July 25, 2014

Basketball returns to Burnham Court

The Guyana Amateur Basketball Association (GABA) will be hosting a three-on-three floodlight basketball tournament this weekend, dubbed the Trifecta Basketball Tournament at the Burnham Hard Court.

The quarter-final round will be held on Saturday with four games, while Sunday will see the semi-final of the tournament.

Exhibition games with some of the top first- division teams are also on the cards for Sunday before the two semi-final games.

The event is set to start on Saturday from 18:00h with Colts taking on Nets, while Buxton heat will do battle with Guardians from 19:30h.

At 21:00h, Sonics will aim to defeat Eagles, while Pacesetters will battle Melanie Patriots in the final game of the evening, set for a 10:30h start.

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Police destroy marijuana plants at Springlands

A cannabis plant among the plantain suckers

A cannabis plant among the plantain suckers

Police at the Springlands Police Station led by Cadet Officer Jermaine Dufu on Wednesday destroyed a small number of cannabis plants in the Corentyne community.

According to information reaching Guyana Times, the ranks received a tip-off and went into the area where they found about 15 plants among plantain suckers.

The cannabis plants measured some three to four feet in height and weighed about 8.5 kilograms.

The exercise was conducted between 06:00h and 09:00h. The Police set alight the plants.

There have been several successful raids at Springlands, unearthing fields of cannabis.

Two weeks ago, Police unearthed a quantity of ammunition and cannabis at Sheet Anchor, East Canje, Berbice. According to information received, Police, acting on a tip, went to a camp in the area where they found a 12-gauge shotgun cartridge and 5.5 kilograms of marijuana.

Based on reports received, the men at the camp escaped upon seeing Police approaching the area. The cannabis and ammunition were collected and taken to the New Amsterdam Police Station where the former was weighed.

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Miner drowns after boat capsizes in Puruni River

Dead: Orlando Graham

Dead: Orlando Graham

The body of a miner who went missing after a boat capsized in the Puruni River, Region Seven on Monday evening, was fished out of the Mazaruni River on Thursday morning.

The body of Orlando Graham, 23, of Lot 336 Sisters Village, West Bank Demerara had no visible marks of violence when it was retrieved, but relatives have deemed his death foul play.

According to information received, the body was discovered sometime after 10:00h by the man’s family who went in search of him after the Police allegedly refused to believe that Graham was missing following the boat mishap.

The boat reportedly capsized about 18:45h on Monday evening with three men in side. The Captain and another miner, who is called “Micee”, reportedly swam to shore and were rescued by Brazilian miners.

Graham was described as a good swimmer.

A sister of the dead man on Thursday told Guyana Times that her brother left for the Puruni Backdam about six months ago and was on his way out when the boat capsized.

The woman said her family received the news of the boat mishap on Tuesday morning from one of the survivor’s brother, who told them that “Lando” fell overboard and was not seen since.

She said her relatives subsequently travelled up to Bartica where they met with the Police, who confirmed that there was indeed a mishap, but claimed that everyone was accounted for.

The woman said that it was only when she told Police about her missing brother, the Police accompanied them to the location where the accident occurred, but there was no sign of the man.

She said they went back several times in search of him, but came up empty-handed.

“This did not stop my brother to go and look for Lando… it was until Thursday morning, my brother found him stuck at a tree trunk… I must say that my brother went alone on the search without any Police….He chartered a boat and brought the body to Bartica,” the sister told Guyana Times.

Up to Thursday morning, the woman was optimistic that her brother was alive and well, but became disappointed on receiving the news a few hours after.

She claimed that ever since the boat capsized, they have not heard nor seen the Captain of the boat; thus, a proper account of what really transpired is still unknown.

The woman is accusing Police ranks at Bartica of slothfulness, claiming that they were reluctant to carry out a search for her brother in the first instance. They reportedly told relatives that there was no boat at their disposal.

The man’s body is at the Bartica Hospital Mortuary and is expected to be transferred to the Lyken Funeral Home today.

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Auditors urged to tackle “white-collar crimes”

Presenter, IIA Trinidad and Tobago Chapter President Larry Kowlessar  interacting with workshop participants

Presenter, IIA Trinidad and Tobago Chapter President Larry Kowlessar interacting with workshop participants

By Jillicia Pinder

Internal auditors opened a two-day workshop on Thursday with Board Member of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Ramesh Dookhoo lamenting the low rate of prosecution for white-collar crimes here. He, therefore, urged that auditors take their jobs seriously to bring about the change that is required in ensuring greater financial control both in the private and public sectors.

