October 27, 2016

Don’t give a damn…

…about governance optics

In describing the nature of social change, Marxists used to carry on at length about “the qualitative” changing “the quantitative”. All your Eyewitness can say is that it’s clear this government doesn’t give a damn about criticisms it’s slowly changing the qualitative nature of the government and governance of Guyana by its quantitative change in the number of military types they have drafted in and out of retirement.

What was it Burnham had said? “Back to back, belly to belly, Ah don’t give a damn, Ah done dead a’ready”!! Meaning that the party might’ve as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb in doing things “their way” – which was “Co-operative Socialism” – backed by a militarised State. And what is it your Eyewitness is frothing at the mouth about? Well, of course, it’s the decision by Prezzie to schedule meetings of the Cabinet at Camp Ayanganna. Yup! The same Ayanganna where all the ballots were brought in 1973 – after two civilians were killed to prevent that – to be “counted” in such a manner to give the PNC the two thirds majority they wanted.

Now what kinda signal is Prezzie signalling to the Guyanese people? Why would the Government want to do something like this apart from arrogance and taking their supporters for granted? Who will buy the rationale offered that “security” concerns dictated the move to Army Headquarters? Yeah, right!! If the Presidential Guards can’t guarantee security at any of a dozen governmental locations available especially the Convention Centre they ought to be demobilised immediately! And the Presidential Guards can be deployed all around the perimeter with snipers on the roof of the Caricom Secretariat if necessary.

We know Prezzie has an inflated Cabinet – the largest in the history of Guyana – but still, surely a hundred persons can be accommodated at Liliendaal. The only problem your Eyewitness can foresee the Convention Centre mightn’t be able to accommodate a large oval table such as is available at the Presidential Complex to host Cabinet meetings, and which President Jagdeo and Ramotar used.

But hold it! This might be the clue for the strange choice. In the first Cabinet meeting President Granger held – for which the pic was released to the public – he utilised the Credentials Room. And there he sat, military style at the head of the room behind a desk with the Ministers arrayed in front of him like the juniors they were! So maybe this is why Ayanganna was preferred – since this is the only formation the military knows. You gotta know who’s the alpha male top gun!!

Not so incidentally, was PM Nagamootoo sitting on the left hand of the President as was promised?

…about rice

The “big crop” in rice is coming in. But the prices certainly ain’t “big” for paddy. This is the third crop been harvested since the government stood by and let the Venezuelan market “slip-slide away” even though prices were almost double than anywhere else. And not surprisingly farmers have been crying in the wilderness for something to be done. Last October, Nagamootoo was in Mexico and, remarkably, assured farmers he’s “secured” markets for our paddy in one hour! This would be “fast tracked”.

Well, the track must’ve been slow like the pitch at Providence since a year later, it’s still – no contracts. In March this year, Agri Minister Noel Holder also visited Mexico on some junket – and confirmed the market. But they were doing some “phytosanitary” checks.

And here it is, last week Holder again went to Mexico where he exchanged ideas on all sorts of fancy ideas, including “phytosanitary practices”!

But this time, was mum on the rice contract. Over to the PM?

…about decimal points

Seems someone at the Amerindian Ministry was a tad careless about where to put a decimal point when paying a bill for $252,200 by cheque. The cheque came out at $2,522,000!!

And the contractor, being Guyanese, kept quiet!!

Breaking wind…

…and “emergency” jailing

Your Eyewitness has always insisted if we mess around with the “rule of law”, we’re just dooming ourselves to another fifty years of languishing near Haiti among the basket cases of the world. The “rule of law” is very simple – and was summarized rather pithily by the old folks: what’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander.

And applied to the running of our country, if a law applies to one, it should apply to all, including those at the very top of the ladder. Your Eyewitness was forced into this line of thought by the continued obstreperousness of Finance Minister Winston Jordan in relation to his wanton and reckless spending from the Contingencies Fund. The man is so filled with hubris he’s just daring the gods to bring him to heel. He insists he’s the SOLE arbiter of what qualifies as an “emergency” for him to spend from the Contingencies Fund.

