Ease of doing business – Guyana could do better – US Ambassador

first_imgUS Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch during Monday’s interview with local journalists…says investors want predictability and stabilityBy Vahnu ManikchandWith Guyana on the cusp of becoming an oil producing nation, newly appointed United States Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, believes the country can do better when it comes to the way business is being done here.Over the years, Guyana has been ranking low on ease of doing business indices. In fact, the most recent report from the World Bank last November showed that there was a decline in investors’ confidence here. The World Bank’s 2018 Report rated Guyana 134 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business; eight places down from 2017’s 126 global ranking. Previously, Guyana ranked 124th in 2016 and an all-time high in 2015 at 140. The country’s best ranking was in 2008 when it was ranked a record low of 98.Ease of Doing Business Index is one of the most comprehensive studies done by the World Bank, in which it looks at key indicators such as registering, compliance, taxation, obtaining loans and similar factors such as administrative procedures. It also looks at legal measures, such a protection and settlements.According to Ambassador Lynch, although she has met most of the Private Sector-stakeholder bodies here since her arrival, she is yet to have “deep” discussions with them; but she noted that coming out of those engagements thus far, however, is the need for Guyana to provide a more conducive environment to do business.“On the surface, there is some thought that Guyana could do a bit better on easing the way of doing business. So in other words, allowing businesses to start up quicker, faster and making the regulations less bureaucratic so that there are more opportunities for more businesses to get up and going quicker,” Ambassador Lynch asserted during a sit-down interview with sections of the local media fraternity on Monday.This, the US diplomat explained, would create an enabling environment not just for huge companies such as ExxonMobil – the US oil giant preparing to for production early next year having discovered some 5.5 billion barrels of oil offshore Guyana – but for smaller companies as well to thrive and develop with the potential to create jobs in the long run.The Ambassador pointed out that generally, the Private Sector, in any country, usually wants stability and predictability.“In my experience, the thing what most Private Sector want is stability and predictability so they can do their business… So those are very specific areas (and) I think it’s something that Guyana should want and make sure that they do continue to make improvements and get a handle on (that), so that trade and investments can thrive here and I think that there is a great possibility that they can do that,” she contended.The US State Department’s 2018 report has cited Guyana’s minor improvements in curbing corruption, tackling crime and inadequate infrastructure as posing a hindrance in the local investment climate.However, Ambassador Lynch, who was accredited just last month, said while no concern about corruption was raised during her interactions with the business community, both local and overseas, thus far, this is always an area of concern across the globe.She referenced that the report did applaud Guyana for the positive gains made and the political will to address these issues, but simultaneously highlighted that there are more areas to work on. The US envoy pointed to what is referred to as ‘barriers to trade and investments’. This includes corruption; security in terms of the existence of transnational criminal organisations – crime and violence; and the ease of doing business and transparency.“So we look at those trade barriers holistically and we want to continue to work with the Government of Guyana to address all those. But I would say, it’s not just the Government, citizens have a responsibility too.So we also very much want to continue our work with civil society organisations, the Private Sector, all kinds of institutions and again, like we do all around the world, hold the Government accountable for being transparent, for being reliable, for delivering services to its citizens. So corruption, I would say is just one of the visions, that we’re working on and that we have seen some progress there in Guyana,” the US Ambassador stressed.Negative impactRecent events in the local political sphere has caused much unease among local Private Sector bodies. Many of these agencies have warned that the current political climate has been negatively impacting economic activities here.But Government has dismissed this. In fact, President David Granger two weeks ago said that this was a “misinterpretation” of the situation on the ground, adding that it was “unfortunate” that the business community feels that way.This gave birth to what many perceived as a public-spat between Government and the Private Sector, with the latter being accused of taking a political side with regards to the unsettled No-confidence Motion.Asked during Monday’s interview whether this was something raised during her engagements thus far, the US Ambassador responded in the negative.