Govt defends decision, despite mounting criticism

first_imgSpecial Prosecutions Unit Even as criticism continues to be heaped on the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government over a decision to appoint special prosecutors for what it termed “high-profile cases”, the coalition has come out in full defence of the decision.In recent days, criticism has been piling on the Government after it announced that it would appoint special prosecutors after investigations were concluded into cases involving Pradoville 2 and the Cricket World Cup among others.Minister of State, Joseph Harmon addressing Thursday’snews conferenceAmong the most vocal critics were former Attorney General Anil Nandlall and independent political analyst Ramon Gaskin.However, speaking at a post-Cabinet news briefing on Thursday, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, debunked statements that the initiative amounted to the Executive descending into prosecution – the remit of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Guyana Police Force.“The Government does not prosecute. The Government provides information and the Police or special prosecutors prosecute,” Harmon told journalists.He went on to explain that the special prosecutors would merely be representing the interest of the State in the courts and were not the ones who would investigate.“These are people who will do the prosecution; these are not people who will do the investigations; the investigation is done by the Police and then that investigation is handed over for the prosecution in court,” Harmon stressed.Executive influenceHarmon rubbished concerns that since the prosecutors would be selected by Attorney General Basil Williams, a member of the Executive, this could lead to interference in the process,“There is nothing wrong with the AG being the Government’s legal adviser advising on the composition of a team. The AG will not be prosecuting himself, he will be identifying persons who have the capacity, the legal training and the background to be able to represent the State in these cases,” the Minister of State reasoned.Nothing newHarmon said that there was precedence in Guyana for the appointment of special prosecutors in high-level cases. He also took a swipe at Nandlall who he said was a special prosecutor in the Mark Benschop treason trial.“The statements made by a certain gentleman that these people were to be dealt with by the DPP and that there should be no special prosecutors, that gentleman almost before the ink was dried on his Hugh Wooding Law School certificate was a special prosecutor in the Mark Benschop case for many months,” he explained, adding that “throughout time there have always been special prosecutors”.He further explained that all that was required was the DPP issuing her fiat (A fiat is a short order or warrant of a Judge or Magistrate directing some act to be done; an authority issuing from some competent source for the doing of some legal act) for the special prosecutors to function.Williams said earlier Thursday that the reason Government had to go down the route of special prosecutors was because staff from the DPP Chamber indicated they were uncomfortable with prosecuting these matters.“They have suggested that they are political cases and some indicated they might have known the Minister, but largely because it is a political nature,” the Government Information Agency (GINA) quoted Williams as saying.UnconstitutionalMeanwhile, on Wednesday, Gaskin waded into the Government for its decision, which he said was a blatant violation of the Guyana Constitution.Gaskin made it pellucid that the Constitution stipulated that the Executive was barred from getting involved in prosecutions and emphasised the need for Government’s decision to be challenged in the courts.He highlighted that the Constitution of Guyana provides only for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to deal with matters involving prosecutions.Article 122 says “there shall be an Attorney General of Guyana who shall be the principal legal adviser to the Government of Guyana and who shall be appointed by the President.”Article 116 says “there shall be a Director of Public Prosecutions whose office shall be a public office.”Article 187 outlines the DPP’s functions which include instituting and undertaking criminal proceedings against any person before any court, with the powers conferred upon the Director vested in him to the exclusion of any other person or authority and that Director shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.Article 187 also notes that the powers of the Director may be exercised through other persons acting under, and in accordance with, the Director’s general or special instructions.Stakeholders’ silenceGaskin also lambasted watchdog bodies such as the Guyana Bar Association (GBA); the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) and the Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI) for their evident silence on the matter.When contacted, head of the GHRA , Mike McCormack said that his organisation did not examine the special prosecutors’ issue in isolation, but has been examining a raft of new measures, including legislation the Government, proposed and would make a comprehensive pronouncement on these issues in due course. He refused to give the GHRA’s initial position on the issue.TIGI President, Dr Troy Thomas said he would be seeking legal guidance and promised to pronounce on the issue by Friday, while GBA head Gem Sandford-Johnson was said to be in a meeting and could not respond. Further calls to her mobile phone went unanswered.last_img read more

At last: hope for NE Valley $62 million waiting to give fresh start to blighted area

first_imgThe communities are also home to more than 2,800 businesses that employ nearly 29,000 workers. But business leaders say boosting employment is key to the success of the program, with upgrades to the area sidewalks and surface streets critical to luring new businesses to the area. “The one concern we would have would be the loss of any more industrial land,” Scott said. “We recognize people need a place to live, but they also need a place to work.” Roberto Barragan of the Valley Economic Development Corp. echoed Scott’s views. “We all know about the housing problems of the city, but we need the industrial space if we are going to create the jobs we need for this area and for the city,” Barragan said. “It is a tough balancing act, but I think it can be done. We have a vibrant business community now. Pacoima alone has 2,000 businesses. What we have to do is develop on top of what we have now.” Alarc n said he shares those concerns and will be working with the various business organizations to develop the plans, but he said he also recognizes the need to address the city’s shortage of affordable housing. He also said he already has begun discussions with major companies – including Magic Johnson Theaters, Lowe’s and Home Depot – about ways to draw them into the area. “What we want to do is have a master plan so investors know they are not just investing in one property, but an entire area,” Alarc n said. [email protected] (213) 978-0390 Pacoima/Panorama City profile Population: 118,040 Households: 27,620 Businesses: 2,816 Employees: 28,728 Top occupations: service, retail, manufacturing, wholesale160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Reviewing the region over the next month, the CRA will look for opportunities to spur industry, create jobs and integrate mixed-use development with pedestrian-friendly commercial zones. In planning the improvements, officials hope to take advantage of the transportation corridors – Victory Boulevard and the San Diego and Foothill freeways – that border the area. “This is an area where everyone is anxious to see some good development,” said Bob Scott, chairman of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association. “It is an area that is vastly underused now and is ripe for the right kind of development. “We think it is an area that can become a major jobs-creation area by learning the lessons of Santa Clarita and Burbank in developing a business-park concept.” The Pacoima and Panorama City areas have more than 118,000 residents living in 27,620 households, according to information provided by the CRA, which based its estimates on 2005 Census Bureau figures. About 25 percent of the households in the predominantly Latino communities live below the federal poverty level. After decades of neglect, the northeast San Fernando Valley will become the focus of a multimillion-dollar revitalization effort designed to lure jobs and spur development in the blighted communities. Councilman Richard Alarc n won approval Wednesday for the Community Redevelopment Agency to develop what he calls a vision statement for the 2,900-acre area in the Northeast Valley, where more than $62million is available for improvements. “The time has come for the northeast San Fernando Valley to have a coherent and community-driven plan for its future,” Alarc n said. “Pacoima, Sun Valley, Sylmar and Panorama City are some of the most underplanned areas in the city. “Now is the time to create something out there that deals with the problems we face.” last_img read more

