Duke of Cambridge arrives at the Royal Wedding with Prince Harry

Friends including Jessica Mulroney, Misha Noo Lindsay Roth, Benita Litt, Janina Gavankar and Priyanka Chopra are expected to be part of the congregation. Prince Harry went on to tease his brother mercilessly during a none-the-less heartfelt best man’s speech at the wedding reception, allegedly wearing a fez, mimicking the lovestruck conversations between a young Kate and William, and ridiculing his bald spot.Royal men have traditionally had “supporters” by their side at their wedding, with both Prince William and Prince Harry now breaking with the convention to use the more modern term of “best man”. Jessica Mulroney and Meghan Markle in 2016 Prince Harry Meghan Markle Royal Wedding Duke of Cambridge The pair were cheered by the crowds as they arrivedCredit:PA The Duke, who has always been the front-runner for the supporting role at the May wedding, is “honoured” to have been asked, Kensington Palace said. Prince William and Prince Harry in borrowed policemen outfits Asked how he felt about being asked to be Prince Harry’s best man, the Duke said: “It feels great. [I am] Thrilled and delighted obviously. ​ Earlier this year, the Duke talked of the lifelong close bond he has enjoyed with his brother, saying at a charity event about male mental health in January: “Our relationship is closer than it’s been because of the situation we’ve been through.”Losing our mother at a young age, it’s helped us travel through that difficult patch together. You’re like-minded.”You go through similar things, it’s a bond and it’s something you know you’ve tackled together and come out better for it.”After the ceremony inside the chapel, which is in the grounds of Windsor Castle, he is expected to deliver a traditional best man’s speech. Jessica Mulroney and Meghan Markle in 2016Credit:George Pimentel/WireImage Prince William and Prince Harry in borrowed policemen outfitsCredit:PA ​ The best man and bridesmaidsThe Duke of Cambridge will be Harry’s best man, missing the FA Cup final to be at his brother’s side. The two spent the night at the Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park where the cheapest room available costs £370.Meghan Markle stayed at a hotel 15 miles away – the Cliveden House Hotel – with her mother Doria Ragland. Prince Harry was Prince William’s best man in 2011 when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wed inside Westminster Abbey.  Prince George and Princess Charlotte were almost certain to be page boy and flower girl. The siblings already know the score – they performed those roles at the wedding of Pippa Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge’s younger sister, to James Matthews in May last year.  Kensington Palace has announced that Ms Markle will have no adult bridesmaids ‘because she’s unable to choose between her friends’, and will instead be surrounded by children as page boys, bridesmaids and flower girls. “Revenge is sweet. I’ll be looking forward to it.”The Duke’s own stag do is reported to have been held on a Devon estate, Hartland Abbey, where he and close friends indulged in drinking, clay pigeon shooting, surfing and games. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. FOLLOW LIVE COVERAGE OF THE ROYAL WEDDING HEREThe Duke of Cambridge arrived with Prince Harry at St George’s Chapel, taking up his role as best man for his brother at the Royal Wedding – and returning the gesture from his own big day seven years ago.Both Harry and the Duke of Cambridge wore the frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals.The Queen gave her permission for her grandson to get married in his uniform, Kensington Palace said. Both uniforms were tailored at Dege & Skinner on Savile Row.Prince Harry and the Duke looked relaxed as he walked down to the chapel with his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, to loud cheers from the waiting crowd.The pair smiled and waved to well-wishers during the short walk. read more

