Caribbean News in Brief for March 24


Kingston, Jamaica: Digicel’s plan to take over the Jamaica operations of one of its competitors has triggered concern from another rival, LIME.

LIME has requested that authorities take a close look at the transaction in which Digicel will acquire Claro in Jamaica and sell its own businesses in El Salvador and Honduras to Claro’s parent company, América Móvil.

Managing Director Garry Sinckler issued a statement last weekend in which he said that considering the significance of the merger to the Jamaican telecommunications industry, the government, the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) and the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) should carefully assess the deal, before approval is given by the relevant minister.

Information Minister Daryl Vaz confirmed that Cabinet has received a joint letter from Digicel and Claro regarding the merger and said it will be discussed in due course.

The Digicel/Claro transaction was announced just over a week ago but the financial terms have not been disclosed. However, Digicel said it would receive a net cash payment under the deal.


Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Supporters of ex-Haitian leader Jean Bertrand Aristide erupted in celebration as the former leader touched down in his homeland, after seven years in exile in South Africa, telling them he was there to serve “in love”.

A small crowd of supporters along with journalists and diplomats met Aristide, who was accompanied by his wife Mildred, two daughters and American actor Danny Glover.

“If you could lean against my heart you could hear how fast it is beating, how it is singing a melody to Haiti,” said Aristide to the crowd.

He later told Haitians he had come back home to “serve you in love”.

“Your role is to live so Haiti doesn’t die,” Aristide said. “May the Haitian people mark the end of exile and coup d’état, from social exclusion to social inclusion.”


Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: The outgoing President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Michael de la Bastide, has added his opinion of Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s suggestion that the country should have its own appeal court.

Golding raised the idea in parliament last December, but said that the matter should be put to a referendum.

De la Bastide, who demits office in August, says it would not be in the best interest of the region.

His successor, Sir Dennis Byron, also criticized Golding’s position and gave his vote of confidence in the regional court.

To date only Barbados, Belize and Guyana recognize the CCJ as their final court of Appeal.


Hamilton, Bermuda: Bermudan Premier Paula Cox has admitted that a $10 million overspend by the Department of Financial Assistance was an embarrassment to her government.

Opposition leader Kim Swan described the overrun as a classic example of a government gone wrong when it comes to the social agenda.

Premier Cox conceded that the government must do a better job of managing the finances.

Youth minister Glenn Blakeney also acknowledged the disapproval of MPs, and said he agreed that everybody would be concerned.

Blakeney explained that demand for state-provided financial aid from needy Bermudians was on the increase.

Over the past six years the number of applicants has risen from 650 to 1,600.

Despite their concerns, MPs approved the supplementary estimate of $9.9 million for the Department of Financial Assistance.


Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis: St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas has called on the management of British American Insurance to accept responsibility for the company’s collapse.

British American and sister company Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) have been in financial difficulty following the collapse of parent company CL Financial.

The company’s demise resulted in clients around the region losing millions of dollars in investments.

Dr. Douglas says the blame should fall squarely on the shoulders of the local and regional managers and directors.

The issue was discussed at last month’s CARICOM inter-sessional summit. Regional leaders said it has now become a priority issue.

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