“My involvement always, throughout my career as a Government official, with the Private Sector is doing what we can, especially for American businesses, to listen to their concerns and you know, help ease the doing of business in whatever country they’re in and hoping that they are treated fairly in whatever country. So no, I certainly didn’t discuss whatever political leaning people may have,” she contended.However, in the height of political uncertainty up until last month when the No-confidence Motion cases were in the local courts, several members of the diplomatic community here had also voiced concerns on the impact the political situation can have on potential investment opportunities.Questioned whether similar feedback is being received from US investors looking to do business in Guyana, Ambassador Lynch’s response again was negative. She explained that she has been predominantly talking to local businesses and US companies also on the ground here and this does not seem to be an issue right now.According to the new US diplomat, her country will continues to encourage investments in Guyana especially now on the heels of first oil, which she reiterated, will only bring betterment for Guyanese.last_img read more

Latest: Basel 0 Chelsea 0 – Blues more solid and Hazard is on

first_imgChelsea have lost Samuel Eto’o to what looked like a nasty injury and been forced to withstand spells of pressure in the Champions League clash in Switzerland, where a point would seal their place in the knockout phase.Keeper Petr Cech, making his 450th Chelsea appearance, had to be alert to punch Taulant Xhaka’s early free-kick clear and dealt with several other deliveries into the danger area in the first half.And Basel, who won at Stamford Bridge in these teams’ opening Group E match, would have gone ahead had John Obi Mikel not been on hand to clear off the line after a corner had dropped to Ivan Ivanov.The home side continued to press and Cech was called into action again, this time keeping out a shot from Mohammad Salah, who sent another effort wastefully wide.Chelsea then had to make a change when Eto’o was stretchered from the pitch with what appeared to be a groin injury and was replaced by the fit-again Fernando Torres.Eto’o was hurt while stretching for the ball 40 yards from goal and immediately crumpled to the ground in pain.Blues boss Jose Mourinho again left out Juan Mata, who was named among the substitutes along with Torres and Eden Hazard.With his team having looked much more solid in the opening stages of the second half, Mourinho replaced Oscar with Hazard on 55 minutes.Chelsea: Cech Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Mikel, Lampard, Ramires; Oscar (Hazard 55), Willian, Eto’o (Torres 43).Subs: Schwarzer, Cole, Mata, De Bruyne, Schurrle.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 Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Trouble in Cosmologyland

first_imgUnderneath the veneer of certainty portrayed by TV documentaries about the universe are deep questions and controversies.  Some of these briefly appear on publicly-available news stories, only to be covered by new coats of certainty.  Are the new veneers fixing the problems or, instead, whitewashing serious weaknesses in current cosmological understanding?  Here are some quick looks under the veneer. Speaking of the Cosmological Principle, it has been wrongly been attributed to Copernicus – a man who admired God’s supreme architecture of the heavens.  Dava Sobel, who wrote the illuminating historical Galileo’s Daughter, that did much to debunk the science-vs-religion myth of the Galileo affair, has a new book out: A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos (Walker/Bloomsbury 2011).  Owen Gingerich reviewed it in Nature last week (Nature 477, 15 Sept 2011, pp. 276–277, doi:10.1038/477276a) and considers it “first rate… a charming and accurate book, although it omits much of the technical background in which earlier accounts revelled.”  Apparently the semi-fictional account by this gifted writer gives prominence to Rheticus, a Lutheran: “True to the historical record, Rheticus finally persuades the ageing canon to allow a copy of his manuscript to be taken to Nuremberg for printing.”  See the 4/30/2004 entry, “Lutherans Helped Copernicus,” for more non-fiction about this central character in the rise of modern cosmology; see also our online biography of Copernicus (March 2008, right sidebar) Why do most teachers, textbook writers, and TV documentary producers concentrate on the whitewash, and ignore the termites?  Find many more termites in the cosmology house by searching on “Cosmology” topics on our search bar.  