Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college MOST READ “I watched the clip,” Lowry said. “I think it was a little bit dirty. He grabbed me and pulled me down. I don’t think he did it on purpose. I know he didn’t think he was going to hurt me.”Robinson, who fouled out with no points in 14 minutes, did not speak to reporters.Marc Gasol had 12 points and 11 rebounds, Pascal Siakam scored 19 points and OG Anonoby had 14 as Toronto reached 50 wins for the fourth straight season.Allonzo Trier scored 22 points and Kevin Knox had 12 as the Knicks lost big one day after Mario Hezona’s last-second block gave them a 124-123 home win over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. New York, which has the worst record in the NBA at 14-57, lost for the ninth time in 10 games.“Toronto is going to be in that mix at the end,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “They’ve got all the ingredients to go after this thing. We took one on the chin tonight.”ADVERTISEMENT Rogue cops marked as Gamboa’s targets in his appointment as PNP chief Phivolcs: Slim probability of Taal Volcano caldera eruption Toronto Raptors guard Jeremy Lin (17)gets fouled on his way to the hoop by New York Knicks centre Mitchell Robinson (26) during first half NBA basketball action in Toronto, Monday, March 18, 2019. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors will likely have to wait a little longer to get their entire lineup healthy at the same time.Jeremy Lin scored 20 points, Fred VanVleet had 13 points and 12 assists for his first career double-double, and the Raptors beat the New York Knicks 128-92 on Monday night.ADVERTISEMENT Tom Brady most dominant player in AFC championship history Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? The victory came at a cost to the Raptors, who saw guard Kyle Lowry leave in the third quarter after suffering an injured right ankle. Lowry, who had 15 points and eight assists in 26 minutes, was back in the lineup after missing the previous two games because of a sore left ankle.Toronto coach Nick Nurse said Lowry’s latest injury was “not terribly bad,” although Lowry said after the game that his ankle was “pretty tender.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissSPORTSCoronation night?SPORTSThirdy Ravena gets offers from Asia, Australian ball clubs“I’m able to walk, a little bit slower, but I’ll be all right,” Lowry said.New York rookie center Mitchell Robinson collided with Lowry while chasing a loose ball at 5:15 of the third, falling onto Lowry’s legs and taking the All-Star point guard down from behind. Lowry slapped the floor in pain and frustration before being helped to his feet and limping to the locker room. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View comments With the Raptors playing the second game of a back-to-back, forward Kawhi Leonard was given the night off to rest. Leonard scored 33 points in Sunday’s loss at Detroit. VanVleet, who returned to the lineup Sunday after missing 12 games because of an injured left thumb, started in place of Leonard.With forward Serge Ibaka set to return from a three-game suspension Wednesday, Toronto looked set to have its whole roster available for the first time since the trade deadline. Instead, Lowry may be forced to miss at least one of this week’s two games against Oklahoma City. Toronto visits the Thunder on Wednesday before hosting them Friday.“I’ll be doing some treatment all night, trying to get myself healthy and try to get back and not be out long,” Lowry said.Toronto made 14 of 17 shots in a blistering first, including five of seven from long range, and led 38-29 after one. The Raptors led 73-54 at halftime. It was Toronto’s highest-scoring half of the season.After the Raptors opened the second half with an 8-0 run, Fizdale called timeout and removed all five starters.“Not getting it done, not playing at the level I wanted to see the game played at,” Fizdale said. “They understood. I think every guy that was out there owned it.”The change didn’t help, and Toronto took a 101-69 lead into the fourth.TIP-INSKnicks: G Dennis Smith Jr. missed his third straight game because of a sore lower back and F Noah Vonleh missed his second straight because of a sprained right ankle. … Fizdale said G Frank Ntilikina will be reevaluated Tuesday. Ntilikina has not played since Jan. 27 because of a sore groin. … Robinson has now recorded a block in 28 straight games, tying Patrick Ewing for the longest streak ever by a Knicks rookie.Raptors: Ikaba served the third and final game of his suspension for throwing a punch at Cleveland’s Marquese Chriss on March 11. … Toronto is 15-5 without Leonard. … Toronto’s 36 assists matched a season-high. The Raptors had more assists than the Knicks had made baskets (28). Japeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for Ginebra Eugenie Bouchard’s bid for Australian Open spot ends in qualifying Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title ATLANTIC ACHIEVEMENTToronto is 8-0 at home against Atlantic Division opponents. The Raptors have won 31 straight home games against Atlantic foes. Their last home defeat to a division opponent was a Nov. 10, 2015, loss to the Knicks.WHOLE AT HALFToronto won its 18th straight game when leading at halftime, extending a franchise record.UP NEXTKnicks: Host Utah on Wednesday night.Raptors: At Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LATEST STORIES David Beckham admits using phone while driving, police say Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title
Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu has been denied bail by a US court. Mr. Woewiyu, a former spokesman for the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) is facing a potentially lengthy prison term in the United States for alleged immigration fraud.He was planning to run for Senate in the upcoming special senatorial election.And despite living for the last four decades as a legal permanent resident in Delaware County, he and his wife maintain extensive real estate holdings, including a rubber farm in Liberia.”He is very, very much involved in public life in Liberia,” said prosecutor Linwood C. Wright. “He has an infrastructure there [Liberia] that is more substantial than what he has here [US].”On Friday, a U.S. magistrate judge agreed and ordered Woewiyu, 69, held without bond while he awaits trial on allegations he lied to immigration officers about his past with Taylor, who is serving a 50-year term in a British prison.But in arguing for his release, Woewiyu’s lawyer, Benjamin G. Perez, suggested that what government attorneys misunderstood was that having a life on both sides of the Atlantic is the norm for much of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s 15,000-member Liberian expatriate community.In the African hair salons and grocery stores that have sprung up along thoroughfares such as Woodland Avenue, shoppers tell tales of family living here and there. Rivalries cross oceans, and men in T-shirts and jeans are equally likely to introduce themselves as café owners or dignitaries from nations thousands of miles away.Such was the manner in which Liberian expat Jeffrey Harmon introduced himself Friday in the hallway of the federal courthouse.”This is all political,” he said of Woewiyu’s arrest. “This all has to do with politics back at home.”His concerns mirrored conspiracy theories snaking their way through the Liberian immigrant community in the days since Woewiyu’s arrest. Homeland Security detained him Monday at Newark Liberty International Airport as he returned from a campaign trip to Monrovia, Liberia’s capital.The charges against him stem from a 2006 application for U.S. citizenship. Asked on the form whether he had ever advocated for the toppling of a foreign government or persecuted minority groups, Woewiyu said no.Prosecutors, however, call him a war criminal – linking him to the worst atrocities of Taylor’s regime.Throughout back-to-back civil wars that wracked Liberia from 1989 to 2003, Woewiyu served as the U.S.-based spokesman and defense minister to Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia.The party had mounted a violent campaign to wrest control from Taylor’s predecessor, Samuel Doe, in 1996, but then turned its weapons on countrymen in an effort to hold on to power – executing political opponents, conscripting boys into child armies, and forcing girls into prostitution. Taylor was convicted of those crimes by an international court in 2012. Woewiyu – who served as labor minister in Taylor’s government and president pro tempore of the Senate before breaking politically with Taylor – remained here.For years, he has resided with his wife in a two-story home in Collingdale. They have enjoyed a prominent role in Delaware County’s immigrant community.He earned a bachelor’s degree in labor studies from Rutgers University in 1981. He is pursuing a master’s from Pennsylvania State University while earning a living through real estate development.Six of his grown children also live in the United States. One is a lieutenant in the Navy.”I am very surprised,” said the Rev. Moses Dennis of Faith Immanuel Lutheran Church in East Lansdowne, which caters to a large Liberian congregation. Woewiyu occasionally attended services at there.”He comes across very genuine,” Dennis said. “He’s a politician. A politician, you know.”Others preferred to keep their opinions to themselves, fearful that anything said here could mean trouble for family abroad. For, as U.S. prosecutors said Friday, Woewiyu maintains a high profile in his homeland.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
A Liberian organization identified as Renewed Energy Serving Humanity (RESH), aims to provide psychosocial support to victims of natural disasters and traumatic events like the Ebola epidemic.Ernest Garnark Smith, Jr., executive director of RESH disclosed that the psychosocial aspect of the war against the deadly Ebola virus was either non-existent or neglected with no attention from the stakeholders.He said RESH intends to provide quality counseling for patients and clinical staff combating the horrific impacts of the Ebola epidemic. The organization is training volunteers to carry out its mission under the theme “Empowering to Serve.” It recently held a three-day workshop for 50 volunteers at the Amos Taybior Institute in Paynesville. The volunteers are mainly from the Bassa Town Community.The volunteers are being trained in counseling Ebola survivors, relatives, community members and clinical staff. Subjects covered during the workshop included Community Sensitization and Significance in Psychosocial Supports, Trauma Counseling, Grief