Well among other things like hurling lightning bolts from the skies, nowadays the gods work through the laws of the land. And in this case Jordan’s just plain wrong legally on the discretion allowed to a Minister or any member of the Executive. Maybe he should consult his learned colleague Khemraj Ramjattan, the Minister of Public Security, who also just happens to be a lawyer. And who threatened to bring a suit in the courts to throw Jordan’s predecessor, Ashni Singh, in jail for allegedly committing the same act for which Jordan stands accused by the Auditor General.

As one eminent Guyanese jurist – Luckhoo – said in a landmark case, the Minister’s discretion is “not unfettered”. And under the Rule of Law, the courts are the arbiter of what those “fetters” are being that the doctrine of “Judicial Review” is now trite law. And thank god that’s so, or else those whom WE have placed in government could “do what they want wid we!” Here Jordan’s raiding the Contingencies Fun because of “emergencies” as he defined them.

Some citizen should just file a case in the High Court against Jordan for misspending his hard owned tax money – which the government deducts even before he can see what his sweat earned. And Ramjattan should remind Jordan that once the case is before the Judiciary, British, Commonwealth and our precedence give Judges a huge leeway under the doctrine of “natural justice”, to haul his ass off to jail.

Imagine having the gall to pay Larry Singh $65 MILLION in March for a bottom-house bond that couldn’t be used till September.

Emergency?? Well they did say they needed it in case of fire at the Diamond warehouse!!

…on generating electricity

When will this confounded nonsense stop?? This barefaced rape of the public treasury to reward fat cats who funded the AFC’s and APNU’s campaign, that is. The latest outrage is the announcement that the Wind Farm project to generate electricity has been given the go ahead to sell its electricity to GPL. Now we ordinary citizens would think… what could possibly be wrong about generating electricity from wind? It’s good and green, right?

Well, that depends. And when the operator’s Lloyd Singh – who Raphael Trotman’s of the AFC publicly acknowledged was the businessman who made an “investment” in the AFC’s headquarters – we need to look closer at the fine print of the power purchase agreement with GPL. And this is where we can see the “cock”. The wind farm’s gonna be a “mixed” facility – meaning Lloyd Singh will also have generators that’ll use oil – purportedly to even out his supply.

But with our Trade Winds breaking into equal period of lulls as spurts, GPL will be buying mostly fossil fuel generate power.

So with no “green”, why all the concessions??

…disrespectful Audit to City Hall

The stench you’re smelling is the breaking of wind from the utterance by the Mayor that the Audit of City Hall by the AG for over $300 million in subventions is “disrespectful”!!


…from blacklist?

After all the “sturm und drang” from the APNU/AFC over the last four years on the AML/CFT Bill – intended to satisfy the FATF, not to blacklist us and make us international financial pariahs – your Eyewitness fully expected AG Basil Williams to lead the Government ministers to shout from the top of Bank of Guyana: “Free at last!! Free at last!! Thank God Almighty, Guyana is free at last!” After all, Guyana’s now officially off the blacklist, under his government!

But seeing as how the Minister of the Presidency bitch-slapped him silly over his “compulsory acquisition of friendly property” gambit, maybe he has other things on his mind as he licks his wounded ego! But let’s look at the whole affair – which looks from where your humble Eyewitness is sitting, as pretty sordid. Firstly, we now see that the crisis was totally manufactured by the APNU/AFC by refusing to sign the AML/CFT bill since there wasn’t much else THEY did as the government to get off the blacklist. Any “beg pardon” to the PPP? Not in this life!!

But the other gripe is the FATF was formed to seek and destroy ALL those responsible for “money laundering” which could then lead to “financing terrorists”. Yet the only countries pulled up by the seat of their pants and threatened with blacklisting have mostly been little pawns like Guyana. In the meantime it’s been shown ad nauseam that the biggest centres of laundering are Britain and the US!! The latest exposé has been the Panama Papers which showed how the game’s played.

Corporations in Britain routinely register thousand of paper/shell companies either in London itself, the Channel Islands, or in British territories, etc, and funnel money through tax havens like Panama. The quantities make the Kaieteur and Niagara Falls look like your kitchen faucet! Yet no one’s hauling THEM up before the FATF. In the US, for decades Delaware’s been doing the same and has recently been joined by Nevada and Wyoming… but who asks?

