uyana Diary

July 2009

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

On the Internet: http://www.guyana.org/spanish/venezuela_embassy.html

Posted July 2009 - Issue No. 66 - Back to Embassy page

Previous Guyana Diaries are available here.

President launches Guyana’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy

President Bharrat Jagdeo on June 8 launched Guyana’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which details Guyana’s rainforest offer in the fight against global climate change and the types of investment needed to ensure sustainable growth. He said that the strategy is not an appeal for a poverty relief handout or a threat to cut forests if no international funding is obtained.

President Jagdeo said that climate change needs to be seen as a development issue and not just an environmental one. “The world must not be permitted to give the excuse that deforestation is difficult to solve. Solving deforestation is possible but it requires global partnership,” he added.

In attendance at the launching were members of indigenous communities, members of parliament, members of the diplomatic corps, forestry groups and business, faculty of the University of Guyana, the business community and the private sector and many other stakeholders.

The LCDS is a merger of the forest initiative which was launched in December, and other practical measures that would ensure that Guyana takes its place among countries of the world actually finding solutions to the devastating effects of climate change.

The draft strategy document sets out Guyana’s view on how a platform for partnership can be created, and affirms Guyana’s commitment to play its part in combating climate change.

Speaking of the importance of including Guyana’s indigenous population in the consultative process, the president said that no deadline will be placed on Amerindian leaders as regards their signing on to the reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) mechanism.

Consultations will also take place in the regions of the country, the president explained. He stated that an Indigenous People’s Fund will be created to assist with the process.

The entire draft strategy document can be read here: http://www.gina.gov.gy/reader.htm.

Guyana condemns coup in Honduras

Guyana has strongly condemned the removal of the democratically elected President, Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on June 29. “The country joins in the call for his early reinstatement as the President of Honduras,” the statement added.

“In accordance with the principles of democracy and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the Government of Guyana is concerned with the breakdown of the constitutional order in the Republic of Honduras that has occurred as a result of the coup d’état.

The Government is also concerned that the events in Honduras may jeopardize the democratic political institutional process and the legitimate exercise of power,” the statement noted.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the government also joins in the condemnation of all acts of violence and the detention of government Ministers and urge their early release.

President pleased with response to low carbon strategy

President Bharrat Jagdeo on June 26 expressed satisfaction with the response so far to the government’s draft Low Carbon Development Strategy that is up for consultations with stakeholders and target groups around the country.

He said Guyana is hoping to tap into a US$100 billion world market that has been developed over the last four years for trading carbon services.

Mr. Jagdeo said it is not inconceivable that if the developed countries agree to deeper emission cuts at a United Nations summit on a new climate change regime in December, which they are not able to meet, that they would have to buy some of the credits from the developing countries with forests because the forests take out greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

“We are saying that could become the genesis of the market for the forest, but even before that, they recognised that there is a benefit to saving the trees because it’s a cheaper way of solving climate change than investing in other kinds of solutions”, he said.

The President said funding for the forest services from developing countries can come from Overseas Development Assistance programmes like that drawn up by Norway or like the proposal from Germany to auction emission permits to help finance maintenance of forest or cutting deforestation rates across the world.

He said Guyana can get resources early to transform the economy by investing in low carbon emitting sectors – information technology, hydro-power, health, education and agriculture, among others.

Ambassador Ishmael urges international support for LCDS

Guyana’s Ambassador to Venezuela Odeen Ishmael has urged the developed industrialised countries to render support to the country’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). He made this call at the Symposium of the Americas on Energy and Climate held in Lima, Peru, on June 16.

Ambassador Ishmael, who was one of the main speakers at the forum, outlined the strategy to an audience of more than 300 representatives from the nations of the Americas.

The symposium resulted from a proposal by US President Barack Obama at the fifth Summit of the Americas last April for the creation of an “Alliance of the Americas for Energy and Climate

In his presentation to the audience which included hemispheric Ministers responsible for energy and environmental matters, the Guyanese ambassador called for international support for the strategy saying that its objectives “can surely be accomplished through a partnership in which the industrialised developed nations must actively participate.”

He added: “They have to realise that is also to their benefit that the efforts of poorer nations to protect their rainforests will accrue. The industrialised nations are the ones with economic power and they can surely assist effectively in this process. For they must always keep in mind that the rainforest nations with little economic power, but with their carbon power, in the long run, will be necessary for the world’s physical survival.”

