Caribbean RoundUp

Former Bahamian Prime Minster Hubert A. Ingraham seen here delivering his speech during the special session on drugs at the United Nations Monday, June 8, 1998.
Associated Press/Kathy Willens, file

Bahamas

Former Bahamas Prime Minister, Hubert Ingraham has been admitted to hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.

Ingraham, who first led the Free National Movement (FNM) party to a general election victory in 1992 and followed that up with victories in 1997 and 2007, was diagnosed with the virus recently, but was admitted to hospital last week when his symptoms worsened, said Dr. Duane Sands, a former minister of health.

Sands, said at no time was the 73-year-old placed on a ventilator machine.

“He is Covid positive and he was being treated at home, but got worse and is now hospitalized. He is in a critical care area at Doctors Hospital being managed by a team of physicians as he convalesces,” Sands said.

The former PM’s diagnosis comes as 19 people were confirmed to have the virus last week, including 13 men and six women.

Officials of the Health Ministry are said to be on alert for new COVID-19 variants, particularly ones originating in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

 

Barbados

After an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, surpassing 360, the island’s lone prison is now free of the virus, according to Minister of Homes Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams.

He said there were no active cases of COVID-19 at Her Majesty Prisons Dodds within either the staff or inmate population.

After two members of the prison’s staff were tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 31, 2020, mass testing was carried out at the prison. The infection number increased to 366 at the peak of the outbreak, comprised of 102 members of staff and 264 prisoners.

Adams told a news conference, “this potentially disastrous situation was managed and brought under control through rigid adherence to the protocols set for its control and by constant communication and co-operation by and between all concerned. This included in large measure, the inmate population at the prison as well.”
He told the media that the protocol for ensuring the timely release of those who had served their entire prison sentence has been working well and those due for release were being allowed to go as scheduled.

Adams said the ability to get a handle on the situation at HMP Dodds depended on the prison’s “vigilance and discipline with both the prison officers and the inmate population, while we were under this crisis.”

 

Guyana

The Guyana government will be reducing the excise tax on gasoline and diesel to ease the domestic impact of the sharp rise in the world market price for fuel.

In announcing the cut in excise taxes last week, senior minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh said over the past few months, oil prices have risen steadily on the world market, from US$35 a barrel in late October 2020 to over US$60 a barrel at the close of trade a week ago.

He added that as a result of this steady increase on the world market, fuel prices have also been rising on the domestic market.

In order to minimize the impact on domestic consumers, particularly the traveling public as well as those productive sectors for whom fuel is an important input, Singh announced that the Government will be lowering the excise tax rate on both gasoline and diesel from 50 per cent to 35 percent with immediate effect.

As a result of the reduction in the excise tax rates, the price at the pump will also be reduced with immediate effect.

 

Jamaica

Governor of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), Richard Byles says the country is beginning to show signs of incremental improvement in economic activity, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

He cited the relatively buoyant foreign exchange market flows, adequate reserves, a sustainable balance of payments position and the containment of inflation within the BOJ’s 4-6 percent target range as evidence of the progress being made.

He said based on the latest development “we believe the contraction in the economy is past its worst and the outlook is for continued, albeit more gradual improvements in economic activity.”

Speaking at the BOJ’s recently quarterly digital briefing, the BOJ governor noted that the 10.7 percent contraction in domestic growth recorded in the September 2020 quarter represented an improvement on the 18.4 percent decline for April to June 2020, and the bank continues to project that for the full 2020/2021 fiscal year, real gross domestic product (GDP) will contract in the range of 10-12 percent.

 

St. Kitts

St. Kitts and Nevis Premier, Mark Brantley and other cabinet ministers became the first individuals to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, as the immunization drive kicked out last week.

Brantley, who is also senior minister of Health, said his cabinet is leading by example to demonstrate to the Nevisian public that getting vaccinated against the virus is safe against the virus and highly recommended if the island is to achieve herd immunity.

“Today is a very historic for us because the entire cabinet, led by myself as premier and certain health care and front line workers, we all took the step of getting vaccinated against COVID-19,” he said.

The premier said he looked forward to the rest of the population getting vaccinated.

 

Trinidad  

Trinidad and Tobago remains on a list of 12 countries that the European Union (EU) considers to be non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.

The Council of the European Union last week announced that it was removing Barbados from its revised list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, while deciding to add Dominica to its list.

In a statement, the European Council said the list includes jurisdictions worldwide that either have not engaged in a constructive dialogue with the EU on tax governance or have failed to deliver on their commitments to implement the reforms necessary to comply with a set of objective tax good governance criteria.

It said the changes to the list take into consideration the ratings recently released by the OECD Global Forum for Transparency and Exchange of Information (Global Forum) as regards exchange of information on request.

The Council of the EU said in a statement that Dominica has been included in the EU list as it received a “Partial complaint” rating from the Global Forum (for Transparency and Exchange of Information) and has not yet resolved this issue.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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