The British economy did not grow as strongly as initially thought during 2017 as consumers and businesses were held back by factors directly related to Brexit. The Office for National Statistics said Thursday that the British economy expanded by a quarterly rate of 0.4 percent, down from the initial estimate of 0.5 percent. The downgrade was largely due to lower than anticipated industrial production. The downgrade reduced overall 2017 growth to a five-year low of 1.7 percent from the previously forecast 1.8 percent, and means Britain is one of the slowest-growing Group of Seven economies. Before the June 2016 vote to leave the European Union, it had for years been one of the fastest-growing. Though Brexit isn't officially due to take place until March 2019, the vote to leave the European Union has clearly hit consumers and businesses. The former have been constrained by the sharp rise in inflation that was due to the fall in the pound following the referendum, which raised the cost of imported goods, notably food and energy. The increase in inflation has eaten into their wages, reducing their purchasing power. In a statement accompanying Thursday's downgrade, agency statistician Darren Morgan noted that a number of consumer-facing industries slowed "as price rises led to household budgets being squeezed." That squeeze on household incomes is due to end this year, according to Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, as wage rises are forecast to start to outstrip inflation. Currently, wages are growing about 2.5 percent on average against price increases of about 3 percent. Meanwhile, businesses have taken a more cautious approach on investment as they seek clarity over the post-Brexit economic landscape. Business investment during the fourth quarter was flat when compared to the year before, a sign of the impact of Brexit uncertainty. With little more than a year to go to Brexit, executives will be hoping for some clarity to emerge over the coming days. On Thursday, Prime Minister Theresa May is hosting some of her top minister at her country retreat in an attempt to forge a consensus over the way ahead. Discussions over the trading relationship between the government and the EU are due to resume soon, and many businesses, particularly in the finance sector, are hoping that a transition deal will be agreed on shortly whereby Britain will remain in the tariff-free European single market and customs union for a period after Brexit. Though the impact of the falling pound is set to diminish over the year, Brexit is still the biggest cloud over the economic horizon this year. "The effect of the uncertainty around future trading relationships is having an impact on the demand side of the economy," Carney told lawmakers Wednesday. "I don't think that's controversial, it's pretty clear ... We have moved from the top of the pack to the bottom." The pound remained under pressure after Thursday's downgrade, trading 0.2 percent lower at $1.3885 as traders mull whether it may ease the pressure on the Bank of England to increase interest rates again as soon as May amid above-target inflation. Last November, the bank raised its main interest rate by a quarter point to 0.5 percent, its first increase in a decade. "All told, then, the latest GDP data suggest that the economy remains in a fragile state and does not need to be cooled with another rate rise as soon as May," said Samuel Tombs, chief U.K. economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The 2017 tourism performance saw Saint Lucia breaking all records with total visitor arrivals climbing to an all-time high of 1,105,541. The island also recorded the highest growth in 2017 among the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) member countries, registering an 11% increase. 2017 was characterized by sustained growth in the industry, with stayover arrivals at 386,127 and the cruise sector recording a 14% increase, reaching 669,217, an additional 81,264 visitors despite the 8-month closure of the Pointe Seraphine Berth 1. Commenting on the figures, Minister of Tourism Information and Broadcasting Dominic Fedee, said: “The tourism industry continues to be an incredibly important and vital part of the Saint Lucian economy. We are happy with the levels of growth witnessed and as we continue our marketing efforts, we as well look to maximizing the impact of tourism on our economy”. The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority worked assiduously with the CTO and trade partners to overcome the indirect challenges faced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, ensuring all markets that the destination was safe and available for travel. At the close of 2017, The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) in Travel Trends Report for 2018, the most important document issued in the UK travel industry selected Saint Lucia as one of the top 12 destinations for 2018.

