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Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon and Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh talk to Editor-in-Chief of the Six o’clock News Michael Gordon as part of a panel discussion on the CLICO Guyana payout

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- Policyholders of CLICO Guyana will soon begin receiving letters inviting them to visit the company on an appointed day upon which the decisions announced by President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday last will be implemented and transactions concluded in a timely manner.

This is according to Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, who was at the time part of a panel discussion on the National Communications Network (NCN) along with Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon, in which issues relating to the impending payout of CLICO Guyana’s policy holders were discussed.

Singh noted that with the announcement by the president last Thursday, in which he declared government’s injection of GY$3.6 billion (US$17.4 million) to ensure policy holders were repaid, came the feverish work by the liquidator to ensure that this was done in a fast but orderly fashion.

The finance minister indicated that this could be as early as next week and inherent in the letter to be received is a telephone number that can be used for the purposes of rescheduling appointments where necessary.

Luncheon noted that throughout the entire process, government’s focus has always been on the welfare of the policyholders. He noted that there was always great concern for the great number of Guyanese that would have been affected, had the matter not been properly handled.

Referring to the fall of CLICO and the ensuing events, Luncheon pointed out that events of this nature were not frequent in the lives of governments across the region, and as such deserved careful analyses.

Luncheon said that CL Financial, the parent company of CLICO, was peculiar in the fact that it had a presence in almost every Caribbean territory, and therefore as responses were being implemented, government got a chance to observe and compare its strategies in the face of the crisis.

This was endorsed by the finance minister who pointed to governmental engagement and response at every stage in the process. Singh related that as soon as the news of the collapse of the entity was received, President Jagdeo was immediately apprised and moved to establish, with other CARICOM heads of government, the circumstances of the group in their territories. What resulted was a sustained engagement amongst the heads for the duration of this issue.

With that initial contact having been made, the government followed closely the implementation of the memorandum of understanding (MOU), signed in Trinidad and noted that the government then moved to the local courts for judicial management of CLICO, one day after a judgment was granted by the Bahamian courts against the Bahamian subsidiary there.

Singh related that after the judgment was granted, the government immediately put in place mechanisms that would safeguard the assets of the company and to ensure that they were managed in a way that was consistent with the provisions of the Act governing judicial management.

He noted that the office of the Commissioner of Insurance, succeeded by the Bank of Guyana, has been discharging the functions of judicial manager. Singh noted that that within two months of judicial management being assumed, reports returning to the courts indicated that the local company faced extreme distress if the value of the investments in CLICO Bahamas were impaired.

Given the gravity of this information, government then petitioned the courts for permission to wind up the operations here, for the protection of the interest of the policyholders, the finance minister said. He noted that this was done early in the process but was met with opposition in some quarters designed to frustrate the judicial management and affect the outcome.

On Thursday last, President Jagdeo rolled out a rescue plan that guarantees refunds to all those who were affected by CLICO’s financial debacle.

Jagdeo explained that policyholders with investments in the company less than GY$30 million (US$145,000) as of February 2009 will be repaid in full.

The Guyana government will make available $3.6 billion to finance the payout, which Jagdeo assured will 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 Jagdeo, a total of 4,366 holders of executive flexible premium annuities and other undisputed claims against the company will be paid in full.

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 policyholders.

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

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- The trafficking of narcotics and other illegal drugs is not unique to Guyana but rather is a hemispheric problem that has to be addressed through a collaborative approach with other countries.

Against this backdrop, Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, on Tuesday met with representatives of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

A similar meeting was convened approximately two years ago, when they engaged in talks of bilateral cooperation in a number of areas, particularly drug- trafficking, money laundering, and other related crimes.

Rohee said that, with this second meeting, they are seeking once again to explore ties of cooperation in the fight against narco-trafficking and added that “from Guyana’s point of view are looking for positive outcomes.”

In the past, engagements with the countries concerned have resulted in assistance in areas such as training, capacity to detect and trace firearms, detect drugs in containers, money laundering investigations and demand reduction strategies.

by Caribbean News Now Staff

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- Despite calls by Moses Nagamootoo, a long-serving member of Guyana’s ruling People Progressive Party (PPP), and several other prominent members to choose the presidential candidate by a popular vote of the grassroots supporters, the party on Wednesday announced it would be sticking to the old method.

