Caribbean Round-Up

Caribbean

The Association of Caribbean States (ACS) is urging its members to adopt a United National program that will help them streamline trade and increase transparency in business.

The eRegulations program produced by the UN Conference on Trade and Development provides step-by-step information on how to carry out government administrative procedures. It simplifies business procedures, such as registering companies, obtaining visas and licenses and importing and exporting, according to the United Nations.

It said the ACS, a 29-member grouping of Caribbean, Latin and Central America, countries whose primary purpose is to develop greater trade between the nations, enhance transportation, develop sustainable tourism and facilitate greater and more effective responses to local natural disasters, called on member countries to implement the program “given the positive results it has yielded for the six-member countries that have already adopted it.”

So far the eRegulations system has been introduced in 20 countries and four cities around the world, the UN said.

Caribbean

The spread of the Black Sigatoka disease in sections of the Caribbean has prompted some regional governments to request assistance from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).

According to IICA, the Caribbean faces an emergency following the spread of the Black Sigatoka, which is a leaf spot disease that attacks banana plants, affecting the process of photosynthesis and reducing yield.

Some of the countries seeking assistance to fight the disease are Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

A consultant from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will be visiting the Caribbean countries vulnerable to Black Sigatoka to determine the state of the emergency following which the IICA, FAO and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute will use the report to draft a proposal for technical cooperation to combat the disease.

Barbados

One of the men who was responsible for the fire of a city clothing store in Barbados two years ago, which left six women dead was given a total of six life sentences by a Barbados High Court.

Madame Justice Elneth Kentish handed down the sentence to Renaldo Alleyne, 21, who was found guilty of the unlawful killing of three women from Barbados, one from St. Vincent and the other, a Guyanese, on Sept. 3, 2010 in a horrific fire that shocked the nation.

The six women, all in their 20s, several of them young mothers were shopping and working in the city clothing store Campus Trendz when an accomplice burst into the store demanding money.

After committing the robbery, Alleyne then threw two “Molotov cocktails” back into the store in his attempt to stop anyone from pursuing them, with deadly consequences.

In trying to escape from the fire, the women ran into the back of the store where they huddled together until they were overcome by smoke inhalation and died from asphyxiation, according to the pathologists report.

Barbados

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has brushed aside calls for fresh general election in the country following a decision by the U.S.-based agency, Standard & Poor’s to lower Barbados’ long-term foreign-and –local sovereign credit ratings to ‘BB+’ from ‘BBB-.”

Stuart also insists there is no cause for alarm and that the island’s economy is in good hands.

Stuart said the downgrade is expected in the face of the tough global climate and pointed to lower ratings of the United States and European economies as examples.

“We are doing what we have to do, we have secure foreign reserve cover, our fiscal deficit is coming down dramatically and we are managing the Barbados economy as best as we can in circumstances of this most difficult world in a hundred years,” he said.

Standards & Poor’s said the downgrade reflects its opinion that Barbados’ economic fundamentals continue to weaken.

Grenada

Grenada Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has lashed out at the recent murders in the island which he said have “given rise to fear and concern among the general population.”

Describing the killings as “un-Grenadian in character,” Thomas in a radio and television broadcast recently offered condolences to the bereaved families.

“Equally, the families of the perpetrators must also be undergoing considerable pain and embarrassment brought on by these traumatic occurrences. In fact, our entire society is hurt and aggrieved.”

Prime Minister Thomas said he was making a special appeal to all Grenadians to pray for the protection of life and for humane treatment of each other.

Thomas was commenting on the brutal slaying of a 19-year-old woman whose dismembered body was found on a street overlooking the capital recently. A 23-year-old teacher has been arrested and charged with the murder.

Guyana

Guyana’s Parliament has approved a bill that will allow unmarried couples living together the same inheritance rights as legally married couples.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall says it is the first time a bill awards such rights to unmarried couples and that it should have been approved years ago.

Common law relationships are common across the South American country, and rights groups have long demanded legislation that would entitle surviving partners to the estate of their deceased partner.

Haiti

The wrecked Haitian National Palace is to be demolished. The non-profit group founded by Hollywood star Sean Penn in the aftermath of the 2010 devastating earthquake will oversee the demolition.

Government spokesman Lucien Jura told reporters that Penn’s J/P HRO group will begin the demolition by the first week of September. The group is not charging for the work, which is expected to take about two months.

Ambassador Penn said his organization could provide the engineers and equipment to carry out the work at no cost to the government.

The earthquake destroyed hundreds of buildings in the capital of Port-au-Prince and in other cities to the south. The National Palace was among them, its white dome and the rest of the structure slowly falling apart.

Jamaica

The Jamaica government will in September launch the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy that outlines specific targets for food production to satisfy the nutritional needs of citizens, Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller said.

She said the policy will also ensure that school children have access to wholesome and nutritional foods, necessary for their growth and development.

“The policy will also seek to reduce our food import bill. As a government, we are prepared to use trade policy to discourage the importation of un-wholesome foods,” she said, noting that the potential of the agricultural sector will never be fully realized without the tourism sector consuming more of the food produced in the country.

Figures released showed that the island’s food import bill stands at US$900 million.

Trinidad

National Security Minister Jack Warner said the crime situation in Trinidad and Tobago is not as grim as it seems.

Speaking at a press conference at his Port of Spain office last week, Warner cited crime statistics, which he said showed there had been a decrease in serious crimes and homicides since 2010.

He said there were 262 murders between January and Aug, 21, 2012- an almost three percent reduction compared to the same period last year.

“This year is better than last year. Last year around this time was better than the year before… therefore the situation is not as bad as it seems,” he said.

The National Security Minister said 267 illegal firearms were seized this year – a 21 percent increase over the corresponding period last year.

There was also a reduction in the incidence of burglaries, robberies and other serious crimes.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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