Fugitive Sheldon Bain to be Sentenced for Murder

After eleven years as a fugitive from justice, 36-year-old Sheldon “Dutch” Bain will be sentenced within the next month for the role he played in the October 8, 2002 shooting death of trafficker, Omelia Roberts of Belmont in St. George.

Murder convict Sheldon “Dutch” Bain to be sentenced for the October 2002 shooting death of Belmont resident

Murder convict Sheldon “Dutch” Bain to be sentenced for the October 2002 shooting death of Belmont resident

Bain, along with three others – Kenton Phillip, Elvon Barry, and Zoyd Clement – were jointly charged with intentionally causing the death of Roberts, who was in her early fifties when she lost her life.
All four accused were indicted for murder on May 26, 2003 and convicted by a 12-member Jury on April 7, 2004.

The sentencing was set for June 25, 2004 but a few days earlier Dutch managed to escape from the Richmond Hill Prison and fled the country reportedly for neighbouring St. Vincent & The Grenadines.

The notorious Dutch soon found himself in trouble with authorities there as fingers were pointed at him in connection with a homicide.

The fugitive was freed of murder charges brought against him and was handed over to law enforcement officials in Grenada in November 2015.

Guyana-born high court judge, Justice Kenneth Benjamin, who now serves as Chief Justice in Belize, presided in the Roberts murder trial.

He ordered Zoyd Clement, who was 17 years old at the time of the murder to serve a period no longer than 15 years in prison, while Elvon Barry, who was just shy of 19 years, was given 18 years imprisonment.

20-year old Kenton Phillip, who was the one armed with the gun that was fired to kill the trafficker, was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Roberts was engaged in the trafficking of goods between Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago.
According to the evidence in court, at the time of the dreadful incident, the deceased was inside the house with her children and another adult when the intruders moved in and held them up at gunpoint.

Dutch did not enter the house but waited outside for the other three men.

The Prosecution took the view that Dutch was the ringleader and had organised the robbery and facilitated the other three with transportation and the gun used to execute the fatal shooting.

The case against the fugitive came up for sentencing last week Thursday before high court judge, Justice Paula Gilford at the No. 2 High Court on the Carenage in St. George’s.

Attorney-at-Law George Prime has taken over Dutch’s case, which was initially handled by the now serving Attorney General, Cajeton Hood.

The matter was adjourned for sentencing to February 24, 2016 pending the submissions of two reports, a psychiatric and probation report as requested by Justice Gilford.

Benjamin Charged With Brutal Murder

Less than two months after being released from the Richmond Hill prison, 27-year old Dave Martin “Giant” “Shuttle” Benjamin is back in custody after being charged with the weekend murder of an American woman vacationing in Grenada with her husband.

Police have built a circumstantial case against Dave Benjmain for the killing on the beach

Police have built a circumstantial case against Dave Benjmain for the killing on the beach

Jessica Colker was allegedly hacked to death with the use of a cutlass by the ex convict who was recently released from prison after serving five years for rape.

Benjamin who is from Coals Gap in St. David’s made a brief appearance Wednesday morning before Magistrate Nevlyn John in the Grenville Magistrate’s Court.

The accused, who hid his face from the media, is due to appear at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court today (Friday January 29).

The incident took place on Sunday morning at La Sagesse Beach when Colker along with her husband, 62-year-old Brian Melito, were on a leisure walk along a remote part of the beach, one day after arriving in Grenada.

The couple flew in from Atlanta, Georgia to spend their vacation at the small La Sagesse Nature Centre resort.

THE NEW TODAY was reliably informed that the Americans were attacked by someone who concealed his identity with the use of a mask.

He reportedly told the husband “to beat it” while pointing the cutlass in a rather menacing manner at him.

The husband ran for help and the body of the 39-year old Anesthesiologist was found nearly an hour later in the nearby mangrove.

An autopsy done on Colker’s body concluded that she died as a result of extensive skull fracture and asphyxia.

The victim Jessica Lewis Colker, 39, of Atlanta, along with her husband Brian Van Melito who  landed on the island hours earlier

The victim Jessica Lewis Colker, 39, of Atlanta, along with her husband Brian Van Melito who landed on the island hours earlier

Benjamin who is a landscaper by profession, became the chief suspect when a number of persons in the area told police investigators that they had seen him in the area moments before the incident.

A British national staying at the resort also informed the police that earlier in the day he had been engaged in a conversation with a man who had a cutlass in hand and fitted the description of the alleged assailant.

