unique worth to the world.
At first blush there was no one at home, or they were hiding behind the sofa. Except for the insects. Dear God, the insects! Fortunately, the expedition contained an entomologist, the endearingly enthusiastic Dr George McGavin from Oxford University, who could usually be found stuck inside a rotten fallen tree, admiring insects eating each other. ("The whip spider goes tickle tickle and the cricket jumps forward into the jaws of the spider.") He would emerge dishevelled and with some difficulty ("I don't think I've had as much fun in a log for a long time"). When Justine Evans (whom I took to be a canape specialist but turned out to be a canopy specialist) heard piercing cries of agony from her perch up a tree, she said calmly, "George has found an army-ant colony from the sound of it. You can hear him howling in pain. A crazy lot, entomologists.
Especially George." Shaking ants from his pants, George, a fair-minded man, said, "Entomologist nil. Ants 1."
All fine and itchy, but what about the jaguar? Or should the correct title be Land of the Lost Jaguar? A camera trap was set to film giant otters and, in the night, something tripped it. A jaguar posed for a while on a fallen tree, then padded slowly forward towards the camera, swinging its hips. The entire expedition, watching this catwalk, applauded spontaneously.
Olympic dreams come true for Michigan sprinter Harris
by Antoine Pitts | The Ann Arbor News
Two weeks before the start of the Beijing Olympics, Adam Harris finally received the confirmation he had been looking for since February.
Last Friday, Harris, a senior at the University of Michigan, learned he'd been cleared to run for Guyana, a South American nation where his mother is from. He's the last local athlete to get into this year's Olympics.
Harris, the Big Ten's Track Athlete of the Year, will run in the 200 meters, which begins Aug. 18.
"I was really excited," Harris said. "It's a dream of mine come true. I've wanted to go to the Olympics since I started running track. Almost every athlete dreams of going to Olympics - getting to the Big Show and performing as well as you can."
Associate head coach Fred LaPlante, who trains Michigan's sprinters and hurdlers, remembered that Darlene Harris was from Guyana. After Adam posted some impressive indoor times this season, ranking at one point in the top 20 in the world, LaPlante suggested they explore the possibility of him running for Guyana.
LaPlante worked with the country's sports federation while Darlene Harris handled the necessary citizenship and passport issues.
"My mom was pushing everybody - coaches, the committee - to do everything they needed to do," Harris said. "If it wasn't for her, this never would have happened."
Harris hit the Olympic "B" qualifying standard when he ran 20.75 seconds to win the 200 meters at the Big Ten outdoor championships in May.
But there continued to be minor paperwork setbacks that dragged out the process. At one point, Harris thought he'd have to make an expensive trip down to Guyana, but that was avoided.
"For about a month, it's been so close, and then something would always come up," Harris said. "Luckily, we got through it all."
Meanwhile, through all of the waiting, Harris kept up his workouts with LaPlante. Harris hasn't been in a race since the NCAA Championships seven weeks ago, but LaPlante said his fitness level is good and he has a way of handling things that would bother other athletes.
"No question a lot of guys would have been freaked by this point," LaPlante said. "A lot of guys would have given up a month ago not knowing am I in, am I out. He just kept going. He kept training. He's been terrific."
LaPlante said this will be great experience for Harris leading into his senior year at Michigan and a future professional track career.
"You might wonder sometimes when you're training, 'What am I doing this for?' " LaPlante said. "Once you have an experience like this, you find out what you're doing it for."
Harris said he's looking forward to the opening ceremonies, where he'll walk as one of two athletes representing Guyana. He's also hopeful of posting some photos from what he sees in China online for his friends and family to view.
And he's obviously looking forward to his chance on the track during the second week of the Games.
"This is the best competition in the world," Harris said. "I'm going to try not to get nervous. To me, I have to think about it as another meet. I'm not going to worry about all the people watching or getting my best time. I'm just going to try to do my best."
Harris has tried to learn what he can about Guyana, a former British colony bordered by Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname, from family and what he can find online. He has wanted to visit, but it hasn't worked out and he hopes to go in the future.
