Barbados Today Read, Watch, Listen & Discuss Thu, 28 Aug 2014 06:55:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Energy play Thu, 28 Aug 2014 06:55:29 +0000 Barbados is seeking to own a piece of the Trinidad and Tobago oil and gas industry.

At the same time, officials have revealed that commercial quantities of the precious commodity have been detected offshore, to the north and south of the island.

Manager of the Barbados National Oil Company (BNOC) Winton Gibbs told Barbados TODAY negotiations were still in the early stages with Petrotrin, the national oil company of the twin island republic, with a view to reworking some of the existing oil wells there and possibly drilling new ones.

Winton Gibbs

Winton Gibbs

“We are speaking to Petrotrin. We are speaking to some partners in Trinidad to work some fields owned by Petrotrin, but these are early days. We have not agreed on anything as yet. We are not entirely happy with what is on the table, so we are still in the very early stage, and we are trying to get a better deal than what is presently on the table,” Gibbs explained.

“We want to rework some of the existing wells in Trinidad and possibly drill a couple new wells. The idea is to own oil and gas reserves outside of Barbados,” the BNOC manager informed this newspaper.

He said such a move would help boost this country’s foreign exchange and hopefully reduce the cost of imported fossil fuels.

Although Gibbs made it clear his company was not responsible for the local offshore oil exploration programme being pursued by Government, he said he was also aware of recent reports of substantial commercial reserves in Barbados’ waters.

“The geologists are of the view that there are substantial commercial quantities of oil and gas offshore. There are different blocks and they seem to be mainly towards the south of Barbados, but there are also blocks towards the north that seem to have substantial reserves. But I am not an authority on that,” he pointed out.

Gibbs did say, however, that what the geologists had found would put Barbados in a position to export oil.

“The quantities are in excess of Barbados’ requirements. There would be export potential there,” the National Oil Company boss added.

Nevertheless, he told Barbados TODAY that the time between exploration and production of such a find was a long process.

“I could see anywhere between eight to 10 years is the time frame that we would be looking at,” he explained.

While not speaking on behalf of the Division of Telecommunications and Energy, Gibbs said as far as he was aware, Government was in the final stages of negotiations with BHP Billiton, an Anglo-Australian multinational mining, metals and petroleum company headquartered in Melbourne.

“Barbados National Oil’s role there will be to manage the Government’s interests in that operation,” he said.

When contacted, acting Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Division of Energy Francine Blackman was much more guarded even though she acknowledged that Barbados had been negotiating with BHP Billiton since 2008 and had awarded that oil company two offshore blocks.

However, Blackman made it clear that discussions were still ongoing regarding an exploration licence.

She said that apart from BHP Billiton, it has not been in discussion with any other entity, either to conduct offshore research or exploration.

“The Ministry or the Government of Barbados, as I know, has not hired anybody to undertake any research that would confirm or not confirm that type of information that you have just suggested. Even if somebody says that they sent something to us, anybody can say they sent anything. . . But that will still have to be verified whether or not the information presented is credible,” the acting deputy PS stated.


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Onshore drilling commences next year Thu, 28 Aug 2014 06:35:10 +0000 Barbados will embark on a $15 million onshore oil exploration and production programme in the middle of next year.

Manager of the Barbados National Oil Company (BNOC) Winton Gibbs told Barbados TODAY this afternoon the drilling programme will begin between July and August 2015 with a minimum of five wells planned to be sunk.

Gibbs said the proposal was to drill two exploratory wells at Society in St John and two to three production developmental wells at the BNOC’s Woodbourne headquarters in St Philip.

Winton Gibbs

Winton Gibbs

“Our production is just around 700 barrels of oil per day. We were hoping to drill this year, but we had to delay that for a number of reasons. One is, we have made a decision to refurbish all our rigs and to make the drilling rigs more efficient and more versatile,” the BNOC manager added.

