Guyana Diary

October 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 October 2010 - Issue No. 81 - Back to Embassy page

Previous Guyana Diaries are available here.

First GRIF payment expected this month

President Bharrat Jagdeo, during his feature address at the opening of GuyExpo on September 30, disclosed that Guyana would receive its first payment in the Guyana REDD Investment Fund (GRIF) of US$30 million within the next 10 days for selling its forest climate services.

The payment, though six months late, is the first of its kind anywhere in the world that represents the leading edge of the new global low carbon economy.

Guyana and Norway signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in November 2009, in which it was agreed that the latter would pay US$30 million this year and possibly up to US$250 million by 2015 as reward for Guyana preserving its 16 million-hectare rainforest.

“The people of Guyana can feel genuine pride that we are leading the way in addressing such profound global issues,” President Jagdeo told the large gathering at the Sophia Exhibition Complex.

This payment will go towards removing the country’s economy from fossil fuel reliance for energy and will form part of government’s investment in the hydro-electricity plant at the Amaila Falls on the Kuribrong River in Region Eight.

President Jagdeo has for years been advocating for performance-based compensation for forest climate services which will support the implementation of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy.

Guyana is one of the first countries in the world to see the changing nature of the global economy even as climate change and other environmental phenomena are impacting on the global community.

Corentyne River Bridge a priority

Bridging the Corentyne River was highlighted on the list of priorities for both Guyana and Suriname, and both President Bharrat Jagdeo and President Desi Bouterse emphasised this on September 6 during a press conference at the Office of the President in Georgetown.

President Bharrat Jagdeo welcomed the Surinamese delegation headed by President Bouterse who was on a state visit to Guyana and the two leaders briefed the media on some of the areas in which they agreed to cooperate.

Combating climate change, crime and security, health, information technology, mining, fisheries, agriculture, energy and tertiary education were among the issues of cooperation discussed by the two presidents.

According to President Jagdeo “these are all very important areas where Guyana and Suriname can work together to advance the cause of our peoples.”

The proposed mechanism, vital to progress in these areas, will be directly overseen by the Offices of the President of Suriname and Guyana to allow for quicker action that would bring significant benefits to the people of both countries.

The Corentyne River Bridge and the Lethem to Georgetown road are two of the projects under discussion through UNASUR and are aimed at furthering physical integration among South American nations.

However, President Jagdeo noted that while countries acknowledge the need to work within that multilateral framework, they also recognised that the projects would take a long time to materialise if countries depend only on UNASUR.

Thus, Guyana and Suriname agreed to facilitate a feasibility study for the construction of the bridge through a bilateral process to explore how the development can move ahead of the UNASUR plans.

President Jagdeo said that significant development impact would be gleaned from the bridge through physical territorial integration and the free movement of people, goods, services and tourism.

The Guyanese president stated that though no timeline has been set for the feasibility study of the bridge urgency should be exercised. He hoped that the new mechanism to be implemented would allow for the offices to have timely meetings to advance the technical work in this regard.

He further noted that in the past the joint commission which was set up to oversee such developments met rarely and the discussions were mired in bureaucracy.

“We are looking for urgent movement, but we do not want to be accused of not doing technical work and so feasibility studies have to be done. Once the studies have been done we will be able to deal with how we finance this project,” President Jagdeo stated.

The Surinamese President echoed President Jagdeo’s statement saying that although a time table has not been set for the feasibility study, the existing political will remained most important.

Bouterse added that the necessary technical personnel will conduct a study of the location of the bridge and examine the economic advantages that will emerge.

Guyana on track to meet most of the MDGs

As world leaders met in New York to review progress of the Eight Millennium Development goals agreed in the year 2000, President Bharrat Jagdeo spoke confidently about Guyana being on track in meeting most of the goals.

Speaking at the 65th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly’s general debate President Jagdeo said education and health in Guyana are the two specific sectors that confirm the country’s conformity to the MDGs.

Guyana has attained universal primary education and is working assiduously to improve at the secondary level with about 72 percent of the targets being met. Guyana has also gained great success in reducing mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS.

