– Nandlall dismisses charges as frivolous, maliciousBy Ramona LuthiSix persons were on Thursday afternoon summoned by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) for questioning in relation to the Guyana Rice Development Board’s (GRDB’s) operations during the years 2011 to 2015. They were later charged and bailed for fraudulent omission of records in regard to the lucrative PetroCaribe Fund.The former GRDB officials making their way to SOCU headquarters, accompanied by their lawyers on ThursdayThe six are former GRDB General Manager Jagnarine Singh; former Deputy GRDB General Manager Rickey Ramraj; Badrie Persaud of the Guyana Oil Company; former Deputy Permanent Secretary (Finance) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Prema Roopnarine; PPP Parliamentarian Nigel Dharamlall; and head of the Rice Producers Association, Dharamkumar Seeraj.Guyana Times was told that each of these persons had received a telephone call informing them that they were being charged, and instructing that they report to the Special Organised Crime Unit’s (SOCU’s) Headquarters. They were not immediately told of their offence, but after several hours of interrogation by SOCU officials, they were then transported to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to have their fingerprints taken, before being taken to the Brickdam Police Station to be charged and placed on station bail.They are all expected to be arraigned in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts today, Friday, May 20 2017.While none of them was allowed a chance to interact with the media, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, representing some of them, explained that the charges “concerned the failure to make certain entries in relation to monies received through a foreign-funded project.”He described the situation as “harassment”, and advised the affected persons to sue the state for compensation, since, he said, he believes the matter is frivolous and he is certain that no conviction would be made therefrom.“Public monies have to be better spent! This (that) you’re seeing here is costing the state millions of dollars. This will have to go to court; it will take months in the court and it will never yield a conviction; and a properly advised person charged in these circumstances would be advised to sue the state for compensation, because this is nothing short of malicious prosecution,” Nandlall told media operatives.The former AG also lamented that there was no evidence to support claims that the six persons had intended to commit fraud by the omission of records.“There is no evidence that this money was missing; that the money was not spent for the purpose for which it was disbursed. In fact, the money was spent for the purpose for which it was disbursed,” he explained.Nandlall criticised SOCU for levelling charges against these six persons in regard to the omission of “a ceremonial entry into the record.” He said the accountants should rather have been charged.“Absolute nonsense! This is absolute harassment! Why is it that [they’re] putting people through this ordeal: damaging their character, putting their family and them through anguish and through suffering just because (they) have the power to do so?” he questioned.During the early part of 2017, it had been reported that false and misleading statements were being sent to the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela by the former General Manager of the GRDB in order to obtain monies from the PetroCaribe Fund. The fund was established almost a decade ago, when Venezuela introduced an oil sale arrangement wherein Guyana and a number of CARICOM and Latin America countries took oil at concessionary rates, paid a percentage in advance and protracted payment of the balance over a 20-year period. The PetroCaribe Fund was supposed to hold millions of US dollars.Inconsistencies in this Fund was just one of several financial irregularities highlighted by Nigel Hinds Financial Services in the forensic audit it had done for the period 2011 to 2015.Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman had noted that, based on the audit report, millions of dollars had passed through the accounting unit of the GRDB. He highlighted that the “glaring” financial irregularities uncovered by the auditors had no “no traceable signs that (they) were ever approved”.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre Passengers were advised to expect delays and to contact their airlines to find out the status of flights before going to the airport. The Web site — www.bobhopeairport.com — has links to the airlines that operate at the airport, Gill said. A dense fog advisory issued by the National Weather Service expired at 9 this morning. For more news and observations about crime in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, check out the Daily News’ crime blog by clicking here. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BURBANK – Things were getting back to normal today at Bob Hope Airport, which was shut down overnight because of thick fog, inconveniencing scores of Thanksgiving holiday travelers . Planes scheduled to land in Burbank were canceled or rerouted to other area airports as a result of the fog enshrouding much of the region, said airport spokesman Victor Gill. Because of the diverted aircraft, only one airplane was on the ground at the airfield overnight, an American Airlines aircraft that departed about 9 a.m. for Dallas/Ft. Worth, Gill said. Travelers expecting to depart had to wait for planes to arrive at the airport, a process that began “in phases” shortly after 9 a.m. and which was continuing late this morning, Gill said.
