November 1, 2014

Gunmen rob couple leaving bank

A man and woman were robbed of an undisclosed sum of cash and valuables on Friday in the vicinity of Courts, Main Street, Georgetown.

The robbery was committed by two men on a CG motorcycle.

According to bystanders, the robbers rode up the avenue and stopped in front of Courts, where one of them snatched a bag from the man in the presence of the woman.

The victim put up a fight but the gunman discharged a round in the air, forcing the man to let go of the bag.

Shortly after a Policeman appeared on the scene and took statements from the victims.

The Policeman stated that the victims might have been tailed from the bank where they made a transaction.

According to the Policeman, the transaction by the victim did not go as planned; hinting that not much could have been in the bag in terms of cash, but noted that the bag did contain some jewellery.

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Just a click away: CXC launching online store

The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) in collaboration with Macmillan will launch CXC’s online commercial presence called the CXC Store at www.cxc-store.com on November 7 during a concert in Jamaica.

The launch will be held at Jamaica College auditorium starting 10:00h with over 350 students from schools across Jamaica in attendance.

The CXC online store will be the distribution hub for electronic copies of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) past papers and other resource materials under an agreement between CXC and Macmillan Publishing.

The online store will provide access to free and paid-for official CXC resource materials. In addition to CAPE and CSEC past examination papers, CAPE and CSEC syllabuses, specimen papers, along with their mark schemes and subject reports will be available via the store.

During the launch, there will be a live demonstration of the functionalities of the online store and students will be given the opportunity to browse the store at computer terminals which will be provided at the auditorium.

The launch will feature performances by the Lightening Drummers from Ardenne High School, Tivoli Dance Troupe, Harmony from Jose Marti High School and Classic Dancers, winners of the 2014 Dancing Dynamite television show.

Short speeches will be delivered by Government, CXC and Macmillan officials. (Caribbean News Now)

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Gunman fires on Guyanese Attorney in TT

Guyanese Attorney in Trinidad and Tobago Odai Ramischand was on Tuesday housebound, but “not intimidated”, following an attempt on his life in the car park of a supermarket near his Maracas, St Joseph home.

Ramischand, in a telephone interview, said a single shot fired by an unknown person from a van missed him “by an inch or two”, but has left him totally shaken.

Having been threatened before, Ramischand said he will not be deterred from doing his work.

“If I have to die while doing my job, so be it,” Ramischand said.

He recalled the assassination last May of his close friend, Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal, who he said died an honourable death.

Ramischand was leaving the supermarket around 11.10h, to make his way to his office, when a gold-coloured pick-up, proceeding south along Maracas Royal Road, swerved from the left lane towards him.

One of the heavily-tinted windows went down, he said, and a raised hand was seen.

Ramischand said he realised an attempt was about to be made to shoot him and while he initially thought to run into the grocery, he changed his mind and stood his ground. A shot was fired that had people scampering, he said, and the bullet hit the ground nearby.

Ramischand said he then noticed another black pick-up behind the one carrying his assailant, but both vehicles then got back in lane and sped off, presumably to avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming vehicle. (Trinidad Express)

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PSC welcomes decision on AML/CFT Bill

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) said it is heartened by the decision of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to extend the time given by Guyana to implement is Action Plan.

The bodies recently accepted the high-level political commitment of Guyana to address strategic deficiencies in its Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation.

The PSC in a release said the review of Guyana’s AML/CFT provisions by the International Cooperation Review Group’s Americas Regional Review Group (ARRG) has highlighted the steps that the country has yet to take, but has also revealed the non-legislative measures which have been taken by the country.

“The Private Sector Commission pledges its support for the Action Plan which has been worked out with the ARRG and resolves to assist in any manner to help Guyana meet its international AML/CFT obligations.”

Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon recently hinted at a September 2015 deadline for the Government to get its “house in order” in the passage of Anti-Money Laundering Bill.

He said while the Government was pleased with the developments, President Ramotar was prepared to use the blacklisting of Guyana as a propellant towards calling General and Regional Elections.

“Who wants to be running a blacklisted country?” questioned the Cabinet Secretary as he contended that what the President had previously proffered was a “political no-nonsense statement”.

FATF has mandated Guyana to implement a seven-point action plan to strategically address its AML/CFT deficiencies.

FATF indicated that Guyana has made a high-level political commitment to address the loopholes within its anti-money laundering regime by working with both the international financial watchdog and CFATF.

As part of the seven-point action plan, Guyana is required to adequately criminalise money laundering and terrorist financing.

