The joy of December 25 was celebrated by 25 new mothers across the country as they gave birth to their Christmas babies.The New Amsterdam Public Hospital had its first delivery, a boy, weighing two kilograms (kg), from Tricia Hazel, 23, of Number 75 Village, Corentyne at 03:43hPresident David Granger and First Lady Sandra Granger share a light moment with Malinie Rose, mother of the first 2017 Christmas baby. Also in photo is Public Health Minister Volda Lawrenceon December 25.The young mother disclosed that she never expected to have a Christmas baby and all she wanted was to have a safe delivery. Hazel said she was excited that her baby has arrived safe and healthy.Just over an hour later at 05:04h, Drupattie Looknauth, 36, of Bush Lot Village, Corentyne, delivered her ninth child, another boy weighing 3kg.Within an hour of Drupattie’s delivery, Hemwattie Samaroo delivered a beautifulMinister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummings alongside two of Linden’s new mothers and their babiesbaby girl weighing 2kg.At 11:25h, Nandy Nanlall, of West Canje, delivered her first child, a boy weighing 3.1kg. The youngest Christmas Day mother was Akash Lockhan, 20, of Belvedere, Corentyne, who delivered her second child – a boy weighing 3.3kgBibi Lockraj, 24, of Blairmont, West Bank Berbice, also delivered her second child – a boy weighing 2.9kg at 19:15h.At the Fort Wellington Hospital, midwife Hully Semple made a safe delivery atHemwattie Samaroo and her baby girl19:10h. The 3kg baby girl was delivered to Jasmatie Lonston of Number Three Village, West Coast Berbice, joining two siblings.At the Linden Hospital Complex, seven healthy babies were born, while at the Georgetown Public Hospital, five births were recorded (four girls and one boy), and another two babies were expected to be delivered, bringing the total to seven.Malvin Heywood was the first Christmas newborn at the Georgetown Public Hospital.Born to Malinie Rose, little Malvin arrived in the world at 00:02h on December 25, 2017.At the time, 68 mothers with babies (36 boys and 32 girls) have been registered in the Georgetown Public Hospital Maternity Ward’s post-natal unit.Meanwhile, on the Essequibo Coast, two births were recorded. Serita Latchman gave birth to a healthy baby girl while Dorothy Daniels delivered a bouncing baby boy at the Suddie Public Hospital.
– as no set date given for APNU/AFC meeting By Samuel SukhnandanWith just a few more weeks left before the deadline for the review of the agreement between the two major parties of the governing coalition, there seems to be no concrete plan for members to meet and discuss this process.High ranking members of the Alliance For Change (AFC) do not appear to be prepared to meet with their partners in Government, the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to discuss the long-awaited review of the Cummingsburg Accord.Despite the AFC setting a deadline by February 14 to come up with a review plan, leader of the party, Raphael Trotman could not provide a definite time in which both parties could meet to start the discussion.APNU Secretary Joseph HarmonHe told Guyana Times that, “The AFC continues to meet and discuss it and yes we will meet with them before the milestone date coming up, and we will have discussions. That’s all I can say at this point.”This newspaper also spoke with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo at Parliament on Wednesday, who could not provide an answer on the matter either. Incidentally, Nagamootoo seemed unaware of any planned meetings. He said, “I think you will have to put that question to Leader of the AFC. I’m the elder, I advise. I don’t pronounce.”In mid-November 2017, the top leadership of the AFC had decided to revise its governing agreement with coalition partner, APNU. This decision was taken after the AFC – the smaller of the two factions forming the Government – was accused of being coerced by its large partner.However, Trotman had committed to write to meet with the APNU to initiate discussions with regards to the revision of the Accord, which was signed before the last General and Regional Election.But several months have passed and Trotman is yet to write the APNU. This was made clear by Secretary of APNU, Joseph Harmon, who said recently that to date, no correspondence was received.There have been reports that the AFC was not too comfortable with the current Cummingsburg Accord which sets how the two coalition partners would divide up the Ministries.In one of his weekly columns, former House Speaker Ralph Ramkarran said the inability of the AFC to successfully push for constitutional reform, a platform on which the party campaigned, has seriously damaged its credibility; and in order to restore some of its integrity, the AFC must resign from Government.He said the lack of success in this aspect would leave the party’s credibility in tatters, and its Members of Parliament (MPs) would be far more influential and respected for leaving the coalition Government. This move, he said, would put the AFC in a stronger position to demand that APNU fulfill its campaign promises.Prior to joining hands with the APNU, the AFC was seen as the ‘third force’, the party of integrity, with support coming from across the ethnic divides.