The Antigua government is set to begin the US$90 million St. John’s port modernization project this month as it moves to increase employment opportunities on the island.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the project was one of several multi-million investments in the hotel and tourism sectors that should generate employment for nationals in the coming months.
He said the St. John modernization project will be the single largest public sector investment undertaken by any government past or present and will facilitate the transformation of the facility into a regional transshipment port.
Browne said a further $80 million will be invested in 2018 to construct a fifth berth to accommodate the Oasis class ships in time for the next tourism cruise season.
The prime minister said his administration will invest EC$250 million to repair and expand the road network throughout the two islands during the year.
He said the government is investing EC$50 million to build a new airport runway on Barbuda, which will be completed by September this year.
Barbuda was recently devastated when Hurricane Irma hit the island, forcing all the inhabitants to evacuate the island.
Bahamian authorities have detained more than 150 Haitians recently after intercepting a vessel west of the Exuma chain of islands between the Bahamas archipelago and Cuba over the long Christmas holiday weekend.
They say the Bahamian Navy intercepted the 40-foot vessel with 76 Haitians a few days after the navy had intercepted another vessel with 87 Haitians on board.
The Royal Defense Force of the Bahamas (RDFB) said the new illegal immigrants have been handed over to the immigration authorities for possible repatriation.
The authorities say that hundreds of Haitians risk their lives by traveling in fragile and overloaded boats to the Bahamas in search of work, although the authorities have warned that they will expel all foreigners who do not have a residence permit as of Jan. 1, 2018.
According to figures released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) there were about 70,000 Haitians in the Bahamas in 2014, including around 50,000 who did not have residence permits.
The European Union (EU) has written to the Barbados government outlining reasons behind the decision to name the island among several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries labelled as tax havens.
This is according to International Business Minister Donville Innis, who told the Barbados online publication TODAY that he had received correspondence from the EU in response to a letter he sent to the organization last month.
But while the minister did not disclose the contents of the letter, he said he would be sending another letter to the EU seeking the removal of Barbados from the list of tax havens.
Innis said he hoped the matter would be settled soon, adding that “in international business we will continue to have challenges with our partners in other jurisdictions and the European Union matter remains there.”
In December last year, EU finance ministers meeting in Brussels named St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago among a list of 17 countries considered to be global tax havens.
They said the new list has been drawn up after l0 months of investigation by EU officials.
But CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRoche said regional countries had been blacklisted even though they have not been so labeled by the relevant regulator authorities such as the Financial Task Force and the OECD Global Forum.
The Guyana government says it is now supplying rice to 34 countries and has been able to overcome the loss of the Venezuelan market a few years ago.
Agriculture Minister Noel Holder told farmers at a meeting that there is now a need to expand rice cultivation to satisfy the demand of those markets.
Guyana has been exporting rice to Caracas in exchange for petroleum products, but the arrangement came to an end in 2015 at the height of the border dispute between the two countries.
General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board Nizam Hosein told the meeting that there has been a marked increase in the exports of rice and rice products from Guyana in 2017.
He said close to 540,000 tons of rice were exported for 2017 adding there has been a steady export of rice and rice products to the Caribbean and Europe.
Portugal, Italy and the United Kingdom are the three leading countries that have been importing from Guyana along with South America and Latin America countries, led by Mexico.
Fly Jamaica announced plans to stablish a 24-hour call center to provide information for passengers who have been affected by wide spread delays in recent days.
This decision was as a result of a meeting with Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, which was called after several complaints from passengers about flight delays and cancellations by the Guyana-owned airline.
Fly Jamaica officials said the airline is expected to have its Boeing 767 aircraft in operation to relieve the backlog of passengers left stranded in Guyana and other destinations.
Additionally, Fly Jamaica has arranged to lease a B757 aircraft from National Airlines to operate between Kingston, Jamaica and JFK in New York.
Scores of passengers complained bitterly about not being provided with adequate information about their flights.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has called on citizens to continue to support the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service in their fight against crime.
With 24 murders recorded in the first 12 days of 2018, Rowley began his address to the nation last week by addressing crime in the country.
”I want to appeal to all citizens to keep hope alive in this war against the heartless family members and violent criminals,” he said.
To help bring back peace and stability to Trinidad and Tobago, the prime minister called on the “citizenry to help to continue to support the Police Service, noting the organization, with the assistance from various stakeholders including members of the public last year, seized 1,064 assorted firearms and over 18,000 rounds of ammunition of assorted- record number for the Caribbean.”
Additionally, he noted, that more than 12,000 people were arrested last year in various exercises throughout the country.
“We must and we will win this war on crime,” Rowley said.
— Compiled by Azad Ali