Despite some reservationsBy Samuel SukhnandanWhile the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had made some general remarks regarding the work of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC), Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has clarified that the Party still has confidence in the body although it did not agree with all of the reports.During a recent press conference, Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira had expressed that she had ‘no confidence’ in the PPC, since she believed that a thorough probe would not be conducted into the award of a contract to Dutch company LievenseCSO for a feasibility study on the proposed new Demerara River bridge.However, Jagdeo dismissed the “unfortunate characterisation” of comments made by the PPP/C Member of Parliament (MP). He said, “Reservations were expressed about the work of the PPC. We may have reservations about the pace in which the PPC does its work…we may not agree with all of its findings…”However, the former Head of State noted that the PPP/C would continue to work with this body. “…we will continue to supply information to the PPC to expose the serious acts of corruption taking place in Guyana by this Government … we participated in the formation of the PPC, so even with those reservations, we have not lost confidence in the PPC.”Teixeira’s ‘no-confidence’ remarks were made based on the fact that PPC Chairperson Carol Corbin promised to look into the matters raised with the relevant entities and also wrote that this would be done “within the confines of (the Commission’s) work programme and available resources”.The Opposition MP had expressed concern about the Commission’s response, noting that the law mandated it has to investigate complaints. Teixeira, who wrote requesting the probe of the feasibility contract, even described the Commission’s response as scary – when its responsibilities are considered.“The issue to flag is that phrase, within the confines of our work programme and available resources. Now the Constitution makes it absolutely clear that once there is a complaint, the PPC has to investigate it. It cannot say, well we have a work programme and we have these 10 items, we have to do these first. Or we don’t have enough resources. This is unacceptable, this is a constitutional body,” she asserted.Meanwhile, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall had stressed that the PPC’s functions and mandates are outlined in the Constitution. “So it’s not a capricious or whimsical schedule that they can construct. They have to have a work programme that is within their constitutional mandate. And the matters requested in the letter are matters that ought to find priority within their constitutional mandate.”According to the Opposition MPs, the Commission has also responded in similar fashion to requests for probes into the D’Urban Park Project and the Sussex Street bond. Opposition MP Juan Edghill had confirmed that the Commission also responded in similar fashion to his request for two probes.In a letter to PPC Chairperson Corbin, Edghill identified aspects of the D’Urban Park Project the Party is most concerned about. Edghill, a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), noted that despite promises to the contrary, no account of donations received between September 2015 and January 2016 was made public. The PPP/C, therefore, queried the procurement process used for works on the project; as well as the scope a private company has to engage contractors and receive funding for a public project. The Party queried the budgeted and actual costs throughout the project, as well as the final cost. In addition, the Party demanded information on what payments were made to individuals and contractors up to June.In the case of the Sussex Street bond, Edghill also approached the PPC to call for an investigation into the contract inked between the Public Health Ministry and a known financier of the coalition Administration.Edghill had also indicated that the political Opposition was demanding “a definitive pronouncement specifically addressing if this award was done in a fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective manner according to our procurement laws.”
Georginio Wijnaldum is unlikely to stay at Newcastle if they’re relegated to the Championship 1 Newcastle are preparing for a wave of summer bids for star man Georginio Wijnaldum, who is attracting interest from a number of clubs in Italy.The Dutch international has impressed in his first season in the Premier League, scoring nine goals in 33 appearances, but may decide to jump ship if Newcastle get relegated to the Championship.According to Dutch outlet Voetbal Primeur, Roma, Juventus and Inter Milan are all tracking the former Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven hot-shot and will step up their pursuits if the Magpies go down.The 25-year-old signed for Newcastle from PSV last summer and has been one of the shining lights in an otherwise dismal campaign for the Toon. Ideally, Wijnaldum would prefer to stay at Newcastle if they managed to stay up but he is in full acknowledgement that his place in the Holland national team will be in doubt if he is not playing in a top-flight division. read more
