Caribbean Round-Up

Antigua

Former Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Lester Bird has slammed Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar over statements she made regarding relief for Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Tomas.

Bird, a former CARICOM leader has condemned the PM’s statement describing it as “totally insensitive.”

Saying a substantial amount of time was spent on ensuring all CARICOM countries were treated equally, Bird said: “It is a profound attack on the potential and possibilities of CARICOM. It is very unfortunate.

“Even if the prime minister felt that way, she should not be making those kinds of public statements.”

He added: “I have a lot of equity in CARICOM, I spent many years sitting and keeping this thing together and in one swoop we have a situation where a division is clearly beginning to developing with Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the Caribbean.”

Persad-Bissessar said T&T would have to get something in return for helping Caribbean neighbors affected by Tropical Storm Tomas.

Barbados

Barbados has joined the ranks of the world’s “developed” nations but only in terms of providing people with an excellent quality of life.

Often called the “Singapore of the Caribbean,” Barbados, according to the United Nations, joins such countries as Israel, Hong Kong, Singapore, Slovenia and Cyprus on the list of “developed” countries, based purely on the Human Development Index (HDI).

The HDI, now in its 20th year, measures performances in health education, income and other quality of life indices.

The classification was contained in the 2010 U.N. Human Development Index released worldwide recently.

Barbados was the only Caribbean and Latin America state to be labeled “developed.” It’s not among the 16 states, which don’t belong to rich nations.

Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush is making several changes, which he hopes will make the island more attractive to business investment.

Those include something called a Chinese Investment Certificate – apparently aimed at encouraging investors from the Far East.

Bush gave no specifics of the proposal after mentioning it in the Legislative Assembly.

Bush recently traveled to China for an international conference hosted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and also reopened Cayman’s office in Hong Kong.

Speaking to the more general goal to attracting business worldwide, Bush said Cayman would have to look toward establishing actual business offices to the Islands, not simply registering addresses for taxation purposes.

Bush said the Immigration Department would also exempt people attending business meetings in Cayman from the need to apply for a work permit to do so. This exemption includes directors, shareholders and strategy meetings – but not direct commercial ventures.

Haiti

More than 20 persons died when Hurricane Tomas brushed past the island, Haiti’s civil protection department said.

Seven others remain missing and dozens were injured.

More than 30,000 people remain in shelters and Tomas left nearly 6,000 families homeless. Others, already homeless from the Jan. 12 earthquake lost their tents.

The hurricane struck Haiti’s southern peninsula recently and traveled up the coast, triggering floods and landslides.

But its strongest winds and rain stayed far to the west of the capital, sparing most of the encampments where an estimated 1.3 million people have been living for nearly 10 months.

Officials are now turning their attention back to the worsening cholera epidemic that has killed more than 500 people and hospitalized more than 7,000.

Flooding is expected to spread the disease while damage to roads and buildings could make it harder for those sickened to get medical care.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) said it had nothing to do with the island’s lack of preparedness for Tropical Storm Tomas recently.

Director Dawn French said that before every hurricane season, NEMO ensures it puts out Public Service Announcements on natural disasters and the protocols to be followed should a natural disaster occur. In the case of Tomas, French said it was an act of nature no one could have possibly anticipated.

He said the storm developed and moved very quickly until it reached St. Lucia.

NEMO dispels any notion that its organization or the Met Office is to be blamed for the devastation now facing the country.

St. Vincent

Vincentians will go to the polls on Dec. 13. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves announced the election date at a political rally of his ruling Unity Labor Party recently.

Parliament has been dissolved to make way for the general election.

Candidates are to be officially nominated on Nov. 26.

“I want to win them so bad,” Prime Minister Gonsalves said in reference to his main rival the New Democratic Party, while announcing the election date.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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