Group photo of presenters and participants of the one-day Business Climate Stakeholders’ Forum, held in Monrovia on Tuesday, December 18.-Says Minister TweahFinance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, says the involvement of the private sector is key in the socioeconomic development of Liberia under the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.Minister Tweah, who spoke on Tuesday, December 18 at a one-day Business Climate Stakeholders’ Forum in Monrovia, said the involvement of the private sector will help the government to achieve its Pro-poor Agenda.He promised a robust collaborative efforts of both the private sector and government, working in a relationship to strengthen the business climate, improve revenue boost and create jobs.The World Bank Country Manager, Larisa Leshchenko, applauded the new leadership under the administration of President George Weah for taking the initiative of establishing the business climate forum, and pledged the full support and commitment of the World Bank Country office, through a working relationship with the private sector.“Besides the World Bank, we will continue to support the Liberian government in its development drive with specific emphasis in the energy sector,’’ Leshchenko added.At the close of the forum, participants from across all sectors of the economy stressed the need to identify some binding constraints, challenges and advanced recommendations for doing business in the country, and how measures can be taken to address some of these concerns to drive and improve revenue collection.The forum brought together the president and members of the Liberia Business Association, Business Climate Working Group consultants, members of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce and many others.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Management of Orange Liberia has announced the launch of the 2019 Orange Talents, which is a new major program to discover Liberia’s next big musician and fashion designer. The announcement was made at the company’s head office on Capital Bypass on January 30th.Mr. Noel Chateau, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Orange Liberia said the Orange Talent was being held as part of the company’s ongoing effort to empower young Liberians by discovering new talents and giving them the support and exposure needed to reach the next level. “We know that there are a lot of amazing talents in Liberia and so we want to use this platform to expose those talents and give them an opportunity to make a big entrance on the national stage,” said Mr. Chateau who went on to say that the Orange Talents was opened to young people between the ages of 18 – 35 from the fifteen counties. “The participation of young people from every county is very important to us,” Mr. Chateau concluded.The music component of the competition is being organized by Billikon Entertainment, which was represented by its Chief Executive Officer Mr. Lyee Bility while the fashion component is being spearheaded by the House of Fashion also represented by its Chief Executive Officer Mrs. Courage James Sackie. Both Executives welcomed the partnership with Orange Liberia and said that it would have a significant impact on Liberia’s music and fashion industries.For his part, Mr. Bility highlighted that auditions would take place in five locations ahead of the finale in Monrovia. He pointed out that auditions would take place at the YMCA Gym in Monrovia on March 8th and 9th, at the Methodist Gym in Ganta on March 22nd and 23rd, at the Gboveh High School in Gbarnga on April 5th and 6th, at the City Cinema in Kakata on April 19th and 20th and at Elizabeth Village in Buchanan on May 3rd and 4th. The Grand Finale will be held on May 18th in Monrovia with one winner walking away with a cash prize of US$1,000 and the production and marketing for a new album. Each two days of audition and concert would give the chance to applicants to demonstrate their talents and win their ticket to the Grand Finale, sharing the stage with renowned artists.Mrs. Sackie explained that the fashion component would have one audition on the 30th of March at Courage Fashion shop, TM Mall, Mamba Point in Monrovia. Once that audition will have been completed, qualified candidates would participate in a series of elimination rounds leaving 5 finalists who would design a collection for a fashion show scheduled to take place at TM Mall in Monrovia on June 1st. “For many of these young people, it will be the first time for their designs to be included as part of a major fashion show, and that alone is an incredible achievement.” She noted that one winner would walk away with a grand prize of US$1,000 as well as the chance to have their products displayed and sold at the House of Fashion.Mr. Chateau explained that participants interested in joining the competition may submit their application online at http://www.orange.com.lr/OrangeTalents or by calling the Orange hotline for free by dialing 111 and informing the representative that they wanted to have and application filled to participate in the 2019 Orange Talents.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
…efforts underway to have DNA testing next year – RamjattanPublic Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan expressed his disappointment at the fact that the forensic laboratory located in Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, is yet to have DNA testing. However, he noted that there are certain procedures that need to be put in place first before this service can be made available.“We have to get it right first, and then we have to get the accreditation and certification. All of that will only come when we get 100 per cent fixed, not 99.9 per cent and we are working on that,” the Minister told to reporters on Saturday morning. According to Ramjattan, equipment for the DNA laboratory costs about US$1 million and this money has been provided for via the Ministry’s Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP).The forensic laboratory at TurkeyenHowever, he noted that the sourcing of the relevant equipment will have to be done through a procurement process.In the meantime, the Minister said that efforts are afoot to ensure that there is sufficient security in place to uphold integrity of exhibits as well as ensuring that the ventilation works. He added too that adequate training will have to be done for the personnel who will be conducting the analysis.