You know a trend is over when the government shows up. So once the LAPD’s flacks hit the blogosphere, it became startling clear that the blogging revolution is officially passe. Los Angeles’ finest rolled out their blog earlier this month as part of a $238,000 redesign of the department Web site. (Apparently the LAPD brass doesn’t know about the free Blogspot. Oh, well. It’s only taxpayer money.) Through the blog, the department is reaching out to the people it once oppressed with “real-time, unfiltered information” from the men and women doing the hard work of keeping the city safe-ish. Wow. I’m sold. I want to believe The Man in Blue is cool and hip. I want to imagine that when The Man is not meting out firm but fair justice, he is sipping lattes and updating his blog with bits of personal wisdom gleaned on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Perhaps, The Man may add a snippet of cautionary haiku crafted while sweating out the uber-evildoer who had violated parole: “Men with shiny guns; Mountains of evil white powder; Pop. Pop. All fall down.” That would be an interesting blog. Too bad lapdblog.org doesn’t come close. Instead of dispatches from the dangerous dark alleys, we get press releases on a duo of scamming old ladies and sobriety checkpoints. Instead of candid or thoughtful insights by L.A.’s chief crimefighter William Bratton (“On Page Six in the New York Post again today. How did they find me in Italy!!!! LOL!”), we get crass LAPD self-promotion. If this is the unfiltered information from LAPD, please, oh please, give me the filtered version. You’ve gotta give the department points for at least trying to reach out to the public in new ways. But using a new technological gizmo or program isn’t going to reverse years of secrecy and conflict with the community. Besides, having the stodgy LAPD blog is a little like having your dad suddenly dye his salt-and-pepper hair, buy some Sketchers and flirt with girls your own age. Eww. Nor does anyone really want to hear the daily log of a life on the street. In between the few heart-pounding moments depicted with regularity on TV cop dramas are long, dull stretches of routine calls, paperwork and snack breaks. (“Lunch stop No. 1 at Wendy’s for 99-cent menu. Domestic violence call. No one at scene. Stopped at Starbucks for a latte. Took a suspicious person call. No one at scene. Got something in my eye. Maybe a bug. Stopped at McDonald’s for an eye flush and McFlurry. Followed a suspiciously slow moving vehicle. Just a car full of lost nuns.”) The site does allow for comments, which I guess does afford some community dialogue. But it’s hard to tell if many of the comments are from real live non-cop people or whether the LAPD followed the lead of a certain Los Angeles Times business columnist and made up personalities to praise itself. For example, “Former officer formby” writes of a recent in-house investigation: “Score another point for the good guys down at IA. a hero’s work is never down (sic).” And “Great coverage” wrote: “It is great to finally see some positive information about LAPD Officers. It is too bad the media does not chose to cover the great things LAPD Officers are doing every day.” In my experience, the only people to complain about the media not giving good press to the cops are the cops themselves. LAPD isn’t the first Los Angeles bureaucracy to hit the blog waves. Ed Boks has had a blog since he came to town more than six months ago to head the troubled Animal Services Department. Considering how avidly the “animal advocacy community” follows the doings in that department, and how it has run out a series of general managers in recent years, this blog makes some sense. It’ll be only a matter of time before Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa kicks off a daily blog (10 a.m. photo op with kids in South L.A. 11 a.m. photo op with president of Zimbabwe. Noon photo op with …”) We can’t let it come to this. Help our government help itself by just saying no to bureaucrat blogs. Mariel Garza is a columnist and editorial writer for the Los Angeles Daily News. Write to her by e-mail at email@example.com. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! read more
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake “Just your basic stuff,” he said. “Nothing out of the ordinary.” Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252 firstname.lastname@example.org CASTAIC – Residents concerned about a series of ‘sonic booms’ and drifting smoke near Castaic weren’t hearing barrier-breaking sounds Wednesday morning. The outbursts and haze were the combination of a controlled burn and a periodic destruction of old ordnance safely within the confines of the Pitchess Detention Center ranch property, said Sgt. Craig Anderson at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Arson and Explosives Unit. “We were just getting rid of some old military ordnance and evidence we didn’t need anymore,” Anderson explained. “We do it out there on the range and usually nobody hears it, but because of the low cloud cover, the shock and sound waves went right down the canyon.” A tall plume of smoke was generated by a controlled burn conducted elsewhere on the grounds, said Deputy Keith Shaw of the ranch operations unit. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! read more
Passing game: DDerek … CARSON — The Raiders’ season is teetering on the brink of extinction, if it’s not there already.After a 26-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday — the game wasn’t even as close as the final score — the Raiders remained in the AFC West cellar with a 1-4 record.Derek Carr wasn’t good, the defense wasn’t good, the running game wasn’t good, Jon Gruden wasn’t good. You get the drift.You know what else you get? This week’s Raiders report card. Have at it.
