PM to address wage talks Story by Winston Springer htsslucia.org
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony says he does not object to meeting the public sector unions who requested a sit down with the highest office in the land after wage negotiations faltered last week with state negotiators.
The Government leader who just returned to the island Friday from overseas commitments as Caricom chairman says he has not been briefed on the status of deliberations.
Therefore, according to Dr. Anthony it would be premature to meet the unions at this stage.
While the Prime Minister has not ruled out an audience with union leaders in the near future he plans to address the nation on the matter in the New Year.
The Prime Minister says his immediate priority before meeting the unions is to tell the people of the country what is involved in settling and meeting the demands of the public sector unions.
Dr. Anthony says he has also reserved comment on the recent article IV IMF report on Saint Lucia which warns of serious economic headwinds in a bid not unduly influence the wage negotiation process.
However, he says the time has come for frank and full disclose.
Dr. Kenny Anthony says 2012 has been a challenging year for the island. But amid the difficulties he cites bright spots such as the plethora of awards and accolades attained by the Tourism Industry.
He also commends the general public for their co-operation on the Value Added Tax and believes the citizenry is settling into the new dispensation.
However, the Prime Minister warns the widening fiscal deficit is one of the greatest threats facing the island.
Dr. Anthony says 2012 has been a year of adjustments which was handled well and responsibly by Saint Lucians, despite the ups and downs.
He says the island has to refocus and tackle the crime situation head on in 2013.
Homicide number 44 Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
A Faux- A- Chaud mother is mourning the loss of one her sons to gun violence. Dead is 26 year old Critchlan James better known as “Suram.”
Police say he was shot multiple times by unknown assailants in the wee hours of Sunday in the CDC area at the intersection of Darling Road and Jeremy Street.
James was transported to the Victoria Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Mother of the Deceased, Martha James, better known as ‘Janice” says she last saw her son earlier that day after he went shopping in the City of Castries.
James admits her son had his fair share of problems. But despite his troubles with many foes, she says the fatal shooting was not justified.
The grieving mother says she received word of the deadly incident mere moments of the gun shots rang out on the streets of Castries in the early hours of Sunday.
She wants the perpetrators of the crime to be brought to justice and prosecuted for her son’s death.
The deceased leaves behind one daughter.
Meanwhile, police continue investigations into the incident. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday December 24th 2012.
Police News Story by Winston Springer htsslucia.org
Police destroy drugs
On Saturday 22 December 2012 Officers attached to the Richfond Police Station conducted at eradication exercise on a Marijuana plantation at Gardette, Dennery.
A total of One thousand seven hundred and seventy-six (1776) fully grown marijuana plants were destroyed.
No one was arrested in relation to this exercise
Police Officer in a critical condition after being involved in an accident
On Saturday 22 December 2012 about 5;00am , Officers attached to the Traffic Department responded to a report of a serious accident which occurred on Vide Boutielle, highway
Information received indicates a white SUV registration number PJ 9388 driven by Earl Stephen of Morne Du Don had veered off the side of the road. At the time of the accident, he was the lone occupant of the vehicle.
As a result of the injuries sustained, Earl Stephen was transported to Victoria Hospital via ambulance. He was treated and admitted in a critical condition. Investigations in the matter continue
Francois crime fight 2013 Story by Sarah Peter htsslucia.org
Over the past 12 months, the island has witnessed some of the most brutal and horrific criminal activities.
The year has been racked by shootings, robberies, sexual abuse cases and over forty homicides.
Police Commissioner, Vernon Francois is optimistic 2013 will not be stained by such bloody incidents.
The island’s Top Cop says he hopes the New Year will see a significant reduction in criminal activity and says the island’s police Department.
Francois says is dedicated to the cause. However he says members of the public must also make a concerted effort to ensure this happens.
Francois reveals one of the main aims of the St. Lucia Police Force in the New Year is the reduction of the number of illegal fire arms on the island.
He warns the spread of small arms constitute a threat to socio-economic development of Saint Lucia.
The Commissioner says Caricom is presently working with the United States to formulate plans to deal with the proliferation of guns in the region.
Some advances have been made by Caricom including the formation of the Caricom implementation Agency for Crime and Security.