“I feel that this is going to take in the vicinity of about another six to seven months maximum, so indeed we are going to have it,” assured Ramjattan.The Public Security Minister explained that when the laboratory was first conceptualised back in 2012, the design work for DNA testing facilities was not properly done. This, he added, resulted in a Barbadian expert as well as specialists from the United States concluding that the facility that was available at the forensic laboratory did not match the required standards to provide DNA testing and as such, reconstruction works had to be undertaken.Over the years, the Guyana Police Force has had to resort to using overseas laboratories to conduct DNA testing for several high-profile cases, including the murders of Babita Sarjou; British teen Dominic Bernard; former Demerara Bank employee Sheema Mangar; owner of MFK Trading Mohamed F Khan, among others.This is due to the fact that since the completion of the forensic lab back in 2014, the facility has yet to be outfited with the necessary resources to conduct basic DNA and gun residue testing which are internationally recognised.In fact, back in April, then Head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Wendell Blanhum has decried the lacking of the core service, saying that is a “sore” to the work of his department.“…They lack the capability to do DNA testing so this is a sore problem, it’s a sore issue and we still have to rely on (overseas partners). Of recent, we have been engaging the Brazilian authorities,” the Crime Chief had stated.Back in February, Government had approved some US$32,524 to honour outstanding payments to a Barbados Security Firm, IED, for the completion of works that will see the laboratory equipped to provide these services.The firm was responsible for installing the security system at the laboratory by way of a contract in 2012 and providing consultation oversight in 2013, during phase one of the project, but this never materialised because of the outstanding payments owed by Government.The firm will therefore be required to complete its work on the laboratory, along with completing the training of persons who are going to operate the facility. The technical and electrical issues that were discovered a while back will also be rectified as soon as the contractors return to work.On the other hand, the Public Security Ministry last year commenced building the capacity of the forensic lab to prepare the facility for DNA and gun residue testing. Additionally, discussions were held for the procurement of rapid testing DNA and gun testing residue devices.Improving the Guyana Police Force’s Forensic Laboratory’s effectiveness towards preventing and conducting criminal investigations is the second component of the CSSP. This component is being funded at a cost of US$5.5 million through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
By Michael YoungeThe People’s National Congress (PNC)-led A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition continues to receive a plethora of mixed reviews about its overall performance and governance of the country since assuming executive office back in May 2015.Political analyst, Dr David Hinds during an interview with this newspaper said after careful analysis, he is unable to say with a good conscience that the coalition Government has performed exceptionally well since winning those elections.He said even though there has been no “discernable shift” from the approach of the previous Government as far as the economy is concerned from a large policy stand point, “there is still the over-emphasis on taxation and wooing foreign capital and less investment in local small businesses and in the development of a competitive labour force.”Political analyst, Dr David HindsDr Hinds explained too that unemployment, which was pegged at 11.5 per cent at the time the last National Housing and Population Census, was done in 2010 and its attends still haunts the society even after the coalition entered office.“The overall governance score sheet has also been mixed – strong foreign policy management but too many political errors of judgment in domestic affairs,” he reiterated.Asked specifically about the APNU/AFC’s track record so far in the area of wealth creation for the masses and their socio-economic performance notwithstanding the controversial measures outlined in their budgets, Dr Hinds responded by saying that “a single budget tells you very little about the possibilities for socio-economic progress.”“… It is unfair to judge a government’s economic ambition on a couple of budgets. What we should pin the Government down on is its overall economic vision – what it wants to do about the systemic economic problems that have long plagued this country. What are the over-all macro and micro strategies for development, inclusive of the lifting of the poor and powerless to a state of sustained survival and security,” he argued.Sugar industryHinds, who is a long-standing Executive of the Working People’s Alliance party, which forms part of the ruling coalition, described Government’s decision to downsize and restructure the sugar industry as “commendable” despite the fact that thousands of sugar workers from all walks of life are now unemployed and without any finances to sustain their livelihoods because of the Government’s incoherent policy position on sugar and its dependent industries.Such a position may not sit well with critics, who believe that the Government acted in bad faith and did not have a plan for handling the concomitant problems that were facing the industry. Other independent critics have also criticised the Government for not following the recommendations that emanated from the Commission of Inquiry report on the state of the industry. These critics saw nothing “commendable” about how the Government sought to tackle the problem because they feel that the economic consequences both short- and long-term will be disastrous.CrimeTackling the issue of crime and criminality, Dr Hinds said the coalition may need more time to get its act together to address this difficult area.He said, in essence, the coalition Government which boasts a large number of retired Guyana Defence Force officers and ex-Policemen and women, has been underperforming when one looks at the gravity of the situation.“It has not done as well as it should in the area of crime prevention and reduction, largely because it has not approached the problem from a systemic standpoint – it has adopted more of an eclectic approach,” he remarked.But Dr Hinds said he believed the coalition Government has performed creditably compared to other Governments in post-colonial Guyana and the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean despite his criticism.He also claimed that there have been no wide-scale human rights abuses.Constitutional reformHe also expressed concern about the lack of progress on tackling constitutional reform.“I am concerned that both the Government and the Opposition are making a mockery of constitutional reform. They are treating it as a partisan matter. It must be seen in a much more nationalist way for it to move forward,” he remarked.Earlier this month, President David Granger was asked to grade the performance of his Administration which is now nearing its three-year mark. He said while the Government had performed well in some sectors and areas, it had not as well as expected in other areas.“There is still a lot of work to be done,” he remarked. This signals a U-turn from his earlier position that his Government deserved an A-Grade for its performance when he was quizzed on the Public Interest TV show back in February last year.
