Caribbean Round-Up

Caribbean

More than 300 hospitality consultants, real estate developers and the biggest hotel investors in the Caribbean recently attended a two-day Caribbean Hotel and Resort Investment Summit in downtown Miami.

Participants focused on recent tourism trends in the Caribbean, which is rebounding despite the global economic downturn.

Demand for new hotel rooms is up, participants said, but they noted that securing financing remains difficult.

Currently there are 8,000 hotel rooms in the pipeline and of the five biggest hotel projects currently under construction two are in the Bahamas and two in the Dominican Republic.

Antigua

The board of directors of LIAT recently announced the resignation of acting chief executive officer Brian Challenger, with effect from June 30, 2012.

In his letter of resignation, Challenger expressed his appreciation to the board, as well as to the company’s board of directors and staff.

LIAT’s chairman, Jean Holder speaking on behalf of the shareholders and board of directors expressed the view that Challenger has made an important contribution to LIAT during a difficult period in which he exhibited loyalty, dedication and hard work.

Challenger will work with the executive management team to facilitate a smooth transition.

Guyana

Police in Guyana are hunting for the alleged killer of an 18-year-old Trinidadian who is the daughter of a Port of Spain attorney.

Nakita Ramischand was found recently with three stab wounds to her chest and her throat slit at the back of her father’s home in Maracas Valley, St. Joseph.

The alleged killer is said to have boarded a Caribbean Airlines flight bound for Guyana a few hours after the murder.

Guyana-born well-known attorney Odi Ramischand said the police have blocked out all exist points to Suriname in search of the killer.

Reports are that the Guyanese worked at the attorney’s home and was friendly with his daughter but she did not want a relationship.

Guyana

The Guyana government plans to distribute more than 63,000 laptops over the next year to families and communities, bringing the total number of laptops distributed in the country to 90,000, said Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh.

He said the program will make a dramatic difference in ensuring that “our most vulnerable have equal access to information and communications technology (ICT) and will vastly increase the pool of IT literate persons in our country,”

Singh said these developments will place Guyana in a position to be much more competitive as a destination for ICT investment and will enable the sector to play its expected transformation role, including as a direct of economic diversification and growth.

He said that Guyana’s ICT strategy will facilitate dramatic increases in social and economic welfare at all levels.

Jamaica

The Organized Crime Investigation Division (OCID) says it needs additional resources to sustain the crackdown on a multi-million dollar Jamaican lottery scam.

Head of the OCID, Senior Superintendent Fitz Bailey recently highlighted the gravity of the scam when he disclosed that last year also Americans were fleeced of US$300 million.

So pervasive has been the crime, that advisories have been issued in sections of the United States warning citizens against accepting calls from Jamaica, he said.

Bailey said the lottery scam masterminds are using methods, which are making it extremely difficult to detect their action and is insisting that the police will need to continuously apply new technology in their quest to apprehend suspects.

He said the “scammers” are able to access all types of information using any smartphone and a computer phone jack.

St. Kitts

The St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly is considering new legislation to ensure equal pay for male and female employees and makes it an offence if an employer or his or her agent does not comply.

The Equal Pay Bill 2012, which was recently introduced by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labor, Sam Condor, makes provision for the removal and prevention of discrimination based on the sex of the employee in paid employment and to provide for related or incidental matters.

The bill defines “equal pay” as a rate of scale of remuneration for work in which rate or scale there is no element of differentiation between male and female employees based on the sex of the employees.

“Equal work” is defined as work performed for one employer by male and females.

Trinidad

Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) has recorded an unaudited loss of US$52.8 million for the financial year ending Dec. 31, 2011.

This was revealed by Trinidad and Tobago Finance Minister Winston Dookeran in Parliament recently.

Dookeran also said that for the last financial year, the Air Jamaica operations of CAL recorded an unaudited loss of US$38.1 million.

He listed individual debts of CAL as of March 2012 which were more than TT$200 million. These totaled about US$42 million and ranged from as high as US$8.1 million to the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago and US$6.1 million in U.S. taxes payable to the Internal Revenue Service to a low as US$444,829 to Ross Advertising Company.

On the fuel subsidy given to the carrier, Dookeran said the total amount was as at Match 15, 2012, US$22 million, of which US$6.3 million was outstanding.

He said CAL had submitted claims for fuel subsidy for Air Jamaica in the amount of US$3.1 million for the three-month period from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2012.

Last December, former CAL chairman George Nicholas 111 announced that the state-owned carrier had made a profit of US$200 million.

Nicholas resigned on April 4.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government is moving to hire an estimated 2,900 health-care professionals, 70 of which will be coming from Cuba to assist in strengthening the health sector.

This was announced by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the recent opening of the TT$4.6 million University of the West Indies (UWI) Teaching and Student Facilities on the compound of the San Fernando General Hospital recently.

She said among the 70 Spanish-speaking health professionals, 40 are doctors and 30 nurses.

The prime minister said the Cubans who would arrive in the country by the end of this month, would be on a two-year contract.

Persad-Bissessar suggested the government do aggressive training for nurses, saying her legacy and that of her administration should be about hospitals and schools.

Health Minister Dr. Fuad Khan who also spoke at the function said it is his ministry’s plan to train 1,000 nurses over a three-year period.

Trinidad

Murders and road deaths continue to escalate in Trinidad and Tobago as on May 19, 2012, four people were killed in a vehicular accident, while police recorded six murders, pushing the total to 156 so far for the year.

In the highway crash on the road to the Piarco International Airport near Trincity, four occupants of a car died instantly when the car they were traveling in crossed the median and crashed head on with a vehicle in which the country’s acting chief Justice Wendell Kangaloo was one of three occupants.

The accident occurred just before 6:00 a.m. while Justice Kangaloo was on his way to the Arima race track to witness the gallops of his horses. He is a horse owner and former president of the Arima Race Club.

Justice Kangaloo is listed in a serious condition at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt. Hope suffering with head injuries.

His driver a special branch police officer and another police officer who was in the vehicle also suffered minor injuries. They were discharged from hospital the following day.

Police recorded six murders in various parts of the country – four in the Port of Spain area between Friday night and Sunday.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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