For Ambassador Ishmael’s full statement, check the following links:

PM Hinds says Guyana financial system sound

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds reiterated on June 26 that Guyana’s financial system is strong and has a sound regulatory network and a high level of liquidity. He said that is because the local economy is in the early stages of development and is not greatly intertwined with the international markets.

However, as he acknowledged the gravity of the financial crisis, he stated that in the post crisis period, the world will see different approaches being taken and the accountants’ role will be featured as one of significant importance.

Mr. Hinds was delivering the feature address as the 27th annual Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean (ICAC) at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara. More than 300 participants were in attendance.

He pointed out that the region’s recovery is in the hands of the financial experts and will reflect the technical work and discussions that their gathering will facilitate.

In his view, the present question facing the Caribbean, particularly Guyana, is: “What might be our path of growth and development in light of the economic conditions of the present?”

Here, the Prime Minister affirmed is where the accounting and finance professionals are instrumental because they deal with certainty and will be able to lead development in the region.

Guyana urges EU to be flexible on sugar action plan

Guyana has urged the European Union (EU) to be more flexible in a plan to support the local sugar industry.

A team from the European Commission (EC) was in Guyana for a mid-term assessment of the EU’s support for Guyana and other sugar producing countries within the African, Caribbean and Pacific grouping getting European aid.

The delegates met Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud on June 25 to discuss and provide an update on the Guyana government’s commitments and efforts to realise the objectives of the Sugar Action Plan.

The Agriculture Ministry said this mid-term evaluation would provide a guide to the European Commission on the delivery of its assistance to all countries within its Sugar Protocol.

During the meeting, Persaud urged the European Commission to be more flexible and to recognize the ongoing efforts by Guyana to make the sugar industry viable in light of various challenges including the EU’s 36 percent price cuts.

Persaud reiterated the impact of the price cuts on the national economy and the sugar industry as it will see Guyana losing G$9 billion per annum.

The EC was urged to accelerate the promised support in the context of the termination of the Sugar Protocol which provided preferential price and guaranteed markets. Persaud further pointed out that as part of the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s blueprint for success, emphasis is being placed on cutting cost and expanding production.

He said the EC should recognize the difficulties being faced by the industry in light of the global economic crisis and climate change and the efforts to satisfy the various indicators for funding.

He also reiterated the call for the EC to review its position to deny Guyana 6 million Euros in resources due to its claim of a late submission of GUYSUCO’s business plan, a claim the government has rejected.

Blue Flame Women’s Group expands organic farming

The Blue Flame Women’s Group of Bunbury-Hosororo in Region One (Barima/Waini) is targeting the regional markets for export of their recently launched ground coffee.

Chairperson of the group, Mrs. Christine James, said that the current aim is to satisfy local consumption, but the long-term goal is to introduce the commodity to markets in the region, hopefully by next year.

James, who is also a coffee bean grower, said that her group is hoping to do its own labelling and packaging of the commodity in the near future. That work is currently being done by North West Organics (NWO).

She pointed out that the group made the decision to venture into coffee production because of the ready availability of coffee beans in the community, and following the success of the cocoa, peanut butter, preserved fruits, and crabwood oil projects.

The commodity, which was subjected to limited consumer testing, has been touted as having a distinctive flavour, probably attributable to the fertile lateritic soil and unique environmental conditions of the North West District, a locale which is also commonly referred to as the organic region of Guyana.

The Blue Flame Women’s Group chairperson explained that the production of the commodity employs carbon neutral systems and entails the grinding and drying of coffee beans over a two-day period.

The organic cocoa industry operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), and the British High Commission Cocoa Research Unit of Trinidad and Tobago.

That project seeks to revitalise and expand organic cocoa production for export as a means of increasing farm revenue for participating farmers, and to strengthen the foundation for the development of an organic agriculture policy initiative.

Second low income settlement programme

The second Low Income Settlements Programme, a US$27.9 million undertaking to further develop the housing sector, got underway on June 22. The programme is financed by an Inter-American Development Bank loan, through the Ministry of Housing and Water.

The document for the financing was signed in April and the general objective is to improve the quality of life of low income families, by affording them better access to housing.

Important to the implementation strategy will be the involvement of key stakeholders, including beneficiaries in all phases and aspects of the programme and, in addition, community development plans will be prepared and implemented in all of the selected housing schemes and regularised squatter settlements.

The activities are expected to be executed during the period 2009 to 2013 and will benefit approximately 10,000 households.

UG to be overhauled

University of Guyana (UG) Interim Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lawrence Carrington, on June 19 said the academic structure and administrative framework of the institution will be overhauled to be fully compatible with contemporary patterns of administration and management.

