…a sad day for taxpayers but no use crying over spilt milk – JordanThe cash-strapped National Insurance Scheme (NIS) was on Friday handed a 20-year ‘lifeline’ when Government inked an agreement to hand over almost $6 billion, monies NIS would have invested in the Colonial Life Insurance Company Limited (CLICO) – an investment that became impaired when CLICO (Guyana) was ordered liquidated back in 2009.Finance Minister Winston Jordan presents the Debenture agreement to NIS General Manager, Doreen NelsonFinance Minister, Winston Jordan inked the Debenture agreement in the presence of NIS General Manager, Doreen Nelson, CLICO Liquidator, Bank of Guyana Governor Dr Gobin Ganga and the Finance Ministry’s Debt Management Director Donna Yearwood, among a host of other stakeholders.The ceremony was held at the Finance Ministry, Main Street, Georgetown and would see the impaired monies being repaid to NIS over a 20-year period, with the first tranche of just over $317 million to be made payable in January 2017.Approval was granted for government to make payments to the NIS through the issuance of 20 Non-negotiable Debentures, to be redeemed annually over 20 years, at a fixed interest rate of 1.5 per cent.Timely interventionNIS General Manager Doreen Nelson in welcoming the intervention by the administration, pointed to the cash-strapped nature of NIS:“(It is) certainly good to finally have this matter out of suspension and a decision taken in terms of the guarantee made some years ago…I am sure that you are aware of where we are financially.”She was at the time referencing a Parliamentary resolution, in tandem with a commitment by the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration under former President Bharrat Jagdeo, that all of the CLICO liabilities will be paid off.NIS over the years would have also been experiencing a situation where its annual expenses began outstripping its revenue – a situation compounded by the billions it had impaired in CLICO for a number of years.Nelson told those in attendance, including the media, “we find that this is a timely intervention” and pointed to the company’s upcoming actuarial review which is expected to make further recommendations on restructuring the company.Speaking on behalf of Government, Finance Minister Jordan said the impaired investment has had a traumatic effect on the operations of NIS.He denied that Government was giving NIS a loan, as had been reported in other sections of the media.In seeking to offer clarity, Jordan said, “what we are seeking to do is to give NIS, as most as possible, what they invested in CLICO over a period (to now be re-paid over a period of 20 years).”According to Minister Jordan were government in future to recover anything from CLICO with regards the NIS investments, those monies would be placed in the Consolidated Fund.Sad dayJordan quipped too that while it was a happy day for NIS, it is indeed “a sad for the taxpayer of Guyana because it is the taxpayer who have to bear these sets of payments over the next 20 years…In excess of $5.89 billion is gonna be diverted to meet these payments, so just consider what that kind of money could have done for other areas, be it wages or infrastructure or other running costs of the government.”Nonetheless, Minister Jordan is of the opinion that it’s “no use crying over spilt milk at the moment.”Meanwhile, CLICO liquidator Dr Ganga in providing an update on the payments being made to its policyholders, said while a significant amount has been recovered and paid over, the company still had weighty liabilities to honour – almost $6 billion.According to Dr Ganga, as of the end of July last, CLICO would have made total payments to the tune of $6.7 billion to a number of policy holders, related parties and organisations.He did seek to point out that while 8882 cheques would have been uplifted and processed to the tune of $6.7 billion, there are still 2881 cheques for persons yet to uplift. This outstanding amount, according to Dr Ganga, amounts to in excess of $130 million.According to the CLICO liquidator, the company still has debts to repay including to NIS to the tune of $5.9 billion.Speaking directly to the NIS repayments and an outstanding $4.9 billion, Dr Ganga was quick to point out that this will not be taken off the books, since CLICO is still exploring options to recover its monies.He said too that another Government organisation – the Guyana Forestry Commission – is also owed another $240 million, “so we are hoping that we will have enough assets for sale to pay the “organisations, related parties and others, fully what is owed to them, except NIS.”
