President David Granger’s daughter has rubbished an online news report that her jewellery company benefitted from millions in a contract to make 69 medals for the recent national awards investiture ceremony.
“We never did that order and that is an outright lie. That is not true, we did not make any 69 medals,” Proprietor of Topaz Jewellery, Han Gaskin, told Stabroek News yesterday.
She was responding to online news outfit, Citizens’ Report and a subsequent Facebook-sponsored advertisement.
The Citizens’ Report stated, “President David Granger’s daughter, the co-owner of Topaz Jewelry has been benefitting from millions of taxpayers money without any form of public procurement. Citizens Report understands that the firm has been contracted to make tokens…”
“Sources also confirmed that Topaz was contracted to make the 69 medals for the Investiture Ceremony which was recently held at the Natural Cultural Center,” it added.
Gaskin, who is the wife of Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, dismissed the claims saying they were designed to stir up political mischief. She explained that her company, which has been in existence for over 15 years caters to those seeking unique pieces of jewellery and has several lines dedicated to Guyana’s heritage.
She said that even before her father became president various ministries would purchase tokens for whatever purposes they sought.
“I wish it were true but we have never relied on government’s work and don’t intend to rely on government’s work. At Topaz, we have a very diverse and satisfied growing clientele that comes to us because we provide products and services that I don’t believe they can get elsewhere,” she said.
“In terms of government’s work, we have had a few small orders and purchases. Yes, it has increased since 2015 but I wouldn’t say to any significant amounts. We don’t rely on government’s work. A few ministries do buy gifts, but like I said not a lot and that is the bottom line. We have done work for a few agencies of the past government before. We have never promoted it but a few of them (have done business) over the past 10 to 15 years,” she added.
With jewellery lines made from local precious metals and stones and designed to represent the country, Gaskin said that those creations for those feeling nostalgic are great gifts for persons living overseas or to be presented to a foreigner to give them a taste of Guyana.
“I would say that I don’t think there is another jewellery company in Guyana that does the range of Guyanese culturally significant things and designs like we do. We have a number of collections that have a uniquely Guyanese concept. For example, we have a ‘Many Waters Collection’ which depicts our rivers in stylish pieces of jewellery. There is also an Anansi collection which plays on that folklore. Then there is also the Amerindian motif collection representative and dedicated to our first peoples. We have birds of Guyana, flowers of Guyana…we have done a lot of work over the years that other people have not,” she explained.
“When people want gifts to take abroad they want something that reflects Guyana, not just a map of Guyana or something like that. We have to take this thing to higher levels,” she added.
She said that she would not want her establishment to be overlooked when persons are looking for “something Guyana” just because she is the President’s daughter. She wants to be given a fair chance but also understands the transparency concern and it is why the company does not market itself to ministries or offices on the weight that she is the President’s daughter.
She said that she was sure that other jewellery establishments also get orders from ministries.
“I won’t like to be overlooked when people are looking for gifts but you may also wish to call some of the other jewellers to find out if they also sell to government agencies because I think they also do. So I don’t think we have any exclusive contracts and arrangements with anyone,” she said.