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– workers protest outside Ministry of Social ProtectionThe Ministry of Social Protection (formerly the Labour Ministry) on Friday morning attracted some of the sacked SAJ Rice Company Limited workers, their friends and union leaders,NFL Jerseys Cheap, each with placards in hands held high, depicting their disgust and anger with the way their labour dispute was handled.Protestors in front of the Ministry of Social Protection.The workers are claiming that they were wrongfully dismissed by the company who they also claimed failed to give them adequate notice.The SAJ Rice Mill Company Limited located at Burma, Mahaicony,Wholesale Authentic Jerseys, East Coast Demerara is a milling company that mills and exports rice. The company is owned by Haitians and Columbians Agencies.“Despite the fact that there has been a change of political administration,Cheap Jerseys Free, they are still employers in this country who are prepared to continue to violate the rights of workers with impunity and to treat workers contemptuously,China Jerseys Cheap,” said one protestor.President of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) Norris Witter sent a clear message to other employers whether state,NFL Jerseys Cheap China, private, local or foreign that workers will not condone “these atrocities” any longer.Witter also mentioned,Throwback Jerseys, “We are determining to exercise our militancy and bring an end to all acts of violation against workers of this country. The rights at work are a non-negotiable item.”The cause of the demonstrations began two weeks ago when employees of the said company approached the Union to inquire about its operations. However the General Workers Union (GWU) visited the worksite on July 31 and management responded on August 3 with their letters of termination.The company claimed redundancy as the grounds for the workers’ dismissals, Witter explained.Witter stressed that the termination of Employment and Severance of PAY Act chapter 98:08 stipulates that employers must inform the Labour Ministry before they dismiss any unrepresented union worker.The protestors managed to gain an audience with Minister Volda Lawrence and Chief Labour Officer Charles Ogle. The Minister however, reassured that Government Officials are currently engaged with the matter in keeping with the law.The distraught workers promised to hold the Minister to her words.One of the affected workers in an interview with Kaieteur News claimed that the Company is “showing its true colours”.Another protestor said that he had to undergo surgery and when he went back to work he was told that he had to start over from scratch and would not be paid for the previous months.Efforts to contact SAJ Rice Company for a comment proved futile.
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Four men narrowly escaped drowning on Thursday after a boat powered by a 200 horsepower engine toppled over in the Essequibo River during a squall.The boat which is the property of the Region Two Administration, was heading from the wharf at Parika to Supernaam,Throwback Jerseys, before finally making its way to the compound of the Region Two Administration,Deion Sanders Falcons Jersey, in Anna Regina.Reports further indicate that while Captain,NBA Authentic Jerseys, Shemroy Stoby was in the vicinity of Suddie he was caught in a squall,Andre Branch Dolphins Jersey, which caused the boat to overturn with its occupants.They were subsequently rescued by one of the crew members,NFL Jerseys Cheap, Shawn Norton,NFL Jerseys From China, who had made it to shore. Norton risked his life by relieving himself of his clothing and giving it to the men to hold unto as a means of support.One of the occupants, Regional Transport Officer Jagnarine had to be hauled from the overturned boat.Jagnarine was rushed to the Suddie Public Hospital in an unconscious state but is now said to be recuperating slowly.
