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Bahamas

The Bahamas has signed an agreement for US$200 million to develop an eco-friendly, high-end luxury resort on neighboring islands, Children’s Bay Cay and Williams Cay.

Prime Minister Perry Christie said the resort will add to the economic and social development of the Exumas and will certainly be another bright spot in The Bahamas archipelago of Islands.

He said among the benefits is the high-end branding affiliated with a prominent European family; and diversification of the tourism industry in the form of a five-star experience for high net worth individuals.

Christie, who signed a Heads of Agreement with CB Commander Limited and CH Amiral Limited, said that the owner of the project, Dona Bertarelli, is member of a prominent Swiss family.

He told the ceremony that Children’s Cay will be developed into an exclusive five-star ultra-luxurious resort and golf club and will feature a boutique ; pavilion room; five estate homes; a club house comprising a restaurant , bar and lounges among other facilities.

The prime minister said the Cay will be a private section of the resort and will contain and ecological 18-hole golf course.

He said the direct impact of the development will result in a significant increase in business activities for Bahamians in several areas including small aircraft services, boat and ferry services, food beverage, fuel suppliers, security services, brokerage and freight and logistics.

Christie noted that employment prospects for residents will be increased significantly for about 400 Bahamians in the construction works on the project over five-year period.

Barbados

The Barbados Ministry of Health has revealed that three pregnant women in the Caribbean island have contracted the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease linked to birth defects.

The latest results from the Caribbean Health Agency (CARPHA) bring the number of confirmed cases to seven.

The Ministry of Health in a statement said the three women have bene notified of the results and have been counseled.

There are thousands of cases in Brazil of microcephaly- a rare condition in which the heads and brains of infants are usually small- and other abnormalities in babies born to women who were infected with the Zika virus while pregnant.

But Barbados health officials have echoed sentiments of the World Health Organization (WHO) that the suspected link is still under investigation and the relationship between the virus and microcephaly has not been established.

The Ministry of Health said guidelines were developed with full cooperation and input from the Obstetrics and Pediatrics Departments at the country’s public hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Guyana

The Guyana government will remove some 68,000 workers from the income tax books, as a result of an amendment to the Income Tax Act that will see the income tax threshold increased to GUY$600,000.

That was among the measures outlined by Finance Minister Winston Jordan when he presented the 2016 National Budget in Parliament recently.

He also delivered the news that last salary increases promised for public servants last year, would have to wait the conclusion of the discussions with the relevant unions.

“The government understands the disappointment this will create among public servants, but wishes to assure them of our commitment to their welfare and advancement. We ask that they give the collective bargaining process an opportunity to work,” Jordan said.

Among the measures announced was a slight increase in pensions for almost 50,000 senior citizens.

The Finance Minister said effective April 1, 2016, pensioners will receive GUY$$18,200 (US$89.56) monthly, up from GUY$17,000 (US$82.84).

Jordan said in the short space of eight months, the Coalition Government has been able to increase old age pension by 38.7 percent. The increase is extended to ex-employees of the Guyana Telecommunications Corporation.

Also beginning of April, all Guyanese citizens 65 years and older will no longer be required to pay for a driver’s license and will be exempt from travel tax when traveling overseas on a Guyanese passport.

Grenada

Grenada Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has called on the people of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petit Martinique to be prepared for the transmission of the Zika virus that has already spread to Caribbean countries, including Barbados, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Martin and the U.S.

The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes Egypti mosquito and the common symptoms are fever, rash and joint pain. The illness is usually mild and symptoms lasting about w week.

Mitchell said the Ministry of Health believes if residents take the necessary precautions like eliminating the breeding ground for the mosquito it can combat the disease.

Jamaica

Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller announced that her government will pump an additional US$1.6 million (J$200 million) into the campaign to fight the Zika virus.

And she has insisted that there must be a non-partisan approach to the battle, involving all Jamaicans.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed one case of Zika virus in Jamaica — a four-year-old child — who has since recovered.

“This is a moment for a national response with individual and collective action,” she said.

Simpson-Miller said the Ministry of Health has been working with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), to ensure an effective response.

The prime minister added that given the associated health risk, especially for pregnant women, the Ministry of Health has advised women to delay getting pregnant for the next six to 12 months.

She said the National Family Planning Board has increased its public information and other interventions. The prime minister said it will assist Jamaicans with family planning options free of charge.

St. Kitts

St. Kitts and Nevis has secured a further US$1 million from the Venezuelan government through its Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) St. Kitts-Nevis Limited to fund the Fresh Start program.

During his first press conference for 2016, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris said that increased opportunities to earn more than generate wealth fell under his government’ prosperity agenda.

He said the Fresh Start program through the assistance of the government of Venezuela and the Development Bank, provided an initial tranche of US$5 million, about EC$13 million and that went like a frenzy.

“We are lucky to have the Venezuelan government again to advance another US$1 million to take the total up to US$6 million so that EC$16 million was available. Just over 200 applicants have been approved and have been paid. The EC$16 million therefore is no more,” he said.

The prime minister further revealed that additional funding for the program was being sought locally.

The Fresh Start loan, which is specifically for small and medium enterprises, is distributed by the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis.

General Manager of the Bank, Lenworth Harris, said at the signing ceremony on Sept. 4, 2015, that the maximum loan per person would not be more than US$100,000 at an interest rate that should not exceed five percent and repayment would be based on the nature of the business that is being funded.

Turks and Caicos Islands

InterCaribbean Airways will launch new nonstop services to Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport, from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands starting May 3, 2016.

With is new nonstop service to Havana from Providenciales, as well as connections from numerous cities in the Caribbean, InterCaribbean makes the journey to Cuba the fastest of any airline within the region.

Connecting flights are from Antigua, Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Port-au-Prince, Haiti; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Grand Turk and South Caicos.

With the demand for services to Cuba, InterCaribbean Airways provides timed-45-minute connections to Cuba, from centrally located Turks and Caicos, the airline said.

Chairman of the InterCaribbean Airways Lyndon Gardiner said with the new categories of travel for U.S. citizens, InterCaribbean is well placed to facilitate entry to Santiago and now to Havana as we serve two of the most important cities in the country.

Trinidad

Well-known Trinidad and Tobago musical legend Pal Joey Lewis was laid to rest last week after he suffered a heart attack and died at a Port of Spain hospital on Carnival Monday.

Lewis, 78 was also suffering from colon cancer.

He was the holder of a Trinidad and Tobago 2002 Humming Bird Medal (Gold) for Music. Lewis started playing music when he was just l0 years-old.

He formed his band Pal Joey and His Orchestra in 1954. His friends dubbed him Pal Joey after the l957 American movie “Pal Joey” which starred Frank Sinatra and Rita Hayworth.

The band had accompanied several popular calypsonians during their recordings, including the Mighty Sparrow, Mighty Duke, Mighty Terror, Lord Shorty, Chalkdust, and Singing Francine and had become the number one band behind all back in times events in the country.

His death followed that of another musical icon Jit Samaroo, who was described as a celebrated steelband arranger.

In l971 Samaroo teamed up with Bertrand “Butch” Kelman, tuner of Panorama Champion Renegades instruments to win the national Panorama competition a record nine times, including a hat-trick in l995, l996 and l997 that allowed Jit’s name to be written into the history books as the most successful arranged in the 53-year history of the Panorama competition.

Jit also arranged for several other steelbands across the country.

Eleven of his compositions were test pieces for steelband competitions and in l996 he composed the sound track for Kamalo Deen’s full-length motion picture which was filmed locally.

— compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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