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Caribbean RoundUp

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Caribbean

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has pumped US$120 million into the water and sanitation sector in the Caribbean in the last 40 years. CDB’s acting Vice-President (Operations) Nigel Romano made this disclosure while addressing the recent opening of a two-day Regional Water Sector Assessment Workshop at the CDB. Romano said the money was channeled into various areas including basic infrastructure, water treatment plant, distribution and storage facilities and technical assistance,The bank is currently assisting with projects in Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Lucia.

Antigua

Officers of the National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) in Antigua made one of the biggest drug hauls in recent times in Antigua.

Lawmen swooped down on a property at Old Runway and carted off 480 kilograms or 1,058 pounds of cocaine worth around EC$17 million.

The cocaine was wrapped in over 400 parcels and stashed in bags.

A 41-year-old Antiguan and a 42-year-old Guyanese female, both residing in Old Runway are assisting the police in their investigation.

The raid follows the seizure of approximately 2,300 pounds of marijuana with a street value of EC$37 million and the arrest of a Jamaican crew comprising six men who are currently awaiting trial in the High Court.

Barbados

Barbadians have been told to pay the Municipal Solid Waste tax even though they have not yet received information from the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA).

BRA Director of Shared Services, Wayne Forde, said the first instalment of the tax is due by the end of this month.

He said that property owners, who have structures with an improved value on the land, were required to pay the solid waste tax, which has been calculated at a rate of 0.3 percent of the site value.

“The Municipal Solid Waste Tax Act 2014 does not make any provisions for exemption from the payment of the tax. However, the minister of finance has the authority to remit or refund part or all of the tax on the grounds of hardship or for any other reason, as stated in Section 5 of the Act,” Forde said.

Forde warned that the failure to pay the tax by the specified dates would result in a penalty of five percent of the tax demanded and unpaid. In addition, interest at the rate of one percent for each month on the penalty and the unpaid tax at the prescribed time, will be charged.

The tax was introduced this year to assist with the management of solid waste including that of all garbage generated from residential households, apartment buildings, commercial and business establishments, institutional facilities, construction and demolition activities, municipal services and treatment plants.

Dominica

The Dominican government says it will not accept same sex marriages insisting the island will not follow other countries in doing so.

“I will make it clear that there are some things that this government will not accept and we will never allow for the state to recognize same sex marriage in our country.

“If other countries want to do it, that’s a matter for them but there are certain guiding principles that we must follow,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said.

The local minority group, Minority Rights Dominica (MariDom), has been calling on the government to re-examine the Sexual Offences Act of Dominica as it relates to buggery, claiming that the legislation “discrimina­tes against people of their sexual preferences.”

“We are just asking that everybody be treated equally,” the group said, adding that it was still awaiting correspondence from Prime Minister Skerrit on the issue.

Grenada

Grenada’s Tourism Minister Alexandria Otway-Noel says despite an inherited depressed economy, the Keith Mitchell administration has recorded significant growth in the tourism industry in 2014 so far.

Otway-Noel was the feature speaker at the opening of the 1st Caribbean Symposium for Innovators in Coastal Tourism in Grenada recently.

“We have had a 12 percent increase in cruise ship arrivals in 2014: We have seen a 37 percent increase in our Canadian market: 18.5 percent increase in our European market and a 20.5 percent increase in our U.S. market,” she said.

The tourism minister said she was confident that the country’s tourism sector was on the right tract to seeing improvements across the country.

Recently a few changes were made to the tourism sector, which included the renaming and restructuring of the Tourism Board to Grenada Tourism Authority and the rebranding the tourism product from “Grenada the Isle of Spice” to “Pure Grenada”: the “Spice of the Caribbean.”

Guyana

Two Guyana police officers were charged with setting fire to the hands of a teenage boy while he was in custody.

Constable, Earwin Forrester, who was charged with inflicting serious bodily harm and Inspector Dexter Thornton, who is accused of perverting the course of justice, appeared before a magistrate and were placed on Guy$125,000 and Guy$100,000 bail respectively.

The alleged incident occurred in May, when the teen said police on patrol accused him of wandering and took him to the police station where an officer poured methylated spirits on his hands, and with the assistance of others, set if alight.

The inspector is alleged to have sought to settle the matter out of court by facilitating payment of Guy$100,000 to the boy’s relatives.

Photos of the boy’s severely burnt hands were splashed in the leading daily newspapers after the incident and an internal police investigation followed, resulting in charges against the two cops.

Jamaica

Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller government has denied knowledge of whether the United States has imposed an arms embargo on Jamaica and if external pressure resulted in the sudden departure of Police Commissioner Owen Ellington.

Information Minister Sandrea Falconer told a post-Cabinet media conference, a week after the commissioner resigned, that she was unaware of an embargo and the issue was not discussed by the Cabinet.

She said matters concerning the commissioner’s retirement would not reach the Cabinet’s agenda.

Ellington went on pre-retirement leave recently, stating that the investigation into the death squad activities and the commission of enquiry, to be held in the West Kingston operation, led to his decision to leave the force.

It has since been widely speculated that he was forced out of office by the government of the United States.

St. Lucia

The Roman Catholic Church in St. Lucia recently confirmed that a priest had been withdrawn from the ministry “with immediate effect” after he had a relationship with a male parishioner.

“It was clear that the priest crossed his boundaries and acted inappropri­ately,” said Archbishop Robert Rivas, adding that the Church had considered the matter serious.

In a statement, in which the priest was not identified, Archbishop Rivas said the priest had also bene sent on administrative leave during which time he will receive “spiritual and counseling support.”

However, according to St. Lucia News Online, the priest in question is Gros Islet Parish Priest Fr. Stephen Quinlan and the “relationship” was with an adult male.

The archbishop said the Roman Catholic Church would not cover up for indiscretions by priests in the future.

Trinidad

State-owned Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) is projecting a loss of TT$100 million for its financial year 2013.

This was disclosed by Finance Minister Larry Howai who said the airline has been enduring a difficult period but may now be emerging out of it.

“CAL has had some struggles in completing its accounts. They should be able to bring them up in a couple of months. It hasn’t been good news but they have narrowed the loss down,” he said.

Howai said he hoped the national airline of Trinidad and Tobago could make a “full turnaround.”

He noted that the airline industry worldwide was not an easy one.

“Every one of those (international airlines) has gone bankrupt at one time or the other so it is a challenge,” he added.

According to its financial statements for 2012 showed CAL losses moved from US$43,647,732 in 2011 to US$83,780,546 in 2012.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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