…grounds include equality, freedom of expression infringementsMBC Channel 42/93 is the second broadcaster in Guyana to seek relief in the High Court on claims of constitutional rights’ infringements, which it says is enshrined in the 2017 Broadcasting Amendment.The broadcaster is claiming infringements of equality and freedom of expression among other claims of loss of constitutional rights. Stephen Fraser of the Chambers of Fraser, Housty and Yearwood, representing the broadcaster on Monday (November 13, 2017), filed a fixed date application naming Attorney General Basil Williams, and the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) as respondents.The hearing in the High Court is set for December 15.Meanwhile, a fixed date application to challenge the Broadcasting Amendment (2017) by Freedom House Radio Inc is set for a High Court hearing today. The broadcasters are separately challenging the 2017 amendment on various constitutional grounds.Freedom Radio Inc had filed a constitutional challenge in the High Court, over the Administration’s imposition of an ‘onerous’ increase in the annual broadcasting fee and the expropriation of its airwaves during ‘prime time,’ for Government broadcasts.The separate challenges by the two broadcasters follow significant outcry by local and international press bodies, among others, on fears of erosion of press freedom and other impacts, particularly in terms of legislated demands under public service broadcasting (PSB).One such international body, Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), more commonly referred to as Reporters Without Borders, had stated before the Bill was assented to law that “what is most worrying about the Bill is its process of adoption, which involved no consultations with any broadcasters even though repeated attempts were made to meet with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo both leading up to, and during, parliamentary debate…”Others who voiced their concerns include the International Press Institute, Association of Caribbean Media Workers, Guyana parliamentary Opposition, the Guyana Private Sector Commission, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, and the FITUG, largest amalgamation of trade unions in Guyana.In its high court action, MBC 93 is contending that unfair competition and expropriation of property rights, among other loss of rights, have been legislated through the Amendment contrary to its constitutional rights.In its application, MBC 93 noting the contravening of its equality rights, pointed out that “this unfair competition scenario has been exacerbated where the public broadcaster, National Communications Network (NCN) receives a significant subvention from the public purse, and continues to engage in competition with private broadcasters for the commercial market.”It noted the status of “the State-owned NCN which is not subjected to the same level of interference by the new amendments”, adding, “as such, Government’s competition policies supplemented and grounded now in the new laws constitutes an unfair and unreasonable interference with the Applicant’s fundamental right to freedom of expressions as well as its property rights and interests”.According to the High Court action, the legislating of public service broadcasting puts private broadcasters in double jeopardy to face unfair competition and to provide services without compensation, with potential to impact on commitments to commercial clients.The fixed date application by MBC 93 also noted the potential for the company’s operations to be attempted to be closed by the State in its possible enforcement of the Amendment.“The High Court action also challenges the continuing demand by GNBA for past exorbitant fees (declared unlawful) and the new increased fees with its likely effect of destroying the Applicant and shutting down its operation entirely” said MBC 93.In the High Court challenge, the broadcaster contends that “since 1995 it had sole and exclusive rights to broadcast on the specified channel and spectrum, and as a result of the grant made under the licence, the Applicant obtained a vested right to property and an interest in the spectrum and channel.”According to MBC 93, this interest and right then automatically fell to be protected by section 142 of the Constitution of Guyana which prescribed that interests and rights in property of whatever nature could not be taken away without adequate compensation.It noted also that the 2017 Amendment effectively took away its rights in spectrum and channel by “splitting of the National Spectrum into ‘Zones’, and unreasonable and unjustified licence fees also effectively contravened the Applicant’s property and interest rights in the spectrum and channel as guaranteed by section 142 of the Guyana Constitution.”The Broadcasting Amendment 2017 was passed in the House of Parliament at its August sitting this year despite a number of broadcasters asking for a stay and requesting an audience with the Prime Minister to discuss their concerns over the then proposed amendment.While the broadcasters were still awaiting word on this letter for an audience, the amendment received presidential assent on September 7, 2017.According to MBC 93 in a released statement, to date, there has been no response from the Prime Minister to the request for a meeting to discuss broadcasters’ concerns, while noting that existing broadcasters were forced once more to re-apply for their licences or face penalties including criminalisation if they continued to broadcast without re-applying.
