The U.S. Coast Guard seized more than 3,500 pounds of marijuana estimated at US$3.5 million and detained five suspects during a drug interdiction exercise in the Caribbean Sea, south west of Caba Rojo, Puerto Rico.
The U.S. Coast Guard said while on patrol on July 8, 2014 their cutter Northland detected a 68-foot motor vessel An-Nur transiting the Caribbean Sea with crew members onboard.
Northland’s boarding team discovered 5,591 pounds of marijuana.
The Northland crew seized the marijuana, detained the crew and took in the An-Nur.
The Northland transferred the illegal drug shipment, the vessel, and detainees to the custody of the Customs and Border Protection and Federal Bureau of investigation special agents, who will be leading into the case as part of the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force.
The Antigua and Barbuda government recently signed a memorandum of agreement with an investor from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for the construction of a US$120 million hotel project.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne signed the agreement with Sheik Tariq bin Faisa Al Qassimi after negotiation following Browne’s trip to Brazil recently.
Al Qassimi signed the agreement on behalf of Al Caribi Development, which will develop a five-start branded luxury resort project on Morris Bay.
In a statement, the government said the property will be located on a 36-acre beach front site, five acres of which will be developed into a national park facility.
The resort will be overseen by a joint venture company formed with the government but should the project fail to perform within a specific period, he land would automatically revert to the government.
With Barbados’ foreign reserves standing below the 2013 level, International credit rating agency Moody has warned that strain could put on the dollar.
“Any further erosion in reserves would likely put further pressure on Barbados’ currency, which is pegged to the US dollar,” Moody said in its July 2014 report.
The agency issues its analysis based on the Central Bank of Barbados’ fiscal first quarter report on July 15.
The analysis is titles, “Barbados” Mounting Fiscal Challenges and Persistent Economic Weakness Are Credit Negative”.
“After recovering slightly during the previous three quarters, foreign exchange reserves have resumed their decline and as of June 30 remained around 25 percent below early 2013 levels,” Moody noted.
“This decline occurred despite a slight recovery in long-term private financial inflows that traditionally help support the central bank’ international reserves,” it said.
Students attending the University of Guyana will have to pay for tuition fees for the new academic year.
The University of Guyana Council has approved the proposed tuition adjustment for the institution effective from the 2014-2015 academic years. The adjusted fees applies to both new and continuing students who are pursuing programs, which previously attracted a fee of Guy$127,000, the University said in a statement.
The new charges will see incremental increases moving from Guy$127,000 to $130,000 in 2014, $145,00 in 2015 and $160,000 in 2016, in addition to the $50,000 Facilities Fee.
The hotel industry is feeling the squeeze by the worsening dry spell in Jamaica, with at least one hotel in the eastern section of the island facing closure due to the water shortage.
According to Michael Gayle, chairman of the Port Antonio Chapter of the Jamaican Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), the situation is dire as some properties are running out of options in sourcing water.
Immediate past president of the JHTA Evelyn Smith, says members of the JHTA are bracing for an increase in operational expenses, especially as it relates to the cost of agricultural produce.
The Ministry of Agriculture said recently that the protracted dry spell across the island has led to a shortage of several food items based on an assessment completed by the Ministry.
The government says it will plan the way forward for the coca industry after owners of the St. Vincent Cocoa Company announced their decision to cease operations recently.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar will meet the company.
The company began operation in August 2011 after signing a 50-year agreement with the Gonsalves government.
The agreement, which qualified for review after 20 years, gave Amajaro exclusivity in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to buy cocoa beans in wet and dry form and to perform sales and marketing of the agreement.
It, however, made exception for cottage industry persons selling cocoa for consumption in the country.
Armajaro Trading Ltd, reported a loss of US$7.6 million in the year ending September 2012, according to Bloomberg, a premier financial site for business and financial market news.
Gonsalves said after the meeting Caesar was expected “to be in a better place to find out the precise way in going forward in light of the memorandum of understanding that we had.”
In its 2014 Human Trafficking Report, the U.S. State Department listed Trinidad and Tobago as a destination, transit and possible source for adults and children for sex trafficking and forced labor.
It said nationals from Dominican Republic, Guyana, Venezuela and Colombia were also victims of sex trafficking in local brothels and clubs.
A 2013 study has shown that owners of some brothers and nightclubs recruit women and girls for prostitution and keep their passports.
The department said while some improvement has been made to T&T anti-human trafficking efforts, Government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
A lack of formalized stand-alone identification procedures for front line responders hindered the government’s ability to identify additional trafficking victims and increased risks.
It recommended that the State prosecute cases that were investigated under the Trafficking in Persons Act 2011 and convict and sentence offenders.
Jamaican hotelier Gordon “Butch” Stewart Sandals Group is moving to purchase a Barbados flagship tourism property, Almond Beach Village for US$53 million.
The transaction is expected to boost Barbados’ highly stressed foreign exchange coffers. The property is owned by state corporation, Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. (BTI) which government has been borrowing money from another state entity, National Insurance Service, to keep the premier real estate afloat.
The sale of Almonds to Sandals was recently examined by Cabinet and approved by Prime Minister Frenduel Stuart.
Compiled by Azad Ali