Guyana Diary

April 2010

Monthly Newsletter of the Guyana Embassy, Caracas, Venezuela

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

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Posted April 2010 - Issue No. 75 - Back to Embassy page

Previous Guyana Diaries are available here.

President proposes workable climate deal

Uncertain that a binding legal treaty will be reached at the upcoming follow up climate change summit in Mexico later this year, President Bharrat Jagdeo said it should not deter efforts to work towards this goal. The President, on March 31, was answering questions on prospects for a climate change agreement He was in London attending the meeting of the high-level team appointed by the United Nations Secretary General Ban-ki-moon to address climate change financing.

Outlining some of the decisive factors for an acceptable agreement, the President alluded to the establishment of the green fund and an outline of the principles and mechanisms under which it would be build.

The green fund which helps nations meet climate-change pledges would see the selling of bonds in global markets and the profits going to poor countries to aid in the efforts to cope with the effects of the climate change phenomenon.

Additionally, the approval of a Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus (REDD+) mechanism and adaptation fund were the other important plans which the President highlighted as critical to a workable deal.

The former caters for cutting deforestation rates, conservation and expansion of forest stocks and sustainable forestry management, while the latter (the adaptation fund) was established to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

“These are the things that will, I think, move us closer to the solution. Of course we should try to find some level or reach some compromise in what seems to be a rigid position on the part of two sets of countries: the developing world insisting that the Kyoto Protocol’s principles be maintained, and many countries in the developed world wanting an alternative treaty,” President Jagdeo said.

Guyana advances in Global Competitive Index

Almost unnoticed, Guyana turned in the best two-year improvement of the 133 countries in the Global Competitiveness Index produced by the World Economic Forum.

From its lowly position at 126, Guyana scaled +22 spots to come in at 104 in the just released 2009/2010 report. At the same time Switzerland displaced the USA in the top spot and Singapore moved up +4 spots to take the number three position.

In the Caricom reference group only 4 of the other 14 countries made it on the survey. In comparison to Guyana’s +22 place improvement, Jamaica declined -13 places and Trinidad declined -2 places while Barbados and Suriname improved +6 and +11 places respectively.

Guyana made good progress in Institutions, Infrastructure, Health and Primary Education, and Higher Education and Training, while Financial Market Sophistication and Market Size dragged on the improvement according to the report.

The improvement in institutions was fostered by a reduction in burdensome government regulations, more transparency in government policy-making and improved efficacy of corporate boards. But issues clustered under the security sub-index had a significant negative impact on this category as reflected in the business costs of crime and violence.

Infrastructure improvements were driven by improvements in roads and in the quality of air transport infrastructure.

In Health and Primary Education, Guyana’s standout performance in Primary Education is partially masked by the prevalence of AIDS/HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. Quality of Primary Education ranked at 55 up +16 places.

Higher Education and Training is another standout area. The global survey ranked Guyana 12th in secondary enrolment. The country also made significant strides in the Quality of the Education System (62), the Quality in Math and Science Education (79), Quality of Management Schools (88), and Extent of Staff Training (69). The detracting factors were the lack of Local Availability of Research and Training Service and the need for internet access in schools. The cost for broadband service in Guyana is prohibitive at this time and there are reliability issues.

Improvements at Kaieteur National Park

The Kaieteur National Park occupies a prominent position in the centre of the Guiana Shield. Here the 741-foot majestic Kaieteur Falls, located on the Potaro River, along with the scenic flora, fauna and wildlife are the main attractions of the Park.

The management plan of the Park which will aid in its enhanced administration is expected to be ready for implementation later in the year.

There are two major projects that are being undertaken with funding from the German Development Bank through the government of Guyana. These are a Visitor Arrival Centre at the Park and a guest house and wardens’ quarters at Tukeit.