Counseling and Introduction to Temperament Analysis: An Effective Tool in the Health Profession.The executive director, speaking at the conclusion of the workshop, urged the volunteers to use their newly acquired skills to give back to humanity by way of counseling Ebola survivors and victims in the Bassa Town community. He charged that they would be on the wrong side of history if they did nothing to help after acquiring the counseling skills.He assured the workshop participants that refresher training will be provided by both RESH and its partners in order to keep volunteers abreast of the tasks ahead.Mr. Smith appealed to other humanitarian organizations and UN agencies operating in the country to provide support to his entity to ensure that its work is expanded throughout the country.RESH’s Coordinator, who is himself a psychosocial counselor, social worker and freelance psychosocial author and poet, facilitated the workshop. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
It seems that the outgoing Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Walter Traub Gwenigale’s request for retirement has been granted by President Ellen Johnson SirleafIn a special address to the nation yesterday, President Sirleaf replaced Dr. Gwenigale as Minister of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) with Mr. George Werner, who, too, will leave his post as head of the Civil Service Agency (CSA) if and when he is confirmed by the Liberian Senate.However, the President had a special word for Dr. G, as the former Health Minister is affectionately called. She said “ Dr. Gwenigale who continues to have my full confidence, will continue to serve as Advisor in the Ministry of Health, will continue to work with me on the President’s Advisory Ebola Committee, until his planned retirement in February.”Dr. G., who joined President Sirleaf’s Cabinet in 2006, had written the President on November 3, 2014, asking for her permission to retire next February 2015, which is also the month in which he takes his deferred annual leave. He will also turn 80 next February.In his letter, Dr. G. did not provide reasons for his request to retire but told the President he was retiring “from a personally gratifying active service to my country since September 1, 1973.”Recounting his years of service, Dr. G. said he returned to the country in August 1973, with “a young foreign wife and a year old son and started working for Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing on September 1st as the Chief of Surgery.” He was subsequently appointed Medical Director/CEO of Phebe the following year and in that same year, he was made Medical Director (now County Health Officer—CHO) of Bong County, where the hospital is located.He had inherited a 65-bed hospital; but between 1974 and 2003, when he left his administrative post at the hospital, he had increased the beds to 200 and the hospital campus grew to include the Rural Health Training Center for 200 students and an eye hospital was built by CBM of Germany.Even after stepping down as CHO and CEO in 2003, he continued to serve the hospital as Chief of Surgery until he was asked by the President to join her Cabinet.The former Health Minister told the President: “I have enjoyed working for my country under your wise and competent leadership. I will truly miss you and my seat in your Cabinet Room, but stand ready to advise you and my successor, should I be asked to do so.”Dr. G. also had this to tell the President: “Because I started supervising all of the MOHSW activities in Bong County in June of 1974, I can truly say I have served my country from that time until now, and do deserve to be pensioned by the country I have served all my productive life. Therefore, I kindly request that you favorably consider my request for a pension for the years, I have worked for the Government of Liberia.”Following 33 successful years in Bong County, the last three years of Dr. G’s tenure in Monrovia as Minister of Health and Social welfare, have been contentiously driven by claims and counter claims between him and striking public health workers on one hand and some members of the National Legislature on the other hand.Last October, when he addressed a regular press briefing at the Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism, he had said the two dismissed leaders of the National Health Workers Association of Liberia (NHWAL) would “NEVER” come back to work with the Ministry as long as he was there as Minister. Calling for the reinstatement of the two had been one of the demands of the striking health workers.Min. Gwenigale’s remark did not go down well with many people, including lawmakers. When lawmakers in the Senate summoned him, he reportedly accused the senators of being supportive of the strike action by health workers. It angered the senators who threatened him with “contempt.” He was, however, saved from the senators’ wrath when his physician, Dr. Robert Kpoto, told the lawmakers that his (Dr. Gwenigale’s) blood pressure was 197/90, and that he needed rest and medication for 14 days and therefore could not appear for a hearing.Following that communication from his doctor, 15 senators, among them, Senators Geraldine Doe-Sherif, Jewel Howard-Taylor, H. Dan Morais. Sando Johnson, Henry Willie Yallah and Thomas Grupee, requested, in a three-page communication to their colleagues, for President Sirleaf to retire Min. Gwenigale.They had said in their communication that Dr. Gwenigale, who should be the frontline general to supervise health workers, needs to be in the best frame of mind, void of illnesses such as high blood pressure during the Ebola crisis.