Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados Finance Minister Chris Sinckler.
Photo by George Alleyne

Antigua

LIAT has announced it is moving to improve its service after cancellations of 261 flights and delays of 564.

The company issued a statement, one month after St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves threatened to withdraw state funding until the service was improved.

The Leeward Island Air Transport (LIAT) is owned by regional shareholders, with the majority being the governments of Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica.

On May, Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit had also complained about the airline’s poor service,

In a press release, LIAT stated that its acting Chief Executive Officer Julie Reifer-Jones maintained that the company had sufficient crew to operate the current schedule.

LIAT had cancelled 261 flights and delayed a further 564 due to crew sickness.

The airline said the majority of the crew was hardworking individuals and that the management will continue to work with the crew to ensure a reliable product.

Barbados

Barbados is looking to produce limited quantities of sugar to meet its domestic demand, called “direct consumption” in Barbados, with any excess to be exported to specialized markets.

This was revealed by Finance Minister Chris Sinckler during a Barbados Investor Forum last week at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Center.

He said the government of Barbados is “reforming” the sugar industry and will have to finance it to the tune of Bds$100 million, including Bds$52 million of “pure debt.”

The finance minister said the reformation will include the upgrading of two existing sugar factories and the government will partner with the West Indies Sugar Trading Company (WISTCO) to grow and market direct consumption sugar.

Sinckler said the government wanted to reverse the current arrangement where the country exports the sugar it produces and imports to meet local demand to an arrangement where it reduces imports of sugar, in the process saving foreign exchange.

He said Barbados is aiming to increase production to 25-30,000 tons of sugar for domestic consumption.

Grenada

Grenada’s Health Ministry has reported an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease at some daycare and pre-school centers across the island.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. George Mitchell said the ministry has received reports of 12 cases and is going forward with public education and direct intervention will be the main focus.

The health minister said in a release that several, education and information brochures relating to the disease are being distributed in electronic and print format to the various institutions.

Medical practitioners have also been reminded that the disease is endemic in Grenada and they need to notify the ministry once a case is diagnosed.

Records at the Ministry of Health indicate that during the same period last year there were similar outbreaks of the disease among toddlers.

The release said while a decision has not been made to close the schools, health authorities are reminding parents and operators of daycare centers and kindergartens that frequent hand-washing is still the best way of managing the disease.

Guyana

American oil giant ExxonMobil has made oil find offshore Guyana as it continues its exploration.

Chief operating officer Greg Hill said the reservoir has a “very healthy” gas-to-oil ratio that should aid in oil production.

In July, ExxonMobil submitted a development plan for Liza to Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency to begin the environmental review process that involved a floating production, storage and offloading vessel with capacity of around 100,000 barrels of oil a day in its first phase.

Liza-3 well is in the Stabroek block, about 193 kilometers offshore Guyana.

Exxon says it’s a world-class discovery with a recoverable resource of between US$800 million and 1.4 billion oil-equivalent.

President of Exxon Mobil Exploration Company, Steve Greenlee said: “We are excited by the results of a production test of the Liza-2 well, which confirms the presence of high-quality oil from the same high-porosity sandstone reservoirs that we saw in the Liza1 well completed in 2015.”

Jamaica

There has been a reduction in the number of Zika cases in Jamaica.

This was disclosed by Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton who said there has been less case over time, adding that severe cases of the illness are also on the decline.

Tufton urged people to continue to take protective measures against the mosquito-borne illness.

Director of the Family Health Services in the ministry, Dr. Simone Spencer, noted that 70 percent of the population will get some form of Zika, with 20 percent having symptoms of the illness.

Jamaica had confirmed its first case of Zika last January and since then the ministry has repeatedly urged the people displaying symptoms, such as fever, joint and muscle pain to get the necessary testing done and sent to the National Public Health laboratory.

Suriname

Suriname is trying to resolve a trade dispute with Trinidad and Tobago which prevents the Dutch island from exporting duck meat from entering the Trinidad and Tobago market.

The government said the issue can be resolved as soon as the Trinidad and Tobago government amends its Animal Act, under the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED).

COTED has urged the Trinidad authorities to take the necessary steps to resolve the issue in a timely way.

COTED-chair and Agriculture Minister of Dominica, Johnson Drigo noted, however, that since legislative procedures could take some time, Trinidad could not offer a timeline when the matter would be resolved definitely.

Since December 2015, Trinidad has prevented the importation of meat from Suriname after Trinidad raised concerns the processes at the duck facility were not in conformity with international food safety measures.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago has recorded its first confirmed case of a baby girl born with microcephaly linked to the mosquito-borne Zika virus in the country.

This was revealed by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh during a news conference at the Ministry of Health Office, in Port of Spain last week.

He said there were l0 to 12 babies born with microcephaly each year in Trinidad but this was the first confirmed case attributed to Zika.

Blood samples taken from the baby were sent to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for confirmation a few weeks ago.

The baby was delivered at a private hospital in San Fernando then transferred to the San Fernando General Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

He said due to the family insistence they wanted the baby at home with them.

Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing has postponed the general election carded from Dec. 5, 2016 to Dec. 15, 2016.

The surprise postponement was announced late on Saturday by newly-appointed British Governor Dr. John Freeman, who said the earlier date “will not give officials sufficient time to prepare for the election, as envisaged by Section 26 of the Elections Ordinance.”

According to local media, the postponement resulted from confusion over the calculations of the number of working days after the dissolution of the Hose of Assembly that an election can be called.

When the premier dissolved the House recently, no date was given for Nomination Day.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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