ECCB Governor-elect Antoine gives update on returning of monies to Policyholders

The man appointed to succeed Sir Dwight Venner as Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy Antoine is confident that the information he is privy to will give some leeway in moving things along in the CLICO/BAICO debacle facing policyholders.

The new Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy Antoine has indicated that his new position, which will become official on February 1 will allow him to provide some more insight into the Clico/Baico issue and the return of monies to Policyholders Antoine was speaking to members of the local media last week Monday during a briefing about his appointment as Governor of the ECCB.

The outgoing Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance is Chairman of the Technical Core Committee of the Clico/Baico Policy holders.

Although Antoine will no longer hold that position after February 1, he is confident that the wealth of information that he has on the issue will put him in a good position to move things along.

“I am very, very familiar with the issues and the challenges in that regard and from my new role will of course want to do what I can. It is also a financial stability issue in part”, he told reporters.

According to Antoine, the CLICO/BAICO issue concerns financial stability and economic activity and from that perspective, “I certainly will be supportive of that agenda – that’s a very important issue”.

The collapse of the Clico/Baico investments in 2009 has left the Trinidad-based companies in billions of dollars of debt and many policyholders especially in the OECS member territories are trying to recover their monies.

Antoine said one of the conference calls he had last Friday after getting the call that he has been appointed new ECCB Governor was with the Judicial Manager of British American.

One of the issues that came up was the plan surrounding an arrangement law that would soon be passed in nearly every country affected in order to make way for some closure to be brought to  the plight of the policyholders.

He said the Judicial Manager and others “were in a meeting and they asked me to call in to join them and you remember the plan of arrangement law that was passed in September, that law has now been passed in St Vincent and the Grenadines and in Antigua and Barbuda and I anticipate that it will (be) passed shortly in some of the other countries.

“…Once that law is passed and it has to be passed in the Bahamas as well, some months after that there will be a payout, a further payout for British American Policyholders,” he said.

“So this year, they’re going to be some positive developments – that’s all I would say and of course I’m aware of the private initiative by the policyholders association (of) Baico and Clico which we were supportive of and clearly we want to see that go forward and get results,” he added.

The BAICO and CLICO Policyholders Group of Grenada (BACOL) involves Dr. Patrick Antoine, the Trinidad-based Grenadian born Strategic Advisor to the Mitchell Administration.

The group is selling a proposal to help policyholders recover their monies in return for a percentage.

GUT battles government over unresolved issues

President of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) Lydon Lewis is urging members of the union to exercise patience as the executive body battles with the Keith Mitchell-led Government on a number of issues.

In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper, Lewis said he is under tremendous pressure from teachers to get the near three year old administration to address several of their concerns.

He claimed that GUT has a number of unresolved issues on the table apart from the often bandied about ones like salary increase and increments.

GUT is one of three public sector workers unions that agreed to a wage deferral with government as part of the three-year Structural Adjustment Programme that commenced in 2014.

Lewis indicated that there are people who are not receiving their allowances for acting appointments, while there are those who attained additional qualifications, but were not upgraded.

Another of the issue GUT is fighting is to get teachers who are acting as Principals for a number of years to be regularized with their full appointments.

The GUT Boss believes many more temporary teachers other than the 204 as identified by government, should have received permanent placements in the public service.

The state of the condition of some of the schools is another troubling issue for GUT.

Lewis voiced concern over the physical structure of some schools and the slow pace in which some of the work is being done especially St. Mary’s R.C. at La Fillette in St. Andrew’s.

He also made mention of broken steps at a pre-school in Paradise, St. Andrew’s which the Ministry of Education has been aware of for a long time.

“Besides the national issues like increments and others, we have a number of issues we’re dealing with as teachers, as a union,” Lewis said.

According to the GUT President, some of the issues have been on the table over the duration of his presidency for the past three years, and are yet to be resolved.

“There has to come a time when we would determine what is the best way we go forward in dealing with our issues. We can’t continue to accept, ‘oh we’re working on it, oh yes we understand,’ and nothing is happening,” he told this newspaper.

Lewis said despite having to struggle to get the over-hanging issues addressed, teachers continue to work pointing to the results coming out of various exams during the past school year, but warned that teachers are sensitive of the neglect.

