Caribbean Round-Up

Bahamas

Military officials in the Bahamas say one woman drowned when a boat carrying more than 100 Haitian migrants ran aground in the country.

The Royal Bahamas Defense Force says immigration authorities have detained 110 people but the exact number of migrants who were on board has not been established. At least six of them were children.

The vessel ran aground along the southern tip of New Providence, the island that includes the capital Nassau.

Many Haitians have migrated to the Bahamas in recent years to work low-wage jobs or try to get to the United States.

Barbados

Barbados is looking to cultural heritage tourism as it seeks to diversify its visitor attractions.

Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy said recently the island had joined several other destinations across the globe that are now targeting this niche market which is already providing business for the island.

He disclosed that last year 10,942 visitors came to Barbados to explore the island’s cultural heritage and he anticipated those numbers would grow,

This sector has shown particular interest in the island’s newest attraction; the Barbados Slave Route Heritage Trail called Freedom Footprints; the Barbados Story Trail and Tour, which Sealy said had “already piloted successfully in the tourism market place.”

With Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison now declared a Unesco World Heritage site, it is anticipated there will be even more interest in the island’s historic landmarks.

Full exposure will be given to all Barbados has to offer in cultural heritage tourism when an anticipated 300 participants from Africa and its Diaspora visit the island in September visit the island in September for the Eighth Annual International African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference.

Cayman Islands

The world’s leading institutional investors, chief executives, economists and academics, including Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, will gather in the Cayman Islands between Nov. 1-2 to discuss and debate the crucial ingredients for sustaining a vibrant global alternative investment industry.

The key theme of the summit is: Innovation in Alternative Investments: Seeing what’s Next.

This event will bring together industry professionals, and will feature a panel of speaker who will address the economic challenges that affect the alternative investment industry. Organized by Alternative Investment Research Ltd, the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit (Cay Al Summit) will unite some of the greatest minds in the alternative investment industry.

Guyana

The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Ltd (GT&T) has reported that the company suffers at least one act of vandalism on its infrastructure each day and this is having a toll on operations, impacting the rolling out of new services and upgrades. Moreover, those criminal acts have been causing the company millions of dollars in losses.

At a recent press conference recently, company CEO Yog Mahadeo disclosed that the company has recorded losses of just over US$2 million in respect to acts of vandalism committed last year; and that figure does not include revenues lost through customers’ inability to access services.

Mahadeo said the figure represents the amount the company uses to remedy acts of vandalism and the cost of materials and resources damaged or carted off by bandits.

The CEO described the vandalism as “blatant theft of company’s resources” including cables and copper and other infrastructure.

Guyana

The Guyana government had criticized the latest U.S. State Department report on human trafficking, which contended that Georgetown has made no human trafficking offenders in Guyana accountable.

It added that limited progress was made in preventing human trafficking during the reporting period.

Echoing previous editions of its annual report, the U.S. State Department said, “Guyana is a source and destination country for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.

“Guyanese nationals have been subjected to human trafficking in other countries in the Caribbean region.

“Cases of human trafficking reported in the media generally involved women and girls in forced prostitution,” it said.

As in 2011, Guyana remains on Tier 2 in the latest report, which says that the government does not fully comply with the minimum standard for the elimination of trafficking but is making signification efforts to do so.

The Government Ministerial Task Force in a strongly worded statement stated that the architects of the report “have not made significant progress in veracity, coherence and validity of their annual assessments,” adding that the Task Force “considers the report an affront to its members.” It condemned one aspect of the report as “a total falsehood.”

Jamaica

Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton, said the government is moving to implement a system called “mobile money,” which allows customers to carry out monetary transactions using their mobile phones.

Speaking during the recent 2012/2013 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, Hylton said the system is being developed in collaboration with the Development Bank of Jamaica and will be initially rolled out through a pilot project, following analysis by the Bank of Jamaica.

“Mobile Money is expected to allow customers to check bank account balances and make payments via mobile phones, as well as transfer funds from person to person. This has the potential to reduce transaction costs for micro-finance institutions….which will lead to a reduction in interest rates to micro-borrowers and greater stimulation of economic activities,” he stated.

Hylton said that similar systems are popular in places such as Kenya, where they serve to increase access to financial services by persons who do not normally have a bank account.

Jamaica

There are close to 100,000 employment opportunities available in Jamaica despite the growing unemployment rate.

Jamaica’s latest Labor Force Survey showed that the unemployment pool grew to 177,200 between January 2011 and February 2012.

The findings of the January 2012 Labor Force Survey placed the unemployment rate at 14.1 percent, compared to 12.9 percent one year ago, as some 23,100 jobs were lost during the review period.

But many persons out of work and looking for jobs are either not trained or not interested in the areas that are awash in jobs.

The government’s job placement and training agency – HEART Trust/NTA – study that canvassed l00 occupational areas across nine major sectors also revealed that there was a manpower glut in some occupational areas.

Tabulation of the figures contained in the manpower gap analysis showed that some 31,600 persons were seeking jobs in areas where there are no vacancies.

Trinidad

As state-owned Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) recently launched its London service, the UK Border Agency gave CAL equipment to help analyze and detect forged, altered or tampered travel documents ssuch as passports.

Officials of the Border Agency presented CAL’s senior manager of security Kurt Gould with a Foster and Freeman eye-D/C1 Document Verification System.

The eye-D/Cl is designed for checking standard security features of travel documents in a portable way.

“This is a cooperative agreement between Trinidad and Tobago and the UK. For Caribbean Airlines, it’s especially in their interest because if travel documents are discovered to be fraudulent then it’s at the airline’s expense to fly that person back,” said UK High Commissioner Arthur Snell.

Gould said all flights into London, especially during the Olympics, will be scanned. This will also apply to other international flights.

Trinidad

Inflation rate in Trinidad and Tobago has risen to 12.6 percent, up from 11.8 percent in the previous month.

The Central Bank, in its repo-rate announcement recently said recent data by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) showed headline inflation, measured by the 12-month increase in the Index of Retail, rose to 12.6 percent.

Food prices are largely responsible.

“The high inflation in the food category of the index continued to primarily reflect movements in the prices of fruits and vegetables at the retail level,” the report said.

With the exception of a light dip in March, headline inflation has been steadily rising since January.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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