0M fertiliser dealFollowing the pronouncements made by a Director on the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Jinnah Rahman, that the $420 million fertiliser contract that Cabinet approved to HDM Labs to supply fertiliser was a “return” on political investment, done secretly and that its principal Hardat Singh should be investigated, Singh has since responded to Guyana Times, seeking to refute such claims while insisting “The contract is currently in full force and effect.”Singh outlined that around October of 2015, HDM Labs offered to supply “5000 metric tonnes of fertiliser” to the GRDB at G$4160 per kg bag ($US400 per metric tonne), which he posited was 25 per cent cheaper than what was on the local market. GRDB “accepted their offer” and a contract was executed for such.“As part of the commercially negotiated terms, and consistent with HDM Labs’ worldwide terms, HDM Labs requested that payment be secured by a transferrable irrevocable letter of credit, 50 per cent to be paid on the issuance of the purchase order, 40 per cent upon arrival at port, and 10 per cent after receipt. These terms were in no way negotiated due to any financial constraints or unavailability of products,” said Singh.On April 8, however, the GRDB issued a statement that contradicted the last assertion of HDM Labs. “The supplier requested that the Letter of Credit be irrevocable and transferable; which suggested that a supply from this source was not immediately available.”In a letter to this publication, Singh related that “almost immediately upon HDM Labs’ execution with its contract with the GRDB, despite being kept at above G$5500 a bag for an extended period, retailers lowered their market prices in order to compete with the price of urea being supplied by HDM Labs.”General Manager of the GRDB Nizam Hassan had used almost identical language on April 8, in addressing his silence on the issue which was making it rounds across the entire media landscape, that the price for urea fertiliser at that time was between $5500 and $6500 per bag but “when local suppliers became knowledgeable of GRDB’s attempt to reduce the cost of fertiliser to farmers for supply of urea, the price immediately fell from $1000 to $2000 per bag.”Guyana Times understands that around the same time period – November 2015, to the present when HDM Labs made their offer – world prices for the commodity dropped by 20 per cent. As such, it is possible that the drop in local prices were due to the decline in world prices of urea.According to the HDM Labs President, “HDM Labs made the necessary arrangements for 5000 tonnes of urea to be available at port for transport to Guyana, that cargo currently awaiting approval from the GRDB to be shipped.”This approval would appear to be up in the air at this time since Nizam highlighted that “while payment for the fertiliser was by Letter of Credit established through a local commercial bank, the supplier requested that the Letter of Credit be irrevocable and transferable.” And this last requirement cannot be complied by local banks because of local money laundering laws.As such, Nizam said “GRDB continued to monitor the supply and prices of urea on the local market and has been in constant communication with HDM Labs Inc, since the supply of this commodity can no longer be considered urgent and immediate.” It is not know how the GRDB could comply with the requirement for a transferable irrevocable letter of credit, if, in fact HDM demands payment for “available” fertiliser.Singh in his correspondence to Guyana Times highlighted that he is not an “investor” or “campaign financier” of the Alliance For Change (AFC) or the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) but a “philanthropist” and listed some of the companies that he contributed to in a philanthropic way.General Secretary of the Rice Producers Association, Dharamkumar Seeraj; however, had alleged in a press briefing months ago that Cabinet approved a contract for the procurement of $420 million in fertiliser from a “known campaign financier of the AFC/APNU collation”. He also alleged that the contract was not tendered nor advertised and Government’s actions were “in direct contravention of the laws, norms and conventions applicable to the acquisition of farmers’ inputs.”GRDB Director, Rahman had explained to this publication that the alleged $420 million contract fell apart because Hardat Singh could not supply the fertiliser, since he did not have the financing to do so and wanted an advance payment on the contract from the bank to be able to deliver the goods, “that’s why he asked for the Letter of Credit to be irrevocable and transferable”. As stated before, GRDB’s General Manager Hassan pointed out, “the local bank only provides the service of irrevocable Letter of Credit which is not transferable.”Hardat Singh in his defence said that he “has never filed for bankruptcy or defaulted on any payment,” and that he is “extremely solvent and being able to effortlessly simultaneously consummate several multimillion-dollar contracts.”According to Singh neither himself nor “HDM Labs have been subject to investigations, or involved with or accused of money laundering, fraud or otherwise since the formation of HDM Labs or at all,” refuting the claims made by the GRBD Director Rahman, who had said that Singh should be investigated “since he is in receipt of information which shows that Singh was convicted in the USA on charges of fraud and money laundering.”Singh asserted that neither he nor his company HDM Labs “are in any way affiliated with, owners or silent partners of, or investors in the entertainment or hospitality industry, and specifically are in no way affiliated with “Spice Restaurant” located in Queens, New York, other than Mr Singh being a patron of the same.” He also said that “HDM Labs does not do business in China nor does it own or operate any Chinese enterprise, or have any Chinese store trading front or otherwise.”
