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Posted July 2010 - Issue No. 78 - Back to Embassy page
Previous Guyana Diaries are available here.
The Guyana Bureau of Statistics on June 22 issued a report announcing that for the first quarter of 2010 the economy recorded an overall inflation rate of 0.5 per cent for the period December 2009 to March 2010.
According to the Bureau, two major factors contributed to the low level of inflation at the end of the first quarter. These included the movement of the food sub-index and the state of fuel prices.
The report stated that for the first three months, food sub-index was very moderate at overall 1.3 percent despite the drought conditions that obtained in the early months of this year. However, there were declines in prices in some of the heavier-weighted categories, particularly the vegetable products category which declined in price by as much as -12.5percent over the first quarter.
Prices for milk and milk products declined by -5.1 percent, oils and fats by -4.0 percent, and cereal and cereal products by -0.8 percent. On the other hand, price increases were recorded in some other categories with the largest price movements recorded for pulse and pulse products which increased for the quarter by 17.0 percent.
Imported condiments and spices fuelled an increase of 14.9 percent and the price index for fruit and fruit products increased for the quarter by 16.2 percent. Additionally, the prices of meat, fish and eggs also increased by 8.3 percent during the first quarter of the year.
The market reaction to shortages of high consumption items as bananas, cherries, oranges, dry-coconuts and limes as a result of the drought conditions, which triggered the increases, is expected to reverse once weather conditions become favourable.
Fuel prices had a marginal effect on the movements of two directly influenced sub-indices, namely housing and transport and communication. The movements in fuel prices were countervailed by the -9.2 percent decline in the price of the communication sub-index, gasoline, as consumers continued to benefit from the robust competition in the communications market.
The report concluded that the inflation target for 2010, announced by Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh in his budget speech in February, was set at 4.0 percent. Both in the context of this year’s inflation target and in contrast to last year’s first quarter inflation rate of 0.4 percent, the inflation rate for the first quarter of 2010 thus far, has been favourable.
Stemming from the fact that it is sometimes difficult to obtain feed and other supplies for feeding livestock, Guyana is about to enter into large scale corn cultivation. This was revealed by Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud on July 2 when he met with stakeholders of the poultry industry.
It is hoped that this venture would ensure the future of feed supply in the country and contribute to the supplies being adequate for feed producers.
Minister Persaud stated that there are several farmers who will be taking up corn cultivation, and experts from Brazil are expected in Guyana this month. The Brazilians will work with the local farmers to develop large scale corn cultivation.
The Soesdyke-Linden Highway has been earmarked for corn cultivation, and according to the Minister, a group of farmers there will start planting in excess of 100 acres alongside the highway itself. He said the venture will bring more local reliance to the industry and will make Guyana less exposed to difficulties.
Currently, all inputs for the livestock industry are imported, and this exposes it to the effects of international supply and price fluctuations.
The Mainstay/Whyaka, in Region Two, is one of the most progressive Amerindian communities in the country owing to partnerships with the government and private enterprise. One of its main economic activities is the cultivation of organic pineapples which are marketed to Amazon Caribbean Guyana Ltd. (AMCAR).
Owing to the recent drought conditions which affected the country, production of pineapples in large quantities was affected and as such to find a feasible solution for the company, which processes local pineapples into chunks for export to the European market with the utilisation of local labour, and villagers the Ministries of Agriculture and Amerindian Affairs intervened.
As a result of discussions between the two parties at a meeting held in mid-June at Mainstay/Whyaka, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud announced that the Ministry of Agriculture will pay to clear one acre of land for each farmer on the premise that they will clear another since the current lands are not high yielding.
This, he indicated, will increase the quantity of pineapples being supplied to AMCAR since the company expressed that it needed more pineapples to boost its production. AMCAR has been partnering with the community since 2003.
The minister said that the government would be ready to support the community in dealing with the effects of climate change primarily when drought-like conditions arise as in the past months.
The Ministry of Agriculture has since been working with the community to garner what support is needed in terms of planting materials, and setting up an orchard to diversify the activities of the area. This initiative will help in promoting food security and generating income.
Minister of Labour Manzoor Nadir on June 29 challenged the United States government to produce evidence of child labour in Guyana, and to provide proof that they removed 984 children from exploitative situations in Guyana.
Nadir was responding to United States’ Ambassador, Luis C. de Baca who claimed that he (Nadir) was not the subject minister at the time when the US-sponsored project “Combating Exploitive Child Labour through Education” was signed.
“I have noticed in response to my colleague Minister Manickchand, Ambassador C. de Baca has condescendingly dismissed my call for the US to produce the evidence of child labour here, saying I was not the Minister,” Minister Nadir remarked.
