Despite the abundant natural resources in Guyana and even with the expected production of oil, Guyana’s most important natural resource is its children.This is the view of former Attorney General Anil Nandlall as he distributed school bags and other essentials on behalf of East Berbice Sugar Workers Relief Committee as they prepare former sugar worker’s children for the new school year.“The responsibility of all of us is to ensure that the welfare of our children is always paramount and that whatever we do, we must ensure the advancement of our children’s welfare,” he said.Children of workers who were severed from the Skeldon estate when the factorySome of the children who received school bags and other essential school suppliesclosed its doors in December 2017 were given bags and other essential for the new school year complements of the East Berbice Sugar Workers Relief Committee (EBSWRC).The EBSWRC provided new school bags and other essentials for school to 150 students from the Corriverton, Skeldon and Messiah Primary Schools.Over 2000 workers at the Skeldon Estate were sent home when Government closed that estate.Speaking to the children and their parents at the Corriverton Primary School building, where the presentations were made last Saturday, Nandlall said we are living in a society where we are facing great challenges. Those challenges produce initiatives and organisations like the EBSEWRC.He noted that when the sugar estates were closed and thousands of workers lost their jobs and the future of their families became uncertain.“There children’s lives and future became dismal and out of that came this organisation and many of its kind right across the sugar belt. These organisations came up through the People’s Progressive Party working with other social partners to try to bring some relief to the sugar workers, their families and most importantly the children of the sugar workers,” Nandlall said.Member of Parliament Adrian Anamayah who is also a part of the organisation organised the presentation. He noted that most of the funding came from several Berbicians who nor reside overseas.Anamayah also related that the EBSEWRC has been providing hot meals to children of the severed workers since the start of the year.
Residents along the Berbice River have lambasted the current Administration for turning its back on them following their victory at the polls in 2015.This is according to Hansel Vandenburg, a man who campaigned heavily for the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition at the last elections.Hansel VandenburgThe residents are from Regions Five (Mahaica-Berbice), Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) while most are from Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).The area was considered campaign ground for the coalition before the 2015 National and Regional Elections. But after the coalition won, they pocketed the promises they made to those residents and no member of Government has visited them since.“I didn’t ask for an office or a position in the Government to run nothing. All I am asking for is for those people to handle these situations and issues which we voted for and fought for to bring this country to a place where it is tidy and clean. That is my vision and what I am here for. I have not seen any improvements. They have failed us. They have failed us miserable,” Vandenburg stated.Vandenburg said he campaigned against the previous Administration hoping to have a better Guyana.“I took rain. I took dew day and night with people in my hand down the Berbice River campaigning that our present Government in office to stamp out irregularities but I have seen no improvement so far. My labour has gone to waste. I voted for those people to stamp out these kinds of irregularities. I really would like someone to give an ear to this and to the blockage of the River,” Vandenburg added.He said while the people of Hururu continue to block the River, Government has not acted in a responsible manner. “No one seems to give a voice up to now. The question is why?”Residents of Hururu, situated about 4km from RUSAL’s main mine at Kurubuka, have blocked a section of the Berbice River with wire ropes and nets to prevent any vessel from going up or down the River.This, they said, is an act of protest against the mining company at which most of the residents have found employment. But persons doing logging in the upper Berbice River are also being affected.In recent months, Guyanese have come forward bashing the Government for lack of vision.
Mid-year financial reportBY SAMUEL SUKHNANDANEven with increased production in the key traditional sectors, data compiled in the recent mid-year Finance Ministry Report has clearly showed that the economy is eroding at a fast rate.This is according to former Government Minister, Irfaan Ali, who said it thereforeOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has been very critical of the APNU/AFC Government’s economic performance over the past two yearsmeans that the local Guyanese economy could experience some challenges going forward.Ali pointed out that as foreign exchange tanked, imports will become relatively expensive. “Overall, imported goods would become relatively expensive, hence stoking inflation in the process,” he contended.Ali noted that net foreign reserve plummeted from US$633 million in June 2016 to US$574 million in mid-2017; the lowest ever recorded in over seven years.“In other words, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government destroyed in two years what the PPP/C [People’s Progressive Party] took to amass in 7 years. Even more worrisome, external debt increased by US$53 million to US$1,200 million,” he added.The Opposition Member of Parliament said it is also worthwhile to mention that net foreign revenue to external debt ratio had increased from 172 per cent in mid-2016Former Minister and PPP/C Member of Parliament, Irfaan Ali thinks the economy is eroding at a fast rateto 207 per cent in mid-2017.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had also bashed the APNU/AFC coalition Government, saying that it remains clueless and hapless, even as the country’s economy continues on a downward spiral.The former President had also called out the Government for refusing to concede to advice and recommendations, which could in effect help to put the country back on the road to recovery.He accused the Administration of taking a laid back approach, while Guyanese continue to feel the brunt of a dilapidated economical structure.Under the PPP/C Administration, Guyana had the fastest growing economy in the region. And from 2006 to 2014, Guyana’s economy experienced continuous, positive growth. This was the longest period of uninterrupted growth in the history of Guyana. The average growth rate was 4.5 per cent per annum.In 2014, the last full year of the PPP/C in office, Guyana’s GDP was US$3.1 billion. That was up from US$1.4 billion in 2006, an increase of 121.4 per cent. The country’s Gross International Reserve held at the Bank of Guyana at the end of 2014 was US$665.6 million, which was equivalent to 3.6 months of imports. It was up from US$251.4 million in 2005, an increase of 164.76 per cent.The PPP/C administration had drastically reduced the huge debt it had inherited from a previous PNC regime. And the PPP/C reduced the external debt to just 39.5% of GDP. That was also a reduction from 2006 when the debt to GDP was 71.8 percent. This has been described as a good demonstration of the prudent financial management by the PPP/C and the dynamic growth of the economy.In this year’s mid-year report, it was stated that the overall balance of payment recorded a deficit of US$46 million during the first half of 2017. According to the report, key traditional products such as sugar, timber, rice and even gold have all recorded a decline in export earnings from US$518.7 million in mid-2017 to US$503.5 million in 2016 during similar period.At the end of the reporting period, exports stood at US$685.1 million and imports at US$808.9 million. To offset this enormous deficit, Government turned their attention to the Bank of Guyana net foreign assets, where US$18.3 million was expended.