Caribbean News In Brief – January 7, 2010

WARNING

Roseau, Dominica: Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has warned his incoming cabinet ministers to be prepared to work hard.

Skerrit said the ministers’ job would be arduous and they must be ready to show commitment and dedication.

“We have a lot of work to do; this is a very serious matter…men must not just come with a shirt and tie and say they are ministers, you have to roll up your sleeves and put your boots on and go in the field, and solve the problems of the people of Dominica,” said Skerrit.

Skerrit also said the ministers would be judged on performance, and that they should expect periodic changes.

NEW SYSTEM UNVEILED

Georgetown, Guyana: Opposition Leader, Robert Corbin, has unveiled his formula for a new system of governance.

In his New Year’s address, Corbin recommended an increase in the percentage by which the president should be elected and for laws to be approved with voting support from the opposition in the 65-seat National Assembly.

Corbin says he wants the cycle of division and ethnic polarization in Guyana to be broken to unlock the country’s potential and prosperity.

He also urged Guyanese to get involved in changing the system of governance.

CRIME CONCERNS

Mona, Jamaica: A leading criminologist and a security expert say Caribbean governments are to carry the blame for the soaring crime rates in the region.

Professor Ramesh Deosaran, a criminologist at the University of the West Indies, believes governments should implement the necessary policies to tackle the problem.

And Jamaican security expert, Harold Crooks, says bureaucracy is overemphasized.

“They should be going into the community winning over heart over minds,” he said.

Jamaica, the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago had record crime figures last year. Statistics were also troublingly high elsewhere in the region.

REDUNCANCIES

Kingston, Jamaica: More than 100 Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) employees have accepted an offer of voluntary redundancy.

Last month, the power company invited employees to apply for voluntary redundancy in an effort to cut its operational expenses.

The Union of Clerical, Administrative and Supervisory Employees (UCASE) said there was a strong response from the workers.

Senator Navel Clarke, UCASE General Secretary, attributed this to the deteriorating industrial relations climate at the JPS.

He said the industrial relations situation at the JPS was no longer consultative but more confrontational.

“The workers felt that the atmosphere was not as harmonious as it was before and decided to take their chances now with the money they have gotten rather than stay there until they retired,” said Clarke.

The JPS currently has 1,600 full time employees.

UNSUPPORTIVE

St. George’s, Grenada: Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has announced he does not support a project that will bring casino gambling to the island.

Swiss developers Zublin wants to construct two casinos as part of a $115 million project, and argues that the casino aspect of the planned development is a vital component of the enterprise.

The company says hundreds of Grenadians will be employed in the project, which also involves the construction of a hotel, a second cruise ship terminal and a casino.

However, Thomas says that a cabinet ruling in favour of casinos would be a decision against his governing National Democratic Congress campaign promises, and he wants no part of it.

Nevertherless, St. Lucia has announced plans to proceed with the construction of its first casino this year.

PROTEST

Havana, Cuba: Cuba is protesting its inclusion on a list of countries whose U.S.-bound air passengers are being subjected to extra security screening.

The United States has put in place new security measures, with passengers from 14 high risk countries facing tougher checks than most.

In a statement, the Cuban government said it had delivered a note protesting its inclusion on the list to Jonathan Farrar, head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, and to the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.

Havana labelled the new measures a politically motivated ploy to justify the American trade embargo against the communist nation.

The Director of the U.S.-Cuba Policy Initiative, Anya Landau-French, says Cuba should be removed from the U.S. State Department’s terror watch list because “it has not been a threat to the United States for a couple of decades”.

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