uyana Diary

September 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 September 2009 - Issue No. 68 - Back to Embassy page

Previous Guyana Diaries are available here.

New US$185M sugar factory commissioned

The US$185 million state-of-the-art Skeldon sugar mill was officially commissioned on August 22. Conceived in 1998 as part of the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s strategic review, the commissioning of the factory marks the culmination of 10 years of planning and execution. It comes at a time of great uncertainty in the world of sugar, especially for the 18 sugar-producing countries in the ACP (African-Caribbean-Pacific) Union of which Guyana is a member, as the European Union’s 36 percent price cut is expected to be implemented on October 1. The price cut threatens the viability of the sugar industry in several of these countries, including Guyana, and has resulted in some countries deciding to stop producing sugar altogether.

However, recognising that sugar is Guyana’s most significant foreign exchange earner (G$35 billion) and one of the largest employers in the country (20,000 workers), the government has stepped up, investing heavily in the sugar sector to reduce production costs and increase value-added production. The Skeldon factory is an integral part of this plan.

Delivering the feature address, President Bharrat Jagdeo said that very early his administration recognised that it had to modernise sugar, bauxite and rice to make them globally competitive.

“This is the largest investment in financial terms in the history of this country; there has been an even larger investment, it is the blood, sweat and tears that our people have invested in this industry from slavery to indentureship,” he said.

The President noted that the modernization of the industry has not been completed with the construction of the modern factory in Region Six as there will be several other areas where actions have to be taken.

He indicated that field production of cane has to be increased to the 1.2 million tonnes needed for the factory as soon as possible.

Increasing value for money products will be another area that has to be addressed, the President said. “We are not going to make this industry better through rhetoric; we have a duty to the workers of this industry and the people of this country to make this investment work,” the President told the large gathering at Skeldon.

Ogle Airport to become international port of entry shortly

Ogle Airport is soon to follow the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and become an international port of entry, primarily for regional flights to and from the Caribbean and Guyana’s neighbours of Suriname, Venezuela and Brazil.

This was revealed by President Bharrat Jagdeo on August 28 at a dinner hosted by the Private Sector Commission (PSC) at the Guyana Pegasus Hotel.

He indicated that the decision to designate the local aerodrome as an international port of entry was made at the last Cabinet meeting held on August 25. No date for the implementation of this decision has yet been fixed.

The project for the upgrading of the Ogle Airport commenced late last year through the involvement of a group of private investors from the Ogle Airport Incorporated who have leased the airport from the government. The group is a consortium of private aircraft owners.

The development of the Ogle Airport entailed the extension of the runway from its previous 2,500 feet to a 4,000-5,000 foot runway, the development of a new terminal facility, development of the hard-standing aircraft taxi and parking areas, new and improved drainage, and improved facilities for customs, immigration, air traffic control and health and fire services.

Takutu Bridge to be officially opened on Sept. 14

President Bharrat Jagdeo and Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio “Lula” Da Silva on September 14 will officially commission the Takutu Bridge which connects the Guyanese border town of Lethem with the northern Brazilian state of Roraima on September 14.

The Takutu Bridge offers untold opportunities for economic development and integration of the economies of Guyana, Brazil and of the two regions to which they belong – the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

Over the years, Guyana and Brazil have developed a close relationship, and President Jagdeo has indicated that he plans to seek assistance from President ”Lula” to pave the Guyana-Brazil highway, which would facilitate easier access to the Atlantic for businesses in the land-locked state of Roraima.

The President had also stated that his administration is working with two companies to develop a deep-water port.

After the official commissioning, there would be several bilateral engagements between officials from the two countries to solve the inevitable teething problems that manifest themselves during such an enormous venture. Specific attention would be given to customs and to land transport.

Most of the state of Roraima (whose capital is Boa Vista) is located in the Amazon rainforest and is the least populated of the Brazil’s 26 states. The state has many mineral deposits – especially gold, diamonds, bauxite and copper – and a population of 325,000 people, and will now be more easily accessible to Guyanese businessmen.

