Confusion in Govt over sugar industry

first_imgDear Editor,The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), through reports that appeared in several sections of the press, was — to say the least — surprised to learn that the state-owned NICIL Special Purpose Unit (SPU), according to Finance Minister Winston Jordan, was seeking financing in the region of $10 billion to $15 billion in order to resume operations at the East Demerara and Skeldon estates.By any yardstick, this is a huge sum, and we initially thought that the minister was maybe misquoted. This, however, turned out not to be the case. Minister Jordan has said the SPU was close to finalizing the financing through an arrangement with a consortium of local banks.Our Union, on this score, cannot help but wonder about the collateral that would have to be put up, or the interest rates that would be demanded, among the other conditions that the banks would impose. Just some food for thought!Sum of investmentAside from those important considerations, we are perplexed by the need for such a large sum. We recall that GuySuCo, with seven (7) factories under its fold, had required less financing from the Treasury; and therefore we are at a loss to figure out why the need for this significant sum.Moreover, if the minister’s comments are anything to go by, it seems that hardly any of the money being sought would be going to the workers. The minister, according to a one report, was quoted as saying, “…it would have been more expensive to keep them [the estates] open, especially in the areas of staffing and costs”. Therefore, it seems that workers’ remuneration would be kept to the barest, which in itself would present its own problems.It seems that the sums being sought would be utilized towards meeting capital expenditure. If this is factual, then the figures, from our point of view, seem high. We recall that the Sugar CoI has estimated that capital expenditure for the period 2016 to 2020 for East Demerara and Skeldon would be $2.57 billion and $1.151 billion respectively. With those investments, the CoI concluded, the two (2) estates would have produced 39,615 tonnes and 61,744 tonnes sugar respectively by 2020.Should the additional sums be used to fund the sugar diversification projects recommended by the Sugar CoI and endorsed by our Union, then, we believe, it would be shortsighted to sell rehabilitated and improved estates to allow the private owners to cream off the massive profits that could be realized from the implementation of these initiatives.Whatever is the case, we believe it would be difficult for NICIL to fully recover its entire investment. Therefore, the unrecovered portion of the investments being contemplated would amount to a State subsidy to the new owners, apart from the other fiscal concessions that the private owners would obviously demand.It appears that the best approach would be for the State to retain ownership.Timeline for saleWe also learnt that Minister Jordan expects that sale of the estates identified for privatisation would be completed, according to another section of the media where he was quoted as saying, “…in another six to nine months”. The Minister’s statement is in vast contrast to SPU privatization specialist Shawn Persaud. We recall Mr Persaud as being quoted in a January 26, 2018 Das saying“…authorities could not wait two years for the estates to be sold…”.Is it nine months or two years? But the minister added to the confusion when he said, according to NCN, that the loan the SPU is hoping to secure would be repaid in three to five years. In effect, the Finance Minister is saying that the SPU would have long disposed of the assets from which it would have derived the revenue to repay the loan it is now seeking. No prudent banker in their rightful sense would approve such a loan, unless it is guaranteed by the Government. If this is so, then this amounts to a further subsidy by the State down the road.Or maybe it is that the Minister misspoke, or is in a state of obvious confusion.Yours faithfully,Seepaul NarineGeneral Secretary,GAWUlast_img read more

The Paris Massacre—What Next?