Additionally, the country is mandated to establish and implement adequate procedures for the confiscation of assets related to money laundering, establish and implement an adequate legal framework for identifying, tracing and freezing terrorist assets and establish a fully operational and effectively functioning Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

Effective measures for customer due diligence and enhanced financial transparency would also need to be established, in addition to a strengthened suspicious transaction reporting requirements. Guyana is also required to implement an adequate supervisory framework.

“The FATF encourages Guyana to address its AML/CFT deficiencies by implementing its action plan,” the financial institution stated on its website.

Guyana was among countries that were identified with AML/CFT deficiencies following FATF’s review for compliance.

“While the situations differ among each jurisdiction, each jurisdiction has provided a written high-level political commitment to address the identified deficiencies. The FATF welcomes these commitments.”

The international body further called on the various jurisdictions, including Guyana to expeditiously complete the implementation of their action plans within the proposed timeframes.

“The FATF will closely monitor the implementation of these action plans and encourages its members to consider the information presented.”

The review process formed part of FATF’s plenary meeting which was held in Paris from October 22-24.

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Fire sweeps Akbar Auto storage bond

By Jomo Paul

Monaf Hossein conferring with a worker shortly after the flames were quelled

Monaf Hossein conferring with a worker shortly after the flames were quelled

Hundreds of millions of dollars went up in flames at approximately 12:00h on Friday when a vehicle storage facility and a furniture manufacturing plant belonging to Akbar Auto Sales were destroyed by fire at Cornelia Ida, West Coast Demerara.

The fire left businessman Monaf Hossein, also known as Akbar, counting his losses but thankful that none of his staff members were injured. Several vehicles exploded sending billows of smoke into the air as the fire quickly spread though the very large storage facility. Although the response by the Guyana Fire Service was prompt, there was little that could be done to save the building as the blaze quickly grew into an inferno destroying more vehicles and household equipment, while threatening the integrity of nearby homes and businesses.

Hossein explained that he was at the Masjid when he got the distress call informing that one of his prime establishments was in flames. He said that by the time he arrived at the facility, there was little that could be done to save the vehicles in the yard. It was noted that there were approximately 100 vehicles in the compound at the time of the blaze and the businessman was not sure whether they were insured. “I will have to check with my broker,” Hossein said, as he further explained that the furniture making plant and the building would be covered under his insurance policy.

The businessman further related that the auto sales business started some 70 years ago and it will not be an easy task to rebound from the disaster. “Everything gone, everything,” emphasised Hossein, contending that he was grateful that the home at the front of the property did not sustain any damage. This, he said, was due in part to the “excellent” response from the Guyana Fire Service.

He explained that he was not sure what could have caused the fire, but related he has had some issues with a neighbour who has been lighting fires much to the danger of his premises, for quite some time now. The businessman told media operatives that he has “umpteen” reports at the Guyana Fire Service, whereby he had called to make reports of fires in the empty lot next door to his establishment.

Some of the now destroyed vehicles at the bond

Some of the now destroyed vehicles at the bond

Hossein said: “We tell them umpteen times don’t burn nothing there, or when they burn let someone stick around and watch it.” While noting that he was not pointing fingers at anyone, he complained that those warnings went unheeded.

When the Guyana Times arrived at the scene of the fire in Cornelia Ida, the traffic had slowed to a turtle’s pace and a crowd had gathered looking on, as the firemen and women tended to the flames. Several persons said the fire started around 12:00h. They explained that the workers from the building were on lunch when the blaze started and they tried to salvage some of the luxury vehicles, but the heat thwarted them.

One young man explained that he was asleep a few houses down when he was roused by a loud explosion. He said when he woke up, he felt that something was amiss and his fears were confirmed when he looked through his bedroom window. Another young man told this newspaper that he saw when the fire started. He explained that there was a spark on a post nearby shortly before the fire.

“Soon after that, I see the smoke coming from inside the place so I know is an electrical fire,” the eyewitness said.

The Fire Chief was not immediately available for a comment, but Guyana Times was told by officials that the investigators are working on all of the angles.

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102 road deaths so far this year

… as Road Safety Month commences

Panel addressing the media on activities for road safety month

Panel addressing the media on activities for road safety month

The Guyana National Road Safety Council (GNRSC) rolled out the plans for Road Safety Month 2014 which include activities such as training workshops for drivers, essay competitions, awareness walks, repainting of pedestrian crossings, throughout the regions of Guyana.

National Road Safety Month, November 1-30, will be observed under the theme “The time is now, don’t drink and drive. Stay attentive, drive defensive.”

A small press briefing was held at the Red Cross Building in Kingston Friday where representatives from Georgetown, Linden, West Demerara and Region Six (East Berbice- Corentyne) presented their plans to get everyone involved in road safety activities.

Driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding were noted as the prime causes of road accidents in Guyana. So far for the year 2014, there have been a recorded 102 accidents in which 110 persons died, 13 of them children. This is a drastic increase over last year’s figures, which saw a total of 79 accidents and 85 deaths, including those of nine children. It was also noted that most careless drivers are between the ages of 20 and35.

GNRSC Secretary Earl Lambert mentioned that there needs to be stricter penalties in dealing with reckless road users. He said too many drivers get away with causing accidents in Guyana. “Drivers commit an accident today and tomorrow they’re driving again…we might have to ask the authorities to look at the system whereby penalties are being imposed… because it makes no sense that persons kill somebody yesterday and are free today to kill more people.”

Inadequate system

In June of this year, an 18-year-old young man killed three persons during a drunken driving journey in Berbice. It was made known to Guyana Times that the young man was still permitted to drive. Additionally, a minibus driver who killed a woman as a result of speeding on the East Bank road is still operating his bus.

Cases like these may suggest to drivers that they are untouchable by law, hence leading to persistent negligence when using the roadways.

Lambert also noted that most road users only think about themselves. He mentioned that the drivers disregard the 5Cs and do whatever they please on the roadways.

Shahab Hack, Chairman of the West Demerara Road Safety Association, also called for stiffer penalties for the lackadaisical drivers.

“The Police have been doing so much enforcement by day and night…we’ve had some cases where we are sending six DUIs to the court every morning…but the Police have reported to us that the magistrate giving them a little pat on their backs and signing them $7000. They come out and look at the Police and they laugh and walk away,” Hack related in disgust.

He said that this way of handling cases was sending the wrong message. He called for stronger penalties so drivers can “feel the squeeze” and think twice before committing a careless act.

The Road Safety Month commemoration will kick off with a church service and then progress to the various events. One of the most prestigious activities for the month is an awareness walk on November 16 to remember road accident victims. Another big event is the grand pedestrian painting activity throughout the nation on Sunday. Persons or volunteer groups who are interested in participating can contact Ramona on 617-1525 for more details.

The official launching of Road Safety Month will be on November 3 opposite Parliament Building.

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GPHC nurses complete oncology, chemotherapy training

Nurses from the various regions watch two of the nurses from New York demonstrate how they should administer chemotherapy

Nurses from the various regions watch two of the nurses from New York demonstrate how they should administer chemotherapy

The Guyana Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) on Monday hosted a training programme for nurses as it seeks to upgrade the Oncology and Chemotherapy Department of the hospital.

The oncology and chemotherapy training was held for nurses throughout Guyana. The training was conducted by four nurses from the Memorial Sloane Kettering Hospital and the St Luke Roosevelt Hospital of New York City.

Sloan Kettering, as the visitors call the hospital, is known for treatment of cancer and research on the disease. It is found within Manhattan, New York and treats from breast cancer to leukemia.

The St Luke Roosevelt Hospital Centre of New York City is a general medical and surgical hospital that performs nearly at the level of the top US hospitals.

The four nurses and doctors were brought to Guyana by the Organisation for Social Health Advancement in Guyana (OSHAG).

This is a non-governmental organisation that facilitates the provision of healthcare in Guyana and other Caribbean countries.

OSHAG President Carol Baget has kept her promise 12 years ago when she had indicated that the organisation will be coming back every year during Cancer Awareness Month.

She believes that emphasis should be placed on prevention, contending that it is very necessary for persons to practice healthy eating habits and take the recommended tests to ensure there is nothing to be worried about.

Dr Corinne Lamborge said the hospital needs some training to update professionals within the field of oncology about what is current and necessary procedure in going about treating patients; hence, the training.

She remarked that it is not her first time in Guyana as she usually comes when OSHAG calls for various expeditions in Caribbean countries.

However, she lamented that she has found that the cases seem to increase every time she comes, particularly that of breast cancer.

Dr Lamborge said the doctors who came with OSHAG are within the various health centres of Guyana and are hoping that persons take advantage of the opportunity available to them.

The doctors have been in Guyana since last week and will be departing today.

They say reaching out to the downtrodden is a main aim of their visits.

Dr Lamborge said the nurses who came with her have adjusted this dimension a bit as they have taught the local nurses about administering chemotherapy, patient care, the proper protocols that are necessary for a successful treatment and a number of other practices that relate to oncology.

Dr Trevor Layne, who specialises in oncology and hematology, insisted that the group’s aim is to put emphasis on persons who do not have access to proper healthcare due to lack of funds.