For now, he'll be trying to run his best to gain some recognition for a nation that has given him a chance to go to the Olympics.
"I'm going to try to show up for Guyana as best as I can," Harris said. "Nobody really knows where it is, first of all. A lot of people think it's in Africa. I'm going to try to put it on the map."
A PLEA FOR HELP
Dear Uncle Sam,
I am writing you these few lines requesting some assistance that can help save my life. I am desperate for your help and I am asking if you can help the Peeper.
I know that you have your logistical and resource constraints. Is this not the excuse that you used when my government asked you to send some experts to investigate the Lindo Creek massacre?
I really was not convinced by the excuse you made (but please do not hold that against me) and this is why I am keeping my fingers crossed that this letter will elicit a more positive response from you.
The Peeper needs your help. The Peeper has a serious heart condition. I know that will surprise you. It surprised me too.
I eat well. I do not lead a sedentary lifestyle. I exercise every day and visit my doctor regularly.
My problems started when I began to take a look at the mountain of documents that were being supplied to me over SANATAGATE.
It seems that every time I pick up one of these documents my heart begins to palpitate and a severe pain flashes down from my neck right across by chest and runs all the way down my left arm.
To tell you the truth, Uncle Sam, my heart is racing faster than Usain Bolt. I tried taking my medication but it is not helping the situation.
I am in desperate straits. I need urgent medical attention. I am kindly asking, pleading, imploring, begging…on my knees for you to send a heart specialist to save my life.
I cannot boycott or walk out on those who read my columns. I have to let them know the truth. This requires that I study all the documents that are being sent to me. I have to study these documents and they are so many that it will take some time.
I am trying my best but it seems that every time I pick up one of these documents I get a shock and my heart begins to act strangely. The shock of all these documents that are sent to me is too much.
I don’t know where all these documents are coming from. I have read about leaks in the government.
But this is no leak that is taking place. The entire main seems to have burst and information is flooding in my direction.
A few weeks ago, I got the transcript of a case in one of the districts of New York. I thought that was an interesting piece of information inside and I was not fully finished studying it when I was again inundated with more documents, this time coming from local sources.
I have just received another set of SANATAGATE documents and when I read the contents of one of the documents my chest immediately tightened and the pains have returned.
I need help quickly or else I may not make it. I really do not know just what to say about this entire matter. I have never seen anything like this in all my life.
I think there needs to be a Commission of Inquiry established to examine this entire affair because with each passing day it seems that there is some document appearing that contradicts the official explanations.
I am doing my best to reduce the stress on my heart. I am trying to get as much rest as possible. I am even thinking about taking up Yoga to help me relax.
In addition, I have had to ask those sending me information to ease up since my heart cannot take the stress and workload.Even so, I do not believe that I can go through all of the documents in the shortest possible time.
Please Uncle Sam. Help the Peeper. Send in a cardiologist. And send him or her immediately.
The Home Affairs Minister continues to point out the widely accepted belief that killing squads were formed and allowed to function under the then Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj, who has now been posted on a diplomatic mission to India.
Despite Gajraj's denial of no wrong doing, Rohee continues to add credibility to the existence of the squads, which were responsible for a number of deaths and dissaperances. Global lessons good for dunce. Any Government would take note that the former Bosnian Serb leader,who is before the tribunal for charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
SN Editorial: Minister of Home Affairs Mr Clement Rohee seems to have reached a fork in the road. One route leads forward to improved human security and public safety. The other leads backward to more extra-judicial killings and torture.
Speaking at the Guyana Police Force’s annual commemoration ceremony for policemen killed on duty, Mr Rohee announced that enforcement of the law was the task of the police force alone and renounced the employment of “private militias [and] phantom groups” as part of “an era that is left behind.” Indeed, those rogue groups contributed measurably to the troubles on the East Coast in 2002-2003. But where was Mr Rohee all the time?
Go-Invest admits mistake in QA11 deal Gouveia sees need for flexibility with investors
By Miranda La Rose
The Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) yesterday admitted at a long-awaited taxation seminar that it made a mistake in approving two Queen’s Atlantic Investment Inc (QAII) tax holidays when provision was not made for them in the laws of Guyana.
