Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados

CARICOM chairman and Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley recently paid a courtesy call on Guyana’s key opposition figures, including former president and current Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.

During the visit, Jagdeo told Mottley it was critical that CARICOM maintained a strong observer presence in the country during national elections next month.

She expressed disappointment with the response of the regional movement during the political disputes of the past year.

“We are hoping for free, fair, peaceful elections,” Jagdeo said, adding that his People’s Progressive Party remained hopeful that issues of race and ethnicity would not be used negatively to influence the outcome of the poll.

Mottley, who was accompanied by Barbados’ Attorney General, Dale Marshall, QC. and Secretary General of CARICOM Irwin La Rocque, reiterated Barbados’ and CARICOM’s commitment to working with Guyana prior to and after the national elections, noting the critical role the country as always played in regional development.

The General Election will be held on March 2.

Guyana

Guyana-based conglomerate, Banks DHI Ltd., is expanding into the energy auto sales industries in keeping with the needs and demands of the local economy.

Chairman of the company, Clifford Reis said the economy which is set to undergo drastic changes, will bring new challenges, demands and realities.

‘We have already seen an increase in the demand for additional housing and industrial zones to satisfy the increasing manufacturing capacity,” he said.

“The motto of this subsidiary will be on the future of transportation and alternative energy,” he said, noting that Guyana’s new oil-producing status, science and technology the world over are also changing.

The chairman said that company is seeking to secure a car dealership agreement with a recognized manufacturer and talks are also underway with another company for the importation and sale of a new brand of motorcycles to the Guyana market.

Regarding the energy sector, Reis said Banks DHI has already begun the installation of solar energy at its restaurants and it is also involved in the conversion of all areas within the company to the use of solar energy — utilizing solar panels to be mounted on the manufacturing plant and office buildings.

Grenada

The Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) recorded more than 500,000 visitors to the state of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petit Martinique last year and is expecting a further increase in visitor arrivals for 2020.

GTA said stayover visitor arrivals, which were considered the most valuable visitor in terms of on-island spending, accounted for 162,902, a one percent increase over 2018’s bumper growth of 160, 970 arrivals.

It said considering one of the largest hotels on the island, the Rex Grenadian, has been closed for refurbishment since May 2019, this is a good indication of the destination’s growth and high demand with intrepid travelers.

Grenada’s accommodation portfolio also expected to increase its market share with the addition of the Royalton Grenada Hotel, scheduled to open in March 1, 2020, as the largest hotel on the island with 257 rooms.

Turning to the cruise ship sector, GTA said visitor arrivals accounted for 337,940 maintaining solid numbers after 2018’s record growth (15 percent) of 342, 826.

Grenada’s yachting industry also continues to show strength with preliminary visitor arrivals currently at 24,611.

Jamaica

More than 100 people were murdered during the first month of this year in Jamaica, according to figures released.

The figures show that, at the end of January, 116 people had been murdered, an eight percent increase over the corresponding last year when l04 people were killed.

The figures show nine women and three children were among the 116 victims.

In the first week of this month, 35 people were killed.

The killings come despite the imposition of states of emergency in almost half of the police divisions across Jamaica.

Three of the eight divisions under states of emergency have shown increases, namely St. Andrew South, St. Catherine South, and Kingston Eastern, the latter having been imposed recently.

Prime Minister, Andrew Holness has said his administration was committed to bringing the homicide toll down, but argues that the high number of murders facing the country now did not happen overnight.

Last year, Jamaica recorded more than 1,326 murders, a 3.4 percent increase over the 2018 figure.

St. Vincent

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines government has defended its decision to allow the cruise ship, AIDAPerla, with more than 3,000 passengers on board to berth recently even as two other Caribbean countries later refused to do so in wake of the Chinese killer coronavirus.

Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said: “We have to act sensibly with the protocols and don’t panic,” adding that on board the cruise ship “there were 23 persons, who had some kind of a virus, but they were isolated on the ship, noting that they were crew members and some passengers.”

Trinidad

The Dragon Gas deal between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela has been put on hold due to sanctions by the United States against the South American country.

This was revealed by T&T Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley at the opening of the Energy Chamber’s annual conference at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain recently.

He said the development of the Dragon Gas field in Venezuela, part of the Mariscal Sucre offshore gas project, was being pursued by Trinidad and Tobago in a bid to ensure T&T’s gas sustainability.

But while the Dragon Gas is on hold as long as US sanctions remain, the T&T government has already signed an agreement with Venezuela to develop the Manatee part of the Loran-Manatee cross-border field, which is in T&T waters off the south coast.

Dr. Rowley said it is regrettable that “we cannot move ahead with the Dragon project which is on hold at this time due to US sanctions on Venezuela.”

The Dragon field was projected to produce an estimated 150 million cubic feet per day in the first year with first gas expected from 2020.

Natural gas would have been transported through a 17-kilometer gas pipeline to the Hibiscus platform which is jointly owned by the T&T Government (National Gas Company) and Shell.

Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert had said the pipeline project for the Dragon Field gas deal is estimated to cost US$1 billion.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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