March 7, 2015

“No rift in the PPP”

- Rohee says merits of party’s decision to select Harper as PM candidate will soon become evident

Home Affairs Minister and PPP/C General Secretary Clement Rohee

Home Affairs Minister and PPP/C General Secretary Clement Rohee

The PPP/C’s Prime Ministerial candidate, Mrs Elisabeth Harper, has resigned as Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This disclosure was made on Wednesday by General Secreta ry of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Mr Clement Rohee, who said, “My information is that she has already done so.”

Speaking at the Party’s weekly press conference held at Freedom House, he fielded questions on Harper’s selection as the incumbent Head of State’s running mate, and also stated that Harper will be active on the PPP/C’s campaign trail.

Responding to criticisms that she is not a ‘vote getter’, Rohee simply said, “Let’s wait on May 11 and see.”

He also noted that while there have been some comments to the effect that Harper is ‘not popular’, the current presidential candidate of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), Brigadier (rtd) David Granger, is similarly not popular.

Rohee also stressed that the Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate is a career diplomat, and is “a very credible” individual.

He attributed criticisms of the Party’s selection as coming from “cynics and pessimists”, but coupled this recognition with the fact that there has also been overwhelming expression of support for her selection.

Rohee highlighted the fact that Harper’s selection seems to have spurred “panic” in the APNU/AFC alliance’s camp. “The People’s Progressive Party takes note of the serious panic in the APNU-AFC camp following the announcement that one of Guyana’s outstanding daughters, Mrs. Elisabeth Harper, is our Prime Ministerial Candidate for the May 11 general and regional elections,” he said, adding:

“It is indeed interesting to note how the announcement of Mrs Harper’s candidacy has caused pandemonium in the already unpopular and weak APNU/AFC coalition, which hurriedly strung together a press release attacking the PPP/Civic’s choice for Prime Minister Candidate….

“It is clear that, through an act of desperation, the APNU-AFC appears shell-shocked due to the fact that our Prime Ministerial candidate is an outstanding but yet humble woman, as against their power-hungry Prime Ministerial candidate.”

Rohee surmised that the “harsh and disparaging comments” coming from the ‘alliance’ is an effort to downplay the significance and impact of Harper’s selection, particularly as it relates to its chances at the upcoming polls.

The involvement of the Party’s Civic component was also addressed at the news conference.

Rohee explained that while former member of the Civic component Dr Henry Jeffery advocated for a greater degree of organisation among the individuals comprising this group, no such move was made.

 “The Civic component is a rather loose arrangement that is associated with the PPP…. The Civic component does not have a structure; there is no leader…some people just don’t want to be in any organisation. They don’t like organizational structures…some people were not comfortable with any organizational form being given to the civic component,” he said.

Rohee disclosed that the individuals who form part of the Civic component prefer to remain members of civil society and contribute to the development of Guyana, as opposed to members of a labeled, organised grouping.

Harper, the PPP General Secretary stated, hails from civil society; and like other such persons, has an interest in contributing to the development of the country, this time from a different position.

Following precedent from 1992, the Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate is taken from the Civic component, while its presidential candidate is taken from the PPP.

Also, since 1992, Rohee pointed out, there has never been a meeting where members of the Civic component “sat around a table and asked the Party to agree or disagree” on a candidate.

“(What we are doing now is) no different from what we did in 1992 and all the other years that followed,” he said.

Rohee said that, as General Secretary, he recommended Harper’s selection to the PPP’s Executive Committee. “This party believes in reaching out…the PPP is not afraid of change, or of reaching out to persons in our country, to Guyanese of distinction who are prepared to serve in governmental capacity,” Rohee said.

All considered, Rohee rubbished the assertion being peddled that there is division in the PPP/C ranks. “As far as I personally am concerned, there is no rift in the PPP with respect to the Party’s selection of Harper’s candidature,” Rohee stressed.

The PPP General Secretary also vehemently rejected the idea that the Party is “sheltering” Harper from the media.

“That is your (the media’s) word, not ours…we would like to dissociate ourselves from any indication of that sort…I take objection — to put it rather strongly and firmly – (to the assertion) that the Party is sheltering Mrs Harper,” he said.

Rohee assured that its Prime Ministerial candidate would make herself available to the media at the appropriate time, as she deems fit. “We are moving with our own pace, not the pace of the media…the media will have the opportunity at the appropriate time to meet with our prime ministerial candidate to have an engagement with her,” he said.

