Caricom heads meeting begins Story byWinston Springer
Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) restated their commitment to the regional integration movement at the 33rd summit which began here on Wednesday.
Outgoing Chair Suriname President Desi Bourterse gave an overview of his stewardship at the outset of the conference.
The new CARICOM Chairman, Host Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony warned against rising populism as domestic economies sputter amid the slow global recovery.
He contends there is no need for growing cynicism surrounding the push towards regional union accentuated by CARICOM.
Foreign policy co-ordination was also touted as a major priority at the conference with different national strategic interests seeking to build consensus on a common foreign policy posture.
With the rise of the BRICS, Europe in crisis and the centre of geo-politics shifting to Asia as China asserts itself as rising superpower Dr. Anthony says the time has come for CARICOM to redefine its foreign policy.
That includes an embrace of Africa.
Against the tide of anti-CARICOM sentiment the leaders sought to emphasize the grouping’s crucial role in a global economy of uncertainty.
One of the Strident endorsements of the movement was made by Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller.
Albeit tensions at home over trade imbalances with Trinidad and Tobago she dismissed reports of plans to secede from the bloc.
CARICOM Chairman Prime Minister Dr Anthony espouses reforming what he calls the political architecture and democratic institutions to advance the people of the region and ideals of the union.
Simpson-Miller who shares her counterparts’ sentiments suggests it was important to bring the general population into the whole CARICOM movement.
She also called on CARICOM to consider allowing all categories of workers to move freely across the region under CSME.
Leaders talk integration Story byLovely St.Aime Joseph
CARICOM Heads of Government participating in the 33rd regular meeting of the conference of heads of government have reaffirmed their commitment to the regional bloc.
There had been concerns Jamaica wanted out of the regional grouping however during Wednesday’s session that country’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller put those to rest.
Another headline grabber on the regional front; Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Kamla Persad Bissessar, also reaffirmed her country’s commitment to CARICOM saying concern CARICOM is not a truly functioning bloc is unfair.
Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Tomas echoed Persad – Bissesar’s sentiments. He says all regional leaders have spoken of their commitment to CARICOM and its continued progress.
The 33rd regular meeting of CARICOM will continue on Thursday. The issues of regional security, foreign Policy Co-ordination and food security in the Caribbean Community will be high on the agenda of the Meeting being held at the Sandals Grande.
The Leaders will be examining the thrust of the Community’s Foreign Policy approach given the on-going changes in global political and economic circumstances.
Protest outside meeting Story bySarah Peter
Members of the Cannabis movement on Wednesday held up placards and signs outside the Sandals Grande agitating for the legalization of marijuana on the island.
They say the timing and venue for their demonstration was chosen to get the attention of regional leaders who are currently attending the 33rd meeting of CARICOM Heads at the hotel.
Chairman of the Cannabis movement, Andre Decaires is hoping to stir up dialogue on the matter.
Children were also part of the demonstration, proudly holding placards that said they had skipped school to support the Cannabis movement.
Their mother, Melanie Franz, a failed Castries Central candidate for the Green Party Decaires also heads - says the kid’s presence here is of extreme importance as the legalization of marijuana can have a major impact on their future.
Decaires has defended the use of the minors in protest over an illegal substance.
Decaires maintains people should not be jailed for the possession and use of marijuana. He says jails are already overcrowded and alternatives used to deal with those who are caught with what he called small amounts of marijuana.
Incoming Taiwanese ambassador Story byWinston Springer
The first order of Business for the new Taiwanese Ambassador to Saint Lucia James Chang is the presentation of his credentials to the island’s head of state, Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy next week.
The former Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman will also meet with officials at varying levels of government.
Once the formalities are over the Ambassador will roll up his sleeves and get to work on what he says is “strengthening” ties with Saint Lucia.
Chang assumes the post with relations between the two long time allies delicately poised with the election of the new SLP administration in November and the controversial departure of his predecessor, Tom Chou.
Despite a comprehensive aid program during his five year tenure, the St. Lucia Labour Party accused Chou of interfering in the island’s domestic affairs and called on Taipei to recall the career diplomat.
Notwithstanding the contentious issues, Chang believes relations will endure because there continues to be mutual interest in a number of areas of economic development.
The new Taiwanese Ambassador was in attendance at the opening ceremony of the 33rd CARICOM heads of government Summit on Wednesday. A conciliatory Chang was delighted with the observance.
The new Dr. Kenny Anthony administration which backs the one China policy has made no formal announcement on the China-Taiwan issue.
Relations with Taipei were renewed by the former UWP government in 2007 after 10 years of relations with Mainland China which views the island state as a break away province.
Months ago, the External Affairs Minister promised the government’s plans will be revealed following the conclusion of a comprehensive foreign policy review which involves a report by a special advisory committee.
Bands drop out Story bySant Justin
Three carnival bands have dropped out of Saint Lucia Carnival 2012. XS Neo, who re-launched this year after a one year absence along with the three year old La Mosaic Carnival Band will not portray during the two day parade of the bands.
They have joined Mas Action – the reigning Band of the Year - who pulled out of Carnival at the start of the season.
President of the Carnival Bands Association- Adrian Augier says the most recent drop outs are partly due to the late arrival of the subventions.
On Tuesday – Tourism Minister Lorne Theophilus indicated there was no time frame for providing subventions to various stakeholders.
Augier says the uncertainty is of major concern to the Carnival Bands Association.
Augier says the bands were also dealing with sponsorship issues and late registration. He admits the focus on carnival has changed, swaying from Thematic Content and Portrayal into a party atmosphere.
Augier says although government has not given a definitive word on the subventions – stakeholders have been assured of results this week.
