Author: Change Guyana

Why Oil Alone Will Not Make Life Better for Guyanese

The choice we make on March 2 would determine the direction we take, the Nigeria way by choosing the Cup or the Palm Tree or the Dubai way by selecting the brightly lighted bulb.

The following is extracted from the statement of Robert Badal at the Change Guyana weekly press conference of 7 January:

According to Bloomberg, the global markets created US$14 trillion in 2019.
Wealth is created at every corner of the globe except in Guyana. A stone’s throw away, Trindadian non-oil sectors exported over US$1B in 2019.

On the local scene, the value of our agricultural exports, manufacturing and local businesses are on the decline. Our national debt on the rise at over 60% of GDP, reserves at under three months of imports. Our unemployment looms at over 30%, and expenses from the public purse keep rising while private consumption is on the decline. This as a result of strangulation of the private sector with extortionary taxes.

These are all symptoms of a fragile, poorly managed economy.

The point is that other oil-producing countries are working at diversifying their economy. They know that oil revenue alone will not sustain them long-term. But here, our politicians’ only answer to every problem is “oil”. In fact their narrative of an oil economy as the only answer to our problems of poverty is a reflection of their incompetence, lack of strategic thinking and woeful leadership failures over decades.

The fact is that oil is a finite resource. Even though it could bring transformative economic contribution, while it exists, it should be used as an opportunity to strengthen other sectors which will outlast the boom times. It should be used to build capacity, modernize our infrastructure and diversify our economy for long-term economic sustainability.

There is widespread belief that the APNU Government failed us in its contract negotiations with oil majors. After oil was discovered in 2015 the Administration had two years to seek competent, professional advice from industry players but omitted to do so.

The result was a production-sharing agreement that is unfair to our interests. It is a contract where the oil companies not only earn the revenue from our natural resource, but they do it at no final cost to themselves: they will recover all exploration, development and production cost before sharing the profit with the country. Not only that, they will be exempt from all taxes for themselves and their contractors, a stabilization clause that exempt them from any changes in legislation, fiscal measures, any review, even requiring us to pay their share of income taxes.

A royalty of a mere 2%, share of profits only after cost recovery, no bond in case of environmental disasters. Even the signing bonus of US$18M is disrespectful to the dignity of Guyanese. Given the quantum and quality of our reserves we should have insisted on US$500M.

Why couldn’t we have negotiated a simple contract, royalty-based, where the profits of the investors and their subcontractors are taxed in the normal way as local companies are, one under which the return to Guyanese is certain, easy to administer; instead of the complicated production sharing agreement, where cost incurred by the oil majors are difficult to verify but nonetheless passed on to the Guyanese people.

Given our lack of experience and capacity, and the Government’s obvious refusal to seek expert advice and intervention, won’t a royalty based agreement best serve our interest?

Who was in charge? Where was the Cabinet of 30 Ministers whose mandate is to protect our interests? What were they discussing every Tuesday? Where was President Granger? Where was the leadership and honesty he is now boasting of on the Campaign trail? Where was the Opposition leader and his parliamentarians? Where was the oversight of Parliament?

The fact is that in the midst of enormous public outcry our Government ignored us. We have been sold out in a manner unforgivable. Yet no explanation from the President, no inquiry, no action to hold those involved responsible, no commitment to do better on future contracts.

Poor governance, lack of transparency and accountability, the same failure of Leadership that destroyed the livelihood of bauxite and sugar workers continues. The same creators of big, repressive and incompetent Government that extort heavy taxes on ordinary Guyanese citizens but exempt foreign multinationals from similar taxes.

Today we remain the poorest in the region after Haiti with a per capita income of less than US$4000 compared to little Antigua of US$17,000. What a shame?

Let’s pause to look at the experiences of Nigeria and many other countries where oil resources have failed to transform the lives of ordinary people because of corrupt leaders.

Nigeria produces one million barrels of oil a day. Yet after more than 60 years it has 94 million people under poverty, 57 million lack safe water, 130 million lack adequate sanitation and 10 million children out of school, according to a World Bank report. At the root is a culture of corruption combined with a political elite out of touch with the daily struggles of average Nigerians.

Between 1960 and 2005 some $20 trillion was stolen from the treasury, more than enough to alleviate such poverty.

The questions are: Where would our rich oil and gas resources take us? Would we follow the path of Nigeria and neighboring Venezuela with the same results? Or the path of Dubai or Norway. The choice we make on March 2 would determine the direction we take.

Will we continue to place our resources and our kids’ future in the sticky hands of the APNU/PNC or their lookalike the PPP? Or would we be smart this time to seek honest, credible, smart Leaders for a new direction to prosperity? Would you continue to believe that those that did nothing for themselves could do things for you?

The point is that the choice we make on March 2 would determine the direction we take, the Nigeria way by choosing the Cup or the Palm Tree or the Dubai way by selecting the brightly lighted bulb.

Defining Transparent and Inclusive Management of Oil Revenues

Of particular importance is a plan to direct monies from the sale of exploration rights into a fund owned by the government and people of Guyana, in which every Guyanese person would be a shareholder from birth.

At their weekly press conference January 7, 2020, the Change Guyana founders unveiled details of how they would ensure the revenues from oil exports benefit Guyana today and in the future. Following is the text of Robert Badal’s statement. 

Change Guyana’s objective is to ensure a fair share of our oil & gas resources for our people and propel Guyana among the league of progressive countries.

