Security firm paying less than the minimum wage

I refer to Mr Mohamed Akeel’s letter in the Stabroek News of September 20, 2013 ‘It seems as if total confusion surrounds the National Minimum Wage Order’ which suggests that the matter may not be entirely and satisfactorily resolved. I do not wish to add to that debate and have raised through the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and other channels questions concerning what I consider a highly commendable piece of legislation. I believe that the government should take those concerns into account and forestall any action that could, in any way, affect the operationalization of the Order.
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Berbice Bridge Company Inc. – 2011 profit increase

Berbice Bridge Company Inc. (BBCI) was incorporated on April 1, 2005 under the Companies Act 1991. On January 31, 2006 then President Jagdeo assented to the Berbice River Bridge Act making provision for a privately financed Berbice River Bridge and conferring regulatory authority over the company to the Minister of Public Works. In the exercise of that power, the government signed a Concession Agreement with BBCI for the construction and operation of the Bridge. And by Order No. 42 of 2008 the Government granted to BBCI, among other things, a twenty-one year concession beginning on June 12, 2006 and expiring on June 11, 2027.

It is of course interesting that while the Act was passed in 2006 the company was incorporated on April 1, 2005. The process was then led by Bharrat Jagdeo and Winston Brassington who, like true salesmen, made all kinds of public and generous commitments. And like true politicians changed their stories about costs, revenues and investors in response to demands for more and better information.

The Concession Agreement referred to above contains what I call the “Brassington clause”. This clause binds all persons engaged in the design, construction, development and operation and maintenance of the Bridge to deal with all information in the Concession Agreement as secret and confidential. You would not think for a moment that this was about a monopoly operator granted exclusive control of a principal part of possibly the country’s second most important waterway and which by law is designated a Toll Bridge.
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As a statutory body the GEA must file annual reports

I write in response to the letter by the Honourable Prime Minister (‘The Guyana Energy Agency is being reasonably well run published in SN of September 14, 2013’), which he said was written out of “a need and a duty to set the record straight, [and] dispel any erroneous concerns and doubts” created about the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA). Continue reading As a statutory body the GEA must file annual reports

Plain Talk: Amerindian Heritage Month – Art Exhibition and Challenges

George Simon, Oswald Hussein and Victor Captain discuss their exhibition: Silent Witness; and

David James and Autley Haynes discuss Amerindian Heritage Month and challenges faced by Amerindians

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Mid-year 2013 report – a financial commentary

Once again the mid-year report required under the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA) was published within the statutory deadline and once again publicly released before being laid in the National Assembly. As the calendar would have it, the National Assembly is usually on its two months recess when the mid-year report is scheduled for release. In a positive kind of way the report is unremarkable, no dramatic developments one way or the other, except perhaps in sugar where GuySuCo continues to cause serious headaches for the Government and no doubt those closely associated with or dependent on the sub-sector and the slow start to the capital expenditure programme.

Unlike his annual Budget Speech which is well-known for its prose and politics, Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh stuck to a pattern of using only as much language as to place whatever numbers he wants to discuss into context. The report cannot be faulted in its requirement to give an account of the year-to-date execution of the annual budget but does seem short on explanations and clarification as well as on the prospects for the remainder of the year. The FMAA requires the report to address a number of other issues which this report at best only addresses tangentially or not at all. It specifically requires:

(a) an update on the current macroeconomic and fiscal situation, a revised economic outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year, and a statement of the projected impact that these trends are likely to have on the annual budget for the current fiscal year;

(b) a comparison report on the out-turned current and capital expenditures and revenues with the estimates originally approved by the National Assembly with explanations of any significant variances; and

(c) a list of major fiscal risks for the remainder of the fiscal year, together with likely policy responses that the Government proposes to take to meet the expected circumstances.

The report does not have a specific section dealing with Outlook for the second half of the year and the Conclusion, consisting of two paragraphs, is a very brief summary of the contents of the completed half-year. There is not sufficient information to support some of the broader statements in the report which does not capture, in particular, (c) above, factors of relevance not only for the macro-economy but individual businesses and segments as well.
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