Monthly Archives: November 2017

Residents in St. John’s Rural West stand in Support for Londel Benjamin

Residents in the St. John’s Rural West constituency has taken the airwaves to stand behind the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party’s (ABLP) 2014 candidate and current caretaker Londel Benjamin, after he said that he has no intention of stepping aside to make way for the return of Gail Christian.

Rumours of Christian’s return was confirmed by the Government’s Chief of Staff Lionel Hurst, who shared a similar view shared by the prime minister and ABLP political leader Gaston Browne, that she was better suited for the job.

Benjamin was quoted in today’s Daily Observer, saying that he has no intention of standing down adding that his constituency branch has passed a resolution to support him as the candidate.

This seems to be evident as ZDK’s Breakfast Program Your Views was flooded with callers form the constituency, who said that they had no intention of supporting another candidate. One of the first callers of the program believes that Benjamin should get the respect that he deserves.

Another caller was also quick to defend the 2014 candidate stating that he has long been a loyal ABLP member who played a significant role in the constituency.

Benjamin has been a senator and the ABLP’s caretaker up until June 2014 when he lost the election to then-prime minister and sitting member or parliament (MP) Baldwin Spencer.

The three other political hopefuls vying for the constituency includes 27 year old Russhell Ellis, businessman Sean Benjamin and opposition candidate Richard Lewis.

Acting GM of School Meals Programme Address Late Arrival Concerns

The National School Meals Programme has sought to assure parents that the late delivery of school meals at a number of primary institutions across the island will be rectified.

ZDK News has been receiving numerous calls from disgruntled parents who have been complaining that their child/children have been receiving late lunches at the schools and sometimes without meat.

The parents claimed that the issue began about a month ago, however when ZDK News contacted the Acting General Manager Mario Harris, he disclosed that the late arrival of the meals has been an issue since the beginning of the new school term in September.

After receiving growing concerns, the acting GM said that the programme issued a letter to the Principals of the schools it caters to explaining the challenges being faced and their intentions to address it.

ZDK News received a copy of the letter dated November 23, 2017, which outlined that the increase in registered students within the institutions following the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria as one of the main issues.

Harris said that this, coupled with continuing challenges due to constant failure of kitchen equipment, has left the NSMP in dire straits as they seek to provide each child with one hot meal per day.

Currently, three out of the four conventional ovens are operational at the Sir George Walter Highway building, with a new installation of a walk-in oven which according to Harris should be installed by today.

He assured principals and parents that noticeable improvement should be seen by Monday and upon the arrival of the new kitchen equipment, the problem should be solved altogether.
Meantime, Harris said that the programme is investigating the claim that no meat is being served with the students’ meal. He said the national school meals programme has sufficient food items and this should not be the case

Family of King Swallow Calls on Calypso Fans to Assist in His Medical Expenses

Calypso fans in Antigua and Barbuda and the wider Caribbean have been called upon to render their assistance to the legendary Antiguan calypsonian Sir Rupert Philo better known as King Swallow.

The appeal comes from his family who are seeking to cover his medical expenses after he was hospitalised in New York in August for what has been described as several “serious health issues.”

Franklyn T Grant Jr, a relative of the calypsonian has set up an online donation account on the popular GoFundMe website with a goal to raise US$111,700 on behalf of Philo.

Grant said that the family did not expect his health to deteriorate so quickly and the medical bill is accumulating while the day-to-day finances have been depleting. Grant said that they are forced to seek help after being told that it will take an extended period for him to recuperate.

Meantime, Adelza Sharidan, known in the calypso arena as Lipstick says that after hearing the news, her production, “The Lipstick Production”, has made a decision to host a Christmas concert on King Swallow’s behalf.

She said that while plans are in the preliminary stages, a number of local calypsonians have already pledged their support. The monies raised from the concert she noted, will go towards the medical care of the calypsonian.

King Swallow, also called the Dean of Calypso, holds the distinction of being the first calypsonian to grace the stage at Radio City Music Hall and has been awarded Grand Cross of the Most Princely Heritage.