Taxpayer was ripped off by student loan book sale Public Accounts Committee

The taxpayer was ripped off by the sale of the student loan book, a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has found.The Treasury’s rush to reduce debt is “short sighted” and risks public assets being sold off “at any price”, it added.When the Government sold the student loan book in 2017, it had a face value of £3.5 billion but was sold for £1.7 billion, which is a return of only 48p in the £1.  According to the PAC, the deal was did not represent value for money for public sector finances in the long term. It pointed out that according to the Government’s own analysis, if it had held on to the loans it would have recouped the £1.7 billion sale price in just eight years.  –– ADVERTISEMENT ––“We did not expect government to recover the face value of the loans as repayments rely on people’s earnings, which means there is no realistic prospect of them all being repaid in full,” the report said.  “But we do expect the Treasury and the Department for Education (DfE) to get the best possible deal on behalf of the taxpayer. In this case, government received too little in return for what it gave up.”The Committee said that Treasury risks accepting too low a price for public assets due to their willingness to accept offers from investors if they exceed government’s theoretical “opportunity cost” of holding on to them.“The government’s objective to reduce ‘public sector net debt’, as with previous asset sales, runs the risk of being prepared to sell at any price,” they said.  All undergraduates are given a taxpayer backed loan, administered by the Student Loans Company, to pay their tuition fees.They pay it back as a percentage of their income after the graduate and if they have not paid it back after a period of time, the loan is written off altogether.The sale last February was the first of a four-year programme of sales of loans issued before 2012, when university tuition fees were raised to £9,000. According to the PAC, the deal did not represent value for money for public sector finances in the long term According to the PAC, the deal did not represent value for money for public sector finances in the long term The report also criticised the transparency of the deal, in particular, the refusal to disclose the identity of the investors on the basis that it may weaken the Government’s hand in future negotiations.  “It is too easy to fall back on that as an excuse not to reveal information where there appears to be no public interest reason to prevent disclosure,” the report said.  “Government should be transparent about who is investing in the loans and potentially profiting from public assets”. The PAC said that the DfE should “at a minimum” disclose publicly the number and type of investors, and should seek permission from all investors to release their names.  In future sales, there must be a presumption to release investor names, unless there is an “evidenced and quantified risk” to value for money in doing so.“Government will need to learn quickly from the weaknesses of this sale if it is to secure the best deal for taxpayers in future,” said Meg Hillier MP, chair of the PAC.“When public assets are gone, they’re gone – in the case of this first student loans sale, for too little return.” She said it is “troubling” that the Government would have recouped the £1.7 billion sale price within eight years.“Decisions on asset sales must fully consider value for money but I am not convinced that this transaction, with its narrow and short-term objective of reducing public sector net debt, is fully compatible with that principle,” Ms Hillier added. A Government spokesperson said: “We are confident that we achieved value for money for taxpayers from the first sale of student loans”, adding: “We received more for the loans than the value to Government of retaining them, further strengthening the public finances.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

Woman killed on train may have put head out of window

A woman killed on a train may have been leaning out of a window when she suffered a blow to the head, police have said.She died after sustaining serious head injuries on a Bristol Temple Meads-bound service, between Bath and Keynsham, on Saturday evening.Police said the woman’s death is not being treated as suspicious. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has been informed.A British Transport Police spokesman said: “We were called at around 10.10pm following a report a woman had received serious head injuries while travelling on a train between Bath and Keynsham.”Officers from British Transport Police attended along with colleagues from Avon and Somerset Police and South Western Ambulance Service, but despite their best efforts the woman died at the scene.”Our investigation remains at an early stage, but initial inquiries suggest the woman may have been leaning out of a window when she suffered a blow to the head.”Officers are currently working to confirm her identity and inform her next of kin.”We are continuing to investigate the circumstances of the incident, which has been reported to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.”The death is not being treated as suspicious and a file will be prepared for the coroner.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