Listen also to some of the things David Berlinski told National Review TV last month about scientists’ hubris about physics and cosmology (see list of episodes on Evolution News & Views).(Visited 14 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Disturbing:  “Dwarf galaxies suggest dark matter theory may be wrong,” wrote Leila Battison for the BBC News.  We’ve heard it for years; “The current theory holds that around 4% of the Universe is made up of normal matter – the stuff of stars, planets and people – and around 21% of it is dark matter.”  Why, then, did leading cosmologist Carlos Frenk call new developments “disturbing”?  The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been unable to find cold dark matter (CDM), an essential ingredient for the Standard Model of the birth and evolution of the universe.  “Scientists working on the problem have recently expressed dismay at the universally negative results coming from the LHC, and this has led some to consider that the standard model may be wrong.”  Either cosmologists do not understand the formation of dwarf galaxies, or (something that Frenk is “losing sleep” over), a more disturbing alternative is dawning on them: “that CDM does not exist, and the predictions of the standard model relating to it are false.” Hunt for darkness:  Various teams are still searching for dark matter anyway.  PhysOrg reported 67 anomalous results from the CRESST experiment deep under a mountain in Italy that cannot be explained except by Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), a theoretical form of dark matter.  That does not mean dark matter is real; only that it has not been ruled out by these unexplained detections.  Antimatter, anti-dark matter:  Meanwhile, other detectors are disconfirming dark matter.  “Antimatter enthusiasts will love it; dark matter hunters not so much,” quipped Stuart Clark for New Scientist.  “NASA’s FERMI satellite has confirmed a previous hint that there is more antimatter than expected coming from space. The bad news is that the result almost certainly rules out dark matter as the source.” Long-held assumption doubted:  We’ve been told for quite awhile that large galaxies grew by collisions with smaller ones.  “ESA’s Herschel infrared space observatory has discovered that galaxies do not need to collide with each other to drive vigorous star birth,” Science Daily reported.  “The finding overturns this long-held assumption and paints a more stately picture of how galaxies evolve.”  That is, for now.  Whatever picture emerges next, “These new observations now change our perception of the history of the Universe.” Will God Particle be science fiction?  The Higgs Boson (a.k.a. “God particle”) is running out of places to hide.  Central to cosmological theories for the origin of mass, it continues to elude detection by the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.  Finding the Higgs was one of the world’s largest detector’s prime missions (see video posted on Deseret News for explanation).  Believers are running out of time waiting for God-ought (where ought is slang for zero).  PhysOrg reported; “if it’s not there, it will be known to be science fiction by December.” Cosmological Principle under siege:  One of the most beloved of all cosmological notions is that the universe is homogeneous and isotropic – that at large scales, every place looks the similar to any other, so that there is no preferred direction or location in the universe.  Watch out; PhysOrg titled an entry, “New evidence for a preferred direction in spacetime challenges the cosmological principle.”  Enter an anisotropy to muck things up.  The article explains, “the universe’s expansion is accelerating at a faster rate in one direction than another. In the most recent study, scientists have analyzed data from 557 Type 1a supernovae and found, in agreement with some previous studies, that the universe’s expansion seems to be accelerating faster in the direction of a small part of the northern galactic hemisphere.”  Critics point to contrary evidence from the cosmic microwave background.  “Yet considering that the cosmological principle is one of the pillars of modern cosmology whose fundamental importance is difficult to exaggerate, threats to its credibility won’t be taken lightly,” the article ended.  “If the cosmological principle turns out to be wrong, it would dramatically change the way we look at the world.”last_img read more

Art infects the Mother City