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Dear Editor,“Massa day done” over 57 years ago, Trinidad’s Dr Eric Williams rocked the West Indian psyche with his speech in the ‘University of Woolford Square’ Port of Spain. This iconic moment spawned a new consciousness among our peoples and political class, independence would come to Guyana five years after this event – Guyana’s own master orator Forbes Burnham, worked tirelessly to build the Guyanese identity, one of a people intelligent enough to make decisions to chart their own destiny without assistance of the imperial powers. To the extent that I pen this letter, he was successful, I regard myself as a child of independent Guyana, born post independence and educated in a time of revolutionary thinking, so one can imagine my dismay when I see my dear land subject to ‘advice’ on a daily basis from foreign emissaries of the United Kingdom and the United States of America in clear violation of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of States, a well-established and important part of international law enshrined in the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations.During the past year, High Commissioner Quinn has made pronouncements on corruption; at the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association’s (GMSA) 22nd annual Presentation Awards Dinner, Quinn noted that Guyana’s score on Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Index Report is “unacceptably low” and berated us with “failure to tackle corruption.” On April 10, he demanded that “corrupt law enforcement officials must be jailed”; Quinn also urged us to “have a clear plan to spend oil money” (Guyana Chronicle 2017/02/22). Our Government has been shamefully quiet as the High Commissioner becomes bolder with his pronouncements, demands and advice, I am not advising a feral blast a la Manickchand, which though not undeserved was poorly timed and undiplomatic given the venue and occasion. I believe Mr Quinn needs to be reminded that Guyanese are citizens in an independent republic and unlike his home country Ireland, we are not subjects to the whims of Her Majesty or her primitive form of Government, surely the time has come when an accident of birth accords one divine status has passed? Your intentions may be good but the history our nation shares with yours speaks volumes on exploitation and abuse, the situation in the United Kingdom vis-à-vis corruption is far from ideal and I see no move to jail your corrupt politicians, indeed, it would seem only a resignation is called for when found with your hand in the UK cookie jar. To the Ambassador of the United States, I have also noticed your increased pronouncements on our possible oil revenues, to you Sir, I would advise you share that advice with your home country, your future is mortgaged to China and you are dependent on Mexican agricultural labour to feed yourselves, on what ground do you stand to give advice? We have not yet forgotten or forgiven your last interference in our affairs via the CIA in the 1960s as your declassified documents show. We all know America has only one friend, the one with something they need. To Guyana’s present Administration, I beseech you not to forego all of our nation’s toil in achieving independence and identity by your silence in the face of pronouncements on our internal affairs that are demeaning and insulting to our collective intelligence. We all celebrated our Golden Jubilee of independence, now is the time to give meaning and significance to that milestone, Dr Williams said “With his backward ideas of aristocracy of the skin … Massa still has his stooges who prefer to crawl on their bellies to Massa … instead of holding their heads high and erect”. Let us not be that stooge, let us not fail to remember the past lest we repeat it.Sincerely,Robin Singh
Dear Editor,The old saying goes “no news is good news” – it even gives us hope. In our present situation in Guyana, false news and information is dangerous and alarming on the other hand. This now illegal Government has been on the path of false promises, false and malicious information and lies from the day that they took office to date – and it keeps getting worse. Aside from the ill governance and massive corruption within the Administration, the information that is released from Government officials and agencies alike are all ninety per cent false. It has come to the point that one cannot take for granted anything at all that is said on behalf of the Government by the press or their officials. All Governments worldwide, of course, always have television, radio and other media that reflect, let’s say, the “positive” side of things for them. In contrast, the opposing party/s have their source of information broadcast which is usually very critical of the ruling party. Any smart person would listen objectively to both sides because the truth is always somewhere in the middle.Now, aside from day-to-day news and with serious reference to vital information, we expect almost identical