Archive | Politics

Bowen

Police to investigate government seasonal programme

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Mar 21, CMC – The Grenada police have launched an investigation into a multi-million dollar government seasonal programme amid allegations that “phantom workers” were benefiting from the scheme.

Minister of Works Gregory Bowen, speaking to reporters after the weekly Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, said that Audit Department as well as the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) will also be involved in the investigation into the “debuhing programme” of the Ministry of Works.

Bowen
Gregory Bowen

The government debushing programme, usually conducted during the Easter, August and Christmas periods, employs more than 3, 500 workers under the EC$1.9 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) programme per season.

“It’s been reported that certain persons are getting contracts because of their closeness with certain officials, be that as it may, we are not saying that all the allegations are true but when persons come forward and say to me I have reported this years gone by I say to them you also have to take the steps and give assurance that if called upon and substantiate the claim,” said Bowen, noting that most of the allegations are on contracts that are not tendered.

“The audit, the police and FIU will just do what they have to do,” said Bowen, adding that apart from the debushing programme, the authorities will also be investigating the Physical Planning Unit, which approves residential and commercial architectural designs for construction.

Bowen said that there are allegations that the staff of the PPU are offering private service to persons and ensuring that the plans are approved quicker.

Bowen said that there is no time line for the investigations.

Posted in Local, News, Police, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Benji

Government to revisit controversial police legislation

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Mar 20, CMC – The Antigua and Barbuda government Monday said it was prepared to re-examine the amendment to the Police Act that has been described as “unconstitutional”.

Attorney General by Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin, speaking on Observer radio here, said that he had the opportunity on Sunday to listen to some of the critical comments of the Police Amendment Bill 2017 that critics, including a former commissioner of police say put too much power in the hands of the politician.

Benji
Attorney General by Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin.

“Yesterday, I listened to the debate and the discussions on (radio programme) “Big Issues”…I am satisfied that there are areas which can be looked at again and must be addressed appropriately.

“I have already spoken with the prime minister (Gaston Browne) on this matter and with the Commissioner of Police. I have done some research last evening …and I am satisfied that Section 23 (a) must be looked at again”.

That section seeks to impose ministerial control over the transfer of police officers.

“The case law is quite clear that that cannot be so. So what we propose to do is to get that amendment and make it quickly into compliance with the Constitution.

“It is intended that the Police Service Commission upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of Police may transfer the officer to the appropriate area,” Benjamin told radio listeners, agreeing that the Police Service Commission must maintain its independence.

The main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) Spokesman on Legal Affairs, Leon Chaku Symister said the amendment passed last Friday “violates the Constitution” and “creates dual jurisdictions for the transfer of high ranking officers”.

On the “Big Issues” radio programme, Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Security Professionals ,Oral Reid, described the legislation as  “a dangerous step” which “serves to extend greater control over the police commissioner” and which “emasculates the police service commission”.

Former commissioner of police, Vere Browne, told radio listeners on Sunday that the Constitution makes sufficient provision for the transfer of officers by the authority of the Police Service Commission and advised that the government re-visited the legislation.

The Chairman of the Police Service Commission of Barbados, Richard Guyson Mayers, who also appeared on the programme, said at the least, the Bill “comes very close” if it does not violate the Constitution.

But Benjamin said Monday it was never the intention of the Browne government to put any power in the hands of the minister.

He said as the panellists had indicated, they understood the intention of the amendment.

“It was to take full advantage of our scarce resource,” he said adding “I want to thank the panel of yesterday….for the very constructive insight.

“It was a very important debate and it showed that that is how democracy works,” Benjamin said.

Posted in Legal, Local, Police, Politics, Regional0 Comments

budgets

Government delays presentation of budget

BRADES, Montserrat, Mar 20, CMC – The Montserrat government Monday said it has been forced to delay the presentation of the annual budget due to a delay by the United Kingdom in approving the island’s “Financial Aid Business Case”.

budgetsThe budget was originally scheduled to have been delivered on Thursday, but a statement from the Office of the Premier noted that “it had become necessary to postpone the tabling of the Budget Appropriation Bill until the 13th of April” with the debate schedule for five days later.

“The postponement is occasioned by the change in UK Ministerial responsibility, which has caused a delay in the approval of Montserrat’s Financial Aid Business Case by the Uk Minister,” the statement said.

