December 22, 2014

Guyanese busted with $140M worth of cocaine at JFK

Another Guyanese who travelled to the US was intercepted with over 19 kilos of cocaine, claiming that he was offered $1 million to transport the illicit drug.
The man was busted at the John F Kennedy International Airport when the cocaine was found concealed in several packages containing curry and rice in his suitcases.
Oral Anthony Caines, 55, was carrying three bags including two checked-in suitcases and one carry-on duffle bag. The packets of curry and rice caused suspicion by drug enforcement agents at the port of entry.
They immediately started to question Caines, who claimed that the bags were his.
During the search, the cocaine was discovered among the items. He was taken into custody and admitted that he was paid $1 million, the equivalent of US$5000, to transport the illegal drugs to the US.
The cocaine was weighed and totalled 19.2336 kilos or 42.4 pounds. The street value for the illicit drug is estimated at US$665,000 or $140 million. The man appeared in a New York Court and was remanded to prison.
Guyana Times understands that the man did not provide the names of the persons he was supposed to hand over the drugs to.
An official attached to the Custom Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) said agents are reassessing their strategy at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), claiming that too often persons are successful in passing through with drugs.
One airport official stated that they are also reshuffling internal security at the facility, noting that in most cases when drugs are passed freely, some form of internal assistance is given.
On December 5, Tanasha Sleming, 28, a US Virgin Islands national was intercepted at the CJIA with 18 kilograms, 295 grams of cocaine.
On the day in question, around 09:35h, Police ranks of the Customs Anti Narcotic Unit (CANU) were on duty patrol at the airport when they stopped the accused.
It was heard that the accused was boarding a Dynamic Airways flight heading to the John F Kennedy (JFK) International Airport.
As his suitcases were placed under the conveyor belt to be scanned, a strange image emerged. The ranks opened a suitcase and conducted a search in the presence of Sleming. They found the suspected cocaine in seven packages of Champion Baking Powder and five packages of custard powder.
He was arrested, charged and sentenced to five years imprisonment with a fine of $49 million.

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75-year-old man critical after stung by bees

By Devina Samaroo

Deoki Persaud Chatagun, 75, of 104 Sister’s Village, Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) is reportedly in critical condition at the West Demerara Regional Hospital after was stung by a swarm of bees from a beehive in his neighbour’s yard on Saturday.
According to the man’s son Ishri “Tyron” Persaud, his father had to be taken to the West Demerara Regional Hospital due to the state he was in after being stung.
Guyana Times understands that the pair was cleaning the side of their house during the late afternoon when they were attacked by the bees.
“I was cleaning the side of the house and the neighbour tamarind tree was right at the side deh and then I feel one sting in ma ears and then more start coming,” the upset father of two told this publication.
He explained that he summoned his wife for a bottle of insect repellent, which he used in a futile attempt to ward off the charging insects.
After realising his attempts were in vain, Tyron ran into the house while his father hid inside a tank in the yard.
Tyron said he then realised that the swarm of bees was attacking his pet dog that was tied to the house.
The man stated that he then went into his storeroom to retrieve plant pesticide which he started to spray on the bees.
While his actions were successful in warding off the bees, his dog eventually succumbed to the bites inflicted by the bees.
“The dog de dead already, so when the bees gone, me father come out the tank so we take he to the hospital.”
Tyron explained that his father was stung in the head and around his face, resulting in him receiving intravenous (IV) solution at the hospital.
“He deh pun saline, he vomiting all, he whole face swell up. Me, I swell up on me face tuh but nah so bad.”
Meanwhile, Tyron noted that he and his family had been continuously complaining about the beehive, but no one ever took heed to their cries.
Subsequent to the attack, it was alleged that Tyron and his family contacted the local Police station to make a complaint, but they were “treated with rudeness”.
“They tell we that they can’t do nothing because they don’t deal with bees and a bunch of stupidness.”
Tyron disclosed that he and his family are currently making attempts to have the nest removed in order to prevent a reoccurrence.

