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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Teachers’ quarter under construction at Siparuta

Georgetown, GINA, June 23, 2008

Siparuta, Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) will soon benefit from a new teachers’ quarter which is under construction.
Siparuta, the lone Amerindian community in Region Six is situated 60 miles up the Corentyne River with a population of about 600.
The building will service both Amerindian communities of Region Six, Orealla and Siparuta and is expected to be completed by next month.
It is part of Government’s commitment to ensure that Amerindian students benefit from equal opportunities as others on the Coast.
Recently, Orealla benefited from a new $8M student dormitory facilitating children from the neighbouring community of Siparuta who have to travel long distances to access secondary education.
Children are being provided with free meals, accommodation and a quality education.   
Government has been constructing teachers’ quarter as a measure to encourage trained teachers to remote areas to boost schools’ human resource capacity.

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President outlines three challenging areas to Diaspora in New York
-urges support for Leaders sympathetic to C/bean’s needs

Georgetown, GINA, June 23, 2008

Addressing New York-based Guyanese and officials of the United States of America (USA) during the conference on the Caribbean which recently concluded there, Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo urged the Diaspora to lend their support to US leaders and officials  who would be sympathetic to the Region’s needs and would craft policies to this effect.
“One of the reasons that we are here in New York is to try to bring our Diaspora together, to organise it in a fashion that you will understand that it is a great political force within this country and hopefully to bring insularity that exists within nation states and to forge a collective patrimony, that is the Caribbean patrimony,” he told the large gathering at York College, Performing Arts Centre at a Diaspora forum. 

Supporting Leaders sympathetic to the Region
 
The President added, “We’re here to try to get people who look like us and who share our views elected in local offices and at the State level and hopefully a national level so that they can be sympathetic to the cause of the Caribbean to make a better life for the States of the Caribbean people who live here in the United States of America.”
On this note, the Guyanese Leader urged the officials to turn out in their numbers in November during the US presidential elections and to support the candidate they feel will be sympathetic to the Caribbean’s needs.
The President said Caribbean States have been very insular for a long time and have seen themselves as independent States.
“And maybe that insularity translated in us in many ways not coming to you here…tonight we will change that……and I hope that when we leave here that you will seek to forge that closer tie among yourselves because that tie would help us in the Caribbean and it would also help you here in the USA,” he explained.
  On this score, President Jagdeo proceeded to outline three major areas in which countries in the Caribbean have been facing challenges and which have been assisting in creating a negative image on Caribbean states.

Trade in the Region
 
“First of all the area of trade-it is vital. We’re very small societies, we are small in terms of markets-our economies cannot be driven by internal trade. We have to export so it’s critical that we get access for our products at a reasonable price. For decades, even before colonial times, we have had our economies structured in a particular way and we have been selling into preferential markets,” the Guyanese Leader noted.
Enphasising that this is changing rapidly with the advent of globalisation and trade liberalisation, President Jagdeo pointed out that new regimes are being forged and in spite of pleas and arguments from the Caribbean that countries with differences in size should be given differential treatment, the pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
“Now there are so many other problems, our countries are faced with so many distortions in trade,” he contended.

Security
 
            The second area the President underscored was security, as he alluded to the increase in crime across the Caribbean. This, he attributed to the deportation policy of the developed world.
“What happened? When these criminals came, the drug dealers, paedophiles, rapists, murderers who came back into our societies, they brought back a level of sophistication that we have never seen in the past. With them came the use of heavy weaponry, the transnational nature of the crime was enhanced because they have linkages here in the USA,” he explained.
Adding that the nature of crime changed dramatically as a result, he pointed to the inability of the region’s police forces to deal with the new type of criminality.
“Our police forces were caught flat-footed because they were accustomed to a different kind of crime. Today, we are in a mad scramble to raise our policing capabilities to tackle the new type of crime and it’s very costly and it takes time-intelligence led crime, more tough measures against criminals. This is ongoing in the region but you can also help if you elect sympathetic people,” he urged. 