President meets his Dominican Republic counterpart

Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo arrived in the Dominican Republic on August 4 for a one-day visit to the country to meet with his counterpart, President Leonel Fernández. At the National Palace in Santo Domingo, he held a working lunch with President Fernández and Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso. The cordial and wide ranging discussions addressed relations and cooperation between Caricom and the Dominican Republic which in March of this year re-submitted its application for membership of the regional organisation. In this regard, President Fernandez reaffirmed his country’s interest in membership of the Caricom with which it shares a number of common concerns. The discussions also touched on the effects of the global financial and economic crisis, implementation of the Caricom-EC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed last year, governance of CARIFORUM, security and climate change.

Both Presidents agreed on the need to strengthen relations and build confidence between Caricom and the Dominican Republic as part of the process of the consideration of the request for membership by the Dominican Republic.

To this end, it was proposed that a joint workshop be held on the functioning of the Caribbean Community and that both sides discuss collaboration in the area of multi-destination tourism and have their private sector organisations explore how best to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the EPA.

The two Heads of State also underlined the importance of strengthening people to people contacts through cultural, sport and academic links. The critical importance of President Fernandez interfacing with his Caricom colleagues was reiterated.

The Dominican Republic, which sources coconut and wood products from Guyana, has a population of nearly 10 million people and would represent a very large addition to the regional organisation.

Infrastructure works continuing

The Agriculture Sector Development Unit, with the joint assistance of the joint Inter-American Development Bank and Guyana government’s Agricultural Diversification Programme, will facilitate infrastructural works in the Canals Polder area in Region Three (West Demerara).

The project is valued at US$1.95 million and will involve the rehabilitation of control structures and access roads in the area.

The work which began in August will last for 20 months. It includes the rehabilitation of 55 kilometres of primary channels; rehabilitation of 220 kilometres of secondary channels; completion of 86 kilometres of access and services road; and the installation of one pumping station operating 130 sluices gates.

Similar types of work has also been carried out in Region Four (East Demerara) and Region Six (Corentyne) involving the expenditure of G$1.2 billion. However, those rehabilitative works were funded by the Government of Guyana, and included control structures and access roads at Golden Grove/Victoria (East Demerara); and control structures and access roads at Crabwood Creek (Corentyne).

Improved sea defence

In its continued effort to sustain the economic livelihood of citizens who are most vulnerable to flooding, the Guyana government has allotted over G$2 billion for construction, rehabilitation, restoration and maintenance of sea and river defence structures.

Under the programme of the Sea and River Defence Division of the Ministry of Public Works and Communications four contracts were awarded recently to carry out works done in Corentyne, East Bank Berbice and West Canje.

The sum of $467 million was awarded for the construction of 810 meters rip rap river defence at Line Path, Corentyne which will be done by B.K. International Inc. The company was also granted a $5.2 million contract for the rehabilitation of River Dam at Lochaber, West Canje.

Additionally, a $5.9 million contract was awarded for the rehabilitation of River Dam, Sisters Village, while another valued $6.6 million was awarded for the rehabilitation of earthen embankment at Glasgow, East Bank Berbice to M&B Construction Company. Works for the four contracts are expected to commence shortly.

To date, much work has been completed including the construction of 600 meters rip-rap sea defence at Sea Spray Leonora, West Coast Demerara, (Region Three); river defence works at Craig, East Bank Demerara, (Region Four); construction of rip-rap sea defences at Belladrum/Hope West Coast Berbice, (Region Five); river defence works at Gangaram Village, (Region Six); and gabion basket groynes at Riverview, (Region Ten).

Chinese Youth Volunteers in Guyana

Symbolising years of strong bilateral relations between Guyana and the People’s Republic of China, a second batch of 14 Chinese Youth Volunteers has been dispatched through a formal signing of the agreement on August 17 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This batch of youth volunteers follows a batch that was deployed to Guyana after an agreement between the two countries in 2007, signifying Guyana as the first beneficiary of volunteers from the People’s Republic of China.

