Dear Editor,Officials of the Bank of Guyana (BoG) and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) need to be aware that the illegal trade of foreign currency appears to be very active among merchants and migrants from other countries, which may be a contributing factor to the reduced value of the Guyana dollar.Over the past month, I witnessed illegal activities first hand in two stores that I had only briefly visited.At one store on Regent Street, Georgetown, close to Regent Street, a Cuban national purchased several items which were paid for in US dollars.The goods, which were originally priced in Guyana dollars, were converted to US dollar equivalent at an exchange rate that was not aligned to those of the BoG, local commercial banks, or Cambios. Since I was next in line behind the Cuban customer, witnessing the transaction was inevitable. When my turn came to pay for my purchase, I curiously asked the female money collector, who appeared to be of Chinese origin working in concert with some persons of suspected Indian or Bangladeshi origin, if I could pay in US dollars too. Her curt response was, “Not for you! Not for you”.I continued my probe by asking her if she had a Cambio Licence and she responded in dismissive fashion by saying that she did not understand me. I left the store without desiring to press the matter further.The next occurrence of this type of activity was observed again on Regent Street, but closer to Albert Street, in a hardware store. A group of Spanish-speaking men and women entered the store under the guidance of a Guyanese man.They were escorted to a section of the store where a man of Chinese origin, who apparently owns or manages the store, proceeded to purchase sums of US currency from the foreigners. I looked around in the store, then went outside, inquisitively searching for any sign that the store operated Cambio services. However, there was none.I also heard stories from usually reliable sources about a store on Robb Street where mainly Cubans and Venezuelans are selectively invited to enter during the early morning hours. The grilled doors are then closed to permit the foreign nationals to conduct purchases using US dollars.If this is the usual and daily practice by shop and store owners who bypass, evade, and subvert the established regulatory financial system in Guyana, the reduced value of local currency compared to the US dollar is merely a symptom of a much larger problem that officials need to extensively investigate in order to restore order, the value, and stability of the Guyana dollar.Yours faithfully,Orette Cutting
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The Minister of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), Axel M. Addy, said an innovative economy is a dynamic and attractive one, and showcasing progress on the Information Communication Technology (ICT) front can help Liberia to attract investment and promote micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) across the country.Minister Addy made the assertion Thursday at the kickoff of this year’s MSME conference held at the Liberian Marketplace in Sinkor, which was graced by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; United States Ambassador Christine Elder; John B. S. Davies, President of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI); Frederick B. Norkeh, Minister of Post and Telecommunications; Chief Executive Officer of Orange Liberia, Mamadou Coulibaly; as well as members of the National Legislature and innovative entrepreneurs of Liberia among others.He called Liberian innovators, MSME stakeholders and policy-makers to embrace this year’s MSME conference to exchange ideas and share lessons learned, in order to derive innovative solutions and policy recommendations to ensure ICT’s full potential will be exploited.“Through ICT innovation, MSMEs can combine growth with social impact, uplifting not only the economy, but also solving the social challenges our fellow Liberians may still face. Because of this inclusive growth it generates, ICT innovations hold a great promise for the future of our country and of our people,” Minister Addy said.He observed that in order to fully seize this opportunity and continue to push the frontiers of technology, this year’s focus on “Promoting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Liberia” will highlight the vital role of innovation in our economy.Minister Addy said the MSME conference is also intended for key stakeholders from the public and private sectors to meet to discuss the challenges the country still faces to fully play a role in the digital revolution and what policy-makers, business community and civil society organizations can do to encourage and facilitate innovation in Liberia.“We all share a responsibility in exploiting these new opportunities and expanding our productive frontiers through innovation, in order to truly enable Liberia to take off. MSMEs need to adapt innovative solutions for their business development. Policy measures and public programs must encourage ICT usage and innovation by fostering a conducive business environment,” he added.He said “To create a middle-income Liberia, both grand and small innovations are necessary. This conference is not only the opportunity to proudly present cutting-edge innovations, but also to prove that innovation is accessible to all. Marginal adaptations of technology to everyday products can profoundly impact our routines.”Minister Addy said this year again, “Our Entrepreneur-Plus (“E+”) program, a two-year business incubation program awarding US$100,000 in seed funding to reward the most promising young entrepreneurs, will take place in cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden and Mercy Corps. We are also hosting a business innovation pitch competition to award prizes worth US$20,000 to ICT innovators.”Minister Addy said Vice President, Amb. Joseph N. Boakai will reward the best innovators on Saturday, as everyone enjoys a day of shopping and music at the concert organised by Orange.He said “From international marketing strategies to streamlining daily processes, inventory tracking, e-payments and cashless transactions, ICT is already present in many