They are so set with that three-man unit – it may or may not be reduced to a two-man room by … SANTA CLARA — Burning through three quarterbacks each of the past two seasons proved no way for the 49ers to succeed under Kyle Shanahan.Of course, all the 49ers want now is to get Jimmy Garoppolo healthy and keep him that way.Plus, with Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard still in the fold in case Garoppolo’s comeback goes sideways, the 49ers are not in the market for another quarterback.
Xtreme Park in Diepkloof, Soweto constructed by City Parks in 24 hours will provide hours of entertainment for kids of this neighbourhood (Image: Tamara O’Reilly) Tamara O’ReillyJust a week ago the after school activities of kids of the Diepsloot community in Soweto would have been very different. Today, with the last bell of the school day having barely rung they can already be seen, still in their uniforms, clamouring for a spot on the newly erected park furniture of the Diepkloof XtremePark.The two-hectare park, once a wasteland being used as a rubbish dump, is now another jewel in Soweto – one that is being made full use of by the members of this community. City Parks, Johannesburg’s entity responsible for greening the city, undertook to transform this spot into a park within 24 hours – a job that usually takes four months.“I’m so excited,” says Primrose Ngama whose expression confirms her statement. “I will be here everyday but not when it’s raining.”Apart from the regular trimmings like benches and trees, with the help of 200 volunteers the $460 000 project brought to life a mini soccer field, a multipurpose court, landscaped lawns, an amphitheatre, water features and a big screen television for broadcasting soccer matches and other important events. The mini soccer field is a recent addition to many parks in the city as, although the city’s bylaws prohibit playing soccer in park, it’s a reality that many people still do and this damages the grass.Although it took 24 hours to complete, it was the three months of prior planning that saw to it that the project was a success. A team at City Parks calculated all the details of what would need to go into a project of this scale “We’ve gone as far as calculating how many seconds it takes to lay instant grass or how many seconds it takes to lay paving,” Luther Williamson, Managing Director of City Parks told the City of Johannesburg website.The Greening Soweto projectThe park is part of a broader City Parks project to redefine open spaces for recreational purposes and to plant more than 200 000 trees by the end of the year. According to City Parks, the Greening Soweto project aims to offset pollution and improve the environment of Soweto for citizens and visitors alike, and to create a sustainable environmental legacy for future generations. This area and other southern suburbs of Johannesburg were neglected in the way of outdoor recreation facilities and greening during apartheid.“The 24-hour Diepkloof XtremePark is poised to become the leading outdoor recreation hub in the southern quadrant of Johannesburg- complementing the environmental and socio-economic revival of Soweto, making the township a highly acclaimed blueprint for urban planning on the continent,” says Jenny Moodley, City Park’s spokesperson.This is the second project of its kind that the City has undertaken, the first was in nearby Eldorado Park where a piece of land half this size was transformed into a park that also includes water features, furniture like benches and swings as well as fields for different sports.Useful linksJohannesburg City Parks Soweto read more
1 July 2008While South Africa’s crime statistics for 2007/08 show a continuation of the steady decline in crime levels over the past five years, the level of crime in the country is still unacceptably high, says Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula.Decrease in most contact crimesReleasing the crime stats in Pretoria on Monday, the South African Police Service said there was a decrease in most “contact crimes” in 2007/08.Decreases in eight contact crime categories resulted in an overall 6.4% decrease in contact crimes compared to the previous year.Common assault dropped by 6.6%, common robbery by 9.5%, indecent assault by 2.1%, rape by 8.8%, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm by 4.6%, and attempted murder by 7.5%.Murders decreased by 4.7%, and robbery with aggravating circumstances was down by 7.4% compared to 2006/07.Police analyst Chris de Kock said the decrease indicated that something was being done well. “This decrease shows that something is slowly but surely changing in society,” De Kock said. “It shows hard work not only from the police side but the non-governmental organisations and the society in general.”House and business robberies, vehicle hijackingsHowever, the increase in key sub-categories of robbery with aggravating circumstances was of extreme concern, De Kock said.House robberies increased by 13.5%, robberies at business premises rocketed by 47.4%, truck hijackings were up by 39.6% and car hijackings by 4.4%.“[The] government would have wanted to see a more drastic decrease in the levels, particularly given the interventions that have been made,” Minister Nqakula said.Source: BuaNews read more
