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Guyana Diary

Monthly Newsletter of the

Guyana Embassy, Caracas, Venezuela
Quinta Roraima, Prados del Este, Apartado 51051, Caracas 1050, Venezuela
Telephone: (58) 212 977-1158 - (58) 212-975-3687
Fax: (58) 212 976-3765

Guyana Coat of Arms
Issues Number
82 & 83
November & December 2010

The news items carried on this page originate at the Guyana Embassy, and are being carried here as a courtesy to the Ambassador of Guyana to Venezuela. That source is wholly responsible for the content, text formatting and tone of the articles which follow.

December 2010

UNASUR Heads express confidence in Guyana’s chairmanship

On November 26, President Bharrat Jagdeo took over the mantle as President of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), succeeding his predecessor Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa at the 4th Regular Summit of UNASUR held in Guyana. 

This marked another historic occasion for Guyana as once again the country is put in the limelight but this time in the South American continent.

The Brazilian President in extending best wishes to President Jagdeo challenged him to continue to advance the work of the organisation that was started by his outgoing counterpart.

“I believe (President) Jagdeo that you will know how to conduct the work of integration of all the South Americans and according to the aspirations of our people,” President Lula Da Silva said.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez also expressed confidence in President Jagdeo’s ability to move the organisation forward.

“We know about the will of President Jagdeo and also of the Guyanese people, we are certain that (President) Jagdeo in taking the reins (of UNASUR) is going to be a masterful chairman; he is going to lead us with objectivity and with concrete actions. We are with Guyana and we are with UNASUR,” President Chavez stated.

The Ecuadorian President also expressed confidence in the capability of President Jagdeo to fulfill the expectations of the organisation’s membership. He pledged his country’s full support.

“I wish you the best in the year ahead, President Jagdeo. You can count on all the support that we can give you so that you can better deliver what you need to be doing towards a consolidated and better UNASUR,” he affirmed.

Accepting the chair, President Jagdeo emphasised that the system of rotating leadership demonstrates that the organisation is not built on historical alliances but on a set of shared progressive values, chief among which is the belief that all countries should be treated equally despite their individual characteristics.

Guyana prepared to build on Ecuador’s efforts - President Jagdeo

President Bharrat Jagdeo, who was handed over the chairmanship of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) on November 26, said that the work of the outgoing chair, Ecuador, was extremely impressive and has led to the advancement of the integration movement.

He was at the time speaking to media operatives (both local and foreign) at a press conference subsequent to the meeting of the Heads during Fourth Regular Summit of UNASUR at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal.

The Guyanese leader assured that the work that was started by the Ecuadorian government will be continued by Guyana now that the chairmanship has been handed over to the English-speaking nation.

He said that the aim now is to work towards a bigger and more integrated South American space, with stronger political ties, coordinated foreign policies taking common positions around the world on various issues, creating more opportunities for goods and services and of the people across the borders, and breaking down the colonial and historical barriers among the UNASUR countries.

President Jagdeo said that Guyana in its capacity as chair of UNASUR would be focusing on continuing economic growth, and creating a regional economic framework that is guided by a model that is indigenous.

Additionally, he said that efforts will be made to ensure that the prosperity is used to better the lives of people through education, health, housing and other social development.

“We should also use UNASUR in the upcoming period to aggressively reform the United Nations, particularly the Security Council, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and to create a new financial global architecture that is sympathetic that recognises our concerns,” President Jagdeo stated.  

UNASUR implements democratic clause

South American nations at the Fourth Regular Summit of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) resolved not to tolerate any group that attempts to seize the government through unconstitutional means.

The Heads of Government of UNASUR agreed to the Additional Protocol to the Constitutive Treaty of UNASUR on Commitment to Democracy also referred to as the “Democratic Clause”, which states that not only will UNASUR not recognise such a Government but it also includes a consultation mechanism and outlines the measures that would be taken should the constitutional order be disrupted.

Part of the clause states that the Protocol shall apply in the event of a breach or threat of breach against the democratic order, a violation of the constitutional order or any situation that jeopardises the legitimate exercising of power and the application of the values and principles of democracy.

However in the event of such a breach, the Council of Heads of State and Government or, in its absence, the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs may adopt the respective decision to enforce the following measures:

1. Suspension of the right to participate in the various bodies and branches of UNASUR, as well as the suspension of the rights and benefits enjoyed under the Constitutive Treaty of UNASUR. 

2. Partial or complete closure of land borders, including the suspension and/or limitation of trade, air and maritime traffic, communications and provision of energy, services and supplies.

3. Advocate the suspension of the affected State in the ambit of other regional and international organisations.

4. Promote, with third countries and/or regional blocs, the suspension of the rights and/or benefits enjoyed by the affected State under the co-operation agreements to which it is party, and

5. Adoption of additional political and diplomatic sanctions.

Guyana, Venezuela relations now at its best – Maduro

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela Nicholas Maduro on November 26 stated that the relations between Guyana and Venezuela have deepened over the years and are currently at their best.

The Venezuelan Foreign Minister explained that improved bilateral relations between the two South American nations have resulted in improved cooperation at the diplomatic, political, economic and commercial levels.

He further stated that there now exists a permanent communication link between the two countries.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, according to Minister Maduro, has the best opinion of Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo and he considers Guyana as a brother nation. In this regard he added that Venezuela intends to nurture and preserve the growing relationship between the two countries.  