The suspect, accompanied by his father, walked into the St. David’s police station on Monday morning after words had circulated that he was a person of interest in connection with the murder.

According to police insiders, Benjamin did not co-operate with the police and denied any involvement in the killing.

One official told this newspaper that a breakthrough came when it was decided to put him on parade before the British man who had spoken to him on the La Sagesse beach.

A positive identification was made, followed by the decision to charge Benjamin with capital murder.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the grand father of the accused had spent a lengthy time at the Richmond Hill prison after he was convicted along with several others with murder.

The murder-suspect was not represented by Counsel when he appeared in court.

The U.S. Embassy in Grenada released a statement on  the incident which reads: “The U.S. Embassy confirms the death of American citizen, Jessica Lewis Colker, of Georgia who was vacationing in Grenada when she died.  The embassy is working closely with officials investigating Ms. Colker’s death.

Inquiries related to the ongoing investigation should be directed to the Royal Grenada Police Force”.
Colker was a physician’s assistant in anesthesiology at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“Jessica was a valued member of our children’s team,” said a statement from the hospital.

“We are deeply saddened by this horrific news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this very difficult time”, it added.

Hospital sources who spoke with a US media outfit said they were shocked by her brutal murder, but said they wanted to make sure she was remembered not for how she died, but how she lived.

“She was an amazing person,” said one source close to the staff. “She was a sweetheart who never had a bad word to say about anybody.”

The slaying of the American woman comes six weeks after the partially decomposed body of Canadian Linnea Veinotte was found at Golf Course, St. George’s days after she was reported to be missing after going for a walk.

The two incidents have caught world attention, putting a spotlight on the country.

Fox News issued a report on the latest incident and referred to a statement from a spokesperson at the U.S State Department before the latest attack which said, “we rank Grenada as a Caribbean Island to keep an eye on, in terms of crime and security.”

The State Department warned travellers to be aware of their surroundings in Grenada, especially after dark.

Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Keith Mitchell used a recent sitting of the Lower House of Parliament to assure the nation and the world that Grenada is still a safe place.

He said Grenada is known to be “one of the most peaceful and safest countries in the hemisphere.”
The hierarchy of the Royal Grenada Police Force addressed the murder of the American Woman during a press conference held Wednesday.

National Athletic and Football Stadium officially opens

Ambassador Ou and Prime Minister Mitchell hold onto the key to the Athletic and Football Stadium

Ambassador Ou and Prime Minister Mitchell hold onto the key to the Athletic and Football Stadium

February 23 was a landmark date for Grenada as thousands flocked into Queen’s Park last Saturday to witness the key to the newly constructed Athletics and Football Stadium officially handed over to Grenada by the People’s Republic of China.

One of the star attractions at the event was Grenada’s first and only Olympic gold medalist, Kirani James who performed the ceremonial lighting of the torch.

The facility was handed over after 25 months of construction by China State Construction Engineering Company.

In an address to mark the occasion, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said that the stadium has enormous significance for the country as there are many opportunities that lie ahead.

“It is opening up enormous opportunities to host international sporting events, not only cricket as we have done before but athletics and football”, he told a packed stadium crown.

“It means also the tourism product will be enhanced – more jobs, more services, more opportunities for the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique,” he said.

According to PM Mitchell, the ceremonial handing over of the Stadium is a testimony to the bonds of friendship between Grenada and China.

Minister for Youth, Sports and Religious Affairs, Emmalin Pierre described the historic occasion as a dream for every athlete and spoke about how she is very happy that the New National Party (NNP) government made that dream a reality.

“As we gather today as a people to receive the very wonderful gift from the government and people of the People’s Republic of China, we cannot just stop to admire this top class facility, we also have to look ahead and the road ahead of us.

“We must cherish this gift, we must take good care of this facility, we must use  it to the fullest. It must serve therefore as a motivator to go higher, to reach further, and to go to the next level as we  strive for excellence in sports.

Minister Pierre stated that this new facility must not be considered to be business as usual in sports on the island.

“It has to be the beginning of a cultural change in the way we do business in sports. Grenada will soon be a desired sports tourism destination, one where people throughout the world would want to visit,” she said.

Chinese Ambassador to Grenada, Madam Ou Boqian praised Dr Mitchell for the efforts he placed in making the Stadium a reality.