“We are refurbishing them to reach a depth of close to 10,000 feet. Our rig could reach a depth of 6,500/7,000 feet with some effort. So we have taken a decision to refurbish and upgrade those rigs to make them safer and more efficient,” he continued.

Gibbs said the exploration wells were more expensive because they normally go to a greater depth and they were located in virgin territory. Gibbs said the BNOC will be seeking to determine what oil and gas reserves exist in Society, St John as a new field.

“The technical department is still in the proess of evaluating the prospects,” he noted. He said that in 2012, the company drilled one well at Society, but officials had encountered some challenges in that area.

“The sample suggests the presence of hydrocarbon, but we were not able to complete the well, and that is why we are going back to the same area with at least two wells.

“Woodbourne is an ageing field and it is more costly to produce the balance of the reserves here. It’s important that we find a new field,” the BNOC top official suggested.

He said that while his company was looking at Society, the search will be extended in the future to other areas such as Flat Rock and Fisherpond.


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AT RISK Thu, 28 Aug 2014 06:29:40 +0000 Four years after the 2010 tragedy that claimed the lives of six young women in a clothing store in Tudor Street, the City, commercial buildings both in and out of Bridgetown are yet to meet the necessary safety standards, laments social activist David Comissiong.

Campus Trendz September 3rd

He said today he was deeply disappointed that the lives of thousands of Barbadians continue to be put at risk whenever they patronize or work in certain commercial buildings in this country.

David Comissiong

David Comissiong, head of the September 3rd Foundation

Comissiong, who is the head of the September 3rd Foundation, is therefore calling on Government to “get on” with the task of seeking to rectify the lack of safety mechanisms before any more lives are lost, while noting that among the six Campus Trendz fire victims, were shop attendants, as well as customers who simply happened to be patronizing the city store when tragedy struck.

“. . . So the same way it happened to them, it could happen to other Barbadians,” he warned.

“It is a risk to be operating in a shop that has only one door, that has no fire escape, perhaps has no fire fighting equipment and so Barbadian lives continue to be at risk,” he told Barbados TODAY after a press conference called to discuss plans for the fourth anniversary of the September 3rd event.

Comissiong, who is an attorney-at-law, also appealed for there to be a national programme, sponsored by the Government, which would not only obligate owners to renovate and make the appropriate changes to existing buildings that do not meet the required standards, but also provide them with the necessary loan facilities to assist them in carrying out such works.

He said while it was expected that buildings constructed post September 3, 2010 be safety compliant, those in existence before the tragedy would need to be policed in order to ensure that they conformed with the necessary standards.

To ensure that this occurred, Comissiong said the authorities, through the Town and Country Planning Department, should beef up inspection of commercial buildings, including stores and shops.

“I thought more would have been done after the lives of those six beautiful young women were snuffed from us . . . But we have seen no evidence of such programmes. There has been no indication that any of these measures have been put in place since the third of September, 2010 and that is very disappointing because one would have thought that the third of September 2010 tragedy was of such a magnitude that the authorities would not have needed any further motivation to get on with the job of doing what is necessary,” he said.

“It is sad that it might take a lawsuit to bring corrective action to that issue, but we [would] like to appeal to the authorities to do something about it.

“If you go back to 1937, you would see that [historian] Hilton Vaughn raised issues about these conditions. He was bemoaning the conditions of the shop girls in Tudor Street         . . . . Fast forward to 2010, to 2014, and precious little has been done.

“It is not good enough and I think the authorities really need to do their duties,” Comissiong stressed.

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Import concerns Thu, 28 Aug 2014 06:09:30 +0000 Minister of Commerce and Industry Donville Inniss has promised to carry out an investigation into claims by one garment manufacturer that some clothing are entering the island with fraudulent labels.

This follows complaints from managing director of River Bay Trading Ian Pickup that some items of clothing were being imported from Trinidad with Made in Trinidad labels but, upon closer examination, it was discovered that the original tags were replaced.

“Illegal imports, re-labelling and false labelling and false invoicing are real problems again,” Pickup told Inniss during a tour of his company in Wildey, St Michael today.

