Caribbean RoundUp

Grenada's Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell looks up after casting his ballot at the Happy Hill Primary School in St. George's, Grenada, during parliamentary elections Monday, Jan. 18, 1999.
Associated Press/Lynne Sladky, File

Bahamas

Bahamas Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Pearl McMilian said that a COVID-19 vaccine will be available in the country by March this year.

Speaking during a recent press conference McMilian said health care workers, front line workers, people who are high risk for catching the virus or succumbing to the disease are prioritized for the vaccination first.

She added that a phased approach will ensure that high-risk groups are immunized, then other groups.

Recently, Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis, who is a medical doctor, said ongoing mitigation measures will be required to combat effects new variants of COVID-19 if they are found in the Bahamas.

He said the virus is more infectious, not necessarily more devastating in terms of the degree of the illness that it might cause, so one has to follow the same mitigation processes in terms of facial masks, social-distancing and sanitization.

 

Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands Premier, Alden McLaughlin said it is unlikely that cruise ships will be returning to the territory this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

He told a press conference that while he was optimistic that the territory’s vaccine program could mean a resumption of some travel and tourism starting in March, he has ruled out cruise tourism for the time being.

“Cruise is not on our radar at this stage. I don’t see cruise tourism resuming on any sort of significant level before next year,” he added.

Mc Laughlin also urged Caymanians to play their part and get the COVID-19 vaccine to allow them to resume an even greater sense of normalcy.

 

Guyana

Guyana has signed on to a new trade deal that will allow government trade and investment between the United Kingdom and the CARIFORUM group of countries following the UK’s exist from the European Union.

CARIFORUM is made up of member nations of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dominican Republic.

The UK is Guyana’s largest trading partner in Europe and the sixth largest trading partner overall.

It accounts for 2.1 percent of imports, 8.8 percent of all exports and is an important market for exports of sugar, rice and rum

Previously, CARIFORUM countries engaged in trade with the UK as part of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)

Dr. Ashni Singh, senior minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance recently signed and issued a Ministerial Order that gives effect to the CARIFORUM-UK EPA.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign AFFAIRS AND International Cooperation noted that the Ministerial Order brings into effect, from Jan. 1, 2021 the CARIFORUM-UK EPA agreement.

 

Grenada

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said he will not be leaving public office and plans to contest the 2023 general elections.

During the campaign for the 2018 general election Mitchell, who is leader of the ruling New National Party (NNP), then indicated that he would not contest another general election.

However, in an interview recently, about two years before the election is constitutionally due, the Prime Minister said that he has had to change his plans about handing over leadership.

“A decision has been made, I would have preferred not to have but there are rationales based on my own colleagues views and general perceptions that the right time will have to be after the next general election to hand over the reins to someone,” he said.

Mitchell, who will celebrate his 75th birthday in November, has served in the Parliament for almost four decades.

The PNP candidates won all 15 constituencies in the last general election.

As a result there was not an official opposition in the Lower House of Parliament until Tobias Clement who represents the constituency of St. George’s North East, crossed the floor and became the leader of the opposition.

 

St. Lucia

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has announced that St. Lucia is prepared to take in residents of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the event that the current activity at the La Soufriere Volcano intensifies.

Last month, Vincentians were told to be on the alert after the volcano dormant for decades, began rumbling once again.

The volcano was last active in 1979 when an eruption claimed the lives of 1,000 people. So far, while there has been no explosion, steam, gas and a volcanic dome, formed by lava, can be seen.

Chastanet said if there is an evacuation of the immediate area, a lots of lands would be vacated and clearly there may be need off assistance provided by the sister islands to assist with that.

He said there is dialogue with several hoteliers, some of who have not yet opened up their properties due to the pandemic, but they will consider making rooms available to Vincentians.

 

Trinidad

Under the new chairmanship of Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, CARICOM has slammed the Venezuelan government’s recent claim to two-thirds of Guyana, a CARICOM-member state, including offshore and oil rich areas.

Following a recent angioplasty procedure, Dr. Rowley chaired his first meeting as new chairman, held a virtual, after which CARICOM issued a statement on the border dispute.

“The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is deeply disappointed and concerned at the decree and subsequent statements by Venezuela with respect to that country’s border controversy with Guyana, including intimations of creation of a strategic area of national development called “Territory for the Development of the Atlantic Façade”.

CARICOM said it was in full support of the judicial process under the International Court of Justice.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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