– Persaud said he did “nothing wrong”– Ramjattan tells reporters to “haul yuh ass”The coalition Government has forced outgoing Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud to revoke the approval of a firearm dealer licence, which he granted himself last month, a move which the Top Cop says is now unprecedented.A section of the State media on Wednesday reported in a staged fashion exclusively on the story which was the same day the Police Force held a farewell parade for Persaud, who goes off on pre-retirement leave next Monday ahead of his April retirement.When asked about the matter following the farewell, the outgoing Top Cop told reporters that there was nothing wrong with him applying to himself and thenOutgoing Top Cop Seelall Persaudgranting approval for a licence to set up the dealership.In fact, he noted that this was done before.“In the 1980s, there was a Commissioner who granted himself dealership licence … There is precedence for it … something is wrong with this Commissioner that they tell the public that it was wrong,” the outgoing Top Cop asserted.Asked whether it was ethical for him to make this move just a few weeks before his retirement, the outgoing Commissioner pointed out that the business would have only become operationalised in May, after his retirement.“There was precedence, it’s a business and I can’t do business on the job, so it would have only been operational after I retire,” Persaud said.He went on to point out that almost all past Commissioners of Police applied for and grant gun licences to themselves.“If you look historically over the past 25 years, all the past Commissioners, maybe with the exception of one, granted themselves firearm licences. So it’s not anything new but you know we live in a society today where one set of circumstances is good for one person, but not good for the other,” he posited.Nonetheless, Persaud said he would not be challenging the decision to revoke his licence, as he has since become discouraged with the idea of opening his own firearms dealership.“It doesn’t matter; it was one line of business I was contemplating and that won’tPublic Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattanhappen any longer. But I have a lot of experience; I have a lot of credibility and I’m very confident in my next phase in life,” the outgoing Top Cop stated.It was reported in the State’s newspaper that Persaud on January 29, 2018 responded to an application previously made in his name, approving his business – Professional Outdoors Supplies – as a registered firearms dealer.Reports revealed that the outgoing Top Cop three days earlier granted approval for two gun licences for a 9mm Pistol and a 12, 16 or 20-Gauge Pump Action Shotgun.However, it was reported that the matter reached and engaged Cabinet’s attention and Persaud was since instructed by Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan to revoke the dealership licence.The authority of granting firearm licences and licences for gun dealers falls under the remit of the Commissioner of Police, who, upon receiving an application, forwards it to the relevant Policing Division for an investigation into the background and character of the applicant. Based on the findings of the probe, the Commissioner makes a recommendation to the Minister, who then forwards it to the Firearms Licensing Approval Board for review. The Board will then make its own recommendations to the Minister, and based on that or his own deliberate judgement, the Minister grants the licence.When approached following the farewell parade on Wednesday afternoon for a comment on the matter, Ramjattan was hostile towards the media, telling reporters to have ‘time and place’.He then pointed out that he spoke with online news site Demerara Waves earlier and was promptly reminded that he “cursed” in that conversation, to which he responded, “Yes, there are times when I could use expletives.”Further pressed on the matter, Ramjattan, who is also performing duties as acting Prime Minister, declared: “I am not dodging no issue.” He then proceeded to walk away, heading to his vehicle and uttered over his shoulder, “haul yuh ass”.Nevertheless, this most recent scandal involving the outgoing Police Commissioner comes on the heels of the damning report from the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the Police Force’s handling of the probe into the alleged assassination plot against President David Granger.The CoI, headed by Retired Police Commissioner Paul Slowe, recommended that disciplinary actions be taken against Persaud and that he be made to resign or be removed for misbehaviour and investigated for perjury.The Commissioner subsequently proceeded on four months of vacation leave and a few days prior to his November return, he was sent on two months “special leave”. That move was translated by social commentators as Persaud getting the boot. However, he resumed duties in mid-January.
Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummings described nurses as the “heart” of the public healthcare system and said they should be shown more appreciation for their priceless contribution.“The hardworking men and women who are responsible for the treatment, safety, and recovery of acutely or chronically ill or injured persons must be profoundly recognised for their unrivalled commitment and dedication. We must also celebrate the work that nurses do in maintenance of the healthy and the treatment of life-threatening emergencies in a wide ranged healthcare setting,” the Minister is quoted by the Department of Public Information (DPI) as saying. This wasMinister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummingshighlighted on Saturday during an International Nurses Day ceremony at the Woodlands Hospital. Minister Cummings noted that though many may overlook the hard work and devotion demonstrated by nurses, the Ministry commended them for their priceless contribution.“While nursing is a tough, challenging profession, it is also a noble one and while it could be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding at times, it can also be rewarding. We, at the Ministry, salute you all for hard work and hope that you continue to help those in need to assist in achieving the Health Vision 2020,” the Minister noted.She reiterated that the Ministry also recognised the critical importance of investing in human capital which is necessary to enable nurses to strive prosperously in a dynamic healthcare environment. She further thanked the nurses for performing their tasks with the utmost respect, professionalism, dedication, and commitment.Obstetrics/Gynaecology Managing Director, Dr Neville Gobin also lauded the nursing staff for their hard work over the years.
…as Mid-Year Report warns of economic consequences for GuyanaThe first half of 2018 has seen Guyana’s Balance of Payment deficit take a sharp leap forward, when compared to the same period for 2017 and even the Finance Ministry’s Mid-Year Report is warning of the consequences.The report, which was laid in the National Assembly only days ago, details that Guyana for the first half of the year recorded a deficit of US$139.8 million. This is in contrast to the corresponding period for last year, when the deficit was just US$46 million.“Guyana’s Balance of Payments deficit increased further as a result of a significantly higher deficit on the current account, which more than offset a surplus on the capital account.The weakening of the current account, from a deficit of US$79.2 million to a deficit of US$194.1 million, was due to higher deficits on the merchandise trade and services accounts, notwithstanding increased net unrequited transfers,” the report states.“The negative balance on the merchandise trade account widened to US$218.0 million during the first half of 2018, from US$112.2 million, in the first half of 2017, attributed to stronger growth in total import payments, which rose by US$137.8 million over the review period.Growth in imports was driven by an overall expansion in all major categories, intermediate goods by US$92.6 million, capital goods by US$41.1million and consumption goods by US$3.6 million.”According to the report, the total value of imported capital goods was driven by increases in all sub categories except agricultural machinery. IN fact, the report notes that this decreased by US$5.6 million.“Within the overall category, substantial growth was recorded for mining machinery, “other capital goods” and industrial machinery, which expanded by US$13.9 million, US$10.6 million and US$9.7 million, respectively.”“The expansion of imports of consumption goods was mainly due to significant growth in food for final consumption and other durables, which increased by US$9.2 million and US$8.2 million, respectively over the reporting period. Further growth in this category was limited by a reduction of US$22.8 million in the value of ‘other non-durable’ goods imported.”The report warns that global risks, such as rising commodity prices, climate change and turbulent international trade relationships, do pose a threat to the stability and progress of Guyana’s economy. And it warned that increased importation will put a strain on the country’s foreign reserves.“Specifically, the issue of climate change, which brings with it unpredictable weather patterns, has the ability to adversely affect the agriculture and mining and quarrying sectors, and, consequently, restrict production.On the other hand, while commodity prices are expected to strengthen, in 2018, this will have mixed effects.”“On the positive side, rising prices offer favourable prospects for the exporting Sectors – gold, rice, timber and aluminium. However, the increased importation of Intermediate goods, especially fuel and lubricants, and consumption goods, could likely offset the gains from export earnings. This could put a strain on Guyana’s international reserves, reinforcing the urgency with which economic diversification and resilience – Strengthening must take place,” the report states.Balance of Payments is statistical data on a country’s fiscal transactions, including imports and exports. To therefore record a deficit, Guyana would have had to spend more on imports, among other things, that it derived from exports.According to the 2017 Macro-economic Report, Guyana’s overall Balance of Payments in the last fiscal year showed a deficit of US$69.5 million.This is a hike when compared to US$53.3 million the previous year.
