Antigua-based Caribbean airline LIAT is expected to retrench staff as a result of the airline’s decision to cut its fleet from the current 11 aircraft to nine next year.
LIAT Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David Evans held talks with the airline unions over the carrier’s new business plan.
“Like any responsible business we have to examine our cost base and if we fly fewer aircraft in 2015 than in 2014, we also need to reduce our costs to reflect this,” Evans said.
“We have also been mandated by our board of directors to ensure that our costs reflect the level of activity that we carry out. It is too early to say what impact there may be on jobs as a result of this, and the company will consult with its staff and their representatives over its plans before making any announcement,” he said.
There is speculation that as many as 140 employees could be made redundant by the move.
The Bahamas government confirmed that 76 people have been arrested recently after they failed to meet the new requirements for staying legally in the country.
Minister of Immigration Fred Mitchell also denied reports that children were detained and placed in the Carmichael Road Detention center during the exercise.
He told reporters at a news conference that the administrative measures announced by the department on work permits, certificates of identity and residency permits had gone into effect recently, “there was a routine interdiction exercise.”
He said that from the time, there have been interdiction every day, every week and the recent exercise “was no different from what the Department ordinarily does and should not be used to inflame passions.”
Mitchell said the situation should not be politicized.
“This is simply about enforcing the laws of the Commonwealth in a calm and quiet manner. The job has to get done to protect our borders. Neither fear, nor incitement should come out of this,” he said.
Last month, Mitchell said non-nationals living in The Bahamas from Nov. 1, 2014 have to show evidence that they have permission to live or work in the country.
In September, the government warned persons without the documents would be “arrested, charged and deported.”
The Barbados government is reviewing draft legislation to regulate the use of e-cigarettes.
Health Minister John Boyce made this announcement during a two-day workshop on tobacco taxation for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, which was held in Bridgetown.
Boyce told delegates to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) sub-regional training workshop that the decision to amend the legislation was taken in response to a recent WHO report on the use of e-cigarette.
He said that the report highlighted evidence suggesting that exhaled e-cigarette aerosols increased the background air level of some toxicants, nicotine and particles.
As a consequence, the WHO has advised that legal steps should be taken to end e-cigarette use indoors, in public and workplaces.
Boyce said tobacco consumption in Barbados had decreased from 32 percent in 1998 to 8.2 percent in 2007, and preliminary results from the most recent survey completed in 2013 showed an even further decline.
In 2010, the sale of tobacco products to minors was banned and regulations to prevent tobacco smoking in public places were implemented.
The British Royal Navy frigate, HMS Argyll, has seized cocaine with an estimated street value of US$15 million one day after leaving Bermuda, where it had been assisting with clean-up following the passage of Hurricane Gonzalo.
Officials said after spending four days in Bermuda, the frigate was returning to a drug-fighting duty in the Caribbean when it encountered a suspect yacht in the North Atlantic about 150 miles south of the island.
The yacht was intercepted and a search was conducted, which resulted in the seizure of several bales of cocaine weighing more than 200 kilograms of (441 lbs).
Governor George Fergusson said that while it was too early to be sure of the destination of the drugs, there was a fair chance that some of it was intended for Bermuda.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has offered to assist Dominica should the deadly Ebola virus surfaces on the island.
This was disclosed by Minister of Health Julius Timothy, who attended the recently concluded Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Health Ministers’ recently held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We have also got commitment from PAHO that should Ebola ever surface in Dominica, they will immediately take over and bring all the resources to Dominica within 72 hours,” he said.
Timothy said screening units for the disease are in place at the airport.
“In Dominica, we have in place screening units at the Melville Hall Airport, we are finalizing the screening area at the Princess Margaret Hospital and we are also identifying an isolation area,” the health minister said.
He said the OECS Secretariat has agreed to update all opposition parties in members states of the Ebola status.