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Gold Board confirms 22.61% drop in declarations

- gold “may shine again” in 2015

As the price of gold on the international market stand below US$1200, the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) on Saturday confirmed that gold is projected to fall short of its declaration target for 2014.
In a release to the media, the GGB said that total gold declaration as at December 20, has decreased by 22.61 per cent when compared to 2013, while gold purchased by the GGB has decreased by 41.24 per cent for the same period.
In 2013, the gold industry declared a total of 481,087 ounces of gold which represented a 9.7 per cent increase over the previous year’s figure.
This, according to the GGB, was a historic performance – the highest level of production, exceeding the production levels of Omai Gold Mines when it was at its peak.
The GGB said the quantity of gold dealers exported has increased by 10.16 per cent, while the quantity of gold exported by the GGB fell by 40.26 per cent.
Thus, the overall quantity of gold exported for the two periods being compared are down by 22.73 per cent.
Additionally, the value of gold exported by dealers has increased by 10.86 per cent, while the revenue garnered by the GGB decreased by 43.48 per cent during the comparative periods. The total revenue for the two comparative time periods fell by 23.45 per cent.

Major factors
The release said that one of the “major factors for these lower levels of declarations are as a result of the fall in the global price for the yellow metal on the world economy during this year.”
It was noted that in 2013, it was forecasted that gold might fall to $1050 an ounce before this downturn is over and as predicted the precious metal “duly fell by a quarter in 2013, when compared to its highest level in 2011 and has made little headway in 2014, despite lots of geopolitical uncertainty. The sentiment is bearish and miners are being forced to curtail production or shelve investment plans.”
It was also noted that gold stocks have “suffered a miserable few years, becoming a laughingstock even among contrarians. However, this despised sector’s seemingly-endless downward spiral has left gold stocks vastly undervalued relative to gold, which drives their profits.
“The fundamentally-absurd disconnect between gold-stock price levels and gold can’t last. And it sure looks ready to end; making 2015 the year gold stocks shine again.”
At present, mining costs are largely determined by the particular deposit being mined, and are largely fixed when any mine is designed and constructed.
Hence, gold miners’ profits are almost totally dependent on the price of gold. The higher it is, the larger their margins grow since their costs generally don’t change much.
“This dynamic is what has long made gold stocks attractive to investors, when the gold price rallies, the profits of gold miners rocket higher much faster.
“If a miner can produce gold for $900 an ounce, and sell it for $1200, his profits are $300. But, if gold merely climbs 25 per cent higher to $1500, that same miner’s profits double to $600. This inherent profits leverage to gold makes the gold stocks really amplify gold’s moves,” said the release.

Sharp decline
Gold exports for the 2013 fiscal year amounted to US$648.5 million, a 9.5 per cent decline compared to 2012. The sharp decline was linked to the average price of US$1344 per ounce compared to US$1575 in 2012, negating the six per cent increase in export volume, which amounted to 482,527 ounces.
Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) President Patrick Harding had told Guyana Times that the incessant decreases do not augur well for the development of Guyana’s economy and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Harding related that miners were now contemplating abandoning shop and venturing into other sectors. This move was not limited to small miners.
The GGDMA President said the gold prices have not hit rock bottom and can drop even further if investors’ confidence continues to drop given recent activity on the international market.
He predicted had predicted that from the current state of affairs, Guyana’s gold production may drop some 10 to 15 per cent.

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7th cycle of registration to end on December 31

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has announced that it will be ending the Seventh Cycle of Continuous Registration on December 31.
This means that the cycle will end almost two months ahead of its previously scheduled date, that is, February 27.
GECOM in a release to the media said the decision was made during the 436th Statutory Meeting of the Commission held on December 9.
GECOM noted that as of Wednesday, 4277 registration transactions were completed, with 3116 being new registrants.
Of the new registrants, 1457 are persons 18 years and above while 1659 are registrants 14 to 18 years of age.
Meanwhile, the number of registrants requesting changes to the information on their ID Card so far amounts to 611, while those requesting transfers equal 550. The percentage of verification currently stands at 95.8 per cent.
In light of the earlier deadline, GECOM is urging individuals to make a “special effort to get registered before the December 31 deadline to ensure that they are on the National Register of Registrants”.
Anyone who will be 14 years or older by March 31, 2015, and is a Guyanese citizen by birth, descent, naturalisation, or is a citizen from a Commonwealth country living continuously in Guyana for one year or more, is eligible for registration.
According to the release, Section Six of the National Registration Act, Chapter, 19:08 makes it obligatory for persons who meet the registration criteria to apply for registration.
Persons eligible for registration could be prosecuted, fined and/or even sent to prison for failing or refusing to apply for registration. In the case of eligible persons under the age of 18 years, by the qualifying date, the parents/guardians could be prosecuted for failure/refusal to apply for registration.