Oxford University spends £12000 on making College menus more diverse

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Last month Baroness Royall, a Labour peer, said she wants to “change the culture” of her college to make sure it is “welcoming for all”.She told how after receiving a complaint from a first-year student about an octopus terrine dish, she instructed Somerville’s catering staff to replace it with a less adventurous alternative.Baroness Royall, the former Labour leader in the House of Lords, revealed the move in a blog post last month, titled “I am determined to move fast on widening access to Somerville”, which was published on the College’s website.“One of our students told me of her bemusement at being served an octopus terrine at the Freshers’ Dinner,” she wrote. “I’m sure the cephalopod dish was delicious, but it might not be quite right for everyone. I have asked our catering colleagues to ensure that the first dinner at the beginning of term features dishes everyone is comfortable with.”Some Oxford colleges have removed formal hall altogether in recent years in a bid to become more inclusive, in 2014 Wadham College made the decision to replace it with a termly “guest night”.An Oxford University spokesman said: “Eating together in college has always been a really important part of the Oxford experience for students and we want everyone to be fully involved. “Personal history and culture can be big factors in the kind of food and dining that individuals most enjoy.“That’s why college chefs, food service staff and bursars are working with experts and students on this exciting project, which will help us understand how better to support our communities so everyone can enjoy dining here.” Baroness Jan Royall, head of Somerville, demanded that octopus is removed from the menu  Baroness Jan Royall, head of Somerville, demanded that octopus is removed from the menu  Oxford University has spent £12,000 on making College menus more diverse, it has emerged.Catering staff will be given training and a suite of resources to help them ensure their menus are sufficiently “inclusive” for students.The move comes after Baroness Jan Royall, head of Somerville, demanded that octopus is removed from the menu as part of a drive to make disadvantaged students feel more “comfortable”. The inclusive catering project will be spearheaded by domestic bursars from across Oxford’s colleges. They have formed a new working group to oversee the project, which has been awarded £12,000 from the university’s Diversity Fund.The money will be spent on developing resources and a training programme for kitchen staff, and a series of student focus groups have been arranged with the assistance of a consultancy firm. It is hoped that re-designing College menus will better cater to the tastes of students and staff from black or minority ethnic (BME) or international backgrounds, religious groups, or those who have dietary requirements based on ethical or health grounds.Ellie Macdonald, vice president for welfare and equal opportunities at Oxford’s student union, welcomed the initiative, saying: “It is great to see this happening.It’s vital that catering options reflect the diverse nature of the student body here at Oxford.” However, Mohamed Iman, a third year History student at Oxford said that it is a “wasteful” use of £12,000.“Colleges differ so much that this scheme, whilst well meaning, is most likely to lead to the simple conclusion that halal, kosher and other dietary requirements aren’t being met in some places and are in others,” he said.  Oxford’s Diversity Fund spends £70,000 each year on initiatives aimed at “fostering an inclusive culture which promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its staff and students are respected”. read more

Ministers launch crackdown on bad behaviour in schools

Tom Bennett, the Government’s advisor on behaviour, said: “Good behaviour is fundamental – not just to great learning, but countless other goals we value. However, too many students don’t enjoy classrooms where they can thrive and feel safe, and teachers need support and training to ensure this is the case.“This scheme may very well be one of the most significant strategies for public good we have seen in decades and I’m thrilled to be leading this national programme that will help schools become safer and calmer, allowing more children and staff to flourish.”The Department for Education will hire a team of behaviour experts to visit schools and come up with action plans on how to improve their culture. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Parents could be fined if children are persistently late for school, ministers have announced, amid a Government crackdown on bad behaviour.The move comes against a backdrop of rising concern about classroom disruption, with a third of state schools marked as having poor behaviour, according to Ofsted inspection reports.From September 2015 to December 2018, 34 per cent of state schools were marked as either “inadequate” or “requires improvement” rating for the Ofsted criteria of “personal development, behaviour and welfare”.  Persistent disruptive behaviour is the most common reason for permanent exclusions in state schools, accounting for over a third (35.7 per cent) of all permanent exclusions in 2016/17.The £10 million crackdown will focus on advising schools how to improve issues such as pupil attendance and punctuality and detention systems.If a pupil is persistently late without a valid reason, this may lead to the parent being issued with a penalty notice or prosecuted.Earlier this year, the Education Secretary said that truancy is a key reason for rising knife crime, as he admitted efforts to reduce the number of pupils persistently absent from school have stalled.One child in 10 is persistently absent while overall unauthorised absence has increased from one per cent in 2006 to 1.3 per cent in 2016/17, according to official data. read more

