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Janice Pereira has been appointed chief justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

Justice Pereira, the first woman to the post, replaces Justice Hugh Anthony Rawlins, who retired on July 31.

The University of the West Indies graduate joined the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court as a High Court judge in 2003 and later as a judge with the Appeal Court. The British Virgin Islands national received notice of her appointment recently from the Office of the Lord High Chancellor in the United Kingdom, Chris Grayling.

In September, she received letters patent issued by Queen Elizabeth conferring the appointment.

Antigua

Britain is warning that a poorly managed citizenship program could result in visa requirements for people traveling with Antigua & Barbuda passports.

Second Secretary at the British High Commission in Barbados, Daniel Carruthers, said while London does not oppose the economic initiative, it must be above board.

Carruthers said Britain is more concerned about the safety of its citizens than what countries do to sustain their economies.

“The concerns that we have around them (such programs) are more about the way they are administered. We understand that for some countries that is a way to raise revenue and raise investments in that country,” Carruthers said.

“We encourage countries to manage them well,” he added.

Britain wants economic citizenship programs to be “properly monitored” with “very thorough” due diligence checks and to ensure that people trying to obtain that type of citizenship have a “physical link” to that country.

Antigua and Barbuda citizen enjoy free entry into Britain, but officials at the Barbados office say the country is constantly under review.

In 2009, Antigua and Barbuda underwent a visa-waiver check from Britain and came out clean but Carruthers revealed that “any country reserves the right to put in place a visa regime at any time in order to protect its borders.”

Britain looks at several factors before it imposes visa restriction on countries

Grenada

Grenada has managed to boost international investor confidence by making its overdue coupon payment on its US$193 million bond due 2025 before the expiry of the 30-day grace period the country was given when it missed the scheduled Sept. 15 deadline.

On Oct. 12, the Grenada government sent funds to its paying agent that were sufficient to pay holders of its bonds in full for the interest owed to them since the missed payment.

The payment came a few days after the government castigated Wall Street-based credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s Rating Services for publicly stating on the international markets that it considered Grenada to be in default on its debt obligation and lowering the island’s foreign currency credit ratings to ‘SD’ (selective default) from ‘B-/B’.

However, in light of the payment, S&P made an about turn and upgraded Grenada’s status, although not to previous levels.

S&P explained: “The large and persistent fiscal and external deficits, debt management difficulties as a result of weak liquidity, and dim near-term growth prospects limit our ratings on Grenada. The government’s access to the Caribbean Regional Government Securities Market, as well as funding and aid from multilateral and government sources, support the ratings.”

Haiti

The Bahamas Department of Immigration repatriated 113 Haitians and 20 other illegal immigrants to their countries of origin recently, Director of Immigration Jack Thompson revealed.

The 113 Haitians, comprising 92 men, 19 women and two children, were sent to Port-au-Prince on a Bahamas Air flight, said Thompson.

Two Dominicans, 12 Brazilians and six Jamaicans were also repatriated to their respective homeland via COPA Airlines and Air Jamaica, he said.

“The department wishes to remind the public of its firm and resolute efforts to repatriate those persons found residing or working without legal status,” Thompson said.

Jamaica

The Jamaica police have warned citizens against taking the law into their hands after at least two persons were killed by mobs.

“Citizens have a duty to report crimes to the police or where possible apprehend felons and hand them over to the police. On no account must any one inflict punishment on a suspected offender,” Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington said.

He warned that those involved in mob justices would be charged with murder.

“Every case of mob killing is classified as murder and will be thoroughly investigated by the police so that those responsible are arrested and charged,” Ellington said.

Several civic and human rights groups have deplored the vigilante-style justice in Jamaica where the latest incident with the recent killing of 29-year-old Dwight Lester, a mason, who was reportedly set upon by residents after he was allegedly caught breaking into premises in the St. Catherine community.

And an angry mob killed Oral Smith, 23, after he reportedly beat another man to death when his demand for J$100 was not met.

St. Lucia

A project aimed at improving the efficiencies of public services in the sub-region through the regional Tax E-filing system was recently launched by the Castries-based Secretariat of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The project financed under the OECS Electronic Government for Regional Integration Project (EGRIP) seeks to promote the efficient, quality and transparency of public services in the nine OECS countries, through the delivery of regionally integrated e-government applications that take advantage of economies of scale.

Senior Director at the Central Secretariat Randy Cato said the Front End Tax E-filing System has been designed to enable electronic registration, filing of declarations and returns and electronic payments of taxes.

He said the Tax-e filing System is also anticipated to help member states boost investment and reduce expenditure.

The governments of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have each received soft loan financing in an amount equivalent to US$2.4 million, from the World Bank for implementation of the OECS Electronic Government for Regional Integration Project.

The loans are provided under a special facility of the concessional lending arm of the World Bank, the International Development Association.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has said that Trinidad and Tobago was willing to provide free asphalt to assist in the construction of its new international airport at Argyle.

Gonsalves told Parliament that he received a telephone call recently from Kuarlal Rampersad, chairman of the board of directors of Lake Asphalt of Trinidad and Tobago (1978) Ltd, who was willing to provide asphalt to the Argyle International Airport project free of cost for the paving of the airstrip.

The airport is being developed by the International Airport Development Company (IADC), a private limited liability company, wholly-owned by the government.

The Argyle International Airport will sit on roughly 175 acres of land, with a paved runway 9,000 feet long and 150 feet wide and is designed to accommodate jets as large as Boeing 747.400s.

The project which began in 2008 is expected to be completed by 2013.

Trinidad

The International Press Institute (IPI) has urged local journalists to main high ethical standards as a tool to increase their standing in public opinion.

The advice forms part of the “Final Report on the IPI Advocacy Mission to End Criminal Defamation in the Caribbean,” which was recently released following two weeks of meetings with representatives of government, law enforcement, media and civil society in Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago as part of its campaign to decriminalize defamation across the Caribbean.

In a statement issued by IPIU, Executive Director Alison Bethel-McKenzie, who led the mission, said they were pleased with the outcome of the visit to the Caribbean and confident that the campaign was off to a good start.

Bethel-McKenzie called on governments to summon the political will necessary to complete the decriminalization process, saying that the first step was to recognize the threat criminal libel laws posed to a free society.

According to IPI, “nearly all independent states in the Caribbean have criminal defamation laws on their books that establish a penalty of at least one year in prison.”

Trinidad

A forensic/management audit of the sale of BWIA’s terminal slots at Heathrow Airport, London, which was ordered by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar found that Trinidad and Tobago did not get value for money in the £5 million sale of its prime slots at Heathrow Airport, by former BWIA to British Airways in 2007 (BA).

The audit committee found that the fair market value of the slots then ranged from £23 million to £44 million.

The slots are used for the loading and unloading of passengers and baggage and re-fueling and re-stocking of the aircraft at Heathrow, one of the busiest airports.

Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar had requested Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to investigate the circumstances surrounding the sale and whether there were any breaches in the process.

The committee’s report dated May, 8, 2012 recommended Parliament convene a special session at which, the former ministers and directors under the former PNM administration should be called upon to account for the role which they played in the sale of the slots.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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