aspects of our MSMEs lives. But seeing that the sector already represents 7% of Africa’s jobs, and that 12% of the world’s cross-border trade in goods happens through e-commerce, it becomes evident that while digital innovations have impacted everyday life in Liberia, much of the revolution’s potential remains untapped.”Christine Elder, United States Ambassador to Liberia, said while the conference focuses on ICT, entrepreneurship is only partly driven by technology, stating “Entrepreneurship involves having a vision and taking risks.”According to her, technology can help entrepreneurs to be more efficient and successful, whether working in a market stall, storefront or from the kitchen table, describing info technology and this year’s location as excellent choices for the conference.She said a modern ICT sector has the potential to contribute to Liberia’s progress from increased economic growth to improved agricultural productivity and enhanced access to education and health.“The United States applauds Liberia for committing to develop a robust ICT sector and for acknowledging the central role this can play in strengthening the country’s economy and development, adding “The United States remains committed to help Liberia achieve this goal.”In addition, Madam Elder said the United States provides support for e-government and digital financial systems that can bring financial service to Liberians currently not being served by the formal banking sector. “We are also providing technical assistance on policies to help Liberia develop the regulatory and policy environment to grow its ICT sector.President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said she was impressed with the level of contribution made to the sector MSME by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), and its partners which has impacted the sector largely.“The present of entrepreneurs here today and our partners demonstrate the gains being made and will continue to contribute to the development of the sector. I am proud to see our market women speaking and demanding of what they want,” she said.Keynote speakers Mlen-Too Wesley and Charles D. Cooper, founders of Cookshop.biz, called on Liberian innovators to partner in order to make progress within the sector.“Liberia needs more ICT innovators and working together as innovators will greatly help in achieving such a milestone. Liberia can make serious progress within this sector when everyone comes together and continue to build collaboration,” they noted. They said Liberia will achieve more within the ICT sector if innovators can see partnership as key to the general development of Liberia.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Aug 28 2018There has been a steady stream of headlines declaring that life expectancy in the United States is decreasing.And the often-cited reason is the climbing number of opioid-related deaths.Those two facts piqued the interest of a group of researchers who sought to reframe the way these trends can be viewed.”We have a problem that is otherwise being underestimated,” said Ian Rockett, an injury epidemiologist and professor emeritus at West Virginia University.Suicide rates have been steadily climbing, Rockett said, but their numbers are likely even higher. He said too often opioid-related drug overdoses aren’t classified as suicides, and he thinks they should be. These deaths are often deemed by medical examiners as “accidental injury deaths” unless a suicide note is found. This classification doesn’t take into account that suicide and drug overdoses both arise from “purposeful” behaviors.To get at the root of that problem, Rockett and his colleagues developed a model of self-injury mortality that factors together both categories — overdose deaths and suicides. This combined classification “is intended to promote prevention and earlier interventions” by recognizing common, preexisting mental health issues that could have been in play, the researchers wrote.”By always separating drug deaths from suicide is to underestimate the mental health crisis,” Rockett said. “These are all mental health issues, and they need to be on the front burner.”The report, published Monday in the British journal Injury Prevention, shows that together these deaths would become the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., just surpassing diabetes.It also focuses attention from lawmakers and health practitioners on the nation’s mental health crisis and how both suicide and overdose death rates highlight the system’s gaps. Rockett conducted a similar study two years earlier.”When a death is an accident, there’s a tendency for people to say, ‘Nothing we could do about that.’ By putting the emphasis on self-injury, we draw greater attention to the problem and particularly as an overriding mental health issue,” Rockett said.Related StoriesAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyTrump administration cracks down on fetal tissue researchScientists develop universal FACS-based approach to heterogenous cell sorting, propelling organoid researchAccording to CDC data, the incidence of suicide increased from 10.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2000 to 13.5 per 100,000 in 2016.Rates of drug overdose deaths have increased threefold, from 6.1 out of 100,000 deaths in 1999 to 19.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.Rockett found that in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, self-injury deaths accounted for 29.1 out of every 100,000 deaths.But not everyone is sold on Rockett’s concept.”I understand what he’s trying to do, I’m still not sure of the utility of combining these,” said Bob Anderson, the chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.There’s overlap between drug overdose deaths and suicides, Anderson said, adding that suicides by overdose are underestimated in general.”I don’t dispute [Rockett’s] conclusions,” he said, although he suggested not all overdoses should be considered the same as suicides.”By lumping all of them into one category we may miss some important distinctions that need to be Rachel Bluth: firstname.lastname@example.org, @RachelHBluth This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.