Caribbean RoundUp

Grenada’s Ambassador to the OAS,Yolande Yvonne Smith chairs the Regular Meeting of the Permanent Council, July 24, 2019.
OAS / Juan Manuel Herrera

Antigua

Prime Minister, Gaston Browne says Antigua and Barbuda is prepared to acquire further shares in the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, but is not going to pay an estimated US$44 million being asked by Barbados for the sale of its shares in the airline.

The two countries have been holding discussions on the shares acquisition.

Speaking on a radio program in Antigua, Prime Minister Browne told listeners if his country had to settle at the asking price of US$44 million “that would be a steal for Barbados.”

“We are not in the process of giving away money. We are in the process of creating value and to get fair value for the people of Antigua and Barbuda,” he said.

Antigua and Barbuda currently holds 34 percent of the shares and if it succeeds in convincing Barbados to part with LIAT shares, would have 81 percent of the airline that employs over 600 people and operates 491 flights weekly across 15 destinations.

Browne said his government would seek to acquire the LIAT shares owned by Barbados, through a take-over of the liability of Barbados to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Caribbean

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen recently visited Haiti in an attempt to boost support in the region.

The visit to the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince was the first stop on a 12-day trip to the Caribbean with St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis to follow.

Taiwan’s allies in the Caribbean and Central America have dwindled in recent years.

In 2017, Panama cut ties with Taiwan, a self-governing island that China considers a renegade province, to establish relations with China.

Grenada

Grenada’s Permanent Representative to the OAS, Yolande Smith, has assumed the chair of the Organization of American States Permanent Council.

The chair of the Permanent Council is held on a rotating basis every three months.

On taking the chair recently Smith spoke of the importance of carrying out the council’s actions based on integrity that must be essential “in the process, in the ways we conduct our daily affairs, in the responsibility entrusted on us.”

The outgoing chair and permanent representative of the United States, Carlos Trujillo, thanked the representatives of the countries for “their help and support over the last three months.”

In early May, Smith presented her credentials to United States President, Donald Trump. She has 25 years in the diplomatic service.

Her first posting was at the Grenada Consulate General in Toronto, from 1995-1999.

From 1999-2008, she was stationed at the Grenada Embassy in Washington DC.

Jamaica

Jamaica has earned an estimated US$2 billion from tourism for the first half of 2019, according to the Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Pearnel Charles.

Jamaica welcomed about two million visitors between January and June this year. Last year, the country had record arrivals of 4.32 million visitors with earnings of US$3.3 billion.

Charles speaking on the Tourism Workers Pension Act 2019 in the Senate recently said tourism drives nine percent of Jamaica’s gross domestic product (GDP) and contributes, in revenue terms, 20 percent of GDP.

He noted, too, that the sector earnings have grown from US$369 million in 2017 to US$431 million in 2018 which shows the tourism industry’s continued growth and success is as a result of the hard work, and dedication of the tourism workers.

The Tourism Workers Pension Act 2019 seeks to establish a defined contribution pension scheme for hospitality industry workers.

Charles said that an increase in visitors equates to greater demand for more trained workers.

He said data shows that as January 2019 there were 120,500 workers in the sector, which represents nine percent of the labor force, adding that employment in hotels and restaurants increased by four percent from January 2017 to January 2019.

St. Kitts

The permanent representatives of St. Kitts and Nevis to the United Nations His Excellency, Sam Condor signed a visa waiver agreement with his Excellency Kaha Imnadze permanent representative of Georgia to grant visa-free access between the two countries.

According to the agreements, holders of diplomatic, official and ordinary passports are permitted entry without a visa into the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis and Georgia (which lies on the edge of Europe and Asia) for a period not exceeding 90 days in any 180 days.

The ceremony took place recently in New York where the permanent representatives discussed areas for bilateral cooperation.

This step to further strengthen the relations would facilitate the hassle-free movement of persons from both nations and the building of new relationships.

By signing, Georgia becomes the 153rd nation with which St. Kitts and Nevis have established visa-free entry relationships within recent times.

Trinidad

The call for the impeachment of Trinidad and Tobago Chief Justice Ivor Archie was rejected by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley who said he will not take action on the head of the judiciary.

The Prime Minister said he had received legal advice that he should not acquiesce to the Law Association’s request to initiate impeachment proceedings against Archie for misconduct.

In 2017 the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) appointed a sub-commitee to investigate, among other things, the allegations that Archie sought to persuade judges to change their State-provided security in favor of security provided by a private company connected to questionable character- convicted fraudster Dillion Johnson- leading to concerns being expressed on the possibility that the Chief Justice may have been comprised, with Archie firmly dismissing any misconduct.

He said this allegation is linked to an attempt to overthrow a judgment in the opposition United National Congress’ (UNC) election failed election petitions., The UNC had challenged the outcome of the 2015 General Election in six marginal seats.

The Court of Appeal over which Archie presided had ruled against the petitions. A judgement was given in favor of the PNM MPs in all six seats.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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