Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has reiterated a call for urgent attention to be taken to address the challenges facing the cash-strapped regional airline LIAT.

CDB President, Dr. Warren Smith has pointed to the airline’s financial problems and the impact of high taxes on intra-regional travel.

He told the bank’s annual news conference that there is urgent to improve the financial performance of LIAT because its sustainability depends on addressing that issue.

Smith said the bank is anxious for a turnaround in the performance of the regional aviation system, particularly the Antigua-based carrier, which has received financial support from the regional development institution.

LIAT, whose major shareholders are the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines has also received financial support from the CDB which, according to Smith, currently stands at an estimated US$300 million.

In January former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur was appointed chairman of the board of directors following the resignation of Jean Holder due to its financial problems.

Caribbean

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has projected the region’s economic growth to increase to 4.1 percent in 2020. The increase to 4.1 percent from one percent in 2019 is influenced largely by the growth in Guyana when oil production begins this year.

This, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is projecting global growth to increase modestly from 2.9 percent in 2019 to 3.3 percent in 2020 and 3.4 percent in 2021.

In a release, President of the CDB, Dr. William Warren Smith noted that this growth will be uneven and urged the borrowing member countries (BMCs) of the bank to pursue policy reforms conducive to sustainable rates of growth.

Speaking at the CDB’s news conference in Barbados, Dr. Smith said economic growth will remain lopsided and below the sustainable rates needed for long-term resilience.

He said BMCs like Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis must stay on course with their home grown socio-economic reform programs.

Dr. Warren Smith said the Bank was determined to assist BMCs to reach the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

He cited the work which the CDB did in 2019 to assist BMCs in meeting these goals through modernizing infrastructure and economic reform.

Grenada

A new multi-million dollar 100-room luxury hotel is to be built on the east coast, which the Grenada government says will impact “significantly” on the island’s rural community.

Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell said that the Six Senses Hotel Project in La Sagesse, St. David’s, is being developed by the Dubai-based Range Developments, an investment and hospitality company, operating across the Eastern Caribbean.

He said the government of Grenada fully supports and welcomes the work of Range Developments, which has an outstanding record of delivering the finest, world-class resorts in the Caribbean.

The hotel is scheduled for completion by November 2022.

Dr Mitchell said the project will impact significantly on Grenada’s rural economy, especially through the creation of jobs in both the construction phase and when he hotel beings operations.

In addition Six Senses will offer visitors a more unique experience, given its location outside of the traditional tourist belt.

Jamaica

A team from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has begun training laboratory staff in Jamaica on how to test for the coronavirus (Cov-id-19) that has killed more than 1,000 people in China.

Chief Medical Officer, (CMO) Dr. Jacquline A Bisasor-McKenzie, provided an update on measure implemented by Jamaica to deal with the virus saying that Jamaica is developing its own capacity to test for the virus.

She said that not every country is going to have the capacity, but we have a National Influenza Center that is located at the University of the West Indies, “we are fortunate to be given this opportunity to be able to do our own testing.”

The CMO said, in the interim, testing is being done at the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and at the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has its own training and is now able to test and the sample taken from the person who recently returned to the island from China was isolated and tests for the virus can be sent immediately to CARPHA.

St. Kitts

Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris said legislation aimed at decriminalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes will be debated in Parliament this week.

St. Kitts will be joining a number of CARICOM countries that have done so in recent months.

According to the order paper, Harris will table the Cannabis Bill, 2020, which seeks to establish the Medicinal Cannabis Authority “in order to provide for the lawful access to medicinal cannabis as an alternative treatment for persons who are suffering from a qualifying medicinal condition.”

The legislation will also provide for a comprehensive licensing scheme to regulate the cultivation, supply, possession, production and use of medincinal cannabis.

It will also seek to establish a board with responsibility for the policy, strategic direction and governance authority.

The government said the new legislation takes into account the unanimous recommendations of the National Marijuana Commission, which presented its report after a near two year period.

Suriname

A large group of protestors recently gathered outside Suriname’s Presidential Palace in Paramaribo to demand an end to the reign of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and President Desi Bouterse.

These protests started a week ago over increased fuel prices and living costs and the misuse of more than US$100 million from the Central Bank.

At last week’s protest, four people including a trade union leader were arrested.

The protest comes three months before Bouterse, who was recently sentenced to 20 years in jail for the 1982 murders of 15 government opponents, faces re-election.

Bouterse, 74, has since appealed the sentence.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government and Barbados have signed a unitization agreement that will allow for the exploration of hydrocarbon resources, which straddle the maritime boundary shared by T&T and Barbados.

The agreement was signed by Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley and Mia Mottley in Barbados last week.

Speaking to the media after the agreement was signed Dr. Rowley said, “If we do find hydrocarbons….most likely gas, we have now agreed to operate on a unitized basis. The two countries will work together, designate the operators for such a resource and very quickly we can move forward towards its exploration as long as what we have found is commercially viable.”

“Hopefully, this will encourage exploration in the deep-water, which is where we are now looking for the bulk of our future resources. And is we can do that, we can accelerate ourselves towards a point where we can monetize at the earliest possible date whatever we may find,” he said.

The Office of Prime Minister Dr. Rowley said the signing of the agreement was the second phase of a process which began with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two countries in August 2019.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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