Coming from the Civic component, Harper is not a card bearing Party member. She was the only nomination made to the Party’s Executive Committee, which concluded its deliberations on the matter only minutes before the announcement was made.

The 57-year-old’s selection, announced last Saturday, gives her the distinction of being the first woman to be nominated to that post.

Glenn Lall covering Lexus fraud paper trail

…to stave off IRS jail time – sources

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

The absence of the owner of Kaieteur News, Mohan “Glenn” Lall was quite noticeable at the court hearing in Georgetown on February 6 in which his Gy$100 million tax fraud case was settled “amicably” with the Guyanese tax authorities.

His attorneys advised the court that he, along with his co-defendants  ― wife Bhena, and “friends” in the fraud, Narootandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanan were in the United States, where the fraud allegedly originated.

While it was widely reported that Glenn Lall had fled the jurisdiction and was allegedly hiding out in the US, this newspaper has received credible information that Lall is actually trying desperately to clean up the paper trail of the financial fraud in the US. He is desperately trying to avoid the inevitable investigation by the US Internal Revenue Services (IRS) about the unreported transfers of large sums of money along with several discrepancies in the records of the purchase of the two Lexuses in the US, without mandatory filings on them. This has prevented his return to Guyana at this time.

The first discrepancy to be cleared up is the two luxury Lexus LX570 SUVs that were shipped as per Bill of Lading 112932 to Guyana from the US supposedly had VIN#  JTJHY7AX6D4096745 and VIN# JTJHY7AX6D4094851.

But before a vehicle can be shipped from the US, it must satisfy the US Customs and Border Protection that any and all liens on the vehicles have been resolved to the satisfaction of the lien holder.

According to Regulation 19CFR part 192, “the provisional owner must provide to Customs a separate writing from the third-party-in interest which expressly provides that the subject vehicle may be exported.

According to our information, Invoice # L33913X123 of 12-3-2012 allegedly supplied by a New York car dealer details that one used LEXUS LX570 SUV 2013 VIN # JTJHY7AX6D4094851 was sold for US$44,158.00.

Interestingly from the same company Invoice # L33913X126 dated three days later (12-6-2012) purported to have sold “Used Lexus LX570 SUV 2013” VIN # JTJHY7AX6D4096745” for the identical US$ 44,158.00.

Because of this amazing coincidence in prices for two supposedly different vehicles, and the fact that two Lexuses were purchased three days apart by two individuals who did not have driving licences, has been raised in Guyana, Lall is allegedly attempting to have the records altered.

From the paperwork submitted to the GRA by the Brijnanans, they supplied a New York State Certificate of Title for VIN # JTJHY7AX6D4094851, which showed a mileage of 9580 miles as of 3-14-13. It indicated a lien from Toyota Motor Credit Corp.

However, there was no letter from the lienholder showing that the debt had been satisfied and that it could be shipped out of the country.

The US IRS will eventually investigate who paid off the lien, which was very substantial, and the source of the funds.

It is alleged that Glenn Lall might have been the payer since he used the vehicle once it was cleared in Guyana, under registration PRR 8399.

On the second vehicle shipped in as “VIN # JTJHY7AX6D4096745”, at no time did the Brijnanans provide a Certificate of Title for this vehicle to the GRA, which accepted on its documentation that it did not inspect the chassis.

However, the Brijnanans did submit a NY State Certificate of Title for a completely different LEXUS LX570 2013, VIN # JTJH7AD7D4100270 with only 15 miles as of 9-25-12. This would have been a NEW vehicle.

Observers say that the IRS and the US Customs eventually will also have to investigate the car dealer for the alleged fraud – creating an invoice for one used vehicle with a particular VIN # JTJHY7AX6D4096745 when actually a new vehicle was sold to the Brijnanans three months earlier.

This new vehicle which would have cost at least US$40,000 more than the invoiced used one, and was actually shipped to Guyana, had a lien from JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, which would have had to be completely paid off. In this case also, there was no letter from the lienholder indicating that the lien was paid off.

This letter would have indicated the trail of the funds that took care of this requirement before the vehicle was shipped.

Sources say that Glenn Lall will not leave the US until he clears up all these alleged discrepancies which sought to defraud both the US and Guyana governments.