OK, your Eyewitness knows it’s money that makes the (financial) world go around (is that a tautology?) and since we don’t have much of that stuff, we have to grin and bear it. But at least Basil Williams should now ask banks that had cut reciprocal relations with our banks – like Bank of America – to reverse their decisions. BoA, which was fined US$16.5 million for funnelling drugs money from Mexico, obviously has no shame. But Basil can seize the moral high ground and put them on the spot.

If nothing else, this should help him to regain some equilibrium (if not ground) in the Cabinet!!

…to move among the masses

One of the interesting revelations coming out of the Auditor General’s Report was $13.5 million allocated for a Land Cruiser for the Office of the Prime Minister. Now this was interesting since we’d already had a big brouhaha when, after the 50 per cent salary increases of Ministers, the Prime Minister spent some $22 million for a Land Cruiser.

In the outrage that followed the government’s refusal to give government workers the “significant” raise they’d been promised, Prime Minister Nagamootoo had explained that he needed the special ride so that he could visit his “constituents” in Berbice. So the question arising is what’s this new Land Cruiser for? Is it for the PM to visit his constituents at Wales? Or is it perchance for his shill in the OPM?

In either case, how does he balance this kind of splurging with the austerity of a salary freeze on sugar workers that forced them into a national strike?

But then, some folks more equal than others, no?

…from stereotyping

The papers used to print some “name and shame” reports of persons caught “Driving Under the Influence” (DUI). Problem was only – only – Berbicians were cited. This week they’ve included Essequibians.

When will Demerarians be given an equal opportunity to show they’re also “real” Guyanese?

Hitting out…

…at the team?
The US TV Series “Law and Order” had one of the longest run – 20 years between 1990 and 2010. And as one of the staples of our viewing fare with reruns, who among us isn’t familiar with its opening theme? “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the Police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders”.
Well in Guyana, we do have the Police who’re supposed to keep “Order” but on the matter of the “Law” we have a DPP that uses Police Prosecutors to prosecute those arrested by the Police for breaking the law. Now most of us have to deal with the police when something goes really awry between us Guyanese, don’t we? They represent the “Law and Order”. So it’s not surprising when crime stalks the land and most of us are huddled behind our steel-grilled windows and doors, the pressure’s coming down on them.
But with their subject Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan refusing to stick his hand up and take responsibility (see yesterday’s fulminations by your Eyewitness) for offering some reassurances, the acting CoP David Ramnarine had to step to the crease. Rather than regurgitate the statistics that have become the reflexive retort of his Minister, Ramnarine took a pot shot at the Judiciary to which Police Prosecutors present their cases – or rather “our cases” – since we’re the victims.
He pointed to some egregious examples of individuals who were charged by the Police but when brought before the High Court or Magistrates’ Court were let out on bail – and then blithely proceeded to commit further crimes. It’s as if the judicial system works like a revolving door for criminals, in the view of the acting CoP. Now this isn’t a unique complaint – in fact it’s quite common among us ordinary law abiding citizens.
The fly in this ointment, however, is there’s this rule members of the judiciary HAVE to observe – persons charged have to be presumed innocent until they’re tried and proven guilty. For bail, all the judge/magistrate can do is weigh whether the person charged will turn up for trial and whether his background suggests he won’t do further wrong if released. If “no” the judge would order “remand”.
And this is where we end up with the “remand” situation that caused all that mayhem at the Camp Street Jail. Obviously, there are no quick answers to our criminal siege and all the members of the Justice System have to work together.
What can’t be done, is to follow the Security Minister and just spout statistics.

