Setting the record straight on several important issues

first_imgDear Editor,Comments made by Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan in East Canje earlier this month (circulated on YouTube), merit a response, for the simple reason that Ramjattan continues to expose the fact that he cannot be trusted, as he persists in peddling more untruths about various issues.Ramjattan misleads when he insists that from 2005 to 2014, the European Union (EU) gave Guyana “every year” $20 million euros as support mechanisation and other undertakings in the sugar sector. Editor, the fact of this, Guyana received some G$34.8 billion from the EU. This fact was the subject of some debate in July 2017 when the coalition Government, in error (or by design to mislead), claimed that the EU gave Guyana $348 billion. The correct figure of $34.8 billion was given by the EU last year.Ramjattan misleads when he insists that US$200 million was spent on the Skeldon Factory. Editor, it was President David Granger’s address to the National Assembly, on January 10, 2018, which made clear that the cost of the Skeldon Factory was US$121 million. Editor, even the US$121 million (about GYD$24.2 billion) spent on the Skeldon Factory is less than the GYD$34.8 billion collected from the EU in budget support.Ramjattan misleads when he insists that other factories were ignored. Editor, the investments in the other sugar estates are clearly documented, as a matter of public record.It is interesting that even as he rambles about what was NOT done to support the sugar sector under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration, he acknowledges, albeit tangentially, that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition promised Guyanese that a new government would not close sugar. Again, Ramjattan misleads about this promise, as he insists that the sector is not being closed, but is being “right sized” – the coalition Government’s new favourite phrase. Lastly,Editor, one alarming comment made in East Canje was Ramjattan’s confident declaration that the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) would rule in favour of the Basil Williams-led team, in the case of the presidential term-limit challenge. I mention this because it comes on the heels of a boast by Ramjattan to at least three PPP/C parliamentarians, at a recent meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional Reform – where Ramjattan insisted that he has ‘inside’ information that the CCJ will rule in a particular way. Editor, such disparaging comments about the CCJ can only be treated as more misleading comments.Ramjattan has distinguished himself as the PNC-led Government’s puppet, being used to address communities that are stronghold support areas of the PPP/C. Ramjattan uses sophistry in his attempt to make a case for the coalition Government. However, his ramblings are seen as false and the Guyanese people will not fall prey to lies.Zulfikar Mustapha,PPP ExecutiveSecretaryPPP/CParliamentarianlast_img read more

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Witch-hunting weapons are increasing