Bullish soybean numbers, corn and wheat follow

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Soybeans are sharply higher as U.S. and world ending stocks decline more than expected. Corn and wheat are up and following soybeans higher. The market had expected bearish numbers. It is hard to find one of those today. Planting delays and wet weather conditions will give Ohio producers much more time today to study the myriad of USDA numbers. With more rain in the forecast they will be watching the screens for price action with greater intensity after the noon report is released. Many parts of Ohio had planting and field work progress over the weekend of less than a half day to almost two days. The rains on Monday brought field work to a grinding halt.Prior to the report corn was unchanged, soybeans were up 18 cents, and wheat was up 1 cent. At 12:15 pm corn was up 9 cents, soybeans up 46 cents, wheat up 3 cents.While everyone knows it is May and planting season, it can easily be forgotten that May brings us the first supply and demand numbers for the 2016-17 crop year. The trade posture has been for lower prices several days this past week. Overall, the trade is expecting bearish numbers.Simply put, there are a lot of numbers today. This headline from a report earlier today sums it up, “Lots of moving parts for supply and demand reports today.” Here are the five key USDA numbers to watch; 2016/17 corn, soybean, and wheat ending stocks, South America 2016 crops, China corn stocks and 2016/17 soybean imports; 2016 US winter wheat production, and the world 2016/17 wheat ending stocks.U.S. corn ending stocks for 2016/17 were estimated at 2.153 billion bushels, the average trade estimate was 2.294 billion bushels. U.S. soybean ending stocks for 2016/17 were 305 million bushels. The average trade estimate was 405 million bushels. Some commercials think the number could get below 300 million bushels with the reduced soybean production in Argentina pushing some demand back to the U.S. U.S. wheat ending stocks for 2016/17 were pegged at 1.029 billion bushels.Soybean production in Brazil was estimated at 99 million tons, down from last month’s 100 million tons. Argentina soybean production was estimated at 56.5 million tons, last month was 59 million tons. In recent weeks there has been much speculation on the size of the Argentina soybean crop. Estimates have ranged from 1 to 8 million tons of reduction. Corn production in Brazil was 81 million tons, last month was 84 million tons. Argentina corn production was 27 million tons, last month was 28 million tons.Keep in mind that USDA tends to be conservative on big changes. Changes are done in a series of small steps with any big change taking months to see in print from USDA. That is why the reduction in Argentina soybean production could take months to develop.China corn stocks were estimated at 224.56 million tons, last month 224.58 million tons. Soybean imports into China for 2016/17 were pegged at 87 million tons. Last month USDA estimated that China would import 83 million tons of soybeans for the 2015/15 season.U.S. Winter wheat production was estimated at 1.427 billion bushels. This came in at roughly the middle of trade expectations. World wheat ending stocks for 2016/17 were estimated at 257.35 million tons.The weekly USDA planting progress from last night had the U.S. corn planting progress at 64%, with U.S. soybeans at 23% planted. Ohio’s corn is 30% planted with little activity the previous week, soybeans planted to date are 8%.Bear in mind that if you expected USDA to change 2016 corn or soybean acres from their March 31 intentions, you are a little early. The June 30 report of U.S. acres will be the next opportunity to see acres revisions take place. In case you are wondering why USDA puts out a supply and demand report for new crop corn and soybeans that are not yet 100% planted, it comes about from the 1970’s when Congress mandated the May report for new crop grains. The mandate came about due to the Great Grain Robbery era when Russia bought quite a bit of U.S. grains. Those announcements did not become public for months. Today any sales above 100,000 tons must be reported within 24 to 48 hours.The market quickly returns to trading weather and planting progress. To date both corn and soybean plantings are above the five-year average. It will likely take two weeks or more of widespread planting delays across the entire Midwest to see any kind of significant rally. So far for 2016 with the huge stocks of grains around the world the market knew it would take a weather problem for grains to rally. We are not in an era of short supplies compared to 2008-2012. Again this week we are seeing reports that mention the “drought” word. They are not new for this spring. Also, named storms for this year’s hurricane season look to be up sharply from previous years. While you don’t typically associate drought and hurricanes together, this year you can. Together they point to the vast uncertainty of weather for the growing season into late August. Don’t forget the weather can indeed change on a dime.Today’s bullish ending stocks will shock end users as they had expected big U.S. and South American production to move prices below $10, $9, and $8. New crop November CBOT soybeans are trading at the $10.55 level. The close today will be most important. Daily price limits for the next six months have soybeans at 65 cents, corn 25 cents, and wheat 35 cents.last_img read more