FIFTEEN-year-old Makeda Harding credits her ability to hold her own under great pressure as the buoy that keeps her afloat when the demands as a student athlete gets just a little too much.It’s a trait that has served the Marian Academy third former well, as she juggles life as a dedicated student, and a national junior squash and hockey player.Harding takes it all in stride by ensuring that she has her plan all mapped out.“The first part of the year I mostly focus on squash, and coming down to the middle is when I have to push more, and then the second half is when I can ease off and play more hockey. Yea, there are some parts of the year when it’s really hard, but I have the ability of being able to cope well under pressure,” the Sports Personality-of-the-Week said.The four-time ‘Most Outstanding Girl’ squash player most recently copped her sixth and seventh national junior title, in just four years, due to her entering in multiple categories of the tournament over the years.Playing in the Girls’ Under-19, Under-17 and Under-15 categories this year, Harding ended with both the Girls Under-17 and Under-15 titles at last month’s Woodpecker Products Ltd Junior National Squash Championships. She finished second in the Under-19.“I like playing in multiple categories, it pushes me more, knowing that I can beat this person or get really close, and it builds my confidence,” Harding noted of her achievements.“I like my accomplishments because I like to use them to build myself against people, people who say I’m not good at anything, or who try to bring me down.”Her most recent squash accolades add to the ‘Most Promising Female Player’ award that she copped in hockey at last year’s GTT National Indoor Championships where she played for her Spartans team.Harding had been involved in hockey since she was 10 years old, encouraged to follow in the footsteps of her sister, Micaela. But it was in late 2011 when she got involved in squash. Makeda started out in a developmental programme held by the Guyana Squash Association (GSA) that offered one-hour training on Saturdays.The keen eyes of national coaches Garfield Wiltshire and Carl Ince picked up that Makeda was just a diamond in the rough, and were eager to see this talent developed.Wiltshire first offered Makeda training outside of the Saturday programme, and before long so did Ince, and she began to grow in the sport, gradually of course, but showed growth nonetheless.By 2013 she made it all the way to a third place finish in the Girls’ Under-13 category at the national junior tournament, and the GSA was confident enough to give her a spot on the national team for the Junior Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Championships, which was held in Trinidad that year.Makeda did not disappoint. Despite finishing only seventh in the Girls’ Under-13 category, she was instrumental in gaining Guyana’s eighth consecutive Girls’ team title, and ninth consecutive overall team title.She’s been a fixture of the national team, at the annual event, ever since, each year improving just a little bit more in the individuals. When she returned in 2014 she was fifth after another year in the Girls’ Under-13 category.In 2015 she was in the Girls’ U-15 category and made her first final, but was cut down by Barbados’ Megan Best, their leading junior Girls’ player. Last year she ended third, after being stopped by Cayman Islands’ Jade Pitcairn in the semis.This year she’s facing another tall order as she enters the Girls’ U-17 category, where Best will again be joining her. Best is now a junior and senior Caribbean champion, after she won the women’s title at Senior CASA last year.
Dear Editor,Former Minister and now former MP, Dr Rupert Roopnarine, in a National Assembly sitting of December 8, 2016, said in a statement that he was asked by Granger “to sit as a Director on the Board of the Homestretch Development Inc (HDI)”. Mind you, HDI is a private company. Therefore, it is most intriguing as to the source of authority to substantiate why a public official was asked to sit on a private Board by his public service boss. Who are the shareholders of HDI?Can the Guyanese people now understand why we must take every word of Granger with a grain of salt since it is populated with much half-tongue and half-truths? As is evidential today, there is a crisis of credibility in team Granger on many fronts. I seek to support my conclusion with hard evidence.In November 2016, Granger made a public statement about this company (HDI) by saying that “there is nothing secretive or criminal about this company” and that his Government will be very forthcoming with information on this company. Compare his words to the 2017 Auditor General Report and you, Editor, be the judge.This is what the national audit team had to say and I quote:“Payment vouchers to support expenditure totalling $107,119,000 ($107 million) were not produced for audit examination. As such, the completeness, accuracy, and validity of this amount could not be determined.” The 2017 AG Report further stated “In addition, the amount of $500 million was paid to HDI in 2017 by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to enable HDI to meet its obligation to its creditors. However, there was no documentation attached to the payment vouchers to indicate the works done, supervisory checks carried out on the works, as well as certification that the works were satisfactorily completed. In the circumstances, the correctness, accuracy, and validity of the payments made could not be determined.” (Source 2017 AG Report)I do not know the source of Granger’s ethics training, but clearly one can conclude that there are some serious holes in his statements. What is absolutely clear is that there is no commitment on the part of his team to the concept of transparent and accountable for their actions while in public office. This is just one of the many examples where members of team Granger operated under the misconception that they have a transport over all of Guyana and its resources and are not accountable to the people of the land.As a member of the rational world who has direct training in internal control systems, it behoves me to outline the basic minimum principles that must be followed when payments are made for services rendered. Before any bills/invoices are paid, we must verify if the goods or services were legitimately received. Can Granger, as the CEO, or this team or any of his officers, say if $500 million of goods and services supposedly provided by HDI were legitimately received? Who is hiding this evidence from the Auditor General? Has the evidence already been burnt?It is basic common sense that before any vendor’s (in this case HDI) payment request is entered in the system, three fundamental questions should be asked by the accounting officer?1. Can we satisfactorily say what is being paid for?2. Can we easily identify what was received?3. Were the proper computations made on the invoices?So before a payment is made, you should, at minimum, have a requisition, purchase order, certificate estimating the value of the work completed signed by a competent engineer and countersigned by the independent engineering supervisor. Did the accounting officer of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure follow all steps in ensuring that the payment is valid, complete and accurate?The Audit Office wrote the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Kenneth Jordan on July 19, 2018, (who is the accounting officer), requesting documentation detailing the works done, supervisory checks of the said works, as well as certification that works were satisfactorily completed but got a vague response that the Ministry was not involved in the operations of HDI; hence, it did not have any information detailing supervisory checks or their methodology of determining that works were satisfactorily completed. So why did the Ministry make the payment if it cannot verify the work completed? Upon whose instructions was $500 million paid?As of the date of this letter, I was advised that no further documentation was provided to the Auditor General by Kenneth Jordan on this matter and thus, I encourage the Audit Office to ensure that they pursue this matter diligently and ensure that it is included as a special investigation in the 2018 Audit Report.Regards,Sasenarine Singh