Caribbean RoundUp

Guyana's President Irfaan Ali addresses the media during a joint news conference with Suriname's President Chandrikapersad Santokhi (not pictured), Nov. 24, 2020.
REUTERS/Ranu Abhelakh, file

ANTIGUA

The Antigua government has announced weekly lotteries in an effort to encourage residents to take up about 6,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine before they expire on June 30.
Minister of Information, Melford Nicholas announced at a post-Cabinet media briefing that each of the four lotteries will give vaccinated residents a chance to win EC$5,000 (US $1,850).
He said Cabinet had agreed that everyone who has taken a first dose since the vaccination program began in March, will be eligible to participate. The only exceptions will be the immediate families of parliamentarians.
The lottery will be drawn on a weekly basis, with residents not required to register , since data taken by the Health Ministry throughout the vaccination process will be used to form the pool from which weekly winners will be chosen.
A week prior, government announced that everyone who has taken a first vaccine dose between June 7 – 30 will be entered into a raffle for an 8,000 square foot parcel of land valued at EC$68,000 ($US 25,161).
BARBADOS
Barbados is preparing to welcome back cruise ships to its shores from this week, with all passengers on board fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
This was revealed by Minister of Tourism, Lisa Cummins who said “we are preparing to welcome back for the first time in over 15 months cruise ships. We have the Celebrity Millennium that will be making a transit call on Barbados.
“It has been over a year of discussions, negotiations and engagement at the level of the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), the European Union (UE) healthy sail guidelines, working through the Americas Task Force chaired by the President and CEO of Royal Caribbean, Michael Bailey and Prime Minister, Mia Mottley of Barbados.”
Cummins pointed out that several protocols are in place and all passengers are required to have a valid negative PCR test three days before arrival.
“We have restrictions on what types of activity can be undertaken at this stage because of our best efforts, and despite the level of rigor that we have put into developing these protocols, this is still the first ship. We need to take small, confident but careful steps,” the tourism minister said.
GRENADA
Grenada says it has acquired a US$8.95 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to use as a stimulus package for persons who have been marginalized by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell said there are many who have been without an income for more than a year and they, too, have commitments and families that they need to take care of.
Mitchell said that the funds which will be distributed through the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), have a variable interest rate of 2.06 percent and that the terms and conditions include a five year grace period, with repayment over 20 years.
The prime minister said his administration has been trying to secure additional stimulus, as it did at the start of the pandemic that has infected 161 people and killed one, ever since the first case was detected in March last year.
The Ministry of Finance said disbursements are expected to begin in August and the government said recipients would be offered both grants and loans.
GUYANA
Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali said the country plans to monetize its gas resources in the country by half, which could promote the establishment of a facilities fabrication industry.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Saipen Guyana Offshore Construction Facility in Georgetown recently, Ali noted that the proposed gas to shore project would not only cut the cost of electricity by 50 percent but will attract manufacturing and industrial development in Guyana.
President Ali said the overall development of the country will be dependent on critical investments that will help provide the necessary pathway to secure a positive future for all Guyanese.
JAMAICA
The Bank of Jamaica says it anticipates that the introduction of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) scheduled for 2022, will serve to bolster government service delivery and boost financial inclusion for a greater number of Jamaicans.
Bank Of Jamaica ( BOJ) Governor, Dr. Richard Byles said that the challenges arising in relation to the deployment of funds to beneficiaries under the multi-billion-dollar Covid-19 Allocation of Resources to Employees (CARE) Program highlights the need for the CBDC.
He noted that a number of Jamaicans are not part of the financial network and also because a lot of the banking arrangements are still not digital. “I think that there is a greater need for financial inclusion digitization of the Jamaican economy, and that is one of the issues that we hope to rectify with the CBDC, ” he said.
The Bank of Jamaica will undertake a seven-month CBDC pilot, from May to December 2021, utilizing its Fintech Regulatory Sandbox.
ST. KITTS
In an effort to halt the spread of Covid-19, the St. Kitts government last week announced further restrictions and continuing for at least two weeks, including an 11-hour curfew.
In a televised to the nation, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris said the decision to implement the partial lockdown was a difficult but necessary decision.
He said the number one priority in this fight against COVID-19 is, and has all ways been, to keep our people safe and “we will whatever it takes to protect our people.”
He said after careful consideration the Cabinet has agreed to restrict the movement of people to contain the virus.
“We therefore place the country under lockdown as of June 12 from 12 am to 6 pm for 14 days to June 26 in the first instance.
Under this lockdown, the Cabinet has determined that people should stay at home over the next two weeks.
The prime minister noted that security officers will be out in their numbers enforcing protocols with respect to social distancing and mask wearing.
The number of cases continue to grow.
It was reported that there were 11 positive cases up to a week ago and another 25 were recently recorded since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic bringing the total to 155, an increase of 111 cases in a few short weeks.
TRINIDAD
The Trinidad and Tobago government has appointed a new  permanent representative to the United Nations in New York City.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Amery. Browne recently presented the instrument of appointment on behalf of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to Dennis Francis, the new head of mission at the ministry’s Port of Spain.
Francis will assume duties as the Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations, New York.
He fills the vacancy created when Member of Parliament and Minister of Housing, Penelope Beckles resigned to contest a seat in the 2020 general election.
Francis has considerable experience in international relations and diplomacy, having worked for 38 years as a career diplomat at the ministry until his retirement in 2016.
— Compiled by Azad Ali

More from Around NYC