Caribbean RoundUp

2016-09-30-azad-caribbean-roundup-cl

Barbados

A reciprocal health care agreement between Barbados and United Kingdom will come to an end on Oct. 1, 2016.

The agreement which allows Barbadians traveling to the UK to access free health services under the National Health Service (NHS) will now require to pay for such services.

The existing protocol provides for a citizen of the UK or a citizen of Barbados who requires immediate medical treatment while temporarily in the other country to receive treatment on the same terms as citizens of that country.

Once the agreement ends, Barbadians visiting the UK, who are currently eligible for free health care for up to six months, will now be required to pay their medical bills.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has advised travelers to make sure that they have adequate travel and health insurance before traveling. Additionally, British visitors to Barbados will also no longer be eligible for free health services, which include hospital treatment, treatment at polyclinics, ambulance travel and prescribed medicine for children and the elderly.

Cuba

Cuban Medical Services Sales Company, part of the health ministry recently presented the government with a new therapeutic and preventive program destined for international tourism to be implemented in the country’s medical and health assistance centers.

Dr. George Alberto Miranda, president of the company, told a press conference that the new service, which includes basic medical checkups with a very simple program, will begin in September until Oct. 31 on a promotional level and a special price.

Miranda said that Cuba has the resources to expand its services to foreigners for a shorter period and they will receive the benefits of the strengths of the Cuban health system offered to its population free of charge.

The services will include a complete hematology, EKG, ultrasound of the abdomen and gynecology for women and prostate for men.

Jamaica

The proposed amendments to the Criminal Justice Act (Plea Negotiations and Agreement) in Jamaica is expected to be completed by next month, to provide a bigger incentive for people accused of crime to plead guilty and provide prosecutors with information in return for a reduced sentence.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck said the Legal Reform Unit is actively working on it and he has directed the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, which does the drafting, for it to be treated as “a matter of urgency.”

The act was announced in 2006 and amended in 2009 and further amended in 2010. The amendments are intended to improve its use as part of the sentencing arrangement.

The minister said that in jurisdictions across the world where plea bargaining is used, approximately 90 percent of defendants enter guilty pleas in exchange for lighter sentences.

He told the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) that less than one percent of cases in Jamaica are resolved by plea bargaining.

Chuck said that once the defense attorney and the prosecutor meet and sign off on a recommended sentence, the accused wants to be assured that the presiding judge will go along or will not deviate much from the recommendation.

The justice minister said plea bargaining will also help reduce the heavy backlog of cases in the court system.

Guyana

The Guyana government wants to establish offshore oil and gas facility in the South American country as it seeks to fully optimize opportunities in petroleum exploration and production.

The Ministry of Natural Resources, working in conjunction with the Ministries of Public Infrastructure and Business, says it believes that this facility is critical and said it is part of the raft of measures intended to ensure that Guyana keeps on the right trajectory in the development of the oil and gas industry.

In a statement the Ministry said: “The development of onshore infrastructure is critical to the success of the offshore oil and gas activities and it is expected that this logistics and supply base will be able to serve the sector as a whole.”

“The government believes that as the industry continues to evolve, early plans must be put in place to harness the synergies and benefits that will arise from this and other necessary infrastructure, including providing much needed employment to large numbers of Guyanese,” it said.

The statement said onshore facilities normally include shipyard, port facilities oil field waste disposal, oil spill response, electric power infrastructure, support and heliport facilities, among other services.

St. Kitts

The St. Kitts and Nevis government has appointed Les Khan to head the Citizenship-by-Investment Unit (CIU).

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris made the announcement at a news conference of service providers and developers.

Khan previously worked as IPSA International’s project team leader for St. Kitts and Nevis.

IPSA, a regulatory risk mitigation company, completed a program review of the St. Kittsand Nevis Citizens by Investment (CBI) program in the fourth quarter of 2014. Then on April 30, 2015, an announcement was made that the St. Kitts and Nevis CIU to increase the program’s transparency had retained the services of the company to address recommendations that would improve the country’s itizens by Investment program.

Within one year of the April 30, 2015 announcement, the current Team Unity government successfully reorganized, restructured and repositioned the St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship program as the best in the world, making the oldest such program stronger and better to discharge its mandate.

Harris has reaffirmed that the CIU is now open for legitimate business, adding that the program is stronger and better to discharge its mandate.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he will not put any more funds into the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT until the carrier improves its service.

Dr. Gonsalves recently led a delegation for talks with a management team, headed by acting chief executive officer Julie Refier-Jones after his administration wrote to the airline demanding talks over what is described as poor service.

The talks in Kingstown were aimed at resolving “LIAT’s deteriorating service experienced by Vincentians.”

In a statement following the talks, Gonsalves highlighted several challenges, including the lack of information on delays and cancellation of flights to the traveling public.

Gonsalves, who is chair of LIAT’s shareholder governments said recently in Barbados, “the decision to shift the base had not been rescinded but the management has not carried out the decision and I would like to find out why.”

Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are the shareholder governments of the airline.

LIAT recently requested Kingstown to release a further EC$100,000 to help with its operations.

The statement from LIAT said the airline has agreed to review the schedule flights in and out of St. Vincent within one week to better serve the traveling public.

Suriname

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in Suriname will be reviewed later this month.

Suriname is one of the 196 States that have ratified the Conventions on the Rights of the Child and so is required to be reviewed regularly by the Committee of l8 independent experts.

Among the possible issues to be discussed between committee members and a government from the Suriname area:

* High number of child marriages:

* Steps to end violence, and corporal punishment in all sections;

* Discrimination against children and disabilities:

* Discrimination against indigenous and Maroo children and children in remote areas.

* Measures to meet the demand for mental health services for children:

* Measures to tackle child trafficking and child labor among children issues.

The committee will issue its findings on Suriname and the delegation’s report and replies, as well as information from civil society groups.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago and the United States signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) in Port of Spain last week to strengthen collaborative efforts by both countries to combat the scourge of illegal shipment of drugs, weapons and other contraband into their respective jurisdictions.

A statement issued by the United States Embassy said the agreement was signed by United States Ambassador John Estrada and Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

The embassy said the CMAA is an important part of the strong cooperative relationship between the two countries.

It said the agreement will allow “our governments to cooperate more effectively to track and interdict shipments of narcotics, illegal weapons and other contraband.”

Under the CMAA, law enforcement agencies from Trinidad and Tobago and the United States will be able “to coordinate the investigation of complex money-laundering cases, and make it more difficult to hide ill-gotten gains by moving them across national boundaries.”

The CMAA will also allow both countries to continue strengthening bilateral economic ties “through expediting trade procedures.”

-Compiled by Azad Ali

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