Caribbean RoundUp

Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda is hoping that China will provide US$18 million towards the expansion of the Five Islands Secondary School to the University College Antigua.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who was on an official visit to Beijing, has officially informed the principals of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) of the intention of his government regarding the facility, according to a government statement.

It said prior to leaving Antigua, Prime Minister Browne toured the facilities at Five Islands with Chinese Ambassador Ren Gongping and noted that the new proposal will include student dorms, an expanded library, expanded ICT facility, Olympic size swimming pool and tennis courts.

Prime Minister Browne said he has already started talks with the University of the West Indies (UWI) on establishing the local university and that the government will be appointing a National Committee with a corresponding committee from the UWI to produce a proposal for collaboration and timeframe for implementation.

The statement said that Prime Minister Bowne is expected to finalize the agreement for US$18 million towards the expansion of the facility of Five Islands.

Bahamas

The Bahamas government has paid tribute to Latore Mackey, the former Deputy Director of the Bahamas Information Service (BIS), who was shot dead on Market Street recently.

Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell said he was “saddened” by the murder, adding that Mackey, on joining the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) worked “like a fish in water.”

“He carried out excellent work at the Bahamas Information Services and in the Office of the Prime Minister. He was the future of our party. Now we have lost him too soon,” Mitchell said in a statement.

Police are working on a theory that an argument inside a nearby club may have led to his killing. Mackey was the owner of Blue Sports Bar and Lounge in the capital, Nassau.

Grenada

The Grenada senate has given the green light to legislation governing casino gambling that the government said would further enhance the vital tourism industry.

The Senate recently followed the Lower House that last month unanimously approved the legislation that would provide certain guidelines for casino gambling in Grenada.

“Now that we have approval from both Houses for the bill, the process is not yet complete as it has to receive the assent of the governor general and be published in the Government Gazette,” Economic and Planning Minister Oliver Joseph told the media during the weekly post-cabinet meeting.

The legislation makes it an offense for Grenadians to participate in gambling activities.

The legislation notes that only hotels with more than 300 rooms can apply for a license to offer casino gaming as part of its entertainment package. The casino facility must be on the same compound with the hotel.

Guyana

The main opposition grouping A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has called on President Donald Ramoutar to do more than talk in dealing with the illegal drug trade in Guyana.

“He must become personally involved in directing the war on illegal narcotics which, apparently, are now being exported on an industrial scale. The president’s response to the recent discovery of a self-propelled semi-submarine marine vessel in the Barima-Waini Region is deeply disturbing,” the APNU said in a statement.

Ramoutar was quoted in the Government Information Agency (GINA) as saying that the government will spend “whatever necessary” to deal with the illegal drug trade.

“We have limited resources and we have competing areas that we want to put our money into,” Ramoutar said.

But APNU describe the statement as “weak” adding “it ignores the facts, that for two decades the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PP/C) has failed to curb trafficking in illegal narcotics.

The APNU said it was calling on President Ramoutar to “immediately execute a credible national drug strategy master plan; establish an effective national enforcement structure; enforce current legislation vigorously; and equip the security forces with the assets to curb the trade.”

Jamaica

Jamaica says it expects to receive US$71 million from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the government continues to meet key economic objectives outlined in a four-year deal.

Finance Minister Peter Phillip says the IMF recently finished a fifth review of the country’s economic performance.

He said officials will continue to reduce debt and reform the tax and labor market sectors, among other things.

Jamaica’s government said in a statement that it has so far secured US$44 million in funding in the first year of a US$930 million loan package with the Washington-based financial institution.

Jamaica

The London-based Privy Council has granted leave to convicted hijacker Stephen Fray, to appeal his 83-year jail term for the attempted hijacking of a Canadian aircraft in the western city of Montego Bay in 2009.

Fray’s legal team is contending that medical evidence of his mental disorder was rejected and the standard used to judge his mental condition had bene outdated.

They argued that a narrow approach was taken in assessing his true mental state, and this error resulted in the conviction.

Fray was convicted in October 2009, one eight counts for illegal possession of firearm, shooting with intent, assault at common law and breaches of the Airport Act, arising from the attempted hijacking.

Although sentenced to 83 years, Fray is to serve 20 years because the sentences are to run concurrent.

Fray lost his appeal in Jamaica in 2011, to have the sentence and conviction overturned.

However, Fray and his attorney have maintained that he was mentally ill in April 2009, when he attempted to hijack the Canjet flight with 159 passengers and crew at the Sangster International Airport with a loaded gun.

St. Lucia

The European Union (EU) has provided St. Lucia with EC$ 14.3 million worth of diagnostic equipment for the new National Hospital.

The donation is the first phase of the EU’s total contribution to the hospital, valued at EC$32 million.

The pieces of equipment installed and tested so far are CT scanners, a mammography system and the general x-ray unit.

Part of the equipping agreement is for the suppliers to provide training to the technicians who will be responsible for the maintenance of the equipment as well as the end-users.

The training is ongoing for the teams from the Victoria Hospital in the capital.

A team from St. Jude hospital in the south is also participating to ensure all relevant personnel across public tertiary-care institutions are trained.

St. Vincent

Former St. Vincent Registrar of the High Court Tamara Gibson-Marks is to re-appear in court on Oct. 7, 2014 after she was granted EC$30,000 bail on charges of theft, abuse of office and false certification.

The St. Lucian-born Gibson-Marks pleaded not guilty when she appeared before Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Martin four months after she was asked to resign during a 30-minute meeting with Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan.

Gibson-Mark was charged with the theft of EC$21,925 between April 30 and May 21, 2014 and providing a certificate “which was to your knowledge false in material.”

In addition, she was charged with “being employed in the Public Service did in direct abuse of the authority of your office as Registrar of the High Court.”

Gibson-Marks is also due to appear in court in September to answer disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Attorney General.

She is being asked to show cause why she should not be disbarred from practicing law in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she would not pull back the controversial Constitution (Amendment) Bill and was prepared to commit political suicide for if it came to that.

She threw out a challenge to the electorate to vote out the People’s Partnership in the 2015 general election if they did not want the bill.

Hundreds protested outside the Parliament building in Port of Spain when the Senate began to debate the contentious bill. The House of Representatives has already passed the legislation.

As tensions arouse outside, Persad-Bissessar in piloting the bill in the Senate said: “For those of the view that I am committing political suicide, I am prepared to take that risk. I am not daunted. As a politician and a prime minister, my interest is not for my political survival but for the people.”

There is a public outcry and criticisms over a proposal to change the British Westminster-style voting of first pass the post to a runoff system, which opposition politicians see is a move to eliminate third parties.

The bill seeks to change the electoral process by introducing a runoff provision, the right to recall MPs and establishing fixed term limits for prime ministers.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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