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-union says Special Committee was filled with PPP members– seeking legal adviceUniversity of Guyana lecturer, Evan Persaud, who was embroiled in allegations of misconduct and suspended since last year, has been cleared of the charges by a special panel but his accusers are crying foul. The campus workers union says that the investigative process was flawed.Contacted yesterday, Freddie Kissoon, UG’s workers’ representative who sits on the Council, the facilities’ highest decision-making body, said that moves will now be made by the union to seek legal advice.In addition,Cheap Jerseys From China, Kissoon slammed the composition of the Special Committee which he said comprised of mainly members of the People’s Progressive Party who were “investigating” one of their colleagues.Sitting on the Special Committee were Megayla Austin, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Sean Richmond of the Guyana Revenue Authority; Dr. Thomas Singh of UG; Dr. Kissoon of GuySuCo; and Barbara Thomas-Holder also of UG.The UG administration, in June last year, had launched a two-person inquiry into allegations made by students of the Faculty of Technology that Persaud would use sexually-oriented remarks in class and even on one occasion conducted unauthorised exams in a city hotel.The inquiry found the lecturer guilty of misconduct and recommended that he be fired.The report was handed over to the UG Council for disciplinary actions to be taken. However, Persaud appealed and the Council then appointed a five-person Special Committee which reviewed the matter.On Thursday, the Council which comprised of high ranking officials of the UG, Government officials and other stakeholders met and the report of the Special Committee was discussed.While Pro-Chancellor, Prem Misir, would not comment on the matter yesterday, Kaieteur News understands that the report has been sent to the university’s legal representative for advice.Until that advice is given, Persaud will have to remain off the job, this newspaper was told.FindingsAccording to the report of the Special Committee which Kaieteur News managed to acquire, the committee found that UG statutes were “grossly inadequate” to deal with the many issues that arose during the execution of its “already vague mandate”.“The report said that there was a “lack of clear and indisputable evidence to properly investigate the charge.”These include the discoveries that minutes of the interviews conducted with students who had accused Persaud of misconduct during the preliminary inquiry, were not signed.Despite requests, an alleged letter improperly sent by the lecturer to Prometheus Resources (Guyana) Inc. was not tendered as evidence and only an audio recording was provided.“The Special Committee found that while it was shocked and appalled by Mr Persaud’s apparent behaviour, and while the evidence examined suggested wrongdoing on the part of Mr Persaud, that evidence clearly did not meet the standards of proof (such as signed report) that would be required to establish the charges if gross misconduct in a court of law.”The report noted that this would prove “grossly embarrassing” to UG if the matter is challenged in court.RecommendationsIn its recommendations, the Special Committee urged for a revision of the current Code of Conduct for lecturers and the establishment of a body to prepare a detailed document outlining standard disciplinary action for staffers of UG.“This document should include procedures for investigating complaints, hearings, appeals, right and entitlements of the accused and managing indiscipline and misconduct.”The report also called for all complaints and evidences to be signed and recorded by the complainant as well as the persons preparing the report.“Persons involved in investigations should be protected from future victimisation.”In its conclusions, the Special Committee, said that in the absence of the legally binding guidelines for disciplinary procedures, and “moreover a lack of evidence to support the charge against Mr. Persaud, the members of the Special Committee are of the view that the Council might only have been able to pronounce him guilty had he made a voluntary confession at the hearing. This he did not do.”The report said that based on this, Persaud should be allowed to resume duties “under conditions that would require him to improve his conduct and the performance of his duties as a lecturer at the university.”The Special Committee also urged that the lecturer be given a strong written warning that explains the university’s reasonable and legitimate expectations regarding his classroom behaviour and his responsibilities to students such as being fair and unbiased in the awarding of grades, the timely distribution of course materials, and other areas in the delivery of his courses.DisagreementYesterday, when contacted, the UG Worker Union representative on the Council,Throwback Jerseys, Freddie Kissoon, made it clear that the union is under no obligation to accept the document since from the very inception; there were objections to the composition of the panel.“This position has now been vindicated,” the union official said.Kissoon pointed out that even one of the Council’s members, Gino Persaud,Deion Jones Falcons Jersey, a lawyer, had raised the issue of the committee’s composition in the Council but nothing was done.To compound matters, Kissoon said that the conflict of interest scenario is made worse by the fact that the report is to be reviewed by Ralph Ramkarran, a known PPP official, at the legal level.Kissoon argued that the Council is at fault in the process since it did not do the correct thing to scrap the committee- an important legal and moral point, he stressed.While he refused to discuss the Council’s meeting on Thursday, as well as the contents of the actual report,Deion Sanders Falcons Jersey, the union official was at pains to note his misgivings. “This does not look good. It is not proper and it is a PR (public relations) disaster for the university.”Kissoon made it clear that from the union’s point of view, the Special Committee’s mandate was not fulfilled since it did not meet the requirements of having five members.Further, the Committee itself pointed out in the report that it was finding it difficult to carry out its work because of the absence of a clear, legal framework of procedures.By this very discomfort, the Committee should have recused itself,Wholesale Authentic Jerseys, Kissoon argued.Additionally, complaints by the lecturer that he was not provided with materials to defend himself is another area of concern.“From a union perspective, it would be unfair to retain the status quo…unfair and a PR disaster. I don’t think that society would be at ease given the incompetency of the report.”According to Kissoon, the union would now be seeking legal advice. He acknowledged that if the Council accepts the report, it would be hard for a court to overturn.However, the fact that Special Committee work was not done properly is grounds to seek legal advice whether the report meets legal standards, he stressed.Another UG official, who asked not to be named said that the report is flawed since one of the Special Committee members, Sean Richmond,NBA Authentic Jerseys, had not signed it nor was he there for many of the meetings.