Deepfake porn perpetrators are being given a free hand because the law

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “Deepfake” porn perpetrators are being given a free hand to “shatter lives” because the law is unfit for purpose, a study has found.Fake porn – where videos and images are digitally altered to make them sexual or pornographic – is a “growing and harmful” problem, according to law professors from Durham and Kent universities.In a new report on image-based sexual abuse, researchers argue that the phenomenon has taken a more sinister turn due to modern technology.The use of artificial intelligence and “deepfake” – a technique for human image synthesis that uses machine learning – makes altering videos “much more straightforward and sophisticated”, the report says.“To the untrained eye, it is very difficult to tell the difference between the fake and real images, and so the harm and harassment felt by victim-survivors is just as significant,” it explains.The report comes after a Government announcement that the Law Commission has been asked to consider whether existing laws were sufficient.Clare McGlynn, professor of law at Durham University and one of the report’s authors, said: “Due to the serious legal and policy failings identified in this report, we are effectively gambling with people’s lives.”We found that image-based sexual abuse can shatter lives, often experienced as an entire ‘social rupture’ of their world.”She said that “out-of-date and piecemeal laws” must be overhauled, “including criminalising the paralysing and life-threatening impact of threats, and recognising the significant harms of fake porn”.Prof McGlynn urged ministers to introduce a new law criminalising all forms of non-consensual taking or sharing of sexual images, including threats and altered images.Revenge porn – the sharing of private or sexual images or videos of a person without their consent – became an offence in England and Wales in April 2015, but falls under communications legislation, meaning victims are not granted automatic anonymity like under sexual offences laws.Creating fake porn or “deepfake” images is not currently covered by a specific law, meaning the route to a prosecution can be difficult.Upskirting became a criminal offence in England and Wales in April 2019 following a high-profile campaign. However, academics said the law fails to cover grey areas about motive.The report found that while most social media and internet companies have processes to remove harmful images, those processes are “often slow and complicated”.The research, which will be presented to MPs on Monday, was funded by the Australian Research Council as part of a  project examining Image-Based Sexual Abuse in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. read more

Exam appeals should be free because middle class pupils have unfair advantage

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Exam appeals should be free because middle class pupils have an unfair advantage, a private school chief has said.Shaun Fenton, chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference which represents the country’s leading schools including Eton College and Harrow School, said it “doesn’t seem fair” that some pupils are more likely to get their grades changed than others.Exam boards levy a range of charges for GCSE and A-level re-marks depending on what services are desired. A “clerical check” – which ensures that all the pages were marked and all the marks were added up correctly – is the least expensive, costing £8.05 for GCSEs and £16.10 for A levels with AQA.Meanwhile, a “priority review of marking” is more expensive, costing up to £46.40 with EdExcel for GCSEs, rising to £55.90 for A-levels.For AQA, it is £37.55  for GCSE and £51.75 for A-levels. OCR charge £59.80 for a “review of marking” for A-levels, rising to £71.95 if you want to see your script.  Most boards waive the fees if the grade is changed as a result of the remark.Mr Fenton, who is headmaster at the £19,350-a-year Reigate Grammar school, told The Daily Telegraph: “It doesn’t seem fair that children who come from wealthier backgrounds, where their parents have the funds and wherewithal to explore and pay for remarks, are more likely to get justice than families who can’t afford it.”He said that Ofqual should remove the cost barrier altogether and make all appeals and requests for remarks free.  Three years ago, the exams watchdog tightened up the rules surrounding appeals in an attempt to discourage such large numbers of students seeking remarks.Ofqual said it was not fair that some students were getting a “second bite of the cherry” as it felt too many students had been getting extra marks, and possibly a higher grade when in fact the original mark was “perfectly appropriate”.In 2016, examiners are being told to only change a mark if there is a clear “marking error” rather than simply a difference of interpretation. It was felt that this would likely lead to fewer successful challenges.Mr Fenton added: “Ofqual made it a lot harder to have a mark change. They had identified the right problem but this is the wrong answer.“I would rather increase access to justice, than say ‘because not everyone can have it, we will stop anyone from having it’.” read more