“So when the party negotiated with APNU the Cummingsburg Accord in 2015 to contest the General Election, it was the support from the “Guyanese Indians” that enabled the APNU/AFC coalition to become successful, Ramkarran said.President David Granger, who leads the APNU, said the AFC is within its right to request the review and noted that he is willing to facilitate discussions regarding this review process.Under the current configuration of Government, the AFC has received the portfolios of the Prime Minister, Public Security Ministry, Public Infrastructure Ministry, and the Agriculture Ministry, among others.The party named a Cummingsburg Accord Review Committee (CARC) of eight members – Dr Vincent Adams, Dr Rohan Somar, Marlon Williams, David Patterson, Joel Edmond, Sherod Duncan and one representative each from the party’s Women For Change and Youth For Change.The AFC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has mandated the party leadership to formally write to APNU with regard to review and revision of the Cummingsburg Accord.This process must be completed by the third anniversary of the signing of the Accord, February 14, 2018.
Disappointment was expressed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo at the fact that despite being categorical about the position of the parliamentary Opposition on the Cyber Crimes Bill, “falsehoods” are still being peddled to convey the impression that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) supported the increasingly controversial Bill, which includes a section on sedition.In an interview with Guyana Times, he reasoned that such acts were either reflective of an unwillingness to directly criticise the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Government – part of the balancing act employed by some commentators – or an effort to mislead Guyanese.At his Monday (April 30, 2018) news conference, Jagdeo acknowledged that theOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeoparliamentary Opposition “dropped the ball” in addressing the Cyber Crimes Bill, given the absence of PPP/C Members of Parliament (MPs) at the meetings of the Select Committee dealing with the Bill.“You can blame us and some of the MPs for not attending the meetings (of the Parliamentary Select Committee) and it would be justified… the PPP, and I speak for the PPP, does not support this inclusion, this undemocratic inclusion, in the cybercrime bill. In fact, we are opposed to it…the fact is that several MPs on our side were members of the Special Select Committee, which met several times to consider the provisions of this Bill, and were absent sometimes. However, their presence alone, being named to that committee, does not elevate to support by the PPP.”The Opposition Leader was categorical in reiterating that the PPP/C was not supportive of the controversial Bill. “This provision has no place in a democratic Guyana, in a free Guyana. In a Guyana where free speech is an important part of our democracy, where freedom of expression is defined and protected by our Constitution, this Bill has no place,” Jagdeo said.After being tabled in the National Assembly on August 4, 2016 – with no hard copy made available to parliamentarians, the Cyber Crimes Bill was sent to a Parliamentary Select Committee. At the February 15, 2018 meeting, the controversial Clause 18 about sedition was fashioned, according to the minutes of the Committee’s report, which also made clear that no PPP/C MP was present for the meeting.Reminiscent of National Security ActAccording to Jagdeo, Clause 18 is reminiscent of the old National Security Act, which was upheld during the Burnham era, but repealed in the late 90s. The Opposition Leader said, “The insertion by the Government of Guyana of (this) provision in the cybercrime bill could mean or could have grave implications for freedom of speech in Guyana. In fact, looking at the provision or that specific provision of the Bill, which was inserted in the Special Select Committee, is reminiscent of the old National Security Act that obtained in the period of undemocratic rule.“….that Act was, specifically, designed to stifle dissent and to take action against individuals who may disagree with the Government of Guyana. It was a repressive tool in the hands of a repressive Government. In Guyana, we have seen a trend towards unilateralism. We have seen a trend where the Government acts with impunity regardless of laws or provisions of our Constitution or in direct contravention of provisions in our Constitution. So, I see this insertion in this new Bill as another tool available to a Government that is becoming increasingly undemocratic in its march towards a dictatorship.”Jagdeo argued that it was for these reasons that Guyanese must fight to ensure that “this retrograde step” to charge people for sedition, an “archaic” offence, is not passed into law. “If you look through quite a few elements of that provision, you will see that they are not so much concerned about people in Guyana or protecting their rights.