Are the GRA boss and Police Commissioner asleep?

first_imgDear Editor,There is a crisis in this country, and it is being ignored by the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Guyana Police Force. Due to the neglect by these two Government entities, unscrupulous persons are blatantly violating our laws with impunity, and contributing to the social decay of our country.A causal walk around Georgetown and the country would reveal numerous illegal rum shops and beer gardens at every corner, sometimes many such outfits are in one corner, in full view of everyone.Illegal rum shops exist with mobile freezers, the owners of which outwardly claim to sell just snacks and soft drinks, but they carry a full line of beers, and in many cases a variety of liquors. I saw illegal rum shops also in markets and at major street corners.We know of the social ills related to alcohol use, and the destruction of homes and lives, with the attendant crimes also. Our young people are become drunkards at a very early age due to the failure of Guyana Revenue Authority and the Guyana Police Force to regulate the sale of liquor and prosecute the law breakers. It is clear that the GRA and the Guyana Police Force are turning a blind eye on this scourge affecting our nation.What is really happening to our country? Are we promoting a nation of drunkards? Why are the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Guyana Police Force promoting these illegal beer gardens and rum shops? It has to be that they are promoting them, since they have allowed them to operate all over the place and at all hours.There is blatant disregard for our laws, and the promotion of lawlessness and drunkenness among our youths and older people. These mobile freezers and makeshift rum shops have no standards, and are not accountable to anyone. Some of them also play loud music, which disturbs neighbours, and some also sell food in unsanitary conditions.I have had the unfortunate experience of witnessing my underage grandson become a drunkard at these corner freezer rum shops, and his underage friends are the same way. Are there not laws governing who can sell liquor, and where it can be sold? Do these makeshift illegal shops pay taxes, or obtain all the approvals or licences to sell liquor and beer?Of least concern to me is the competition that they give to approved rum shops and beer gardens, but isn’t that unfair competition to those registered and licensed rum shops and beer gardens?Is this what we are promoting to foreign visitors and our young people?It is time for GRA Commissioner Godfrey Statia and Police Commissioner Leslie James to wake up from their slumber and enforce the laws, and close down these freezer rum shops and other illegal shops selling liquor and beer.Sincerely,Clayton R Harrislast_img read more

Trucking and Busing: Undermine Free Government in Liberia

first_imgSince the inception of the voter registration exercise on February 1, 2017, there have been multiple complaints from applicants attending the process ranging from inadequate logistics, defective cameras; complaints of insufficient voter registration centers (VRCs) thereby causing potentials registrants to walk long distances to register; attempts by non-Liberians to register; busing and trucking of people from one district or county to another; incompetent registration personnel and poor contractual arrangements with registration workers; absence of security officers (LNP & BIN) at VRCs; alleged tribal and religious discrimination against certain applicants, etc.As a former chair of the National Elections Commission (NEC), who presided over the 2005 general elections, the above-listed complaints and/or issues raised are not strange to me, as we were similarly confronted with nearly all of them. The difference, however, between the 2005 process and the current process is in the handling and resolution of the misunderstanding or concerns. Considering that the nature of elections is adversarial and extremely competitive, the commission must exert every effort to address concerns of participants in a timely manner and in accordance with the relevant guidelines, regulations and laws. Election staff must apply the rules and laws neutrally in order to avoid the imputation of corrupt motives to them. The allegation of tribal and religious bias, for instance could have been obviated by posting at each VRC the criteria for eligibility to register. Beyond all the issues and concerns raised, however, the phenomenon which is of paramount concern to me is the trucking and busing of people from one locality to another which I called “contract voters”. This practice is becoming or has become a part of the Liberian electoral culture. The practice does not only distort true democratic elections, the essence of which is the expression of the free will of the electorate in choosing their leaders, but the practice also constrains an impoverished and vulnerable people to surrender their free will to the richest or wealthiest politicians in exchange of a bag of rice, US$5.00, US$10.00 or US$20.00. Thus, the realization of the promise contained in Article I of the Liberian Constitution which states, inter alia, ‘All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require,” shall remain a mirage for a long time to come, because there can be no free government without a free people.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more