He posited that there have been many advances within the field of cancer and cancer-related illnesses, noting that a lesser number of persons are dying from cancer.

Thus, it is important for doctors the world over to renew their knowledge and be up-to-date about new technology and advances in their relevant fields.

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New housing programme for Amerindian communities soon

Housing and Water Minister, Irfaan Ally

Housing and Water Minister, Irfaan Ally

The high level of success which was achieved in the design and implementation of the housing programme under the second Low Income Settlement (LIS) programme and more specifically the hinterland, has led to the formulation of a US$ 3.1 million new sustainable housing for hinterland programme to further improve the quality of life for several other communities.

The new programme which will be implemented by the Central Housing and Planning Authority will improve access to housing, energy and water by the beneficiary households. This was told to Amerindian Leaders attending the 2014 National Toshaos Council (NTC) meeting. Communities in Regions One and Nine are to benefit from this new programme.

Housing Minister Irfaan Ali while addressing Amerindian Leaders on day two of the NTC meeting said, housing in the government’s view is an essential aspect of maintaining a sustainable pathway and improving livelihood. Recently a pilot housing programme under the second LIS programme was completed and has been deemed a success in eight Amerindian communities. The project was designed to improve the housing conditions, and by extension, the quality of life of households in selected communities and provided subsidies for house construction and the replacement of deteriorated roofs to beneficiary families.

The success in this intervention in the hinterland was based on a participatory approach utilised by the government and the enthusiastic response from the beneficiary communities which were integrally involved in the design of the houses and in the actual construction. Government provided the materials which were procured mainly from within the communities and the beneficiaries contributed their labour.

Two hundred and eight (208) households from eight communities in Regions One and Nine are now enjoying the benefits of improved housing, sanitation and access to cleaner water. The subsidies under the programme facilitated the construction of 122, five hundred square foot houses, complete with rain harvesting system and sanitary facilities. Additionally, 86 households benefited from new zinc roofs which replaced the thatched roofs which had deteriorated over time. The results of this project have shown that the pilot has reduced overcrowding, improved access to safe drinking water, contributed to improved sanitary conditions of beneficiary families and has helped increase social cohesion in participating communities. The project helped to create employment in the villages for over 100 persons, builders, lumber suppliers, and brick layers. The experience showed that hinterland communities have the ability to manage development initiatives. (GINA)

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Caribbean Airlines drops fuel surcharge

Caribbean Airlines has announced the immediate removal of fuel surcharges on all routes between North America and the Caribbean, and within the Caribbean. In a press release, George Reeleder, the Vice President of Commercial and Customer Service at CAL said, “This is great news for Caribbean Airlines customers. With the reduction in jet fuel prices we have removed the surcharges as they were only ever planned to be of temporary nature.”

The fuel surcharge was introduced to cover additional costs when the price of fuel was over $100 per barrel. We never wanted this surcharge to be a permanent feature of our fares. Thus, when our largest expense – fuel, came down, we wanted our customers to benefit. “As we approach the Christmas travel season, there could not be a better time to remove this surcharge” Mr. Reeleder added.

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UNICEF, lawyers sign pact to advance child rights

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Guyana Bar Association and the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers (GAWL), signed a joint MOU on Friday with emphasis on the areas of research, advocacy, innovation and strengthening the legal system with a focus on children.

It is expected that the MOU will, among other things, ensure that children including those more vulnerable because of violence, neglect and exploitation are made visible through the work of the Associations, and that it will act as a catalyst for the acceleration of children’s rights.

According to a release from UNICEF, as an immediate next step in 2015, the Associations with support from UNICEF, will host a National Conference and seek to dedicate the publication of the Guyana Bar Review Journal to children’s rights.

All parties to the MOU – Ms. Marianne Flach, UNICEF Representative, Guyana and Suriname, Mr. Ronald Burch-Smith, President of the Guyana Bar Association, and Ms. Simone Morris-Ramlall, President of the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers, expressed commitment, gratitude and support for this joint MOU which will serve to promote the interests of children in Guyana.

In her remarks, Ms. Morris- Ramlall noted the historical focus of the GAWL on children’s issues, while Mr. Burch-Smith observed that although the Bar Association has not specifically targeted the issue of children’s rights (as part of the broad human rights agenda), this MOU will serve to fuse policy and practice and create change for children.

The UNICEF Representative also noted that it was significant that this MOU should be signed on UN Day, the anniversary of the day the United Nations Charter came into force, and the UN was officially established. Ms. Flach reiterated her commitment to working with all partners, including civil society, for the advancement of children’s rights.

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