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Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Trade Chet Greene said his country will continue to speak out against the false allegations against the region as “high risk” for financial services and the label of “tax havens.”

Speaking at a recent trade ministers meeting in Guyana Greene said that, without correspondent banks, the region’s capacity to trade would be so constrained as to make any legal trade virtually impossible.

He said, “if the present trend continues in which our banks lose correspondent relations in the United States, which is our biggest trading partner, we will witness an upsurge in illegality.”

Greene called on his colleagues to immediately declare at the end of the meeting, among other things that the CARICOM region is a non-secrecy area for financial services.

He noted that CARICOM countries are compliant with international standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATA) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Forum and CARICOM countries have tax information exchange agreements with every major nation and are implementing the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA).

Barbados

The U.S. Coast Guard recently held its fourth annual multilateral maritime interdiction and prosecutions summit in Barbados.

The summit, which gathered representatives from law enforcement agencies throughout the region, the Dominican Republic and France, focused on building partnerships to deter and disrupt transnational organized crime organizations and to prosecute the leaders of such organizations.

The original focus of the summit had been drug interdiction, but was expanded to encompass migrant and weapons smuggling.

Among the topics discussed were firearms and human trafficking protocols, synchronized training for participants and policies for customs violations.

US ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Linda Taglialatela said the US embassy is always pleased to cooperate with “our partner nations on issues of mutual concern, including citizen security, drug interdiction and law enforcement training.”

Guyana

The British government is giving Guyana a US$77 million grant to improve airstrips and drill new wells in the South American nation’s vast jungle interior.

This was revealed by Finance Minister Winston Jordan who said that the funding is part of a US$432 million initiative from the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund to pay for development projects in former British colonies in the region.

The initiative was unveiled by British Prime Minister David Cameron last year.

Jordan said the grant will help repair several airstrips that are the only way to get to some Amerindian communities on the coat.

He said the funds will increase access by those communities to potable water and will be used to build new roads, bridges and ferry piers.

Jamaica

One of the world’s largest travel companies, Expedia group, has reported that travel demand to Jamaica on all its sites grew about 20 percent compared to 2014.

Expedia said some Jamaican destinations that experienced a noteworthy increase in package bookings in 2015 to 2014 included: Ocho Rios with more than a 30 percent increase, South East Coast with nearly a 60 percent increase and Port Antonio with a 75 percent increase.

New data from Exordia group also indicated that the United States remains the feeder market for Jamaica with a reported growth of nearly 25 percent in 2015 year over year.

Canada and the United Kingdom are other key markets for Jamaica, growing at nearly 13 percent and nearly 50 percent respectively as well as during the same frame.

Representatives from Expedia’s market management team attended the Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX), the destination’s premier event and the single most important business generator for Jamaica’s tourism industry from April 29–May 1, 2016, at the Montego Bay Convention center.

Throughout the three-day conference, Expedia executives shared the latest news, information on innovative marketing tools and recommendations on how hotel partners can take advantage of Expedia’s mobile technologies, tools and market intelligence to achieve increased visibility and incremental demand for their properties.

Expedia seeks to continue to add more properties to its portfolio and to support tourism growth in Jamaica and the Caribbean region.

Turks and Caicos Island

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) says HIV / AIDS and the mosquito-borne virus will be addressed at its health research conference to be held in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) later this year.

CARPHA said the 61st CARPHA Health Research Conference, which will take place from June 23 to 25 will also address child health and healthy ageing among other issues.

TCI Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing said his Overseas British Territory “will gain tremendous exposure from this conference. It is an opportunity for local health professionals, to share their experiences and challenges, to be educated and informed and for delegates to enjoy activities in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

CARPHA Executive Director Dr. James Hospedales, said the conference is the longest running health event in the Caribbean and Latin America and attracts leading health professionals from across the globe.

St. Kitts

Attorney General Vincent Byron Jr, who is responsible for electoral matters in St. Kitts and Nevis, will soon be taking to Parliament proposals to reform the electoral process.

Speaking at the prime minister’s press conference recently, the attorney general said that the question of electoral reform involves several factors including if the current voters’ list is properly constituted, the need for proper enumeration process to register people where they live, whether citizens living overseas would have to be resident to be able to be active participants in the voting process, and the issue of the realignment of the constituency boundaries.

Byron said there needs to be a legislative framework for these reforms to happen and to initiate the process.

He indicated that the question of electoral reform is a constitutional issue “involving all aspects of society and it would be open to the citizenry to be involved in the process.”

The minister responsible for elections highlighted that there are many problems with respect to the electoral process that where inherited from the ousted Douglas administration and that to be addressed by the present government, but that the electoral process at the moment has been restored under the current Elections Act.

St. Lucia

Former St. Lucia National Security Minister Guy Mayers is suing Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony over statements he made regarding the 2010/11 “Operation Restore Confidence” by the St. Lucia police.

Mayers, who is also the chairman of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP), is alleging that Prime Minister Anthony made the allegations during an address to the convention of his ruling St .Lucia Labor Party (SLP) earlier this year.

He said Anthony also repeated the statements at SLP meetings afterwards.

Mayers said he demanding a public apology from Anthony as well as a court order preventing him from making the allegations. He is also seeking compensation.

In August 2013, Anthony said the ORC was among reasons the United States decided to suspend all assistance to the local police.

Anthony had also sought assistance from the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) to probe the so-called “extra-judicial” killings by members of the police force.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) Bill which is being debated in Parliament will result in an onslaught on the constitutional rights of not only citizens but visitors to T&T as well.

The former prime minister told a news conference that the legislation, which was presented by Attorney General Faris-al-Rawi seeks to give the SSA more powers and will allow phone tapping without a warrant.

She said while the opposition understood the need to support crime-fighting legislation, the measures must have the required checks and balances.

Persad-Bissessar said the bill would breach the privacy rights of “every citizen and even non-citizens who may be visiting Trinidad and Tobago.”

According to her, the SSA bill will impact on every citizen “whether you are a businessman, a husband or wife, media personnel, politicians, trade unionists and will impact on every citizen in terms of violations of rights to privacy which are enshrined in our Constituti­on.”

The opposition leader said the legislation, if approved in its present form, would be like a molotov cocktail on the population and the matter should be put before a Joint Select Committee for special consideration.

Persad-Bisessar said her concerns must not be seen as being against crime-fighting measures but rather one for ensuring that safeguards were put in place to protect citizens.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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