Letter Negligence procrastination seems to be the order of the day

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedPharmacy graduates’ careers on holdMarch 14, 2017In “Local News”25 Medex unemployed 2 years after completing programmeMarch 29, 2017In “Health”Zara Group in collaboration with GPF to offer UG scholarshipsAugust 11, 2017In “Business” Dear Editor,I don’t know if there is any other country in the world where people’s time is wasted like in Guyana, but if there is, Guyana would still stand out as a front-runner.If this current Government does nothing else, it owes each citizen a debt to dismantle structures of senseless bureaucracy, incompetence and ineptitude.Two individuals recently had the royal run-around to get certificates from the Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE) for exams they successfully completed since mid-last year (2016). The IDCE offers programmes administered by the University of Guyana (UG). One of the individuals needs her certificate to complete application for a programme being offered by the said UG. She was told that the certificate, which should have initially been ready within three months, had a spelling error and had to be redone.It took them nine months to realise that error. Over those nine months, the young lady was repeatedly told that her certificate was not yet ready. Consequently, the prospective UG student was charged $500 to make a change to her UG application. She had to pay a further $500 to IDCE for ‘expediting’. The latter process meant she had to go to a named commercial bank and stand in a snaking queue for almost one hour to pay G$500 (approximately US$2.30).The process of getting the certificate sorted took about four days in total, and on the date she was told to finally uplift her certificate it was still not ready. This was after one week of her $500 payment, because some Dean at UG had not completed the certificate’s endorsement. That young lady has already incurred expense of close to $10,000 in transportation and loss of income through the whole unfortunate episode for which she is at no fault of creating.How are we really helping people? How are we really helping to retain them? How are we going to build capacity and develop Guyana with such backwardness?The second individual’s experience, though similar, differs slightly only since the institution for which her certificate is required is in Canada. She already has a confirmed departure date from Guyana to Toronto. Her certificate is still not ready after much up and down.I had my own troubling experience dealing with UG recently too, but that was already addressed by an administrator who seems to be making an effort to rescue competence.This culture of wasting people’s time and money seem to be continuing unabated.It is worrisome when, at Guyana’s highest institution of learning, such a culture of negligence and procrastination seem to be the order of the day. The systems are convoluted by a mix of inflexibility, attitudinal hostility and lack of consideration or empathy for people who are often struggling to improve their lives.Something needs to be done to stem this “come-back-tomorrow”, “come-back-next week” culture.Such is the case at City Hall too, where earlier this year I had a four-month push around on a very simple matter by a senior official. If what my friends and I experienced as (dis)services are the accepted norms, when multiplied by hundreds of other clients or customers, we are in deep trouble as a nation.I know the Head of a prominent entity that is almost completely disillusioned by this nonsensical, unproductive culture in Guyana; something that daily affects his ability to perform and produce efficiently.Invariably when such lapses are challenged the buck always gets passed to somebody or given some senseless, illogical excuse that the hapless client has to live with since redress is often non-existent.It leads to growing frustration in our society. The wasting of time is the wastage of money, resources, health, life, etc. The often coined sentiment that “well this is Guyana” offers no real hope for progress at the rate that this country requires development.In the World Bank Group’s IBRD, IDA 2017 Report on (Ease of) Doing Business, Guyana is ranked at 124 out of 190 countries. That means there is a 65 per cent difficulty rate of doing any transaction in Guyana, compared to four per cent and 35 per cent in the US and Jamaica, respectively.The relevant oversight bodies and Government are encouraged to continue advancing influence and implementing mechanisms for improving service standards and operational efficiency within organisations and entities. It is vital to renewing public confidence and facilitating development in Guyana.Sincerely,Orette Cutting read more