In response, the minister said: “I think we are duty bound as a Government, as the competent authority, to do our investigations to ensure that the items entering our port are actually made where they say they are being made. And I give the assurance that this is a matter we will take up immediately with the competent authorities – in this case Mr Pickup has identified Trinidad – and I will have some investigations done prior to my visit to Trinidad next month on other business.”

The minister also gave the assurance that concerns about River Bay Trading being under threat because of imports from the Dominican Republic (DR) flooding the market, were being addressed.

Managing director of River Bay Trading Ian Pickup.

Managing director of River Bay Trading Ian Pickup.

Pickup noted that between October 2013 and this month, his company had been hit hard by the imports and it had seen a 19.5 per cent decline in adult t-shirt sales and a 20 per cent drop in the sale of children’s t-shirts. This, he said, was due mostly to duty free products being imported from the Dominican Republic.

“The Dominican Republic imports are a real threat and had a dramatic effect on our business this year . . . If you put DR imports against River Bay sales . . . overall we are being outsold in our own market by the Dominican Republic imports. It is a serious matter, a very serious matter,” said Pickup.

“The problem with the Dominican Republic imports is the duty under the CARICOM/ Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, so they are able to enter and sell their shirts at about 30 to 40 per cent lower than our regular price.”

Armed with statistics, Pickup told Inniss that between January and June this year, total imports from the Dominican Republic were 76,196, compared to his sales, which stood at 58,553 for the same period. He said while total revenue for last year stood at $2.4 million, he expected that to drop to $2.3 million by the end of the financial year, September 30.

The clothing manufacturer who employs 40 people said high electricity costs, high transportation costs and continued increase in input costs, especially cotton, were also stifling his operations.

Pickup said despite drawing the problems to the attention of the relevant authorities and having “several meetings with ministry individuals” no action has been taken to date.

“I have been banging on about this for a really long time and I am really angry . . . . What this does is it demonstrates how easy it is to cheat,” he said.

However, Inniss insisted it was not correct to say that no one was doing anything about it.

“I wish to give the assurance that the Government is not turning a deaf ear to the manufacturing sector. We recognise that it is still a significant contributor to the economy – almost five per cent of GDP – employing quite a number of Barbadians, earning and saving foreign exchange,” he said.

The minister also promised that “the necessary surveillance” would be carried out to ensure “we are getting the taxpayers and the Government what is right fully theirs” by ensuring the appropriate rates of duty are applied to items based on their origin and using the correct tariff rates.

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Davis Cup-ready Thu, 28 Aug 2014 04:33:42 +0000 Barbados’ men are ready for what can be considered their toughest assignment to date when they host Mexico in the finals of the Davis Cup Tennis Championship from September 12 to 14 at the National Tennis Center, Wildey, St Michael.

Speaking today at a media briefing at the National Tennis Center, non-playing team captain Kevin Yarde said there was going to be lots of pressure to win at home. But he added the local players that included Barbados’ number one Darian King, ranked 458th in the world, Haydn Lewis, Seanon Williams and Russell Moseley were all looking forward to the challenge.

(From left) Barbados captain Kevin Yarde, president of the Barbados Lawn Tennis Association Dr. Raymond Forde and vice-president Sandra Osborne.

(From left) Barbados captain Kevin Yarde, president of the Barbados Lawn Tennis Association Dr. Raymond Forde and                 vice-president Sandra Osborne.

“The guys are ready to go and we are really looking forward to this challenge. It is going to be a big challenge . . . . The guys are overseas training and getting match ready. Darian King is playing second-round tomorrow in Rotterdam, Holland, Haydn Lewis is going down to Vandermeer Academy over the weekend to train with those world class players, Seanon Williams is in Mexico and Russell just got back from Atlanta and Toronto where he has been doing some training,” Yarde said.

In terms of feeling pressured to win at home, the experienced Yarde said they had a game plan for the Mexicans who were currently ranked number 44.