“Teachers know that the union is there and continue to advocate so we have seen heightened activity. We have seen teachers coming out more now. We have seen all our activities are tremendous successes, and so we believe that we have the membership”, he said.

“What we are hesitant to do is engage teachers in any serious way because we’re giving government the opportunity to get its act together,” he added.

Lewis announced that GUT will make its decision on what would be the next step in getting government to address the issues during the union’s upcoming annual conference in the third week of March.

He said the teaching fraternity understand that the executive has been trying to get the issues resolved, “but I know when they’re ready they would say enough is enough and there would come a point where they would be heightened industrial activity by the GUT to resolve most of the issues that surround us.”

Sexual Offenses occupy bulk of cases of January Assizes

Sexual offenses continue to dominate the number of cases listed for the continued criminal assizes.

The January 2016 Assizes commenced last Tuesday with 134 cases on the cause list.
Crown Counsel Howard Pinnock who went through the list with Reporters indicated that 55 sexual offenses make up the bulk of matters on the cause list.

The matters consist of rape, carnal knowledge, incest, and indecent assault.

However, Pinnock noted that since Magistrates have the authority to conclude matters of indecent assault in their courts since 2012, there is now a steady decline in the number making its way to the high court.

According to the Crown Counsel, the alleged perpetrators of sexual offenses are either family members, friends of the family, or persons from the village.

He said it is very rare that the alleged perpetrator is a stranger to the victim.

Pinnock reported that since 2008 to the previous assizes of October 2015, there has been over 85 percent in the success rate of sexual convictions.

However, he quickly pointed out that State Prosecutors would not know the definite deterrent effect until the new sexual cases are dealt with.

Most of the sexual offenses addressed by the court would have been committed before 2012 when the maximum penalty was 15 years.

“Maybe a year, two years down the road when all of the offenses now committed after 2012, we will begin to see if there is any deterrent effect, because now we have more severe punishment (of 30 years),” Pinnock said.

The other matters making up the cause list are 18 offenses against property which includes forgery, stealing by reason of employment, and burglary; 16 non-fatal offences against the person that includes grievous harm, attempted murder and maiming; 14 homicides which includes ten murders, two manslaughter and the other two are causing death by dangerous driving; and four drug offences.

Workboat Regatta 2016 at month-end

The Grenada Sailing Festival and Westerhall Rums have joined forces for the second year to stage the Westerhall White Jack Workboat Regatta 2016 on Grand Anse Beach from January 30-31.

FBish 1The event will see boat skippers from the traditional sailing communities of Carriacou, Gouyave, Petite Martinique, Sauteurs and Woburn take to the sea alongside other boats from Bequai and Mayreau.

The organisers have promised a full day of Community Class Racing on the Saturday and again on the Sunday when all crews will be going full throttle to win first place in their community races to qualify for Sunday afternoon’s GSF16 Match Race Final.

The skippers will be vying for the title of ‘Champion of Champions’ and a cheque for US$1,000.00.

There will be more action on Sunday in the Grenada Sailing Festival’s own fleet of GSF16 Workboats, when each community nominates a Junior & Senior crew to compete to be ‘National Team Sailing Champion’ for 2016.

A release from the organisers described the regatta and sponsorship being provided as “a natural pairing of the strong heritage of seafaring and rum production – and paves the way to keep this popular traditional event growing for future years”.

BFish“This, high action, high fun Regatta Festival has been a ‘Must Go-To’ event on Grand Anse Beach for twenty-three consecutive years and organisers are looking forward to welcoming even more boats, crews and crowds to the first big fun fete in 2016”, said the release.

Over the years the event has become extremely important as a showcase of the strong sailing heritage of Grenada and its sister islands, and an integral part of the culture.

Once again, Carib is sponsor of the Senior National Team Sailing Race and Budget Marine is the Junior Team Sailing sponsor.

As a new treat, on the Saturday there will be a special ‘Sunset Session’ of live music from local artists taking part in the first ever Pure Grenada Music Festival (5th – 10th April).

The event will be rounded off with a firework display courtesy of Spice Island Fireworks.

