Transparency & accountability…Ministries of Communities, Public Infrastructure among culpritsWhile examining the 2018 Budget estimates, the parliamentary Opposition had demanded information from the Government on several line items. As some of this information was not at hand, several Ministers promised to have it laid in the National Assembly at a later date.Fast forward to 2018 and while some Ministries have presented information to the National Assembly on their spending plans for the New Year, other Ministries were not so transparent. During the Party’s end-of-year press conference, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Chief Whip Gail Teixeira identified the Ministries of Public Infrastructure and Communities as the delinquent parties.“We have only received some of the responses… but mostly from some of the questions we asked at the Ministry of the Presidency,” Teixeira told media operatives. “The ones on Infrastructure, we have not received them.”“And remember Local Government (Ministry of Communities) was the one where a lot of questions were raised and we also put blame to the Speaker that this is the most delinquent Ministry (pertaining to) laying over information. We still have not received anything from Local Government and Infrastructure.”Earlier in December, over $6.5 billion was approved for the Ministry of Communities in Budget 2018. Of this sum, $1 billion was allocated for subventions to Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDC) and municipalities. However, Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan was at the time unable to provide all requested information on the budgetary allocations, prompting his request for leave to present the information within 48 hours.Teixeira had immediately complained to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland, about Bulkan’s track record of failing to present information. This had caused Bulkan to complain to the Speaker about attacks on his character, but Dr Scotland scolded the Minister about the need to present information requested to the House.In the case of the Public Infrastructure Ministry, commitments were also given by the senior Minister (David Patterson) to provide certain documents. The parliamentary Opposition had acquiesced to this request on the condition that the information would be presented by the following week.Guyana Times understands that additional information was provided by the Ministry of Social Cohesion and the Ministry of the Presidency. In the case of the Social Cohesion Ministry, it provided clarifications about financing for the International Decade of People of African Descent (IDPAD).The Ministry of the Presidency provided information on its contract employees. This, however, led to more questions than answers as these workers were shown to be earning huge sums for jobs, some of which required no tertiary qualifications.One such instance is whereby contracted cleaners account for a net salary of over $206,000 per month, inclusive of gratuity and vacation allowance. A Typist Clerk is paid over $170,000 per month, inclusive of these benefits as well, while a contracted driver makes a total of $219,000.In the case of Administrative Assistants, their net salary range is $492,000, while an Administrative Officer makes $551,000 and the Administrative Manager makes almost $1.5 million, inclusive of gratuity and vacation allowance.The two highest paid contracted staff within the Ministry are Senior Executive Director of the Public Service College, Retired Colonel Lawrence Paul ($1.9 million); and Director of Training, Calvin Benn ($1.8 million).
The result is a glitch reminiscent of the Y2K bug, when cataclysmic crashes were feared if computers interpreted the year 2000 as 1900 and couldn’t reconcile time appearing to move backward. This bug is much less threatening, but it could cause head-scratching episodes when some computers are an hour off. The problem won’t show up only in computers, of course. It will affect plenty of non-networked devices that store the time and automatically adjust for daylight saving, like some digital watches and clocks. But in those instances the result will be a nuisance (adjust the time manually or wait three weeks) rather than something that might throw a wrench in the works. Cameron Haight, a Gartner Inc. analyst who has studied the potential effects of the daylight-saving bug, said it might force transactions occurring within one hour of midnight to be recorded on the wrong day. Computers might serve up erroneous information about multinational teleconference times and physical-world appointments. “Organizations could face significant losses if they are not prepared,” the Information Technology Association of America cautioned this week. Dave Thewlis, who directs CalConnect, a consortium that develops technology standards for calendar and scheduling software, said it is hard to know how widespread the problem will be. For three weeks this March and April, Microsoft Corp. warns that users of its calendar programs “should view any appointments … as suspect until they communicate with all meeting invitees.” Wow, that’s sort of jarring – is something treacherous afoot? Actually, it’s a potential problem in any software that was programmed before a 2005 law decreed that daylight-saving time would start three weeks earlier and end one week later, beginning this year. Congress decided that more early evening daylight would translate into energy savings. Software created earlier is set to automatically advance its timekeeping by one hour on the first Sunday in April, not the second Sunday in March (that’s March 11 this year). That’s because the world is full of computer systems that have particular methods for accounting for time of day. In many, changing the rules around daylight saving is a snap, but in others, it may be more complex. “There’s no rule that says you have to represent time in a certain way if you write a program,” Thewlis said. “How complicated it is to implement the change has to do with the original design, where code is located.” Further confounding matters, there are lots of old computer programs whose original vendors don’t support them anymore, meaning there’s no repair available. Some gadgets, such as VCR clocks, may not have any mechanism to update their software. A common fix is a “patch” that reprograms systems with the updated start and end dates for daylight-saving time. Some of these updates are targeted at specific systems, while others have wider implications – such as one from Sun Microsystems Inc. for older versions of the Java Runtime Environment, which often fuels applications on computers and Web pages. Microsoft planned to send its daylight-saving patch to Windows PCs with the “automatic update” feature Tuesday. Users with automatic updates turned off should download the patch from Microsoft.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!