“There is always pressure to win at home and we always want to win at home for sure but it is going to be pressure from both sides of the nets. It is going to boil down to which team handles the conditions the better. The Mexicans are traditionally baseliners and one of the things we are going to look at is attacking the nets more and keeping them out of their comfort zone. We will try not to get into too much long rallies and just try to take the matches to them,” Yarde said.

The winner between the two nations will advance to group one in 2015 and Yarde urged the Barbadian public to support the local players with their presence during the matches. He explained that this would give the Barbados team a bit more energy and motivation to give one hundred and ten per cent.

Vice-president of the Barbados Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA), Sandra Osborne, said it was significant to mention that the Barbados players with limited resources were competing in a group with larger countries such as Bolivia, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru.

She said it was quite commendable that Barbados had been doing so well over the years and where the Davis Cup was concerned they were well advanced with their preparations.

“Our planning is well advanced and we have a sense of what we have to do. We will continue to keep in touch with them [Davis Cup players] to make sure that everything is in place and things run smoothly. The only issue around September is the possibility of rain and we are hoping that will not happen. There is provision for the tie to continue on Monday, September 15,” Osborne noted.

The vice-president noted that if a situation arose where all three days of the competition were affected due to the rain, along with the reserved day, they would then have to work around getting some play, which would include extended hours.

“Monday is the day that is normally reserved and we would hope that we would be able to get some play during the three days before. But I am not sure if the rules allow it to go into the Tuesday [if Monday which is the reserved day is rained out].

“The issue for us is that we have opted not to play under lights and the reason for that is that our lights are not up to standard. So the rules require us to have eight hours of sunlight for the singles and six hours of sunlight for the doubles and that is why we start at ten o’clock in the morning and that would take us to six o’clock in the evening for the singles and then the doubles we start at twelve o’clock and that gives us six hours until six o’clock,” she explained.

Additional seating will be provided for patrons because BLTA is expecting a good turn-out and Osborne took time to thank the main sponsors Powerade for their support over the years.

The draw for the matches will take place on September 11 while the actual final starts on Friday, September 12 at 10 a.m. with two singles matches. One doubles match will be played on Saturday, September 13 at noon and two reverse singles on the 14th at 10 a.m.

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Governor to speak on economic issues Thu, 28 Aug 2014 03:33:26 +0000 Barbadians will very soon get a better understanding of how policymakers are addressing the country’s economic issues.

The Central Bank of Barbados has announced an initiative in which the Bank and captains of industry will examine, in a discussion forum, the strategy for sustainable economic recovery.

The first forum, titled, The Barbados Economy: Consolidation and Growth Strategy, will hear from Governor of the Central Bank Dr DeLisle Worrell, president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tracey Shuffler, chartered accountant Andrew Brathwaite, and business journalist Jewel Brathwaite. Broadcast journalist David Ellis will be the moderator.

Governor of the Central Bank DeLisle Worrell

Governor of the Central Bank DeLisle Worrell

They will discuss how policymakers are approaching fiscal consolidation and pursuing economic growth through the four main foreign exchange earners – tourism, international business and financial services, agro-processing and alternative energy – which saves the country foreign exchange.

“The country now has in place the right strategy for our circumstances. It is being implemented with fortitude. It has begun to show results. We know from experience that the way to raise our standard of living is by resolute application of appropriate policies with a view to sustainable development in the long run,” Governor Worrell said ahead of the first forum on September 3.

The discussion can be heard by tuning into VOB at 6:30 pm and CBC at 9:30 pm.

The Bank will host at least two discussion fora annually. The next one will take place in early 2015.


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Muscles on show Thu, 28 Aug 2014 02:36:04 +0000 Muscularity and fitness take the spotlight this Saturday when the ALLMAX Nutrition National Championships are staged at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre

Some of Barbados’ best female and male exponents will go toe to toe in what is anticipated will be a highly charged and close competition in most, if not all, of the categories.

