The Antigua and Barbuda government recently averted losing some of its shares in regional carrier, LIAT by paying up US$2.5 million to the cash-strapped airline.
If Antigua and Barbuda had failed to meet the payment last month, shareholding would have dropped below 30 percent and the country would have lost one director on LIAT’s board.
The country was required to pay US$2.8 million to LIAT for outstanding equity participation due in respect to the ongoing US$100 million fleet renewal.
Minister of Finance Harold Lovell confirmed that only US$2.5 million was paid.
Due to the late disbursement from the government, Liat was in arrears of lease payments and faced the possibility of having six of its nine aircraft grounded.
Currently, Antigua and Barbuda has 30.75 percent shares in the airline, while Barbados has 50.30 percent; St. Vincent and the Grenadines 11.83 percent and Dominica 0.98 percent.
Barbados can capitalize on what appears to be a growing interest in Caribbean markets by Chinese visitors.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, said figures outlined in a recent United Nations report indicated that one out of every five tourists would come from China.
“Over the next five years there will be over 500 million Chinese looking to go outside. These will be people who are looking for a destination and Barbados should be one of those destinations,” he said.
Sealy was at the time speaking during a recent courtesy call with Chinese Ambassador Wang Ke at the ministry’s office.
During the discussions the minister suggested that matters related to convenience and facilitation be given to Chinese visitors, as they represented a very large segment of the market.
Wang said Chinese people were looking at retirement facilities in the Caribbean for their elderly citizens because the weather was favorable.
Former Grenada Finance Minister Nazim Burke has been elected leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
He easily defeated former Education Minister Frank Bernadine during elections held recently at the party’s convention.
Burke replaces former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas who did not seek reelection as the NDC leader.
It was the NDC’s first convention since the expulsion of 10 members including former general secretary Peter David in September 2012.
Party infighting and dissatisfaction led many members and supporters to abandon the NDC which suffered a humiliating 15-0 defeat by the New National Party (NNP) led by Dr. Keith Mitchell one year ago.
Burke, who lost his seat in the election, says the NDC is now a different party with different persons.
Many former NDC supporters and members, including David, are now aligned to the ruling NNP.
David, a former foreign minister, is now an advisor to Prime Minister Mitchell and accompanied him to a recent regional meeting in Cuba.
Police in Haiti are investigating the slaying of a human rights activist and his wife recently.
Haitian police spokesman Gary Desrosiers told Radio Caraibes that Daniel Dorsainvil and Girldy Lareche were killed recently by a lone gunman as they walked through a residential neighborhood in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.
Desrosiers held back on citing a motive for the killing, though he acknowledged reports that they were either killed in a robbery or targeted.
Dorsainvil was the coordinator for the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations. The administration of President Michel Martelly has condemned the killing in a communique issued from its press office.
The Office of The Children’s Advocate (OCA) is condemning the rape and killing of an eight-year-old girl recently.
The OCA is urging anyone with information about the rape and murder of young Selena to tell what they know to the police so that those responsible can be held accountable.
Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Garrison, says absolutely no parent or guardian should have to endure the agonizing pain of having to bury their child under such gruesome and heart-rending circumstances.
She says the communities must rise and put an end to child abuse, as their silence is costing the lives of children.
Garrison said that the OCA will be embarking on a new media campaign to sensitize persons about the ill-effects of child abuse.
The National Parent –Teachers Association of Jamaica has joined the OCA in condemning the killing of eight-year-old Selena Edmond.
President of the Association Everton Hamman says parents are to break their silence and report on individuals who continue to prey on the nation’s children.
President of the St. Lucia Bar Association Rickey George has described as unjustified the practice of the government employing attorneys from the region to provide legal services in high profile cases.
He said it is astounding that lawyers from other parts of the region are being employed at astronomical fees to carry out the same functions that can be carried out by lawyers staffed at the Attorney General’s Office.
He was commenting on the decision of Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony to acquire the services of Dominican-born Queen’s Counsel Anthony Astaphan to lead the civil cases brought against two former government ministers.
Former Tourism Minister and leader of the main Opposition United Workers Party (UWP), Allen Chastanet, and the party’s chairman, Ezekiel Joseph, have been accused by the government of allegedly misusing funds provided by Taiwan.
The St. Vincent and Grenadines Electricity Company (VINLEC) says consumers will not be asked to pay the increased fuel surcharge resulting from lower electricity generation by its hydro power plants.
VINLEC’s chief executive officer, Thornley Myers, said that the higher fuel surcharge would not be used to repair damage to the company’s hydropower plants during the passage of the trough system on Christmas Eve.
Myers said that VINLEC spent just over EC$72 million on fuel and the hydro plants saved the company over EC$13.7 million in fuel last year.
VINLEC’s five hydro plants were damaged during the storm, and consumers saw on their January this year bill an increase of EC$0.07 cents month to-month increase per unit in the fuel surcharge.
Myers said that based on the production of its hydro plant last year, the company will assess monthly how much fuel would have been saved had the plans been in operation last year.
Guyana says it has sent letters in support of efforts by Suriname for China to fund the construction of a bridge linking the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett said, “Guyana, at the request of Suriname, have informed the Chinese Government that we are supportive of the bridge across the Corentyne River.”
She said the government has sent two letters of “no-objection” to the Foreign Affairs Ministries of Suriname and China for the construction of the bridge.
The Donald Ramotar administration said that the “bridging of the Corentyne River that will link Guyana and Suriname remains a key area of focus for the government of both countries and at present the structure’s design is being formulated.”
It said the bridge will be funded by the Chinese government.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has warned doctors, nurses, teachers and employees they can face seven years in jail and a fine of $15,000 if they have reason to believe a minor is sexually active and fail to report it to the police.
The warning came during a press conference in the Parliament Chamber, Port of Spain last week following reports that there are more than 2,500 teenage pregnancies each year for fathers in the 25-40 age group.
The startling statistics were revealed recently by Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh in the Senate.
Persad-Bissessar said, according to the law any sexual act against an unmarried child under the age of 16 is considered rape.
She described rape of minor as “heinous” and said no excuses should be tolerated.
Persad-Bissessar said the Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development has been mandated to embark on a public education program in order to reduce statutory rape and teenage pregnancies.
Compiled by Azad Ali