Dear Editor,Conflicting statements emanating from the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs about fraud in the Remigrant Concession Scheme are a source of much confusion. Mr Statia of the GRA alleges that one-in-three applications is fraudulent (https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2018/08/24/scams-involving-re-migrants-gone-from-bad-to-worse/) whilst Minister Greenidge asserts, “Our records do not suggest that you have had any dramatic infringements, primarily because we at Foreign Affairs, in defining re-migrants, do not go outside the law,” (http://dpi.gov.gy/minister-greenidge-sheds-light-on-remigrants-process/) .Editor, I have no cause to doubt the Honourable Minister, and it is clear from reading the statements of Mr Statia that his agenda is to make or influence Government policy.“Mr Statia said he is a proponent of tax credits being applied in Guyana…They are simple and easier to administer.” So here we have a public officer attempting to make policy when his job description clearly directs him to execute the policies of the Administration. This, Editor, is caused by the lack of clear policy from the APNU+AFC Administration. This situation prevails in every aspect of the Granger Administration. What is the policy on Culture? Sport? Job creation? Welfare? Immigration? Education?In the absence of written policy, one usually relies on pronouncements from the President and members of the Cabinet. In this case, they all too often seem unaware of each other’s thoughts and/or actions.It has been over three years of patent mismanagement, policy questions keep piling up; Cabinet entertained a Minister’s presentation of an ‘unsolicited’ approach, then approved the Minister’s direction of the C.E.O of the Demerara Harbour Bridge Company to hand over $161 million dollars without knowledge or approval of the company board. Is this a new policy? Why is Conservation International involved in Guyana’s Sovereign Wealth Fund consultations? What is the policy basis for such a decision? The Venezuelan homestead in Region 1? Editor, I do hope these examples provoke thought and discussion, as the complete list would be onerous.Editor, the other issue arising from the conflicting information is that the Commissioner General has provided patently false information to the public, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Apart from a mild rebuttal of the GRA claim issued by the DPI, will any disciplinary action be taken against the Commissioner General? This will be an interesting policy decision. “Nature abhors a vacuum”…AristotleRespectfully,Robin Singh
The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) has received a timely boost of a new computer and printer from the RK Family’s Human Development Foundation.The donation was received earlier this week at its Georgetown office, and is intended to facilitate its public awareness drive.ERC Chairman Dr John O Smith (third from left) and Roshan Khan (fouth from left) flanked by ERC staff and Commissioners during the handing over ceremonyHaji Roshan Khan, Chairman of the newly-formed Foundation, and himself a Commissioner of the ERC, learnt of some of the technological constraints facing the Commission and came forward with the donation.“We’ve just started, and (are) looking at opportunities where we can make contributions when we can as a family group to human development,” Khan remarked during the simple handing over ceremony.Reverend, Dr John O Smith, ERC Chairman, called the gesture a ‘‘very, very, kind one”, and expressed gratitude to the Foundation on behalf of the ERC and its Commissioners.He recognised the importance of the new equipment and emphasised that it will add to the capacity of the ERC to do its work, after years of inactivity. “We’ve had a seven-year hiatus, and now we are coming back with some more strength”, the ERC Chairman concluded.Neaz Subhan, ERC Commissioner and Chairman of the ERC Media and Public Relations Sub-Committee, explained that the new ERC took office after the 2018 budget was already passed, and as such the Commission is a bit constrained to procure technical resources at this time for its expanding staff complement.The newly-acquired equipment will be used by the Public Education and Awareness Unit of the ERC in its on-going awareness programme.A heavy emphasis will be placed on education for the promotion of unity, harmony and good relations, and to enlighten Guyanese about the role and functions of the Ethnic Relations Commission.