first_imgBefore midnight last Friday the world was alarmed by the massacre of over 123 people as a result of a spate of indiscriminate shootings and suicide bomb blasts in the center of France’s glittering capital, Paris.As people enjoyed a casual Friday evening witnessing a concert and having dinner and drinks in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, gunmen and women, who claimed to be Islamists, with deadly automatic weapons, stormed the Bataclan Theatre and neighboring cafes, shooting people at random. In the end, 123 people were counted dead and over 352 people wound, 99 of whom are in critical condition.As predicted by most political and security watchers, the Islamic State (IS), whose trademark is ruthless kidnapping, killing and indiscriminate destruction, immediately claimed responsibility for the massacre.How long can the world be expected to put up with this Islamic State which, since it declared itself a caliphate in June 2014 after acquiring huge tracts of land in Syria and Iraq, has been noted for barbarity, mass killings, abductions and beheadings?But before tackling this question, we must ask another: how did the Middle East become so terribly destabilized? Without claiming to be experts in international affairs, we can say without fear of contradiction that the root of the problem has been the shortsighted policies of some Western governments, notably the United States, which perennially and blindly backed some of the most oppressive Islamic regimes, such as Iran. The USA’s backing of the Shah of Iran for so long because of oil, led to the popular Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the invasion of the US embassy in November of that year, the taking over 60 hostages, leading to the fall of the Carter administration.The second major American mistake was President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, against the better judgment of many other nations and tens of millions of his own fellow Americans. But no, GW had to invade Iraq, to avenge the alleged attempt by Saddam Hussein to kill young Bush’s father. And GW carried out his ruthless invasion under a false pretext, that Saddam had a stockpile of “weapons of mass destruction.”One of the most painful consequences of that invasion was what happened to the Christian churches in many parts of the Middle East, especially Iraq and Syria. These churches had existed since the time of Peter and the other early Christian fathers. Remember, Saul, who later became the eminent Apostle Paul, was, shortly following the crucifixion of Christ, on his way to Damascus, the Syrian capital, to kill Christians. Saul was suddenly struck down by a voice from Heaven asking the very serious question, “Saul, Saul, why persecuteth thou me?”The rest is history. Saul was led to a man named Ananias, who restored Saul’s sight, renamed him Paul – who went on to become the church’s greatest Apostle. Christians have had a presence in the Middle East ever since.Say what you may of Saddam Hussein, but though himself a Muslim, he was committed to religious tolerance and vigorously protected the Christians in Iraq. Today the Christians have been run out of Iraq, and Syria, by the Islamic State. Does this make George W. Bush look like the anti Christ? Only history will tell.Another problem that has caused the Middle East to be destabilized is America’s blind support of Israel and its ruthless atrocities inflicted upon the Palestinians. This is one of the primary causes of the hate and resentment Washington experiences throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world. Heaven knows when this will end, for America seems to believe that Israel can do no wrong. Washington has done nothing to stop the Israelis from occupying Palestinian land.Perhaps the most serious cause of instability in the Middle East is Syrian President Assad who, because of his lust for power, has effectively destroyed his country and caused his own people so much pain, distress and anguish. It is he more than anyone else that has given rise to the ruthless and bloodthirsty Islamic caliphate.Finally, we lay a lot of the blame for the power that IS now has at the feet of President Barrack Obama and his timid approach to the Syrian crisis. Surely the USA is the world’s most powerful nation and leader of the also powerful Western alliance. We firmly believe that Obama, backed his committed partners, Britain, France, Germany, the EU, could have nipped IS in the bud from its very beginning. But oh! The problem of indecisiveness and the terrible consequences it is now wreaking.How long will indecisiveness cause innocent people to suffer and die?France and all other European nations, the USA and Russia must mount a joint response to terrorism from wherever it comes. Evil can be defeated, and defeated it must be. But also, America and its allies MUST be more sincere and more proactive and decisive in their dealing with the Palestinian issue. There can be no real peace in the Middle East—or anywhere else—until the Palestinian problem is fully and decisively resolved.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

THE DD WEEKEND WEATHER REPORT WITH THE MOUNT ERRIGAL HOTEL

first_imgDONEGAL Daily Weekend Weather Report, in association with The Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny, Tel 07491 22700.Outlook – Not a great weekend ahead unfortunately.FRIDAY …Looking like the best of the three days. Most of you will see loads of sunshine today, but there will be passing showers, especially in the morning. Highs of around 13C or 14C.  Expect a few scattered showers in the evening.SATURDAY …Saturday will start wet with rain and showers throughout the morning, with the odd sunny spell. It will brighten up in the afternoon though before showers return in the evening. Top temperatures of around 15C.SUNDAY: Sunday will be most cloudy again with the odd shower, but not as bad as Saturday. Temperatures of around 13C.ENJOY…wonderful food from Donegal’s only Josper Grill, making mouth-watering meals for you and your family. To book a table at Dexter’s call The Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny, Tel 07491 22700.  THE DD WEEKEND WEATHER REPORT WITH THE MOUNT ERRIGAL HOTEL was last modified: May 8th, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:2014donegal weatherMAY 10MAY 11MAY 9showerssunshineweekend reportlast_img read more