One leg man jailed

Everton McMillan – had in his possession a dangerous weapon at a night club

A St. Andrew’s man who has one leg and has to make use of a pair of crutches to assist him in walking has been given a four-month prison sentence on Monday by Chief Magistrate Tamara Gill.

Everton McMillan pleaded guilty to a charge of an offensive weapon after being in possession of a cole steel.

McMillan was picked up in the early hours of Saturday by members of the Criminal Investigation Department during a police operation at Club Temptation in La Mode, St. George’s.

A search of the 39-year old unemployed resident who lives in St. Andrew’s revealed the weapon in his left pocket while being on the dance floor.

Attorney Francis Paul who mitigated on behalf of McMillan told the court the previous day his client was pursued by a young man from Willis, St. George’s and had to be rescued by some villagers.

Paul said that confrontation relates to the ongoing feud in the St. George’s North East area.

According to the lawyer, McMillan has relatives in Beaulieu and Boca and as a result he frequents the area.

He said because McMillan had witnessed what had taken place when the chopping incident took place last month in Willis, he has been targeted and constantly troubled by young men from the area.

Meanwhile, there seems to be no end to the ongoing feud in the St. George’s North East area although the police have been making regular visits to the villages there.

One day after high-ranking police officers who are attached to the Central Division of the Royal Grenada Police Force paid a visit to Beaulieu, St. George’s, a member of the community was attacked.

A bus operator from the Zone 7 route complained to the police that the individual who was a passenger on his bus was chopped by an unknown individual.

The bus operator said that in the process his bus that operates between Willis and the Town of St. George was damaged.

A source told The New Today Newspaper the chopping took place Friday night when the bus stopped at Beaulieu junction to drop off another passenger.

The source who does not wish to be identified said that as the bus was about to move off, the unknown individual approached the vehicle with a cutlass and started chopping the young man who was sitting at the back of the bus.

The feud among young men from the neighbouring villages began last month, and so far four persons have been charged with grievous harm.

Steele’s Auto presents Suzuki Kizashi

The Suzuki Kizashi – center of attraction to vehicle lovers

Suzuki has made its first sport sedan available to the Grenada market.

The Kizashi is now considered the auto maker’s flagship vehicle.

It is priced at $138,000.00 and was presented to members of the media last week Friday at the agent’s Grand Anse, St. George’s Showroom, Steele’s Auto Supplies.

Suzuki Sales Manager Trevor Bovington described the vehicle as a luxury sedan sport model that Suzuki has recently released.

“It has a very, very nice slick look. We’re very happy with the way it has been received so far,” he said.

The car has a 2.4 litre engine, but the Sales Manager said it is designed to be very fuel efficient.  According to Bovington Suzuki has not had a sport sedan previously.

The Kizashi comes only with an automatic transmission.

Franka wages war on Peter David

Peter David – attempted to shut the voice of the women

General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Peter David could likely feel the wrath of Caribbean Women coming down on him over his pronouncement of declaring the election of Officers of the party’s Women Arm null and void.

Last month, the women’s group elected a new executive body that is now led by hairdresser, Jennifer Simon-Rapier after the group did not have an election for the past three years.

However, at an Executive Meeting of the NDC, David declared the election to be null and void on the claim that there was not a fair representation from the 15 constituencies.

In reacting to the move being made by David, Education and Human Resource Development Minister, Senator Franka Bernadine said she was tremendously disappointed with the move made by the General Secretary.

However, she said he has touched the wrong cord.

“The women in Grenada are neither asleep nor willing to be stomped out by the arrogance of one or two ladies,” she said.

“I am dying to open this up to the Caribbean so that the Caribbean women could stand together and understand. This is a coming together of a group of women,” she added.

Sen. Bernadine who was a guest earlier this month on “Sunday’s With George Grant” said for the first time, since being a member of the National Executive, a group of women have come together to organize themselves.

She quoted the former Secretary of the Women’s Arm as disputing David’s claim that there was not representation from all the constituencies.

According to Sen. Bernadine there were over 70 women from all Parishes except St. Mark’s and Carriacou at the meeting that took place at Wesley Hall on Lucas Street, St. George’s.

She said she has already written to the Acting Chairman of the party, Stanford Simon registering her concerns.

“I would like to see the General Secretary … say to those 76 women which we should really bring back right in that same meeting right in that Wesley Hall where we had that meeting and let him tell them ‘You are null and void’”. You would hear such a cry coming from Jamaica right down to the Caribbean. You can’t just wipe women out that way,” she said.

