Caribbean RoundUp

Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller.
AP Photo/Evan Agostini
AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Caribbean

Caribbean countries have been told that purchasing goods and services in the information technology (IT) sector by government offices provides untapped potential for stimulating domestic economic progress.

The new study by the United Nations notes that while local IT firms contribute to increased productivity, employment and innovation, these local businesses mainly in developing countries like the Caribbean are often constricted by low domestic demand.

The study, titled “Promoting Local IT Sector Development through Public Procurement” was undertaken by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNC-TAD) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The study argues that public procurement can boost demand for their products.

According to the study, the participation of local IT firms in public tenders is often hampered by a lack of trust and awareness, by the technical complexities of IT procurement, by inadequate procurement frameworks and capacities and by an absence and interoperability frameworks.

Barbados

Barbados is moving to establish a hotel innovation fund to provide low-cost finance to hoteliers in the tourism industry. This was disclosed by Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler.

Sinckler said he had discussions with the chairman of the National Insurance Board, Dr. Justin Robinson, and he assured him that very shortly “we will be able to bring our sector stakeholders and players in to fashion the Hotel Innovation Fund in the Financial Statement and budgetary proposals of last year.”

“The dynamics of it are being put together and the purpose of that Fund is to ensure that we can get low-cost finance to hoteliers, in particular, but other tourism service providers as well,” Sinckler said at the recent opening of the 124-room Radison Aquatic Resort, formerly the Grand Barbados Hotel.

Sinckler said that Tourism Minister Richard Sealy had recently announced a new initiative for the sector “and hopefully by June we will have a new tourism reinvigoration project launched in Barbados, but we have to discuss that with the stakeholders.”

The finance minister said it was also incumbent upon the government, the private sector and citizens to encourage and facilitate investment, and provide opportunities through tax concessions and waivers, since these things would drive investment in tourism and keep Barbados at the top of its game.

Guyana

Guyana is trying to decide what to do with a large quantity of gold it bought from local miners when the demand was high.

President Donald Ramoutar said that he will meet with advisers to determine when it’s best to sell the fold following a recent fall in prices.

The Board had bought from local miners, but miners’ association spokesman Tony Shields puts the number at 60,000 ounces. He says the association warned the government about dropping prices.

Ramoutar noted that gold doesn’t spoil, and said that the gold mining industry has generated more than $1 billion in recent years.

Haiti

Three years after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says there are 320,000 people still living in camps in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country.

But it said the figure is 27,230 less that those living in the squalid encampments in December and represents a 79 percent decrease from the 1.5 million Haitians who sought shelters in hundreds of makeshift tent cities after the January 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people and left more than a million other homeless.

The IOM said the latest census was taken between January and March and that about 60 percent of those who left the camps did so after enrolling in the government’s rental that provides up to a year’s rent to camp dwellers.

The IOM said the biggest decline occurred in the cities of Delmas, Port –au-Prince and Petionville.

Jamaica

Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller says the attack on her brother by criminals is something other families in Jamaica suffer as well.

Police said that Vincent Simpson was beaten and robbed recently at his business place in downtown Kingston.

The bandits demanded money from the elder brother of the Prime Minister before his stabbing. His condition was not considered life threatening.

“What happened to my brother, a number of other people suffer,” Prime Minister Simpson-Miller told reporters.

“I feel it for anyone that would be hurt by the hands of some criminals. I feel it the same way I feel it for everyone,” she said, adding, however, she did not want to make the attack a matter of public discussion.

“He is not a politician, he is not in government, he is simply a brother from a very tightly-knit family,” she said.

Police have made no arrests so far in connection with the incident

Trinidad

Guyana President Donald Ramoutar is seeking investments from its oil-rich Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Trinidad and Tobago, saying it also provides a gateway for investment in South America.

Ramoutar made the call while addressing the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce Annual General Meeting in Port of Spain recently.

He said T&T could be a bridge “between the Caribbean and South America and offer Caribbean investors huge possibilities into getting into the market.”

Speaking on the theme “Exporting Markets in Guyana-Opportunities and incentives to attract foreign investment,” Ramoutar said that Guyana is establishing an US$850 million hydroelectric plant and would also continue to concentrate on the bauxite industry as well as sugar and rice production.

He said Guyana’s economy offers foreign investors predictably and he is hoping to cement more business ties with T&T.

President Ramoutar told the business leaders that in the past his country had suffered from an overwhelming debt burden that almost crushed the country and that the situation should serve as a prime example of what not to do.

He said that with the economy now restored, his country was looking towards the future, telling the private sector leaders that Guyana can be very instrumental in the fortunes of the Caribbean, describing his country as “an investor’s paradise.”

Caribbean

The United States Navy recently began testing two new aerial tools, borrowed from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, that officials say will be able to easier detect, track and videotape drug smugglers across the Caribbean.

One of the devices on display aboard the High Speed Vessel Swift is a large, white balloon-like craft known as an aerostat, which is tethered up to 2,000 feet above the ship’s stern.

Together, they expand the ability of Navy and Coast Guard personnel to see what’s beyond their horizon, according to officials from both military branches and the contractors hoping to sell the devices to the US Government. The devices should allow authorities to detect and monitor suspected drug shipments from afar for longer sustained periods, giving them a better chance of stopping the smugglers. They should also allow them to make continuous videotapes that can be used in prosecutions.

Barbados

Barbados is moving to establish a hotel innovation fund to provide low-cost finance to hoteliers in the tourism industry. This was disclosed by Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler.

Sinckler said he had discussions with the chairman of the National Insurance Board, Dr Justin Robinson, and he assured him that very shortly “we will be able to bring our sector stakeholders and players in to fashion the Hotel Innovation Fund in the Financial Statement and budgetary proposals of last year.”

“The dynamics of it are being put together and the purpose of that Fund is to ensure that we can get low-cost finance to hoteliers, in particular, but other tourism service providers as well,” Sinckler said at the recent opening of the 124-room Radison Aquatic Resort, formerly the Grand Barbados Hotel.

Sinckler said that Tourism Minister Richard Sealy had recently announced a new initiative for the sector “and hopefully by June we will have a new tourism reinvigoration project launched in Barbados, but we have to discuss that with the stakeholders.”

The finance minister said it was also incumbent upon the government, the private sector and citizens to encourage and facilitate investment, and provide opportunities through tax concessions and waivers, since these things would drive investment in tourism and keep Barbados at the top of its game.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced that she will take a note to Cabinet to amend the Libel and Defamation Act, which would prevent any journalist from being criminally charged and prosecuted under the laws of Trinidad and Tobago.

The amendment would prevent any journalist from, being criminally charged and prosecuted under Section 9 of the act for malicious publication of any defamatory libel. It also contains safeguards for citizens.

Saying the move would enhance the environment for a very robust press and be a giant step towards ensuring press freedom, the PM said.

“This will allow the media to engage in responsible journalism and tell their story without fear of criminal liability. My government will remove the onerous restriction in criminal law that imposed a one year-sentence.” She added.

The International Press Institute (IPI) and the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcaster Association of Caribbean Media Workers hailed the government’s move to drop criminal libel from the law books.

IPI is on a worldwide campaign to get rid of criminal defamation. During the IPI Congress in Port of Spain last year, the government had promised to examine T&T’s 167 year-old libel law.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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