Gov’t hosting mega concert for hurricane-relief

Seated from left are Director General of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) Chabilall Ramsarup; Brian Tiwarie, owner of the BK Group of Companies; Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally and Minister of State Joseph Harmon. Among those standing are (from left) Major Sean Welcome, Preparedness and Response Manager, CDC; Alana Tiwarie-Shepherd of the BK Group of Companies; Dr Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary-General of Caricom; and (fifth from left) Travis Shepherd, of the BK Group of Companies.

As part of its continuing hurricane-relief efforts, the Government of Guyana will be hosting a mega concert at the D’Urban Park next month to raise funds for the rehabilitation of the affected territories.

The concert, slated for November 11, will see local and regional artistes performing, and Trinidadian singers Patrice Roberts, Olatunji and Orlando Octave have already been confirmed to take the stage.

The announcement was made yesterday during a launch at the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), at which Minister of State Joseph Harmon, Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally, and Caricom Assistant Secretary General Dr Douglas Slater were present.

The concert is part of the Government of Guyana’s second phase of relief efforts. Tickets will attract a donation fee of $1,000.

The first phase of the relief efforts had seen the supply of mainly food items, and the repatriation of Guyanese in affected territories.

CDC Director General, Colonel Chabilall Ramsarup related that so far, the government, through the CDC has dispatched 11 containers and two more are being packed presently. It has also sent off five flights and repatriated 54 Guyanese. The government had made an initial donation of US$100,000.

Ramsarup noted that phase two is the most costly because it entails the rehabilitation of those islands that were hit by the hurricanes. He noted, too, that efforts must be made to ensure that the islands are rebuilt better.

“…We’ve saved a number of people, I can say, but now we have to make them a little comfortable,” Ramsarup stated.

According to Slater, the damage to the islands, though not yet confirmed, is expected to exceed US$1billion.

“…This is important because one of the challenges our members face… is that we have a very high debt to GDP [Gross Domestic Product]. But we are classified internationally as middle income countries and, therefore, we have lost ability to borrow monies on the international market…this is a conundrum with which we face ourselves—why? For many reasons, but including the very vulnerability that we have of devastating disasters…,” Slater told those gathered.

Slater said it was “very heartwarming” to be a part of the event, which he described as an “expression of regional solidarity.”

The BK Group of Companies was front and centre among the delegation, also, having been involved in the relief efforts from the early stages. The company was commended on its role and the example it has set for the rest of the private sector. Travis Shepherd, speaking on behalf of the group yesterday, had related that the company had offered its aircraft free of cost toward the evacuation efforts.

Yesterday, BK handed over a cheque for $2 million to the CDC toward the relief concert, and after the ceremony, this amount was matched by Agri Parts, which also handed over a cheque.

Minister Harmon, in his address, said that Guyana needs to set an example that communicates Caricom integration and community.

“What we required was a quality of commitment that said I am in a better place than many of my Caricom comrades and colleagues and, therefore, I am prepared to make a sacrifice to help those persons. …and I am very proud of that quality and that collaboration with the private sector. I’m very proud about it, because as I stood there at the Eugene F Correia Aiport to welcome Guyanese who were so happy to be brought back home, I felt that sense of pride, I felt that sense of love when, as soon as they stepped off the aircraft, Guyanese people were saying they are happy to be home…,” Harmon added.


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