first_imgDear Editor,When in Opposition, this Government knew all the right answers for every aspect of good governance. They knew that the AML/CFT Bill proposed by the PPP/C Government was deficient, and that was the reason they could not have supported it in the National Assembly.Immediately upon holding the reins of power, our ‘erudite’ Attorney General, Mr Basil Williams, on 26th June 2015, successfully piloted the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Authority Bill, even though the former Attorney General, Mr Anil Nandlall, had pleaded that the ‘creation’ of such an Authority would undermine the independence of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and is contrary to what the AML/CFT Task Force had wanted.Over three years later, AG Williams has finally admitted he had said at that time that Government did not understand what was really happening. He said, “We weren’t in the loop”, and now they are taking corrective action.But is this the ‘correct action’? The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation Financing (AML/CFT/PF) National Coordination Committee — which is headed by Attorney General Basil Williams, who is also Chairman of the PNC — is far worse than the Authority which is now defunct. There are no pretensions whatever that this Committee would ever act independently and objectively. It is following in the same settings as SOCU and SARU, and will not be devoid of political direction and control. This Committee will give an umbrella of total control over the FIU.We have seen in Trinidad and Tobago that the Director is the Head of the FIU, and is responsible for the supervision and implementation of policies with respect to the money-laundering and financing of terrorism in accordance with the FIU Act and any other laws.The FIU is also the oversight and monitoring body of the AML/CFT. In Guyana, the FIU has now become a political weapon for the APNU/AFC Coalition Government, unlike the now defunct AML/CFT Authority and the AML/CFT/PF of Guyana, whose heads are appointed by the National Assembly.It must be noted that the Director of the FIU, the Deputy Director and other senior functionaries of the FIU are all appointed by the National Assembly. We know that the National Assembly is controlled by the APNU/AFC; they have the majority, therefore whoever they appoint will take effect. Consequently, the appointment of AG Basil Williams as the Head of the AML/CFT/PF, as pointed out by Dr Jagdeo, we now “have a politician being conferred with an enormous authority….undermining the FIU, which was supposed to police the act’.All these appointments will be strictly political; there is no room for objectivity and impartiality, fairness and justice. Moreover, apart from Financial Intelligence Units being independent and operating autonomously, they should possess expertise in finance and financial analysis, and they should be able to exchange information directly and independently.It is evident that Mr Williams is no ‘expert’ in finance and financial analysis, and is definitely ‘not fit and proper’ to be the person in charge of the Committee; but, as the Chairman of the PNC, his ‘expertise’ in witch-hunting may be necessary!On the other hand, the Director and the Deputy Directors of the T&T FIU are appointed by the Public Service Commission.In addition, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance in T&T appoints the other members of staff, after consultation with the Director. This applies to consultants and experts as well, who are employed on a contractual basis. This is how our system should be modelled. It is time that the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), which is an organisation of states and territories of the Caribbean Basin, vehemently object to this type of political interference.It must be noted that the CFATF have agreed to implement ‘COMMON MEASURES’ against money laundering and terrorism financing. I must submit that the Anti-Money Laundering measures in Guyana are by no means ‘common’.It is evident that this Coalition Government now has another highly potentially destructive weapon added to its burgeoning arsenal to continue its ‘witch hunting’ attacks against the PPP/C and its supporters.Yours sincerely,Haseef YusufRDC Councillor,Region Sixlast_img read more

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GAW needs fresh ideas to win CPL

first_imgDear Editor,Before the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) started, I wrote to the press a letter wherein I posited that the players that were bought during the CPL draft do not have what it takes to win the CPL this year, and my prediction has come to pass.I alluded to the fact that Jason Mohamed and Rayad Emrit should never have been in the squad because of their poor performances over the years, and instead Colin Munro and Chanderpaul Hemraj should have been selected before them.As I said then, those two — along with Chadwick Walton and Cameron Delport — had a very poor tournament, which contributed to the Warriors’ not winning the CPL.Editor, I want to submit, though, that the blame must lie squarely with the Operations Manager, who has been with the Warriors since the inception, and who has been integral in the selection of the teams over the past six years. Over those six years, the Warriors have reached the finals four times and never won, yet the Operations Manager remains at the helm.Something is definitely wrong. For the Warriors to win the CPL next year, there has to be new management with fresh ideas, who must buy players who specialise in all aspects of the game: batting, bowling and fielding. In other words, we must have a more balanced team, with no weak links. And the players who were outstanding during this year’s CPL, such as Luke Ronchi, Shimron Odilon Hetmyer, Sherfane Rutherford, Imran Tahir and Chris Green, should form the core of the team for next year.I would not select Sohail Tanvir for next year, for the simple reason that age has caught up with him. He was very slow in the field and in running between the wickets, and as the commentators mentioned, he seemed to have been burnt out towards the back end of the tournament.Finally, Editor, it is clear we need more Guyanese in the team. Remember the last time we won a T20 tournament, Stanford, the entire team were Guyanese; and looking at many of the players in the Warriors team over the years, many of them are no match for Guyanese players. Hetmyer and Rutherford are classic examples.Yours Faithfully,Imtiaz Baccuslast_img read more

