…on AmailaEither David Patterson’s suffering from incipient senility or he thinks Guyanese are stupid and don’t remember the facts of the Norconsult Report on Amaila Falls. With the crux of the statement being: “It is the view of the Government that the Norconsult … provides supporting evidence that the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project would not be optimal in its current model and presents an unbalanced risk to the Government and People of Guyana,” even the Govt-friendly Muckraker summarised it thusly: “Norway team shoots down Amaila Falls hydro project”.But as Guyanese could read for themselves – since the report was posted on the Internet by Norconsult – it said noting of the sort, and in fact, asserted the opposite. It succinctly noted: “The only realistic path for Guyana towards an emission-free electricity sector is by developing its hydropower potential. The fastest way forward is to maintain AFHP as the first major step for substituting its current oil fired generation. AFHP … has a higher plant load factor than the alternatives, a smaller reservoir and a levelised unit cost in the same range as the most attractive alternatives.”!!!How would Patterson get his size 12 foot out of his mouth? Well, he just attempted to do so, but only pushed it further in!! Patterson had the temerity to now say, “no one is questioning the viability of the project at Amaila”!!! Can you believe this drivel?? So exactly why reject the Norconsult Report? Here we go again: “The question of Norconsult was a question of what happens to the US$80M which the people of Guyana would’ve earned (from the forest protection deal with Norway) and which is still in an account from the IDB”!!!Doesn’t this fella Patterson realise there’s always a paper trail on these matters? Earlier this year, Raphael Trotman had explicitly given the reason for the Norconsult investigation: “…the Ministry of Finance and Cabinet considered it the best option for an objective re-assessment (of AFHEP). This decision follows up on one taken by the country in Paris, France, in December 2015 to conduct a review of the project’s current financial model, which the Government believes could shackle many generations of Guyanese to debt.”In case, Patterson had forgotten Trotman’s statement, on pg 10 of its Report, Norconsult had reminded him: “With the aim of possibly bringing the situation out of the current deadlock, GoG, represented by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Natural Resources, and the Government of Norway, represented by the Minister of Climate and Environment, decided at a meeting in Paris in December 2015 to perform “an objective and facts-based” assessment of Amaila Falls Hydropower Project.”What to do with Patterson’s size 12?…on silkOh, what a tangled web we weave…Or if you prefer the local idiom to the Bard’s – all smart flies do end in the bovine’s posterior orifice! (OK that’s NOT exactly the way it’s said…but your Eyewitness was reminded this is a family newspaper!) Claiming he wanted to rectify the long gap since the last appointments into the ranks of Senior Counsels, Prezzie just picked nine. And what a firestorm he’s unleashed!One pointed question was why 92-year-old Llewelyn John ? He was passed over by Forbes Burnham, Desmond Hoyte and Cheddi Jagan. Another even more pointed question was why a sitting Judge Roxane George, when that goes against the tradition of the Bar. Prezzie insisted he wanted to elevate women to Senior Counsel. But wouldn’t the two others – not on the bench – suffice? And was the set procedure that Judges – who should know the rule – send nominations to the Chancellor who collates them and passes them on to Prezzie followed?“And why not Nigel Hughes?” others have asked. Surely goat didn’t bite him?…on Moses and Red HouseSome say the decision to summarily throw Cheddi Jagan’s papers into the street was also approved by Moses Nagamootoo.Say it ain’t so, Moses; you Jaganite, you!