We applaud the success of ExxonMobil and its partners Hess and CNOOC in discovering and bringing this world class resource to production, and encourage their leaders to continue their partnership with the people of Guyana.

Our oil and gas reserves are indeed world class and must be exploited for the benefit of both sides. While we feel that our leaders could have negotiated a better deal for the people of Guyana, the commencement of production has put Guyana on the map and will bring enormous benefits to our people.

As responsible Leaders we want to engage Exxon and its partners and all oil majors to continually enhance the benefits accruing to our country.

Our plans include:

Oil & Gas Resources

  • Negotiating a better deal over time on all existing contracts
  • All blocks for which the investors commitments were not delivered to date would be returned to state ownership
  • These blocks and all unassigned blocks would be vested in a state-owned National Oil company (NOC)
  • Blocks would be auctioned periodically to realize the highest price with attractive signing bonuses
  • Contracts governing these blocks will be royalty based, with the investors subject to our local taxes just like local companies
  • Good governance, transparency and openness would underlie all such arrangements
  • Every citizen of Guyana would be assigned shares in the NOC from birth. Such shares would appreciate in value with every Auction and signing bonus. Sales of these shares may only be disposed of to one’s family or the NOC. This will give every Guyanese a stake in our oil resources and the benefits therefrom.

Management of Oil Revenues

Given that oil resources are finite and will be depleted over time, the management of the revenue therefrom is of utmost importance to ensure sustainable long-term development, economic and otherwise.

Given the history of rampant corruption under the PPP and APNU/PNC, new and adequate controls are vital to prevent misuse, theft, wastage and the discretionary abuse by any Government.

Our revenue management plans are as follows:

  • In year 2020 to 2022 revenues from oil would be used to uplift the income levels of all employed through reduction in income taxes, improvements in health care, education and urgently needed infrastructural works including a bridge across the Demerara River
  • From 2023 the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) will be activated. A portion of the annual income from oil will be appropriated to this fund by parliamentary approval. The balance would be appropriated to specific Funds, an infrastructural development fund, a Healthcare fund, an education fund, an agricultural and industrial development fund.
  • The Minister of Finance will only have access to these specialized funds. Any draw-down from the SWF would require parliamentary approval
  • This would ensure better planning, transparency and accountability, and best safeguard of our people’s interest
  • A special allocation, a Welfare Fund, would be made to finance a safety net for depressed communities, single parents and the more vulnerable in our society

Our focus is development around oil and gas to ensure that after the oil is depleted our economy is strong, resilient and fulfills our promises to future generations.

This means developing world-class infrastructure. The physical infrastructure includes networks of roads, highways and bridges that connect all communities; and ports and airports to maintain affordable and reliable ties globally. It also means telecommunications and digital infrastructure;, healthcare, electricity and water supplies.

It means creating a low-tax destination that attracts large scale investments in agriculture, manufacturing, fisheries and forestry, bauxite, gold and other minerals. It means a highly trained, efficient and independent civil service, independent Central Bank and judiciary.

It means a culture of governance that serves, instead of being served; honest; a system that guarantees and delivers on fundamental rights of freedom that works for all.

That’s the development and the Governance Change Guyana brings.

We will propel Guyana among the league of progressive countries.

Badal calls out Irfaan Ali on “fool the people” promise to reopen sugar estates

The recently formed political party, Change Guyana has taken the political opposition to task over its campaign promise to reopen the three closed sugar estates, saying such a move is totally impossible.

Presidential candidate for Change Guyana, Robert Badal, today said he is firm in his position that any plan to reopen closed sugar estates is just another plan to “fool the people”.

Speaking at his weekly press briefing, the businessman said it is not possible to bring the sugar estates (factories) back into operation since that would mean replanting of cane and repurchasing of equipment, which would represent a substantial financial investment.

“From my business experience that is impractical. And I would say, I mean without any apology, they are trying to lie to the people, lie to the people again. You cannot close that sugar estate and after a year reopen that sugar estate. It is impossible,” Badal said.

Presidential Candidate of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Irfaan Ali has pledged to reopen the estates. He has made it an issue of his campaign.

The APNU+AFC government believes that Ali’s claim is a ploy to get votes from those persons who live along the sugar belt.

Badal appears to agree with the government’s position and said his Change Guyana party would have no interest in reopening the estates since that would cost billions of dollars.

He said Ali’s promise is a political gimmick.

“Our alternative to those estates is to ensure that we return the existing estates to profitability, through reorganization and diversification. They had a long time since the 70’s to have cogeneration in all sugar estates. Albion can produce alone 20 megawatts and the demand in East Berbice is 18 megawatts. You can power East Berbice by cogeneration. But you know what’s the crux of it, it’s the leadership. The lack of business experience that we bring to the table.”

The PPP/C has dismissed criticism that its plans to reopen the sugar estates are unrealistic while maintaining that the party has a sound plan to resuscitate the industry.

Mr. Ali has promised that under a PPP Civic government, he will ensure the estates closed by the current government are back up, running efficiently and turning a profit.

The PPP Civic had also closed down a number of sugar estates during its time in government. There were no efforts to ever reopen any of those estates.

Source: https://newssourcegy.com/elections/badal-calls-out-irfaan-ali-on-fool-the-people-promise-to-reopen-sugar-estates/

Mother of child who was bullied in school endorses Change Guyana to change the education system

The mother of a student of the Tagore Memorial Secondary School who had her religious attire pulled off her head during a bullying incident at her school wants the issue of bullying in schools to be properly addressed.

