Caribbean RoundUp

Guyana’s President David Granger.
Photo by Bert Wilkinson

Caribbean

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) have signed an agreement to provide US$44 million towards financing sustainable infrastructure projects in the region.

About 50 percent of the funds will be used to fund climate change adaptation and mitigation projects.

The funds are being provided by AFD under a Credit Facility Agreement with the CDB.

ADF is the primary agency which the Government of France provides funding for sustainable development projects.

This marks the first time that CBD has accessed financing from AFD.

Among the countries that are eligible to benefit from this facility are: Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.

The facility is also complemented by a Euro three million technical assistance grant, which will finance feasibility studies for projects eligible for financing under the credit facility.

Bahamas

International lending agency Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the bond and issuer ratings of the government of the Bahamas to Baa3 from Baa2 and has changed the outlook to stable.

Moody said the rating actions conclude a review for downgrade that commenced on July 1, this year.

According to a statement Moody identified the key drivers of the downgrade as projects of low medium-term growth, pointing to weaker economic strength relative to similarly-rated peers, and the “persistent increase” om the government’s debt ratio, which “leaves the Bahamas with less fiscal space relative to rating peers”

The statement said; “the stable outlook on the rating reflects Moody’s expectation that sovereign credit metrics will remain in line with a Baa3 rating as fiscal consolidation will continue over the coming years and that government debt metrics will likely stabilize in fiscal 2016/2016 as the deficit declines”.

The stable outlook also incorporates the expectation that economic performance will strengthen in 2016-2018, returning to levels close to the Bahamas; potential growth of 1-0 percent, Moody said.

Dominica

The son of former prime minister of Dominica Rosie Douglas has filed a legal action in the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice against the Dominica government over the cancellation of a concert caused by the “unlawful arrest, detention and deportation of Jamaican artiste Tommy Lee Sparta and his entourage without a cause” about two years ago.

Cabral Douglas, an attorney by profession had contracted prominent Jamaican artist management firm Heavy D Promotions Ltd. for Timmy Lee Sparta to perform at his privately-owned entertainment venue in Dominica over two years ago to mark the opening of Portsmouth carnival.

When the Jamaican artiste arrived at the Douglas / Charles airport in Dominica, Lee, 28, along with his three-member group, were denied entry detained in what were described as “inhumane conditions” and deported the following day causing the cancellation of the show.

The Dominica government, not only denied the four Jamaican citizens entry, access to the lawyer provided to them at the airport, but they failed to provide any reasons for their arrest and detention, according to legal documents filed in the court.

Douglas is claiming damages and compensation over the cancellation of the show.

Guyana

The Guyana government will present its national budget for 2017 on Dec. 5.

President David Granger in making the announcement said the government was considering the establishment of a ministerial planning unit.

He said that the pattern of preparation can only be maintained if there were established planning units, including a Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs planning unit.

The government has been pushing to have early budget presentations and passage to ensure more time to begin and complete government projects.

Constitutionally Guyana’s budget must be debated by the National Assembly for assent by the president no later than April 30 of each year.

St. Kitts

The St. Kitts and Nevis government is considering the construction of a bridge to link St. Kitts and Nevis. Public Infrastructure Minister Ian “Patches” Liburd made the announcement at a recent town hall meeting.

The minister said a bridge would bring greater ease of travel between the islands in the federation.

Liburd said the project will bring the peoples of the islands closer together and facilitate greater inter-island travel.

He said Cabinet already has plans to alternate meetings between St. Kitts and Nevis.

Officials have predicted an increase economic activity between the islands if a bridge is constructed.

Liburd expects the project to be completed by the end of the first term of the government, which constitutionally ends in 2020.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia Prime Minister Allan Chastanet recently visited China to discuss the multi-billion dollar investment planned for the south of the island by Asian investors.

Chairman of Desert Star Holdings (DSH) Limited, Teo AhKing, who has applied to set up the US $2.6 billion integrated resort development in St. Lucia invited the prime minister to the Asian country.

The prime minister said that he had attended several events in Beijing that could possibly give the island extensive exposure. He said valuable linkages were formed and that should rebound to some good opportunities for St. Lucia’s economy.

Last month, the government sought to dispel rumors surrounding the multi-billion dollar project with the Hong Kong-based DSH.

The government said that the DSH project will result in a mixed-use real estate development enterprise involving, inter-alia, entertainment and sporting facilities, as a third category under the real estate provisions.

It will also encompass projects that meet the basic stipulation but entails; horse-racing track, high-end hotel and residences, a casino, free trade zone, an equine diseases free zone and a marina.

Chastanet also visited Taiwan and Canada before he returned home.

Suriname

An international Monetary Fund (IMF) mission recently visited Suriname to initiate discussions on the first review under Suriname stand-by arrangement (SBS) with the IMF.

At the conclusion of the visit leader of the mission, Daniel Leigh said in a statement, ”the IMF had constructive discussions with the authorities on policies needed to meet the objectives of Suriname’s economic program supported by the SBA. We agreed with the authorities to continue discussions with a follow-up visit once further progress has been made in implementing the program

“Performance under the program has been mixed. The government has kept the fiscal deficit close to the programed path by restraining spending, and the authorities implemented a number of the planned reforms, including preparations for the introduction of the value added tax (VAT). However, the decisions to freeze fuel pump prices and partially reverse the increase in electricity prices, despite rising energy costs, have significantly reduced available government resources, and spending on social cash transfer has undershot envisaged levels.”

The team has returned to Washington to continue technical work.

Trinidad

President of Trinidad and Tobago Anthony Carmona has called on political leaders to stop politicizing crime and work together to bring the situation under control.

The president made the call while delivering the feature address at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Independence Day celebrations (Aug.31) at the Police Administration Building, Port of Spain.

Carmona said he hoped that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar would meet to discuss crime which would bring meaningful solutions for the betterment of T&T and not a “talk shop.” Both leaders announced they would meet to discuss the crime problem.

He said this was especially paramount as there needed to be a united front on the issue of combating crime; especially if the cooperation of the public was needed to gather information and evidence on criminal activities.

The murder rate up to the end of August stood at 304.

-Compiled by Azad Ali

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