Caribbean Roundup

Barbados

The Barbados government says it will adopt an aggressive approach in tackling a “troubling phenomenon” where Barbadians are abandoned at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Health Minister Donville Inniss, speaking at the start of the Geriatric Hospital’s Senior Citizens week recently, said that “the elderly, and even some young people are abandoned at the accident and emergency department and on the wards, upon completion of their medical treatment.

Media reports said that at least 46 persons have been abandoned at the hospital and Innis said that the problem has been “causing immense pressure, as needed bed space is being occupied by the forsaken.”

He said the Ministry of Health is now in discussions with other social agencies in a bid to get those abandoned people into homes or institutions.

Guyana

The opposition grouping, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) in Guyana says it is concerned over the “execution” of a man who has been a “person of interest” to law enforcement agencies for most of the past decade.”

The authorities said that Ricardo Ignatius Rodrigues was shot and killed and three others injured during an exchange of gunfire with other men recently at the Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club in Georgetown.

Police spokesman Ivelaw Whittaker said in a statement that the police recovered several shells from the scene as the investigations continue.

Rodrigues, 40, also called “Fatman,” reported to be an associate of jailed drug kingpin Roger Khan, was recently released on Guy$100,000 bail after he was arrested in connection with the discovery of arms cache.

APNU said that Rodrigues has been a “person of interest” to law enforcement agencies for most of the past decade and “has been mentioned in connection with criminal activities, most recently, the discovery of a large cache of arms.

“At the time of his execution, Rodrigues was placed on station bail. A Partnership for National Unity would like to see due process in order to learn more about the gun-running and narco-trafficking.

“APNU feels that extra-judicial executions should not be allowed to replace legitimate law enforcement measures if criminal cartels are to be discovered, dismantled and destroyed,” the grouping said.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s government is honoring firebrand reggae star Peter Tosh 25 years after his murder.

Tosh’s daughter Niambe received the posthumous “Order of Merit” recently for her father’s musical contributions during a national awards ceremony. It is Jamaica’s third-highest honor.

Tosh is one of Jamaica’s musical giants. He was a founding member of the Wailers, forming the three-man core of the group with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer. Tosh left the ban in l973.

His solo albums and hos work with the Wailers helped make reggae known internationally.

The outspoken Tosh was known for denouncing apartheid and calling for legalizing marijuana. Fans say the lanky, baritone singer and guitarist was a mesmerizing performer.

Tosh was killed in l987 by bandits. He was 42.

Jamaica

A delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently ended a two-week visit to Jamaica after holding discussions with government over an economic program that would be supported under and IMF financing arrangement.

Minister of Finance Dr. Peter Phillip told a news conference that while significant progress has been made, the Portia Simpson-Miller administration did not reach an agreement with the Washington-based financial institution for an agreement for submission to the IMF board by the end of this year. Phillips said the IMF mission has broadly accepted the medium term program, which will underpin any deal and remains hopeful that an agreement could still be reached by the end of the year.

The former government resumed a borrowing relationship with the IMF in 2010 but was unable to meet several of the targets under a Stand-by Agreement and in July this year, Phillips indicated that the government intended to renegotiate the US$1.47 billion agreement with the IMF which expired in May.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia government says it is too early to make an evaluation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) even though the implementation process is proceeding on schedule.

“Any far-reaching tax reform is a challenging undertaking and is expected to be accompanied by anxieties, errors and challenges,” said Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony.

The VAT came into effect on Oct. 1, despite criticisms from some sections of the business and general public. The man opposition United Workers Party (UWP) had urged the government to delay implementing the tax, which has also been implemented in other Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), until the start of the new year. St. Lucia is the latest OECS member state to implement the tax.

Anthony commended the population for handling the situation well and avoiding panic, assuring citizens that the niggling issues would be resolved.

The VAT is a revenue-generating measure, part of a broad policy objective of fiscal consolidation, announced in the 2012/2013 budget, intended to close the island’s huge fiscal gap with the overall deficit at 7.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of EC$254 million.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has extended congratulations to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez over his recent victory in the country’s presidential election.

“The government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines share the immense joy of the government and the People of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on the conduct and outcome of the keenly contested Presidential Election. We congratulate His Excellency Hugo Chavez on his re-election, for his fourth consecutive term, as president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” said Gonsalves in a message.

The prime minister noted that despite the “hostile propaganda” against Chavez the election has been hailed as one of the most transparent, free and fair, not only in the Western Hemisphere, but globally. “President Chavez’s re-election for a further six-year term as president provides additional opportunities for the strengthening of the already strong bonds of solidarity, which exist between the governments and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela,” he added.

Trinidad

State-owned Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) is being investigated by the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) for keeping passengers on the aircraft of an international flight for more than four hours recently.

The DoT said in a statement recently that the four-and-a-half hour delay occurred on Aug. 15 on a CAL flight from New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport to Piarco International Airport in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

The DoT Air Travel Consumer Report states that there should not be any delays longer than four hours on international flights and the three hours for domestic routes.

The DoT said that since the new rules took effect, airlines can be fined US$27,500 for each passenger who is stranded on the plane.

CAL said the delay was caused by bad weather, and a number of other flights were also delayed.

CAL said it is complying with all requests for information from the DoT.

Trinidad

Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley has filed a motion of no confidence against Attorney General Anand Ramlgoan in the Parliament. The debate in the House of Representatives came up on Oct. 26.

The motion called on the House to express its loss of confidence in the attorney general and to call on the prime minister to “immediately relieve him of the portfolio of Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago.”

It also asked the House to express its strongest disapproval of the flagrant breach of parliamentary trust by the attorney general’s involvement in the premature proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings Act), which would have seen accused people who have not had their cases heard in more than 10 years being freed by the High Court.

The section contained a clause that created an amnesty for certain legal proceedings, referred to as Section 34: that the attorney general had knowledge of and supported the government’s solemn undertaking to Parliament that no part of the Bill would be brought into forced until such time as all supporting rules, administrative and physical infrastructure were in place and stakeholders consulted.

The motion noted that the attorney general had knowledge of and/or involvement in the unexpected proclamation of Section 34, thereby prematurely bringing into force an amnesty with consequences for certain legal proceedings involving certain persons (which it does not name).

The persons involved are Ishwar Galbaransigh, Steve Ferguson and others who were accused of bid-rigging and fraud in the TT$1.6 billion Piarco International Project in 2001 and who qualified for the amnesty against prosecution set out in Section 34.

The motion also noted that the attorney general had previously made certain decisions in an extradition matter involving certain persons.

Trinidad

A 23-year-old porter employed at the Piarco International Airport who police alleged swore to kill Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bisessar was charged with sending a menacing message.

Nikolai Marfan of Charford Court, Port of Spain pleaded not guilty to the charge when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in the Port of Spain Eight Magistrate Court recently.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted TT$75,000 bail to re-appear in court on Nov. 8.

Police alleged that Marfan made a phone call to an officer of the E-999 Rapid Response Unit stating that he was going to kill Persad-Bissessar.

After seeking advice from Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard, Farfan was formally charged with the offence.

In November, it was revealed that a plot to assassinate the prime minister and three government ministers had been uncovered by National Security agents. Recently, National Security Minister Jack Warner made public, the police investigation into a death threat sent to Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley.

Compiled by Azad Ali

More from Around NYC