Caribbean News in Brief for September 16, 2010

PREPARATIONS

Port-au-Prince, Haiti: The Haitian government has made plans to relocate thousands of homeless Haitians still living in displaced camps.

Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency has already declared an “orange alert”, warning that parts of the country could be prone to flooding as a result of heavy rains expected from Hurricane Igor.

Nadia Lochard, a spokeswoman for the agency has advised the general public to “listen to announcements, follow instructions and prepare to relocate if necessary”.

Lochard said people living in camps that face the danger of flooding could be asked to relocate.

WATER CONCERNS

Georgetown, Guyana: Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud says the government’s primary concern, following high tides that damaged several coastal communities, is to ensure that salt water does not intrude into farming areas.

Persaud says the farming community would suffer great loss if that happens.

Guyanese authorities are assessing the damage caused by unusually high tides and heavy rainfall that caused widespread flooding and affected 4,000 people and more than 65 villages.

Health teams have been dispatched to affected areas in an attempt to mitigate against the spread of waterborne and skin diseases.

WATCHDOG

Castries, St. Lucia: The St. Lucia government has sought the help of a UN expert to tighten the island’s public service regulations.

The UN official will be revising staff orders that govern the public service.

The administration of Prime Minister Stephenson King says the aim is to cut down on the number of civil servants moonlighting on the job.

The government has already blocked access to social networking sites on computers in government offices in a bid to improve efficiency and productivity.

LAYOFFS

Havana, Cuba: Cuba has announced plans to lay off massive numbers of state employees, in the biggest shift to the private sector since the revolution in 1959.

The Cuban labour federation said more than a million workers will lose their jobs – half of them within the next few months.

Those laid off will be encouraged to become self-employed or to join new private enterprises, where some of the current restrictions will be eased.

The labour federation said the state could not continue to maintain companies and industries that lost money and had bloated payrolls.

In 2009, 85 per cent of the Cuban labour force worked for the state.

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