The mother, Rosanna Mohamed feels that the entire school system in Guyana should be revamped and policies put in place to act as checks and balances so that they could be early detection of violence and bullying in schools.

She said there is a need to reduce the growing incidents of violence within the school system.

“My personal mission is to spread awareness of bullying and school violence and to help the youth of this country to be good model citizens…I firmly believe that our school system needs to be revised to be better equipped to face the daily challenges our young people are facing today,” she stated.

Mohamed, who is also a teacher, said it is a sad reality that violence is an everyday thing that has now seeped into the school system.

The mother of two said she wants to see the problem hammered out because it has no place in the education system.

“No proper counseling was done with these children. These children need professional help and counseling. My daughter is the victim of this incident is traumatized and I am pleading with the Ministry of Education to send the mobile psychosocial unit to counsel her and the other children.”

Mohamed explained that while the police did a separate investigation into the incident and the file was sent to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), she is yet to hear from that office.

“I never want another child or another mother to experience what we went through. It was an awful experience. As a mother, I am deeply hurt and disappointed that the system failed us,” she remarked.

According to the mother, “in my opinion, there must be a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of violence. Cyberbullying is becoming more a problem too. The use of cell phones and other electronic devices to harass, intimidate, bully and text messages and posting of videos is now prevalent”

With these advanced forms of bullying, the educator said the schools are incapable of dealing with these issues.

With elections coming up in March 2020, the mother said she will be throwing her support behind the recently formed Change Guyana party.

The party is headed by businessman Robert Badal.

Source: https://newssourcegy.com/news/mother-of-child-who-was-bullied-in-school-endorses-change-guyana-to-change-the-education-system/

Mothers of bullied children say Gov’t lacks capability to tackle school violence

Two mothers whose children were bullied in school over the past two months say the Ministry of Education is failing to provide much-needed counselling to the students involved.

Rosanna Mohamed of Port Mourant whose 15-year-old daughter was beaten and stripped of her hijab at Tagore Memorial secondary school in October told the News Room that said since the incident, her daughter has not been attending school on a regular basis.

The woman said she believes both her daughter and the other student involved are in need of urgent counselling but the Ministry’s Welfare Department is incapable of providing the level of help needed.

“The school’s welfare, they cannot do a proper job. They’re just covering up and keeping the matter there. If the professional people come in, they can be able to help these children [and] see what cause this type of behaviour but the children they are going to finish high school and the behaviour will still be there,” she told the News Room at the sidelines of a press conference at the Pegasus Hotel on Tuesday.

Mohamed said she contacted the school, the Welfare Department and the Police but has seen no justice.

The woman, who is also a Nursery School Teacher, said in most instances, the Welfare Department takes too long to respond to issues.

Because of her frustration, Mohamed turned her support to a new political party, Change Guyana and made an endorsement speech at the party’s weekly press conference.

She believes that if elected to office, the party will be able to curb violence in schools.

The mother of two is also using the platform to raise awareness on the matter and called for urgent action.

“The school system needs to be revised to be better equipped to face the daily challenges our young people are facing today. Policies must be put in places to act as checks and balances so that there can be early detection of violence and bullying in schools,” she said in her statement at the press conference.

Meanwhile, Fazia Khan, the mother of 6-year-old Fawaz Asgar whose hand was slashed with a piece of broken glass at the Mon Repos Primary School on the East Coast of Demerara, also raised similar concerns at the press conference.

“I haven’t gotten any words from the teachers as yet. They had promised that they would call me and check on my child and they haven’t done anything as yet. He is acting out…he’s getting aggressive because he’s saying he’s out of school and the child who cut his hand is in school,” the mother told the News Room.

“No one has come forward to offer counsel for my child or me,” she added.

Khan is not joining Change Guyana but says she was there to show support to Mohamed.

Khan said her son has been unable to attend school for three weeks as a result of the injuries sustained to his hand.

The incident occurred on November 13, 2019, and the News Room understands that the child received several stitches.

Khan told the News Room that when she tried to get the matter addressed, she was given the opportunity to transfer the child to the Lusignan Primary School.

“Is that the way to get rid of a parent when their child is a victim?”

The mother said the incident occurred at an old house located in the school’s compound and though the school has promised to remove the house, it is still there.

The News Room had reported on another incident at the Mon Repos Primary School which left an 8-year-old student hospitalized.

The child’s mother had told the News Room that the school was also trying to cover up that matter.

Another incident was publicized where a male student was seen beating a female student at the Richard Ishmael Secondary School recently.

Education Minister, Nicolette Henry then asked the student to apologise raising additional concerns about the Ministry’s inability to deal with violence in schools.

Source: https://newsroom.gy/2019/12/03/mothers-of-bullied-children-say-govt-lacks-capability-to-tackle-school-violence/

Minister Jordan is wrong; investments need to be incentivised or will not come to Guyana

November 25, 2019 –  Change Guyana noted with concern the remarks made by the Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, who labelled the Private Sector as “ruse” lamenting the heavy taxation restricting business operations over the years. First of all, it is not restricting business operations per se, rather, it is restricting investments.

New investments need to be incentivised in the same manner foreign investor’ benefit from massive incentives to attract foreign direct investments. If one were to examine the Exxon oil contract for example, Exxon has been exempted from paying taxes for the life of the project. In fact, the Government of Guyana has to pay Exxon’s corporate taxes on Exxon’s behalf from the Government of Guyana share of profit. They have been exempted from VAT and import duties on all equipment that they would need to import for their operations.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a working paper in 2008 which comprised of a study on Corporate Income Tax (CIT) Competition in the Caribbean. That study consistently showed Guyana as having the highest Corporate tax rates over all years studied.

