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Caribbean

A new United Nations report says economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean declined this year but is predicted to improve over the next two years.

According to the UN’s World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014 to be launched in January, growth in Latin America and the Caribbean decelerated in 2013, to a pace of 2.6 per cent.

The report, however, forecast growth in the region to improve to 3.6 and 4.1 per cent in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

“Growth in the Caribbean has been hampered by weak external demand, for the tourism sector in particular, and weaker commodity prices, but is expected to strengthen in the outlook,” it said.

The report said the regional fiscal position “slightly deteriorated” last year, adding that public debt “remains high in the Caribbean countries”.

However, it said many countries retain space for countercyclical policies.

The UN report said inflation outlook was “fairly stable, although inflation is expected to accelerate somewhat in 2013 amid more accommodative monetary policies in some countries.”

Antigua

The cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, said it would hold talks with the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) after it had been slapped with a notice of penalty in connection with an incident that occurred on Nov. 2, last year.

LIAT gave no details regarding the incident but said it was reviewing the findings with its advisors and would engage ECCAA in discussions.

“LIAT is committed to a fair resolution of the matter based on full and frank disclosure by all parties. The safety and security of our passengers remains LIAT’s top priority and LIAT continues to operate in full and strict compliance with the Civil Aviation Regulations and its operating procedures and manuals,” the airline said.

LIAT said that these matters remain under review by the airline and discussions with ECCAA, noting “it would therefore be inappropriate to make further public comment at this time.”

Bahamas

Two senior police officers are saying that the resumption of capital punishment (hangings) would make a difference in The Bahamas, although one doubted it would make as big a difference as some people think.

“There are some persons, prison is for them,” said Superintendent Stephen Dean, who was suggesting that these kinds of criminals don’t mind being in prison. No form of rehabilitation can do anything for them. There are some situations where the only thing that can stop a criminal and put him to rest is capital punishment.

“It works and it also has an effect on others because right now what criminals are seeing is that I can get off… I can get out on bail.” Dean and Central Detective Unit (CDU) Chief Superintendent Paul Rolle were guests on a Bahamian radio talk show hosted by Jeff Lloyd.

Lloyd asked them if they thought capital punishment would make a difference in the country. Rolle said, while he believes capital punishment would make a difference, it may not create the level of deterrence that some people want to see.

Guyana

A Trinidadian-born Canadian citizen is to re-appear in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court in Guyana next month after he was refused bail on a charge of trafficking in narcotics.

The court was told recently that Edward James, 56, had been arrested after nearly 20 pounds of cocaine had been found in the false bottom of his suitcases at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.

James was an in-transit passenger on the Caribbean Airways flight to Canada.

Haiti

The National Identification Office announced recently a government of Haiti initiative to register and deliver identification cards to Haitians living in the Diaspora, at a time when the situation of many undocumented Haitians, in difficulty in a foreign land, is widely debated.

The director general of the National Identification Office (ONI), Jean-Baptiste Saint-Cyr said his office is working with some of Haiti’s embassies abroad to register and deliver identification cards to hundreds of thousands of Haitians living abroad.

“We developed, in close collaboration with departments concerned, a plan to identify Haitians living abroad,” Saint-Cyr told HCNN.

“We visited the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Dominican Republic and other neighboring islands to materialize this project,” said St Cyr, explaining that he already had meetings with Haitian consuls and ambassadors abroad on the issue.

The key ministries are the Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Justice, which deals with civil status issues.

“This is a promise that we made and we are working accordingly,” said Saint Cyr, promising to make every effort to issue cards that will allow Haitians living abroad to identify themselves.

Many Haitians living in several countries in the region do not have identity documents, issued by the Haitian state, while the state to which they emigrated denies them any documents that allow them to function, as they are unable to prove who they are.

A significant number of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic are in this situation and the Haitian government is committed to provide these Haitians with identification documents that are required.

This commitment was reiterated recently at a meeting of the bilateral high-level committee, established by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, to solve the migration problem, among other things.

Jamaica

Local Lobby group, Citizens’ Action for Principle and Integrity (CAPI) has urged the Portia Simpson-Miller led administration and the opposition Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) to be more responsive in addressing the problem of crime in the New Year. In a statement recently, co-convener of the group, Dennis Meadows said the current dialogue by both parties over Jamaica’s crime situation does not facilitate “well-needed solutions to the problem.”

