Chairman of Banks DIH Limited, Clifford Reis has disclosed that the road closures during the sitting of the National Assembly have negatively impacted the operations of its Stabroek Branch of the Demico House franchise.Reis made this disclosure on Saturday during the company’s 63rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Thirst Park, which was held under the theme “The Winning Team; Celebrating People, Inspiring Greatness”.At the time, he was responding to questions from shareholders before adopting the financial statements of Banks DIH Limited for the year ending September 30, 2018, and the reports of the Directors and Auditors.One shareholder, in a written question, asked the extent of the effects the road closures during sittings of the National Assembly has on the operation of Demico. In response, the Chairman posited that this issue continues to be a challenge for the company. He noted that several attempts to address the matter have yielded no success.“As a result of the closure of the roads around Parliament square, the movement of vehicles is restricted, which negatively impacts the transaction of business especially at our Retail Liquor Store and Dry Cleaners,” he stated.According to the Chairman, the company suffered losses especially in December, which is considered to be the most profitable season for businesses, during the Budget Debates and Consideration of Estimates.“Business activity, especially during the first two weeks of December, was restricted, resulting in a loss revenues and earnings for that department of Demico House,” Reis told shareholders on Saturday.Back in June 2017, Government began closing off main roads in the vicinity of Parliament Building to facilitate parliamentary sessions, resulting in major traffic jams across the city as well as inconvenience to not only commuters but businesses as well.Furthermore, these road closures were and continue to be a security concern as it paves the way for petty robberies and other crimes in the evening hours since persons would have to use other streets which are isolated or unlit.Meanwhile, at the AGM on Saturday, another shareholder, who is also an employee of Banks, raised the issue of the company’s long-touted plans of building another housing scheme.Banks DIH Limited had developed some 50 acres of land at Houston, Greater Georgetown, to provide housing for employees and their families. D’Aguiar’s Park, Houston, is the fourth such Housing Scheme established by the company, which has since been trying to develop a fifth.Chairman of Banks DIH Limited addressing shareholders at the 63rd Annual General Meeting on Saturday evening at the company’s main branch, Thirst Park, GeorgetownAccording to the Chairman on Saturday, this plan is still very much in the cards. He explained that they had even attempted, on several occasions, to purchase a few acres of land from the competent authorities to establish another employees’ housing scheme to no avail.“I’m certain that while this request has not been able to move forward, it’s certainly not for the want of efforts from our part. We will continue this request to the Government agencies… We hope in 2019, to have some success to be able to satisfy this request for our employees,” Reis asserted.On the other hand, the shareholders also probed the Chairman on plans outlined in his 2018 report including the new car parking facility at the Demerara Park Area, Thirst Park.Reis said this facility is expected to bring much-needed relief to car parking problems which currently exists at Thirst Park. He noted that with more employees driving to work, the need for additional parking has multiplied.“A proposed multi-storage parking facility will see parking spaces for additional 400 vehicles. Also included in that new construction is space for future development resulting from the planned diversification of the company’s current business model,” he told shareholders.Moreover, the Chairman, also touched on its ongoing solar energy programme which has seen operations at the OMG on Sheriff Street and Main Street Quick Serve benefitting.“These departments are now partially powered by solar-generated electrical energy. This has resulted in considerable savings in our electrical power charges. We intend, in the current financial year, to accelerate this programme at our New Amsterdam and Essequibo branches and also to commence the installation of solar panels at selected production plants at Thirst Park. We will continue with this programme until all the departments across this company are fully powered by alternative energy sources,” he posited.In its 2018 financial report, the local beverage giant recorded a whopping $4.085 billion profit after tax, compared to $3.584 billion in the previous year. This represents an increase of $501 million or 14 per cent.
BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government is sparing no expense to its international reputation in its determination to force Canada to back down over the case of a Chinese telecommunications executive it detained last month.While Beijing formally denies any connection, the arrest of two Canadians on vague national security charges and the re-sentencing of a convicted Canadian drug smuggler to death on Monday point to a determined campaign of intimidation and retribution.And while global perceptions of China’s adherence to free trade and rule of law may take a beating, for Xi and other highly nationalistic Communist leaders, the stakes are simply too high.“The Chinese will stop at nothing because it’s a huge loss of face, for both the Chinese government and Xi Jinping in particular,” said Willy Lam, an expert on Chinese politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States. The U.S. wants Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder, extradited to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.China responded nine days later by arresting former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor. On Monday, a Chinese court sentenced Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death, overturning a 15-year prison term handed down earlier.The actions fit a pattern of retaliation against nations that offend China, which sometimes extends to their citizens inside the country. Past instances have shown China willing to endure long freezes in relations and subsequent damage to its national image.China suspended its bilateral trade deal with Norway and restricted imports of Norwegian salmon when the Nobel peace prize was awarded to political prisoner Liu Xiaobo in 2010. Britain and other countries were retaliated against over meetings with the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, considered a dangerous separatist by Beijing, and in 2014, a Canadian couple was detained in northeastern China and charged with espionage following Canada’s arrest of a man accused of stealing U.S. aviation secrets for China.Analysts say they have little doubt Kovrig and Spavor’s cases are related to Meng’s, and the handing down of tougher sentences on appeal is rare enough to arouse suspicion.“This really hurts China” and its efforts to promote its influence around the world, said David Zweig, a Canadian who directs the Center on China’s Transnational Relations at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.“Xi Jinping has been talking so much about promoting soft power … I certainly think that it hurts China’s soft power and its argument that it supports the rule of law,” Zweig said.Retaliating against Canada, widely seen as a benign influence on the global order, also offers fewer dividends for China than confronting the U.S., which is regarded by many in the international community as at least as much of a bully as China, Zweig said.“China doesn’t win any points by pushing around Canada,” he said.However, Beijing’s dismissive attitude toward Canada seems very much in line with its binary view of the world as divided into “big” or powerful nations that need to be deferred to, and “small” ones which China can afford to push around, said Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.China is picking on Canada “because they can,” said Tsang. “It will have lots of negative effects on China’s standing in the world and international perceptions of China.”He said Beijing’s handling of the case shows its refusal to recognize the concept of an independent judiciary, something unknown in China, where the ruling Communist Party controls the courts. As the daughter of the founder of Huawei — closely connected to China’s powerful military and considered something of a national treasure — Meng is afforded special status, Tsang said.While he predicts further steps by Beijing to pressure Canada, Tsang said he doubts they will have any bearing on the result.“It will have no impact in terms of how the Canadian government deals with the Meng case,” he said.International observers also point to the strikingly different ways in which the cases are being handled by the two countries. While Meng has been afforded a lawyer and released on bail to her Vancouver mansion, Kovrig and Spavor are being held in cells with only minimal consular access. Canada has also complained that as a former diplomat, Kovrig should be accorded a degree of immunity.The timing and circumstances of Schellenberg’s resentencing are also being called into question. While his case was on appeal, the speed with which the new hearing was held, with only four days’ notice, drew criticism from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — and a subsequent sharp rebuke of him by Beijing.Underlying China’s behaviour is the apparent conviction that Meng’s detention was a political act that must be responded to in kind. Given the limited information about the cases allowed by government censors, Chinese have “no sense that Ms. Meng was grabbed for anything other than political reasons,” Zweig said.“And if it’s completely political, then I guess in their viewpoint, kidnapping people is just tit-for-tat,” he said.On Beijing’s frigid streets Tuesday, public opinion seemed to be running strongly in the government’s favour.“It shows China is standing up” to Canada, said teacher Liang Reufen, adding that she hopes the matter will not be “elevated to a political level.”Finance worker Huo Yong said politics were already inextricably tied up in the case.“We should pressure them since they use politics to contain our economic growth,” said Huo. “My attitude is, ‘whoever bullies us, we should bully them back.’”___Christopher Bodeen has covered politics in China and Taiwan for The Associated Press for more than two decades.Christopher Bodeen, The Associated Press