Without getting too technical by delving into the myriad of heavy taxations in Guyana, if we are going to have one of the highest corporate taxes, then this by itself inhibits the competitive nature of private sector businesses from making new investments. More interestingly, the manufacturing companies are subject to the highest level of corporate taxation and hence, how can these companies become competitive against their Caribbean Counterparts who operate within a much more competitive and business friendly fiscal environment.

The reliance on heavy taxation to finance big, bloated Governments under successive PPP and APNU Administrations has given our Government the largest share of the national pie by transferring resources from the private sector and citizens alike. Why would the Government of the second poorest country in this hemisphere, after Haiti, with a quarter of the per capita income of little Antigua, pursue a policy of high taxation and big Governments that restricts investments, creates poverty and joblessness rather than a more growth oriented policy of lean Government and low taxation that creat jobs and lift us out of poverty. A policy of low taxation would expand economic opportunities by attracting investments in a resource rich country like Guyana.

“The reliance on extortionary levels of taxation over the past three decades is the largest failure of economic policy in our history. Soon after inauguration, the Finance Minister enacted some 200 new tax measures including tax on water, electricity and education.  To buy a car one have to pay for two to three cars depending on the size of the engine. This is nothing but state extortion,” said Mr. Robert Badal, Presidential Candidate of Change Guyana.

“These realities need to change if Guyana is intended to become more nationally competitive and where private sector businesses can produce more value added goods and services and engage in more risky investments to foster broader and more sustainable economic growth and development,” Mr. Badal added.

Change Guyana intends to pursue a policy of low taxation supported by a lean, business oriented Government that creates jobs and alleviate poverty by giving the private sector and Guyanese generally more control of their earnings, instead of extracting maximum taxes to finance a corrupt Government

For media enquiries: info@ChangeGuyana.com

CHANGE GUYANA CONCERNED ABOUT LACK OF URGENCY IN DEALING WITH INCREASING SCHOOL VIOLENCE

November 24, 2019 – GEORGETOWN. Change Guyana is concerned about the recent spate of violence in schools and the lack of urgency in dealing with same by government institutions such as the Ministry of Education and the Child Care and Protection Agency.

The economic development focused party is referencing a Letter to the Editor in the Kaieteur News, dated November 24, 2019 under the caption ‘Bullying and Violence in our Schools’. The writer expressed concerns about the outcome of the investigations into several incidents of bullying and violence, including one where a Muslim student’s hijab (head scarf) was ripped off. It was noted that nothing much appears to have been done since these incidents occurred and no known action taken by any Government Agencies with oversight for such misconduct and hateful behaviour. Meanwhile, the parents of the children who were beaten in school, are faced with hefty medical bills, with no help from the government.

Presidential Candidate, Robert Badal said, “Bullying and violence has no place in our school, we have to build a protecting and nurturing educational environment, that’s fundamental. Sadly, bullying in our schools is symptomatic of what is happening in the wider political sphere, where “political leaders are also bullying each other publicly and therefore are not setting an example for our children to follow,’ he added.

“Over the years Guyanese have been bullied by successive governments into accepting cruel waste of human resources, burdensome taxation, sub-standard utilities, sub-standard health care and other services, and sub-standard protection against crime. Under this administration, we were bullied into accepting a unilaterally appointed Chairman of GECOM despite this being illegal and now we’re being bullied to accept an illegal government. So, one wonders why bulling is school is going unnoticed and not being addressed,” commented Mr. Badal.

Change Guyana has a vibrant youth development policy which encompasses education and the protection of our young people in and out of school. This Policy will be unveiled at the Party’s weekly Press Conference.
For media enquiries: info@ChangeGuyana.com

The Robert Badal Story

From the sugar cane fields to The Helm of Guyana’s Leading Hotel…

For every young aspiring entrepreneur I would ask that you never underestimate your talent or capability. Believe that anything is possible, set realistic goals and work hard towards their achievement. It is rare that success would come right away, therefore be persistent and patient. At times, you may not have all the answers to immediate problems, seek advice and reach out to a mentor. Remember that success breeds success, but such would be short lived if you spend your gains unwisely.

The achievements of Robert Badal, in 20 years of prudent business activities, have placed him among the leading entrepreneurs in Guyana. In a country known for its rich agriculture lands and mineral wealth, he has built a business empire comprising of agro-processing and Guyana’s leading International Hotel.

Robert Badal’s story is one of true entrepreneurship, described best by the words perseverance, determination and commitment. From spending his early years as a water boy in the sugar cane fields, to now being a successful business tycoon, Badal has used the last two decades to develop a portfolio of profitable businesses by his very grit and willingness to explore new territories.

The business mogul has always been focused, disciplined and motivated, even as a little lad, so it is no surprise that Badal now stands at the helm of two of the most lucrative businesses in Guyana.

He has defied the odds and today, his flagship company, Guyana Stockfeeds Inc., is the leading producer of animal feeds with 70% of the local market. Its high quality, high-value parboiled rice, marketed under the “Angel” Brand, dominates supermarkets in Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica.

In 2009, Badal acquired the prestigious Pegasus Hotel, located on the tip of Georgetown’s Atlantic Coast, and made his mark on the local hospitality landscape.

Formative Years

Badal spent his early childhood in a tiny village on the East Bank of Berbice. The eldest of three children, he lived with his father Robert Badal Sr., a farmer, while his brother and sister lived with his aunt nearby. The business mogul’s mother died before he started pre-school, and being the eldest, he had the responsibility of helping his dad on the farm on weekends and holidays.

