Bill could have far reaching implications – MP

first_imgNational Payments System bill…must be supported by reliable Internet, cyber securityThe National Payments System Bill of 2018, which will among other things, allow for facilitating more electronic transactions in society, is slated to be read again the next time Government business is dispensed with in the National Assembly.According to People’s Progressive Party (PPP) frontbencher Irfaan Ali, however, the new law could have negative effects on consumers, unless Government sets appropriate guidelines… for instance, it could increase the cost of doing business, as well as be subject to unreliable Internet.“With respect to the payment system, cost of transactions will go up to customers because someone has to pay for the service. It could be quite high if not regulated by strong guidelines.”“Cyber security will have to be addressed since the entire system can be shut down,” Ali also posited. “Internet connection will have to be better and safe as wellOpposition parliamentarian Irfaan Alias reliable. Residents in rural and hinterland will have to wait for payments. (The bill should be) more friendly to elderly and low-income customers.”Guyana’s poor Information Communication Technology (ICT) capabilities are well known. According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) country strategy report on Guyana for 2017 to 2021, Guyana has been lagging in this area. And because of this, everything is affected; from the service Government entities provide to the public, to the ability to implement effective policies.“The limited use of ICT not only impedes the development of a robust data gathering/dissemination mechanism necessary for evidence-based decision-making, but also affects the Government’s front-office functions directed at businesses and citizens, including the facilitation of business climate and procedural services for citizens,” the report had stated.“This is reflected in Guyana’s low position in the e-Government Survey published by the United Nations, where it ranks 126th out of 193 countries, with a score of 0.37 out of one, well below the regional and sub-regional averages,” the report notes.According to the report, the ability to design policy is further constrained by the limited collection and use of data. The bank acknowledged that while Guyana’s overall statistical capacity building has improved over the years; it is still behind its Latin-American and Caribbean (LAC) counterparts.The billThe bill in question contains provisions for persons to use “electronic money” through SIM cards and software accepted as a means of payment. There are also provisions for presenting cheques in electronic form.And then there are the penalties, which range from a fine of $500,000 and two years’ imprisonment when convicted as an individual to a $2 million fine as a body corporate. Part 12, section 51 speaks to various offences and penalties designed to keep the payment system running smoothly.The penalties apply to section seven and eight (attaining a licence before providing payment system or service). The Act states that banks, as direct participants in the system, do not have to acquire a licence. The same applies for money transfer service providers. However, section three (a) adds that they must comply with all other requirements of the Act.The penalties also apply to section 13, which prohibits transferring licences, as well as section 23. Section 23 mandates compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) laws.In section 32, operators are also prohibited from outsourcing its services without the bank. In section 33, they also have to seek approval in order to use agents. And then there are those who refuse to comply with any order issued by the Bank of Guyana as an administrative measure.According to section 50 (4), “a person who fails to comply with an order issued, pay a fine imposed or otherwise comply with administrative measures taken by the bank in accordance with this section commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction as specified in section 51.”last_img read more

