The story of eviction notices being delivered to various CDC residents surfaced weeks ago on various news media outlets.
It was followed on Tuesday afternoon by comments from Opposition Leader- Stephenson who during his Parliamentary presentation accused the government of evicting persons without redress.
National Housing Minister- Stanley Felix in an exclusive interview with HTS has broken his silence on the issue for the first time.
Minister Felix says the perennial problem with the CDC Apartments has existed for sometime, and is an issue the now opposition also had to deal with.
The Housing Minister explained some residents currently owe in the region of 40 to 60 thousand dollars in rent to the government.
Felix says the National Housing Corporation is acting in it’s authority under the National Housing Act to retrieve the outstanding amounts.
Further - residents have only been presented with letters requesting the outstanding payments.
The Minister concedes however that further action by the Corporation could include more than just an eviction notice.
Felix says the average rent for the CDC apartments ranges from $145 to $800 monthly. The Minister has also weighed in on the boarded up apartments claim.
He says only two apartments have received such treatment with explanation.
Housing Minister Stanley Felix labels the opposition members impressionists, accusing them of similar actions during their time in government. Felix says his government will continue working toward retrieving the outstanding balance from the various residents.
House approves more money Story byWinston Springer
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony was scheduled to seek the approval of parliament to raise EC$250 million dollars through savings bonds to finance the 2012/2013 Budget and for debt refinancing.
However what was supposed to be one item on a packed agenda turned into six hours of partisan bickering and one-upmanship.
The Opposition accused the administration of reckless spending and borrowing. UWP parliamentarians who claim the country is on unsustainable trajectory warn of the expansion of government and pending a fiscal cliff.
Castries Central MP Richard Frederick accused the government of surpassing the budgetary figures for the year while Castries South East MP Guy Joseph worries about revenues, the high debt to GDP ratio and the prospects for growth.
The Opposition has called on the Dr. Kenny Anthony administration to rein in spending and avoid the pitfalls of the democratic socialist economies of the debt laden Euro zone.
However Prime Minister Dr. Anthony brushed aside the criticism as faux outrage, describing the recriminations from the other side of the aisle as chicanery and share falsehoods.
He once again staunchly defended the economic record of previous SLP administrations.
Dr. Anthony is adamant austerity will not be a part of the government’s economic policy amid a sluggish global recovery referred to as the new norm.
The Prime Minister remains resolute on a Keynesian expansionary fiscal policy of stimulus and social programs.
The Prime Minister also called for a census of all the consultants hired by both the UWP and SLP administration to settle the score on the issue of emoluments.
After the six hour marathon of squabbling on a bond issue which was already mentioned in the April budget, a number of Bills scheduled to be presented for the First Reading were deferred to another sitting.
CXC results Story byWinston Springer
Saint Joseph’s Convent is once again the top performing school in the CXC CSEC examination. The learning institution maintained its number one position with a 99.05 % pass rate, an improvement on its 2011 success rate of 98 percent.
Saint Mary’s College recorded the second best overall performance with a pass rate of 93.25 percent, followed by the Bonne Terre Preparatory School with 89.80
According to a synopsis of the 2012 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate Examination results from twenty five secondary schools at the General and Technical Proficiency levels the overall pass rate here was 6 3. 81.
This represents a percentage point decrease of 3.92 compared to the 2011 results.
Last Friday CXC issued a call for action in the region to address deficiencies in the subject of mathematics.
This year, 33 per cent of the entries for Mathematics achieved Grades I – III, which are the acceptable grades at CSEC.
CXC says this is a further decline in performance when compared with the last two years. In 2011, 35 per cent earned similar grades and in 2010 the figure stood at 41 per cent.
Here in Saint Lucia only 969 of the 2114 students achieved a passing grade in mathematics for a pass rate of 45.84 percent.
Education officials here in Saint Lucia are expected to provide a comprehensive statistical break down of the overall results of the CXC exams.
The standardized test determines the future path of the tertiary level educational careers of secondary school students across the Caribbean region.
SMC boy tops CXC Story byWinston Springer
Dajr Alfred of the Saint May’s College is the 2012 top performer at the CXC CSEC examinations.
