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Barbados

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart says Barbados’ high oil importation bill leaves the island with no option but to seek alternative forms of energy to maintain its competitive edge in the Caribbean.

Figures released show that the island spends an estimated Bds$787 million annually on importing oil.

“This expenditure has undermined our competitiveness and distorted electricity rates to an unprecedented extent. This situation has become the greatest challenge of our time and we cannot continue business as usual,” he said.

Stuart said that the government is involved in various efforts to develop indigenous energy gradually into energy mix.

The Prime Minister outlined factors which he said were integral to the realization of this effort including intensification of efforts to maximize production of crude oil and natural gas both onshore and offshore; the diversification of the energy mix to make the use of natural gas and other non-liquid fuels more pronounced in the economy; the island-wide introduction and maintenance of energy conservation and energy efficiency measures.

“We must be cognizant of the reality that fossil fuels will be with us for some time. That is why we are seeking to develop Barbados’ offshore petroleum sector which seeks to access the benefits from the island’s potential natural resources now and in the future,” Stuart said.

Haiti

Haiti is overhauling its adoption laws for the first time in nearly 40 years in an attempt to end practices that have allowed thousands of children to be trafficked out of the country or suffer from neglect as they languish in squalid orphanages.

The proposed legislation is meant to bring Haiti in line with international laws that seek to protect children under consideration for overseas adoption, said Arielle Jeanty Villedrouin, general director of the government’s social welfare agency. The legislation has gone before the Senate for review and awaits approval from both houses of Parliament.

Jamaica

Jamaican Dancehall entertainer Vybz Kartel has been granted bail in the conspiracy case against him. Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer was granted J$500,000 with sureties.

He is facing the charge of perverting the course of justice. As a condition of his bail, the entertainer is to report to the Constant Spring Police Station daily until January 25, when he is scheduled to appear in court.

He is also been instructed to surrender his travel documents and a stop order has been placed on him.

However, Kartel is unable to take up bail as he is also the center of two murder cases. He is jointly charged with associate Andre Henry alias “Pim Pim” and fellow entertainer Vanessa Saddler, more popularly known as “Gaza Slim”. Bail was also extended for Henry and Sadler when they appeared in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court recently.

It is alleged that Kartel and his co-accused were part of a plot to undermine a police investigation into the murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams. Kartel and four other men are before the court on a charge of murder in relation to the death of Williams.

St. Vincent

The Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples (COIP) says it is encouraged by the recent discovery of ancient indigenous artefacts in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The historic findings, including pots, were unearthed at a site in Clare Valley on the leeward side of the island recently.

COIP coordinator, Nelcia Robinson, said the discovery is particularly significant coming 25 years after the first Conference of Indigenous Peoples of the English-speaking Caribbean, which was held here in l987.

COIP said the discovery of artifacts from the Saladoid period has established the presence of the first peoples has established the presence of the first peoples on St Vincent and the Grenadines and that three great indigenous races were the first builders of an independent civilization.

It said the artefacts are a confirmation of the need to name and protect heritage sites in communities where indigenous artefacts are found.

The COIP said it is also looking forward to the declaration of the village of Clare Valley as a Saladoid Heritage Village and to the people of the community enjoying the spiritual and economic benefits that are likely to flow from this declaration.

Tourism and Culture Minister Cecil Mackie said a committee has been established to work in collaboration with the owners of the property where the discovery was made.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government is seeking to buy six naval vessels from Colombia because that country has been most successful in fighting crime, said National Security Minister Jack Warner.

Warner said Colombia has the most successful program in the fight against crime and drugs in particular.

“The Colombian president (Juan Manuel Santos) is one who is being lauded and praised by even the US government. So there is something he is doing right and if he is doing something right it is good for us to go and emulate what is happening,” he told reporters.

Warner said Trinidad and Tobago has much to learn from the Colombian government which is why that country’s president and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar have been in constant dialogue, for the purchase of three vessels in the first instance, but ultimately six, for the use by the T&T Coast Guard.

When the new People’s Partnership came into office after the May 24, 2010 general elections, it canceled an order for three offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) , which was ordered by the previous Patrick Manning administration from the UK firm British Aerospace Engineering (BAE) Systems at a cost of TT$910 million.

Barbados

Barbados recently hosted a two-day conference to discuss sexual violence against children in the Caribbean.

The conference with the theme “Combating Sexual Violence Against Children-From Isolated Actions to Integrated Strategies” – was convened within the United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s UNiTE campaign to End Violence Against Women.

It was hosted by the Barbados government and supported by Britain and the United States.

The conference was attended by government ministers with responsibility for children protection, along with experts in child protection, law, policy reform, health and other sectors to identify coordinated responses to the problem.

The main objectives of the conference were to create a network of participating countries that can share initiatives on ending violence against children and to produce a country-level action agenda.

The conference follows a special CARICOM Council on Human and Social Development meeting, held in Guyana in July, when regional ministers expressed grave concern about the alarming prevalence of sexual abuse of children in member states.

Jamaica

The Jamaican economy is expected to contract during this quarter due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

Central Bank Governor, Brian Wynter, told the Banks’s quarterly briefing recently that this would result in economic output in the December quarter contracting between point seven and minus 1.7 percent.

The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Governor said the negative outlook has been influenced by preliminary estimates of the damage caused by the Hurricane on both the Jamaican economy and the East Coast of America.

“The domestic impact of Hurricane Sandy is substantial, as there has been a sharp decline in projections for activity in agriculture forestry and fishing.

“The impact on mining and quarrying would be also registering a sharper decline than we originally expected due to the closure of the bauxite plants,” said Wynter.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar recently announced there will be some TT$20 billion (US$3.3billion) in investments in the energy industry in South Trinidad.

Speaking at a United National Congress (UNC’s) night forum in South Trinidad, Persad-Bissessar shared with the audience her Government’s vision for a developed south-western peninsula which would see some US$3 billion from BHP Billiton, Mitsubishi and local energy company Petrotrin.

She said the Energy Ministry recently completed a successful deep-water bid round for the exploration of oil and gas, Cabinet, she said, approved these which were won by BHP Billiton.

“The total investment associated with these successful bids is it least US$580 million and at most US$1,024 million or one billion US dollars

That is at least TT$3.7 billion or at most TT$6.4 billion in investment,” she said.

The prime minister said this investment will expand the country and create more jobs for young people.

Persad-Bissessar said Mitsubishi of Japan in partnership with local conglomerate Neal and Massy will invest TT$5.4 billion for the establishment of a methanol to petrochemicals project.

“At peak of its construction it will create 4,000 jobs and 265 permanent jobs,” she said.

Compiled by Ali Azad

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