Caribbean RoundUp

Head of the Barbados Civil Service, Dr. Louis Woodroffe.
http://gisbarbados.gov.bb/

Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne said the United States should not be concerned at the growing influence of China among developing countries.

He says, rather than to criticize Beijing, Washington should seek to provide more aid to developing countries rather than spend billions on useless wars.

Browne was critical with the Donald Trump administration after US Secretary of State, Michael B. Pompeo is reported to have warned countries against accepting gifts from Beijing.

Pompeo also warned developing countries to be wary of Chinese companies coming with projects that seem too good to be true.

But Prime Minister Browne said that Beijing had played a significant role over the years in the socio-economic development of Caribbean countries and that Washington would do well to follow suit and stop wasting resources on useless wars.

He said those who are opposed to China’s influence in the hemisphere need to talk less and perhaps they need to put some diplomatic dollars or development assistance… on the table.

Barbados

The Barbados government has continued its retrenchment program to meet its expenditure reduction targets and to restructure the public service, according to the head of the civil service Dr. Louis Woodroffe.

He said that permanent secretaries and heads of departments have reported they have sought to follow the policies for conducting this process as required by Prime Minister, Mia Mottley and this was adhered to in the vast majority of cases.

Speaking recently at a loan signing ceremony with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Mottley expressed disappointment with the way in which the retrenchment exercise in the public service was being executed.

The prime minister said she had set very, very high standards with respect to persons being able to go home with checks that have been met in a number of departments, but regrettably it has not happened in all and to that extent therefore, “I am not happy.”

The government has embarked on an economic and recovery transformation program and Mottley said that the program had received the stamp of approval of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) when it agreed to a near US$300 million Extended Fund Facility aimed at turning around the ailing economy.

Guyana

Guyana recently signed a US$37.6 million dollar agreement with China for the establishment of the National Broadband project.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan, who signed the accord with China’s Ambassador to Guyana Cui Jianchun, said the multi-million concession loan agreement with China, via Exim Bank, will finally correct previous attempts by the last administration to establish a similar network.

He said the project “will be a catalyst for efficiency, productivity and profitability, from an economic stand point for the development of small, medium and large businesses, thus allowing them to compete globally.”

Jordan said it will provide several benefits as he recalled the 2016 World Bank Report which stated, “Investment in broadband technology drives economic growth and development by contributing to job creation, sparking innovation, supporting digital entrepreneurs and stimulating improved public services.”

A government statement noted that the project’s implementation will see the construction of additional Long-term Evolution (LTE) towers, equipping of another data center and the training of workers in all sectors to provide services.

Grenada

Grenada is expecting its economy to grow for the sixth consecutive year, based on preliminary data for the first half of this year.

Describing this as a remarkable achievement, Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell said the sectors contributing to the increasing economic activities since his New National Party (NNP) returned to office in 2013, are construction, tourism, transportation and retail trade sectors, in addition to the expansion of the private sector.

Speaking at a post-cabinet meeting, Dr. Mitchell said the impact of investment in the education sector, he referred to the St George’s University explaining that the American offshore education institution, which provides education contributes no less than 22 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He said after all the numbers have been tabulated and analyzed, it is expected that the growth of the economy will be about 5.2 percent in 2018 and that in effect is a clear example of what is taking place in the country.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has pledged US$40,000 to Trinidad and Tobago as a mark of solidarity following the country’s recent flood devastation.

He made the announcement in his recent Independence Day address.

Gonsalves said that Kingstown stands with all nations affected by climate change.

He said between 2010 and 2017, St. Vincent and the Grenadines had suffered loss and damage amounting to EC$700 million or in excess of one-third of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to storms, excessive rainfall, landslides, raging seas and rivers.

Gonsalves offer is among others from CARICOM countries such as Barbados, Jamaica and Guyana following the recent floods, which devastated areas in east and central Trinidad last month.

Trinidad

International news website Business Insider has ranked Trinidad and Tobago as the 12th most dangerous country in the world.

”Murder, domestic, violence and sexual assaults each saw an increase in Trinidad and Tobago in 2017,” the article said.

The article titled: These are the world’s 20 most dangerous countries, and photos showing what life is like in T&T, was written by Caitlin Foster and published recently.

The Business’ Insider included the United States State Department’s report on Trinidad and Tobago to highlight the crime problems faced in the country.

According to the US State Department’s report, Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) 2017 crime statistics show a 5.5 per cent increase in overall serious criminal activity, as compared with 2016.

Violent crime remains a major concern for local security services and the general population. Despite the seizure of almost 1,064 firearms in 2017, almost 76 percent of the murders were committed by firearms. Drug trafficking and gang-related activities continue to fuel the demand for illegal weapons.

Last year, the TTPS recorded 496 murders, 462 in 2016, 420 in 2015 and 403 in 2014 in a population approximately 1.4 million people. Already for this year there are 445 murders.

-Compiled by Azad Ali

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