Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Matters to be resolved
(Aired 24 February 2003)

   In nearly 70 commentaries I have raised certain issues some of which have not been resolved.

The first one has to do with the way our Drainage and Irrigation board operates. Our drainage and irrigation board has as its Chairman Mr. Ravi Narine, Mr. Narine is a major owner of SRKNgeering, which receives huge contracts from the government through the central tender board, I have repeatedly asked Mr. Narine to decide if the wants to be a businessman or a public servant, he cannot be both. Additionally Mr Narine still owes us several explanations as to why he allowed Tiwari to destroy the Lama dam, since it was he who was responsible on behalf of the ministry of agriculture for supervising the execution of the contract. SRKNgeenering has just bid on a 2 million US dollar D&I contract, I have little doubt that they will get this contract, thereby making the central tender board a farce. It is not as if Narine is a great chairman of the D&I board warranting us having to tolerate him as its chairman, he is not!

   B.K Tiwari having been surcharged 50 million dollars for executing the 400 Million reconstruction of the lama dam badly, has not only not paid the money but he has taken the government to court in the matter; this government nevertheless has given BK another $250 million contract at Skeldon to construct the site for the new sugar factory, [which we do not need].

   In Barbados they would demand and get the resignation of the entire government. In the US they would haul the whole lot of them into the congress for hearings on the matter, in England they would jail them. This matter is far from over, the Lama conservancy holds water at 58 ft GD it was supposed to be reconstructed to hold water at 62 GD, 4 ft higher, ladies and gentlemen the Lama is incapable of holding water at 56 GD now, due to the damage done to it by Tiwari. Very soon now when the citizens of Georgetown cannot get water, this government will not have to resign, they will have to flee the country. It has, and is, continuing to be a very dry year only 2 and a half inches of rain has fallen for the year so far and this is March, rain is not expected until May/June. Start buying your tickets for the US boys or start praying if you know how.

   There is no question that the rainfall pattern is changing, last year we got a total of 55 inches of rain, the average for Versailles over the past hundred years was 90 inches. Hardly the time to allow anyone Tiwari, Ravi Narine, the PPP, to award a corrupt contract, incompetently executed to the detriment of all.

   Synergy, the company which was given a license by this government to build a hydro dam in July 2002, continues to wait on GP&L to undertake to buy hydropower from them, so that they can go ahead and build the US$312 million hydro electric facility at Amelia falls. This Hydro is important to this country, GP&L is not, they should be paid the 20 US dollars million US they want, then pay it back to us since the PUC says that they owe it to us, and be put on the first available plane back to the UK, in the cargo section of the plane. Since all they have been to this country is expensive baggage.

    We continue along the disastrous path of building another sugar factory, the world market price of sugar is now 7US cents a pound Berbice produces at 17 US cents a pound, and Demerara produces at 21 US cents a pound. There is disaster written all over this folly. Jagdeo is like a little child running blindly toward the edge of a cliff and will not listen to the adults shouting danger.

   We should invest this money to build a proper road to Brazil, there is much more potential for us as partners with the Brazilians with and this road and a port agreement for the Brazilin produce. I was totally astonished when I saw Minister Xavier proudly showing us a mud and latterite dam which he proudly proclaimed "to have a good camber" and which we all know will float away after the first shower in May/June. Are we so completely mentally constipated that we do not realise the potential of this road, and unless it can allow Brazilian 18 wheeler trucks to travel on it comfortably taking produce to and from Brazil to the Atlantic Ocean through this country, we are just wasting time and money. I will tell you why the PPP do not want this road, since the Brazilian Company Paranapanema had it almost complete in 1992, but after coming to power the PPP stopped it.

   Under pressure from the Brazilians they have now half heartedly given us this backdam road. Ladies and gentlemen if a proper road is established between Guyana and Brazil enabling Brazilian shipping traffic to pass through this country to the Ocean, it will create the opportunity for settlement along the new highway, thousands of Guyanese living in Brazil may return and settle along this road since it will become a hub of commerce between the two nations, thousands of Brazilians may also do so and it may have the effect of changing the balance of political power in the country, I consider it obscene that any political party in power can hamper development of any nation simply because of fear that it may create a situation where they will lose political power. 

