Caribbean RoundUp

Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda Attorney General, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said the government was moving to establish a registry for sex offenders in the very near future.

Speaking in Parliament recently, Benjamin said once convicted, the names of all sexual offenders will be placed on a public registry.

This disclosure follows the establishment of a Sexual Offenses Model Court last month.

Benjamin, who is also the minister of public safety issued a strong warning to offenders saying that he was going to ensure that the legislation was going to be on the list before the end of March this year.

“We are going to make certain also to notify the neighborhoods into which you are going to reside,” he said during his contribution to the budget debate.

Minister of Sports, National Festivals, Culture and The Arts, E. P. Chet Greene recently called on Benjamin to put legislation in place to prevent convicted and known sexual offenders from hanging around areas, specially sporting facilities that are frequented by young people.

Barbados

Barbados recently hosted a two-day consultation aimed at continuing the development of a framework for a structured and continuous dialogue between the Caribbean Forum (Cariforum) and French Caribbean Outermost Regions (FCORs) and British and Dutch Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).

Among the topics discussed were recommendations for a dialogue framework at the political and technical levels that were developed through a consultancy and first presented at a region consultation in Barbados last April.

The other areas included human and social development; trade and investment; disaster risk management; and crime and security.

The meeting viewed the report and discussed its recommendations. There was an agreed mechanism for deeper and more effective co-operation and collaboration among Cariforum, OCTs and ECORS.

This feedback will enable the consultant to revise and finalize the report, the Guyana-based Cariforum Secretariat said.

Caribbean

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is projecting a positive economic outlook for the region with real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of approximately two percent this year.

President of the CDB, Dr. Warren Smith told a press conference this is based on the expected expansion of the construction, tourism and extractive industries such as gold and oil.

He said in order to sustain these gains over the medium term, its member countries will need to step up their efforts to build long-term resilience and tackle at least three challenges head on — climate change, evidenced by strong weather events and energy insecurity; wide fiscal deficits and high public debt; and high unemployment, especially among the youth.

He said the performance of the Caribbean over the past year showed that the majority of the bank’s borrowing member countries recorded economic growth averaging 1.9 percent, compared with 0.5 percent in 2017.

The CDB president said the fastest growing economies were Grenada at 5.2 percent, Antigua and Barbuda with a growth rate of 3.5 percent and Guyana 3.4 percent.

Grenada

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has said the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela could easily engulf the Caribbean and has called for a peaceful solution in the matter.

“Venezuela is right at our borders so what is happening there, if not dealt with or solved peacefully, it can have serious consequences for all the countries in the region, including Grenada,” he said.

Mitchell warned that if the situation in Venezuela is allowed to prevail, where the United States and other countries have taken one side and China and Russia have taken another side, and either side provides military and other forms of support, without serious mediation “we can see it engulfing the region and all of us will pay a heavy price.”

He said serious mediation is the only way to amicably resolve the crisis.

Jamaica

Jamaica main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has condemned the second murder of its members in many weeks, saying the latest killings are wanton acts of criminality across the country that is leaving too many individuals and families in mourning.

PNP and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, said the party is shocked and saddened over the shooting death of former PNP councilor Madge Morris at her home in Portland, coming a few days after Dr. Lynvale Bloomfield, the MP for East Portland, who was also found murdered at his home.

He said the PNP continues to maintain that no Jamaican should have to face this viciousness in their own country, urging the security forces to do what is necessary to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The PNP said that the security of every Jamaica, regardless of status, must be assured by the government.

St. Vincent

The St. Vincent and Grenadines government has announced tax increases on gasoline, diesel, tobacco, sweetened drinks and landing fees at the island’s international airport.

Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves in delivering the budget recently said the tax measures will bring in revenue estimated at EC$8 million dollars.

Gonsalves, who was delivering his second budget since becoming finance minister, said the adjustments will further the government’s practice of prudent fiscal management and people-centered budgeting.

He said that the EC$1,067 billion budget represents a 7.4 percent year-on-year increase and that the hike in the total outlay in 2019 is accounted for both capital and recurrent sides of the fiscal package.

Gonsalves said the 20 percent tax on gasoline will result in the commodity being sold at three dollars a gallon.

He said the adjustment is expected to generate an additional EC$4.2 million for the government.

The minister of finance said the excise on petroleum products was in response to the demands for spending on roads, health care and environmental protection.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government is moving to enact legislation where the Immigration Department will be mandated to stamp “child offender” on the passport of such a person.

This is according to Attorney General Faris-al-Rawi while piloting a bill in the Senate to amend the Sexual Offences Act to introduce a national sex offenders registry to be kept by the Police Service.

The bill’s 11 clauses are particularly geared to cover offences against children.

The AG said, “if you’re a registered child offender, you’d have forfeited the privilege of your anonymity and the chief immigration officer will be able to put an endorsement on your passport to say you’re a child offender.”

He said the government was prepared to have special select committee deliberations on it “if necessary.” He noted that the amendment had been hanging for 19 years.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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