Caribbean RoundUp

Caribbean

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently held a two-day forum in St. Kitts on “Financing Growth” in the Caribbean.

The forum, which was held in collaboration with the St. Kitts-Nevis government focused on issues critical for growth and competitiveness; reduction, energy costs and financing national energy strategies, and banking sector issues, such as improving access to credit for the productive sector.

The forum brought together Caribbean prime ministers, finance ministers, central bank governors and other high-ranking officials, as well as senior officials of the IMF, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank and donors.

Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda has opened one of the most modern international airports in the Caribbean.

The new terminal more than doubles the capacity of the adjacent pervious terminal, making way for an increase in passenger use of the V.C Bird International Airport as an all-important airline hub and the largest gateway to the Eastern Caribbean.

There is a unique state of the art baggage sorting and scanning system. With faster immigration processing time, the near US$100 million terminal that opened for operation recently, will greatly improve the visitor experience, allowing travelers expedited access to Antigua and Barbuda and maximum sun times on the destination’s 365 beaches.

There are three brand new lounges – a VVIP lounge, a VIP lounge and an Airport Executive Lounge.

The modern facility was funded by China EXIM Bank and by a Chinese government interest freeloan.

For the upcoming winter season, JetBlue Airways will begin direct service to Antigua’s new international airport, from New York’s JFK International Airport on Nov. 5.

Barbados

Newly-appointed criminal justice adviser for the U.S. Embassy and British High Commission assigned to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean said the implementation of criminal procedure rules will be on the agenda of proposed national stakeholders when they meet to discuss the issues.

Barbados is among several countries in the region to benefit from the expertise of Sirah Abraham, who recently paid a curtesy call on Barbados Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite.

Abraham said these rules, already in place in other countries, including St. Lucia and Belize, automatically reduced delays in the court.

According to Braithwaite, the backlog of cases in the courts continued to be of concern and he welcomes any initiative which would introduce best practices with regard to this use.

He added that other planned initiatives aimed at improving the court system were at improving the court system were the abolition of preliminary enquiries, slated for year-end and the introduction of prison videos links, and scheduled to start in October.

AG Brathwaite also said Barbados would also seek assistance, including the training for police prosecutors and the setting up of a separate family law division.

Dominica

The Dominica government has ordered the evacuation of the entire village of Petite Savanne, south east of Roseau, where five more bodies were found following the recent passage of Tropical Storm Erika.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, in a radio broadcast, said Petitie Savanne had been declared an unsafe area and that more than 100 people had already been evacuated from the village.

He said the exercise would continue and appealed to relatives of those being evacuated to assist in providing accommodations. More than 400 houses were damaged by the Ericka.

Skerrit said the international community has responded well to the situation and that a number of countries have responded well.

The storm left more than 25 dead and 50 missing.

Guyana

Guyanese are lobbying through Facebook and other social media outlets for JetBlue to enter the Guyana market especially since the airline commenced services to Trinidad.

Airfares from New York and Florida to Trinidad are as low as US$300 roundtrip from New York City.

A very large Guyanese community exists in the east coast of the United States, who has been faced with “fly-by-night’ airlines and exorbitant airfares to their native country for the past three decades. However, if JetBlue adds Guyana to its extensive Caribbean network, it could be a game changer.

Currently only Caribbean Airlines flies the Guyana-New York route. Airfares are now as high as US$900 round trip and may increase further for the upcoming Christmas season.

CAL, which is owned by the T&T government, is one of a few reliable carriers serving the Guyana market for the past 50 years and effectively controls the Guyana market. The airline operates about 12 flights a day in and out of Georgetown.

In a response Jetblue said, “We are always looking to expand and fly to the places people want to go. We have made no decisions regarding Guyana to announce.”

Jamaica

Jamaica is set to pass its ninth consecutive review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

This, after successfully surpassing all the key economic targets set by the IMF for the April to June quarter.

A team from the IMF was recently on the island reviewing the country’s performance for the quarter under the four-year EFF.

Co-chair of the Economic Program Oversight Committee (EPOC), Richard Byles told journalists that the country will be given another favorable review by the IMF team.

He said that the news on the economic front has been positive.

“The current account has been good, inflation has been within target, gross domestic product (GDP), is at least positive, and of course, the debt to GDP, that reduction is quite significant and the primary balance, we have achieved the target.” Byles said.

He said from April to the June quarter the country achieved a primary surplus balance of J$20.4 billion, which is $3.4 billion more than the target of $17.0 billion set by the IMF.

This, he said, was mainly due to an improved performance in tax revenues for the quarter, which exceeded the budget by $3.4 billion or 3.7 percent.

“The main taxes that did well were Company Tax, up by Ja$1.5 billion: Sales Consumption up by $1.6 billion: General Consumption Tax, up by $1.1 billion; and tax on interest by $1.0 billion,” Byles said.

St. Kitts

The St. Kitts and Nevis government has pledged an EC$1 million (US$370.370) relief package to assist Dominica in its recovery from damages suffered by the passage of Tropical Storm Erika.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris at the completion of a special session of the St. Kitts and Nevis Cabinet last week.

St. Kitts and Nevis’ assistance to its fellow Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) member state came after talks between Harris and Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, who indicated that damage done to his country was monumental, resulting in significant loss of life and infrastructural damage that has isolated several communities.

Erika left more than 25 people dead and over 50 missing in Dominica after torrential rains that caused mudslides and widespread devastation.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda also donated US$100,000 towards the Dominica relief fund.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) is also providing disaster relief assistance to Dominica.

Suriname

Suriname Airways (SLM) will end its trial run to Orlando, Florida, from Paramaribo via Georgetown, Guyana, on Oct. 1 and recommence service on that route in December.

SLM initiated the route as a trial run to ascertain the market and plan future expansion if it is profitable. The state-owned company is under pressure to end the financial losses.

The government of Suriname recently appointed Andy Rusland minister of transportation, communication and tourism. Following that move, Faizal Baam will now head Suriname’s civil aviation department.

The Orlando weekly flights will resume in December during the high season, according to SLM officials.

Trinidad

Two government ministers in the ruling People’s Partnership (PP) government were awarded the nation’s highest award — the Order of the Republic Trinidad and Tobago (ORTT) — when the country celebrated its 53rd anniversary on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

They were among 41 other prominent people who received awards in the other categories – The Chaconia Medal (Gold), The Chaconia Medal (Silver), The Humming Bird Medal (Gold), Humming Bird Medal (Silver), Humming Bird Medal (Bronze), Public Service Medal of Merit (Gold), Public Service Medal of Merit (Silver) and Medal for the Development of Women (Gold).

Dookeran’s award is for distinguished contributions in economics, while McLeod’s award is for outstanding service in trade unionism and industrial relations, according to a government release.

Dookeran is the former leader of the Congress of the People (COP) party, which he founded in 2006. He was a former Central Bank Government and was the minister of foreign affairs.

McLeod was political leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), a labor party that formed in early 2010 to form a coalition with the United National Congress (UNC) led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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