Policing for Christmas Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
The Royal St. Lucia Police Force is working to ensure the island enjoys a safe festive season.
Traditionally, a spike in crimes such as burglary and armed robbery occurs during the holiday season.
These are exacerbated by increased tourist arrivals during that same period.
Police Commissioner, Vernon Francois says efforts to deter criminal activity require additional boots on the streets.
Francois says other anti-crime measures will include a heavy focus on what he refers to as operational policing.
He says this strategy will focus on crime prone areas around the country. In spite of the police tactics, the Commissioner advises the general public to be vigilant.
The island’s top cop also encouraged a sense of responsibility during the festivities and warned against engaging in the dangerous practice of drinking and driving.
Fire department warnings Story by Sant Justin/ voiced Jade Brown htsslucia.org
The St. Lucia Fire Service is continuing to call for all to be vigilant during the Christmas season. The call follows several fires over the past week which resulted in damage to property.
Deputy Fire Chief, Lambert Charles says fire officers attended to four serious fires in the past few days.
He says a blaze at the SLBGA building preceded a house fire at Marchand on Monday, which was followed by two more during the week.
The Fire Service has called for citizens to be watchful and safety conscious. Charles says electronics such as fans and Christmas lights should also be monitored.
The Fire Department on Friday issued a number of guidelines to prevent fires. They include tips for the use of cigarettes, candles, Christmas trees and electricity. Safety hints for exiting a building during a fire are also provided.
Economic outlook Story by Winston Springer htsslucia.org
The sit-down was held against the background of heated public sector wage talks, widening deficits and the recent article IV IMF report which warns of significant economic headwinds.
According to the panel Saint Lucia is facing the same dilemma confronting many economies: higher taxes and spending cuts.
The government’s fiscal position is expected to further deteriorate with a shortfall in revenue and the unrealized windfall in Value Added Tax which is still in its infancy.
Amid the fiscal challenges, public sector unions are agitating for a pay hike commensurate with what they claim is the rising cost of living.
But while the IMF warns of the state’s large wage bill which accounts for over 40 percent of government revenue, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance explains the prescription is not necessarily slashing spending and lay-offs in the public service.
He says the IMF advocates containment following years of spending to spur economic growth.
Despite the talk of fiscal restraint Banker and Economist Marius St. Rose who sits on a public expenditure commission says that body also does not favor deep cuts to salaries and the public service.
And although he believes workers are deserving of a fair wage, he is also fan of using inflation as a measuring stick or index for salary increases.
The banker contends the financial reward must match the level of output which requires public sector reform.
The Economists offered a number remedies for the ailing economy the IMF reports is expected to slow to 0.2 to 0.4% in 2012; this despite government efforts to revive the economy.
They proposed a simplified tax code, a central revenue bureau, institutional reform. However Independent Senator Everistus Jn Marie wants a greater role for civil society and collective responsibility.
Assou square will go on Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
As customary the annual Assou Square activity will be held in 2013.
The traditional activity which ushers in the New Year in St. Lucia was seemingly in doubt due to a lack of funding and unresolved issues.
However the Castries Constituency Council and the Cultural Development Foundation at a press conference on Friday announced the fair will go ahead as planned.
Acting Town Clarke, James Perineau re-iterated the activity continues to pose a challenge for the financially strapped city council.
He says this is further compounded by recent budgetary constraints. The erection of booths is currently ongoing in City of Castries where the activity has been held for the past two years.
The Cultural Development Foundation is inviting vendors and interested people to a meeting on Saturday 22nd at the Cultural Development Foundation from 11 am.
The CDF also called for the fair which has changed little over the years to be revised.
Samuels says the idea of marketing the event to private businesses for sponsorship has never been part of their strategy.
The fair remains a government funded activity with a budget this year of $300 thousand dollars.
Yachting documentary Story by Winston Springer htsslucia.org
Maritime Consultant, Cuthbert Didier says the press briefing was called to inform the media of a consultancy that was developed between a local media outfit and the Ministry of Tourism.
He says the yachting industry for a long time has been very vibrant and consistent and the time had come to document its development.
Didier says the six part episode also shows some of the faces behind the resilient industry and the locales they operate from.
Not only is the documentary informative, Didier believes the series is a signpost for the yachting sector and moreover a maritime industry which is about to turn the corner.
Minister for Tourism, Lorne Theophilus says he is pleased with the initiative as it chronicles a vibrant sector which despite its permanence has not fully blossomed.