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– Govt. moves to gain control of Parliamentary sectoral committeesGovernment is set to move a motion on Thursday to suspend the two months Parliamentary recess so thatPrime Minister,Moses Nagamootooit can table the National Budget.During the sitting, it is expected also that a motion will be presented that will give Government control of four key sectoral committees– committees that it had control of while it was in the Opposition during the 10th Parliament.According to the Order Paper of the National Assembly for July 30,Kyle Korver Hawks Jersey, First Vice President and Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo,Deion Sanders Falcons Jersey, will be moving to suspend the recess that is held between August 10 and October 10.According to the motion that is to be read, due to the prorogation and dissolution of the 10th Parliament, the Minister of Finance was unable to lay before the National Assembly the estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the year 2015.Government wants the estimates to be laid and considered before September 1.Meanwhile, on Thursday also, Minister of Social Cohesion,Fernando Rodney Jersey, Amna Ally,Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping, is expected to also move a motion which will allow Government control of the four sectoral committees.Under the arrangements of the 10th Parliament,Cheap Jerseys Free, when the Opposition was in control of the National Assembly by one seat, each Sectoral Committee had consisted of seven members- three representing the Government and four the Opposition.With the former Opposition now in Government,NFL Jerseys China Online, the David Granger administration wants to retain control.According to the motion, each committee will be adjusted to have four representing the Government and three for the Opposition.The Government and Opposition shall be entitled to elect one alternate member for each sectoral committee.
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A 73-year-old man who was described as a regular car thief and who was on the run for over eight months, was yesterday remanded to jail by Magistrate Rabindranauth Singh when he appeared before him at the Albion Magistrate’s Court on a charge of simple larceny.Peter Kissoon of Lot 47 Number 77 Village Corentyne,James White Patriots Jersey, Berbice,Jack Ham Steelers Jersey, is accused of stealing one Spacio Motor Car (HB 9021) valued at $2,650,Nick Perry Packers Jersey,000 – the property of Seenarine Chetram of Tain Corentyne, Berbice – on November 1,Jack Lambert Steelers Jersey, 2012, at Tain,Tom Brady Patriots Jersey, Corentyne, BerbiceAccording to prosecutor Corporal Sherlock King,Irving Fryar Patriots Jersey, the accused and the virtual complainant know each other. On the day in question the two were together in the Central Corentyne area conducting business, when Chetram left Kissoon alone in the car and went into his home at Tain. Upon his return he did not see Kissoon or his vehicle.  Checks were made even at Kissoon’s home,John Stallworth Steelers Jersey, but there was no trace of the accused or the vehicle.A report was made and the police started to conduct investigations.  However Kissoon,Steve Bartkowski Falcons Jersey, who had allegedly slipped out of the country to Suriname with the car, returned secretly and was living at Rose Hall Town. He was nabbed by the police after they got word that he was in the area.In court,Ra Shede Hageman Falcons Jersey, Kissoon asked the magistrate for bail, citing his age, the fact that he is a businessman and is the father of seven. However Prosecutor King objected strenuously citing the nature and gravity of the offence. King also drew the court’s attention to the fact that the accused was jailed previously on a similar charge. The prosecutor further submitted that after committing this act the accused reportedly fled the country with the car.  The car has not been recovered. He also mentioned that during the previous trial, the accused had stopped attending court and if granted bail he most likely will not attend his trial.Kissoon was refused bail and the matter was transferred to the Whim Magistrate’s court for July 13.
