First Published March 31 1990

Letter

The Demerara Channel was dredged extensively during 1968 by a chartered foreign owned suction dredge to facilitate the carriage of increased tonnes of bauxite from the transshipment vessel permanently moored in the harbour of Georgetown.

In light of the much publicised Economic Recovery Programme could the appropriate authority publish information with respect to:

  1. Whether the predicted charted depth of 20 feet (6.1m) is being maintained, taking into consideration the natural phenomena of build-up of alluvial deposits?

2 . The number of vessels that have entered and departed over a given period with freight drawing the maximum 30 feet (9.1 m) even keel at High Water springs? ‘

  1. Whether the cost of the dredging exercise has proven to be economically viable over the long term, to justify retention of the transshipment hired vessel which seems to be on course for entry to the annual satirical play ‘No Big Ting?’

Roy B. Joseph

 

‘Mai’ At 78 Has Never Worn Shoes

’MAI’ is 78 years old, and despite the amazing changes sweeping across her life, she has never worn a pair of shoes nor been to the cinema

She doesn’t mind too much – she can watch television at her grands’ if she wants and after decades of pounding barefooted the mud and dust of roads and cane and rice fields, shoes are a humbug.

The matriarch of her family, ‘Mai’ bore seven girls and six boys for her husband. Her husband died 16 years ago, but all her children and her 70 great-grands and 35 grands are alive.

Everybody calls her ‘Mai’ or Sarah but her real name is Dhanpati Bajan. She was born November 8, 1911 at Pouderoyen, West Bank, Demerara. ‘Mai’, at 16, started working at the Versailles sugar estate, weeding the fields and moulding young cane plants. Soon after, her wedding was arranged to a groom she had never seen before.

“You had to agree, you can’t say anything,” she said. Those were the days of arranged marriages, and for ’Mai’, hers worked.

Her husband did not have his own house and they moved into a coconut-branch thatched structure that was to become home for some years at Pouderoyen. From there they started the family and after raising their own cows and cultivating a rice plot, ‘Mai’ and her husband eventually put up a small but ‘real’ house.

Those were hard years, she says, but times are very hard now. “I wish things did cheap now like they was long ago…you have to eat good food, dat is why we live so long, and I want to reach 100 years.”

The years of toil stretched, but as the children got older they began to help and soon the family built a bigger house.

At one time, she says, theirs was the biggest house in the village, and they had the first radio in the community. “People use to come to us to listen the news.”

‘Mai’ is short and thin but wiry and still agile. She does not take it easy and has her own kitchen garden which she tends her­self. She does not need spectacles, and after gardening and household chores, spends time visiting her many grands and great-grands around.

For her, the typi­cal female East Indian headtie or ‘romal’ is still required wearing and she does not leave home without one.

With the extended family scattered she now lives by herself. However, her youngest daughter, whose husband is away from home on a scholarship, stays with her.

She is taking each day as it comes, and as a devout Hindu, goes to temple two times a week.

‘Mai’ believes in good manners and respect for other people. “I content with what I get from me pension but dey should pay it fortnightly instead of monthly.”

Fun? ‘Mai’ likes to kick it up at weddings, fairs and other func­tions, and she is usual­ly the life of the party, relatives say.

 

Cambios Were The Real Budget – Bhookmohan

THE Head of the Consultative Association of Guyanese industry (CAGI) David Yankana says he feels the budget “is less contentious than last year’s.”

Yankana says that government may have taken note of the dissent and strike that followed the last budget in compiling this one.

He however, said that the budget should be considered in conjunction with the Cambios and the inherent devaluation of the currency.

Yankana said he had also expected the bank rate to be reduced more as 30 per cent may not be good enough to stimulate business especially housing construction.

Yankana said that the provision for certain corporations like Guysuco and Guymine to pay above the seven per cent wage increase prescribed in the budget for the public sector is a good idea.

This, he said, could conceivably lead to an early settlement by Guysuco and the sugar unions on the wage issue.

President of the Berbice Chamber of Commerce Ramdial Bhookmohan says that the introduction of Cambios was the real budget this year.

He declared that the government had imposed a new strategy to devalue the currency following last year’s budget which had caused industrial unrest.

Bhookmohan com­plained that the gov­ernment did not provide any relief from the consumption tax burden and he charged that interest rates remain exorbitant. He said “questions can be raised about the ex­cess liquidity of the banking system.”

Bhookmohan said that the Cambios will catalyse continued increases in the cost of living index. He suggested that the government move quickly to rationalise ministries and the public sector.

President of the Guyana Manufacturers’ Association Kim Kissoon said he was pleased with the budget and it shows that government and the private sector can work together.

However, Kissoon said that government could have implemented an Export Credit Scheme where manufacturers are paid up front for guaranteed orders. This, said Kissoon, would relieve the interest burden accruing from loans to manufacturers.

Managing Director of National Bank of Industry and Commerce Raymond Ackloo says that the interest rates announced in the budget may not be low enough to cause a boom in the business sector. However, he said, a balance had to be struck as lower rates would have generated greater demand for the US$ causing its value to rise relative to the Guyana dollar.

 

 

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