He said successive governments have always taken a short-term and reactive approach to the issue, rather than pursuing sustainable and proactive policies aimed at addressing its root causes.

Meadows added that crime is a disincentive to economic growth and flourishes in an environment where its perpetrators feel they can act with impunity.

In proposing a crime-prevention strategy through the setting up of a reserve cohort of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Meadows said this will go a far way in improving the current ratio of police to citizens, which stands at 297 per 100 thousand.

So far this year, 1, 160 people have been murdered, and both the government and opposition have been accusing each other of being responsible for the increase in criminal activities here.

St. Lucia

In response to the damage sustained by the agricultural and rural sectors as a result of the December 24, 2013 weather system that affected the Windward Islands, an Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) ad hoc agriculture task force has agreed to embark on a support mission to St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines respectively.

The task force, established at a November 2013 meeting of OECS ministers of agriculture held to address issues of governance for agriculture development and food and nutrition security in the OECS, took the decision to mount the Windward Islands support mission at its third meeting held recently.

The agriculture support mission, led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), includes professionals from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development institute (CARDI) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Secretariat.

The OECS agriculture task force will work with national agriculture sector officials to review the preliminary damage assessments undertaken by the respective ministries of agriculture, and will generate additional information required for emergency and development project preparation and for development of the respective project documents for funding consideration. Upon completion of the preliminary assessment of damage to Dominica’s agricultural and rural sectors, the task force will schedule a visit to that country.

Trinidad

The government has approved an order of 2,500 9mm pistols to deal with the country’s runaway crime.

National Security Minister Gary Griffith said the guns were “an urgent necessity.”

This weapon upgrade for the Police Service comes just days after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced an “all hands on deck” approach to dealing with the escalating murder rate.

After a meeting with the National Security Council recently, Persad-Bissessar announced that no officer would be allowed on leave and she recalled those who were on vacation.

The additional weaponry, Griffith said forms part of a holistic plan to fight crime.

At the meetings, several experts and government ministers discussed different ways to address the crime problem, with one such suggestion being a second State of Emergency.

Griffith, in subsequent media interviews, said he did not rule out the possibility of another State of Emergency to curb the spiraling crime rate.

The government called a State of Emergency back in August 2011 after a particularly bloody weekend left six dead. Now with 24 murders recorded up to yesterday, Griffith admitted to weighing his options to help combat the figures.

Haiti

Two tech companies have launched rival ventures to build Android tablets in Haiti, a country with little recent experience in electronics manufacturing.

Startups Surtab SA and Handxom SA began production last month and plan to sell the seven-inch touchscreen devices to phone stores nationwide and markets overseas.

Surtab says it has already sold hundreds of tablets to customers including Haiti’s education and planning ministries and mobile phone giant Digicel, which sells the tablets in its stores.

Handxom plans to open a showroom next month in the Port-au-Prince area and Project Manager Jimmy Jacques said the company has already sold 300 units in the past two weeks.

The owners of both companies say their businesses show that Haiti is capable of manufacturing more than just clothing, while also paying people decent wages.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia government has not yet determined the full economic cost of the damage following heavy rainfall, flooding and landslides on Christmas Eve due to a trough system that affected the Eastern Caribbean, but Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony says it is clear the cost of reconstruction will run into “several hundred million dollars.”

In the midst of the tragedy, he noted the support of Caribbean neighbors were like that of a “family.”

He made the comments in a media release recently entitled: “On the Recovery Efforts After the Passage of an Unexpected Christmas Eve Trough.”

He noted that the St. Lucia government has an initial Damage Assessment Report at its disposal, but the full economic cost is to be determined, and this will be completed soon. Anthony, speaking with the Trinidad and Tobago media recently during a brief visit to St. Lucia, had estimated reconstruction costs as “tens of millions” of dollars EC, noting that they lost seven bridges and replacing one of these could cost about $12 million EC.

He described the damage “unleashed” by the trough as “extensive and severe.” Dr. Anthony reported that hundreds of persons lost all of their furniture, appliances, clothing and other personal belongings to the flood waters. Ten homes were completely destroyed and several vehicles damaged by flooding, some beyond repair.

Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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