The student athlete achieved 14 grade one passes with 13 distinctions in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate.
Alfred who wrote French last year has a total of 15 grade ones and 14 distinctions after acing the subject.
Principal Rohan Seon says the La Pointe Mon Repos native is driven and was determined to surpass the benchmark set by SMC alumni Janikae Wilson and Trent St. Rose who recorded double digit grade one passes last year.
Alfred is an ardent basketball fan and a member of the school’s football team. Along with academic pursuits, he is equally proud of the learning institution’s unbeaten record in the 2012 Castries Football Cup.
Rohan Seon attributes the outstanding academic performance to the learning institution’s emphasis on striving for individual excellence instead of statistical records.
The school is also bucking the trend in math with a 90 percent success rate which is way above the 2012 regional pass rate of 62 per cent and the national average of 45 percent.
Seon believes the low math scores are indicative of a crisis which warrants a radical change in mindset at the primary school level.
The Ministry of Education and Public Education Officials are analyzing the data and official word on the results is expected soon.
Meanwhile, Alfred who once had aspirations of becoming a professional athlete is basking in the glory of his accomplishments.
He is now weighing his options of pursuing a career in medicine, economics or information technology.
Hotelier on VAT Story byLovely St.Aime Joseph
The government of Saint Lucia has agreed on a VAT concessionary rate of 8% for the hotel sector until April 2013.
Chairperson of the SLHTA’s VAT committee, Sanovnik Destang, says while the hotel and tourism sector is thankful for the breathing space, there are other concerns that need addressing.
Destang says since July 2011, the Committee has been engaging the relevant stakeholders to make its position on the implementation of VAT clear.
He says while the dialogue has so far been positive, it needs to continue since there are still a lot of questions and concerns surrounding VAT implementation.
Destang says he fully expects VAT to be implemented by the October 1st implementation date.
As a result - the SLHTA is preparing its members for that eventuality.
He is also confident the SLHTA VAT committee can get its issues in front of the right decision makers ahead of that date.
Destang says while the SLHTA advocates preferential rates for the sector it nonetheless recognizes the need for VAT.
He adds the finances of the country are in dire straits and all sectors must play a part in helping to get the country on solid footing.
Police news Story byLovely St.Aime Joseph
Thursday 16th August the Criminal Records Department and the Vulnerable Persons team will be relocated to the second floor of the Lamar Building on Bridge Street Castries.
In addition, the Beat and Patrol Department will also be temporarily relocated to lower Police Headquarters right opposite the Police Restaurant.
And on Tuesday 14th August Officers attached to the Traffic Department were conducting a random traffic check at Ti Colon, Castries when they intercepted a green SUV registration number PA 236 driven by Mathew Auguste of Ciceron, Castries.
A search was conducted and a very large quantity of compressed dried green plant material reasonably suspected to be Marijuana was recovered.
At the time there were four occupants on the vehicle. Thirty five year old Sidney Cordicel, a Vincentian national, twenty-six year old Stevenson Bascom of Anse La Raye and thirty year old Trevor Anderson of Goodlands along with Auguste, the driver.
All individuals were arrested and taken into custody. Charges are expected to be laid against them shortly.
Police are also reporting a total of two thousand, three hundred and four Marijuana plants were destroyed as well as five Hundred Seedlings destroyed and a spent shotgun round discovered during a joint eradication exercise between the Drug Unit and SSU on Monday 13th August.
The operation was at a Marijuana plantation located in Errand Estate, Dennery. No one was arrested during that operation.
Cause of death
A post mortem examination was performed on the body of 42 year old Allan John of Au Tabor, Anse-la-Raye on Wednesday. John’s wife discovered him in a pool of blood at his residence on Tuesday 14th August.
Officers attached to the Anse-la-Raye Police Station responded to the report; he was pronounced dead on the scene by a doctor.
Investigations are continuing into the matter.
Nutritionist on diet Story byLovely St.Aime Joseph
Grow what you eat and eat what you grow, is the advice from local officials and consumer groups in the face of increasing food prices and sharp falls in global food production.
But with new age health and fitness gurus preaching eliminating carbs and looking to low fat products, how does one incorporate more local foods into their diet while staying healthy.
