Approaching system Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
Continuous rains in the past 24 hours are said to be a direct result of a system affecting the Lesser Antilles.
Director of the St. Lucia Met Services- Thomas Auguste says while Saint Lucia has been experiencing heavy showers from the system located 100 miles west of Dominica; the country is yet to feel its full effects.
The Met office says there is also a high chance of the Wave becoming a Tropical Storm over the next two days.
Auguste says the system is expected to produce winds of more than thirty mph. There is also a possibility of flash flooding and rough seas.
Small craft operators are asked not to venture far from port; the beach is also off limits to bathers.
More information on the weather and approaching systems can be found online at www.crownweather.com At 2PM, the system was moving northwestward or North-Northwestward at 10 to 15 mph.
François on small arms Story by Sarah Peter htsslucia.org
Police Commissioner Vernon Francois is calling on regional governments to take action in the fight against small arms and light weapons in the Caribbean region.
Small arms such as guns have been used in several brutal murders on the island and in the region where skyrocketing homicide rates are reality in countries like Jamaica and Trinidad.
The impact is so great some families in the Caribbean do not feel safe leaving their homes.
Francois called for more collaborative efforts from Caribbean governments on the issue of illegal fun possession.
Francois says locally stringent steps have already been taken to protect the island’s marine Borders since these are a major transshipment point for illegal weapons.
He added intelligent, driven policies are also being undertaken. Francois says the matter is having a very negative impact on small island states and seriously impacting the region’s social and economic development.
Some advances have been made by CARICOM including the establishment of the CARICOM implementation Agency for crime and security.
That agency is developing an integrated ballistic 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.
The initiative was implemented in 2006 to manage CARICOM’s action agenda on crime and security.
VAT office on donations Story by Lovely St.Aime Joseph htsslucia.org
The Head of the VAT implementation project office is clearing the air on the issue of VAT and how it applies to donations.
This follows expressed misgivings from Paula Calderon, the President of the Saint Lucia Sickle Cell Association over how the new tax will be applied to donations.
Calderon spoke personally of how it would affect the Sickle Cell Association which she has run for over two decades.
She says VAT on donations would affect the core of society and have significant repercussions for some of the most vulnerable people in society.
Head of the VAT Implementation Project Office, Adria Sonson says under the legislation donations will attract the 15% VAT.
However, there are donations that will qualify for nil consideration – meaning there would be a paper trail for transparency and accountability. These donations would attract no VAT from either party.
Sonson says where a donation takes place and the two parties – meaning benefactor and beneficiary - are related the VAT rate will apply to the donation.
Special consideration has also been made for donations to recognizable charities like the St. Lucia Red Cross.
In the days following VAT implementation the issue of clarification on VAT legislation has become of paramount importance.
Differentiation in the interpretation of the law has thus far caused concern within both the tourism and manufacturing sector and now among charities and non profit organizations.
Sonson says the VAT office remains open and accessible to the public and all sectors for clarification on the application of VAT legislation.
UWP wants no VAT on medicines Story by Winston Springer htsslucia.org
The Opposition United Workers Party has called on Minister of Health Alvina Reynolds to address the concerns of Saint Lucians on the high cost of medication.
According to the UWP the Labour administration has displayed “stubbornness and disdain” to the demands for policy adjustments despite repeated public calls for the removal of VAT on medication
The opposition says the prepared statement read by the Acting Press Secretary to the Prime Minister “attempted to pour cold water on public concerns.”
The UWP argues the 4 year suspension of import duties on drugs which the government announced on Thursday is not much of a reprieve since Saint Lucians may have to contend with high prices for 6 to 8 months “with existing “old stock” which attracted consumption tax.”
It recommends the Government absorb retroactively all import duties on medication and give special consideration to the St Jude Hospital because of the 2009 fire.
Reminding the incumbent about the plight of diabetic and hypertensive people, the UWP again requests the Government remove VAT altogether on medication.
Du-Bonair bridge Story by Winston Springer htsslucia.org
On Thursday, Government broke ground on the estimated 665 thousand dollar bridge which is expected to be completed in approximately 60 days.
The Minister for Infrastructure, Phillip J Pierre apologized profusely to the residents for a basic service which was long overdue.
Dennery North MP and Youth and Sports Minister Shawn Edward lobbied tirelessly for the bridge.
He witnessed first hand the grueling commute of many inhabitants who not only had to endure punishing terrain but traverse a hazardous wooden bridge to get to their homes.
The Infrastructure Minister was quick to point out the agreement for the bridge was done transparently through the central tenders’ board which oversaw the process for awarding the contract landed by a local firm. He made it clear there was no undue influence.
Although the ground breaking ceremony was an auspicious occasion, the deputy Prime Minister had a sobering message about the island’s fiscal problems and the Value Added Tax.