It added that Premier Donaldson Romeo, who is also  of Finance will authorise funds through the Consolidated Fund “to allow government spending to continue until the passing of the Appropriation Act in April”.

Posted in Buisness/Economy/Banking, Government Notices, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Allen-Chastanet (web)

St. Lucia’s PM brushes aside concerns by Opposition over multi-billion dollar project

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Mar 20,  CMC — Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says he  is ‘absolutely confused’ about reports that the main opposition St. Lucia Party (SLP) is planning street protests over the multi-billion dollar Desert Star Holdings Limited (DSH) project to be situated in Vieux Fort, south of here..

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet

He told reporters that he is confused as to what the opposition is protesting about and expressed the view that other people are in the same position.

“I have no idea,” Chastanet said Monday during his weekly news conference.Last July, the authorities here announced that the US$2.6 billion project will occupy a 700-acre site and will include a marina, a racecourse, a resort and shopping mall complex, casino, Free Trade Zone, extensive entertainment and leisure facilities, as well as architecturally designed villas and apartments.

“Overall, the Pearl of the Caribbean Development is designed to be a well-balanced project with open space making up over 50 per cent of the overall development. It is designed to be a sustainable and self-contained development and is expected to generate between 500 to 800 jobs in construction during its initial phase of implementation,” according to the statement by Invest St. Lucia

The Hong Kong-based Desert Star Holdings (DSH).project has attracted both supporters and detractors with former prime minister Dr. Kenny Anthony warning in January that there will never be peace in Vieux Fort and St. Lucia if the deal is not renegotiated and the project redesigned.

The SLP said that the government has shown “it is insensitive to the cries of the people of the country and appears determined to ram down the throats of our citizens without any meaningful consultation, major projects that can significantly transform the lives of the people.

“From leasing prime lands at EC$1.00 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) per acre to the destructions of our eco system at Maria Islands, the Prime Minister continues to show scant regard for the welfare of St. Lucians.”

The party said that even while Chastanet was assuring St. Lucians that only a Framework Agreement existed and that negotiations were ongoing, the developer was already clearing lands though no DCA approval had been given and no Environmental Impact Assessment has been undertaken.

Referring to the SLP’s calls for the DSH agreement to be renegotiated, Prime Minister Chastanet said he wanted to know what specific aspect of the deal the opposition wanted renegotiated.

“We have indicated that the lease side of the project has been restricted to the horse racing track and the other thing that was to be leased was space inside of the mangrove to build a museum,” he said, explaining that there is agreement that all the other land that is being discussed would be sold at between US$60,000 to US$90,000 an acre.

Chastanet said that this represents substantially more money than the previous government had with its two previous deals in the same area.

“I don’t remember once the Labour Party coming to the country while in government and saying days before the election ‘you might win and we would like you to be part of this conversation’, “ Chastanet said, noting that in one case it was three days before the elections that the then  government entered into and signed  a contract with no ‘out’ clause.

“So I am confused when they say they want to participate in this process because to go by their protocol that they have established, even the dialogue that we have had would not be there.”

But Chastanet made it clear that he was not in agreement with what the SLP has done in the past and would not prescribe their modus operandi moving forward.

He said all the parcels of land that have been identified have been identified for development by both political parties over the last 20 years.

Posted in Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

US Coast Guard

US Coast Guard repatriates 27 Cuban migrants

MIAMI, Mar. 19, CMC – The United States Coast Guard says the Cutter Charles Sexton repatriated 27 Cuban migrants Friday to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba.

US Coast GuardThe Coast Guard said the repatriation was the result of a migrant interdiction near Key Largo last Sunday.

The Coast Guard said it “helped secure the US border and prevent this sea voyage from ending in tragedy.”

“We discourage anyone from taking to the sea and attempting to reach US soil illegally – they are risking their lives with very little chance of success,” said Captain Aldante Vinciguerra, chief of response for the Coast Guard 7th District.

It is estimated that 1,951 Cubans have attempted to illegally migrate to the US via the maritime environment since January 1, compared to 7,411 Cubans in fiscal year 2016.

The Coast Guard says these numbers represent the total number of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and Atlantic.

Posted in International, Local, News, Police, Politics, Regional, Travel0 Comments

Dr. Orlando Smith

Premier calls for overseas help in crime fight

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands , Mar. 19, CMC – Premier Dr Orlando Smith has vowed to leave no stone unturned as security officials in this British Overseas territory deal with an upsurge in crime.