For the first time in Barbados women’s physique will be exhibited. This category represents the evolution of female bodybuilding via the use of four graceful compulsory poses and a thirty second routine. Amanda Browne of Kracken’s Gym, Julia Davis of Brute Force Gym and Deidre Archer of J&S Fitness will be the first competitors in this category.

There are six entrants in the women’s body fitness and Ramona Morgan will have a chance to defend her crown, but look out for Miss Bridgetown Kathy-Ann Greenidge from Strike Force Gym who should be in top shape.

Ramona Morgan

Ramona Morgan

Sixteen women will display graceful beauty in the bikini fitness category. The standard of competition will be very high as champions like Melissa Burrowes, Domini Alleyne, Natalie Webb-Howell, Janesia Pitt and Shakira Douglin will be hitting the stage.

Men’s bodybuilding will be well represented as over 20 men show why Barbados has dominated the sport for decades. Some of the champions on stage include Mr Barbados Stevenson Belle, Hoskyn Worrell, Laron Gibson, Joe Bourne, Shaquille Lavine, Dario Bryan and Mike Worrell. Not discounting the other entrants, the showdown between Worrell and Belle should provide for riveting stuff. Both have been training very hard and are looking in excellent shape. The veteran Bourne is also one that should attract plenty of attention.

Stevenson Belle

Stevenson Belle

The largest category will undoubtedly be the men’s physique. Those to watch include Evy Bentham of Surfside Gym, James Sheppard, Marlon Dottin, Omar Benn, Jamil Jones and Ramon Dodson just to name a few.

At the end of the night MrM and Miss Barbados Champions will be crowned and the selection panel given the job to determine the composition of the Barbados team to compete at the CAC Championships in St Maarten in October.

In addition to the viewing of over seventy quality athletes, special awards will be presented. The main award will be the Winfield Bascombe Memorial Award, which was given to Loftus Roach in 2013. Audience prizes of gym memberships, fine wine and a Smartphone will also be available. Displays and samples by ALLMAX Nutrition, Barbados Yellow Pages and Green World Products will be on show as well.

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Two more charged after Party Stand raid Thu, 28 Aug 2014 02:18:50 +0000 Two men have been charged for drug possession following the police raid at the Party Stand early Monday morning.

Kuamie Cox, 25, of Jackson, St Michael and Ras Beja Gobor Prince, 30, of Wharfdale Road, Pinelands, St Michael were both charged with possession, possession with intent to supply and trafficking of cannabis.

Police alleged that when law enforcement authorities carried out searches at the final Summer Jam Sundays event, they found 45 grammes of marijuana on Cox and just over 17 grammes on Prince.

Yesterday, another young man arrested during the raid, 19-year-old Kemo Avery Grant of Grazettes Main Road, St Michael, was remanded to prison for having a .32 revolver and three rounds of ammunition at the fete.

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When our kids and caregivers all go missing Thu, 28 Aug 2014 01:57:49 +0000 At least three times a month, in the last few months, the Royal Barbados Police Force has issued missing persons’ bulletins, asking the public to help locate, in most instances, teenagers who have left home with or without their parents’ or guardians’ knowledge and have not returned. And more often than not, the ones missing are young girls who have not yet passed their teen years.

Fortunately, those missing persons’ bulletins are followed up, soon afterwards, with a notice that the child “has been traced and is safe”.

“We thank the media and the public for their invaluable support”, is how the two-sentence update to the media usually ends. No information is provided on where the child had spent her days and nights while her family, police and the public at large hoped and prayed for her safe return.

While the police and family may want to spare the public the details of where the teenager was and what she was doing, many questions arise, including: Who or what are they running away from or to? What drives a child as young as 14 years old to leave home to seek refuge elsewhere?

And what about those adults, whether male or female, who lure them away from their families’ bosoms or harbour them while the search is on? What becomes of them?

Are the young ones counselled when they return home?

Of course, we are relieved when a missing girl is found safe and sound, and police do not have to investigate a crime in which she is the victim. But we cannot move on after just relief. Crucial questions must be asked and answered, and action taken to address what is clearly a problem in Barbados.