“The entire cybercrime bill (as envisioned by the former PPP/C Government) was for a purpose, not to protect the Government of Guyana, but to protect our children against child pornography, to protect people against electronic assault on their privacy; it was to protect the people of the country in their business, so that their data or their computers would not be compromised, that cyberspace in Guyana without overregulating, without affecting content of speech, that it would have some rules that people can’t act illegally in harming others. That was the purpose of the Bill.”He added, “They have converted this. By inserting this provision, the purpose and something all Guyanese would agree to, that is, protecting all of us and our children, they have converted it into protection for Government and the Ministers….we already have laws protecting all of our citizens and I would assume that the Prime Minister and the President and Ministers are citizens of Guyana and they too are afforded the same sort of protection that we all enjoy under certain laws against criminal acts. Why do they need a special provision in this Bill to protect the interest of only those categories of people?”The coalition Government has remained silent on these criticisms of Clause 18, particularly the comparison to the National Security Act under the former People’s National Congress (PNC) Government.An about-turnMeanwhile, as was done with the controversial parking meter project, despite having been discussed at Cabinet, where several AFC Members sit, the party’s leader, Raphael Trotman, has now indicated that his AFC parliamentarians, on the Government side, would vote against the increasingly controversial Cyber Crimes Bill, over the inclusion of Clause 18.Trotman’s comments came after the parliamentary Opposition, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, sections of the trade union movement, the Guyana Press Association and other civil society groups objected to the Bill over the sedition clause. Like the parking meter project, widespread objections preceded the AFC’s shift in position.Clause 18 states that: “A person commits an offence of sedition if the person, whether in or out of Guyana, intentionally publishes, transmits or circulates by use of a computer system, a statement or words, either spoken or written, a text, video, image, sign, visible representation or other thing, that: a) brings or attempts to bring into hatred or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in Guyana.”Disaffection, according to the Bill, includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. A person who commits the offence under this clause is liable on conviction of indictment to serve five years or as much as life in prison.
Members of the Rice Producers Association (RPA) on Wednesday protested the Finance Ministry, calling on Government to review its tax policies on fuel with a view to easing the burden on the productive sector.The Association has urged Government to reintroduce a sliding tax rate for rice farmers in light of the high cost of fuel and especially in light of ongoing land preparation taking place in the sector.While on the protest line, General Secretary of the RPA, Dharamkumar Seeraj, told the media that method is easy and would not add any unnecessary burden to the Government’s budget.“The way it works is that when the price for fuel goes up on the World Market, the tax comes down so the price at the pump remains the same, so it’s not rocket science and most importantly from the Government’s point of view, this will not affect the target budgeted for,” he explained.Seeraj reasoned that if the price for fuel increases and Government reduces theSome of the rice farmers protesting outside the Finance Ministry on Thursday over the high prices of fuelpercentage of taxes on fuel, they can still achieve their target.“If you implement that sliding rate, the country benefits. Production will go up, you’ll become more competitive on the export market and that is what a country needs,” he asserted.The RPA said farmers, who are currently harvesting, have been experiencing an increase in transportation costs from an average of $200 to $800 per bag, because access to their farmlands is poor.Many have been forced to use a combination of poor dams and weed-infested waterways and this increase in fuel prices might very well be the proverbial last straw.Additionally, most farmers are currently involved in land preparation exercise and sowing of their fields and where most fuel is being used compared to the crop duration, so the increase is coming at a really bad time for the farmers. As reported, the fuel woes are compounded