"Too much procrastination" - Ramjattan
CITING procrastination regarding various reports, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan has called for more action on recommendations relevant to youth, violence and crime. At the same time, a call has been made for the authorities to place emphasis on youth involvement in the decision-making process of the country’s policies regarding the nation’s youth.
Speaking to a packed room at the Pegasus Hotel on Wednesday night during the University of Guyana‘s (UG) Turkeyen & Tain Talks, Ramjattan noted that there have been a number of reports which form part of the government’s strategy which centres on youth, crime and violence. These include the United Nations Report on Violence Against Children in the Caribbean as well as the 2010 UNDP Citizens Security Survey, among others. Noting that they are all major reports, he said such reports would remain on the shelves over the years.
“We have to start utilising recommendations of these reports to immediately walk the talk,” he said, noting that if such is not undertaken, the results can be detrimental.
Ramjattan told the gathering that from such reports, there is a correlation cited between young people and drugs or alcohol, noting that if someone is going to be a standout from the youth ages, that person can be affected by factors such as unemployment or poverty. Touching on the recent Georgetown Prison unrest, he informed the gathering that information from the prison hierarchy indicated that out of every five prisoners, only one can read.
He said this is relative to the entire prison population across the country’s prisons. “It’s very serious,” he said, noting that the government has a number of findings and recommendations which will be effectuated. He said the issue of skills training is being addressed, noting that in each police division across the country, the commander of the division has been tasked with developing social programmes which integrate children into progressive projects “especially those who may have come from dysfunctional families”. The minister noted that such programmes have proved to be effective since they have impacted positively in communities which in the past had high crime rates. He said having received the recommendations, the priority ones are addressed and funding is sought for such programmes.
WORKING WITH GANG MEMBERS
Pastor Eworth Williams of the Heavenly Light Church in Cooper Street, Albouystown noted that the church has been working with gangs for a number of years. Speaking on the subject of youth and violence, he said the church is not only about the four walls, but rather an avenue which persons can turn to in difficult situations. He spoke also of the prison population and posited that all prisoners would have had experiences in the church, temple or masjid.
However, according to him, the reality is no one would have noticed such persons and this would have led to such persons choosing a life of crime. “So what has happened is that they would have turned to things that would make them noticed,” Williams said. He informed the gathering that in Albouystown, there are approximately 48 main gangs, of which 26 are said to be notorious. The church, he said, has a good relationship with the gangs, noting that from time to time, he would meet and have discourse with the gang members, “because we believe that if we don’t touch them, then someone else will”. He also said it has not been an easy task, noting that at times the church officials would wonder if the persons engaged would really change their lives. He noted, however, that there are examples of those who have worked to change their lives. “We have a part to play, especially as a church,” Williams said. Youth advocate Derwayne Wills, who spoke at the event, called for more youth involvement in the decision- making process. He said there are many questions which demand answers. He said when the government changed in 2015, many anticipated the setting up of a Ministry of Youth. Wills suggested that this should be reviewed by the authorities. He noted that there is a national youth policy while legislation relative to youth is being addressed. However, he called for accountability of various constitutional bodies which have oversight over the nation’s youth. “What we need is action, to fix the system’s short-comings,” Wills said as he called on the authorities to meet the youth half way.
University of Guyana Health Sciences student, Patricia Gittens, spoke on the issue of mental health. She said there is need for the authorities to place prevention of crime and violence on the front burner. Gittens said the good news is that there is hope in that direction. The forum, which was moderated by Professor Ivelaw Griffith, Vice-Chancellor of the university, attracted a large turn-out. It concluded with a discussion between the panel of presenters and the audience.
Article adapted from: https://guyanachronicle.com/2017/07/13/too-much-procrastination
Guyana hopes to invest more cash in youth empowerment from scrapped sugar subsidy, oil revenues - Ramjattan
Guyana hopes to surpass Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica in the amount of monies it gives to youth empowerment and employment by scrapping a multi-billion dollar subsidy to the state-owned Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) and injecting more funds from oil revenues when production begins in 2020, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan says.
“This why we are making sure that the bailouts now that we are having on sugar will have to come to a halt and understand that,” he said to applause Wednesday night at a University of Guyana-organised public forum on Youth Crime and Violence.
“We will not be bailing out sugar and we have a plan for that and so there will be some more money that can go into some other sectors and rest assured that we are going to up that 0.7 percent to more. I cannot tell you how much more… No, no, no I am being realistic here. We have to be realistic. If the economy produces much more and the price of sugar gets up high, you’ll expect us challenging the other two other countries in the percentage rather than being half Jamaica and just one-third of Trinidad,” he said.
Speaking in his personal capacity, Registrar of the University of Guyana, Dr. Nigel Gravesande highlighted that Guyana’s budgetary allocation for “direct youth empowerment” is 0.7 percent compared to 1.5 percent in Trinidad and Tobago, and 2.3 percent in Jamaica. “That is the statistical reality and the most recent UNECLAC (United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) report that I have seen spoke to a direct correlation in youth violence and economic empowerment,” he said at the forum.
