Should there be legislation to mandate employment of the disabled? Not quite says Senior Specialist at the International Labour Organization, Hassan Ndaihi. He believes while the move has worked in some countries it may not necessarily work on the island.
The International Labour Organization Specialist made the disclosure on the first of a two day workshop aimed at sourcing employment for people with disabilities.
Labour Officer, Andrew Quashie says lack of employment opportunities for disabled persons on the island still remains a major concern.
This as research shows disabled persons are more productive in the workplace when compared to able bodied individuals.
Trade Unions, the St. Lucia Employers Federation, the St. Lucia Blind Welfare Association and several government agencies were present at Wednesday’s workshop.
The St. Lucia Labour Department says they are hoping to soon formulate a National Policy in the island’s Labour Laws to help ensure persons with disabilities are given employment included.
PM on caucus Story byWinston Springer
The 33rd CARICOM heads of government meeting continued on Thursday with an all day caucus to catalyze the political chemistry of the bloc.
In coming CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony announced during his address at the opening ceremony of the summit on Wednesday that adequate time will be devoted to frank discourse among the leaders.
He says in exactly one year, CARICOM will mark its fortieth anniversary since the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the regional grouping.
According to Dr. Anthony it is fitting the Heads are afforded the time to concentrate on the critical matters affecting the organization which includes its framework, challenges and directions.
The Prime Minister says CARICOM cannot afford to leave what he describes as “the winds of progress uncaught when they blow”.
Dr. Anthony contends changes in global politics and economics mean the bloc must be willing to venture through uncharted waters.
His call for consensus building comes amid brewing tensions among territories over trade matters and public skepticism over the relevance of the union.
Calderon on VAT extension Story byWinston Springer
President of the Saint Lucia Manufacturers Association Paula Calderon has welcomed the postponement of the introduction of the Value Added Tax system by one month.
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony recently announced the implementation of the broad based tax system will begin on October 1st instead of the original date of September 1st.
He says this will give the various sectors and public administrators more time to get ready for the new system. Despite the extension - Calderon remains a supporter of initial calls from the Chamber of Commerce for the tax to be deferred by six months and take effect in the New Year.
Calderon has also given the nod to the state allocation of 778 thousand dollars for the provision of technical assistance and training for the small business sector.
Her primary concern remains what she says might be a perceived increased cost of operations as result of the new government’s ambitious legislative agenda.
The Ministry of Commerce is supervising the special assistance package in collaboration with the VAT Implementation Unit, SEDU and the OPSR.
The program will be conducted in communities through out the island. According to the Government approximately 1500 participants will receive support under the project.
Despite the targeted assistance, Calderon does not expect a seamless transition.
She says it will take some time for all the various sectors of the economy to make the adjustment to the Value Added Tax System.
Ambassador visits projects Story byDesmond Collymore
The new US ambassador was this week well received by pre schoolers and staff of the Soufriere library.
The ambassador who also conducted a tour in Choiseul was visiting various Peace Corps projects in the south of the island.
Day on marijuana Story bySarah Peter
Director of the Caribbean Drug & Alcohol Institute, Dr. Marcus Day says CARICOM heads of government need to develop a new drug reform policy to deal with drug use in the Caribbean region.
Leaders of the fifteen member regional bloc are presently in St. Lucia for the 33rd CARICOM Heads of Government meeting which began Wednesday at the Sandals Grande.
During the Opening Ceremony, demonstrators stood outside the venue calling on the leaders to legalize the use of marijuana.
Marcus Day believes CARICOM should implement a drug policy designed for the Caribbean region.
Dr Day further contends incarcerating people for the possession of small amounts of marijuana is putting major pressure on the region’s prison system. He called on CARICOM heads to consider alternative sentencing.
Despite supporting the platform of Wednesday’s protestors, Dr Day nevertheless criticized the use of children during the demonstration.
The Caribbean Drug & Alcohol Institute meanwhile – is presently carrying out a survey on the use of drugs in St. Lucia.
Junior mas Story bySant Justin
Junior Carnival lovers will take their place in the Mas this coming Sunday during their annual parade of the bands.
The annual event will begin with a parade through the streets of Castries – culminating at the Euralis Booty Sports Complex in Vigie where the bands will portray and be judged.
President Carnival Bands Association- Adrian Augier says the organization has catered for more individual costumes and is hoping to see an increase in participation.
In light of mishaps that led three bands to drop out of Carnival this year, Augier commended the Carnival Stakeholders Committee for its performance thus far.
Augier says the committee is currently pulling together what must be done ahead of the two day parade on July 16th and 17th. He is also pleased with the lifespan that his been granted to the committee.
Kiddies Carnival is expected to begin at 2PM.
Art exhibition Story byLovely St.Aime Joseph
Julia Gabriel is the coordinator of the Wilton’s Yard after School Homework Assistance Program. The program targets youth aged 5-16 years who reside in the inner city neighbourhood of Wilton’s Yard.
The after school program was conceptualized as a safe space for children to receive homework assistance and learn life skills that will steer them on a path to success. Gabriel says initially the program was sponsored solely by Ronald Boo Hinkson.
However - it now enjoys the support of the Ministry of social Transformation. The program - she says - has also been embraced by the community.
All the items on display at the art and craft exhibition were made by the students. They include plant hangers, bags and slippers.
Jeffrey Gabriel is one of the facilitators of the after school program. He specializes in leather craft and says his young students are extremely talented.
Gabriel feels a great sense of satisfaction knowing he is teaching youth a skill they can use to earn an income.
He says through the program the youth of Wilton’s Yard are challenging the negative stereotypes of the inner city community.
The Wilton’s Yard After School Assistance Program is conducted with the voluntary assistance of a number of facilitators including Kayler Lay Reynolds who was on hand to support the young artists.
To date the initiative has received a lap top donation from Courts and food and drinks from Duboulays and Dominos.
FRC literacy program Story byLovely St.Aime Joseph
The Folk Research Centre is currently hosting its annual post common entrance kweyol literacy program at its main offices in Castries.
On Thursday students from the Reunion Primary School participated in the program which focuses on cultural heritage.
The Eastern Caribbean Financial Holdings group of companies is sponsoring the FRC literacy program.
ECFH Assistant Manager of Corporate Communications and Customer Care, Omari Fredrick, says ECFH will sponsor other programs by the FRC as part of the company’s commitment to the island’s cultural heritage.
Chairman of the FRC board, Hilary La Force, called on students to learn as much as possible about their country and its heritage.
He also encouraged them to display with pride the things that make them uniquely Saint Lucian.
The FRC literacy Program will continue throughout the summer and again in the month of October; celebrated as Kweyol heritage month.
Inter-commercial calypso Story bySant Justin
Eleven commercial houses will meet on stage next week Tuesday to compete for the prestigious Inter-commercial House Calypso Monarch title.
The press launch of the event was staged as an after work lime on Tuesday Evening at Caribbean Cocktails in Castries.
Events Coordinator- Tyrone Harris says Tuesday’s launch is an annual activity that leads into to the anticipated competition.
Harris says the activity is now on its 11th year. He says it was initialized to get the commercial sector involved in Carnival activities in more than just the sponsorship aspect.
Harris also spoke a bit about his expectation for the activity on Tuesday. The Royal St. Lucia Police, G4S, First Citizens, Consolidated Foods, NIC, Courts, Bank of St. Lucia, WASCO and SLASPA will all face the reigning champion LUCELEC.
Getting jobs for the disabled
PM on caucus
Calderon on VAT extension
Ambassador visits projects
Day on marijuana
FRC literacy program
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?