(File Photo) Sir Hilary Beckles

Chairmanof the CARICOM Reparations Commission andVice chancellor of University of the WestIndies (UWI),SirHilaryBeckles has charged the British government with being both dishonest and immoral in choosing not to pay reparations to Caribbean people. Sir Hilary gave a scathing tongue-lashing during a press conference today at UWI Mona convenedby the Center forReparations Research (CRR). The conference was held to discuss a recent claim made by the British Treasury which stated up to 2015, the loan from the British governmentused to compensate former slave owners was still being paid by British citizens. The information came viaa tweet from Her Majesty Treasury page on February 9, saying "… Millions of you helped end the slave trade through your taxes." The post also explained that in 1833, after the Abolition Act was passed, Britain used£20 million to buy the freedom of those enslaved in the British West Indies. It went onto say the amount money borrowed to repay the plantocracy was so large, the debt was not paid off until 2015 which means that "British citizens helped pay the end of the slave trade". Referencinga speechmade by former British Prime Minister, Dave Cameron, in the Jamaican House of Parliament back in 2015, SirHilarysaid Cameron's advice for the Caribbean to cease the call for reparations and "move on" from slavery, shows "publicdishonesty" and "immorality" onthe part of theBritishgovernment. "For me it is the greatest act of political immortality, to be toldconsistently and persistently to put this[slavery]in the past and yet her Majesty's treasury has released the relevant information to suggest that it is just two yearsagothatthis bond was beingrepaid." He also said when Cameron made the address he must have beenwell aware the debt was still being paid by British citizens. "This transfer of public money to the private holders of the slave bond makes it apresent dayactivity. It also implies that the 300,000 West Indian people who have been living in Britain, their taxes were being used to pay back the slavery loan, which suggests that you are speaking of a double payment." SirHilarysaid the fact that there is proof of "further major wealth extraction" from the descendants ofenslavedpeople up to 2015 underscores the legal obligation of Britain "to put the money back into the Caribbean. He said this new bit of information thrusts the reparations discourse to the top of the priority list for Britain. He added the CRR will be pushing the governments of the region to put pressure on the governments of Europe so the reparations discussion can recommence in earnest.

Sixty-five-year-old Velma Dean, who along with her husband and three adult sons, chopped and stoned a mentally-ill man to death in St Ann, Jamaica, has been handed a life sentence in prison. Justice Carol Lawrence-Beswick passed the sentence on Wednesday afternoonin the Home Circuit Court, and ordered that Mrs. Dean should serve 30 years before being eligible for parole. Her husband, 69-year-old Joseph, was also sentenced to life in prison, and must serve 25 years before becoming eligible for parole. Two of their sons, Dwight, 38, and Richard, 44, were each sentenced to 20 years in prison, and will be eligible for parole after serving 12 years. The other son, Jermaine, 29, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with eligibility for parole after serving 10 years. In passing the sentences, Justice Lawrence-Beswick upbraided both parents for their roles in the killing. "You appeared to have played a major role," she told Velma Dean, who wept throughout the court hearing. "I know he (the victim) was considered a nuisance in the community, but he had a right to life," the judge stressed. In reference to Joseph Dean, the judge said he should have set a better example for his sons. "… you guided them down the wrong path," she told Joseph. The family members were convicted in December for the killing 29-year-old Stanley McLean in Coltart Grove district in St Ann in 2007. A critical part of the testimony against them was from McLean's elderly father, Audley, who recalled seeing Velma Dean directing two of her sons to stone the house where his son was in hiding. The elder McLean said Mrs Dean and her sons later entered the house and he watched as the woman chopped his son repeatedly. Audley McLean added that a rope was tied to his son's feet before he was dragged out into the streets, where Velma Dean resumed chopping him.