He established and managed the oldest calypso tent, the Calypso Pepper Pot and holds the distinction of being the first calypsonian to grace the stage at Radio City Music Hall.

Regionally, King Swallow has reigned as the Caribbean Calypso King, and is the recipient of three Sunshine Awards. He has also received national honours in Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada.

Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Pays Courtesy Call on Prime Minister

Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) His Excellency Mr. Ma Peihua (pay-wa) paid a Courtesy Call on Prime Minister Gaston Browne and the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda on Monday.

During the opening exchanges, Prime Minister Browne stated his hope that the meeting would serve to strengthen existing bilateral relations between both countries. The Prime Minister also spoke extensively on the developmental assistance that China has rendered to Antigua and Barbuda since the establishment of diplomatic relations on 1st January, 1983 through numerous grants and concessional loans.

This assistance he said has led to the enhancement of not only the social wellbeing of the citizens but has bolstered economic activity within the local economy.

Prime Minister Browne while extending a heartfelt thank you to President Xi (She) Jinping of China for his country’s swift response to the adversity that Antigua and Barbuda faced following the passage of Hurricane Irma, further spoke towards the shared values held between both countries and the respect that China has shown to countries such as Antigua and Barbuda despite geographical size and economies of scale.

In response, His Excellency Ma Peihua extended best wishes on behalf of President Xi Jing and Premier Li Keqiang to the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda. He remarked on the beauty and dynamism of the country and the mutual respect that both nations exhibited toward each other, which has provided a friendly platform for interaction.
His Excellency Ma Peihua also thanked the Government of Antigua and Barbuda for its assistance in facilitating the evacuation of Chinese nationals from Dominica after the passage of Hurricane Maria. Additionally, the Chairman also stated that China was prepared to assist in efforts to strengthen the Antigua and Barbuda economy through encouraging Chinese companies and businesspersons to invest in the nation, particularly in the tourism sector.

The Chairman also mentioned that Antigua and Barbuda like many developing countries was integral to China’s development through cooperation.

Additional matters discussed were Antigua and Barbuda’s support for the One China Policy, the reform of the United Nations Security Council, reform in visa regulations, strengthening of air links between both countries and increased opportunity in training for public sector officials and scholarships for Antiguans and Barbudans.

Antigua and Barbuda Deposits Legal Instrument Concerning the Trade Facilitation Agreement to the WTO

The government of Antigua and Barbuda has deposited its legal instrument of acceptance inserting the Trade Facilitation Agreement into Annex 1A of Marrakesh Agreement to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The document which was deposited through the country’s Director of International Trade, Ms. Joy-Marie King on Monday, not only emphasizes Antigua and Barbuda’s full commitment to the WTO and the multilateral trading system but the nation’s eagerness in reaping the benefits to be had from the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Some of which include significantly improving speed and efficiency of border procedures, trade costs reduction and enhancing participation in the global value chain.

According to a release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the opportunity was also taken to highlight the main trade policy issue for the nation, that is, its unresolved WTO Trade Dispute with the United States concerning online gaming and a desire for a successful upcoming Ministerial Conference dubbed ‘MC11’ outcomes.

In accepting the legal instrument, the Director General of the WTO, Roberto Azevêdo acknowledged the valued cooperation between the institution and Antigua and Barbuda, his pleasure in receiving the document and his support in the realization of the benefits to be had from the implementation of the agreement by members. He also offered words of comfort concerning the recent devastation experienced by Barbuda due to the passage of Hurricane Irma.

Joy-Marie King serves as Antigua and Barbuda’s Director of International Trade and delegate to the WTO within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who has the portfolio responsibility for WTO matters.

Education Minister Places Several Institutions on Notice as Upgrades Continue

As the Gaston Browne led administration continues to undertake major improvements within the nation’s schools, the Minister of Education Michael Browne has place several institutions on notice that his ministry will be continuing the upgrading process.

The Minister gave the assurance during the official opening ceremony for the Sir Novelle Richards Academy on Friday.

