– parents concerned, officials seek assistanceBy Utamu BelleRegion 10 (Upper Demerara/Berbice) officials are concerned over the reported overcrowding on a school bus, which was provided by the Russian Aluminium company (RUSAL), to transport students from the Lattersville and Hururu areas in the Upper Berbice.Regional Vice Chairman Elroy Adolph said he was recently summoned to an urgent meeting with concerned parents of students of Lattersville, concerning the issue, where it was reported that the 60-seater bus, which was initially intended for children of the company’s employees, is severely overcrowded, with well over a hundred now being accommodated.“The parents are very concerned because what was told to me at that meeting is that a lot of sexual activities take place in the bus…It’s very serious… I remember bringing it up and the REDO (Regional Education Officer) saying it’s not the Education (Department) responsibility to bring them to and fro, but I think as parents it’s concerning for us. It’s over a hundred and something children going to school from Lattersville, Hururu to Kwakwani,” Adolph stated.He said he has written to RUSAL seeking an audience and is hoping to get a response soon as it relates to including another school bus for the students. Adolph said the parents complained that they cannot afford a bus since the community is not doing well economically, as was the case in times past, since the lumber and farming industries have been on the decline.Meanwhile, Regional Councillor Charles Sampson has called on the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) to look into the situation as speedily as possible.“We need to have these situations corrected…We cannot tolerate that kind of behaviour that involves school children…We need to do something immediately to solve this situation,” he stated.Regional Chairman Renis Morian has however assured that he will write RUSAL concerning conduct on the school bus and also seek Government’s assistance in providing a bus for the students in addition to writing the Hururu Village Council. He also called for more support from the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, which he noted is least involved in the affairs of the Region.“I have written letters to this Ministry about three times about this, hence, collaboratively from the Office of the President, the RDC and Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, we should be able to deal with this matter expeditiously,” Morian said.Additionally, councillor Sandra Adams said she is aware that RUSAL gives a monthly donation to Hururu for students travelling from Lattersville.
…as union engages Finance Ministry on 2019 BudgetThe Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) on Friday said it has engaged the Finance Ministry on talks for the final budget before Guyana gets deeper into the oil industry as of 2020.During a meeting that was organised by representatives of the organisation and Junior Finance Minister Jaipaul Sharma, the discussion circled around the development of the upcoming budget as part of its pre-budget consultations and ways to deal with some of the issues that has been affecting Guyanese.While the Federation sided with the Government’s intention to establish a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), it stated that there is the need for “institutional safeguards and appropriate policies” to avoid any downsides that many countries are currently facing. This is necessary since large sums of money will flow into the country when oil production begins.Another scenario, which baffled the Federation was the high unemployment rate which noted that as many as 12 per cent of Guyanese were jobless at the ending of September last year and out of this figure, one out of five were youths. As such, the solution suggested included the implementation of training programmes for unemployed individuals as well as the introduction of a national job bank.“Vexingly, we pointed out that large proportions of the unemployed were jobless forFITUG’s President Carvil Duncanmore than a year, indicating that jobs were difficult to come by. On this matter, we urged the Government to urgently consider training or re-training programmes for those who are unemployed. We suggested too the Administration consider the establishment of a national job bank to allow employers and prospective employees,” the union noted.It added that while this number has increased over the past year, another issue to worry about is the high cost of living along with the increased prices for other commodities. Additionally, the minibus fares were increased and the water rate is soon to follow.From 2014 to 2017, tax revenues have risen from $136.5 billion to $171.5 billion with the VAT and Excise receipts growing by nearly 25 per cent and Income Tax revenues rising by just over 31 per cent. During the engagement, FITUG called for increases in the Old Age Pension and some interventions to reduce utility costs.“We urged the Government to consider increasing the Old Aged Pension to $30,000 per month; reducing the Excise Tax on fuel towards reducing the public transportation costs; reintroducing electricity and water subsidies for old aged pensioners, among other things.”Pleas were also made for considerations to be made in the closed sugar estates and the fact that the plights of the workers should not be ignored. As such, budgetary allocations should be made to ensure that their children can attend school and also for the retrenched workers to be engaged in workshops to assist with the obtainment of another job.