In a recent press release, Smith said that if necessary, overseas help sought be sought and highly trained cops should be pulled from retirement.

Dr. Orlando Smith
Dr. Orlando Smith

“No stone should be left unturned in bringing the perpetrators to justice of all crimes, and particularly the heinous crimes that have been committed in this territory. If this calls for bringing in assistance from abroad, let’s do so immediately.”

The Premier’s resolve follows a directive issued by Governor John Duncan late Friday in which he used his constitutional power to force the Government to add US$800,000 to the police budget for this financial year.

The government, in its budget had allocated US$161 million to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.

Duncan, told journalists that he was reluctant to resort to his constitutional power, but said the police force is currently under funded at a time when crime is a big concern.

Governor John Duncan
Governor John Duncan

The Governor’s announcement has been endorsed by the Premier.

“Yes, we must provide the police with financial resources. In addition, the Commissioner (of Police) and the Force must continue to be innovative and creative in carrying out their duties….” He said.

However, a member of the main opposition Virgin Islands Party (VIP),Julian Fraser – said the order issued by Duncan has set the territory back in its constitutional advancement.

“I didn’t think the day would come when I would see a governor exercise a monarchical take-over of our Treasury. This is what I call a soft takeover of the democratically elected Smith government. The governor was wrong and he has to be stopped,” Fraser said in a post on his Facebook page.

According to Fraser, who the governor recently removed as opposition leader – the Governor should stay out of “our local politics”

“He has the Protocols for Effective Financial Management to hold the government accountable with. That is an administrative arrangement between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Government of the Virgin Islands to keep the government frugal in its financial affairs,” Fraser noted.

Since the start of the year three persons have been murdered across the territory – with two being murdered in less tan 24 hours.

According to police statistics, last year, four people were murdered and 18 gun robberies were reported.

Posted in Buisness/Economy/Banking, Crime, International, Legal, Local, News, Police, Politics0 Comments

Vieuz Fort

Opposition party warns of mass demonstrations against multi-billion-dollar project

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Mar 15, CMC – The main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) says it has embarked upon a series of public and town hall meetings to galvanise support for its planned mass demonstrations against the multi-billion-dollar “Pearl of the Caribbean”  project in the southern town of Vieux-Fort.

“The St. Lucia Labour Party reiterates its opposition to the DSH project in its current form and is even more outraged at the proposed Phase 2 of the project which will include the Maria Islands. The party believes that if allowed to proceed, the projects will bring untold hardships on the people of the south in particular, as well as our fragile eco-system,” the SLP said in a statement.

Vieuz FortIt said as a result it is embarking upon on a series of town hall and public meetings “island wide to bring the issue to the people,” and it “intends to thereafter take to the streets in mass demonstrations”.

Last week, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet urged St. Lucians to be “bold and courageous” in the face of new opportunities which can only help the island develop.

Last July, the authorities here announced that the US$2.6 billion project will occupy a 700-acre site and will include a marina, a racecourse, a resort and shopping mall complex, casino, Free Trade Zone, extensive entertainment and leisure facilities, as well as architecturally designed villas and apartments.

“Overall, the Pearl of the Caribbean Development is designed to be a well-balanced project with open space making up over 50 per cent of the overall development. It is designed to be a sustainable and self-contained development and is expected to generate between 500 to 800 jobs in construction during its initial phase of implementation,” according to the statement by Invest St. Lucia

The Hong Kong-based Desert Star Holdings (DSH).project has attracted both supporters and detractors with former prime minister Dr. Kenny Anthony warning in January that there will never be peace in Vieux Fort and St. Lucia if the deal is not renegotiated and the project redesigned.

“If this agreement is not renegotiated, if this agreement is not redesigned, if all the offensive provisions in that agreement are not removed then I say to you tonight, there will never ever be peace in this community and in this country,” Anthony said.

But Prime Minister Chastanet told the conference which included the project developer Teo Ah Khing and his delegation, that he would be appointing a taskforce specifically for this project with various departments “to ensure that we do the necessary work but at the same time that we are ready to implement this project as soon as all the work has been completed.

“St. Lucia it is time for us take control of our own destiny. Let us stop living in mediocrity. Let us develop our assets for all the citizens in the south and for St. Lucia. The time for change is now.”

