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Bahamas

Bahamas is the wealthiest Caribbean country according to the World Bank. In the 2014 World Development Report, the World Bank used each country’s Gross National Income (GNI) to measure its wealth.

According to Investopedia’s website, GNI is the sum of a nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) plus net income received from overseas.

Trinidad and Tobago’s GNI was US$14,400 while the Bahamas placed first with US$21,280. St. Kitts placed third with US$13,330 and Antigua and Barbuda fourth with US$12,640.

Dominica

Dominica is seeking assistance from the International Atomic Agency in helping it determine the cause of an increase in the number of cancer cases on the island.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Johnson said the island is a member of the international organization and “they have a program organized for other countries and we have made a request and hopefully in 2014 we will be embarking on developing a comprehensive cancer prevention program.”

He said climate change and its effects on the health of the population would also be a major issue for health authorities in the New Year.

“Climate change is another big issue for us, you have seen what is happening, the effects of climate change in terms of our infrastructure but there are also significant effects with regards to climate change on health.”

He said these effects relate to the spread of disease including dengue fever “and certain respiratory illnesses.

“In 2014 that is something we will be focusing on and we are working very closely with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) based in Geneva and we have made some contacts with that organization …and looking at benefitting in terms of some of the assistance available in improving or mitigating the effects of climate change on health as it relates to those diseases, dengue leptospirosis and viral disease,” he added.

Guyana

Panama-based Copa Airline has announced the commencement of their service to Guyana starting in July this year.

The Guyana route will begin operations with flights twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Fridays, to Panama City, Panama, and passengers would have the leisure of booking connecting flights to a number of other destinations such as Montreal, Canada, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and New York.

Sales Manager of Copa Airlines, Guillermo Gomez, in making the announcement at a press conference, said that “as a member of Copa Airlines and speaking on behalf of the entire company, we are very glad that Guyana will become one of our most important achievements in 2014, the 30th country on our network and our 68th destination.”

Several steps had to be taken to encourage Copa Airlines to begin operations in Guyana and settling the visa arrangements posed one of the major issues, Minster of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett pointed out.

Jamaica

Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson is disagreeing with a proposal from the main opposition Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) that Jamaica should establish its own final court of appeal.

Recently, the JLP’s spokesman on Justice, Senator Alexander Williams, suggested that instead of using the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the final appellate Court, Jamaica should establish a domestic court as its final court of appeal.

He said this would be an additional court, superior to the existing Jamaican Court of Appeal. This development would take Jamaica out of the realm of the UK-based Privy Council, while not acceding to the CCJ as an alternative.

Patterson responded: “The former administration under then Prime Minister (Bruce) Golding did a study and prepared a position which I have had the opportunity of seeing. The arguments advanced for a final court seemed to me to be weak, tenuous and unconvinci­ng.”

St. Lucia

Four men are due to re-appear in court this month charged with the murder of 62-year-old Roger Pratt, an English-born national, who along with his wife were attacked on their yacht in Vieux Fort.

Police said Richie Kern, 21, Kervin Deveaux, 31, Fannis Joseph, 21 and Jeromine Jones, 21, appeared before a magistrate in the Second District Court last month charged with robbery and committing murder.

Police Commissioner Vernon Francois said that a “very professional investigation was carried out by some of his more experienced investigators, who were ably supported by some members of the public.

“As we do in practically every case, we rely on the support of the public and that certainly came through in this particular case. We wish to commend the officers and commend St. Lucia for the effort they put in this particular case,” he said.

Earlier, a government statement said that Pratt had died of asphyxia secondary to blunt force trauma during the attack on January 17 and that his wife, Magaret, who was also injured, had been discharged from hospital.

St. Vincent

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has announced an increase in the excise tax on gasoline as he insisted that the government’s fiscal policy for 2014 will continue to be a mixture of prudence, patience and enterprise.

Gonsalves, delivering the budget statement recently in the wake of the devastating Christmas floods that have left EC$330 million (One EC dollar= US$0.37 cents) in losses and damages, also announced lower a gasoline price and increased diesel price as part of the government’s regular review of the retail prices of these fuels.

Parliament on Dec. 9, 2013 approved the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for 2014 totaling EC$911.57 million and Prime Minister Gonsalves said that the Christmas Eve floods have “altered profoundly the immediate socio-economic context of the 2014 budget.

