Guyana Diary

September 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

On the Internet:

Posted September 2010 - Issue No. 80 - Back to Embassy page

Previous Guyana Diaries are available here.

Guyana, US sign bilateral assistance agreement

Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh on August 18 saluted the bilateral ties that Guyana shares with the United States of America (USA) which have resulted in yet another cooperative agreement. He was at the time speaking at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the bilateral assistance programme between the two nations through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The MoU will see the USAID providing a total of US$13.1 million to be spent under the various categories. This assistance is part of a multi- year programme that will see in excess of US$75 million of support provided over the period 2009-2013.

USAID/Guyana Mission Director, Carol Horning, said that the funds are an additional sum that is being provided under the bilateral assistance agreement which was signed between USAID and the Ministry of Finance in 2009 to build on past successes and address gaps that have been identified.

She said that in terms of economic growth, strategic, export-focused partnerships with private sector firms in the agriculture sector have been established. These firms in turn, have established relationships with 30 small producers, to whom they provide technical assistance and guarantee the reliable purchase of commodities.

Moreover, over the past six-months, there has been a 50 percent increase in exports of pineapples, melons, and butternut squash.

As it relates to democracy and governance, stabilisation of electronic court record to prevent loss of data was achieved. The new system houses over 35,000 records, which have been entered since its introduction in 2006.

Training on sexual and domestic violence protocols, as a result of new legislation, was provided to the court registry, clerks, counsellors, and social workers.

And regarding the building of media capacity, 83 professional media workers and managers are being trained on the role of the media in democratic decision-making, causes of social conflict, devising strategies for conflict resolution, and professional print and television journalism techniques.

In the area of eco-tourism and environmental activities, the two governments have been working with the Private Sector and other partners to promote eco-tourism in Guyana. As a result five additional tour companies have added Guyana packages to their products.

Additionally, USAID’s health programme continues to address HIV/AIDS and wider health issues. Working with the Ministry of Health’s Material Management Unit, computerised systems have been developed to request, track, store, and distribute drugs and supplies.

This system serves as a model for developing countries and teams from the National Aids Programme Secretariat in Rwanda and St. Lucia have sought to learn from Guyana’s operations.

The Mission Director stated that these major accomplishments could not have been realised without the commitment and involvement of public and private partners. She noted however, that much more remains to be done.

“I can assure that USAID remains committed to continuing our programmes’ alignment with Guyana’s development priorities and initiatives,” she said.

From the overall sum, US$8,319,281 was allocated towards prevention, treatment, care and support of health system strengthening activities, in order to enhance civil society and private sector responses to HIV/AIDS in Guyana.

An allocation of US$2 million was made for activities in support of improvement of democratic processes and governance institutions and systems, while US$2.8 million was allocated for activities to increase Guyanese producers of non-traditional exports in the international markets, enhance private sector competitiveness for export development and address global climate change.

Brazil-Guyana road linkage discussions

A delegation led by the Governor of the State of Roraima in Brazil Jose Anchieta Junior met President Bharrat Jagdeo on August 27 in the continued quest to strengthen relations between Guyana and Brazil.

Among the visiting members were Undersecretary General for South America, Central America and the Caribbean Ambassador Antonio Simoes and other representatives of Brazil’s External Affairs Ministry.

Accompanying the President were Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Minister of Labour Manzoor Nadir, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud and Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Robeson Benn.

The one-day visit focused on discussions relating to the Linden to Lethem road which supports the plan for strengthened linkages between Guyana and Brazil.

Following the meeting, Ambassador Simoes said some aspects of the discussions dealt with hydroelectric power and Brazil’s support to Guyana in its chairmanship of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

The Roraima State Governor during a visit to Guyana in July last year had met President Jagdeo to discuss financing the Linden/Lethem road in which Brazil has always had a vested interest.

In September 2009, Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula Da Silva assured the Guyana Government of his support in paving the Linden to Lethem road.

He also promised to send a technical mission to Georgetown to analyse the financial conditions for the undertaking, which he said would represent a total land link between Boa Vista and Georgetown and an expansion of the prospects for development between Guyana and the entire northern region of Brazil.

US$38M agreement signed with Venezuela for rice and paddy

As the Guyana government continues to make interventions to ensure that the rice industry remains productive, a new agreement has been secured with Venezuela.