“I really did not have much playtime. During the week I attended school, and weekends I assisted on the farm. At first, I thought it was unfair because my cousins had the entire weekend for themselves while I had to be on a farm but I quickly got into it. Initially I believed that it was the company my dad needed, but as I grew older I started to help paddle our boat on the five mile trip to our farm and then assisted with the weeding, cutting bushes, and harvesting plantains, pumpkins, cucumbers, and papayas, and so. It was hard work to leave early in the morning and returning after dark,” Badal related.
Continuing, he told Guyana Inc. “What I particularly liked was traveling with my dad to New Amsterdam, the nearest town 25 miles away, to sell our produce. After a few trips, I was convinced that I was a better salesman than my dad.”

After graduating from primary school, Badal got a break away from the farm to attend secondary school in New Amsterdam. He boarded with an aunt and rode five miles every morning on weekdays to attend the Berbice High School. “My bicycle was my tool of trade as I couldn’t afford the fare by bus or car,” Badal shared.
Badal enjoyed his high school days, but tragedy soon struck; halfway through high school, his dad passed on. Despite the setback, he managed to complete high school, graduating top of his class.

This opened doors to many opportunities for Badal but finding a job to assist his aunt to support her five children and sister became his immediate priority. Though he had an offer to teach at a nearby primary school, Badal chose to work in the sugar cane fields as a water boy. He had already considered that he could earn a higher pay when overtime was taken into account.

“I was only 17 years old but I would be on GuySuCo’s truck at 5AM each day with the cane cutters. I would not return until around 7PM: my skin and clothing all blackened from the burnt sugar cane dust. I would be the first to arrive at the worksite and the last to leave the cane fields, Sunday to Sunday. Even though I wanted to further my studies at the University level, I needed the money,” Badal confided.
“It was unusual at the time to find anyone with seven subjects GCE O’ Levels in the cane fields. Everyone aspired to have a well-dressed, fancy job in an office or to be a teacher but my responsibility was my drive and motivation,” the businessman added.

Fortune favoured Badal. After a few years in the sugar cane fields, someone “spotted him” and offered him a GuySuCo (Guyana Sugar Corporation) cadetship to study for a Diploma in Agriculture at the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA). Two years later, he graduated with distinction.

Badal continued in GuySuCo as a field supervisor. In fact, he was the youngest at the time. Badal quickly realized, however, that he needed a career much more exciting and he started preliminary accounting studies in the evenings after work. It was two years after Badal registered with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the prestigious London based professional accounting body, that he completed the entire program, a record even up to today.

“The rest was history. There was some degree of restlessness in me throughout my working career. I was quick to get settled in a new job because I am a quick learner, highly motivated and disciplined. I would work on multiple assignments at the same time and get a lot done in a given day. I was never the one to walk around, chatting or being distracted in anyway and there was no social media at the time. All social activities were after work,” the hotelier reflected.
It was no surprise that having the qualifications of a certified accountant provided many opportunities. After a few senior executive posts, locally and overseas, the restlessness returned. Badal needed a greater challenge. “This time I was ready and eager to be my own boss. The active field of entrepreneurship provided the answer to my lingering restlessness,” the businessman said.

Rice Trading

It was 1994 that he found his first business calling. At the time, Badal had started studies for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus in Jamaica. It was there that the idea of trading rice between Guyana, an efficient producer, and Jamaica, a large consumer of white rice, emerged.

A number of conditions in both markets facilitated his easy entry. Guyanese rice millers had a poor reputation in the Jamaican market, in terms of quality and reliability. Even though Guyana was a CARICOM member state with tariff protection of 25%, most of the rice entering Jamaica annually came from American producers. Additionally, the large Guyanese producers preferred the lucrative European markets that sported duty-free access via the OCT (Other Countries and Territories) route for semi-milled cargo rice. But, this route was then coming to an end with the global review of preferential access.

“My strategy was to take the first-mover advantage in developing a brand of rice in advance and marketing this to distributors in containerized shipments instead of shiploads. I identified a number of rice millers willing to work with me, negotiated forward contracts in return for providing financing. Consistent quality was demanded,” the businessman shared.

He said progress was slow at first but word of great quality, lower prices and reliability of smaller shipments soon spread and his market share gradually accelerated. Within four years, Badal’s “SUPA” brand had wedged its way to securing 30% of the Jamaican market.

During the out-of-crop season when, at times, supply from Guyana was low, he would co-share a vessel with a grain company and ship his supply from the USA.

His business model was a resounding success but was it sustainable? Even at the height of strong market position, Badal was aware that the almost perfect market conditions he created and enjoyed would attract other players, even some of his own suppliers. The OCT route to Europe ended and it was only a matter of time that the floodgates of suppliers and supply would open, depressing both prices and margins.

Strategic Diversification and Expansion

The Guyanese Government, under its privatization agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had placed a number of state entities up for sale. These included the country’s leading livestock feed manufacturer, Guyana Stockfeeds Inc., and the adjacent edible oil producer, National Edible Oil Company.

“My thinking was that these two companies provided an attractive vehicle in building an integrated industrial complex whereby my rice business would provide needed cash flows and raw materials for livestock feed production. The by-product of the edible oils operations would also provide essential raw materials, further expanding total synergies,” the renowned entrepreneur shared.
It was not long after that Badal emerged the successful bidder for both companies, having offered the highest prices and the best business plans. And so, the curtains were drawn for large industrial expansion in the livestock feed business.