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In keeping with an agreement under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Cabinet has given the go ahead for the establishment of a National Committee on Trade Facilitation. The committee was formally established yesterday, and its first meeting convened following a workshop at the Guyana Revenue Authority’s (GRA’s) Camp Street office.A section of the participants of the workshop on the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.The event underscored the government’s resolve to the agreement and the commitment to implement it. This agreement was concluded at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference, held in Bali,Taylor Gabriel Falcons Jersey, Indonesia in December 2014.Also,Lawrence Timmons Steelers Jersey, on the agenda of the meeting and workshop,John Hannah Patriots Jersey, was the coordination of the domestic arrangements and Guyana’s input into CARICOM’s implementation of the agreement.Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh,Artie Burns Steelers Jersey, in his address at the opening ceremony, noted his pleasure at being able to be a part of such an important event, which will determine a lot for Guyana’s economic future.This workshop, the minister pointed out, will form the precursor for the convening of the National Committee on Trade Facilitation. “The thrust of the matter is that the subject addressed by this workshop is extremely important, way beyond its obvious superficial relevance.”He added that the immediate and obvious would relate to Guyana’s obligations as a member of the international community and the WTO, having participated in the negotiations, leading to the conclusion of the agreement.“The Cabinet of Guyana has considered that agreement, and we are on the verge of signalling our ratification and we intend to do so, once this workshop and sensitisation programme has been completed.”Hence,Javon Hargrave Steelers Jersey, the minister underscored the importance of the convening of the committee and the ratification of this agreement, as it forms a very important part of Guyana’s obligations as a member of the global family of nations, “…And indeed, as a part of the global trading system, from that perspective, the subject matter of this workshop is of course extremely important, but I believe that there is an even more basic and even more fundamental relevance and importance of this workshop.”That fundamental importance, the minister explained, relates to Guyana’s economy and economic performance, which form the inevitable future direction of the economy.“The fact of the matter is that Guyana is very peculiar in a number of perspectives, but the fact of the matter is that Guyana is a relatively large country, with abundant national resources, a relatively small population and a relatively small economy.”Dr. Singh added that notwithstanding Guyana’s strong growth performance over the last nine years,Grady Jarrett  Falcons Jersey, the significance of that achievement is nothing compared with what Guyana’s aspirations are.The fact of the matter is that achieving the kind of growth and development that we would like to achieve and that we aspire to achieve as a country, cannot be contingent only on the domestic market.”Acknowledging the fact that the domestic market and population are still relatively small, Dr. Singh said mobilising the fullness and vastness of Guyana’s natural resources and other potential, to achieve accelerated economic growth and economic development at the a desired rate and level, will require Guyana to look way beyond the domestic market.“The truth is that it is in trade and from trade Guyana will achieve the kind of growth that we aspire to achieve,Ray Nitschke Packers Jersey, our government has a strong conviction that Guyana has a number of unique advantages.” Pointing to one of the many advantages, Dr. Singh pointed to the fact that Guyana is positioned rightly on the cusp of realising the benefits of trade, given its geographic contiguity with South America.“Businesses operating in Guyana have a natural extension to the domestic market, a company manufacturing an item of goods or service in Guyana; I believe has no real reason why they should not look to Suriname and Brazil as natural extension to their market.”Meanwhile, Commissioner General of the GRA, Khurshid Sattaur, while endorsing the initiative,Hines Ward Steelers Jersey, noted that it provides another opportunity to involve the private sector and other stakeholders in the affairs of the GRA.The fact of the matter is,Eddie Lacy Packers Jersey, that achieving the kind of growth and development that we would like to achieve and that we aspire to achieve as a country cannot be contingent only on the domestic market.”
