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RDC demands February funds

RDC demands February funds

first_img$28M for Region 10 agriculture programme– Finance Ministry says January funds still unspentChairman of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), Renis Morian, is appealing with the Finance Ministry to release budgeted finances to the region.Region 10 RDC Chairman Renis MorianThe Regional Chairman, in statement from the region on Wednesday, expressed disappointment that almost at the end of February 2019 they have not received the parliamentary approved funding, under the region’s new programme of agriculture.In the 2019 Budget, Government allocated $28,992,000 under the new agriculture programme in an effort to promote agricultural development in the region.According to Morian, the region went ahead and hired a few persons who are highly qualified and experienced in the sector, as they seek to move away from mining to agriculture. However to date, they have not received any releases as yet.“I am very concerned as to date we have not received any releases from the Ministry of Finance with regards to funding for agriculture. We have put everything in place and is ready to move forward but to date we have not been able to move ahead because despite trying to access the monies we have been unable to. Our REOs have tried numerous times and to date it’s holding up the work,” the Regional Chairman said.However, in a statement on Wednesday, the Finance Ministry expressed its disappointment with the pronouncements, when in fact the region has not spent its disbursements in January.According to the Ministry, it conducts ‘other charges’ release within the first five working days of every month. However, the Region 10 RDC submitted their cash flow statement on January 12, 2019 and the first release of $1,211,833 was done on January 14, 2019.In addition, the Ministry noted that another $1,665,833 was released on February 5, 2019 to cover costs according to the cash flow submitted.However, before releasing the funds for February, the Finance Ministry said it noticed the entire release for January 2019 was unspent at the end of that month, and contact was made with the Principal Assistant Finance Secretary at the RDC, Dollette Powers, in the first week of February to enquire about the unspent releases.“In response, Powers said the region was not ready to start spending under the agriculture programme and that spending should start from February 2019 since some tenders were sent out,” the Ministry explained.But Morian noted in the missive from the region that the continued holding up of the finances can result in the region losing its momentum, as farmers and other resources have already been motivated and with no release of the required funds, it places the region’s officials at an embarrassing state. In fact, the Chairman noted that they had gone to lengths and extent in mobilising and motivating farmers to get on board.“We have a lot of farmers who are ready and prepared to get started but we still can’t access the funding and this is stymieing our programme. We are therefore appealing to all the powers that be, that we are working towards food security and if we’re going to bring down the amount of food importation and given the kind of weather that we have right now and time, we need the funding now. I am stating that whatever is the glitch we are asking that it be overridden by some official so that we can get over this glitch, thus allowing us access to the monies,” he stressed.Morian said that mining is like a navel string for Region 10, stressing that the people of Linden has been into mining for decades and seeking to remove them from mining towards agriculture has taken a lot of effort and resources, therefore the Ministry of Finance needs to address this matter urgently.“We’re seeing persons emerging who are willing to get into agriculture with our help and support and we just don’t want to lose this momentum, it’s clear that if we dilly dally these persons would view us as just making promises and starting something that we never had any intention of fulfilling,” Morian said.He added, “Apart from that, our credibility is certainly at stake because we went out onto the ground and only to tell persons that we can’t access the monies and the farmers who are on the ground would not understand why we can’t access the money and I find it difficult too, but the system is stymieing the Government’s s attempt to move agriculture in Region 10 and I will stress that this is hard for me to face yet another RDC meeting which will be held on March 7th to say the same thing.”The evidently frustrated RC said that whatever is discussed at the RDC it is discussed throughout the region, thus he would like the Government to immediately address the hiccup within the Ministry of Finance, so as to ensure that the region and ultimately farmers can access the monies in moving agriculture forward. He declared that the current situation that they are confronted with is very tough, noting that he has no intention of returning to the RDC, taking the same report.“I’m appealing to have this matter urgently addressed before the first Thursday in March as I would like the system to be freed up so that we can access this money as we have been getting ready all the time and we now needs the money,” he declared.last_img read more