In July, President Jagdeo paid a visit to Venezuela on the invitation of the Venezuelan President during which President Chavez offered to augment the shipments of oil to Guyana from 5,000 barrels a day, as currently obtains under the current Petrocaribe programme, to 10,000 barrels.

Petrocaribe, a partnership agreement launched in 2005 between Venezuela and some Caribbean nations, allows buyers to purchase reasonably cheap oil in large quantities from Venezuela and offsets the cost through a 25-year financing agreement on 1% interest and supplying goods to Venezuela.

Both Presidents Jagdeo and Chavez expressed satisfaction over the effective functioning of the petroleum cooperation programme. The meeting culminated with several agreements which included a Letter of Commitment between Venezuela’s People’s Power for Food and Guyana’s Ministry of Agriculture for the purchase of 70,000 tonnes of rice and paddy.

Guyana to get US$32.8M from IDB

Guyana signed three agreements, two for loans and one for a grant, with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on December 8. As a result, Guyana will access a total of US$32.8 million for infrastructure development and capacity building.

One agreement is to borrow US$22 million for the extension of the East Bank Demerara four-lane highway, from Providence to Diamond. Another, for US$10 million, will be dedicated to the Georgetown sanitation programme that would look, in particular, at the city’s sewage system.

Through the third, Guyana will be granted US$825,000 to address the enhancement of its public financial management system and the continued computerisation of operations.

IMF Mission highlights Guyana’s economic resiliency

Despite external and domestic shocks in 2010, Guyana’s economy has exhibited resilience, registering a fifth consecutive year of robust growth, a release from an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to Guyana stated.  The mission was in Guyana from November 8-18 to conduct the Fund’s yearly review of the country’s economy.

Chief of the IMF Mission, Therese Turner-Jones, highlighted that the real gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to grow by just under 4 percent this year, above the outturn in 2009, supported by increased activity in the sugar, gold, and services sectors.

“Notwithstanding downside risks, including the global environment and concerns in the sugar sector, the team expects growth to continue on a steady path, supported by expansion in the mining and construction sectors. Despite a small increase reflecting movement in food prices inflation remains relatively low,” the release stated.

The IMF said discussions centred on strategies to maintain fiscal and debt sustainability over the medium-term in the context of the Low Carbon Development Strategy, to further enhance economic flexibility and resilience to shocks, while continuing to reduce poverty.

Fiscal consolidation on the other hand, remains a priority, consistent with the authorities’ commitment of maintaining a sustainable medium-term debt path.

According to Turner-Jones, there were recommendations to strengthen ongoing efforts to improve the fiscal outturn, given existing challenges in the sugar sector. The maintenance of a strong fiscal stance would also help to support external sector stability. Continued improvements in public financial management and tax administration, especially with respect to compliance and risk management were welcomed as well as the increase in the gross foreign reserves position, to about five months of imports at present.

The banking system remains liquid and well capitalized; however, continued vigilance is warranted, particularly against the backdrop of the ongoing housing boom, the IMF stated. Recent enhancements in financial sector supervision and regulation, including new guidelines on risk management, are also welcomed and the dissemination of financial sector indicators, which now appear on the Bank of Guyana’s website, were commended.

Pineapple farmers get incentives

The government has given financial assistance to pineapple farmers of Mainstay/Whyaka, in keeping with a promise by Minister of Agriculture Mr. Robert Persaud. He had given the undertaking four months ago when he visited the Amerindian community to look at several problems facing the crop.

Persaud had encouraged dozens of farmers, last June, to expand pineapple cultivation, so as to increase production and keep the processing factory in operation. In the drive to make new lands available for the purpose, he had given the farmers the assurance that every acre they cut, burn and clear, the government will pay for an additional one.

On November 18, when Minister Persaud, accompanied by Chairman of Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam), Mr. Alli Baksh and Vice-Chairman, Mr. Vishnu Samaroo visited and met farmers in the Prince Ville Community Centre, he announced that the government will honour its commitment of support to them.

Farmers who completed work on their plots plus the additional one acre were given an incentive of $30,000 each while others obtained $15,000 each. Persaud said the assistance to Mainstay/Whyaka farmers is to help them get back into large scale pineapple cultivation.

Village Toshoa Yvonne Pearson told the Minister that the pineapple factory was not in operation this crop, because not enough of the fruits were available to keep it working. She said Mainstay is now feeling the effects of climate change and reported that AMCAR, the company that secures international markets for the pineapple chunks, has proposed to reduce the price per pineapple from $90 to $60.

Ms. Pearson said officials only want to talk to farmers through the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and Minister Persaud agreed the meeting will be facilitated by that Ministry. However, he assured farmers that his ministry could give technical support to help them find other markets for their pineapples.

Toshoa Pearson declared, though, that the factory will resume operations with or without AMCAR, as dozens of women were out of work.

Government announces salary increase for 2010

The Guyana government on December 3 approved a five percent across the board salary increase for all public servants and members of the disciplined services with effect from January 1, 2010. The five percent increase will also be paid to all Government pensioners.

Teachers, who were previously paid a five percent increase from January 2010 in accordance with their 2006-2010 multiyear agreement, will be paid an additional one percent in lieu of the performance incentive contemplated by that agreement. That agreement is now in its final year of implementation.

This decision by the government is taken against the background of a year in which countries across the Caribbean and beyond have been confronting severe fiscal challenges. These challenges have resulted in significant job losses in many jurisdictions, wage freezes, and even voluntary wage cuts to save jobs.

In Guyana, the government has continued to implement prudent macroeconomic policies aimed at protecting the stability of the economy, and ensuring that worker interests are protected.