Blocks given to ExxonMobil by Janet Jagan led to the discovery

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedLetter: Govt’s claim that all the offshore blocks are gone is another falsehoodSeptember 22, 2017In “Letters”Guyana got “peanuts” for oil as ExxonMobil gains more – JagdeoDecember 29, 2017In “Business”Available petroleum blocks should be auctioned off- President’s AdvisorSeptember 18, 2017In “Business” …says ‘special circumstances’ at the time warranted the need for such actions Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, on Wednesday, staunchly defended the Petroleum Exploration License issued to ExxonMobil in 1999 under the hand of then President Janet Jagan.Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat JagdeoThe Opposition Leader was at the time responding to claims asserted by Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram, and reproduced in at least one newspaper, which pointed to some 600 petroleum exploration blocks being given to ExxonMobil.Ram contends this contravenes the governing petroleum laws which only allow a maximum of 60 blocks.He had rightfully indicated too that there are special circumstances provided for in the statutes and according to Jagdeo, special circumstances did exist at the time.Former President, the late Janet JaganThe Opposition Leader in defending the actions of former President Janet Jagan was adamant, “it is a fact ExxonMobil was given about 600 blocks in 1999…Let me say this country should be grateful to Janet Jagan.”The former President said the matter has to be seen in context and pointed to the fact that there has been oil exploration in Guyana for more than a century now.According to Jagdeo, “at that time when Janet gave these blocks out we didn’t have many takers.” He explained that with a track record of more than a century of explorations and never finding oil, Guyana was a high risk country for any investor to put money into oil exploration to the tune of hundreds of millions of US dollars.Natural resources Minister Raphael TrotmanJagdeo opined too that the move was in fact significant from a geopolitical perspective given the renewed Venezuela claims.According to Jagdeo, the presence of a large US based company such as ExxonMobil, located in a large offshore expanse – now claimed by Venezuela – demonstrated that the United States of America recognised the territory as sovereign to Guyana.“We don’t have anything to hide” Jagdeo said, adding that he “believed that Janet Jagan, in own her judgment, did the right thing for geo-political reasons. And her decision led Guyana to the discovery of oil.”Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader also used the occasion to respond to Social Activist, Christopher Ram, who has in recent days, through different mediums, accused Jagdeo of a suspect extension of the ExxonMobil Agreement in 2008, saying under the laws, the company should have had to relinquish half of what it had been granted.Jagdeo did in fact grant the extension which included not giving up any of the blocks held by ExxonMobil and he told media operatives, “it is a fact that in 2008 I signed an extension agreement with relinquishment in it, an extension to that agreement…we don’t have anything to hide about it.”In the agreement, ExxonMobil initially acquired the concession for four and a half years after which they would have to hand back 50 per cent.This did not obtain, but Jagdeo has since defended his actions and pointed to when ExxonMobil invoked the force majeure clause in its agreement.Force majeure is defined as unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract.ExxonMobil invoked force majeure when neighbouring Suriname had evicted a CGX rig that was conducting explorations then in the disputed border area.According to Jagdeo, this action by the company led to an essential halt on the operations of ExxonMobil.Explaining why his administration did not enforce the relinquishment provisions of the agreement – forcing ExxonMobil to give up half of its petroleum blocks – Jagdeo said “when you declare force majeure it freezes everything.”This happened in September 2000, but the matter was not resolved until almost a decade later in 2007, when a United Nation’s tribunal made a final ruling on the border dispute between Guyana and Suriname and demarcated the maritime boundary between the two countriesThe then president explained that the company approached government the following year to lift the force majeure, “so none of the period between 1998 and 2008 when force majeure was lifted could you have done anything because once force majeure is in place everything freezes.”Jagdeo said the actions led to an almost reset of initial agreement.He lamented the almost decade long period for which the force majeure clause had been in effect.The opposition leader noted too that when ExxonMobil found oil in commercial quantities in 2015 Guyana was de-risked meaning that investors were now looking to flock to these shores.The former President also used the occasion to sound another alarm following the sale of major shareholdings valued millions of US dollars in an offshore oil company operating in the Orinduik Block – a concession that was issued in January 2016 by the coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Government after it took office a few months earlier.Jagdeo was at the time on Tuesday addressing members of the local media corps and observed the sale of the shares even as he again lambasted the administration over its silence regarding the affairs of the industry and to allegations regarding companies with intrinsically linked shareholdings that ties back to ministers.He told media operatives, “I saw an agreement that (Minister Raphael) Trotman gave being flipped now in just a matter of a year.”The former President was making reference to news that the French owned Total E&P Activities Petrolieres signed an agreement with a shareholder in Guyana’s Orinduik Block Eco Atlantic for the tune of millions of US dollars, and is likely to see it establishing a foothold locally.Speaking during the press engagement, the former President was adamant that Minister David Patterson is yet to respond to the claims that persons with shared links to the administration have been making application for petroleum concessions in order to flip the licenses for a profit.Jagdeo remains adamant that the lies emanating from the Administration have been overshadowing the core issues surrounding his allegation of likely corruption. read more

