Caribbean Round-Up

Caribbean

An analysis by the Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has shown that economic growth has slowed throughout the Caribbean region, with decreased private sector activity creating an environment for meager growth in output, employment and income despite eased monetary policy by central banks.

Service-based economies like the Bahamas, St. Lucia and Jamaica are performing worse than goods-producing economies like Belize, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

In a recent presentation at ECLAC’s offices in Port of Spain, Trinidad, entitled “The Caribbean in the World Economy-Context and Insights,” recently, Professor Dillo Alleyne, of ECLAC’s sub-regional headquarters for the Caribbean, said the issues faced by Caribbean economies were only emphasized by the current global economic crisis and will persist even when the crisis is over unless fiscal policies are put in place to deal with them.

He said there were two important phenomena impacting the Caribbean even if the world economy were to right itself; an emerging fiscal crisis due to rising debt, deficit and reduced capacity by governments to undertake countercyclical policy and provide social protection and intense reliance on primary commodities and intense reliance on primary commodities, with all the fluctuations for demand and volatility of prices.

Grenada

Five Grenadian police officers have been charged with manslaughter in the death of Canadian resident Oscar Barthlomew.

Kenton Hazzard,Wendell Sylvester, Edward Gibson, Shaun Ganness and Rudy Felix were charged recently. If convicted they face a maximum of 15 years in jail.

Bartholomew, 39, originally from Grenada but a permanent resident of Canada, had returned to his homeland for an annual family visit.

He died recently after allegedly being beaten by a group of police officers.

The incident may have resulted from a case of mistaken identity outside the police station in St. David’s.

Guyana

The discovery of a break-in of three containers holding ballot boxes is threatening to undermine parliamentary partnership talks between the country’s main political parties.

The People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) said this and other evidence points to a clear conspiracy to “cheat the PPP/C of a clear parliamentary majority.”

The ruling party had initiated talks with the opposition coalition group A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance for Change after its 32-seat win in the Nov. 28 general election left it without a majority in the 65-seat National Assembly.

President Donald Ramoutar said the discussions were aimed at arriving at a consensus on the way forward.

The PPP/C is now accusing some political elements, which it did not identify, of using military-type planning and operation to frustrate and undermine the democratic process in Guyana.

Guyana

The Guyana government is moving to strengthen anti-piracy laws after four fishermen were attacked recently off the country’s east coast.

The men, including the captain of the fishing boat were robbed by five men armed with guns and cutlasses.

Media reports said the pirates escaped with an outboard engine, a compass and Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment among other items, leaving the men adrift for two days. Four people have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Recently, a string of attacks led to tightened collaboration between Guyana, Venezuela and Suriname. The attacks were carried out by escaped prisoners, headed by convicted pirate Kevin Narine.

Haiti

The World Bank will spend $255 million to help house Haitians, clean up neighborhoods and send thousands of children to school over the next year under a plan approved recently by the agency’s board.

The new funds seek to fill critical needs in Haiti as the troubled nation nears the second anniversary of the January 2010 earthquake that destroyed thousands of homes and force more than a million Haitians into precarious settlements in the capital and elsewhere.

The money will go toward housing 22,500 people, many of whom have been living in the hundreds of tent camps that sprang up after the quake. It will also help to spruce up parks and repair roads in neighborhoods that are home to 75,000 people, pay for school tuition for 100,000, train 8,000 teachers and provide hot meals five days a week for 75,000 youngsters.

The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, which was co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, came to an end after Haitian authorities failed to renew its 18-month mandate.

Trinidad

Investigations into Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) Flight BW 523 which crash-landed in Guyana on July 31, 2011 have now turned to analyzing simulations done of the aircraft when it crashed-landed.

The simulations that were done were based on data retried from the flight data recorder (FDR) and the cockpit voce recorder (CVR).

This was explained by Director General of Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Ramesh Lutchmedial.

The aircraft touched down at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in rainy conditions, overshot the runway and split in half on stopping.

Lutchmedial said the investigations were moving apace in record time.

He said, “We are in the process of doing very detailed analyses of the simulations and when that is completed we would start drawing conclusions and then write a report.”

The investigation is being led by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority with assistance from the U.S. National Transportation and Safety Board.

Trinidad

Cuba has proposed nine projects for the region, ranging from the sugar industry in Trinidad and Tobago to assisting with natural disasters, roads and highways.

This was disclosed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar following the recent two-day visit to T&T by Cuban President Raul Castro.

Castro promised to send 65 more medical practitioners to T&T, Persad-Bissessar said.

She said T&T was grateful for the support of Cuba through the provision of physicians, nurses and other health technicians.

The prime minister said the Ministry of Health is aiming to recruit 65 health care professionals in the local health system in the upcoming months.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar left Trinidad and Tobago on Jan. 2 for a two-week official visit to India.

Accompanying her on the trip are several government ministers.

The 60-member delegation also includes a number of businessmen and representatives of various media houses.

Addressing the media before her departure, Persad-Bissessar said Trinidad and Tobago is viewed by India as an important emerging economy in the region.

The prime minister said she and her ministers intend to pursue opportunities in the energy, agriculture, education, medicine, information communication, technologies, fashion, film production and animation sectors.

“This opportunity to engage with India is particularly timely as it has been 15 years since the last State visit was made,” she said.

While in India, Persad-Bissessar will attend the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2012, under the theme, “Global Indian-Inclusive Growth,” at Jaipur (Rajasthan) from Jan. 7-9, as the chief guest,

She will also pay a courtesy call on President Pratibha Patil and Vice-President Hamid Ansari.

A meeting has been scheduled with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for delegation-level talks.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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