Photo: Margaret Cavers May, Aleisha Hendry and Sonja Butts requested more money for the Arts Council Monday – Sean Assor/Energeticcity.ca [asset|aid=3348|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=13bffad486faf070a8434b7d54bbf031-Arts Council_1_Pub.mp3] It was evident that City Council cared deeply with regards to this issue. They often expressed great appreciation for the local arts community and discussed this issue meticulously, going over all possible situations in which the request could be granted.Unfortunately, the request for the grant had to be denied; as such a grant was not in the city’s budget. Another major factor in this decision was the issue of fairness. City Council receives multiple requests for grants, totaling the sum of money requested to over $1,000,000. If the Arts Council was awarded their requested amount, Council would feel obliged to reward all groups who request monetary grants with their desired amount.Rather, City Council thought a more productive solution is to work together with the Arts Council, in order to help improve their monetary situation in order to preserve the beloved arts community of Fort St. John.Advertisement – Advertisement – A $12,000 grant has been denied to the local arts community.On Monday, City Council held a council meeting discussing local issues and concerns. One such issue was the granting of an additional $12,000 in support of the Fort St. Johns local arts community.Standing before the city council, was Sonja Butts, a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists, Margaret Cavers May, Chair of Peace River North Festival Association and Aleisha Hendry, Director of the Fort St. John Arts Council.The women explained in a thorough, well organized manner, the reason behind this specific request. Some issues addressed included government cuts, the increase of commercial rental rates, the poor economic climate and a lack of results with regards to fundraising.As a non-profit organization, the Arts Council relies heavily on volunteers and fundraising. Unfortunately, these methods of monetary income are unreliable and the council is suffering heavily.Advertisement
Jose Mourinho is almost at the end of his debut season as Manchester United manager, with one Premier League game and the Europa League final to come.ResultsMoyes: At the end of Moyes’ only season in charge at Old Trafford, United finished seventh – the lowest they have been since Alex Ferguson’s departure. They won 19 Premier League games – though the Scot only led them to 17 wins from 34 before he was replaced by Ryan Giggs. The only silverware he claimed was the Community Shield, though even winning this underwhelming bauble was somewhat diminished considering United only beat Wigan to claim it.Van Gaal: The Dutchman led United to fourth place in his first season at Old Trafford, winning 20 league games – the highest figure since Ferguson’s retirement – but could only follow that by finishing fifth in his second year. They won 19 matches in 2015/16, but Van Gaal did lead the Red Devils to victory in the FA Cup.Mourinho: Even if United beat Crystal Palace on Sunday, Mourinho would have claimed only 18 wins this season – which will be the Red Devils’ lowest ever win total in the Premier League era. However, they have lost only five games (six if Palace win), which included a 25-game, top flight club record, unbeaten run. Under the Portuguese, United have won the Community Shield, the EFL Cup and are in the final of the Europa League.Verdict: Despite winning less league games than Moyes or Van Gaal, and finishing sixth, Mourinho has arguably the best record as United boss. They have already won one major honour under him, and if they claim the Europa League, the Red Devils would have won more trophies this season than they have altogether since Ferguson left. They will also qualify for the Champions League group stage, which would undoubtedly make him the biggest post-Fergie success in terms of results.Style of playMoyes: Moyes’ big mistake was trying to turn then-reigning champions United into Everton, rather than playing to their strengths. Though he fielded a classic 4-4-2, with two strikers and two wingers – as in the early Ferguson days – Moyes did not adhere to the ‘United way’ of swashbuckling, attacking football. The play was lacking in fluidity, was overly cautious and one-dimensional, and resulted in that famous ’81 crosses’ game against Fulham.Van Gaal: Fans expected ‘total football’ when LvG arrived at Old Trafford, but were treated to a defensive, low-tempo style of play which got progressively more sterile over the course of the Dutchman’s two seasons with United. They conceded fewer goals than Moyes’ United did, but scored fewer too; the nadir was netting just 49 Premier League goals in 2015/16. Van Gaal’s teams seemed obsessed with passing for the sake of it, knocking the ball about to no great effect as opponents sat back in comfort.Mourinho: There has been undoubted improvement in United’s style of play since Mourinho took charge, though the bar was set so low that is no real compliment. Scoring goals has been a continued problem for the Red Devils – just 52 netted in the league – though that is more down to bad finishing than a lack of attacking play. However, Mourinho has fielded very defensive line ups against the big clubs, and – like his predecessorts – he has faced criticism for what is regarded as a very un-Man United way of playing.Verdict: Again, Mourinho just about wins. United’s football has been incredibly dour since Ferguson left, but the Portuguese has at least brought back a feeling that a visit to Old Trafford will be a tough test. His United go on the front foot against lesser opponents, but have often been denied by bad finishing, excellent goalkeeping, and the woodwork. Performances against United’s main rivals have not been great, as Mourinho remains true to his cagey form against the big guns, and one would hope he changes in future seasons as Red Devils boss. Don’t bet on it, though.Transfers and spendingMoyes: Moyes was given a poor hand in the transfer market when appointed United boss. David Gill stepped down at the same time as Ferguson, with Ed Woodward stepping into the role of overseeing transfers despite having zero experience in that field. The club failed to sign Ander Herrera, and only brought in Marouane Fellaini in the summer – for more than his release clause. Juan Mata was added in January. Both players did not show their best under Moyes, but have been good servants for the club. In all, Moyes spent £64m – much less than either Van Gaal or Mourinho.Van Gaal: Following Van Gaal’s arrival, there was a concerted effort to seriously improve the United first-team squad. Herrera was finally signed, along with Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind, Tim Fosu-Mensah and Victor Valdes for a combined £146m. Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, Sergio Romero and Anthony Martial were added the following year, with another £125 million splashed out. He spent a lot, and certainly didn’t improve things enough to suggest it was money well spent.Mourinho: Like Van Gaal, Mourinho was given free rein to purchase who he wanted for the price he wanted, and the Portuguese took advantage of that. Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly were brought in for £157m, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic added on a free. Bailly has been a roaring success and is young enough to provide top class service to United for the next decade, Ibrahimovic scored for fun before his injury and Mkhitaryan has enjoyed a fairly impressive season after a slow start. Pogba has struggled to live up to his price tag, and still seems to be finding his feet, but it would be wrong to write him off after one season. Like Van Gaal, Mourinho should be criticised for the lack of improvement made by his team despite the money spent on it.Verdict: Moyes certainly got the most bang for his buck at Old Trafford, having been handed little chance to raid the transfer market. Almost half-a-billion pounds has been spent on the United squad since Moyes left, and they have moved from 64 points in his season to a potential total of 69 this term. Five points is not worth that much money, and it is fair to say Moyes got a raw deal. Mourinho really needs to ensure he doesn’t spend every summer throwing cash at the problems he has to fix, as both he and Van Gaal have shown it doesn’t work.Overall verdictMourinho is doing just enough to elevate his reign above that of Moyes and Van Gaal, but the jury is still out. The Europa League final could be absolutely pivotal to his tenure. 1 Moyes v Van Gaal v Mourinho: Just who was better?