If he does not, criminal charges could be laid against him, the Brijnanans and the car dealer by the IRS and the US Customs.

Guyana Marriott set to open in grand style

- ‘Where the Demerara meets the Atlantic’

General Manager Roberto Grisi

General Manager Roberto Grisi

The management of the Guyana Marriott remains committed to a grand opening of the luxurious hotel next month. A significant portion of the major construction has been completed and the necessary staff is being trained to ensure that the international brand is evident in Guyana.

This was confirmed during a site tour on Friday. General Manager, Roberto Grisi following the tour, indicated that a majority of the 197 rooms was already completed. The items for the other rooms are stored at the Kingston location to ensure timely completion. The decoration package will be rolled out in several weeks before a thorough cleaning of the building is carried out.

According to Grisi, the March deadline is highly dependent on the construction team and whether it could meet the approval of the corporate office. “The most important aspect is the fire safety… we do not open the hotel unless we have met 100 per cent fire safety standards,” the General Manager added.

Meanwhile, Marriott Guyana has already hired some 140 persons, many of whom are undergoing rigid training to ensure the kind of service that accompanies the ‘Marriott’ brand.  Grisi told this publication that another 30 persons will be hired just before the opening in March. He says the company intends to keep its commitment to the government to ensure Guyanese are hired for most of the vacant posts.

Staff in training to use service technology

Staff in training to use service technology

“We have three Guyanese on the executive committee,” the general manager revealed. He added that certain management positions are filled by employees from abroad who are responsible for training. “Hopefully in another several years we will have a fully Guyanese management team.” Some 95 per cent of the 500 employees at the Marriott Guyana Hotel will be Guyanese.  The remaining 240 persons will be brought on with the completion of the Entertainment Centre in September of this year. This second component of a 29,000 square foot entertainment complex will house a casino, restaurant and nightclub all of which will be privately operated, separate and distinct from the hotel and its operator.

The tour was facilitated by Director of Sales and Marketing, Denisse Olivio who explained that a ‘Guyanese’ theme is prominently featured in the décor. The meeting and conference rooms are named after Guyanese Rivers and Waterfalls. The ceiling immediately upon entrance into the lobby features a replica of the Water Lily suspended, like chandeliers.  The ‘Water Lily’ will be the flower of the hotel.

“The decoration package will feature a lot of Guyanese artists,” informed Grisi, who added that the inclusion of Guyana in the aesthetics of the Hotel is “extremely important”.

Meanwhile, questioned about being able to ensure the venture is a profitable one, Grisi noted that Marriott has made a relative commitment to the owners of the property. While he could not state the precise number of guests and the period the commitment covered, the General Manager added that “we do not have a reason to think that we are not going to meet or exceed those numbers”.

The Marriott Guyana Hotel boasts services of an international standard and facilities such as the business, fitness and entertainment centers, guest rooms to meet varying preferences and meeting spaces that could accommodate as many as many 700 persons. There are also facilities that are tailored for the visually and hearing impaired.

The glass finish allows picturesque views of the city of Georgetown in the front or the Atlantic Ocean in the rear.

Exxon Mobil to invest US$600M into oil exploration in Guyana

Exxon is the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company

Exxon is the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company

U.S. giant oil company Exxon will be venturing into the waters of Guyana for the exploration of oil at the cost of some US$600 million. A 118-foot wide vessel, with over 200 people onboard, will depart the Gulf of Mexico to the designated area over 100 miles offshore Guyana. Drilling is expected to begin next month.

The area, known as the Liza Area or the Stabroek Block Area measuring some 26,806 square kilometres is said to be the target area and the company intends to drill 1750 metres in depths that reach up to 3000 metres.

Officials from the company explained that while they are not yet sure if prospect will be successful, they are still prepared to invest the money into the venture.

Jeff Simons, Country Manager of Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) stated that it may take them seven or more years to find oil in the country, explaining that the specialists just know the layout of the underwater area, such as where rocks and various obstacles are located, based on the seismic data gathered.

The project is expected to be a 10-year exploration with three periods including two phases in each period while each period lasts for one to two years, with the strictest safety procedures expected to be followed throughout the project.

Erik Oswalk, Vice President of the Americas mentioned that they already trained a fleet of drivers they will be using for the venture while every other staff member has been trained with basic first aid procedure and contractors were encouraged to wear appropriate attire on the job.

