Caribbean RoundUp

Bahamas

International credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has downgrade The Bahamas. The country’s creditworthiness is now deemed “junk” as the New-based ratings from lowered its sovereign credit rating from BBB-A-3 to BB+B.

In a report last month (December) S&P raised the red flag about spiraling fiscal deficit, high unemployment and low growth, S&P warned that the country was at risk for further downgrade.

According to the rating agency, the Bahamian economy will only grow by 0.3 percent in 2016, down from the 1.2 growth projected last April.

The report cautioned that this “lower growth trend will challenge the government’s ability to meet its fiscal projections, likely resulting in rising debt.”

S&P also justified the downgrade against the backdrop of deteriorating government revenue, despite the introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT).

In a response the government said “S&P had turned a blind eye to initiatives currently underway to stimulate economic activity.”

Barbados

The Barbados government has placed a “temporary restriction” on the importation of all live poultry, hatching eggs, and on fresh, frozen and chilled poultry meat, including table eggs originating from the United Kingdom and Europe.

In a statement the Ministry of Agriculture’s Veterinary Services Department said the move “with immediate effect follows the confirmation of outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 in poultry farms in England.

“The import restriction, however, do not apply to processed products that have been processed, for example those heat treated, to ensure the destruction of the Avian Influenza Virus.

Dominica

Dominica police have warned against the importation and sale of imitation firearms warning offenders they could be imprisoned for up to one year.

Police Superintendent, Richmond Valentine, told the online publication, Dominica Newsonline recently that the sale and use of imitation firearms or toy guns was a violation of the Firearms Act.

He said the realistic imitation firearm is very difficult to distinguish whether it is real as opposed to a toy.

Valentine explained that any person convicted under the Firearm Act is liable to pay a fine if EC$30,000 or one year in jail.

Under the Customs Act, according to Valentine, the discovery of such toys will be confiscated at the port.

Grenada

A former Grenada banker was recently jailed for 23 years for engaging in corruption.

Finton De Bourg, the former chief executive officer of Capital Bank International was also ordered to pay EC$16 million within five years after he is released.

The High Court has also barred the former banker from engaging in any financial business operation after serving his jail term.

De Bourg, 66, was found guilty on two counts of fraudulent appropriation of property, one count of falsification of account and two counts of falsification of minutes.

In February 2008, all 12 branches of the bank were taken over by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) after the court ordered that Capital Bank International be placed into receivership.

Hundreds of customers had complained they were unable to withdraw their deposits from the bank, which was owned by DeBourg.

Capital Bank International had received a license from the Grenada government, but was not regulated by the Eastern Caribbean Bank.

Guyana

Guyana Government has refused to allow 1,700 cases of Dost sardines from China into the country.

The Analyst- Food and Drug Department (A-FDD) said the decision was taken after it was discovered that the cases of sardines had incorrect labeling dates and some of the tins were already rusting.

Head of the A-FDD Marlan Cole in a statement said that samples of the imported product were retried by inspectors for examination on Nov. 29.

He said upon examination, the coded information on the time revealed that the products were manufactured on Aug. 1, 2014 and not June 1, 2016, as was stated on the labels.

Cole also said that the tins were already rusting while the Free / Sale Health Certificate from China DA was inconsistent with those usually presented to the department.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s Commissioner of Police Dr. Carl Williams will be stepping down from office next month.

According to the Gleaner newspaper Dr. Williams wrote to the Police Service Commission indicating he will proceed on early retirement from Jan. 6, 2017. He said his decision was based on personal reason.

Dr. Williams joined the Jamaica Constabulary Force in l984 and moved up the ranks to top cop. He was appointed Commissioner in 2014.

The commissioner is preparing to leave the JCF as the country grapples with a high crime rate.

Police figures for Jan. 1 to September 2016 show that 894 murders had been committed, averaging l00 murders a month

St. Lucia

The region mourns the recent death of former Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Sir Dwight Venner who died at a hospital in St. Lucia.

Sir Dwight, 70, died at the Tapion Hospital on the outskirts of the capital, Castries after attempts were made to fly him to the French island for medical treatment.

Sir Dwight died just over a year after announcing his retirement in late 2015 after 26 years of service as governor the ECCB that serves as a central bank for Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.

St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said the Caribbean had lost an “unparalleled genius,” noting that Sir Dwight was a pioneer and among the most respected men in “our region and has served the Caribbean and financial fraternity with distinction.”

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago recorded its highest murder rate in six years with 452 people killed in 2016, which is 10 percent higher than in 2015.

The number is nowhere close to the record high 550 murders recorded in 2008.

In a statement by the Powerful Ladies of TT (PLOTT), in which data for the numbers for 2016 was compiled by the group’s Crime Research Team of Danielle Francois and Gillian Wall several facts were presented.

Among those were that, as of Nov. 30, 2016, 88.4 percent of all killings in the country have been by shooting and stabbing.

About 75 percent of all victims were killed by firearms, the majority of them were Africans, the team said.

Most murders were males (88 percent) between the ages of 26 and 35, while 54.6 were males between the ages of 16 to 35 years, the release stated. It said of all the women murdered in T&T, 31 percent were by firearm and 43 percent by stabbing.

-compiled by Azad Ali

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