Opponents trump insurance bill

A bill tabled by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government suffered a humiliating defeat in Parliament when the Opposition and Government backbenchers toppled the Bill during a vote.

Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Mitchell says he can’t support a levy at this time

 

The Insurance (Amendment) Act, 2012, provides for the imposition of a levy of 1% on the gross premium income,

net of premium funds, on insurance companies conducting general insurance business and associations of underwriters, the proceeds of which will be paid directly to the Grenada Authority for the Regulation of Financial Institution (GARFIN) being the regulator of financial institutions and providing that this payments are made within 21 days at the end of each month.

The second proposed amendment is to allow for companies conducting long-term insurance business to pay a deposit of $500,000.00 directly to GARFIN that will be held by the Authority in trust at 0% interest rate.

The Bill was presented by Finance Minister, Nazim Burke, who explained that there were extensive consultations with the insurance companies before the Bill was brought to parliament and that the Insurance companies understand the reason for it.

Burke say the Bill will ensure the financial regulatory framework is sound, that all financial agencies are regulated to prevent recurrences such as the collapsed First International Bank of Grenada, SGL, NALGICO, CLICO and BICO fiascos. He said to ensure sound financial regulation; GARFIN needs to have a stream of income, which is what this legislation will provide.

Finance Minister Nazim Burke tabled the Insurance (Amendment) Act, 2012

The finance minister said that the timing is good to implement the levy after holding out on it for the past four years. He said the money is not to give GARFIN profit but to ensure that if people were to lose their monies in these institutions they will not expect Government to take responsibility for their loss.

“What the government’s role is, is not to be there as a sugar daddy, for everybody.  The government does not have the means itself, what the government is seeking to do is to collect sufficient resources and only sufficient resources to ensure that the system works well”, he said.

The finance minister’s explanation was insufficient to lobby support from the Opposition New National Party (NNP) members and Government Backbenchers, Karl Hood and Michael Church. Opposition Leader Dr Keith Mitchell raised serious objection with the amendment to the Bill on the basis that this financial demand on these companies will have a negative effect on their business and policyholders.

Mitchell said that the New National Party would not support any levy of any kind during this economic challenging period and suggested that GARFIN as was established by his administration should continue to receive Government’s subvention to undertake its work.
Government Backbencher, Karl Hood questioned what happens with the interests to be received on those monies to be held by GARFIN and was informed by the finance minister that the interest incurred on the monies from the insurance companies and the Association of Underwriters will create the stream of revenue for GARFIN. Burke said that Government does not have monies to hand over subventions to GARFIN.

A vote was called for on the bill which ended five in favour of the Bill, six against and four absent.

Sixteen-year old charged with arson

A young man from St. Andrew’s is charged with arson as a result of a dispute he had with his mother last week.

A high level source told THE NEW TODAY Newspaper the 16-year old student allegedly set alight two bottles of  gasoline in order to commit the act.

The source who spoke on condition of anonymity said the young man who resides with his mother at Telescope, St. Andrew’s threw one of the lighted bottles in the verandah, and the other at the electric meter which caught fire.

Police Officers attached to the Grenville Fire Department were called out and they distinguished the fire.

According to the source, the young man was reacting to his mother’s, alleged cutting of his shoe, and two days later burning some of his clothes.

Another new face in the NDC lineup

David Hillaire gives his son Terrie his blessings

National Democratic Congress (NDC) continues its search to present a different team of candidates to face the polls at the next General Elections that are constitutionally due in the next 12 months.

Prime Minister and Political Leader Tillman Thomas said his party wants to have a team of committed and dedicated people for the upcoming general elections. He was at the time addressing the endorsement rally of Terrie Hillaire, candidate for St. Andrew’s North East
“As a political party we need to have a cohesive and united team going into the elections. We would be misleading the people if we pretend that we are united and we’re not. We have to be sincere and honest, and therefore, we have to make changes as a political organization,” he said.

The NDC Political Leader disclosed that there is an attempt to “seize the brand of the NDC.”

However, Prime Minister Thomas said the brand and the value of the NDC go hand-in-hand.

A section of the mass of people who came out to support Terrie Hillaire

“Those who do not share the value cannot really take the brand… We must make it loud and clear, the brand of the National Democratic Congress is not for sale,” he said.
The Grenadian Leader said a true NDC would never frustrate or oppose the reorganization and the re-energizing of the Women’s Arm of the NDC.

Deputy Political Leader Nazim Burke said as the party prepares the “right people,” key candidates and key caretakers are being identified in important areas.

