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Barbados

Barbados is forecasting less than one percent economic growth for 2013, up from “real growth” last year.

The Central Bank of Barbados said the 0.7 percent forecast for this year is based on the most recent forecast by the International Monetary Fund of average growth of 1.7 percent for the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada- the island’s major trading partners.

In a review of the Barbados economic performance for 2012 and prospects for 2013, the Central Bank said the projections were also based on an improvement in consumer expenditure in these markets of 1.2 percent.

“In addition, private capital flows of US$300 million are anticipated for activity in tourism and construction sectors. No significant gain in employment is expected.

It said Barbados’ foreign exchange reserves increased during the year to Bds $1,467, million and the import cover at the end of December 2012 stood at 18 weeks even though there was no real growth in the economy in 2012.

Cayman Islands

Britain’s chief inspector of prisons is calling for urgent reforms at the Cayman Island’s dirty and shambolic lockups.

In a report released recently, Nick Hardwick said he was troubled by the poor conditions his team found at the wealthy British territory’s prisons and detention cells.

A British inspection team concluded that cells were “decrepit, chaotic and dirty with an oppressive and intimidating atmosphere,”

Use of illegal drugs was rampant and juvenile offenders shared accommodation with adult prisoners.

Police holding cells in the capital of Georgetown and West Bay were also “barely for human habitation.”

Cayman Government spokesman Eric Bush says they will work to improve conditions, but noted that it will be challenging in an “economically austere times.”

Haiti

A rickety wooden boat carrying 25 illegal migrants from Haiti has landed on a beach on Jamaica’s north coast.

Portland parish police say local residents spotted the boat, which was carrying 16 men, two women and four boys and three girls. All the children and adults appeared to be in good health.

Authorities say the Haitian migrants left their homeland recently and were trying to get to the U.S.

Illegal immigrants have long attempted the perilous journey from Haiti by boat to the U.S. and other Caribbean islands.

Jamaica, however, is a rare stop. The last time a group of migrants arrived on the island was in 2010, when fishermen towed two overloaded smugglers boats carrying 60 Haitians to Jamaica’s east coast.

Jamaica

The United States of Embassy has moved to clear the air following the recent announcement of the decision to close its Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office in Jamaica.

A statement from the Embassy said it will not be closing and its visa and other consular operations will continue as normal.

These include tourist, student, official and immigrant visa applications and American Citizenship Services.

The Embassy explained that the USCIS will close on March 1.

The USCIS is a specialized government agency that oversees matters of lawful immigration to the United States.

With the closure of the Kingston Field Office, the USCIS Field Office in Santo Domingo, Dominica Republic will assume Kingston’s former jurisdiction.

All other departments of the U.S. Mission, including the Consular Section, Paul Robeson Information Center, United States Agency for International Development, Peace Corps offices and the US Consular Agency in the western city of Montego Bay, will remain open.

The Kingston Field Office had jurisdiction over Jamaica, Anguilla, Aruba, The Bahamas, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station

St. Kitts

Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor recently announced his resignation from the Cabinet of Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, citing recent developments as his reason for stepping aside.

Condor’s resignation was submitted less than a week after Prime Minister Douglas fired a senior government minister, Dr Timothy Harris.

“The recent developments pertaining to issue of good governance and constitutional integrity have brought me to the point where I feel constrained to tender my resignation as a member of Cabinet with immediate effect,” Condor said in his letter.

In a radio and television broadcast on Jan. 25, Douglas said Harris, who is also chairman of the ruling St Kitts-Nevis Labor Party, has been dismissed because of his opposition to two recent government-sponsored legislation, including one to increase the number of senators in the National Assembly. Harris had refused to support the legislation.

Condor served for more than 20 years as a parliamentarian and as a government minister for over 17 years.

Trinidad

Director of Public Prosecutions (DOO) Roger Gaspar says he will not lay charges against coup leader Yasin Abu Bakr for failure to give testimony before the Commission of Enquiry into the l990 coup in Trinidad and Tobago.

The DPP has thrown the ball in the commission’s court saying it has the legal power to direct the commissioner of police to “prosecute the proceedings” for breach of Section 16 of the Commission of Enquiry Act.

The Act empowers the DPP to take action against anyone refusing to obey a summons to attend the Commission.

In a letter dated Sept. 24, 2012, the commission indicated to Gaspard it had agreed to formally refer the matter of Bakr’s non-attendance to him in order that he takes appropriate action in accordance with Section 16 of the Commission of Enquiry Act.

The DPP argued that if he were to take action against Bakr, the coup leader would use this as a basis for a say at his retrial for sedition and incitement to demand with menaces which is expected to be fixed for trail in 2013.

Bakr has indicated last year that he could not testify at the commission, citing adverse pre-trial publicity, the likelihood that others may seek to use his testimony before the commission to his detriment at the sedition trial and his poor health.

Trinidad

National Security Minister Jack Warner said this year’s Trinidad and Tobago Carnival was the safest and most secure ever.

Speaking at a press conference at the Ministry of National Security Office in Port of Spain, Warner said in terms of security and safety there has been “no Carnival like this before.”

“From all reports it will seem that the security of the country during the Carnival period seems to be something that was unsurpassed, unparalleled in terms of its implementation.”

He said that except for Tuesday night (10:00 p.m). when there was a murder in Port of Spain, by and large the events before the Carnival and during the Carnival passed out almost totally incident free.

Warner said the crackdown on crime for Carnival did not happen by luck or chance.

“It was based on deliberate planning. It was based on the kind of strategies which the police and the army had carried out and most importantly, it was based also to a large extent on the cooperation of the people to work with the law officers,” he said.

Warner said if this collaboration continued Trinidad and Tobago can expect a transformation in terms of crime.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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