(Visited 17 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Scientists at MIT publishing in PNAS1 detected instances of alternative splicing in over 1,000 genes of stem cells. They also computed possible isoforms of mRNA transcriptions and found 80% of them in the cells. Not only that, the isoforms (alternatively spliced versions of exons from the same gene) appeared to be functional: “We find that alternative splicing can modify multiple components of signaling pathways important for stem cell function,” they say. In short, alternative splicing, in which exons from genes are recombined in different ways, expands the information content of the genome:We also analyze the distribution of splice variants across different classes of genes. We find that tissue-specific genes have a higher tendency to undergo alternative splicing than ubiquitously expressed genes. Furthermore, the patterns of alternative splicing are only weakly conserved between orthologous genes in human and mouse. Our studies reveal extensive modification of the stem cell molecular repertoire by alternative splicing and provide insights into its overall role as a mechanism of generating genomic diversity. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)They took note that “different mRNA isoforms from a single gene can often encode proteins with distinct, sometimes opposite functions.” In fact, they point to earlier research that said, “Numerous biological processes ranging from sex determination to apoptosis depend on the alternative splicing of specific genes.” Later, they said, “alternative splicing was found to extensively affect components of signaling pathways that are functional in stem cells, suggesting an important role of splice variations in self-renewal and differentiation.” Thus, their work adds to a growing body of research showing that “alternative splicing is a general mechanism to increase the coding capacity and diversity of the genome in metazoans.” What regulates how the exons are spliced? “Previous studies of individual genes have shown that splicing is coupled to transcription by protein-protein interactions between components of the transcription and splicing complexes.” Their work suggested that tissue-specific genes seem to undergo the most alternative splicing, and ubiquitously-expressed genes less so. They offered an “evolutionary argument” that tissue-specific genes could afford more experimentation: “ubiquitous transcripts responsible for crucial and general cellular processes have evolved not to be modified, whereas diversification is advantageous for tissue-specific gene products.” This hypothesis, they felt, was reinforced by the finding that “patterns were conserved for only 20% of the examined orthologous genes in the human and mouse species, despite the general conservation of their exon-intron boundaries.” This, they feel, could lead to rapid evolution of alternatively spliced exons, and subsequently to functional differences in otherwise analogous cell types between distant species.1Pritzker et al., “Diversification of stem cell molecular repertoire by alternative splicing,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0502132102, published online before print September 23, 2005.These findings add to the growing realization that the genome contains much more embedded information than mere gene count would suggest (see 09/08/2005 entry). If the introns themselves (02/18/2005, 02/02/2005) transcribe into RNA regulatory elements, then nothing is wasted, and nothing is junk. If all parts of the system can be shown to produce function, it becomes harder to claim evolution built this tight ship. These authors’ weak attempt to produce an “evolutionary argument” did not demonstrate that any heritable, functional advantage derived from mistakes in alternative splicing, but only that it could have. Did they demonstrate an example of a new function arising from a mistake? No; they just expressed faith that randomness creates the possibility space for order. This is a doctrine of pantheism (a religion). On the other hand, the high degree of conservation found in ubiquitously-expressed genes and at intron-exon boundaries are anti-evolutionary observations. To argue evolution out of this data is to rely again on slippery homology vs. analogy arguments (see “Homology for Dummies,” 05/05/2004). Because such arguments depend on embedded evolutionary assumptions, they are inherently circular. It is just as logical to conclude that a common Designer built the system around two principles: (1) modular construction, wherein commonly-needed functions are coded similarly between different organisms, and (2) robustness, in which regulatory networks can maintain stability in changing environments. The design inference has the added advantage of an adequate cause for the high degree of information involved. Whatever geneticists continue to uncover about the particulars, the system works. Somehow, a human genome gives rise to a human, and a mouse genome gives rise to a mouse. Unless mutations disrupt the program, the mouse will have all the parts in the right places. It will be covered with the right kind of fur, have the right teeth in the right order, have feet and muscles and eyes and a brain and every organ necessary for its little life. The molecular processes may seem disorganized to us. We see that one gene can be alternatively spliced into several products, some which can produce opposite functions. How does the right one get selected at the right time it is needed? There are wonderful mysteries here that could be illuminated by a scientist looking for intelligent design. If the DNA is not the master controller of its own transcription, what is? What controls the spliceosome? (09/17/2004). Can protein-protein interactions really be responsible for regulating the splicing, or is there another layer of genetic information directing their interplay? What do all those short non-coding RNAs do? How can so many competing processes and such a multiplicity of molecules guarantee a working mouse at the end of the assembly line? We see only glimpses of how the plethora of processes at the molecular level leads invariably to the right result. There may be more information and more design operating than we can possibly imagine.