The MDGs are eight international development goals that all 192 UN member countries and at least 23 international organisations agreed to achieve by 2015. They were officially established at the Millennium Summit in 2000 where leaders adopted the United Nations Millennium declaration from which the eight goals were promoted. These have 21 targets and a series of measurable indicators for each.

The goals are: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; improve child mortality; improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.

Faced with the effects of the financial crisis and climate change like many other countries in the globe, the President said the country is putting its best foot forward to weather the crisis with minimum suffering for people.

With regard to climate change he touted the country’s revolutionary model. “We recognise that we must do more than just complain about climate change – we have created our Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which sets out a long term path to protect our 16 million hectare rainforest and move our entire economy onto a low carbon trajectory.”

The LCDS represents a model of partnership between developing and developed countries in advancing common development and environmental objectives. However in spite of the progress that was made at the national level serious challenges remain at the global level.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon who called the UN summit said that the shortfall towards achieving the MDGs are not because they are unreachable or because the time is too short, but rather because of unmet commitment, inadequate resources, lack of focus and accountability and insufficient interest in sustainable development.

The summit held at the UN Headquarters, New York sought to accelerate progress towards achievement of the MDGs. In addition to avoiding food and financial crises, Guyana’s efforts yielded significant achievement in education, health, gender equality, poverty eradication and particularly in reducing mother to child transmission of HIV.

$1.6B water treatment plant commissioned at Corriverton

Described as a symbol of the friendly bilateral relations between Guyana and Japan, a $1.6 billion water treatment plant was commissioned on September 30 at Queenstown, Corriverton, Berbice (Region Six).

Some 12,000 residents from Number 74 Village to Line Path will be the recipients of treated water supplied by the plant built by a team that includes a consortium of experts from Tokyo Engineering and their local counterparts Toruca Cooperation.

At the commissioning ceremony, President Bharrat Jagdeo and Japanese Ambassador to Guyana Tatsuaki Iwata officiated with the symbolic unveiling of the plaque at the plant.

Also present were Housing and Water Minister Irfaan Ali, Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) Yuri Chandisingh and other GWI staff, officials of Region Six, members of the Japanese construction team and scores of residents from the area and neighbouring communities.

The project has its genesis in 2007 when Guyana and Japan signed a Joint Declaration on Enhanced Co-operation in Environment and Climate Change issues after President Bharrat Jagdeo met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The plant was constructed with a storage tank 25 metre high to improve delivery and boasts unique characteristics such as a biological method of water sanitisation. The Japanese have applied the sand filtration technology that makes the plant highly energy efficient.

President Jagdeo in his address at the ceremony issued an appeal for persons to conserve water noting that in the next 20 years it is predicted that about 85 percent of the world would face water shortage.

More developments in Region Nine

The Guyana government has been allocating financial resources to various Amerindian communities through its presidential grant to reduce poverty and heighten development.

Parikwarunawa and Kumu, villages in Region Nine, are two other Amerindian communities that are benefiting from presidential grants. Parikwarunawa residents were able to construct a community village council office, while those of Kumu jointly built a nursery school.

These two buildings were commissioned by Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, during a four-day visit recently to several Amerindian villages in Region Nine.

The village office, located opposite the Parikwarunawa primary school, took approximately one month to complete and aims to cater for recreational activities and storage facility for the community’s assets. It will also benefit residents of neighbouring communities.

Minister Sukhai explained that government is committed to working with residents and Toshaos to further develop their communities and improve their lives.

The government has also been paying special attention to hinterland communities because of their difficult terrain and has been establishing schools nearer to communities to preclude children having to travel very long distances.

The new nursery school, fully equipped with tables and chairs, sinks and storage rooms will benefit first and second year nursery school students of the Kumu village and surrounding areas.

Investments growing in Guyana

Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud while speaking on investments in commercial agriculture indicated that Guyana currently has vast areas that can be put under productive use and the government has been receiving positive response with proposals thus far, for the first phase of investment in commercial agriculture, being in excess of $1.5 billion.

This disclosure came while he addressed residents of Moco-Moco, Region Nine, during the launch of the first 82 acres of rice under the US$643,000 (G$128.6 million) Hinterland Rice and Beans project on September 17.