That agency is developing information network to improve the capacity of regional member states to identify and trace guns and ammunition used to commit crimes, particularly in more than one territory.
Police Commissioner, Vernon Francois hopes more regional action and stringent crime fighting projects can help contribute to a significant decrease in crime in the New Year.
Transport Ministry dispels bus hike rumor Story by Winston Springer htsslucia.org
The Ministry of Transport is dispelling erroneous reports of a pending increase in bus rates. Government officials are allaying the fears of some panic stricken commuters over the publication of bus fare proposals in local newspapers.
Chief Transport Officer, Lenita Joseph says the recommendations are not cast in stone. She explains these proposals were submitted by the route associations as required by
law for examination by the Omnibus Review Committee appointed by cabinet. The proposals were published in the newspapers to get public feed back on the submissions.
Officials stress the fear and panic over an increase in the price of public transportation is not justified.
Joseph says there is no need for trepidation because the proposals do not automatically guarantee an increase in bus fares.
The Chief Transport Officer is appealing to members of the pubic to pay to carefully review the bus fare proposals especially with regard to their respective routes. She says officials welcome the views and comments of citizens.
NGO head worried about AIDS cases Story by Sarah Peter htsslucia.org
Recently Director of the National Aids Program, Nahum Jn Baptiste disclosed there has been a significant increase in the number of HIV infections between men having sex with men for the last five years.
Jn Baptiste says the new trend is particularly prevalent among gay and bi-sexual men who do not report their mode of transmission.
Director of the Caribbean Drug Caribbean Drug and Alcohol Research Institute, Dr. Marcus Day is also concerned about this development.
He believes the new data is as a result of successful outreach programs initiated by groups on the island dedicated to fighting the epidemic.
Day is urging members of the wider public including men who have sex with men to protect themselves from HIV infection.
While there have been considerable strides in a number of outreach initiatives, Day says more work is required among high risk populations such as sex workers and drug users.
He advises individuals not only practice safe sex but reduce the number of sexual partners. The activist concedes while there is a greater demand for condoms; promiscuous behavior remains a major concern.
The island’s success in the fight against HIV/Aids comes as the UN Aids program’s annual report predicts the end of the world wide AIDS epidemic is in sight.
The report says the number of new infections is falling. The sharpest declines in new HIV infections since 2001 were in the Caribbean and in Sub Saharan Africa.
However, despite these positive developments, healthcare officials warn against complacency.
Here in Saint Lucia nine people died from complications due to AIDS this year.
Christmas eve in the South Story by
Lovely St.Aime Joseph htsslucia.org
Consumer spending undoubtedly gets a boost during the Christmas season.
However Christmas 2012 is unique since it is the first Christmas since the implementation of the Value Added Tax.
Public sentiment has been mixed on the issue of the VAT which took effect on October 1st.
ARC award presentation Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
The 27th ARC came to a rousing conclusion on Friday with a prize giving ceremony at the Gaiety Nightclub in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia.
Crews and their families enjoyed an evening of celebration as they compared stories about their adventures at sea.
With 225 boats taking part this year, the prize giving ceremony saw plenty of trophies awarded.
The Spirit of the ARC award was presented to the yacht that epitomizes the general spirit of goodwill and enthusiasm.
The yacht Ostrea received the honor this year for selflessly sacrificing distance and time to come to the aid of another vessel.
Following the Spirit of the ARC award, Andrew Bishop of the World Cruising Club officially announced the ARC 2012 closed.
Vieux Fort south luncheon Story by Lovely St.Aime Joseph htsslucia.org
Prime Minister and Vieux Fort South MP Dr Kenny Anthony and the Vieux Fort south Constituency Council once again hosted a Christmas luncheon for the elderly.
The event has become an annual treat for senior citizens. They are served lunch and desert, given gifts and hampers and they get to socialize with the MP and members of the constituency council.
Dr Anthony says the time spent with the senior citizen’s at the annual luncheon is not just a special time for them but for him as well.
The Prime Minister says as the annual luncheon grows in numbers he is especially grateful to the sponsors of the event whose donations make it possible to feed and treat hundreds of senior citizens within the constituency.
