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Caribbean Round-Up

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Barbados

Some communities in Barbados are under siege, claims former Attorney General Dale Marshall.

The opposition Barbados Labor Party (BLP) parliamentarian said that an average of two murders a month was unacceptable, adding that “Barbadians now have to endure an ineffective administration and a doubly ineffective Attorney General.”

Marshall argued that in order to turn things around, the Government must begin by accepting that Barbadians are now effectively under siege.

“There are communities in St James where people are afraid to venture out at nights,” he complained.

“All across Barbados a feeling that you are no longer safe is becoming pervasive. It could not have come at a worse time because there is a clear linkage between these kinds of violent crimes and economic hardship,” he said.

Dominica

Dominican Irwin LaRocque has taken up his new post as CARICOM Secretary General.

He has called for greater resources to run the 15-nation bloc and vowing to market its achievements to a skeptical Caribbean population.

LaRocque has acknowledged that stalled efforts to launch a single trading market and currency have meant that “our people seem to be losing faith in integration as a means of improving their lives.”

The 56-year-old economist previously served as Dominica’s foreign affairs minister and trade chief of the Guyana-based secretariat.

The leadership post had been empty for a year. The previous CARICOM chief was Edwin Carrington, who stepped down last August.

Guyana

Guyana is looking for a foreign company to run a malfunctioning $200 million Chinese-built sugar mill because the South American country doesn’t have the needed expertise, said Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud.

The factory was supposed to double Guyana’s annual average sugar production to about 500,000 metric tons, but engineering defects and other problems have limited production, Persaud said.

The mill is owned by state-run Guyana Sugar Corp., the Caribbean’s largest sugar production and exporter.

China’s National Technical Import and Export Corporation built the factory about three years ago but was threatened with fines for missing deadlines and struggling to get production up to full capacity.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s government has sold its three remaining sugar estates to a Chinese company in a privatization deal recently that has been a long-standing goal of Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

Under the agreement, China’s Complant International Sugar Industry Company Ltd. will be leased more than 44,000 acres of cane fields and will own the three sugar estates and their surrounding properties.

Complant paid US$9 million for the Monymusk, Frome and Bernard Lodge factories and control of sugar cane lands under the lease.

The deal also calls for the Chinese company to rehabilitate the sugar mills.

Golding said Complant’s total investment should be around $168 million.

In 2007, the Jamaican government began efforts to sell the five companies that made up the Sugar Company of Jamaica because of mounting financial losses and years to rising debt.

Jamaica

Jamaica has promised to implement its free trade with Costa Rica.

Costa Rica’s Minister of Foreign Trade, Anabel Gonzalez recently met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Kenneth Baugh, “to discuss the formal implementation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Costa Rica and CARICOM.”

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade said talks between both ministers were wide ranging and included discussions on issues related to trade and other areas of bilateral co-operation, as well as business opportunities and the establishment of contacts between entrepreneurs from both countries.

Gonzalez said that the seven-year-old FTA between Costa Rica and CARICOM is aimed at increasing and diversifying trade in goods.

Jamaica

U.S. rapper Nicki Minaj was fined J$1,000 for swearing on stage during a recent performance in Jamaica.

The 28-year-old was issued a summons for breaking local laws against profanity after appearing at the Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay.

A local attorney appeared in court to plead guilty on the singer’s behalf and paid the fine.

Jamaica strictly enforces laws prohibiting artistes from using expletives during live performances, but the songwriter performed some of her songs uncensored.

She appeared unfazed by stirring controversy, writing on Twitter how happy she was shortly after her performance.

It was the first time Minaj had performed in the country.

Nevis

One week after Trinidad and Tobago Finance Minister Winston Dookeran ordered insurance giant CLICO to discontinue all payments to its Executive Flexible Premium Annuity policyholders, the company has entered in an agreement with the Bank of Nevis and its offshore banking arm, the Bank of Nevis International Ltd., to repay the financial institution the equivalent of US$4.3 million over 15 months.

The agreement between CLICO and the Nevis bank followed legal action initiated by it against CLICO for the full repayment of all outstanding principal and interest payments on May 17, 2010 – seven days before the last T&T general election.

The banks were awarded judgment in default of appearance against CLICO on May 26, 2010, according to the bank’s 2010 annual report, which was two days after the general election.

On Sept. 15, 2010, which was seven days after the presentation of the 2011 budget by Finance Minister Winston Dookeran, “the banks and CLICO entered into a formal agreement for the repayment of the outstanding amounts.

“At the time of the approval of these financial statements, all payments under the agreement have been honored.”

The formal agreement envisages that the Bank of Nevis would be fully repaid after 15 months.

Trinidad

Dengue cases in Trinidad and Tobago continue to rise as there are more than 1,700 cases reported up to August.

Health Minister Dr. Fuad Khan said the number of people infected with the dengue fever throughout the country continues to rise.

He said everyday people were testing positive for dengue fever.

The health minister said there was a clear distinction between dengue fever and the dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has also fallen victim to the dengue virus but in a mild form.

She said doctors had advised her to stay at home and rest and will work from her home in South Trinidad.

So far only one death has recorded that of an eight-year-old girl.

Trinidad

Private health insurance for people suffering with HIV and Aids will soon be available in the Caribbean.

This was revealed by the Insurance Association of the Caribbean president, Douglas Camacho at an insurance and health summit at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain.

The summit, held by the Pan Caribbean Partnership (PANCAP) against HIV and Aids sought to facilitate dialogue between insurance companies and health provision of insurance products for persons living with HIV.

Camacho said the biggest challenge in providing such products in the past was the availability of data to the insurance sector to enable an active review and pricing mechanism for those products.

Camacho said from the meeting the insurance sector would be able to put mechanisms in place to bridge the gaps in data so that insurance would be available for HIV positive individuals.

Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 5:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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