Demerara Waves reported that the party said in a statement "the document, which was recently ratified, reinforces the party's long standing and tested procedure on the selection of presidential candidate".

It's the first time that the PPP is heading into the election-season with several members, Nagamootoo, Clement Rohee, Ralph Ramkarran, and Donald Ramoutar, who have all said they are available to become their party's next presidential candidate. It is also the first time that the PPP would be going to the polls without either of its co-founders Cheddi and Janet Jagan, whose considerable influence had helped sway members in making decisions such as this.

Against this background, Nagamootoo believes that given its competitive nature, the selection process should firstly include ordinary members rather than only PPP Executive and Central Committee members.

But the PPP, in a statement, said it was agreed on a selection procedure for its presidential candidate for the next general elections.

The procedure allows for nomination/expression of interest by interested individuals, deliberations at the level of the Executive Committee and subsequently approval by the Central Committee. The approved candidate will then be announced to the membership through conferences, said the PPP.

The more than 50-year-old party noted that the process was used in the selection of the late Dr Cheddi Jagan, Janet Jagan and Bharrat Jagdeo, the current president, to contest previous general elections.

The document outlines a code of conduct that potential candidates and their supporters must adhere to before and after the selection of the agreed candidate.

ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- President of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), Dr Julian Hunte, on Wednesday thanked the Guyana team for their participation in the Airtel Champions League in South Africa as the sole West Indies representative.

“Trinidad and Tobago set exceptionally high standards in the previous edition of the Airtel Champions League and while Guyana’s young team did not manage to match those standards it was clear that they grew in confidence after a nervous start on a grand stage,” Hunte noted.

“While they did not manage to win any games the young group of players would have surely learnt immensely from the rich experience of playing against some of the legends in the game and against well drilled professional teams,” he added.

“Captain Ramnaresh Sarwan led with the bat as best he could and up-and-coming players such as spinner Devendra Bishoo – the Player of the Caribbean Twenty20 2010 Tournament – and all rounder Christopher Barnwell showed that they are able to compete favourably against the best in the game and that bodes well for the future of West Indies cricket,” Hunte said.

Guyana’s next engagement is the WICB Regional 50-Over Tournament in Jamaica, which starts on October 14 and concludes on October 24.

By Caribbean News Now Staff

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – President Bharrat Jagdeo has announced in New York that Guyana will agree to the current World Bank mechanism to access the first US$30 million tranche of climate change funds from Norway because he wants to move the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) along.

Guyana and Norway signed an agreement a year ago under which Norway will provide US$250 million to Guyana's climate change programme under agreed benchmarks and the World Bank is the agency through which the funds are to be disbursed.

President Bharrat Jagdeo
Jagdeo told Norway's Environment Minister Erik Solheim that Guyana will "sign on to whatever they have now just to get it (LCDS moving) because I can't wait any more, the indigenous people can't wait any more."

The Guyana Chronicle reported that the president noted Guyana has, since January, met with conditions for the funds to start flowing from the agreement with Norway but existing World Bank conditions for releasing the money are holding up key projects.

The president's announcement came at a special panel session in New York of former US President Bill Clinton's Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which looked at "investing in the world's forests”.

He maintained that the World Bank's traditional rules of accessing funds were delaying key aspects of Guyana's model of a non-polluting pathway development, which came in for more praise from other members of the high level panel including the Australian prime minister and current foreign minister.

Jagdeo pointed out that Guyana has built a momentum in its climate change programme and delays in disbursing funds from Norway will cause him to lose credibility since "people will say this model can't work."

By Dr David Hinds

On Thursday, September 16, the president of Guyana held a forum to announce to policy holders of the failed CLICO insurance company that they would be reimbursed by the government.

David Hinds lectures in Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies at Arizona State University in the USA. More of his writings on politics in Guyana and the Caribbean can be found on his website.
At the meeting was well known chartered accountant, attorney at law and columnist, Christopher Ram, also a policyholder. Ram had argued in a letter in the newspaper that it was the Bank of Guyana, which was named as liquidator by the High Court, which should be addressing the policy holders.