…at competition?
Seems like a “Chicken Feed War” may just break out between Guyana and Jamaica over some businessman here importing Chicken Feed from the land of Dancehall. The local businessman’s undercutting the price at which two of our local manufacturers of Chicken Feed – Badal of Guyana Stockfeeds and Fernandez of Bounty Farms – are selling theirs to our chicken farmers.
Now if our Chicken Feed manufacturers are willing to lodge this protest with the GRA, you know the money they’re losing isn’t Chicken Feed! Badal and Fernandez’ gripe is the Jamaican HAVE to be importing soya and corn for their feed so they’re exceeding the 5% Caricom allowance for “foreign inputs” and thus a 15% tariff should be slapped on their products.
While that may be so, your Eyewitness wants to know that since GUYANA doesn’t also produce soya and corn, how come the Jamaicans can have insurance and freight added to their Feed price and STILL come in cheaper than theirs?
Aren’t they stiffing our poor chicken farmers?

…petroleum import licence
While there were protests about GWI’s boss Van West-Charles obtaining a petroleum importing licence, folks were puzzled about how he’ll sell the stuff without any storage tanks.
Well, he wouldn’t need the latter if he “wins” the contract to supply Exxon rigs and drilling ships, would he?

Missing in Action…

…Security Minister
Quick now…when was the last time you heard the Vice President Khemraj Ramjattan in his role of Minister of Public Security say something to the people of Guyana who are reeling from crimes that are seemingly committed at will? Aha! Go to the head of the class, dear reader. You’re right – it was that time he regaled us with statistics to assure us that he and his Police Force had everything under control.
Serious crimes are decreasing he insisted again and he pulled a number of stats from his folder. The ordinary citizen could be excused for thinking he was pulling the said numbers from a hat – because they had as much contact with their reality as the rabbits that are usually pulled out by “magicians”!!
What Ramjattan must answer is if his police are so efficient in CATCHING criminals – why have the attacks become ever more brazen? One answer has to be that the police aren’t proving to be a strong deterrent.
But the loss of confidence in Ramjattan was brought out rather starkly when the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) most recently invited the just departed Chief of Staff of the Army, Phillips, to discuss the crime situation. And the latter explained the discrepancy between the statistics and the reality:
“Every day our citizens are exposed to more and more violent robberies at their places of business – be it shops, factories, delivery vehicles, rice fields, night clubs, churches and other places of worship and even in the sanctity of their homes. No one is safe from violent crimes and criminal activities in our urban and rural areas today. It’s just a matter of time when the criminals will attack any one of us.” It’s the UBIQUITY of the crimes – not their OCCURRENCE that’s frightening.
Now no citizen expects Ramjattan to rush into some phone booth, rip off his clothes and glasses (the mind boggles!!!) and flying “up, up and away”, nab all the bad guys. But surely he has at least to become more of a presence with his police in the public’’ eye that they’re not just seen as a bunch of panhandlers always on the lookout for a fry-rice or money.
Ramjattan should’ve been in the audience listening to Phillips, who pointed out: “Notwithstanding the statistics that speak to a reduction in crime – and here I am not hitting at the police force – it is my firm belief, as a citizen of Guyana, that the high incidence of gun-related crimes is today the most pressing problem in our Guyanese society.”
So how did that gun amnesty work, Ramjattan? Apart from denying some Indigenous Peoples their protein!

…climate change in US debate
Was it only your Eyewitness who noticed that in every one of the three debates between Trump and Clinton, the moderator NEVER brought up climate change?!! That’s right…while Clinton might’ve mumbled a few non-sequiturs about pollution, the ticking time bombing that’s under us all wasn’t important enough to an American audience to discuss for five minutes!! Your Eyewitness won’t even touch with a ten foot pole the topics that were deemed “earth shattering” enough to discuss.
And it wasn’t as if there wasn’t a reminder that Climate Change’s already kicking in. Even if the candidates or the moderators hadn’t been listening to newscasts announcing ad nauseum that September was THE HOTTEST SEPTEMBER recorded ever since mankind started recording temperatures, didn’t they feel it?!
Well, ummm…no, they didn’t feel – not in their air-conditioned jets and cars! Their elision of Climate Change shows the arrogance of the developed north.
We’ll soak up the emissions for them, no?

…the sugar
Could CY Thomas explain why they’ve stopped that second centrifugal extraction of sugar crystals from molasses in at least one factory?
Apart from giving DDL a windfall in enriched molasses, aren’t the farmers being screwed on their POL extraction percentages?

