Caribbean News in Brief — March 18-10

PLEDGE OF SUPPORT

Port-au-Prince, Haiti: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has vowed to work to keep donor funds flowing for Haiti’s recovery and reconstruction.

He made the promise last weekend in Port-au-Prince, his second visit to Haiti following the devastating January earthquake.

During his visit, Ban held talks with Haiti President René Préval and leaders of the international relief operation.

Ban said the UN’s revised emergency appeal for $1.4 billion this year to fund continuing humanitarian assistance and reconstruction in Haiti was only 49 per cent funded so far.

The UN chief said he assured Préval and his ministers that he would continue “my best personal efforts to fulfill the remainder”.

REFUTING CLAIMS

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: The Ministry of Trade is refuting claims that food prices will return to high levels.

The increase was forecast by Balliram Maharaj, president of the nation’s supermarkets association.

He said, based on the fact that the legal notices which suspended duties from over a dozen foods items expired on March 4, Trinidadians should brace for an upsurge in food prices.

However, the trade ministry has described Maharaj as an “alarmist”.

According to the Ministry of Trade, the suspension of duties on several popular food items will continue from March 4, 2010, thereby removing the need for any price increases.

The food items which were excluded from the duties include cheese, salted fish, tuna, corned beef, pig tail, sunflower oil, sardines, mackerel, pineapple and apple juice, yeast and baking powder.

Once import duties on these items which are not produced in Trinidad are reattached to food prices, industry insiders have said each item could increase in price by at least 20 per cent.

PAY CUT DENOUNCED

Cockburn Town, Turks and Caicos Islands: A 10 per cent salary reduction for public servants announced by Governor Gordon Wetherell has angered politicians in the TCI, who are already upset over direct rule imposed by Britain.

Wetherell’s office has defended the reduction by pointing out that 65 per cent of current government income was being consumed by public sector wages.

However, former premier Galmo Williams blames Wetherell and his team for “stalling the economy of the TCI and reducing government revenue by some $40 million annually”.

GOLD MEDALIST

Doha, Qatar: Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown won a gold medal in the women’s 60-metre dash on the final day of competition at the World Indoor championships last Sunday.

Campbell-Brown, a two-time Olympic champion, ran a personal best of 7.0 seconds to win the gold.

“I knew the race would be very competitive,” she said after her victory. “I was very confident and mentally focused. I came here with a mindset that I could come out and execute.”

Campbell-Brown’s win marked the only gold for Jamaica at the competition.

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