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Natural Resources Ministry hosts Christmas Family Festival at National Park

The Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry through the Protected Areas Commission (PAC) held a Christmas Family Festival and second Christmas tree Light-up at the National Park on Friday evening, where families were treated to gifts from Santa and his helpers. Children also enjoyed face painting, pony rides, bouncy castle, trampoline, and other fun games at the event.

Families receiving treats from Santa and his helpers at the Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry Protected Areas Commission’s Christmas Family Festival and Christmas Tree Light-up at the National Park

Families receiving treats from Santa and his helpers at the Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry Protected Areas Commission’s Christmas Family Festival and Christmas Tree Light-up at the National Park

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud, Commissioner of PAC, Damian Fernandes and other staff were among persons who attended the event.
During brief remarks, Minister Persaud said that this two-day event will give families and the citizens of Guyana an opportunity to enjoy the National Park from another perspective.
Christmas is a time of goodwill, and Minister Persaud noted that the season is very special, especially for children who look forward to gifts and goodies.
Minister Persaud also told those gathered of the Three Parks Initiative that involves the full restoration of the National Park, the Zoological Park and the Botanical Gardens.
The initiative not only seeks to upgrade the parks, but also to bring to the city, the pristine environment that is enjoyed in the hinterland regions, said the Government Information Agency (GINA).

Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud and Commissioner of the Protected Areas Commission, Damian Fernandes among others during the lighting of the Christmas tree at the National Park, Thomas Lands

Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud and Commissioner of the Protected Areas Commission, Damian Fernandes among others during the lighting of the Christmas tree at the National Park, Thomas Lands

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Culture Ministry still to set up local Editorial Board

Caribbean press operations…

By Devina Samaroo

Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony on Thursday disclosed that the Ministry is still in the early stage of developing a local Editorial Board for the Caribbean Press.
Since the Caribbean Press was in jeopardy, putting the local literary world at a risk, the Ministry had embarked on developing a local Editorial Board to look at the work of writers.

The Kyk-over-al Series was launched this year by the Caribbean Press

The Kyk-over-al Series was launched this year by the Caribbean Press

However, the Ministry is currently waiting on the responses from the list of suitable local candidates they contacted, who they believe are competent for the job.
Dr Anthony stated that as soon as they receive the responses, they can then begin to formulate the Board.
“So we’re working on that, that’s a work in progress, we’ve contacted a number of persons and once we get their responses, we’ll be able to put that together.”
Currently, persons voluntarily render their editorial services to the press but eventually, they want to move forward with their lives; hence, the decision to establish the Editorial Board.
For the year, thus far, 79 books have been published while two are waiting to be launched Scriptology by Egbert Martin and Mih Buddybo Mac Vol 1 by Roy Brummell.
The management of the press is being spearheaded by Professor David Dabydeen.
During the 2014 National Budget debate, the Minister disclosed that such a Board will cost significant amount of money to set up and then sustain, since it will entail paying for editorial services.
Eventually, some $2.4 billion was allocated to the Ministry, which was eventually approved.
Reports indicate that Anthony had revealed that from 2009 to 2012, $56.6 million was spent and that the editorial service cost for the press in 2010 to 2012 was zero. Administrative costs, he said, were $7,850,000 for secretarial assistants for the editors for the period 2009 to 2012.

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“New Mash, same tune” – Anthony

By Royden James

Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony on Thursday said that there is nothing new in store for 2015’s Republic Day Parade – Mashramani.

Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony

Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony

Dr Anthony in an exclusive interview with Guyana Times said although there are no additional plans for the 2015 edition of the event, he is hoping that more businesses come on board and be part of the float parade, noting that it will boost the event and will also be a good avenue for business owners to advertise their products and services.
Over the years, stakeholders have called for more effort to be placed on the overall organising of the event which has seen dwindling support over the years. Some stakeholders that usually take to the streets with floats have opted to discontinue, with several citing financial constraints as their reason for non-participation.
One major concern that has been continuously raised is the route which spectators say has become too crowded and narrow, but Dr Anthony told Guyana Times that although there are plans to change the route, this will not be done for the 2015 Mashramani parade.
“Over the years, the route for the parade has been a major issue for us, we all know that when we use the usual route we would arrive at the National Park later than planned, but in order to change the route, a lot of work will have to be done, and it is not guaranteed that we will meet an earlier time… so the route will remain the same,” said Dr Anthony.
Dr Anthony also made it clear that there are no plans by the Ministry to bring international artistes for entertainment for Mashramani, and was insistent that the Ministry will support local private promoters who are sure to continue the tradition of bringing international artistes to perform around that time.
The Minister said that he is working tirelessly to get more Steel Pan groups and calypsonians onboard, noting that local talents like these need be showcased throughout the entire Mashramani period. He went on to say that plans are also moving apace for the staging of the Chutney Soca Monarch competition.

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Children of Santa Mission treated to annual Christmas Party at Roraima Inn

By Sedhee Ramnauth

The festive season of Christmas was brought to the children of Santa Mission, Region One (Barima-Waini) when Roraima Residents Inn hosted its annual Christmas party at the Arrowpoint Nature Resort on Saturday.
When Guyana Times arrived at the resort, employees of Arrowpoint were in the process of preparing the delicacies, the decorations where being put up while Santa Claus was getting ready to meet all of the anxious children of Santa Mission.

Santa receives a grand welcome from the children

Santa receives a grand welcome from the children

The Roraima Group of Companies has been giving back to the Santa Mission community for a number of years.
For over 14 years, the Children’s Christmas party at Arrowpoint Resort has served as part of the company’s corporate social activities.
This year, approximately 60 children as well as a number of teachers attended the annual party.
The companies would use this occasion to give back to the community and share joy and cheer during the holiday season.
Captain Gerry Gouveia, Jr spoke on behalf of the companies. He noted that this Christmas party has become a Christmas tradition for the community, since the teachers and children look forward to it every year.
Even past students were invited; making this party a general one for everyone in Santa Mission.
He noted that his father, used to be the Santa Claus back in the day and he has now continued this tradition every year since his father stopped.
As the time approached for the children to come and meet Santa, it was understood that the first traditional activity upon their arrival at the party was to look for Santa Claus, who would usually emerge from the forest via a canoe or from the mountain area.
This year, Santa emerged from the forest. For the first time ever, Santa brought his ‘little helpers’ which amused the children even more.
After the grand meeting with Santa, the children gathered around the tree and sang numerous carols after which they received their presents and met personally with Santa.
Lunch was then served which was followed by a number of games, including musical chairs, arm wrestling, balloon dance, the ice cream game and so many more, while being served intermediately with snacks, ice cream and other goodies throughout the day.
Guyana Times spoke with some of the children who indicated that Christmas for them is indeed “the most wonderful time of the year”.
Seven-year-old Sarah said she has never missed any of these parties and she always has a fun time. Sarah noted that her favourite part of the party is looking for Santa.
Little Samuel also shared his views of the party stating that he “loves” Christmas holidays and getting a gift from Santa.
He also shared a little secret with this publication stating “the way to always receive a fancy gift from Santa is to make sure that you is a good child”.

Adults watch on as the children play the “ice cream game”

Adults watch on as the children play the “ice cream game”

However, unlike Sarah, Samuel has a different favourite activity – which was playing musical chairs.
At the end of the party, all of the children received goodie bags with more treats to enjoy during the boat ride back to their community.

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Pump drainage capacity increased by 16% this year

– several new pump stations being built

By Vahnu Manickchand

Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy announced that Guyana’s drainage pump capacity has expanded by 16 per cent over the past year.