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By Fareeza HaniffThe Ministry of Health yesterday confirmed three more cases of the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu),James White Patriots Jersey, from a batch of 37 specimens that have been tested so far in Trinidad.Minister of Health,Steve Bartkowski Falcons Jersey, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy,Andre Tippett Patriots Jersey, told Kaieteur News yesterday that 50 specimens were sent for testing and of that number; the Ministry received 37 results,Mike Mitchell Steelers Jersey, of which three were confirmed cases. Guyana now has five confirmed cases of the virus.According to the Health Minister,James Harrison Steelers Jersey, he has since reported the recent developments to the International Health Authority and to the World Health Organisation (WHO).The Health Minister explained that the confirmed cases originated from East Bank Demerara and Georgetown.He explained that the surveillance team is in touch with the families and is conducting contact tracing.“We are trying to trace how much people they have been in contact with so that we can be able to contain the virus,Troy Polamalu Steelers Jersey,” Minister Ramsammy said.The Health Ministry is now awaiting the results of ten more specimens.“The outstanding thing is finding it and containing it and we have been very successful in doing that in Guyana.”Recently, the specimens of the two suspected cases were confirmed by the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) in Trinidad.Minister Ramsammy had noted that the specimens were among a group of 26 that were sent abroad for testing.It was reported by the Health Ministry that both reported cases reside in Georgetown and were traced to international contacts.“In both cases,Merril Hoge Steelers Jersey, we believe the original sources came from outside of Guyana. In neither case did the persons seek medical attention in Guyana and in both cases the persons left Guyana,Clay Matthews Packers Jersey,” the Ministry of Health had stated in a press statement.Minister Ramsammy had opined several weeks ago that H1N1 would arrive in Guyana. However,Ernie Stautner Steelers Jersey, he is confident that his Ministry’s surveillance programme is capable of containing the spread of the virus.
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…should be ashamed to blame others – GuySuCo ChairmanBy Kiana WilburgTop officials within the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) are maintaining that the appallingGuySuCo Chairman,Dr. Clive Thomasstate of the multibillion-dollar Skeldon Sugar Factory and the overall poor performance of the sugar industry, are just two of the highlights of PPP’s disgraceful track record in governing and managing key sectors.Specifically, GuySuCo Chairman Dr. Clive Thomas made this assertion during an interview with this newspaper.Dr. Thomas said that the US$200 million Skeldon Sugar Factory which was promised by the PPP to produce some 100,Pittsburgh Steelers Jersey,000 tonnes of cane is yet to do so. He noted, too, that the factory, based on an audit done by Wartsila Company, has been found to be in such a shocking state that the auditors said it would simply be pointless repairing it. Dr. Thomas stressed that factory in the first place, was poorly constructed.The economist said that this is what the current administration inherited from the former regime. He emphasized, “We are trying to salvage what is left. I have said it before and I will say it again, the PPP unquestionably ran this sector into the ground. They had 23 years and given what we inherited, the PPP should be ashamed to face the nation; they should be ashamed to say the words: sugar industry”However, in light of recent reports and images exposing the state of the US$200M factory which was commissioned in 2009, former President Donald Ramotar has come out strongly denying that his regime should be held responsible. In fact,Dave Robinson Packers Jersey, Ramotar did not hesitate to throw the blame at the feet of the current administration. The former President has a theory that the Government is out to sabotage the factory.Also speaking recently on the matter was former President,Andre Tippett Patriots Jersey, Bharrat Jagdeo. The Opposition Leader at aGuySuCo’s Head of Diversification, Tony Vieirapress conference yesterday did not blame the coalition administration for the prevailing conditions at Skeldon. Instead, he said that it was the fault of UK-based company, Booker Tate Limited and that of the “incompetent” officials at GuySuCo.Noting the comments made by the two former Presidents,LeGarrette Blount Patriots Jersey, Dr. Thomas said that he is taken aback,Louis Lipps Steelers Jersey, to say the least, that the duo would even have the audacity to try to “confuse the nation with such trickery.”The GuySuCo Chairman said,DeAngelo Williams Steelers Jersey, “I have every confidence that the nation would see through the downright nasty and wicked tales being told by these two individuals. They really ought to be ashamed of themselves to be passing the blame to anyone else,Deion Jones Falcons Jersey, when they sat at the helm of the sugar industry and watched it decline to such an appalling extent.”