Certifying death…

…of sugar

Has the hubris of this man Tony Vieira no end? Is he competing with Finance Minister Winston Jordan to show how “big” he is by cutting down others? After his missive in which he declares Lennox Craig “incompetent” – his ability to steal TV content from US providers and then charge Guyanese to receive same through his “black boxes” presumably qualified him to pass that judgement – Vieira is revealed with another foot firmly stuck in his mouth.
Seems for some reason this newspaper and the Stabber excised Vieira’s claim that he didn’t look down on Craig or others of his ilk because of “class and colour”. But the Muckraker let it all hang out and quoted the former field Overseer of Versailles Estate in full: “To accuse me of being above others in class and colour is completely ludicrous, I spoke up for the Afro Guyanese since I saw a vicious attack on them by the PPP, since 1992 and when I sat in Parliament, I sat between Basil Williams and Debby Backer of the PNC/One/G, that speaks for itself.”
Now that should shut up Vieira’s detractors, shouldn’t it? How could a man who sat between Basil Williams and Debbie Backer – both evidently completely bereft of “class and colour” – for five years in Parliament be accused of classism and colourism??!! Well Basil Williams is around and kicking so maybe he can defend himself against Vieira’s charge of being a “low life” but poor Ms Backer isn’t. So this Eyewitness will say this – Vieira doesn’t even have the class of the clippings of Ms Backer finger nails!
But like most folks filled with hubris, Vieira doesn’t know when to stop. Keeping up his boorishness and crassness on the GNBA matter, he claimed it’s not he couldn’t have been Chairman – but with his appointment as the man to diversify sugar he’d rather focus on the latter. And, dear readers, if there were any lingering doubts about the death of sugar in Guyana, this announcement – if true – should put them to rest. RIP! Sugar after 400 years!
Vieira diversifying sugar? What qualifies him for that job? That he was an Overseer on his father’s estate at Versailles? Your Eyewitness may be missing something here…doesn’t that experience MAYBE qualify him for trying to suggest how they’d be moving cane from Wales to Uitvlugt? Or whether they’re just throwing good money after bad?
But what the heck? According to the Greeks who knew a thing or two about hubris, Vieira’s tale will end tragically.
Your Eyewitness just hopes the tragedy won’t be GuySuCo’s, or Guyana’s.

…of Democracy?

Your Eyewitness doesn’t want to be hyperbolic…but the old folks did say “you don’t need flash light to see what’s clear in daylight”. Or “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, you might as well accept you’ve got a duck on your hands”! When the PPP/C was in power, because of the way the parliamentary system functions with the Executive also controlling the Legislature, the Opposition ideologues educated us to the possibility that this might be an “elected dictatorship”.
Why? Well it doesn’t matter what the Opposition says, does it? The Government will always have its way with them – especially when, as with the incumbent Speaker who’s supposed to guarantee “fair play”, he’s in cahoots with the Government. Has this fella even tried to appear impartial? What do you call the rejection of the PPP’s call for sending Minister Norton to the Privileges Committee for lying through his teeth in that honourable house? Or Prezzie traducing Constitutional protocols?
What do you call the Finance Minister berating the AG over committing the same act for which they’d demanded his predecessor be jailed? Etc etc…

…of fairness

The Muckraker a big “to do” about Opposition Leader Jagdeo accepting that mistakes were made by the PPP/C in sugar? Didn’t he say that before last elections?
But like “Voldemort”, that can’t be mentioned!


