14 Jan

Something smells…

first_img…on immigrantsThis fella Heath-Retemeyer, CEO of SARA, is something else. First of all, he interjects himself into a (claimed) ‘question and answer’ session with “Haitians and Africans”, along with Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix at the Critchlow Labour Institute, and then accuses others who raised concerns of being “xenophobic and racist”!! The question that arises, of course, is what’s his locus standi??One government official said the man was there in his “private capacity”. Well, that may be so…but what exactly is that “capacity” that allows him to answer questions about immigration matters? He claimed that “Haitians are entitled to work permits under the tenets of Caribbean Single Market and Economy”. But that’s not really so, is it? Haiti still has to meet some additional requirements in the free trade of goods and services before they can qualify for the benefit. They were supposed to do so by next month. Did Heath-Retemeyer waive this requirement in his “private capacity”??But even so, individuals desiring to work here have to first obtain a “Free Movement of Skills” certificate – which they’re supposed to present before they are allowed into Guyana. And this certificate is for SKILLED persons in specified fields as per the Caricom Treaty: Musicians, Artistes, Sports Persons, Media Workers, Registered Nurses, Trained Teachers from specified tertiary institutions, and Artisans who’ve obtained a Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ).Even if they had the necessary qualifications – along with those who’re just visitors – they would’ve had to present evidence they had enough funds to take care of themselves for the six months they were allowed in. Did they?? Private Citizen Heath-Retemeyer also trotted out statistics to show that some 979 foreigners of various nationalities received permits to extend their stay in Guyana last year. There were no Haitians and Africans in the list.But this just shows that these other nationalities knew what had to be done to regularise their stay…since we didn’t notice that Private Citizen Heath -Retemeyer held any “Question and Answers” sessions with them. Couldn’t the Private Citizen and Minister Felix be accused of giving special and differential treatment to Haitians and Africans? Especially since the latter aren’t members of Caricom, much less CSME!Then, very predictably, Citizen Heath-Retemeyer pulled the race card from his sleeve: “I am vehemently condemning the xenophobic and racist attacks against the African and Haitian nationals”. And how exactly were THEY attacked? What’s race got to do with raising concerns about one possible motive for the special and differential treatment? Shouldn’t Citizen Heath-Retemeyer explain exactly how he became involved?In the absence of such an explanation, aren’t citizens going to speculate about fire being present once they see smoke??…on Geographical indicationsThe former Minister of Business and his successor hosted a private sector meeting that facilitated an IDB representative touting the benefits of “Geographical indications” to getting better prices for our locally-produced goods. One wonders how many new Columbuses will discover this particular New World. Way back in 2005, didn’t we pass a “Geographical Indications Act”?The WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) had long recognised “Geographical Indications (GIs)” protection. This was defined by Article 22(1) as “indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributed to its geographic origin”.Initially utilised only for wines, it was extended to include other foodstuffs: “Florida” for oranges “Idaho” for potatoes “Washington State” for apples etc.  DDL received GI for their rum in 2017.So why didn’t the Government have GI certification for “Demerara Sugar” for brown sugar and save the Demerara Estates?Spite, that’s what!…at Seven PondsRobert Mugabe’s death brings to mind the many similarities he shared with Burnham. They both loved to read and things English. But it was all form over substance.They were both very flawed men who had cruel streaks.last_img

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