Grenada preparing for Constitutional Reform Referendum

With Grenadians likely to go to the polls within the next three months to vote in a referendum on making changes to the 1974 Constitution document,  attorney-at-law Ruggles Ferguson who is involved in the organizational work appears to be pretty optimistic about the outcome.

Ferguson, a member of the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) believes that constitutional reform is a major aspect of the agenda in the first quarter of this year.

The barrister who is the President of the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) Bar said after 30 years of talking about constitutional reform “we are finally seeing some action.”

Ferguson who hosts a weekly radio programme on Chime FM Radio Station said he knows the debate will be intense among those in favour of the reform as compared with those who are against, and those who are neutral on the issue.

The OECS Bar Representative on the body has declared his hands on where he stands with constitutional reform by stating, “I hope to vote in favour of the constitutional reform process, vote in favour of the Bills presented.”

He expressed the hope that when the public education exercise is completed, the population will vote on the basis of conscience and what they see as being right and best for the country.

Six Bills approved by the Cabinet of Ministers to give effect to constitution reform had their first reading on December 4, 2015 in the Lower House of Parliament.

This Ferguson sees as a clear indication that Grenada has entered a new era of constitution reform.

Among the six Bills are an Act to alter the Constitution of Grenada to change the name of the State from Grenada to Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, as well as an Act to alter the Constitution of Grenada to make better provision for the Rights and Freedoms of the individual and an Act to alter the Constitution of Grenada to establish an Elections and Boundaries Commission to carry out the functions formally provided by the Supervisor of Elections.

There is also an Act to alter the Constitution of Grenada to provide for the establishing of the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final Appellate Court for Grenada in substitution for Her Majesty in Council, as well as an Act to alter the Constitution of Grenada to limit the term of office of the Prime Minister, to authorise Parliament to set a fixed date for General Elections, and to ensure that there is at all times a Leader of the Opposition.

Ferguson believes that most of the items are non-controversial, and is confident that they are receiving broad support.

However, he said CRAC needs to intensify the public education sessions with the hope that when the referendum takes place on April 26 that people are persuaded to look at the items in a very open-minded, non-partisan, political manner.

“The changes (to the constitution) are not intended to benefit any political party. The changes are intended to benefit the country as a whole. There are no colours to any of the recommendations, but the debate will add colour to the process. The debate will generate interest in the process,” he remarked.

The OECS Bar Representative spoke of constitutional reform always being an ongoing process, and expressed certainty that this will not be the last time for Grenada’s Constitution to be reformed.

“If those Bills are successful, or the majority of them are successful, I firmly believe that we will have a better constitution to better serve and protect our people,” he said.

For the referendum to be successful, a two-thirds majority of the people who participate in the process is required.

The change also requires a two-thirds majority vote of all Parliamentarians.

Committee to Save Camerhogne Park

More than 4, 500 (four thousand five hundred) Grenadians have signed the Petition to save Camerhogne Park since the launch of the Petition last Thursday.

Also a similar number have signed on-line petitions in London and the New York.

The Petition, an initiative of a Committee comprising of Civil Society groups, workers, professionals, and citizens in general is endeavoring to register in excess of 15-thousand signatures to send to the Government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, calling on his government not to sell the lone public park on the beach for the construction of a hotel by an Egyptian billionaire.

The Committee operating under the name Save Camerhogne Park says it will during the week have volunteers in each parish soliciting the signatures of citizens.

Also beginning Wednesday morning, volunteers will be at the bus terminus, St. George’s from 8 in the morning to facilitate the signing.

The Committee to Save Camerhogne Park says it is overwhelmed by the awesome response from Grenadians, noting the tremendous interest of teachers, students, senior citizens and people in general who are calling on the government to recognise that the Park is the only available public space for recreation and social activities.

Again the Committee reiterates that while it welcomes the job opportunities and business that the investment will bring for our people, it unconditionally opposes the Camerhogne Park being taken away from ordinary Grenadians, denying citizens the only available space and public facility on the beach front that was intentionally established to meet their needs and resolve the problem of user conflict.

Letters soliciting the support of the Grenada Conference of Churches, Seventh Day Conference of churches, Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association, and Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce were sent to the respective organisations today.