Since 1992, Chinese doctors have been dispatched to Guyana biennially under the Guyana/China Medical Protocol and have served mainly at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and the Linden Hospital Complex. Professionals in other fields such as table tennis and martial arts have since 2004 assisted in training Guyanese youth.

Representative of the Chinese Association of Youth Volunteers, Ding Ming, explained that the volunteers are drawn from among Health, Economics, Physical Education, Culture, Education and Geography, and aim to continue the good work of their predecessors, bettering the promotion of cultural ties of the two peoples and service to the Guyanese people.

The government agencies to benefit directly from the one-year stint of this group of skilled young people are the Ministries of Health, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Office of the President and Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).

The Chinese Ambassador to Guyana, Zhang Jungao, explained that the 14 volunteers chosen to be deployed to Guyana are from among 700 volunteers who were trained. This batch represents the most proficient of a rich group of skilled practitioners in various disciplines, he said.

Zhang pointed out that the group includes doctors and nurses, physical education teachers, geological researchers and economists.

President assents to anti-money laundering legislation

Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, on August 17 announced that the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Terrorism Act was assented to by President Bharrat Jagdeo on August 14, setting the stage for Government to proceed with implementation of this important piece of financial sector legislation.

Minister Singh described the Act as modern and comprehensive, and consistent with international standards. He also stated that the provisions of the Act benefited from extensive examination and consideration while the Bill was before Special Select Committee in the Parliament.

According to the legislation, a person who, knowingly or having reasonable grounds to believe that property (money, investments, holdings, possessions, assets and all other property movable or immovable) is the proceeds of crime, and engages to conceal or disguise the illicit origin of that property will be guilty of money laundering. Terrorist financing has been defined as wilfully providing or collecting funds with the unlawful intention that they should be used to aid the execution of terrorist acts or in support of terrorist organisations or individuals.

Agri Ministry enhances hinterland agriculture

The Ministry of Agriculture has demonstrated commitment to its endeavours to create enhanced conditions for productive agriculture in the hinterland communities. Its comprehensive hinterland agriculture programme places emphasis on training; technology transfer; development of new production; post-harvesting and marketing systems; availability of planting materials and breeding animals; and intensification of the anti-acoushi ants programme.

During his interactions with Toshaos at the third biennial conference of the National Toshaos Council (NTN), held in July at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC), Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, immediately made available to them for their communities 50 imported breeding boars and gilts; a number of breeding rams; mist blowers and swing fog machines with chemicals for acoushi ants eradication; a large quantity of seeds and other planting materials; and a large stock of agriculture tools.

Minister Persaud went to Lethem, Region Nine, where he attended the region’s Guyana Agricultural Producers’ Association (GAPA) conference, and interacted with farming communities, with an aim to improve conditions for agriculture within the context of agricultural diversification, expansion and modernisation.

Gov’t to embark on national population and housing census

The Guyana government will be embarking on a National Population and Housing census that will be conducted with the aim of providing a total review and assessment of the full profile of the country’s population and building stock at a specific point of time.

It will provide detailed information on Guyana's population by gender, region, households, institution, location, ethnicity, economic activity and education, labour force, among other socio-economic characteristics.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, Guyana with the rest of Caricom has started preparations for the 2010 round of population and housing censuses. The last population census was conducted in September 2002.

Since then, many changes have taken place, including changes in the population age and sex structure, level of employment and unemployment and the average annual number of births and deaths which impact on the demand for social services, the Bureau of Statistics said.

Census 2002 was part of the global round of censuses, and an integral part of the regionally coordinated round of Censuses under the aegis of the Caricom Secretariat.

Like the 2002 census, the 2010 census will be conducted as part of the United Nations 2010 round of global population and housing censuses.

