Caribbean Briefs for March 3, 2011


St. George’s, Grenada: Amidst speculation and worry about job losses at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat because of a reduced budget there has come an assurance that there will be no layoffs.

It came over the weekend from Acting Secretary-General, Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite, at the 22nd Inter-sectional Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government in Grenada.

Applewhaite admitted that the prevailing economic circumstances in CARICOM Member States had necessitated that the Secretariat tightens its belt, but that would not result in the laying off of staff.

Her promise came just days after Dr. Roger Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat in Guyana where the CARICOM Secretariat is based, said retrenchment may be unavoidable. He said that budget cuts usually lead to the abandonment of programs and, therefore, a reduced staff complement in the execution of those programs.

CARICOM’s budget has been frozen for the past three years and a reduced budget is being considered by the Community Council.


St. George’s, Grenada: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government have agreed to the immediate establishment of a US$2 million Health Insurance Support Fund for British American Insurance Company/Colonial Life Insurance Company (BAICO/CLICO) policyholders.

The decision came during the leaders’ 22nd Intersessional meeting where they received a report from a Regional Technical Committee (RTC) on the resolution of the BAICO/CLICO financial difficulties in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).

Money for the Fund will be sourced from the Petroleum Fund established by Trinidad and Tobago.

“Heads of Government also agreed that funds from the Petroleum Fund would be directed towards the recapitalization of BAICO to address traditional life insurance policy holders,” said the communiqué issued after the meeting.

In a statement issued last week, governments of the ECCU said there had been several complications since the Health Insurance Support Fund was announced in July 2010, mainly from critical third party stakeholders failing to provide the ECCU governments with timely and accurate information about matters impacting the Fund.

However, it said most of those issues had been resolved and significant progress had been made towards launching the Fund.


Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: The Trinidad and Tobago government has been blocked from amending the constitution to make it easier to resume hangings.

To pass the legislation to relax time limits, the government requires the support of the opposition.

However, on Monday the opposition People’s National Movement said the proposed law was flawed, even though the party supports the death penalty.

A government spokesman accused the opposition of frustrating the passage of the bill for political purposes.

Earlier negotiations between two sides had given rise to hope that the changes could become law — as part of efforts to fight a soaring murder rate.


Georgetown, Guyana: Retired Guyana Defense Force Brigadier, David Granger, was voted last weekend as the presidential candidate to lead the main opposition Peoples National Congress Reform against the ruling People’s Progressive Party.

Elections are due by August this year.

Prior to last Saturday’s special party congressional elections, the PNCR and two other opposition parties had agreed in principle to contest the general election jointly.

However, Granger says the PNCR’s strength and size cannot be ignored.

He says his party members will have to decide whether to team up with two other small political parties.


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