No march for CSA on Thursday Story by Vand Brown htsslucia.org
Acting Police Commissioner, Errol Alexander confirms receipt of an application from the CSA Tuesday afternoon.
However, he states certain requirements in keeping with the legislation including the paper work were not properly completed therefore he wrote a formal letter to the CSA informing the union its protest match scheduled for Thursday will not take place at that particular time.
Alexander says Section 10 of the relevant Act stipulates the conditions for staging a protest march, the timeframe for applications, and the number of people who will be participating in the demonstration.
The acting top cop says applications must be submitted 3 days before the march and the commissioner has 36 hours to respond.
Alexander explains if the march takes place on Thursday it would be in contravention of the law.
Another matter up for consideration is the route.
According to legislation, the march should be held at least 200 meters from government and ministerial offices.
President of the Civil Servant Association, Mary Isaac who confirmed the postponement of the march says the demonstration is inevitable at some point in time. She says the association has resubmitted the application and is awaiting police approval.
Isaac says they have made a request to stage the march on Monday April 8th The association she says wants the demonstration to be peaceful and legitimate.
The leader of the CSA also expressed gratitude to the civil servants who have demonstrated their courage of convictions and have remained unwavering in their support for the cause. She applauds her members for standing in solidarity with the movement.
Krystal Felix Post Mortem results Story by Winston Springer htsslucia.org
A post mortem examination was conducted on the body of Krystal Felix Thursday. According to authorities, the cause of death was Hemorrhagic Shock secondary to multiple gunshot wounds.
Krystal Felix was killed and three others seriously wounded after a gunman opened fire on a crowd in a parking lot near the Auberge Seraphine Hotel on Easter Monday.
According to reports, passengers aboard a pleasure boat were disembarking the vessel after returning from an excursion at approximately 7:45 PM Monday when chaos ensued.
The vessel had just docked in the bay in Castries when suddenly someone began firing shots indiscriminately at a crowd in the nearby parking lot wounding a number of people.
Despite widespread speculation, officials have not revealed a possible motive for the shooting.
Police have yet to make any arrests in the case and are soliciting the assistance of the public in bringing the perpetrators of this crime to justice.
Vern Gill resolute Story by Jade Brown htsslucia.org
Chairman of the GNT Vern Gill says the CSA is yet to comply with the terms set out by the state negotiators in order to conclude the wage debacle.
The GNT hints that under the current circumstances the process of arbitration is not far fetched.
Gill says a meeting held last Wednesday between the GNT and the TUF proved pointless as the two advisers appointed by the CSA appeared oblivious about their specific roles.
The lead negotiator has his doubts about the stewardship of the CSA. To date the Government Negotiating Team has finalized wage and benefits agreements with the Police Welfare Association, the Saint Lucia Teachers Union, the Medical and Dental Association, the Police Welfare Association and the Fire Association.
In addition, the Nurses Association which agreed in principle to the GNT’s final offer back on March 14th formalized the arrangement on Tuesday, leaving the CSA as the sole union in the coalition TUF which has not reach consensus with the government.
Reports indicate the Vieux Fort Dock Workers Union will complete the process on Thursday. The GNT states the arrangement with the National Workers Union is undergoing amendments however; they look forward to ironing out the matter in the next few days.
Nurses ink deal with GNT Story by Vanda William htsslucia.org
The government negotiating team Wednesday finalized wage and benefit negotiations with the Nurses Association for the triennium 2010-2013.
In mid March, the general body of the Nurses Association agreed in principle to settle for the government negotiation team’s 4 percent wage increase offer.
This included the new concessions put forth on the table by the state. However,
despite the declaration the deal was not sealed until April 3rd. President of the Nurses Association, Lydia Leonce says the members of the nurses association went through the process of negotiations and accepted the 4% and other conditions.
Chairman of the government negotiating team, Vern Gill says he is extremely pleased to sign off with the nurses so they can resume normal duties.