Exxon is the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company that has existed for 130 years. Exxon replaced the Esso, Enco, and Humble brands in the United States on January 1, 1973.

Guyana has a history of petroleum exploration. Guyana’s offshore Guyana Basin and the inland Takatu Basin have attracted companies such as Shell, Total and Mobil since the 1940s that have done much geological surveyance of the area and have drilled a number of wells.

As of 2008, there were four companies undertaking exploration work in Guyana. These were Exxon-Mobil, Repsol, Century Guyana Ltd and CGX. The Petroleum Division of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission has the responsibility of monitoring surveyance in Guyana.

The venture is expected to provide job opportunities to Guyanese in several areas when operations commence.

PPP/C expects a resounding victory – Finance Minister

- says electorate dissatisfied with opposition’s parliamentary actions

Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh

Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh

Going into elections 2015, Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh opined that the incumbent People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) Government expects a resounding victory.

During an interview on the National Communications Network’s Political Scope on Saturday, the Minister spoke of his expectations heading into the upcoming elections.

Dr. Singh predicts that the victory will see the party regaining the parliamentary majority. “I say this because throughout the length and breadth of Guyana where I travelled, I have heard almost a singular clear message emerging from communities and villages, and that is a message of frustration in relation to the antics and tactics of the combined opposition during the life of the 10th parliament.”

 According to the Finance Minister, it is the consensus of Guyanese that they are disappointed with the manner in which the one-seat majority held by the opposition was used for disruptive, destructive, and obstructive purposes, rather than for constructive purposes.

More often than not, the Minister added that the messages are delivered through the specificity of comments offered in frustration about the challenges faced in relation to electricity and why the current administration has not yet harnessed hydro power electricity, “…although we have been talking about it for generations, and then anger that the opposition has been obstructing the attainment of this long embrace objective.”

In addition, he said many have expressed their frustration at cuts imposed on the national budget and the realisation of the imposed hardships, three years in succession.

“I believe that there is a groundswell of displeasure at the manner in which this one-seat majority has been used by the opposition. I believe that people have recognised the sub-optimal and dysfunctional situation that this new dispensation has placed our country in.”

Notably, Minister Singh said having travelled to most parts of the country, and having met with many stakeholders, he now hears a strong message of enthusiasm that this will be corrected and reversed, in an emphatic way come May 11.

In the meantime, Minister Singh said in the coming weeks, Guyanese will hear, as they always do in an election period, from all political parties about why they should vote for them.

Speaking of the coalition of the opposition APNU and AFC, he said, “What is interesting is that throughout the conversation is how the pie of leadership will be carved up, but there is no talk about a developmental agenda, and that apparently has been relegated to irrelevance.”

This, Minister Singh said, tells the whole story of what Guyanese can expect from the newly formed coalition.

On the contrary, Minister Singh said the PPP/C has demonstrated its commitment to development in Guyana and evidently, very significant transformation has taken place over 22 years of the PPP/C being in power.

“I believe that the people recognise that we have the most viable, most credible and genuine and sincere plan for taking our country forward along a positive development trajectory, so I’m very optimistic we will see this dysfunctional situation in the parliament corrected with the return of the PPP/C to a majority in the parliament.”

He added that even amidst the fact that election is not constitutionally due until next year, the incumbent  is ready and willing to face the electorate since unlike other parties they have no reason not to have every confidence.

Indo-Caribbean group lobbies President Obama on Relief Programmes

Rishi Singh and other activists from the South Asian Organizing Center and United We Dream Coalition in a meeting  with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Rishi Singh and other activists from the South Asian Organizing Center and United We Dream Coalition in a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

On February 4, 2015, DRUM – South Asian Organizing Center organizer Rishi Singh and other activists from the United We Dream coalition met with President Obama to affirm the importance of relief programmes such as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents), their implementation, and also to push for relief for those who are currently excluded from the President’s Executive Action.

The programmes provide temporary relief from deportation (deferred action) and work authorization to unauthorized parents of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), or to certain young people brought to the United States as children (DACA). The programmes benefit nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants.

DRUM, which organizes low-income South Asian and Indo-Caribbean immigrants, workers, and youth, was the lead organization in New York State for the campaign for Administrative Relief. DRUM began to organize for Administrative Relief in late 2013, and publicly launched the campaign in April of 2014, which included actions targeting the President and DHS locally and nationally.