Guyanese were, last week, thrown into despair after becoming aware of circumstances which led to the death of 13-year-old Leonard Archibald, who was brutally sodomised by two men from his community. His body was dumped aback the community and left exposed to the extremities of the environment, only to be discovered days after by a search party.Since the incident, members of the Brothers (and Sisters) village where the lad resided have come forward demanding justice. They have also accused the Police in their district of inaction on a number of previous reports made against one of the two men who have been arraigned for the murder of young Leonard. This incident also saw other boys who were victims of rape, assault and intimidation coming forward to tell their harrowing tales.In response, both the Government and Police Force have expressed concern and outrage following the lad’s death. At least one probe is ongoing into the conduct of the Police within the district, and their handling of the Archibald case and others, which residents say were ducked under the table. Various stakeholders have strongly condemned the rape and buggery of our boys. Suddenly, calls are resurfaced for stronger legislation against child sex offenders and paedophiles.The Rights of the Child Commission also has awoken from its periodic slumber, and is joining the discourse. Politicians have expressed sympathy, and some are even trying to see how they could achieve mileage and relevance following the dastardly act to boost their personal appeal. In short, everyone has reacted, and rightly so.But this sort of knee-jerk reaction exposes the sad reality of the kind of society that we live in. It also highlights the core of the bigger problem, while further bringing the double-standard and shocking levels of hypocrisy of human nature to the fore. Leonard did not have to die. Those boys who were brutally abused did not have to go through those traumatic experiences. The probes ongoing now into the conduct of the Police ranks in the district and their handling of previous rape and buggery accusations would not have been necessary if there were a functional system of monitoring and evaluating the work of the lawmen in cases like these — wherein serious allegations are being levied about cases being “ducked down” or ignored.While no one is willing to admit it, as a society, we are fully responsible for Leonard’s death. We are all guilty of inaction as far as doing much more to adequately protect our boys from rape and buggery. We are all accountable for the failure to safeguard the wellbeing of all our children. The truth is that there are, across the country, many Leonard Archibalds whose stories have never been told. There are so many young boys who have been scarred for life following the sexual overtures that are made constantly by supposedly heterosexual adult males who prey on the innocence of these minors. I dare say that there are also homosexual males who have a special appetite for underage boys and children. The victim is usually the boy down the road, or the child next door whose parents usually leave him unsupervised because he is a “boy” and is deemed “capable of defending himself” from those kinds of attacks.When they happen, the shame and concern about the boy’s image or future force some of these families to remain silent. Fathers, too, whose sons were victims, also fear the impact reporting and highlighting the act would have on the perceived masculinity of their sons. So, to protect them, they do nothing but place on them the obligation to become “hard men” while suppressing every emotion they perceive to be feminine.Guyana does not need more complex laws to tackle the issues raised in this column, or to prevent paedophiles from hurting our children. We need stricter enforcement of the laws that exist as a first step towards protecting our children. We need more national programmes aimed at educating communities about the laws that protect children as a deterrent to those with such an inclination. We need campaigns aimed at ending the “hush hush” culture. There is need for boys to be treated equally as girls when it comes to allegations of sexual molestation, buggery of underage boys, rape and sexual assault.Boys must be taught not to be “hard men” who repress their emotions, but men who express them. We must teach our boys to love and protect each other. They must speak out against any uninvited attempt to touch them inappropriately by another male or female. They must know there is no shame, but integrity, in exposing perpetrators of rape and sexual abuse.More training of the male-dominated Police Force to respond professionally and swiftly to reports of rape must be compulsory. The Government must take a stand, too, and more research must be conducted on making other interventions to protect the male child.Finally, society must disabuse its mind of the viewpoint that all homosexuals are paedophiles. Those men who killed Leonard do not identify as gay or bisexual; they are products of a society that has failed to instill proper mores, values and traditions in them. We have failed them, too, because they appear confused about their sexuality and troubled mentally, if they can look at a 13-year-old boy or any underage child as sexually attractive. They must not just be left to rot in jail; they must be rehabilitated and reformed.