The workshop will present to the participants the skills and thinking required when dealing with Audit of Inventory and Stores Management, and The Auditing Process: from Planning to Reporting. This year’s seminar broke the conference’s participant record with 111 participants from several organisations around Guyana, including the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI); the Guyana and Trinidad Mutual (GTM) Fire and Life Insurance Company; and Sterling Products.

Dookhoo, in his address to the participants, stated that they need to be cautious in their operations when it relates to auditing. He stated that auditing services in Guyana are much-needed, but unfortunately, “this profession is not one in which clients beckon for your services”. He noted that as members of the different organisations in the public and private sector, the participants are responsible for the promotion and good governance of their profession within their institutions.

IIA Guyana Chapter President Jaigopaul Ram addressing the participants

IIA Guyana Chapter President Jaigopaul Ram addressing the participants

He advised the participants that they must think of their own roles in this cause that deals with many issues of fraud, which are eventually uncovered by the media. He noted that “our country is ripe” with anti-bribery and anti-fraud legislation that can make the labour of law for many auditors who believe in proper governance and integrity in management rewarding when serious fraudulent crimes are committed.

Dookhoo stated that Guyana has a low prosecution rate for dishonesty, “and our Police Force and auditors are at fault”. He believes that while special forensic auditing can be taught, as a country, “we are still a far way from handling these issues completely”. He noted that the grand turnout by the workshop’s participants, has demonstrated a thirst for knowledge in Guyana which the IIA must continue to serve. The annual workshop is being held for a second time and is being held at the Conference Room of the Regency Suite Hotel.

Also speaking at the opening of the workshop, IIA Guyana Chapter President Jaigopaul Ram stated that the workshop is one of the first set of presentations that the IIA will be providing, with the aim of contributing to value-added services to members of different organisations. These services are to boost skills and competencies to enhance individual performances in respective institutions. Ram stated that, in preparation for this seminar, areas for presentations have been carefully evaluated to meet their aim. He noted that in order to gain the knowledge to plan and audit and illuminate risks and benefits within the auditing system, and furnish appropriate recommendations auditors need to be involved in the complete system from its scope, design, and implementation. He also noted that auditors must pay keen attention to what is required of them by stakeholders.

Former President and current IIA Board Member John Seeram stated that the seminar was presented as part of the organisation’s 2014 education delivery programme. He added that the chapter, from its inception in 2000, has been launching Seminars/Workshops in various areas of internal auditing and other related subjects. He noted that at all of IIA’s presentations, the emphasis was enlightening participants on the latest developments of internal auditing in Guyana. Seeram stated that now in 2014, IIA Guyana Chapter is still heavily involved in this education and still maintains the standards set since 2000.

To participants, Seeram stated that the Guyana Chapter has an obligation to provide them, as practitioners on the job, with an opportunity to update themselves on the latest developments. In doing so, it is the Chapter’s objectives to have the participants leave the conference having acquired knowledge that would benefit them and their organisations.

The presenter for the workshop, IIA Trinidad and Tobago Chapter President Larry Kowlessar, mentioned that his only hope was that the information presented would be embedded in their minds and somehow contribute to their personal business enhancement skills. He noted that his presentation would be based on internal and external auditing perspectives, and he wished to tackle the issues of fraud detection and prevention.

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Guyana, US hold talks on human trafficking

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee greeting the two officials from the US State Department in the presence of the US Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires Bryan Hunt

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee greeting the two officials from the US State Department in the presence of the US Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires Bryan Hunt

The Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) on Thursday met with US officials to discuss the situation in Guyana.

The meeting was held in the boardroom of the Home Affairs Ministry. Two officials from the US State Department, along the US Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires Bryan Hunt were present at the meeting.

According to Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, the Task Force had several meetings in the past with officials from the US State Department and was looking forward for a productive discussion this round.

“We have had several engagements in the past with the representatives from the Department of State in the US, and this is an ongoing exercise where we meet with State Department officials visiting in Guyana, from time to time, to engage particularly with the Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons,” Rohee stated.

Some of the members of the Task Force present at the meeting were Human Services Minister Jenifer Webster, Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud, and Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai.

Also present were acting Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud and Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) Head Ann Greene. The Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons was established in February 2007.

