Caribbean News in Briefs – October 4, 2010

COMPETITIVE CENTRE

Nassau, Bahamas: The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development will help create a new Caribbean Competitiveness Centre at the University of the West Indies (UWI) with a US$750,000 grant.

The agreement was signed by IDB Caribbean Department Manager Gerard Johnson and E. Nigel Harris, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), in the context of a Caribbean regional forum organized by the IDB.

The centre will be at UWI’s St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad and Tobago and the Pro Vice Chancellor of Planning and Development, Bhoendradatt Tewarie, will be its Chairman.

The centre will help upgrade the technical capacity of academics and public and private sector officials in cutting edge approaches to competitiveness, business climate reforms, clustering and small and medium-sized enterprises development.

CHARGED WITH MURDER

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: Twelve years after the death of a 22-year-old man, Jamaat al Muslimeen leader Yasin abu Bakr has been charged with the murder, along with a former member of the radical Muslim group.

The decision to file the charge came last week at the end of an inquest into the murder of Israel Sammy, who was beaten and shot by a group of masked men who took him from his home in the early hours of May 20, 1998.

Coroner Nalini Singh, who presided over the inquiry which began in February 2009, has concluded that there was sufficient evidence to charge Bakr and Brent Miller.

The two, who were present when the ruling was delivered, were taken into custody and later returned to court before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar, where the charge was read.

They were not allowed to plead to the indictable offence and are set to return to court on October 6.

Abu Bakr, who led the Jamaat al Muslimeen’s failed coup against the government in 1990, has faced various charges over the years but has never been convicted.

BANK PRIVATISED

Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines: The government has announced that it has reached a deal to privatize the state-owned National Commercial Bank (NCB).

The NCB is one of the country’s leading financial institutions and holds most of the mortgages of public sector workers.

The owner of the Bank of St. Lucia, Eastern Caribbean Financial Holdings, is set to buy 51 per cent of NCB’s shares by the end of November.

Shares will also be sold to local interests in Kingstown in the following months.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said the privatization is in the bank’s best interest.

The bank was said to be struggling with liquidity problems which opposition leader Arnhim Eustace says was caused by government borrowing.

JOB CUTS BEGIN

Havana, Cuba: On Monday, Cuban authorities begin a six-month process of firing half a million state workers.

Many of the country’s workers who fear they could lose their jobs in that process, have said that they are very worried about the situation.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church on the island, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, says job cuts for many will mean a process of re-adaptation that will be quite difficult.

The government has already unveiled guidelines for free enterprise activities in 178 fields, ranging from accountants to park custodians.

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