language from both sides regarding press releases, addresses and proclamations that will be used by the citizens as guidance. It is absolutely important to be credible and this Government dangerously fails in this area. Citizens are now totally relying on the Opposition for accurate and reliable news in order to guide us. That is a total shame on the Government’s part. The Chronicle newspaper takes printing misinformation to new dimensions and thus takes the prize. Most of the headlines are so incredibly false and stupid that it is just a waste of printing paper in my opinion and as everyone knows, this newspaper is the major mouthpiece of the Government.Take the recent case of the House-to-House Registration process from start to finish; almost every headline in the Chronicle was misleading, almost every announcement by then President Granger and his Administration was misleading. The only way to get accurate information on what to do was via Mr Jagdeo’s weekly press conferences and other interviews and programmes by the PPP Administration. If I had listened to the other side, I would have totally wasted my time bothering to register when it was not necessary at all and I am a person who hates to waste time on things.The PPP fought for and succeeded so far in protecting our constitutional right to vote.Now recently (about a week ago) Mr Granger croaked and mumbled around regarding a date for elections. Moments afterwards, headlines screamed like sirens…only to retract like screeching brakes shortly after because closer inspection of what was said by the President left us all in doubt. Thankfully, after the PPP voiced annoyance at his ambiguous announcement and the international communities chimed in, he was forced to give us a definite date for elections (I won’t bother to repeat it, let’s hope it prevails). Now all is well right?? Absolutely no way! The “official” gazette published the duration for the Claims and Objections period..and just as we suspected, it was erroneous…they ummm, miscalculated the days “accidentally”, adding two additional weeks! I think that was corrected, but don’t be too happy just yet. Mr Aubrey Norton also announced a few days ago on NCN that people need to check that their names are on the list and report to the nearest GECOM office to verify same, otherwise they would not be able to vote! he added that we must also ensure that “phantoms” who were added to the list by the PPP are removed! That man is a hideous liar. In the same breath, he is making a last-minute attempt to misinform the public again by saying that we all need to verify with GECOM although our names appear on the PLE. Mr Norton, you and your Government are the ones who were trying to use the House-to-House Registration process to “deregister” legitimate voters. Shame on you all (again). GECOM never discussed removing legitimate voters from the list once their names are already there. We are, however, patiently awaiting Mr Jagdeo’s press conference to hear his opinion on that matter.These outreaches that the illegal Government continues to make at the expense of taxpayers is another headache. Look at that picture of a muddy road to Lethem being replaced by that of a photoshopped finished road and the heading that said “promise kept”! What promise? the road has not been built as yet! All that this Administration can do is peddle false information.Sincerely,Shane Lindie
Residents living in various communities in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) have complained that the Community Infrastructure Improvement Project is not delivering the kind of services it once did when compared to the past and they are calling on Agriculture Minister Noel Holder to immediately intervene.Residents complained that employees attached to the project within the local authority areas are not executing their jobs, and as such, have called for a review since management and operations of the project is increasingly criticised.Residents are of the view that the project is not properly supervised and this is creating a heavy backlog in the amount of drains that are not cleaned, while works executed do not meet minimum levels of satisfaction.When contact was made with the Chairman of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) Devanand Ramdatt, he said he is in receipt of numerous reports from residents regarding the poor management of the project.The Regional Chairman explained that in the past, more community enhancement works were completed under the said project. Drains, road shoulders, Government buildings and compound were maintained through a similar project.According to Ramdatt, that project was much more successful since local authorities and the Regional Democratic Council had closer collaboration. He is of the view if the project is better managed, many of the concerns raised at the community level regarding drainage will be addressed.The Regional Chairman said he is very concerned about the project particularly since numerous residents are dissatisfied with the service offered. As such, he said he had requested clarity from management regarding details of the project, since there seems to be a weakness in the implementation process.He indicated that he had also requested to have such information from the Coordinator of the project but nothing has been provided to date.
