Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News Jan. 12th

Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

Against the backdrop of advisories issued this week by the governments of Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States to their citizens about the sewage mess along Barbados’ south coast, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart last nite saw the need to remind visitors from those and other countries, that Barbados was by no means perfect.  In fact, he told those gathered for a special reception at his official residence, Ilaro Court, after the warnings by Canada and the United States, which were issued on Tuesday and Wednesday, and ahead of the one by the British, which was issued yesterday, that the only thing perfect was God.  Stuart also warned that like Barbados, countries such as Canada, the US and the UK were less than perfect after they saw it fit to caution their citizens about visiting the island. “In fact, I don’t know of any perfect country on this planet” the Prime Minister told the visitors, adding that “the countries from which you have come are not perfect.  “In fact, if they were perfect, you would not be here.”

Meanwhile, one of the island’s newest political parties is not at all happy with the way in which the Freundel Stuart administration has been handling the south coast sewage mess.  In fact, the Barbados Integrity Movement (BIM) which was formed last February, has suggested that the time had come for the country to hold the Prime Minister to account by issuing a 24-hour ultimatum to him on the matter.  In a statement, the little-known party further suggested that if the Prime Minister did not address Barbadians within the next 24 hours on the issue, his ruling Democratic Labour Party should be made to take the fall.  “Any failure to get a response from the DLP administration within the next 24 hours will indicate to us citizens that we may be required to take drastic measures to ensure that we are never again smitten by the incompetence and disrespect of another DLP administration in the future of our blessed country,”  BIM leader Neil Holder said in a statement which came against the backdrop of three advisories issued by the governments of Canada, the US and the UK to exercise caution when traversing the island’s south coast.

Barbados’ two largest trade unions and government seem to be on a collision course related to public sector wages.  The National Union of Public Workers and the Barbados Workers Union are not near to agreement for a hike in wages for thousands of public officers who have been on a wage freeze for over nine years.  The NUPW is asking for a 23 per cent increase while the BWU is seeking 15 per cen for the public officers they represent.  It is not clear what the other major unions and associations drawn from the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) and the Barbados Nurses Association (BNA) are seeking for their members.  Next Monday is the deadline for Government negotiators to get back to the NUPW with an updated position.  Yesterday, NUPW General Secretary, Roslyn Smith said she hoped “common sense will prevail”.  The union’s President, Akanni McDowall said since their last meeting in December, the NUPW has received no word from government.

I am not going anywhere.  That was the firm assurance given by General Manager of the state-run Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) as he brushed aside speculation that he had either resigned from the position at the helm of the corporation, or that he would not be serving out his three-year contract which ends in March, 2019.  “It is not true that I have resigned” Hoyte told Barbados Today in response to a news report by Starcom Network that he was stepping down.  In fact, Hoyte, who took up his post as General Manager of CBC in April 2016, said he had no intention of resigning because he had work to do in turning around the financial and operating fortunes of the cash-strapped radio and television entity.

Dateline St. Georges, GRENADA:

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell says his country is expected to be removed from the European Union (EU) blacklist by the end of January.

Grenada will host the 48th Annual General Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), which is scheduled for May 30 and 31, 2018.  The programme for this year’s meeting will focus on resilience against the backdrop of one of the most devastating hurricane seasons the Caribbean region has experienced in recent history.

Dateline Port-au-Prince, HAITI:

The Haitian government and its international partners have launched an appeal for US$252 Million in aid to respond to natural disasters in 2018.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

Provisional data from the Jamaica Tourism Board (JTB) shows that a record 4.3 million tourists visited Jamaica in 2017, which, according to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett,  represents a 12.1 percent increase over arrivals in 2016.

Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:

In what some are interpreting as an attempt to “right the wrong” of the defeat of the Anti-Gang Bill last December, the legislation is heading for an early return to the Parliament.  Meanwhile, the Opposition says is it is willing to work with the government in making Trinidad and Tobago safe again.  Opposition  leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, by letter dated January 10th, 2018, wrote Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley requesting a meeting to discuss a bi-partisan approach to the legislative agenda to fight crime and specifically, to see the early return of the Anti-Gang Bill. Persad-Bissessar said the country has experienced an unprecedented level of criminal activity with 494 murders in 2017 and 23 in 2018, up to yesterday.

Meanwhile, the attorney representing convicted fraudster Dillian Johnson, who has been at the centre of allegations of misconduct involving Chief Justice Ivor Archie, says he has been granted asylum in the United Kingdom.

And finally, this “wining warning” also from the Land of the Humming Bird: After one murder in Port of Spain during Carnival, 2017, as well as shooting and stabbing incidents in Arima and Tunapuna at Jouvert celebrations last year, police division heads are meeting to ensure a full turnout of officers for Carnival 2018.  The Police also advised that “wining on someone without their permission can count as unwanted touching which is unlawful and can be deemed as an assault.”

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