The US$38 million agreement is the largest ever signed by the governments of Guyana and Venezuela, secured during President Bharrat Jagdeo’s recent visit to the neighbouring country in July. It was initially signed by Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud and Venezuela’s Minister of Food Production.

The shipment consisting of 50,000 tonnes of paddy at a cost of US$420 per tonne and 20,000 tonnes of white rice at US$700 per tonne, will bring much needed revenue to the industry. Shipments will commence in October.

Minister Persaud indicated that the agreement comes at a time when there is a continuing low price for rice on the international market. He explained that white rice will attract 75 percent of current market prices, while paddy a 25-30 percent share, noting that if one can extrapolate from the prices, then it will be understood what such can do for the local industry.

He emphasised that Guyana has the capacity to fulfil marketing obligations to the Venezuelan market, as well as other markets within Caricom and the United States.

“I want to make it very clear that this increase in market that we have been able to attract from Venezuela will not in any way endanger or reduce our supplies to other markets; but the Venezuelan market is indeed the most attractive one ever,” he explained.

While pointing out that market opportunities are important, he said that originally marketing of rice and paddy was done by the private sector; but noted that due to Government recognising the importance of the industry, a decision was taken to diversify the market base to ensure that farmers benefit from the best prices.

Mangrove restoration project encourages youth participation

Mangroves form a natural defence against the sea; however over the years they have been destroyed, resulting in several communities being flooded during high tides.

With this in mind the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) have embarked on a quest to restore the quantity of mangroves along the coast. These agencies have been facilitating public awareness sessions aimed at informing communities about the importance of this vegetation type.

In keeping with this objective, the Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project in mid-August held another youth retreat which saw participation from 30 teenagers from Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.

Additionally, participants were engaged in interactive sessions on the importance and uses of mangroves. The youths conducted wildlife observations and were able to share their discoveries.

These sessions, scheduled for the next three years, are a part of several interventions targeting various stakeholders particularly at the community level.

Interacting with the youths is seen as one of many opportunities expected to strengthen community participation and ownership in monitoring the mangroves, in the long-term.

The restoration committee will continue to work with residents of Mon Repos and other participating communities including Hope (East Coast Demerara), Number 6 Village (West Coast Berbice), Number 43 Village (Corentyne), Wakenaam (Region 3) and Lima (Region 2).

This awareness session was organised by the community development specialist, Paul McAdam and was co-facilitated by C. Chin.

The mangrove restoration project will be implemented among communities selected for mangrove replanting over a three-year period. The project is managed by NARI with support from the Ministry of Agriculture and the European Union.

A sum of $125 million has been allocated for the project and facilitates the rehabilitation, protection, sustainable use of mangroves, their monitoring and enforcement of forest legislation.

Waramuri is Amerindian Heritage Village

Guyana is a multicultural country with a rich history contributed by its six ethnic groups and it is customary for the government to support activities carried out by the present generation of those who came and made Guyana their home.

Guyana’s first people will celebrate their heritage during September, designated Amerindian Heritage Month, through many activities planned to display the growth and development of Amerindians and the preservation of their culture.

This year the Amerindian community selected to depict the Amerindian village is Waramuri, in the Moruca sub-region of Region One (Barima-Waini), and to support the community in preparation for such a grand event the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs has donated $1 million.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai who was in Waramuri recently to ascertain the needs of the community said Waramuri will have the opportunity to showcase itself as a domestic tourism destination as local and international visitors will be traversing the area. In addition, it is an opportunity for communities in the Moruca sub-region to advertise their potential.

Region One, especially Moruca is a beautiful area which has much to offer in terms of adventure and eco-tourism.

CPCE records highest number of applicants

The number of applicants to the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) has reached its highest point, with 1500 persons applying to receive teacher training at the institution, at the start of the new school year this month.

This number is of great significance to the Education Ministry which had previously stated that it was working on having 2,000 teachers trained over the next five years.

Minister of Education Shaik Baksh recently indicated that to effectively accommodate the applicants the Ministry will be setting up centres, within the regions, allowing them to upgrade their qualifications, particularly those who have not met CPCE’s entry requirements.