“This will see different investors coming and getting involved in various aspects of agriculture. We already have a group out of the Caribbean, the Santa Fe Enterprise, and they are already investing $156 million alone in getting that enterprise,” he said.

According to Minister Persaud investors must first have a good track record and adhere to Guyana’s rules before they are given permission to do business.

Lands have already been allocated for the construction of a major rice seed facility in Guyana. This will be used to develop hybrid rice seed to supply the Brazilian market and beyond.

Minister Persaud said that Caribbean Chemicals is also looking to partner with Brazil in large scale agriculture and noted that investments are growing in Guyana through stringent measures by the government.

President rolls out rescue plan for CLICO policyholders

Policy holders who feared losing all of their holdings in the financially troubled Colonial Life and General Insurance (South America) Limited (CLICO) left the National Cultural Centre satisfied after President Bharrat Jagdeo rolled out a rescue plan that guarantees refunds to all those who were affected by the company’s financial dilemma.

Disclosing the bailout plan to a large gathering on September 16, Jagdeo explained that policyholders with investments in the company less than $30 million as of February 2009 will be repaid in full.

The Guyana government will make available $3.6 billion to finance the payout which President Jagdeo assured would be executed within weeks. About $2.7 billion will be used to pay off in full all holders of investment annuity policies and other insurance liabilities not in dispute, subject to a maximum limit of $30 million per policyholder.

According to the president, a total of 4,366 holders of executive flexible premium annuities and other undisputed claims against the company will be paid in full.

This number include six pension funds; Grace Kennedy, Davis Memorial Hospital, New Guyana Marketing Corporation the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, the Guyana Office for Investment and the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union.

After resolving the aforementioned, the 39 large policyholders of the company will then be given support and a remaining $900 million will be utilised to pay these policyholders up to a maximum of $30 million each with priority given to institutional policy holders.

With most of the liabilities remaining in government agencies such as the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) the Guyana Forestry Commission, Dependants’ Pension Fund and Guyoil, President Jagdeo said government will also have to ensure that their interests are protected.

“We will liquidate some of their claims from the sale of assets and from the money that hopefully will be realised through this legal action and then the state will then determine how it will repay,” President Jagdeo said.

At present CLICO has immediate access to over $600 million of its cash resources, $100 million of which will be set aside to cover the expenses of the company until wind up and $500 million to ensure that the liabilities associated with the long-term insurance business are adequately funded.

UNICEF lauds Guyana’s performance on child welfare

The Guyana government’s performance in the area of child welfare and expansion in the awareness of the rights of women and children was commended by Dr. Suleiman Braimoh, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) country representative for Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

These sentiments were expressed on September 5 when the international official joined a wide cross section of stakeholders in what he referred to as “Celebrating excellence, the participation of the children of Guyana in civil society,” in Georgetown where Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Priya Manickchand formally launched four commemorative stamps, designed by children between the ages of 7 and 16, depicting four of the Articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Through the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, the Guyana Post Office Corporation (GPOC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Guyana became the first country in the Caribbean region to produce postage stamps depicting the internationally recognised rights of children.

Government to resuscitate manganese mining

As empirical evidence continues to show record breaking declarations in gold and diamond production for the second consecutive year, the Guyana government is expanding the range of the mining industry. This is in addition to the continued prioritisation of formalising the institutional framework and operating procedures within the sector, to secure enhanced miner capacity and the application of modern techniques. In this regard, efforts are being put in place to resuscitate manganese mining in Guyana.

On September 6, Kampta Persaud, manager of Geological Services, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), on behalf of the Guyana government, and David Fennell and James Crombie, on behalf of a private mining firm, signed a licensing agreement that will facilitate the latter’s exploration of manganese and iron resources, to be conducted in Regions One and Nine.

The Canadian based company, through a Guyanese subsidiary, has been conducting mining operations and exploratory works in Guyana since 1983.

Guyana has several known occurrences of manganese and iron resources. The mineral is primarily found in Matthews Ridge and Pipaini in Region One, while iron ore occurrences are concentrated at the head of the Pomeroon River and in the South Rupununi.