Rishi Singh, originally from Trinidad, has been an organizer with DRUM for 12 years, where he has led DRUM’s campaign for Administrative Relief for undocumented immigrants over the last year and a half. In his meeting with President Obama, he told the President that “over 6 million undocumented immigrants are excluded from the program, including those from LGBTQ communities, and those with prior criminal records.”

Rishi said that this meeting with the President is part of a broader struggle, “This is a testament to the power of organizing and our ability to win real change that will benefit the lives of our community.”

An interview with Mahadeo Shivraj – NY-based Guyanese actor and filmmaker

By Jihan Ramroop

Mahadeo Shivraj

Mahadeo Shivraj

Born and grew up in: Georgetown, Guyana

Films: 83 Million Gees, Till I Find a Place, A Jasmine for a Gardener, Brown Sugar Too Bitter For Me

1. Where did you go to school?

In Georgetown. I went to Central Prep and then I went to South Georgetown Government Secondary School.

2. When did you realize you wanted to be an actor?

That is a question I get all the time and… I don’t know if the age is correct or not. But, I remember I used to go with my- I didn’t grow up with my parents my first fourteen years. I lived with my grandparents, and they weren’t really my grandparents either. They were my…grandfather, his sister and her husband. I just ended up with them for some reason or the other. So even though my parents lived just a few blocks away, I lived there permanently.

These grandparents loved going to the movies, they loved the Indian movies. Empire Cinema showed Indian movies and Liberty Cinema showed a different movie.  In the week they would go to one and then [go to] the other one later on. I saw so many movies and I don’t know if that was my inspiration. Since at the age of five I could remember distinctly telling them, ‘I could do that, I could do that.’ And that’s what I wanted to do. As I grew up, that feeling grew stronger in me.

3. Did you receive any formal training in acting?

Well in Guyana, we don’t really have an acting school…So whatever I’ve done, it’s like what I would’ve done on the job-training… It’s like you’re placed in a position, you get an opportunity to act and then you gotta do [it]. However, when I came to America, I realized that they weren’t satisfied with natural talent and stuff like that- experience. They wanted to see that you were studying. So I did go to Herbert Berghof Studios in Manhattan, and I also went to NYU [New York University] where I did a few courses [at] both places.

4. Do you suffer from stage fright?

Oh yeah, when I was going to Herbert Berghof I had finished about sixty-something plays. But up to now, before I go onstage I’ll get nervous…I’m almost trembling.

I remember in a play at the Billie Holiday Theater [in Brooklyn, New York] that ran for five and a half months [with] eighty-four performances. Every night that I had to go up there- even though I had done it so many times… I was nervous every night because it’s a different set of people coming there. However…once I step up there and the lights hit me, within a few- I don’t even know when it happens, but in a few seconds it [stage fright] disappears.

5. How was it like auditioning for roles?

You have to find a way of getting an opportunity to audition. I have learned that if you can’t deal with rejection, you need to change and do something else. I think the ratio is out of fifty times, you’ll hear ‘yes’ once. The second thing I learnt is that it’s not about you. It’s not about your talent. It’s just that you’re not suited for what they want.

Recently I did, “The Americans.” The audition, I thought I messed up. I messed up once, twice. It was freezing. When I went in there, I was real cold-like. Maybe the casting director sensed that because I apologized the first time I slipped up. And she said, ‘No, no, you probably got brain-freeze. It’s very cold out there.’ She was making excuses for me and I was like what is this. And when I finished, I had written that off. I know I did great. I know I did my job eventually. But I wrote it off… And that one, it’s strange enough. I auditioned like 12:30, by five o’clock I got a call saying, ‘Oh, we want to offer you the role.’

I had two scenes with Tina Fey in one episode. When I auditioned for that, they asked for a Pakistani hot dog vendor. When I went there I saw hundreds of guys that looked like me. From their speech I know they’re all Pakistani and Middle Eastern. The casting director said, ‘By the way, you’re trying to do a Pakistani accent?’ I said, ‘Yes, because I’m not from Pakistani.’ She said, ‘Where are you from?’ I said ‘Guyana.’ She said, ‘Where on the map is that?’ And I said, ‘I get that all the time. I said Guyana is in South America and I…tell her the whole geography. She said, ‘Okay. Do it the way you would do it.’ The next thing you know I got the part.

