May 25, 2016

Fire Chief says cause of Gafoors’ fire believed to be accidental

The damaged Gafoors Houston Complex

The damaged Gafoors Houston Complex

The massive blaze which destroyed a major section of the Gafoors Houston Complex storage bonds earlier this week, resulting in the company losing billions of dollars, is believed to have started accidentally.

According to Fire Chief Marlon Gentle, investigations into the origin of the fire are still on-going, but at present it would appear as if the fire may have been accidental in nature and not the work of arsonist/s.

Gentle told a section of the media that the probe by the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) is almost completed and at this point in time investigators are narrowing down the evidence which points in the direction of the fire being an ‘accident’.

Meanwhile, while staffers of the Gafoors Complex have been allowed to enter the damaged building to assist in removing debris, one specific area is still off limits at present.

 Guyana Times International also understands that the firefighters who received injuries during their battle with the raging fire on Monday, last, are recovering at a good pace.

 Even though the massive blaze started on Monday, fire service ranks up to noon on Tuesday were still trying to extinguish pockets of fire at the location.

 Guyana Times International understands that the massive fire which resulted in over 500 employees being uncertain about their future, had eased around 02:00 hrs the day after it begun, but flared up again sometime after which led to the main entrance of the building being further damaged by the flames.

 

Our nation’s future depends on deeper social cohesion

…says President Granger in special address to National Assembly

Members of the National Assembly await the arrival of President David Granger

Members of the National Assembly await the arrival of President David Granger

In light of Guyana celebrating 50 years of Independence this year, President David Granger during a special address to the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon said the coming of Independence was a necessity, and the country was able to make rapid progress in post independent years.

The President used the opportunity to reflect on the state of Guyana during the pre-independent and post-independent eras, stating that the first 50 years was spent on overcoming an economically hostile environment.

The Head-of-State pleaded with the National Assembly to use this year’s Independence for strengthening national unity and social cohesion in the country.

According to President Granger, Guyanese can be proud of what they have achieved in the first 50 years of Independence, since this feat offered the nation a new beginning; the opportunity to work together, heal divisions, and more importantly, an opportunity for national unity.

“But that national unity has been elusive for most of the past 5 decades…it has led to political and economic fatigue, trickle of people migrating…the National Assembly must take the first steps on the long road to social cohesion…our nation’s future depends on deeper social cohesion,” he declared.

The President also declared that the leaders of the nation can construct a cohesive society by doing more to eradicate poverty, ensuring equal access to education for everyone, employment and fighting discrimination and more.

Guyana observes inaugural Social Cohesion Day

President David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo along with their spouses writing their personal commitments to the promotion of social cohesion on white helium-filled balloons, which were later released up into the sky (Ministry of the Presidency photo)

President David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo along with their spouses writing their personal commitments to the promotion of social cohesion on white helium-filled balloons, which were later released up into the sky (Ministry of the Presidency photo)

As Guyana marked its first Social Cohesion Day with a national prayer ceremony at D’Urban Park on Monday, President David Granger has charged Guyanese with building the nation through national unity as the country is at the peak of celebrating its Golden Jubilee Anniversary.

In the presence of a number of diplomats, members of the Government, religious leaders and citizens, Granger reminded that in order for Guyana to be advanced, there needed to be inclusiveness in society.

In his address, the President explained the significance of Social Cohesion Day and its impact on reforming Guyana and its productivity as part of the Independence celebrations.

He said the day would serve as an opportunity for Guyanese to put aside their segregation tactics and focus primarily on having an all-inclusive Guyana, which would be more conducive to the country’s growth.

“Social Cohesion Day is celebrated in appreciation of people with different backgrounds, their circumstances. This day recognises that this nation is now and always will be multireligious, multiethnic and multicultural. This nation is forever,” the President told the gathering.

He said that a nation that is socially cohesive will stand a better chance of eradicating poverty, inequality, discrimination, improving accessibility to education and promoting greater participation and inclusion at a political level.

Members of all the religious groups in Guyana were present at the event and made their contribution to the programme. There were also a number of cultural performances.

The national prayer ceremony was observed in all ten administrative regions with similar programmes.

 

$50 note, 2 commemorative coins launched in observance of Guyana’s 50th Independence anniversary

By Rennella Bourne

The Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Dr Gobind Ganga and Finance Minister Winston Jordan unveil the $50 banknote and two commemorative coins on Wednesday in honour of Guyana’s Golden Jubilee celebration

The Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Dr Gobind Ganga and Finance Minister Winston Jordan unveil the $50 banknote and two commemorative coins on Wednesday in honour of Guyana’s Golden Jubilee celebration

The Bank of Guyana launched its $50 banknote and two commemorative coins on Wednesday in honour of Guyana’s Golden Jubilee celebration.