With just over two weeks remaining before the 2018 Local Government Elections (LGE), the Alliance For Change (AFC) party is confident about the upcoming polls despite getting in the race late in the game.General Secretary Marlon Williams (third from left); along with Region Four District Chairman, Michael Leonard (right); Constituency 3 (East-Central) Bartica, Juretha Fernandes (left); and Central Mackenzie, Linden, representative, Devin SearsThe AFC, a minority party in the coalition Government, believes it will be successful at the November 12 Local Government polls, according to the party’s General Secretary Marlon Williams during a press conference at the AFC’s Kitty headquarters on Wednesday.“We, the Alliance For Change, feel confident that we will be successful in these Local Government [Elections] because what we have done is – to grab our slogan – we have selected ‘fit and proper’ people within those NDCs (Neighbourhood Democratic Councils) and constituencies,” Williams said.He went on to note that the core of the AFC remains its spirit to effect change and in achieving this going forward, it has turned to a young, fresh and vibrant slate of people.The AFC will be contesting 38 of the 80 Local Authority Areas (LAA).In fact, the party’s Region Four District Chairman, Michael Leonard, told the media conference that despite starting late in the LGE race, the AFC has managed to secure more 161 constituency candidates and is fielding more than 600 representatives in total.On the matter of constituency candidates, the AFC’s candidate for Constituency 3 (Central Mackenzie) in Linden, Devin Sears, echoed similar sentiments, saying that the AFC is a beckon of hope for the people of Linden.He further added that despite being a young party, the AFC is a force to be reckoned with.“Linden sits in the heart of Guyana, but everything seems to pass through Linden… The people are fed of the same cycle over and over. We’ve had one party that has never lost Linden and we’ve had one party that has governed the country but ignored Linden so I think it’s time Linden has a change now, we cannot wait. We need to start opening up our eyes to see our town/municipality is not owned by any party and the AFC is as strong as any other party contesting the Local Government Elections,” he posited.According to Sears, the high rate of unemployment is high among the list of issues that the party intends to tackle if it emerges successful at the November 12 polls.Meanwhile, his fellow party representative in Constituency 3 (East-Central) Bartica, Juretha Fernandes, outlined some of the key areas her party is focusing on going into this year’s Local Government polls, including transparency and accountability, youth empowerment and involvement and economic enhancement.“[Bartica] still can be considered a new municipality and there’s a lot of things that [are] going on there; that persons are questioning the accountability aspect of what has happened since the 2016 Local Government Elections to now. I can confidently say that as a member of the Alliance For Change, accountability is something we pride ourselves on. In everything that we do, we believe that the process must be transparent to every residents and no stones must be left unturned in doing so,” Fernandes, who is also the party’s Deputy Campaign Director, posited.After failed talks earlier this year with its coalition partner – A Partnership for National Unity – the AFC announced back in May that it was going to contest this year’s Local Government polls on its own.
A suspect is assisting St Lucia’s police with investigations into the fatal stabbing of Guyanese national, Michael Pooran at Bagatelle, Castries.Neville Atille, a friend of the deceased, told St Lucia Times that Pooran, 27, was a very good person who was outgoing and liked to dress.Dead: Michael PooranHe disclosed that about 05:00h on Sunday, neighbours informed him about the fatal stabbing.According to St Lucia Times, Atille said he and the deceased were acquainted with the suspect in the fatal stabbing.“The last time I built my step, he asked for a job. We said ‘We don’t have any job doing – it’s for free. If you want rum and food,’ he said ‘Yeah’ he will do anything. And now he is saying that Michael owes him money.”Atille said that according to reports he received, Pooran went to a party in the neighbourhood and the suspect started “troubling” the deceased and following him around.“That’s what I heard. People were saying ‘Leave the guy alone’,” Atille told St Lucia Times.He said based on his information, the two started fighting.“Eyewitness did not see Michael stab the assailant. Michael never walks with a weapon because he is a big tough guy,” Atille stated.He explained that a mutual friend advised Pooran to leave the scene but as he held the Guyanese, he realised that he was bleeding.Atille said the mutual friend heard footsteps and thinking that the assailant was after him as well, he left Pooran, who had by that time collapsed, and ran.He said Pooran went to St Lucia from Guyana in 2014.