She said: “Dr. The Right Hon Keith Mitchell, we have talked about (the) project on many occasions. You have reiterated to me on many occasions, we remind each other of the significance and importance of a Stadium to the people of Grenada and social and economic development of the country. Long before it was completed you were thinking ahead and talking about the functions, the events that we may have after this Stadium is completed”.

In 2005, Prime Minister Mitchell took the decision to dump the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan and to recognize the Chinese on the Mainland.

He traveled to Beijing to sign an agreement that provided for Chinese assistance in building low-income houses for Grenadians, scholarships, assistance in agriculture and the rebuilding of the cricket stadium after it was badly damaged by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

The completion of the Athletic and Football Stadium makes way for the hosting of the CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship due to be held from March 10-13 and the CARIFTA 2016 Games scheduled for March 26-28.

Police Officer charged with gambling

A Police Officer who once had the responsibility of driving High Court Judge, Justice Francis Cumberbatch has been accused of violating the law that he pledged to uphold.

Constable Sampson Forte, of Mamma Cannes, St. Andrew’s is accused of engaging in illegal gambling last week Wednesday at Pomme Rose in St. David’s.

The 40-year old Policeman was taken into custody after allegedly caught in the company of Rondel Hagley, a 37-year old bus conductor, and Joseph Harford, 52-year old farmer, both of Pomme Rose.

A police squad reportedly cracked down on them during an operation.

All three suspects pleaded not guilty to the charge that was read to them by Magistrate Karen Noel at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court last week Friday.

Police Prosecutor, Corporal Kenneth Fortune did not object to a bail application made by Defense Counsel Peter David.

However, Cpl Fortune requested that conditions be attached to the bail but that was met with strong opposition by David who gave the court early signal that he has a lot to say about the case.

The Defense Counsel questioned why the three accused men were not given bail instantly from the time they were charged rather than having them brought to court two days after when the penalty for the alleged offense is minimal on the law books.

If found guilty the accused men can be ordered to pay a maximum fine of $1,500 or be imprisoned for six months.

David pointed out that should the men plead guilty they are given a one-third discount which means that the maximum fine they can pay is $1,000.

He accused the police of going down a slippery slope adding that it is an abuse of authority to have failed to offer bail to his clients from the Police Station.

Each of the accused was offered bail in the sum of $1,500 each with one surety by Magistrate Noel who also ordered that they report to the St. David’s Police Station every Monday and Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

The new face of prostitution in Grenada

Prostitution is commercial sex. It is engaging in sexual relation (sexual intercourse/romance) in exchange for money, for economic gain, for favours, opportunities or any other benefit.

A prostitute is also called a whore, hooker, slut, harlot, call girl, business girl, a working girl or scarlet woman. Today the new type of prostitutes are called sugar babies, maybe because they are young or it’s a nice or cunning way to disguise prostitution and get our young girls to prostitute themselves and don’t feel guilty about it.

The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country. It is legal in some parts of the world and regarded as a profession with the estimated worldwide revenue to be over $100 billion US. In other parts, prostitution is illegal and is a crime punishable by death.

In Grenada prostitution is illegal. In fact, the government did not even consider a recommendation which was made by the regional United Nations Office to decriminalise homosexuality and prostitution but I wonder why no one is being charged for prostitution when it is so prevalent in this country.

Some An of the National Democratic Congress Government many Grenadians were afraid that if a license was granted to operate a casino in Grenada, many of our females will become prostitutes. Probably they were not aware that there were many Grenadians who were secretly involved in prostitution.

Many people were alarmed when it was revealed by Spice Isle Escorting Service that 146 young ladies were employed with this agency as escorts. This was the only such company that was bold enough to state publicly that this type of business existed in Grenada but it is believed that there are other such companies operating in Grenada undercover.

So we are aware that prostitution takes place in Grenada through escort service but there are many persons in the business who operate individually. Some are contacted via cell phones and ply their trade in brothels, guesthouses, vehicles, private homes or in secret outdoor places having sexual intercourse to earn money.

There are the young and beautiful ones who operate as “sugar babies” targeting wealthy businessmen who they refer to as sugar daddies. They view this as a means of getting money to advance themselves economically. These sophisticated prostitutes target these men whom they estimate to be wealthy and get into sexual relationships with them to extract money.  These men feel good to have these young girls as their “lovers” so they spend lots of money on these women to fulfill their vices.

Also, young men are now becoming sugar babies and targeting the older women who they believe have money and getting into relationship with them to get their money. May be because of the economic problems the country is experiencing they are prepared to have a sexual relationship with a man or woman for money or other economic gain.