Only last month, the Task Force blasted the US State Department’s 2014 report on the TIP situation in Guyana. Minister Webster noted that the report again did not reflect a fair review of TIP in Guyana, as it contains several inaccuracies and misrepresentations regarding the scope of TIP.

Guyana was placed on the US Tier 2 Watch List as the US 2014 report calls it a source and destination country for men, women, and children to be subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour.

It also added that women and girls from neighbouring countries such as Venezuela, Suriname and Brazil are subjected to prostitution in Guyana.

It was further stated in the report that despite Government not fully complying with the minimum standard for the elimination of trafficking, it is making significant efforts to do so. The report went on to say that the Ministerial Task Force was designated to monitor and assess the Government’s anti-trafficking efforts, but it did not report any results.

Has done a lot

However, both Government and the Human Services Ministry refuted this, saying that they have done a lot to curb TIP in Guyana to protect victims.

Webster rubbished claims that her Government did not fully comply with the minimum standard for the elimination of trafficking.

In an attempt to highlight some of the work done, the Human Services Minister said: “Nationally, there were a number of programmes responding to human trafficking, including hinterland surveillance, visits to hinterland check points, training of members of Community Policing Groups… and the display of information on Trafficking in Persons at national exhibition events.”

Meanwhile, the report also referred to a leading Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that has played a significant role in rescuing trafficking victims had requested to be one of the NGO partners on the Ministerial Task Force.

The US Department noted that despite the organisation’s critical role in the protection of victims, its request is yet to be granted. The organisation being referred to is the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO), headed by Simona Broomes.

Broomes was awarded last year by the US Secretary of State John Kerry, as one of the 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report Heroes. The GWMO President is very outspoken against human trafficking in Guyana and has rescued a number of female victims, who were used as sex slaves, in various interior locations.

On the other hand, responding to Government’s contention that the report is inaccurate, former US Ambassador D Brent Hardt explained that the facts contained in the 2014 report are based on limited information provided by the Guyana Government and investigations conducted by US officials.

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Rapist jailed for 30 years

A man was on Thursday sentenced to 30 years imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to raping a six-year-old child two years ago.

Gavin Nero pleaded guilty to the indictment when it was read to him before Justice Rishi Persaud at the High Court. According to the court document, Nero had committed the offence on March 19, 2012.

Earlier this month, Nero first appeared before the court for the commencement of his trial; however, he pleaded guilty to the offence and a probation report was ordered. The report was presented to the court on Thursday after which sentencing was imposed.

Nero got to his feet and told the court that he was sorry for what he did but the presiding judge responded: “I don’t buy it; it’s a very convenient remorse.”

However in handing down the sentence, Justice Persaud took into account the mitigating factors mentioned in the probation report. The report states that Nero had suffered from instability early in his life and was also a victim of abuse.

Nero was charged shortly after the gruesome incident two years ago and was committed to stand trial in July 2013.

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Caricom to empower Guyana’s youth with animation skills

A group of young people in Guyana will get an opportunity to learn valuable animation skills through a project coordinated by the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretariat.

The project, which is being implemented in collaboration with Animae Caribe and the Guyana Culture, Youth and Sport Ministry, is designed around the use of animation as a tool to address youth crime and violence, and safeguard cultural heritage.

A workshop, targeting youth with computer skills and who have an interest in the arts, will provide the participants with basic knowledge to create animated short films. It will run from July 28-31 at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Greater Georgetown.

This is the fourth workshop in an initiative supported by the USAID-funded Caricom Programme for Crime and Violence Prevention project. Two one-day workshops were held in Suriname during CARIFESTA XI in August 2013 with approximately 50 young people benefiting from the training.

The third one-day workshop involving 20 youth was held at the Youth Training Centre (YTC) in Trinidad and Tobago in October 2013, prior to the Animae Caribe Animation and Digital Media Festival.

This time in Guyana, the participants are benefiting from more extensive training. It is anticipated that through the process of learning about animation, the participants will empower themselves and others with knowledge in communication, teamwork and conflict resolution, folklore figures in the Caribbean oral tradition, script writing, and short animation film production.

The animation workshops form part of “Animating the Caribbean” – A Caricom and Animae Caribe regional initiative. Over several years, the Caricom Secretariat and Animae Caribe have collaborated on raising awareness about animation and digital media in the Region and promoting the use of animation in learning environments, public education and safeguarding cultural heritage.