The Committee says the Park was initiated several decades ago as a solution to potential conflicts between the public using the beach and hotel owners and guests, noting that locals felt that they were treated as second-class citizens without any access to facilities that were provided for hotel guests.

In order to resolve those conflicts, a public facility, Camerhogne Park, was deliberately established to specifically cater to the needs of the Grenadian public using the beach.

(The above was submitted by the newly formed Save Camerhogne Park)

NDC goes to Convention on Sunday

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) will hold its annual convention on Sunday amidst reports of some possible changes to be made to the National Executive.

While not wanting to go into great details about the changes, General Secretary of the party, Patrick Simmons told The New Today newspaper that some members of the party who currently hold executive positions have expressed a desire to no longer hold positions on the executive structure.

In an exclusive interview conducted, Simmons said these people are opting out on the grounds that they need to do more party work in their own constituencies.

He believes the position of Political Leader, currently held by former Finance Minster Nazim Burke will go unchallenged.

“Who would go and challenge the Political Leader now?” he asked.

Sen. Burke was elected to lead Congress in 2014 after former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas stepped down from the position.

Burke was given the task to help rebuild NDC followings its humiliating 15-0 defeat by the New National Party (NNP) in the February 2013 general elections.

Simmons dismissed claims in some quarters that NDC is suffering from a leadership crisis.

He said there are people outside of the party who make the statement that the NDC Political Leader is not “people friendly” and do not like him.

“Like they want to choose a Leader for the NDC, but that can’t work,” he quipped.

The annual NDC Convention is being held under the theme, “Reaching Out To You To Build A Better Future For All.”

Simmons said the convention will address a number of in-house matters since there are several issues that the party needs to trash out.

He indicated that the Convention will have to give authorisation to deal with those issues, and as a result much more closed-door activities are on the agenda for the event due to be held at the Hermitage Government Primary School in St. Patrick’s.

According to Simmons, the objective behind the theme is to continue the process of reaching out to the people of Grenada.

He said NDC is currently reaching out to the general public so that they could work together in building a better future for everyone.

He spoke of different methods being used to reach out to the wide cross-section of people with whom the party needs to communicate.

“Going forward at this point, we are targeting different groups of people, different organisations right now to continue the process,” he told THE NEW TODAY.

Simmons acknowledged that there are those who are willing to engage positively, as well as those who listen to the NDC message but are not giving an indication of where they are, and those who may not want to hear anything at this point in time.

The NDC General Secretary said the party recognised that it has to keep on building capacity from the grassroots level as it puts systems in place with the hope of once again taking control of State power.

“We have to keep on engaging those foot soldiers to keep them mobilised and to keep them active in all the constituencies. So I think that is what is being embarked upon for the last couple of years, and I think we have succeeded in many ways in keeping that moving,” he added.

The NDC Convention climaxes with a special sitting of “The People’s Parliament” at the school’s playing field.

Digicel Final Cash Grab and launch of Freebies

Digicel had its final Cash Grab of the More the Merrier Christmas Promotion in the Melville Street store on January 8 as well as the launching a brand new pre-paid campaign.

There was a definite buzz in the Melville Street store as the stage was set for the $5000 Cash Grab, the last of the weekly cash grab events before the Grand Finale – the DEALightful, DEALicious, DEALirious Grand Prize Bingo for $20,000 or 2 mystery prizes.

Janelle ThomasThree customers – Veronica Cadore, Janelle Thomas, Cedric Lewis – had their thirty seconds in the vault and grabbed as much as they could.

One of the grabbers, Cadore, received a lusty round of applause as she announced that her grab would all be going toward charity.

Added to the excitement was the launch of Digicel’s brand new Freebies offer, which gives pre-paid customers who top-up between $10 and $20 twenty percent back in bonus credit that can be used to call or text local Digicel numbers.

No activation is necessary. Customers simply top-up their pre-paid phones via direct top-up between $10 and $20 and they automatically receive the twenty percent bonus credit in return.

CEO Ciaràn Burke expressed heartfelt thanks to all who won with the company in the last promotion.

“Congratulations to all of our winners who participated in the More the Merrier Christmas Promotion. It has been a wonderful season and we are happy to have the opportunity to share some joy and happiness around.