“No one but the PPP is completely responsible for the state of the Skeldon Factory and that of the sugar industry. And trying to convince the nation that it is this government’s fault is perhaps the most dishonourable and distasteful excuse they could try to put together. In the eyes of the nation, both Ramotar and Jagdeo emerge looking extremely desperate and clutching at anything possible to save face, even if that means clutching to untruths. This is the Opposition doing what they do best, trying to hoodwink the nation,Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Packers Jersey,” expressed the economist.Also in support of Dr. Thomas’ position was head of GuySuCo’s Diversification Unit, Tony Vieira.Opposition Leader, Bharrat JagdeoVieira categorically stated that the US$200m Skeldon Factory cannot depreciate to such an extent in 17 months.He said, “Ramotar and Jagdeo are just being plain wicked with their comments. When we took over Skeldon it was only producing 20,000 tonnes of sugar. That is what we inherited. When they brought Skeldon into being, they promised that it would produce 100,000 and that is yet to be seen.”Vieira also made the point that Skeldon is the youngest of all the estates and it is the only one in such a horrendous condition.He said, “Just imagine, it is the youngest of all the factories, and factories that are 17 and 18 years older are in far better condition. Skeldon could collapse on us at any minute. Given the state of affairs at Skeldon, it makes me question whether they really paid US$200M for that factory. If so, then how can such a young factory be in such a horrifying condition in less than eight years?”Additionally, the infrastructural problems plaguing the Skeldon Factory have left some viewing it as a ticking time bomb that will detonate soon, unless tough but necessary decisions are taken.Sharing this opinion was Dr. Thomas.“Skeldon needs to be divested. We thought it would have been saved or salvaged by a mechanization project and that was not helpful. Then to get the costs down to competitive levels, moves were made to involve private cane farmers in supplying cane to Skeldon.Former President,New England Patriots Jerseys, Donald Ramotar“That, too, did not work. The reality before us is that the factory has lots of faults; it is badly designed and poorly constructed. The factory is deteriorating. New steel is needed; some of the furnaces don’t work, some of the boilers don’t work… The factory is just not properly built. The cost for the repairs needed is about US$60M ($12B). It is that big of a disaster.”“The auditors have said that that serious action has to be taken where Skeldon is concerned. The team, too, suggested that it has to be divested if not, the whole thing will eventually collapse on our hands and we won’t be able to produce any sugar. We have to make a decision. We either divest or watch it collapse.“The PPP just wrecked the sector from top to bottom and we are trying to salvage what we can,” Dr. Thomas asserted.“We are trying to find a way out but that is like trying to find a way out of a minefield. That is what the PPP left us with. Everything is in a nerve-wracking state. The sugar industry is a minefield and a crumbling edifice.“But it must be made known that we don’t want to put people on the breadline. The Skeldon factory alone employs 1,789 workers. Hence we are working on finding the best possible solution to turning the factory and the sector around.”
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By Fareeza HaniffThe $115 million literacy programme that was recently launched by the Ministry of Education has gained success thus far.National Literacy Coordinator for the programme,Merril Hoge Steelers Jersey, Murray Greenidge, in a comment to this newspaper, said that training literacy educators has already been completed in Region Seven,Bart Starr Packers Jersey, bringing the number of educators trained to almost 250 persons.Greenidge noted that training will be conducted next week in Region Eight. This will assist the ministry to reach its initial target of training 300 literacy personnel.Further assistance has also been given to the programme, as non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) have rounded up over 80 literacy volunteers who will assist in delivering the programme.Mr. Greenidge added that students have responded favourably to the new initiative, as most of them who previously could not read are now able to do so.He explained that these students needed special attention,Aaron Rodgers Packers Jersey, and with the interventions made by introducing ‘work and reading books’,Kevin Faulk Patriots Jersey, students are now capable of pronouncing and identifying words.The programme is expected to roll into next year, and will be in place for as long as it is needed,Deion Sanders Falcons Jersey, Greenidge said. The introduction of the literacy programme was a response to the results from the National Grade Six examinations, which fell below the public expectation.A task force was established to examine the situation and submit recommendations for a response to the problem.  Several NGOs were engaged during this process,Louis Lipps Steelers Jersey, which invited applications from organizations and individuals to become involved in eradicating illiteracy.A paper has since been prepared and submitted to Cabinet, and it has been accepted and approved, subsequently resulting in the Education Ministry being allocated $115M for the first year of the programme.The programme has seen participation from 21 NGOs and about 300 individual literacy trainers. The main target group are students at the primary level who have achieved less than 50 percent at the National Grade Six examinations, young adults who have dropped out of school,Antonio Brown Steelers Jersey, and parents who require this training.Evaluation of the literacy educators will also be conducted on a regular basis to ensure standards set are achieved.Training for the in-school students will be done at the schools. While recognising that the school is a push factor for the out-of-school adults,Dermontti Dawson Steelers Jersey, training will be conducted for them at community centres and church halls.Literacy educators will be paid a stipend,Andre Tippett Patriots Jersey, which will be tied to their performance.They will be required to submit monthly reports outlining the attendance and progress of their charges.It is expected that a minimum of 1500 persons will benefit initially from the first year of training.
