Caribbean-Round-Up

Caribbean

The Organization of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OCUR) is suggesting that there is a prospect of market failure arising from the acquisition of mobile telephone operator Claro Jamaica by rival Digicel Group and has called on regional governments to closely monitor the situation in the interest of the consumers and the economies in general.

In a release, the council said it met in Barbados recently and made the observations against the background of the proposed merger ‘and the possible impact that this might have on competition and consumers choice in the largest market in the English-speaking Caribbean.’

The Jamaican government is proceeding cautiously on the deal.

Barbados

Two members of the Royal Barbados Police Force who are accused in the rape and sexual assault of a 27-year-old Jamaican woman have been charged.

Constable Jonathan Brown, 32, of St. Michael was charged with serious indecency, while Melanie Denny, 25 of St. Peter was charged with aiding and abetting Barrow to commit an act of serious indecency on the woman.

Both appeared in court recently and were granted Bds$5,000 bail.

Guyana

A United Kingdom male psychiatric nurse pleaded guilty to the murder of his Guyanese-born lover who was burnt to death in her north London home last year.

According to BBC report, Aiah Tondoneh, 43 of north London pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to killing 50-year-old Donna Drepaul.

Police found Drepaul suffering from severe burns at her home in Finsbury Park, on July 2, 2010.

She was taken to the Royal London Hospital where she died two days later.

Police say she was attacked and set on fire with petrol on the 17th floor of her home.

Although Tondoneh admitted the offence of murder, he claimed that he did not have the intent to kill.

Guyana

The Guyana government has announced a further reduction on the excise tax on gasoline and diesel following previous cuts made earlier this year.

The announcement was made by Finance Minister Dr. Ashini Singh who said the tax charged on gasoline would decrease from 20 percent to 15 percent and the excise tax charged on diesel would be reduced from 15 percent to l0 percent.

The minister explained that the decision was taken on light of the upward movement in the imported cost of refined fuel products.

The reduction of the excise tax rate on gasoline and diesel would counter higher increases in the cost of production of goods and services and hence lower prices for consumers, Singh said.

Jamaica

Another Jamaican woman has come forward with allegations of mistreatement by authorities at the Grantely Adams International Aiport.

Although Donna Benjamin-McLean’s alleged case of abuse occurred in September 2004, she has decided to come forward with the revelation in solidarity with Shanique Myrie – a Jamaican woman who complained of being stripped searched and finger raped.

Benjamin-McLeod expressed her displeasure with reported denials by Barbadian authorities that Myrie’s account was lacking credibility and that she was a victim of human trafficking.

She told the Gleaner newspaper that she was taken from the immigration line upon her arrival and subjected to demeaning treatment after she was accused of drug smuggling.

Jamaica

The Jamaica government has embarked on a multi-million dollar project designed to place high-speed Internet in schools, post officers and public libraries across the island within 18 months.

The project is anticipated to facilitate modern services such as videoconferencing and more efficient use of teaching resources through the establishment of virtual classrooms.

Under the five-year project financed by the Universal Access Fund, two telecommunication providers LIME and Flow, will be paid a total of J$543 million over five years to roll out the Internet service at 283 institutions island-wide.

Trinidad

Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chief of Staff, Colin Powell wrapped up a two-day visit to Trinidad recently.

Speaking at the newly-launched National Mentoring Program at the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port of Spain, Powell said criminal gangs are “infecting communities in Trinidad and Tobago.”

He lamented that young people find the wrong mentors at an early age in their lives and this sets the stage for crime.

He cited the two million jail population in the United States, arguing that most prisoners come from backgrounds where they did not have the right role models.

He urged the business stakeholders present at the function to support the state’s program of mentoring, telling them that in supporting their community they were directly supporting business and productivity.

Trinidad

The annual Allied Forces Humanitarian Exercise/Fuerzas Alias Humanitarians will take place in Trinidad and Tobago later this month.

The operation is a joint effort between the governments of T&T and the United States.

The exercise would be conducted to enhance the nations’ response capabilities and ability to operate with regional and international military forces, including the United States and Canada, as well as humanitarian assistance.

The multi-national exercise, which was planned last year, will simulate a catastrophic earthquake event occurring in the vicinity of T&T, thus requiring the implementation of national emergency plans.

Trinidad

After months of protest action by the Public Service Association, the Trinidad and Tobago government has signed a five percent agreement during the next three years with the PSA.

The PSA has come under criticisms for accepting the five percent backing down from a 38 percent salary increase for more than 38,000 public servants.

PSA President Watson Duke told reporters that the agreement represents only a form and not the substance.

“However, the five percent salary increase was not the only thing agreed to and signed,” he said.

The agreement comes some nine months after public servants began to protest demanding a 34 percent increase.

Some workers have accused the PSA of “selling” them out in the negotiations.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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