Caribbean RoundUp

Caribbean

Agricultural officials are pushing for heightened biosecurity on poultry farms across the region in a bid to prevent avian influenza — better known as bird flu — from wiping out the multimillion poultry industry.

Livestock Development Officers at the sub-regional office of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Dr. Cedric Lazarus said there is a strong likelihood that the disease which caused the culling of millions of turkeys and chicken in the United States earlier this year and could affect the region.

He warned it could devastate Caribbean countries and urged regional farmers to prepare for such an eventuality.

“If it comes back to the United States it is likely that it could come to the Caribbean and if it comes to the Caribbean then countries that are big producers if poultry like Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana and even St. Lucia to a certain extent would be affected,” Dr. Lazarus warned

Officials have embarked on an 11-country region wide campaign to promote on-farm security.

Barbados’ representative at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Ena Harvey estimated that more than 90 percent of the hatching eggs and chicks required in the production of table eggs and broiler meat in the Caribbean are sourced through the USA.

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda Customs & Excise Division has started to clamp down on courier service operators who have not presenting invoices so that their goods could be correctly assessed for duties and taxes.

Recently two businesses were fined EC$50,000 after customs officials discovered they had undervalued items brought into the port.

Comptroller of Customs Raju Boddu told the Observer newspaper the imposition of the fine came as the authorities seek to prevent offending firms from abusing the system.

“Our internal revenue system found out that something was wrong with these courier services because they have all these advertisements telling people they will not have to pay Customs duties, just pay by the pound, which is ridiculous. So it’s an on-going review,” Boddu said.

The comptroller said under the new system, courier operators now have to present an invoice and a bill of sale for every item being cleared at the port and they are required to pay duties to the value of the item.

He said prior to this, they were charged based on estimation by the Customs officer on duty.

Some businessmen have, for years, complained that online shopping is threatening the survival of the traditional retailers as customers are no longer supporting local business.

Barbados

The Barbados government will next year will be moving to amend the Proceeds of Crime Act so as to allow the authorities to seize the assets of people with no legitimate source of income.

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, addressing a ruling Democratic Labor Party (DLP meeting recently said that drug barons and others engaged in criminal activities would not be allowed to flourish in Barbados.

“I want to ensure that if you see a fellow with a big fancy car and he doesn’t work anywhere, we will seize it and give it to the police, If I see him living in a big fancy house and he doesn’t work anywhere, we will seize it and turn it into a halfway house for people who are drug dependent,” he said.

“We need to attack them and I intend to lead the charge on behalf of the people of Barbados. We must do it,” the AG told supporters.

Brathwaite, who is also home affairs minister, said that Caribbean countries have been hard hit by an upsurge in criminal activity, not only because of economic challenges but because the region is now being used as a transshipment point for drugs.

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands government is under pressure to address same sex discrimination.

Premier Alden McLaughlin has acknowledged the urgency on the part of the government to address discrimination in immigration legislation impacting same-sex couples, but he said the goal was to stave off the need to recognize same-sex unions rather than a step towards them.

He said the British government has been approached by Argentina’s ambassador to the UK over the Leonardo Raznovich case and the failure of the Cayman Islands government to recognize him as a legal dependent of his same-sex spouse.

He said the government has also received a letter from the couple’s constituency MP in the UK, Helen Grant, questioning the discrimination, as the pressure and criticisms mount over the issue.

The premier told legislators in the Legislative Assembly that he considered the issue as important as the matter of disclosing the beneficial ownership of offshore corporations.

He said he was doing his best to stop or at least delay an imposition by the UK through an Order in Council to recognize same-sex unions by addressing the immigration problem urgently.

McLaughlin said it was clear that the regulations in the immigration law are discriminatory had merit and the government was likely to lose this argument and be forced to address the law anyway.

Guyana

The Guyana government has approved a Guy$49 million (US$236,483) package to help coconut farmers fight a red palm mite infestation affecting the industry.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon said the money will be used to purchase chemicals, equipment and safety gear and provide these items to farmers at a subsidized cost to combat this infestation.

Coconut crops are located in six of Guyana’s l0 regions and Agriculture Minister Noel Holder told Cabinet that regions two and three were particularly affected by the red palm mite.

Technical teams have been deployed to assist farmers get rid of the pest.

The red palm mites form colonies on the underside of leave and feed on the contents of the cells of the leaves. This feeding can cause localized yellowing of the leaves.

Grenada

Police in Grenada are searching the island for a Canadian woman who has gone missing while jogging with her dog on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015.

Assistant Superintendent Sylvan McIntyre of the Royal Grenada Police Force said several specialized units were involved in the search for Linnea Veinotte of New Brunswick, who was reported missing on Sunday.

McIntyre said the family dog was found lying on the side of the road after being struck by a car and they believe Vienotte was taken by someone driving a dark colored vehicle. Police said the dog later died.

He said they have received tips, but that none had helped locate Veinottee. The senior police officer said the car would have damage to the front, possibly from hitting the dog.

She was born in New Denmark and has a home in Nova Scotia but was working at St. George’s University in Grenada.

Jamaica

The Jamaica parliament has passed legislation to make it illegal for certain donors to give funding to election campaigns and addresses other issues related to campaign financing such as coursing funds.

Government said it brought the amendments to the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act in recognition of the need to bolster transparency and accountability of elected officials and reduce corruption and improper influence in public life, which would encourage greater confidence in the political process.

The changes are in keeping with the recommendations set out in the report on campaign financing which was prepared by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ).

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell, who has responsibility for electoral matters, said changes could also be coming to cap on spending for candidates.

It currently stands at J$10 million (US$83,622) for each candidate during an election period.

St. Kitts

The Eastern Caribbean Monetary Council (ECMC) is being criticized for allegedly dragging its feet on appointing a new government of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).

Former St. Kitts and Nevis National Security Minister Dwyer Astaphan said the finance ministers, some of them prime ministers, who made up of the Council have been aware for some time that Governor Sir Dwight Venner’s contract was due to end on Nov. 30, 2015 and should have by now announced a new governor to replace him.

ECMC Chairman, Anguilla’s Chief Minister Victor Banks last week dismissed media reports that a St. Lucian national had been appointed the new CCCB governor.

Banks said the election process was still ongoing, and the new appointee would likely be announced before the end of December.

Astaphan claimed that the slow pace of finding a new governor is reflected in other ways at the ECCB and suggested that the people of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) need to get more discussions on how the Central Bank operates.

Trinidad

Former prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar has been returned as political leader of the United National Congress (UNC).

She scored a landslide victory against her two opponents — former Housing Minister Dr. Roodal Moonilal and former Trade and Industry Minister Vasant Bharath — in the Dec. 5, 2015 party internal elections.

Persad-Bissessar polled just over 17,000 votes, while Dr. Moonilal received around 1,500 votes and Bharath scored some 1,200 votes.

In the 2010 UNC internal election Persad-Bissessar defeated the party’s founder Basdeo Panday as well as former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj.

Panday got 1,359 votes, while Maharaj received 729 and Persad-Bissessar a whopping 13,493 votes.

In this year’s internal election 95, 244 people were registered to vote.

Head of the Elections Management Committee Dr Rampersad Parasram said the election was a fair and square one.

Dr. Moonilal has raised concerns over irregularities in the voting process claiming that many people did not get to vote adding that some 2,000 voters were rejected.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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