Vodacom, First National Bank and Sanlam have been voted tops in an annual consumer satisfaction survey.The survey with a moniker bigger than a mouthful – the “internationally measurable consumer satisfaction index research in the long-term insurance, telecommunications and banking sectors”, or the SAS index survey – was conducted by South African Satisfaction (SAS) Index in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).The survey measured some 27 critical drivers of “customer satisfaction and delight”. Some of these included quality and efficiency of staff, general attitude of staff and whether client information is kept up to date.The survey is an annual initiative designed to encourage competitiveness across industries. According to the DTI, it is unlike similar benchmark offerings and is comparable to similar surveys in the US and Europe – such as the American (ACSI) and European (EPSI) studies. It is the third year running that the survey has been conducted.View the full resultsof the survey.See comparable statistics (US and UK).Results indicate that South African customers are more satisfied than their counterparts in Europe and America. However, the DTI says this may be because South African consumers “have lower expectations”, suggested by a recent consumer survey conducted by the department.The DTI says the survey raises important issues about the level of consumer protection and awareness in South Africa. The results clearly show low levels of awareness about consumer rights, and limited support mechanisms to promote consumer activism and protection on the ground.Of consumers surveyed 55% did not know any consumer rights at all, 85% asked for more information on consumer rights, 79% did not know of any consumer rights organisations and only 2% belong to a consumer NGO. The DTI says this “poses a challenge to all government, industry and consumer activists to improve services and raise consumer awareness of their rights and expectations”.Improvement across the boardThe survey shows that overall improvement has been seen in all the sectors:TelecommunicationsLooking at the industries individually, the ranking of the players in the telecommunications industry remained consistent. However, the industry as a whole showed a 5.5% point improvement.Although Telkom showed a substantial improvement ahead of the launch of the second fixed-line operator, it is not yet delivering the same level of performance as the more competitive cellular industry. On the brighter side, the survey shows that Telkom is doing significantly better than the telecommunication industry in both Europe and the US in satisfying its customers.Vodacom and MTN continue to lead the telecommunications field, but Cell C is well on track to challenge the more established players on service levels. Vodacom and MTN are producing the sort of satisfaction levels that one would expect from global players, making their results even more significant.Banking industryAccording to the DTI, the banking results confirm the success of its investment in the SAS index to improve service levels. Significant levels of improvement were reported by all of the big four banks. FNB and Standard Bank still scored higher than Nedbank and ABSA, with their improvements setting a new benchmark for competitors in the banking industry. As was the case last year, South African banking customers remain more satisfied than banking customers in America and Europe.Long-term insurance industryThe DTI says the better banking and telecommunications service levels may be one of the reasons for the new entrant, the long-term insurance industry, trailing behind banking and telecommunications as far as customer satisfaction is concerned. Little separated the top long-term insurance performer (Sanlam) from the least well received (Liberty Life) – a result the DTI attributes to the highly competitive nature of the industry.The department says the study will be rolled out across all major industries in South Africa in the near future, providing local and international comparisons to fuel the ongoing drive of local businesses to achieve world-class customer satisfaction.SouthAfrica.info reporter
SAAF Gripens patrol the skies overJohannesburg’s Soccer City during the2010 Fifa World Cup. (Image: Gripen) Major Catherine Labuschagne disembarksfrom the Gripen 39C after successfullycompleting her first solo flight. (Image: SAAF) MEDIA CONTACTS • Anne Lewis-OlssonGripen Communications Director, SA+46 13 18 13 55 or +46 734 181 355 RELATED ARTICLES • Ninety years on golden wings • Air show gives wings to young dreams • Swedish army prefers SA vehicle • Choppers to curb 2010 crimeJanine ErasmusMajor Catherine Labuschagne completed her maiden solo flight in October 2010 in the South African Air Force’s (SAAF) Gripen Jas 39C.When Labuschagne touched down at Makhado Air Force Base in Limpopo province, she had become the first woman fighter pilot ever to fly solo in the supersonic aircraft. Formerly known as Air Force Base Louis Trichardt and today also called the Fortress of the North or Castrum borealis, Makhado is the most northerly of South Africa’s bases.Labuschagne, who is identified by her call sign of Siren, is now the only female member of the SAAF’s elite 2 Squadron. The squadron, which flies the single- and dual-seat Gripens, is based at Makhado. Established in the 1940s, 2 Squadron has earned many battle honours, including El Alamein in 1942, South East Europe in 1944 and 1945, and Korea from 1950 to 1953. Lieutenant Colonel Glen Gibson is the unit’s officer commanding (OC). Labuschagne trained on the venerable Impala jet before graduating to the Hawk 120 lead-in fighter trainer in preparation for the step up to South Africa’s most formidable aircraft. Pilots are required to accumulate about 430 hours on the