6. How did your next project emerge?

I called my friend. I said, ‘You know what? Here’s what we’ll do. We’re not gonna make a Guyanese movie. We’re gonna make an American movie…trying to compete with Hollywood with $10,000 [US] dollars or $20,000, is like impossible. But, if you do something that is of quality, that is good, you never know who’s gonna see it and who’s attention it can attract. My friend wrote a script. Actually sent it to me 4 AM, New Year’s Day morning. So that was my New Year’s gift. And now we’re in pre-production for that movie. The working title- I don’t know if we’ll change the name yet- is Tangled Dreams.

7. Do you have a release date when the film will be out?

Oh no. My intention here is to submit it to the film festivals. So submitting it to the festival- I should say this. 5,000 movies are made every year and submitted to the film festivals. Only 200 are screened at the festival. These are movies that have big names. So those names are the ones who actually get screened in the festival. With all those odds against me, I am still not giving up. I still feel confident that if I do something that is good, you never know who will chance upon it and [say] ‘hey, I like this movie.’

8. How did the idea for Brown Sugar Too Bitter For Me come about?

Brown Sugar was in the making, you gotta say, twenty-something years ago. It didn’t really happen that way. The writer and I knew each other as teenagers… We used to talk about making something like Brown Sugar with these songs and all of that. We discussed it again and again. I reminded him at least about fifty times and he never did anything… So…I said, ‘Man, that project we talked about. Just write a play and I’ll do it for Indian Arrival [Day] in Guyana, how about that?’ And he was like, ‘Alright.’ So he wrote it as a play and sent it to me.

I had enough time to do it as a play for Indian Arrival [Day] in Guyana when I read it. He put the songs that we’re gonna use and all of that. And I was like, ‘It wouldn’t look right for us to be talking Guyanese, and then sing with a Trini accent. It would be fine if we talk in English and do [it] in all Hindi songs. That would be acceptable.

So I said, ‘You know what, let’s do this. I’m not gonna do a play. I’m gonna make a movie out of it. But, I’m not gonna use these songs. I’m gonna create brand new songs.’ It took me fourteen months. No, it actually wasn’t the year itself of 150th [Indian Arrival Anniversary], it was the year before. So, because I had that period, I had enough time. Fourteen months I had these guys writing songs, sending it back to me… He [Somnauth Narine, the writer] did a fantastic job because this movie is creating a tremendous stir for those who’ve seen it.

My friend who teaches at a school invited some teachers.  They saw the movie. Days after, they told him, ‘Why don’t you send this movie to the festivals?’ And he said, ‘Why do you say that?’ Their answer was, ‘When we see Hollywood movies, we forget them. But when we see this movie, we can’t forget it.’ So it means that there is something that we have that has the ability to attract attention…it just needs the opportunity to be seen.

9. On piracy…

Imagine I only release Brown Sugar Too Bitter for Me on DVD…the month before the last [November 2014]. But, in 2013, December, the movie was already out in Guyana. However, it wasn’t the real movie. Because of the popularity that my first movie Till I Find a Place created in Guyana. …The pirates took Brown Sugar Too Bitter for Me poster off the Internet [and] put it on a DVD jacket.

But, the actual DVD was a movie named Karma that I acted in years ago. So when you buy that you think you’re buying Brown Sugar. Now, people are thinking that I’m cheating them.

   Then, they took Jasmine for a Gardener, the same thing, and the actual DVD is a movie named Truth that I was in years ago. Now, they’ve gone further, taking my picture off my Facebook page, putting it on a DVD, and saying how this is a new movie the guy came out with. But…it’s an African movie or it’s a Jamaican movie. I’m not even in it. Then, when I walk down the road people [say] ‘Oh man, I always support you…’ And I’m like, ‘Support me how?’ ‘I always buy your movies’. I said, ‘But I don’t sell any movie.’

It’s the pirates who are pirating. It’s good that the word spreads, but I’m not getting an opportunity to recover my costs.

10. What advice would you give to aspiring actors and filmmakers?

My advice would be that it’s difficult to make this as a career- to make a living out of it. So, after thinking about that if you still want to do it, go for it.