…in Finance

Your Eyewitness is still reeling from the disdainful statement of Minister of Finance Winston Jordan to Auditor General, Deodat Sharma: “I don’t owe him any explanation!!” And just what did the holder of this constitutional office do to deserve such a contemptuous dismissal? Just doing his job!! He asked why the government spending almost a BILLION dollars from the “Contingencies Fund” – meant for emergency spending!!
To be exact, under the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMA), “The Minister, when satisfied that an urgent, unavoidable and unforeseen need for expenditure has arisen – (a) for which no moneys have been appropriated or for which the sum appropriated is insufficient; (b) for which moneys cannot be reallocated as provided for under this Act; or (c) which cannot be deferred without injury to the public interest, may approve a Contingencies Fund advance as an expenditure out of the Consolidated Fund.”
The AG conceded a government might underestimate a million here or a million there in a budget, but $900 MILLION?!! Something’s really fishy. How could he NOT ask Jordan to explain? He should’ve been fired if he didn’t! But there is something else at work her – and it’s called “HUBRIS”.
This state of mind was recognised as far back as the ancient Greeks who gave it its name. It means basically someone’s too full of himself – but with the critical addendum that the arrogance will bring that person down – as sure as the sun’s gonna rise in the morning. The ancient Jews mentions it in one of their Proverbs – “pride goeth before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall”. The point is the arrogance of one filled with hubris is because these folks really DON’T have the qualities they flaunt when putting down others to humiliate them. Somewhere in the back of their minds they know they’re bluffing and are afraid their bluff’s gonna be called. As with Jordan right now, they’ll be exposed as hollow men.
On another hubristic utterance – Jordan’s claim that the AG should’ve sent his Report to be “edited” by him – is Jordan aware of how he’s exposed his “shallowness”? According to the AG portions of the Report were sent to his different Department Heads. Is the Big and Bad Jordan confessing that even his HoDs didn’t share their info with him? But this is par for the course in underlings dealing with hubristic bosses. They just can’t wait see to how hard and fast will be the fall – and act to hasten it!
This Eyewitness just can’t believe that Prezzie has authorised this kind of arrogance from one of his Ministers.
He has to use his rod of correction! And soon.

…of the plantocracy
And how can one discuss “hubris” in Guyana and not mention Tony Vieira?? This fella’s the quintessential hubristic hollow man. In today’s papers he exposed his arrogance for all the world to see in a letter boasting about how the Chairman of the GNBA on which he sits, is just like any other director – meaning him! Can you believe this?
It’s like an MP telling a Minister that there’s no difference between them, because they both were candidates from their party! Craig might’ve been a director on the GNBA along with Vieira…but the moment he was elected as Chairman, he was invested with all the powers of that office – which go beyond those of a regular director.
Which part of this Vieira doesn’t get? But that’s not the point, is it? As Vieira told someone, he’s superior to Craig because he’s a “member of the plantocracy”!!
Yes, imagine that! From a fella who had access to all the money – and the best he could do was work in the fields!

…and rebuilding
It was just announced that the Arthur Chung Convention Centre will be closed for two years to be “fixed”.
Since we all know the biggest defect is it was built “back to front”, will this be reversed?

Energy matters…

…at GPL

Your Eyewitness would’ve been happy with GPL even if it’d been a case of “one step forward, two steps backwards”. At least the descent back into the “Days of the Perpetual Blackouts” wouldn’t be so vertiginous. And with intermittent blackouts every day of the week, its “back to the future” for GPL.

Now, we have one of the highest tariff rates on electricity in the hemisphere – US30 cents/KWh and counting (Linden gets a free pass because the rest of us pay for them – but that’s oil for another generator!) and yet we can’t get the electricity we pay for? The US’ average rate is US14 cents/KWh… while their salary is twenty times ours. Can you blame folks for migrating?

The irony is… over the last year, GPL’s fuel bill has been CUT IN HALF because of low oil prices. So while they’re rolling in cash, we’re getting less power. Whatever else one may say about that Dindyal guy the APNU/AFC government axed? At least he’d been making steady progress on the electricity front. We know the PNC elements who really call the shots in the government have been very open about following in the footsteps of their Founding Leader – but Jeez! – aren’t they taking it too far with his performance on blackouts?

So what exactly IS the problem? Well, the excuse on Tuesday for GPL making the national grid appearing to be sending Morse code to space with the on/off -on/off pattern – except it wasn’t a pattern and we must’ve confused the hell out of any aliens out there! – was that some 69kv line from Kingston to Sophia has a “fault”. So that’s why power east of Kingston was disrupted.

So how come the same disruption occurred on West Coast of Demerara? The earlier “go to” excuse for blackouts – the underwater cable to the Vreed-en-Hoop generator being damaged – should’ve shielded West Demerara, no? And how come that part of the country had an all-day blackout on Monday? Your Eyewitness dimly remembers “induced currents” from his school days, but “induced blackouts”? Naaah!