Guyana’s economy is flat-lining in 2018 amid poor economic management practice being conducted by this Granger Team. Such action has accelerated the deterioration of an already weaken domestic investment climate.Almost every decision today in Guyana has turned political, without adequate financial and economic analytics to bring at least common sense to it. Such political immaturity has contributed to short-term political visibility for the PNC leader, but will by and large result in long-term damage to the productive capacity of the nation, because the expected reforms to put the nation on a firm foundation are being deliberately delayed.A clear example of how Team Granger have messed up can be found in how they mismanaged the transition in the sugar industry under the tutelage of the failed troika of Noel Holder/Clive Thomas/Errol Hanoman.No one with any sanity would deny that urgent reforms were needed in the sugar belt after Hurricane Donald Ramotar and Raj Singh. But Tsunami Noel Holder and Errol Hanoman did exactly the opposite. But the imperative in 2018 is not what hurricane Donald and Raj did to GuySuCo, but what the current Granger Team would have done after those pre-May 2015 hurricanes. Rather than repairing the sugar belt and moving it up the value-added chain into the realm of alcohol production, agro-energy production, ethanol production and so on, Team Granger are actively pulling down the damaged industry, and have left more than 5,000 families exposed to the elements of poverty without any alternative plans.As I said in 2015 — and I will say now — the appointment of Errol Hanoman was the worst possible decision any Government of Guyana could have made. This man is a Bookers man with a colonial mentality, who has zero loyalty to the plight of the sugar families. His mission all along was to serve an elite few, both locally and the sugar barons internationally, and when placed in the position, he delivered the surgical blow that would do irreparable damage to the sugar industry.After the PNC/AFC actions in 2017, I am now convinced that GuySuCo will never be the same again, since the beginning of the end has commenced.But the wound to the heart of GuySuCo was inflicted at an extremely high financial cost to the sugar workers if one were to analyze the cost of the Office of the CEO under Mr. Hanoman.The figures above were sourced directly from GuySuCo, and they tell a horrible story of one man in the Office of the CEO burning close to half of a billion in 2017 on himself and his executive outfit. While most of the headquarters’ operation illustrated a decline in cost, Mr. Errol Hanoman’s cost went up by 10% over 2017 when compared to 2016. Here we have this same Hanoman claiming that he has no money to pay the Wales workers their severance package, but he could have found close to G$800 million in cash just to service himself, his first-class flights, his super salary, and his residual upkeep.In 2017, the cost of service for the operations of one man was more than the entire severance package for the hundreds of Wales sugar workers.The sugar industry remains important for the economy, irrespective of the untruths that Mr. Holder is trying to peddle. It is estimated that even after the retrenchment without severance pay, more than 75,000 people in Demerara and Berbice are still directly and indirectly depending on GuySuCo to make a livelihood. Even as the share of sugar in the GDP has declined significantly since the 1990s, the fact remains that a significant amount of real human beings derive their economic sustenance from sugar.The truth remains: RAW SUGAR IS DEAD, BUT A VALUE-ADDED, SUGAR-RELATED INDUSTRY IS VERY MUCH ALIVE.Additionally, Team Granger imposed a failed sugar executive from the 1980s as its new factory executive, and he used his position on the Commission of Enquiry to cop a super salary to do almost nothing for the sugar belt today. As the evidence above illustrates, his upkeep cost has expanded by 20% over 2017, and he has charged the nation just under G$300 million over 2 years. This is a clear case of another Granger fat cat drinking most of the milk and leaving very little for the industry.Alfred Montapert stated, “Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving, but does not make any progress”. This is exactly what we are witnessing today in GuySuCo under Team Thomas/Holder and the now dearly departed Hanoman. Is the glass half filled or half empty after 2 years of the failed troika of Holder/Thomas/Hanoman?
Satiricus was not one to gloat at the misfortunes of others, but this situation on the catfish trade was a real “SNAFU” for his government – “Situation Normal; All F**ked Up”!! How was he going to explain it away to the fellas down at the Back Street Bar, where he was headed? He smiled as a thought struck him just as he approached their usual table – already forested with beer bottles. He was late.“Hey fellas!!” exclaimed Satiricus, with a wide grin. “Happy days are here again!!”“Really?” asked Cappo, doubtfully. “Yuh leada Nagga Man an’ Rum Jhaat open back all dem suga’ estate?”“Well, not really,” continued Satiricus. “But something almost as good!”“Well, tell abee na!” exclaimed Bungi. “Wha’ yuh wait fa?”“You remember when America had their Great Depression?” asked Satiricus.“Sure, Sato,” said Hari. “Unemployment was sky high and families were starving!!”“Then you would remember the great American President Roosevelt promised his people, ‘a chicken in every pot’!!”“Yeah,” admitted Cappo. “Me hear about da! But wha’ da gat fuh do wid abee?”“My friends, Nagga Man and Rum Jhaat have done better than that!” exclaimed Satiricus. “They just arranged for a Gillbaka in every Guyanese pot!!!”“Gillbaka?” said Bungi. “A wan whole year now me na taste Gillbaka! ‘E too dear!! How dem do da?”“Well, two years ago, when they just got into Government, the US told them to improve the sanitary practices to ship Gillbaka,” said Satiricus.“We know that, Sato,” said Hari curtly. “We read the papers!”“Yes…but what you don’t know is Nagga Man and Rum Jhaat told our KFC Minister, not to do anything!” confided Satiricus.“Wha’ de rass dem do da fa?” exploded Cappo. “Now all dem fisha-man guh lose dem US market!!”“But they now have to sell all the Gillbaka here!” exclaimed Satiricus. “Cheaply!! A Gillbaka in every pot!!”“An’ Nagga Man and Rum Jhaat do all dis?” asked Bungi sceptically.“Just for us, fellas!!” exclaimed Satiricus with even more gusto. “My leaders are real strategic thinkers!!”