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Shocked by James Bond’s action

first_imgDear Editor,I read with great shock, in sections of the media that James Bond, a lawyer, has offered money to the parents of the two boys who were struck down on the Annandale Public Road by some Chinese, who cannot yet be located.One of the young men died and the other is in a critical condition in the hospital. Based upon what I read in the newspapers, Mr Bond, on behalf of the Chinese Association, offered $1.9 million to the parents to settle the matter. The parents said that Mr Bond was in the company of a Chinese woman, who obviously knows the whereabouts of the driver.I do not know what quality of lawyer Mr Bond is, but what I do know, is that his conduct is highly reprehensible and also illegal. As a lawyer, one would expect that Mr Bond is familiar with criminal offences, such as perverting the course of justice. Mr Bond has a duty as a citizen to assist the police in their investigations to locate the driver. He should be taking the Chinese woman to the police station to provide the police with information regarding the whereabouts of the driver.Instead, he chose to take the woman to the home of the parents of the victims with a view of paying them off in order to compromise the criminal justice system from taking its lawful course. This is one of the most serious criminal offences. It is akin to bribing a witness not to give evidence in a case. Only recently, a lawyer was charged for doing so in Berbice.The police and the DPP must take actions against Mr Bond to send a clear message that serious criminal offences cannot be settled in this manner. If not, the entire criminal justice system will break down and the rich will commit crimes with impunity because they can afford to pay off the poor victims.Regards,Jairam Seetaramlast_img read more

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India votes in world’s largest election

first_imgDear Editor,Hundreds of millions of Indians voted in five phases of balloting so far. Two phases of voting remain — one this Sunday and the other the following Sunday — to complete the process.The general election has been billed as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The campaign takes the form of a Presidential election. Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a historic landslide in the last elections, in 2014.Modi staked his claim in 2014 to lead India on a tough image against terrorism and a truly secular government without favouring any religious or caste group. He has been tough against those who infiltrated the porous borders of India to spread terror. Modi ordered surgical strikes against camps in Pakistan in February. His action won overwhelming approval from the nation.In India, people generally vote against the incumbent. Most of the incumbent MPs of the BJP are disliked, including the popular Bollywood actress Hema Malini, who is seeking re-election from Mathura, the holy city of Lord Krishna.But voters tell this writer they want to give Modi a second term; thus they will vote for the incumbents on account of Modi, who remains the BJP’s main vote-getter.Modi is campaigning everywhere on behalf of the candidates of his party, the BJP, which is in an alliance with other parties called the NDA. The largest opposition party is the Congress, which is in an alliance with other parties called the UPA. Sworn enemies in the opposition have come together to defeat Modi, but opinion polls put the NDA ahead of the UPA by almost two to one. However, the polls say the NDA will not win a majority of the seats. It takes 272 seats to form the government in a parliament of 543 elected members of the lower house, or Lok Sabha.This writer, in his own informal polls, puts Modi ahead of the Congress and likely to come close to a majority of seats, giving him a second five-year term in office. Without an opposition alliance, the BJP would win over 300 seats. As it is now, the party is struggling to capture 250 seats. The BJP won 283 seats in the last election.The seven-phase elections commenced on 19th April and will conclude on 19th May. Counting of ballots is on 23rd May. There are some 970 million eligible voters across the country. This is the largest election ever conducted in the world.The tone of the campaign has been acrimonious, especially against opposition leader Rahul Gandhi and two of his alliance partners, Akilesh Yadav of SP and Mayawati of BSP.The BJP faces strong challenges from other regional parties in the south and in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been trying to bring together the parties to form a coalition to unseat Modi. Rahul’s father (Rajiv), grandmother (Indira) and great-grandfather (Jawaharlal Nehru) were all Indian prime ministers.His mother, the Italian-born Sonia, declined the PM position in 2004. Rahul himself declined the PM position in 2009. His sister, Priyanka Gandhi, formally launched her political career in January. She is not contesting a seat, although it was announced she would contest against Modi. Had she done so, she would have been trounced.Modi is contesting in the prestigious Benaras seat. This writer’s poll has him well ahead to win by a landslide. Priyanka is campaigning for her brother and mother Sonia, who is contesting a seat Rae Bareli, from Uttar Pradesh, the state where 70 percent of Indo-Caribbean people trace their roots. Rahul is also contesting from UP in Amethi constituency. Fearing he would lose, Rahul has fielded himself in a second seat in Kerala state. In India, a candidate can run for more than one seat, but can only represent one seat in parliament and resign the others if elected from more than one.The Lok Sabha, or lower house of Parliament, has 543 elected seats, and any party or coalition needs a minimum of 272 MPs to form a government. Opinion polls say Rahul will lose Amethi. However, this writer found from his survey that Rahul would win Amethi and also in Kerala.The main issues in the campaign are high unemployment, national security, and India’s role in world affairs. Caste and religion also play critical roles in how people vote. Chamars, called dalits in India, are voting for the BSP led by Mayawati. The Yadav cast is voting for the Yadav party, called SP. At Friday namaz before each vote, imams instruct Muslims to vote for the party they feel would defeat the BJP. But Muslims are divided, with women supporting BJP because the party has given women equal status to that of males, angering the latter. In addition, the BJP has sought to outlaw multiple marriages and triple talaq divorce in which a man simply tells his wife he divorces her.It is hard to predict the exact number of seats each alliance would win, but everywhere this writer has travelled, voters tell him the NDA under Modi would be returned to office for another term, unless something major goes wrong.Yours faithfully,Vishnu Bisram(In India)last_img read more

