Caribbean News in Brief for April 7, 2011


Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: President George Maxwell Richards will seek legal advice before he decides whether or not to fire chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) Nizam Mohammed for making racist comments.

Richards met with Mohammed last week to discuss the issue, but no decision was taken.

Mohammed said that he was not a racist and that his statement of imbalance in the police force does not have a racial connotation and called on all to look at the Hansard – the official transcript.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said that she would not condone racial conflict and said that the decision if or not to discipline Mohammed rests with Richards.

Minister of Works, Jack Warner, is calling for Mohammed to resign. The attorney for the PSC chairman, Israel Khan SC, said there is no legal basis for the president to remove Mohammed from office. However, Khan also said Mohammed should resign.


Kingston, Jamaica: The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) and the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) are consulting on the proposed merger of telecommunications firms Digicel and Claro, before the two get the green light to finalize their deal.

Daryl Vaz, Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, said the utilities and consumer watchdog agencies will seek details of the deal from both companies.

Digicel announced last month that it will acquire Claro in Jamaica and sell its own businesses in El Salvador and Honduras to Claro’s parent company, América Móvil. The details of the transaction have still not yet been disclosed.

Vaz said he has instructed the OUR to meet with Digicel and Claro to get a better understanding of the deal “because up until now, we don’t know”.

A week after Digicel announced the Claro deal, its rival LIME requested that authorities conduct a review of the transaction.

LIME’s Managing Director Garry Sinckler issued a statement in which he said that considering the significance of the merger to the Jamaican telecommunications industry, the government, the OUR and FTC should carefully assess the deal before approval is given by the relevant minister.


Kingston, Jamaica: The National Water Commission (NWC) has seen a big drop in its financial losses.

According to the NWC’s latest annual report tabled last week in Parliament, the figure has declined by nearly $900 million.

It showed that the NWC made an operating loss of $544 million for the year ended March 2009.

This was a significant improvement over the previous year, when the figure was $1.4 billion.

The improvement in performance was largely due to a 39 per cent increase in revenues which moved from $9.8 billion to $13.5 billion arising from a tariff adjustment.

The NWC said other factors which pushed up revenues were the upward movement in the Price Adjustment Mechanism and continued implementation of revenue protection measures.

Operating expenses at the Water Commission increased by 26 per cent to $14.1 billion because of a higher wage bill and the cost of electricity going up by 30 per cent.


The Valley, Anguilla: Anguilla Chief Minister Hubert Hughes said that Britain’s approval of his December 2010 budget is a little too late and signaled his intention to seek independence for the British Overseas Territory.

“We lost out on so much revenue, we have lost out on the deal we had with the European Union, on the EDF 10 fiscal package, we have lost out on support from the Caribbean Development Bank because these institutions will not do business with Anguilla as long as Anguilla cannot produce a proper, credible budget,” said Hughes.

Governor Alistair Harrison said that Queen Elizabeth II, through the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, had assented to the island’s Appropriation Act, which contains the 2011 budget.

Harrison gave no details of the amount contained in the budget. However, he announced that he had approved the legislation introducing the interim Stabilization Levy as well as amendments to the Customs surcharge and the Petroleum Levy passed earlier by the House of Assembly.

“These three measures constitute the new measures necessary to implement the budget settlement for 2011,” said Harrison.

The Chief Minister said that Britain’s action has underscored the need for his government to pursue independence.

“I feel very disillusioned and frustrated with British administration for Anguilla,” said Hughes. “My commitment now is to press on with my program for self determination.

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