   Didco continues to flaunt environmental requirements and have not cooperated with the EPA as to how they will dispose of the chicken pen waste so that they do not contaminate the ground water on Yarrowkabara Hill which can have the effect of contaminating the creek water of the two creeks which form the basis of two eco tourist resorts Splashmins and Emerald Towers. Mansoor Nadir is Minister of TRADE and TOURISM we know where his loyalty lies now, don't we? Didco have 20 pens each capable of growing 32,000 chickens, so we are talking about a lot of chicken dung here ladies and gentlemen almost the same as at Freedom House, but let me ask this question having 640,000 chickens growing in one place, what happens if there is an outbreak of disease? Bounty farms finance and help 42 small scale chicken farmers and buy their produce, so the potential for disease scattered around the country from 42 different locations as they are, is not nearly as acute.

    Talking about Didco, who allegedly donated 15 million dollars to the PPP's 2001 election campaign and which apparently now places them above the law, accountable to no one.

    I still cannot believe the scenario I see unfolding before us, Didco over the past 20 years have single-handedly destroyed the local poultry industry by importing chicken from the US. Correia and several other poultry farmers went out of business during that period, having completely destroyed the local poultry industry Didco then incredibly decide to grow their chickens here in Guyana, to accommodate them the government then effectively places a ban on imported chicken by putting such a huge tax on it that it is no longer competitive on the local market, the 140% tax imposed broke the WTO regulations. How can a Minister of trade be so totally oblivious to the WTO requirements? I will not go into the details of price adjustments that were made to render this imported US chicken completely uncompetitive in the local market, but I read with total disbelief where Nadir accused the US of dumping their chicken here in Guyana, the men at the local US embassy were obviously overjoyed to hear this incredible stupidity.     

    Having obtained these huge concessions Didco then turns on the other local producers and dumps their chicken in the Guyana market at prices which the others cannot compete. Making a farce of Nadir's promise that growing chicken locally will create jobs. If Didco puts all the small operators out of business since their operation is so mechanized that they employ very few people, how will this create jobs? I will tell you what it will do, It will create another monopoly for one company to the detriment of the Guyanese public, since no jobs will be created and the revenue from the imported chicken estimated at 1 billion dollars a year will be lost to this nation. So Mr. Nadir owes us many explanations none of which he has answered adequately raising serious questions about his motives in this matter. Didco's manager told us through the Stabroek News that quote "what it costs them to produce a pound of chicken is no one's business but his".

   Wrong manager, you are being protected by the state, you are getting concessions which are robbing the Guyanese public of 1 billion dollars in revenue a year, it IS our business and we want to know. Of course when the Stabroek news asked Nadir and Didco that if they had the ability to sell at $110 per Lb. why it was necessary to upset the US by putting this huge tax on their chicken, there was a deafening silence. If Didco can produce at $110 per LB there should have been NO reason to ban the US chicken. And any fool who attempts to tell me that there has NOT been an effective ban on US chicken by attaching these huge import taxes on it, will not get away with it. I am not paranoid and frankly I had not thought about it, but when I heard Mr Corbin saying that all of this had to do with damaging my brother financially to victimise me, I listened carefully and I think that Mr. Corbin is right.

   First we had Banum now we got Banoor. I predict that this will end up with Didco having a monopoly on all local chicken growing, then, they will raise the price out of reach of the poorer Guyanese people, I also predict that there will be reprisals from the US. Have we learnt nothing over the past 40 years? If the US wants to pressure us they can do so with impunity, but we are again walking on dangerous ground compliments of the incompetence or dishonesty of Banoor Nadir. We can't be condemning the US for protecting their farmers and not giving us markets whilst at the same time doing exactly the same thing. We have the sugar and rice industries to consider. Clement Rohee is running all over the globe begging for markets for the local rice and sugar and Nadir is sabotaging him here at home by a protecting Didco.