Saving albatross, on sea and land

first_imgA black-browed albatross caring for itschick. Albatrosses are attentive parents, with breeding behaviour adapted to empty and safe islands. They therefore have no evolutionary defence against insidious new threats, introduced by people, such as predatory mice. While mice eat their chicks alive, the albatross parents sit by with no sense of their chicks’ plight. (Image: Save the Albatross Campaign) A northern royal albatross in flight near its colony in Taiaroa Head, New Zealand. Albatrosses range over huge areas of ocean, spending over half their lives in flight and regularly circling the globe. (Image: Wikimedia) An infant albatross with deep wounds inflicted by mice. Gough Island in the Southern Atlantic Ocean has a population of some 1-million mice, with devastating effects for the large ocean birds that breed there. (Image strictly copyright Ross Wanless. This image may not be republished or redistributed in any way.) A mouse on Gough Island with the remains of its much larger prey, a petrel chick. (Image strictly copyright Ross Wanless. This image may not be republished or redistributed in any way.)Jennifer SternWith a wingspan greater than the height of the tallest man and over half their lives spent in flight over the seas, albatrosses have a special place in the human imagination. But these great birds, evolved to fill a unique evolutionary niche, are under threat from both huge fishing fleets and the smallest of predators.Albatrosses wander the southern seas skimming the ocean rollers for years at a time. They occasionally land on the water to sleep but, it is thought, can actually catch a few winks while flying. No-one knows for sure, but scientists think that on long flights they may, like dolphins, transport themselves using one hemisphere of their brain, while sleeping with the other.On their long flights albatrosses feed on marine carrion, as well as krill and other sea-surface creatures. Their eyesight is good, but not much use for finding food over the featureless ocean – at least not until they’re almost on top of their lunch. They also dip their feet into the sea to test the temperature and somehow use the information to find out whether there’s a meal in the vicinity.Their most effective sense is smell, as most of their food is dead and floating on the surface. Albatrosses fly enormous distances to find small patches of food scattered over a vast area. This may be the remains of a dead whale, a patch of krill associated with upwelling, a plankton bloom, or even a spawning event.Animals such as squid all spawn together over a short period and then, conveniently for the albatrosses, die en masse, floating to the surface. The albatrosses’ food-finding instincts have served the bird well for millennia, but in the last hundred years or so things have changed.Deadly baitThe last century has seen a revolution in commercial fishing. Refrigeration now allows huge fleets to travel far across the sea, catching and processing enormous numbers of fish. The once-empty southern oceans are now densely populated with trawlers and long-line fishing boats. Unfortunately, these almost exactly replicate the feeding conditions of albatrosses, and other sea feeders such as petrels.Long-line boats lay enormously long fishing lines with baited hooks out the back of the vessel. The lines and bait, which is not exactly at its freshest, float on the surface, sending out deliciously attractive olfactory signals to passing albatrosses.The birds fly down and, as they have done for thousands of years, snatch the morsel from the sea surface. But that morsel is attached to a hook, so the bird is snared, dragged behind the boat, and drowned.It’s estimated that long-line fishing kills more than 100 000 albatrosses a year. That’s one every five minutes. Two albatrosses will have been dragged to a cold and lonely death by the time you have finished reading this article.Fishing trawlers are also deadly to the birds. Trawling nets are enormous – about 50m in length and filled with up to 20 tons of fish on a successful drag. As the net surfaces it is pulled to the boat, and the catch comes within reach of albatrosses and other birds – a veritable feast. The birds may survive a nibble or two, but eventually they get tangled in the net, dragged underwater, and drowned.The upshot is that the great bird’s numbers are declining at an alarming rate, with 19 of the 22 species of albatross listed in the Red Data Book, a global compendium of threatened and endangered species of plants and animals, compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.Safe on land?But it’s not only at sea that albatrosses are threatened. They breed almost exclusively on empty oceanic islands, so they have evolved in an unthreatening environment. They are totally safe in the air and, before commercial fishing, were virtually unthreatened in the water – although they could get nabbed by an opportunistic seal or shark.In 2001 a group of ornithologists spent a year on Gough Island, a cold volcanic island rising from the South Atlantic Ocean at a midpoint between the southern tips of Africa and South America and the northern coast of Antarctica. They made it a priority to find out how well the albatrosses were breeding, given the birds’ severe mortality at sea.The scientists counted the pairs of incubating adults in January and, after hatching, in September counted the surviving chicks. The figures were frightening.Expecting a 60% to 70% breeding success, they were horrified to find it was closer to 30%. More than half the chicks had died. And they had no idea why – although they had a few suspicions.Ross Wanless, a PhD candidate from South Africa’s University of Cape Town, spent a year on Gough from October 2003 to September 2004 to find out what was happening to the chicks. The potential suspects included some kind of disease, poor feeding conditions, the high mortality of adults at sea – causing abandonment of the chicks – or, perhaps, predation by mice.Mice are not indigenous to Gough. Albatrosses evolved to breed on land entirely free of terrestrial predators so, with no natural land enemies, they have no natural land defences. The odd skua may drop in to steal eggs or chicks but the albatrosses could deal with that. They’d see them flying in and, with a good deal of squawking and wing flapping, see them off in a typically avian fashion.For thousands of years there were no mammals – and certainly no humans – on the birds’ breeding islands. But everything changed with the arrival of people.People came with passengers, small companions that had a huge impact on the delicate ecosystems of the southern islands. In 1949 five domestic cats were brought to Marion Island to deal with a mouse problem at the meteorological station. But the cats found burrowing petrels tastier than mice, and their numbers exploded. By 1977 there were 3 400 cats on the island, threatening to drive the birds to extinction. The resulting eradication programme, started in 1982, only managed to remove all cats from Marion by the early 1990s.Gough Island is home to an estimated 1-million mice. Cute, harmless little creatures, one would think.Wanless found otherwise. Like his predecessors, he counted the incubating adult pairs as a basis from which to measure breeding success. But about a month after the chicks had hatched, he began to find bloodied, dead and dying little albatross fluffballs.The mice were, literally, eating the chicks alive, sometimes taking up to a week to finish one off. And all the while the parents would sit there, unaware that their chicks needed help. They had no evolutionary reference for that kind of threat.Save the Albatross CampaignIts lifetime of lonely voyaging makes the albatross resonate in human culture. It’s an agent of karma in Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner and, even, material for Monty Python. The opened wings of the great albatrosses are the widest of any bird, extending over 3.4 metres (11 feet) – a span far larger than the height of the tallest man. They are magnificent birds, and something had to be done.The Save the Albatross Campaign (STAC) is an international organisation set up to find ways to end the breeding and feeding threats to the great bird. One of its priorities is vermin control, with the mice of Gough Island soon to go the way of the cats of Marion Island.The campaign also works with the fishing industry to find an answer to the problem of “by-catch” – a euphemism for animals inadvertently killed in the efficient process of commercial fishing.The solutions are win-win because fishing boats actually do want to only catch fish, not albatrosses, which have no commercial value. Stopping albatrosses from taking bait will reduce fishing companies’ wastage, and improve their bottom line. STAC works at the levels of both the big fishing commissions, or Regional Fishing Management Organisations (RFMOs), and individual crews and fishing companies.On the big scale, the campaign’s objective is to get RFMOs to acknowledge the problem, and take action. There has been good progress. The next step is the mandatory inclusion of mitigation measures in long-line and trawling fleets. These would include setting lines at night when albatrosses don’t feed, making the long-line bait sink quickly so the birds can’t get to it, and bird-scaring lines. The last are, in effect, marine scarecrows – long lines with scary, noisy, fluttering streamers set out before the lines or nets are laid. The birds find them terrifying, and keep away.Scaring lines are another win-win part of the campaign. With STAC’s help, previously unemployed people in Ocean View in Cape Town have started small businesses to make the bird-scaring lines. STAC then buys the lines, and gives them to the fishing boats for free.Unlike dolphin-friendly labelling on tuna tins, there is currently no labelling system for albatross-friendly seafood. But if you want to help save the albatross, look out for the logo of the Marine Stewardship Council on any seafood you buy. This organisation certifies responsible fisheries, with bird-friendliness one of its criteria.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at marya@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.Related articlesBoulders penguins’ promised landLooking out for South Africa’s sea life Saving our vulnerable sharksUseful linksSave the Albatross Campaign Birdlife South AfricaInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Southern African Sustainable Seafood initiativeMarine Stewardship Councillast_img read more