The eight had been employed by a private aviation company to work in Afghanistan. The department said it was working with the company, as well as with Afghan authorities, in making arrangements for the repatriation of the remains of the deceased. Source: SANews.gov.za Christian Johannes Justus Pretorius (30) from Pretoria, GautengFraser Angus Carey (31) from Johannesburg, GautengBrandon Quinn Booth (47) from Balgowan, KwaZulu-NatalJohan Abraham van Huyssteen (31) from Port Elizabeth, Eastern CapeJohan Frederick Bouchaud (30) from Johannesburg, GautengJohannes Judenis Humphries (65) from Centurion, GautengSteven Leong (31) from Johannesburg, GautengJenny Margaret Ayris (46) from Scotland, United Kingdom 20 September 2012 The South African government has strongly condemned the use of violence, particularly violence that targeted innocent civilians, following the deaths of eight South Africans in a suicide bombing in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Tuesday. The bombing, which also killed four other people, was apparently in retaliation for an anti-Islam film made privately in the US and posted on the internet last week. Releasing the names of the eight South Africans on Wednesday, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said the government once again expressed its deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the deceased. “The South African government believes in peaceful means to settle disputes and/or conflicts, and we strongly condemn the use of violence, particularly violence targeted at innocent civilians,” the department said in a statement. The department is busy rendering consular assistance to all eight families. The victims were aged between 30 and 65 and came from different provinces across South Africa, while one had dual SA-British citizenship and was based in Scotland. The department said it consulted with the families “and hereby releases their names with permission”: read more
In March, when the international private equity firm Warburg Pincus sold a $560 million stake in Bharti Tele-Ventures, India’s largest publicly traded mobile telephony company, it created a sensation both in that country and among private-equity investors around the world. The transaction, on the Bombay Stock Exchange, was the largest block trade ever on the Indian market. It was also consummated in a breathtaking 28 minutes, prompting stock market observers in India to remark on the unexpected depth and maturity of their equity markets. Private equity investors marveled at the profitability of the investment – in a market that was in its infancy barely a decade ago. Money from U.S. private equity investors was going to Asia back then, but it was to destinations such as Indonesia and Thailand. India did not figure in most investors’ definitions of “Asia” – or at least not in any major way. The March transaction was the largest of a series of retrenchments, over several months, that saw Warburg reduce its 18.5% stake in Bharti to about 6 percent.Warburg, which invested nearly $300 million in Bharti between 1999 and 2001, walked away with a profit of $800 million from selling two-thirds of its holdings. At Bharti’s current share prices, Warburg’s remaining 6 percent stake in the company is worth some $700 million, or more than twice what it originally invested. Bharti, which trails privately held Reliance Infocomm, had a sallow $100 million market capitalization when Warburg entered the scene. It now has a market capitalization of $15 billion. In 1999, Bharti had 104,000 subscribers. It now has 14 million.So is the Bharti deal the tip of the iceberg or, alas, the entire iceberg? Two Warburg veterans at the center of the firm’s activities in India from its inception in 1994 are emphatic that the Indian story is no one-deal wonder.India has done well by Warburg, generating returns in “the mid-30s over 10 years,” the firm’s co-president, Charles R. Kaye, said. In turn, the firm has favored India. Warburg is the largest private equity investor in India by far, having ploughed $811 million into the country as of mid-2005. This amount is more than twice the $362 million Warburg has invested in China, according to data provided by the National Venture Capital Association in Arlington, Va.Bears and BullsWarburg’s vote of confidence in India is not universally shared. Globetrotting financial commentator Jim Rogers has written off the country as a haven for slow-moving bureaucrats who are insensitive to the needs of business. He has predicted a gloomy future for India not only as an economy but also as a country – predicting its breakup into smaller nation states, torn apart by ethnic and religious strife.But Rogers drove through India and sought out its most difficult political and economic terrain. Warburg has an office there. Rogers was dejected by the country’s decaying roads and bridges. Warburg investors see investment opportunity in them. Rogers hated the rickety telephone landlines he encountered in India. Warburg investors, like millions of Indians who are simply bypassing the landlines and migrating to mobile telephony, fell in love with Bharti. The Indian government reluctantly embarked upon political and economic reforms in 1991, after years of stifling government control of business and profligate spending on propping up failing state-run enterprises brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy. The reforms have continued unimpeded through four different coalition administrations with seemingly disparate economic ideologies, according to Dalip Pathak, the managing director at Warburg who spearheads the firm’s strategy in India.