Former Montserrat chief minister dies
(BROOKLYN, New York): Information reaching CARIBBEAN TIMES news desk have confirmed that Bertrand Osborne, who served as chief minister of the volcano-ravaged British Overseas Territory of Montserrat for a nine month period in the 1990’s, has died. He was 83 years-old. Osborne, a prominent local businessman, served as chief minister from November 1996 to August 1997.
He resigned after he came under severe criticism from politicians and demonstrators alike for being too pro-British, and for failing to negotiate firmly enough with London over an aid package after the eruption of the Soufriere volcano.
The British government had pledged to pay the equivalent of six months’ average salary to Montserrat residents who flee the volcano-devastated island for another Caribbean island and many citizens accused Osborne of being too weak in his dealings with the British government. He was replaced by attorney David Brandt.
No details have been given regarding Osborne’s death and the state-owned ZJB Radio said that he had served in the Legislative Council for 14 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Dengue Fever Death In Jamaica
(BROOKLYN, New York): Reports from the the Ministry of Health in Jamaica has confirmed the death of one person from suspected dengue haemorrhagic fever and is warning that the number of cases of this mosquito-borne diseases will increase over the next two months. The Ministry said that the death occurred in August and that the male victim came from Trelawny, a parish on the northwest of the country.
Health authorities said that so far the number of dengue cases remains below the epidemic threshold, but provided no figures. Dengue haemorrhagic fever is a rare complication of dengue fever and results in internal bleeding and bleeding under the skin, which can lead to death.
The Ministry of Health said it would continue to monitor reports of mosquito-borne diseases through its national epidemiological surveillance system, adding that it has begun mosquito-control activities, including a public education campaign, home inspections, destruction of breeding sites and fogging.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that is usually a mild illness in which a person may get a fever, headache, joint, and muscle pains and health authorities recommended treatment for the virus is acetaminophen/paracetamol.
“The Ministry of Health urges the public not to use aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen, or any of the medications/pain relievers known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,” it said, adding that these drugs, when used to treat the fever in dengue, have been known to increase the severity of the disease.
It said that immediate medical attention should be sought once an infected person begins to vomit, have severe abdominal pain, develop a petechial rash, feel very weak, or get confused.
T&T Opposition: Debate Oil Refinery Closure
(BROOKLYN, New York):News out of Trinidad and Tobago report that Opposition Leader Kamala Persad Bissessar has said that she intends filing a motion in Parliament to get the Trinidad and Tobago government to debate the decision to shut down the oil refinery of the state-owned oil company, PETROTRIN with the loss of hundreds of jobs.
Persad Bissessar, who led a coalition People’s Partnership government during the period 2010-15, said that her administration “would never have shut down the refinery.” “We had no intention of shutting down the refinery,” she told reports, adding that between the period 2011-15, PETROTRIN had paid TT$20 billion in taxes.
Persad Bissessar said that she was prepared to re-file the motion, if no date is set during the current sitting of the Parliament for “the hearing of that motion. “You can run but you cannot hide. We will refile it in the new session,” she said, adding that the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) had taken note that the action by the government “threatens to throw our nation, by this (Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley) punitive, clueless, incompetence, spiteful regime….”
“What they are doing will throw our country into throes of social, economic and general destabilization. Mr Rowley is dealing with this company as a company crisis but PETROTRIN is a metaphor for three years of non-performance and crisis management without thought, without a care for workers and the future of our country,” Persad Bissessar told reporters.
Prime Minister Rowley announced late last week that his administration is prepared to give the first option to the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) to acquire the refining assets of the company, after it had decided to accept the recommendations of the board of directors to shut down the oil refinery operations.
“The decision to close the refinery was taken after detailed analysis and deep introspection. This is not a decision that was made lightly or easily. Options were explored and reviewed. We sent the board back on a number of occasions to consider different scenarios and possibilities. At every step the effect on workers and their families and the communities that rely on refinery operations was considered,” Rowley said.
The union has since rejected the offer and said it was merely a ‘ruse” for the government to sell the refinery to a preferred buyer. “We have always said that the plan is to sell the people’s asset, the refinery, and it came out quite clearly last night in this sort of a ruse telling the union that we are the first option to buy the refinery,” OWTU President Ancel Roget said.
Rowley said that approximately 1, 700 permanent workers will be affected in the refining and marketing division of the company, while in exploration and production, employment levels are to be reduced from 1700 workers to approximately 800 persons.
He recalled that in January 2017, he had warned the nation about the financial situation existing at PETROTRIN and the need to deal with the situation.
“I reminded you that there is a US$850 million bond that is coming due for payment in the form of a single payment in August 2019 and another of almost US$700 million that would be due soon after,” Rowley said, adding that the future of the company “has been the subject of much negative speculation for the past several months but inevitably we must come to the time of decision making as we are forced to abandon the procrastination and finger pointing which have only served to worsen the eventual outcome”.
Persad Bissessar told reporters that the government had been very secretive regarding PETROTRIN and asked ‘who seeks to benefit, why can’t the government not come clean on what they are doing with the patrimony of citizens?” “We demand that you call elections now,” she added. Persad Bissessar said the motion is intended to “force the government to come out of the secrecy and be transparent as to what’s happening.
“We can ask the questions and the public has the right to know,” she said accusing the government of not engaging the public on the issues surrounding the oil company.
“It is never too late, the public has a right to know when you are dealing with people’s business, PETROTRIN is the people’s business. I will file the motion in Parliament and that motion will allow us to debate this matter…to force the government “.