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Antigua

The Professional Organization for Women in Antigua & Barbuda (POWA) and Women Against Rape (WAR) are in support of a recommendation that abortion should be an option for women who are pregnant and may be infected with the Zika virus.

Public relations officer for POWA, Gisele Isaac said a woman’s health and her mental and emotional well-being should he paramount.

“Abortion is a decision for the parents of the baby and the last word really should be from the woman, because she is the one who will be carrying and the one who will be the primary caregiver. So we have to look at her quality of life and the baby’s quality of life,” Isaac said.

Head of WAR, Alexandrina Wong left the right to abort squarely in the hands of the woman.

She based her argument on the premise that the twin-island state lacks the infrastructure necessary to adequately support a baby born with a birth defect or provide assistance for the affected family.

Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation, Alder Bynoe suggested that women should have access to a range of options in response to Zika and abortion should be one such option.

Bynoe said simply asking women to delay pregnancy was not enough.

Barbados

Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has described as “unfair and unwarranted” the decision last year by the European Commission to blacklist several Caribbean countries, including his country, as uncooperative tax jurisdiction.

Addressing a ceremony marking Europe Day 2016 and the 40th anniversary of the European Delegation’s presence in Barbados, Stuart said he was surprised at the blacklisting.

“There are reports that in the wake of the so-called Panama Papers, the prospect of another list looms. I trust that this will not materialize and that the European Union has by now recognized that the financial services sector is a vital element of the economies of a number of CARICOM countries, touching their very existence,” he said.

Stuart said the European Union had aided the development of Barbados and the region through several measures.

He pointed out the focus in the initial stages of the relationship was on sugar and then rum, but the attention was now directed at new areas, such as that of renewable energy.

The prime minister told the ceremony Barbados aspires to become a green economy and a large part of this change would involve moving away from expensive fossil fuels.

Bahamas

The Inter-American Bank IIDB) Group and civil society organizations representatives from seven Caribbean countries — The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaican, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago — will meet on June 1, 2016 in Nassau, Bahamas to discuss key economic and social trends and challenges for the region under the perspective of sustainable growth.

The meeting will feature discussion about the future and sustainability of civil society organizations (CSOs) in alignment with their governments’ development efforts.

The program includes other topics such as climate change, sustainable cities, and health challenges.

The IDB Group sustains a systematic dialogue with civil society organizations from 26 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, which includes information, dialogue consultations, collaboration and partnership.

Cuba

Cuba announced the opening of 127 projects among its opportunities for foreign investment in its tourist sector during the current FitCuba International Tourism Fair.

The Business Director of the Cuban Tourism Ministry, Jose Daniel Alonso, announced at the event that 25 of those projects aimed at building new hotels, another 97 initiatives include hotel management with or without foreign financial back-up and five for the management of marinas.

The official said that by December 2015, Cuba was offering 65,000 and 67,000 hotel rooms, while another l08,000 rooms will be built between this year and 2030.

Alonso added that the Tourism Ministry considers the construction of what is known as ecological hotels, and new products such as nature and health tourism.

Grenada

The U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) recently partnered with the Judicial Education Institute of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to provide training in Grenada for regional attorneys and financial investigators on civil asset recovery.

The purpose of the training was to improve regional attorneys and financial investigat­ors’ knowledge of civil asset recovery, and promote best practice in this area of law.

The training was an example of the close working relationship between the Eastern Caribbean states and the United States to promote the rule of law and enhance citizen security.

Grenada introduced civil asset recovery powers when it passed the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment Act) and in doing so became the fourth country in the Eastern Caribbean to introduce civil asset recovery legislation.

Since the new took effect, criminal justice agencies in Grenada have made full use of the powers contained in the legislation.

Guyana

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting a four percent economic growth for Guyana in 201.

The Washington -based financial institution, which recently concluded an Article IV consultation with the Caricom country, said that lower export commodity prices and budget delays weighed down on activity, while the opening of two large gold mines helped support growth.

It said consumer prices contracted 1.8 per cent in the 12 months ending December 2015, reflecting lower import prices and a one-off increase in value added tax (VAT) exemptions.

The IMF said the macroeconomic outlook is generally positive for 2016 and the medium-term.

It said growth is projected at four percent in 2016, supported by public investment and two large gold mines.

Twelve-month inflation is expected to remain low at around 2.1 percent by year end.

The IMF said it commended the resilience of Guyana’s economy, which continues to grow despite global headwinds, challenges and risks remain.

It also stressed the importance of strengthening the anti-money laundering efforts and combating the financing of terrorism framework.

Jamaica

Jamaica must move with urgency to develop a medical marijuana industry.

The call was made by Finance and Planning Minister Audley Shaw who told lawmakers that the benefits of marijuana is “not about smoking a spiff” or “walking around with two ounces of weed.”

Delivering his first budget debate of the new Andrew Holness government, Shaw said, “this is about building an industry of value-added products.”

Shaw, who cited other countries who benefitted from using the plant, said that Jamaica is uniquely positioned to play a leading role in the medical marijuana industry, which can create wealth for the country.

He noted that in the United States alone, the legal marijuana market is predicted to rise from US$6.7 billion this year to US$21.8 billion by 2020.

The finance minister said Canada has built a major industry, which may become fully legalized next year, adding that the Dutch Ministry of Health is exporting medical marijuana to Canada, Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic.

In addition, Israel has more than 12,000 medical marijuana patients and is leading the world in research on medical marijuana.

Shaw said developing a medical marijuana industry for the country will involve pursuing research at the universities to create medicines which can help people dealing with major illnesses, such as diabetes, epilepsy and other medical conditions.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says his government remains opposed to the controversial Citizenship by Investment Program) CIP) as a means of luring foreign investors to the island.

Addressing the launch of the Chamber of Industry Commerce Finance Fair recently, Dr. Gonsalves said his administration remains opposed to the CIP which he described as a “race to the bottom.”

Several Caribbean countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis and Dominica have established CIP’s through which foreign investors are given citizenship in return for making a significant investment in the socio-economic develop of these countries.

Gonsalves told the private sector that he was reaffirming his Unity Labor Party (ILP) position on the issue and that his government has no intention of having a citizenship by investment program.

“That is to say, the selling of citizenship and passports,” he said, noting that “the five other independent countries of the OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) have gone that way. We just have a different perspective on it.”

The prime minister said that the space is narrowing for economic citizenship programs.

--compiled by Azad Ali

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