News In Brief
Eye on corruption
The 2013 Transparency International (TI) global corruption barometer was published on 9 July, with Jamaica being the only Caribbean country under the spotlight this year.
TI said its assessment of Jamaica in its 2013 focus on corruption was based on face-to-face interviews in the country. A mix of direct and indirect methods is used in compiling the report.
This year, TI focused on bribery, as well as what it called “beyond bribery” – that is, use of personal contacts and undue influence and corruption in major institutions.
Globally, one in four people reported that they had paid in a bribe in the last 12 months in interactions with key public institutions.
Jamaica fared better than many on the index. In the country’s highest score for bribery, 12% of respondents reported paying bribes to the police. Other kinds of illicit payments fell well below this figure.
However, in terms of perception, Jamaicans expressed a high level of belief of corruption or extreme corruption in the police (86%), political parties (85%) and their parliament and the legislature (74%).
In all, 47% felt the judiciary to be corrupt.
Perceived as least corrupt were the country’s NGOs (11%) and the education system (19%).
As for doing something about it, Jamaicans scored high in the global rankings.
They are in the top (81%-100%) of people in the world who believe that ordinary people have the ability to make a difference.
David v Goliath?
Sir Richard Branson has often been portrayed as the David standing up to the Goliaths of British Airways and other larger airlines.
But when he shared a joke on social media at the expense of the Caribbean’s relatively small island-hopping airline, Liat, he was suddenly re-cast as the giant.
Sir Richard had blogged and tweeted
about a letter that denounced Liat’s level of service under the title: “How to write a complaint letter”.
The letter itself was a sarcastic note including lines such as “And who wants to fly on the same airplane the entire time?”, “I particularly enjoyed sampling the security and scanners at each and every airport” and “PS: Keep the bag. I never liked it anyway.”
You get the gist?
Liat has suffered many problems
over the years but while some on social media responded to Sir Richard’s blog with annoyance, others cheered on the letter’s sentiments.
In response this week, Liat’s customer experience director, Leesa Parris-Rudder, appears in a tongue-in-cheek video challenging the Virgin boss to a race to Necker Island, the island in the BVI that he owns.
It did not say whether this would be by flight or another method.
“All airlines, even the mighty Virgin, have bad days,” Ms Parris-Rudder said in the Liat video.
She added that Sir Richard was “usually David in any David-and-Goliath situation” and urged him to take the challenge.
The loser, she said, stroking the tailfin of a model of a Liat plane, has to “wipe the other airline’s tail”.
“Or you can dress up as a flight attendant for us…We know you like it,” she added.
The Liat video ends with the tailfin of a Liat jet with the slogan: “So Richard, are you up for it?”
Some overnight social media users on the night of 8 July criticised the Liat video response. However, even more complained the following day, when they found it was no longer available on the Liat website.
Checks by Caribbean Intelligence© found it still available on You Tube.
Liat also put out a second video with a corporate response that it was investigating the complaining letter’s allegations.
Caricom on air transport
Liat featured in a more serious role on the agenda of Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders, who met in Trinidad from 3-6 July.
Liat stakeholder governments had proposed
that Caricom heads should discuss financial support for Liat, as well as the way in which the region’s other major airline, Caribbean Airlines (CAL), is funded by Trinidad.
The final communique, however, indicates there will be yet more committee analysis of the situation, which has plagued Caribbean travel
Leaders agreed that the Caricom Secretariat and other relevant agencies would start discussions.
The talks will include “better co-ordination among airlines in the region, with a view to providing a better service”.
Caribbean Intelligence© understands that the St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves, did insist at the meeting that the Trinidadian government CAL subsidy was in conflict with the Caricom Treaty.
Grenada's Prime Minister, Keith Mitchell, said that Caricom governments must realise that if they could bring down government and airport taxes, more people would fly and bring in additional revenue for Caricom governments.
He pointed out that current taxes meant that flying around the Caribbean was far more expensive than flying to North America.
The Trinidad and Tobago Newsday newspaper said after the Caricom leaders' meeting: "Regional travel - a 'no show' at Caricom Summit".
Bristol Carnival a success
– Organisers have hailed the return of Bristol Carnival on 5-7 July after a year’s absence as a success.
Just fewer than 100,000 people attended the event, which showcased Caribbean, African and other cultures with bands and music stages in the city’s St Paul’s area.
There were 14 stages, while bands included Caribbean Carnival-styled masqueraders, a samba band and a number of school mas bands.
Cleo Lake, the chairwoman of St Paul’s Carnival Organising Committee, said the numbers had been similar to the 2011 event.
“I was really happy – all in all, it was a great event and a good celebration,” she told the Bristol Post.
Notting Hill Countdown begins
– With various band launches having already taken place over June, the clock is ticking down to Britain’s biggest carnival – Notting Hill Carnival.
Notting Hill, which has also become one of Europe’s biggest street festivals, has seen a growth of many cultures represented at what started as a street celebration by homesick Trinidadians.
Smart Caribbean Brits are keeping tabs on the Caribbean aspects of the larger Notting Hill fiesta.
One of them is the UK Soca Monarch finals.
The Notting Hill countdown continues.
Canadian Carnival – no wristband, no band!
The launch took place on 9 July of Toronto’s annual Carnival – Caribana.
Events will include Junior Carnival on 20 July, Calypso Monarch contest on 28 July, Panorama on 2 August and the parade of the bands on 3 August.
This year sees a new wristband policy in place for the Toronto jump-up.
The bottom line is that, if you’re a masquerader and you want to jump with your band, you must have a wrist band.
make it pretty clear – no authorised wristband, no access to the parade route!
The event will also be manned by volunteers – London Olympic-style – who are already being trained up to give directions to the public.
Quote of the week – Advice from IAAF Ambassador and four-time Olympic medal winner Ato Boldon to young athletes : “1. Cherish your friendships 2. Think ahead 3. Compete cleanly 4. Step out of your comfort zone 5. Be a role model.”