SATURDAY, JUNE 1, 2013
Major shakeup for GuySuCo Radio licence case heard by chief justice; management – Dr Ramsammy to continue in July A
he court case brought by the National Publishing Company against the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) and the board of the Guyana National Broadcast Authority (GNBA) over the issuance of radio licences was heard on Friday before acting Chief Justice Ian Chang. Speaking during an interview, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, representing the defendants, said the proceedings dealt with applications for interlocutory orders and substantive reliefs, with the former being withdrawn. He explained that the interlocutory matters consisted of issues such as conservatory orders and injunctions, “the sum total of which seek to stop these entities which were granted licences from operating, and to put the process on hold in relation to the granting of any future licences.” “Today, after hearing arguments for the matter, the lawyer for the applicant withdrew all the interlocutory matters. I think this is a major step which we have made, that we don’t need to deal with the interlocutory matters anymore and we are now left with the substantive matters,” AG Nandlall stated.
Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang The case which remains before the chief justice is to now determine whether the licences were lawfully or unlawfully granted. The matter has been adjourned to a date in July. Meanwhile, leave has been granted to have both sides file responses within 28 days of May 31, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported. According to court documents signed by the publisher of Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall, and filed by his lawyer, Roysdale Forde, the licences were issued under the old Post and Telegraph Act and done in bad faith, are discriminatory and not legal. The release of 11 radio
licences to privately owned entities and organisations by former President Bharrat Jagdeo in late 2011 brought an end to a long-held state monopoly on the radio airwaves, but was met with condescending reactions from those whose applications were shelved and opposition politicians looking for an opportunity to nitpick. Government’s argument that the issuance of the licences was primarily to end the long-held monopoly was not enough to convince them and full page newspaper advertisements, picketing exercises outside the Office of the President and the recent move to the court to reverse the decision, characterised their protest that called for the revocation of the licences. According to GINA, the newly-licensed radio operators are Matthews Ridge Community Council; Little Rock Television Station; Alfro Alphonso and Sons Enterprise; New Guyana Company Limited; National Television Network (NTN); Hits and Jams Entertainment; Wireless Connections; Rudy Grant; Telcor and Cultural Broadcasting Inc.; Linden Wireless Communication Network; and Television Guyana (TVG) Channel 28.
mid calls for investigation into the finances at the troubled Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy on Thursday said the government has for some time now taken the position that changes would be made to the board. The minister, according to a Government Information Agency (GINA) release, said President Donald Ramotar and Cabinet have been reviewing the composition of the board and the everyday management, and have agreed that there is need to make some adjustments to both the board and the management team. “This is not because the AFC and Mr Ramjattan want it, it is not because APNU demands it, it is because as good stewards of an industry, we see that the industry has some difficulties at this time and, we believe that a review of both the board and the everyday management is necessary,” Minister Ramsammy said. “I am in a position to say the president will make changes to the board of GuySuCo. The president has been talking to various people about board changes,” he said. According to Minister Ramsammy, one of the potential changes could be the highest level of management as Cabinet is examining the appointment of a new chief executive officer (CEO) for the sugar company. “Mr Paul Bhim has tried his best, but Mr Paul Bhim was just acting in that po-
sition.” This does not mean that Bhim will be fired, Minister Ramsammy said. “We are considering all the changes we need to make, but I do not think that it would be responsible for people to think that the entire management and the entire board would go,” he said. Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh during the 2013 national budget presentation had announced that the government will be seeking to address the constraints affecting the performance of the sugar company, with the establishment of a three-year (2013-2016) strategic plan that is projected to cost GuySuCo $3.1 billion in 2013 to advance the implementation of critical re-capitalisation aspects. The plan will support the mechanisation and field conversion drive, and focus particularly on critical areas. Minister Singh had also announced that GuySuCo will have to re-engineer its management and human relations functions accordingly. The party said it has noted recent comments of GuySuCo Chief Executive Officer Paul Bhim that the first sugar crop for 2013 will produce the “lowest production that we’ve (GuySuCo) ever had as far as the records go”. However, the AFC said it is not surprised by that pronouncement since the party and the sugar unions had warned GuySuCo, since 2009, of the imminent challenges facing the sugar industry. According to the AFC, it has since consulted many ex-
perts and workers, and has been reliably advised that the best practice of replanting the cane field, along with “flood fallowing” every five years, has now been abandoned in GuySuCo. “Rather, GuySuCo is now conducting the vital process after a period averaging between eight to 12 years. This is most unfortunate since these deliberate delays in flood fallowing and replanting is a guaranteed formula for considerably reversing decline in cane productivity. The experts that we have consulted have made it clear that as a result of the abandonment of these good cultivation practices by GuySuCo, the fibre and trash content would increase, which translates to a poorer quality cane being delivered to the sugar mills compared to the past years.” “It is time to turn the board of GuySuCo on its head since it is clear they do not know what it takes to lead GuySuCo. The AFC demands the firing of the entire GuySuCo board forthwith. It is clear that the board of directors at GuySuCo has zero sympathy for the industry and the plight of the workers. Among them are greedy and self-interested persons who believe that because they are friends of the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), they can live the high life off the sweat of the poor man and abandon the one thing that would turnaround GuySuCo… good quality cane.”
USAID, APNU discuss new US$1.5M governance project
pposition Leader David Granger on Thursday met with United States Ambassador to Guyana D Brent Hardt and a team from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to discuss a new US$1.5 million governance project. Granger was accompanied at the meeting by Members of parliament Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, Ronald Bulkan, Carl Greenidge, Basil Williams and policy adviser Lance Carberry. The U.S. ambassador was accompanied by Latin America and the Caribbean Programme Officer Humberto A Collado, U.S. embassy Political and Economic Chief Michael Fraser, IRI Project Adviser Michael Murphy and USAID Programme Management Specialist Cloe Noble. According to an APNU release, the ambassador explained that this new US$1.5 million USAID project will be used for strengthening
the role and effectiveness of Parliament, public education and information for local government and engagement and involvement of young people in the political system. The APNU said discussions were held on some of the critical issues of governance here. These include the need for strengthening of the National Assembly to ensure that it is equipped to effectively ensure that the executive is accountable to the people through their representatives in the National Assembly; technical and analytical support for the work of the National Assembly, such as the establishment of a Budget Office and the provision of the capacity to provide legislative drafting assistance for the opposition. Additionally, the meeting discussed professional research support for the work of committees; the provision of adequate resources to ensure the effective functioning of the Office of the Opposition Leader; the challenges to part-time MPs with
the increasing demands of the committee system; the need to guarantee the independence and autonomy of constitutional offices and institutions; the implications of the proliferation of “acting” appointments; the status of local government reform as a precondition for the holding of local government elections; the need for comprehensive public education programmes for ensuring that the new local government system is understood; the need for “civic” education for encouraging young people to become actively involved in the political system; the challenge of independent “funding” for the local government system; and the implications of the refusal of President Donald Ramotar to give his assent to opposition bills. The coalition grouping said it was evident that the new USAID project could make a valuable contribution for advancing the evolution of a truly democratic culture in Guyana.
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