Confronted with a debt of over G$345 billion at the end of 2017, the politicians are yet to convince the people that the “GOOD LIFE” is coming. This Granger government is exhibiting a mentality that says it can out-borrow, out-tax and out-spend any other government in the history of Guyana. But to what end? Where is empirical evidence to prove that all of this borrowing has helped to expand the productive sectors and productivity per capita?The two main indicators to identify debt stress in a nation are the Debt-to-GDP ratio and the Debt Services-to-Total Revenue ratio (see graph below). On both scores, the post-2015 government has moved in the wrong direction.In May 2017, the Government of Guyana promised the IMF, in the Debt Sustainability Analysis process, a Debt Services-to-Revenue ratio in 2018 below 7.7%. But that was nothing but an empty promise, because, within 12 months, it had marched on these figures in the opposite direction, as the graph above proves. Today Guyana is rapidly moving toward a point of increasing its debt stress, with the Debt-to-GDP ratio set to surpass 50% in 2019, for the first time since 2014.Why are these indicators important to the people? The Debt-to-GDP ratio tells the story of the ratio of the total public debt to the value of the total goods and services produced in that country within a year. This ratio indicates the ability of a nation to pay back its debt. A higher ratio speaks to the fact that it will become more difficult to pay back the incurred debt. To complicate matters, Guyana’s growth rate is currently in the “dog house”, thanks to the policy paralysis in the Granger regime.The Debt Services-to-Revenue ratio is an indicator of the portion of revenue set aside exclusively to pay debts. The higher this ratio, the more difficult it becomes to repay one’s loans, and fewer dollars will be available for important services like education and healthcare. In economic management, a higher Debt-to-GDP ratio usually leads to a higher Debt Services-to-Revenue ratio. Today, all the indicators are pointing to increasing debt stress, thanks to the bankrupt economic policies of this Granger government.In 1990, under the PNC, the Debt Services-to-Revenue ratio was 140%, which means that Guyana had to default on some of its debt in those days, because it could not meet its debt repayment. At that time, the international community deemed Guyana as uncreditworthy and technically bankrupt. By 1993, during the PPP administration, it had dropped to 105%, thanks to some work under Hoyte, but Guyana was still not out of the woods. By 2009, that ratio had dropped to 6%, thanks to a combination of efforts both locally (focused agenda from the PPP on paying debt installments) and internationally (debt write-off initiative).However, since 2009, there have been serious concerns about how our debt stock was being managed. Loans are being borrowed, but it is unclear who has benefited from these loans. In a growing economy, the challenge is masked, and thus under the PPP, though it was a concern, it was not brought to the front burner. But when an economy is flatlining, as is happening today under Mr. Granger, we have a major problem, as the debt stress escalates without much recourse.The solution is simple: increase revenue or cut expenses. What is happening today under Mr. Granger is revenue is flatlining and expenses are rapidly expanding. In the APNU/AFC Manifesto, the Prime Ministerial Candidate, Mr. Moses Nagamootoo, promised the nation that his government shall “cut out waste and extravagance and limit borrowing”. But as the evidence proved, Mr. Nagamootoo is just a button that Mr. Granger presses when he want to hear codswallop, because Nagamootoo’s word are nothing but hot air.If one observes Table 9 in the National Budget, one can find that the travel cost of the government in 2014 was G$3.5 billion. In 2017, it was G$4.9 billion. This Granger administration has increased its international travel cost by over G$1 billion within 30 months. In those same 30 months, over G$300 million was spent on the two State Houses on Main Street for two families. Until this financial waste and extravagance is cut out, the only way to complete the financing of the budget is more borrowing. But expansion in debt not backed by expanding payback capacity destroys jobs and economic growth, and the world know it. Can we understand why the investors are not coming?