Building Core Competence

Most companies under government control are weak. Guyana Stockfeeds, on acquisition, was weak strategically with a low production capacity, poor product quality and high unit cost. Faced with the scenario of increasing imports with the opening of the economy, the company needed to strengthen its core competence, capacity, reliability, competitive price, integration with sources of raw materials, and strong brand support among customers, inter alia.

Financing was obtained locally as well as from the USA Exim Bank insured facilities. Storage capacity for corn, rice byproducts, and soya meal were doubled. The feed production processes were automated; pelleting technologies were installed to enhanced quality and give farmers better feed conversion into meats; staffers were trained in the new technologies; energy management and production were enhanced; and strong linkages were forged with farmers around the country with an attractive incentive scheme. A hatchery – the missing link to supply day old chicks – was built. All profits were reinvested and dividends minimized during this period of expansion.

As a result, feed production went from 15,000mt in 1998 to 55,000mt where it presently stands, as local poultry production expanded.

Transition to Parboiled Rice Production

As predicted, the margins on trading white rice were gradually declining. With the acquisition of Guyana Stockfeeds Inc., a strategic decision was taken to introduce a higher value, higher priced rice with higher margins; one that is least affected by market conditions.
Unlike white rice, parboiled rice is pre-cooked to retain its B vitamins. It attracts higher prices but require large investments in specialized parboiling technologies.

In 2007, the company opened its state-of-the-art, computer controlled parboiled rice mill. Its “Uncle Bens” quality marketed under its brand “Angel” distinguished it from other brands produced locally. Within a short time, Angel Parboiled Rice made itself a favorite in supermarkets in Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada and Jamaica. Today, this brand is marketed in retail sizes and holds a dominant share in those markets.

Business Diversification – Acquisition of Pegasus Hotel

The opening of the parboiled rice plant immediately preceded the global financial turmoil of 2008. Although it had no impact on its exports and even helped its entry into overseas markets (because of its strategic advantages in relation to suppliers from US), Badal recognized the need for further diversification of his group’s overall business risk. Soon, he was on the lookout for attractive opportunities.

He didn’t have to look too far. Conveniently, that opportunity presented itself in Guyana’s most prestigious hotel, the then Le Meridian Pegasus, which sits on the tip of Georgetown’s Atlantic Coast.

A part of the then Le Meridian Group, the hotel was internationally renowned and it boasted of high repeat customers, among them diplomats, heads of state, business executives and the English Royalty.

“It never crossed my mind that one day I would be having an interest in this prestigious national treasure. Then, one evening while have a drink at its famous Poolside Bar, an executive from Pegasus’s London Office approached and said that the hotel is on the market,” the businessman recalled.

“I took a few extra drinks at the idea of this prospect, but by morning my regained soberness had me asking ‘Why? Can I afford it? Where would the money come from?’”

Within a month of reviewing the financials and other information he received, Badal made an offer. “I questioned my offer because I thought it was on the low side but it was configured on the basis of the amount of financing I believed I could raise on an optimistic basis.” Much to his surprise, the seller’s agent’s – Merrill Lynch, the reputable wall street firm – response was that his proposal was among their two most favored proposals and that the final decision would be based on each bidder‘s ability to immediately pay the deposit and raise the financing subject to contract.

Badal wasted no time in requesting the draft contract and quickly reviewed it with legal advice. He requested a number of changes and within a month signed a legally binding agreement to buy the hotel. The deposit was paid the same day. “I could not believe it, even shortly after I signed,” the hotelier admitted.

“Confident of my credit worthiness and my previous successes in business deals, little did I anticipate the problems in concluding financial closure and the political obstacles and abuse of power I was about to confront,” Badal shared.

He related that it took him eight months to conclude this deal. During this time, Badal faced interferences from political quarters which he believed were intended to frustrate his legally binding contract.

This is what he said: “It was almost a drama that would make a best-selling movie, but on April 9, 2009, I walked into the lobby of Pegasus Hotel with my attorney, took the seal of the company, the minute book, the share certificate and share register from its General Manager. I was now the first local owner of the Pegasus Hotel. I had defeated the odds,” Badal recalled.

The next day, the local media went wild with the news.

Refurbishment Works

The hotel was built in 1969 and it was always profitable but little was spent on refurbishment over the years. With no experience in hotel management or interior designs, Badal’s priority was to upgrade its facilities and enhance guest experience.
“I learned quickly with a few consultants but added my own touch to what is today a great hotel to stay at with continued repeat customers,” Badal said.

All of its 130 rooms are now completely redone with a clean cut contemporary decor, a sprawling, defined Pool Bar and Grill, a lobby wine bar, two restaurants and an executive Bar and Lounge on the roof with stunning views of the city and Atlantic Ocean that caters to the entertainment needs of local and overseas customers.

Secrets to His Success

In every industry, there are some factors that are fundamental to the success of any business within it. It is important to identify these from the onset for initial and continued growth, Badal said, as he added that every industry changes over time as it matures and the competition increases.

He told Guyana Inc. that more qualitative factors define continued success since one’s competitive advantages are eroded by other players.

“Successful businessmen identify these factors driving changes within an industry and ensure that their human resources and company as a whole are equipped to take advantage of the opportunities emerging from these changes. Hard work, careful and strategic planning, innovation and creativity, empowerment of staff are all hallmarks of a strong, stable and competitive business,” the tycoon divulged.