first_imgInfecting the City 2013 runs from 11 to 16 March, with events taking place between 8am and 10pm every day. The idea of the festival is to stage innovative art events at unexpected places around Cape Town.(Images: Infecting The City 2013)MEDIA CONTACTS • Stefanie ElliottMANGO-OMC+27 83 760 4110 or +27 21 447 8048Lorraine KearneyCape Town’s artists are coming out to play again, and bringing with them friends from other cities in South Africa and abroad. It’s time for Infecting The City 2013, the annual free public arts festival that invites ordinary folk to interrogate their city and interact with artists in unusual urban settings.This year, expect performances and visual art in the station, the squares, the museums, the gardens and the streets of the Mother City’s vibrant city bowl. Infecting the City runs from 11 to 16 March, from 8am to 10pm every day.The website explains the concept: “Infecting The City places exciting new artworks in unexpected spaces in the middle of the city, challenging Cape Town’s ideas of art and public space. The festival is designed as a series of routes through the city. Each day has either one or two routes in the afternoon and evening.”The programme is available online, allowing you to pick your day, time and route. You can either download the entire programme, click on the day that suits your schedule or search for the art piece you want to see. It’s a clever design: turn up at the start of Programme A, for example, at 6pm in The Company’s Garden, for the first performance and take part.Ushers will lead you on a merry dance through the city, from venue to venue, from performance to performance. Each day ends at 10pm in Church Square. At the Festival Centre at 6 Spin Street, opposite the square, you can buy lunch packs for the day programmes, or wine for the evening’s events, or get earphones for The Uncommercial Traveller.A truly global festivalFestival curator Jay Pather launched the programme at The Taj Hotel on a sweltering Monday afternoon – the city temperature reached 38˚C under a scorching sun – offering some tantalising glimpses into what to expect throughout the week. “Art is an expression of humanity; art is life” was the philosophy resonating through Pather, his audience and indeed, the festival as a whole.The application pool for participation trebled this year, he pointed out, with 320 submissions received. The artists come from Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, Maputo, Nairobi, Berlin, London, Paris, Amsterdam and various cities in the US. It is a truly global festival, a reflection of Cape Town’s cosmopolitan nature.They are bringing with them dance, theatre, music, visual arts, multi-disciplinary arts, and a light symphony. There is also “restaging, or repositioning classic works to bring new interpretations and understandings”.“The works interrogate the city. The nature of the festival makes the art accessible to a range of people – other artists and ordinary people who may not usually go to view art,” Pather says.It opens up a whole world of debate on how the city is perceived, how residents interact with the city, its architecture, its structure, its public spaces and open places. “For the artist, it is very daunting to be so exposed, creating outside his comfort zone of his studio.”Pather points out that this year, there is no overarching theme. The idea is simply to have a conversation with the city and its inhabitants. While there are performances in places as diverse as Thibault Square, The Company’s Garden, the station, and the District 6 Museum, “these works talk to each other”. And audience participation is encouraged to get the dialogue going.There is plenty on offer. Try out Emeka Ogboh’s installation Verbal Mapping II, for example. The artist will be replanting taxi calls from Lagos in busy Adderley Street. There will be flash mobs by Unima Puppets and Shaun Acker will be performing In/Apt: A Contemporary Public Hanging, on a slack rope over Government Avenue.In possibly the most logistically complex item, Sk8 Collective’s Beyond the Skatepark, 300 skateboarders will skate down the length of Long Street – against the flow of traffic, it must be said – ending in Thibault Square, where a skate performance will retell the history of the fringe sport.The best place to view the downhill run will be at the bottom of Long Street, so you can watch the mass come down the hill and enter the square at the bottom.Some highlightsCity Lights Orchestra, taking place in Church Square, may be the work of Antoine Schmitt, but the performers are the public. People are invited to visit the symphony page on the website, and download it. At the programmed time and place, they will then play the light symphony from their smartphones, laptops or other devices.“Windows flicker, sending a staccato signal to anyone watching. When looking at a façade of a building or those buildings surrounding an inner city square, the illuminated windows (and tuned in smartphones) blink, pulsate, beat, fade in and out, each according to its own score, but in rhythm with all the others. The windows – be they office or residential, occupied or deserted – come alive and are connected.”Thoriso le Morusu by Neo Muyanga is inspired by and based on Antjie Krog’s poem Country of Grief and Grace, which reads like an intimate and harrowingly candid conversation between two people about the pain they have caused one another. The performance was originally commissioned by the Southern African Music Rights Organisation and has been rearranged for the festival.It is played in five movements – prayer, confession, mantra, manifesto