Caribbean RoundUp

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis (blue shirt) and former Bahamas Deputy Prime Minister Kevin Peter Turnquest (black shirt) during a visit to High Rock after the area was hit by Hurricane Dorian, in East Grand Bahama, Oct. 6, 2019.
REUTERS/ Gabriella N. Baez, file

Antigua

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has said he has no problem being the first person in Antigua and Barbuda to take the vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) as other regional countries are recording more positive cases of the virus.

Recently, United States-based drug manufacturer, Pfizer, announced that its coronavirus vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 and, while precise details are not clear, it appeared unlikely that many people would not be vaccinated until 2021.

There are several people both in the Caribbean and in the US who are against any form of vaccination.

The prime minister said he will avail himself as the first recipient of the vaccine in order to encourage Antiguans and Barbudans to do likewise.

Barbados

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley is expected to address a two-day virtual Caribbean Conference on Corruption, Compliance and Cybercrime that will begin this week,

The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) will host the conference.

The World Bank Group and the organizers said it will allow leaders from across the world to share and discuss new challenges and solutions for corruption, compliance, and cyber-crime in the Caribbean.

They said the speakers will include experienced global anti-corruption practitioners, anti-money laundering specialists, cyber-crime professionals, development bankers, policy makers, regulators law enforcement personnel, academics, private sector representatives and civil society.

Apart from Prime Minister Mottley, the conference will also be addressed by CDB President, Dr. William Warren Smith, the Vice President of the World Bank Group, Mouhamadou Diagne and Dr. Toussant Boyce, who heads the Office of the Integrity Compliance and Accountability at the CDB.

Bahamas

Bahamas deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Peter Turnquest has resigned from the Dr. Herbert Minnis-led administration.

Turnquest, in a letter to the prime minister said he was stepping down as deputy prime minister and minister of finance in the wake of what he described to be “unfounded and untrue allegations” against him.

He, however, stated he will continue to serve as Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama.

The move came following a statement of claim that was filed in the Supreme Court recently.

According to the statement, Turnquest and his Sky Bahamas business partner, Captain Randy Butler, “dishonestly caused” Alpha Aviation and Advanced Aviation to “pay away” US$20,68 million and US$5,917 million respectively to the airline via “some kind of bogus loans.”

The former finance minister said he did not want a private business dispute, which occurred prior to his taking public office to become a distraction to the government, or to the important national work that lies ahead.

The prime minister said he will serve as interim minister of finance and will make a “substantive appointment in due course.”

Caribbean

The Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) has reiterated its ongoing concerns that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME) in undermining the sugar industry in the region.

The CSME allows for the free movement of goods, skills, services and capital across the 15-member regional integration movement grouping.

In a statement, the SAC said that despite said that despite the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) agreement in 2019 to tighten compliance with the Common External Tariff (CET) and the systems that govern it, “individual companies continue to over-estimate their requirements for imported extra regional, CET-free sugar.”

The SAC, which groups national sugar industries with competing sugar mills and production across Jamaica, Belize and Barbados, said that in November last year, “COTED mandated CARICOM to introduce a monitoring mechanism to tighten control of sugar imports.”

Guyana

Guyana has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the construction of a US$90 million 289 Hilton-room hotel in the South American country.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Waldron, and the Guyana Office for Investment Go-Invest recently signed the venture that will be situated in East Bank Demerara.

The 289-room hotel will include the 161-room Hilton Garden Inn and 128 suites. It will feature a variety of on-site dining options, conference facilities, a pool and 24-hour fitness facility.

More than 25 Guyanese contractors and suppliers are expected to be involved in the execution of the work, which will bring significant spin-off benefits to hundreds of Guyanese. No date was given as to when the project will start.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia government has extended until Dec. 14, the protocols aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 that has killed two persons and infected more than 250 people.

The decision was taken following a meeting of the National Emergency Management Advisory Committee (NEMAC). The government later announced the extension of measures to limit movement and curtail social gatherings in order to reduce the number of active COVID-19 cases on the island.

The authorities have also decided that an adjustment to the restrictions on sporting activities would not allow athletes to receive one-on-one training.

A modification was also made to allow very limited opening of the education sector to support pupils preparing for the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), the Common Entrance Exams and students enrolled at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in subjects which require use of the laboratory.

The government said all business operations and commercial activities must end by 9 pm, as guided by the COVID-19 Council (Prevention and Control Act).

Trinidad

Venezuelans migrants cannot have more rights in Trinidad and Tobago than nationals of the country.

This was stated by Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley who was responding to a ruling by a High Court Judge in Port of Spain recently who gave the state the green light to deport an 11-year-old girl who was among a group of 26 illegal Venezuelan children who returned to Trinidad after being repatriated last month.

Justice Frank Seepersad in his ruling rejected preliminary submissions for the child’s legal team over the effect of the 2014 Draft Policy on Refugees and Asylum Seekers, which was approved by Cabinet but not Parliament.

He said the government was free to change its policy due to prevailing circumstances, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seepersad’s ruling essentially handed the state a legal victory in its bid to strictly enforce the country’s immigration laws.

Dr. Rowley said his government has been humane when dealing with the issue of illegal Venezuelan migrant, as was evidenced by the registration process that took place last year. Some 16,543 Venezuela migrants were registered to work legally here during that process.

He also warned Venezuelan migrants entering T&T illegally that they will be deported.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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