Gravesande questioned the Public Security Minister about whether there were short-term, medium-term and immediate plans to structure the economy to focus on sustainable youth empowerment through increased monies in annual national budgets.
He reiterated government’s position at a time when authorities are grappling to manage the fall-out from last Sunday’s fire that destroyed the Georgetown Prison on Camp Street. The opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) has already criticised Ramjattan for using the state of the sugar industry as a scapegoat.
The Public Security Minister acknowledged that more money needs to spent on empowerment, education and employment opportunities for youths. With a number of Guyana’s sugar exports not doing well, he said government has had to decide on its priority areas for spending scarce cash. “If we have to take our monies and do what is priority by our Cabinet. It does not necessarily mean that importance is not attached to others,” he said.
Ramjattan suggested that with more revenues going into the national treasury from oil, Guyana would be able to spend more on a number of areas. “Until such time that we have a better day with an oil-stream revenue, we’ll have to start making some serious decisions and we have started that already,” he said.
The Public Security Minister said it is time to implement the numerous recommendations contained in several reports on crime and violence among youths in Guyana and the Caribbean. “”We in the Caribbean, we in Guyana do a lot of reports. Somehow, that has to stop. We have to start utilizing the recommendations in those reports to immediately walk the talk as it were because we sometimes don’t do that and we do that to the detriment of all of us” he said.
Painting a picture of the reality confronting authorities, he said youths are affected by unemployment, poverty, alcohol and drug consumption- youths smoking marijuana as early as 11 years old.
Concerns were also raised about virtual illiteracy to the extent that only one in every five youths detained can read and there are also declining performances at high school and university among males . “We have a number of things in these reports from which we have to move on,” he said.
Ramjattan said authorities also have to address poor parenting, reduce risk factors and ensure that sport facilities ate made readily available to youths.
The state of youths has been thrown in the spotlight following an attempted bank robbery allegedly involving two qualified professionals and a number of members of the Guyana Police Force.
Turkeyen and Tain Talks: Guyana's Emerging Oil & Gas Sector
The University of Guyana’s Turkeyen and Tain Talks held its seventh meeting in New Amsterdam, Berbice on Wednesday, on Guyana’s emerging oil and gas economy.
Present at the talks were Director of the University of Guyana, Berbice Campus and Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor Ivelaw Griffith and Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman among others.
According to GINA, Minister Trotman told the students and other persons gathered for the Turkeyen and Tain talks that the potential they have heard that Guyana has is real. The Minister noted that the oil which was discovered in 2015 is estimated to have a minimum of 800 million barrels and a maximum of 1.4 billion barrels of oil.
Minister Trotman also made those gathered aware that in addition to the first discovery of oil, there have been two more which may not be as large as the first, but are considered to have a significant amount of oil. Production of the oil is expected to begin in 2020 by ExxonMobil, Hess Corporation and Nexen companies.
Strengthening legal framework
Minister Trotman noted that with the discovery of such a large quantity of oil and gas, the government thought it necessary to strengthen its legal framework. The Minister pointed out that unless there are systems in place, Guyana would not be in a position to handle production and benefits of oil production. Hence, Minister Trotman noted that the government has begun the process of reviewing Guyana’s Petroleum Act of 1986 which he said is quite dated.
Minister Trotman also pointed out that in addition to reviewing the Petroleum Act; the government is creating new laws. Two new laws have already been created, he said. This includes the Sovereign Wealth Fund which is with the Minister of Finance, and the Petroleum Commission Bill which was recently read for the first time in the National Assembly.
Kiran Mattai, Oil and Gas Attorney stressed the importance of having the necessary laws in place that relate to the oil and gas sector. According to Mattai, with Guyana being an emerging economy and oil and gas economy, it needs to be able to appreciate the ownership of its resources while encouraging international relationships. Legal training she said “must account for the host country discovering the oil and the company exploring for oil.”
She highlighted, “For legal training, the lesson in preparing for oil and gas is recognising that oil and gas is only a piece of the puzzle; there must be complementary interdependence to achieve sustainability.”
According to GINA, Professor and Director of the Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Suresh Narine stressed the importance of training. He noted that while training may take five to seven years, with Guyana expecting to receive oil by 2020, it is something that must be pursued.
According to Professor Narine, nothing is wrong in accepting that Guyana has poorly trained business people, engineers and scientists. In order to fully benefit from the wealth expected to come, Guyanese have to divorce themselves from thinking that all roads to success are paved with intentions on oil and gas.
“We have to ourselves, begin to train our students, advice our children, create our businesses in ways that look at those other sectors of the economy,” Narine explained.
However, Dr. Narine pointed out that there is (the) need for effective policies that will give the necessary guidance. He stated that, “without policy that allows the oil revenue to be channelled in an equitable, thoughtful fashion, the capital to ensure that those sectors of our economy which are more sustainable than oil is created, is not going to be wisely spent.”
- The University of Guyana