The Governor of Bank of Guyana, Dr Gobind Ganga disclosed that the Bank usually issues commemorative coins to mark significant events and achievements.

 “The first commemorative coin was issued in 1970 to mark the country becoming a republic and this coin was issued as a circulation coin, at a face value of $1, this popularly known as “The Cuffy dollar”.

The second commemorative coin issued in 1976 marked the country 10th independence anniversary; this was followed by a number of commemorative issues between 1979 and 2015.

According to Governor Ganga, the two commemorative coins are designed with the 50thanniversary logo on the reverse depicting elegance, artistry and cooperativeness of the people, while the obverse bears the jaguar that represents power, strength and valor of our multiethnic society.

The $5000 commemorated coin is produced in silver and plated in gold, and will be packaged in a box and sold at a cost of $8000 per coin. Governor Ganga noted that the issue is limited to 1000 coins. The $2000 denomination coin is plated in gold and produced in a metallic alloy. It will be sold at a cost of $2500 and is limited to 3000 coins.

The $50 note will be issued together with circulation notes along with existing notes.

“The note was inspired by our national symbols, the front of the note is consistent with the design of our bank note family. The note also carries the 50th anniversary logo,” Ganga noted.

Meanwhile, speaking at the launching ceremony, Finance Minister Winston Jordan disclosed that 50 years as an independent state is indeed a significant milestone for Guyana and should be commemorated in unique ways, hence the launch of the new note to commemorate Guyana’s Independence Anniversary.

Minister Jordan noted that the circulation of the $50 bank note will not impact the volume of currency in circulation, and will not lead to high inflation.

He added that even though technology has delivered alternative methods of payment, Guyana remains a cash-based economy in which the majority of economic transactions are conducted using cash.

Also present at the launching was Minister within the Education Ministry, Nicolette Henry. Both Henry and Jordon were presented with the souvenirs of the new note by Governor Ganga.

 

Response to CPL ticket sales in US very encouraging – organisers

cplKINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – Caribbean Premier League organisers say the initial response to ticket sales for the Florida leg of the Twenty20 tournament have been encouraging and point to a successful hosting of the matches there.

Six games in the CPL will be played at the Lauderhill Stadium in Fort Lauderdale from July 28-31, marking the first time fixtures have been carded outside of the Caribbean region.

“What’s interesting is that we went on sale with tickets [approximately two weeks ago] and already we’ve sold close to 5,000 tickets. That’s a phenomenal achievement in a short space of time,” CPL’s chief operating officer, Pete Russell, told the Observer newspaper here.

“We know there is an audience there, and on top of that there are a lot of cricket-loving fans who don’t get to see international players very often, if at all.”

The fourth edition of the CPL will run from June 29 to August six, with matches scheduled for Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, along with Florida.

All six franchises will feature during the four-day period in Florida, with Guyana Amazon Warriors and Barbados Tridents raising the curtain on that leg, in a repeat of the 2014 final.

Russell said organisers were anticipating a strong response to the games, especially with a large West Indian community living in Florida.

“I think it’s fantastic. We know there’s a huge fan base in America, and more importantly, there’s a huge Jamaican following in Fort Lauderdale and the surroundings,” Russell said.

“We’re very excited about the prospects of playing there.”

 

Guyana’s rice farmers plead for more assistance from Govt

A rice field which is very dry due to the lack of water

A rice field which is very dry due to the lack of water

In the face of the tremendous challenges that rice farmers countrywide have experienced as a result of the El Niño conditions which have resulted in them suffering major losses, they are yet to receive assistance from Government.

This information was revealed to Guyana Times International by rice farmers who are yet again calling for assistance.

Farmers related to this publication that the General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) and representatives from the Rice Producers Association (RPA) visited a number of rice farmers in Leguan and Wakenaam (Essequibo) and promised compensation and assistance for the new crop.

However, since that meeting, farmers have not heard anything from the GRDB and the RPA.

Speaking with this publication, a Wakenaam rice farmer disclosed that most of the farmers were considering not planting rice for the new crop as they were in dire financial constraints.

“Most of these farmers don’t know what to do for the new crop, because, first of all, because of the losses that we faced, we do not even have money to plant for the new crop,” the famer explained.

According to another Wakenaam rice farmer, the GRDB visited them and explained that the Board has taken note of the significant losses that the farmers have incurred, noting that discussions were ongoing to provide assistance in order for the rice farmers to restart cultivation.

