Dear Editor,Where is Guyana going when it comes to law and order? When will we, as a nation, get serious and stop the scourge of smuggling?Recently, the media reported that two Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) officers were shot with pellets by smugglers. From what I read, the two officers were part of a GRA team that attempted to intercept a vehicle and a boat suspected to be operated by smugglers transporting smuggled chicken and alcohol at Bee Hive, East Coast Demerara.Smuggling has taken root as a nasty part of Guyana’s underground trade. These ‘big shot’ smugglers plus a swarm of small-time hustlers doing the same wickedness do not give two hoots that their crimes cost Guyana countless millions of dollars in funds for social development. This loss deprives law-abiding citizens of much-needed benefits like improved health care, better education, proper roads and infrastructure etc.People hell bent on gorging themselves on the proceeds from crime have been smuggling fuel, gold, food, electronic equipment, alcohol, cigarettes and much more across Guyana’s borders for decades. Much talk and some anti-smuggling campaigns have done little to slow them down, much less stop them.Smuggling in Guyana reached its zenith in the 1970s when the Government of the day banned essential goods such as flour, onion, garlic, corned meat and salt. Even sugar was being imported in those days.In those days, many people believed that the External Trade Bureau was controlling imports at the behest of the then Government and many basic commodities were not readily available.Therefore, many citizens turned to smuggling to get essential goods for themselves and for resale. The Government back then obviously meant well and did not realise the extent to which people would go in order to get essential consumer items.Today, even though all these goods are available to everyone in great abundance, the reality of smuggling remains, and it is a thriving business.Smugglers pay no tariffs or taxes. Therefore, they undermine legitimate businesses that not only pay all tariffs, but also pay NIS and other legitimate operating expenses, thereby contributing to the coffers of this nation and enabling our Government to provide us with services that are essential to our people’s wellbeing.This is not the first-time smugglers have shot at GRA officials. Thank God, the injuries to the GRA officers were not life threatening. I wish them speedy recovery and hope they resume their duties fearlessly, when they are healed.Obviously, the team members were not cowards; actually, they were very professional in their approach to these criminals. Thankfully, arrests were made. Kudos to the officers and to GRA for having such committed personnel in the law enforcement department.I suggest that we set-up an intelligence gathering network around the country. This network can particularly target smuggling hotbeds such as Charity, Corriverton, Anna Regina, Mon Repos and Mahaicony.Our intelligence network could set up sting operations with officers infiltrating smuggling rings by pretending to be wholesalers or vendors willing to buy smuggled commodities.The GRA and Police can also set up a hotline to facilitate getting anonymous tips that would lead to the arrest of smugglers. Also, a reasonable reward can be offered in exchange for any information leading to the identification and arrest of smugglers.Sincerely,Roshan Khan Sr
ATLANTA – The Home Depot Inc. is focusing all its efforts on improving its core retail segment now that the uncertainty of what to do with its wholesale distribution business is behind it. But the company signaled anew Tuesday that the rest of this year and part of 2008 will be challenging. The world’s largest home improvement store chain lowered its earnings expectations for fiscal 2007, citing further weakness in the housing market and the sale of its HD Supply unit. At the same time, the Atlanta-based company said it was launching a tender offer for 250 million shares of its common stock at a price range of $39 to $44 per share as part of a larger program to buy back up to $22.5 billion of its stock. Home Depot shares rose 2 cents to $40.25 at the close of trading. The company said it now expects total retail sales to be down 1 percent to 2 percent for the year and sales at stores open at least a year to be down in the mid-single digit range. “We look at the overall market and say there’s still correction that lies ahead of us,” Chief Executive Frank Blake, referring to the housing market, told investors hours after Home Depot gave the lowered guidance. “But again, we’re pretty far along in the correction process.” At the same time, Blake said Home Depot sees “continued headwinds through 2007 and probably some into 2008 as well.” The market aside, Blake said Home Depot still faces operational challenges. He noted Home Depot has been underperforming compared with others in its market. He said Home Depot is working to improve customer service, in part by giving employees financial incentives for doing good work. Home Depot’s revised fiscal 2007 earnings per share targets reflect 52 weeks and do not include the impact of the 53rd week. The company will have 53 weeks of operating results in its fiscal 2007 financial results. Home Depot projects that the 53rd week will add approximately 3 cents to its consolidated earnings per share guidance for fiscal 2007. The company said its updated earnings per share guidance does not include the gain on the sale of HD Supply. Meanwhile, the tender offer launched Tuesday is scheduled to expire on Aug. 16. Last month, the company announced a stock repurchase program in which its board had authorized the company to buy back up to $22.5 billion of Home Depot stock. The tender offer is part of that plan.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “We want to do better, we want to go faster,” Chief Financial Officer Carol Tome said in an interview. “But we are making progress. I think the public, as they shop in our stores, will see that.” Home Depot said it now expects its earnings per share to decline by 15 percent to 18 percent for fiscal 2007. In May, the company had projected an earnings per share decline of 9 percent for the year. The earlier guidance included an estimated 18 cents of earnings per share contribution from the company’s HD Supply unit for the last six months of the fiscal year. Last month, Home Depot said it was selling the unit to a group of private equity firms for $10.3 billion. Home Depot said Tuesday it was updating its guidance to reflect the unit as a discontinued operation. Market factors are also hurting Home Depot, the company said in its announcement Tuesday.