Caribbean Round-Up

Bahamas

Construction of a multi-million dollar resort on Cable Beach in Nassau, Bahamas has got off the ground after some financial challenges.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Brent Symonette turned the sod to start work on the $2.2 billion Baha Mar development.

Symonette said that the details of the project have been painstakingly negotiated between the government and Baha Mar to ensure a well-received and successful development for the investors and operators of the development.

He said the government and its agencies will continue to work with Baha Mar to achieve the implementation of the agreements concluded a successful development.

The Bahar Mar resort will comprise six hotels with approximately 3,500 rooms and condominiums, a 20-acre beach and pool facility, and an 18-hole golf course.

Barbados

The Film Censorship Board is taking another look at the award winning film, “Black Swan,” after initially banning it recently in a move that triggered an appeal by one cinema and sparked a petition by disappointed movie goers and other residents.

The board will decide, after another screening, whether Barbadians will get to see the film in cinemas after all.

The drama/thriller was scheduled to begin showing at Olympus Theatres recently, but the board instituted the ban, deeming the film inappropriate for viewing because of offensive sexual behavior.

The movie features a scene depicting a lesbian encounter.

Barbados is just one of two countries that have banned “Black Swan,” the other being the United Arab Emirates. It has been rated R in most other countries.

Jamaica

Former state minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Ronald Robinson has contradicted statements made by Prime Minister Bruce Golding regarding issues surrounding the Manaat Phelps & Phillips engagement when the commission of inquiry into extradition of Christopher “Dudus” Coke in 2009 continued in Jamaica.

Robinson denied that he had met with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to ask him for assistance with the extradition matter. He said he had met with Giuliani regarding the Air Jamaica matters.

He also denied that Golding had advised him that he was acting on behalf of the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP).

According to Golding in his statement read by attorney for the People’s National Party (PNP) KD Knight, the prime minister said he had advised the junior minister that contact should be made as a party initiative.

Golding also said Robinson, after the New York visit, said he had met with the former mayor and that the mayor had not given him any concrete offer of assistance.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Minister Karl Samuda took the witness stand earlier but was quickly asked to end his testimony after the attorneys for the JLP objected to him being cross examined without giving a statement.

Before leaving, Samuda was asked briefly about the investigation he carried out regarding Manatt.

He said he was told that persons in the JLP had approached the law firm but he was unable to say who they were.

Coke, who was extradited last year, is facing drug and gun running charges in the United States.

The inquiry is being held at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.

Jamaica

The opposition People’s National Party (PNP) said it will oppose the government’s attempt to postpone local government elections in Jamaica.

Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government Robert Montague recently gave notice that he would be seeking to further delay the polls.

The government is claiming that it needs more time to implement elements of local government reform and that plans have not been finalized to establish Portmore as the 15th parish.

However, the opposition said it will be going to parliament to ensure that the polls are held no later than March 31, this year.

The party said the reasons advanced by the government for putting off the elections for a third time, are not significant enough to warrant a postponement.

The PNP said though the government presents local government as one reason for the postponement, the JLP administration had demonstrated no real commitment to meaningful reform.

St. Kitts

St. Kitts is planning a new private air terminal at its main airport, with service to begin by 2013.

The new terminal will feature upscale lounges, a business center, offices, a landscaped courtyard and an events center.

The cost estimated at about $15 million includes $6 million for its first phase.

Plans call for the London-based Veling Limited to transfer ownership to the government’s St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority at the end of the concession contract.

The venture comes, as St. Kitts expands and upgrades its tourism offerings with new hotels and resorts.

St. Kitts

The St. Kitts and Nevis government has passed the Interception of Communications Bill 2011.

The legislation provides for the “lawful and legal” interception of all telecommunications networks including telephones and internet transmissions, telegraphy and mail handling systems.

The bill, which was piloted by Attorney General Patrice Nisbet was passed unanimously after two days of intense debate.

Nisbet said there are safeguards in place to ensure public confidence with regard to the legislation.

He explained that no interceptions would take place unless a warrant, which he described as “an application of last resort,” was filed for and approved by a high court judge.

Public Relations Officer of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Service Inspector Vaughn Henderson welcomed the legislation, noting that it has been effective in combating terrorism and major criminal activity worldwide and would be very useful in the twin-island federation.

St. Lucia

A St. Lucian minister said there is no need for polygraphs to be introduced in the public service, but did not object to them being applied to politicians because of the notion that they are liars.

Public Service Minister Leonard Montoute said he is willing to submit to a lie detector test.

He was speaking against the backdrop of concerns about misconduct in public office.

One trade unionist has fingered politicians, rather than officers, as the main culprits when it comes to corruption.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia tourism is on the upswing once again after the passage of Hurricane Tomas last November, which caused severe structural damage.

St. Lucia Tourist Board Director Louis Lewis said while the natural disaster may have contributed briefly to a decline in tourism, the island had fully recovered.

Lewis was at the time speaking to journalists from Trinidad and Tobago at the Hewanorra International Airport recently.

Lewis said during the hurricane the roads were cut off.

However, the island fought its way and all resources were channeled into the recovery process.

Tourism accounts for 64 percent of St. Lucia’s GDP and close to 67 percent of government’s revenue.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has instructed that the Defense Force Reserves be called out to assist in maintaining law and order in the country.

She said the decision had nothing to do with the threats by police officers to stage a “sick out” for the carnival in protest of the five percent increase in salaries by the chief personnel officer.

Police officers recently staged a two-day “sick out,” temporarily affecting security at the private residence of the prime minister, attorney general and chief justice.

Persad-Bissessar told the media after meeting with police and soldiers that the decision to call out the reserves is to strengthen the visibility of law enforcement officers throughout major “hot spots.”

“We intend to strengthen the troops on the ground throughout the country,” she said.

The murder rate continues to escalate as 65 persons have been killed in the first two months of this year.

Police and soldiers will patrol the streets in the major towns over the next few weeks.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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