Caribbean RoundUp

Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit addresses the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters.
Associated Press / Craig Ruttle, File

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government is moving to establish a forensic laboratory to ensure that the likelihood of there being any miscarriage of justice is significantly reduced in 2020.

This is according to Minister of Public Safety, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin who said that this year there are plans are in place to ensure the ease and speed of gathering data for analysis and for use in legal proceedings.

He said the police department is very concerned about solving crime and to use the best possible information and scientific developments to assist in resolving those issues, adding in that regard, great attention will be paid this year to develop our scientific and forensic potential. “We shall be looking at establishing a forensic laboratory here in Antigua, where we can analyze information and analysis bits of evidence to help in solving crime,” Benjamin said.

Barbados

Australian oil and gas giant BHP Petroleum, has been granted an offshore exploration license for the Carlisle Bay and Bimshore blocks.

Barbados Energy Minister Wilfred Abrahams said this latest development has been a long time in coming and the government is eager for BHP to get started.

He said while the government of Barbados is aggressively pursuing renewable and alternative energy initiatives, it also recognizes the importance of diversifying the island’s energy portfolio to include offshore oil and gas development.

Abrahams said with prudent management, Barbados’ offshore oil and gas sector can offer significant opportunities for the Barbadian people, not only terms of revenue generation but also in relation to institutional strengthening, capacity building, job creation and technological advancement.

Subsequent to the signing of the licenses in April 2015, BHP submitted mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Environmental Plans (EP) for approval by the Minister for the Environment.

The issuance of the effective licenses marks the culmination of thorough negotiations between the two parties and grants BHP the exclusive rights to explore for petroleum and undertake appraisal activities in the license areas.

Pursuant to the issuance of the effective licenses, BHP will commence the first three-year licenses phase, which includes conducting 2D seismic surveys on the two exploration blocks.

Dominica

The Dominica government has warned that it is prepared to table “draconian” legislation in a bid to recover more than EC$250 million in outstanding taxes.

Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit told a news conference that, as of the end of December last year, taxes amounting to more than $257 million were outstanding and urged defaulters to begin speaking with the Inland Revenue by Ash Wednesday (Feb. 26).

Skerrit, who is also Finance Minister, said the case of corporation taxes, the outstanding amount owed was EC$77.1 million, personal income tax EC$66.2 million, pay as you earn (PAYE) amounting to EC$15.1 million and Value Added Tax (VAT) estimated at EC$73.9 million.

The prime minister said that among the measures his administration is contemplating to recover the outstanding fees include legislation.

Skerrit said the funds were needed given the destruction caused to the island by the passage of Hurricane Maria three years ago and the fact that Dominica has been seeking assistance from friendly governments to meet its obligations.

Grenada

Grenada Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell has criticized people he said were using the coronavirus as a means to “create panic, fear, and distrust” among the population as he commended China for taking actions aimed at halting the spread of the virus that so far has killed more than 1,000 people in the Asian country.

Speaking at a recent military parade, to mark the island’s 46th anniversary of political independence from Britain, Mitchell said that the virus has shown that occurrences in one part of the world, have unavoidable implications for other parts.

He said while Grenada has “taken decisive action” to help prevent the virus from penetrating the island’s border, it was also working with various organizations such as the World Health Organizations (WHO), Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

Mitchell said that “it is therefore alarming and nothing short of mischievous that elements among us, some of whom we expect to demonstrate a greater level of responsibility, are using the situation to create panic, fear and distrust among our people, by making irresponsible statements that have implications for the health of the nation’s people.”

Guyana

A subsidiary of China Zhonghao Company – Falls- has signed a distributor contract with Jamaican Bunkering West Indies Petroleum (WIP)/Island Lubes Distributors Ltd.

Under the contract Falls will become the exclusive distributor in Guyana of BP Castrol products for the Marine, Mining and Power Generation category which offers a variety of oil and lubricants used in the oil and gas industry, with the products supplied out of BP Castrol’s North American production facilities.

According to a statement from Falls, the range of products includes a wide range of diesel lubricants.

Falls said, the exclusive distributorship is a major accomplishment and the company prides itself in owning and operating “the largest and most modern fuel storage facility in Guyana”.

St. Lucia

The Governor of the St. Kitts-based Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy Antoine recently led a four–member delegation for talks in St Lucia on the performance and prospects of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).

The ECCB serves as the central bank for the union, comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.

Antoine during his week-long visit held talks with Governor General Sir Neville Cenac, Cabinet, as well as government officials and representative of the private sector and social partners.

The visit, which formed part of Antoine’s “Country Outreach Visits,” provided him with an opportunity “to listen to leaders and citizens of the ECCU and to share information about the performances and prospects of the ECCU.”

Antoine also held talks with officials from the St. Lucia Bankers’ Association, and the main opposition St. Lucia Labor Party (SLP).

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago has placed 85 out of 180 countries in the latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

This was revealed by Chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute, Dion Abdool at the recent launch of the 2019 CPI which took place at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School Business in Mt. Hope.

The CPI ranks countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business people.

The index uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and l00 is very clean.

Abdool said the average score for the CPI last year was 43. Trinidad and Tobag scored 40.

In the 2018 CPI, T&T received a score of 41 and was ranked 78th. T&T also scored 41 in the 2017 CPI and was ranked 77th.

“We are at a place where we have not moved, when we should be going upwards. There seems to be a downward trend, this is what the data indicates,” Abdool said.

He said the results clearly show that Trinidad and Tobago needs to address the “corrupting role of big money in our politics.”

The Transparency Institute is therefore calling on the government to make the necessary changes to ensure that deficiencies are corrected.

“We will continue to stagnate if we do not take action,” he added.

Guyana tied with T&T last year (2019) CPI. In 2018 Guyana placed 93 with a score of 37.

With a score of 40, Guyana is a significant improver on the CPI since 2012.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

More from Around NYC

>