Head of Commercial with Cash Grab Contestants“The ride’s not over yet though, we still have big things to look forward to with our Grand Prize event where we get to see even more winners. Today is a special day, not just for our winners, but we launch our brand new Freebies campaign where you get back 20 percent credit just for topping up.

“It’s the start of the year and we’re just getting started. Take advantage of Freebies and look out for more from Digicel all the year through.”

tWRF responds to Mr. Winston Strachan of the U.K

The Willie Redhead Foundation (tWRF) sends New Year Greetings to Mr. Strachan and to say how delighted it was to read your article in the New Today of Jan. 15, 2016, captioned “How approachable is the Willie Redhead Foundation?”

The short answer to your query is: the WRF is very approachable, as the (local) evidence over the past 21 years have shown; but your point is well taken, that the Foundation’s international reach to the Grenadian Diaspora is not at the level that it should be in seeking assistance for the protection and preservation of our built heritage, the most valuable patrimony of our national assets.

At the launch of the Foundation in Nov. 1994, the naysayers were predicting our early demise, but as we persisted in bringing to the fore the need to first understand and appreciate our history, our heritage and our patrimony, the latent consciousness of our evolving national and eventually our Caribbean identity were aroused as the bedrock necessary for nation building.

The great disappointment however is in the deliverables of our post-independent political “leaders”, who by their actions appear to be more concerned with party political power than with the advancement of their people, so as to be able to better cope with the vicissitudes and challenges of the 21st century in achieving prosperity for all.

The Foundation has not had any engagement with the UK Grenadian Diaspora, as none of our members have any contact with relatives or personal friends in the United Kingdom. Your expressed interest in our work and your knowledge and commitment for the preservation and protection of our cultural heritage, have however opened the door, so to speak – and we would like to kindly solicit your assistance in working with us as our U.K point person in implementing your suggestions and high level contacts which you mentioned in your article.

The constituency of the Foundation embraces all of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, and is not for a select few, as dictated by our common natural and cultural heritage.

In this regard we invite you to visit our website at www.willieredheadfoundation.org, and you would get a comprehensive overview of the Foundation’s work over the past 20 years.

In order to bridge the communication gap we would greatly appreciate if you would make direct contact with us by email (norrism1234@yahoo.com) at your earliest convenience.

We sincerely look forward to working with you for the advancement of our native land.

(The above was submitted by the Willie Redhead Foundation)

Regional Diocesan Clergy meet in Grenada

The Diocese of St. George’s-in-Grenada this week hosted the 32nd annual Standing Conference of the Regional Diocesan Clergy of the Province of Castries, St. Lucia.

Catholic priest - Fr. Carl Haynes

Catholic priest – Fr. Carl Haynes

The Conference, which concludes today (Friday January 22), took place under the theme, “The Earth And Its Fullness Belong To God.”

The theme was fully endorsed by Chairman of the Local Diocesan Clergy, Fr. Carl Haynes during the opening mass on Monday.

Fr. Carl who was the Chief Celebrant of the Mass that took place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception said that as with the advancements made with technology, many people have now abandoned the old manner of having things done.

However, the Roman Catholic Priest said while new technology is available for use, it must be used wisely, not just for selfish ways, but to glorify humanity.

“As we advance, we destroy what we once knew,” he told the gathering.

Fr. Carl also spoke of greed taking over humanity.

He said because of people’s selfish ways, some have things at their disposal while others do not have.

“The more we have is the more we want, and because of greed we are plundering the environment that God has given to us to live in,” he said.

Apostolic Nuncio of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Nicola Girasoli kicked off the Conference with the main presentation on the theme at the Upper Room at the Blessed Sacrament Church at Grand Anse.

The message of seeing the Priesthood and Religious Life as optional vocations was brought to the schools by the Diocesan Clergy on Thursday.

Later that same evening the other side of the clergy and religious was brought out during a concert held at Spice Basket at Beaulieu, St. George’s.

The Standing Conference of the Regional Diocesan Clergy meets annually to develop the clergy who do not belong to a Religious Body.

The Conference also seeks to promote vocations in the host country, and conducts fellowship with members and the faithful of the Church.