Digicel St Lucia, through their partnership with the Daren Sammy Foundation, has launched the inaugural Digicel Daren Sammy Cricket Academy 2018, a much-needed platform for the overall growth and development of cricket on the island. The launch was held on Thursday, February 15, 2018 at the Harbor Club in Gros Islet, with Daren Sammy, Digicel St Lucia’s Brand Ambassador, Siobhan James-Alexander, Digicel St Lucia’s CEO and John Eugene, Head Coach of the Academy, in attendance. The Academy will be held from April 03 – 06 at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium and targets aspiring cricketers between the ages of 12-15 to years. The Academy will allow 20 deserving participants the opportunity to be mentored and coached by the nation’s best in cricket as well as an international coach. Participants will be exposed to both on-the field training as well educational/personal development components. The aspiring cricketers will be trained over a four-day period in fitness, nutrition, physiotherapy and mental health. Speaking on behalf of Digicel, Siobhan James-Alexander, CEO, said “The Digicel Daren Sammy Cricket Academy is specifically designed to provide additional tools to players recognising that the raw talent may already exist. Digicel is happy to put its name to a programme which cover areas such as nutrition, mental focus and physical fitness, aspects which are not readily available in any other Academy. In true Digicel style we needed this to be an experience with a difference that fulfills our mandate to support youth development.” She added, “As a total communications and entertainment provider Digicel will continue to remain steadfast on our commitment to connect our customers to the things they love. As cricket is a big part of our culture across the Caribbean region, Digicel is extremely excited to be partnering with the Daren Sammy Foundation to provide such mentorship opportunities which we hope will ultimately preserve cricket in St Lucia.” Download our app to keep up on the news in Saint Lucia: Android: & iOS:


Barcelona will face no action from FIFA in relation to an unpaid bonus to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) superstar Neymar. The Brazil forward completed a world-record €222million move from Barca to PSG in August after the Ligue 1 giants sensationally met his release clause. Neymar claims he is still entitled to a €30m renewal bonus after signing a contract extension at Camp Nou until 2021, although Barca maintain that terms of that agreement were breached when the 26-year-old joined PSG. FIFA has confirmed they will step away from the dispute after legal action was taken elsewhere over the same complaint. A statement released to Omnisport by world football's governing body read: "After having been made aware that, apparently, the same matter had been submitted in parallel before different jurisdictions by the same party, the FIFA administration informed the parties to the dispute that based on the long-standing and well-established jurisprudence of FIFA's deciding bodies, it did not seem to be in a position to continue with the investigation of the affair. "The proceedings were therefore closed for formal reasons." Neymar has impressed at PSG this season, scoring 28 goals in 29 appearances for Unai Emery's side.

Southwest Airlines said Thursday that a dog injured a child as passengers boarded a flight in Phoenix, an event likely to fuel the debate over the growing number of emotional-support animals on planes. A passenger on Wednesday's Phoenix-to-Portland, Oregon, flight tweeted that a dog bit a girl as she approached it, and that she screamed and cried. The man, Todd Rice, did not immediately respond to a Twitter message seeking further comment. Southwest said the dog's teeth "scraped a child's forehead" and paramedics checked the girl, who appeared to be 6 or 7 years old. Southwest spokeswoman Melissa Ford said the dog was in the plane's first row of seats with its owner, who said he warned the girl not to approach his dog. Police interviewed the girl's family and the dog's owner. The family decided to remain on the plane, while the dog and its owner left and took a later flight, Ford said. The incident happened as airlines consider new restrictions on passengers flying with emotional-support animals. Unlike service animals such as guide dogs, support animals need no training. However, passengers can be asked to show a medical professional's note explaining why they need the animal to travel. Southwest started reviewing its policy even before Wednesday's event, Ford said. Starting next week, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines will require more paperwork and assurances from owners of support animals. Both Delta and United said they have seen a sharp rise in the number of support animals in the last year or so. Last June, a 70-pound (32-kilogram) dog flying on Delta as a support animal bit a passenger in the face severely enough that the man required hospital care. Delta had planned to require owners of both service and support animals to submit health forms filled out by a veterinarian at least 48 hours before a flight. On Thursday, however, Delta softened the provision for service dogs after running into opposition from advocacy groups for the disabled. People who use service dogs said Delta's original 48-hour requirement would have made it impossible for them to take last-minute, emergency flights. Delta said it won't require customers to submit veterinarians' forms in advance for trained service animals but might "in some cases" ask those customers to show their animal's vaccination records. None of the new rules for support animals would apply to pets small enough to fit in carriers that go under airplane seats. Airlines charge up to $125 each way to carry a small pet in the cabin. There is no charge for service and support animals.