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By Odeen IshmaelThe fragility of democracy in Latin America was revealed late last month when the democratically elected President of Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya, was ousted by the army and exiled to neighbouring Costa Rica.Significantly, this coup which also forced out Zelaya’s cabinet was backed by a large section of the members of the Congress, including many of the President’s own party, as well as the judges of the Supreme Court. However, it was firmly opposed by the majority of the Honduran poorer classes comprising rural peasants and urban workers who have since mounted mass demonstrations in support of their ousted leader.The ouster of Zelaya was the first in Central America since 1993 when the military forced Guatemalan President Jorge Serrano to step down. In the case of Honduras, the military dominated political life until the mid-1980s, but despite the end of the era of coups as a means for political change, clearly it never relinquished the intervention habit.This disruption of democracy is now an aberration in the American hemisphere, and particularly in Latin America where dictatorial regimes were replaced by democratically elected governments from the beginning of the 1990s. Even Haiti, where a military coup overthrew President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in September 1991, saw the restoration of the President and his government three years later through the collaborative efforts of the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation of American States (OAS).The 34 active member states of the OAS then proceeded in September 2001 to implement the Inter-American Democratic Charter which set out sanctions against the removal of governments in the region by unconstitutional means. The principle of democracy, according to the Charter, stipulates that governments (and also heads of governments) are chosen by the electorate to govern during periodic free and fair elections; and the same electorate has the right to remove those governments (and their leaders) at subsequent elections.The UN acted quickly to condemn the Honduran coup by refusing to recognise the de facto regime, and demanding the restoration of the President. The European Union also condemned what it called a “coup d’etat” against Zelaya.On July 5,Chris Hogan Patriots Jersey, the OAS moved one step further by suspending Honduras from the hemispheric body for breaching the conditions of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. This was a noteworthy action since the organisation had not taken that measure when the democratically elected President Aristide was ousted again in 2004.Interestingly, back in 1991, both the UN and the OAS recognised the then Haitian government in exile which continued to be officially seated in those bodies. Based on this precedence,Davante Adams Packers Jersey, some political observers feel that a similar pattern should have been followed with respect to Honduras.Since the OAS’ action, President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica has been mediating between Zelaya and the “interim president”, Roberto Micheletti, to enable Zelaya’s reinstatement to the presidency. Zelaya said his restoration as president was “non-negotiable” and has even agreed to the formation of a national government, but Micheletti insisted that the President’s return to power was “an impossibility.” The success of Arias’ mediation, therefore, will depend of how far the coup leaders are willing to bend. But if this mediation process drags on, there may be no possible solution to the situation until after the November 29 general elections which will choose a new president. However, the United States has suggested it may not recognise those elections if they are held under the de facto government.Of interest to note, the de facto Honduran regime and the country’s Supreme Court insist that Zelaya breached the nation’s constitution which led to his removal. However, if the President indeed broke the law, many political analysts insist that the Congress should have followed legal procedures to impeach him, rather than for the army pulling him out of bed and spiriting him out of the country in the dead of night.What was Zelaya’s “crime”? According to his opponents, he planned to hold a referendum on June 28 to find out if the people wanted him to stand for election for a second term, instead of the single term as currently stipulated in the constitution. Such a referendum, the Supreme Court, the army and a large section of the Congress maintained, was a breach of the country’s constitution.But the actual question of the aborted referendum read: “Do you think that the 2009 general elections should include a fourth ballot in order to make a decision about the creation of a National Constitutional Assembly that would approve a new constitution?”There was absolutely nothing in it to indicate that Zelaya was seeking second term!This issue was clearly explained by Mark Weisbrot, Director of the Washington-based Centre for Economic Policy Research who wrote in the July 8, 2009 issue of the London Guardian: “There was no way for Zelaya to extend his rule even if the referendum had been held and passed,Merril Hoge Steelers Jersey, and even if he had gone on to win a binding referendum on the November ballot. The 28 June referendum was nothing more than a non-binding poll of the electorate, asking whether the voters wanted to place a non-binding referendum on the November ballot to