There are some cases where, parents admit, their missing charges are no strangers to leaving home and staying away for long periods. It comes easy to speculate about the reasons behind children leaving home when they are repeat runners; or when the police description of the missing child includes tattoos of questionable words and images; or when the teenager “frequents” certain areas –– and to judge such.

Very often, these runaways are seen as troublesome or promiscuous adolescents in search of some sordid relationship with an older male. But the experts tell us that children often run away from home because of neglectful parenting, abuse, conflict in the home, or simply because they do not feel happy or safe.

While there are also cases where teenagers simply rebel and leave home to do what they want to, it is worth investigating to take action, not only against any wrongdoer, but to get help for troubled teens. Whether it is getting them out of situations of abuse, neglect, or conflict, or counselling them, something must be done!

So far, the Child Care Board has remained silent on the recent missing girls cases. But the fact remains that it too has a responsibility to ensure the best interest of our nation’s children is served. So too do the church, social groups and, of course, parents.

Sometimes, the parents and child care authorities are themselves to be found, since they too are missing –– missing in action!

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Law power! Thu, 28 Aug 2014 00:00:57 +0000 KINGSTON –– Two prominent United States-based attorneys, who represented the family of murdered Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, have joined forces with Miguel Lorne to represent the grieving family of Mario Deane to seek justice for his controversial death while in the custody of the Barnett Street police in early August.

Jasmine Rand, a civil rights attorney and human rights activist, and Benjamin Crump, president elect of the National Bar Association and who represents the family of Michael Brown, who was killed under controversial circumstances by police in Ferguson, Missouri, have opted to join the legal team and lend their support.

Deane was beaten, allegedly by fellow inmates, after he was arrested on August 3 for possession of a small amount of ganja. He was denied bail after he voiced his dislike for the police and later taken to hospital after suffering severe injuries. He died three days later.

Mario Deane

Mario Deane

The police initially told doctors at the Cornwall Regional Hospital that Deane fell off a bunk, which led to his relatives and friends staging a massive demonstration in Montgo Bay to protest against his killing, which they blamed on the police.

Other demonstrations were staged by civil society groups and howls of condemnation rang out in the aftermath of Deane’s demise.

His autopsy has been postponed until his relatives secure the services of an independent pathologist to oversee the examination.

Two of Deane’s fellow inmates have since been charged with his death.

Trayvon Martin was killed in controversial fashion in the United States by George Zimmerman, who trailed him and shot him several times even though he was unarmed, while Michael Brown is the latest in a long line of young black men who have died at the hands of the American police under controversial circumstances. His death has triggered a rash of demonstrations and rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, and forced the American government to call out the National Guard to restore order.

“Human rights violations cannot be tolerated whether they occur in Sanford, Florida; in Ferguson, Illinois; or in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Human rights are universal; they are not a black thing or white thing; they do not adhere to only Christian, Muslim, or Rasta; and they do not start or stop at international borders. Humanity itself is universal. What happened to Trayvon affected Jamaicans; what happened to Mario Deane affects Americans. As a human family we must unite to fight injustice wherever it is found,” Rand said.

Crump echoed Rand’s sentiments.

“I am Mario Deane. I send my love and support to his family. We stand beside you in your fight for justice and equality for your son. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, and everywhere we must fight the police brutality and misconduct that ravages the poor and oppressed in every nation,” he said.

Lorne said Deane was viciously beaten while in police custody until his head was swollen to nearly twice its normal size when he died in hospital on Jamaica’s Independence Day, August 6. Lorne alleged that the case clearly resulted from police brutality and/or misconduct.

“Whether or not law enforcement directly participated in the beating, they certainly turned a blind eye to Mario Deane’s screams and cries for help. When the police agency arrested Mario Deane and placed him in custody, they assumed responsibility for his life. I hope that Jamaican citizens and the international community will listen to his family’s cry for justice for Mario Deane,” Lorne said.

(Jamaica Observer)

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