While global initiatives and agreements create the environment to plan and take action on regional development, Caricom Secretary General Irwin LaRocque believes this is not sufficient and regional leaders must take their own action, such as proposed in the Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Community for the period 2015-2019.Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Regional Civil Society Conference, hosted by the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), Georgetown, LaRocque said that Caribbean leaders had to think outside the box, look for innovative and new ways to address challenges, as well as adopt new approaches to regional development.Secretary General Irwin LaRocque“While the challenges may have long been identified, it is how we approach finding and implementing the solutions which will be important in the long run. It is that kind of strategic thinking, which has gone into the formulation of a Strategic Plan. We need all actors in the development process to contribute to innovative and new approaches to our development,” he remarked.The Caricom Secretary General pointed out that the Community’s Strategic Plan was derived through a widespread inclusive and consultative process undertaken at national and regional levels. He said after distilling all the views and ideas put forward, priorities were determined.“The Plan sets out the strategies to be pursued, the outcomes anticipated, the principal measures to be undertaken and the major activities to be implemented. We are well advanced with our work on the Operational Plan,” he stated.Among the urgent priorities outlined in the Plan is developing arrangements for participatory governance at the regional level. This, La Rocque said, is probably the most important, since it seeks to involve all elements and components of Caribbean society in the regional development process.The Secretary General emphasised that this is premised on the fact that the Caribbean cannot achieve sustained and inclusive growth and development unless all the players in development are actively engaged.“It involves the creation of partnerships for development. It specifically involves formal inclusion of the Private Sector, Civil Society and Labour in the consultative process, the decision-making processes and in implementation at national and regional levels. It takes its cue from the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which requires us to establish and maintain an efficient system of consultations at the national and regional levels,” he remarked.Moreover, LaRocque stressed that at the level of the Secretariat, efforts will continue in the search for funding to establish a civil society desk. However, he posited that the implementation of the agreed Strategy would not be without its challenges.He outlined that it would required changes in regional thinking, the adoption of new approaches to planning, to look at innovative approaches to implementation and financing. In summary, the Caricom Head said that the Community could not approach the implementation of the Strategic Plan for regional development as if it were business as usual.“The people of the Region will hold all of us accountable for the success or failure of its implementation. As a Region, we cannot afford to miss this opportunity to set ourselves on a trajectory which can boost our own development,” he remarked.
Govt yet to hold talks with India The Specialty Hospital Project continues to be placed on hold as the Guyana Government is yet to make contact with its Indian counterparts for clarification on the way forward.An artiste impression of The Specialty HospitalIn June, Minister of State Joseph Harmon disclosed that the Government of India, funding the Project via an US$18 million Line of Credit, had indicated that it was ceasing worldwide business with India-based Fedders Lloyd Corporation Limited, after the company was blacklisted by the World Bank until 2020 over fraud and corruption practices.The donor country had also expressed preference for a fresh tendering process to be conducted to select a new Indian-base contractor to execute the project.However, at the time, the A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government said that it wanted to make certain enquiries of the Indian Government before a definitive course of action is adopted on the Specialty Hospital Project.This task was given to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance, and Public Health. However, a government source told Guyana Times that the project has been “shelved” as no contact has been made with the Indian Government. The source said that Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge was supposed to take the lead since making contact with a….country falls under his purview.Meanwhile, in a previous interview with this newspaper Public Health Minister Dr George Norton had explained that the impending discussions with the Indian Government will determine whether Guyana will go ahead with the project using a new contractor or have it scrapped entirely, given all the trouble the project has faced.“There is a chance it might come off the table because that Hospital Project is not doing well with how it started and what’s supposed to be… The next step will now be for us to have direct contact with the Indian Government and decide whether it will continue with the loan or not,” Dr Norton had stated.Last November, the coalition Government came under fire following the announcement that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Fedders Lloyd to complete the controversial project that was left on hold after the Donald Ramotar Administration sacked and sued the first contractor, Surendra Engineering Inc, for failing to honour its obligations.Guyana is yet to recover close to $1 billion from that company.The APNU/AFC had justified the handpicking of Fedders Lloyd to complete the project, saying that the company was one of the original bidders in the 2012 tendering process.It noted too that after examining the merits of the proposal and in the interest of time, it began searching for a willing partner to complete the Specialty Hospital using the remaining US$14 million. Hence, it approached Fedders Lloyd without any tendering process and the company accepted to construct and fully equip what is expected to be a state-of-the-art medical facility.However, this caused much uproar and controversy after it was revealed that the Indian company was never the second best bidder in the tendering process back in 2012, as claimed by the coalition Government.In fact, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Opposition had stated that the company was disqualified because of certain inconsistencies in its submission to the local tender board; a report which government contended was a lie.But while in opposition, the APNU/AFC had strongly opposed the US$18 million Specialty Hospital Project and upon its assumption to office last year, decided to scrap the project.It said that the remaining $13.8 million would be better served if it is used to improve the country’s primary healthcare service by upgrading three hospitals across the country.However, the Indian Government had indicated that Guyana should go ahead with the Specialty Hospital and it will provide a separate loan for the primary healthcare project. This second loan is expected to be made available to the Guyana Government.The three hospitals considered for upgrade under the primary healthcare service are the Bartica Hospital, the West Demerara Regional Hospital and the Suddie Public Hospital.