Instructions are being issued to the relevant officials in the Ministries to ensure that steps are taken to process the payout as soon as possible.

Brazilians show great interest in Guyanese products

Brazilian visitors to the Entrepreneurship Trade Fair, staged in Boa Vista in mid-November, displayed a great deal of interest in Guyanese products showcased there. During the exposition, too, many visiting Guyanese businessmen made contact with their counterparts and settled arrangements for further interaction on trade and commerce between the two countries.

The exhibition was done from scores of booths manned by entrepreneurs from Brazil and Venezuela and the five-day activity was hosted in the border town by SEBRAE, the Brazilian Small Business and Micro Support Organisation.

Among those present were Guyana’s Ambassador to Brazil, Mr. Harry Narine Nawbatt, Guyana’s recently appointed General Consul in Boa Vista, Mrs. Leila King, and a GO-Invest Team, led by its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Geoffrey Da Silva.

The merchandise on display at the fair included products of Edward B. Beharry Group of Companies, Comfort Sleep, Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), Price Busters, Princess Hotel, National Milling Company of Guyana, and Stabrook Food Industry Inc. of Sisters Village, West Bank Demerara.

AINLIM, another local company represented, did not mount any exhibits on that occasion, as its representative was more interested in looking for business in Brazil and was facilitated by GO-Invest and SEBRAE, in collaboration with the Private Sector Commission.

Guyana, Suriname advance talks on bridging Corentyne River

President Bharrat Jagdeo and his Suriname counterpart, Desi Bouterse, on November 20 met in Guyana where they wrapped up their third meeting in about two months and further signalling their firm intention to deepen ties between the two neighbours, including bridging the border Corentyne River.

They announced that the two governments would seek Chinese investment to build a bridge across the river, and said the project was advanced during President Jagdeo’s visit on November 19 to Nickerie where he and Bouterse and top cabinet ministers from the two sides held cooperation talks. In a clear signal of their desire to work together, the two Presidents travelled on the Canaiwaima ferry across the Corentyne River to Moleson Creek, from where they motored to scheduled visits on the Corentyne Coast.

After visits to the Tain campus of the University of Guyana, where they met and answered questions from students, and a tour of the Ophthalmology Centre at Port Mourtant, they told reporters at the Little Rock Suites Hotel in New Amsterdam that putting up the bridge across the border river was high on their agenda to advance trade and other bilateral ties.

 “We have had discussions on it [the bridging],” Mr. Jagdeo said. “It was the subject of a meeting yesterday (November 19) as to how we would proceed with the next step. We have defined the work of the committee that we agreed when we met in Guyana, so [the committee] will proceed now to [look at] the technical options available; where would be the best site to locate the bridge.”

He said the joint committee will study the various sites, and then look at the technical specifications of the bridge – whether it would be fixed or floating, the height and other parameters.

“On the basis of that, we will then seek proposals from various sources, and we hope those proposals will involve some financing options. And then we will make a determination and, hopefully, move forward with the bridge,” President Jagdeo said.

Spanish Repsol opens office in Guyana

Spanish oil conglomerate Repsol, which will be partnering with CGX Energy Inc and Tullow Inc to drill for oil during the second quarter of 2011, has opened its offices in Guyana and has gathered its team of experts with a view to a successful drill campaign following promising data from studies done.

The drill site is located 130 kilometres northeast of the nearest shoreline near Port Mourant, and 160 kilometres east/northeast of Georgetown. Water depth at this location is approximately 230 feet and the well is proposed to reach a total depth of 21,450 feet – or four miles – below the seabed. Drilling is to commence in April 2011.

The well will be the deepest ever drilled in the region and drilling operations will be carried out by Atwood Beacon, a jack-up rig capable of drilling beyond 25,000 feet in depth. The company noted that the Atwood Beacon rig has already arrived in the region and it will be towed to Guyana to start drilling, according to Repsol.

The company said to properly support the drilling of the exploratory well, Repsol has initiated works with local contractors to set up an operations shore base, as well as a helicopter base at one of Guyana’s international airports.

Process for citizenship made easier for Chinese nationals

President Bharrat Jagdeo on December 3 set the record straight on a number of misconceptions about the country’s immigration policy towards Chinese nationals gaining access to citizenship and work permits. 

At a meeting convened at the Guyana International Conference Center, Liliendaal, he told over 400 Chinese nationals that “you are welcome in Guyana.”

President Jagdeo said that a lot of “horror stories” have been reported as it relates to Chinese trying to get work permits. In some cases, many of them have been solicited for bribes from individuals.

As a result, the government, in its commitment to ensure that the entire immigration process for Chinese who wish to do so lawfully is made easier, decided on several interventions. These include:  automatic citizenship for persons who have been residents in Guyana for seven years and an increase in the duration of a work permit from one to three years.

He pointed out that over 150 years the Chinese have established their presence in Guyana, their contributions towards the country’s development have been very valuable and urged those who are now coming to continue the same trend.

He also expressed outrage at the fact that when some Chinese nationals come to Guyana to work, their passports are being held by their employers or other persons who brought them here.

“People who come here to live and do so in their own free will, must be able to work and travel freely,” the President asserted.

As it relates to the treatment of Chinese nationals, he said that as a result of their industriousness, the business community in Guyana is sometimes fearful of the competition the Chinese bring to the fore and as such, resort to saying a lot of adverse things about the Chinese community.     

He emphasised that while it is not compulsory to learn English, they should make an effort to do so, as it will make the process of integration a lot easier and urged that they send their children to school.