The opportunities of the digital age could be the engine of growth for South Africa, delegates heard at the Vision 2030 Summit. It needed more investment in skills and infrastructure, but it could use technology to push local innovation.The digital age offers South Africa the opportunity to change the face of our economy. (Image: Strike a pose photography)Sulaiman PhilipInvestment in information and communications technology infrastructure today will bear fruit before the National Development Plan (NDP) ends in 2030. Embracing the opportunities of the digital age could be the engine of growth in South Africa. This was the view of speakers at the Vision 2030 Summit held in Johannesburg between 21 and 22 June.As Limpopo Premier Chupu Mathabatha pointed out in his keynote address, to work towards a possible future we need to be able to visualise it. The NDP is that vision. “The people of South Africa, united in their diversity, have all embraced this future as visualised in the NDP. The challenge for all of us is to put shoulder to the wheel and work in unity towards this shared future.”The South African contextBrand South Africa’s head of research, Dr Petrus de Kock, set the context upon which South Africa needs to build. South Africa, despite its many challenges, remains a magnet for investment. For South Africans, it still offers the best opportunity for personal development. “We talk about vision but to transform our world we need imagination.”The world, De Kock pointed out, was still recovering from the economic meltdown of 2008. In some countries, especially Western economies, that had led to more aggressive inward-looking policies. South Africa had escaped the worst and as future growth would be driven by the Asian/African axis, we could grow if we were ready.“We talk about vision but to transform our world we need imagination,” Dr de Kock speaking at the Vision 2030 Summit. (Image: Strike a Pose Photography)The country and its people remained open and welcoming he said, and pointed to our tolerance as a society. “We exist in a unique context. We are unique in our constitutional acceptance of difference, religious tolerance for example. This is the identity of who we are.”The future can be in ICTPost and Telecommunications Deputy Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams — like the speakers who spoke after her — championed the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. She has been a strong advocate for the benefits that that will accrue to South Africa if we embrace the digital world.“We need to integrate digital goals into our day to day lives. We need to become comfortable with the changes and benefits that will come. Most importantly, we need to be more than just consumers of the internet.”Ndabeni-Abrahams said South Africans needed to embrace the 21st century. The digital age, she said, would allow the country to show off the innovation of which we were capable. The deputy minister acknowledged that South Africa faced infrastructure challenges, but added that innovative solutions would help to make the best use of the infrastructure we had.“We have launched the Internet for All with a pilot project in the OR Tambo municipality. The idea is that no matter where you are, you will have access. We can find solutions that have South African characteristics.”Beyond infrastructure, South Africa’s shortage of skills in digital industries had hamstrung the growth of the sector. In response to this dearth, she pointed to the public-private programme with Google, which had undertaken to train 5 million coders over five years, as the way forward.“We need to work together to breach the skills gap. We need to find these innovative ways forward, solutions that show that not only are we spending, but that we’re gaining on more digitally advanced nations.”InfrastructureOne of the important benefits of the digital age highlighted by the deputy minister would be the lower cost of communication. Working towards lowering costs while still innovating was Siemens’ history in South Africa since it started doing business in the country in 1860.Sabine Dall’Omo, Siemens South Africa chief executive, highlighted the company’s relevance in South Africa. Its operations contributed R6.8-billion to gross domestic product (GDP) and its technology lay at the heart of 31 mega projects. From the first telegraph built, the company had been “driving innovation and now driving digitisation”.A benefit of the digital age often overlooked was the way technology was making it easier and cheaper to transfer technology to developing nations. This benefit had allowed Siemens to use innovations developed in more mature economies to benefit South Africa.It did so in the automotive industry, for example: “One hundred and twenty thousand cars — or 50% — of cars produced in South Africa are built using Siemens technology.”Siemens’ Sabine Dall’omo and Dr Petrus de Kock being interviewed after their presentations. (Image: Strike a Pose Photography)eCommerceTo highlight the importance of the internet to economic growth, the Chinese TELE company Huawei monitored sales on one day — 18 June 2017. The study highlighted the power and opportunity presented by e-commerce.Huawei studied the buying habits of people on T-Mall, the Chinese online shopping service.It found:In a five-minute spell 200 tons of milk powder were bought onlineIn a seven-minute period 200 million nappies were boughtIn a 26-minute spell 