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Bahamian Tourism Minister Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, center left, leads Bahamian Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette, center, into the Baha Mar groundbreaking ceremony in Nassau, Bahamas, Monday Feb. 21, 2011. The 1,000 acre, $3.4 billion dollar resort, financed and largely built by China, is being billed as the largest project of its kind in the Caribbean.
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Caribbean

The European Union EU) is funding a multi-million program INTERREG V Caribbean to strengthen regional partnerships, which was recently launched in St. Lucia.

In addition to boosting the economic competitiveness of the region’s countries the INTERREG V Caribbean will also respond to environmental challenges and health issues, while promoting the joint cultural heritage of the region.

The program will focus on priority areas such as employment and innovation, health hazards, the cultural environment, public health and renewable energy.

The organizers recently met to discuss the coordination and implementation of the program in St. Lucia.

The three-day conference highlighted projects supported by the INTERREG Caribbean program, which aims to enhance regional collaboration.

Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne and his Cabinet ministers have been advised to place their wealth in a blind trust by the head of an international anti-corruption group in order to remove themselves from their private business obligations and avoid conflicts of interest.

The suggestion came from Chief Executive Officers of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians against Corruption (GOPAC), Akaash Maharaj, who said; “we would like to see is ministers and heads of government be required to place their funds in a blind trust. That means that a banker or an investment company can make decisions on their behalf about where to invest those funds”.

He said it was “not appropriate” for ministers “to be involved in directing investments themselves”.

Maharaj added that the blind trust ensures that they continue to participate in the economic system.

Barbados

Two CARICOM nationals were allegedly caught trying to smuggle cocaine into Barbados recently.

According to a police media release, members of the Drug Squad have charged Trinidadian Dexter Taylor with possession, possession with intent to supply, trafficking and importation of cocaine.

Taylor recently arrived in Barbados and after clearing Immigration at the Grantley Adams Airport he was questioned by police and referred to Customs.

During a search of his luggage, three packages of cocaine were allegedly found in false compartments in a backpack he was carrying. He was charged with several drug offences and later appeared in court. He was remanded in custody until next month.

And Guyanese national Odetta Marsha Bentick is also facing similar charges after Customs officers found 3.2 kilos of cocaine in a false bottom in the suitcase she was carrying.

She also arrived on the same flight as Taylor from Trinidad.

Bentick is being held at the HMP Dodds Prison.

Bahamas

The controversial multi-million dollar Baha Mar mega resort has been recently sold to property developer and business conglomerate, CTF BH Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong conglomerate — Chow Tai Fook Enterprises.

The announcement of the sale of the US$3.3 billion project which is expected to feature a Las Vegas-style casino and more than 2,000 rooms was made by Prime Minister Perry Christie.

He told Parliament that the sale and purchase agreement represents a significant achievement for the Bahamas and a milestone in the troubled history of the Baha Mar resort.

The prime minister said the resort was first scheduled to open in December 2014, and then postponed to March 2015, but those dates were missed although construction work was more than 85 percent complete.

Christie said disputes with the developer, Sarkis Izmirlian led China Construction America to stop work and the Export-Import Development Bank of China to halt lending.

The Baha Mar group of companies suddenly filed for bankruptcy, which was dismissed.

Cayman Islands

InterCaribbean Airways has introduced a new non-stop weekly service from Providenciales to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

These new flights will commence operating from December 18, 2016, every Sunday and return every Monday. The service is initially offered on a once weekly basis.

Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett welcomed the announcement by InterCaribbean Airways of the new service from Providenciales to the island’s tourism capital and second city.

There would be connections from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Nassau, Bahamas and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

He said intra-region travel has a critical role to play in Jamaica’s efforts to grow visitor arrivals over the current growth rate of five percent.

InterCaribbean Airways Chief Executive Officer Trevor Sadler said the steady increase in demand to Montego Bay warrants the introduction of this new service.

InterCaribbean Airways is based in the Turks and Caicos Islands and was founded 25 years ago.

Grenada

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved US$1.4 million financing for the government of Grenada to support the establishment of a juvenile justice prevention and response system.

The project aims to prevent young people from coming into conflict with the law, as well as rehabilitate young offenders.

Over the period 2010 to 2014, there were a 30.5 percent increase in the number of offenses committed by youth in Grenada, suggesting there is a need for intervention.

The project, juvenile victims and youth at risk will be targeted for diversion and rehabilitation and also for integration into the labor force and society.

They will also be given the opportunity to increase their life and employability skills through targeted psychoeducation and training.

Guyana

The Bank of Guyana has put on hold the buying of Trinidad and Tobago dollars and Barbados dollars from cambios in an effort to stem the increase demand for United States currency.

Guyana’s Central Bank Governor Dr. Gobind Ganga said there was evidence that people have been traveling to Guyana from Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago to buy United States dollars, resulting in the decision to stop buying those countries’ currencies from cambios.

Dr. Ganga said individuals who have legitimate transactions can still get approval from the Central Bank.

Figures show there were Bds$8 million circulating in Guyana in 2014 compared to Bds$13 million currently and TT$9.1 million in 2014 compared to TT$38 million at present.

The economic downturn in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Suriname has led to a severe shortage of United States currency in those countries.

Jamaica

The revitalization of the Jamaica’s train system will cost investors US$250 million.

Foreign investors, including US-based Company Herzog are interested in reviving the country’s cargo and passenger rail service.

The project is to be undertaken in segments with the first four phases from Montego Bay to Appleton, which is due to get underway before the start of the winter tourist season in 2017.

A non-binding agreement was recently signed by the Jamaican Ministry of Transport and Mining, the Jamaica Railway Corporation and Herog Jamaica Ltd., which is a subsidiary of US-based Herog International, according to a government statement.

Transport Minister Mike Henry said the revitalization of the rail system has the potential to significantly transform the economic landscape along the rail corridor through tourism, freight, land development, communication and commuter service.

— compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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