and catharsis – and is sung in Sesotho, Afrikaans and English by Muyanga with the Siyaya Chorus, accompanied by Sylvain Baloubeta and Texito Langa. The venue is St George’s Cathedral, the beautiful seat of the Anglican Church in South Africa.In Please Be My Witness, artist Ben Winfield speaks of the terrible, silent problem of child trafficking. Small sculptures will be placed throughout Cape Town’s public spaces. They are designed to slowly and quietly disappear from sight. There are an estimated 247 000 children working in exploitive labour in South Africa, including an estimated 30 000 child prostitutes.Mamela Nyamza’s thought-provoking dance Okuya Phantsi Kwempumlo takes place in the Whale Well at the Iziko South African Museum; Aeneas Wilder’s Under Construction at the District Six Museum involves the meticulous construction and spectacular public destruction of a complex wooden structure to ask poignant questions around what it means to be a resident in the city.If it’s music you’re after, catch Mike Rossi and Ulrich Suesse’s Trespassing Permitted in Church Square, a crossover performance featuring acclaimed musician Feya Faku on trumpet and dancers Nicola Elliott, Alan Parker and Richard Antrobus.Platform_18_28 at Cape Town Station includes paintings, sculptures and photographs produced by students from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, with the themes of movement and transit.In the Cape Consort’s Shades of Grey at Slave Church on Long Street, old and new converge in an exploration of early vocal repertoire, featuring late medieval European and 19th century colonial culture in historically informed interpretation. The music will be interspersed with music from the time of former Cape Colony governor George Grey.Punchdrunk and Arcola Theatre present The Uncommercial Traveller. The project involves a series of workshops with post-graduate students and theatre practitioners to devise and write reflective audio tours around Cape Town, using Charles Dickens’s approach of seeking out forgotten places and uncovering hidden stories. Festival audiences will be able to download the tours from the website, get earphones from the Festival Centre, and then walk them. The Uncommercial Traveller has travelled to Karachi, Melbourne, Penang, Singapore and Portsmouth.A parallel conference, Thinking the City, will run at the Festival Centre each morning from 10.30am to 12 noon, Tuesday to Friday. Respected artists and academics will lead the discussions, which will seek “to strengthen thinking and practice at the intersection of culture and public space, particularly in Cape Town” and unpack “a series of examples and contested territories related to cultural practice in the city, in order to foster a more critical dialogue about creative practice in public space”.Education tooAnd finally, there is Arts Aweh!, the educational component. It has two legs, firstly, the Africa Centre and Inyanda Youth Network collaboration, in which youth from the Philippi, Dunoon and Mfuleni communities participated in 10 weeks of performing arts workshops culminating in a series of local performances and one collective flash mob performance called Shadows in Infecting The City.Secondly, up to 500 pupils from grades 10 to 12 from various Cape Town schools will receive a facilitated festival experience. In groups of 20, the participants will experience and discuss the works with a seasoned artist. Up to 60 of them will be invited back to the final day to participate in the Arts Aweh! flashmob.Everything on the programme is free, except the lunch and wine.Infecting the City is produced by Africa Centre, in collaboration with Gipca , the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town, and various organisations, embassies and cultural attachés. Africa Centre is a “social innovator that provides a platform for exploring contemporary Pan-African cultural practice and intellectual pursuit as a catalyst for social change”. Pather is the director of Gipca.last_img read more

Infographic: Know your copyrights on World Book and Copyright Day

first_imgTo celebrate Unesco’s International World Book and Copyright Day on 23 April, an annual event that promotes reading and highlights the importance of creative ownership, we bring you an infographic on the basic concepts of copyright.In a digital age, when original ideas can move rapidly around the world within seconds, it is important that creators in all forms of media – music, film, art and books – understand the intricacies of controlling how their intellectual property is used, and making sure they are properly compensated for their original ideas.Illegal downloading and digital piracy are just some of the more notable ways that copyright can be violated. Plagiarism, unlawful appropriation and the illegal selling of media is a significant problem, in not only a technological sense, but also at a very real, grassroots level, particularly in South Africa and the rest of the continent.last_img read more