They believe they are smart and they have found an easy way to earn money. Well the fact is, call it what you want, you are a prostitute because you are giving sexual favours for economic benefit but you should think about the consequences of your action.

You should be ashamed of your behaviour. The Bible states in Ephesians 5:5, that, “no whore, prostitute have any inheritance in the kingdom of God.” Prostitution destroys the spirit and soul in a way that leads to physical, moral and spiritual death. That is the reason why after a while your conscience does not bother you anymore. God desire is that you should keep yourself pure.

We should also take into account the disadvantages of prostitution. Think about the pain, embarrassment and shame it will bring to your parents, the lifelong stigma that you were a prostitute, the possibility of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted disease, the way society looks at you and the possibility of your action preventing you from getting a man to marry you when he hears about your past life.

You are made to believe that you are the only sexual partner but that is not true. There is the possibility of being raped or being a victim of human trafficking and there are moral and psychological implications. Worst of all it is a sin. You do not have to prostitute yourself to survive. Find a proper job, learn to live within your means and have faith in God. Depend on him to provide what you need. He said no good thing will He withhold from those who love him. That is a promise He will keep.

Prostitution as an institution is evil. It does not matter the economic benefits to be gained, it is still wrong in the sight of God.

Finally, my question and concern is.  WHAT IS THE CHURCH DOING ABOUT THIS MORAL CANCER In OUR SOCIETY? Isn’t salvation available for them also? Here I speak to EVERY CHRISTIAN DENOMINATION in Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique.

Some of you like the proverbial ostrich have buried your head in the sand and are afraid to speak out against the MORAL DECADENCE that like a malignant cancer is destroying the MOST FUNDAMENTAL RESOURCE, our YOUNG PEOPLE.

The Messenger

The OAS ship has to be righted

SAUNDERSIt is little known outside of the Organisation of American States (OAS) and even among its member Governments that it has been in a financial crisis for several years.

The Organisation has survived over the last three years particularly because the two countries that make the large contributions to its regular and special funds have continued to pay.

But, even with the regular payments of 70 per cent of the annual regular budget of the institution by the United States of America and Canada, it has been in financial difficulties. There are two reasons for this: first, five countries have persistently been in arrears of payment of their full quotas; and second, the institution has been given mandates without money to execute them.

This year crunch time has arrived. It was not a task that could be shirked. Therefore, as the Permanent Council convened for its first meeting for 2106 on January 21, as Chairman I delivered the following call to arms to the 33 other Ambassadors representing all the independent countries of the Americas and the Caribbean except Cuba.

“You will recall that at the formal handing over of the Chairmanship of this Council on January 15, I had indicated in my remarks my deep concern about the financial health of the Organisation and my profound anxiety about its capacity to continue to operate, and to serve the interests of the people of our member states.

I had said then that, as Chairman of the Permanent Council, I would be delinquent in my responsibility to the Organisation if I did not urge this Council to give this matter the serious and immediate attention it requires and deserves.

The Organisation’s financial situation is dire. Addressing it cannot be delayed. The very existence of the Organisation is now at risk – and that is not an exaggeration. We start this year with a deficit of almost $19.7 Million. Additionally, the Organisation has no reserve funds. The reserve fund was fully utilised to keep the Organisation functioning, and then only barely. To carry out its operations, the Organisation has been borrowing from Special Funds to finance its regular work.

This is obviously not sustainable for two reasons: First, donors to the Special Funds provide these monies for specific purposes within their national laws and regulations. When the funds are not utilised in the way they were intended, a violation occurs which could lead to their termination. Second, the resources used to address the shortfall have come from the Department of Human Development, Education and Employment. This not only limits the capacity of the Organisation to perform in these vital areas, it also affects the programmes of great value to the majority of member states and their peoples.

For some time now, the Organisation has not been adequately staffed, and programmes and projects have suffered as a result. Staff morale is extremely low, because everyone is aware of the dreadful financial circumstances and are worried about their future. This has led to an outflow of capable people that the Organisation desperately needs.

As the body, responsible for overseeing the good governance and the effectiveness of the Institution, we – the Permanent Council – have a special and vital responsibility. Action can no longer be delayed. We have a Budget for 2016 that is unrealistic in absolute terms. It is clear that a new, realistic Budget is required. And, it has to be a Budget supported with actual resources. Therefore, the overall financial future of the Organisation has to be addressed urgently, and solutions have to be found.