“We called on the Administration to consider an income support mechanism to ensure families can meet their obligations and send their children to school, among other things; introduction of school bus services to transport all school-aged children from their homes to school and to establish skills training programmes to allow the former sugar workers and the youth to receive skills that are demanded by the labour market,” FITUG stated.It added that recently, the country has seen a plague of increased criminal activities which the agency believes can be dealt with, by expanding emergency response in all regions. According to the organisation, the most effective way to end this scourge is by reducing the high unemployment rate.In the public infrastructure sector, it was highlighted that large sums of monies being allocated towards the main roads and bridges while many communities are faced with impassable roads, poor draining and dilapidated bridges.“We should not ignored and we suggested the Budget 2019 seeks to strike a balance towards allaying these difficulties our people face.”Public health was also on the agenda for areas to be addressed in the 2019 Budget scheme. In many cases, it is being reported that there are no drugs available at the health facilities.It was suggested that procurement systems are geared at ensuring the availability of drugs and there is an equitable spread of resources in all regions.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Extra medical staff have been sent to the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay to help address a hunger strike that has spread to nearly two-thirds of the detainees, authorities said Monday.With the strike now entering its 12th week, U.S. President Barack Obama has faced fresh calls to honor his promise to close the prison at the U.S. base in Cuba, which holds 166 individuals captured as part of the “War on Terror.”Some 40 U.S. Navy medical personnel, including nurses and specialists, arrived over the weekend, said Lt. Col. Samuel House, a military spokesman at Guantanamo.“The influx of personnel was planned several weeks ago as increasing numbers of detainees chose to protest their detention,” he said.House said 100 of the 166 inmates are striking, a number that hasn’t changed since Saturday. Of those, 21 are receiving feeding through nasal tubes, the spokesman said, one more than on Saturday.Five are hospitalized, he added in the statement, without specifying whether any were in life-threatening condition.However, he told AFP that none were close to dying, officially denying allegations by British Guantanamo expert Andy Worthington, who wrote on his blog that four prisoners were “close to death” as a result of the strike, citing a “credible source inside Guantanamo.”One of the at-risk detainees, Worthington said, was Khiali Gul, one of 86 prisoners cleared for release yet jailed indefinitely.“Every day I expect to hear the worst. I am appalled that President Obama has done nothing, and continues to do nothing,” Worthington told AFP.Lawyers for the detainees have said around 130 inmates are observing the hunger strike, more than officially acknowledged.The rapidly growing protest movement began on Feb. 6, when inmates claimed prison officials searched Korans in a way they considered blasphemous, according to their lawyers.Officials have denied any mishandling of Islam’s holy book.But the strike has now turned into a larger protest by prisoners against their indefinite incarceration without charge or trial over the past 11 years.House said recently that while detainees have a right to protest, “it is our mission to provide a safe, secure and humane environment, and we will not allow our detainees to starve themselves to death.”On Friday, the White House said it continues to closely monitor the hunger strikers and that Obama remained “committed to closing” Guantanamo.“A fundamental obstacle to closing this detention facility … remains in Congress,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.More and more critics have called for the immediate closure of the facility.Among them is former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who warned that “unless President Obama acts soon, I believe it is likely one or more of the detainees will die.”Andrea Prasow, senior counterterrorism counsel and advocate at Human Rights Watch, said “there has never been such a critical moment in the history of Guantanamo.”“It’s an incredible crisis in the American government, both in terms of health and welfare of these men, but there are also very serious national security concerns should someone die in Guantanamo,” she told AFP.“I think it will be perceived outside of the U.S. as the U.S. government’s responsibility.”Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, wrote a letter to Obama asking the administration to “renew its efforts” to transfer out the 86 detainees who were cleared for such a move by U.S. military authorities.She also called for the reassessment of the “security situation on the ground in Yemen, because is my understanding that 56 of the 86 detainees cleared for transfer are Yemeni.”Obama imposed a moratorium on repatriating Yemenis held at Guantanamo in 2009 after a plot to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day was traced back to Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni franchise. Facebook Comments Related posts:Doctors complicit in torture at CIA, military prisons: study Obama will try again to shut Guantanamo prison U.S. Activists Protest Guantanamo Prison Camp in Cuba Uruguay agrees to take Guantanamo detainees