Caribbean RoundUp

CARICOM

Barbados

Barbados has placed the United Kingdom in the category of “high risk” countries as the UK deals with a new wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Ministry of Health and Wellness said seven more persons died from COVID-19, while the country recorded 206 new cases of the virus up to last week.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Lisa Cummins said the Ministry of Health has been closely monitoring the developments in the UK, particularly the surge in their COVID-19 numbers with recent weeks, which Prime Minister Borris Johnson referred to as a second wave.

She said these large increases are of concern to public health officials, who have recommended the new classification of the UK to the High-Risk category.

Cummins said the Ministry of Health and Wellness, in conjunction with the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. released the country’s update travel protocols, which will see the UK moving to the high-risk category, effective Oct. 1, 2020.

According to the authorities in Barbados, visitors traveling from the United Kingdom, in addition to the mandatory COVID-19 PCR test taken at least 72 hours prior to arrival in Barbados, will now also be required to undergo a second COVID-19 PCR test in Barbados, five days after the date of their first accepted test.

The authorities said until the second test is taken, visitors from the UK will remain in hotels designated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and their movements will be restricted.

Caribbean

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) recently launched its third Caribbean Hub sub-program of the multilateral environment agreements project in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) grouping.

The Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat said that the program is funded under the European Commission-United Nations Environment Capacity building initiative.

CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin La Rocque and acting director of the United Nations Environment Program (UN Environment) Arnold Kreilhuber have signed an agreement approving continued capacity building related to multilateral environmental agreements support for the region.

The Secretariat said the aim is to empower key stakeholders to address environmental challenges and to reap the benefits of improved management at the national and regional levels.

The CARICOM Secretariat has hosted the Caribbean Hub from 2009 and throughout the first two phases of the program.

The Hub has worked to mainstream the relevant conventions on biodiversity, chemicals and waste management into institutions and national development plans by promoting an integrated and synergistic approach to environmental management.

Cayman Islands

Implementation of the same sex law in the Cayman Islands went into effect recently.

The Civil Partnership Law will enable same-sex couples to file for and have register civil partnerships in the Cayman Islands.

According to the Government Information Service, the regulations were gazetted after being approved by Governor Martyn Roper in consultation with Premier Alden McLaughlin.

The Civil Partnership Law was passed by the governor in August, days after similar legislation was voted down by Cayman’s lawmakers.

Roper has said that he, as the UK’s representative in Cayman, had no option but to step in to ensure Cayman complied with the rule of law and international obligations under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Civil Partnership Law will provide same-sex couples with a legal framework equivalent to marriage, which is currently restricted to heterosexual couples under Cayman’s Marriage Law.

The new regulations outline how couples can apply for a civil partnership license.

Guyana

Investigations are continuing into the recent attempted prison break that resulted in the deaths of two inmates and injuries to five others.

The riot occurred after Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn and Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony were forced to exit the Lusignan Prison on the East Coast of Demerara after some prisoners became hostile and began to throw missiles.

The situation deteriorated and resulted in prison officers shooting seven inmates who tried to escape, resulting in the deaths of two prisoners.

The dead prisoners have been identified as Earl Graham, 51 and 21-year-old Winston Herbert.

In a statement, the Guyana Prison Service (GPS) said that Graham was serving a three-month jail term for malicious wounding, assault and resisting arrest, while Herbert was in custody for rape.

The GPS said that the five other inmates are in a stable condition at the Georgetown Public Hospital and at the Lusignan Prison.

Haiti

Haiti is the only Caribbean country that will benefit from a decision by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be provided with a second six-month tranche of US$227 million of debt service relief for 28 member countries under the Catastrophe and Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT).

The IMF said that this latest approval follows the first six-month tranche approve in April this year and enables the disbursement of grants from the CCRT for payment of eligible debt service falling due to the IMF from Oct. 14, 2020 to April 21, 2021, estimated at US$227 million.

It said relief on debt service will free up scarce financial resources for vital emergency medical and other relief efforts while these members combat the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

And Caribbean countries that are members of the IMF are expected to benefit from a decision by the financial institution based on persistent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to approve a six-month extension of the temporary increase in access limits under its emergency financing instruments, through April 6, 2021.

Jamaica:

The Department of Correctional Service (DCS) in Jamaica has reported that 14 persons at the Tower Street Adult Correction Center have tested positive for COVID-19.

Of that number, the Department said two are staff members and 12 are inmates.

In a statement, the Department said all COVID-19 infected persons have been placed in isolation and contact tracing activities are being conducted to curtail the spread in the institution.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Matthew Samuda said the DCS will be revisiting its tracking measures given the situation and release results of the COVID-19 tests immediately instead of twice weekly on its website.

Last week Jamaica recorded 139 Covid related deaths. The total number of new cases has been put at 7,718 so far. There are currently 4,239 active cases island wide.

Trinidad:

The Trinidad and Tobago government has presented a $TT$49.6 billion budget for the fiscal year 2020/21 last week.

Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert in presenting the budget in Parliament last week said government was forced to take some risks and make much-needed amendments to the national budget in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While maintaining a robust social support system, Imbert announced major policy adjustments, including completely removing the fuel subsidy, privatizing the Port of Spain National Petroleum (NP), selling its gas station, privatizing the Port Authority, freezing public sector hiring, contemplating raising the retirement age to 65 and hinting utility rates.

The minister of finance said total revenue has been budgeted at $41.7 billion, up from $34.06 billion in 2020 and total expenditure was put at $49.6 billion, $1.3 billion less than last year. The deficit budget is put at $8.2 billion, a hopeful half of 2020’s $1.6 billion.

The budget was based on an oil price of US$45 a barrel and a gas price of US$3 per mmbtu.

Education got the highest allocation of $7,973, Health $6.05 billion, National Security $5,227, Works and Transport $2,956 billion, Public Utilities $2,091 billion, Housing $1billion and Agriculture $1billion.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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