No-confidence motion… Party notes ominous plans to disrupt proceedingsPeople’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Chief Whip Gail Teixeira has written Police Commissioner Leslie James about the safety of the Party’s Members of Parliament in light of threats to disrupt the proceedings.In the letter sent to the Police Commissioner, the Chief Whip noted that the Party has received information that there would be an attempt to prevent the members of the parliamentary Opposition from entering the compound of the Parliament Building on Friday, December 21, 2018. December 21 is the day set for the debate on the parliamentary Opposition’s motion of no confidence.“I, on behalf of the Parliamentary Opposition, wish to bring to your attention a matter of serious proportions relating to public safety and the security of the National Assembly, the Parliament Buildings and all Guyanese citizens,” Teixeira said in the letter seen by Guyana Times.She added that the Party’s information pointed to some very “ominous plans to physically disrupt the sitting by either invading the Chambers, and/or creating disruption within the Chambers. The intention is to interrupt the debate and the vote on the No Confidence Motion”.Further, the Party stated that these plans included preventing members of the parliamentary Opposition from exiting the compound of the Parliament Building at the conclusion of the sitting as well as threatening the safety of citizens going about their business beyond the precincts of the Parliament Building.“We, therefore, call on you to take the necessary interventions to ensure that the rule of law prevails and not only the sitting of the National Assembly on December 21, 2018 will be allowed to proceed peacefully, but also the safety of citizens beyond the precincts of the Parliament Buildings, and property, life and limb will be protected from any efforts to create violence and mayhem,” Teixeira said.She added that the PPP/C remained confident that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) would uphold the law and manage any threats to the safety of the members of the National Assembly, the Parliament Building, and the citizens. Teixeira added that the information was also sent to Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland.Strategic political moveOn Tuesday, the PPP/C had accused the coalition Government of attempting to tamper with the process leading up to the vote on the no-confidence motion.One of its MPs, Harry Gill, was summoned to appear before a Magistrate at the Fort Wellington Magistrate’s Court to answer a charge of assault allegedly committed against former Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) Councillor and People’s National Congress (PNC) activist Carol Smith Joseph.According to the Party, it believes this may be a deliberate act to detain one of its MPs in an attempt to reduce its numbers in Parliament on Friday to ensure the failure of the no-confidence vote. The arty in a statement added that this could be a strategic political move. According to the PPP/C, Gill was allegedly viciously assaulted with a chain by Joseph in the presence of a Police Inspector and Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Supervisor Clearmont Mingo while he (Gill) was recording Joseph’s behaviour, which was hostile.The Party said although this alleged assault was witnessed by a senior Police Officer who admitted on video that he “observed” the assault, Joseph was neither arrested nor charged.“It is instructive to note that it is Harry Gill, who, a few minutes after, made a report of this assault to the Fort Wellington Police Station upon the advice of the senior Police Officer, Inspector Rose and requested that the matter be investigated. It now turns out that the Complainant, MP Harry Gill, is the one being charged,” the Opposition Party observed.While maintaining that the charge is completely without any basis, the PPP/C has since called upon the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to immediately intervene and terminate what it described as a “baseless charge” against Gill.Meanwhile, on Monday, Opposition Leader and PPP General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo called for the authorities and the National Assembly to implement measures that would protect MPs and ensure that Friday’s no-confidence vote could go forward unhindered.The Opposition Leader expressed fears that there may be attempts to disrupt the vote by persons in the gallery. According to him, it only takes one crossover vote or two abstentions from the Government side for them to win. He said that because of this precarious margin and certain information his party has received, they were apprehensive.Jagdeo expressed hope that the diplomatic community would bear witness to the proceedings, whichever way the vote turned out.Jagdeo had first announced the no-confidence motion on November 15, 2018, on the heels of devastating losses in the Local Government Elections (LGE) for the coalition Government.The next day, the scheduled sitting of the National Assembly was abruptly cancelled at Government’s request and the Opposition turned up to an empty chamber. In the half-empty Parliament Chambers, Jagdeo reiterated some of his expectations regarding the motion.
