THE GUYANA and Venezuelan governments yesterday signed a 1992 cooperation pact but little details have been released on the programme.
The two sides told reporters yesterday that the talks went well and “very satisfactory” and head of the Venezuela delegation, Dr. Alberto Valero, congratulated the Guyana government’s “efficiency”. But neither Dr. Valero nor head of the Guyana team, Dr. Bartland Scotland, gave details of any concrete cooperation agreement, in any one areal for 1992.
The two sides signed the pact at the Department of International Economic Cooperation yesterday and Scotland told mediamen at a press conference that the document “represents discussions between the joint commission”. He described the deliberations as “fruitful”.
Dr. Valero said the Venezuelans thought the talks were “very satisfactory” and said the two sides will review progress in six months.
The document covers cooperation on trade and the economy, technical matters, the environment, tourism, science and technology, culture and education. The talks explored the possibility of University of Guyana students working with three Venezuelan universities and environmental aid to Guyana from Venezuela.
These have to be further detailed.
Concrete work programmes should come out of working groups which will meet in Guyana later, but this joint conference outlined broad areas of cooperation, with, for example, the Venezuelans unable to give a definite answer to Guyana’s request for help on environmental preservation. Valero said he would have to discuss this with the Venezuela environmental agency.
Talks also centred around joint ventures between the two countries’ private sector but Scotland said both governments have to work out their “frameworks” for such cooperation.
The Guyana/Venezuela joint venture commission was set up some years ago, and its major achievement so far is a special concessionary arrangement for that country to supply oil to this country. The four year old agreement supplies 1.8 million barrels of petroleum to this country every year. This programme was not on the commission’s agenda.
Minister McKenzie turned up at the media conference towards its end and said the commission came up with “a workable set of proposals”. He expressed confidence that the programme will be fully implemented.
The mayor’s new term City Council roundup
By Cecil Griffith
MAYOR Compton Young may have won the battle but future events may prove that he lost the municipal war.
Contrary to a report in the press, not the Stabroek News, the Mayor’s election was not unanimous.
While a majority of Councillors were prepared to “kiss and make up “ with the “Chief Citizen”, he is surely no fan of Councillor Harold “lightweight” Kissoon who made it clear when the election of Mayor Young was in progress that he wanted the records to show that he was voting against him.
Although the re-election of the “Chief Citizen” was greeted with loud cheers, hand clapping and table thumping with the City Mothers in the vanguard, not all the City Fathers joined in the elation with gusto. This could be an indicator of attitudes by some Councillors during Mayor Young’s last term in office if he does not mend his ways.
Mayor Young in his acceptance speech said he had received a vote of confidence from Councillors. Only time will tell.
“WHAT goes around comes around…”…that’s what the “man” said…and with the recall of Councillor Hans Barrow to head the Council’s Finance Committee, in 1992 the “man” is right.
Councillor Barrow one of the city’s leading insurance brokers who is also Honorary Japanese Consul in Guyana, was appointed Chairman of the Finance Committee during the three years Mr. Robert Williams was “Chief Citizen”.
When Mayor Young took over, Councillor Barrow was shunted aside by Councillor Hugh George who was at the time one of the newly elected Councillors, but after he had presented a budget aimed at bringing in millions of dollars owed by business houses he too was replaced by Councillor Hafiz Rahaman, who was the architect of the 1991 budget. It was alleged that Councillor George a onetime senior insurance executive, now businessman had some sharp disagreements with Mayor Young over certain financial allocations.
Although the appointment of Councillor Barrow to his old job appeared to be a planned arrangement worked out at the Monday morning meeting in the office of Deputy Prime Minister Robert Corbin, the naming of members of that Committee did not go down so easily.
Councillor Klautky seemed unhappy with the present membership of the Committee and immediately set about compiling his own list of candidates, after the M ay or had named his team. He brought back businessman Hashim Hack, who was at one time Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee, when Councillor Barrow was Chairman, and a critic of the Mayor’s management style.
Also named in the new look Committee are Councillors Hugh Chan, Galloway, Paul Clarke Ram- kissoon Lashley and Britton (old members), and the outspoken Councillor Jose DaSilva. Councillor DaSilva did not accept nomination to the Committee…”! will not have any part in this Committee, bearing in mind what is going on…” he added. It was finally agreed that the Chairman of other Committees will also be eligible to sit on the Finance Committee, with the Mayor and his Deputy ex officio members.
The insolence of office
AFTER Mr. Hoyte’s disappointing and inadequate announcement, the only thing that is now transparent about the coming elections is the government’s delaying tactics. It is a tragicomedy, but in six acts. Over one year ago, after the Carter visit, it was agreed that a new voters list be prepared. The registration took an inordinately long time to get going and the process was slow and incompetent (remember, scrutineers could not find enumerators). As a result, elections could not be held in time and legislation was introduced to permit government to make periodic extensions of the life of parliament.
Then Mr. Jacobs badly bungled the list, deliberately ignoring a clear instruction. As a result, even the extravagant extension of over six months in the life of parliament has found us still floundering in an electoral bog.
What we are seeing, essentially, is a peculiar mixture of ambivalence, cunning and incompetence. An important section of the ruling party has not come to terms with the need for a fair election and Jacobs, Barnwell and others arc their chosen instruments. A weak Election Commission chairman has been quite unable to stamp his authority on this situation and take the reins in his hand. Hence, weeks after a vote of no confidence, Jacobs rules the roost.
So what happens now? A completely new list could be prepared from scratch in a maximum of two months on the basis of voluntary registration, Nicaraguan style, at established centres which would later be polling stations over, say, a three-week period and the list could be tabulated and prepared at a computer centre abroad in, say, a further three weeks. But such rationality is too much to hope for.
It is therefore a question of tactics, with the background of our unique electoral pathology. So far, the opposition has been hopelessly outwitted. Now, once again, they must decide, do they go for the whole hog (a completely new list), or part of the way (remove Jacobs, Barnwell et al and install new officers) or just insist on republication of the new list with another objection procedure and how long will the various options take, given the administrative and other delays they must certainly expect? And of course the opposition has shown no cohesion and no ability to agree on a common strategy.
But the game has been going on too long and it has become tedious and tiresome. Elections have held centre stage for well over one year and we seem to be no further forward. The man in the street must be even more alienated and diplomatic exasperation cannot be far off.
At the end of the day, the government must resolve two contradictions in its own mind. Is it playing for an indefinite delay with all the stagnation and frustration that involves and will that improve its electoral chances? And related to this, will it remove Jacobs, Barnwell and company and hold a fair election whatever the consequences or will we continue in this prolonged end game verging on stalemate?
How long will this farce continue?