Caribbean News in Brief – January 6, 2011


Kingston, Jamaica: The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) is renewing its call for a review of the policy that implemented free user fees in public health facilities.

Opposition Spokesman on Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says the policy, implemented almost three years ago, is flawed.

He listed the mounting arrears in the payment of bills as one of the policy’s problems.

“We saw from the end of year one that there were some definite flaws relative to the building up of significant arrears, the long waiting time, the absence of medication and a series of problems. The waiting time for orthopedic sections in the regional hospitals are nine months and beyond per appointment. With all of that we felt that it was important to review the policy,” said Dr. Ferguson.

Ferguson said the stakeholders in the system have agreed that the present system makes health care free but not available.

The Ministry of Health has promised to respond soon to the latest calls from the PNP.



St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: Antigua and Barbuda has announced it will receive funds from China to construct a new terminal building at the V.C. Bird International Airport.

Officials in St. John’s say they have signed four agreements with Beijing that will also provide Antigua with economic and technical cooperation, and the donation of laptops.

The government says China is providing a concessionary loan of over US$16 million for construction of the terminal.



Georgetown, Guyana: Guyana has been told that it will have to spend at least US$1.25 million to ensure that Cheddi Jagan International Airport is upgraded from a Category 2 to Category 1 status.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Authority has for years downgraded the airport to Category 2, making it impossible for Guyana-registered airlines to fly to the United States.

Regional experts say Guyana will have to upgrade airport staff, train inspectors, improve the handling of large aircraft and upgrade the country’s laws and regulations in its bid for Category 1 status.



Georgetown, Guyana: Guyana Labour Minister Manzoor Nadir has warned a Russian-owned bauxite company that it will face sanctions if it refuses to discuss with government officials the dismissal of more than 120 workers.

The Rusal company fired the workers and terminated an agreement with their union, following several protests over pay and working conditions.

Nadir has accused the company of illegally ending the agreement with the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union.

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