Torching of vehicle in Buxton…will continue disconnectionsHead of the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), Dr Richard Van West-Charles has said the entity’s workers will not be intimidated by the violent behaviour of citizens following the burning of a minibus which was taking its disconnection crew in Buxton, East Coast Demerara (ECD).The contracted bus that was set ablaze by a Buxton resident on WednesdayOn Wednesday in the vicinity of Company Road, Friendship, ECD, the GWI crew were conducting disconnections when a resident of Buxton approached the GWI vehicle with a bottle in hand containing a liquid. Upon dispersal of the substance around and inside the contracted vehicle, the employees of the water company realised that it was gasoline. The man then ignited the vehicle. The six employees, who were present at the scene, were forced to run for their lives.They subsequently called the Police.The GWI crew who were conducting disconnections in BuxtonOn Friday, West-Charles told the media that such behaviour cannot be tolerated. “This matter cannot be tolerated by anyone. This level of lawlessness will not and must not intimidate the work of GWI,” he said.He stated that upon examination of the torched bus, which was contracted to transport GWI staff members to conduct various disconnections, it was completely damaged.“The vehicle has been severely damaged to the point where it has to be written-off,” he said.West-Charles also noted that they are now seeking to have Police support in communities which are considered “high-risk areas”. He added that the majority of the cases of violent attacks from citizens on GWI employees arise from communities on the ECD. Additionally, he said that in the past, outreaches were conducted with residents in Buxton so as to spread awareness as well as to discuss the improvement of the company’s standards. He noted that this is done because these situations can only be avoided if there is great partnership between GWI and the communities.“This is in essence in seeking to provide a better quality of service to customers across the country and I think it is important at this juncture that all of our citizens must stand up against this type of lawlessness in our country,” he said.For 2018, West-Charles explained that four instances had already arisen where there were attacks on the staff adding, “We do know that this is not a representative of the people of Buxton, and in the main, is not necessarily a representative of the people of the communities but we’ve been having a number of repeated attacks and therefore it is my belief that it is time for citizens to raise their voices and their actions to ensure that law is respected and maintained, to support for the betterment of all citizens throughout the length and breadth of Guyana.”With the implementation of new strategies and the will to continue the disconnections without intimidation, GWI is hoping Guyanese will comply when they are subjected to disconnections by its staff.
…unable to verify claim senior official linked to recent seized vesselMinister of State, Joseph Harmon on Friday during his post-Cabinet press conference was unable to confirm or deny speculation that a senior Government official is linked to the recent seized vessel as he reassured the public that the matter of fuel smuggling was actively engaging the attention of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA).The Minister expressing confidence in the capabilities of the agencies in theMinister of State, Joseph Harmoncampaign against fuel smuggling, reminded of the scope of Guyana’s borders. He noted that while it was difficult to patrol every square inch, there were protective measures such as the fuel marking system. “From time to time, vessels will actually come into the country with contraband items, it is important, however, once they come to a port that we are able to inspect, once it is determined these items are contraband that the Revenue Authority does what it has to do,” he stated. It was announced by GRA Commissioner General Godfrey Statia at an April 24, 2018 press conference that the agency had launched an extensive investigation to determine the prior movements of MV Jubilee that was caught last weekend with undeclared fuel.
A realtor, who allegedly defrauded a woman of $350,000 for the sale of a plot of land which was not up for sale was on Monday charged for the related crime.Twenty-two-year-old Baldeo Persaud denied that he committed the offence when he stood before city Magistrate Judy Latchman.The charge stated that on April 10, 2018 in Georgetown and with intent to defraud, Persaud obtained by false pretence $100,000 from Anurada Persaud as he claimed to be in a position to obtain for her a plot of land.Police Prosecutor Arvin Moore had no objections to bail, but told the Court that the Virtual Complainant (VC) visited the defendant’s office where she voiced her interest in a plot of land.She was instructed to make a down payment of $100,000 which she did and was later shown a plot of land on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD), when she paid another instalment of $250,000.However, some time later, the woman found out that the land shown to her was not up for sale.As such, she made a report to the Police, and Persaud was arrested and later charged.He was granted $100,000 bail. The case will continue on June 25, 2018.