…at UGWhy isn’t your Eyewitness surprised that UG’s Vice Chancellor, Ivelaw Griffith, has proposed that the Council that oversees his administration of the tertiary institution be drastically reduced in numbers? Well…just that every single action the bow-tied wonder has undertaken at UG since he was catapulted into his position was to promote his accumulation of power! For starters, even before he had time to settle down, the old YSM biggie was awarded a Cacique Crown of Honour!! But then, he’d just made the Army Officer’s training module a UG Diploma…and proposed the army retirement age be raised!!The reorganisation of the senior staff? That just created a CABINET, of which Griffith’s the head!! The man created FOUR Deputy Vice Chancelleries to serve under him — Academic Engagement, Planning and International Engagement; Philanthropy; Alumni and Civic Engagement; and an Office of Strategic Initiatives!! The salaries of this Cabinet match the salaries of President Granger’s FOUR Vice Presidents!! As to what they actually do to improve the abysmal conditions of UG, don’t ask…that’s for the peons!!The Renaissance magazine at UG, is it part of his overall Renaissance programme?? This high-priced, glossy monthly has featured an article on Griffith in every single issue!! All it does is burnish his personal crest!! After spending his entire career in the US, where money’s no object, all he’s done is to cog wholesale the programmes of universities up there. The overall “Renaissance” is based on four “Imperatives”: Capital Investment – human capital, physical capital, and brand capital; Academic Enhancement – improving instructional credentials, curricula and pedagogy; Economic Viability – fortifying the major existing revenue streams, and Alumni Engagement. What this means concretely is that Griffith gets to fly frequently into the great yonder (the US) and live high off the hog with his “Cabinet”!!Now for the miniaturisation of the Council. The PPP had broadened this, back in 1995, to offer representatives of all Guyanese groups and strata an input into our “higher education” content and delivery. He rejected the “Ivory Tower” model cultivated by the West, which simply created a new strata of entitlement! But that’s exactly what Griffith’s all about!! Lord knows he must’ve been chafing to have to account to representatives of trade unions and farmers, for instance. These were riff raff, for God’s sake!! They weren’t ‘credentialised” by folks like him!! How dare they think they had anything worthwhile to tell him!!He, after all, had his Cabinet – in which, like original literal cabinets of the Kings – only one voice resonated!! But your Eyewitness knows absolutely that Griffith’s will would be done…after all, his sponsor, Granger, is cut from the same cloth as he.The Burnhamites strike back!…on oil strategyIt also wasn’t surprising Granger hasn’t renewed the contract of his Advisor on oil – Dr Jan Mangal. Even though born in Guyana, having only worked for the US oil giant Chevron, he suffered from the misapprehension he could “tell it like it is”!! This isn’t even done in the US!! Just look at the fate of ex-Exxon CEO Tillerson at the hands of Trump. But then Tillerson did push the envelope a bit too far by calling Trump a “moron”!!Mangal didn’t go that far with Trotman…but he did imply it when he persistently insisted that the latter shouldn’t have been negotiating with Exxon on his own! In fact, even after his contract wasn’t renewed, Mangal advised that in future negotiations over selling of oil blocks, the Government should hire experts.Now, even in the best of circumstances, governments are touchy. But when you’ve got a government that’s vowed to fulfil the legacy of its dictator founder-leader…and is now staffed with army Brass……don’t even THINK about being candid!!…on SWAT Boss decisionDookie, the SWAT boss sent home by COP Ramnarine upon instruction of Felix — who was filling in for Minister Ramjattan — is petitioning the courts that “the decision is unconstitutional, capricious, whimsical, and irrational.”It’s also demeaning to Ramjattan; but then, what’s new??!!