Climate Change
 
The final major challenging area outlined by the Head of State dealt with the environment in the region and its susceptibility to climate change and global warming.
“One hurricane could wipe us out of 80 percent of GDP in a single country. In Guyana’s case, in 2005, we had a flood that wiped out the equivalent of 60 percent of our GDP. Now today, the intergovernmental panel on climate change and hundreds of scientists     have determined that there is global warming and that it is affecting the countries that are least capable or have the capacity to handle global warming,” he said.
On this note, the President urged that the Diaspora struggle for a policy to address this.
“The USA did not sign on to the Kyoto Protocol and we need market-based mechanisms and development assistance for adaptation so our countries could adapt to climate change, If not, we’d be wiped out in the region or we’d continue to go backwards because every few years all of the good work that we do on accumulating wealth in our societies would be wiped out by extreme weather patterns,” President Jagdeo told the gathering.
The President expressed satisfaction that the three candidates running the USA elections have all suggested that they are going to focus on climate change. However, he noted that one candidate has the best policy.
“It’s a cap and trade policy, we don’t want a carbon tax, cap and trade would be good, especially if they can trade carbon credits with our societies so again climate change is important, it affects us and it is going to become a huge challenge for our Caribbean societies,” he reiterated.

Fairness and balance

President Jagdeo also took the opportunity at the forum to underscore the need for the good things happening in the Caribbean to also be highlighted instead of only negative occurrences.
“We want you to be fair and balanced, have a balanced view of the many wonderful things that are happening in our society along with the problems, “ the Guyanese Leader concluded.   
The conference in the Caribbean was a two-day event which ran from June 19-20. It allowed for several Leaders in the New York Diaspora to listen to the concerns of those in the Caribbean region and to make queries. It also facilitated investment discussions.                                                         
 

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Major developmental works ongoing in Region Two

Georgetown, GINA, June 23, 2008

Government continues to focus on developmental and infrastructural works to ensure that Guyanese live in a more comfortable environment and their day-to-day activities are made easier.
            At present works are being carried out on several roads in Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) to allow residents to have easy access to their homes.
            Regional Chairman, Ali Baksh said that capital work projects are still continuing despite heavy rainfall and the contractors are working to get the jobs done in a timely manner.
            Baksh noted that the upgrading of these streets started three weeks ago and it is expected that in the next three weeks residents will begin benefiting from these projects.
            Over $21 M is being spent to upgrade several streets in the region. These are Hide-out Henrietta, East Street in Lima, Second Street in Paradise, Baba Budhan and Painter in Reliance, Bruce in Columbia, C.V Nunes School road in Anna Regina and Bharrat Street. 
            Extensive work is also being done on the drainage and irrigation system to reduce the possible threat of flooding and assist farmers with a reliable water system.
            Four reinforced concrete box culverts are being constructed at a cost of $13 M including one Henrietta North drain, La Belle Alliance façade, SC 18 – Coffee Grove, and Road drain, Better Hope.
            The proposed culverts for Lima North and CDE South Drain, Reliance are also to be built.
            Two irrigation checks are being constructed at Walton Hall Sand-reef and Maria’s Delight – SC 4 at a cost of approximately $5.2 M. Three tail walls are being constructed at Walton Hall (W/C), Wall D/S South Better Hope and Huis t’ Dieren SSC 12 at a cost of approximately $6.8 M.
           

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Electrical standard practices in Guyana undergoing modernisation
- stakeholders being trained

Georgetown, GINA, June 23, 2008

Guyana is in the process of modernising its standards for electrical practices and will accomplish this task through the adoption of the National Electrical Code from the United States of America (USA).
            Instructor of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Paul Dobrowsky today commenced a four-day training session for stakeholders in the electrical sector at the Hotel Tower, sponsored by the Office of the Prime Minister under the institutional strengthening and capacity building component of the Unserved Areas Electrification Programme (UAEP).
Participants, who total about 50, are drawn from various local regulatory agencies and electrical consultants such as Electrical Inspectorate Departments, the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the Guyana Fire Service (GFS).
A code, according to Debrousky, establishes the will of society on technical safety issues. He said protecting people’s lives and property against electrical catastrophes is foremost on the NFPA’s agenda which contains over 300 codes and standards.
The NFPA conducts investigations and awareness programmes for youths and is at present researching the ongoing effects of electricity on people


Stakeholders of the electrical standards workshop at Hotel Tower.