…Stanley Ming returned as ChairmanWith Guyana preparing to enter new and uncharted waters in the extractive sector, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) has had a new Board of Directors installed to steer the ship.GGMC Chairman Stanley MingAt the head of this Board is incumbent Chairman Stanley Ming. Also on the Board are Derrick Lawrence; Tom Dalgety; Euliene Watson; Vanda Radzic; Camilla Edwards; and the Commissioner of GGMC, Newell Dennison. A representative from each of the following organisations will be selected and added to the Board at a later date: the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), the Guyana Women Miners Association (GWMA), the National Mining Syndicate, the Guyana Gold Board, the Guyana Forestry Commission and a worker’s representative from the GGMC.The Board is also expected to include in its membership representatives from the National Toshaos Council (NTC), the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF), as ex officio members. The Board members will serve from March 1, 2019 to February 28, 2020.These appointments come at a time when total gold declarations for last year amounted to 613,073 ounces, which was 6.22 per cent lower than 2017 – 653,754 ounces were declared in 2017.Lowered expectationsGovernment had initially set a target of 720,000 ounces for 2017 but at the end of 2017 was only able declare 653,674 ounces, prompting Finance Minister Winston Jordan to dub the performance disappointing.An ambitious 800,000 ounces’ target was set for 2018. The foreign exchange value of exports processed on behalf of dealers and itself at the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) came to US$443,961,666.The appointments come at a time when a major gold company will be branching off into underground miningIt is understood that gold dealers Mohamed’s Enterprise, and El Dorado Trading finished first and second respectively in total declarations and exports of gold. Other dealers that contributed are: Pure Diamond, Dinar, Excel, Adamantium Metals, GBTI Property Holdings Inc, and Gold Bar Development.The appointments also come at a time when Canadian owned Guyana Goldfields is looking to branch off into underground mining. Last month, Goldfields was issued a permit by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to construct the underground mine.It is currently awaiting further approvals from the GGMC. In fact, Guyana Times observed equipment assembled at the site, waiting for the go ahead, during a recent visit.So far, Guyana Goldfields has invested US$300 million into its local operations. The underground mine is expected to cost US$25 million in the initial exploration stages. A further US$100 million is likely to be invested over the next 10 years of production.RevenueBut the company is optimistic of more than recovering that investment. Chief Executive Officer of Guyana Goldfields, Scott Caldwell, had been optimistic of the underground mines surpassing their previous operations. According to Caldwell, the underground well is likely to be a game changer when it comes to revenue.When asked about the application, Commissioner Dennison explained that the GGMC is in possession of Goldfields’ application and will soon know whether anything else is needed. He had made it clear that GGMC has no intention of delaying the process, but was only exercising its due diligence for such a venture.“From what I am aware, they have submitted [the documents]. I am of the view that we are in good way to be conducting the examination to determine whether we need anything more.”“To the extent that we ascertain that what is therein is sufficient representation of what they plan to do, and it is in keeping with our regulations and what we consider typical practices for these types of activities, we would then issue the permit,” Dennison said.
…as 5 new faces added to Chamber’s executiveThe Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) has elected a new executive to serve for the 2019-2020 physical year. Five new faces were placed on the organisation’s executive, with new comer Altabh Khan.The full executive is Khan – President, Niron Singh – Vice President, Tage Singh – Treasurer, and Business Development and LiPresident of the Region Five Chamber of Commerce,Altabh Khanaison Officer – L Luke.Imran Saccoor – Secretary and Krishna Sewlall – Public Relations Officer, previously served on the Board of Directors, wile Leanna Amanda Bachan retains the post as administrator.Khan said that over the next year, the Chamber will continue to embark on its commerce initiatives, including the Region Five Business Fair, Tourism Night amongst others.He said the Chamber will continue to advocate the call for D’Edward/Rosignol to be a township, noting that the community satisfies the requirements for a township.However, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition has been pushing to have Fort Wellington become a town in the region.Meanwhile, other activities on the card for the 2019-2020 period by the Chamber include the Region Five Expo, sport and beach tourism activities, and training seminars amongst others.The new Chamber President called on the business community to support his call for a transformation of the region.He said there is the potential to transform the way commerce is conducted and urged all businessmen and women to play their role in the transformation process. Acknowledging that the region is an agricultural driven community, he mentioned that farmers need to adapt to the changing agricultural world and utilise better technology and farming methods, including hydroponics and green house farming, if they are to remain competitive as the cost of inputs continue to rise.Diversification of business was also touted as an initiative to be adopted since some of the traditional industries including rice and sugar continue to be challenged.“Farmers also need access to packaging plants wherein they can have options to market their produce. Cheaper cost of financing is also needed to support the agricultural initiative and farmers need to adopt a cultured approach to seek out foreign markets and export their produce rather than placing reliance on domestic market.”Khan noted that petty crimes continue to be a hindrance to the businesses society and this must be addressed. He added that a safer business environment is needed.Through collaborative efforts, the Chamber hopes to engage and work with regional authorities to implement and develop programmes that can be beneficial to youths for the creation of jobs.Khan added that the Small Business Bureau can give loans and grants in this regard.“However more marketing is required at the regional level as micro and start-up businesses are still not aware of how to access this facility,” the Chamber President pointed out.