The President said that while he wants people of all races and religions to receive the same opportunities, there may be times when specific skills are needed and hence the necessity to import those skills.

Road, fibre optic cable to strengthen Guyana & Brazil linkages

The Brazilian government is as determined as its Guyanese counterparts to see the fulfilment of infrastructure linkages across the two borders realizing its importance in building the relationship between the two countries.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva who was on November 25 conferred Guyana’s highest national award, the Order of Excellence, said in his acceptance speech that there is progress in relations between Guyana and Brazil.

“Less than a year ago in my last meeting with President Jagdeo, we created the border committee and soon we will implement the other agreement on a special border regime between the locations of Bon Fim and Lethem,” President Lula said.

Chief among them are the Lethem to Linden road and the stringing of a fibre optic cable system which President Lula assured will be the infrastructure projects strengthening the links between the two countries.

The stretch of road from Lethem to Linden is one of the most important network used by heavy volumes of traffic travelling to the hinterland areas. In times of rainfall however, traversing some sections of the road is almost impassable.

 “We need also to follow up the paving project for the Lethem/Linden road which will allow the connection between the north of Brazil and Guyana,” President Lula said as he highlighted the importance of integration.

“This broader vision of integration, based on diplomacy of solidarity and understanding amongst equals, is the major objective of the Brazilian foreign policy; … it is not possible for Brazil to develop itself without our neighbours, also finding the road to peace and prosperity,” President Lula said.

The road paving process is seen as important given the advancement in trade and investment between Guyana and Brazil, particularly northern Brazil.

In the agriculture sector, several joint venture projects are underway, rice in particular, and other produce in Region Nine, Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo.

President Lula said there is need for a stimulation of bilateral trade given the decisions taken to concede preference for a list of products from Guyana that will be entering Brazil with zero tariffs.

With the establishment of a fibre optic cable the full benefits of an improved Information Communication Technology sector will be realised.

The cable from neighbouring Brazil will complement the Suriname-Guyana Submarine Cable System (SG-SCS), invested by the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) company connecting Guyana and Suriname to Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the world.

The bridging of the Takutu River was made a reality last year and has already impacted positively on the economic, social and personal links which have been on the increase. 

Odeen Ishmael appointed Ambassador to Kuwait

Ambassador Odeen Ishmael has been appointed Ambassador of Guyana to the State of Kuwait, in keeping with a commitment to strengthen relations between Guyana and that country following the visit to Kuwait of President Bharrat Jagdeo in January and that of Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al Hamed Al Jaber Al Saber to Guyana in July. The Government of Guyana recently received the agreement of the Government of Kuwait for Ishmael to be appointed as resident Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Guyana to the State of Kuwait.

Ambassador Ishmael served in Washington from June 1993 to October 2003, and was appointed to Venezuela in November 2003, where he is currently serving. He is expected to take up his new appointment in Kuwait in January.

Since 1993, Ishmael participated as a member of Guyana's delegation at the UN General Assembly and represented the country at the OAS General Assemblies and other specialised meetings of this body in various countries of the hemisphere.

He has headed Guyana's delegation to meetings of the Regional Negotiating Machinery of Caricom from 1997 to 2001, and as an OAS-trained trade negotiator, participated in the initial stages of negotiations of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). He was also a member of Guyana's delegation to the summit of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle in 1999.

From 1997, Ambassador Ishmael led Guyana's delegation to meetings of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). He also participated in the Summits of Heads of States of the OIC in Tehran in 1997 and Qatar in 2000.

After becoming Ambassador to Venezuela in December 2003, he represented Guyana at meetings of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA), headquartered in Caracas, and at specialised meetings of UNASUR. He was elected vice chairman of SELA’s governing body, the Latin American Council, for the period 2004-2006 and was then elected as Chairman of the body in November 2009. In October 2010, he was again elected as Vice-Chairman of the organisation.

Ambassador Ishmael is also a published author and has written extensively on political developments in South America.

November 2010

Economy grew by 2.8 percent in first six months of 2010

Against the backdrop of a global outlook characterised by uncertainty, with the developed economies still seeking the delicate balance between policies aimed at stimulating output and measures required to contain indebtedness and achieve fiscal sustainability, Guyana’s economy recorded real growth of 2.8 percent in the first half of 2010.

While there was improved performance in certain aspects such as in construction, gold, forestry and education, others showed a decline. Included in the latter are sugar, due to the extended dry conditions, and bauxite.

 Non-sugar gross domestic product expanded by 3.1 percent and, as a result, overall growth for the year is now projected at 2.9 percent and non-sugar growth at 2.4 percent.

The robust performance of the rice industry in 2009, resulted in a production of 359,789 tonnes; hence a more judicious target of 343,373 tonnes was set for 2010. Timely government interventions mainly through assistance given to farmers resulted in higher acreages sown than initially projected, increased yields of paddy as a result of the sharing of improved farming practices with farmers which included better management of water resources and farm practices, resulted in a 2010 first crop performance of 168,267 tonnes which was 4.6 percent better than first crop 2009.

 The “other crops” industry grew by 1.5 percent in the first half of the year. Forestry recorded strong growth of 11.8 percent, due to a mixture of market, policy and environmental conditions and, as a result, the comparative performance for the second half, relative to last year will be at a more moderate level as harvesters are expected to conclude operations much earlier in the second half.