Acting President Samuel Hinds who has been at the centre of electrical standards modernisation in Guyana is confident that the reform of electrical practices will benefit communities such as coastal areas, Lethem, Orealla, Linden, Kwakwani, the Essequibo Coast and especially Mabaruma and Moruca which are newly emerging in electricity systems.
Mr. Hinds was most pleased about the new standards being adopted from the North America system noting that Guyana’s standards have historically been that of a British system.
“We are taking that forward step in which we are setting up a Guyana code by adopting the American standards to suit our particular situation. I would like to encourage all stakeholders to make good use of this opportunity,” the Acting President said.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is a partner in the programme and has been a donor to the Guyana electrical sector since the 1980s mainly on generation capacity issues.
The establishment of proper codes to govern electrical practices has long been in the making since it was discovered that the present standards in Guyana are outdated and fail to reflect modern requirements.
Project Co-ordinator of the programme, Maxine Nestor said in the past, countrywide consultations were held in several regions of the country aimed at formulating a proposal for a national electrical code.

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Weekend power outages caused by damaged high voltage mainsGPL

Georgetown, GINA, June 23, 2008

High winds on June 20 damaged a pole carrying some high voltage mains on the Eastern Highway and Kamoa Street, Lamaha Gardens causing some sections of Kitty/Campbellville and Lamaha Gardens to be out of power.
            A release from the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) said the employees worked to replace the damaged pole and transfer the high voltage mains but the magnitude of the maintenance work resulted in a 12-hour power outage period in Lamaha Gardens.
            The problem was further complicated when the 69KV transmission line linking Garden of Eden to Sophia tripped, causing most of the city to be without power. Technicians were quick to solve the problem and the power was restored, the release said.
            The power company has issued an apology to persons living in the affected areas and thanked them for being patient as engineers and technicians worked to rectify the problems encountered.

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Acting President commends UK support for Guyana’s nation building
                                                                                  
Georgetown, GINA, June 23, 2008

Acting President Samuel Hinds has commended the support of the British Government towards Guyana’s advocacy role on a number of world issues, foremost among which are climate change and rising food prices.
            Mr. Hinds also praised the efforts by the United Kingdom (UK) to advance plans to realise the 2012 post-Kyoto agreement which is intended to holistically address the challenges associated with climate change.
Guyana’s effort to address climate change, which is the highlight of the international agenda, was commended by the British High Commissioner as he referred to President Bharrat Jagdeo’s initiative to use standing forests to help mitigate the phenomenon and link it to development.
“We are working with the Government closely to look at how to turn the President’s vision into reality,” Wheeler explained.
The relationship with the British government in this regard is one which the acting President said will continue with the international community to solve many of the present problems.
He said the Guyana Government is optimistic about participating in the upcoming sixth UK, Caribbean forum slated for London in July as it is eager to support dialogue on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and other issues of importance to Guyana and the Caribbean.
Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud and a team are expected to attend this forum to explore investment opportunities Mr. Wheeler regards this as a step in the right direction to support agriculture diversification.
He said Guyana with its agriculture potential has exciting possibilities as recognised in the Jagdeo initiative.
Security has been the most serious of challenges to Guyana as it has threatened the social and economic stability of the economy. However, the commitment of the British Government to assist in this area was commended by the acting President.
            In August 2007 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the two governments for a security sector reform programme. Government according to Mr. Hinds looks forward to a successful and early implementation.
            Wheeler said both governments have agreed to an action plan and have implemented some immediate steps. However, Parliamentary action in this regard is necessary
The British Government has supported the security sector through the strengthening of the police in targeted areas, and the “Stamp-it-out” programme to stop violence against women.
Over the past year the British Government has supported the implementation of the National Competitiveness Strategy, agriculture diversification and development in the water and education sectors.

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Literary recitals for Castellani House – pre CARIFESTA event

Georgetown, GINA, June 23, 2008

Recitals from the work of some prominent past and present poets in Guyana and the Caribbean will be heard at the Castellani House as one of the lead-up activities for the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) X.
            Poems and prose by Fardin of Haiti, Bruce St. John of Barbados, Dobru of Suriname and Vaictor Questel of Trinidad and Tobago will be included in the recitals.
            Among those slated to recite selected pieces are local playwright Francis Quamina Farrier, Artistic Director of the CARIFESTA Secretariat Paloma Mohamed and popular figures in local theatre such as Ron Robinson and Henry Rodney.
The event is planned for June 26 and among the prominent figures whose work will be heard are local late folklorist Wordsworth Mc Andrew and St Lucian Laureate Prize winner Derek Walcott.
            A release from the CARIFESTA Secretariat stated that the event will be titled “The Journey,” and will be held under the theme “Looking Forward and Back: Heralding CARIFESTA X.”
It is being organised by the literary arts sub-committee, chaired by Petamber Persaud who explained that recitals will be extracted from the book “New Writing in the Caribbean,” edited by Arthur James Seymour for CARIFESTA in 1972.
He said the event will aptly coincide with preparations for CARIFESTA which will be held in Guyana during August 22 to 31.
            CARIFESTA X is considered another platform for promoting the work of regional writers. Guyanese pieces will be joined with others from the Caribbean. The literary arts committee has been successful in establishing links with the different publishers who will be participating.
 