IntroductionI wish Dr Harold Davis the very best of luck because I would not wish his role on my worst enemy today. He has to follow politicians who are clueless and not policy savvy enough to help him in his job, and yet, he is expected to bring stability to what remains of the sugar belt. However, I am expecting him to do much better than his past three predecessors; all of who failed the sugar industry, especially Raj Singh under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and Errol Hanoman under the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC). What these two men have failed to achieve during their tenure resulted in the key managers being totally demotivated which led to their collective disempowerment, which worked against a vision of greater stability in the industry. They failed to lead in a manner that positively affect the psychological turnaround needed in the sugar belt. Because of their failure, today some 8000 families are facing partial starvation. This will always be the legacy of Raj Singh and Errol Hanoman across the sugar industry.Today we are left with an industry bankrupt in terms of ideas because the best of the team is now long gone. Those who remain are unable to communicate the solutions effectively across the industry because more people are inwardly focused on protecting themselves rather than on the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo). The people in the sugar belt are today living in a culture of fear, which reliably stifle initiatives and solutions. I am hoping that Dr Davis will help change such a situation.The organisational pathologies associate with failure is very much alive in GuySuCo – financial secrecy, the blame game, avoidance of the issues until it is too late, and most importantly, a feeling of helplessness across top management because of the massive acts of political interference. Again, this started under the PPP but has gotten so much worst under the APNU/AFC-Working People’s Alliance to the point that total war has been declared between Ministers when it comes to how to spend this new loan of GY$30 billion. The stark reality is that these people are more focus on how many of their families and friends can draw from this pot of cash rather than becoming positive enablers for the stabilisation of the sugar industry.But what is sickening is that top operators in the Granger Government are pushing the line that GuySuCo is worth more dead than alive as a State-owned entity. The natural reaction to such a lack of vision at the top, especially from the workers, is cynicism. So, the norm across GuySuCo is now – showing up for work just for enough hours and days to be able to stay on the payroll for the next year and do the minimum to not get sacked. The fire in the belly is now gone from most of the workers. The spirit of the sugar workers redoubling their efforts in order to expand their earned Annual Performance Incentive is now a distant past, thanks to the key policymakers in the Government. Increasingly the workers are spending their time and energy on self-protectionism rather than joint problem-solving activities at all levels across the industry. That is a recipe for disaster.But the main killer of the industry is that too many good managers have left the industry for alternative opportunities both locally and overseas. Those few skilled ones who remain had to double up their efforts but there is only so much one can do. A direct outcome from such capacity weakness is that many critical tasks across the industry remain undone. For example, year after year across the industry, the simple act of “flood fallowing” is not being done at the right pace to increase productivity in the field. If at the start of the process you have poor productivity, how can you expect the factories to produce more sugar from a lower yielding cane? Insanity at its best is alive in GuySuCo today!Managers today are actively engaging in the mediocre strategy of setting low goals for themselves to guarantee they would achieve them. Can we understand why GuySuCo is set to only produce 92,000 tonnes of sugar in 2018 compared to 216,000 tonnes just four years ago? The capacity is gone, the productivity is gone, and the flames are down to its last flicker in 2018. Unfortunately, some GY$30 billion will be lost as we continue to throw good money away because they cannot get their act together. And why? There is a shortage of adequate smart financial and strategic decision-making capabilities backing the sugar industry in 2018 and that is not about to change in 2019.Sase Singh, M.Sc. – Finance, ACCAMaryland, USA(347) 241 4322
Last weekend, the Director General of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) issued a warning about high tides with the possibility of flooding on the West Coast of Demerara. Scores of photos and videos shared on social media highlighted the extent of damage to homes, and even the Parika Stelling and Stabroek Market area in Georgetown.The UN General Assembly called for the International Day for Disaster Reduction in 1989 as a way to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. That includes disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. It was originally celebrated on the second Wednesday of October (Resolution 44/236, 22 December 1989), but after two decades, the UN General Assembly formally designated October 13 as the annual date (Resolution 64/200, 21 December 2009).THE SENDAI FRAMEWORK FOR DISASTER REDUCTIONThe Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Sendai Framework) is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action. It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR).The Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognises that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk, but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders. It aims for the following outcome:The substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.The 7 global targets(a) Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030 — aiming to lower average per 100,000 global mortality rate in the decade 2020-2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.(b) Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030 — aiming to lower average global figure per 100,000 in the decade 2020 -2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.