by challenges of readily accessing fertilisers owing to financial challenges.The RPA has since said that the “good life” that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government promised was wanting, adding that the Administration’s inaction on the matter was not an option.In April 2017, Mahaica farmers, whose main source of income is rice, along with cash crops, said the taxation measures were “harsh” to them.The farmers said then that the Government has removed the list of exempted and zero-rated Value Added Tax (VAT) items, causing them to have to increase their cash crop prices, much to the dissatisfaction of their customers. The cost of production, they noted, extended to an increase in payment for fertiliser, insecticide and weedicide.Several former Government officials and sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) have been repeatedly calling on Government to reduce the taxes of fuel imports. Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has said Government has the fiscal space to do it, and it is nothing difficult as it was done in the past.Opposition MP Irfaan Ali has also urged Government to move swiftly to reduce the Excise Tax on petroleum products, thereby creating a reduction in the price for fuel at the pumps.Ali said at present, global oil price is the same compared to November 2008. However, price of local gas stations in November 2008 is less than present by 15.5 per cent at $194.Global oil price in January 2015 (under the previous Administration) and September 2017 was the same. However, the 2015 price is less by 15.1 per cent at $173.At same level of global oil price, the price of fuel under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government was significantly less when compared to that of the APNU/AFC Government.Ali also noted that Guyoil benefited substantially, post 2015, from low market prices of oil. He therefore explained that if the projected $3 billion after-tax profit was achieved by end of 2017, total profit generated by Guyoil during the last three years would exceed 2008-2014 total level, by more than 10 per cent.“By not reducing local fuel price in relation to global oil price since 2015, Guyoil was able to increase its profit margin significantly. Given Guyoil’s high profit margin, the company could afford, presently, to reduce fuel price and ease growing economic burden,” he added.In September 2017, world market prices for fuel increased due to the hurricane, which resulted in Guyoil adjusting the prices in gasoline, diesel and kerosene to a higher cost. Again, in February of this year, Guyoil adjusted its prices upwards. The average price of gasoline around the world is US$1.15 per liter.
A father and son are now hospitalised after three armed bandits attacked their Corentyne, Berbice, business, terrorising them.The incident occurred at about 18:00h at the Lot 6 Cromarty Farm property, where the family operates a grocery shop that is attached to their house.Injured are 52-year-old Dhirah Kumar and his 22-year-old son, Balram, who was shot to his jaw.Guyana Times understands that three men – one masked, one carrying a gun and the other a cutlass – entered the grocery store, which Kumar and his son operate.According to the businessman’s wife, 48-year-old Asha Kumar, at the time of the attack, she was preparing dinner for the family when she heard her husbandThe business place which bandits invade and terrorised the victimsscreaming.“When I run, I see a man with his head covered up. So when I see the bandit, I run and go in the backyard and hide. While hiding, I could hear when they beating my husband – every lash he was hollering and he was telling them “don’t, beat meh, I gon give y’all everything! Y’all don’t beat me, don’t beat meh son”,” the still traumatised woman recalled.The woman continued that she then heard her husband telling the perpetrators that he would give them all the money they had at the business. Guyana Times was told that the elder Kumar handed over $280,000 to the bandits.However, not satisfied, the bandits continued beating and terrorising the businessman and his son, asking for more money.“They tell he, “Y’all get more [money]” and they beat my son more, asking “where is the gold”. My son said we nah get gold and he tell them take a silver band he had on so they pull off the band and ask “silver y’all does wear, y’all nah get gold” and my son tell he no,” Asha Kumar related. The younger Kumar during the ordeal put up a fight and was shot to the left side of his face.Mrs Kumar went on to say that the perpetrators still continued to beat her husband and son, stamping and kicking them before going to the upper flat of the two storey house and ransacked the rooms. Asha could not say, however, if the men took anything for upstairs. The woman’s husband and son remain hospitalised at a private medical institution and are in stable condition.Meanwhile, the Police have since detained a person for questioning as investigations are ongoing.