“They told us that they would provide paddy and so forth for us in the meeting, but it is time for us to cultivate and we are not hearing back anything so we don’t know what to do,” the frustrated farmer explained.

A Leguan rice farmer told Guyana Times International that they have not received any word at all which would suggest that they would be compensated.

“We did not hear anything about any compensation. We need compensation because we are really struggling. I hope that the Government can really look into this, because it’s long we have been pleading for assistance, it’s really hard.”

Early last month, the Regional Chairman of Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Julius Faerber had announced that the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) would be petitioning the Government to compensate the Leguan and Wakenaam rice farmers.

Faerber told this publication that the Government needed to ensure that the rice farmers have funds when the drought period is over to replant their crop.

In Wakenaam, the last report received revealed that 300 acres of rice had been lost and some 2000 were at risk.

In Leguan, the situation had become so dire that 38-40 acres of rice were planted instead of the usual 4000 acres.

Also in Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam); Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), thousands of acres of rice have been lost because of drought.

Despite the struggle, rice farmers of Region Two early last month began harvesting their fields. Rice harvesting has commenced in the north and south of the Essequibo Coast in villages such as Perseverance, Airy Hall, Golden Fleece and Lima.

The farmers are hoping that as the rainy season begins, they can work towards getting back what was lost.

Attack on elderly couple “brutal and barbaric”

-Police hoping to make breakthrough soon as 4 persons remain in custody

By Kristen Macklingam

This is what is left of the Munir's home

This is what is left of the Munir’s home

An employee of the elderly couple who were burnt to death in their Good Hope, East Bank Essequibo (EBE) home on Sunday night, along with a resident of the same village, is among the four suspects being detained by the police in relation to what many have described as the most “brutal and barbaric” act.

Meanwhile, the two other persons in police custody hail from villages close to the home of the dead couple, Mohamed and Jamila Munir. These two suspects are characters known to the police since they have been fingered and implicated in a number of ‘break and enter’ reports on previous occasions.

 This publication understands that all four suspects are relatively young, none of them reaching their 30thbirthday, and from information gathered thus far by investigators, there is enough evidence for them to be further detained or possibly charged later.

The 72-hour detention and questioning period (three days) for the four individuals expires sometime today (Thursday) and investigators are said to be presently applying for an extension to keep the suspects in custody.

Thousands turned out to pay their last respects at the rice farmers' funeral on Wednesday

Thousands turned out to pay their last respects at the rice farmers’ funeral on Wednesday

This publication was told that while the four persons are co-operating, they are “not admitting to certain facts” but of the group, one particular suspect, is said to be “co-operating quite well.”

 Investigators are still grilling these suspects with hopes of getting a solid breakthrough in the case to determine those involved in committing the brutal act and the motive for doing so. However, from all accounts so far, it appears to have been a “planned robbery” gone haywire, said one police source.

On Sunday night, residents of the quiet, close knitted community of Good Hope, EBE, were left in a state of disbelief and distress after they witnessed the Munir’s home go up in flames with the elderly couple trapped inside.

Persons rushed out to save the husband and wife who were screaming for help as the heat and the blaze intensified, but despite their efforts, the neighbours and others who ran to offer their assistance did not succeed.

The trapped couple could not have been saved since their house which was engulfed in flames had been heavily grilled. It is believed that the duo locked themselves in a room in their bid to hide from the gunmen.

Reports are around 23:00h on that fateful night an unidentified number of armed men entered the home of the elderly couple and shortly after gunshots rang out.

 According to one neighbour, he heard the gunshots ringing out,  and he looked out of his house to see what was transpiring. That was when he noticed smoke and fire coming from the house. He also heard the elderly couple screaming for help.

According to him, ranks of the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) took between 30mins to 45mins to arrive at the scene of the fire, and by the time they got to the burning house there was little that could have been done to save the house or those trapped inside.

 

Guyanese crowned Mrs. New York International 2016

Mrs. New York International 2016 Faudia Ali-Silletta

Mrs. New York International 2016 Faudia Ali-Silletta

As she waved from a World War II era jeep to onlookers lining the tiny streets of the New York City suburb she now calls home, a sense of pride overcame Faudia Ali-Silletta as she relished in the Saint Patrick’s Day festivities and being crowned  Mrs. New York International 2016 earlier this year.

“I am so honoured to take part in such a wonderful American tradition, especially with my family rooting for me,” expressed Faudia.

