In the blogs

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            [post_date] => 2014-08-27 10:00:50
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            [post_content] => Antigua and Barbuda is optimistic that they will secure US$18 million from China to convert five secondary schools into one huge campus that will be home to the University College of Antigua. Antigua's Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, who is currently in Beijing informed the principals of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) of the intentions of his government.

It is reported that prior to his visit to China, Prime Minister Browne along with Chinese Ambassador Ren Gongpin toured the facilities that would make way for the University and proposed that an expanded dormitory, ICT facility, Olympic size swimming pool and tennis courts be included as top priorities.

A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister revealed that “CCECC is very important to strengthening the business relations between China and Antigua and Barbuda and the Prime Minister is confident that after his visit, cooperation and trade will be heightened. The government’s desire to strengthen relations is demonstrated in its recent decision to abolish the requirement for visas for Chinese nationals to visit Antigua and Barbuda.”

Prime Minister Browne has also indicated that the government is prepared to enter into a partnership agreement with the CCECC for the construction of additional hotels and sites within the vicinity of the university.

 
            [post_title] => Antigua Boosted By Prospect of Chinese Funds To Start Local University
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Antigua Boosted By Prospect of Chinese Funds To Start Local University

August 27, 2014
1

Antigua and Barbuda is optimistic that they will secure US$18 million from China to convert five secondary schools into one huge campus that will be home to the University College ...Continue reading

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            [post_date] => 2014-08-24 19:06:59
            [post_date_gmt] => 2014-08-24 23:06:59
            [post_content] => It came as a shock to many, as most Jamaicans would not have imagined that the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) would have announced another fare increase in less than a year. For others, they are grieved but not surprised by the bus fare increase of up to 200 percent for the elderly, because regular inflation has become an unwelcome commonality within the Jamaican society.

Starting today, adult passengers will now pay $120, up from $100; fares for students and the disabled will be $30, up from $20, and the nation’s senior citizens will be required to pay $60, up from the $20 that they previously paid.

With such an increase in an economy where many Jamaicans are already struggling to make ends meet, it is no surprise that commuters are disgruntled, disturbed and displeased. For the elderly among us, most of whom have no means of support apart from their pension, that's if they have any, they will feel the brunt of this increase more than anyone else.

The increase has led some groups to organize peaceful demonstrations to protest what has been deemed an unconscionable fare increase. And given the current economic climate of the island, almost all if not most increase right now is seen as unconscionable. The people flat out cannot afford it. Also given that the senior citizens' pension is set, in order for them to be able to utilize the services of the JUTC which many of them are dependent upon, they would have to buy less food, to be able to take the bus. Some of them only take the bus when they need to get to the hospital which offers them free health care, so an increase in transportation cost, will undoubtedly prove challenging.

However, the Minister of Transport, Dr. Omar Davies has said that the increase is necessary. He has been quoted at the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing's Maxfield Road offices where the fare increase announcement was made, saying that: “Despite the achievements of the JUTC and the additional support provided by the Government, the company continues to lose significant sums as revenues continue to be outpaced by expenditure.”

To put the losses in numbers, they would look a little like this, one year ago, the JUTC was rolling out 240 buses and earning $240 million per month, and as of April, the company, with an increased fleet of 400 buses, was earning $366 million - $100,000 less per month, per bus.

Still, my view is that, the government and the company need to take into consideration the plight of the people. The sad reality is that the people that regularly take public transportation are usually the ones that hail from the lower end of the socioeconomic divide. In times like these a reduction in expenditure would be more favourable than an increase in bus fare, especially when it involves the most vulnerable among us - the elderly.
            [post_title] => The JUTC Makes Jamaicans Cry
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The JUTC Makes Jamaicans Cry

August 24, 2014
1

It came as a shock to many, as most Jamaicans would not have imagined that the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) would have announced another fare increase in less than a year. ...Continue reading

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            [post_date] => 2014-08-23 21:34:39
            [post_date_gmt] => 2014-08-24 01:34:39
            [post_content] => Aren't you proud to say that you're from the Caribbean? A region where many people from across the globe dream of vacationing? Chances are your answer is yes. As Islanders we love to represent our nations, we love to tell people where we are from. Especially when we're abroad, we can have many great conversations with foreigners about the beauty of the islands after they've spent their two weeks vacation in a resort there. They tell you how lucky you are to live in such a paradise, you smile and nod agreeing to it somewhat, but depending on what side of the socioeconomic divide you are from within these islands, you may not be so keen on agreeing totally.

Yet though we love our islands, love to cheer on our representatives in the Olympics, and in other world sporting events, we wear the t-shirts, carry the key chains that have our flag and emblems on it, the vast majority of us may find reasons at times to not be so proud of our islands' state.

For those who have migrated from 'home' there is a disconnect sometimes with the harshness of life that many of our people face back home. Many of our islands are in seemingly insurmountable debt and because of that, it has caused a great divide between the rich and poor. Our islands can be so lush and green and fruitful but yet hold so much grim realities of hunger, strife, violence, struggle and crippling poverty. To paint a more serious picture, some of us islands are on the brink of bankruptcy.

Can You Help?

There are many great initiatives that have risen in many communities to aid in certain areas but we all know that more can be done. What does it take to truly repair our broken communities ourselves? What does it take to revive our economy? I write this to provoke many especially those who have migrated from their homeland, but love to brag about it abroad but perhaps have never done anything to help better their homeland. There are some international and foreign initiatives coming in to try and make a difference in the economic status of our islands, but where are the natives of the land? This is not to say that you are not present at all, that would be very wrong to say. But a lot more could be done by those locally and afar. Now is a good time to ask, what can we do for our country?

Let’s not just be full of island pride and neglect to help better the true dark state of our countries and desolate communities. The islands in the Caribbean are extremely beautiful, but many are also very impoverished. We need to do more to help our islands to rise from the knees. Despite the poverty together we can make a difference. Together we are strong, because united we stand and divided we fall. Let's start today.
            [post_title] => Caribbean Pride and Poverty 
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Caribbean Pride and Poverty

August 23, 2014
1

Aren't you proud to say that you're from the Caribbean? A region where many people from across the globe dream of vacationing? Chances are your answer is yes. As Islanders we love ...Continue reading