The seminar at Le Meridien Pegasus heard calls from the private sector for transparency, accountability and compliance with the rule of law in government’s transactions with the business community and the public.
In an admission of a mistake in the controversial deal the government signed with QAII promising tax holidays for bio-technology and textiles when provisions were not made for the concessions in the country’s laws, Head of the Guyana Office for Invest-ment (Go-Invest) Geoffrey Da Silva during a brief question and answer period said “We made a mistake. We thought it was covered in the law.”
Ironically, the seminar had been ordered by President Bharrat Jagdeo at the launching of the Guyana Times newspaper to educate the public on the country’s tax laws. Following the President’s statement it was discovered that the concessions were approved despite not being in conformity with the tax laws of the country. A bill paving the way for the two tax concessions is to be debated in Parliament tomorrow.
Asked also how it was that QA11 signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government in March 2008 when in fact the government signed five supplementary investment agreements in August 2007 and in February 2008 with the group, Head of the Privatisation Unit Winston Brassington said that the MOU spoke of special tax incentives, which he did not elaborate on and which were only concluded in March this year. The MOU which was negotiated among Go-Invest, the Guyana Revenue Authority and QAII, he said, did take a long time to be concluded. The investment agreements had been concluded previously.
Commenting on the same issue, Da Silva said that not all companies sign MOU’s with the government and not all go to Cabinet for approval either. He said that of 285 recently facilitated by Go-Invest just about five were taken to Cabinet for approval. Those that go to Cabinet may involve state-owned lands and applications for concessions.
In discussions with QAII on the five different projects which they had indicated an interest in developing at the former Sanata Textiles complex, Da Silva said they were excited about the planned bio-technology and textile projects. They shared information on these projects which required tax holidays to be competitive on the global market.
Giving a background to the Privatisation Unit’s and Privatization Board’s handling of the granting of the lease for the Sanata Complex to QAII, Brassington said that after the Chinese company which last operated the facility in 2006 handed back the site to the government, the Privatization Unit advertised for those interested in a lease of the textiles plant in late 2006. The deadline for submission of interests was extended to February 2007 after there was no taker. In March the Privatisation Unit then approached Queen’s Atlantic to see whether it was interested. Critics have argued that the unit should have put out a new advertisement inviting general proposals for the site.
When Queen’s Atlantic saw the facility and the potential it held “they were interested,” Brassington said, adding that in April the unit asked them to submit a business plan. On April 26, 2007 when the Privatisation Board met at one of the regular meetings the unit raised the issue of the proposal from Queens Atlantic. The board requested that the unit meet with Queen’s Atlantic and work out a comprehensive business plan with all the relevant documents. Another meeting was convened in May when the business plan was received after which the Privatisation Board met and recommended to Cabinet for approval of the granting of the lease. Shortly after, on May 15, 2007 Cabinet approved the lease agreement. The lease agreement was executed in June, 2007 after which QAII took possession of the land. These agreements, he said were consistent with what is also done at the Eccles and Coldingen industrial estates in relation to long- term leases.
In brief remarks, Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh, who left the seminar as soon as he had made his presentation to attend to the business of Cabinet, said that removal of the government and elements of government’s intervention from business have resulted in a new era and climate for investment, wealth creation and poverty reduction through an open and transparent process.
While some have seen tremendous growth and expansion in the hands of private ownership like the bauxite industry in recent years, the New GPC and the Guyana National Cooperative Bank which was taken over by the National Bank of Industry and Commerce and subsequently by Republic Bank, he said there have been a few like the Guyana Power and Light, which changed hands under private ownership and was returned to the government, which were not successful.
Singh said that the government was committed to ensuring that mistakes made will not be repeated.
Long way to go
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Gerry Gouveia, said that in spite of improvements in the country from the 70’s and 80’s when Guyana experimented with cooperative socialism and which resulted in the collapse of a vibrant economy there was still a long way to go to enjoy the benefits of privatization including job creation and better paying jobs, which should have been key policy objectives.