160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Latent Heat covered the seven furlongs in 1:21.11 and paid $4, $2.80 and $2.40. Saturday’s all right: Any Given Saturday opened his 3-year-old campaign with a victory in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, pulling away in the stretch to win by 2 lengths and giving trainer Todd Pletcher yet another Kentucky Derby contender. Latent Heat beat Proud Tower Too by a neck Saturday in the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita. Ridden by Edgar Prado and carrying 118 pounds, Latent Heat took the lead on the backstretch, surrendered the advantage after turning into the stretch, then outraced ProudTower Too in the closing yards.
Los Angeles Unified officials have tentatively offered long-sought classroom space to dozens of charter schools, but strings attached to the deals have prompted leaders of the independent public schools to threaten legal action. L.A. Unified School District officials responded this week to 35 requests from charter schools for space on district campuses, putting two on a waiting list. But more than 20 of the sites tentatively offered to charter schools are on campuses that could get state funds to reduce class size. If they get the money – officials are waiting to hear next month – the campuses would need to keep the classroom space for their own students, and the offers to charters would be rescinded. The situation has left charter schools scrambling for places to house their students next year and wondering if they will even be able to exist, said Caprice Young, head of the California Charter Schools Association. “For them to litigate … is a complete waste of time because we can’t create facilities out of no facilities,” he said. “What they’re asking us to do is give preferential treatment to charter school students. That would be unfair to district students.” The issue has escalated a battle between charter officials, who say their schools are being marginalized, and district officials. Just last week, the district board unexpectedly rejected five petitions submitted by Steve Barr, the founder of the successful Green Dot Public Schools, to create schools in the underserved community of Watts. “Like the vote last week, it’s the arrogance of power. They’re breaking the law,” Barr said, adding that school districts can only reject charters if their plans are deemed to be financially or academically unsound. Barr regards the five responses he got as denials, leaving him in the lurch when he has to conduct a lottery in two weeks for 700 students around Jefferson High School. He is considering legal action. Meanwhile, a 17-acre district lot sits vacant nearby until LAUSD puts up bungalows to house administrators, Barr said. “I think it’s criminal. I’m struggling to convert dingy churches, and I’m educating kids without fields and proper facilities,” Barr said. “There are 17 open acres nearby, and they’re saying they don’t have room.” Reed said the district moved administrators to the property near Jefferson to give another charter school a campus. If the district gave that lot to a charter school, it would be forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to lease space for administrators – taking money away from classrooms and students, Reed said. “Our first priority are students. Period. To serve those students, we need to make sure the maximum amounts of dollars are going to classrooms and not to leases,” Reed said. A shortage of facilities is currently the biggest impediment to the growth of the popular charter movement, Young said. As charters operate schools in churches and warehouses, they are spending about 15 percent of their budget on facilities – money that could be going to student services, she said. The charter association said that so far, LAUSD’s location offers to charters have typically been either too far from the community the charter serves or not large enough. In the latest round of offers, Los Angeles International Charter High School in the northeast San Fernando Valley was offered classrooms on a campus in Westchester, near Los Angeles International Airport. Reed said the district evaluates available space by scrutinizing enrollment and capacity data for each campus. There currently are a dozen charter schools operating on district-owned sites. Barr, however, said he has begun reaching out to parents to petition the district. He also said he’s optimistic a new school board will collaborate with the charter movement. “Nothing’s going to change if we don’t organize as parents and taxpayers to stand up to this,” Barr said. “The board’s going to change in July, and maybe then we can have a reasonable conversation about how to serve kids instead of adults sniping.” email@example.com (818) 713-3722160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “It’s not the best they can do because we know of space on their campuses that they didn’t offer and they should and could have offered,” Young said. “They really have to comply with the law, and it may come down to a judge determining what compliance is about.” Young said district officials are not complying with Proposition 39, which requires school districts to treat all public school students – including those in charters – fairly. Also, Young said district officials offered the same space at Van Nuys High to two charters in a clear example of double- booking. And she said the law makes it clear that offers must be final, not conditional, with clear descriptions of how many classrooms are available. “It doesn’t count as an offer if they’re saying we might have the space for you, but we won’t know for a while,” she said. LAUSD general counsel Kevin Reed said the offers comply with the law because they are the best the district has at a time when facilities are limited.