Professor Carrington made the announcement at a media briefing convened at the Education Lecture Theatre at the Turkeyen Campus, East Coast Demerara.

“Our goal will be to imbed in the institution the self-monitoring that will give it flexibility to adjust as it changes Guyana, in collaboration with the state and civil society.

“The university is anxious to establish systems of quality assurance that will enhance its standards, increase its international standing and make its graduates more valuable,” he told reporters.

On that score, the Interim Vice-Chancellor pointed out that UG has entered into collaboration with the University of the West Indies (UWI) which has considerable experience in this area.

He disclosed UWI quality assurance units’ members will be working with the local university to effect improvement in this regard, and reasoned the benefits will be evident when matters of accreditation of programmes and departments are addressed.

Professor Carrington stated that collaboration with UWI will extend into other areas, and UG has a joint working group which will maintain contact and exploit the potential of both universities.

He said attention will be given to several departments, including curriculum content and reform, teaching methodologies and administrative practices.

Apart from these areas which need improvement, Professor Carrington said UG infrastructure, buildings and other facilities require extensive repair and refurbishing, and, encouragingly, President Bharrat Jagdeo has offered assistance in this area.

Government reduces excise tax on fuel products

Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, announced that Government reduced the excise tax on fuel products with effect from Monday, June 15.

The excise tax on gasoline was lowered from 50 to 30 percent, while the tax on diesel was lowered from 40 to 30 percent. In addition, Government will continue to apply no taxation on kerosene.

In making the announcement, Minister Singh indicated that this decision was taken in the interest of ensuring that Guyanese businesses and consumers would not have to bear the brunt of the upward movement in the world market price for oil that was observed in recent months.

The Minister pointed out that, whereas crude oil was being traded at prices as low as US$37 per barrel in December of last year, the commodity was now being traded at prices as high as US$70 per barrel. Minister Singh similarly pointed out that, while in December 2008 Guyana was acquiring gasoline at prices as low as US$46 per barrel, the most recent shipment of gasoline imported into Guyana was acquired at a cost of US$85 per barrel.

Minister Singh said the government took the decision to reduce the excise tax in order to moderate the impact of these world market price movements on the domestic economy and on domestic consumers and producers. He also pointed out that, throughout the first three quarters of last year, the government had made a similar move, reducing the excise tax on gasoline and diesel progressively as world market prices increased. This initiative came at a cost of $4.2 billion in 2008, and the tax was only re-adjusted upwards in the latter months of last year as the world market price eased.

Israeli company to invest in agriculture venture

Guyana has over US$1.5 billion of opportunities present in seven areas in the agricultural sector and Shigam Inc., an investment company has decided to invest in the sector.

The Israeli company has begun clearing 200 acres of land at Dora, Soesdyke, [East Bank Demerara], that has been earmarked for the cultivation of papaya and pineapples among other crops. Cultivation is expected to commence this month.

Director of the company, Liran Peretz, who hails from Israel, said that investment in Guyana “is considered economical and viable due to its vast land, fertile soil and year round availability of water.”

Shigam Inc., according to its business profile, has more than 30 years of experience supplying markets and supporting other farmers around the world.

The company is linking with other Guyanese farmers to export fruits and vegetables based on the market requirement and demands. Satellite farms – agricultural food production areas that operate just within the periphery of an urban setup – will sell their produce to Shigam Inc. which will in turn export them to their markets in Europe and the United States.

Guyana objects to being placed by US on TIP watch list

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Priya Manickchand, has lashed out at the United States of America’s rating of Guyana for its Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report by the US State Department which places Guyana on the Tier 2 watch list.

“Guyana objects completely to being placed on the Tier 2 watch list; we do not believe that we have trafficking on the scale that should attract the attention of the U.S. The report is inaccurate in some of its assertions: it did not give us (government) credit for all that has been done,” she stated.

At the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, President Bharrat Jagdeo had met with United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when he addressed the issue of the US TIP rating of Guyana.

The President had said that despite not having even three documented cases of TIP, Guyana was placed on the Tier 2 rank when it takes 100 documented cases for countries to gain US attention and be placed on this rank. After this discussion, President Jagdeo related that the US President asked Secretary of State Clinton to look into this matter.

The Government of Guyana has recognised that TIP is a crime and an inhumane activity; as such it has passed legislation which is comprehensive and holistic, the Minister explained.

However, she added that while the US report states that Guyana has made “significant efforts and much progress in these departments”, it claims that in the area of prosecution and conviction the process is not satisfactory.