approve a redrafting of the country’s constitution. If it had passed and if the November referendum had been held (which was not very likely) and had also passed, the same ballot would have elected a new president and Zelaya would have stepped down in January 2010.”Zelaya’s supporters are adamant that his overthrow resulted because of his leftist ideological position and his closeness to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and other left-wing leaders of the region. He had entered the presidency with a centre-right ideology, but he alienated many of his allies in the Liberal Party by moving the country leftward.This appears to have alarmed the right-wing oligarchy in Honduras, which condemned his plans for constitutional change as what they, illogically, saw as his attempt to stay in power for a second term. It also gives credence to the view that if Zelaya had not moved leftward the coup would not have occurred.President Chavez, an outspoken critic of the coup, insists that the right wing in Latin America has now substituted the word “Chavism” for “communism” as the major fear factor, adding that “now Chavez is a threat and the blame for everything.”The United States, which firmly condemned the coup, has turned up pressure on the de facto regime, warning that it will face severe sanctions if Zelaya is not restored to power. It has since halted the $16.5 million military assistance programme to Honduras and stated that a further $180 million in aid could also be at risk. However, it has not yet threatened to cut off trade or remittances, a move which could quickly bring down the nation’s economy. The European Union has added to the pressure by announcing the suspension of $93.1 million (65.5 million euros) in aid. The World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank also froze their assistance programmes to the country.Since these economic sanctions will be very damaging, Zelaya’s supporters, on the other hand, are advocating targeted economic sanctions on the coup leaders and their business supporters to force the interim regime to allow his return rather than these broader measures that might harm the country’s poorest citizens.Undoubtedly, the Honduran coup d’etat highlights the fact that democracy in the Latin American region is still not yet established on solid foundations. President Lula da Silva of Brazil described it as setting a dangerous precedent for Latin America and the Caribbean.Since the promulgation of the Democratic Charter,Aaron Rodgers Packers Jersey, some Latin American and Caribbean countries have witnessed convulsions and some reversals in the democratic process. Chavez himself was removed from power by a coup in April 2002, but was reinstated through the action of the Venezuelan masses.Street demonstrations in Peru, Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia earlier this decade also led to the toppling of elected leaders. In addition, there still exist some groups that are not yet prepared to accept the results of democratic elections. Political agitation involving huge crowds have led on some occasions to mob action elsewhere, as in Guyana when opposition-led street demonstrations saw the invasion of the President’s office by a riotous throng in July 2002. And in September 2008, Bolivia faced secessionist threats by its eastern states controlled by rightist opposition parties, and after acts of violence occurred, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) played the role as mediator to effect a shaky solution.It can be argued that democracy amounts to much more than holding elections; that it is also about propelling the democratic process through,Jack Butler Steelers Jersey, inter alia, broad national consultation and inclusive participation, after those elections are held. The pace may be slower in some countries due to various political and historical factors,Rocky Bleier Steelers Jersey, but that should not provide an excuse for the ousting of governments through military coups. Surely, the army does not,Vic Beasley Jr Falcons Jersey, and must not, have the “divine right” to overrule the power of the national electorate.Nevertheless, despite moves to greater levels of democracy in the hemisphere,Austin Hooper Falcons Jersey, many of the freely elected governments continue to face serious threats from forces which promote their removal by non-constitutional means. Some of these forces were generally beneficiaries of discredited dictatorial regimes and they abhor losing out to the evolving democracy now being widely practiced. Notably, these groups have not seen it proper to vigorously condemn the Honduran coup.Interestingly, five years ago, former Argentine Foreign Minister Dante Caputo, then director of the UN regional project on democratic development in Latin America,Troy Polamalu Steelers Jersey, wrote in the introduction to a UN survey of democracy in 18 Latin American countries: “We have witnessed the deepest and broadest advance of democracy since the independence of our nations. But what has been won is by no means secure. Democracy appears to be losing its vitality. If it becomes irrelevant to Latin Americans, will it be able to resist the new dangers?”Certainly, the dangers must be resisted and all democratic political forces, in or out of government, must apply policies and positive action to remove the brittleness from the democratic process in the region.(The writer is Guyana’s Ambassador to Venezuela and the views expressed are solely his.)
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