“This budget is aimed at strengthening our socio-economic base for recovery and reconstruction after a natural disaster in a context of on-going global economic uncertainty and downside risks,” Gonsalves told Parliament.

He said that preliminary estimates from the natural disaster, which left nine people dead and three others missing, tells “a horrendous story” as far as loss and damage to infrastructure and agriculture is concerned.

The World Bank has estimated the damages and losses at EC$291.4 million or 15 per cent of gross domestic product GDP, but Gonsalves, however, said that the World Bank’s figure underestimates the damage to agriculture by nearly EC$5 million and does not include damage assessment to the forest.

He told lawmakers that the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates the damage and loss to the agricultural sector at EC$8.4 million, and to forestry at EC$24 million.

He said the increase in the tax is not expected to have any “immediate, significant upward impact” on the piece of fuel at the pump, as prices have been trending downwards in recent months.

In the case of gasoline, the entire 50 cents can be accommodated by the lower price of the fuel, which has moved from EC$14.08 to EC$13.95 per gallon.

However, the price per gallon of diesel has increased from EC$13.32 to EC$13.67.

Guyana

Guyana police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the recent murder of well-known fashion designer Trevor Rose.

The police report that Rose and a female companion were heading up the East Bank Demerara recently when they were accosted by a man who exited another vehicle and started shooting at Rose.

Two other persons were injured in the shooting.

Police later said that they recovered one 9mm pistol and 19 rounds at the scene.

The female person received a gunshot wound to the buttocks, while the driver Trevor Newinkiri sustained a wound to his left shoulder.

Newinkiri drove to the Georgetown Public Hospital where Rose, 32, was pronounced dead.

St. Vincent

Four people, including a national residing in Trinidad and Tobago, were killed in vehicular accidents in St. Vincent recently, according to police.

While the authorities have not yet released the names of any of the victims of the accidents, they said two others have been hospitalized.

The police said that a St. Vincent and the Grenadines national, who had returned home for the Christmas holidays, died when the vehicle in which she was travelling plunged over a hillside in Coulls Hill in western St. Vincent recently.

Less than 24 hours later, three people were killed when their vehicle crashed in Maroon Hill, a community in the interior of the island.

The weekend deaths bring to five, the number of people who have died in road incidents so far this year.

Kenson James, an 11-year-old student of New Adelphi died at the Diamonds Health Centre on January 7 after he was struck by a vehicle, police said.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar has broken her silence on the multi-million dollar drug bust in the United States that allegedly involves products from a leading manufacturer in Trinidad and Tobago.

“Every nation in the world has issues with narco-trafficking and therefore it’s (about) our response now. We learn every day,” she told reporters recently as she attended the launch of the National Week of Prayer.

“The matter is under investigation. It is sensitive and it would be inappropriate to comment on it at this time.

“I think with this being such a sensitive matter, information should be shared on a need to know basis. Therefore, this blanket in terms of sharing information is on lock down; I think it’s a good strategy because we’ve seen in the past where leakages could lead to compromising of the investigat­ion,” Persad-Bissessar added.

U.S. Federal officials announced that they had found 732 pounds of cocaine last Dec. 20 concealed in cans of fruit juice at the Port of Norfolk in Virginia.

Investigators estimate the cocaine had a wholesale value of about US$12 million and a street value of up to US$100 million.

Officials from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) are in Trinidad conducting investigations into the matter and the local beverage manufacturer, SM Jaleel & Co Ltd, whose products have been used in the shipment of the drugs, has distanced itself from the shipment.

Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said she does not believe the island’s international trade reputation would be negatively impacted as a result of the drug bust.

“We were able through allies to bust this container of goods, unfortunately with a Trinidad and Tobago name on it. We still don’t know if it was something done here or elsewhere; that is under investigation. The shipment may have left Trinidad and Tobago, but what transpired after that is still sensitive and still under investigat­ion,” she said.

Trade Minister Vasant Bharath said a multi-million dollar scanner to examine import containers -purchased through a Chinese grant - is now being installed at the port of Port of Spain.

He said that three scanners that were to be acquired through the United States last year were delayed because of regulatory issues that had to be approved by the U.S. Senate.

Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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