Listen… your Eyewitness is a reasonable fella… he doesn’t expect miracles. There’s too much thieving – including thieving of electricity from GPL – and other miscellaneous sins going on for that! But surely will all that money in its kitty, the new GPL Chair and Board should’ve had a proper management team in place by now.

We heard about a Canadian consultancy team coming to create another report to add to the pile on GPL’s office shelves.

GPL needs a lamp to see in broad daylight? Well… during blackouts!

…from wind

Very early in the new regime’s rule, we heard about a wind power project that had already received funding and was ready to be launched. The investor was the fella who AFC’s honcho Raphael Trotman confessed had built the new, spanking AFC Headquarters as an “investment”. Your Eyewitness had wondered whether the investment had been abandoned – not the investment in the HQ; the one in the Wind Farm – since all had gone quiet.

Well… the Minister of Public Infrastructure – who by pure serendipity is AFC! – just announced that pretty soon the investment will be bearing fruit (jeez! NO! Not the investment in the HQ!) And that all that needs to be worked out is the rate the Investor will be billing GPL for the electricity supplied. This was the same reason for the delay last year and we wondered if the investor (in the HQ!) doesn’t think his investment isn’t generating dividends!!

The fella had promised US$5 savings when oil was over US$100/barrel. It’s the same at US$50/barrel?

…in the walk of a leader

Back in the day, the one ruling party printed a booklet summarising their leadership style.

On his way to a meeting in Georgetown, the Muckraker conceded QAII boss’ leadership style by front-paging “The Ramroop Stride”!!

Ducking responsibilities…

…on Broadcasting
Here your Eyewitness had been protesting for months (a year and a half?) about our dear Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo being denied the powers of his office – don’t even talk about those under the “Cummingsburg Accord”. And now it’s been revealed in one shameful episode when he was begged to exercise even the vestigial power left – he refused to do so!!
Your Eyewitness is of course referring to the entreaties and pleas of the Chairman of GNBA – who falls under the PM’s diminished portfolio of “media” – for the PM to intervene in the mockery of Tony Vieira was making in the functioning of the Board of the GNBA, because he refused to accept the authority of the said Chair, Leonard Craig.
In an exchange reminiscent of an earlier one between Peter D’Aguiar and Forbes Burnham – in which Burnham said D’Aguiar felt he could treat the PNC “like a carton of used drinks bottles” – Tony Vieira, an ordinary Board Member, screamed at Craig: “Do you know who I am?? I am a Vieira!” Now Vieira couldn’t possibly be talking about his qualifications as a broadcaster. That would have meant admitting he’d failed ignominiously once he didn’t have the monopoly protection of the PNC, where he just stole content from the skies and was allowed to charge Guyanese for it!
No! He had to be referring to his social class – where he couldn’t be shaken from his belief that a fella like Craig had to obey him as a member of what he still sees as “the ruling class” – even though Craig was officially his superior. And this is what Craig had pointed out to his boss Nagamootoo. But the man who claimed he was a follower of Jagan in fighting for the dignity of the ordinary man – was evidently not only struck dumb, but blind. He claimed he couldn’t read the letters Craig sent him with the complaints!! Well… how about all those reports in the press for all these months. Nagamootoo couldn’t possibly have been too busy to read those, could he? What? With being neutered and all! Or if he’s really insisting on his “perks” – as the world on the ground insists – doesn’t his shill summarize the news for him every morning?
But really the problem isn’t the powers of a Nagamootoo (or the lack thereof). It’s the problem of the AFC in general and Nagamootoo and Ramjattan in particular. The AFC has no clout with the APNU any longer – and the mentioned leaders couldn’t care less – once they have their “positions and perks”.
But then again, why’s your Eyewitness surprised? Wasn’t he told Nagamootoo was “all talk and no action”?