(c) Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.(d) Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030.(e) Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020(f) Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this Framework by 2030.(g) Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.THE CIVIL DEFENCE COMMISSION IN GUYANAThe CDC was established in 1982 to create plans and conduct operations to deal with all types of disasters in Guyana. By 1985, a comprehensive National Disaster Preparedness Plan was documented and implemented. In September 2001, Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) for the National Emergency Operations Centre were upgraded to meet new challenges posed by worsening domestic and international disasters.Today, the CDC’s mandate is to coordinate and monitor Disaster Risk Management and Comprehensive Disaster Management in Guyana; identify, analyse and map hazards and conduct related research into their effects and develop appropriate responses; collaborate with Ministries and Departments of Government, national and Regional Democratic Councils, local communities, statutory bodies, private sector entities, non-governmental organisations and faith-based organisations having functions related to, or having aims or objectives related to those of the Commission; develop and maintain a database on disaster-related information including climate change and other new and emerging threats and to ensure access to the database by stakeholdersIn the context of its mandate, the CDC’ s mission is, to reduce loss of life, damage to property and improve the quality of life in Guyana by leading, coordinating and supporting the nation in the development and enhancement of a comprehensive disaster risk management system, involving preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery.We all have a role to play in disaster risk management. For natural hazards such as the elements of nature, while we can’t prevent those, we can reduce the impact by being properly prepared;o Adhere to warning messages issued by public authorities,o Adhere to building codes and national standards,o Have an emergency plan and equipment for your home, work and business,o Remove any obstacles can exacerbate the problem,o Have clear signage,o Always maintain a clean and healthy environment.Additionally, be cognisant of man-made hazards and do what is necessary to protect yourself, family and your property.
With the prospect of earning huge revenue from the budding oil industry, there is much chatter about a local oil refinery, with even Government announcing its intention to pursue this avenue.While the decision has not been carved in stone, the consultant who was retained to advise Government on whether such an investment is a viable economic option has made it clear that a project of that magnitude will not be profitable. As a matter of fact, the UK consultant Pedro Haas said, at a public consultation in the city, that even if Government goes ahead with the project, there will be extremely thin profit margins.To his credit, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, who was present at the consultation, did not accept the findings wholeheartedly, but rather pointed to the fact that this could not be a unilateral decision. He also said that such a decision would be a political one, adding that there are refineries in other parts of the world which may not be turning an economic profit, but they provide other benefits.Hartree Partners, for which the consultant is a director of advisory services, is a merchant commodities firm specialising in energy and its associated industries. The company offers proprietary trading and arbitrage services that include identifying value in the production, refinement, transportation, and consumption of tradable commodities, and anticipating opportunities in the supply chain, where they may be under or over-valued.However, Hartree Partners, first established in 1997 as Hess Energy Trading Company LLC (HETCO), has 30 per cent interest in the Liza 1 Block. ExxonMobil is the operator, and holds a 45% interest in the Block, Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd holds a 30% interest, and the Chinese CNOOC Nexen, 25% interest.Having taken this into consideration, can this feasibility study be a conflict of interest?The feasibility study was done for a refinery that would produce 100,000 barrels of oil per day. This, according to the study, will cost US billion and have a construction period of 50 to 60 months. This US billion price tag will also have to take into consideration the additional cost of hydrogen supply, water, energy and docking.As it stands, if 100,000 barrels of oil are produced per day, consideration has to be given to the fact that 75 per cent of each barrel has to go back to investment/production cost, or what is commonly known as cost of oil. It therefore means that 25 per cent of the value of each barrel, at least in the initial stage, will be split between the operator and the Government of Guyana. Guyana must, however, prepare itself mentally for the residual income. If the risk increases, or the price drops below a certain mark, Guyana will get an even smaller portion of the pie.As such, the Government must think not only of its political standing, but consider the changing patterns in fuel demand and the complexities of a refinery before committing a huge chunk of this new oil money to such a grand project.Consideration should also be given to the growing globalisation and trade in refined fuels and the new dynamics to the economics of refineries, which have shifted the drivers of refinery profitability. There is no doubt, while examining the lessons of other countries, that the economics involved in an oil refinery are complex, and after it has been built, it is expensive to maintain and operate.It can be agreed that, should Guyana build its own oil refinery, it has the potential to create between 3000 and 6000 jobs. However, if this is done and it operates at a loss, then taxpayers’ money would have to be spent to grant subsidies. Before making a final decision, Guyana and Guyanese should be placed first and foremost in ensuring profitable operations that can deliver adequate returns on investment.