“There may be debate about the pace of reform, but not about its direction. Indian businessmen today very rarely point to government as an obstacle,” Pathak says. As for that vaunted Indian bureaucracy, he mentions that Warburg repatriated its profits in 48 hours. It’s easy to take money out of India, perhaps even easier than bringing it in, he jests.What has Warburg discovered in India during the last decade? Pathak lists the developments that are exciting investors like him: Foreign institutional investment has boomed (more than $12 billion in 2003-04) as curbs on foreign investment in Indian industries have been relaxed; there is a virtually open skies approach to investment from the United States; and gross domestic product has grown at rates between 6.5 percent and 8 percent in recent years. The volatility of the Indian rupee has been curbed and inflation has declined. “There are smart people running that economy,” Pathak says.Declining inflation has meant lower interest rates, and in turn has goosed the equity markets. Since October 2004, the Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensitive Index, or Sensex, of 30 blue chip stocks has added 2,500 points, to cross 8,000. “We made a big bet on interest rates coming down, and it was the right bet to make,” Pathak says. He even compares India favorably with parts of Europe in one surprising aspect: “Labor issues are far more difficult in France than in India,” he says.High ConfidenceOne of the biggest changes Pathak says he has noticed has nothing to do with numbers. “There has been a complete change in the confidence level of people in India,” he says. The “tipping point” here was the contribution of Indian information technology companies to averting a worldwide Y2K meltdown. Suddenly, India’s small IT companies went global, and the government – long accustomed to regulating big industry but unfamiliar with IT – had nothing to do with it. Now “most people believe they will not let government get in their way,” Pathak says, “and that’s why we keep putting money there.”There’s a swagger in the step of India’s business, and the country’s government is showing signs it has caught the contagion, Kaye says. According to a 2003 Goldman Sachs report, “India’s economy could be larger than all but the U.S. and China in 30 years.” It’s a prediction that doesn’t appear far-fetched to Kaye and Pathak.As Warburg’s substantial divestment from Bharti shows, however, the investment firm has not lost its head over India. “Bharti has reached the scale and quality level that ensures it will have a long and bright future,” Kaye says. But that very milestone means it is “less appropriate from a risk-reward perspective.” That’s investor-speak for “there’s not enough upside left” in the company.Warburg’s other notable holdings in India include Rediff Communication, the country’s largest consumer web portal; Gujarat Ambuja Cement; Sintex Industries, an industrial plastic-goods manufacturer with a 60 percent share of the market for water-storage tanks; Kotak Mahindra, a financial services conglomerate; Nicholas Piramal India, a major pharmaceutical company, and WNS Global Services, a business process outsourcing company.As the list shows, Warburg’s bets in India are hardly reckless. The firm generally sticks to the tried, true, big and stock-market listed. That is rarely a winning strategy for a private equity investor in the United States, but can be in India, where the pent-up demands of a billion people leave plenty of room to grow for even the largest conglomerates. So in India, the investment firm is not spending much time seeking out early-stage companies or funky technology. In fact a couple of its forays into tech were jettisoned. They involved minor investments, under $2 million each, Pathak says.“Larger companies are less risky; listed companies are less risky,” he says, citing the transparency afforded by India’s capital markets. One other reason to pick big over small, in Pathak’s view: Bigger Indian companies are increasingly seeking capital and acquisitions abroad, and if they play foul with Warburg, “they know they will never get investment abroad.”But success has brought competition. Several significant names in the U.S. private equity world are now operating in India, among them Intel Capital, Oak Hill Capital Management, the Carlyle Group, Citigroup Venture Capital International, General Atlantic Partners, CSFB Private Equity, and the California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS. Most of them have invested only in the double digits so far – Citigroup has invested as little as $23 million. But “we need to keep on our toes,” Pathak says. Warburg is now looking to participate in India’s raging real estate market, he adds. “Last year we were not.”“Being smart and having a lot of money is not a differentiator anymore,” Kaye says. So Warburg is working assiduously to become a recognizable brand in India.Reprinted from Knowledge@Wharton (http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu) (c) 2005 Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.Special to Little India. Related Items read more