Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados

There will be no hiring of new workers in the central public service or across all statutory entities for the next financial year, unless approved by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

This decision was disclosed by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler when he delivered the 2013-2014 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals yesterday. The move is expected to save Government some $435.9 million over the adjustment period.

“Government has been careful to design these expenditure adjustments in such a manner as to limit the potential for major job losses in the public service,” he noted, before disclosing that there would be no new hirings.

“Effective immediately there will be a total freeze on all new hiring in the central public service and across all statutory entities.

“Deviation from this policy will only be countenanced in cases of extreme criticalness and will have to be approved by the Prime Minister and Minister of Civil Service before execution.” Sinckler said adding that “departments and boards who breach this policy will not receive any resources to cover the salaries of these persons if they cannot be accounted for in the system”.

Additionally, the minister said that the policy will also extend to the hiring substitutes, temporary or casual workers as replacements for appointed staff proceeding on leave. Furthermore, he pointed out that there will be an immediate freeze of all non-critical established posts which have not been filled in the last six months and are unlikely to be filled in the near term.

Guyana

Following a ruling handed down recently in which two men accused of killing 11 people were acquitted, the prosecution says it intends to appeal the ruling. Anthony Hyles, 24, and Mark Williams, 28, were freed of charges stemming from the 2008 massacre that occurred in the farming village of Lusignan. They were accused of using high-powered rifles and shotguns to kill 11 people, including children, as they slept.

According to reports, the massacre was a revenge for the disappearance of gang leader Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins’ girlfriend.

The two defendants said they acted as lookouts during the killings but did not actively participate. A few months later, Rawlins was killed by soldiers.

The authorities said that the massacre was part of a series of murders which appeared to have started with the murder of prison officer Troy Williams during the Mash Day Prison break on February 23, 2003.

Haiti

The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) should be held accountable for the outbreak of Cholera that has killed more than 7,000 people since October 2010, according to a new report released here.

The report by Yale University, titled “Peacekeeping without Accountability,” claims there is sufficient scientific evidence to show that UN troops from Neap brought the virus to the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

The UN has in the past indicated that it enjoys legal immunity from such claims and has dismissed an earlier attempt by a US-based human rights group that sought compensation on behalf of a group of Haitians.

The Yale report also indicates that the UN violated obligations under international law by not providing a forum to address the grievances of cholera victims. It said that by failing to hold itself accountable for causing the cholera outbreak, the UN violates the very principles of accountability and respect for law that it promotes worldwide.

Health officials say Haiti’s cholera outbreak has since killed more than 7,500 people and sickened another 578,409. The Yale study also notes that the United Nations has promised a standing claims commission under agreements signed with the Haitian government, but has never honored this obligation in Haiti “or anywhere else in the world, despite having entered into 32 such agreements since 1990.

Jamaica

Five police groups opposed to a recent ruling that will give the Independent Commission for Investigations (INDECOM), the power of arrest, have instructed their lawyers to appeal the decision.

Recently, the court ruled that the Commissioner of INDECOM, Terrance Williams will now be able to arrest and charge members of the police force and the military, without the guidance of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Paula Llewellyn.

The ruling was handed down in response to a constitutional motion filed by the Police Federation, and other police bodies on behalf of Corporal Malika Reid who was arrested by INDECOM in 2011, in connection with the killing of Frederick “Mickey” a businessman from the tourist resort town of Negril in western Jamaica.

The arrest of their colleague, led to protests from members of the Police Federation.

The DPP had also argued that she was not consulted by INDECOM before Reid was arrested and charged. Williams has sought to assure the members of the security forces that there is no need to feel anxious about the declaration of the powers of INDECOM.

He said remedies are available if his office act improperly, and the DPP still has the authority to intervene in a case at any stage. Regardless of this assurance, Chairman of the Police Federation, Sergeant Raymond Wilson believes the ruling could have serious implications.