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Government REOs hijacked budget from RDCs

first_imgDear Editor,The recently held National Conference of Local Democratic Organs (NCLDO) was another forum where the rhetoric of David Granger and Ronald Bulkan was portrayed to convince stakeholders that technically, the development of the various local organs is basically to increase rates, taxes and revenue collection on residents in order to develop their communities.The deception of the decentralisation of governance and putting more powers in the hands of citizens to participate in the development of their communities is another episode of the dramatic skills that is portrayed by this APNU/AFC coalition Government throughout its tenure in Government. The restoration of Local Democracy is a farce that is being used as a mantra by David Granger to mislead the people.The Minister of Communities is using taxpayers’ monies to give stipends to overseers and then use these officials to undermine the NDCs and the Regional Executive Officers for the various RDCs are also being used to undermine the elected Regional Democratic Councils.Recently the Budget proposals for 2020 was hijacked by the REOs, some of these proposals were either determined by illegal or enclosed meetings or by the REO themselves. The RDCs are mandated to be the agency to ensure that people’s rights and voices are represented in the budget proposals, unfortunately, this is the new form of democracy that is being established by the APNU/AFC coalition Government. Before 2015, budget proposals of projects used to be generated through community meetings between the RDC and residents then set in priorities of urgency, and approved by the RDC at a duly constituted meeting of the council, not a meeting by the REOs.The Constitution of Guyana emphasised the importance of Local Government, Chapter 71 (1) “Local Government is a vital aspect of socialist democracy and shall be organised so as to involve as many people as possible in the task of managing and developing the communities in which they live”. While the Constitution dictates that there must be as many persons involved, this caretaker Government is secretly responsible for the destruction of local democracy.Politicians and political officials are employed at the Regional Democratic Councils’ headquarters to undermine every aspect of administration. The two new NDCs that were formed since 2018 are still not functional. That’s the reality of local democracy, subvention from Government is being given based on rates and taxes collections from residents.The main objective of the APNU/AFC coalition Government in respect to local Government is to divert the blames of incompetence and non-fulfilment of promises on the local organs and to pressure Guyanese with the additional burden.This APNU/AFC coalition Government is losing billions of dollars through bad negotiations, corrupt deals, tax write-off, sweetheart settlements, corruption, incompetence, Ministers’ extravagance etc, but is trying to enforce rules and regulations that would squeeze an ordinary Guyanese for a few cents. Guyanese must unveil this two-faced Government.Regards,Zamal Hussainlast_img read more