Gill says the signing ceremony comes after a difficult period of negotiation. He says the Government Negotiating Team can now focus its energies on ending the dispute with the CSA which is holding out for more than state’s stipulated 4 percent wage increase proposal.
Chastanet APD/airlift fears Story by Sarah Peter htsslucia.org
A looming reduction in flights by Virgin Atlantic could not come at a worse time, so says former Tourism Minister, Allen Chastanet.
Chastanet says the reduction effective May 1st could have a negative impact on tourism arrivals.
He says airlift could be slashed by as much as 42%.
Chastanet says the decline in airlift, in addition to the recent hike in the UK Air Passenger Duty from a key source market which was increased by 3 % on April 1st could spell trouble for the island’s main economic earner.
UK travelers to Band-C destinations in the Caribbean like Saint Lucia, which are long haul flights with a range of (4,001-6,000 miles), will experience a rise in the tax from £81 to £83.
According to travelmole.com, “The new rates mean a family of four flying in economy class to the Caribbean will pay £332”. Opponents of the tax say it makes tourism destinations like Saint Lucia too expensive.
In addition to the struggles of airlift, Chastanet has a downbeat assessment of the newly re-branded Jazz and Arts festival.
The former Tourism Minister says that while he applauds the inclusion of more local artistes, government has not adequately addressed concerns about the overall profitability of the festival. He doubts there will be a return on investment.
However, sources tell HTSNEWSFORCE that Chastanet’s prediction of a dramatic fall out from the reduction in flights by Virgin Atlantic is overblown. The St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival officially begins April 30th 2013.
Cost of defaulting student loans Story by Vanda William/ voiced Andrew Mondesir htsslucia.org
Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony is concerned about the number of students who remain in the United States or migrate to other countries, leaving the government of Saint Lucia with the burden of footing the bill for their student loans.
Bank of St. Lucia also raised the issue in a letter read by the Prime Minister in the House of Assembly on Tuesday as lawmakers debated a motion to guarantee a 3.3 million dollar loan for students pursuing higher education overseas.
The financial institution stated students were unwilling to meet their financial commitments upon completion of their studies.
Dr. Anthony further outlined a number of concerns raised by the Bank of St. Lucia. Among them, the perceived notion held by some university graduates who believe they are not obligated to repay their loans because the government of Saint Lucia secured the funds.
The accreditation of students who pursued higher education in the Spanish Speaking Caribbean Island Cuba is another sticking pointing.
The Prime Minister says government will have to update 75% of these loans worth approximately $350,000.
However, this did not deter the administration from providing financial aid to 23 students who will be pursuing studies at various universities.
Admittedly, with inadequate skilled labor, it is a dilemma faced by the state, which is seeking to empower its citizens through education.
Nevertheless, these efforts to spur economic growth in some instances are in stark contrast to the career opportunities available overseas to young skilled Saint Lucian students.
During the debate on the 3.3 million dollar loan guarantee, which went through all its stages in the house, Dr. Anthony revealed a cabinet appointed committee is presently conducting a study, which will guide the process on a coherent policy for student aid.
The Bank of St. Lucia has been issuing loans backed by the Government of St. Lucia for the past 11years.
Fiscal incentives act amendment Story by Vanda William htsslucia.org
The government of Saint Lucia is taking steps to reform the legislative framework for incentive packages offered to prospective investors.
On Tuesday, the house of Assembly sought to amend sections 2, 6, 12 and 26 of the Fiscal Incentive Act Chapter 15:16.
As a result, cabinet will have the discretion to grant complete and partial exemptions of the income tax declared by a private enterprise.
Minister for Commerce, Emma Hippolyte says companies over the past 15 years have benefited from the incentive process.
Despite the positive intentions of some attractive incentive regimes, which include tax breaks to give impetus to the economy, there are concerns about wanton abuse of the system.
