Caribbean RoundUp

Hubert Minnis Prime Minister of the Bahamas speaks during the Americas Business Summit in Lima, Peru April 13, 2018.
REUTERS/Andres Stapff, File

Bahamas

The Bahamas government says it will soon outline new measures aimed at reviving the economy in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, even as it announced a relaxation of the lockdown measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, particularly in New Province.

Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis told a news conference, “we are all living through the worst economic crisis in more than 70 years. We are working on a revised detailed phased plan to boost jobs and economic growth domestically, even as we plan for the reopening of our vital tourism sector, which is dependent on conditions at home.”

He said that early in the pandemic he had established an Economic Recovery Committee (ERC) and that it is providing the government with advice and recommendations to position the country to emerge from the economic crisis as rapidly as possible.

Minnis said that the ERC will deliver its full report this month as planned and that even as it is working to do so, “it has provided to my office several interim recommendations and considerations to help focus on the immediate situation.”

The prime minister said it is essential to reopen the domestic economy as soon as possible, with the reopening of the external economy to follow was soon as feasible given the economic conditions overseas.

Caribbean

The International Labor Organization (ILO) is warning that almost 500,000 Caribbean tourism workers face the prospect of job losses, reductions in working hours and loss of income, while worsening of working conditions and the move to informal employment appear as a concrete possibility.

In a new publication entitled: “Tourism sector in the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean: An overview and the impact of Covid-19 on growth employment,” the ILO describes as significant and far-reaching the reduction in the Caribbean tourism industry workforce due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ILO is also noting that recovery from the adverse impact on sector jobs could be prolonged by a reversal in economic growth, and calls for a human-centered approach to resilient and sustainable solutions.

The report included ILO guidance and data, as well as research conducted around the region to demonstrate the severity of the crisis on the sector’s labor market.

It noted that on average, the tourism industry directly contributes up to about 33 percent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and over 52 percent of export receipts.

Dominica

The Dominica government has deported more than 40 Haitian nationals after the High Court paved the way for their removal after having illegally entered the island last month.

Minister of National Security, Ray Blackmore said the Commonwealth of Dominica like every other country in the world, has the sovereign right to keep its most precious resource, its citizens safe.

He said even before COVID-19, Dominica waged a constant battle with persons, including its own nationals, entering the island illegally but now it was a greater matter of concern with the advent of COVID-19.

Speaking on the state-owned DBS radio station, Blackmore said an outbreak of the virus was not the only concern regarding the illegal migration, “but a cross fertilization of crime because the same people who traffic in human are the very same ones who traffic in firearms and illegal dangerous drugs.”

He said this is why the police detained 39 non-nationals recently for attempting to leave the state illegally, immediate action was taken to have them removed from Dominica “as a matter of urgency and in the interest of national security and public health.”

Blackmore said Dominica will embark upon a review of its existing laws to make it easier to remove non-nationals who run afoul of the laws.

Guyana

The Guyana government is seeking the assistance of Canada in reviewing the Payara Field Development Plan (FDP) before granting approval to the US oil giant ExxonMobil.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali said the government is in the process of engaging an international expert to do that review on the work that has been done so far.

He said Canada had been asked to assist with “sourcing someone” who would be paid with funds set aside for technical assistance.

The president said, “we are in the process of engaging an internationals export to do that review of the work done so far,” adding that it is in accordance with the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic campaign promise to review certain aspects of the petroleum industry.

ExxonMobil submitted the FDP in September 2019, following which the former David Granger administration embarked on a review with approval pending since December 2019.

Payara is ExxonMobil’s second oil discovery in the Stabroek Block.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia government has welcomed the decision by the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to remove its coronavirus (COVID-19) travel warning for the island.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said that “this is even more validation of our country’s success in the management of COVID-19.”

“We have to keep following our protocols and ensuring that pre-testing is done before visitors arrive in St. Lucia. This takes the support and cooperation of all the stakeholders in the travel industry,” he added.

In its previous “Level 3” Reconsider Travel” notice, the CDC urged Americans to avoid non-essential travel to St. Lucia due to serious risks to safety and security.

St. Lucia was not the only country to have been issued with the warning by the CDC even as the United States grapples with more than 170,000 deaths and an infection rate of more than five million from coronavirus.

But in its latest advisory last week, the CDC placed St. Lucia at “Watch-Level 1,” saying COVID-19 risk in St Lucia is low, new cases are decreasing or stable.”

St. Lucia welcomed its first commercial flight on July 29, putting several protocols in place for arriving passengers.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley said there are plans to bring back home some 2,000 nationals who are stranded abroad since the country’s borders were closed on March 22 this year.

He is planning to meet with National Security Minister, Stuart Young to devise a plan to discuss the repatriation of citizens. He was speaking at a recent news conference at the Diplomatic Center.

Dr. Rowley, however, warned that while exemptions will be granted, transport home was another issue.

“We are going to minimize the amount of exemptions granted,” he said.

Dr. Rowley said the system would be better prepared to take in those who have been left outside of the borders for the past eight months.

Trinidad and Tobago has recorded 35 deaths as of Monday, Aug, 7 with 2,300 positive cases of the COVID-19 virus.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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