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Guyana’s first President dies

Georgetown, GINA, June 23, 2008

The Office of the President (OP) in a statement today said the  Government and people of Guyana express heartfelt condolences and sincere sympathies to the widow, family and friends on the death of Guyana’s first President Arthur Raymond Chung, O.E. who died today at the age of 90 years.  
            The OP statement said the former President had a long and distinguished legal career before his appointment as the President and served with dignity and distinction. He was a selfless individual who demonstrated his willingness and commitment to serve the state and people of Guyana.
Arthur Chung born January 10, 1918 at Windsor Forest, West Coast Demerara was the last of eight children of Joseph and Lucy Chung.
            He was elected by the National Assembly by a simple majority to serve as Guyana’s first Head of State after gaining republican status.
            President Chung served as Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces from March 17, 1970 when he was inaugurated to August 6, 1980 when the change of the constitution saw Forbes Burnham assuming Office as the Executive President.  
Arthur Chung attended Windsor Forest and Blankenburg Primary Schools, West Coast Demerara and the   J. I. Ramphal's Modern High School in Georgetown. In 1938, Arthur Chung graduated from High School and joined the staff of the Lands and Mines Department as an apprentice surveyor.
 In 1940 he qualified as Sworn Land Surveyor, after which he joined the staff of the Public Works Department where he worked for six months. He was then recalled by the Lands and Mines Department to work as an Assistant Hydrographic surveyor with the Demerara River Navigation Development Project which was at the time involved in dredging the Demerara River.


Guyana’s first President Arthur Raymond Chung, O.E

In May, 1945, Arthur Chung left British Guiana to attend the Middle Temple of London where he qualified as a barrister. He then worked as an Assistant Legal examiner with the British Civil Service and later served in the chambers of British lawyer Maurice Shear while waiting to be called to the bar.
Arthur Chung returned to British Guiana in 1948 when he joined the local bar.
In 1953 he was appointed acting magistrate in the West Demerara and Essequibo Judicial Districts. In 1954 his appointment was confirmed and he then served in the Georgetown and Berbice Judicial districts.
In 1961, he left the Magistrate's Court and went to work as Registrar at the Supreme Court and in 1962 was called to act as a judge.
This position was confirmed in 1963.
He created history by breaking a 78-year-old practice by ruling that the Director of Public Prosecutions had no jurisdiction to compel a magistrate to convict a person. He was also involved in a case when he ruled in favour of the Attorney General against Cecile Nobrega. The Full Court of Appeal reversed his decision when it was taken there by Nobrega. The Attorney General took the case to the Privy Council which upheld Chung's original decision. His last case was the Rupununi murder trial which arose from the attempted secession in January, 1969. In this case, three of the accused persons were ordered to stand trial for murder, while seven others were set free.
The OP statement further said that while it was known that the former President was ailing for some weeks now, the suddenness of the news of his passing registers great sadness for the people of Guyana who have definitely lost an outstanding son of soil. 
“While for many years, he was not in the limelight, he remained to his dying day someone deeply devoted to his country, who chose to live out his remaining years here in the land of his birth. As we mourn his passing let us take comfort in the Former President’s exemplary lifestyle, as a person of great wisdom, warmth and integrity particularly committed to Guyana,” the statement added.
Arthur Chung married Doreen Pamela Ng-See-Quan also from Windsor Forest in 1954. The union produced two children Diane Pamela and Raymond Arthur. He was appointed to the Orders of Excellence in 1980

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Public servants honoured for long service
-on International Day of Public Servants

Georgetown, GINA, June23 2008
In recognition of their hard work, and unbroken years of service three public servants were today honoured by the Public service Ministry.
            Today, is designated “International Public Servants Day” by the Untied Nations and Minister of Public Service Dr. Jennifer Westford honoured three public servants at a special luncheon held at the Water Cris International Hotel.


Public Service Minister Dr Jennifer Westford presents token to Iris Morison, Region Two for 38 years of service.  