The Guyana government said it is taking umbrage to the recent figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO) giving the country the dubious ranking of having the highest suicide rate per capita in the world.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon said that the way in which the number of suicide cases calculated by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the WHO did not accurately reflect what is recorded by the Guyana Police Force and the Ministry of Health.
The WHO said Guyana has by far the highest suicide rate among countries in the Caribbean. It has also been listed in the top l0 most suicidal countries.
So far this year, more than 30 people have committed suicide, while several others are recovering from failed attempts.
Earlier this year, the government said a multi-sectoral approach was needed to deal with the number of suicides in the country.
Dr. Luncheon acknowledged that the Ministry of Health’s reports are utilized by the WHO and PAHO, which employ “statistical devices” to ascertain their figures.
He said the Guyana Police Force’s Criminal Investigation Department have records which are overstated by the Ministry of Health and even more so by the international community’s organizations.
The Financial Investigations Division (IFD) in Jamaica has reported that a Trinidadian courier was fined J$250,000 or serve three months in jail for failure to declare US$45,000 at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston recently.
Kevin Dyer, 29, pleaded guilty to the offence after he was charged by officers of the IFD for failure to declare cash exceeding US$10,000 in keeping with Section 101 of the Proceeds of Crime Act.
According to the IFD, on Oct. 28, officers of the Transnational Crime and Narcotics Division intercepted Dyer as he was about to check in to a Caribbean Airline flight destined for Trinidad.
A preliminary interview was conducted, during which he indicated to the police that he had only US$2,000 on his person, the IFD said.
However, a black suitcase, which he had in his possession, was searched and the US$45,000 found inside.
Dyer reportedly told the officers that he had won the money at a sound system clash that took place in Junction St. Elizabeth on Oct. 25. He was then arrested and charged.
A 48-year-old man, who was freed of a double murder charge last November, was found dead at his home in Kingstown, police said.
They say Paul Spence, who had been charged with the murder of a woman and her daughter almost a decade ago, had several injuries about his body.
Some residents of the Central Leeward town have suggested Spence’s death was an act of reprisal over the double murder.
Spence was charged on Jan. 23, 2007 with the murders of Mabel Pollin, 72, and her 49-year-old daughter, Veronica, after their bodies were found in their house on Dec. 21, 2005.
Spence was held for questioning, but was released without charges. But law enforcement authorities re-arrested and charged him in 2007.
The prosecution withdrew the charges last November, but offered no explanation for the decision.
A High Court judge has sentenced a 25-year-old police officer to 18 years in prison after he was found guilty of a series of robberies.
Justice Danielle Karamat Ali said Murwin Vyent used his service weapon, police techniques and identification papers to break the law he had sworn to uphold.
The court was told that during each of the robberies Vyent had identified himself as a policeman before committing the crime. In March this year he was alleged to have kidnapped two people after stopping their car, forcing one of them into the trunk of the vehicle at gunpoint and robbing the other of jewelry, gold and cash.
The following month the court heard that he snatched a bag containing cash and other valuables from a man in the street. He also robbed another man in April.
He was also accused of robbing two other men on different occasions.
Trinidad and Tobago will contribute US$100,000 to a fund, which has been set up by CARICOM to fight the deadly Ebola virus in affected West African countries.
The announcement was made by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, following a special meeting of regional heads of state at the Diplomatic Center, St. Ann’s Port of Spain last week.
Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the fund has been dubbed “Stop Ebola Here and There (SEHT) as he gave details of a 10-point plan to both fight the disease at the source and keep it out of the region.
Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar last Tuesday called the 17th Special Meeting of CARICOM to discuss the Ebola virus, which had not have a case in the region, and Chikunguyana, which is currently devastating working populations in 23 of the 24-member states of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha).
Browne expressed solidarity with the affected countries, said the meeting had admitted that the likelihood of Ebola penetrating the Caribbean was “low” due to the low level of incoming traffic from affected areas.
Nevertheless, he said there was support for efforts to strengthen entry control and health systems and the new plan will also urge the participation of airlines.
— compiled by Azad Ali