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A brand new highway to hell

first_imgDear Editor,I am a resident of the East Coast of Demerara (ECD). I am happy that we have a new smooth wide and clear road that will ease the traffic on the East Coast corridor in rush hour or traffic build-ups. But I am also sad. Sad that the level of engineering put into this project was even worse than the planning of a circus.There were absolutely no public consultations on the design, a design meant for use by the public. Public consultations are very lucrative in the design process as it aids in ensuring the end product will be absolutely useful for its intended purpose without impacting the daily lives and businesses that reside immediately along the corridor. In developed countries, these designs are available online for public constructive scrutiny and criticisms, however, this was not the case for this project.The engineers at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) treated these designs as if it were their personal heirloom and put it safely into pandora’s box where no one but the contractor and consultant had access to it. By guarding these designs, they perfectly preserved the flaws that eventually budded into the new ECD highway of hell. And by hell, I mean literally – all hell started from the inception of construction.If one were to gather data on the accidents caused by improper road safety in the construction period, one would be alarmed at the frequency and amount of damages caused to vehicles by construction pits that were literally left open or unlighted construction zones. Driving home in the nights was a challenge also because the entire construction corridor was unlit most times.To top it off, common sense was not a part of the planning process in the traffic diversions during the construction period especially during rush hour because this was not taken into consideration during the design process. The MPI is fully aware of these standard operating procedures of which are presented and reviewed in the design process utilising traffic data and studies collected and analysed.To make matters worse, the IDB Country Rep to Guyana resorted to Facebook to highlight the nonsense that was happening after being stuck for hours in the construction zone traffic jam. If this was an IDB-funded project, the contractor may have either been immediately terminated or heavily sanctioned for the nonsense that was allowed to take place.Most embarrassing is the fact that Geoffrey Vaughn, the coordinator for the Work Services Group (WSG), an engineering arm of MPI who are the ones responsible from the client end to oversee the project, traverses this corridor on his way to work and back every day and allowed the circus to entertain the play of citizens’ lives for the entire duration of this project, which, in my opinion, is criminal.The MPI was responsible for sanctioning the consultant who was responsible for the management of the project and seems to have failed miserably. I do hope media houses would do a little more research to add to my letter with all the incidents and accidents during the construction phase and the loss of life associated.The main reason for me writing this letter is, however, the lack of proper engineering which was supposed to be adopted to form the guidelines along which the whole project was designed. From previous knowledge and information received from a few longstanding engineers at MPI, the code usually adopted for road design is the AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials). An engineering review, should it be done, would show that this code, or no code, was adequately adopted or even properly consulted for the project design and construction procedures. The contractor was literally allowed to do as they pleased and the Consultant (E & A Inc) seemed like toothless poodles for the entire project.There are sections of the roadway that are definitely licensed to kill, take for example the southern dual carriageway from Good Hope to Mon Repos Market, which literally cuts down in width to approximately half the roadway without a transition or even safety signs placed there. If one were to consult the Guyanese critic page, there was an instance whereby after a lengthy blackout, there were two serious accidents where vehicles catapulted into the stalls that were left at the end of the broad section of the roadway.There is also a mistake in the transition coming out of the Good Hope cremation site and Fullworks Auto Spares junction, whereby the transition lane is placed on the wrong side of the median but all these are overlooked. One of my greatest questions is, where are the comments from the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers (GAPE) or any of the senior reputable engineers of this country on this?They are supposed to be watchdogs for engineering projects but they are toothless poodles, like the consultants. The signature of this highway to hell is the lack of engineered lighting design which would have adequately lit the roadway in the night and reduced blind spots.A proper road engineer would tell you to either put good lights or no lights on a road as this becomes a hazard. The MPI cannot defend my points highlighted because they have not done such designs and simply plucked an existing duck and placed it in the pot.But little do they know that each type and manufacturer of lights have their own unique properties which would define the placement and height of lamp poles. This malpractice is adopted across Guyana with confident ignorance and only political gains to accomplish.Finally, on this “hellway”, I would like to let the MPI know that the lack of consultant oversight will lead to long-term disaster on some of the drainage structures which were not done to even the locally adopted construction standards as I have witnessed uncompacted backfill being done to a few culverts and all engineers know the importance of compacting backfill and for those who know, I suggest that they inform the consultant on this road project.I forgot to mention the gross neglect of temporary diversion signs during construction which should have been in place until the final road markings and signs were erected but this was not done and is yet another instance of malpractice which led to many disastrous accidents which went uncompensated by the contractor and blindsided by the consultants.Who has to bear the nightmare both physically and financially of this hellway? Yes, it is us the regular taxpayers. We have to pay for the sloppy work and feel it even more when there are accidents.The MPI acted like a lost dog for the entire project and still have no clue that they have been delivered yet another Chinese failure akin to the 69KV GPL lines and interconnecting substations which were subject to endless politicised football blame games and the Skeldon Horror House. But all politicians can do in the time of disaster is point their rotten fingers on the other guy and absorb the insanity. Wake up Guyana!Sincerely,Name providedlast_img read more