“Regrettably, we are still unable to create enough employment for our people with adequate salaries to compensate for the constant rising cost of living. Regrettable also is the fact that Guyana is now listed as amongst the highest in the world for the brain drain,” he said, suggesting this could be reversed though Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and ensuring that there is an enabling environment in which investors will feel secure and comfortable with investing their money.
Speaking about an enabling environment for investment, he said that unfortunately, the records show that every major investor in the country over the last 20 years has been the subject of some kind of public ridicule from one section of the society or another. “Where you stand depended on where you sit …never though in the national interest. Consider Demerara Woods, GT&T, OMAI, Barama and the Beal Aerospace port to name a few,” he said.
He said that in business there is need for flexibility to facilitate investors and to broaden the base of ownership and competition since the services of some have since deteriorated.
In spite of all the privatizations that took place over the last decade, he said that the government was still a major player in the economy controlling the Guyana Sugar Corporation, Guyoil, the Guyana Power and Light, the Guyana National Shipping Company, the National Communication Network, the Guyana National Newspapers Limited and to date the government also allows the Guyana Defence Force to use its military aircraft to compete with the private airlines in the commercial market place.
Noting that the Privatization Unit’s role was to protect state assets and resources in the privatization process, Gouveia said that in recent cases privatized companies have indicated that they face very difficult economic times which affect their commitments to the unit.
“Rather than being flexible, constructive and even imaginative, some of our members feel that the PU has adopted a hard line and rather than be a facilitator, seeks to be a collector and revenue earner” he said, adding that “We in the private sector do not see that as a developmental role and are convinced that the PU must see themselves as facilitators, developers, encouragers and helpers of those who may face challenges to turn those previous state entities around.”
Guyana Times not benefiting from QAII concessions - Ramcharitar
The Guyana Times newspaper is not benefiting from concessions granted to Queens Atlantic Investment Inc (QAII) subsidiaries and is paying for the services obtained at the QA11 Sanata complex in Ruimveldt, according to part-owner of the paper, Ravie Ramcharitar.
Guyana Times Inc is owned by three individuals, Director of QAII/Guyana Times, Ramcharitar told Stabroek News.
Ramcharitar, who is also the Finance Controller and Company Secretary of New GPC Inc and a Director of QAII and Guyana Times Inc, identified the other two owners as Ramroop Ramnarain, who is the Chairman of Guyana Times Inc and Chief Executive Officer of Guyana Times Inc, Neal Sukhlall.
Asked about the newspaper’s relationship with Queens Atlantic, he said that there is no direct relationship with Queens Atlantic. He said that Guyana Times Inc would be paying QA11 subsidiary Global Printing and Graphics Inc for any services it provides the newspapers as well as office and factory space.
As to whether the Guyana Times was being printed on the press for which QAII sought concessions, he said that the newspapers was being printed on a web press used solely for printing the newspaper. The web press, he said, was provided by QAII.
Public communications consultant to QAII, Kit Nascimento, who was present when Stabroek News spoke with Ramcharitar said that Global Printing and Graphics was in the business of printing on the market. “Sometimes you can get some benefit (when) you are purchasing a great deal of equipment. The web press is purely for printing of the newspaper. It can print other material but Global Printing is not using the web press for other purposes. Global Printing, a subsidiary of QAII, bought the web press, he explained.
At the launching of the newspapers on June 5, 2008, the Chairman of Guyana Times Inc was quoted in the Guyana Times June 6, 2008 edition as saying that the printing of the newspapers is just one of the operations of the newspaper company.
The facility being referred to as a web press was described by the newspaper at the launching as a state-of-the-art printing and packaging facility which “incorporates offset and flexographic printing and web press, which was also set to print books, magazines, brochures, leaflets, and newsletters and other commercial and packaging jobs.”
Guyana Times said “The machinery is capable of producing a wide range of packaging materials which includes labels, corrugated containers, folding cartons, paper sacks, plastic bags, milk and beverage cartons” and it has the “capacity to design and create any printed material to package vegetables, fruits and a wide range of other farm produce.”