He added “Personally, I have competent leadership in all my businesses. My job is to steer the ship, motivate the crew and allow them to do their job and express their own creativity and innovation needed to deliver consistently good results. This is what I refer to as management by exception. I receive one-page reports every morning from each business via email. This guides any intervention I may decide to make.”

This leading entrepreneur is of the view that success in business comes not by looking at the bottom line, as important as this is, but by focusing on and expanding the top line. “There could be no healthy bottom line if the top line is unhealthy or unstable,” Badal told Guyana Inc.

“Looking back at where I started and where I am today, there was never any doubt in my mind that I would get somewhere significant but I believe that, to some extent, I have surprised myself,” he said.
After spending more than 20 years building his empire, Badal shares “For every young aspiring entrepreneur I would ask that you never underestimate your talent or capability, believe that anything is possible, and set realistic goals and work hard towards their achievement. It is rare that success would come right away, therefore be persistent and patient. At times, you may not have all the answers to immediate problems, seek advice and reach out to a mentor. Remember that success breeds success but such would be short lived if you spend your gains unwisely.”

STATEMENT OF ENDORSEMENT OF THE “CHANGE GUYANA PARTY”

I was born at Skeldon and lived there until 8 years old when we left to live in Crabwood Creek. I went to UG form 1965 to 1970; got married in 1971 and then migrated to Canada in 1973 where I pursued higher education, worked until 1988 and then became fully self employed.

I returned to Guyana to invest in 1995 and eventually purchased part of the Plantation Versailles Estate on the west bank. While maintaining my business interests in Canada, I developed the Roraima Trust & Investment Inc housing scheme and later built the Aracari Resort.

I am endorsing the Change Guyana Party (CGP) as the Right Choice Right Now for Guyanese. The CGP is a “Guyana is for Guyanese” Party. We are looking for true Guyanese; not Indo Guyanese or Afro Guyanese or Amerindian Guyanese; but just Guyanese. Those of us who loves Guyana without a race qualification.

In 1964, I had just finished high school and was a young teacher observing the election of that year. The first election with Proportional Representation. Since then Guyanese have lost the power to choose their representative in parliament. Instead they were choosing a party and the party was choosing the representatives. And the parties were already race based. So it should be no wonder today that we end up with ethnic politics, racial insecurity, racial discrimination, widespread corruption and politicization of the civil service with its accompanying incompetent governance.

These are the real problems that need to get solved. It is by solving these problems we will be able to move the country from having great potential to realizing its great potential.

The CGP intends to become the change agent to solve these problems.

The only real solution to Guyana’s problems is “Democracy”. You can debate this all you want and you will come up with the same answers; Guyana’s problems can be solved by empowering the people with the right to choose who governs them. You can only have accountable governance in a democratic society. Power must be vested in the people.

This is the real change that the CGP is promising.

Constitutional Reform has been tried and despite the many changes, we now have a government for almost a year without a real legal mandate to govern. More reform has been promised but the players are only promising but not doing. They are happy with the current situation.

Reform is not the answer.

Guyana needs a constitution that is specifically designed to empower the people to hold government accountable for good governance. Such a constitution will return democracy to Guyana, solve the problems of ethnic politics and insecurity; racial discrimination, corruption and incompetent governance.

The Change Guyana Party has a progressive program to ignite the Guyana economy, free the private sector to invest and create jobs, and return democracy to Guyana.

The CGP does not want to take but to give. The CGP will work hard to give back to the Guyanese the right to choose who will represent and govern them. This will be the beginning of the end to ethnic insecurity, racial discrimination, prejudice, widespread corruption and incompetence.

These are goals I am prepared to support; it is for these reasons, I am joining the effort with the CGP to bring about the changes so that Guyana can realise its full potential.

Sase

Another AFC supporter joins Badal’s party

A businessman who supported the Alliance For Change (AFC) in the past has joined the Change Guyana political party.

Sase Shewnarain, the owner of Aracari Resort and Roraima Trust & Investment Inc. on Tuesday attended Change Guyana’s weekly press conference at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown where he endorsed the new political party which is also led by a former AFC Supporter, Robert Badal.

“At this point right now, I feel it is incumbent upon me, a duty to endorse the Change Guyana party as a right choice, right now for Guyanese,” the businessman said.

Shewarain was born in Guyana and migrated to Canada for many years before returning in 1995 when he opened Roraima Trust and Investment Inc. and later the Aracari resort.

Although he has never been a member of another political party, he supported the AFC in 2015.

Speaking with the News Room at the sidelines of the press conference, Shewnarain said even after the AFC coalesced with the APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) he still believed that the party would stand on their principles.

Sase Shewnarain

“They went and [coalesce] on the basis that they will stand on their principles, they will see to it that their agenda is still going to be implemented. They fail to do that. They were subsumed, in my perspective, I have not seen any independence among them in terms of keeping to their agenda,” he told the News Room.

Shewnarain believes the AFC has abandoned its principles and such, cannot effect change from this point forward.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Candidate of Change Guyana, Robert Badal on Tuesday also spoke about the AFC, a party which he previously supported, noting that “the Alliance For Change wasn’t really a change because they got subsumed within the coalition and forgot all of their policies, their manifestos, their agendas, their independence, everything so was not a real effort for change.”

The AFC was on Friday last asked about its supporters and members who have left the party over the last four to five years. Deputy General Secretary of the Party, Lenno Craig told reporters that this is normal in politics but the party will not falter due to this.

