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Post Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:22 am

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Freddie vs Jagdeo libel case…Lawyers for President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday failed in their bid to prevent Freddie Kissoon’s defence team from questioning Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, on the award of contracts, as the libel case brought by the Head of State against the Kaieteur News columnist, the newspaper and its editor-in-chief, continued in the High Court yesterday.Dr Luncheon testified that it is the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board that awards contracts – therefore not the President.Bharrat JagdeoHowever, upon further questioning,holesale NFL Jerseys, Luncheon admitted that as per procedure contracts are awarded by the Tender Administration Board only after a “Non Objection” is issued by Cabinet – the Cabinet being the Council of Government Ministers chaired by the President.The Head of the Presidential Secretariat further agreed that if the Cabinet,Cheap NFL Jerseys China, again chaired by the President, makes an objection to a contract, then it cannot be awarded by the Tender Administration Board.Questions about the award of government contracts,Wholesale NFL China Jerseys, investments in sugar and bauxite, the award of agricultural leases, diplomatic postings, and the composition of boards of major government entities were some of the matters that came under the microscope when the libel case continued. Luncheon, the chief witness for the President’s legal team, spent the entire day in court being cross-examined by Nigel Hughes, one of the members of Kissoon’s defence team.President Jagdeo is suing Kissoon, the publishers of Kaieteur News, and its Editor –in chief, for $10 million, claiming that the column entitled “King Kong sent his goons to disrupt the conference” pointed to Jagdeo as King Kong. The President has claimed that the article suggests that he is a racist and that “by extension, the State and Government of Guyana, practice racism as an ideology, dogma, philosophy and policy.”Nigel Hughes, attorney for Freddie Kissoon, questioned Dr Luncheon on the award of major government contracts.Hughes sought to suggest that one of the single largest government contracts using funding from the Inter-American DevelopmentFreddie KissoonBank (IDB), namely the New Amsterdam to Moleson Creek Road was awarded to BK International and H. Nauth and Sons.The contract was for the rehabilitation of the two-lane – 85 km New Amsterdam to Crabwood Creek Road (NACCR) and the improvement of the 5-km gravel road from Crabwood Creek to Moleson Creek, located on the Corentyne River,Wholesale Jerseys, the border between Guyana and Suriname. According to the IDB, the cost for the project was US$35 million.Dr Luncheon said he had no immediate recall of the sizes, or the amount, of the agreement with the IDB.Further, Dr Luncheon was asked to say if he would deny that in excess of 80% of sea defence contracts are awarded to BK International. Dr Luncheon said he would be unable to answer.Further, he was asked if he could deny an assertion by BK International that it has significant control of boulder works in Guyana. Luncheon said he was not certain if BK’s assertion is accurate.On the diplomatic front, Dr Luncheon was questioned about the fact that Elizabeth Harper is the only Guyanese of African Descent who holds the position of Ambassador. Harper is based in Guyana and serves as the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador to CARICOM. Dr Luncheon confirmed that Harper is the only Ambassador who performs dual functions.Dr Luncheon was further asked if there is currently no other African Guyanese who qualifies to get an overseas posting as Ambassador, and he said there was none.On the award of agricultural lands, the defence questioned Dr Luncheon about the award of leases for agricultural lands in the intermediate savannahs during the tenure of President Jagdeo.Elizabeth Harper, the country’s only Afro-Guyanese AmbassadorThe defence team gave a number of examples, but none awarded to an Afro Guyanese. Among those listed by Attorney Hughes were:  Subir Singh – 3, 000 acres; Jim Mohabir – 3, 000 acres; Rafeek Choudhary 7, 047 acres; Khalil Mohamed – 5, 000 acres; Gerald Mekdeci – 7,cheap nfl jerseys,600 acres; Georgia Caribbean International – 3, 520 acres; and Bashir – 2, 064 acres.Nigel HughesDr Luncheon was also questioned on the award of lots in industrial estates. He could not name one Afro-Guyanese company that has a lot at the Coldingen Estate, East Coast Demerara, and he could not confirm the defence’s claim that only 10% of lots awarded in the Eccles Industrial Site went to Afro-Guyanese.Regarding investments by the government, Dr Luncheon said between US$180-US$200 million was invested in sugar, namely the Skeldon Sugar Factory,Jerseys NFL Wholesale China, and he admitted the industry employs mostly East Indians, and is managed mostly by East Indians.  Regarding bauxite, which Dr Luncheon admitted mostly occupies African Guyanese, he said he could not comment on comparable investments to that sector, because both the mines, in Linden and in the Berbice River, were privatised.Dr Luncheon was questioned about the government’s policy on privatisation and divestment, and he said that profit and loss were not the only factors taken into consideration.This was after he was asked to say the last time sugar made a profit. He said he believed it was sometime in the 2000s. He said he could not comment on the bauxite mines before they were privatised.Asked about the other factors that are taken into account when decisions about privatisation and divestments are made, Dr Luncheon said these include impact on the budget and the strategic nature of the entity.Questioned earlier in the day about the composition of National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), the body responsible for divestment of state assets,Cheap NFL Jerseys China, Dr Lunchoen could not say for sure who the members of the Board were. Attorney Hughes listed Grantly Culbard, as the only Afro-Guyanese on the board.Pressed further, Dr Luncheon was asked to indicate what state companies that employ mainly Afro-Guyanese had attracted more than US$100 million in any one year.Dr Luncheon said that while he may be challenged on the composition of the workforce, he identified the water and power sectors as benefitting from such investment.Dr Roger Luncheon, right, and Attorney Anil Nandlall, before the start of yesterday’s proceedings.Asked about the composition of the Board of the power company, GPL, Dr Luncheon said that he could not recall the names of all the directors on the board, but of those he could recall, he said one is of African descent.Regarding the composition of the Board of the Guyana Sugar Corporation, Dr Luncheon said that while he was uncertain about the size of the new Interim Board, he knew of one director who is of African descent.The day’s session ended with the defence team admitting into evidence the academic paper that was written by Freddie Kissoon, upon which he based the article for which he is being sued.The academic paper is entitled “Ethnic Power and Ideological Racism: A comparative examination of Guyanese presidencies.” It was presented in June 2010 at the Annual Conference of the Guyana Historical and Research Society.Dr Luncheon said that he was aware of the facts contained in the paper, and when he was being showed a copy, the President’s attorney, Anil Nandlall, objected, saying that the witness could not be questioned on a 65-page document which neither of them had read.Hughes remarked that the document should not have been treated as a “surprise” saying it was the basis upon which the article was written, and then it should not be the burden of the defence team to now supply that.The document was however passed to the President’s legal team.  The case continues on September 29.

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