Sunday Stabroek columnist and chartered accountant Christopher Ram in his weekly business page in the Sunday Stabroek of July 27, 2008 said that noticeably absent from the recommendations made by QAII was any reference to the printing and publishing of a newspaper “which in fact is the first real venture to materialize and which would have benefited, if not directly then indirectly, from any concessions granted to the other companies.”
It should be noted that QAII announced on June 5, 2008 the launching of the newspapers and the leasing of the Sanata Textiles complex in an advertisement carried in the July 27, 2008 Sunday Stabroek. It was also noted that even though sections of the complex were occupied by a Chinese company until 2006, the ad said that for over 15 years the property was abandoned.
The ad said that it took over 14 months to clear the mess and it is yet to be finished.
Asked at a seminar on Guyana’s privatization and taxation policies at Le Meridien Pegasus on Tuesday, Head of the Privatisation Unit Winston Brassington said that QAII took possession of the Sanata Textiles complex in June 2007 when the lease agreement was entered into, which is 13 months ago.
Friday, July 25, 2008
holding secret talks with President Bharrat Jagdeo at State House before the
Guyanese leader departed the country recently. Corbin's position has
remained secret until this photo was made available. However, when in
sheep's clothing, Corbin masquerades as the Opposition Leader hell bent
on opposing the Government. His loyalty to the PNCR has been questioned
since he has failed to effectively cause any change in the Government's
position. We still have 16 % VAT, unsolved murders, the head of the
Phantom Squad serving as a diplomat, and most importantly, Guyana
will successfully host CARIFESTA despite a promise from Corbin that
the event will be disrupted.
rights of hundreds of Guyanese workers. His position in the secret
Jagdeo Cabinet comes as no surprise, since he has long shown an
affection for the PPP. Duncan is the Minister of Labour, who is there
to agree with whatever the President decides, even at the expense
of workers who are poorly paid. Duncan climbs into the wolf pack
having recently pretend to challenge Corbin for the leadership
of the Guyana Labour Union (GLU). the battle was well
choreographed since they both run together in the President's
However, during the recent Gordon Moesely fiasco, his sheep skin
got worn out and his wolf eyes started to peep through. He is non other
than Adam Harris. His role in the Jagdeo wolf pack is similar to an
Information Minister, who ensures that the President's plans and
decisions gain acceptance though his writings in the press.
Today, Harris is the editor of the Kaieteur News, a publication he
uses to push the President's agenda in various columns scattered
throughout the pages of both the daily and Sunday Special of the publication.
While he would seemingly disapprove of Government Minister's position on certain issues,
he never pens a whiff of negativity against the President. A former
senior information officer under the Burnham regime, Harris'
loyalty to the seat of Presidency is all too familiar for him to be
masquerading as a journalist up to this day. More wolves in the
Jagdeo pack will be revealed soon as more sheep continue to sell
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Now that we have mentioned it, it comes as no surprise that Guyana Times has published an editorial written by a PPP lackey. As one of the subsidiaries listed in the fraudulent concession deal which was signed by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, Guyana Times is duty bound to support the President's branding of the Guyana Press Association as an opposition force.
Of course, Guyana Times fails to recognise that some of its members of staff hold key positions in the GPA and often influence decisions taken by the association, and even reporters are members of the GPA. Their dues help to support the function of the body. Any sensible editor at a paper would know this and would think twice to side with a dictatorial Government on the banning of a reporter. Guyana Times on its own has also engage in selective disciplinary actions, choosing to send a female staffer home for a week because she choose to join her fellow journalist in walking out on an assignment. However, another female reporter had taken a similar position just days earlier, but that reporter was never disciplined because she is very close to members of the Jagdeo cabinet.
Of course, Guyana Times would suggest that if a reporter has a problem with the President, they should take it up with the President and not involve other reporters who are seeking to hold true to the principles of the profession. The confrontational politics of Burnham have returned in full swing.
Of course, Guyana Times will find it fit to point out that the walk out by journalists will deprive the public of much needed information about the Government, especially health-related. But, that point is counter-productive since the President himself is depriving a journalist of providing the public with information. If the editorial team over at Guyana Times wants to share information with the public, then it would be wise to begin disclosing the ludicrous deal they signed with the Government to get concessions. That will be a step in the right direction - a step towards public trust and unbiased coverage of important issues. Unless they are wolves in sheep's clothing.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Word is that the "Hope for our Nation" man, who authored several books and is the lone crusader on a mission to win the presidency, has divorced his wife some two years now.