These requirements include the achievement of five subjects at the CXC, including Mathematics and English. Following the up-grade of their qualifications, those who do not receive entry this year will be facilitated next year.

This large number of applicants reflects a significant impact on the teaching profession, especially since it was announced that the Associate Degree in Education will be offered at the institution from this month.

Minister Baksh also indicated that the Ministry is working towards having more males enrolled at CPCE. This will facilitate the effective delivery of technical and vocational programmes.

The increased number of teachers entering the education system ensures that there is equity in the distribution of teachers and education delivery countrywide.

Agri Ministry completes eight drainage projects in Buxton

Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud has delivered on his commitment to implement major drainage projects totalling in excess of $115 million following meetings with farmers in the Buxton/Friendship Community.

The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), has begun carrying out these and other projects in the area and has so far completed eight.

At a previous meeting with the farmers, a commitment of $47 million was made by Minister Persaud to assist private sugarcane farmers and residents in the community.

Four projects are ongoing as a result of the promise including the major rehabilitation of main drainage and irrigation canals in Friendship/Buxton, construction of revetment within the Buxton pump basin and construction of a timber bridge at Buxton Company Path across the CNC canal.

The construction of the timber bridge was considered after a request by private sugar-cane farmers for assistance in accessing farms and providing a route for transportation.

The revetment within the pump basin has been completed and a clearing exercise is being undertaken at the Buxton west sideline canal which will benefit more than 100 private sugar-cane farmers.

Just recently, the Buxton outfall was dredged and in addition, a yearly contract was awarded to ensure the payment of the mobile pump operators and watchmen of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).

These projects totalling in excess of $52 million are part of the NDIA’s master plan to ensure communities and farmers are protected from the ills of climate change by strengthening the drainage infrastructure.

These works include the rehabilitation of the Buxton pump basin, construction of revetment along the Buxton Company Canal, excavation works within Buxton and Friendship, mechanical cleaning of the Buxton Company Canal from CNC to Pond Dam Bridge, provision of all tools, equipment and labour for the mechanical excavation of the Buxton and Friendship canals, rehabilitation of the Crown Dam between Strathspey and La Reconnaissance, rehabilitation of four intake structures and rehabilitation of Buxton sluice doors.

Gov’t aiding transformation of Amerindian village economies

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai in community meeting in mid-August with residents of Kaikan, (in Region Seven – Cuyuni-Mazaruni) reiterated the need for the transformation of Amerindian village economies.

Minister Sukhai indicated that her Ministry in accordance to the Amerindian Act is assisting communities with crafting of their community development plans (CDPs) that will shape the future of the communities’ economies.

Amerindian communities have been benefiting from presidential grants for several years and Kaikan has demonstrated the usefulness of the grant through projects including the construction of a shed for the community’s machinery.

It was noted that the successful implementation of the CDPs will see a five-fold increase to what is given to Amerindian communities; some receive $500,000 to $1.5 million annually to expedite social and economic projects.

Nationally, the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) has developmental implications, but owing to the fact that Amerindians own their own forest they have an integral part in the strategy.

This new development pathway will see the sustainable usage of the forest and its resources and food security and the establishment of micro-enterprises. Minister Sukhai reiterated the importance of the LCDS and encouraged the village council to engage villagers in discussions.

It was noted that the National Toshaos Council will be engaging villages as consultation is an ongoing process. Additionally, while some villages have openly expressed interest in opting in the strategy, Minister Sukhai indicated that the opt-in mechanism is a work in progress. She emphasised that communities are not compelled to join, and that there is no deadline to opt in to the strategy.

Guyana, Cuba to expand agriculture relations

Following successful discussions between the Guyanese and Cuban Agriculture Ministers in August, the Cuban government will provide skills to support Guyana's diversification effort. In this regard, Cuba has offered specialist training to Guyana's agriculture officers and students at the various institutions in Cuba.

Further, Cuba is interested in the modernisation of Guyana's agriculture sector and will appoint a team of officials to study the changes that Guyana is undergoing for agriculture diversification and food production.

In a continued effort to deal with the weaknesses in the industry, particularly in cultivation, Guyana is pursuing tapping Cuban expertise such as agri-engineer/field workshop specialists, soil scientists, biometricians and civil engineers.

