Caribbean Round-Up

Barbados

Former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur has returned as leader of the Barbados Labor Party (BLP).

He was chosen earlier at a meeting of some of the party’s parliamentarians recently to replace Mia Mottley.

BLP chairman George Payne told members of the media following a meeting of the party’s headquarters in Bridgetown that Mottley no longer had the support of the majority of the opposition parliamentarians.

He said the necessary letter has been sent to the governor general.

The decision to return the 61-year-old Arthur, who handed over leadership to Mottley after the BLP lost the 2008 general election, was reportedly agreed to by all the MPs who attended the meeting.

The latest development comes less than a week after Mottley survived a challenge to her leadership following a meeting with the same five MPs who voted for Arthur to return.

Cuba

Cuba has upped gasoline prices by about l0 percent amid sweeping changes to the economy, a move that could lead to grumbling among cash-strapped islanders, particularly private taxi drivers, who are not allowed to raise their fares.

The changes, which took effect recently, were announced in the Communist-party newspaper Granma, which cited rising international oil prices for the move. It was the first time prices have risen since September 2008, when crude oil internationally sold for about a third more than it does now.

The cost of diesel fuel – used by many old cars that populate Cuba’s streets – rose to $1.19 a liter ($4.50 a gallon), about ll cents a liter (42 cents a gallon) higher than previously. The highest octane fuel rose even more to $1.73 a litre ($6.54 a gallon), from $1.51 a liter ($5.72 a gallon).

Grenada

The Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) says it intends to cash in on increased prices for nutmegs on the world market as a result of an international shortage.

GCNA chairman, Dennis Felix said that the industry is now in the process of negotiating a new round of contract prices and all indicators are that the island would receive higher prices for the commodity.

Grenada and Indonesia dominate the world nutmeg industry but declines in production, plus the prospects of new rivals on the market have conspired to push up prices, local officials say.

Grenada, which sells its nutmegs mostly to buyers in Europe and North America, is currently producing 1.5 million pounds of nutmegs compared to 12 million pounds before the passage of Hurricane Ivan six years ago, while revenues have dropped from EC$15 million (US$5.5 million ) to EC$2 million (US$740,700) million a month.

In addition, half of the 5,000 farmers who were engaged in the industry before the hurricane are still engaged in growing nutmegs, officials have said.

Guyana

About 150 policyholders of the collapsed Guyana Colonial Life Insurance (Clico) have retrieved their assets in full since the start of the rescue plan outlined by President Bharrat Jagdeo.

According to a Government Information Agency (GIA) press release, the recipients are the first category of policyholders under the plan, which gives first preference to policyholders with investments under Guy$30 million.

Head of Guyana’s Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon told the media during a post-Cabinet media briefing recently that the payout was timely based on the feedback from policyholders, their expectations had been assured.

According to GIN, government made available Guy$3.6 billion to finance the payout. About Guy$2.7 billion will be used to pay off in full all holders of investment annuity policies and other insurance liabilities not in dispute, subject to a maximum limit of $30 million per policyholder.

A total of 4366 holders of executive flexible premium annuities and other undisputed claims against the company will be paid in full.

Currently, Clico has immediate access to more than Guy$600 million of its cash resources, Guy $100 million of which will be set aside to cover the expenses of the company until wind up and Guy$500 million to ensure that the liabilities associated with the long term insurance business are adequately funded.

Jamaica

A hostel, which will provide temporary shelter and support the rehabilitation of deported women has been opened in Jamaica’s capital.

The Stephen’s House hostel was built at a cost of J$1.2 million and was funded by the Ministry of National Security in partnership with the Jamaica Reducing Re-offending Action Plan (JRRAP) and the British High Commission.

St. Rachael Ustanny, executive director of Hibiscus Jamaica Limited, which will manage the facility, said up to eight deportees, including children, in need of “emergency accommodation services” will be able to get lodging at any given time.

Ustanny said 30 days is the maximum stay time but they can reapply for additional stay if they have not been able to identify accommodation on their own.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar recently visited London for a two-day meeting of the Commonwealth Economic Partnerships Forum.

Persad-Bissessar, who is the chair of the Commonwealth, addressed the opening session of the Forum and participated in its business talks.

She also met with T&T nationals and representatives of other business interests desirous of investing in T&T.

The prime minister also sought to identify areas of action, to exploit possible benefits of intensifying economic co-operation, in relation to trade and investment, within the Commonwealth.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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