Letter Parliamentary Opposition amused at invitation to tour CJIA expansion project

Dear Editor,The Parliamentary Opposition notes with great amusement the invitation, under the signature of the Clerk of the National Assembly, being directed by Speaker on the behest of the Minister of Public Infrastructure to a tour of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project site, schedule for Friday 27th April 2018.The purported purpose of this tour, according to the correspondence, is to provide all Members of Parliament (MPs) with relative information so that a more informed discourse on the project may occur in the future.However, we wish to reiterate the following:The Parliamentary Opposition will not participate in any charade, of any kind, at any time, to lend any semblance of legitimacy and to camouflage any appearance of transparency to this unaccountable Administration;We remind all Guyanese of the hostile, diatribe and near sabotage of this project by the then Opposition, AFC and APNU, jointly. This was suppose to have been, according to their interpretation, a corrupt under hand deal by the then Jagdeo Administration;The CJIA expansion project was part of a number of transformative projects, which included the Marriott Hotel, to bring in a new sector, mainly tourism with its eco brand. Guyana was being poised to become a hub for air traffic to facilitate regional and international traffic, with one of the main effects being lower airfares and lower freight, which would have resulted in a ‘big boom’ for the export of non-traditional projects, not forgetting the Speciality Hospital with a view to provide for medical tourism. The development of the synthetic track and other world class facilities to encourage sports tourism;This contract that was entered into under the PPP/C Administration is a fixed price design and build contract, the documents clearly defined what was to be done. The expansion and lengthening of the runway, the new size of the tarmac, the number of boarding gates eight (8) according to the document and the square footage of the building. It was clearly understood that all the risk, including the geo-technical risk, was to be borne by the contractor in this arrangement. We are aware that significant alterations and changes have been made to the design. It is our intention, and we will at the appropriate time, call for a performance audit of this project, to ensure that the Guyanese people got value for their money and what was paid for was delivered. The Minister of Public Infrastructure on numerous occasions in the National Assembly, failed to answer questions or deliver information promised in regards to this project. His usual style of much rhetoric is now common place with very little to show;I suspect the reason that we have had the entire Cabinet visit this PPP/C project and now an invitation to the entire Parliament, is that the environment is being prepared for supplementary request and approval for more monies for this fixed price project. At the appropriate time, in the National Assembly, we will address these matters.It has been three years since this Administration has been foisted on the Guyanese people and they have not a single project, of a developmental nature, to show. Is this now an act of desperation for some media coverage, to show that things are happening? Maybe the now embattled Minister, who is facing private criminal charges for Misconduct in Public Office, through the Speaker may soon invite the entire Parliament to visit two other PPP/C projects, specifically, the East Coast Highway expansion and the West Coast Demerara road expansion and upgrade.Yours truly,Bishop Juan A. Edghill, PPP/C MPParliamentary spokesperson on Public Infrastructure Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedCJIA expansion:$346.5M being sought for 2 more air bridgesApril 28, 2018In “Business”CJIA’s design of new terminal building to be completed by MarchJanuary 31, 2014In “Local News”Airport expansion continues without approval – Benn fends off questions on accountabilityJanuary 16, 2015In “Local News” read more