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Caribbean Round-Up

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Barbados

This year’s budget has had no influence whatsoever from the International Monetary Fund and its measures are aimed at creating for Barbados a bigger, better, stronger and more competitively structured economy.

Minister for Finance Chrish Sinckler made these comments during the budget debate in parliament recently.

He said contrary to claims made that the IMF wrote the budget, that was not so.

He denied having met with IMF officials.

Making several clarifications during the debate in the house of assembly, Sinckler said that government is not taking away people’s travel and entertainment allowances.

The finance minister stressed that after a year, the 17.5 percent VAT implementation will be reviewed to see if some adjustments can be made in other taxes to compensate for any level of discomfort that may come.

Minister for Health Donville Innis told the house that, contrary to reports, Barbadians do not have to pay for medication.

Guyana

The Guyana police have asked Interpol to help track down two ex-Guyana Defense Force lieutenants said to be key players in the alleged “terror” attacks in Guyana.

One of them is believed to be in the United States, while the other is in Europe.

The two officers are said to be the masterminds behind the torching of the Ministry of Health buildings, the arson attack at the Supreme Court and the attacks on the Brickdam Police Station and the Ruimveldt Police Outpost.

Haiti

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin recently visited Haiti, an impoverished nation struggling to overcome post-election violence and a cholera outbreak.

Palin was accompanied by Rev. Franklin Graham as part of a humanitarian mission by his Samaritan’s Purse relief organization.

Group spokeswoman Roseann Denny said details of Palin’s itinerary were not released for security reasons.

The potential U.S. presidential candidate visited the Haitian capital and made a stop by cholera-treatment centers and other projects of Graham’s charity group.

Haiti

Terror over a fast-spreading cholera epidemic has triggered a violent witch-hunt in rural Haiti in which, people have killed 12 neighbors on accusations they used “black magic” to infect residents, police said.

The infection is new to Haiti and there is widespread confusion and fear about the disease.

In less than six weeks since the first-ever case was confirmed in the country’s rural center, nearly 2,000 people have died and more than 84,000 have been infected.

Rumors began to spread recently in the remote southwestern Grand Anse region, where the first cases of cholera are only now being seen, that voodoo practitioners had fashioned a magic powder to spread the infection.

Machete-wielding mobs have since lynched and killed a dozen people accused of practising such witchcraft, burning the bodies of their victims, a police spokesman said.

Jamaica

Jamaican police have temporarily suspended a search for more bodies buried in shallow graves at a construction site.

Police suspect the dead are victims of gang murders and say they expect to resume the search in the southern city of Portmore soon when more officers can assist.

Three bodies have been found, and police said they expect to find more.

The first body was recently uncovered as developers cleared the site to make way for a hospital. Two more bodies were found shortly afterward, including a headless corpse.

Construction is on hold until police complete their investigation.

Jamaica

The opposition People’s National Party (PNP) said that the party will not offer a candidate to contest the North East St. Ann by-election on Dec. 20.

The statement came after failed attempts to get the elections called off.

The Jamaica Observer reported that the PNP in a statement said, “We now confirm that we will not be contesting the by-election.”

The PNP said the intention has always been that the integrity of the membership of the parliament should be beyond question.

The PNP is also of the view that addressing the unprecedented economic and social challenges that the country now face must take priority.

The by-election is to fill the gap following the removal of Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) candidate Shahine Robinson, who was disqualified because she had dual citizenship at the time when she contested the 2007 general election.

St. Thomas

Members of the Caribbean Tourism Organization ( CTO) recently held their annual board meeting in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The 15 chapter presidents of the organization spent four days in the territory for meetings, seminars, hotel inspections and sightseeing.

The CTO’s chapters are the voluntary marketing arms of the organization.

The chapters comprise travel agents who conduct monthly seminars and presentations about Caribbean destinations to educate travel agents about Caribbean tourism.

Chapter presidents hold their annual board meeting on different Caribbean islands each year to develop programs to promote the region and to learn more about the various destinations.

The group also met with Governor John deJongh Jr. at Government House, where CTO’s Secretary General Hugh Riley delivered a keynote presentation.

The CTO develops partnerships to increase the demand for travel to the Caribbean.

With headquarters in Barbados, the CTO has 32 member countries, including English, French, Spanish and Dutch countries and territories, as well as allied members in the private sector.

Trinidad

Government has introduced draconian measures to deal with gang violence in Trinidad and Tobago.

The legislation, which is currently being debated in the house of representatives, will see convicted gang leaders serving life imprisonment.

This is the sentence under the Anti-gang bill, which was laid in parliament recently by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

He said the legislation is designed to clamp down on the 110 gangs, which now exist in Trinidad and Tobago.

The AG noted that gang members buy fancy cars and cellphones and lead women astray to join them in crime with their “bling” lifestyle.

The bill features huge fines plus stiff jail sentences and wide-powers for police.

Gang members can be jailed for up to 25 years when convicted.

Ramlogan said the bill was a flagship in the government’s artillery of legislation against rising crime. So far this year more than 450 people were killed.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar recently launched Carnival 2011, which she promises to be one of the biggest and best ever in the world.

Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston “Gypsy” Peters said there would be greater emphasis on high-quality events leading up to the “Greatest Show on Earth.”

Carnival events have returned to the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

Three years ago the former Patrick Manning administration had moved carnival events away from the Savannah to make way for a new Carnival Center.

Peters said Trinidad and Tobago carnival is important as an industry that exists beyond our shores.

The theme of Carnival 2011, Back in “D” Savannah, is significant as the annual festival.

The minister said next year there would be “The People’s Band,” which will involve all citizens.

Peters said he was interesting in restoring old time mas and wanted to see traditional characters, like minstrels, midnight robbers and dance lorraines back on the streets for Carnival 2011.

Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 4:50 pm, July 9, 2018
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