The Antigua and Barbuda government has announced a record $1.7 billion dollar budget for fiscal year 2020.
Prime Minister, Gaston Browne who is also finance minister, recently presented the budget themed “Growth and development for the benefit for all.”
This year’s budget is $300 million more than the one in 2019 and $500 million more than the 2018 budget which was estimated at $1.2 billion.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology for the largest chunk of the pie — the allocation jumped from $119.4 in 2019 to $151, 6 million.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment received $113.6 million, the second largest allocation.
Prime Minister, Browne said over $206 million has been set aside for the capital budget, which will be used to acquire state assets.
He also outlined plans to transform Barbuda.
There were no new taxes for this year. In 2019, the government introduced a tax on sugar beverages and the University of the West Indies windfall tax.
The Bahamas recorded more than seven million visitors last year despite the setback caused by the passage of Hurricane Dorian last September when it swept through the Caribbean island, killing at least 70 people and causing damage in excess of US$3.4 billion.
Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionsio D’Aguilar said it was the strongest tourism numbers in the history of The Bahamas.
He said: “We are looking forward to building upon the success of our marketing efforts and continuing the momentum in 2020 as we show the world that The Bahamas continues to be ‘Open for Business’ and has much to offer visitors.”
According to the authorities, the impact of Hurricane Dorian has not slowed the country’s tourism growth, noting since 2009, the islands have continuously seen a steady increase in air and sea arrivals, with an impressive 52 percent increase in the last decade.
According to the Department of Immigration, Port Authority and Customs by the end of 2019, foreign air and seas arrivals totaled 7.2 million, a nine percent increase from 2018.
Stopover visitors alone were the highest in recorded history at 1. 78 million, with Americans visitors amounting for 1.45 million.
Dominica Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit says it will cost an estimated EC$2.5 million in legal fees to defend the 10 election petitions filed by the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) challenging the outcome of the December general election last year.
Speaking on the state-owned DBS radio, Skerrit said that while it is the democratic right of the failed candidates to bring court action, the funds would have been better utilized in the “dynamic” development of the island, given that regional and international observers that monitored the poll had declare it free and fair and representative of the will of the population.
Skerritt led his ruling Dominica Labor Party (DLP) to a fifth consecutive victory at the polls, winning 18 of the 21 seats in Parliament.
He also became the first prime minister in Dominica to win four consecutive general elections.
But the UWP has filed petitions contesting the results in a number if constituencies. No date has been set for the start of hearing of the petitions.
The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is taking steps to apply to the United States-based Federal Aviation Administration for category one status.
This was revealed by Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Naipaul Sharma, who said the assessment is to be conducted this month.
According to the minister, 12 aviation regulations were completed and submitted in reference to the Civil Aviation Act 2020.
These regulations will fall under certification of operators, licensing of pilots and engineers.
Senegal, Seychelles, The Bahamas, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Greece and Spain can now send carriers to Guyana.
He also said two navigation inspectors and two operating inspectors were added to enhance the GCAA’s ability and in addition, 152 pilots and engineering licenses were also issued.
A section of the Corporate Area has been placed under a State of Emergency (SOE).
Prime Minister, Andrew Holness announced that the SOE has been imposed in East Kingston.
Speaking during a press conference recently, Holness said he petitioned the Governor-General, Sir Patrick Allen to make the declaration.
Also speaking at Jamaica House was Police Commissioner, Anthony Anderson who said there were 33 wanted persons.
Since the start of 2020, East Kingston has recorded 11 murders — in 2019 during the same period, three murders were recorded.
According to police statistics last year, East Kingston saw a 16 percent increase in murders and a 49 percent increase in shooting incidents.
It was also revealed that 67 percent of the shootings are related to gang activity.
Invest Saint Lucia (ISL) said 2019 turned out to be a good year for the tiny Caribbean island with regards to economic development.
In a press release ISL CEO, Roderick Cherry said effective negotiations with several local and foreign investors that resulted in new business ventures being established on the island.
He said ISL is now gearing up for more business investments, a number of which are expected to come on stream this year.
Cherry detailed the progress the agency made last year and also disclosed other major new investments that will be embarked on in 2020.
He cited ISL’s collaboration with the Royal Saint Lucia Turf Club which staged the historic DSH Caribbean Star Limited Piton Cup at the newly built racing track in Vieux Fort on National Day (Dec. 13), as one of ISL’s biggest successes in 2019. The significance of the event was underscored by the thousands who showed up to watch the first ever internationally sanctioned horse race to be held in St. Lucia.
Travelers coming to Trinidad and Tobago from China will have to wait 14 days to enter the country after leaving China.
That restriction is being placed on people who live in China or are visiting there.
The Chinese Embassy in Trinidad has also asked the hundreds of Chinese construction workers in Trinidad and Tobago to delay their visit to China where close to 400 people have died from the coronavirus and close to 18,000 have been stricken with the killer virus.
This was added to a series of measures recently when the virus began to rise as a major global concern, which saw thermal screening and advanced passenger intelligence being used at Piarco International Airport a and other ports of entry.
The 14-day ban is to accommodate the incubation period of the virus of seven to 14 days, allowing any symptoms to be detectable.
The Ministry of Health stated all Infectious Disease Protocols are in place to restrict entry of the novel coronavirus into Trinidad and Tobago.
The ministry stated that it, along with other local and international partner agencies, including the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Immigration, and the Customs and Excise Divisions, continued to receive information on all individuals of interest traveling from or through China en route to Trinidad and Tobago.
However, Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh said there are no immediate plans to postpone Carnival which is scheduled for Feb. 24 and 25.
— Compiled by Azad Ali