Volunteer Youth Corps (VYC) Inc, in collaboration with ExxonMobil Guyana, on Saturday hosted the sixth annual STEM Conference at the Ramada Georgetown Princess Hotel, Providence, East Bank Demerara (EBD).Executives of ExxonMobil and Volunteer Youth Corps on Saturday at the Princess Ramada HotelThe event saw more than 400 students from various high schools across the country in attendance.Activities included a short robotics programming course, demonstration and competition; interactive science experiment coaching and demonstrations; and career guidance.Presentations were done by ExxonMobil Guyana Geoscience Manager Doug McGehee; Assistant to Minister of State in the Ministry of the Presidency, Dr Astell Collins; Assistant Chief Education Officer (Technical) Ministry of Education, Patrick Chinedu Onwuzirike; and other professionals within the oil and gas, technology, business and engineering sectors.A group of young people at the Conference on Saturday“It is our hope to have all students across the various high schools understand the importance of Math and Technology in efforts to gear up for future opportunities in Guyana,” said VYC CEO Goldie Scott.“We consider it extremely important to motivate students to follow career paths in Technology, Math and Engineering. Activities like this are impactful in our efforts to promote students’ interest in these fields.”ExxonMobil Guyana Public and Government Affairs Manager Deedra Moe stated: “Education is the fundamental building block of individual opportunity and economic growth, and STEM skills, in particular, are critical to ensuring today’s students are prepared for the jobs of the 21st Century.”“We are proud to support programmes that help educators enhance their teaching skills and motivate students to pursue careers in Math and Science.”Since 2012, the VYC has been partnering with ExxonMobil Guyana to implement STEM education in schools. One of the initiatives implemented engages third and fourth form students in a variety of STEM after-school learning programmes in Georgetown.The programmes include practical lessons in Physics, Chemistry, Integrated Science and Information Technology, as well as a three-day science camp at a local environmental facility.
Justice was served to three victims on Wednesday morning, after their attacker, who made them subjects to sexual assault, was sentenced to 62 years in prison for the heinous acts committed in the years 2012, 2013 and 2016.Twenty-two-year-old Leon Jordan of Lot 102 Front Street, Anna Catherina, West Coast Demerara (WCD) re-appeared before Justice Brassington Reynolds at the Sexual Offences Court of the Demerara High Court.Jordan, on his previous Court appearance, pleaded guilty to three rape charges which were levelled against him. The first charge detailed that on February 2, 2012, in the county of Demerara, he engaged in sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16, another stated that on January 13, 2013, in the county of Demerara, he engaged in sexual penetration of a child aged 14 years. The final charge detailed that on October 25, 2016, he engaged in sexual penetration of a 28-year-old woman.State Counsels Seeta Bishundial and Abigail Gibbs presented the prosecution’s case, while Defence Attorney Maxwell McKay represented Jordan.Short facts were presented by Prosecutor Bishundial in relation to each of the charges. The Court heard that in relation to the first charge, at about 14:30h on February 2, 2012, the seven-year-old victim had just finished her day at school and was awaiting her older brother to travel home together. However, the accused, who is known to the victim, rode up on a bicycle and said he would take her home after doing an errand for the child’s mother. After the victim expressed some reluctance, the accused grabbed the victim onto his bicycle and threatened to stab her if she screamed, in addition, Jordan took the victim to the seawall and committed the act.Facts relating to the second charge revealed that the 14-year-old victim was on her way home when Jordan approached her, and being armed with an ice picker, he demanded her to jump onto his bicycle. As such, Jordan took the victim to a deserted, bushy area and performed the act.Finally, the facts into the last charge detailed that the mother of five was on her way to work, when the convict rode up and informed her that something was wrong at home. Heeding the information, the victim made her way back home only to be later attacked and dragged into a clump of bushes by Jordan. The victim put up a fight but was overpowered by her rapist, who bit off her eyelid and spat in on the ground. Nevertheless, she managed to free herself and ran, and was later taken to the hospital to seek medical attention and undergo surgery to restore her eyesight.Each of the victims’ impact statement disclosed the trauma and nightmares they face whenever they recall the horrific incident. One of the victims stated “I screamed that day for help and no one came to my help….I told him to stop and he wouldn’t stop….I am full of emotions,” she cried.As such, Justice Reynolds in addressing the Court, stated that there are no mitigating factors for Jordan, and as such sentenced him to 12, 15, and 35 years respectively on the three charges. Justice Reynolds further ordered that the sentence will run consecutively and that Jordan become eligible for parole after serving 30 years.