The Visitor Arrival Centre which is expected to be completed by the end of May will feature an information centre that will provide the opportunity for visitors to be briefed on what is expected of them in relation to basic measures of safety and security. Additionally, this solar powered facility will also have a craft/souvenir store, waiting areas, restaurant, restrooms and sanitary facilities, and improved communication facilities, such as internet access.

At present, there are three trained wardens who are tasked with the management of an existing guest house that was built in 1974. More wardens will be recruited this year.

Qualfon call-centre expands in Guyana

Qualfon Guyana, a call-centre at Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara, which began operations in 2005 with 50 agents, currently employs 1,200 persons, all of whom are Guyanese. The impressive growth of the centre was credited to the commitment of the staff even in the toughest of times. And with the completion of the fibre optic cable connection later this year, the company is optimistic of the success of its immediate massive expansion plans.

The centre has grown in reputation as the second biggest Qualfon Centre with respectable working relations with the Guyana government through the Guyana Office for Investment. It contributes to Guyana’s economy by using local vendors for supplies, maintenance and transportation.

Qualfon has an international presence in almost every country in Latin America, the United States of America (USA), Europe and Asia with a quick response to any service requirement via telephone, fax, web, email and Short Message Service (SMS).

Infrastructural works for Amaila Falls hydro-project

The provision of cheaper and more reliable electricity has moved a step closer to being realised. The way is being paved for the construction of the hydropower plant at Amaila Falls in the Kuribrong River, Region 8. The Amaila Falls project has the capacity to provide over 140 megawatts of electricity.

Preparations for the implementation of this project are slated to begin shortly as the government has already awarded a US$15 million contract for the construction and upgrading of roads, bridges and building a pontoon to cross the Essequibo River so as to allow the investors easy access to the site.

The contract includes building a bridge across the Kuribrong River, construction of 110 kilometres new roads and upgrading 85 kilometres existing roads, some of which will provide easy access to the Amaila Falls. The cutting of some of the pathways for the transmission main has already begun.

The project is expected to take about eight to ten months during which time financial closure for the hydro project should be achieved.

The government’s pre-financing of the road will reduce the interest cost as the money would be utilised in a timely manner. The hydro project would immediately result in a lower cost of electricity to the government and consumers.

The government is working with the Inter American Development Bank and China Development Bank and other investors on securing the financing so that the project could advance.

Last attempt to resolve local gov’t reform issues

The ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) has agreed to one last attempt at bringing closure to the outstanding pieces of reform legislation in the Parliament for the hosting of local government elections.

President Bharrat Jagdeo made this disclosure while speaking to the media on March 25 about the hosting of local government elections but noted that the agreement was met with a high degree of reluctance by his party members since the elections are long overdue.

“We want to set a climate where we go to [national] elections in 2011 with very little controversy,” President Jagdeo said.

In a recent meeting with the President, the Opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) made known its unwillingness to participate in the upcoming elections without the successful conclusion of the pieces of reform legislation.

However, the President said he highlighted to the opposition the long absence of these elections in Guyana and the fervent but unsuccessful efforts of the Joint Task Force on Local Government Reform co-chaired by People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) member Clinton Collymore to arrive at a consensus.

“That’s why we had to take this necessary step to move to the Parliament to pass the legislation that was necessary to conduct the local government elections whilst we are working on the other bits of legislation. We don’t want further delay,” President Jagdeo said.

Local government election was last held in Guyana in 1994 and following calls for reform of the local government structure, a taskforce comprising members of the government and opposition was established, to examine the changes needed and make recommendations for the necessary reforms.

The taskforce was able to reach agreement on two of the four areas identified for reform. But a halt was called to the talks by Collymore after it was found that agreement on the other two areas was not in sight.

National Crime Observatory launched

A very significant aspect of the plan for capacity building in the Ministry of Home Affairs under the Citizens’ Security Programme was achieved on March 24 with the launch of the Integrated Crime and Violence Information System (ICIS) commonly referred to as the Crime Observatory.