The trios were chosen from across the sectors and from different administrative regions. The Minister noted that there were other public servants with 35 and 33 years of service, but they were truly outstanding with their 38 years of service each.
            Rodwell Osbourne from Region Three, Dropadi Gomes from Region Six and Iris Morrision from Region Two were awarded tokens of appreciation in recognition of their committed years.
            The Minister congratulated the workers and encouraged them to continue their good work and urged public servants to celebrate the day with pride.


Public Service Minister  Dr. Jennifer Westford chats with public servants on International Day of Public Servants   

“A public servant is one who offers our service and I am saying our, because I myself am a public servant to the people of the country and we must aim at that, that service must be optimal. We must give our best,” the Minister emphasized as she addressed the gathering at the luncheon.
 Urging  public servants to give  their best, she said their  motto should be “My best is what I must do always” to foster the development of the sector.

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Government will continue to improve lot of public servants
-Minister Westford

Georgetown, GINA, June 23, 2008

Government continues to improve the life of public servants by taking several proactive measures including enhancing working conditions and increasing their wages and salaries.
 This was emphasized by Minister of Public Service Dr Jennifer Westford during the observance of International Public Servants day at a luncheon held at the Water Cris International Hotel.
 “What I can say to date is that public servants are experiencing working conditions which are better to anything they would have experienced in the past,” the Minister noted during her address.
The Minister said that there has been some trying periods for public servants and the Government recognizes this and has taken several measures to ease the burden of public servants.
“This government which considers itself to be a workers government, has been continuously increasing wages,” she said.
            Public servants received a nine percent increase from January 2007 and a further five percent increase this year. Public servants also benefited from a temporary cost-of- living adjustment of $4, 000 tax free. In addition teachers, nurses and members of the Disciplined Forces whose basic salary was $50, 000 or less also benefited from this increase.


Public Servants at a luncheon on International Pubic Servants  Day at the Water Cris International Hotel.

Meanwhile, other interventions by the Government through the Ministry of Agriculture have seen the administration spending some $20M on the distribution of approximately 600,000 packages of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides across the 10 regions to help motivate agricultural production.
Government’s commitment to improve public servants’ welfare has also removed the excise tax from diesel, zero rating a large number of basic food items, increasing the income tax threshold from $28, 000 to $35,000 at the beginning of 2008 and simultaneously increasing old age pension and Public assistance.
Excise tax on gasoline was drastically reduced by 50 percent to 17 percent to 7 percent to date while the increased fuel costs incurred by the Guyana Power and Light Company have been absorbed.
A further $5.6 billion investment, including $2 billion in recurrent support to the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) was made by government to help ease public servants burden.In addition to benefiting from scholarships  to pursue studies in  fields relevant to the public service, they also receive allowances depending on their level of employment for motor car, meals, overtime, away-from-base, one month’s leave passage, annual leave ranging from 14 - 42 days, duty-free concessions for public servants with travelling posts and sick and special leave entitlements
 Occupational Health and Safety training is expected to equip public servants with the knowledge and capability to improve the service to the public, the Minister noted.
Minister Westford reminded public servants that government will continue to ensure the maximization of services and unions to ensure workers’ improvement.
“The ultimate aim is ensuring that whatever we do, whatever decision we take, benefits all of Guyana,” said the Minister.

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President Jagdeo Celebrates with Guyanese in Toronto

-Story and photos courtesy of Guyana Consulate in Toronto.

President Bharrat Jagdeo joined thousands of Guyanese and Canadians at the 13th annual Guyana Festival in Toronto over the weekend, organized to commemorate the 42nd independence anniversary of Guyana. His Excellency was accompanied by Dr. Frank Anthony Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport and Rajnarine Singh, Guyana’s High Commissioner to Canada.

“I am delighted to see so many of you here today and wish to thank you for your continuing support for our country,” said President Jagdeo as he declared the festival open. “Our Country continues to make great progress although we do have some challenges from time to time. Security is one of those challenges, not only for Guyana but all of the Caribbean.”  The president said that a significant influence on the level of crime in the region is linked to the criminal deportees that are sent back into the region. “These criminals bring with them a level of sophistication that is unknown to our police force. In so many ways our Police force was caught flat-footed,” the president told the audience who shared his concerns about crime in Guyana.