…relatives of raped teen who raped accused chargedThe 28-year-old miner, who allegedly forced a child to have anal sex with him, and was hours later brutally beaten and reportedly raped by her relatives, made his first court appearance on Thursday and released on $150,000 bail.The Third Avenue, Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) appeared before Magistrate Crystal Lambert at the Bartica Magistrate’s Court after he was slapped with a charge of raping of a child under 16 years.When the charge was read the man denied the offence and was subsequently placed on bail. The case will continue on December 27.Meanwhile, the two female relatives of the teen who was raped, who reportedly physically assaulted, stripped, and then forced the wooden handle of a hammer inside of The Third Avenue, Bartica resident’s anus, in retaliation of his rape against their 15-year-old relative, were also hauled before the Court on Thursday.The mother of the child, along with her older daughter, appeared before Magistrate Lambert to each answer to the charges of felonious wounding and rape committed against the 28-year-old miner. Both women denied the charges.They were released on $60,000 bail each for the wounding charge and $150,000 bail each for the rape charge.The cases will continue on December 27.On December 4, tables turned on the Third Avenue, Bartica man after the sister of the underage female with whom he allegedly forcefully had anal sex teamed up with her mother to teach him a lesson.He is the boyfriend of the young girl’s sister and is said to usually visit their home in Bartica, on a regular basis.Reports are that in the wee hours of December 3, the alleged rapist was at the home with the 15-year-old girl consuming alcohol.The teenager, who ended up sitting at the edge of her bed at some point, became intoxicated and it was then the miner reportedly took advantage of her. He reportedly took off her clothing and performed anal sex on her despite her objections.Hours after the incident, the teen made contact with her mother and after notifying the woman about what occurred.After a beating, the suspect allegedly confessed to having sex with the 15-year-old but claimed he had “oral” sex with the girl and not anal sex.The woman and her older daughter allegedly teamed up to rip his clothes off and allegedly forcefully insert the wooden part of the hammer (handle) into his anus.
One of Guyana’s most historic and iconic buildings is falling apart and Mayor of Georgetown, Ubraj Narine is making a stronger appeal to private and public agencies to help restore the once picturesque structure.Mayor of Georgetown, Ubraj NarineUpon his re-election as Mayor a few days ago, Mayor Narine told the media under leaky roofs within the City Hall building, that the structure which has been neglected over the years is in dire need for repairs, especially since some sections of the structure are labelled unsafe.A deteriorating external section of the buildingA recent study by the European Union has pegged the rehabilitation of the building at over $400 million but as time goes by, the cost increases.However, since then, no significant work was done towards the restoration of the building.Nevertheless, at an event last week, the Mayor appealed to both the private and public sector for aid in restoring the building.“The iconic building, the historic building of this city, it is falling apart which is City Hall. I alone cannot do it as the Mayor, my Council alone cannot do it, we need the Private Sector to play a part, we need private partnership. We need all Guyanese to play a big part to restore City Hall and the only way we can do that is to put our shoulders to the wheel and move forward” he asserted.Most recently, the City Council announced plans to establish a Trust Fund whereby persons can make donations towards the rehabilitation of the building.Speaking to this newspaper on the plans, Mayor Narine conveyed that the fund is currently being established and the City Council is hoping to launch the initiative before February 2020.