On many days, Ramon Medina has no choice but to skip work to make ends meet. Like around half of Venezuelans, he earns the minimum wage — the equivalent of around $3 a month — so whenever his cellphone buzzes with a tip, he sneaks away from his job as a hospital orderly for the chance of taking home a government-supplied food bag on which he depends to feed his family. He's not the only one hustling. On any given day, he estimates a third of his co-workers at Vargas Hospital in Caracas are also stepping out for a lucrative side job or spending hours in line to buy flour and cooking oil at bargain-basement prices impossible to pass up. That leaves few back in the hospital caring for sick patients, the 55-year-old said. "You do what you can to help out," he said of his job, but added, "People are discouraged." Along with four-digit inflation, widespread shortages and a recession deeper than the U.S. Great Depression, Venezuela's economy is now being ravaged by a new scourge: mass absenteeism. In recent weeks, newspapers and social media have been filled with reports of work stoppages at the Caracas subway system or the state-run oil company as workers scraping by on meager paychecks can't be bothered to show up for work. Private companies complain they can't find enough workers to punch the clock, exacerbating a standstill in what few assembly lines are still running. The crisis is spiraling out of control even as President Nicolas Maduro is seeking a second term in a snap election his supporters recently set for April 22, drawing condemnation from the U.S. and other countries who say he's flouting Venezuela's democratic tradition. Yet, Maduro has turned the economic crisis to his advantage, analysts say. Douglas Barrios, a Venezuelan economist at Harvard University, said that in 2012, before the country sank into recession, the country's monthly minimum wage equaled $300, on par with those of other Latin American nations and enough to support a family with rent and food. That has since dramatically changed, he said, noting that today it takes a worker nearly two weeks to earn enough to buy two pounds of powdered milk. Normally, voters would turn their backs on a government under such circumstances. But Maduro is locking in support by making voters dependent on discounted government food bags and by announcing wage hikes before energized live audiences on nationally televised broadcasts. "You support us and you have access to food," Barrios said, explaining what he sees as the government's strategy. "If you don't support us, you go figure out how to make ends meet." The government has accused opponents of waging an "economic war" on Maduro and point to recent sanctions by the Trump administration banning lending to the government as further proof of sabotage. Far from throwing in the towel, it says it is expanding social programs like the food parcels to protect the poor. "The revolution guarantees the people are protected," Maduro tweeted this week. Jenny Mejia, 24, said she's not fooled. She recently walked away from her low-paying job at a lunch counter to sell bottles of shoe glue stacked on a table along a busy street in Caracas. It takes her about a week to earn the equivalent of the monthly minimum wage. "With Maduro, more hunger is assured," said Mejia, who receives the government food bags but vows she won't support his re-election bid. Socialist Venezuela's battle with absenteeism isn't new. The late Hugo Chavez in 2001 signed a decree that came to be known as the Law of Labor Immobility that makes it but impossible for employers to fire a worker without their consent. But the problem has grown worse as the economy has unraveled and price distortions have become more pronounced. For many Venezuelans, the choice is going to work for a few pennies a day or scavenging for the declining number of products sold at controlled prices and reselling them on the black market for several times their official value. Venezuela no longer publishes labor statistics, but workers in Caracas' busy subway estimated that as many as 70 percent of their colleagues don't show up some days. The country's state-run oil firm PDVSA — virtually the only source of hard currency — is losing workers due to low wages and a lack of safety, said Venezuelan economist Francisco Monaldi, a Latin American energy policy expert at Rice University in Houston. "Those who can, leave the country," Monaldi said. "Others simply do not show up to work." Companies juggling to stay in business have no choice but to remain flexible. At Danubio bakery one day recently, some of the 300 employees squeezed past one another preparing pastries, cakes and lasagna. Many said bus fare eats up their paychecks despite earning 30 percent more than minimum wage. For many, the two meals a day they get at work make it worthwhile. "Coming to work is a kind of relief," said Andrew Kerese, who runs the successful family business with five bakeries across Caracas. "Here people have breakfast and lunch." However, many long-time employees have fled the country and called Kerese from abroad to tell him they're not returning. Others struggle getting to work because the buses are full or don't run, or they can't find spare parts for their cars. Some days, word spreads of a market selling discounted flour, so everybody leaves to get in line. Antonio Golindano's daily journey into work at the bakery starts at 4 a.m. The 71-year-old has tied on his apron and sifted flour there for four decades. But he said the hardships make it harder for him every day. "I do the impossible to come and fulfill my duty," he said. "It is my obligation to come to work."