Law enforcement authorities have arrested four suspects who allegedly injured two officers attached to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) during a drive-bySuspect Ravindra Ramdeoshooting one week ago at Bee Hive, East Coast Demerara (ECD).The men have been identified as: Ravindra Ramdeo of Lot 217 Section D, Nonpareil, ECD; Stephon Motielal and Trevor Motielal, both of Lot 30 Green Field, Bee Hive, and Andrew Motielal of Lot 11-12 Helena, Mahaica. According to the GRA on Wednesday, the arrests were made with assistance from the Guyana Police Force (GPF).The incident occurred about 21:50h last Thursday. According to reports, three officers from GRA’s Law Enforcement and Investigation Division (LEID) went to a house at Bee Hive and were enquiring about its owner, when a Toyota Premio and a Toyota AllionSuspect Stephon Motielalapproached the officers and their occupants opened fire at them.The officers adopted tactical positions and returned fire, resulting in the vehicles leaving the scene. Guyana Times had reported that one of the vehicles allegedly carried the registration number PMM 9002.The two injured officers, who were shot to their right and left hand respectively, were treated at a private medical institution and sent away.The four suspects are currently being processed and are expected to appear in court shortly to answer to a number of charges.Suspect Trevor Motielal
A Venezuelan man who was allegedly caught with illegal ammunition was on Wednesday taken before Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.Jorge Guerreiro appeared before Magistrate Faith McGusty and denied the charge which stated that on October 16, 2019 at Cuyuni River, Essequibo, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), he had in his possession 16 rounds of 12-gauge ammunition without being the holder of a firearm licence.Defence Attorney Ravindra Mohabir, in a bail application, said that his 49-year-old client had no knowledge of the ammunition.Police Prosecutor Gordon Mansfield told the court that on October 16, ranks who were on patrol in the area saw Guerreiro and carried out a search of his belongings According to the Prosecutor, during the search, the ammunition was discovered in Guerreiro’s haversack. The court also heard that Guerreiro admitted ownership of the ammunition.He was remanded to prison, and the case was scheduled to continue at the Kamarang Magistrate’s Court on December 16, 2019.
– says citizens, regions to benefit from oil revenuesGovernment has moved to hire an independent consultant to verify information supplied by U.S.-based oil giant ExxonMobil, in light of another recent discovery of oil and gas offshore Guyana.This information was revealed by Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman during a recent parliamentary committee meeting held in the Parliament Chambers. The minister told the committee that Government has no intention of squandering the natural gas that would be made available to the country, but the matter would be extensively studied. He said an independent analysis will be conducted to determine whether water or natural gas should be used to pressurize the wells to extract commercial quantities of oil.“Government is using several different means of corroborating and cross-referencing the information… We’re using other independent sources and contractors to tell us what there is,” he said.Natural Resources Minister Raphael TrotmanTrotman said that when production begins in mid-2020, Government will install the relevant equipment to independently measure the oil and gas at the point of extraction.“There is going to be real-time monitoring onshore and on the vessel by personnel on a 24-hour basis, to ensure that the production is as it said it would be,” he explained.ExxonMobil recently told Government that Guyana may be able to access 50 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, which by calculation can provide the country with 200 megawatts of power.According to the minister, the recent data was provided only in March, following repeated requests by Government to have the oil company supply that information.Trotman also said Government would ensure that both citizens and regions benefit from the oil revenues. He said Government is currently discussing several ways in which the ordinary Guyanese people could benefit, and one of those ways is through social programmes in the areas of education and health-care.He said Government would also consider whether the citizenry will receive benefits directly, such as year-end cheques, or via social services within the regions. “The idea is that regions would receive a percentage, perhaps following the fiscal transfer system, as is use currently,” Trotman said. He, however, explained that that decision would have to be made by Parliament.Consideration may also be given to have the population receive benefits in a variance in which each citizen would receive a cheque at year-end similar to the situation that obtains in places like Alaska.Regions Five, Six and Ten would also benefit from the establishment of a petroleum facility which is carded for establishment at Crab Island in Berbice, the minister noted.Government has already completed the structure for the Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill, an aspect of the regulatory framework for the oversight of the new sector. The fund will have budget support, or what he termed “budget stabilisation”, which he noted is to ensure that the Ministry of Finance is capable of carrying out programmes relative to the petroleum sector.