He said the bridge was being paid for with borrowed money and that revenue generating measures like the VAT were necessary to not only close the fiscal gap but provide important infrastructure like the bridge.
Pierre who sought to assuage fears about the tax also spoke about the much discussed VAT on medicines.
The Minister contends the process is still in its infancy; subject to adjustments including the administration’s policy on the cost of medicine.
He says erecting the bridge in the remote rural area was given top priority amid major projects in the more affluent north of the island.
The Ministry of Infrastructure will accelerate plans for other major infrastructure works in Communities Island wide.
Export development meeting Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
Small business owners attended a five day workshop this week, which focused on developing the capacity of regional Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), in the area of export market.
Manager of Caribbean Export Development Agency - Chris Mac Nair says while the five day session covered a number of development areas; export was given the greatest priority.
Mac Nair says while the region is skilled in creativity, the area of economies of scale needs much more work.
The workshop is a collaborative effort between the Caribbean Export Development Agency and supporting agent GIZ.
Trainer- George Villinger says the training consists of face to face sessions with participants.
President of the Textile Industry Cooperative Society Ltd- Erica Mc Vane says the sessions touched on many relevant issues to the development of SMEs on the island.
The sessions were held at the Bay Gardens Beach Resort. It began on Monday 8th October and ended on Friday 11th October.
SMILES retreat Story by Lovely St.Aime Joseph htsslucia.org
Almost ninety single mothers participated in the NSDC retreat, a pre cursor to the commencement of training under the SMILES program.
For the 2012/2013 financial year, Government has allocated $1.2 million dollars for the execution of the pilot phase of the “Single Mothers Employment Programme (SMILES).”
The program targets single mothers age 18 to 40 for vocational and life skills training. Project Manager, Tricia Leo, says the forum is designed to mentally prepare the single mothers for the upcoming training.
Leo says presenters were chosen to help inspire the single mothers. Their focus was also to motivate participants about the program intended to change their lives.
Pediatrician and Co-Director of RISE St Lucia Inc. Dr Jacqueline Bird was one of the presenters at the retreat.
Her presentation focused on getting the single mother’s to understand their role in addressing violence in the society.
Training under the SMILES program for the first group of approximately ninety women is scheduled to begin next week.
Police week activities Story by Sarah Peter htsslucia.org
Members of the St. Lucia Police Force have officially launched a week of activities to commemorate Police Week.
The initiative is designed to develop a stronger relationship between members of the public and police officers.
The week of activities which begins on November 25th is also expected to help members of the public see police officers in a more “social” light. Police Commissioner, Vernon Francois says initiatives such as these are imperative to cement relationships between the police and members of the public.
The St Lucia Police Force is calling on members of the public to come out in large numbers to support the annual initiative.
The activities for this year’s police week include a church service, fun sports, a debate and exhibition.
The annual Miss RSLPF and Allied Service Pageant will also be held as a lead up to the main activities.
Organizers say the pageant is a great way to boost the confidence of contestants.
Police Week 2012 is being held under the theme “It’s our community; let’s work together for a safer society.” It will culminate with the Police awards on December 2nd.
ECFH donation to care Story by Sant Justin htsslucia.org
The East Caribbean Financial Holding group of companies has had a long standing relationship with the Centre for Adolescent Renewal and Education.
The parent company of Bank of Saint Lucia has been supporting CARE for the past seven years.
Recently, ECFH signed a third covenant this one totaling $120,000 over a three year period with CARE.
The organization will receive $40,000 annually to advance its programme. ECFH officials visited the CARE centre at Odsan to interact with the students and experience first hand the vital need for the work being done there.
CARE Executive Director, Dr. Karleen Mason welcomed the visit of the team from ECFH. She also seized the opportunity to focus on the successes and challenges of the programme.
There was appreciation shown as well by students who are participating in a programme designed to equip them with life-coping skills.
The programme offered by C.A.R.E. aims to foster positive attitudes in adolescents towards themselves, others and work-related situations.
Students are offered instruction in Adolescent Development Programme, English and Math as well as some technical subjects like auto mechanics, carpentry and joinery and clothing and textiles.
C.A.R.E. is a community-based, non-governmental organization established to help disadvantaged and marginalized youth.
Thousands attended and witnessed the homecoming of West Indies captain Darren Sammy and his compatriot Johnson Charles.
The two cricket players were part of the West Indies team that delivered a world title to the region – the first in 33 years. Gary Mathurin is another Saint Lucian who has played for the Windies although not on this World T/20 squad. Given the outpouring of support for Sammy and the team – from motorcade to rally in Castries – does that give you renewed hope for sport in this country? From track to long distance, football to swimming – will toasting Sammy mean the powers that be and the public will start doing for and not paying lip service to our athletes?
Do you think the success of Darren Sammy will result in renewed interest in local sports?