The DHS official pledged “to continue to preserve, enhance; do detailed research on all the existing wild life and marine life on this island.
“Secondly, we are going to allow local tourists to be able to experience the very rare natural features right out there in the ocean and allow it to be a tourism attraction added onto the already interesting attractions in the island St. Lucia.

“Thirdly, with the creation of this 150 to 200 acres of new land certain portions will be returned to the people of St. Lucia. This is not just about the public parks or ocean parks that the visitors are going to enjoy; this is to allow us to put ourselves on the world map for the international research of wild life,” he added.

But in its statement, the SLP said that the government has shown “it is insensitive to the cries of the people of the country and appears determined to ram down the throats of our citizens without any meaningful consultation, major projects that can significantly transform the lives of the people.

“From leasing prime lands at EC$1.00 (One Ec dollar =US$0.37 cents) per acre to the destructions of our eco system at Maria Islands, the Prime Minister continues to show scant regard for the welfare of St. Lucians.”

The party said that even while Chastanet was assuring St.Lucians that only a Framework Agreement existed and that negotiations were ongoing, the developer was already clearing lands though no DCA approval had been given and no Environmental Impact Assessment has been undertaken.

It said that even the cries of the St. Lucia National Trust (SLNT) have fallen on deaf ears.

The SLNT has called on the government to re-think its plans for the multi-billion dollar project saying it has “been trying feverishly to obtain official project documents from the relevant authorities but to no avail.

“This proposed plan threatens Maria Islands, a Nature Reserve, which is the home of the world’s rarest snake, the St. Lucia Racer as well as the St. Lucia whiptail and many other unique flora and fauna,” the SLNT said, adding that “the disturbing news is that in addition to destroying the ecological, environmental, historical, archaeological and social assets enshrined in Pointe Sable, the DSH plan includes a proposal to connect Maria Major and Maria Minor and building a causeway to the main land,” it added.

The SLP said it wanted to assure nationals that “it will not stand idly by whilst the government literally gives away our land.

“This is not a partisan issue but instead one which will negatively impact the vast majority of St. Lucians. We call on all right-thinking St. Lucians to stand up for their country and to stand up for their children’s future.

“For our part, the St. Lucia Labour Party will do all within its lawful means to ensure these projects do not proceed in the manner the Prime Minister has described,” the party added.

Posted in Buisness/Economy/Banking, Local, News, Politics, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

Rowley KK

Trinidad PM supports death penalty

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 16, CMC – Prime Minister Dr, Keith Rowley Thursday said he supports the death penalty and that his administration is working towards having it implemented as it moves to deal with those citizens bent on committing murder ‘with impunity” in Trinidad and Tobago.

Rowley, speaking at the end of the weekly Cabinet news conference, told reporters that “this fight against the criminal element is a national crusade” and urged the public to assist the police in carrying out their investigations.

Rowley KK
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

“This just require that we stay on the job and do what is required. There are people in this country who has chosen crime as a way of life,” he said, adding that “we are being traumatised by a very small minority and we are going to take the best chance in law to protect us”.

Rowley said that even when people are incarcerated “they are running criminal empires from inside the jail and we are going to take steps to ensure that this does not go on”.

He told reporters he does not care whatever the backlash could be from his position but he wanted to make it abundantly clear that he is a “firm believer in capital punishment.

“It is the punishment for the crime,” he said, noting that “it is my view that people acting with impunity that nothing will happen” when they commit the crimes including murder.

Rowley said that the Attorney General Faris Al Rawi has set up in his office the mechanism to monitor persons who have been convicted of murder and is moving to ensure that they pay the penalty keeping in mind the Pratt and Morgan ruling of the Privy Council that persons on death row for more than five years can’t be executed.

Despite Trinidad and Tobago hosting the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the oil rich twin island republic still uses the London-based court as its final court.

Rowley said that former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj is also assisting the government so that “persons of recent vintage (convicted of murder) will pay the ultimate penalty”.

Rowley said that his administration is providing all the necessary resources to the security forces to deal with the crime situation here and reiterated a call for the law abiding public to help the police in their investigation.

Rowley said there were some people who were bent on committing crime not as a result, for instance of having lost their jobs, but who believe that it is their right to take lives and property from other nationals.

The last execution in Trinidad and Tobago occurred on July 28, 1999 when Anthony Briggs was hanged after being convicted for the August 1992 murder of a taxi driver, Siewdath Ramkissoon during a robbery in August 1992.