Unlike Jagdeo who is rumored to now enjoy the company of his Tourism Minister at State House, this other politician has began searching for another woman and has been seen frequenting popular night spots during the night.
Additionally, unlike the girlish behaviour displayed by Jgadeo who took back vehicles and other necessities from his wife, this other politician's wife seems to be very pleased with the way things settled.
QAII subsidiaries waiver deals inked prior to MOU
The government granted duty-free concessions and tax waivers for hundreds of items including a printing press, five vehicles, three containers of building materials and equipment representing millions of US dollars to five subsidiaries of Queens Atlantic Investments Inc (QAII) before it had even signed investment agreements with the company.
Concessions were granted to three of the five subsidiaries, under supplementary investment agreements between the government and Global Printing and Graphics Inc – the publishers of the Guyana Times; Global Textile Guyana Inc; and Global Hardware Inc. Health Care Life Sciences Inc and Health International Inc were granted concessions under investment agreements signed with the government for developing the Sanata Textiles Complex in Ruimveldt.
According to documents which this newspaper has seen, the concessions were to facilitate the five companies’ total investment of US$28.8 million in the Sanata Complex.
Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram had questioned the items for which waivers were granted in the Business Page of the July 13 edition of the Sunday Stabroek.
Ram criticized the agreements, which “make disturbing reading for the appearance of carelessness and lack of expertise on the part of the Privatization Board, Go-Invest and the Minister of Finance.”
Stating that they were the worst agreements he had ever seen in multi-million dollar documents, he said there was no preamble linking the supplementary investment agreements to the so-called Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which the Ministry of Finance claimed was signed in March, or to any principal agreement. The three supplementary investment agreements were signed on February 2, 2008, while the two investment agreements had been signed on August 1, 2007.
Ram said, too, that any professionally done arms length transaction would begin with an MOU to be followed by supplementary agreements as certain details are worked out and preconditions are met.
However, Ram said the revelation of the agreements did not mean that all questions have been answered since the March MOU was still a state secret.
The five subsidiaries represented to the government that their undertakings would contribute to the development of the economy. They applied for waivers of the items under “the Customs Duties (Amendment) (No1) Order 2004 First Schedule Part 111 B (1) Paragraph 11; the Value Added Tax Act (Act No.10 of 2005) Sub Section Z Schedule 1 Paragraph 2 and Table A-6 of the Principal Regulation of the Excise Tax At 2005 (Act No.11 of 2005), for tax exemption(s) and or zero rating.”
Health Care Life Sciences Inc, with the largest investment — US$9 million — applied for waivers on a list of 87 items which included one enclosed mini-van, two double cab pick-ups, one bobcat, four forklifts, 20 English strap toilet seats, 20 English urinals, 265 rolls of single core cable, a quantity of amp breakers, 300 gallons of paint, two industrial washer dryers, two industrial refrigerators, 10 computers with printers and accessories, two photocopiers, two servers, one complete switchboard system, and three fax machines.
Ram said it was not clear in the agreement what pharmaceutical products Health Care Life Sciences would manufacture that the New GPC could not do or which of the two medical companies would be granted tax holidays.
Health International Inc with a proposed investment sum of US$4.5 million has as its principal objective the establishment of an export-processing zone for pharmaceuticals, textile products and dimensional stones.
Ram said it also not known what kind of export processing zone would be established and how different it would be from the kind that the private sector has called for, for many years, which the government has ignored.
This company applied for, and obtained approval for waivers under the same conditions as Health Care Life Sciences Inc for a list if 89 items, including one truck, one enclosed mini-van, one canter, one 500 KVA generator, 360 rolls of singe core cable, 10 ceiling fixture sockets, PVC gutter, gutter brackets, drop outlets, gutter end caps, and gutter couplings.
The agreement for Global Hardware Inc did not specify what the principal objective of the company was. It was left blank but the company applied for waivers under similar condition as the two others already mentioned.
