Caribbean RoundUp

Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister, Gaston Alphonso Browne addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters Friday, Sept. 27, 2019.
Associated Press / Kevin Hagen, file

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government says it will contemplate a mandatory policy of vaccination only if herd community cannot be achieved through other means within a fixed time-frame.
A government statement said that discussions had taken place about the pace at which the vaccination of the population is proceeding and agreed that to achieve herd community, more residents and citizens must offer themselves to be vaccinated.
Recently Prime Minister Gaston Browne told radio listeners of the possibility of implementing a mandatory vaccination program in Antigua and Barbuda, as he criticized persons who were encouraging others not to participate in the national vaccination program aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the socio-economic development of the island since the first case was diagnosed in March last year.
In a statement the government said it had reached a collaboration with a private company to provide EC$50 dollars to persons who receive their first dose of the vaccine.
It said it would go further with several incentives, including offering EC$ 50 food vouchers to every adult who steps forward to be vaccinated and who bring others to the centers to receive their jabs.
Barbados
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Barbados could receive US$24 million in assistance under its multi-million dollar four-year Extended Arrangement under its Extended Fund Facility (EFF) following the latest round of discussions with the government.
An IMF delegation led by Bert van Selm recently ended a five-day virtual mission discussing implementation of Barbados’ Economic Recovery and Transformation plan supported by the IMF.
The IMF said following productive discussions, the IMF team and the Barbadian authorities reached an agreement on the completion of the fifth review under the EFF.
Van Selm said on completion of the fifth review under the EFF arrangement which is subject to approval by the IMF board, which is expected to consider the review in June.
He said up the review, special drawing rights of about US$24 million will be made available to Barbados.
The IMF official said that international reserves, which reached a low of US$20 million, or five to six weeks of import coverage in May 2018, are now at a comfortable level of US$1.3 billion.
Guyana
The Guyana government is contemplating the possibility of introducing a “vaccine passport” as Caribbean countries (CARICOM) continue to record deaths and new cases linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Irfaan Ali told a press conference that his administration is prepared to deal with the pandemic including a “vaccine passport” in the face of hesitancy by some people to get vaccinated as well as the recklessness of others in flouting the existing health protocols.
He said to get back to normalcy his administration his administration is considering the introduction of mass vaccination passport which is being contemplated by many countries.
Ali said, “we in Guyana will soon have to consider this option.”
The president said given the fact that the vaccination is not mandatory, his administration has to examine all means, including the vaccine passport, so the country can move forward.
More than 150,000 persons have already been vaccinated under the government’s ongoing vaccination program.
Guyana has recorded more than 15,000 cases and 340 deaths since the pandemic started last year.

Jamaica

The London-based Privy Council has ruled that  five members of main opposition People’s National Party (PNP), including former Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller will now have to testify in the Trafigura bribery case saying that the matter under investigation”is capable of affecting the polity of the country.”
Simpson-Miller; former PNP chairman, Robert Pickersgill, current chairman, Phillip Paulwell, former general secretary, Colin Campbell and businessman, Norton Hindswill, will now have to testify in open court in the alleged bribery case that had been stalled by legal challenges for more than a decade.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been assisting the Dutch investigators probing a 2006 donation to the PNP by Dutch firm, Trafigura Beheer.
Dutch firms are prohibited from making donations to foreign governments.
Between December 2007 and May 2009 wrote various letters to the DPP office requesting assistance in the form of taking evidence from the appellants on oath or affirmation.
The authorities in The Netherlands requested that Simpson-Miller and the other five answer questions about a J$31 million donation in 2006.
The financial contribution was made while Jamaica was under the leadership of the Simpson-Miller administration and had an oil-lifting agreement with Trafigura.
St. Vincent
Jamaica-based Sandals Resorts International (SIR) plans to hire some 500 Vincentians when it begins the recruitment drive in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the next few weeks, a senior SIR official said.
Last year, SIR announced plans to bring its Beaches brand to the island and the company said the move promises expansive economic growth for the country.
SIR Executive Chairman, Adam Stewart said this recruitment drive to provide direct employment opportunities for nationals, even ahead of the resort’s opening, represents only the first move towards fulfilling this promise.
He said the economic benefits will be significant “from increased airlift benefiting all surrounding islands to direct and indirect linkages to critical sectors such as transportation, tours and excursions agriculture and manufacturing.”
Sandals said Beaches St. Vincent is just one of several new projects announced by Sandals Resorts in 2021.
Suriname
Suriname government said there will be no lock down of the Dutch-speaking country, noting that the measures taken over the past three weeks have resulted in a significant reduction in cases.
Suriname has recorded 11,572 cases and 221 deaths from Covid-19.
The authorities have also warned that there should be no gathering of groups larger than five persons in public places, saying this not apply to work and sectors or activities for which there is a protocol. It is forbidden to hold house parties.
The authorities also announced the closure of night clubs, dance halls, brothels, bars, casinos  and entertainment centers and gyms.
Minister of Health, Dr. Marie Greta Clement said two variants of Covid-19-Brazilian and English — have been detected in the French-speaking country.
Trinidad
Trinidad and Tobago is now under a state of emergency.
A curfew is also in effect, requiring citizens to stay in their homes between the hours of 9 pm and 5 am, with exceptions made for essential workers.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley said the move became necessary in light of the high numbers of cases and the rising death toll, which saw 21 deaths recorded in a single day last week.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Roshan Parasram said Trinidad and Tobago now at the height of the spike.
He said the spike is T&T’s deadliest third wave of Covid-19.
The latest public health regulations were introduced in March 2020, with further restrictions being added weekly.
Trinidad and Tobago has recorded more than 16,000 cases of the Covid-19 pandemic since the virus started spreading in March last year.  So far there are more than 285 deaths.
— Compiled by Azad Ali

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