The important thing is homework. Like…when you read a script, it’s not the first idea that comes to mind [that] is the best. You have to study. Why am I saying this? You have to ask yourself a lot of questions because when you read it, something will come to your mind right away. And it’s the easiest one that will come. But sometimes the one that would be more interesting, is in the background that you haven’t really explored. It’s not what you see first on the surface. It’s when you go below the surface.

10% cut in power charges nothing to do with elections, says Brassington

A Guyana Power and Light (GPL) engineer explaining the standard operating procedures of the newly commissioned Vreed-en-Hoop power generation plant to President Donald Ramotar and Prime Minister Samuel Hinds in the presence of GPL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bharat Dindyal. Also in photo are GPL Chairman Winston Brassington, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, Public Works Minister Robeson Benn, Regional Chairman Julius Faerber and other officials

A Guyana Power and Light (GPL) engineer explaining the standard operating procedures of the newly commissioned Vreed-en-Hoop power generation plant to President Donald Ramotar and Prime Minister Samuel Hinds in the presence of GPL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bharat Dindyal. Also in photo are GPL Chairman Winston Brassington, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, Public Works Minister Robeson Benn, Regional Chairman Julius Faerber and other officials

The  10 percent reduction in electricity charges by Guyana Power and Light (GPL) company will result in its customers being able to hold on to an additional Gy$3B annually, in disposable income.

Head of State, President Donald Ramotar on Monday during the commissioning of the power company’s Vreed-en-Hoop plant, its latest installation, announced that GPL will be reducing its rates by 10 percent.

Chairman of the Board of Directors, Winston Brassington and Chief Executive Officer Bharat Dindyal met with media operatives on Tuesday at the entity’s Duke Street, Kingston head office along with key directors, to offer clarity on how the power company proposes to effect the reduction.

It was revealed that in addition to the Gy$3B, which would be foregone in revenue this year as a result of the reduction in tariff, the power company, between 2003 and 2014, had already foregone an estimated Gy$29B, in order to stave off increases in charges.

He reminded those present that in recent years, when fuel prices had escalated, the power company did not seek to increase the amount passed on to consumers but rather opted to forego the revenue to be recouped in future.

“This tariff reduction,” according to Brassington, “reaffirms GPL’s continued commitment in providing quality electricity supply at fair cost.”

Pressed on the company’s ability to sustain the reduction in tariffs, taking into account the volatility of the oil market, along with the fact that GPL has over the years been dependent on subsidies, Ash Deonarine, the power company’s Deputy CEO told media operatives that as long as oil prices stayed below US$70 a barrel, the reduction can be afforded.

Should the price of oil on the international market increase above US$70 per barrel, then the company would not be able to break even, and may very well have to restore its tariffs.

Brassington was quick to point out, however, that at present, the company can afford to make the reduction in tariffs charged, but this situation will be reviewed on a quarterly basis and adjusted, based on the prevailing circumstances at the time.

“We’re doing this on a quarterly basis, so in July, we will again review where fuel prices are and depending on that, adjustments to what we are doing may be made,” Brassington said.

Noting that Government’s strategy in the past has been to stave off any increases, Brassington said: “That strategy is likely to continue.”

The GPL Chairman did point out that the current 10 percent reduction will be applied to Residential, Commercial and Industrial Tariffs.

In fact, Brassington further noted that “consumers whose billing cycle begins in the latter part of February and ends in March will benefit from the reduction on their entire consumption for this period.”

Brassington was however quick to dismiss any notion that the revision downwards in the amount being charged by the power company for electricity had linkage to the May 11 General and Regional Elections.

According to Brassington, the decision to reduce the electricity tariff was one made by the Board of Directors and was in response to the declining fuel prices over the past year.

He stated further that this year, the power company will not have to rely on Government for any subsidy to meet any of its operational expenses.

He said, however, that on the capital side, the power company, despite the reduction in tariffs, will have to still depend on Government for assistance in that regard.

According to Brassington, this year a substantial part of the European Union/Inter-American Development Bank’s US$65M project, will continue and will see the money being channelled through Government.

He said that this would be in addition to Government funding some of its capital programmes directly, the details of which will be made public when the 2015 National Estimates are presented to the National Assembly.

In order to deliver on its mandate while foregoing revenue when there was high fuel prices, the power company was forced to seek assistance from Central Government in the form of subsidy and loans in order to ensure the tariffs were not increased.