 For 2010, the bauxite industry was projected to grow by 5.7 percent, gold declaration by 4 percent and diamond declaration by 4.2 percent, an overall 4.2 percent projected growth in value-added for the mining and quarrying industry. The half year performance shows an opposite trend – a decline of 4.1 percent in value-added over half year 2009. The effects of developments in the subsectors have led to the overall industry showing a reversal in growth to a revised 2.8 percent decline.

The manufacturing industry grew by 1.5 percent at the half year, the electricity and water service industry by 3.6 percent, and construction output expanded by 9.5 percent in the first half of the year, transportation and storage industry showed a strong first half performance of 7.1 percent, information and communication industry grew by 5.7 percent, education services grew by 1.8 percent, and  health services grew by 6.8 percent as a result of the expansion of government health personnel and services.

Guyana’s ratings advances on World Bank’s Doing Business index

Guyana  has improved its business environment in the past year, thereby attaining a business ranking of 100 out of 183 countries. This is according to the eighth in a series of annual reports prepared by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation.

Doing Business 2011: Making a Difference for Entrepreneurs analyses regulations that apply to an economy’s businesses during their life cycle, including start-up and operations, trading across borders, paying taxes and closing business.

The report, vindicates the many efforts that have made by the Guyana government to streamline the state’s mechanisms in its strategies at attracting especially international business and commerce.

The strategies implemented include (i) the digitizing of company records that speeds up the process of searching company names and “reserving a name”; (ii) the enhancement of access to credit by establishing a regulatory framework that allows the licensing of private credit bureaus, giving borrowers the right to inspect their data; (iii) improvements to Guyana’s risk profiling system for customs inspections of ships, and (iv) “speed up trade”.

Other measures installed within recent times aimed at a modern conduct of business climate include the application of a flat registration fee for all companies, regardless of their capital sum, the removal of duty payable on incorporation, the streamlining of registration as it pertains to the tax authorities with the introduction of a single tax identification number that suffices for corporate, value added, and labour taxes.

The National Toshaos Conference

Over 160 Toshaos from across Guyana gathered at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal from October 25 to 29 to discuss the further development of Amerindian communities with President Bharrat Jagdeo and cabinet members under the theme “Advancing Development in a Low Carbon Environment”.

The conference was truly reflective of participatory democracy, as Amerindian leaders engaged the president in one-on-one discussions regarding their communities’ achievements and possible solutions for the challenges they face.

The president outlined some of the government’s interventions as it relates to the development of Amerindians, which he said are aimed at changing the philosophy and the nation’s perspective to indigenous people’s culture and their enormous contribution to society and their place in national development.

During the conference land titles and or extensions were presented to 17 communities including Itabac, Mashabo, Bethany, St. Monica, Capoey, Kanapang, Kurutuku and Arukamai.

These communities are being transformed through greater access to education and healthcare. The sum of G$2 billion has been set aside for road construction in the Amerindian communities in Regions 1, 8, 9 and 10 even as they are expanding and diversifying agriculture.

Indigenous communities will benefit further with US$8 million from the first tranche of US$30 million into the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF).  US$4 million will be used to accelerate the demarcation process while the remainder will be used to fund community development projects and to provide every Amerindian household with a solar panel.

 Amerindian leaders also renewed their support for the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) by endorsing a resolution on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+).

     The resolution affirms that Amerindian communities are in full support of REDD+; that the NTC is the sole authority to represent Amerindian interests to the Government of Guyana; and the international community must consult the council and the government of Guyana on issues concerning Amerindian villages.

Out of the 171 Amerindian representatives at the meeting, 166 signed the Resolution.

The REDD+ Resolution highlighted that the LCDS is a unique and progressive model to address the impact of climate change and further Guyana’s development.

80 teachers graduate from management programme

The fifth batch consisting of 80 teachers on October 28 graduated after successfully completing the Education Ministry’s Education Management Certificate Programme.

The eighteen-month programme saw teachers from secondary schools around Georgetown participating in practicals, documentations, writing reports, an end of module assignment, and an examination.

The courses included personnel management, self development for education managers, principles of education management, monitoring school effectiveness, financial management, educational leadership, governance of schools, and managing the curriculum and resources in schools.

The programme aims to equip teachers to better manage schools and provide the adequate leadership that will ensure high success rates in all secondary schools.

Guyana receives great attention at Shanghai World EXPO

Guyana was showcased among 240 countries and organisations worldwide at the World Expo hosted in Shanghai, China, this year.

Guyana’s booth at the expo attracted considerable interest with its captivating display of the country’s unique offerings. The country’s participation was seen as a great opportunity to showcase its offerings to the world and to further strengthen bilateral ties between Guyana and China.

Guyana’s booth was crafted under the theme, “One People, One Nation, One Destiny”, by Guyanese designer John Fernandes with the guidance of the Ministry of Tourism Industry and Commerce. This was excellently portrayed with a tunnel showcasing the distinctive history of Guyana’s six races.

The booth was divided into three sections:  The Amazon Adventure, featuring Guyana’s rich biodiversity and landscapes; Better City, Better Life; featuring historical buildings and other hotspots in Georgetown; and Industries driving the economy such as agriculture, mining and fishing.

Replicas of Amerindian huts and canoes showcasing the lifestyle of the Indigenous people were also displayed along with products of Guyana such as Indi garam masala and curry powder, Demerara Gold sugar, and a variety of El Dorado rums.

Much interest was generated by Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, information about which was highlighted at the exhibition.

Guyana gained immense attention and popularity as China Central Television, the Expo’s daily newspaper and the Shanghai Morning Post newspaper all carried features of the country and its exhibits.

