Caribbean Briefs – April 6-09

CABINET CHANGES

 Kingston, Jamaica: Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, has made several changes to his cabinet.

West Portland Member of Parliament, Daryl Vaz, will now have responsibility for information and telecommunications while retaining responsibility for special projects working from the Prime Minister’s Office.

He replaces Olivia “Babsy” Grange, who will take on the responsibilities of Minister for Youth, Sports and Culture.

One of the casualties was national security minister, Colonel Trevor McMillan, who was asked to resign by Golding. McMillan has been replaced by Senator Dwight Nelson.

Two other ministers, mining and telecommunications minister, Derrick Smith and energy minister, Clive Mullings, are resigning. And Senator Don Wehby, a minister without portfolio, will resign in July. Wehby has been handling the sale of Air Jamaica, which is expected to be concluded in June.

As of press time, Golding has not stated a reason for the changes.

 EARTHQUAKE

 Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: For the second time in a week, Trinidad has been jolted by an earthquake.

The 4.4 magnitude tremor occurred in southern Trinidad last Saturday morning, but no damage was reported.

Four days earlier, on the night of March 31, an earthquake of magnitude 4.3 occurred near the east coast of the island.

No injuries or damage were reported in that incident either.

Of the seven earthquakes which the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre has recorded in the region so far this year, seven of them occurred either in or around Trinidad.

St. Lucia and Dominica have also been jolted by small tremors this year.

 FIGHTING CORRUPTION

 Providenciales, Turks and Caicos: Newly-elected premier, Galmo Williams, has promised to implement new legislation to fight corruption in public office and introduce measures to better manage the economy as part of a wider plan to restore credibility to the country.

Williams, who was sworn in late last month following the resignation of former premier, Dr. Michael Misick, says he will also introduce a code of conduct for all parliamentarians.

“By no later than the end of April 2009, we will bring into force new legislation to strengthen the Integrity in Public Office Ordinance (the Anti Corruption Bill) and to address any current deficiencies therein,” he said.

Williams’ plans are a response to the findings of a commission of inquiry into allegations of corruption by the Misick administration.

The initial report, which prompted the British government to move toward direct rule, identified widespread corruption in the British overseas territory.

 CRIME RATE DROPS

 Basseterre, St. Kitts: Police in the twin-island federation have reported a drop in crime this year.

Police Commissioner, Austin Williams, said crime has dropped 23 per cent for the January to February 2009 period, compared to the same period last year.

Although March statistics have not been completed, Williams said a drastic change is not expected.

The commissioner said considerable progress has been made so far in the St. Kitts and Nevis Police Force’s strategic objectives of challenging crime and criminal behaviour at all levels.

“I have no doubt that this year will be one of unprecedented change and hard work but I am confident that the men and women of the police force will rise to the challenge to achieve our vision of making St. Kitts and Nevis the safest place to live and do business,” Williams said.

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