The Norwegian and Liberian Governments have announced a US$150 million partnership that would benefit the latter.The announcement was made Tuesday, September 23 at the UN Climate Summit in New York.The partnership is geared toward putting a stop to the destruction and deforestation of Liberia’s rainforest.A press statement issued by the forest watch dog, Global Witness Tuesday, hailed the partnership between Liberia and Norway as steps to Liberia’s forest development, growth and progress.Accordingly, the deal foresees an end to new logging contracts, more scope for forest-dependent communities to manage their forests, and increase protected forest areas, Global Witness statement said.As Liberia contends with a horrifying Ebola outbreak, this partnership would reduce incentives for Liberia to liquidate its forests for cash, and would help put the country’s shattered economy on a more sustainable path towards poverty reduction and environmental protection.The agreement is part of Norway’s plan to help cut carbon emissions globally through preventing deforestation in an effort to reduce the impacts of climate change.“Yesterday’s announcement by Liberia and Norway is momentous,” said Global Witness Director Patrick Alley. “For decades Liberia’s forests have been more of a curse than a blessing.”“The experiment to generate economic development through industrial scale logging has failed, with logging companies routinely logging illegally, skirting taxes, and causing huge damage to forests and forest communities.The proposed shift towards community management and conservation could be a profound reversal of that failed model.”Liberia is home to 43 percent of the remaining Upper Guinean rainforest, which also covers parts of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.It is estimated that one third of Liberia’s 4.3 million people live in the country’s forests with many more reliant on them.Under the terms of the Norway-Liberia agreement Liberia has pledged to: place a moratorium on new logging contracts and review logging concessions that are illegal or not performing.It will also increase support for communities wishing to manage their forests, including practical training and research into new sustainable forest economies.Liberia agreed to conserve at least 30 percent or more of Liberia’s forests as protected areas. The West African nation also said it will respect the rights of rural landowners, including those who own their land under customary law, and ensure that decisions are made only with their free, prior and informed consent.For Norway, it will first assist Liberia in building systems to create new models of forest management, measure carbon stock, and monitor results.Beyond that, direct payments will be made to the Government of Liberia when it can start proving that deforestation rates are decreasing.Implementing these commitments will not be easy, capacity within the Liberian Government is low and will be damaged further by the current Ebola epidemic.Logging companies still operating in the country have broken Liberian laws in the past, and continue to seek new loopholes to access Liberia’s forests.Global Witness is also concerned that the deal could open the door to new agriculture investors, like oil palm companies, some of which have a record of felling forests and grabbing community lands.The agreement requires that new investors avoid deforestation and respect land rights. But for these protections to be enforceable, Liberia will need to adopt laws that ensure these protections.“Over the past two years, the Liberian Government has taken steps to improve governance and is now showing real commitment to helping communities, not companies, benefit from the forest,” said Alley.“With yesterday’s pledges and Norway’s help, we are hopeful that Liberia will continue down this path, although ultimately the proof of this deal will be in its implementation,” Global Witness stressed.The Liberia-Norway partnership would also be key to helping Liberia recover from what has become the world’s worst outbreak of the Ebola virus which, beyond the immediate humanitarian crisis, would deal what the World Bank has termed a “potentially catastrophic blow” to Liberia’s economy in the long-term.“Our thoughts are with the Liberian people during this difficult time,” said Alley.“Once the disease is defeated, however, Liberia would have the opportunity to rebuild in a way that benefits its government, the forests, and the populations’ dependent upon them who are among Liberia’s most vulnerable people,” Global Witness concluded. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)