The Flag Raising Ceremony was attended by all levels of Canadian Governments, the Diplomatic Community and several specialized agencies in Toronto. Some of the dignitaries in attendance include:
Hon. Jim Karygiannis, MP for Scarborough-Agincourt; Hon. Bas Balkissoon, MPP for Scarborough-Rough River; Toronto City Councillors Derek Lee and Michael Thompson; Consul General of Jamaica, Ann Marie Bonner: Consul General of Trinidad & Tobago, Mr. Michael Lashley;  Consul General of St. Lucia, Ms. Mtonya Deterville;  Hon. Consul General of Suriname, Dr.William A. Basztyk;  Ms. Jenny Gumbs – Consul General, Grenada, Ms. Cristobelle Reece–  Consul, Barbados; Deputy Police Chief, Tony Warr, Superintendent Robert Clarke, Toronto Police Service - 42nd Division; Staff Superintendent Ben Lau and Superintendent Frank Fernandes, Toronto Auxiliary Police Service ; Director of St. John Ambulance, Dr. Benson Lau.

President Jagdeo also met with a group of business persons on Saturday evening. He encouraged them to look at investments in Guyana and to take advantage of the opportunities which Guyana has to offer. “Caricom has a $3M food import bill. At the same time Guyana is the largest producer of food in the region. Put these two together and you have a significant number of business opportunities,” he said.

The Festival brought to a close the month-long program in Canada organized to commemorate the 42nd independence anniversary of Guyana. The celebrations commenced on May 24, with the Guyana Awards (Canada) Gala, and continued with the Guyana Heritage Celebrations spanning five provinces and involving thousands of Guyanese and Canadians.


A section of the booths at the trade show.

The committee promised a Taste of Guyana and delivered a fabulous weekend of activities including: softball, soccer and dominoes’ competitions; practise their kite-making or face-painting; shopped the tradeshow for the finest piece of authentic Amerindian craft; feasted on the best duck-curry and peas-and-rice in town; an experience of the uniqueness of a Guyanese interfaith service or just hang out with thousands of Guyanese at the Independence Lime, where they met old friends for a ‘Guyanese gaff’.
Each year, the Festival creates a unique feeling of Guyana as thousands of Guyanese converge in total exhilaration over this inimitable event of total belonging and nostalgia. The 13 annual festival was no different.
For the 4th year in a row, the committee expanded on the theme “A Taste of Guyana”, making the Festival an exposé on Guyanese Heritage and Culture in Canada. With performances by several celebrated Guyanese artists, the three-day Festival proved to be of unmatched entertainment.

Business Conference
The three-day Festival commenced with a Business conference on Friday, June 20, hosted jointly by the Guyana Independence Committee and the Canada-Guyana Chamber of Commerce, under the theme: Exploring for Oil in Guyana- the implications for your investments. Consul General, Danny Doobay, provided the attendees with an overview of the economic situation in Guyana, followed by the main presentation by CGX Energy, the Canadian exploration company exploring for oil in Corentyne.  CGX President, Kerry Sully, told the audience that his company had just concluded a new arrangement for 3-D seismic studies of their concessions and expects to begin drilling in late 2009. The company’s stock, he said fell $2 after the Repsol abandoned their drilling efforts last week in neighbouring Suriname.  The conference, sponsored by the Laurentian Bank of Canada, who also provided a brief outlook on the Canadian economy and the services provided by the bank.


President Jagdeo being greeted by Dwarka Persaud at the business dinner.

The events of Saturday and Sunday at L’Amoreaux Community Centre were highly entertaining and included three top-class Cultural Shows, sponsored by Moneygram.  The Cultural Shows, a sold-out affair each year, was again a big hit again this year. The show featured a theatrical presentation directed by Luther Hansraj under the theme “Porknockers”.

There was also an exciting Dominoes Tournament that went late into the evening while a thrilling soccer tournament saw the touring New York team lost to a local Canadian team.

A softball tournament was organized this year including three teams from Canadian Softball league and the Ontario Softball League and a masters’ team. The teams played two games on Saturday with Canadian Softball League taking the trophy with an easy victory over Ontario Softball League in the finals on Sunday.  

 The Festival Committee has placed overall emphasis on including the Youths, who patronize the festival by the thousands, in other activities to keep them involved in the Guyanese Heritage. Youth coordinator, Nicole Brown, engaged the younger kids in face painting, kite making and a variety of other activities.


Some of the Kids Corner volunteers.