Agriculture Minister,  Dr Leslie Ramsammy

Agriculture Minister,
Dr Leslie Ramsammy

He was at the time speaking at a specially convened press conference on Monday last, when he disclosed that some 1650 cubic feet of pump drainage capacity was added during the course of this year.
He noted that with this increase, Guyana now has a total pumping capacity for drainage of 10,163 cubic feet, which represents the ability to pump some 40 million gallons of water per day.
“That’s an enormous amount of water that we drained, it represents the largest increase in pumping capacity in any single year,” he stated.
According to the Minister, in 2014, there were new pump stations along with pumps that were operational in Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Three (Essequibo Islands- West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
They are located at Two Friends and Lima in Region Two; Winsor Forest, Bagotstown, Potentia and Canal Polder Number 1 in Region Three; Paradise, Region Four; Pine Ground, Region Five; Number 19 Village, Rose Hall, Number 66 Village and Canje, Region Six.
Dr Ramsammy disclosed that between 2014 and 2015, some $20 billion will be spent on the construction of pump stations across country. This amount does not include the cost of the pumps.
The Minister noted that in the first quarter of next year, several pump stations are scheduled to be completed and commissioned.
Work has already commenced at Lima, Essequibo Coast; Eversham, Bengal and Number 43 Village, Region Six.
Additionally, he mentioned that a pump station will be built in Corentyne at the eastern side of the highway koker.
“We will maintain a pump station at both the east and west deck, I say that because there is presently a pump station on the western side of the Koker at Number 43, so we will double the capacity in 2015,” he said.
The Agriculture Minister went on to say that in 2015, the design will be completed and construction will begin on the pump stations at Ogle, Mon Repos, Hope and Enmore, East Coast Demerara, where new pumps will be installed.
“This will mean significant increase once more and all of those pump stations could equal the input of 2014, if in fact, the ones on the East Coast will get completed by 2015,” the Minister remarked.
Dr Ramsammy is confident that these works will be completed in 2015, pointing out that the four pump stations will be part of phase two of the Conservancy Adaptation Programme. This programme is being funded by the World Bank to the tune of US$11 million to strengthen the conservancy dam, increase routine maintenance in the conversancy by putting more excavators and pontoons and also increase the pumping capacity.
He explained that with the Hope Northern Relief Chanel functioning and the new pump stations along the East Coast corridor, there will be very little need to release water through Maduni and Lama in Mahaica.
The Minister continued that he is pleased that even without the new capacity, there was no need to open the Lama Pump Station during the year-end (Dec/Jan) rainy since 2011. And during this three- year period, the Maduni Station was only opened six times in 2012.
Minister Ramsammy outlined that this shows that good management has helped to prevent flooding in the Mahaica/Mahaicony area.

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2014 a challenging year for Public Works Ministry, says Benn

- honours Worker of the Year

Public Works Minister Robeson Benn in his remarks at the Ministry’s Christmas party on Friday last at the Transport and Harbour Sports Club, Georgetown, declared 2014 a challenging year for the Ministry, particularly in respect to the budgetary and parliamentary processes.

Public Works Minister Robeson Benn

Public Works Minister Robeson Benn

Nevertheless, the Ministry managed “to keep the works going”.
Recognising the criticisms directed towards the Ministry on the delivery of some of its works, the Minister stated that there is still an appreciation of the works completed.
“The growth of the country is dependent on us,” Minister Benn noted.
Some of the projects reaping success for the year are the four-lane highway on the East Bank Corridor, the West Coast Demerara Road Project, which received attacks from Opposition parties, the highway lighting project, among others.
Meanwhile, Bevon James, a Transport Foreman, was bestowed with the “Worker of the Year” title, making him the Ministry of Public Work’s top employee.
Denise Burke, the confidential Secretary to the Permanent Secretary, copped the second position while Rasheed Balgobin, a Brush Cutter Operator was awarded a certificate for his exemplary service.
Owen Campbell, an Equipment Engineer and Michael Cambridge-Bell, a Works Services Group (WSG) driver, were placed third and fourth respectively.
Additionally, seven other employees were given certificates for their commendable services; Sharon Layne, an Officer Assistant (Registry); Onica White, an Accounts Clerk (Central Accounts Unit); Clevelyn Hart, a Supply Expeditor (Supplies Division); Marlon McRae, a Foreman (Force Account Unit); Shakira Spears, Clean (Admin Section; Lalita Persaud, a Construction Foreman and Ralph Welcome, a Field Auditor.
This recognition ceremony is part of the Ministry’s Personnel Department strategy to motivate staff towards excellence, serving community with distinction, as well as retaining human resources.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Balraj Balram noted that the awardees were selected based on their appraisals, performance, reliability and punctuality.
He noted that their performance is an indication of “their excellent work and the reflection of their notable work ethic and attitude.”
The 12 employees who were honoured were out of the 450 staff employed by the Ministry throughout the regions. Several Government officials were present, including Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh and Minister of Health, Dr Bheri Ramsaran.

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