This company, with an investment sum of US$5.4 million sought waivers for the importation of three containers of roofing materials.
The fourth company Global Printing and Graphics Inc, with an investment sum of US$4.5 million, was formed with the principal objective of producing high quality print and graphics material for the local and export market. The company applied for waivers for one complete printing press (31 pallets). The Ministry of Finance had said in a statement that no tax concessions were provided for the Guyana Times newspaper which is a QA11 subsidiary which recently started up. It is unclear whether that ministry had recently decided that the concession would not be granted despite a prior intention to do so. Other newspapers which have been importing printing equipment have not benefited from tax concessions.
Global Textile Guyana Inc, with an investment of US$5.4 million, sought waivers for over 280 items including two sets of 23 white two-piece toilet sets strap, fifteen 24-inch towel bar Eiffel satin nickel, and four toilet paper holders satin nickel.
The five agreements were signed by Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, and Chairman of the companies Dr Ranjisinghi Ramroop or by a representative on his behalf and the conditions were all similar.
According to the five agreements, the government agreed to waive “customs duty, value added tax, excise tax, where applicable, for the items specified” subject to the approval of the Commissioner-General and provided that such items “will be demonstrably used for the purposes outlined in the business proposal.”
Government also agreed to “grant the tax exemption to the business enterprise (new and expansion projects only) for the period of one year beginning from the date of the signing of the agreement.”
According to the ‘notification of approval’ in the agreement, the Guyana Revenue Authority by way of letter signed by the Commissioner-General and copied to all relevant agencies, will inform the companies of approval.
According to the covenants between the government and the five companies the companies agreed to among other things, develop the businesses in keeping with the particulars of the project proposals submitted to the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest); procure or provide all the investment (and other financing); create employment for specified numbers of persons in the agreement; as far as possible, acquire goods, equipment and services required as part of the operation from competitive local suppliers; obtain the relevant permission/approvals necessary for the establishment as prescribed by the local authority and or national authorities and comply with all the requirements; comply with all the relevant revenue laws administered by the GRA; and comply with all the statutory requirements necessary for the operation of the enterprise within the scope of its undertaking, as well as in relation to environmental controls and the prevention of pollution.
During the term of the agreement, officers from Go-Invest and, or the GRA would visit the business premises and inspect assets that benefited from the fiscal concessions.
The termination of the agreement is by among others things, mutual consent or by the government in writing, and the exemption cancelled or revoked without liability to the government in instances where the company failed to undertake the activities of the investment in the manner specified and without providing a reasonable explanation.
While the termination of the agreements shall end all obligations of the parties, it shall not relieve the companies in default from any liability to the government in respect of customs duty, value added tax and or excise tax exemptions or waivers previously granted.
The QA11 deal for the Sanata complex has already been beset by other controversies including the proposed granting of tax concessions to two companies which cannot be described as pioneering industries under the present legislation. An amendment to the law will have to be passed for these concessions to be lawful.
The agreement has also been heavily criticized for the manner in which the government opened direct negotiations with QA11 for the Sanata complex after a previous bidding process failed.
What is surprising though, is the inaction of the media (still miffed by Gordon Moesely's ban) and the opposition parties that allow the President to do as he pleases.
The bloggers here and elsewhere, will not sit idly by and allow the President to make such a mockery of our state resources. the deal with the brits must be made public immediately. Who gets what portion of money from the deal? How will it affect our Amerindian brothers and sisters? And most importantly, what happens to state institutions, who were set up to monitor the forest?
We will continue to blog about this forest deal until answers are given and that is a promise.
Assignment of Guyana forest is a matter of concern
Venezuelan diplomatic officials are concerned by Hugo Chávez government omissions with respect to the Essequibo territory claim. On this opportunity, Guyana plans to put an important part of its rainforest under the control of a British organization. Nevertheless, the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not made any statement criticizing the decision.
Last June, Guyana proposed a British organization to use its tropical forest to develop environmental programs in exchange for financial aid. According to the proposal, Guyana would assign 21.6 million hectare of its rainforest, of which 15.9 million hectare are claimed by Venezuela.