Thousands of patrons enjoyed the ever-popular Independence Lime, a big al-fresco revelry.  The Saturday afternoon Lime is a place where you are guaranteed to meet people you have not seen for some time.

The Trade Show began on Saturday and continued throughout the weekend at the L’Amoreaux Community Centre, with participation from 13 companies from Guyana. The Exposition showcased Guyana and Guyanese products, with some of Guyana’s finest products on display.  In addition, there were arts and crafts sale, featuring authentic Amerindian and Guyanese crafts and gift products.  Several tourism companies were also on hand to promote Guyana’s magnificent eco-tourism products.

The Duck Curry Cook-out
The Duck Curry Cook-out competition was a major hit this year and titillated the taste buds of patrons. The ten competing chefs were joined by thousands of patrons. The winner of the competition received two tickets to Guyana provided by Constalltion travel and an opportunity to represent the Guyanese Diaspora in Canada at the national duck curry competition in Guyana. While in Guyana the winners will stay at the Tower Hotel.
The ‘Taste of Guyana’, another expanded feature at the Festival this year, designed to introduce authentic Guyanese dishes, ran parallel with the Duck Curry Cook-out.  A number of dishes were on sale including duck curry, mutton curry, pepperpot, dhalpouri, cook-up rice, alloo & channa curry, bake & saltfish, polourie, potato balls, pastries, snacks, & local drinks.


Consul General, Danny Doobay presents two tickets to Guyana to the winners of the Duck Curry Cookout.

Show ‘N’ Shine,
The Guyana Independence Show ‘N’ Shine, now in its 5th year, featured dozens of specialized cars by Guyanese. “The Show ‘N’ Shine has taken off in a big way,” noted Doobay. “You can always count on a Guyanese to be creative.” Several prizes were given out including Best Guyanese Ride, Oldest Ride,-Oldest Driver, Best of the Show.

Patrons also had the opportunity to visit the trade show, tourism display, arts and craft show and sale, cultural show, and enjoy the children’s and adult entertainment activities. The Histalgia display took you through a journey of Guyana’s forty years of independence. “Thousands of patrons came to the centre on Sunday and had a fantastic time”, noted Consul General Doobay.


Winners of the car show 2008.

Sunday at the Ground
The main attraction on Sunday was the Guyana Independence Celebrity Cricket Match, sponsored by Western Union. Team Guyana lost the 20-20 title to Scarborough league on Sunday after winning the preliminary match against the Toronto & district League. The Guyana team, in a game shortened by rain to 10 overs, was bowled out by SCA for 49 runs, who cruised to an easy victory.
 
Over the past 13 years, the Festival has succeeded in forging a common bond among Guyanese from all walks-of-life and from all regions of Guyana.  In addition, the Festival has emerged as the premier activity promoting Guyana and its culture within the Guyanese community in Canada.  The Festival has attracted participants from all over North America, Britain, the Caribbean and Guyana.  With an annual attendance of more than 20,000, the Festival has earned the distinction of being the largest annual gathering of Guyanese outside of Guyana.

The Guyana Festival, held under the auspices of the Consul General of Guyana, Danny Doobay. The success of the Festival is a credit to everyone involved, especially the dedicated Guyana Independence Committee comprised of 44 Guyanese community organizations, the sponsors and more than 250 volunteers. 

-Story and photos courtesy of Guyana Consulate in Toronto.

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Efforts continue to improve forestry practices
- forestry research network project to be launched

Georgetown, GINA, June 23, 2008

There have been significant developments in the forestry sector to further enhance its potential to contribute to the national economy.
            Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud said nationally Guyana’s forest resources are economic drivers for development and contributes internationally to the fight against climate change, especially mitigating climate change and its effects.
            He was speaking at a press briefing today at the Iwokrama Centre on the European Union-African, Caribbean and Pacific (EU-ACP) Forestry Research Network (FORENET) in the Guianas project.
            FORENET is a project established in ACP countries that seeks to create a research link between three regions of the world with recognised large tracts of tropical forests – Central Africa, the Pacific and the Guianas.
The 7M Euro project, funded by the European Commission and the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) is a collaborative effort between the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) which has responsibility for forestry research in Guyana and Iwokrama, and it will be administered by CIFOR.
The European Commission will provide 6M Euros while CIFOR will provide 1M. 
            The project seeks to contribute to the conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests in ACP countries to meet economic, social and environmental demands.
Stakeholders are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Guyana Forestry Commission, and the Centre for Agricultural Research in Suriname (CELOS). Governments, research institutions including universities, local communities, industries, and civil societies are also expected to contribute to the project.