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Theatre arts can aid social cohesion – Ron Robinson

first_imgActor, director and veteran broadcaster Ron Robinson believes that the performing arts can influence theRon Robinsonprocess of social cohesion in Guyana and thinks that should writers move in train, this could be achieved.Robinson was part of a three-member panel on TVG’s “The Factor”, where he, along with Al Creighton, Head of the Confucius Institute at UG and Director of the National School Of Drama; and singer-songwriter Dave Martins, examined the role of the performing arts in aiding the process of social cohesion.The local performing arts have moved beyond musical performances and drama to encompass “spoken word”, “slam poetry” and dance.According to Robinson, who has been active in numerous local plays, he has been seeing behavioural changes as a result of the plays put on locally.“I think theatre now is playing a much more meaningful role in the lives of people, especially when plays like the ones coming out of the two recent drama festivals. There have been changes, but the link has been primarily satirical, people come and life… we reflect,” the theatre veteran said.He said the performing arts (including music) could be a good tool to use to realise social cohesion. He said, however, as it was now, too often there have not been many playwrights going deep enough to actually produce change, both behaviourally and socially. He said often many of the plays were too light and the message was not strong enough.“We have not rightfully addressed play writing as an art form that could foster behavioural change … even without consciously trying, there have been changes as a result of the Link Shows.”He said on the other hand, there were a few instances where they were seeing playwrights going much deeper in their work, doing work that was now creating debate at places like Queen’s College and other secondary schools. He said prior to this, people only enjoyed the satire and went for night outs.However, Dave Martins said while the performing arts could have some effect on social cohesion, he was yet to see it. “It is a matter of degree. I believe that the arts could spur people and make them think. Whether it can actually change direction in society is another issue,” Martins said.He said while there would be some impact, it would not be enough to change people’s position on fundamental things they have been doing for years.“I don’t believe that most writers come to a position to say that I’m going to write something to effect that… they are not looking to effect change,” Martins posited.He added what some persons were seeing as a change happening as a result of the arts was a change that has been happening on its own.Meanwhile, Creighton, who said he was still to grasp the concept of social cohesion as being sought after by Government, said writers may not know how to get to the issue in their scripts. “They reflect things; they don’t craft a play that would direct the audience to solutions. There is a lot of focus on social ills, and that has gotten their attention. How do you handle the social ills put in a drama? Do you subtly put things that would influence the audience? It has to do with technique and how you handle the problems you show on stage.”last_img read more