Today, Guyana and many parts of the world will be celebrating the 185th anniversary of Emancipation. It was a long and difficult road to freedom for the slaves, who were forced into bondage and made to endure inhumane conditions. They were resilient even in the face of unimaginable atrocities unleashed upon them.In the end, freedom came with the expectation that the mental and economic shackles would be banished forever. Unfortunately, it hasn’t, and race has been infused, thereby creating many difficulties for humanity in general.Renowned human rights activist Malcom X said, “If the emancipation proclamation was authentic, you wouldn’t have a race problem”. It’s a profound statement, with relevance even after some nineteen decades after emancipation. Today, sadly, the issue of race continues to haunt, discriminate and even displace.In the land considered to be the beacon of hope for humanity and the leader of the free world, racism seems to have risen above the surface. There are, of course, various arguments as to whether it’s deliberately being peddled, and for what specific purpose. What many seem to agree on is that the effects are causing particular groups to be targeted and alienated, even in the land of the free.In the process, human endeavours to free themselves from the bondage of poverty are seemingly disallowed, thereby exacerbating their dire circumstances. Not ambiguous within all of that are the perceived attempts to elevate one group over others. From all appearances, it is done without remorse or even consideration for those yearning for a better life. Frightening is how these attempts are gaining traction in other parts.It seems as if some parts of the world are somehow rewinding to a dark and despicable period of human history. While the physical shackles may be absent, the mental bondage seems evident in every story. It’s unbelievable that even thoughts, such as the denial of humans to seek a better life, and the fact that it is actually been manifested in many ways, are occurring in this now modern and connected world.Of course there is resistance, as people are pushing back. Heartening is the fact that the resistance is not just from the groups targeted, but also from many who look like those accused of trampling on freedom. It shows that humanity as a whole will not succumb to the atrocities of the powerful.This modern-day assault on freedom brings some relevance to an aspect of Malcolm X’s quote, for the shackles of slavery are manifesting themselves differently. Many are still being forced into situations that enchain them from opportunities for advancement; primarily, in many instances, based upon how they look.Clearly, it can never be compared to the dreadful and cruel blot on humanity that slavery was, but when people are told to leave simply because of how they look, it furthers the belief of a preference of one over others.While it will be naïve to even contemplate that racism somehow disappeared with emancipation, or with subsequent civil rights’ triumphs and agreements, there may not have been an expectation of what currently unfolds in some parts of the world. Some may even brand that expectation as naïve too.Clearly, there is a race issue, and it seems to be growing. Here in Guyana, a cursory glance at the comments on social media would reveal the vile and hated being posted from people of various ethnicities. One could argue that the problem was always there, but raises its head at various times with varying magnitude. The existence of the Ethnic Relations Commission underscores the presence of the problem.Just after the 2015 elections, some two thousand Amerindian Community Workers were relieved of their jobs, as thousands of sugar workers were so relieved following the closure of some estates. Those actions, reportedly without any proper social impact assessment and contingency plan, have plunged many Guyanese further into poverty. Many remain convinced that such actions may be premised on race, which has been denied.That and what’s happening in some parts of the world speak to the reality that those endeavouring to try and scale the walls of poverty have suddenly found shackles on their being. Many are now trapped, naturally bringing humiliation as their dignity evaporates.Here, in Guyana, it demonstrates the fact that the atrocities of mass firing of Guyanese may have been preventable through a more prudent, humane and bipartisan approach to policy making.While advancing humanity must not be toyed with, the unfortunate reality is that it is being used by some for preferential purposes. When protectionism and an imposition of one over others are factored in, an already bad situation worsens. This, unfortunately, and possibly deliberately, results in undesirable situations, including modern slavery.It begs the questions: Were lessons learnt from history? Are some deliberately rewinding it for self-gratification? Are some trying to emulate historical figures? A simple answer could be that history lessons are being ignored. With race now seemingly foremost, Malcolm X could be right: the emancipation proclamation may not be authentic.