There is also the matter of arrears of contributions. This too has to be considered. I want to emphasise that considering the matter of arrears is not directed at any member state and has no political motive. If we fail to act to address these problems now, we may well be presiding over the demise of the Organisation which I know not one of us wants to do.

Therefore, we will hear a presentation from the Secretary for Administration and Finance, Ambassador Jay Anania, after which I encourage a full discussion between us. It is my fervent hope that together we might agree on proposals for going forward”.

A very spirited but serious discussion followed this address and a very sobering presentation by Jay Ananias in which he confirmed that the total balance due to the Organisation by a few defaulting states at the end of last year is US$19.7. He also revealed that the Budget, recently approved for 2016, was unrealistic to carry out the mandates given to the Organisation and to meet its responsibilities to staff. While a Budget of US$84 Million had been approved, a realistic number would be closer to US$115 Million.

Of great concern to the smaller member states of the Organisation, particularly those from the Caribbean, is there is a shortfall of US$3.2 Million in the existing 2016 Budget and it is proposed that it be filled by cutting expenditure in the Department of Human Development, Education and Employment.  This is the Department that provides, among other things of benefit to Caribbean countries, scholarships and fellowships for nationals to pursue higher education and training.  There was therefore a justified argument from Caribbean delegations against cuts that focussed exclusively or in large measure on this Department.

The OAS has many other values to the Caribbean that space does not permit me to elaborate in this commentary.  Suffice to say that the crippling or demise of the Organisation would not be in the Caribbean’s interest.  For that matter, to one extent or another, it is not in the interest of any member state to deprive itself of the many opportunities the organisation provides, including for diplomacy to address conflicts and open doors to dialogue.

All the country representatives at the meeting reaffirmed their commitment to the Organisation and expressed a desire to tackle its problems realistically. That was the easy part.  As Chair, I appointed three Committees to deal with the issues of a realistic Budget, the arrears owed to the Organisation, and its management and financial future.

That is the hard part, and it now lies squarely before member states.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the Organisation of American States and the current Chair of its Permanent Council)

NDC WAS A FAILURE

In 2008 the people voted for change but NDC failed to make long-lasting positive changes that were necessary to keep them in Government.

Even though the former Prime Minister was self-confident that he was doing his best in the form of transparency, on the positive side he did not show responsibility to dispatch teams for mobilisation nation-wide.

From that standpoint he could have speculated the performances and responses from the various Ministers for each constituency but that was not done. This would have led to party support groups at all levels of the society to generate more activities in many different forms and more economic project to involve people in employment opportunities.

It was a total failure for the former Government to drive supporters away from the party to allow them to drift into other political parties.  At the Convention, which took place on 30th September 2012, it was quite possible to have people in new positions without having the cause to expel certain targets from the party.

That was a serious blow to the party itself by deliberately destroying its own support.  It was suspected that the advisors including a group of women, to the Prime Minister were engulfed with selfish desires instead of manipulating vast support from the electorate especially at a time when it was close to another general elections.

The Disciplinary Committee seemed to have been delinquent in the NDC.  While there were so much disagreement and obstinate behaviour among certain members, did the Disciplinary committee make any effort to try to solve the internal problems?

The presentations made by the previous Government for the campaign of the last General elections were based on the assumption that they might have had another chance.  Should in case the people made a mistake to give them another chance, they would have continued to blame the opposition for corruption which the people already got tired of hearing the same statements over and over.

The NDC wasted a lot of time by accusing the NNP leader of corruption instead of putting programs in place to get the people involved  systematically, to prepare them to face the future dynamically.
Ironically, the NDC challenged its own motto, which says, “Let the people’s voices be heard”.  When they were in Government, on most occasions, they neglected the voices of the people.  Now that they are out of Government, how will they influence people to support them?

George Radgman

CSME OR NOT

BrianFrancisLast July, former Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur, delivered a speech at the Gleaner Editors’ Forum, held at the company’s Kingston office, in which he alluded to the changing economic circumstances facing Caribbean countries and the kinds of adjustments we must make if we are to survive in a rather dynamic and rapidly evolving world.

In his own words: “There was a time in our history when we were the entities in the developing world that were relatively more open to capital flows. In the 70s we didn’t have to worry about China (because it was) a closed economy… China is now an open (and) liberalised economy and a lot of the industrial capital that would have come to the Caribbean is now going to China.”