According to Brassington, “when we faced high fuel prices GPL has not increased tariffs, instead we relied on Government to provide operating support both on the operating side and to fund our capital expansion programme.”

APNU promises ‘package of surprises’ at campaign launch

By Gomatie Gangadin

APNU Leader David Granger pays rapt attention to what is being said by a citizen at the party’s outreach in Berbice

APNU Leader David Granger pays rapt attention to what is being said by a citizen at the party’s outreach in Berbice

The main Opposition – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) said it was excited and ready for the launching of its elections campaign later this month, promising a package of surprise new candidates and other major announcements.

This is according to General Secretary Joseph Harmon who on Wednesday told this publication that the party is in full swing with preparations for its February 20 elections campaign launch. He noted that even as he was speaking, the party was meeting and fine-tuning details so that the campaign can bring the desired results.

“The preparations are a work in progress. There are several meetings taking place to ensure that everything is set and in order. We are excited by what is happening and we are prepared for the February 20 launch,” Harmon said. He noted that the party will be having its leadership meeting on Friday where the final discussions on the launch were expected to take place and any necessary changes will be made so that the launch can be successful.

The General Secretary has promised that the coalition will be unveiling several surprise candidates at the launch on February 20, days before the country celebrates its Republican Anniversary. He was at the time responding to the question of whether Guyanese society can expect any surprises in terms of the party’s list of candidates.

“Oh definitely, definitely, we will be having lots of surprises. Last week, we had the Justice For All Party (JFAP) reaffirming their commitment with the party and since then they have been participating in every activity of the Partnership. We have had known PPP [People’s Progressive Party] supporters coming and telling us that they wish to get on board, since they are disenchanted by the current Administration. We have been getting lots of people coming on board, so we will have surprises on February 20,” the APNU General Secretary disclosed.

He was, however, adamant on not revealing any names, saying “you will have to wait until February 20 to get the new names. It is a surprise”. Harmon expressed that APNU remained optimistic of winning a majority come May 11, since it has faith in its support base and Guyanese society.


Meanwhile, APNU Chairman, retired Brigadier David Granger is said to be the Partnership’s Presidential Candidate. Harmon had previously told this newspaper that Dr Rupert Roopnaraine will remain as the Prime Ministerial Candidate for the grouping if current coalition talks were not successful. Noting that Roopnaraine has enjoyed the confidence of the coalition, Harmon said he will not be replaced. Asked whether APNU had any policy in choosing its Prime Ministerial Candidate based on ethnicity, Harmon answered in the negative. He further said that there are no plans to replace any of the party members in their respective posts.

Final wish granted: US Embassy in G/town grants visa to sister of dying man

Doctors in NY have given Christopher Robinson a few more days to live

Doctors in NY have given Christopher Robinson a few more days to live

According to reports coming out of Guyana, a Guyanese man’s last wish to see his sister before  he dies, is inching towards becoming a reality after the US Embassy in Georgetown granted the woman a visitor’s visa after first denying her request.

The man, 25 year old Christopher Robinson who lives in Brooklyn New York, is terminally ill with a rare form of cancer. His Doctors have given him just weeks more to live and have moved him to a hospice to make his final days more comfortable.

Days after tying the knot on his hospital bed with his longtime girlfriend, Robinson made one final request through the lens of the New York media. He begged for his sister to be granted the opportunity to see him one last time.

The two had not seen each other in two decades and although they would communicate constantly using social media and skype, Robinson said he wanted to hug his sister and hold her close one last time.

According to the man’s sister, Michelle Robinson, she had made previous attempts to secure a US visa, but those attempts failed and her story was told by the media in both the US and Guyana.

Michelle Robinson can now visit her dying brother; she has now secured her US Visa

Michelle Robinson can now visit her dying brother; she has now secured her US Visa

This newspaper understands that New York State officials even got involved in the story and made representation to the US Embassy. While the Embassy was clear that it does not disclose information about visa applications, it noted that there is a process to be followed and the sister was free to file another application. Michelle Robinson did exactly that earlier this week and was heartened when she was granted the visa.

The family’s story has also caught the attention of Fly Jamaica which operates flights between Georgetown and New York. The airline has stepped forward and will provide the woman with a free round trip ticket for the final reunion with her brother.

She is expected to leave Guyana before the end of this week.