The island’s new UN Ambassador, Menissa Rambally reveals she is honored and privileged to serve in the Foreign Service.
Rambally spoke exclusively to “Straight Up” talk show Host Claudius Francis on Friday.
The former Government Minister and the youngest ever MP in the commonwealth says she is fully aware of the responsibility of a diplomat of the highest rank charged with representing the island’s interest on the world stage.
She says despite weeks of speculation, proper protocol had to be followed before the appointment was publicized.
Her Excellency is already engaged in the transition process as she prepares to succeed out-going Ambassador Dr. Keith St. Aimee in New York.
The External Affairs Minister, Alva Baptiste in announcing three new ambassadorial appointments on Thursday praised the departing diplomats for their service.
Rambally’s predecessor Dr. Keith St.Aimee has been singled out by the foreign minister and Saint Lucians in the Tri-State area for his hands on approach with the Diaspora.
The new permanent representative to the UN also has responsibility for the consulate and Rambally as de facto Consul General also intends to maintain that level of interaction.
Rambally who describes herself as a progressive believes she has the spheres of competence to undertake what she says is an awesome responsibility.
She has also embraced symbolism attached to her appointment especially among the youth movement,
However Ramballypoints out her mission will be based on the overall foreign policy of the government which is currently under review by a special committee.
Cherry on appointments Story bySarah Peter
Acting Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs Alva Baptiste on Thursday confirmed the appointments of UN Ambassador, Menissa Rambally and the new Consul General to the French overseas departments, Yasmine Walcott.
The appointments follow the Dr Kenny Anthony administration’s intent to adopt a positive and pragmatic approach to its foreign relations, charting a new international relations course for the country.
President of the Local Chapter of the Caribbean Association of Feminist Research and Action, Flavia Cherry has endorsed the appointments especially in light of her reservations about former UN Ambassador Keith St. Aimie
Cherry adds the recent appointment speaks well for the empowerment and promotion of women in leadership position.
UN Ambassador Menissa Rambally, 36, was the youngest ever Member of Parliament in the commonwealth at age 21 in 1997.
She also has experience as a Caribbean Political Consultant and a social policy adviser on social programmes.
Yasmine Walcott, the new Consul General to the French overseas departments has an undergraduate degree in public and private law, a bachelor’s degree in international law, a master’s degree in international law and a diploma in international public administration.
Traffic police advice Story byCarmy Joseph
The Assistant Superintendent of Police with responsibility for Traffic is advising drivers ahead of the upcoming holiday week-end.
Milton Desir says traffic police have noted an increase in vehicular collisions during these times; a statistic they attribute to the consumption of alcohol and drugs.
Assistant Superintendent Desir is reminding drivers it is against the law to drive while impaired.
He says it might be a wise move for drivers to carpool or make arrangements prior to engaging in an activity that might lead to inebriation.
Motorists are also being asked to use their defensive driving training to avoid collisions.Every driver is required to attend defensive driving classes one year after being granted a license.
Assistant Superintendent Desir has debunked the notion of a driver having “right of way.” He says it is incumbent upon drivers to avoid crashes – not live by a false sense of who is right or wrong while on the road.
Trouya road Story bySarah Peter
Trouya resident Morella Flaurton was the first to notice the damage to the road next to her home.
She says she was alerted to danger by a loud noise.
Flaurton later informed a neighbour who she says attempted to make the road passable following its collapse. Flaurton says the heavily trafficked road needs immediate attention.
She is also worried motorists who use the road will not give way – a situation that might lead to unnecessary collisions.
On Friday the Ministry of Infrastructure, Port Services and Transport issued a press statement asking motorists along the Trouya Road to be extremely cautious as a portion of the road closest to the
Windjammer Landing had collapsed.
Officials say the damaged portion is about 500 yards from the hotel and cautioned drivers to be careful, going in and out of that area.
Ministry staff are reportedly trying to secure the area and doing temporary repairs. Traffic cones have also been placed around the damaged portion of the road.
Fletcher on WASCO Story byWinston Springer
Public Utilities Minister Dr. James Fletcher has acknowledged receipt of correspondence from the National Workers Union and the Civil service Association on finalizing industrial negotiations with the Management of the Water and Sewage Company.
Dr. Fletcher says the CSA and the utility have resolved many outstanding issues but the main bone of contention remains salary increases.
Meanwhile the impasse between the National Workers Union and WASCO hinges on the dismissal of an employee.
The matter has been referred to the Labor Commissioner who is scheduled to meet with WASCO officials next week
But on the substantive issue of wages, the Minister says he is fully aware of the union and the worker’s impatience over salary increases but the Utility is insolvent.
He says measures designed to increase the revenue needed to grant a hike in pay for workers and enhance the operations of the struggling utility are being explored.
Dr Fletcher says once that is achieved the company will be in a better position to gauge what salary increases are feasible.
Other revenue enhancement measures include addressing the shortfalls in non-revenue water which includes the loss of the supply due to leaks in damaged infrastructure, illicit activity and illegal connections.
The company loses between 40-60 percent of the water it produces and generates through out the island.