Human capital development is one of the top priority areas for focussed attention under the recently approved strategic plan for the Caribbean Community. The plan is aimed at improving the quality of life for citizens of the Region through concrete action on matters of direct relevance and benefit to all.

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Rice harvesting commences in Reliance Village

Combines about to commence work

Combines about to commence work

Harvesting of paddy in Reliance Village on the Essequibo Coast has commenced and farmers are anticipating that millers will make prompt payments and avoid any protest.

According to information reaching Guyana Times, one farmer from Reliance began reaping from his three-acre plot last Tuesday and harvesting will be in full-swing by mid-August.

Farmers say they are hoping that with this crop, things will be different and they are paid for their product on time.

Farmers were paid last week by the biggest miller on the Essequibo Coast, Golden Fleece Rice Investment, owned by Nazeemul Hakh.

Hakh had purchased truck loads of paddy from millers and had a huge stockpile.

The pile and lack of market had resulted in Hakh owing millions of dollars to farmers for the last crop. Farmers were aggravated and staged several protests for their payments.

The situation had prompted President Donald Ramotar and a delegation of officers attached to the Agriculture Ministry, including Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy; Guyana Rice Development Board General Manager Jagnarine Singh; and Rice Producers Association (RPA) General Secretary Dharamkumar Seeraj to meet the farmers to address the issue.

Billions of dollars were given to millers in form of advances to settle outstanding debts for paddy brought in February.

Meanwhile, reports emerging from the Region Two Administration revealed that 37,500 acres of rice are under cultivation.

The Region Two Drainage and Irrigation Department will be involved in fixing and levelling several access dams throughout the rice growing area to ramp up harvesting.

This crop is expected to be a bumper harvest.

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Biased reporters are quacks – Granger

Opposition Leader David Granger interacting with two journalists at the workshop

Opposition Leader David Granger interacting with two journalists at the workshop

Opposition Leader David Granger is calling on local media operators to practice professional journalism when reporting on political issues, giving adequate coverage to all sides.

He made this comment at the opening ceremony of a media workshop hosted by the Parliament Office, which sought to strengthen relationships between the two bodies.

According to Granger, there are three key principles which guide journalists to practice professionalism in their work. These, he said are education and training, social responsibility and corporate responsibility.

“If you do not adhere to those three tenets, you are a quack; you don’t belong in the profession of journalism. If you feel that your job is simply to report in a slanted manner, your opinion and policies of some political parties and ignore the truth, this is not the place for you,” he stated.

The Opposition Leader went on to point out that there is always a need by the State to control press freedom since it means that they can control the information that is released into the public domain.

He explained this might be the case since information reaching the public often determines the public’s behaviour and the State wants to influence the behaviour of the people.

However, he said: “It is not just a matter of control; it is a matter of abuse, that those media are used not to convey information in an objective way, the media are used to abuse the enemies of the political party that runs the State.”

He continued, questioning the legality of such attitudes, pointing to Article 146 (1) of the Constitution, which stated that there should be no hindrance in a person enjoying their freedom of speech.

Granger went on to point out the biasness of some journalists in their reporting; disclosing that in the first year of the 10th Parliament, there were approximately 100 hostile articles from the Government Information Agency (GINA). He noted that his first letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly was a complaint of this.

“How would a State medium; how could the medium of communication, supported by taxpayers’ money, use such feral blasts against the entire Opposition?” he asked.

He added that it is not fair when all the Opposition gets is a one sided-blast, noting that “you can’t expect the Opposition to vote money for people who are so biased”.

The A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance For Change (AFC) for three consecutive years have voted down budgetary provisions for GINA and the National Communications Network (NCN).

Funds for GINA and NCN were reduced to $1.

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Farmer escapes labaria attack

The farm owned by Carl Roberts

The farm owned by Carl Roberts

A plantain farmer from Bounty Hall Village on the Essequibo Coast narrowly escaped death following a labaria attack.

Carl Roberts, who owns at plantain farm at Cozier Village, said on Wednesday last he was furtunate to have seen the dangerous reptile neatly coiled in a bunch of plantain as he was about to chop it from the tree.

The snake, he said, hissed at him, but before it could have struck him, he adjusted his aim from the plantain to the reptile, beheading it in one swipe.

Roberts has more than 6000 acres of fertile land at Cozier. Most of his land is used for plantain cultivation.

The farmer said several canals and drains are silted up with grass and bushes, creating a favourable condition for deadly snakes to breed.

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