General Manager of the Soufriere Marine Management Area, Jeanine Compton-Antoine acknowledges the avenues for employment and investment in the budding business.
However despite the potential to catapult the island to prominence the fragility of the yachting sector cannot be ignored.
Antoine also underscored the importance of adhering to safety regulations and laws.
But despite worldwide acceptance getting Saint Lucians to buy into recreational sailing as a worthwhile endeavor requires a bit of convincing owing to long held myths about yachting as a past time of the wealthy and elite.
Cuthbert Didier is not only trying to dispel these misperceptions, he also wants to win over risk averse financial institutions to help aspiring entrepreneurs get a foothold in the business.
The Ministry of Tourism has requested the media showcase the video which will also be promoted regularly at boat shows.
Freedom bay Story by Andrew Mondesir htsslucia.org
Community leaders in Soufriere and environs representing a range of interest were given a detailed brief of the Freedom Bay Project at a recent community consultation.
Michael Gustave, the Chairman of the Soufriere Foundation was among those who attended the session.
While encouraged and impressed with the developer’s willingness to respect environmental concerns, he cautioned intent alone is not enough.
The community and the private sector in Soufriere were urged to explore the economic possibilities from the construction of a resort which will be managed by the world renowned Six Senses.
Michael Gustave, the Chair of the Soufriere Foundation said his organisation was also working to ensure the Soufriere community benefits from the Freedom Bay Project.
Gustave says farmers must modernize their operations and the community de-stigmatize farming and encourage young people to see the career opportunities and economic potential of agriculture.
The Freedom Bay Project hopes to begin preparatory sites works towards the end of the first quarter of 2013.
Cadet corps graduation Story by
Jade Brown htsslucia.org
The St. Lucia Cadet Corps on Sunday December 16th proudly graduated seventy-seven students into their ranks.
The grueling four month training program open to secondary school students culminated with an intense three day examination.
It included drills, written and physical tests followed by an awards ceremony.
Captain Trevor Alfred believes involvement in the Cadet Corps can develop a disciplined and focused attitude in youth. This he believes will ultimately discourage them from a life of crime.
Janique Samuel from the Vieux Fort Secondary School Alpha Company was the islands highest ranking Cadet. Elated to be a part of the Cadet Corp; she has encouraged other young people to enlist in the program.
The Cadet Corps graduation was held at the Babonneau Secondary School.
Beacon toy drive Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
Children from Anse-la-Raye, Dennery and the Victoria Hospital were the recipients of toys and accessories during the weekend’s toy drive.
The activity was spearheaded by the Beacon Insurance Company LTD. in collaboration with cycling group- Project Break Away.
The activity included motorcycle riders pedaling from one community to the next, handing out gifts to children.
Beacon Insurance Branch Manager- Joralia St. Louis called the act of corporate social responsibility a success.
St. Louis says the company planned the activity in the spirit of giving. She says it is not the first time Beacon has collaborated with the group. Beacon Insurance donated over $5000 worth of toys to the activity that was held on Sunday 16th December.
Invest donation Story by Lovely St.Aime Joseph htsslucia.org
As part of Christmas festivities and the spirit of giving, the National Development Corporation, now trading as Invest Saint Lucia, donated five food hampers to Constituency Councils in Dennery North, Dennery South, Vieux Fort North, Vieux Fort South, Laborie and Choiseul.
CEO, McHale Andrew, says the donations are gestures of good will to the underprivileged in constituencies around Saint Lucia.
Chairperson of the Vieux Fort south constituency council, Cynthia Satney, expressed gratitude for the donations.
She commended Invest Saint Lucia for being sensitive to the plight of the needy during the Christmas season.
Satney says the hampers will be distributed at a luncheon for the elderly hosted by the Vieux Fort South MP Dr Kenny Anthony on an annual basis.
The Trade Union Federation, a body comprising public sector unions like the Police Welfare Association, Civil Service Association and Saint Lucia Teachers Union began wage negotiations with the Government Negotiating team on Wednesday. The talks are part of negotiations for the triennium 2010 to 2013.
It comes days after the TUF wrote a letter to the Prime Minister seeking his intercession on negotiations they say was being stalled by the Government Negotiating team. While most parts of the agreement, had been ironed out, it was the wage talks they were most insistent had to begin and end before December. Civil servants have not stated the percentage wage increase they are pursuing – however government has indicated this is not the best financial time to increase salaries. This as the main Opposition contends the government wants to give workers a 3% increase over the next three years; a charge the government has denied.
Do you think a wage increase for civil servants is justified at this time?