He noted that both Minister of Education Shaik Baksh and himself served as the relevant Ministers during the life of the project called “EDUCARE”.
The TIP 2010 report states that the US Department of Labour withdrew 984 children from employment in logging, saw-milling, fishing, hazardous farming, factory work, mining, and freight handling from 2005 to 2009.
Minister Nadir questioned why after four years of being on the ground, EDUCARE failed to mention to either the education or labour ministries that they had found instances of child labour.
“I again vehemently deny that there was any project in Guyana that ever removed over 984 children from exploitative child labour or prevented 2,000 plus from entering such. I am absolutely certain that the project which the Hon. Ambassador is referring to, did not – absolutely did not – achieve this super-human feat,” the Labour Minister maintained.
He stressed that the final report was “falsified and fabricated” by the contractors of the US Department of Labour, who were hired to execute the project.
Minister Nadir pointed out that the Ambassador may be finding it difficult, because of his position, to exercise a modicum of humility and accept that the US administration was duped by the EDUCARE principals.
He further stated that government is confident and adamant that the report is factually inaccurate, intellectually dishonest and those responsible have blatantly defrauded US taxpayers.
The National Toshaos Council (NTC) on June 22 refuted claims made in the United States State Department Report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 2010 which indicates that Amerindian women and children are forced into prostitution and child labour.
The council stated that it is unhappy with the contents of the report since it is unaware of any widespread incidences of TIP, let alone forced prostitution among Amerindian women and children.
It also highlighted that the council is supportive of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs’ focal point on HIV/AIDS programme which encompasses other social issues such as alcohol and drug abuse, child abuse and domestic violence and education on the possible risks of TIP.
Hundreds of residents inclusive of women in North Pakaraimas, North and South Rupununi, Upper Mazaruni, and Regions One and Six have benefited from the programme, NTC stated.
“The awareness programme is the correct approach in empowering our hinterland residents who include Amerindians, so that they make right life choices and avoid any possible situation that can lead to abuse,” the NTC said.
It further noted that the US TIP Report 2010 omitted the TIP specific awareness efforts made by the government which constitute efforts to mitigate Guyanese being entrapped in any of the situations to which the report alluded.
The practice of children accompanying adults to farms and other work related environment which are usually located miles away from home during out of school periods cannot be deemed child labour since it is a tradition in Amerindian families, the council noted.
NTC affirmed that Guyana is never known to be a source country where children or women are confined into a situation of modern day slavery. The body deemed that the report was inaccurate and created a distorted image of the situation of indigenous women and children in Guyana.
“We object to the insinuations conveyed in the report and find it inexplicable that the report does not even speak to the issue of the progress that Amerindians have made in this country,” NTC stated.
Region 6, East Berbice/Corentyne, has seen just about 50 percent of its 2010 works programme completed, while the current programme continues to move apace.
Under the capital programme this year, 11 roads will be built across the region. There will also be the construction of a new nursery school at Port Mourant and the rehabilitation of the New Amsterdam Multilateral School and the Corentyne Comprehensive High School at Port Mourant.
The July/ August vacation will see the rehabilitation of more than 15 schools in the Region.
In the region’s health sector, the plan is to extend the drug bond at New Amsterdam to enable the region to have a greater supply of medicine for the hospital. The Baracara health centre up the Canje River will be rehabilitated to cater for the presence of a resident Medex. In addition, more than $31 million will be spent on the maintenance of health centres and other infrastructure for health services in the region.
In drainage and irrigation, for 2010 alone, $101 million has been earmarked. There are plans to empolder the Mara area, East Bank Berbice, and construct a new sluice there. Already underway is the plan to construct new concrete bridges in all the cultivation areas to facilitate the movement of heavy machinery in those areas. Black Bush Polder, Crabwood Creek and the No. 52 -72 areas will benefit from these projects.
Abary farmers and residents have expressed satisfaction with the swift response of the Ministry of Agriculture and its agencies following a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture at Abary to discuss agricultural support.
During discussion with farmers at the meeting held on June 9, 2010 several concerns were raised, including repairs to the Onverwagt all weather road and bridge which are ongoing much to the satisfaction of farmers/residents of Abary Creek.
Farmers have also benefited from works being undertaken by an excavator to empolder homesteads in Abary Creek due to the vulnerability of the area to flooding. In addition, resulting from the interaction with the minister, a meeting was arranged with cattle farmers and the Ministry of Home Affairs to discuss cattle rustling and other security concerns affecting farmers.
Officers of the Ministry of Agriculture have made several follow up visits to Abary and other surrounding communities to address farmers’ concerns.