This description of the reconfiguration of the global economic reality with China now a leading player both in relation to the inflow and outflow of foreign direct investment is something that we in the Caribbean ought to treat seriously because the tight fiscal performances we have recorded in the past five years and our inabilities to grow our economies in a significant and sustained manner do suggest that our countries require a tremendous amount of foreign capital to flow our way.

Even if we are able to attract some foreign capital to buttress available domestic resources, we still would not be out of the woods because our economies continue to rely heavily on external factors.
And therein lies one of our greatest, if not our greatest challenge.

You see, back in the 1970s, some of our regional thinkers in the area of development economics recognised that the transformation of Caribbean economies ought to have been more internally-propelled because the global environment would never be so organised as to be in our favour.  Hence, our continued dependence on external considerations such as preferential access for bananas to the European market and foreign aid for developmental purposes could only have been temporary assistance with no long-term growth benefits. And so, an approach to our economic development that included the birth of CARICOM became the order of the day.

Nowadays, it should be clear to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear that the winds of change that started to blow within our region in the early 1970s with regional integration as the engine that can propel our economies to higher heights ought to have continued and become much stronger in magnitude. But sadly, that surely is not the case! We have since tried to give momentum to regional integration through the establishment of the CSME but the viability of that institutional apparatus remains in serious doubt. Where are we going in relation to the CSME? Are we at all serious about advancing this initiative for the sake of our peoples and countries?  Is the CSME alive and kicking or slowly dying?

Frankly, I could easily have asked whether the CSME is dead. But, the optimist I am sprouting into with each passing day is forcing me to see the proverbial regional integration glass as half full as opposed to half empty.  For that reason alone, I chose the title of this week’s contribution.

But even with the best of intentions, it is extremely difficult for me to conceptualise a scenario in which we in CARICOM will one day fully and truly embrace regional integration as our best option to secure the quality of life we deserve for ourselves and our children and grandchildren.  That inference is made against the backdrop that as small countries with so much in common economically, culturally and historically, we continue after decades of attempts at coming together as a strong, single unit, to debate the merits and demerits of our most recent effort at regional integration: the CSME!

Despite all the old talk about our development, about our political independence from Great Britain and our eagerness to boast and celebrate such great achievements, the fact remains that we in CARICOM are much more inventive with respect to possible reasons why regional integration and the CSME specifically cannot and should not proceed as planned.

Debates on this issue range from concerns over xenophobia to the question of sovereignty.  While these discussions intensify, we the people continue to experience deteriorating standard of living, poor quality health care, limited access to top-class education that is relevant to the needs of the 21st Century, high incidence of poverty, rising cost of living, and the list of woes goes on!

Admittedly, all of the member countries of CARICOM have made tremendous amounts of positive strides economically, politically and otherwise over the years but the weightiness of the challenges we face daily makes it essential that those areas of difficulties be highlighted and corrected in as belligerent a manner as deemed feasible.

Folks, we in CARICOM cannot continue to fool ourselves.  We have proven to the entire world that as small countries trying to navigate the rough waters of globalisation and that trade liberalisation alone is fast becoming an ideal that is insurmountable. Yet, our people continue to demand inter alia more and better paying jobs, improved health care, strong and stable governments, reductions in major crimes and other criminal activities, lower public debt, healthier fiscal positions and stronger economic growth.  But how can we deliver on those fundamentals if we continue to drag our feet on the question of deeper regional integration?

Going forward, therefore, your humble servant asks simply: CSME or not?

(Dr. Brian Francis, a former Permanent Secretary in the local Ministry of Finance, is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics at the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados of the University of the West Indies)

No termination letters have been issued to Limlair Estate workers

Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Senator Simon Stiell, has dismissed reports circulating that workers at the Limlair Farm in Carriacou have been issued termination letters as part of plans by government to commercialise the estate.

“No letters have been issued, so no letters would have been received by the estate workers at Limlair,” said Sen. Stiell, who is involved in the commercialisation process of Limlair estate.

He told reporters last week Wednesday  that, “the welfare of the workers is of paramount importance to us (government) and central to the process as we move forward”.

Rumours have been circulating that the 14 workers on the estate have received letters informing them that their services would be terminated at the end of this month.

Sen. Stiell brushed aside the reports as “misinformation (that) “has not followed protocol” since “the approach government is taking in the commercialising process will have the estate workers at the centre of all that we are doing.”

According to the Junior Government Minister, “the workers will be severed (meaning) that they would no longer be employed by (the) government of Grenada,” but will “have first refusal on positions within the new dispensation.”