The beauty will next represent New York in her quest for the title of Mrs. International 2016 on July 22 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Faudia is a native of Vreed-en-Hoop, West Bank Demerara, and the holder of a master’s degree in Microbiology and Chemistry. Among her accomplishments, she is a proud wife and mother of two adorable boys. She also became a licensed medical technologist in New York only a few years after becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Growing up in a single-parent household with her mother, Shabeeba, and two brothers, Zaiyad and Frankie, Faudia honed the qualities needed to succeed in life, all the while helping others.

“I’ve always been one to solve problems, and so the medical field, specifically clinical laboratory work with an emphasis in Microbiology and Chemistry, seemed like a natural fit for me,” she mentioned.

Looking iridescent in her pageant gown (Photo by Seth Litroff)

Looking iridescent in her pageant gown (Photo by Seth Litroff)

Being striking in appearance is only one of the requisites of becoming Mrs. International.  The annual pageant is for married women with exceptional personal and professional stories.  Additionally, it was developed to promote today’s married women, their accomplishments and commitment to family and marriage.

“I have always been well-grounded and will not allow all the growing attention coming my way to fog my judgment.  This opportunity has changed my life. I appreciate the love and support from those close to me and the public in general. I have always admired the fashion/modelling industry; I have walked the runway on behalf of several couture clothing designers during New York’s acclaimed Fashion Week as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s campaign against autism,” she outlined.

Faudia is looking to represent the State of New York, the Guyanese population, and the diaspora in the U.S.A., Toronto and the United Kingdom. She plans on visiting Guyana to meet her Guyanese supporters and to raise awareness and funding for the fight against the homeless, orphans, abused women, drug abuse and teenage delinquency, depression, breast cancer awareness and autism.

“My passion is to help raise awareness and resources to curtail the homeless epidemic, assist battered women, curtail substance abuse and depression as well as eradicate diseases such as cancer and autism,” she declared.

She noted that despite her work ethic and determination, she “never imagined being in a position to have such a positive impact on others. This proves one should never lose hope and embrace their dreams regardless of age and/or circumstance in life.”

To show your support for Faudia Silletta, visit www.mrsinternational.com. Online voting started April 1, 2016.

 

Baroness Valerie Amos to grace Guyana’s Jubilee celebrations in New York

Former Leader of the British House of Lords and Director of The School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), University of London, Baroness Valerie Amos will be a Guest of Honor at the Guyana Independence Celebration in New York.

Baroness Valerie Amos

Baroness Valerie Amos

The Celebration which takes place from June 4 – 12, 2016 is being held to commemorate Guyana’s 50th Anniversary of Independence.

 Baroness Amos hails from Wakenaam Island, Guyana. She was the first black woman to serve in the British Cabinet as Secretary for International Development in 2003.  Baroness Amos was subsequently appointed Leader of the House of Lords by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2003, a position she held until 2007. She also served as  United Nations Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs 2010 to 2015, as British High Commissioner to Austria from 2009 to 2010, and Chief Executive of the British Equal Opportunities Commission from 1989 to 1994.

 Guyana’s President David Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, several cabinet Ministers, Guyanese-American Actress CCH Pounder, British-Guyanese singer and winner of “The Voice UK”, Jermaine Jackman, will also participate in the New York celebrations.

Guyana Jubilee NYC festivities will take place throughout the New York metropolitan area, and New Jersey.

 Committee Chairman Rickford Burke said that the highlight of the week long program is a Black Tie, star-studded, State Dinner on June 11, at the Sheraton New York Time Square Hotel & Towers at which President David Granger will deliver the keynote address.

New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo; Mayor of New York City, Bill deBlasio; Mayor of the City of Newark, New Jersey, Ras Baraka, Guyanese American Actor Sean Patrick Thomas, British-Guyanese singer, songwriter, Leona Lewis, are among the invitees.  Award winning Actress CCH Pounder  will be Mistress Of Ceremonies at the State Dinner.

 The Jubilee Week NYC celebration include an Inter-County President’s Cup Cricket Match at Idiewild Park Springfield Blvd & 149th Ave., in Queens; a President’s Cup Soccer Tournament & Youth Fun Day at South Shore High School Park, Flatlands & Ralph Avenues in Brooklyn;  an Interfaith Service at York College Performing Arts Center: 94-45 Guy R Brewer Blvd, Queens; a Symposium on the history and development of Guyana at York College Large Lecture Theater 94-20 Guy Brewer Blvd Queens; and an Exhibition of Guyanese Art, at Aljira Center for Contemporary Art:  591 Broad St, Newark, New Jersey.