St. Kitts

Former St. Kitts and Nevis agriculture minister Cedric Liburd is publicly encouraging Jamaica not to pull out of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) over trade differences with Trinidad and Tobago.

Liburd is advocating discussions at the appropriate level to iron out the differences between these two leading CARICOM member states.

“No, I don’t think that any CARICOM country should really consider pulling out of Caricom,” he said in an interview with local radio station, WINN FM.

“All of us in the region do have our own concerns in some different way in terms of how Caricom and how we operate in the past and sometimes some of us not benefiting,” the former agriculture minister said, adding that the solution is not abandoning the regional grouping.”

What Kingston regards as unfair trade practices benefiting Port-of-Spain has prompted former Prime Minister Andrew Holness and one of his parliamentary Jamaica Labor Party colleagues to advocate a temporary pull-out of CARICOM.

However, Minister of Foreign Affairs, AJ Nicholson said a withdrawal would affect benefits under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, services and labor across the community.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia government has launched a campaign aimed at dealing with the issue of sexual abuse among children. The Ministry of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations in collaboration with UNICEF, has unveiled its new campaign “Break the Silence,” targeting victims and families and empowering them to take action in the prevention of child sexual abuse.

The authorities said that a workshop held here earlier this week, was aimed at establishing a network of religious leaders for a better response to child abuse in St Lucia.

They said the religious leaders were granted the opportunity to discuss the prevalence and effects of child abuse on individuals and the general society. During the workshop, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Cointha Thomas, highlighted the importance of the society playing a proactive role in protecting children from sexual abuse and the risk of HIV.

Suriname

Five people were killed and another critically injured, following a vehicular accident recently.

Police said four vehicles, including a passenger bus, were involved in the accident and the driver of one of the cars had been driving too fast, losing control of the vehicle and causing the accident.

Police spokeswoman Drophatie Ramkhelawan told reporters the driver, whose name was not disclosed, crashed over the separation of the two lane road, flipped several times and was subsequently rammed by the bus and another vehicle, which were approaching from the opposite direction.

The driver and his three passengers, including two women, died on the spot. Another victim from the other car died while receiving emergency medical treatment at hospital.

Their names have not been released. One eyewitness told reporters that several people were thrown out of the vehicles on impact while others were pinned in the wreckage.

Trinidad

The former owner of Island Club Casino in Grand Bazaar about six miles from Port of Spain has been charged in the United States with three counts of tax evasion and three counts of willfully failing to file personal tax returns. David Migliore, 50, from New Jersey, USA, surrendered to special agents of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Criminal Investigation yesterday, according to media reports.

Reports state according to the indictment, which was unsealed yesterday, from 2009 to 2011, Migliore earned significant income from Island Club Casino, resulting in taxes due totaling more than US$1 million.

Migliore is accused of taking a series of steps to hide his income and assets from the IRS, including having employees from the casino wire money to New Jersey. He appeared in the U.S. District Court in Newark and was released on US$1 million bond secured by two properties and ordered to submit to electronic monitoring, according to media reports.

He did not enter a plea and is scheduled to return to court next week.

Migliore was represented by attorney Robert Weir.

Weir said Migliore owned Island Club casino in Trinidad for about 10 years until recently but spent most of his time in New Jersey and had not been to Trinidad in years. Each tax evasion count comes with a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a US$250,000 fine.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has announced that Finance Minister Larry Howai will present the 2013/2014 budget in Parliament on Sept. 9, 2013 in a media release from the Office of the Prime Minister.

Usually the budget date is announced by the prime minister in Parliament. However, although the ceremonial opening of Parliament was held on Aug. 2, no sittings have been scheduled since then.

Howai, who will present the fiscal package, has been holding consultations with various stakeholders in preparation for the budget.

Last year’s TT$58.4 billion budget was presented on Oct. 1, put total projected revenue, oil and non-oil revenue at $50.7 billion, respectively and catered for a fiscal deficit of TT$7.669 billion or 4.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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