Mark Barroca wins PBA Governors’ Cup Finals MVP

first_imgIs Luis Manzano planning to propose to Jessy Mendiola? Terrence Romeo tells Leo Austria: ‘I don’t care if I’m starting or not, I just want to win’ Barroca, who is now a six-time PBA champion, averaged 11 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game in the championship round.“This championship is special because it’s been a long time since we won the championship,” Barroca said in a TV interview shortly after the final buzzer of Game 6.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chief Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion LATEST STORIES Magnolia guard Mark Barroca more than made up for his rough play in Game 4 that nearly cost him a suspension with a Finals MVP performance in the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup title series against Alaska.ADVERTISEMENT PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño Mark Barroca upon receiving his Finals MVP trophy. #PBA2018 pic.twitter.com/oAbi3YobeJ— Bong Lozada (@BLozadaINQ) December 19, 2018 TS Kammuri to enter PAR possibly a day after SEA Games opening Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Hotel management clarifies SEAG footballers’ kikiam breakfast issue Lacson: 2019 budget delay due to P75-B House ‘insertion’ The 32-year-old Barroca helped the Hotshots close out the Aces in six games with 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and one steal in a masterful 102-86 victory Wednesday night.Barroca bagged his second Finals MVP plum after also earning the recognition back in the 2014 Philippine Cup.Magnolia gave the Purefoods franchise its 14 crown overall and ended a four-year title drought.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ View commentslast_img read more