 June 8 is “Guyanese Volunteer Day.” Guyanese medical doctors, other healthcare providers and Lawyers will give back to local communities by conducting free medical clinics and providing free legal services at various locations in Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey.  A Flag Raising Ceremony will take place at Newark City Hall Square, 920 Broad St, Newark, NJ 07102 on June 9.

A Business & Investment Conference will be held on June 10, at the Harvard Club of New York: 35 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036. Speakers will include Guyana’s Ministers of Business, Finance, Natural Resources, Public Infrastructure, Public Security, Tourism & Agriculture.

The Grand Finale of the Celebrations is a Guyanese Unity & Independence Parade (Mashramani), will take place on June 12 at 11:00 A.M.; commencing at Church & Bedford Aves and ending at South Shore High School Park at Flatlands & Ralph Aves, Brooklyn, culminating in a Unity Concert.

 

A great honour to lead Guyana Amazon Warriors in CPL 2016, says Martin Guptill

Martin Guptill has been named captain of the Guyana Amazon Warriors for this year’s CPL T20 tournament

Martin Guptill has been named captain of the Guyana Amazon Warriors for this year’s CPL T20 tournament

Guyana Amazon Warriors have stepped up their preparations for the forthcoming HERO Caribbean Premier League (CPL) season by confirming New Zealand star batsman Martin Guptill as their captain.

Guptill, 29, is the franchise’s marquee player and is currently ranked third in the ICC World T20 batting rankings. The Aucklander enjoys a career average of 34.73 and strike rate of 131.44 from 61 games to date for the Black Caps.

A mainstay in the New Zealand top order across all three formats, he recently featured in his fifth ICC World T20 event in India and was a key figure as his nation reached the semi-finals, scoring 140 runs in four games at an impressive strike rate of 157.30.

 This will be Guptill’s fourth season in the CPL overall, and third with the Warriors, having also previously featured for St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in 2015. In 28 CPL games to date he averages 35.7, including seven half-centuries, with a highest score of 90.

 Commenting on his selection, Martin Guptill said: “It is a huge thrill and a great honour for me to be selected as Guyana Amazon Warriors captain for the forthcoming CPL season. Guyana is a cricket-rich nation and has produced many outstanding West Indies cricketers, not least Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Colin Croft, Lance Gibbs, Carl Hooper and the great Sir Clive Lloyd, amongst many others. I am conscious of Guyana’s heritage and standing in the Caribbean, and proud to lead the team into battle this year.

 “I am really excited about working with a talented crop of emerging local and international talent and we will be working hard to try and be consistent and go one step further and clinch the title which has eluded the Warriors on two occasions. Of course this summer we will also be travelling to Central Broward Stadium in Florida which is a really positive development for CPL as we move into mainland USA. Speaking to some of the players already, there’s already a lot of excitement about this step.

“I would like to thank the owners and coach Roger Harper for inviting me back and we are all focused on giving our wonderful supporters many happy memories later this summer. Providence Stadium is a ground that I have fond memories of playing in and I know that we can count on some big numbers for our games there again this summer.”

Reflecting on the ICC World T20 2016, he added: “I would firstly like to congratulate the West Indies team and management on regaining the World T20 in such dramatic fashion last weekend. Their performances were outstanding throughout the competition and it was a real team effort.

“Personally speaking, New Zealand were disappointed to lose in the semi-finals to England, but we can take a lot of positives and look to build for the next few years as we have a good group of promising New Zealand cricketers coming through. With my team mates Brendon McCullum and Colin Munro signed up, it will be a great tournament for the fans as some of the biggest names in world cricket arrive in the Caribbean.

“West Indies cricket is on a real high. And with the Women’s and Under-19 teams also enjoying international success, I have no doubt that the feel-good factor will continue into the best-ever CPL this summer and beyond.”

Dr Ranjisinghi “Bobby” Ramroop, franchise owner of the Guyana Amazon Warriors, said: “I am delighted to welcome a world-class player of the calibre of Martin Guptill back to the team, having been a member of the Guyana Amazon Warriors family for the 2013 and 2014 editions of CPL. Martin’s dynamic personality, coupled with his high level of discipline and work ethic, will certainly be instrumental as a role model to the other team members, especially the younger players on the team. We wish him well and believe that he will be an inspirational figure for the team, on and off the field.”

Warriors Coach Roger Harper added: “I would like to offer my congratulations to Martin on being named captain of the Guyana Amazon Warriors for CPL 2016.  I have no doubt that Martin will lead from the front and his professionalism and passion for the game will spread throughout the team and drive us to success.  I am excited about working with him as captain.”

To see Guyana Amazon Warriors in action live at #CPL16, purchase your tickets on www.cplt20.com today. (www.cplt20.com)