Caribbean Round-Up

Barbados

There is opposition to the proposal by Canadian electric utility company, Emera, to take over Light & Power Holdings Ltd., the monopoly provider of electricity in Barbados.

Emera made an offer to purchase all issued and outstanding common shares in Light & Power Holdings Ltd at a cash price per share of Bds $25.70 in November. That offer is more than twice the Bds$12 trading price of the company.

The Canadian company stated in a recent news release that the offer price was the same as Emera paid to Leucadia National Corporation when it acquired 38 percent of Light & Power Holdings in May 2010.

But Douglas Skeete, interim president of the Barbados Association of Corporate Shareholders said Bds$25.70 per share undervalues the monopoly provider. Skeete cited a valuation done by accounting firm KPMG, which placed a fair value of Bds $33.70 per share on the stock.

The board of directors of Light & Power Holdings, which serves 120,000 customers, has described the Emera offer as a “fair” one.

Grenada

Former Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell said the economic union being pursued by member countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will benefit the people of the sub-region if it is implemented properly.

Mitchell said it is clear that small economies need to cooperate more at all levels to effectively take on global challenges.

OECS governments recently held a two-day retreat in Grenada. It came a day after the official start of their economic union, which commits them to common policies and free movement of citizens and goods across their borders.

Guyana

Guyana is distributing the first of 90,000 free laptops to high school students and their families in the capital of Georgetown as part of government’s program to improve education in poor communities.

President Bharat Jagdeo said China promised a loan to help expand the three-year, Guy$30 million program to other regions in the South American country.

Jagdeo handed out l00 laptops recently in Georgetown.

Guyana recently launched a new high-speed Internet service following the installation of a $60 million fiber optic cable network from Suriname to Guyana.

Another fiber-optic cable planned from Brazil is expected to quadruple connection speed.

Guyana

Tullow Oil of the United Kingdom is expected to start drilling for petroleum in the Guyana Basin by April, which could see the South American country becoming the region’s next major energy economy.

The London-based company has made a “huge investment” in the Jaguar Well through a joint venture with REPSOL, a leading international oil exploration company based in Spain.

If successful, Guyana will join Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and Colombia as the fourth major energy-based economy in the Caribbean.

Despite Guyana’s limited experience in the oil and gas industry, President Bharat Jagdeo said he is confident of the country prospering as oil producing nation and recently described the sector as one of the new growth poles for the developing country.

The Tullow/REPSOL, joint venture joins a list of well-known foreign companies lining up to join in the search for oil off Guyana’s Atlantic shore.

Haiti

President Rene Preval said that Haiti’s ex-leader Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier had the right to return to the Caribbean country but must now face justice.

Preval was making his first comments on the issue since Duvalier’s unexpected return from exile in France recently.

Duvalier has been charged with theft and misappropriation of funds during his 1971-1986 reign of power.

He is also being sued for torture and other crimes against humanity. He has said he is ready to face “persecution.”

In a recent news conference, Duvalier called for national reconciliation, claiming his return from France had been prompted by the earthquake that devastated the capital last year and his desire to help rebuild the impoverished country.

Preval said that according to the Haitian constitution, no one could be forced to remain in exile.

Jamaica

A Canadian tourist accused of trying to kill his wife while the couple vacationed in Jamaica has been denied bail when he appeared in a Kingston Court recently.

A judge ordered Paul Martin held in Clarks Town jail in northwest Trelawny parish until Feb. 20 hearing.

Police say Martin, 43 of Ontario tried to slit the throat of Cathy Lee Martin in late December. She has since undergone surgery and is recovering.

Investigators believe that Martin attacked her after she told him she wanted to end the relationship.

The attack occurred on the last day of a Caribbean vacation that was planned to save their rocky marriage.

Jamaica

Jamaica police are investigating the killings of five men who were shot while they played a game of dominoes outside a bar near the capital Kingston.

Investigators said two cars drove up and several men jumped out and opened fire. Three of the victims died at the scene, while two others died at hospital.

Jamaica with a population of 2.8 million has one of the world’s highest murder rates. Just about 1,400 killings were reported last year,compared with 1,660 in 2009.

Trinidad

British Minister of State Jeremy Browne said that there is more room for further growth between the U.K. and Trinidad and Tobago despite the hundreds of millions in trade in 2009.

Browne, the minister responsible for the Caribbean, who was in Trinidad recently said in 2009 there was over US$673 million of trade between the U.K. and Trinidad and Tobago but there is a huge amount of unrealized potential when “you consider that the U.K. makes up approximately 2.3 percent of Trinidad and Tobago’s total imports.”

“Similarly, Trinidad imports from the U.K. less than half of what the U.K. imports from Trinidad. Given that the UK is the fight largest trading nation in the world and that Trinidad is the largest trading nation in the Caribbean region, we could and should be dong in business,” he said at the formal opening of the U.K. Food and Beverage Trade Mission and Exhibition at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad in Port of Spain recently.

He said opportunities are abundant for further trade and investment between the U.K. and Trinidad and Tobago.

Browne said British companies were doing well in Trinidad and Tobago and encouraged local companies to look for investment opportunities in the U.K.

Trinidad

The government and opposition will soon begin a second round of talks on moves to amend the constitution to allow for the resumption of the death penalty in Trinidad and Tobago.

This was revealed by Housing Minister Dr. Roodlal Moonilal, who is leader of government business in the house of representatives.

At the first meeting, Dr. Moonilal said the opposition needed more time to consult with the relevant stakeholders and it was agreed a fresh round of talks will be convened at a date to be determined.

Government is seeking consensus with the opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) to approve the Constitution (Amendment) Capital Offences Bill, 2011.

The legislation, which was recently tabled in parliament by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, seeks to plug the loopholes in the law for killers to escape the hangman.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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