“They would be  interviewed (by the new company that would be formed by the investor) and (given) an opportunity to continue working.” he said.

He pointed out that a meeting was held on January 18 with the President of the Public Workers Union (PWU), Adrian Francis and other officials of the bargaining agent for the workers to discuss plans for the commercialisation of Limliar estate and to agree on the way forward.

Senator Stiell said that another meeting to outline plans for commercializing Limlair estate was scheduled to take place in Carriacou on Wednesday with the employees at 6.00 p.m.

“The plan is to meet with the Union representatives, the estate workers and the investor that has been short-listed to once again outline the plans for commercialisation and the impact that it would have on the workers,” he added.

The Limlair Farm, which is located on the northern side of the 13 square mile island of Carriacou is one of  four state-owned estates that government is seeking to enhance through a public private partnership arrangement, which is intended to strengthen national agricultural production and export capacity and contributing to national development.

The Grand Bras Estate and BelleVue Estate both in St. Andrew have already been privatized while, the Mt. Reuil Estate in St. Patrick is still up for grabs.

Sen. Stiell noted that the 43 acre Limlair Farm, like all other estates under government control, have been under-utilised for generations.

“What we will be seeing (as a result of the commercialisation of the estate) is an influx of investment, the enhancement of the services provided and greater opportunities for the estate workers and other workers as that commercialisation process progresses,” he said.

“What the estate workers are actually going to see is that it will have a positive impact on their working conditions and how they have operated in the past…in addition to livestock production the focus would be on sour-soup production and other fruits,” he added.

Pointing to the significant domestic and international market for the sour-soup, Sen. Stiell noted that “the investor is planning to take advantage of that.”

The government minister who described last week’s meeting with the trade unions as being “positively received by the union” said, this week’s meeting would “outline the plans (of) what the investor has in mind in terms of increasing productivity within the estate.”

“The next step in the process is for the estate workers to get an understanding of the plans that the investor has and how they would be affected”, he told reporters.

He noted that although “the investor has been short listed, discussions are ongoing ” and “it would be unfair” to disclose the investor’s identity at this time.

He said the announcement “as it relates to exactly who the Limliar estate investor is, would be released in due course.”

It is alleged that the negotiations are taking place for the commercialisation of Limlair Estate with Lindsay Gillette, the Trinidad and Tobago-born investor involved in another of the state-owned farms.

Speaking with THE NEW TODAY last week Friday, President of the PWU, Adrian Francis said he is hoping for very fruitful discussions in the best interest of the estate workers.

Over EC$14 million awarded in SGU scholarships

Sixty-nine Grenadian students have been awarded scholarships to pursue higher education at St. George’s University (SGU).

The scholarship recipients will pursue studies in a wide range of areas such as Medicine, Arts & Sciences, Nursing, Health Management and Public Health.

Another successful applicant accepts scholarship award from Minister of State in the Ministry of Education Simon Stiell

In welcoming the new students to SGU for the start of the January 2016 semester, Associate Dean of Students, George McGuire admonished them to “keep your standards high,” as they now have a “responsibility to uplift the institution to higher heights.”

“When you join us you are joining a university that preserves and protects its high standards,” he told the students during a ceremony held at the Grenada Trade Centre at Morne Rouge in Grand Anse, St. George’s last week Wednesday.

Mc Guire, a former Minister of Education in Grenada from 1984-90 pointed out that SGU, which is internationally recognised, has “from the first chartered class (in 1976) to this class (been able) to maintain and raise its standards.”

He stressed that if those “standards were not well protected we would have found that by now we are nothing.”

The students were also addressed by Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Senator Simon Stiell, who congratulated the scholarship recipients advising them that this year’s scholarships from SGU “exceeds EC$14 million” in value.

Sen. Stiell took the opportunity to remind the students that they are required to sign a bond to give back to the state upon completion of their studies.

He noted that this has been a problem with some scholarship recipients in the past and the 3-year old New National Party (NNP) administration was moving to correct the problem.

He warned that there will be serious consequences for persons who fail to adhere to the bond.

“To this effect the bond process has been reviewed, the policy has been revised and will be strictly enforced moving forward,” he said.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the recipients came from a list of 141 applications that were received by the Scholarship Desk within the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.

Those who received scholarship to pursue studies in Undergraduate Arts & Sciences were Adeisha Frances James (Biology), Kisha Shenel Bernard, Shanta Subashni Harford, Abihail Avril Nichola Moses and Joycelyn Roma Narine (Accounting & Finance).