Minister Theophilus indicated the delay was caused by subventions having to be paid separate to funding for the Stakeholder Committee that is managing Carnival.
Issues of the current economic climate, sponsorship and reveler registration are currently affecting smaller bands, while others sold out early in the season.
The Parade of the Bands is set for Monday July 16th and 17th.
A call to integrate VAT and health Story bySant Justin
The St. Lucia Sickle Cell Association and the Caribbean Organization of Sickle Cell Associations have for some time placed special focus on the Health Care System in St. Lucia.
The associations have been fighting for Universal Health Care and Health Insurance benefits for those with pre existing conditions such as sickle cell and cancer.
President of the St. Lucia Sickle Cell Association and the Caribbean Organization of Sickle Cell Associations- Paula Calderon has praised the Supreme Court of the United States for upholding
the Obama Health Care Bill, which assures a number of health incentives for all.Calderon has also proposed the implementation of Universal Health Care under the VAT System.
Calderon has also called for a revisit of the islands health care sector. She says the proposal to implement Universal Health Care along with VAT was first proposed to the VAT Committee under the former administration.
This was followed by letters to the new Prime Minister, Minister of Health and VAT Committee.
Calderon says the Sickle Cell Association is hoping to meet with the Prime Minister soon to again raise the issue.
A call has also gone out for the nation to join in lobbying efforts to introduce Universal Health Care.
Summerlicious is launched Story bySarah Peter
The annual Summerlicious and Staycation summer promotions were launched on Wednesday by the St. Lucia Tourist Board.
The programs are a joint venture between the Board and the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association.
It offers locals the opportunity to experience the island’s varied tourism product at discounted rates.
Executive President of the SLHTA, Noorani Azeez is calling on St. Lucians to support the initiative which provides an opportunity to gain a better appreciation of the island.
He added the summer promotion will also help the island’s tourism product in the face of increasing competition.
The Staycation initiative offers reduced prices for hotels around the island while Summerlicious has reduced rates on dinner and lunch menus at renowned local restaurants.
Public Relations Manager of the St. Lucia Tourist Board, John Emmanuel says the initiatives offer a number of incentives to locals.
The two promotions will run from July 1st to September 30th, 2012.
ICT donation Story byLovely St.Aime Joseph
The Anse la Raye Primary School has received a donation towards its computer laboratory from the Abercrombie Lodge.
Principal Reeves Lawrence says the school’s computer lab has helped to boost the academic performance of students.
He says when the Abercrombie Lodge offered assistance to the school he thought it ideal to put the funds towards the project.
Abercrombie Lodge member, Kenneth Monplaisir QC, says the lodge undertakes regular philanthropic work to benefit lesser known causes. The lodge handed over its $5000 donation to the Anse La Raye Principal.
Lawrence says the money will go towards purchasing ink and maintenance of the computer equipment. The donation took place at he West Coast school on Wednesday.
Lotto presentation Story byLovely St.Aime Joseph
Marilyn Joseph of Riviere Mitant has been awarded her sixty one thousand dollar cheque from the Saint Lucia National Lottery.
The Power Play cheque presentation was made on Wednesday 4th July at the Saint Lucia National Lottery Administrative Office.
Joseph’s $61 000 prize was the second highest jackpot of the year. An admitted avid player of the lottery games – she was very elated by her win.
Marketing Manager, Mary Edward, addressed criticism of the lottery games while also encouraging people not to gamble away their earnings in light of tough economic times.
Calling life a gamble – Edward says customers should continue playing the national lottery games to ensure they have a chance to ‘change their lives’.
Doliviera George of Dennery who was not present during the ceremony - will also be presented with the top prize for the Bring Home the Gold Tic Tac Toe promotion which started on June 18th. He won two 40 inch HD televisions.
His was the first giveaway of the promotion thus far.
Caribbean metals Story byDesmond Collymore
The Soufriere Town Council welcomed Caribbean Metals Limited to the west coast town, expressing appreciation for roofing materials contributed by the company.
These will be used to repair damage from the passage of hurricane Tomas. In thanking Caribbean Metals representatives, Soufriere Town Council member, Darnell Bobb says the donation though intended for one roof, will benefit more than just one person.
“On the Move” as the company dubs its charitable initiative consists of a series of road shows intended to create not just a greater connection between customers and the company but also increased awareness of its product offerings.
The company has made similar donations in other communities and the intention is to extend the program island-wide.
According to Sales Administrator, Wayne Burke, the company liaised with the Soufriere Town Council on this occasion, as they would know best, who would benefit most from their donation.
Customers who attend any of the Caribbean Metals “On the Move” activities stand to benefit from raffles, free eats and drinks, one-on-one consultations with informed sales representatives and sales discounts on the particular day.
This year, Caribbean metals will celebrate the 22nd anniversary of its presence in the St. Lucia market.
Caricom heads meeting begins
Leaders talk integration
Protest outside meeting
Incoming Taiwanese ambassador
Bands drop out
A call to integrate VAT and health
Summerlicious is launched
Subventions from government are paid to all aspects of Saint Lucia Carnival. That means taxpayers subsidize everything from bands, to shows and community events. The cash injection is in addition to the bulk funding provided by government to the entity that manages the festival – for the past two years that has been the Stakeholder Committee and before them it was the CDF. Three Carnival bands including the reigning Band of the Year have dropped out of competition due in part to funding constraints. Other associations like the National Carnival Queen Committee and tent leaders have lamented dwindling sponsorship dollars and the need for government funding.
But is it fair to expect Saint Lucians to pay for a product they ultimately have to purchase in the way of costumes, tent shows and events?
Is it realistic for Carnival stakeholders to expect government to subsidize their contribution to the festival?