Asus ZenFone Live (ZB501KL) review: Live and let live

Asus ZenFone Live (ZB501KL) review: Live and let live

first_imgFor a company like Asus that has launched a ZenFone Laser, a ZenFone Selfie and a ZenFone Zoom, the ZenFone Live comes as no surprise. Asus has always had a knack for gimmicks and the ZenFone Live is also a very gimmicky smartphone. It is, in fact, the world’s first — and probably the only — smartphone to come equipped with a real-time beautification feature for live streaming.The “ZenFone Live is the world’s first smartphone with hardware-optimised, real-time beautification technology,” that works in tandem with the phone’s BeautyLive app to ensure a “perfect look when you go live,” according to Asus. Essentially, the phone can let you live stream a prettier version of yourself on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Because well, why not?Design and build qualityThe ZenFone Live is neither here, nor there if you were to talk about its design. It’s very industrial, and it’s very generic, the ZenFone Live. Nothing too fancy about it. Nothing too bland and boring either. It’s somewhere in the middle. Asus says, the phone comes with a metallic-finish. It feels rather plastic in the hands though. On the front, the ZenFone Live comes with curved 2.5D glass but Asus does not mention whether it has some sort of protective covering atop.It’s been a while that Asus moved past the ghastly chunkiness of the previous ZenFones. The ZenFone Live, too, is very slim and very light, almost non-existent in the hands. It weighs just 120 grams and measures only 8mm. The sleek dimensions really help the cause. The ZenFone Live has been designed to shoot videos — live videos to be precise — and lots of them, and it ought to be light on the hands. It is very light on the hands.The Asus ZenFone 3 Live can let you live stream a prettier version of yourself on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Because well, why not? advertisementSubtle curves and rounded corners form the epicentre and help ergonomics as well, while 2.5D curved glass on the front looks pleasing to the eyes. The power button and the volume rocker on the right are well-built and offer good tactile feedback. A hybrid card slot meanwhile rests on the left. The physical capacitive keys at the bottom of the display are non-backlit and can be hard to tell, especially in the dark.But the biggest downside of the ZenFone Live, perhaps, is the lack of a fingerprint scanner.DisplayThe ZenFone Live comes with a 5-inch 720p display. The screen can get really bright and ambient light sensing works as it should. When coupled with its excellent viewing angles — along with its mostly non-reflective nature — that phone metes out a display that works really well even when you’re outside and on the go.There’s a catch though. Even though the screen of the ZenFone Live appears to be brighter than say the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime colours aren’t the most accurate. They seem dull and lifeless — lacking in contrast — in comparison. There’s an option to manually tinker with the phone’s colour saturation. Setting it to ‘vivid’ does help a bit, but only ever so slightlySoftwareIt’s a little disappointing that the ZenFone Live ships with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow (based ZenUI) a two year old operating system at a time when Google is all set to announce Android O (stable) soon enough. The user interface — as expected — is heavily bloated, but thankfully receives all the key Android Marshmallow features like Now on Tap, improved memory management and more.Although there’s some heavy skinning, Asus has stuck with the good-old formula of ease-of-use and some thoughtful customisations through its UI which is nice. Virtually every aspect of Google’s Android OS gets a fresh coat of paint, but it’s mostly for the good.Even though Zen UI lacks the simplicity of stock Android, it is one of the better UIs out there in terms of ease of use. A number of customisation options that are available are pretty useful. The ability to tinker with the app drawer (as well as the home screen) to suite your needs is worth mentioning. So is the option to selectively lock apps for additional privacy. There’s also an option for screen pinning to keep the current screen in view until you unpin. A home-brewed theme engine — along with additional icon packs — meanwhile helps personalise your experience.The Mobile Manager app deserves a mention here since it’s aimed at making your life a lot easier. It lets you directly uninstall all apps that you’re sure you’re not going to use. There will be a few apps (system) that you cannot uninstall though. You can selectively disable them, however, from within the app itself.advertisement”Just like digital makeup foundation and glamour, the BeautyLive feature smooths facial blemishes in real time and streams your live selfie video on popular social media platforms,” claims Asus The Mobile Manger also lets you control data usage (selectively), free RAM, check for privacy concerns and track battery consumption.The ZenUI on-board the ZenFone Live isn’t the smoothest of UIs around, however. The phone seems to be lacking in necessary optimisation which — in tandem with the phone’s forgettable hardware — results in frequent lags and delays while navigating between home screens and opening and closing of apps.Performance and battery lifeFor a phone that costs Rs 9,999 the ZenFone Live — as mentioned earlier — crams in a very forgettable set of hardware specs. The phone is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor clubbed with mere 2 gigs of RAM and only 16GB of internal memory (only 10GB of it will be available for the end-users). The phone thankfully supports expandable storage of up to 128GB via a micro-SD card slot. The dual-SIM phone also supports 4G LTE (VoLTE-ready) and USB OTG.Quite obviously then, the ZenFone Live leaves you asking for more on almost every front. Basic tasks are handled (mostly) well, which means you can make phone calls, text and WhatsApp, watch movies, listen to music, browse some Internet and also play less demanding games on it, rather at ease, most of the time.Also Read: Xiaomi Redmi 4 review: Redmi 3S Prime HD remasterBut it is prone to lag or stutter every once in a while, especially when being used for longer periods. Lags or stutter exist even while navigating between home screens and switching between apps. Opening and closing of apps is also accompanied by an odd delay or two. More demanding games like Asphalt 8: Airborne meanwhile are nearly unplayable at medium and maxed-out settings.The ZenFone Live “features a very loud mono 5-magnet loudspeaker which produces high-fidelity sound with very less distortions compared to the competition,” according to Asus. That’s a lot of marketing talk, however. The mono speaker vent on the bottom of the phone churns out average at best audio. It gets loud but there is some distortion at peak volume. The ZenFone Live, in addition, also comes with a pair of MEMS microphones (for video recording) to “reduce noise and ensure that your voice is heard.”Phone calls made with the ZenFone Live are of acceptable quality and we did not encounter any odd call drops on our review unit.The ZenFone Live is backed by a 2,650mAh battery which should get most users through a full working day. The phone also boasts of outstanding standby time, and loses almost negligible charge when you keep it untouched overnight.advertisementCameraThe Asus ZenFone Live sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, autofocus and LED flash and a 5-megapixel front camera with f/2/2 aperture, 82 degree wide view angle and a ‘soft-light’ LED flash. XPreviousNextPhotos clicked using its rear camera in good lighting come out well, with good detail and colours which are mostly true to source. Dynamic range is fairly good, but sometimes there are metering issues. But the camera is good for only subjects that are not moving. This is because, even though the phone is fairly quick to focus, there’s an odd delay or two, or shutter lag accompanied with every shot. This means, if your subject is on the move, you’re most definitely bound to get blurry photos. At the same time, some pixilation is observed while zooming into the images clicked using the phone, which would be more pronounced when you view them on a big screen. In tricky and low light, the phone’s built-in night mode helps achieve slightly better results, although, more often than not photos clicked in such situations have lots of noise and some metering issues.Also Read: Asus ZenFone 3s Max review: A one-trick ponyThe phone’s front 5MP shooter, again, clicks average at best selfies. The USP of the phone, however, is its real-time beautification feature. The BeautyLive app, that comes pre-bundled with the ZenFone Live, is exclusive to the phone and cannot be copied or transferred for use in another smartphone, claims Asus. “Just like digital makeup foundation and glamour, the BeautyLive feature smooths facial blemishes in real time and streams your live selfie video on popular social media platforms.” Note that the feature does not lead to accentuation of details. Rather, the app (and the phone) only softens them — like any other beautification app — so the subject looks fairer. Also, the BeautyLive app is a default app and can’t be uninstalled.Should you buy it?The Asus ZenFone Live is a one-of-its-kind smartphone if you’re into live-streaming. Even then, 9 out of 10 times, you’re better off buying another phone than Asus’s one-trick pony. The ZenFone Live has been found lacking on almost all the other fronts both on paper and in terms of real world usage to an extent that it’s surprising that such a phone even exists in today’s world. It’s highly recommended that you give this one a skip.Asus ZenFone Live6/10Good stuffSlim and lightReal-time beautification for live streamingBad stuffDisplay lacks contrastPoor performanceHeating issuesDisappointing cameraslast_img read more