Caribbean RoundUp

Caribbean

Four Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have been chosen to conduct social marketing training and technical assistance to reduce daily salt intake.

The project in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica, is being led by the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) Salt Smart Consortium, acting as the secretariat, supported by Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC).

Technical support is being provided by the University of South Florida and World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Social Marketing and Social Change.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has formed the “SVG Salt-Smart Coalition,” a multi-sectoral group, made up of various stakeholders from public and private sectors and NGOs that will be responsible for conducting the program.

Specifically, the aim of the project is to provide strategies to encourage mothers of primary school age children to cook with less salt, buy low salt products, so as to prepare their children to succeed in the 21st century free from the host of chronic diseases such as hypertension and stroke.

The project was officially launched at the Kingstown Health Center earlier this month during “World Salt Awareness Week 2106,” under the theme “Reduce Salt Healthier Life.”

Antigua

Commonwealth Secretary General designate, Baroness Patricia Scotland, will deliver the feature address at the 15th Conference of Presidents & Governors-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that will be held in, St. John, Antigua later this month.

The event will allow for discussions on a wide range of issues, including presentations by Sir Christopher Geidt the private secretary to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth on the topic “The Crown and the Caribbean Realms – The Relationship.”

The relevance of a National Honors System in an independent country will be presented by Retired Major David Ranking-Hunt, of the Norfolk Herald of Arms Extraordinary.

President of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Sir Dennis Byron will also address the regional heads of state on the role and function of the court that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court.

Bahamas

The Bahamas government recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the University of Miami to provide Bahamians with accessible and high quality health care and pave the way for the future of stem cell research in the Bahamas.

The signing took place at the Office of the Prime Minister between the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine Inter-disciplinary Stem Cell Institute (ISCI) and the Ministry of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority.

Prime Minister Perry Christie described the MoU as a great moment for his administration.

“The regulatory framework for the conduct of stem cell research was established thus giving The Bahamas the distinction of becoming the first country in the English-speaking Caribbean region to put such a legislative framework in place,” Christie said.

With the MoU, the University of Miami will engage in educating and training physicians and healthcare practitioners and scientists in finding new treatment and therapies for heart disease, neurological disease, bone disease, diabetes, cancer, eye disease and other chronic, debilitating or incurable diseases.

The MoU allows for collaborations with the University of the West Indies School of Clinical Medicine and Research.

Barbados

The Barbados government recently presented a Bds$4.3 billion (US$2.15 billion) budget to Parliament — an increase of nearly Bds $93 million (US$46.5 million) over the last fiscal package.

The Freundel Stuart government said of the amount approved for 2016-2017 fiscal year, US$2.02 billion represents current expenditure, while US625, 000 represents capital expenditure.

It said wages and salaries are expected to increase over the revised amount for 2015-2016 by US$8.9 million to US$380 million, adding the increase is mainly due to increments.

The government is anticipating expenditure on goods and services is expected to increase by US$53.4 to US$229.9 million.

Debate on the budget is continuing.

Dominica

Former Attorney General of Dominica Bernard Wiltshire has criticized regional courts for their handling of election-related matters.

He said the courts within the region have failed to display a sufficient degree of independence in dealing with such matters.

The outspoken attorney was at the time addressing a national forum on campaign finance.

He said it is so difficult to challenge election irregularities by the opposition after an election.

Wiltshire noted there is too much political interference in the process, with judges indicating their unwillingness to be dragged into the fray and such “narrow view affects the process.”

The Dominican attorney said this problem also exists with the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

“Even with the Caribbean Court of Justice we have the question of smallness of size, and where you have smallness of size and everybody knows everybody else and the cliques are small little cliques and they belong to the same elite, then there is a kind of self-censorship taking place for the judiciary,” Wiltshire declared.

Guyana

A prolonged drought is taking a toll on food crops in Guyana. The government says it is creating a special task force to improve relief efforts.

The office of President David Granger said farmers reported losing more than 7,000 acres of rice fields and hundreds of cares of cassava and peanut fields.

Farmers have also complained that they have not received any water from the government’s emergency irrigation canals.

Rice is one of Guyana’s main exports.

Granger has said there is a need to drill more wells because Guyana has not received significant rainfall for almost 10 months.

Jamaica

Jamaica hotel magnate Gordon “Butch” Stewart is taking legal action against The Gleaner Company in Jamaica, seeking around $J$17.5 billion (US$0.94 billion in damages for defamation.

Stewart, 74, chairman of Sandals and Beaches said he has initiated legal action against The Gleaner Company after the publication of a story in the Jamaica Gleaner’s website recently which he claimed was false and defamatory.

The publication on the Gleaner’s website dated Friday March 11, 2016 in which The Gleaner published a report under the name of Barbara Gayle, justice coordinator, that shares of businessman Gordon “Butch” Stewart in Gorstew Limited, Jamaica, have been frozen due to his failure to pay legal costs to the tune of $40 million Jamaican dollars to one Noel Sloley, is false and defamatory.

He said the freezing order in question is in respect of costs claimed by Jamaica Tours Limited, which is the subject of ongoing litigation in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.

Stewart claimed the malicious and defamatory article has caused significant damage, not only to his reputation, but the companies which he represents.

St. Kitts

St. Kitts / Nevis Consumers Affairs Act 2003 is being repealed to address consumers’ concern about labels written in foreign languages and to institute other protection issues.

This was disclosed by Consumer Affairs Officer Vincent Fough, who said that all supermarkets have been informed that their labels should have English, even if there are other languages, because the official language in St. Kitts and Nevis is English. They have also being asked to remove items in violation of this from the shelves.

The consumer affairs officer said that the new bill will fall in line with the CARICOM Protection Consumer Protection Bill.

He explained that it stems from the Treaty of Chaguaramas where member states have to follow Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) contractual arrangements.

The new bill outlines that once a business is in breach of contract, the business will have to pay a fine or the owner sent to jail. Both penalties may apply in some cases.

Trinidad

The Caribbean Collective for Justice is calling on Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to either bring a motion to Parliament to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act, or to make regulations for the use of marijuana with a license issued by the Ministry of Health.

This follows statements by the Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard who recently told a Joint Select Committee of Parliament on Finance and Legal Affairs that he agrees marijuana should be decriminalized.

He said three quarter of cases in the magistrates’ courts are for marijuana possession.

The Caribbean Collective for Justice called for an immediate moratorium on arrests for possession of marijuana and a more humane and sensible approach to the regulation of the use of cannabis.

The organization in a release said Dr. Rowley should also consider the rights of citizens who subscribe to the Rastafari religion.

“Rastafarians believe cannabis is sacred and they use it for religious reasons,” the release said.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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