According to Ram:
“The Chief Justice ruled that the Bank of Guyana be the liquidator. But President Jagdeo had promised that no policyholder would lose out on their investment, and he may be meeting them to say how the government will back his guarantee. That is the extent to which the government can go without frustrating the ruling of the court. In fact the President should be meeting with the Bank of Guyana in its capacity of liquidator and it is the liquidator that should be meeting with the policyholders.” (Stabroek News, September 16)

The president was angered by the letter and spent much of his address to the policyholders attacking Ram. When Ram attempted to ask a question during the question and answer session, the president refused to allow him to do so.

According to the Stabroek News report:
“During his speech, Jagdeo criticized accountant Christopher Ram for his letter, printed in yesterday’s edition of the Stabroek News, questioning why he (Jagdeo) and not the court appointed liquidator was meeting the policyholders. Jagdeo also attacked Ram for his role as financial consultant to the directors of Globe Trust. Advice given by Ram, Jagdeo said, had led to an unsuccessful reorganisation plan and to investors of the institution suffering unnecessarily. When the floor was opened for questions, Ram attempted to ask a question but was prevented by the President from doing so. ‘Not at my meeting,’ he said, ‘you can go outside and write in all the papers…I’m just fed up with all of these sour people.’ Ram then left the auditorium. When asked by this newspaper after the meeting whether his reaction was excessive, Jagdeo maintained his position. ‘No, no, no, not my meeting. Let him go… Give him the pages. He has Stabroek News to distort everything,’ he said.” (Stabroek News, September, 17)

In our highly partisan political process where there is no wall of separation between party and state, it is conceivable that every now and then the Head of State would descend into partisan “busing out.” All presidents and prime ministers have done it; some more than others.

But this president takes the cake. He does it as if it were part of his oath of office. Yesterday it was Hinds, Ogunseye, Corbin and Kissoon. Today it’s Christopher Ram. Tomorrow it will be somebody else. When you add it all up it amounts to what a calypsonian once called “Shame and Disgrace in the Family.”

Must we be reminded that this person is the institutional face of the country? He and his supporters and some non-supporters spent the last month reminding the country, as if we needed a reminder, that he is the president of all of Guyana and is free to visit any village in the country. What will they say now -- that as president he is free to abuse any citizen when he wants?

The treatment of Christopher Ram at the Cultural Center on Thursday is cause for major concern. “Not in my meeting” screams the president. “Ram shall not speak in my meeting.” Read that in Guyana’s political language to mean “Not in my country.”

When the president recently interpreted some to be saying “Not in my village” when he visited an African Guyanese village he called them bigots. Now he chases people out of “his meeting.” Talk about double standards!

Guyanese had better “take warning,” to paraphrase another musical poet of yesteryear. This president is out of control.

For the most part, Guyanese seem to have lost the ability to call a spade a spade. “The president is wrong but those who criticize him are more wrong,” they say. “The government is doing wrong things, but if you call it a dictatorship or advocate agitation you are wrong,” some reason.

One newspaper editorialized that the president’s visit to Buxton “is one of the most undisguised acts of political opportunism in recent times,” but David Hinds’ reaction was excessive. The president denies Ram the right to speak; Ram describes the action as idiotic. But, according to one letter writer, both of them must apologise.

While citizens are bound to respect the presidency, the person holding that office is equally bound to respect the office and uphold its dignity. In the end a country gets the leader it cultivates.

For the record, few can reasonably dispute Christopher Ram’s position that it is the Bank of Guyana, the liquidator, and not the president who should be talking to the CLICO policyholders. Ram’s view is grounded in law and political ethics. But he obviously angered the President, who evidently cares little about law and ethics.

You see, there is more in the mortar than the pestle. Ram touched a nerve -- a raw one. He is asking, among other things -- why is the president continuing this business of spending his presidential days “sharing out” things to people? Further, why is the president disregarding the court? Ram is taking aim at governance and the rule of law.

Many people, including some non-partisan ones, cannot see how demeaning and wrong these practices by the Head of State are. Some at the Cultural Centre cheered when the president tore into Ram. Guyana gone fuh channa. Or at least it’s going.
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