Caribbean RoundUp

Yolande Yvonne Smith, Ambassador, permanent representative of Grenada to the OAS at the Regular Meeting of the Permanent Council, Dec. 18, 2019.
OAS

Antigua

Health authorities in Antigua are reporting an outbreak of dengue fever following an unprecedented spike in cases of the mosquito-borne disease in recent months.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Rhonda Sealy-Thomas said she would consider the situation an “epidemic.”

She said because it is an unexpected increase in the number of cases she would say there is an outbreak of the disease.

Dr. Sealy-Thomas said towards the end of last year (December 2018), “we started seeing an increase in what you call undifferentiated fever, persons coming down with high fever and some of the symptoms and did see an increase in the number of cases of dengue,” she told an Observer radio program.

She said that the situation continued up until early 2019 when there was actually a decrease in the number of cases.

The CMO said that the cases increased from two to three a week and “then in August we started noticing an increase going up to 20, 30 and 40 and peaked at about 87.”

She said as a result, the authorities have revived the Dengue Task Force, an ad hoc committee, to combat the situation.

Dr. Sealy-Thomas said the purpose of the task force is to monitor the situation and take control measures to reduce mobility that is with the illness and complications of dengue.

Bahamas

The Central Bank of Bahamas (CBB) has recently introduced a digital version of the Bahamian dollar, starting with a pilot phase in Exuma and extending to the first half of 2020 to Abaco.

The bank said that this initiative has acquired the name Project Sand Dollar, with the sand dollar also being the names assigned to the proposed Central Bank digital currency.

The CBB said in a statement: “this s a continuation of the Bahamian Payment System Modernization Initiative (PSMI) which began in the early 2000s. The Bahamian PSMI targets improved outcome for financial inclusion and access, making the domestic payments system more efficient and non-discriminatory in access to financial services.”

It said although average measures of financial development and access in country are high by international standards, pockets of the population are excluded because of the remoteness of some communities outside of the cost effective reach of physical banking services.

The bank said the public though will need more assurances around the safety of conducting online transactions. The digital currency design and public education will tackle these issues.

Caribbean

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) says Washington is providing US$10 million to improve local resilience to disasters in priority countries in the Caribbean.

USAID Administrator Mark Green in making the announcement said: “This new funding will support community-level organizations, host-country governments, regional institutions, and the private sector to strengthen local, national, and regional planning and preparation for hurricanes, earthquakes, and other calamities.”

For example, he said, USAID will finance training for local first-responders, harmonize disaster-preparedness, standards and coordinate and facilitate information-sharing among the governments of the region and civil society.

Green said these new initiatives will help to minimize the damage of disasters, reduce the loss of life and enhance response efforts in the Caribbean.

Through these investments, he said USAID is “committed to helping our partners across the Caribbean prepare for the worst and avert disasters before they occur.”

Guyana

Norway has released Guy$9.1 billion to the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund, administered by the World Bank for disbursement to Guyana for approved projects.

Head of the Project Management Office of the Ministry of the Presidency, Dr. Marlon Bristol, said that the release of the funds was made recently to the World Bank.

He said the funds will be used for project in areas such as renewable energy, “green” tourism, and biodiversity, strengthen of indigenous mechanisms, and the European Union-FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) Partnership, which is a legally binding trade agreement between the European Union and a timber-producing country outside of the EU.

Bristol said Guyana will also enter a new round of talks with the Norwegians to support President David Granger’s Green State Development Strategy and especially those environmental safeguards that can realize a “green” economy.

A government statement said that the transfer has been made possible following a meeting between Minister of State Dawn Hastings-Williams and Norway’s Minister for Climate and Environment Ola Elvestuen back in September on the margins of the United States Climate Summit in New York.

The statement said that in accordance with the bilateral agreement between the two countries, the two ministers had agreed that Guyana has met its commitments and therefore Norway would disburse all final payments.

Grenada

Grenada’ Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), Yolande Yvonne Smith, has assumed the chair of the OAS’s Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CID).

Smith replaces Carlos Trujillo, the US Permanent Representative to the OAS, who said he used his tenure to address key priorities of development in the region including women’s entrepreneurship, natural resources, migration and education.

The OAS said CID is responsible for promoting partnerships for integral development with the objective of contributing to the elimination of poverty.

In presenting her credentials to US President Donald Trump last year, Smith said that “Grenada continues to enjoy steady progress in human and economic development.”

Jamaica

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says Jamaica hopes to earn increased revenues from overflight services as a result of the recent US$17 million upgrade to the Kingston Air Traffic Control Center (KATCC).

Speaking at the opening of the center, Holness explained that aviation contributes billions of dollars to the Jamaican economy, both directly and indirectly.

Director General of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), Nari Williams-Sing said the additional revenue would come from accommodating more aircraft in the Jamaican airspace as a result of more efficient movement of aircraft through the country’s Flight Information Region (FIR), which is many times the size of Jamaica.

He pointed out that the upgrade at the KATCC was part of a larger air navigation services modernization program, which includes two new air traffic control towers at the Norman Manley International Airport and Sangster International airports.

William-Singh said this will redound to a benefit for the country as more aircraft in the airspace means more revenue earned from overflight services.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister announced a reshuffle of his Cabinet — hours before the New Year (2020) was rung in.

The appointments which were made took effect on Jan. 1, 2020 saw Camille Robinson-Regis moved from post as Planning and Development Minister to Minister of Social Development and Family Services.

He revoked the assignment of Adria Leonce as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Public Utilities and reassigned him as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Transport, to assist the Minister in the performance of such duties as may be specified from time to time.

Senator Foster Cummings, a parliamentary secretary was made a minister in the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Development, to assist the minister in the performance of such duties as may be specified from time to time.

Dr. Rowley has taken over the portfolio of Planning and Development, in addition to his present duties as prime minister.

The reshuffle comes months before the General Election which is due by Sept. 15, 2020.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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