The Expo began on May and concluded on October 31.

Guyana to establish embassy in Kuwait

The Government of Guyana in an effort to strengthen greater ties and forge relations with countries in the Middle East will be establishing an embassy in the State of Kuwait, Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett told media operatives on October 25 at a briefing today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Minister Rodrigues-Birkett said that the initiative stemmed from a visit by President Bharrat Jagdeo to Kuwait in January this year, during which two bilateral agreements were signed. These included the encouragement and reciprocal protection of investment and the cultural and artistic cooperation agreements.

“In light of all these developments and in keeping with our policy to improve trade relations with non-traditional partners I am pleased to announce that the Government has taken the decision to establish an embassy in Kuwait,” she stated.

The necessary arrangements are currently being administered for the appointment of an ambassador and the establishment of the embassy.

According to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Government is confident that with the establishment of the embassy, bilateral relations with Kuwait and other countries in the Middle East will be further strengthened.

The relationship between Guyana and Kuwait strengthened to the extent that Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al Ahmed Al-Jaber Al Sabah paid a visit to Guyana on July 19.

The visit paved the way for several other agreements to be signed between the two governments. These included a bilateral trade agreement, one for a technical and economic cooperation; another for the establishment of a joint commission for cooperation between Kuwait and Guyana; and an air services agreement.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by a high-level delegation including several members of the private sector in Kuwait.

Guyana and Kuwait established diplomatic relations on August 17, 1995.

Continuing Promise 2010 supports Health Ministry

The Ministry of Health on October 22 was presented with 20 large containers of medical equipment and supplies from the United States Military’s Continuing Promise 2010 mission. The supplies were brought by the USS Iwo Jima, docked near New Amsterdam. The Military Tropical Medicine team on board has been partnering with the Health Ministry and this has resulted in assessments being carried out, focused on enhancing operational stability in providing medical care and building partnerships with the regional health directors.

The US military medical personnel has been able to work with Guyanese medical professionals from the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, Mabaruma Hospital and other facilities in various parts of Guyana.

The Continuing Promise 2010 is a humanitarian mission that delivers medical, engineering and veterinary support services. This humanitarian mission demonstrates the partnership between Guyana and the United States of America in jointly addressing challenges, exchanging expertise, and furthering strategic cooperation.

UNASUR chairmanship raises Guyana’s profile

President Bharrat Jagdeo at a press conference on October 22 said that Guyana was ready to take over the chairmanship of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) on November 26. The President said that the profile of Guyana will be very high, as it the first time that a small country like Guyana will be chairing UNASUR, adding that very few countries have had the opportunity to chair UNASUR, prior to Guyana.

He stated that there have been some attempts to disrupt the constitutional order in Ecuador, which currently hold the chairmanship of UNASUR.

He added that “there are many other situations of conflicts across South America, as such Guyana would be expected to play a very active role in ensuring that there is no disruption to constitutional order in our hemisphere and also ensuring that we push an aggressive social and developmental agenda.”

Earlier that day, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino paid a courtesy call on President Jagdeo to discuss handing over of the rotating chairmanship and coordinate the activities of UNASUR.

UNASUR focuses on strengthening relations among South American nations and places emphasis on defence policies, economic development, energy integration, environmental protection, infrastructural development, political dialogue and social cohesion.

Minister Patino later told the media that Guyana has a major role to play in implementing UNASUR’s plans.

Overseas researchers assist with museum development

The Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, which is under the purview of the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport, now has two research specialists from overseas attached to it. They will be carrying out various researches, as well as assisting the museum with its programme development.

The specialists, provided by the Commonwealth Association of Museums are Sara Albuquerque from Portugal and Renee Homeiak from Canada.

Albuquerque will be studying the work of Everard Im Thurn, his life and botanical collection, as he was one of Guyana’s first prominent anthropologists. She visited various sites including Iwokrama, Surama and Kabakaburi and is observing the communities where Im Thurn collected artifacts (now in Britain) and to get a modern perspective on the cross cultural aspects of his work.

She will also be giving lectures to interested Guyanese researchers and students on the artifacts, as studies show that the majority came from the Makushis and Arawaks.

Homiak will be assisting the museum with its programme development, as she is proficient in museum management and curatorship, including curatorial research methods, exhibition development, care of collections, archival management and gallery administration, among other related disciplines.

She will also be conducting a two-day workshop for operatives attached to all museums in the country, to strengthen their capacity in museum management and development.

GuyExpo 2010 receives excellent reviews

After six nights of exhibiting local goods and services available in Guyana, patrons and exhibitors have described GuyExpo 2010, the largest trade fair in the Caribbean, as the biggest and best since its commencement.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Manniram Prashad noted that over 120,000 people visited the exhibition during the fair. He emphasised that there was great overseas participation as GuyExpo has become a calendar event.

The success of the exposition which saw the participation of approximately 300 exhibitors was based on proper planning, organising and execution.

He noted that the event was in favour of small businesses which took the opportunity to showcase the high quality of products including craft that they produce locally. Other established enterprises particularly in the furniture sector benefited greatly. 

“Businesses have reported good sales; for instance one company reported that it sold 10 complete kitchen sets in two days and that has a value of G$20 million,” Minister Prashad stated.

World Bank approves US$4.2M to improve teacher education

The World Bank on October 14 approved a US$4.2 million credit to advance the quality of teacher education in Guyana. The Improving Teacher Education Project will work in partnership with the Education Ministry to support the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) and the University of Guyana’s (UG) School of Education and Humanities to improve the delivery of quality teacher education.