Some companies, which have taken advantage of the incentives offered by the state repeatedly, return to government seeking additional concessions.
The Commerce Minister says the process warrants review and the relevant ministries are working to reform the regime.
Hippolyte says the process, which monitors companies, is also not up to standard hence the scope for revision. Lawmakers say the amendment will encourage the growth and development of private enterprise.
Pollution suspected in deadfish case Story by Vanda Brown htsslucia.org
The foul stench, which raised the alarm of frequent visitors to the Choc Beach, is likely the result of the pollution of a nearby mangrove.
An eyewitness discovered many dead fish in the tidal basin of the Choc River. Concerned officials from the Ministry of Sustainable development and the Ministry of Health visited the site Thursday.
Senior Water Resource Management Officer Fitzgerald
John says the department is obligated to investigate the matter thoroughly. Recently the Water and Sewage Company condemned the practice of introducing foreign agents or substances in the island’s waterways, which could be detrimental to the municipal supply of water.
John warns of the harmful consequences of polluting the island’s rivers and streams. He says the negative impact on delegate ecosystems is very troubling.
The Environmentalist says the Ministry of Sustainable Development will liaise with the Ministry of Health in order to determine the cause of the pollution.
The Ministry of Sustainable Development is continuously striving to educate people on the importance of protecting and conserving the natural environment.
Guy Joseph wants answers on bridge Story by Sarah Peter htsslucia.org
Former Communications and Works Minister, Guy Joseph has expressed concern about what he says is the exorbitant cost associated with a project in the Bonne Terre area.
The Ministry of Infrastructure is spearheading the reconstruction of the Bonne Terre culvert undermined by years of wear and tear and extreme weather events like hurricane Tomas in October 2010.
However, former Minister Guy Joseph says the millions of dollars allocated for the project is questionable. He has called on the Ministry of works to provide clarification on the matter. Joseph has also questioned the length of the time the project is taking to complete.
He says he has reservations about the initiative from its conception and has called on the relevant authorities to disabuse him of his fears.
HTS Newsforce contacted the Ministry of infrastructure to attain feedback on the completion of the project.
The Chief Engineer Officer was unavailable for comment, however, sources indicate while there were delays, the project is expected to be completed by May 5th.
Bridging the divide Story by Sarah Peter htsslucia.org
“Bridging the Digital Divide? Prospects for Caribbean Development in the new Techno Economic Paradigm”-That is the title of a new book by academic and author Dr. Gale Rigobert.
The Micoud North MP officially launched the publication Wednesday at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College’s Hunter J Francois Library.
The book explores the important aspects of the digital divide and
the challenges plaguing less developed countries. Professor Dr. Vaughan Lewis lauded the publication as one which provides a broad perspective on the capacity of small island developing states to make an indelible mark on the international arena.
Author, Dr. Gale Rigobert who earlier launched the book in Trinidad expressed gratitude to a number of people for their contribution to the publication.
The treatise also explores what is reffered to as the techno –optimistic prescriptions for development, highlighting the perceived incongruence of the dynamics of capitalism and inequalities.
Parliamentarian, Dr. Gale Rigobert is a former lecturer at the University of the West Indies and is qualified in the field of International Relations.
The Trade Union Federation, a body comprising public sector unions like the Police Welfare Association, Civil Service Association and Saint Lucia Teachers Union began wage negotiations with the Government Negotiating team on Wednesday. The talks are part of negotiations for the triennium 2010 to 2013.
It comes days after the TUF wrote a letter to the Prime Minister seeking his intercession on negotiations they say was being stalled by the Government Negotiating team. While most parts of the agreement, had been ironed out, it was the wage talks they were most insistent had to begin and end before December. Civil servants have not stated the percentage wage increase they are pursuing – however government has indicated this is not the best financial time to increase salaries. This as the main Opposition contends the government wants to give workers a 3% increase over the next three years; a charge the government has denied.
Do you think a wage increase for civil servants is justified at this time?