Today’s news:

Anguilla

Just days after Anguilla Chief Minister Herbert Hughes announced his move to get independence based on an earlier refusal by the British Governor Alistair Harrison to approve the island’s budget, a contentious visa issue has now escalated into a war of words between the two sides.

In a strongly-worded statement issued by the Anguilla government, the Hughes administration suggested that Governor Harrison had over-reached in exercising his power to halt the government’s issuance of visa waivers and hinted that legal action against the governor could ensue.

Governor Harrison issued a press statement announcing that he was using powers conferred upon the governor under the constitution to direct Home Affairs Minister Walcott Richardson to immediately cease issuing visa waivers to any person; to instruct the permanent secretary and staff of the ministry to immediately cease supporting the issue of visa waivers or admitting persons holding them into Anguilla and to instruct the chief immigration officer and her staff to immediately cease recognizing such visa waivers or admitting persons holding them into Anguilla.

The UK appointed governor explained that he had taken this extraordinary measure after becoming increasingly concerned that Richardson was abusing his office by issuing visa waivers, which were not permitted under the Immigration and Passport Act.

Antigua

The United States violated global law by shutting down internet gambling sites based in Antigua and elsewhere and prosecuting their owners, according to Antigua and Barbuda officials who are considering action in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Antigua and Barbuda, which licenses Internet gambling companies, has waged a long battle in the WTO over U.S. efforts to keep Americans from patronizing offshore betting sites.

The recent shutdown of the three biggest online poker sites has the Caribbean nation ready to go another round.

It contends U.S. crackdowns against foreign betting sites are illegal and protectionist, since gambling for money is permitted in U.S. casinos and online betting is allowed for state-registered horse racing in the United States.

U.S. prosecutors in New York seized the domain names of three online poker sites recently, shutting them down and charging their owners with $3 billion of fraud and money laundering.

Barbados

Concerned investors and policyholders in the collapsed Clico and British American Insurance Company have agreed to form a non-profit organization in order to pursue joint legal action to protect their investment in the two companies.

They will also press for Clico to be placed under judicial management without further delay.

The group, which would be known as the Barbados Investors and Policyholders Alliance (BIPA) will be making an application for non-profit status to the minister of finance.

More than 250 policyholders, including attorneys, former bankers, pensioners, accountants and just regular citizens who have invested in the companies, met recently to discuss strategies to ensure that the appropriate authorities know that they are serious about getting their money back.

Dominica

The Dominica government is considering Sunday opening for some business establishments within the capital, Roseau.

Under the country’s current labor laws, Sunday is regarded as a public holiday and workers would have to be paid double time for performing duties on that day.

Minister for Employment Dr. Colin McIntyre said because of cruise ships sailing into the island on Sundays, it is necessary to consider allowing businesses to open on that day.

He said the labor laws would have to be revisited to facilitate such a change.

The minister stressed, however, that there would be consultation between the government and the people to arrive at an agreement.

McIntyre noted that while it may be easy for smaller enterprises to remain open, larger business may find it difficult to pay overtime to such a large number of employees.

He said this is among the issues that will have to be discussed.

Guyana

Prime Energy and Chemical LLC, Kuai Energy Systems and Chemex LLC of the United States have announced that they are planning to build and operate Guyana’s first ever oil refinery.

It is expected that over the next 18 months, an estimated $75 million will be spent to establish the facility, which will also be providing more than l00 jobs and ultimately see cheaper fuel for Guyana.

Dr. Turhane Doerga, international director of Prime Energy and Chemical LLC based in Miami, said they are currently holding talks with government officials.

According to Dr. Doerga, the conglomerate, which has been eyeing the Caribbean for a while now, will be sourcing its crude oil from companies in the region, in the beginning.

However, the idea is to forge ties with local explorers.

Production at the refinery could start by next year.

Jamaica

The first shipment of Jamaica green bean coffee was shipped recently to China, as the government continues its thrust to diversify the access to Jamaica’s premium brand.

The shipment was consigned to the Zhejiang Dunn’s River Import and Export Company Limited, which is the body formed to handle the commercial transactions of the Hangzhou Coffee and Western Foods.

The first batch of 16,500 kilos of Blue Mountain Coffee arrived recently in Nigbo, China.

In July last year, the Hangzhou Coffee and Western Foods Association signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Coffee Industry Board with the understanding that the company would purchase a total of 1,000 barrels of coffee, each weighing 70 kilos and carrying an estimated valued of $2 million.

Suriname

The Suriname government says it will officially request The Netherlands to arrest and extradite criminals wanted in the Dutch-speaking CARICOM country.

This was revealed by Police Commissioner Humphrey Tjin Liep Sjie ahead of a television program showing that several criminals living freely in The Netherlands, without having served their prison time in Suriname.

Authorities say they know at least nine criminals who fled prisons in the country and now live in The Netherlands.

Some of those were serving time for a range of crimes including murder.

The police commissioner had previously indicated that at least 20 of these criminals were living in The Netherlands, but then Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsh Ballin disagreed with the statement.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar recently unveiled a plaque to signal the construction of an embassy in Brazil.

She said 38 years ago the government of Brazil donated a parcel of land for Trinidad and Tobago to establish an embassy in Brasilia.

Persad-Bisssessar and a 40-member delegation including government ministers and local businessmen spent five-days in Brazil discussing trade and energy matters.

She noted that both countries established diplomatic ties three years after T&T gained independence in 1962.

Trinidad

The signing of the document to seal the deal between Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) and Air Jamaica has been put off until later this month, following high-level talks with officials of both airlines.

Final date for the signing will give CAL full control over Air Jamaica and give the Jamaican government a 16 percent shareholding in Caribbean Airlines.

Reports are that all the paperwork has not yet been completed and as a result an agreement has to be negotiated with the government of Jamaica for a postponement until May 15.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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