The funding provided has a 10-year grace period and a final maturity of 20 years.

      The project is in keeping with the government’s Education Strategic Plan 2008-2013 which aims at increasing the number of trained teachers, ensuring quality improvement in education and supports one of the primary goals of reaching at least 70 percent of teachers trained by 2013, while raising the standards of teacher-education programmes.

The project has three components one of which is improving the quality and efficiency of teacher education delivery which will support the implementation of the Associate Degree in Education and the Bachelor of Education.

This will be accomplished by developing appropriate courses and teacher-educator assessment tools and practices; and integrating information and communication technologies in the teaching and learning process in both in-service and distance education programmes.

The second component is building human resources and technical capacity for more effective teaching and learning by improving the quality of teacher-educators and strengthening management at CPCE and UG’s School of Education and Humanities.

The third component encompasses communications, project management and monitoring and evaluation to inform stakeholders of benefits and changes in education policy and teacher-education programmes, in addition to building capacity within the Ministry of Education for project management and monitoring and evaluation of the projects objectives and outcomes.

Guyana’s gender issues discussed at Harvard University

Minister of Human Services and Social Security Priya Manickchand on October 16 joined former Prime Minister of Canada Kim Campbell on the important panel of a conference at the John F Kennedy School of Government at the Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The two-day conference “Closing the Gender Gap: the business case for Organizations, Politics and Society” was hosted by the Council of Women World Leaders in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and examined the relationship between gender equality and societal and economic outcomes.

The panel discussion examined specifically the benefits of political power. Minister Manickchand posited that political power matters in closing the gender gap across the world and expressed the view that political power derived from political office has tremendous benefits, one of which is to allow for the culture of a country to be shaped and changed by public policy derived from political office. She said that when that office is occupied equally by both genders, the female perspective is considered when decisions are being made. As to how to ensure there is equality in representation, the minister was resolute that quotas prescribing numbers of women in office must be provided for by legislation.

The Minister however also put forward the view that of tremendous value in closing the gender gap is political power derived from unity around a cause.

The minister noted that where women across political divides, religious views, social status and professions could collaborate and hold a common position about a specific issue that body would have power that is political in nature and cannot be ignored.

Governments have to create environments that encourage and enable women uniting around specific causes, she said. This, she offered would more than likely require proactive efforts by governments to allow the voices of women to be heard on issues.

Notice to Readers

The Guyana Diary, which has provided a monthly synopsis of Guyanese news events since February 2004, will cease publication at the end of the current year. Readers can access the Guyana daily news on the various newspapers available on the Internet. We thank you for your support.

News Briefs

December 2010
  • Decades of dreams were realised on November 23 as 270 house lots were distributed in Region Three (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara) to residents of Tuschen. Earlier, 500 lots were distributed to residents of Section D, Non Pariel, East Coast Demerara.
  • Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission Gocool Boodhoo is currently in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as the leader of the Caricom electoral observer mission for the elections there on December 13, 2010.

  • On November 27-28, a team of doctors and support staff completed 28 surgeries at the Lethem Hospital for tubal ligation, excision of accessory breast (a condition that develops after pregnancy), cholecystectomy (removal of gall bladder), hernias (inguinal and incisional), hydrocoelectomy, excision of Bartholin’s cyst, excision of thyroglossal sinus, removal of plates and screw and wiring of dislocated thumb and excision of exostosis (excess bone deposits).

  • Under the Ninth European Development Fund (9th EDF), the Ministry of Public Works and Communications is aggressively constructing, reconstructing and rehabilitating sea defence infrastructure along the country’s coastline. Currently, 33 sites under the project work are in progress. Major rehabilitation works executed in Springlands, Wakanaam, Leguan and Clonbrook were of excellent standard.

  • The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) on November 22 received emergency relief supplies from the United States (U.S) Naval Forces Southern Command. The items were handed over at the CDC’s warehouse, Base Camp Stevenson, Timehri. The items, which amounted to G$67.5million, included refrigerators, televisions sets, bath towels, cots, blankets, gas lanterns, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, bed spreads, generators, cookware, and a forklift among others.

  • The Surinamese government has promised to include the University of Guyana Berbice Campus in its programme of meaningful student and faculty exchanges. This promise came from the Surinamese Minister of Finance, Woonie Bhoedoe, who joined her country’s President Desi Bouterse, for an interactive session with students of the campus during a one day visit on November 20.

  • Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR) Shadow Minister of Finance and Economic Development Winston Murray died at the Georgetown Hospital on November 22, eleven days after at collapsed and remained unconscious suffering from brain. haemorrhage. He was 69.

November 2010
  • Over 90 trainees under the non-residential Youth Entrepreneurial Skills Training (YEST) programme conducted at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport’s Sophia Training Centre are on attachment to various agencies, in an effort to complete their practical training in various subjects. Some of the courses offered are: catering, office administration, information technology, refrigeration, AC repairs, welding, fabrication, handicraft and masonry.

  • On October 14-15, a two-day training seminar was held in Georgetown aimed at strengthening the capacity of law enforcement officials, judges and prosecutors in the Caribbean to identify and combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children. Sponsored by the government of Guyana through the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Organisation of American States, the seminar was facilitated by regional and international experts on the subject of trafficking in persons (TIP).  Attending the seminar were representatives from various state agencies.