During the opening ceremony which was held at the institution at Tomlinson’s, the Education Minister said his ministry went above and beyond to ensure that the newly constructed institution was properly completed in time for September.

The Minister while dismissing criticisms said that although the school was built in a short period, it is quit sound.

Over 150 students began their first day of secondary education at the country’s newest secondary school the Sir Novelle Richards Academy in early September.

Among the list of subjects being taught at the new education institution which currently houses a total of 14 classrooms include Mandarin Chinese, French and Spanish.

‘New and Better Deal’ Needed for Climate Resilience in Caribbean, UN Chief Tells Donor Conference

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres says that the Caribbean countries need “a new and better deal” – one that includes access to concessional finance and adequate insurance – if the region intends to build climate resilience.

On Tuesday at the international conference to mobilize support for the reconstruction of communities devastated by a series of powerful hurricanes, he said that countries in the Caribbean need a new generation of infrastructure that is risk-informed, to underpin resilient economies, communities and livelihoods, and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015 by 193 UN member states.

He added however that financing remains a key challenge for many Caribbean countries, which have limited access to concessional finance because of their ‘middle income’ classification. He said they also have high levels of debt, much of it incurred through investment in recovery and resilience.

The United Nations Secretary-General said that there needs to be a new and better deal for the Caribbean, if those countries are to build climate resilience and achieve the SDGs and urged international financial institutions and donors to coordinate risk sharing and concessional lending terms.

“Today must be about more than speeches and pledges,” he said. “It is an opportunity to forge a partnership for a better future, and to deepen a vision for recovery that brings together all actors and puts people at its centre, as active development agents,” he added.

PM Says Political Propaganda Did Not Hinder Fund Raising Initiative

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has called on members of the political arena in Barbuda to be responsible and desist from their attempt to hinder the fund raising efforts of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda.

Earlier this month, the nation’s leader called on members of the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) who were reportedly spreading propaganda as it relates to government decisions concerning Barbuda, to desist immediately.

Without being specific, he told state media on Tuesday that he continues to receive calls from concerned international organizations including the World Bank.

He said that although their efforts did not stop the fund raising initiative, they should be more responsible and should seek to adopt a more collective approach to the development of Barbuda.

Vincent Cornelius Jr Named as DNA 6th Candidate

Vincent “Vere” Cornelius Jr, who was recently named candidate for the Democratic National Alliance says that he believes his commitment and strategic thinking will give him an edge over his competitors in the St John’s Rural East constituency.

The businessman who is the is the owner of Wheels Supermarket on Wireless Road was introduced to the public at an event on Tuesday night named as the 6th candidate for the DNA party.

He said that he intends to place some much needed focus on three key areas which he believes are currently lacking.

Speaking to ZDK News, one of the founding members of the DNA, Anthony Stuart described the new candidate as a well-rounded individual who is very passionate about community development and family.

Cornelius Jr is a past graduate of the Antigua Grammar School and Murray State University where he obtained a Bachelor’s in Finance.

As a past Coach and Vice President of the Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association, Stuart says that he intends on developing the youth as it relates to sports, education and entrepreneurship.

The other five candidates who will be running on the DNA ticket are Gameal Joyce, Kimel Richards, Erica Edwards, Louis Rivera & Kelton Dalso.

The Care Project Refutes Allegations of Physical Abuse

The Care Project, home to many disabled children in Antigua and Barbuda has refuted allegations of ill treatment and torture of one of the residents at the CARE Project which have been circulating within the media.

Reports are that a patient at the institution was badly beaten with a broom stick. Matron of the Care Project Nurse Juliette Delabastide was quick to defend the organization stating that such practice is one that is not condone by any member of the institution.
The reports further indicate that the patients are not being brought to the Mount St John’s Medical Centre in fear that the abuse may be brought to light. However Matron Delabastide also sought to clarify this issue.
She noted that major strides have been made in the past few years where the standard of care at the facility is concerned.

As of November 2017, the occupancy level at the Care Project is twenty three (23), with eleven being full time residents and twelve clients who uses the facility on a daily basis.