KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – A num-ber of the country’s businesses, including the retail and distributive trades, will be ‘locking shop’ today in support of the call by the Private Sector Or-ganization of Jamaica (PSOJ) for businesses to close to protest the escalating crime problem.
However, many enterprises will open for part of the day and close at lunch time, while others have opted to re-main open but show solidarity by en-couraging their employees to attend the protest rally at Emancipation Park in Kingston.
A number of enterprises including banks, credit unions, gas stations and supermarket chains would be closing their doors.
Meanwhile, Senator Burchell White-man, the information minister and gov-ernment’s chief spokesman, said that while the administration understood the need for the protest to register “strong concern” with the serious crime problem in the country, it was hoping that the protest would not be used by some elements to create disorder.
“The hope is that the protest will not derail the current agreement between the government, the opposition and the police on the importance of maintaining a united front on crime.
“The protest is something one has to respect and understand as a strong expression of concern... recognizing that it is not an anti-government pro-test, as the organizers have made clear, while being acutely aware that the government has the lead responsibility for the security of the nation,” said Whiteman.
Among the entities closing will be the National Commercial Bank (NCB), which will close all its branches is-landwide at 1:00 pm and the Super-Plus chain of supermarkets.
The Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association (JGRA) has, in the meantime, urged gas stations to lock down their pumps between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm, while the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League (JCCUL) - umbrella organization for the island’s 50 credit unions - will be closing its corporate office and has been encouraging its members to close their doors today.
In a statement yesterday, the JCCUL said that the “time has come for the people, the government, the police and all Jamaicans to join together in this fight against the wanton and callous waste of lives of persons, including those of innocent children in our society.”
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent (AP) – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has called for Cuba to be allowed to be fully involved in hemispheric action to combat terrorism and other problems affecting the Americas.
Addressing the opening of a conference on legislative action Against Terrorism in the Eastern Caribbean, Dr. Gonsalves said “we ought not to exclude the participation of any nation in this hemisphere.”
“The continued exclusion of Cuba is in my view and the view of this government entirely wrong,” Dr. Gonsalves added.
The two-day conference is being attended by Attorneys General from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), members of the judiciary and the Organization of American States (OAS).
Dr. Gonsalves called on the US to co-operate with Venezuela in bringing to justice, the person accused of the 1976 Cubana airline disaster off the coast of Barbados, resulting in the death of 73 people.
Caracas and Havana have called on Washington to extradite Luis Posada Carriles, whom Cuba has accused of being a terrorist and the mastermind of the airline bombing.
“Posada Carriles, together with Or-lando Bosch, who was then the boss of the CORU, a CIA-created organization, was not only involved in destroying the Cubana airliner but for many years since then has organized dozens of attempts to assassinate the Cuban Revolution’s top leadership and was behind the numerous bombs that ex-ploded in Cuban tourist hotels,” Castro told a rally last week.
During his address, Dr. Gonsalves also called for the immediate release of jailed former Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, who has been on a hunger strike to protest his 10-month imprisonment without any charges being laid against him.
Legislative Drafting Consultant with the OECS Petrona Sealey-Browne said the sub-region must recognize that their country’s ability to attract investment, participate effectively in trade, and continue to receive development assistance, could be seriously jeopardized if the international community perceives a reluctance on the part of member states to enact legislation to counter terrorist activity.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) – Four Caribbean countries recorded economic growth in excess of five per cent last year, as economic performance in the region generally improved in 2004, according to the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
It said Anguilla, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia and Antigua & Barbuda all recorded increased economic growth, with Anguilla leading the group with just over 12 percent growth.
The CDB in its annual report for 2004 said economic activity in Anguil-la was driven mainly by the tourism sector, while energy sector operations spurred the seven per cent growth in Trinidad & Tobago.
In the case of St. Lucia, increased value-added in tourism and in banana production were the main contributors to the 5.4 percent economic growth, while Antigua & Barbuda’s 5.1 per- cent growth was as a result of increased activity in tourism and transportation.
“Generally, most of the countries in the region recorded higher levels of economic activity in 2004, compared with 2003,” the CDB said, indicating that the “notable exceptions were the Cayman Islands, where no growth was recorded; Grenada, where output de-clined by three percent and Jamaica, where the economy expanded by about 1.1 percent compared with 2.3 percent in 2003.”
The CDB said in all these three cases, higher levels of output were originally forecast before the damage caused by Hurricane Ivan when it swept through the region last September.
“Jamaica was affected as well by Hurricane Charlie, although in Jamai-ca’s case, hurricane damage, though considerable in absolute terms, was a smaller fraction of GDP (Gross Do-mestic Product) than in the other two countries,” the financial institution said.
The CDB noted that the Bahamas was also hit by hurricanes during 2004, with the damage resulting in a lower than expected level of output growth for the year, “although the final outturn exceeded the previous year’s level as a result of increased activity in tourism and in construction.”
“One effect of the hurricanes was a credit rating downgrade for Grenada, reflecting that rating agency’s view regarding the country’s capacity to service debt in the short to medium term,” the CDB added.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) – Guyana education authorities are warn-ing that they would not tolerate any circulation of fake Caribbean Exami-nations Council (CXC) papers in the country.
The Ministry of Education has warn-ed students not to buy CXC examination papers.
A Government Information Agency (GINA) statement said the ministry “has been reliably informed that there are fake CXC examination papers in circulation, which are being sold on the market.”