The Crime Observatory was officially launched by Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee in the presence of other government ministers, Commissioner of Police Henry Greene and other senior officers of the Guyana Police Force (GPF). It is a collaborative effort of the Guyana government and the Inter-American Development Bank.

The ICIS which is based on the following objectives:

• To provide an interactive system that presents the Ministry of Home Affairs and the GPF with access to other data bases which may be used to provide the complete profile of perpetrators and victims.

• To enhance the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the justice system in Guyana through access to comprehensive crime data.

• To establish a functional crime observatory which must have capacity for physical analysis and production of geo-reference materials on crime and violence in society.

• To provide capacity for data management at the Ministry of Home Affairs and the GPF.

A key component of the ICIS is its capacity to integrate the work of the GPF with a number of key government agencies vital to crime and security in Guyana, such as the Department of Public Prosecution, Magistrates’ Courts, Guyana Prison Service, and the Guyana Revenue Authority.

Within the GPF, the ICIS enables the establishment of data centres at its headquarters and the Ministry of Home Affairs and the integration of all police stations via a wide area network.

US$25M IDB loan for infrastructure works

Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh and the President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Luis Alberto Moreno on March 23 signed a US$25 million Road Improvement and Rehabilitation Loan Agreement in Cancun, Mexico, where they were both participating in the 2010 Annual IDB Board of Governors meeting.

The amount being provided by the IDB will support implementation by the government of a project aimed at enhancing urban and suburban mobility and safety for Guyanese, along with improving access to agricultural areas, by upgrading specific elements of transport infrastructure.

Under this programme, the East and West Canje roads would be improved and rehabilitated with the replacement of 24 bridges and 6 culverts and the rehabilitation of 3 box culverts, thereby improving accessibility to an important agricultural zone. Other activities will include construction of shoulders, sidewalks and other safety related works in urban areas, as well as improvements of urban crossings and roadside amenities, including bus stops and parking areas at key locations to enhance safety and socio-economic benefits.

The Sheriff Street-Mandela roadway in Georgetown and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) access road would also be improved and rehabilitated, while selected localised interventions would be implemented along the carriageway between Providence Cricket Stadium and Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara with the ultimate aim of widening it into a four-lane road.

Infrastructure to be improved in all regions

The Ministry of Local Government will be expending significant sums of money for various projects in all 10 administrative regions to ensure that residents benefit from the developmental process which will allow for modernisation of their communities.

Region One (Barima/Waini) will used $11 million for the construction of bridges at Yarrow Creek and Hosororo/Kumaka road. Also, approximately $35 million will be expended on the rehabilitation of bitumen road surfaces from Kumaka Waterfront to Airstrip, Moruca; School Road Junction to Lalta Persaud Road; and Hospital to Water Front, Port Kaituma.

Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) will utilise $11 million to construct bridges at Suddie Hospital and Anna Regina Centre Ground and $40 million for the upgrading of roads in areas such as Charity, Suddie, Capoey, La Union and New Road.

For Region Three (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara) approximately $18 million will be utilised to construct bridges at Leguan, Wakenaam, Hague, Morashee, Meten-meer-Zorg and Tuschen while $45 million will facilitate the upgrading of roads in areas such as Leguan, Wakenaam, Zeeburg, Bagotville and Stewartville.

Over $18 million is provided for Region Four (Demerara/ Mahaica) to cater for the rehabilitation of bridges at Enterprise and Ann’s Grove, East Coast Demerara and Craig, East Bank Demerara, and $33 million will ensure that there is construction and rehabilitation of roads at Earl’s Court, Success, Bachelor’s Adventure, Bladen Hall, Victoria and Melanie Damishana.

Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice) will be provided with $13.5 million for the rehabilitation of the culvert at Blairmont Branch Road, West Bank Berbice, and the construction of footpath bridges at Nos. 8 and 9 Villages and at Hopetown, West Coast Berbice.

Also $44 million will be spent to rehabilitate roads in areas such as Cotton Tree, De Hoop, No. 7 Village, Bath Settlement, Litchfield, Bush Lot, Ross and Belladrum.

