Caribbean News in Brief for July 5, 2011

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: The Minister of Legal Affairs in the ruling People’s Partnership secured a landslide victory on Monday to take over leadership of one of the parties in the coalition government, the Congress of the People (COP).

Prakash Ramadhar came out of the party’s internal elections with 3,338 votes to beat Sports Minister Anil Roberts, who received 1,026 votes, COP vice-chairman Vernon De Lima, who won 675 votes and Nalini Dial, who had 45 votes.

The election was held to replace former COP leader Winston Dookeran who stepped down from the leadership recently.

Ramadhar, the St. Augustine Member of Parliament, said there would be changes within the party now that he is at the helm.

“A number of new initiatives will be discussed, including a patriotic initiative,” he said.



Kingston, Jamaica: Jamaica has received another disbursement of $860 million from the European Union (EU) as support for its sugar cane adaptation program.

This disbursement brings the total distributed to Jamaica so far to more than $4 billion.

The disbursement and signing took place over the weekend as Prime Minister Bruce Golding concluded meetings at the 32nd Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM in St. Kitts & Nevis.

Golding signed on behalf of Jamaica while Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs signed on behalf of the EU.

Jamaica received these funds based on its successful implementation of the Sugar Country Strategy for the Adaptation of the Sugar Industry.

The strategy was developed in order to deal with the impact of the reform of the European Union’s sugar regime, which included a reduction, by 36 per cent, in the price paid for sugar exported by African, Caribbean and Pacific countries by the end of 2009.


Kingston, Jamaica: The Ministry of Agriculture has ordered the closure of citrus nurseries and the suspension of the sale of citrus plants nationwide.

In a press release on July 5, the ministry said the closure became effective on June 30 as a result of the presence of the deadly citrus greening disease in Jamaica.

According to Alfred Barrett, the program manager at the Jamaica Citrus Protection Agency, the present nursery structures are inadequate to protect citrus seedlings from the vector, which carries the disease.

“Nurseries will have to build a protective structure and then production can continue,” said Barrett. “We need to do this because citrus greening is one of the most devastating diseases of citrus. It’s going to destroy most of our current plants that are in the field because the vector is widespread in Jamaica…the bacteria is distributed in all 14 parishes thus far and (we have to ensure) that clean planting materials are going out in the field.”


St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: Health minister Willmoth Daniel says the government is working along with India to develop a national health insurance plan for Antigua and Barbuda.

During a recent visit to the United Nations, Daniel met with India’s Minister of Health who agreed to allow a team from Antigua to visit India and observe their system.

“I have met with a group out of India which is prepared to assist us in terms of providing us with ideas and knowledge on how to go forward,” said Daniel. “They will come with some technicians, to see how best we can set up a National Health Insurance.”

Daniel said the National Insurance Health Scheme will be designed to offer affordable medical care, especially to the poor and vulnerable.

“Those who make more money should pay for those who don’t; and that is how it is all over the world,” he said. “So we should start it from the bottom up, so that the poor, ordinary people will start to get the type of service they need from the doctors and then later on we can start to improve to bring other people on stream.”

Antigua and Barbuda currently has a Medical Benefits Scheme which provides financial and other assistance towards the cost of medical services.

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