  • Since the recent commencement of payout to policyholders of the CLICO Life and General Insurance Limited, in excess of 1000 transactions have been successfully completed. The recipients are in the first category of policyholders to get back their assets in full under a rescue plan outlined by President Bharrat Jagdeo which gives first preference to policy with investments under $30 million.

  • The Guyana Relief Fund for Pakistan which includes the religious community, political parties, private sector, trade unions and other stakeholders on October 4 presented a G$25 million cheque to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in its efforts to aid flood hit Pakistan.

  • A shipment of 5,100 tonnes of paddy departed for Venezuela on October 31. A total of 50,000 tonnes is expected to be exported by February 2011. The rice trade to Venezuela is the most attractive market in terms of price since US$400 is being paid per tonne of paddy while US$700 is being paid for white rice.

  • Religious leaders from the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Bahai and Rastafarian faiths in Regions Four, Five, Six and Ten, recently completed a training course in combating domestic violence.  The government injected $15 million into this programme

  • President Bharrat Jagdeo on October 28 received a courtesy call from the Prefect of La Guyane Daniel Ferey accompanied by the French Honorary Consul resident in Guyana, Pierre Saint Arroman. The visit by the visiting delegation was to discuss a programme with Guyanese authorities for the survey of Guyana’s forest using French satellite technology. The Prefect said the survey will begin “very soon” in Guyana.

  • The Ministry of Agriculture has been ensuring that farmers are safeguarded against natural disasters such as flooding caused by climate change. In continuing this trend it has embarked on a total revamping of drainage and irrigation structures within the Golden Grove-Nabaclis-Victoria areas. The G$412 million project will see significant investment in infrastructure to develop the requisite support needed for improved production, in keeping with the Ministry’s “Grow More Food Campaign” which was launched in 2008.

  • In a continued effort to enhance the health sector’s manpower, the Ministry of Health is providing the opportunity for youths to pursue medical careers. On January 3, 2011 training will commence for environmental and pharmacy assistants and x-ray and medical laboratory technicians. Other programmes currently offered by the Ministry include the alternative medex programme, medex, community health worker, pharmacy and rehabilitation assistant, audiological practitioner, medical laboratory and x-ray technician, environmental health assistant, dentex diploma, dentex certificate, community dental therapist, dental assistant, single trained/rural mid-wife, professional nurse, nurse assistant and refractionist.

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett on October 25 announced the appointment of Mrs. Leila King will be appointed as the new Consul General in Boa Vista, Brazil. Mrs. King is a Guyanese entrepreneur who has been a resident in Boa Vista for the last 20 years.

  • A six-member Public Service Commission, tasked with, among its many functions, conducting examinations for appointments, was officially sworn in by President Bharrat Jagdeo on October 22. The members are Ganga Persaud, Michael Desmond Hope, Vedyawattie Looknauth, Vera Naughton, Carvil Duncan and Cecil Seepersaud.

  • As part of the activities to observe Heritage Week 2010, (during October), the National Trust of Guyana recently held outreaches at schools in various Regions, in an effort to highlight the importance and preservation of the country’s heritage. The activity focused on schools in Regions Two, Three, Four and Six.  Over 1,000 persons took part in various cultural presentations, including poems, dances and skits which depict respect for heritage, monuments and national symbols.
    In addition, the Trust presented packages to the schools for their libraries which consisted of various publications and brochures about the country’s history and heritage.

  • The Women of Worth (WOW) Programme, a single parent financial facility, is a ground breaking initiative of Government which has been achieving its mandate of equipping women with financial resources to establish and expand existing businesses so that they can provide for their families. On October 20, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Pryia Manickchand, presented 60 women from Essequibo Coast with cheques that will change the course of their lives once efficiently utilised. The minister said that this was a new beginning for the beneficiaries and noted that had it not been for the programme they would have been unable to acquire a loan from a commercial bank. She emphasised that owing to Government’s partnership with the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) the beneficiaries were able to obtain the loan without collateral and are given a six-month period before repayment commences.

  • The Ministry of Public Works and Communications has been illuminating road corridors of densely populated areas in an effort to reduce road fatalities and enhance safety of road users. The Ministry recently awarded three contracts for the installation of street lights along the Corentyne Highway in three areas: Stockholm to Crabwood Creek, Fyrish to Tain and New Amsterdam to Palmyra.

  • The Housing Ministry on October 16 held its third ‘One Stop Shop’ exercise in Region Three at Parfait Harmonie Primary School, where it issued approximately 600 houselots for the Schoonord housing establishment. Minister of Housing and Water, Irfaan Ali, who joined the allottees in this significant milestone in their lives, stated the acquisition of a home allows children to grow in a stable environment which empowers the family, and scenarios such as broken families owing to inadequate space would drastically reduce.

  • The government has fulfilled its promise of providing food items to flood affected communities in North Pakarimas, Region Eight as it officially handed over the final tranche to Kopinang, Kaibarupai and Waipa. More than $18 million was invested in the relief efforts for the distribution of food items. 

  • The Lima water treatment plant, Region Two, which is constructed at a cost of $400 million, is the latest of three major plants to be commissioned and now provides potable water to residents from Queenstown to Walton Hall with a production capacity of five million litres of water per day. 

  • More than 90 youths in the East Coast Demerara community of Buxton/Friendship are currently benefiting from skills training under the Ministry of Home Affairs Citizen Security Programme, youth skills/vocational training component. The trainees will learn skills in 11 areas including joinery, data entry, mechanic, cosmetology, handicraft, bakery and electrical installation.

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Last Updated on : Saturday, January 29, 2011
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