Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados

Health authorities in Barbados are urging nationals to educate themselves more about sexually transmitted infections (STI) as the island deals with an outbreak of syphilis.

Senior Medical Officer with responsibility for HIV and STIs, Dr. Anton Best recently released the results of a detailed analysis of an outbreak of syphilis on the island.

He said the Ministry of Health first detected the outbreak in 2013 and immediately put systems in place to improve syphilis surveillance in Barbados.

Dr. Best said the study revealed a significant increase in the number of cases between 2011 and 2013.

He said the outbreak stabilized in 2014 and 2015. The majority of cases occurred in men (72 percent).

Dominica

Dominica’s Foreign Affairs and CARICOM Affairs Minister, Senator Francine Baron is suing Opposition Leader Lennox Linton and talk show host Angelo Allen and local radio network Q 95 for defamation that she misappropriated funds which she received for the Dominica Disaster and Development Fund.

They alleged that the minister received US$10,000 in Malaysia while she was Dominica’s High Commissioner in London in 2014.

Baron and her attorney Tony Astaphan SC contended that the accusers have failed to provide any reliable evidence or done any research on the matter but rather embarked on a smear campaign.

According to Astaphan, the money was actually transferred and received by the recipient named on the symbolic check and Baron intends to claim damages. Her attorney said the real evidence against the minister was that she was photographed receiving the symbolic check.

Astaphan noted that Baron’s name was not even on the check as a recipient.

Grenada

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved a grant of US$231,630 to the government of Grenada to build its capacity for planning and implementation of its geothermal energy development roadmap.

The resources are from the Global Environment Facility through the Inter-American Development Bank’s Sustainable Energy Facility for the Eastern Caribbean with the CDB.

The grant will enhance the government of Grenada’s own capacity to move realization of its own geothermal energy potential to the next level.

The technical assistance project will provide the Grenada government with consultancy expertise for 24 months.

Consultants will work with the government’s staff, through the establishment and operation of Geothermal Energy Project Management Unit.

Grenada is heavily dependent on imported petroleum products to satisfy its growing energy demand. Petroleum products imported in 2014 cost around US$67 million, representing seven percent of gross domestic product.

Guyana

Finance Minister Winston Jordan has blamed gold producers and exporters for the recent currency fluctuations in Guyana.

Jordan, who was speaking to reporters following a meeting with officials from the Banking Association of Guyana (BAG), said that in addition, there other players entering the financial sector.

He said the bankers offered the opinion that with major exports declining such as sugar, timber and rice and only gold increasing, but at lower prices, foreign exchange rates would be affected.

He said additional players or “demanders” of foreign exchange rates would be affected.

The meeting was told that there is a mismatch between supply and demand at the level of certain banks.

He said, one suggestion put forward” is that the banking representatives need to meet more often with the Central Bank Governor Dr. Gobind Ganga.

The finance minister said the banks would be expected to “weed out” what he described as an illegitimate need for foreign currency and stressed that there was need in “this bidding war to continue.”

Jordan said the banks in the past tried to manage the rate at Guy$210 to US$1.

Jamaica

Jamaica is moving to expand exports and satisfy customer demands in the United Kingdom and the wider European Union (EU) market.

Minister of Industry and Commerce, Karl Samuda said as a result, government has embarked on a program to significantly boost exports of sweet potatoes to the United Kingdom through the production of United States varieties and the trial of melon varieties requested by buyers in the UK.

Samuda said having more sustainable exports required identifying markets, training farmers and potential exporters in international business best practices, exposing them to the requirements of the markets in an organized way, and bringing them into contact with the markets.

St. Lucia

Four people were killed and more than 12 others were being treated for serious injuries following an explosion in the north of St. Lucia recently.

The incident occurred at a quarry when workers were welding a container carrying dynamite.

Four of the seriously injured were airlifted to neighboring Martinique for treatment.

The explosion, which could be heard from miles away, occurred at Farrand Quarry, operated by Rayneau Construction, in Cul de Sac, Castries.

Three people died on the spot, while a fourth who was among 15 others who suffered injuries, died on the way to hospital.

Prime Minister Allan Chastanet has called on the public for prayer and support for the families of those impacted by the incident.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago energy sector has received a big boost as multinational energy giant BP has promised to invest US$5 billion over the next five years.

This was revealed by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley following talks he held with executives and leaders in the energy industry which was held last week in Houston, Texas.

He also held talks with Shell, Exxon Mobil and EOG Resources officials during his visit.

A release from Dr. Rowley’s Office announced BP’s intention to invest US$5 billion in T&T, with BP committing to further exploration and production.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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