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GTM makes whopping $1.1B payout in claims

first_imgRe-elected GTM Chairman Ram SinghSalesperson of the Year and Superstar Achiever, Hansraj SinghThe Guyana and Trinidad Mutual Fire Insurance Company Limited (GTM) last year paid out a whopping $1.1 billion in insurance claims, even as its profit margin declined by a little less than half compared to the previous year.This was the dire state of affairs reported by re-elected Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ram Singh.The Board of Directors met with policyholders on Wednesday at the Georgetown Club for the 136th Annual General Meeting (AGM), where Chairman Singh reported that after-tax profit for the company in 2015 was $82 million, as against the $160 million earned in 2014.Fire lossesSpeaking to the $1.1 billion payout in insurance claims, Singh told policyholders, this was primarily as a result of large fire losses incurred for the third consecutive year.He sought to reassure policyholders, however, that “since the beginning of 2014, your company has taken steps to prevent a reoccurrence by implementing more stringent underwriting guidelines”.Singh was optimistic in his pronouncements as he told policyholders in his report that despite the increase in claims that had to be met, the company still performed “fairly well despite fierce competition from existing insurance companies, new entrants, a decline in premium rates and a reduced demand for insurance coverage”.Speaking on the company’s asset base, Singh told those in attendance that GTM did record an increase in its holdings, totalling $6.65 billion in 2015, up from $5.92 billion the previous year.He said given the 2015 performance, the company has declared a final dividend of 4.6 per cent for ordinary scrip, preferent scrip and first preferred stock holders.The resolution for the dividend payout was unanimously approved by the policyholders in attendance.Regional performanceThe GTM Chairman also used the opportunity to provide an update on the performance of its regional branches.He told policyholders that in Grenada, total premiums grew by G$20 million. Singh recalled too that at the beginning of 2014, that country’s Government commenced the rollout of its three-year home-grown economic recovery programme of fiscal adjustments and reform – supported by the International Monetary Fund – and this programme at the end of 2017 is expected to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment.In St Lucia, Singh lamented, the country’s economy shrank by almost two per cent and its “general insurance sector continues to face intense competition, high policy attrition (erosion) and declining growth”.According to Singh, in an effort to maintain market share and profitability, competitors engaged in discounting of premium rates, but these factors negatively affected the performance of the St Lucia branch.He said the sister branch in St Vincent and the Grenadines faced similar challenges to those experienced in St Lucia, but has fared better with marginal growth in premiums.Investment returnsThe GTM Chairman’s spate of bad news continued, as he reported on the company’s investments, highlighting that they have seen a decline in the rate of returns being earned.He sought to reassure, however, that “cognisant of the need to improve the yield on investment in order to avoid volatile or toxic investments, the Board’s first priority “is to protect your company and its investments by seeking only secured and guaranteed investments”.Singh used the opportunity to lament that the motor insurance aspect of GTM’s business portfolio did not fare well in 2015.This, he said, resulted from insurance companies across the territories, “underwriting at rock-bottom rates with very large excesses”.According to Singh, “on the surface, this may seem beneficial; however, the client ultimately loses more at the time of a claim”.This practice, according to Singh, will not be entertained by GTM.He told policyholders, “Any policy or practice that leads ultimately to the client being placed at a disadvantage will not be adopted by your company.”The GTM Chairman also used the opportunity to provide policyholders with an update on some infrastructural works undertaken in 2015.1962 roofAccording to Singh, the company utilised $51 million in renovations and repairs in 2015, most of which went into replacing the entire roof of the original GTM building in addition to upgrading its outdated electrical systems.He told policyholders that the repairs were deemed necessary, since “the building was last roofed in 1962 and had developed a number of leaks”.Singh also reported that the company renovated a property which it had leased in D’Edward Village in Berbice and has since relocated its Rosignol office there.“Other renovations included constructing a roof to cover the entire fifth floor of the Head office building to improve utility of the roof garden.”Superstar achieverSticking to tradition, the company also used the opportunity to reward its outstanding employees.Hansraj Singh was the top awardee copping a number of prizes, including Salesperson of the Year, the Superstar Achiever Award and the Chairman’s Award – the highest award across the branches.The company also presented bursaries to a number of students who recorded creditable performances in their examinations.All of the Directors, inclusive of the Chairman, were re-elected to serve on the company’s Board of Directors for another year.last_img read more

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