More teachers to be trained in shorter time

Education Minister Shaik Baksh, unveiling more plans for reform, announced on June 15 that, excluding exceptional circumstances, all untrained teachers must be enrolled at Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) by September 2010.

He made the announcement at a meeting with head-teachers of Regions Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands) and Four (Demerara/Mahaica), as well as Georgetown Education District, at Queen’s College auditorium in Georgetown.

Mr. Baksh explained that the move is in keeping with his ministry’s strategic plan to increase the number of trained teachers in the school system from the current 53 per cent to 70 per cent over the next five years, taking the attrition rate into account.

Baksh told them the Teaching Service Commission will be issuing letters to effect the compulsory training to all in the target group.

The Minister pointed out, too, that a team has been established to strengthen links between CPCE and University of Guyana. He said that team will, in another three months, submit to him a report, on the integration of the CPCE curriculum with that of UG, to shorten the study time at both institutions.

GUYSUCO seeks to satisfy European market

Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud has said the decision to import sugar from Guatemala in an effort to get as much Guyanese sugar to Europe before the sugar protocol expires in September has not changed.

Speaking at a press briefing at his ministry, Persaud pointed out that the average local consumption is between 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes per annum, and the amount being imported is to fill the gap where there is a shortage on the market.

The importation, he explained, is being done on a needs basis as the situation arises and according to the Minister, based on available documentation, there has been no request exceeding 13,000 tonnes.

He reasoned that given the strategic need and business sense, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) makes more money by importing a quantity of the merchandise and exporting what it produces to Europe, where it obtains a premium price.

This, the minister said, is done without compromising consumers’ demand.

GUYSUCO has reported that heavy rainfall between January and March has resulted in a shortfall of 6,000 tonnes in their production target for the first crop this year.

But the corporation revealed that though the 6,000 tonne shortfall meant they were only able to produce 83,000 tonnes of sugar in the first crop, there is a strong optimism that the steady efforts of its management team will materialise into higher productivity in the months ahead.

President meets team of Lethem businessmen

President Bharrat Jagdeo on June 5 met with a team of Lethem businessmen to discuss issues relating to the business community in the area.

The team included the past president of the Rupununi Chamber of Commerce, Daniel Gajie, who disclosed that several issues were discussed including the development of the commercial and industrial areas in Lethem.

“With the impending opening and use of the Takutu River Bridge, there will be great movement of goods, vehicles and people between Lethem and Brazil. The bridge will allow us to export Guyana’s products for the first time to North Roraima (in Brazil) initially and then further south into Brazil. This will allow a lot of products that we only had markets for in North America and Europe. These products will now be exported into Brazil generating income for the manufacturers and the persons here in Georgetown,” he said.

Gajie said development of the commercial area which encompasses about 67 plots started about three years ago and is spearheaded by the National Competitiveness Council.

There is also another area of about 70 acres that is targeted for industrial development and this venture is being undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce

The meeting also focused on possibilities that would allow easier export and the prospect of attaining essential utilities including electricity, water and proper roads. The meeting also explored investment possibilities and shared other ideas that would assist in the further development of Lethem.

The Takutu Bridge linking Guyana with its southern neighbour Brazil is not yet open to traffic, and will not be, until all necessary systems are in place in both Guyana and Brazil.

Government is continuing to work towards the necessary inputs for the opening ceremony of the bridge.

The Takutu Bridge is 14 metres wide across the Takutu River and built of reinforced concrete with pedestrian walkways.

Guyana signs agreement to help in deportees’ reintegration

Guyana has signed a cooperation agreement which allows for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to implement immigration programmes in Guyana, starting in August, in areas such as capacity building, advisory services and technical cooperation on migration issues.

Government has identified the Ministry of Home Affairs as the focal point for this initiative which was signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and Regional Representative of the IOM, Richard Scott.

The establishment of the IOM office in Guyana will facilitate the implementation of the “Reintegration of the Returned Migrants Project”, proposed by the IOM in response to the request for assistance made by Caricom leaders during a meeting in 2007 with former United States President, George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Minister Rodrigues-Birkett explained that the objective of the project is to “contribute to the long-term reintegration of returnees from the United States, by equipping them to become productive members of society with a view to mitigating the potential of their resorting to criminal activity.”

The Foreign Affairs Minister disclosed that discussions were held between the IOM teams that visited Guyana and the Ministries of Home Affairs and Labour, Human Services and Social Security.

News Briefs

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

Compiled and edited by Evangeline Ishmael

This page is part of Guyana News and Information.

© Copyright 2009