Member states during the Joint African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group and the European Union (EU) Council of Ministers (Joint ACP-EU Council) 35th Meeting in Burkina Faso on June 21 to 22, called for “urgent and cooperative action underpinned by the principles of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities” to address climate change while emphasising the urgency with regards to the disbursement of the fast start financing.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett represented Guyana at the Council meeting which also called for the prioritising of new and additional resources, necessary for financing adaptation for the most vulnerable developing countries.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and climate change formed the basis of the joint declarations by member states which emerged at the conclusion of the two-day session. The declarations will aid in further strengthening the Council’s common position while enhancing its visibility and voice at the upcoming United Nations High Level Meeting of the MDGs in New York in September and the UNFCC Conference on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico later this year.
The joint Council acknowledged climate change to be a "crucial global challenge, threatening the attainment of the MDGs."
Guyana has acceded to the Cartagena Convention and its three Protocols. The Convention addresses water and airborne pollution, land-based pollution of the marine environment and sea bed exploitation. The area of application of the Convention is essentially the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and contiguous areas of states that share the Atlantic Ocean as their sea coast. The three Protocols to which Guyana has acceded deal with combating oil spills in the wider Caribbean region, combating pollution from land-based sources and activities and pollution concerning protected areas and wildlife in the wider Caribbean Sea.
The Convention was adopted in Cartagena, Colombia, on March 24, 1983 and entered into force on October 11, 1986, for the legal implementation of the action plan for the Caribbean Environment Programme.
The Ministry of Health and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, on June 14, welcomed the ninth Chinese medical brigade at a ceremony at the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre in Georgetown. The opportunity was also used to bid farewell to the members of the eight brigade who have completed their two-year tour of duty.
Dr. Bheri Ramsaran, Minster within the Ministry of Health, said that China has always managed to fulfil its promises in a timely fashion, even in the face of tough internal challenges. He pointed out that China has enjoyed a long relationship with the Caribbean and more particularly Guyana, and that events such as these celebrate this partnership.
The Minister recognized as stellar, the contributions made by the outgoing team, in both Linden and Georgetown. Advancements made in laparoscopy and plastic surgery as two major achievements in this regard.
The incoming 15 member brigade of doctors will be spread across the hospitals at Charity, Linden and Georgetown. Among this new group of doctors is an obstetrician/gynaecologist, a radiologist, a pathologist and a plastic surgeon.
The first brigade of Chinese doctors arrived in 1993. Each batch completes a tour of two years.
The Persons with Disability Bill, which was tabled in the National Assembly on November 19, 2009 was on June 10 passed subsequent to the adoption of the report of a Parliamentary Special Select Committee. The Bill which seeks to lay out the rights of persons with disabilities in relation to equal opportunity for employment and protects against discrimination on the grounds of disability, was unanimously supported by all members of the House.
The Bill also provides for the welfare and rehabilitation, registration, and the establishment of a national commission of persons with disabilities.
One of the changes involves the help of public and private media, particularly electronic media. Health Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy explained that televised newscast will be now be expected to put mechanisms in place so that the hearing impaired will be able to follow the news.
Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai on June 5 demonstrated the government’s commitment to accelerate the process of titling and demarcating Amerindian lands, during a visit to Rivers’ View in Region 7 to commence the investigative phase of the process.
The minister, accompanied by a team of officials from the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Guyana Forestry Commission and other personnel, held a meeting with community leaders and residents aimed at hastening the land titling application process.
The meeting was informed of the land titling and demarcation procedure as legislated in the 2006 Amerindian Act. The Act serves to conduct the process of requesting titling, demarcation and extension of Amerindian lands which they occupy and use. It also provides an important mechanism in community decisions based on participation of all residents.
Minister Sukhai described the process as a progressive step from which the Amerindian communities both in the hinterland and coastal areas have been benefiting.
She explained that although some Amerindian communities do not yet own the land which they occupy because they do not possess the necessary documentation to this effect, the government has ensured that those communities are registered once they have a population of more than 150 and have been established for more than 25 years. This proves that the government recognises the occupation of the lands that Amerindians have used and continue to use.
There are 96 titled Amerindian villages spread across the 10 administrative regions of Guyana. Sixty villages were demarcated by the end of 2008, while an additional three were demarcated in 2009. Six of these titled villages do not require demarcation since they have natural boundaries. Of the remaining 28 villages, demarcation was completed during 2009 in Isseneru (Region 7), and Massara and Parikwarunau Villages, Region 9.
Credits: Stabroek News, Chronicle, Mirror, Kaieteur News, GINA
Compiled and edited by Evangeline Ishmael
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