Caribbean RoundUp

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government and the Inter-Agency Mission of the United Nations recently launched the Zero Hunger Challenge to eliminate hunger and extreme poverty within two years.

Implementation of the action plan began on Feb. 20 at a ceremony in the Parliament’s Conference Room St. John’s. The national initiative is part of the Zero Hunger Challenge Campaign launched by Ban Ki Moon, secretary general of the United Nations during the Rio+20 Conference, stating that, “in a world of abundance nobody should go hungry.”

The Action Plan was prepared jointly between the government of Antigua and Barbuda and an International Agency Mission comprised of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation in Agriculture (IICA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the World Food Program (WFP).

The Action Plan was officially accepted by Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Baldwin Spencer and the minister of Agriculture of Antigua and Barbuda in their meeting with Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of FAO and Raul Benetiez, assistant director general and FAO regional representative for the Latin American and Caribbean,

“We’re taking a bold step towards the only level of hunger that is acceptable: zero hunger,” said Benitez with regard to the launch of the initiative.

The activities that will be implemented and monitored include home based agriculture, school meals, health and nutrition, food safety and food market systems.

Bahamas

Crime in the Bahamas decreased by 13 percent between January 1 and April 14, 2013 compared to the same period in 2012, according to statistics released by Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade.

There were 3,492 crimes reported during the three and a half month period last year compared to 3,025 this year.

According to statistics, all violent crimes are down except for attempted rape, armed robbery which saw a three percent increase and attempted robbery, which increased by 38 percent.

Murders are down 26 percent; attempted murders decreased 60 percent and rapes fell seven percent.

There were 32 murders recorded during the first three and a half months this year compared with 38 in 2012.

Statistics also showed that there were two attempted murders up to April 14 compared to five in 2012.

Police recorded 27 rapes so far for this year and 29 rapes for the corresponding period last year.

There were 338 armed robberies so far for this year compared with 328 last year.

Robbery is also down three percent with 111 so far for this year and 114 cases reported this same time last year.

Burglary is down 28 percent; housebreaking 26 percent; stealing is down four percent and stolen vehicle cases are down 13 percent.

Greenslade attributed the overall decrease in crime to good police work, increased police patrols and the increased presence of urban renewal.

While the statistics are down, Bahamians say they still do not feel safe.

St. Kitts

Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas recently presented an EC$528.1 million budget to Parliament outlining a reduction in corporate taxes as well as extending several incentive packages that his administration had earlier implemented in a bid to stimulate the economy of the twin-island federation.

Prime Minister Douglas told Parliament, which had been boycotted by the six opposition legislators, that there would be a reduction in corporate taxes 35 to 33 percent, an extension of the Building Materials Incentive Program that provides for duty-free concessions on imports on building materials as well as pursue the expansion of FREESH – a soft loan arrangement for the first home builders.

In addition, the Douglas administration hopes during the fiscal year to increase land distribution and accelerate infrastructure development in land distribution areas.

He said that six investment projects had been approved valued at EC$300 million as a further stimulus for the local economy over the next five to seven years.

The budget presentation was originally due to have been delivered in January, but had been delayed after two government ministers, deputy prime minister Sam Condor and senior minister Dr. Timothy Harris failed to participate in putting the package together.

The two former ministers were among the six opposition members that boycotted the sitting.

St. Lucia

The three-week old strike by civil servants in St. Lucia has cost the government over EC$3 million, according to Cabinet Secretary Darryl Montrope.

The government assessed the financial cost of the work stoppage after the strike came to a halt recently.

Montrope said preliminary figures for the Customs Department alone indicate the government lost more than EC$2 million in revenue at an average of EC$200,000 a day.

He said apart from Customs, the Inland Revenue Department, the Ministry of Commerce and the Registry were the worst affected by absenteeism during the strike period.

The cabinet secretary said with respect to the Inland Revenue Department while government was able to meet the revised fiscal target for the month of March it was clear that more funds would have been collected had the full work force been present.

In addition, Montrope said it must be noted that despite the fact that workers were away from their jobs they were still being paid.

“We have not arrived at a final value on the impact of the strike because some workers were in and out of work during the three weeks,” he said.

He said the government would also assess the impact of the strike on the business community.

Montrope said while the strike did not have a crippling effect, the government is pleased that civil servants have returned to work.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she accepted former National Security Minister Jack Warner’s resignation in the interest of the party.

She said his resignation would allow the party to move ahead without distraction.

She was at the time speaking to supporters of the United National Congress at Monday night Forum in her Siparia, South Trinidad constituency.

She said it was after “careful scrutiny of all the facts” before her and “after a meticulous review of the facts brought before me and after counter-balancing the interest of the Cabinet, the government and the public interest, I accepted the resignation of Mr. Jack Warner as minister of National Security,”

The former National Security minister was severely criticized in a report prepared by the Integrity Committee CONCACAF at is recent congress in Panama.

Warner is alleged to have managed the affairs of CONCACAF (Latin America and the Caribbean soccer organization) with another leader, Chuck Blazer, in a fraudulent manner. Warner has described the report as malicious but still tendered his resignation to the prime minister at an emergency meeting of the People’s Partnership to discuss the issue last Sunday.

Turks and Caicos

A total of 160 Haitians were repatriated after their boat was intercepted off the coast of the British Overseas territory recently.

“The government of the Turks and Caicos Islands will not tolerate this illegal activity,” Minister for Border Control and Labor, R.D Gardiner said in a statement.

“While we cannot stop boats from leaving other countries to come here, we can and will remain vigilant to that activity; and through our border control systems, we will monitor our shores to maintain the integrity of our borders and our immigration laws and protect our national security,” he said.

Gardiner noted that the sea voyage is very dangerous, especially with migrants crammed into a rickety vessel.

The issue of illegal Haitian migrants in the Turks and Caicos Islands has been a major concern for the government.

During a visit to Haiti in February for the Inter-sessional meeting of heads of government from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Turks and Caicos Premier Rufus Ewing raised the issue with Haitian government officials.

Trinidad

Tourism officials, policymakers and stakeholders in the tourism sector met recently in Trinidad for the 14th Annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Development, otherwise known as the Sustainable Tourism Conference, which was held at the Hilton Trinidad.

The gathering explored ways the Caribbean can enhance destination sustainability and competitiveness in the current global environment by examining a number of critical issues.

These included enriching visitor experiences beyond stereotypical urban and rural tourism products; intelligent destination branding and marketing designed to show these experiences; engaging and partnering with key destination stakeholders for successful destination planning and management and increasing year-round visitor spending on local goods and services.

The conference focused on panel discussions, special presentations and interactive workshops which created opportunities for delegates to interact with leading local, regional and international experts and tourism officials.

Trinidad

Chairman of the United Nations Security Council 1540 Committee Kim Sook has described Trinidad and Tobago as a crucial partner in efforts to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

He was speaking at the opening ceremony for the workshop on implementing the UN’s Security Council resolution 1540 held at the Hilton Trinidad recently.

Sook said the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was a global challenge and no one country could tackle it alone.

“This is where cooperation comes into play,” he said.

He said the 1540 Committee swerves as a clearing house that facilitates matchmaking between requests and offers of relevant assistance for capacity building.

“We can serve as a focal point to share effective practices and promote co-operation with and among international, regional and sub-regional organizations,” he said.

Sook added; “It was also important for Trinidad and Tobago to demonstrate to the international community that it was capable of creating, maintaining and perfecting necessary security architectures against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

He urged T&T to become a strong supporter and partner of the 1540 committee.

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