David Chowtie of Graham’s Hall Primary School and Venisha Lall from the C.V Nunes Primary School came in as the top performers at this year’s National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), with a score of 532.Venisha Lall and Dave Chowtie with Minister of Education Nicolette HenryChowtie told Guyana Times that he did not expect to be the among the country’s top performers but he knew he would have succeeded, as he was dedicated to studying. He dreams of becoming a doctor. Lall on the other hand was confident of being one of the top performers and she wants to become an economist.Some 14, 300 candidates wrote the NGSA on April 17 and 18.More details in the Thursday, July 04, 2019 edition of the Guyana Times.
After a gruelling year of travel and competition, Hedges returned to his home town of Fort St. John on July 29 for some much needed rest, recovery and of course to spend some time with his family.However, the Energetic City isn’t a vacation for the Paralympian, as he spends a significant portion of his day shooting around to keep his skills sharp.He says the time at home also provides his body and mind the much needed rest and recovery period necessary for a high level athlete.- Advertisement -“I think it’s very important. It’s been a long haul, and its going to be a very intense, high pressure two to three weeks as we lead into the Paralympics, which start August 29 and run until September 8.”Compare that to his regular workout routine, which consists of two hours of team practice, following by a trip to the gym, a shoot around, weight training, a balanced diet, as well as the odd yoga, pilates and massage session, and maybe Fort St. John is a bit of a vacation.Hedges, who competed with Canada to win a silver at the 2008 Beijing Games, says he is more prepared this time and the experience of Beijing is helping in his training.Advertisement This will be no easy task, as according to Hedges, international play is a much quicker game, featuring very high quality players.However, Hedges remains confident in his team’s abilities on the court.”I really feel that we have a very good chance of winning this tournament with the way we are playing right now and the way we are working towards the games.”The Paralympian even went as far as saying the goal heading into the games is a gold medal.Hedges says that there is one game that he is particularly looking forward to, when Canada meets Great Britain in the second round robin game, alluding to the high intensity environment playing the host team will provide.Advertisement “Mentally I’m definitely more prepared. I know the rigors of the tournament and am more aware of the pressure that you put yourself under, so I’ll try to deal with that better and focus on the moment and not got overwhelmed by the end process and just work each day until the end goal.”Hedges and Team Canada enter the tournament ranked seventh – ranking that the point guard disagrees with. He says the team, consisting of nine returning players and three Paralympic Games rookies, should be slated in the top third or fourth spot. He says they played very well against the Americans as well as the Austrialians at this year’s World Championships, with both teams considered the favourites entering the Games.When discussing the play of his team, he says the Canadians’ strengths lie in their conditioning, saying the team is putting heavy emphasis on fitness and pushing each other to compete with the best opponents in the world. He also is very confident with the leadership Canada’s veterans have exhibited in preparation for the Games.Hedges says the area his team could work on is defence, pointing out the majority of competing teams have the ability to produce offensively, so the team will focus on defensive toughness. He says that if the team can stay solid defensively, it could wear their opponents down quickly and prove very beneficial.Advertisement Sports has always been a passion for Hedges, who grew up playing hockey, baseball and even football, admitting he never considered basketball until following his accident.He says as a huge hockey fan growing up in B.C., he admired legendary Vancouver Canuck Trevor Linden, attributing his own leadership skills to those of the retired Canucks Captain.Until he’s in London himself, Hedges says being immersed in the current Olympics games from afar is actually beneficial for himself as he waits to begin competition at the Paralympic Games.”It’s good to watch and see. It’s good mental training as well. To see some of the adversity they are put through, seeing those situations and thinking about how you would deal with them yourself is a huge help.”Hedges says it’s a great honour to don the read and white jersey and represent Canada, especially knowing that back home he has the support of his friends and family, saying that if Canada does take home a medal, it will be making its way to northeast B.C. for a visit.Advertisement
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