Registered Dietician and nutritionist, Azelia Glace, says local foods can be consumed as a primary source of nutrition by all Saint Lucians.
In particular she says the key to eating carbohydrate rich ground provisions is portion control.
Glace says local fruits, vegetables and ground provisions are a viable option for any meal. She says carbs from foods such as sweet potatoes or dasheen can be used for breakfast in a mashed form or as a creamy soup.
Breakfast options she says should consist of a complex carbohydrate and a lean protein with a serving of a calcium rich food.
Glace says consumption of locally grown foods is not a problem; the issue is how these foods are consumed.
She says people must be careful not to add high fat, sugar or salt content to their foods during the preparation phase.
Glace also advised getting into the habit of frequent dialogue with a dietician. Glace says physical activity in terms of cardiovascular exercise should also become a part of everyone’s routine to compliment the foods eaten.
This will result in the overall objective of good health.
Health and wellness fair Story bySant Justin
The first Health and Wellness Retreat was held last year. Then Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet envisioned it as a way to market the unique tourism attractions in Soufriere.
Deputy Director of the St. Lucia Tourist Board- Tracy Warner-Arnold, says the Retreat taps into a new marketing strategy for the island.
Arnold says while it was held on a smaller scale last year, it showed great potential.
Arnold says St. Lucia possesses natural products that speak to health and wellness. Along with a number of spas, the natural environment lends itself to the promotion.
The four day retreat is expected to include a wide range of health oriented activities.
Arnold says the second annual Health and Wellness Retreat will also feature a number of international experts in the field of healthy living.
The four day activity will run from October 4th -7th. Main activities will be held at Pigeon Island while others such as fun walks will be held around the island.
International media is also expected on island to promote the event.
Solid waste warning Story byDesmond Collymore
Bankers association Story byAndrew Mondesir
Through a series of lectures, collaborative group assignments and practical exercises, the YES initiative is a forty-hour entry level training program targeting young school leavers.
The aim is to help them make a quick and smooth transition from school to productive employment.
Joanna Charles, President of the Bankers Association said it was a learning experience for both participants and organisers.
The YES program gives potential employees valuable work skills within a corporate environment, making their initial entry into the workplace less stressful.
However - applicants will still be expected to go through the normal recruitment process of each participating organisation.
Charles says the YES initiative needs more businesses to invest in the program to give St. Lucia’s youth hope in their future.
Some of the subjects covered by the YES program included basics of banking and customer service, work etiquette, personal financial management and an overview of the local regional and international financial services environment.
The young participants also made final presentations to a panel of bankers who graded their performances.
On hand to present the YES program graduates with their certificates of completion was ECFH Group Managing Director, Robert Nostrum.
LIME scholarships Story byWinston Springer
Children of Lime’s line staff, who wrote the recent Common Entrance Examinations, were on Tuesday recognised for their top performances at a brief scholarship ceremony.
LIME’s Head of Finance and Acting VP – Operations, Herman Edwards says the company’s commitment is long-term.
The Lime Scholarship program has been in place since 1995 and since then 46 students have
benefited from the financial assistance provided under the initiative. In tough economic times both parents and students understand the value of Lime’s assistance to its hardworking employees.
Lime representatives say the scholarship program is an excellent way for the company to support colleagues and their children and they committed to continuing with the program indefinitely.
Laborie scholarships Story byDesmond Collymore
Felix on CDC
House approves more money
Hotelier on VAT
Nutritionist on diet
Health and wellness fair
Solid waste warning
SMC boy tops CXC
Drought in the US coupled with increase consumption of luxury goods in growing economies and a number of other factors have resulted in higher prices on supermarket shelves. While these factors may be occurring overseas – they impact Saint Lucian goods, the majority of them imported from the affected markets. Most notably, prices began to hike last year with goods like tuna fish and peanut butter being among the most affected. The phenomenon has led the Agriculture Minister, the head of a special Unit in that Ministry and the National Consumers Association to call for a move towards more consumption of local food. They say not only will the economy benefit since we will eat more of what we grow while also decreasing our import bill – the health of the country should also improve.
Has the escalating price of food led you to consume more locally grown food?