“We have selected people of integrity, we have selected people of decency, we have selected people who are committed to the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance,” he said.

He said several months ago many of the NDC supporters were concerned about the future of the party.

Burke said many people wondered whether the government would survive, while there are those who wondered if Thomas would remain the Prime Minister of the country and the Political Leader of the NDC.

He said the seeds of doubts were sown by people within the party.
“They led you to believe that the Honourable Tillman Thomas was not deserving of the leadership of our country. They were trying to lead you to believe… that Tillman Thomas was a dictator…that he had no concern for the people and that we need a change,” he said.

Burke said the people always decide who their leader would be, and the only way this can be taken away from them is by the use of guns.

On March 13, 1979 guns were used by a group of people led by Maurice Bishop to topple the duly elected Eric Gairy Government.

He said those who are opposed to the Prime Minister and the “real NDC” are getting increasingly nervous and desperate.

Burke who is the country’s Finance Minister spoke out against those Parliamentarians who did not support the Amendment to the Insurance Act last week Friday.

Two government back benchers, Michael Church and Karl Hood joined the four opposition members to vote against the amendment.

Burke said he saw ignorance and mischief get married that day in the nation’s Parliament.

Hillaire joins Sen. Denneth Modeste and Sen. Dr. George Vincent in representing the constituencies of St. Mark’s and St. John’s respectively making it three new faces that have so far been presented as members of the “New NDC Team.”

House Speaker acts to protect the honour of Parliament

George McGuire is awaiting a response from Republic Bank

The allegations of a questionable financial transaction involving Grenada’s Prime Minister is not over and Speaker of the House of Representatives George Mc Guire is not backing away.

During last week Friday’s sitting, the Speaker updated the House on his promise to write a “take note letter” to Republic Bank (Grenada) Ltd as a result of allegations of a financial transaction from Saudi Arabia by a senior member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) led government to ensure that confidentiality has not been breached.

“I indicated to the manager of the bank that Parliament claims the right to enquire into any matter and that parliament has the right to order any and all documents to lay before it which it believes are necessary for its information”, he told the House.

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Mitchell made the allegation of a questionable financial transaction involving a senior government official on May 15 at a Sitting of the House of Representatives. He claimed to have “solid evidence” that US$150,000.00 came into Republic Bank for a senior official of government (NDC) from Saudi Arabia.

Despite repeated calls for the Opposition to present its evidence contrary to a copy of a receipt of a transaction involving US$50,000 by the prime minister and the named bank, the Opposition has not accepted the challenge.

McGuire told that House that he is awaiting a response from the management of the bank and hopes that the next sitting of the House of Representatives will bring the issue to a complete end.

Parliament is in recess for the month of August, following a request from the Leader of Government Business and will resume sittings in the month of September.

“It is my fervent hope that this rather unpleasant matter which has done irredeemable harm to parliament will be brought to a final conclusion by the next sitting of this honourable House”, the Speaker said.

During a political rally at Telescope, St Andrew earlier this month Parliamentary Representative for Carriacou and Petite Martinique and member of the opposition New National Party (NNP), Elvin Nimrod, in reference to the Speaker’s “take note” letter said, “That is not his business; that is not his place, he’s trying to usurp the authority of the judiciary”.

Nimrod believes that Prime Minister Tillman Thomas’s refusal to disclose the source of the contribution demonstrates arrogance, lack of transparency and contempt on his part and that he is now convinced more than ever that the continued refusal by the prime minister to disclose the source of the US$50,000.00 is a telling indication that the money might have come from an illegal source such as money laundering, drug trafficking or terrorist financing which violates Grenada’s Law on Terrorism.

He said it is obvious that the Prime Minister is more interested in protecting the identity of some suspicious foreign donor than upholding the laws of his country and satisfying the needs of his people.

PM Thomas has maintained that he will not disclose the source of funds US$50,000.00 contributed to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) from the British Virgin Island, through his personal bank account at Republic Bank as a trustee of the party to enhance the work of the National Democratic Congress.

TAMCC Principal adamant about raising tuition

Government representative, members of the TAMCC Board of Directors and members of the TAMCC faculty

Principal of the T.A. Marryshow Community College, Dr. Jeffrey Britton, launched a scathing defense of the College’s intent to increase fees and warned of drastic measures to be taken if the increase is denied.

Dr. Britton last week in his remarks during the institution’s 23rd Graduation ceremony at the National Stadium lashed out at policymakers for its stance against the decision to increase fees.