He admitted that the party “mourns” the loss of supporters, financiers and members but Craig said, “it is one of those things that happen in politics, every party has suffered that and we have contingency plans in place, the AFC will not stumble and fall because of that.”

Given the number of persons who walked away from the AFC over the past years including former Parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud, some persons have argued that the party has lost its bargaining power with its coalition partner.

Meanwhile, a young businesswoman also endorsed Change Guyana on Tuesday. Tonaina Samaroo who is into the mining business is now venturing into politics but she believes aligning with this new party, she can contribute more to Guyana.

Change Guyana and GCCI encourage voting on issues not race

November 14, 2019 – GEORGETOWN. The Presidential and Prime Ministerial Candidates of Change Guyana met with the President and Executive Council members of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) on Tuesday Nov. 12, 2019 in the first of a series of consultations with key stakeholders.

Presidential Candidate Robert Badal and Prime Ministerial Candidate Nigel Hinds complimented the Chamber on its progress over the years as an advocate for business and shared the party’s vision for the people.

Badal, a high profile and successful business exective, explained the rationale for forming Change Guyana, noting that he and his running mate, an Auditor, agree on the need for a government that wants to serve as opposed to being self-serving. He outlined some of the party’s plans, including tax reform, restructuring GPL and a holistic approach to development where anti-corruption measures will be needed to ensure the population benefits from the oil wealth.

Prime Ministerial Candidate, Hinds noted that the culture of “vendetta politics” needs to change and Change Guyana is looking to organisations in leadership roles, such as the Chamber, to push people to focus on issues rather than tribal politics.

The businessmen invited input from the Chamber on what measures will positively impact business and asked for the GCCI’s support to restore order and accountability to governance of the country.

President Nicholas Deygoo-Boyer noted that as an apolitical organisation, the Chamber’s support will come in the form of disseminating communication from all parties to the general membership. Each party will also be given an opportunity to share their plans to move Guyana forward at an upcoming talk series, to be hosted by the Chamber early next year.

He pointed out that the Chamber wants to encourage voters to move away from using race and tradition as the criteria for choosing its government. The Chamber would like to see voters analyzing the proposals by various parties and making a choice based on a judgement of which party has the best plan for development.

Deygoo-Boyer indicated that the Chamber is working on a 10-point plan to improve the business environment which will be shared with all the parties and the general public.

Among those present at today’s meeting were GCCI Junior Vice President Sheliza Shaw, Treasurer Kester Hutson, Past President Komal Ramnauth and Executive Director Richard Rambarran, all of whom congratulated Badal and Hinds for taking the bold step to bring their business success and experience to the leadership of Guyana.

Change Guyana, a party with a laser focus on the economic development of Guyana, has commenced its campaign nationwide.  The business community and younger voters, as is expected, is energized by Change Guyana’s policies for the electricity sector, tax reforms and other critical areas that would impact economic development and address the widespread joblessness, crime and oppressive taxes.

Change Guyana promises cheaper cars, no VAT on mobile data, electricity or water

Change Guyana’s Prime Ministerial candidate, Nigel Hinds and Presidential Candidate, Robert Badal.

The Change Guyana political party on Tuesday proposed a steep reduction or elimination of a range of taxes as a way of reducing poverty and stimulating private sector-led development.

The party is promising to make the first GYD$100,000 of salaries free from income tax in 2020, in view of its calculation that a household cost of living is GYD$120,000 per month. “The effective increase in income will allow for increased access to goods and serviced for the working class

Accusing government of extorting Guyanese by imposing a total of between 84 percent and 247 percent duties and taxes on imported vehicles, Change Guyana said the working class cannot afford recently made vehicles with modern technology. Change Guyana’s Prime Ministerial candidate, Nigel Hinds says his political party plans to reduce those taxes from 75 percent to 100 percent on vehicles from under 1,500 to 3,000 CC.  “Change Guyana reduced tax rates on vehicle imports will enable a significant number of Guyanese to acquire new vehicles and live their lives with more dignity, safety and happiness.

We have to move away from the current system that primarily allows ministers, high level State employees and senior government contract workers to enjoy that pleasurable experience of owning or using new vehicles. We believe that building of a middle class is a forerunner to economic development,” said Hinds, a well-known Chartered Accountant.

Change Guyana also promises to remove import taxes on farming, mining, oil, construction and fishing to increase employment, and value-added products for exports. The party plans to attract investors by abolishing property, estate and the 20 percent capital gain taxes.

He says this will level the business field between foreign investors who get tax concessions and Guyanese as well as cut the frustrating paperwork at the Guyana Revenue Authority.

“The repeal of these taxes will reduce the taxes collected by less than three percent for the specific taxes and will incentivise local businesses and individuals to have real ownership of property and allow the owners to price their property at market price, free from fear of tax charges, provide reliable property valuations, increase economic activity and remove bureaucratic administrative requirements and costly procedures for taxpayers so overall it will result in higher revenue collection and provide for more fairness in the tax system,” he said.

Another tax relief measure, according to Change Guyana, is the reduction of Value Added Tax from 14 percent to 12 percent and the abolition of Value Added Tax on electricity, water, smart phones and cellular data plans to allow low-income families to access learning platforms.

However, Change Guyana’s Presidential candidate, Robert Badal cannot say how much money will the treasury lose every year by giving up those taxes and how it intends to pay expenses. “To make that evaluation at this point in time is difficult because you are required to prepare a budget to do that,” he said, adding that  his party was confident of balancing the budget or generating a surplus. Badal said his party was merely stating its policies based on his members’ knowledge of business, and multiplier effect of money on the economy.