Caribbean RoundUp

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government says more than 12 major conglomerates in China have expressed interest in doing business in the Caribbean state.

During a recent visit to China, Prime Minister Gaston Browne told a group of chief executive officers and presidents of corporations attached to the Department of Commerce of Shandong Province that Antigua is part of a network of trade agreements that allow goods to enter the European Union, Canada and the United States.

“Antigua and Barbuda has a stable investment environment. When you invest in our country, there is no need to worry about a fall in the value of your products, in fact value will increase instead,” Browne said in a statement. He said investing in Antigua and Barbuda is also a gateway to other markets within Latin American and the Caribbean.

Deputy Director General of Shandong Department of Commerce, Yan Zhaowan said that Chinese business leaders were impressed with Browne’s presentations and the economic possibilities in Antigua and Barbuda, the statement said. Yan said his division sees the possibility of investing in tourism, information communication technology (ICT), agriculture and manufacturing.

Dominica

Dominica says while it will not impose a travel ban on people arriving from Africa, it will screen new students arriving in the country from West Africa where an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has resulted in more than 1,000 deaths.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Johnson, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio, said that a meeting had been held involving various stakeholders to look at the threat to the island, for which there is no known cure.

Dr. Johnson said that the advice is that “we cannot go down the route of imposing travel restrictions at this time.”

“So we would not advise any restriction on travel or on trade at this time,” he said noting that a screening questionnaire for West African nationals entering Dominica would be implemented.

He said based on the information provided during the screening process “we will take it to the next level in terms of isolation and management of those individuals.”

The chief medical officer said several countries, including Dominica, were now seeking to establish the appropriate isolation facilities to manage any case that may occur.

There are several students from Africa and Nigeria who attend medical school in Dominica.

Haiti

The United Nations has launched the second phase of a vaccination campaign against cholera in Haiti where health officials say more than 8,000 people have died since the outbreak in 2010.

The campaign initiated and implemented by the Haitian authorities until September, is part of the broader framework of the national plan for the elimination of cholera in Haiti.

It aims to vaccinate 200,000 people living in the communes where the disease persists in particular the department of Artibonite.

Earlier this year, nearly 1,500 Haitians filed a lawsuit in the United States seeking compensation from the United Nations for victims of the cholera outbreak that sickened more than 600,000 people.

They claim that the disease was brought to the country by the UN peacekeepers from Nepal, where the disease is endemic.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon rejected a previous claim for compensation for cholera victims, citing diplomatic immunity, but announced a US$2.27 billion initiative to help eradicate cholera in Haiti in December 2012.

In August 2013, a similar vacation campaign was conducted by the Haitian government with the support of the United Nations and was able to reach a population of about 107,000 people.

Grenada

Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell says the decision by St. George’s University (SGU) in Grenada to inject more than EC$700 million into an expansion program will have enormous impact for the university and for the country.

Dr. Mitchell said since returning to office a year and a half ago his administration has been working diligently to improve the business climate in Grenada and “we have vigorously promoted new investments.”

He said it is in this new environment the university, which has been operational in Grenada for the past 40 years, “has attracted such a huge and unprecedented new deal.”

Dr. Mitchell said among the new investments will be the establishment of a teaching hospital, noting “such a venture will open a new frontier in medical research and technology and provide training for generations of medical practitioners.”

Guyana

The Opposition grouping, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has called on President Donald Ramoutar to uphold the pledge he made to hold local government elections “within one year of the 2011 general election.”

Local government elections were held in Guyana in 1994 which was won by the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic.

The APNU said that when he campaigned as the PP/Civic presidential candidate, Ramoutar had written in the party’s manifesto that “in the area of local government and governance, the next PP/Civic government will ensure, within one year of the 2011 general elections, that local government elections are held bringing much needed reinvigoration into local government.”

The APNU said three years since the election, Ramoutar “has failed to keep his promise on local government elections.”

The opposition grouping has accused the head of state of showing “gross disrespect for the National Assembly by refusing to assent to a bill which was approved after careful scrutiny and arduous work,” to pave the way for the poll.

Jamaica

Jamaica says the agricultural sector has lost nearly J$1 billion as a result of the prolonged drought that has hit the island.

Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister Robert Pickersgill in a joint statement on the effects of the drought on schools and agriculture said that 2,190 hectares of crops valued at $953.3 million had been lost and that an estimated 18,309 farmers were affected.

“To mitigate the effects of the drought, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has disbursed J$33 million, of which J$30 million has been allocated to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, as well as to members of Parliament in the most affected areas, as well as to increase production in those areas,” the minister said.

He told legislators that the government is undertaking an audit of the available underutilized greenhouse capacity with a view of working with greenhouse farmers to maximize their production.

Pickergill said that drought is a result of climate change, adding “this means that we will have to ensure our water and food security in the face of more intense droughts, floods and storms.”

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has defended the new policy of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to developing countries, even as he acknowledged not being fully satisfied with its lending policies.

Gonsalves called in to the television program “Time to Face the Facts” recently. The program looked at the role of the IMF in the Caribbean.

Gonsalves recalled St. Vincent and the Grenadines had benefitted from a US$6.4 million loan given by the Washington-based financial institution, “especially in relation to balance of payment difficulties which arose after the December 2013 natural disaster.”

“The IMF today is somewhat different IMF than hitherto, in terms of the manner in which it conducts business, and there is clearly an influence of new persons….but we still have somewhere to go,” he told television viewers.

Trinidad

The opposition Independent Liberal Party (ILP) in Trinidad and Tobago is taking the government to court over the controversial Constitution (Amendment) Bill which was passed recently in the Senate.

The ILP last week filed a constitutional motion in the High Court, Port of Spain arguing that that the bill breaches constitution rights, as detailed in the affidavits also filed by two citizens, Sherwin Mitchell and Dane Francois, both ILP members.

Mitchell is contending that the bill breaches his constitutional right as an elector, while Francois has alleged that the bill violates his rights as a potential general candidate.

Attorney Rekha Ramjit, who is representing the ILP, said Section 4 of the Constitution states, rights including freedom of political expression, while Section 5 says no law must infringe those rights, even as section 13 says any infringement can only be done with a three-fifths special majority.

She said even as section 73 of the Constitution says you elect a Lower House by first past-the-post system, the bill amends this to read a runoff.

She warned that this new voting system could create an inequality of treatment in violation of the constitutional norms.

St. Vincent

The Immigration Department has prevented the embattled former registrar of the High Court in St. Vincent, Vanessa Tamara Gibson-Marks, from leaving the island for her homeland, less than 24 hours after she was granted bail on theft, abuse of office and falsification charges.

“The information received is that there is an ongoing investigation in which Marks was needed and she was stopped,” said Chief Immigration Officer Stanford Hamilton.

Marks was granted EC$30,000 bail when she appeared at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court recently. The court did not ask her to surrender her travel documents,

Marks checked in to travel on a one-way ticket to St. Lucia recently, but she was unchecked and her bags removed.

She pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled to re-appear at the Kingstown Magistrates Court on Oct. 7, 2014.

Marks is also expected in court later this month to give cause why she should not be disbarred from practicing law in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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