Hawk and pass several courses before they can sit behind the controls of a Gripen. Dedicated and meticulousShe got her wings in 2000 and a decade later is one of South Africa’s most highly skilled women pilots. Although she’s never felt that she’s had to work as hard as her male colleagues, the going has been tough, Labuschagne admits. “You need to be dedicated; you need to be meticulous; you need to work hard, be committed to what you do; and definitely must have passion for what you do,” she said in a recent television interview.Labuschagne boasts 1 900 flying hours, of which 1 000 are on military jets.Back in 2004 she made military history as the first woman to fly in a Gripen, but it was from the back seat of the two-seater 39D. Today she is among the first group of locally trained Gripen pilots to complete their operational conversion course – the initial six received their training in Sweden.The other local graduates are Lieutenant Koobendra Chetty (Saffron) and Lieutenant Colonel Gys van der Walt (Samurai). The three will complete their training in 2011, with Major Lance Mathebula (Lancelot) who trained in Sweden.Gripen instruction takes place at 85 Combat Flying School, based at the Centralised Training Centre at Makhado and operating under the motto Detrimento sumus (Destruction is our business). The centre offers a computer-based instruction system and a virtual aircraft training facility, also known as a simulator.According to 2 Squadron’s OC Gibson, the approximate ratio of air and simulator sorties is 50:50.SAAF setting the exampleThe Gripen is a single-engine fighter built by Swedish manufacturer Saab. Besides the SAAF, which was Gripen’s first export client, the craft are currently in service in the Czech, Hungarian and Swedish Air Forces.The SAAF has placed an order for 17 single-seater 39C craft and nine two-seater 39D craft, and in April 2008 took delivery of its first Gripen. To date 15 of the nimble fighters have arrived in South African airspace and the order is expected to conclude in 2012. The Gripens will replace the fleet of Cheetah fighters, some of which have been in service since 1986. The Cheetahs, which are basically refurbished Mirages, have now been retired.Before the Gripens could formally join the SAAF fleet, they had to pass a stringent two-year test programme to adapt the craft to local systems.“South Africa was the first export customer to select Gripen, and its recognition of Gripen’s capabilities and its faith in Saab has inspired other new Gripen customers,” said Saab president Åke Svensson, “including the Czech Republic, Hungary, the UK’s Empire Test Pilot School and more recently, Thailand.”Svensson added that the success of future negotiations with other countries depends to a degree on the performance of the aircraft in South Africa.BAE Systems South Africa CE Mike O’Callaghan said that the purchase of the Gripens and Hawks has revived the country’s defence and aerospace industry, and enhanced its reputation internationally. The UK-based BAE Systems is that country’s biggest defence contractor, and manufactures the Hawk fighters.With a maximum speed of Mach 2 – twice the speed of sound or about 2 400km/h – and a highly advanced sensor system, the Gripen is widely regarded as the world’s top medium-weight fighter aircraft. During the recent 2010 Fifa World Cup, Gripens and Hawks were responsible for much of the security in the air.
28 May 2012South Africa’s economy grew at a slower rate in the first quarter of 2012, but not as slowly as analysts had forecast, with mining production contracting but manufacturing showing considerable resilience.The economy grew by 2.7% in the first quarter on a seasonally adjusted and annualised basise, compared with 3.2% growth in the fourth quarter of 2011, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said in a statement on Tuesday.This was better than analysts’ forecast of 2.4%, according to news agency Reuters, with manufacturing being the surprise following a poor monthly showing in March.“We know mining was weak because of all the closures and strike activity, especially around platinum,” Stanlib chief economist Kevin Lings told Reuters. “The other sectors held up reasonably well, especially manufacturing.”Manufacturing showed growth of 7.7% in the first quarter, while finance, real estate and business services grew at 4.1%.The wholesale, retail, motor trade and catering as well as accommodation grew by 3%, while government services showed growth of 2.3%. Transport, storage and communication grew by 2.5%However, mining and quarrying contracted by 16.8% in the first quarter. Kedibone Mabaso, GDP manager at Stats SA, attributed the fall to lengthy strike action in the sector.Nedbank economists said the economy was still expected to show moderate growth, reaching 2.7% in 2012.“But the outlook is becoming increasingly murky, with Europe’s debt woes threatening to derail the global recovery and undermine local exports,” the bank cautioned, adding that mining, manufacturing and agriculture would remain under pressure.If problems in Europe persisted and resulted in capital expenditure cutbacks and retrenchments, South Africa’s domestic spending would also be hurt and the growth outcome would be much weaker than is currently anticipated.“Given the softer growth trend locally and an increasingly uncertain global environment, with turmoil in Europe and signs of softer activity in most key emerging market economies, the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee is likely to maintain its accommodative monetary policy stance until the downside risks to global and local growth fade and more compelling signs of momentum emerge,” Nedbank said.“Interest rates are likely to remain on hold at current low levels until March next year.”SAinfo reporter and BuaNews