Caribbean RoundUp

In this photo taken Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, a Caribbean Airlines jet leaves the gate at Miami International Airport in Miami.
Associated Press/Lynne Sladky, file

Antigua

The Police Service Commission (PSC) in Antigua has said it will appeal a High Court’s decision that the firing of former Commissioner of Police, Wendell Robinson and the appointment of his successor were both unconstitutional.

The PSWC issued a statement after Justice Ann-Marie ruled, in the constitutional motion filed by Robinson, that his termination and the appointment of current Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney was unlawful, null and void.

She had also set April 30 as the date for the award of damages to the former top cop.

Robinson was fired in November 2019 and stripped of his pension, gratuity and other allowances he would have accumulated during almost 35 years of service in the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda, after being suspended amidst allegations of misconduct in April 2018. The Dominican-born Rodney took up duties in February 2020.

After Justice Smith’s ruling recently, the PSC applied for a stay on the judgement pending an appeal.

The PSC will ask the Court of Appeal to review Justice Smith’s decision to determine if such a decision was right in law.

The decision of the court means that, technically, Robinson is still the commissioner of police.

 

Barbados

Two teachers’ unions in Barbados are opposing the April 20 resumption of face-to-face classes as announced by Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw, insisting the decision was premature, despite a reduction in new COVID-19 cases.

The Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) and the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) both said that it was too soon for schools to reopen.

At a news conference recently, Minister Bradshaw announced there would be a phased reopening of schools for physical classes in the third and final term of the current academic year.

Under the phased opening, students preparing to sit the Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams will return to the classroom at least three days weekly, with online instruction in the other two days.

The minister said the resumption of in-person classes was critical, as many students had a difficult time adjusting to virtual learning over the past months.

BUT President, Pedro Shepherd said it would be better for children to go back into the classrooms at the start of the new school year in September.

“The BUT chose September for a number of reasons. We took into account that there is community spread in Barbados and the facts to date have not suggested that it is under control,” he said.

More than 3,000 teachers were vaccinated last month, which was the last of the first phases of the National Vaccination Program that saw more than 63,000 Barbadians and permanent residents receiving the first shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since the rollout began in February.

 

Caribbean

Caribbean business leader and entrepreneur, Angela Lee Loy has been selected from more than 500 nominations globally to be part of the Multi-Stakeholder Task Force for the 2021 United Nations High-Level Meeting on HIV.

Lee Loy is the lone private sector representative in a group which comprises civil society members from 16 countries.

The High-Level Meeting on HIV will be held virtually from June 8 to 10 and will review the progress made in reducing the impact of HIV 40 years since the first cases emerged a UNAIDS statement said.

The role of the Multi-Stakeholder Task Force is to ensure the involvement of civil society and an open, transparent and participatory process before and during the High-Level Meeting.

Lee Loy is the chair and founder of Aegis Business Solutions Ltd., said to be the largest business outsourcing and advisory company in the English-speaking Caribbean and chairman of recruitment agency Eve Anderson Recruitment Ltd.

 

Grenada

A 33-year-old Grenadian woman has become the first person to be charged recently with presenting a fake Covid-19 test result since Grenada enforced the requirement of a mandatory negative PCR test to obtain an entry certificate to the island.

Gillian Fletcher, a resident of the parish of St Andrew, was slapped with charges of deceit of a public officer and uttering a forged document.

She has been granted EC$10,000 (US$3,700) bail and is set to appear in court in May. Fletcher had tested positive for Covid-19 after she arrived from New York. The charges were laid after she was medically cleared.

Reports are that a doctor, who reviews the results presented to health officials by travelers at Maurice Bishop International Airport observed some “medical inconsistencies” with the result the woman presented when she arrived from New York.

Investigators contacted the lab in New York where the PCR test was purportedly done. It was discovered that Fletcher’s name was not in the system as one of the people who had a Covid-19 test conducted at the facility.

All persons entering Grenada must not only present a negative PCR test conducted no fewer than 72 hours before arrival, but must also have a mandatory test conducted on the fifth day after arrival in the island.

 

Guyana

Businesses in Guyana are being warned that they will face the full force of the law if they continue with the illegal practice of imposing value added tax VAT) on various commodities, including construction materials.

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance in Guyana, Dr. Ashni Singh said it had come to his attention through reports from members of the public that a number of hardware stores have since refused to comply and are still unscrupulously charging VAT on several items.

He noted that following the passage of the national budget last month, several measures, including the VAT zero-rating or reduction on a number of commodities, had been removed.

Additionally, the VAT zero rate was also restored to basic food items and household necessities that were previously zero-rated until May 2015, but switched to “standard rate” or “exempt” over the past five years. Including basic food items, locally produced bed sheets and pillowcases and toothbrushes.

Dr. Singh said that all of these measures were intended to benefit consumers, ease the expense aligned to these burdensome tax measures, and reduce the cost of living of Guyanese generally.

 

Suriname

Suriname recently received 24,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility — a global effort co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Alliance, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

PAHO’s Revolving Fund, which is responsible for acquiring and delivering Covid-10 vaccines on behalf of the countries of the Americas that are part of the COVAX facility, shipped doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca (“AZ”) vaccine, manufactured by SK Bioscience of South Korea.

The delivery of the first tranche of vaccines through the COVAX facility with the support of PAHO is a proud moment for Suriname in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said PAHO.

Dr. Karen Lewis-Bell, PAHO/WHO Representative in Suriname said the country is very committed in securing vaccines for the people of Suriname to protect the most vulnerable and reduce deaths.

Dr Rakesh Sukul, acting director of Health, said with the arrival of the vaccines, Suriname would be able to vaccinate more people who are vulnerable. The country has recorded 9,085 confirmed cases with 177 deaths.

 

Trinidad

Caribbean Airlines (CAL) passengers can now book and pay for COVID-19 tests via the airline’s website.

In a release issued last week, CAL stated that it is in keeping abreast of innovations and services to facilitate a safe travel environment for its customers.

CAL CEO, Steve Azvedo said this is a major step for Caribbean Airlines to support countries to safely open their borders while preventing the importation of COVID-19 cases.

He said the innovative solution allows passengers to verify their health credentials using several identification options.

The statement said passengers traveling with the airline have added convenience of booking and paying for COVID tests via the airline’s website, up to seven days in advance but no less than 48 hours before their flight departure date.

Using the Passenger COVID-19 Test Booking portal caribbeanairlines.health.ink, customers can input their booking reference code, and a list of approved testing labs along with available appointment dates and times will appear for selection.

Payment is required immediately after securing the appointment with the selected lab. The cost of the test will vary based on the country and lab facilitating the test.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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