Caribbean RoundUp

Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves speaks at the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters.
Associated Press / John Minchillo, file

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda’s new ambassador to Iraq is to make a prepayment for 50 Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) passports.

A release said the government will have approximately US$5 million in its possession with an additional US$10 million advance payment on 50 CIP applications from Ambassador Ahmed Abbas Oleiwi Al-Hassan.

According to the release, the entire US$15 million has already been earmarked to go towards the Cruise Port Development Project in St. John’s.

The country’s ambassador to Iraq is said to also be bringing a proposed project for the development of approximately 93 acres of land at Pensioner’s Beach.

The release said the development will comprise a hotel, luxury housing, a water park and an in-door mall with a contained movie-theatre and will employ thousands of Antiguans and Barbudans.

The project will be done in phases, however, there will be a total investment of some US$1.5 billion over the next several years, according to the release.

Talks have also begun surrounding the arrival of twice weekly flights from Baghdad, Iraq via a major European gateway to Antigua’s Sir VC Bird International Airport.

Ambassador Alwei has proposed this as a result of his ownership of two Boeing 737 aircraft which can accommodate up to 197 passengers.

The ambassador was reportedly a major influence in removing Iraq from the Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) blacklist.

Dominica

A prominent Dominican businessman was slapped with six charges in the ongoing investigation by police into a report of alleged inappropriate behavior involving three men and a 15-year-old girl.

Under the Sexual Offences Act in Dominica, the name of the accused or the victim cannot be named until a conviction.

The businessman appeared before Magistrate Candia Carett-George and was placed on EC$75,000 bail. He is due to return to court on June 6.

He has been charged with three counts of indecent assault and three counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and was not call to plead as the charges were indictable.

Recently, Public Works and Ports Minister Ian Pinard tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit amid allegations of “serious inappropriate behavior” had been made against him by a teenage girl.

Grenada

A Grenada Court has temporarily blocked the government takeover of a resort in the tiny Caribbean island.

The order was issued a month after government announced it planned to end the 99-year lease and buy the Grenadian Rex Resorts, a 172-room hotel located on the island’s southern tip.

Government official said the property managers did not fully comply with the lease agreement and argued that the resort has become run-down.

Britain-based Rex Resorts has rejected those claims. It said the hotel is at 88 percent ocupancy and it has invested more than US$4 million since 2013 to renovate the property. It also said it is up to date on all lease payments, taxes, and fees owed to the government.

Rex Resorts signed the lease with the government in l991 and has operated the resort for 25 years.

The court will hold another hearing in May and the resort will keep operating as usual until a judgement is handed down.

Jamaica

A second medical practitioner has died from the H1N1 (Swine flu) virus.

The Ministry of Health said Dr. Denise Duncan Geoffe, who was in her 60s, had died from H1N1-related issues.

In 2010 she had been awarded the special commemorative Diamond Jubilee medal for her contribution to the development of health and emergency services.

She worked in the public health sector for more than 30 years. She retired from per post as director, Health Service Planning and Integration in the Ministry of Health in 2014.

Geoffe, who died at the University Hospital of the West Indies, was diagnosed with Influenza A (H1N1), or swine flu, also had other chronic medical illness.

She is the second medical doctor and sixth person to die after contracting swine flu.

Suriname

The Suriname government has recently abolished the requirement for a visa to enter the country from additional 13 countries, including China, India, Indonesia and Turkey — four of the world’s most popular destination — in an effort to boost the tourism sector.

The nine other countries are from Latin America but the list does not include any African or Arabian countries.

However to visit Suriname, citizens of these countries must purchase a tourist card, which costs US$35 at the Johan Pengel International Airport.

The tourist card is not available at the official border crossing posts between Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana, which is an inconvenience for some travelers.

The Parliament of Suriname is expected to soon pass legislation to govern the tourism industry.

St. Vincent

The Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines has made an urgent call for a complete overhaul of the education system within the region starting with the “re-tooling and training” of some teachers.

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who was the feature speaker at the recent 12th annual Dr. Alister Francis Memorial Lecture, said the education system, particularly at the primary level needs to be revamped with more emphasis on quality teaching and quality leadership in the schools.

He said a conversation has to start, as a matter of urgency, with all the stakeholders, to see those teachers who are assessed (as not being) quality teachers and how they can be re-tooled. And if they are not interested in re-tooling….arrangements should be made to have them exit the teaching profession and so some other things.

Dr. Gonsalves said about 18 to 20 percent of recurrent expenditure in the region is spent on education and there is a serious problem with the outcome.

St. Kitts

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris said the recently improved Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) is now open for legitimate business, which is now administratively and legally stronger and better.

He told a press conference that the reasons behind the amelioration of the CIU were the deliberate and necessary steps his Team Unity administration took to reform, restructure and reposition the citizenship program, including the implementation of 20 recommendations by IPSA International, a regulatory risk mitigation company.

He said the CIU offers a 24 / 7 case management system. This is the only one if its kind.

“Our system can be assessed by service providers who can track online the status of the applications submitted by them any hour of the day and any day of the week. Once the due diligence report is clean, we can deliver results on applications between 45 and 75 days. This is one of the best turnaround times in the world,” he said.

Dr. Harris listed several new features and improvement introduced by his government.

Trinidad

Attorney General Faris al Rawi said it is the government’s intention to solicit the public’s view on how to deal with the crime problem by hosting a series of public consultations throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

He said he could never be happy with the current situation where there were five murders over the Easter weekend — pushing the murder toll to 123 in the first three months of 2016.

“We will be coming to the people with public forum events, what we believe is that by sharing statistical information that we would start to get the real societal participation in the road ahead,” he told reporters.

The AG said crime cannot be managed by politicians adding that “not only by the police, not only by the protective services, it’s time for the communities to begin to reclaim and to have some avenues to express their position and point of view that is why the Office of the Attorney General is engaging in the forum that we are engaging in, first starting with the prisons system then moving to the criminal justice system and how it affects crime.”

— compiled by Azad Ali

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