Addressing hundreds of graduates, parents, officials and well wishers, Dr Britton explained that the academic year has been one filled with challenges, disappointments, improvisation, embarrassments, sleepless nights, frustrations, loss of patience, and few instances of resilience.

He said there were days when the island’s lone tertiary institution was out of basic items, times when salaries were significantly late, especially for part-time lecturers some of whom threatened to stop teaching. The principal said they received several oral and written lectures and abuse from some business enterprises for outstanding payments for services provided.

Dr. Jeffrey Britton B.Ed, M.A., Ph.D., Principal T.A.M.C.C

He said that College is in debt of more than $800,000.00 to a vast number of business enterprises and therefore the issue of fees is not an irresponsible one and they have stretched to cut cost at the institution without compromising the quality of the curriculum.

The principal said there were false accusations of wastage and lack of accountability and transparency at the College all because management asked the policy makers for more financial assistance to carry out the day-to-day operations of a college that has outgrown its allocated financial resources in the interest of knowledge and development.

Amidst loud outbursts of applause from members of faculty and students, Dr Britton said there has not been a scientific or economic rationalization as to why the College budget was cut to an inadequate $10 million while the College needs $14 million annually to moderately run it’s day-to-day affairs. “TAMCC generates $2.13 million from fees and services,” he said, when statements such as “bound a way spending” is made its nothing more than nonsensical gossip.

He said the college caters to 44 full time programmes, 28 Associate Degrees and 16 certificate programmes, in addition to the School of Continuing Education which caters to 24 short part time programmes, 5 campuses, 319 employees, 152 full time lecturers and 167 non-teaching staff; 56 part time lecturers, 2700 full and part time students.

Dr Britton said that despite the challenges the staff continues to provide quality education to students and students continue to perform exemplary. One source of concern he said is the regional nursing programme that is being reviewed. He said that the College’s only source of comfort is from parents of students and well-wishers and is “priceless,”   adding that this gives them the solace to hang on and weather the storms despite the turbulence and baseless rumours.

He said the most important question asked is,” how do we maintain our commitment to access and our commitment to quality education without compromising either … is it preferable to send home some staff members who may have several family members to take care of instead of increasing the fees albeit and provide financial assistance and guidance to those that really cannot pay or is it preferable that TAMCC close its doors to all instead of depriving those that cannot pay and can seek relevant intervention through a realistic loan scheme, family sacrifice and public giving?”

Dr. Britton said that as a result of the policy-makers decision not to support the increase in fees at the College several programmes would be capped – culinary arts, building construction, natural sciences and business among others. He said some of these programmes are expensive to run and faculty for them is mainly part-time lecturers. He said that there are many other areas of studies that the college will like to extend to students including criminal justice.

Year one students will have new programs at their disposal such as general nursing, midwifery, Horticulture, social work, cultural studies, physical education and sports, secondary teacher education, property and facility maintenance, furniture making, front desk operation and plumbing.

Dr. Britton said they are striving to avoid the retrenchment of any full time staff at this time however he warned that if there were no increase in tuition in fees for the new academic year then more drastic measures would be taken to sustain the existence of TAMCC.

“As we endeavour to find solutions to our financial woes, the direction we choose will determine TAMCC’s future”, he said that it is time for stakeholders to rally around the island’s lone tertiary institution, make a meaningful investment and bail out TAMCC from its financial woes.

GARFIN Amendment Act draws fiery debate in Parliament

Parliament took an interesting turn on Friday when the Opposition New National Party voted along with two Members of Parliament on the Government side to kill the Insurance Amendment Bill (2012) designed to introduce a sort of reserve requirement ratio for insurance companies wishing to do business in the Spice Isle.

Finance Minister Nazim Burke

Minister for Finance Nazim Burke upon the Bill’s second reading insisted that in view of the fact that the financial sector has been bombarded with incidents of folding financial institutions, which resulted in intolerable losses for the public and investors, Government felt that it had become necessary to institute a clause which makes it mandatory for companies doing business in Grenada to make a deposit of EC$500,000, to the Grenada Authority for the Regulation of Financial Institutions (GARFIN)  designed to serve as a safety net.

Pointing to the CLICO and British American debacle and the SGL saga that left thousands of Grenadians without their life savings and pensions, Hon. Burke noted that the Government owed a duty of care to its citizens to try and provide in some way for that eventuality, and even to prevent it.

The Finance Minister said the Amendment sought to provide for the citizens and investors, that necessary recourse, that the Government had been burdened with for the past four years.

