Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman James Chang confirmed Friday he had been appointed Taiwan's new ambassador to St. Lucia. The appointment is said to have followed a series of reports the Caribbean country had requested current Ambassador Tom Chou be replaced.
CMC report that asked when he was scheduled to assume the post, Chang said he “needed to discuss with Ambassador Chou about the handover process."
The reshuffle was a "routine rotation," he said, making no comment on the speculated reason for the change.
On April 22, the English-language China Post reported St. Lucian Prime Minister DR Kenny Anthony had urged Taiwan to replace Chou.
Dr. Anthony, who was elected Prime Minister in November 2011, has accused Chou of influencing St. Lucia's election by supporting the then-ruling United Workers Party. He also pledged to review diplomatic relations with Taiwan after taking power.
Pierre on direct awards Story byWinston Springer
Minister for Infrastructure and Castries East MP Phillip J. Pierre says the Dr. Kenny Anthony administration will not grant direct award contracts indiscriminately.
Pierre alleges the mechanism which was meant to be a contingency was abused by the former UWP regime.
He explains while the SLP administration will not discontinue the practice, they will only resort to its use in response to extenuating circumstances.
Pierre claims the UWP government granted over 59 million dollars worth of direct awards in 2011.
He alleges 39 million dollars of that amount was allocated three months prior to the November 28th General Election.
The Minister also raised questions about the legitimacy of some of the contracts which he contends is unjustified.
In addition, Pierre says his Ministry which was formally manned by Castries South East MP Guy Joseph - cannot account for funds which were reportedly provided by a friendly government for the dredging of rivers.
He claims to have documentary evidence to substantiate his assertions. The Infrastructure Minister says the criteria for the award of contracts on various projects will be a transparent process based on a combination of open tenders and pre-selection.
Additionally - proper analysis and background checks will be done.
Pierre claims his revelation was not a witch hunt but an illustration of some of the factors which in his opinion may have compounded the state’s fiscal woes.
He stressed the importance of accountability given the amount of money involved in the operations of the Ministry charged with maintaining the island’s infrastructure.
The minister has vowed improve the management of assets and projects.
Bousquet and Jn Marie on budget Story bySarah Peter
Former Independent Senator, Everistus Jn Marie has described the recent budget debate as one with great potential.
Jn Marie argued some of the incentives outlined during the Prime Minister’s four hour presentation have the possibility to generate employment on the island.
He also praised the implementation of the Value Added tax.
Former External Affairs Minister, Rufus Bousquet has also expressed high hopes for the Budget he called interesting, one he is very satisfied with.
He added the Prime Minister disclosed a number of significant incentives. Bousquet added there is too much money laying dormant in the form of land assets that are not in use.
He further lauded measures to lower bank interest, something he believes is imperative to boosting the economy.
The former External Affairs Minister also articulated his thoughts on the government’s foreign policy.
The 2012/2013 Budget Debate ended on Friday. During the debate a number of policies were articulated including initiatives to help tackle high unemployment and a still struggling economy.
Electoral office and flood Story byWinston Springer
The Civil Service Association: the trade union responsible for the interests of the employees at the Electoral Office sat down with workers on Friday for a discourse on matters of concern.
According to the May 11th 2012 edition of the Mirror Newspaper, 34 of the employees have signed a petition leveling allegations against former electoral commissioner, Michael Flood.
The petitioners claim Flood has accused the staff in the IT department of fraud and has also been too involved in administrative matters.
However the Mirror reports Flood has categorically denied these allegations. Assistant General Secretary at the CSA Lilia Auguste says she has advised the workers proper protocol must be observed before action can be taken.
The ex-commissioner appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the now opposition has been embroiled in a very public row with the Chief Elections Officer Carson Raggie; one that has attracted its fair share of headlines.
Flood accuses the official of leading a campaign to prevent his reinstatement as an electoral commissioner.
However Raggie has yet to respond publicly to these charges.
The CSA also explains it cannot address the issue at this time since the electoral commission has not been activated.
But the CSA stresses its main concern remains the wellbeing of the staff at the electoral department and matters pertaining to working conditions at the department.
Two of the three members of the electoral commissioner have moved on since the November 28th General election.
The former Chairman Kenneth Monplasir QC has resigned and the SLP commissioner Claudius Francis has demitted office to take up the post of President of the Senate.
The CSA representative says the staff is also concerned over the present cabinet’s decision for an audit ordered by former Prime Minister Stephenson King in late 2011.
Jn Marie on pass through Story bySarah Peter
Former President of the Petroleum Dealers Association, Everistus Jn Marie has lauded the government’s decision to modify the pass through mechanism.
During his Budget policy presentation on Tuesday – the Prime Minister announced the price of petroleum and petroleum products would be changed every three months and not every month as currently obtains.
Jn Marie is pleased the government made good on its promise to modify the present fuel prices adjustments.
Jn Marie argued the incoming pass through mechanism will allow for more stability in the market.
The Prime Minister says the Pass Through Mechanism was implemented by the former UWP administration to help guarantee a certain level of revenue to the government, while allowing market forces to determine fuel prices at the pump.