From left to right - Geert Heikens, Ambassador – European Commission; Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud; and Chief Executive Officer of Iwokrama, Dane Gobin.

In highlighting Guyana’s efforts to create sustainable forest management, Minister Persaud noted that in 2007 the country’s export earnings for forestry amounted to US$62.5M, and approximately 25,000 persons were directly employed by the forestry sector.
There has been the formation of more than 30 community forestry organisations and the estimated revenue from these organisations amounted to nearly US$4M. Additionally, community forestry organisations provide direct benefits to over 2,000 employees and their families.
Efforts have also been made to restructure and reorganize the Forestry Commission to make it more adapted to fulfilling its mandate. The commission established a comprehensive system of concession monitoring which was complimented by the construction of 20 strategically located forest stations that were adequately staffed and equipped to provide effective monitoring of forest concessionaires, to evaluate the level of compliance and to undertake enforcement activities when required.
            Minister Persaud said greater emphasis is now being placed on upgrading the industry aspect of the sector.
“Focus is being placed on increasing recovery rates and efficiency of production and the implementation of better quality control systems to achieve standardisation and uniformity throughout the industry,” he said.
Recognising that more is still needed to further improve the forestry sector, government welcomes the progress made in the establishment of the EU-ACP FORENET project.
            Minister Persaud said while it is necessary to focus on research, which is long- term, emphasis should also be placed on short-term areas where the application of the results obtained can make a positive and immediate impact on the forestry sector of Guyana and to all other participating countries.
            In providing an update on FORENET, Project Co-ordinator, Vanessa Benn said since the establishment of FORENET there has been a number of meetings locally and overseas. In January 2008 the first meeting of the steering committee was held in Brussels and last week in Guyana the committee had its second meeting. There was also the first meeting of the scientific advisory group.
            Chief Executive Officer of Iwokrama, Dane Gobin said the expected results of the project are to strengthen capacities of selected ACP forestry research structures to document forestry biodiversity and to conduct research in support of sustainable use of forest goods and services; create appropriate training opportunities; and improve capacities for inter-regional and international collaboration with ACP and European forestry research institutions.
            Guyana is richly endowed with over 18 million hectares of pristine tropical rainforest which represents close to 83 per cent of the total land area of the country.

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Minister Persaud visits Essequibo Islands-“Grow more” taken to Reg 3

Georgetown, GINA, June 23 2008

Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud and a team from the Agriculture Ministry today visited residents and farmers of Leguan, Wakenaam and Hogg Island, Region Three as part of the Ministry’s continuous effort to encourage farmers to become involved in the ‘Grow More’ food campaign.
            During a discussion at the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), Leguan, Minister Persaud told farmers that the material assistance given is part of government’s response to the rise in food prices which is taking place globally and urged that they capitalize on the opportunity to grow more since there is an increase in demand for food regionally and internationally.
            The Minister said that despite the rise in the cost of fertilizers and fuel which have increased internationally government has made interventions to cushion the rise by the reduction of taxes on these materials.
            He said the Ministry of Agriculture will be collaborating with the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) to purchase agro-chemicals at a cheaper cost to assist farmers with their agricultural activities.
             Guyana, he pointed out, despite being criticized for remaining in agriculture, is better off compared to some countries that have the wealth and cannot find food to buy.
            The “Grow More” food campaign stresses the need for farmers to make changes, to think in the long-term and to encourage capacity building, Minister Persaud added. 
The Minister further pointed out that internationally, individual farmers cannot survive and urged farmers to become organized to compete globally.
            At Wakenaam and Hogg Island, Minister Persaud and his team visited farmers and residents of Wakenaam and Hogg Island who were enlightened about the thrust of the ‘Grow More’ food campaign and encouraged to take up the opportunities the global food situation presents and increase food production.
Farmers were also encouraged to register with the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) so that export markets can be provided for their produce.
            During the meetings farmers and residents expressed concerns about drainage and irrigation issues which have been affecting their agricultural production. They were updated on the drainage and irrigation works completed by government and those scheduled to be accomplished for the rest of the year.
They were urged by the Minister and his team to take responsibility to assist with the maintenance of drains and canals since it is costly to rehabilitate the drainage systems.
            As part of the Grow More food initiative farmers were given planting materials and pamphlets.

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