With $27 million, Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) will construct and rehabilitate bridges at Johanna/Yakusari, Grant 1802, Liverpool/Manchester, Grant 1778/1779, Susannah and Mibicuri North. Additionally, with $56 million there will be the rehabilitation of roads in areas such as Goed Bananen Land, Palmyra, Fryish, Bloomfield, Limlair, Liverpool, Letter Kenny and Whim.

Region Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni) will be provided with $8 million to construct bridges at Haika and Agatash while $17 million will cater for the construction and rehabilitation of roads and drains in areas such as Bartica and Kako.

For Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) $16 million will be spent on the construction of bridges at Kanapang and Tusenen and $23 million will facilitate the construction of concrete drains at Mahdia and rehabilitation of roadways from Itabac to Kanapang, Kamana to Kopinang, Mahdia to Princeville and Kopinang to Maikwak.

In Region Nine (Upper Essequibo/Upper Takutu) with the provision of $26 million the construction of bridges at Warapau, Kassawau and Karasabai will be facilitated, and $50 million will ensure that roads at Lethem, Aishalton and Rupertee are upgraded.

Region Ten (Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice) will benefit from $37 million for the rehabilitation of Well Road and Wendel Lashley Road and over $8 million is to be spent on the construction of a concrete culvert and bridge at Rainbow City.

Health sector in several regions to be boosted

This year, budgetary allocations by the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development will ensure the completion of a number of development projects in various areas in the 10 administrative regions of the country.

With the allocation of $30 million to Region One (Barima/Waini) the completion of the nurses’ hostel at Mabaruma and rehabilitation of the health hut at Baramita will be facilitated. A nurses’ hostel at Port Kaituma and an incinerator at Kwebanna health centre will also be built.

Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) will receive $23.5 million to construct an audiology department and vision centre at the Suddie Hospital and to rewire the hospital’s public building. Also repair works will be carried out at the health post at Dredge Creek, the Oscar Joseph District Hospital at Charity and the Suddie Hospital main building.

Region Three (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara) will benefit from $24 million to ensure that there is construction of a mortuary at Wakenaam and a patient waiting area at La Grange health centre.

There will also be the extension of the clinic building at West Demerara Regional Hospital and the rehabilitation of the health centre at De Kinderen.

In Region Four (Demerara/ Mahaica) $18 million will be utilised for rehabilitation of health centres at Clonbrook, Craig and Soesdyke and the Medex quarters at Soesdyke.

Region Five(Mahaica/Berbice) will be provided with $10.3 million to construct a pharmacy and generator shed at the Mahaicony Hospital compound, the rewiring of Fort Wellington Hospital and extension of its mortuary.

For Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) $10 million will be spent on the extension of the drugs bond at New Amsterdam, and the Bara Bara health centre will also be repaired.

Region Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni) will utilise $8 million on the construction of the health post at Kangaruma, Middle Mazaruni while Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) will receive $9 million for the construction of a health post at Arasowa Valley.

Region Nine (Upper Essequibo/Upper Takutu) and Region Ten (Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice) will benefit from $12 million and $19 million respectively. With these funds there will be the extension of health posts at Karaudarnau, Yurong Peru, Awarewaunau and Tiperu in Region Nine.

The sum allocated for Region Ten will cater for the construction of a health statistical unit at Mackenzie, extension of health centres at Christianburg and Ituni and the completion of the nurses’ school at Mackenzie.

UN Secretary General lauds Guyana’s relief efforts for Haiti

The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon in a letter to President Bharrat Jagdeo has lauded the government’s contribution of US$1 million to aid relief efforts for earthquake-devastated Haiti.

The Secretary General said that “the funds were not only timely, but an example of neighbourly solidarity to a country in dire need. Guyana is a generous donor to Haiti in terms of per capita GDP and I commend you and the Guyanese people, who I understand have separately managed to raise over [Guyana] $266 million to date.”

