Caribbean RoundUp

Caribbean

UNAIDS Caribbean has distanced itself from a report in the region indicating that it had concluded a study, which found that one in every four Caribbean men is bisexual.

In a statement posted on its website, UNAIDS Caribbean said that the “story’s claim that a UNAIDS study found that quarter of the region’s men are bisexual, is misleading and of no merit.”

It is said that the Caribbean Men’s Internet Survey, the first ever online study of men who have sex with men (MSM) in the region, “has not yet been finalized as country-specific data are currently being analyzed.

“Of the overall sample (of MSM who responded to the survey) 23 percent declared themselves to be bisexual. This is far different from one in four Caribbean men being bisexual as suggested in the story. Additionally, the sample size of the survey was 3,566 and not 2,566 as the report stated.”

UNAIDS Caribbean said that the findings will be finalized by the end of October and will be released to the regional media directly through the UNAIDS Caribbean Regional Support Team.

The Caribbean has the second highest incidence of HIV/AIDS after Sub-Saharan Africa.

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government is seeking to raise EC$35 million as it seeks to deal with a short term cash flow management requirement.

A government statement said it will auction off the treasury bills on the Regional Government Securities Market (RGSM) of the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange (ECSE).

The statement said that the program comprises four issues of 91-day and 180-day Treasury Bills and that in the event there is an over-subscription in any of the T-bill issues. The Baldwin Spencer administration “is willing to accept up to an additional five million Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollars of the amount for each of the issues.”

The funds will also be used to refinance maturing RGSM securities, the statement said, adding also it will “assist with the government’s short-term cash flow management requirements.”

The statement said that further treasury bills will be put up for sale in September.

Barbados

The West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA) is continuing to lobby regional governments to find a resolution to the dispute over unfair subsidies being given to its competitors in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) before “terminal damage” can be done to the industry.

This was made clear by chairman of WIRSPA, Dr. Frank Ward in a release stressed the matter required urgent action and early resolution if the rum industry in the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) countries ( the Caribbean Community plus the Dominica Republic) was to survive in its present form.

Dr. Ward said the rum industry was the region’s largest agriculture-based export industry and generated annually an estimated US$500 million in foreign exchange for independent Caribbean countries, well over US$250 million in tax revenues and made a vital economic contribution to small vulnerable economies.

Guyana

CARICOM Secretary General Irwin La Rocque has said that a 15-member regional grouping was prepared to assist Trinidad and Tobago “within its capacity” as the oil-rich republic deals with the aftermath of heavy floods that killed two persons and caused more than $TT100 million in damages recently.

In a message, La Roque extended “deepest sympathies to the families of those who died in the floods” adding that CARICOM “is deeply saddened by the loss of life and the trail of devastation left by massive flooding on the western peninsula of Trinidad and Tobago and other areas of Trinidad and Tobago.”

“The Community stands with Trinidad and Tobago in heartfelt solidarity and readiness to give any assistance and support that lies within its capacity.

Guyana

The Ministry of Labor is seeking to establish a minimum wage for all workers in Guyana by 2013.

This was disclosed by Labor Minister Dr. Nanda Gopaul who said the government is keen on ensuring that the working class receives a decent salary.

According to the labor minister, while government has made significant strides in providing a decent minimum wage for workers in various categories it is time to take the next step.

“What we are going to do next year is to define a national minimum wage so it would be all encompassing so that no Guyanese worker earns below what they work and that would give them some degree of security,” the minister said.

He said the increase in minimum wage range from 60-90 percent and it is satisfactory.

Jamaica

The Jamaican government plans to spend J$12.4 million to provide inmates with uniforms as part of attempts to improve prison conditions within local correctional facilities.

Commissioner of Corrections, Lt. Col. Sean Prendergast, said the roll out of the uniforms is being done on a phased basis, indicating that inmates and wards required to wear uniforms under the Corrections Act.

All inmates will be issued two sets of uniforms, trousers and T-shirts of a specific color. The roll out process is expected to be completed by the end of September, the commissioner of corrections said.

Prendergast said discussions are already underway to have different categories of inmates dressed in specific colors, to help improve security measures within the prisons.

There are 4,500 inmates and wards in correctional facilities across the island.

St. Lucia

Mini-bus operators in St. Lucia are to benefit from an EC$2 million government subsidy to assist them in meeting the increased cost of providing public transportation.

The Kenny Anthony administration said that the subsidy would also avert plans for an increase in fares and one million dollars would be made available at the end of August and the rest being paid in November.

In a letter to the National Council on Public Transportation (NCOPT), Prime Minister Anthony emphasized his administration’s inability to continue to subsidize the public transportation sector indefinitely.

“Government re-emphasize that periodic subsidies to minibus owners are unsustainable given the fiscal challenges facing the country at this time,” he said, adding, “that between 2008 and 2012, the NCOPT would have received seven million in subsidies.”

“The purpose of this business is to help minibus owners better control their operational costs and to ensure long term sustainability of the transportation sector,” the prime minister said.

St. Kitts

Acting Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), Justice Janice Pereira said she has accepted the appointment with “great humility and pride.”

“The humility in the realization that my efforts will be of no avail without the combined support of every judicial officer of the court and the people of the sub-region; but pride in the fact that the confidence has been placed in me to steer this illustrious institution as it continues to facilitate equity in access of justice to the people of the OECS,” said the acting chief justice in a message on the court’s website.

Justice Pereira is acting in the CJ’s position following the retirement of Sir Hugh Anthony Rawlins on July 31, 2012.

The acting CJ said she was exceedingly proud of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court system and the many strides made over the past 45 years.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said that “not one red cent” will be paid to any of the thousands of people who were detained under the State of Emergency (SoE), which was declared by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last August.

The AG said several of the detainees arrested during the state of emergency have since been arrested and charged with other crimes.

“A number of the detainees also have been sentenced and convicted and others have perished in gunfire, whether at the hands of gangs but mostly in the course of some illegal enterprise,” he said.

Ramlogan said since then there has been a reduction in the number of gang-related murders. More than 8,000 persons were arrested between August and December when the SoE ended. They were arrested under the Anti-gang legislation but none of them were charged.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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