Caribbean Round_Up

Caribbean

International leaders will give US$65 million in concessionary loans to 18 Caribbean nations to help the islands defend their coasts and fragile economies from the impact of climate change.

The European Investment Bank will channel its lending through the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank, which recently announced the initiative.

The program will provide low-cost funds for public and private sector projects that deal with climate change adaptation or help reduce carbon emissions.

The U.N. network of climate scientists projects that seas might rise as much as 1.924 feet (0.59 meters) by 2100, expanded by heat and runoff of melting land ice. Few regions in the world are as threatened from rising seas as the Caribbean.

Bahamas

The Bahamas unveiled a national stadium that China built for more than US$50 million as the Asian country ramps up investment in the Caribbean region.

Government officials from both the Bahamas and China recently inaugurated the 15,000-seat Thomas A Robinson stadium. Sports Minister Charles Maynard said the stadium was a gift, with no strings attached.

The stadium was built using only Chinese materials and labor and further cements the growing relationship between the two countries. China also expects to build a US$50 million sports and recreational village around the stadium.

China’s state-owned Export-Import Bank is building the US$2.6 billion Baha Mar resort complex in New Providence and has agreed to provide a US$41 million loan to build a new port and bridge in the Bahamas.

Barbados

The Sunday Sun newspaper in Barbados has reported that forensic auditors are seeking a second investigation in the failed Clico insurance giant’s Eastern Caribbean operations in a bid to find millions of dollars in missing funds.

The paper said it had obtained a 37-page audit report, dated Dec. 5, and at the end of the eight-month-long probe found unexplained dead-ends in the company’s money trail.

The report revealed “shocking inter-company” transactions amounting to 376 million Barbados dollars involving the Barbados-based Clico International Life’s and the Barbados subsidiaries of CIL’s parent, CL Financial, in addition to further details of the employment contract of its former executive chairman, Leroy Parris, the Sunday Sun said.

The paper said the auditors reached the conclusion that the insurance company had become the “banker” for its related companies. The auditors, Deloitte Canada, said their valuation of CIL’s assets did not hold out much hope for a full recovery of the insurance company’s assets.

Guyana

Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse recently headed a three-member Bureau of CARICOM leaders and the bloc’s special envoy to Haiti PJ Patterson on a two-day mission to Haiti, the CARICOM Secretariat in Guyana said.

Bouterse was joined by immediate past CARICOM chairman and St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas and St. Lucia’s Deputy Prime Minister Phillip J Pierre, who stood in for Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony.

The three leaders, together with CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocquemake, make up the Bureau of Heads of Government, a special super-committee of CARICOM leaders.

Also on the mission was former Jamaica Prime Minister PJ Patterson, CARICOM’s special representative of the heads of government to Haiti,

“The purpose of the visit is to engage with the government of Haiti with respect to its priorities, which would assist in determining the nature of assistance required of the Community to that member state,” the statement said.

The delegation met with Haiti’s President Michel Martelly and cabinet ministers.

“The visit also served to emphasize continued support for the country in its reconstruction and development efforts following the 2010 earthquake and explore ways for strengthening Haiti’s participation in CARICOM, the secretariat said.

Jamaica

Jamaica is developing a new policy to battle crime as gang violence drives the homicide rate higher, the country’s National Security Minister Peter Bunting said.

He noted that 165 killings have been reported by police so far in 2012, compared to 135 slayings for the same period last year.

Violent gangs are deeply entrenched in Spanish Town, just west of Kingston, and in some residential sections of the northwestern parish of St. James, which includes the resort city of Montego Bay.

Fighting between gangs for control of drug trafficking and extortion rackets have long been blamed for the majority of Jamaica’s killings.

Police Commissioner Owen Ellington said at a news conference that much of the security forces’ resources are now focused on trying to contain 42 active gang conflicts.

Nevis

Premier of Nevis Joseph Parry has reassured its people and visitors that the island was still “very safe” in the wake of the home robbery of a United States Supreme Court justice and his family who were holidaying there recently.

Parry said he personally visited Justice Stephen Breyer the day after the robbery in which the judge was robbed, along with his wife and guests.

Nevis, the tiny Leeward Island southwest of St. Kitts, its federal partner, has been the Breyer’s vacation home for the last 16 years.

“I want to reassure everyone that it is very safe on the island of Nevis, and the police and government have taken as many steps to ensure security of our people and our visitors,” Parry, who is also the island’s tourism minister said.

He said the Nevis Island administration will now offer “the highest level of protection” to visiting dignitaries in the future.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador to the United Nations Camillo Gonsalves recently held talks with government officials in Taiwan on possible future development projects for the island.

Gonsalves was among three ambassadors from countries with diplomatic relations with Taiwan – considered a renegade province of China.

The Vincentian diplomat held discussion with President Ma Ying-jeou and Foreign Affairs Minister Timothy Yang in separate meetings.

In addition to Ma’s approach to Taiwan’s relationship with China, they also discussed Taiwan’s work on the international airport being constructed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other bilateral matters relating to the country,

The envoy also discussed new ways in which St. Vincent and the Grenadines can partner, making references to additional scholarships, assistance with renewable energy and training in information and communication technology.

Trinidad

Declining oil production is impacting on the national economy and the country at a time when it should be benefiting from high oil prices.

This was disclosed by Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine at the recent opening ceremony of the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain.

Ramnarine said the decline in oil production was the most worrying aspect of the energy aspect.

He explained oil production has been in decline since 2006. Ramnarine pointed out in 2011 oil production averaged 92,000 barrels per day.

He said oil production in the year 2011 was hampered by planned shutdowns, unplanned shutdowns and maintenance activity.

“Any gains in government revenue that could be realized as a result of increased oil prices are being negated by falling production,” Ramnarine said.

The energy minister said for the country to meet its objectives of increased oil production, it needs to have at least five land rigs drilling simultaneously in 2013.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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