The Vieux Fort South Constituency luncheon receives support from many commercial entities including regular contributors Coconut Bay, Saint Lucia Catering and IAU.
Salvation army appeal Story by Sarah Peter htsslucia.org
“Need has no season”. So says commander of the local leg of the Salvation Army, Jonathan Keller.
The charity is urging members of the public to keep the less fortunate in mind not just during the holiday season.
Earlier this year, the organization lamented donations for its Christmas Kettle drive was dismal when compared to previous years.
The Salvation Army cited the recent implementation of the Value added Tax as a possible culprit for the downturn in contributions. So far, the organization has collected $18,000 in donations; well short of its target of $40,000.
Keller has appealed to the public to give more willingly in 2013. This year, the charity has distributed over four hundred food hampers to needy people across the island. The Salvation Army is an organization and international movement of the Christian denomination known for its charity shops and other charitable work.
Taj and TOCO give back Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
The annual TOCO Foundation Christmas Party was held on the weekend.
The activity is hosted by the NGO founded by noted Saint Lucian born reggae artist Taj Weekes alongside longtime partner HTS/Radio 100 and Governor General Her Excellency Dame Pearlette Louisy.
This year the charitable event received additional support from RISE St. Lucia Inc and Trevor Phillip Shipping Agency.
The Social Services Department of the Ministry of Gender Relations invited a number of deserving youngsters to the celebration filled with food, drinks and toys.
Taj Weekes says his foundation decided to strike a different note this year with a focus on the Diabetes epidemic.
The foundation also through HTS/Radio 100 initiated an essay competition which affords children an opportunity to win a number of prizes including a scooter.
Taj Weekes says the charitable and humanitarian work of the Foundation is a continuous exercise.
The Christmas party hosted by the They Often Cry Outreach and HTS/Radio was held at the Police Restaurant on Saturday. Over thirty kids benefited from the initiative. They are expected to receive all of their prizes in the days ahead.
Tara Edwards returns Story by Lovely St.Aime Joseph htsslucia.org
Saint Lucia’s Miss Universe representative, Tara Edward, participated in the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas on Wednesday December 19th.
Although she did not qualify for the top 16 contestants, Tara says her experience was positive.
The tall model believes she gave a good account of herself and her country on the international stage.
Platinum Travelers Club volunteered their services to transport Tara home in luxury and style. Spokesman, Vincent Lewis says the gesture is one which befits Tara’s great representation and performance on the international stage.
Edwards’ manager, Joycie Medrick, says Tara’s international exposure has garnered both positive and negative public reaction.
But all in all she expressed gratitude to Saint Lucians who rallied around Edward. Edward was driven home in a BMW courtesy Platinum Travelers Club.
Rodney Bay farmers market Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
Residents in the North of the island were on Saturday afforded the experience and ambience of an open air market synonymous with the City, small towns and communities.
For just the third time this year, farmers were given the opportunity to host a market place at the Rodney Bay Marina with a variety of produce on display.
Member of the Organizing Committee, Valdrin Walcott says the participating farmers are all certified. Walcott says since the first activity was held in November, residents in the north have been clamoring for the return of the farmers market.
He attributes the overwhelming response and customer satisfaction to proper organization and planning.
Participant, Olsen Arthur applauded the initiative which he views as an ideal opportunity to unveil a variety of his herbal products.
The latest farmers market was held on Saturday December 22nd, at the Rodney Bay Marina. It is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Agriculture and the IGY Rodney Bay Marina.
Grand Riviere church group Story by Jade Brown htsslucia.org
The youth of the Grande Riviere Full Gospel Deliverance Tabernacle, held their annual charity event on Saturday.
They spent the day distributing hampers to senior citizens of the community located in the north of the island.
Youth Director Patrick Pepolian has commended the group for its benevolence. He says the contributions toward the hamper drive were made by members of the organization.
One of the beneficiaries Miss Eldica Nicholas expressed gratitude for the act of generosity. She feels honored that she was chosen to receive the hamper.
The Youth Director at the Church expressed regret that due to the busy yuletide season the group was unable to assist the senior citizens with household duties this year.
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?