The United Nations says growth in the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean will pick up pace in 2014 on an improved global outlook that will help increase demand for exports.
The UN’s regional economic body based in Chile said recently that Latin America’s economy is set to grow by 3.2 per cent next year from a forecast of 2.6 per cent in 2013.
The agency says the growth estimate for 2013 was cut back from three per cent because of financial volatility and falling consumption. But a more favorable external environment will help boost demand for the region’s exports. Brazil is seen growing at 2.6 per cent versus 2.4 per cent this year. Mexico is set to clock an expansion of 3.5 per cent, well above the 1.3 per cent seen for 2013.
The Bahamas National Security Minister Dr. Bernard J. Nottage says law enforcement officials are hoping for an “early resolution” in their investigations after armed bandits stormed the home of Acting Prime Minister Phillip ‘Brave’ Davis recently.
Nottage said that three bandits also robbed and assaulted Davis’ chauffeur at gunpoint.
“I am happy to report that we have a break in the case and we expect to have an early resolution with the help of the public,” he said, noting that the bandits led the chauffeur into the house where they subsequently accosted the minister and his wife “and robbed him of some money but did not assault them. “The bandits fled the scene in the silver Honda in which they arrived. It is suspected that the vehicle may have been stolen in a robbery, which took place in Western New Providence earlier,” Nottage said, adding that the police were following significant leads which include the faces of at least one of the robbers and an image of the vehicle which was used.
Barbados health authorities have sought to quell fears over the safety of the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) that will be administered to school children from January next year.
The Ministry of Health said it would be introducing the vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer, to 11 and 12 year-old secondary school girls.
Health Minister John Boyce said that the government’s decision to introduce the vaccine was informed by research and “good clinical and medical practice.
“We will continue our program with interaction with the public, and with the parents especially, because this is a consent form arrangement.
“The idea is to get our parents on board in terms of participating in the discussion around this vaccine and the issues that may surround it. We know the successes of the human papillomavirus vaccine in respect of the control of cervical cancer in ladies and this is why we are launching the program and certainly we expect full participation when that time arrives in January,” he added.
Manager of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand, said that the first of these interactive discussions with parents will take the form of a town hall meeting on Dec. 18.
The Grenada government says it is disappointed that Britain has not agreed to a reduction in the controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) that Caribbean countries say puts them at a disadvantage and could destroy their vital tourism industry.
Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture Minister Alexandra Otway-Noel said she was disappointed that British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, in his Autumn Statement to Parliament recently, did not announce a reduction in the taxes at a time when tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom were on the decline. In his address, Osborne said the increase in the tax, which goes into effect from April 1, 2014, would increase the cost of medium and long-haul flights from Great Britain.
According to estimates, this essentially means that a family of four traveling economy to the United States will pay £276, up from £268, while the APD will move from £332 to £340 if they were travelling to the Caribbean. Moreover, those opting for premium economy, business, or first-class cabins, will be required to pay double the sum.
Noting that this is the sixth time there has been an increase in the APD, Otway-Noel said she was also disappointed that the decision to follow through with the tax increases was carried out in spite of the lobbying done by Caribbean tourism officials for the British to halt the APD augmentation.
The Canada-based Guyana Goldfields says it is investing US$238 million in the Aurora Gold Project as the government said it was looking forward to large scale gold production by the company during the first quarter of 2015.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, welcoming the second largest investment in the mining sector, said as a country, “we have to open to the world…we have to partner with the world,” particularly given the potential size of the multimillion-dollar investment.
Guyana Goldfields Inc. focuses on the exploration and development of gold deposits here and Hinds said that the experience, expertise and technologies which the investors were bringing into the country would have been difficult source locally.
“Our challenge is to develop partnerships with the world… we have to develop the ability to recognize who we could develop good partnerships with,” he said, acknowledging that while the investment was “somewhat risky” he was looking forward to its success.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud, who also supported the investment, said it would bring tremendous benefits to the Guyana.