10 million lipsticks were boughtThe fastest time between order and delivery was 13 minutes85% of all orders that day were made on a mobile deviceThis, in the words of Leonard Chang, Huawei’s managing director of corporate industry development and marketing, showed the power e-commerce had to create economic miracles. If South Africa was to meet the growth requirements of the NDP it needed to embrace digitisation. “Connectivity is not only a human right but an economic growth right.”Digitisation could be the engine for growth. While South Africa had among the strongest ICT policy frameworks, investment from the government and the public sector had lagged. The company’s research had shown that for every additional dollar (about R12) invested in ICT infrastructure there could be a $5 benefit to GDP growth by 2025.In the recently released Huawei 2017 Global Connectivity Index, it was reported that South Africa led Africa in terms of connectivity but lagged behind the rest of the world. “If we go at the same pace as we do today, we may never catch up with the frontrunners. At the same time, we must realise there is no shortcut in climbing the ladder of digital transformation.”The NDP was a start, but the vision was never enough, Chang warned. The country needed to move faster to close the digital divide. South Africa needed a strong action plan with achievable targets. One area that needed improvement was building ICT talent.Building skillsMymoena Ismail, the CEO of the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (Nemisa), believes South Africa was closing in on the Mobile Moment – when there was at least one mobile smartphone per citizen.She explained that the world was close to a new kind of future. “We are going to see a convergence of a new kind of tech, one that seamlessly merges physical, digital and biological spheres. If we do not take advantage and adapt, we will not benefit.”Her organisation focused on developing e-skill capacity in South Africa by offering training courses across the country. “We are part of the solution to ensure South Africa has the necessary skills to be leaders in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”In his address, Mathabatha said the NDP identified a stronger and better educational system and a more equal society as the keys to unlock economic growth. “The NDP envisions a South Africa where everyone feels free yet bound to others; where everyone embraces their full potential, a country where opportunity is determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work.“This is a vision embraced by all South Africans. The challenge, as I have said, is about navigating the routes towards such a future.”Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material
Virat Kohli’s journey to the top has been well chronicled, but his humble beginnings too need a special mention.Recently, Kohli became the third ever Indian cricketer, after Sachin Tendulkar (1997-98) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2007), to win the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.The journey started way back in December 2006, when a young 18-year-old boy from Uttam Nagar walked out to bat for his Ranji Trophy team, Delhi, hours after his father passed away.”It happened in my arms. It was 3 in the morning, and I was batting overnight. I was 40 not out, and I had to go in the morning and bat the next day because it was a four-day Ranji Trophy cricket. We just couldn’t get help. We tried to get help from the neighbours, whoever we knew was a doctor. It was such a time of the night that no one responded. By the time ambulance and everything came, everything was already gone,” Kohli told in soon-to-be-aired television documentary on National Geographic.Also read – Virat Kohli, Mirabai Chanu named by Sports Ministry for Khel Ratna Award”I think I became much more focussed after that [father’s death]. I lost total desire of wanting to do the other stuff and put all my energy into realizing my dream and my father’s dream as well,” Kohli said.Delhi were playing Karnataka and he was batting on 40 overnight. Most of his teammates did not expect him to come to the ground after the loss of his father, but Kohli has always been a thorough professional. He walked out and scored 90 to save Delhi from a follow-on.advertisement”The incident that has changed me is the first season in Ranji Trophy where my father had passed away and I had to go out and play. Unknowingly it made me the person I’m today,” Kohli had said in an exclusive interview to India Today.Also read – How Kohli was chosen for Khel Ratna over Bajrang Punia. Sports Ministry explainsKohli has come a long way now — from leading the country’s U-19 team to World Cup glory back in 2008 to leading India’s charge in dominating the world of cricket in all forms of the game.The Indian captain led with the bat and finished with 593 runs from 10 innings at an average of 59.30, hitting two centuries and three fifties. India though failed to rid themselves of ghosts of visits past.Kohli’s performance with the bat in tricky conditions of England has definitely helped to reassert himself as the best batsman in the world. The series has also helped him to exorcise the ghosts of the horrible tour of 2014.Kohli chose to opt out of the ongoing Asia Cup to rest his body and manage his jam-packed schedule. He will likely be seen in action in the two-Test series against West Indies at home next month.