Briggs was hanged just over a month after the members of the Dole Chadee gang were hanged over a three-day period.

Dole Chadee, Joey Ramiah and Ramkelawan Singh were executed on June 4, 1999, while Clive Thomas, Robin Gopaul and Russell Sankeralli were hanged on June 5, 1999.

On June 7, 1999 Joel Ramsingh, Steve Eversley and Bagwandeen Singh were hanged.

The Chadee gang were hanged for their involvement in the murder of the Baboolal family in 1994.

Posted in Crime, International, Legal, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Security0 Comments

Sir Probyn Inniss

Government announces national day of mourning and state funeral for former Governor

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Mar. 16, CMC – Former Governor Sir Probyn Inniss will be accorded a state funeral with full military honours on March 23.

In a release on Thursday, the government said the day will also be one of national mourning.

Sir Probyn Inniss“The body of Sir Probyn will lie in state at Government House from 9:00am to 2:00 pm, the same day of the funeral. All flags on government buildings will be flown at half-mast and a half holiday will be proclaimed on March 23,” the release said.

The funeral service will be held at the Wesley Methodist Church in Basseterre at 2:30 pm (local time) with interment at the Springfield Cemetery.

In preparation for the funeral, a committee, headed by Cabinet Secretary Josephine Higgins has been established to oversee the arrangements.

Sir Probyn served as Governor from 1975 to 1981 and was knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth in 1976.

A graduate of the University of the West Indies and the Inns of Court School of Law, he received the Super Lion Award at Chancellor Hall in 1976.

He authored numerous books including Methodism in St. Kitts in 2006, Historic Basseterre (1979), Whither Bound St. Kitts-Nevis (1983), Memorable Quotations (2002), and Forty Years of Struggle, The Birth of the Labour Movement (2005).

He died on March 12 at the age of 80.

Posted in Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Mark Pettingill

Backbencher quits ruling party

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Mar. 16, CMC  -Lawyer and backbencher Mark Pettingill delivered a major jolt to the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) on Thursday by resigning from the governing party, saying he is likely to retire from politics altogether at the next general election due later this year.

Mark Pettingill
Mark Pettingill

The former Attorney General told reporters he will serve as an independent MP in his Warwick North East constituency until then.

It means the OBA and the opposition Progressive Labour Party (PLP) each has 17 legislators in the House of Assembly, with two independents, although the PLP’s Randy Horton is the Speaker of the House and can vote only in the case of a tie.

Pettingill’s law firm colleague Shawn Crockwell, a former Tourism and Transport Minister, resigned from the OBA last year to become an independent.

There was no immediate response from Premier Michael Dunkley, whose party won the 2012 general election by 19 seats to 17.

Pettingill said he felt compelled to leave the governing party due to conflicts with his legal work, revealing his firm, Chancery Legal, has been in talks with patients of former PLP Premier Dr Ewart Brown, after police recently raided Brown’s clinics.

Pettingill added that he “diametrically and philosophically” opposes the government’s position on numerous issues.

In recent months, Pettingill has been a vocal critic of the party he helped to form in May 2011. This year, he delivered a speech on race in the House, which revealed his deep concern with his party’s handling of the issue and was praised by several PLP MPs.

“I have this morning advised the Premier that I will be resigning from the One Bermuda Alliance. I intend to sit as an independent MP until the next general election, at which time I will likely resign from politics,” Pettingill told the media.

“I find myself in a position of ongoing professional legal conflict with the government on various existing litigation and potential matters that my law firm has been approached about having conduct over.

“Furthermore, I have unfortunately found myself diametrically and philosophically opposed to the government’s position or approach on numerous issues in endeavouring to move Bermuda forward. I respect that the Premier, and the cabinet, takes a different view.

“In the interest of the country, I sincerely wish the government every success for the remainder of their tenure in office, recognising that they have in fact accomplished many positive things for the island.”

Pettingill was first elected as an MP for the now defunct United Bermuda Party (UBP), which ran the country for 30 years until it was ousted by the PLP in 1998, in Warwick West in 2007.

Two years later, he was a member of a breakaway group of UBP MPs which formed the Bermuda Democratic Alliance (BDA). In 2011, the BDA merged with the UBP to found the OBA.

In the 2012 election, Pettingill switched to Warwick North East, where he defeated long-serving PLP MP Dale Butler as the OBA won power for the first time.

Posted in Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Important Notice

Newsletter

Archives