He assured all stakeholders that Guyana Gold Fields (GGF) had undertaken a comprehensive environmental sensitivity index (ESI) and the necessary permits to ensure compliance with local laws and international best practices.
Guyana this year produced in excess of 452,000 ounces of gold surpassing the target of 451,000 ounces set and the 438,000 ounces declared in 2012.
The U.S. Agency for International Development will shift from building houses to financing them for people displaced by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the agency’s chief for the Caribbean nation said recently. Mission director John Groarke said the agency will try to help people build their own homes through mortgages.
“There was definitely a shift, because USAID began to realize that building houses here is very complicated,” Groarke said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We feel that we can reach and help more people through creative financing.”
An October report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office criticized the USAID effort to provide housing as part of the Caracol Industrial Park, which is the United States’ biggest investment in Haiti since the quake destroyed thousands of homes and displaced 1.5 million people.
The number of people still living in grim encampments of quake survivors is now at 170,000, the International Organization for Migration says. Many Haitians left the camps not because new housing became available but because they received rental subsidies or were evicted by landowners.
As investigations continue into the discovery of a machine used to make and reload ammunition, the police are reporting the shipment originated in Florida. Recently, police and customs officials discovered 3,300 warheads and the machine in a barrel on the wharf. Other items were also recovered which can be put together to make a round of ammunition.
The communications arm of the police force-the Constabulary Communications Network (CCN) reports that customs agents were carrying out routine checks when they became suspicious of a barrel and called the police who made the discovery.
The police with the assistance of overseas law enforcement agencies, have since established that the shipment originated in Florida.
A statement from the CCN said local detectives continue to work closely with their international partners to gather more information on the case.
The governments of St. Kitts-Nevis and the Republic of China (Taiwan) have renewed an agreement of technical cooperation in agriculture for another five years. Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Nigel Carty and Taiwanese Resident Ambassador Miguel Tsao signed the agreement recently in the presence of members of the Taiwanese Technical Mission and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Ambassador Tsao said the agreement was significant for both countries and would provide a solid foundation for future cooperation.
“It will be a milestone for remaking our new round of cooperation in the future. I would like to pledge my unwavering and unshakable commitment to work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture to benefit all the farmers,” he said.
Minister Carty pointed out the history of cooperation the Federation has enjoyed with the government of Taiwan shortly after its Independence in 1983 “on many subject matters.” He said the expertise and assistance from the Taiwanese have helped the nation in its efforts to ensure food security.
The St. Lucia government says it wants the media in St. Lucia to regulate itself, insisting that it does not want to be involved in the exercise.
“There are many FM stations, many television stations operating in St. Lucia. They are all competing for a very small market share and I think that has caused some of them to be very aggressive in their programming; to take some risks that try to be ahead of the pack and unfortunately that has happened in an environment that has not been regulated,” said Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr. James Fletcher.
He said the challenge now for the Kenny Anthony administration “is to try to put in place some sort of regime.”
The government has said the issue was still being discussed and that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has solicited comments, suggestions for improvement, and expression of concern on a proposed Draft Broadcasting Authority/ Services Bill.
National Security Minister Peter Bunting is predicting that Jamaica will end the year with a murder toll at least 10 percent higher than in 2012. Recently, the number of people murdered stood at 1,126, compared to 1,025 for the corresponding period last year. Figures also show that 1,097 people were murdered in total last year.
Recently, the main opposition Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) described as frightening, the escalating crime situation, particularly murders in the country.
“We are surely heading in the wrong direction and it now just seems that the gains that we made in 2010 during the period of the limited state of emergency we have completely lost that momentum, I don’t know if the Minister or the Commissioner is waiting on divine intervention….but in the meantime I’m strongly of the view that we are not getting the maximum from the police,” said JLP spokesman on National Security, Derrick Smith.
Compiled by Azad Ali