Caribbean RoundUp

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government has launched a new social housing project aimed at improving the housing stock in the Villa and Point communities on the island.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the project is in partnership with the government of Mexico, which will be providing a grant of US$5 million.

He said the project will be the first phases of an aggressive urban rebuilding process, designed to improve the living standards of the less fortunate in the society.

Browne pointed out that the urban areas are usually the most densely populated, since persons who are seeking to improve their standard of living flock to the areas because of the ease of access to hopefully better opportunities such as jobs, schools, church and entertainment.

He noted that the drawback for these areas is that there is usually overcrowding in the homes, which puts great pressure on the government’s social infrastructure such as solid and liquid waste collection and healthcare.

The prime minister said people of Point and Villa have been very patient in their wait for improved housing and now that wait has come to end.

Work is expected to start before the end of the year.

The government will be providing the land for the project, along with infrastructure such as water, electricity and telephone.

The duplexes will be two, three and four bedrooms and are designed for families in the low economic group.

Barbados

Long stay visitors to Barbados spent about 20 percent more money in the first quarter of 2016 than during the same period in 2015.

This is according to a quarterly survey conducted by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) of the destination.

The report said total visitor expenditure on the island grew from US$20 million to US$37 million in the first quarter.

This was achieved through a 14.9 percent increase in visitor average length of stay and a total growth of 7.4 percent in visitor arrivals.

Overall, Barbados was able to achieve growth in the average length of stay for all markets during the period with the exception of the Caribbean which remained unchanged, the CTO noted.

Additionally, all markets, with the exception of the Caribbean, recorded increase in visitor expenditure per person per trip, with the USA leading the way with an significant 42.4 percent increase in spending by American guests.

Conversely, the CTP, said, the Caribbean was the only market that did not record an increase in the visitor expenditure per person per trip. Instead, there was a 28 percent reduction in average daily expenditure from that market.

Bahamas

The Bahamas government has issued a travel advisory for citizens visiting the United States, to take particular care in the cities that are affected by tensions over recent police shootings.

The advisory warns citizens to not get involved in protests and avoid crowds.

It comes after two black men were shot dead by police in Minnesota and Louisiana and the killing of five officers at a protest at Dallas.

Some 90 percent of the Bahamas population is black.

The statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, advised citizens to “exercise appropriate caution,” especially in cities affected by “tensions… over shootings of young black men by police officers.”

Dominica

The Caribbean Development Bank (CBD) has partnered with the Caribbean Male Action Network (CariMan) on a pilot project that will focus on sport, music and the development needs of youth in Dominica.

The CDB has provided a grant of US$49, 500 to the project which was launched recently and will benefit seven schools.

It aims to empower youth, especially young men with relevant employable and coping skills.

The objective of the joint CDB / CariMan project is to provide access to skills, materials, equipment and spaces needed to promote personal artistic development; nurture talent, encourage creativity and develop healthier relationships and lifestyles.

The grant from the CDB has been made through the bank’s flagship poverty reduction program, the Basic Needs Trust Fund which provides grants for community infrastructure and a wide range of skills training initiatives including artisan trades, disaster mitigation planning, family and soft skills and computer training.

Grenada

The Grenada government is promising public servants to adjust their salaries from the end of this month based on the 2013-2016 agreement.

This was disclosed by Nickolas Steele, minister of health, social security and international business during a post-Cabinet meeting recently.

Steele said the Keith Mitchell administration has also requested a meeting with the unions to discuss the arrears owed to public servants.

A government statement quoted Prime Minister Keith Mitchell as “constantly stated that pensions and increments must be resolved to enhance the working relationship with public officers.”

In a radio broadcast last month, Mitchell said with regards to increments, the Ministry of Finance had completed the calculations for the outstanding period as well as for the current period, including January 2017.

Jamaica

The Jamaica government is holding talks with potential investors in a bid to keep open the Long Pond Sugar Factory in Clark’s Town, Trelawny, northwest of Kingston.

Earlier this year the government took over the operations at Long Pond in an effort to harvest 95,000 tons of cane.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Karl Samuda said the ministry “is working overtime” with the owners of Everglades, which operates Long Island Pond Road, to conclude the negotiations.

Samuda told employees and cane farmers recently that an agreement should be in place by September, which will keep the estate open and viable to give them “peace of mind” as they prepare for the 2017 sugar crop.

He said the potential investors are energy specialists, who are looking at energy conversion, which would require a higher level of production.

The minister said the government is fully committed to ensuring that the factory remains open.

St. Vincent

There is yet another delay in the opening of the multi-million dollar Argyle International Airport in St. Vincent.

This has been blamed on bad weather and other factors which have contributed to the delay.

The airport, estimated at more than EC$700 million, has missed several opening deadlines dating back to December 2014.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told a news conference recently that apart from the weather, the authorities had to deal with removal of petroglyphs in the last kilometer of the runway and the disbursement of money secured by his administration for the project.

Dr. Gonsalves said he had hoped to get the airport operational by mid-2015 and improve significantly the island’s economy, particularly the tourism and agricultural sectors.

He said the Argyle International Airport Company, the state-owned firm managing the airport, has been undertaking a series of things to accommodate the opening of the airport.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia Opposition Leader Phillip J. Pierre is warning the Allen Chastanet government to ensure that people who voted in favor of the St. Lucia Labor Party (SLP) in the last general election are not victimized.

Pierre, who was speaking at his first news conference since the SLP lost the June 6 general election to the United Workers Party (UWP), said the party intends to protect its supporters against any form of victimization.

He said the sons and daughters of St. Lucia require that “we protect their interests and safeguard them against victimization and other hardships that the government my try to inflict on them because of their political affiliation, or because they reside in constituencies represented by the SLP parliamentarians.”

Pierre told reporters that St. Lucia is already feeling the impact of the decision of Britain to leave the European Union saying it is beginning to have a negative effect on the island’s economic outlook.

Last month, Britons voted by a 52-49 margin to leave the European Union and Pierre said that the continuing sharp decline in the value of the British pound will undoubtedly have a negative effect on tourism arrivals.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago Opposition United National Congress (UNC) will know on Aug. 19 whether voters will have to go back to the polls in five constituencies in Trinidad.

Justice Mira Dean-Armorer presiding in the Port of Spain High Court last week said she would give her ruling on whether the Election and Boundaries Commission (EBC) acted contrary to law when it extended voting time by an additional hour during last September’s general election in five of the 39 constituencies in Trinidad.

The UNC had presented petitions challenging the results in those constituencies, which were won by the People’s National Movement (PNM), following the Sept. 7 election, saying the EBC did not have the authority to extend the voting time.

The UNC argued that, with the extension, the final results in those constituencies were materially affected and, as such the court should declare the results as null and void, and therefore, by-elections should be called.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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