The recipients in Information Technology are Chad Cliff Edwards, Careem Antonia Gilbert, Ryan Matthew Mitchell and Karina Nicola Thomas.

Those who are pursuing studies in International Business are Hazel Sabrina Antoine and Alisha Ruth Tina George, International Business and Hospitality, Allana Stacy Bowen, Marketing (Bassie Mitchell), Psychology Nesta Tabitha Jesme Edwards, Charmaine Passee-LaCrette, and Rachelle Anthea Stiell.

Receiving scholarships to undertake an Associate Degree in Nursing were Tahira Tellisa Mary Adams, Kerin Sallysha Cecelia Bristow, Noelle Margaret-Ann Collins, Nickisher Lerona Hinds, Lindy Teriann Jackasal, Akeba Anne Dorothy James, Ambika Jahzeel Joseph, Dennisa Tasheda Lambert, Jenica Alina Mitchell, Deneisha Keisha Smith and Anya Samantha Snagg.

Another successful applicant accepts scholarship award from Minister of State in the Ministry of Education Simon Stiell

Another successful applicant accepts scholarship award from Minister of State in the Ministry of Education Simon Stiell

The student who will be doing Veterinary Medicine at SGU is Jaelene Haynes, Pre-Medicine (Leshae Cenac, Taxanne Gabriel, Monique Prince, Shemrine Richards and Ashley Yearwood).

Julien Kareem Ogilvie, Johnathan Ryan Ramirez, Amanda Renee Gordon, Saieda Allandra Alleyne, Amanda Antonia Edgar, Diana Charmion Shares, Natasha Charles, Samuel Jones, Rebecca DeCoteau Chiddick, Della Candice John, Gemonique Bowen, Kendrina Lewis and Shamel Wellington will be engaged in Medicine studies.

In addition, Avril Adonna Nerissa Edwards, Khary Dialo Delves, Janelle Margaret Julien, Shirleen Jennifer Robertson and Petal Elaine Rush were given scholarships to pursue Master’s Degrees in Multi-Sector Health Management, and Dr. Shawn Charles and Janille Margaret Williams will focus on Masters in Public Health.

Ten scholarship recipients from August 2015 were also awarded during the ceremony – Shennel J. Alexander, Nazaria Cordilla Francin Alexander-Williams, Anne Patricia Bartholomew, Jessie Ann Ruth Cumberbatch, Marcia Doreen Laliet-Louis, Samantha Rockel Lewis, Shawnaly Taheria Tamara Pascal, Carlene Regina Phillip, Roderick Ashton Joseph St. Clair and Jonela Carmada Marisa Wilson.

The students are pursuing Master’s degrees in various study areas but did not receive their ceremonial award.

The ceremony also saw scholarships going out to the 2015 top performers in the CAPE and T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) Associate Degrees.

The awards were in the following categories – Information Technology (Shania Roberts), Natural Sciences (Ryan De Riggs and Sydney Robertson, Social Sciences (Zoya Buckmire), and Technical Studies (Afya Regis).

THE NEW TODAY understands that SGU is preparing to welcome more than 900 new students in the Spring Semester.

According to Associate Dean of Enrollment, Colin Dowe, typically, the university “would have a lower number in January, so that is normal.”

In an interview following the ceremony, Dowe said, “the largest intake is in the field of medicine with 490 plus new registrants, followed by the School of Arts and Sciences with just shy of 140,” while “99 students joined the Veterinary programme, and (the) others (are) distributed through the premedical programme as well as the Master’s degrees.

Dowe said, “45 persons applied” for the recently re-launched nursing programme, with 31 students commencing studies on January 18.

SGU is the sole provider of nursing education at the Associate Degree level, which was previously offered by the T.A Marryshow Community College (TAMCC).

According to Dowe, discussions are ongoing between Government and SGU “to have a shunt from the associate degree to the baccalaureate programme and those discussions will (continue) to take place in 2016.”

Most of the foreign students attending SGU are recruited from inside the United States.

Dowe disclosed that the university currently “has representation for (students from) 90 different countries across the globe,” with major emphasis placed on the continents of “Asia, Africa and South America.”

He said, the diverse population at SGU “bolsters and supports the international flavour of the university,” noting that the January 2016 intake comprises students from “30 different countries,” around the world.

SGU is recognised for its flagship medical programmes, as well as its significant contribution of approximately 20 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).