The controversial initiative was proposed by Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo, who was attacked by People's National Congress (PNCR) leaders, the main opposition party in Guyana. PNCR members said that Guyana would lose sovereignty with the cession of part of its territory.
"The sovereignty over our tropical forest is not negotiable," replied Jagdeo to the opposition accusations.
No interest to negotiate
According to Sadio Garavini, a Venezuelan former ambassador to Guyana and an expert in the Essequibo claims, the Venezuelan government should express a clear stance with respect to Jagdeo proposal.
Garavini said that the announcement made by the Guyanese government would have provoked a forceful answer from past Venezuelan diplomatic authorities.
"Venezuela has to analyze the Guyanese agreement and must take a clear stance in defense of our interests," he pointed out.
The former Venezuelan ambassador to Guyana also said that it was necessary to know the terms of the agreement that the Guyanese government is willing to approve. We must know whether Guyana is going to get an important amount of money in exchange for protecting the forest, since there are international funds related to this type of operations, or whether it is an agreement to set up a sustainable and ecological project.
Garavini said that the unilateral cession of territory by the government of Guyana is due to Chávez previous statements. The Venezuelan president said some time ago that he is not concerned by new investments in the Essequibo. For Garivini, an opportunity has been lost to affect the status quo of Guyana, which is in possession of the territory.
"Once we lose this negotiating tool, Guyana's authorities will no longer be interested in negotiating." "On the contrary, President Chávez has said that the territorial claim is a result of the US pressure as part of the Cold War. Therefore, we wonder, "Why should Guyana negotiate after President Chávez has said that?"
Bricks and mortar are so passé. So forget Dorset and join the Patagonian land grab, taking your lead from CNN supremo Ted Turner (owner of 128,000 acres) or the well-healed Chilean Sebastián Piñera, who has created the Parque Tantauco (120,000 hectares) ostensibly to conserve Patagonia's virgin forests, which are obviously vital carbon sinks. No matter that Piñera earned his fortune as the operator of Chile's biggest airline (I know, the CO2 irony!) - that's no barrier to becoming a Wildlife Philanthropist (WP), stocking up on land to preserve biodiversity for future generations.
If Patagonia is out of your reach, how about a more modest WP act? £50 to the World Land Trust (worldlandtrust.org) will buy an acre of rainforest, or for £70 you can save an acre of Brazilian rainforest courtesy of Cool Earth (coolearth.org), the charity partly founded by sportswear magnate Johan Eliasch, who in 2006 bought 400,000 acres of rainforest, prompting President Lula of Brazil to stress: 'The Amazon is not for sale.'
Actually it is, along with tracts of wilderness in any cash-strapped country. I was recently offered a timeshare in South Africa's Kruger National Park (chimpedenresidentialclub.com). The information was full of comforting promises about environmental preservation, but more room was given over to the five-star accommodation. Increasingly, wildlife philanthropy crosses with eco tourism. Not a necessarily helpful hybrid. Similarly, private enterprises from developed countries buying up land from developing nations which then implement draconian conservation policies leave themselves open to the charge of eco colonialism.
Newer private conservation schemes refute eco-colonialism charges by leasing land rather than buying it or working with the local community and evaluating the rainforest properly in terms of natural capital so that the host country receives a fair price; Canopy Capital recently bought 370,000 hectares of pristine forest in Guyana with the Iwokrama reserve, earning plaudits from Greenpeace. Look for evidence of community conservation (divesting power to the local population to manage) and evidence that the community has been properly compensated.
Is it ever right to own a bit of the developing world and then set it aside for conservation? Probably not. But it is inevitable. There is, sadly, not the sense of urgency among governments to invest in public conservation (the UK's private Woodland Trust plants more trees than the government's Forestry Commission), and when deforestation causes 30 per cent of total carbon emissions in the atmosphere, at least chequebook conservationism doesn't have to wait. Is there anything noble about it? Slightly. It is still easier to pave over paradise than to buy and protect it.
With all this in place and only a 1% rate of deforestation, why should Guyana pay attention to restoration?
Why do we need a British company to manage the forest...total BS.