…in Finance Ministry
When APNU and AFC were in the Opposition, Auditor General (AG) Reports were like Stone Tablets handed down behind burning bushes. The contents were used like battering rams against the PPP administration – chastising them on every slip there might’ve been between the (spending) cup and the (accounting) lip. But now they’re in government, suddenly it looks like the AG has lost his halo!!
Here you have the Finance Minister (FM) issuing one of the strongest attacks on the integrity of the AG’s Office, even as he insisted the latter was an “autonomous body” and he “doesn’t wasn’t to trample on that autonomy”. If your Eyewitness were of a poetic bent he would’ve said, “methinks the FM protesteth too much!!” How else can you describe his assessment of the AG’s Report as “designed to inflame rather than educate and inform”?
The AG, dear FM, is supposed to just tell it as he saw IT – the government’s books. And no! He doesn’t have to have the FM “edit” his report!

…on fairness
If the FM thinks he was done wrong by the AG, for having the departments’ heads – and not him – comment on the report before publishing, is he sympathetic to NEW GPC not even getting a chance to show they’d shipped all their pharma?

Helping hand…



There’s been some extended letters from ex-PM Sam Hinds and ex-Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker defending the charge by David Hinds that the PPP didn’t do squat for Linden while pouring out largesse for the sugar industry – which is a trope for “East Indians” – but which was explicitly charged. And in this exchange…lies the tragedy of Guyana. A tragedy that has been playing out for sixty years – since the split of the PPP – and which is obviously still unfolding.

The tragedy is intractable not because of some unique twist in the psyches of the several groups competing for power in Guyana, because it’s present in all severely divided societies. Cyprus? The Turkish groups always accuse the Greeks of spending more on Greeks. Malaysia? The Chinese and Indians always complain the Malays are getting most of the gravy train.

Sometimes, like in Trinidad, there might be so much revenue pouring in (there due to oil since the seventies) that everyone gets a piece of the pie. Not EQUAL pieces mind you, but enough to Dampen the fires of disquiet. But now that oil is running out and budgets have to be cut, just wait and see the squeals as to who’re taking the heaviest burden. And it won’t be funny…tragedies never are.

The problem is, because the votes to get governments into office cleave along ethnic lines, and they have to reward their supporters…even if a government doesn’t actually do so, the assumption is, it has! Take the case in point cited by David Hinds. Under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement from the 1950s and then its successor Lome΄ Protocol, Guyana’s sugar earned a preferential price. However beginning in 1975 when there was a huge spike in sugar prices, a levy was imposed on sugar which drained off all profits. Amounting to at least ONE BILLION US DOLLARS by the time the PPP finally ended the levy in 1999. Which moneys were first frittered away on the failed Hydro by Burnham…then used in the Consolidated Funds to subsidies places like Linden and projects like “cooperative industries” for party card holders.

If those moneys had been reinvested in sugar, the 60-year-old Skeldon could’ve been long replaced – and Hinds wouldn’t have had to bemoan the “largest investment in Guyana” being for the “benefit of Indians.

But are we ever going to hear a “balanced” account? Not in this life. And this is why your Eyewitness was excited that in its manifesto APNU/AFC had promised an “Ethnic Impact Statement” on all governmental initiatives to pre-empt ethnic bitching.

But this has died stillborn…And the fight goes on!

…for agri?

When will this government wake up and accept that folks need more than words when they’re faced with an economy that’s collapsing like a house of cards on their ears. PM Nagamootoo was delivering remarks to the farming community of Mahaicony on “World Food Day”. Now Mahaicony farms rice- which is in a real pickle after Nagamootoo’s government allowed the Venezuelan market for half our exports to be lost – without even putting up a struggle to save it.

And guess what? Nagamootoo was insensitive enough to tell the rice farmers that Venezuelans are starving and need food – even though they’re awash in oil!! Now didn’t it cross Nagamootoo’s mind that this starvation would’ve given the Venezuelan government a great incentive to have us continue shipping rice? Nagamootoo didn’t mention the Mexican rice market he claimed he “secured” a year ago!

And to rub salt into the wound, he reminded the rice farmers that sugar had to diversify. He didn’t mention they were going into rice – to compete with rice farmers!

…on waning libidos?

Placing Trinidad even on the worldwide Yahoo newsfeed was – for the second year in a row – they’re # 1 IN THE WORLD on porn searches!!

And here your Eyewitness thought all that fleshy exposure during Carnival would’ve satiated them!!