Additionally, over 15 containers of food items, water and clothing have been shipped to Haiti.

Haiti’s capital was struck by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 12, killing tens of thousands of people.

The financial contributions of several countries to the Haitian crisis were assessed by the Relief Web, Guardian Datablog: Information is Beautiful, which placed Guyana on top of the list of the most generous countries.

Guyana’s donation was rated as 0.088 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) crediting it the most generous country to have donated to Haiti. Second in line was Ghana with 0.018 percent.

El Niño affecting sugar production

The extended El Niño period, with its sustained drought, has been having severe effects on cane cultivation across the sugar industry, particularly on the East Demerara estates, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) said.

The Demerara Estates source their water from the East and West Demerara water conservancies, whereas, the East Berbice Estates obtain their supplies from the Canje Creek. Blairmont Estate obtains its supply from the Mahaica, Mahaicony Abary (MMA) conservancy but is now forced to use pumps to source water from that system.

At the beginning of the crop in early February, the East and West Demerara conservancies were bordering on their dead storage levels where water can only be obtained from them by the use of pumps.

For the East Demerara Estates, in particular, apart from the negligible rainfall during the months of January and February 2010; evaporation from the navigation and irrigation canals is in the order of a quarter of an inch per day, GUYSUCO said.

Evaporation losses alone across the industry from November 2009 to the present time would amount to millions of gallons of water. The industry is also suffering from an enormous deficit of soil moisture for sugar-cane crops on the East Demerara Estates. The East Berbice Estates are in a better position because they can still source adequate supplies via large fixed pumps from the Canje Creek.

Because of the extremely dry conditions, the sugar-cane crop is generally under severe moisture stress and is compounded by the fact that water supply from GUYSUCO’s main sources has dwindled. Conservancies and rivers are at their lowest levels and saline water has moved very far upstream.

On the Enmore, LBI, Wales and Uitvlugt Estates, stunted cane growth can be observed in fields in which canes have turned pale yellow.

Iranian geological team in Guyana

A four-member delegation of Iranian geological survey experts from the country’s Ministry of Industries and Mines met Prime Minister Samuel Hinds at his Wight’s Lane, Kingston office on Marc 22. The delegation, which is an advance team to plan the mapping survey project, also met with President Bharrat Jagdeo.

The members include Gold Project Manager in the Ministry of Industries and Mines and Geological Survey of Iran Dr. Mohammad Reza Hezareh, Chief of Data Base Somageh Veyseh, Director of Iran Export Industrial Development Bahram Bahram and Advisor Ali Mohammadi.

Their visit to Guyana resulted from discussions between the Governments of Guyana and Iran following a visit by President Bharrat Jagdeo to the Islamic state early this year. As a result of these discussions the Iranian government agreed to assist Guyana in mapping its mineral resources.

Katie Spotz arrives in Guyana, after rowing across the Atlantic

Guyana welcomed 22 year-old American adventurer, Katie Spotz, who arrived at Customs Boat House, located behind Stabroek Market in Georgetown, at 12:07pm on March 14. She became the youngest person to row alone over the Atlantic.

Spotz arrived after more than 70 days of rowing in the Atlantic Ocean. Her journey commenced from Dakar, Senegal, on January 3, 2010 and terminated at Georgetown, Guyana.

She stated the main reason behind this journey was to help persons to have access to safe drinking water so that they would be free of sickness and diseases. Spotz was able to raise approximately US$65,000 which will go to countries that are deprived of safe and healthy drinking water.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Manniram Prashad, members of the Guyana Tourism Authority, and the International Rotary Club of Georgetown were on hand to welcome the adventurer. Her father, Dan Spotz and brother, Danny Spotz, were also present and overjoyed to greet her after the long, tiring journey.

News Briefs

Credits: Stabroek News, Chronicle, Mirror, Kaieteur News, GINA

Compiled and edited by Evangeline Ishmael

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