In his opposition to the Amendment, Leader of her Majesty’s Opposition Dr. Keith Mitchell, sought to point out that in these hard economic times, the government was seeking to place an additional burden on its population, an argument countered by the Leader of Government’s Business Nazim Burke who commented that it was better to spend one dollar extra to protect your hundred dollars, rather than wake up one day and find it altogether gone.

Member for St. George’s South East Karl Hood, in his stated opposition of the amendment, felt that it “made no sense.”

In the end, when the matter was put to a vote and a division of the House requested by the Opposition, the Bill was defeated 6 votes to 5, with Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, Ministers Nazim Burke, Patrick Simmons, Dennis Lett, Alleyne Walker voting in the affirmative, and Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Mitchell, and Members Roland Bhola, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen, Elvin Nimrod voting in the negative with help from Government Members Michael Church and Karl Hood who echoed Opposition sentiments. It was the introduction of the GARFIN Amendment Act 2012 that saw the House’s dissension into overheated debate, when the Opposition Leader’s contributions on the matter were interrupted by Finance Minister Burke on a point of order.

Dr. Mitchell prefaced his contributions by intimating that the GARFIN Bill sought to introduce through the back door, the regulations that were shot down by the earlier vote, and it was on this point that the Finance Minister rose to make his declarations.

According to Minister Burke, the GARFIN Bill only sought to do two things, the first of which was the removal of “duplicitous” legislation already contained in the “Money Bill” and the second was that it sought to make the principals of an offending company criminally liable for any nefarious dealings resulting in the loss of investor funds.

Burke said that he found it offensive that the Opposition Leader would suggest any ulterior motive when the preceding vote was clear, in striking dead a bill designed to regulate an industry fraught with perils, especially in the face of a financial crisis.

The Leader of Government Business reminded the House that whilst the vote spoke for itself, the actions of those that voted will be judged by a public, who would have suffered the ills of non regulation.

All but insisting that their action was not a vote against regulation, but against a bill they thought was designed to increase the financial burden on the public, the very members offered no objection to the passage of the Bill, in a debate that saw the Speaker of the House having to speak severely to several members on the issue of conduct during contributions by other members.

Men are dying at faster rate

PS Ministry of Health Isaac Bhagwan together with Dr. George Mitchell at the consultation

Men in Grenada are believed to be dying at a faster rate than their female counterparts.

That analysis was brought to the attention of a number of stakeholders who attended last week’s National Consultation on Health, by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, Dr. George Mitchell.

Dr. Mitchell disclosed that the rapid rate of deaths of men over women is an area that is of critical concern for the ministry and the nation.

According to him, the life expectancy for female is 73 years, while for men it is 69 years.

Dr. Mitchell said the country’s health profile has changed from the common health issues such as diarrhea, vomiting and belly aches to chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer.

He said these are now the leading causes of death in Grenada.

Dr. Mitchell was making a presentation on the state of the country’s health
The CMO described Grenada’s health status as being S and S (Stable and Satisfactory).

He indicated that the country’s infant mortality rate was almost seven percent per one thousand births in 2010, while there has been a nearly zero maternal mortality rate.

Now that HIV/AIDS is a worrying factor to a number of countries, Dr. Mitchell said from since 2001 the country has seen fluctuations, peeking at around 2007.

The number of reported cases declined in 2008 and 2009, but the numbers went up in 2010 and 2011.

“We have strengthened our programmes to make sure that we correct this unfortunate trend,” the CMO said.

Dr. Mitchell was particularly concerned about the way in which people observe their hygienic conditions.

He said leptospirosis which is a disease carried by rats has been peeking on and off since 2007.

“It speaks to the fact that we need to be more vigilant at the community levels and be careful in terms of our basic hygienic techniques,” he said.
Dr. Mitchell said tuberculosis seems to be a re-emerging condition.
He said with the advent of HIV/AIDS tuberculosis has re-emerged in 2006.
However, he said there has been a steady decline since, with only a few cases being recorded in 2011.

Other health challenges include teenage pregnancy, and drug abuse.
Amidst the challenges now facing the Ministry of Health, Dr. Mitchell expressed concerned about the customer service given by the health providers.

He said he does not think many health care givers understand the importance of customer service given to those in their care.

Dr. Mitchell said while there are health professionals who are caring, and understand the issue, it  is an area that needs to be improved.

“The concept of health that we’re trying to promote must begin with the individual. We have to start taking care of ourselves, we have to start looking inwards,” he said.