The Fantasy crew brought their signature glamour and glitz to the Savannah stage on Carnival Tuesday, complete with bevies of beauties and lots of fun. The theme for this year, 'Isle of Olympia' showed lots of feathers, beads, gems and sparkle. Vide the footage below:

Tribe's Carnival vibe continued as revellers crossed the Socadrome stage on Carnival Tuesday. Celebrating the theme 'Once Upon a Dream, revellers stamped, wined, and bounced across the stage to their heart's content. View the video below:


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May 07, 2018

Saint Lucia Jazz 2018

A celebration of Saint Lucian, Caribbean and international jazz music, with events in all parts of the country - a mix of free and paying concerts, educational activities targeted at Saint Lucian and visiting musicians, culminating on Mothers’ Day, May 13, 2018, in a major concert at the Pigeon Island National Landmark.

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May 30, 2018

Saint Lucia Carnival 2018

Pumping rhythms, sexy costumes and the people dancing under the warm Caribbean sun; welcome to Saint Lucia Carnival! Almost on the heels of the annual Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival, Saint Lucia’s cultural landscape morphs into a flurry of chrome plated steel drums, feathers, and beads. No matter where you are or who you are, Saint Lucia Carnival is something to behold.

In the months, weeks and hours leading up to Saint Lucia Carnival, there are numerous events that are a must see, whether you’re a Carnival veteran, or Carnival newbie. Some of the staple events - the Calypso Tents, Calypso Monarch, Party Monarch, and Carnival Parade are the deep-rooted cultural aspects of Saint Lucia Carnival. But it won’t be Carnival without the ‘wining’ and jumping and non-stop partying.

Here’s a great tip for first-time Carnival revellers - ‘wining’, is a local Caribbean-wide term used to describe the rotational movement of the hips either to the left or to the right, whichever way your waistline can go really. Before you brave any Saint Lucia Carnival event, don’t be afraid to perfect your ‘wining’ motions. You can bet on someone asking pretty ladies to “take ah wine.” Either way, master the move so that you keep up with the locals and really party like a Saint Lucian.

By the time Carnival Monday rolls around, your dancing skills will help burn off all the yummy calories you’ll be consuming – let’s face it; Saint Lucia’s Carnival food scene is just as fabulous! The ultimate Carnival experience is when one joins a “band.” Competing band members flock together at predetermined locations near the staging area, for the beginning of what will be a hyperactive dance session through the city’s streets. With speakers the size of warehouse refrigerators, the vibrations and sounds begin with only the trance of soca leading you throughout the streets of Saint Lucia.

If you’re still alive at the end of Carnival Monday, many band members will go off to enjoy official band parties or you can opt to go home to revitalize yourself – don’t worry, you can comfort yourself by the fact that the next day is Carnival Tuesday…

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August 01, 2018

Chocolate Heritage Month 2018

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Spend August satisfying your sweet tooth during Saint Lucia’s Chocolate Heritage Month.

Saint Lucia’s chocolate legacy dates back to the thriving cocoa industry of the 1700’s and the island still produces some of the world’s most sought-after chocolate. Many of Saint Lucia’s top resort spas and restaurants use the island’s native cocoa in spa treatments and savory and sweet culinary creations that are both indulgent and healthful.

August is an ideal time to sample inventive “choc-tails” and specialty tasting menus, relax with beneficial chocolate-infused spa treatments and enjoy “tree to bar” cocoa plantation tours with island-wide hotel and resort offers. Click here for more information. 

For a deeper look into the island’s chocolate heritage, you can take a plantation tour that shares the history and tradition of Saint Lucian cocoa production. Choose from a variety of experiences such as Morne Coubaril Estate and La Dauphine Estate. The Fond Doux Holiday Plantation tour will lead you through the cocoa fermentation house where you can participate in the traditional “cocoa- rina” dance to polish the cocoa beans. Or, take a behind the scenes look at a bean-to-bar single estate boutique chocolate maker at Jade Mountain’s Emerald Estate Organic Chocolate and Chocolate Laboratory.