The Prime Minister maintains however the current system does not fully meet that mandate. He believes the impending change will achieve the stated objective and bring about stability in the market.
Traffic accident Story bySant Justin
The St. Lucia Fire Service received an accident call in the Union community on Friday morning.
Upon arrival, the Fire Service encountered a battered Hyundai Accent registration number PJ6484.
Deputy Fire Chief- Lambert Charles says Fire officials responded with an ambulance, fire units and emergency tender.
Charles says at present, the Fire Service has no information on whether any one was injured on even transported to the Hospital following the incident.
The Deputy Fire Chief – meanwhile – continues to lament the strain his department faces with its limited resources.
Evidence of an injured person could have been spotted on the scene of the crash. Charles says the matter is now in the hands of the police.
Landslide at Sarrot Story bySant Justin
Torrential rains this past week - on Thursday coalesced into infrastructural damage in the community of Sarrot.
Vice Chairperson of the Castries South East Community Disaster Committee- Lyandra Williams says while the small slide is almost invisible to road users – it is nonetheless very dangerous.
Williams immediately informed the National Emergency Management Organization of the disaster. She also advised users of the Sarrot road to take precaution when traversing the affected area.
Williams also pleaded with authorities to attend to the open trench.
NEMO has representatives in each community through established Community Disaster Committees who during times of disaster provide detailed reports to the organization.
These reports are then used to give a detailed national look at the impact of any natural or man made disaster.
Rock hall slide Story bySarah Peter
A Rock Hall resident has expressed concern over what he fears is the imminent collapse of a retaining wall on his home.
Hillary Pierre says a recently built wall is gradually eroding the land near his home; calling it a disaster waiting to happen.
He is calling on the relevant authorities to do something about the matter. Pierre says the retaining wall was built shortly after the passage of Hurricane
Thomas by his neighbour and is now posing a major threat to his home and property. He says several attempts have been made to speak to his neighbour but to no avail. Pierre is committed to remedying the matter.
He says all options are being looked at including using the courts. Pierre is hoping the matter can be rectified as soon as possible.
He noted the recent heavy rain over the past few days has made the matter worse.
The Rock Hall homeowner is concerned that as the rainy season approaches he and his home will need quick action sooner rather than later.
Update on Bonne Terre road Story byWinston Springer
The Ministry of Infrastructure says the section of the Bonne Terre road which caved in after days of incessant rainfall will be reopened for two way traffic in time for Jazz at Pigeon Island this weekend.
According to engineers two of the five culverts which were undermined by water have been filled with concrete and are now condemned.
The water has been diverted into the three remaining culverts. Albert Jn Baptiste says the shoulder of the road will be traversable.
Jn Baptiste explains the infrastructure which was referred to erroneously as a bridge is actually a culvert.
He says reports of a total collapse were also incorrect. Further - complete failure of the structure is unlikely.
The Ministry says it was aware of the deteriorating condition of the road and was reviewing a project to address the problem.
However the sudden collapse of infrastructure on Thursday required emergency repairs.
The Ministry of Infrastructure says reconstruction of the entire structure will begin in the coming weeks.
The section of the pavement which was replaced with concrete will take some time to settle and as soon as it is firm enough, the entire carriageway will be opened to the motoring public.
In the meantime there will be one-way traffic for motorists heading to Gros Islet until Saturday morning.
All southbound traffic will be diverted through the Bonne Terre area until further notice.
Motorists are asked to pay attention to the road signs placed at the entrance of the affected area and along the Bonne Terre Road.
Desir on traffic plan for jazz Story bySant Justin
A traffic plan for Main Stage Jazz Events has been finalized by the Traffic Department of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force.
Assistant Superintendent of Police in Charge of Traffic- Milton Desir says recent torrential rains have had major impact on these plans.
And although the plan is similar to last year’s - waterlogged areas has limited parking space for Jazz patrons.
Assistant Superintendent Desir says the area for General Parking was last year placed directly across the Landings resort.
This year – the area has been moved closer to the beach. As a result - the Traffic Department is advising patrons to car pool in an effort at avoiding excess traffic.
VIP and gold past carriers will be allowed to park nearer to the Landings Hotel, while production staff and government personnel parking is closer to the park.
Desir says traffic police will try their best to maintain a regular flow of traffic. However – motorists including jazz patrons are being asked to be patient and obey traffic signs and the Police.
Gaiety jazz Story byAndrew Mondesir
Pierre on direct awards
Bousquet and Jn Marie on budget
Electoral office and flood
Jn Marie on pass through
Landslide at Sarrot
Rock hall slide
Update on Bonne Terre road
Desir on traffic plan for jazz
Vernon Francois was officially appointed the Police Commissioner of Saint Lucia following multiple acting appointments that began in 2010. The Police Force was said to be stalled on a number of important functions due to the limbo associated with the job of top cop last held by Ausbert Regis. A career police officer – Francois has promised to weed out corruption in the Force, focus on community policing and keep Saint Lucia’s streets safe from crime. While his acting appointment was marked with success – there was also the revocation of the US visa belonging to a senior police officer who has since been sent on vacation and a number of police shootings said to be linked to a Police death squad.
Do you approve of the appointment of Vernon Francois to the post of Police Commissioner?