Gov’t needs to consider whether financial institutions should be allowed to operate as part of any group of companies

The traditionally reserved Bank of Guyana (the Bank) has found itself increasingly drawn into public statements and appearances over the uncertainty surrounding the foreign exchange market and the deterioration of the exchange rate of the Guyana Dollar. Of course, the Bank is in fact discharging one of its statutory functions under section 5 of the Bank of Guyana Act. i.e., “fostering domestic price stability through the promotion of stable credit and exchange conditions.”

An analysis of the causes of the current state of the foreign exchange market will require far more data than is currently available. Hopefully, the Bank will make every effort to soon publish the 2017 first quarter statistics, including foreign currency flows, and transactions with the non-bank and bank cambios. Not only will we be able to see hard evidence of anecdotal reports of foreign earnings by the agriculture sector, flows from exports and imports as well as remittances and imports, but hopefully, we can see the role and extent of some major but less discussed players in the foreign exchange market. Continue reading Gov’t needs to consider whether financial institutions should be allowed to operate as part of any group of companies

It is a misconception that the Constitution gives precedence to judges for appointment to Gecom Chairman

I have followed with more than passing interest the debate on the interpretation of Article 161 of the Constitution which deals with the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom). Article 161 (1) requires the Chairman to be full-time and mandates that he shall not engage in any other employment. The real debate however has been in relation to Article 161 (2) which deals exclusively with the Chairman and his appointment.

For brevity, let me state that 161 (2) sets out the classes of persons eligible for appointment as Chairman as: current or former judges, persons qualified to be appointed as a judge (which is seven years after admission to the Bar) or other fit and proper person. The persons shall be named in a list submitted to the President by the Leader of the Opposition, not unacceptable to the President. Article 161 (2) has a proviso which states that if the Leader of the Opposition fails to submit a list, the President will appoint as Chairman a judge, former judge or one qualified to be a judge. Continue reading It is a misconception that the Constitution gives precedence to judges for appointment to Gecom Chairman

Phillips misrepresented the contents of the SARA Bill

Messrs Eric Phillips in a letter dated February 28, and on the newspaper’s Blog, and Tacuma Ogunseye in a letter dated March 1, 2017, both employed in the State Asset Recovery Unit, threw caution, logic, facts and decency to the wind in defence of their boss, Professor Clive Thomas. Based on a subsequent telephone call I made to Mr Ogunseye, a friend of many, many years, it appears that his problem with me is a concern that I am engaged in the formation of a third party.

I never thought that the exercise of a democratic right of a citizen would cause such concern to a genuine freedom and resistance fighter, and I can only guess at the effect political power, absolute loyalty and employment have on people. While it is my right to engage in political activity of my choice, to put Mr Ogunseye’s mind at ease, I assured him that I am not and have not been involved in any discussion or plan to establish a political party. Continue reading Phillips misrepresented the contents of the SARA Bill

If the SARA Bill is not radically restructured it will be challenged in the courts

Professor Clive Thomas has a deserved reputation as an outstanding economist, particularly in sugar and monetary economics, a champion for bread and justice, for human rights and for free and fair elections. Perhaps because of this, his professional reputation remained intact despite his role as co-leader of the Working People’s Alliance to which he was elected in 1985, which I believe was the last time the WPA held any internal party elections.

Prof Thomas represents the WPA in the APNU leadership and since May 2015, has held prominent positions as Presidential Adviser on sustainable development, Chairman of GuySuCo and Director of the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU). While his contribution as an adviser is unclear, his role in sugar and SARU has done little to match his academic reputation.

He was a prominent member of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) in the sugar industry and the sole author of Volume 2 of the Report ‒ the Financial/Economic Analysis. Yet, not only has he never publicly accepted any responsibility for or association with the Report, but as GuySuCo’s Chairman, he has acted contrary to positions he took as a member of the Commission. On top of that, he appears not to have advanced a single solution to sugar’s problems, leaving it once again to the politicians. Sugar is in the same messy and uncertain state as when he assumed leadership of GuySuCo.

Still, it is Dr Thomas’s role in SARU that causes the greatest concern. Continue reading If the SARA Bill is not radically restructured it will be challenged in the courts

Banks DIH board made an error in buyback of shares

A letter by me published in the Stabroek News of December 11, 2016, on the decision by Banks DIH Limited to buy-back from Banks Holdings Limited, 150,138,464 shares in Banks DIH Limited provoked a four page response from Chairman and CEO, Mr Clifford Reis. As is usual for persons unwilling to deal with facts and arguments, Mr Reis went into the dangerous territory of questioning my integrity and understanding of legal documents and commercial law. He knows or ought to know me better.

Mr Reis pointedly refers to a Memorandum of Understanding entered into between Banks DIH and Banks Holdings Limited which he claims I do not understand. Forget for a moment that Banks DIH Limited has never released to shareholders a copy of that MoU. Mr Reis not only chooses to selectively and incorrectly refer to that MoU but faced with tough questions, he decided to speak of the “implied terms” and inserts into a simple, straightforward MoU words that are not there.

Mr Reis cites unnamed “legal and financial advisers” for what is a costly, damaging mistake by him and the Board of Directors he leads. The simple fact is that Banks DIH was under no obligation to repurchase any shares. Continue reading Banks DIH board made an error in buyback of shares