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Caribbean

The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is warning against a dengue epidemic type three to deal with next year.

Head of CARPHA, Dr. James Hospedales told a Caribbean and Latin America panel discussion on regional coordination in responding to hazards and matters of security recently in Barbados that the epidemic is likely to be stronger.

He said dengue has been increasing in frequency and severity in the last 30 or years so, adding that another strain of the mosquito-borne viral infection is set to affect the region next year, mainly because of continued personal neglect treatment of their immediate environment by regional people.

“We can predict with some degree of certainty that next year, more probably 2018, the region will have a dengue type three epidemic,” said Dr. Hospedales.

But the CMO noted that as a region, the Caribbean has been going through an abnormal spell with regard to viral infection.

He said that Caribbean people must take some of the blame for the continued presence in their communities if disease-transmitting organism, such as the dengue- bearing Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government has put on hold plans to establish an embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Max Fernandez in making the announcement said the decision comes following an unexpected spike in violence in the war-torn country.

He said because of the spike in unrest in Iraq, cabinet took a decision to put that on hold, adding that the government could not have predicted the spike in unrest.

However, Fernandez said the country is pushing forward with plans to establish an embassy in the United Arab Emirates.

Barbados

Barbadians began paying more for gasoline, diesel and kerosene but less for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as from Oct. 1, 2016.

The retail price of gasoline went up from Bds$2.82 per liter to $2.91, an increase of nine cents per liter.

The price of diesel has moved up from Bds$1.95 to $2.09, 14 cents more. Kerosene is now retailing at $1.05 per liter, up from 90 cents.

Meanwhile, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is now retailing at Bds $135.16 per l00 lb. cylinder, down from Bds $137, a decrease of $2.79.

The price of a 20lb cylinder has moved from $31.75 to $31.26, a 49 cents saving.

The Energy Division explained that the adjustment in the retail in prices was due solely to changes in the CIF (cost, insurance, freight) on these refined products.

Dominica

Dominica is seeing a record increase in non-communicable diseases on the island.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. David Johnson says the statistics are frightening adding that the records show that one in every four persons attending clinics are suffering from hypertension and one in every five persons at those clinics are suffering from diabetes.

He said another issue of concern is obesity.

The CMO pointed to an increase in childhood obesity, stating that over 10 percent of children within the age range of zero to five is suffering from the disease.

Dr. Johnson has also encouraged women to take steps towards preventing cancer.

He was at the time speaking at the official launch of Caribbean Wellness month recently.

Guyana

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has promised to look into the Guyana / Venezuela border dispute before his term of office expires.

Speaking at a meeting with Guyana President David Granger recently, Ban Ki-Moon said his assessment would most likely be delivered by November.

Granger has committed to providing the secretary general with any additional information needed to complete the assessment.

Former Commonwealth Secretary General, Guyana-born Sir Shridath Ramphal, and Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge also attended the meeting with other officials of the Guyana’s Foreign Ministry.

Guyana has been trying to persuade the United Nations to recommend a judicial settlement to the longstanding dispute.

At a press conference, Granger expressed satisfaction with efforts being made by the United Nations secretary general to reach a satisfactory solution to the decades-old border dispute between the two South American countries.

Jamaica

Jamaican Culture Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange is supporting a petition to United States President Barack Obama to pardon National Hero Marcus Garvey of his wrongful conviction.

Garvey was convicted of mail fraud in 1923, however Grange says the Government of Jamaica believes “the trial and conviction were meant to tarnish Garvey’s image and diminish his global movement”.

Grange said, “the United States officials disapproved of Garvey’s fearless advocacy of self-reliance, black pride and unity among his people so they imprisoned him, then deported him.”

She noted that the government of Jamaica has attempted at the highest level and on several occasions to clear Garvey.

The minister believes that the petition led by United States citizens will yield the desired results.

Grange is encouraging everyone who is capable, including the Jamaican Diaspora in the United States, and Americans living in Jamaica, “to sign the petition and help to right a wrong.”

The petition needs l000, 000 signatures to get a response from the White House.’

In the meantime, the Culture Minister is bringing a motion to parliament to expunge Garvey’s local criminal record.

He was convicted in Jamaica for sedition and imprisoned at the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Center for three months.

Suriname

The Central Bank of Suriname has granted the first Islamic Bank in the Western Hemisphere, The Trust Bank, to start Islamic banking. The Trust Bank plans to start operation by the first quarter of 2017.

Foreign investment will now flow through Trust Bank and will be a boost to the Surinamese economy. The bank is now busy putting together the physical and human infrastructure to meet its target opening date.

A year ago, the bank signed an advisory services agreement with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank Group to process and support its conversion into Islamic compliant operations.

With the coming of the Trust Bank, Suriname may emerge as a hub for Islamic banking and finance in the region. Guyana, for example, is now turning to Suriname to help to access economic and technical support from the Islamic Development Bank.

St. Kitts

The Kitts and Nevis Tourism Minister Lindsay Grant has been ordered by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to pay election consulting fees owed to Buzzmaker, an international political consulting firm that has worked on hundreds of high profile political campaigns across the Caribbean and the world.

In 2009, as political leader of the People’s Action Movement (PAM), an unregistered political party in St. Kitts and Nevis, Grant entered into an agreement with Buzzmaker to provide political consulting services in the run-up to the 2010 general elections but failed to pay for the services rendered.

Buzzmaker asked Grant to pay a total of US$28, 841.20 for the period July 2009 to December, 2009.

Grant paid a total of US$18,235, the last payment on November 2011.

Buzzmaker had sued Grant for the outstanding balance of US$10, 606, 20 plus five percent interest

The consultant service company attorney successfully argued that Grant was liable for the debts incurred and the court agreed.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Finance Minister Colm Imbert last week presented a TT$53.4 billion budget which was presented in the House of Representatives.

The budget is based on an oil price of US$48 a barrel and a gas price of US$2.25.

Total revenue is estimated $47.4 billion and expenditure at $53.4 billion, leaving a $6 billion budget deficit.

Imbert said $2,575 billion will come from oil revenue and $44.8 billion from non-oil revenue.

He said in 2017 core revenue ( taxation, royalties, and customs duties) is projected to be at approximately $ 37 billion, $20 billion less than two years ago.

Millionaires, alcohol drinkers and smokers will feel the pinch of the fiscal package. A new tax bracket has been created for those making over TT$1 million a year who will now face a five percent increase in income tax.

Locally and imported tobacco products and alcohol will see a 15 and 20 percent increase, respectively.

As expected, the government raised the price of diesel, hitting taxi-drivers, maxi-taxi drivers, truckers as well as SUV owners who will see their fuel bill moving up from TT$1.98 per liter to $2.30.

Property tax, which was put on hold when the former PP government came into office in 2012, will be back. Home owners will have to pay three percent of the annual rental value of a property.

There is going to be a seven percent online tax in March next year.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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