Experts will cover a range of skills so as to improve the Guyana Sugar Corporation's agricultural programme – from breeding to tissue culture, pest and disease control to better field management. Initially six experts are being tapped.

New hinterland scholarship students’ dorm

High academic achievers from the hinterland who acquire scholarships to further their studies in Georgetown now have a place of their own after a new dormitory was commissioned on September 3.

The $94.5 million facility at Liliendaal will house 120 students under the hinterland scholarship programme and is one of several fulfilments of the government’s commitment to ensure Amerindians enjoy the privileges of life like any other ethnic group in society.

The 12,600 square-foot reinforced concrete structure will house 78 females, 42 males, 15 administrative staff and various support services within the hinterland programme.

Through the benevolence of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) company, the dormitory includes a niche for computers with free internet access.

In addition to sleep-in facilities, it has a block for administrative work, a large dining area, an auditorium for social and other events, a large kitchen, sections for laundry, sanitary facilities and water storage.

Aback of the building is available land which is earmarked for agricultural and other beneficial use.

Maritime Zones Bill passed in Parliament

The Maritime Zones Bill which was tabled in the National Assembly on October 15, 2009, by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, was approved on August 9 and received favourable responses by Opposition members.

The Bill, which benefited from extensive analysis and consultations at the level of a parliamentary sectoral committee, provides for marine scientific research, maritime cultural areas, eco-tourism, marine parks and reserves, mariculture, the protection and preservation of the marine environment and other related matters.

It incorporates certain provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the United Nations Education Scientific Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Convention.

Minister Rodrigues-Birkett said that the committee held 11 meetings in order to bring the Bill to fruition. She pointed out that before taking the Bill to the select committee, legislation of other Caricom territories was consulted. However, it was realised that much has not been done regionally as it relates to the provisions in the Bill.

“This Bill as amended in the select committee is a big step forward for Guyana and by extension for the Caribbean Community,” she stated.

People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) member, Aubrey Norton in supporting the Bill, highlighted that its passage will necessitate the building of human resources capacity. He also pointed out that there is need to educate the relevant stakeholders on the provisions of the legislation.

The legislation consists of 14 sections, each, dealing with the provisions for the various maritime zones and boundaries particularly as it relates to Guyana’s waterways.

Concrete decisions necessary in climate change discussions

President Bharrat Jagdeo believes that the regional negotiations need to adopt a more political approach in dealing with matters of climate change at the international level.

The President said that the emerging negotiations are political and not necessarily technical with each nation, especially those in the industrialised world, adumbrating the position that best suits it.

President Jagdeo made these comments at the opening of the third joint meeting on climate change of the Caricom Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) and the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal, on September 2.

According to President Jagdeo, the Caribbean has little time to waste on the self pity that would have resulted from the disappointments of the Copenhagen Accord, as climate change has had a ‘disproportionate impact” on the region, and that “concrete decisions” on the way forward should emerge from this meeting, especially in light of the meeting on the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), billed for Cancun, Mexico, in December.

“It is important that we emerge from this meeting with a very realistic understanding of where we are or where we have gotten to after Copenhagen and in the various negotiating theatres that are taking place,” President Jagdeo posited. He added that he and St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Stephenson King, Caricom’s lead spokesman on sustainable development, will try to guide the discussions of the meeting in an attempt to remain faithful to the decisions of the Heads of Government as enshrined in the Liliendaal declaration of 2009.

President Jagdeo pointed to the UNFCCC process and the REDD+ negotiations as just two examples that he hopes could positively impact the outcomes of the negotiating process and be of great benefit to the Caribbean.

While it is necessary to take stock of the fallout from Copenhagen, it is important not to overemphasise as it could lead to unnecessary loss of momentum in taking advantage of those few but significant benefits afforded by the Accord, he said.

Notwithstanding the focus on a “perfect agreement” in Cancun, Caricom must do the simultaneous work of ensuring the project readiness of all member states, so that when the time comes the opportunities can redound to the benefit of the Community.

Of critical importance too, was the issue of renewable energy, with President Jagdeo pointing out the issues must be addressed with “narrow-minded focus.”

The President said that most of Caricom with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago expend 30 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on fuel importation.

The President said too that the issue of water management should be addressed in an integrated way, as it directly relates to the issues of climate change.

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 2010