Caribbean RoundUp

Former paramilitary leader Emmanuel Constant, center, is detained after being deported from the US, by Haitian police at his arrival to the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Constant faces charges stemming from killings in the 1990s, when he became the leader of the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, after President Jean-Bertrand AristideÕs presidency was toppled.
Associated Press / Dieu Nalio Chery

Barbados

International media group Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has condemned the murder of 25-year-old photojournalist Christoff Griffith, who was one of two people killed by a man at the abandoned residence of Barbados’ Anglican bishop last week.

In a statement, (RWB) said the young man who, was employed with Barbados Nation newspaper “was killed on assignment” and it was calling “for credible investigation into his death.”

Workers had been excavating the property when a man who was living there killed one of the two workers, Griffith arrived at the scene before police and was attacked and chopped upon entering the property by the same man.

Police said one person is assisting in their investigations.

The Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) also expressed “shock” at the murder, saying “it condemns this and all other ruthless forms of attack on journalists and the media throughout the world.”

Bahamas

A new survey conducted by the audit, tax and advisory firm, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers (PwC) has found that the greatest concern for Caribbean businesses is a new wave of the coronavirus.

The sixth COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey, which was conducted between June 1-11, involved 989 chief financial officers (CFOs) in 23 countries including more than 40 CFOs in the Caribbean.

The majority of the CFOs surveyed in the Caribbean expect COVID-19 to decrease revenue / profits by 10 percent with 11 percent stating while they expect a decrease, the range is unknown and two percent say the impact is too difficult to assess at this time.

Most Caribbean CFOs (70 percent as compared to 63 percent globally) cite offering new or enhanced products or services as most important to rebuilding or enhancing their revenue streams. None are considering making cuts to digital transformation or cybersecurity.

“As Bahamians begin to return to the workplace, organizations need to consider how they will support employees to adapt to new working conditions and realities, which may range from adjusting to reconfigured office layouts to the adoption of new behaviors designed to promote safety,” said Prince Rahming, PwC Bahamas territory leader.

“Only about a third of Caribbean region CFOs says they are very confident about their company’s ability to manage their employees’ well-being and morale, yet these are factors that may significantly affect productivity and possibly the pace of future economic recovery,” he said.

Haiti

The former paramilitary leader of the Revolutionary Front Armed for the Progress of Haiti, Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, was arrested on arrival in Haiti from the United States on murder and torture charges dating back to the 1990s.

Constant along with 24 other deportees, who landed in the capital of Port au-Prince, the fourth such flight since the COVID-19 pandemic began, said Jean Negot Bonheur Delva, director of Haiti Migration Office.

Human rights groups have accused Constant of killing, raping and torturing Haitians when he became leader of the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti after President Jean-Bertrand’s presidency was toppled in 1991. They allege that between 1991 and 1994, the group that Constant led terrorized and slaughtered at least 3,000 slum dwellers loyal to Aristide.

When Aristide returned to power in 1994 with the help from the U.S military, Constant fled to the Dominican Republic and then entered the USA on Christmas Eve. He was ordered deported in 1995 but was allowed to remain in the U.S because of the instability in Haiti.

In 2000 Constant was convicted in absentia in Haiti following a trial for the 1994 massacre in Raboteau, a shantytown in the northern coastal town of Gonaives where Aristide supporters were killed.

He was arrested in Queens, New York in 2006 and later found guilty of fraud and grand larceny. In October 2008, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in a $1.7 million mortgage fraud scheme.

Guyana

The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCCA) said there will be a phased re-opening of the country’s airports to international flights from July 1, following the lockdown in March to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

GCCA Director, Egbert Field was speaking during a webinar hosted by the authority, titled “Path to Clear Skies” where aviation stakeholders discussed the resumption of aviation services following the cessation of flights brought on by the pandemic.

He said July 1 will signal the start of the second of a phase-four plan for the reopening of Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) and the Eugene F Correira International Airport.

During phase 2, which runs until July 31, there would be limited incoming flights for citizens, permanent residents, international workers, diplomats and repatriation flights.

Among the protocols for the Cheddi Jagan International Airport are the wearing of masks by passengers and staff, checking body temperature, placement of social distancing markers, sanitization stations, and the removal of seats in the areas accessible to the general public.

CJIA has suspended the use of boarding bridges for the time being but has not indicated when it will be bought back into service.

Guyana closed its airports to schedule international travel on March 18 as part of its fight against COVID-19.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s Minister of Finance,  Dr. Nigel Clarke has said the island’s economy was expected to contract by over five percent this fiscal year as the island implements the impact of measures to deal with the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The IMF Country Focus confirmed that the Andrew Holness administration has established a special task force to effectively respond to the economic impact of the crisis.

Last month the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that Jamaica had requested emergency financing, totaling US$520 million from the Washington-based financial institution.

Clarke said that as with most economies around the world, the Jamaican economy has been significantly impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that had resulted in a lockdown of the island since the month of March.

He said the economy is expected to contract by over five percent this fiscal year. Furthermore, he said, government revenues are expected to decline by double digits even as emergency health expenditures as well as social and economic support of expenditures rise.

Clarke said the government has implemented a social and economic program called the CARE Program, which provides assistance to vulnerable individuals and small businesses through innovative and existing delivery channels.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago state-owned Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) has estimated losses from March 23 to April 30 due to covid-19 pandemic was US$14.2 million (TT$96.1 million), according Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Allyson West.

West said the impact took effect from the start of March due to a drop in demand for air travel and was exacerbated by the closure of Trinidad and Tobago’s borders in March also because operating had become too risky.

Despite air travel being restricted, she said CAL has still been required to maintain all its operating systems.

She said the airline is also being required to keep its airline leases up to date and ensure that its aircraft are airworthy and all its systems are functioning in readiness for the resumption of flights.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley also noted that it was very costly to keep the airline going even while the fleet was grounded.

He said one of the first actions to cushion the continuing losses may be chartered services to get people to destinations or back home.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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