The 2010 round spans the period 2005-2014 and, as is traditional, the Caricom group will execute their censuses in the year which is halfway within the period, defined as the 2010 round.

Census Day will be July 30, 2010.

US Secretary of State lauds Guyana’s climate change leadership

Responding to a letter written by President Bharrat Jagdeo on June 17 about Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), Secretary of State of the United States of America Hillary Clinton expressed appreciation for Guyana’s effort to combat climate change.

President Jagdeo in his correspondence underscored the important opportunity which forests represent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase sustainable development.

“Your Low Carbon Development Strategy established a path to achieve those twin goals for Guyana,” the US Secretary of State said.

She also commended Guyana for its participation in the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) noting that it is another example of Guyana’s leadership in climate change.

Guyana was among several donor and developing countries from around the world that participated in the meeting, held in March in Panama. The FCPF was established to help countries reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

The US Secretary of State has been adding her voice to the global warming debate calling for greater cooperation in the lead up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) to be held later this year.

During a major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in April, she noted that climate change is an environmental, health, economic, energy and security issue.

465 teachers graduate from CPCE

The Guyana government is sparing no cost in ensuring the standard of education being offered is of the best as it continually seeks to elevate student performance, through a well trained teaching force.

The Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) on August 20 graduated 465 teachers in what can be seen as an accomplishment to the educational sector. Three graduated with distinctions, 284 with credits and 137 with passes.

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds who gave the feature address congratulated the graduates and pointed out that each of their lives will be what they make of it. He further said that many of them are stepping into a career that may lead them to greater successes.

He also implored the graduates to keep revisiting, reassessing and updating the dreams they have for themselves and their country. According to the Prime Minister 15.8 percent of the budget is spent on education which would attest to the fact that the government sees education as a priority.

Amerindian Heritage Month

This month is celebrated as Amerindian Heritage Month. On August 31, at Sophia, Georgetown, an interfaith religious programme marked the initial event for the ceremonial launching of the month-long series of activities.

The main focus of attention would be the Amerindian village constructed during Carifesta at Sophia and the Amerindian village at Orealla on the left bank of the Corentyne River in Region Six.

The official launching of Amerindian Heritage Month on September 1 was marked by an array of cultural performances at the Sophia Exhibition complex.

The series of activities is being held under the theme “Securing our Livelihood While Sustaining Our Cultural Diversity.”

Hinterland electrification advances

Under the hinterland component of the Un-served Areas Electrification Programme (UAEP), electricity has been provided to four Amerindian villages: Yarakita in Region One, Kurukabaru in Region Nine, Capoey in Region Two and Muritaro in Region Ten.

At present studies are proceeding to provide electricity in other villages on a pilot basis. Renewable energy systems are costly but in the hinterland areas where the provision of electricity under a grid system is often impossible because of the isolated nature of houses, renewable energy may be the only alternative.

Photovoltaic solar home systems are seen as an attractive investment which may be costly but, less expensive than any other system of supplying electricity in the hinterland areas.

During a national stakeholder workshop on rural electrification, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, the Minister responsible for the electricity sector, said renewable energy sources and systems are being redeveloped with the recognition of the dangerous consequences of burning fossil fuel to the global atmosphere.

Through a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded project supported by the Latin American Energy Organisation (OLADE), the University of Calgary/Haskayne School of Business and the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), a pilot project which started in Wowetta, Region Nine in July 2007, under the rural electrification programme has equipped the community with solar power lighting, a community shop a water pump and a joinery shop.

Through the project, about 49 homes were provided with solar panel lighting, deep cycle battery, charge controller and a solar powered freezer. A community shop with freezer for ice making, cooling beverages and storing meat was established and a solar panel with a water pump, a joinery shop, and a cassava chopper/grinder to promote commercial quantities of farine for sale to other communities were also established.

News Briefs

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

Compiled and edited by Evangeline Ishmael

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