Hope drainage canal project begins

Work on the Northern Relief channel of the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) to the Atlantic Ocean commenced on October 1 at Hope/Dochfour with the authorities presenting it as a long-term solution to flooding in the surrounding areas. The project is expected to be completed in 24 months.

The official launch of the G$3.6 billion project, which required the relocation of dozens of residents, coincided with Agriculture Month and with works being carried out at the back of the Mahaica area.

Works are being undertaken by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) with assistance from the project consultants, CEMCO. SRKN Engineering and the UK-based Mott MacDonald company which have jointly undertaken consultancy work with CEMCO. Another outlet from the EDWC assumed great urgency following the Great Flood of 2005 which was attributed in part to the conservancy.

At the southern end of the canal at the EDWC where work was on-going, CEMCO lead consultant, Raymond Latchmansingh, while addressing a gathering which included President Bharrat Jagdeo, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud, and officials of the NDIA, stated that the project began with the identification of a location at the EDWC to commence work and, according to him, poor weather conditions in the area were another impediment to initial consultancy works.

President Bharrat Jagdeo, in his address, defended the economic and technical feasibility of project. He said that in addition to sparing the people of Mahaica, Mahaicony and Abary a yearly flooding when there is heavy rainfall and the threat of overtopping of the conservancy, the project is important to long term adaptation to the challenges of climate change.

First surgeries at Lethem Hospital

A little over one year after the state-of-the-art hospital at Lethem was officially opened surgeries were performed in its theatre for the first time over from late September and over thirty persons benefited.

The surgeries were undertaken as a result of a visit to the hospital by a medical team from Georgetown. The 11-member team included personnel from Woodlands and St Joseph’s Mercy Hospitals as well as the Georgetown Public and Diamond Hospitals.

Months after the hospital was opened residents in the region were complaining of having to be referred for simple fractures because even though the theatre was equipped the human resources were lacking. This could be a thing of the past since medical teams would be making monthly visits to the hospital with the next one planned for the last two days of October. The exercise being carried out by the team is similar to the one the Ministry of Health has initiated at the Mabaruma hospital.

Both minor and major surgeries were performed at the hospital and the patients were drawn from various areas in the region from as far as Annai and Aishalton. The patients were selected on the basis of the seriousness of their complaints. While many of the patients operated on were selected before the team arrived, others who heard of the team’s presence flocked to the hospital where they were examined and received medical treatment.

IMF issues positive Country Report for Guyana

The just released IMF Country Report for Guyana (No. 10/293) paints a positive picture of economic development in the country.

The report specifically states that Guyana has done a very good job weathering the global financial/economic crisis.

According to the IMF, despite the pass-through-effects of the global financial crisis as evidenced in flows in FDI and remittances, “the financial sector appears to have been resilient to the direct impact of the global shock…”

The IMF also suggests that the strong macro-economic environment in the country is propitious to further economic growth.

The IMF notes that the most visible impact of the global financial contagion is the collapse of CL Financial in Trinidad and Tobago and the resultant impact on CLICO-Guyana. As the IMF anticipated, the Government of Guyana is now addressing the fallout. The Guyana government has committed more than G$3 billion for policyholders.

Regarding monetary policy, the IMF notes that the right balance was struck between “ensuring price and external stability while availing liquidity to stimulate credit growth.” International reserves and exchange rate pressures were effectively dealt with through various open market operations.

Inflation declined significantly in 2009. It moved from 6.4 percent in 2008 to 3.6 percent in 2009.

The external current account deficit narrowed and external financing increased. International reserves jumped by US$267 million in 2009. Although there was some externally induced deceleration, the business community did not downsize operations, nor did it resort to widespread layoffs.

Consumer Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) dropped by 35 percent, a very positive sign for a more structured credit market. The IMF report states that the debt-to GDP ratio is expected to continue on a downward path, a trend that would yield more resources for on the ground economic development.

News Briefs

Notice to our readers

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

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

Compiled and edited by Evangeline Ishmael

This page is part of Guyana News and Information.

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