During the budget speech Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony offered a pardon for poachers and residents who owe the state enterprise an opportunity to settle outstanding payments.
Until the debt situation is resolved the company cannot approach financial institutions for help and the government is looking to a business model to make the utility viable.
Security concerns at wellness centre Story bySarah Peter
President of the St. Lucia Nurses Association, Alicia Baptiste has reiterated calls for heightened security at the Wellness Center.
Baptiste is adamant the matter is not being taken seriously enough by the relevant authorities.
She has also expressed concern over what she says is a lack of adequate staffing at the island’s lone mental institution.
The concerns come during the observance of Nurses Week, observed annually to give nurses an opportunity to discuss ways to improve the service they provide to patients and highlight their achievements.
Baptiste has in the past registered her concern over lack of security at the island’s lone mental institution, noting many of the nurses are intimidated by the mentally ill patients.
Others she says have even been physically assaulted by patients. She says she will continue to speak out on the issue and do whatever it takes to ensure more security personnel are employed at the facility
Nurses Week is being observed this week under the theme “advocacy, leading, caring and being the change you want to see in others.”
Lorne on police liaison Story bySant Justin
The Ministry of Tourism will implement a series of measures designed to curb visitor harassment on the island.
Crimes against visitors have been detrimental to the tourism industry resulting a few years ago with the temporary loss of a cruise line a few years ago.
Most recently there is concern over potential fall out from the negative publicity in the British tabloids on the local police investigation into the death of a
UK citizen here. Tourism Minister, Lorne Theophilus says the government will appoint a security liaison to deal exclusively with crimes against holidaymakers.
Theophilus says the officer will act as a middle man between the Ministry of Tourism and the police.
The death of two UK Nationals within the past five months has attracted the attention of UK tabloid the Daily Mail which has published a number of erroneous reports on the latest incident.
Amid the widespread rumors and speculation, the Royal St. Lucia Police Force held a press conference this week to dispel the inaccurate reports surrounding the investigations.
Marine biodiversity march Story bySarah Peter
That appeal came from the nation’s primary school students. They came out in large numbers with their placards, signs and posters to raise public awareness of the importance of the island’s marine biodiversity.
The students also advised the general public on how they can conserve and protect the island’s indispensable marine biodiversity.
Representative from the Ministry of Agriculture, Sarita William Peter believes the initiative will have major impact on the wider population, encouraging sustainable development on the island.
Biodiversity Co-ordinator in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Anita James says the initiative is part of activities to reduce the island’s biodiversity loss.
This is due to continued pollution; something she says remains a serious concern.
The Theme for the 2012 International Day of Biodiversity is “Marine and Costal Biodiversity.” The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011-2020 as United Nations Decade on Biodiversity to promote the implementation of a strategic plan on biodiversity and its overall vision of living in harmony with nature.
Year of cooperatives Story bySant Justin
A program of activities in observance of International Year of the Cooperatives has been drawn up, and is currently being revised.
A meeting on Thursday between the Department of Cooperatives and the National Committee for the International year of Cooperatives was convened to finalize and fine tune that program.
Registrar of Cooperatives- Sherill St. Catherine says activities will begin on May 30th with a members conference.
St. Catherine says the conference will focus on three major areas of improvement for the sector.
Exhibitions featuring works from various cooperatives will be held on the 6th and 7th of July.
St. Catherine says the events will be used to educate members of the public on the usefulness and importance of the financial institutions.
Additional activities include a rally for cooperative movements, which will take place in Gros Islet.
The Registrar of Cooperatives says the itinerary of activities was designed following Cabinet approval; they will be used as a recruitment tool to attract more members to the movement.
There are currently over seventy five thousand credit union members here in Saint Lucia.
Chamber speed networking Story bySant Justin
Members of the Chamber of Commerce will soon have the opportunity to engage in one on one business transactions via a forum.
The speed networking forum will host buyer and seller firms. Chamber of Commerce Membership Development Officer - Sumetra Jagroop-Leo says the two hour sessions will allow new buyers to meet new sellers.
Leo says the Chamber wants to host the activity one every three months. She says the initiative is designed to diversify the sector under a struggling economy.
The participating buyers are not obligated to purchase the items on sale. Leo says the Chamber is hoping to have an orientation session ahead of the first forum.
Menissa on appointment
Cherry on appointments
Traffic police advice
Fletcher on WASCO
Security concerns at wellness centre
Lorne on police liaison
Marine biodiversity march
Year of cooperatives
Chamber speed networking
The previous SLP administration was the one who pursued the privatization of WASCO. It was a proposal that stalled before crashing and burning under the previous UWP administration. The current SLP administration has since agreed privatization of WASCO is not an option although a partnership with private investors is said to be in the works. WASCO is facing a number of serious financial issues including loss of revenue from delinquent users – badly compromised equipment and staff whose Unions are calling for salary increases and other considerations for members.
All of these require financial resources the government says cannot be invested in the entity at this time. But given these concerns – ones that grow increasingly dire the longer they are not addressed – is it time for the government to go in the direction of privatization?
Given the myriad of financial problems that WASCO faces – should the government re-examine the proposal to privatize the water company?