2005-08-11 / Caribbean Corner

Caribbean Roundup

PM Patterson: Education will ‘drive success’

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – Prime Minister Patterson says the nation’s 43 years of Independence has been a short time in comparison to the “four and more centuries of degradation and deprivation”, that went before.

But in the years since 1962, he said in his Independence message to the nation, Jamaica has proved fit to rule itself and has contributed remarkably to the region and the world at large.

“We are, after all, a people of pro-ven grit and resilience, whether we re-side at home or abroad. We must use these attributes to creatively explore our potential and the opportunities that exist for economic, social and spiritual growth and development. To do otherwise is a defiance of commonsense and a devaluation of the gift of life we have been given.

“Fellow Jamaicans, you have a right to expect from your leaders and society at large: proper health care, affordable housing, a sound education, ... gainful employment ... and ... the assurance of individual safety and collective security...

“But none of these can be achieved without the strategic alliances we must make between each other with all the caring, trust and compassion that a civilized society demands of all who inhabit it. In today’s competitive global economy comparative advantage rests on intellectual skills and the mastery of technology. It is for this reason, that I have been stressing the importance of investing in our human re-sources - in ourselves - through education.

“Today, education is the most effective means of shaping values, attitudes, behaviors and skills. Education is the key driver of economic transformation. It is our solemn responsibility to equip the future generation with the thinking skills that will assure their individual growth and development and the creation of a habitable society.

CCJ seeks speedy end to 1990 libel lawsuit

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) – President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Michael de la Bastide, yesterday endorsed a time-table to expedite the hearing of a 1990 libel lawsuit in-volving a Barbadian radio broadcasting company and a now defunct chicken processing farm.

The Court has provisionally fixed the hearing of the appeal for Novem-ber 7 in Port of Spain and called on attorneys on both sides to co-operate to ensure no more time is wasted.

De la Bastide, sitting with a panel of four other judges, said the matter had been pending for far too long over many years and the Court was not going to permit any more time to be lost.

In its inaugural sitting on Monday, the Court granted Barbados Rediffu-sion Services Ltd, now operating as Starcom Network, access to challenge an August 20, 2004, decision of the Barbados Court of Appeal.

The Appeal Court had affirmed the decision of the High Court to strike out the defense filed by the radio station on the basis that the company had consistently failed to comply with orders to hand over recordings requested by the owners of the chicken farm, Ram and Asha Mirchandani.

A subsequent application by the ra-dio company to take its case to the Privy Council was also refused on June 23, 2005.

The Mirchandani’s claim that the radio station’s live broadcast of semi-finals and finals of the Pic-o-de-crop competition in 1989, of three songs in particular-the Madd Chicken Song, Pluck It and Tit for Tat-as well as comments made by the Master of Cere-monies, destroyed their business after claims were made that the farm owners were selling diseased chickens.

They are seeking Bds$2.8 million as compensation.

Yesterday’s hearing was really to endorse an agreement made by attorneys on both sides to settle the record of the appeal and fixing a time-table for the record of the appeal to be filed with the CCJ.

The radio company was directed to post a Bds$40,000 bond to secure the costs of the appeal failing which the notice of appeal will be dismissed.

De la Bastide said that the Court was willing to fix the hearing to ac-commodate attorneys involved in the matter but might not be able to do so in every occasion.

He noted that the hearing of the appeal may take place at the fifth floor of Unit Trust Building in Port of Spain if alternative arrangements could not be achieved.

CDERA host workshop for public information officers

ST. GEORGE”S, Grenada (AP) – Public information officers of national disaster offices around the region end-ed two days of training in emergency communication in Grenada at the week-end.

The course, which was hosted by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), was a huge success according to CDERA Information Man-ager Terry Ally.

“This was the first workshop of its kind. We had information officers from national disaster offices of 11 CDERA member states in the Caribbean and Central America. Our particular focus was on managing information during an emergency. This was selected be-cause the experiences of 2004-2005 showed a need for strengthening this aspect of the operation,” Mr. Ally said after the workshop, which concluded at Grenada Grand Beach Resort.

A major outcome of the workshop, which was held in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) of Grenada and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), was the publication of a Frame-work Crisis Communication Plan.

MPs follow Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s lead

BRIDGETWOWN, Barbados (AP) – Government MPs have decided to follow the lead of Prime Minister Owen Arthur, who last week stated he would not take home a proposed salary in-crease, which followed a recent public sector job evaluation exercise.

It was not clear, however, whether the government MPs would be turning down the full increase or just a portion of it.

Last Saturday, a press statement issued by the parliamentary group of the governing Barbados Labor Party (BLP) fell short of saying they would do exactly what Arthur was doing but indicated they would be making “sacrifices.”

“The consensus of the parliamentary party meeting was that members will also make sacrifices following the lead of the prime minister. Arrange-ments will be made by members to give effect to these commitments to make the requisite adjustments,” a statement from the group said.

Arthur last week promised to return the increase to the treasury following public outcry about the increases for MPs and government ministers, whose salaries are linked to those of permanent secretaries.

While Arthur stated he would not press other parliamentarians to take a similar step, he suggested that if government has to address the current balance of payment issues, parliamentarians would have to lead by example.

“And I would hope they would want to make a gesture to suggest to the country that if difficult decisions are to be made, it will start with them,” he added.

The Opposition Democratic Labor Party (DLP) MPs are yet to make a collective decision. However, they are due to meet on the issue.

Opposition Leader Clyde Mascoll had said, prior to Arthur’s announcement, he would spend his entire in-crease in his constituency.

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