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Antigua

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and its member governments have renewed their commitment to tackle commercial banks that are imposing high fees on small depositors.

The ECCB noted that one commercial bank in the sub-region has imposed a monthly fee that would prevent small depositors from earning on their deposits.

Earlier this year, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) announced an EC$25 monthly fee on saving accounts.

EECB Governor Timothy Antoine said that bank fees and charges, are creating a negative interest rate for small depositors, which is of concern to the monetary council.

He said that it could have an effective negative interest rate for a depositor who has less than EC$15,000 a year in deposits or less than EC$10,000 a year where in fact by virtue of what “you are receiving on the interest and what you’re actually in a negative position, you are losing money, not earning.”

Barbados

The Barbados government has received Parliament’s approval to borrow Bds$73 million (US$36.5 million) from the Trinidad-based ANSA Merchant Bank Ltd.

Finance Minister Chris Sinckler said the loan is to provide working capital support for the Barbados Agricultural Management Company Ltd. and to provide funding to the company’s expenses and costs relating to the Barbados Cane Industry Support Project.

To date, Barbados has issued about $75 million for the “saving bonds,” which taxpayers, some of whom would be bondholders, still have to repay.

Barbados continues to borrow in tranches — the latest Bds$10 million tranche was made available in May this year.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its latest, May 19, statement on Barbados: “The economy faces serious challenges. Although growth has resumed and short-term prospects are positive, imbalances are persist between available resources and government programs. Barbados remains high vulnerable and may not realize its potential without deep-seated reforms to align revenues and expenditure, and reduce debts.”

Cayman Islands

Church leaders in the Cayman Islands are uniting on a campaign to take a stand against “alternative lifestyles” and same sex-unions in particular.

They are jointly spearheading an initiative “to raise awareness of biblical teachings” and an education program that starts next month with an island-wide rally.

The ministers and pastors involved said the religious community had been slow at coming together to promote what they doing already with their individual congregations.

Pastor Alson Edbanks, deputy chair of the Cayman Ministers Association and senior pastor of the George Town Church of God Chapel, said there was a pressing need for collaborative effort.

Although the church leaders spoke about the decline in general of “bible-based values,” their concern over what they repeatedly referred to as a movement “to effect cultural changes in the Cayman Islands from outside the territory” and alternative lifestyles appears to be focused on the emergence of the debate locally about the rights of the lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

The pastors said the local church community aimed to promote a return to biblical values, starting with the September campaign.

Dominica

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skeritt said that the current thresholds for the country’s citizenship-for-investment program will remain unchanged for 2016.

He made the announcement during his recent budget speech saying that Dominica citizenship will continue to start from US$100,000 and therefore remain as the least expensive of all the Caribbean citizenship programs, in most instances as much as half the cost of its peers.

He noted that the citizenship program has raised more than US$200 million, surpassing all expectations.

The prime minister said the funds raised from the program have been a major source of funding in the recovery efforts after tropical storm Erika.

The cost of Dominica citizenship starts at US$100,000 for a single person and $200,000 for family of four.

In addition, Dominica offers selected real estate investments to qualify for its passport. Already more than one 5-star hotel brand has committed to build resorts on the island with other residential and hotel resorts for investors to choose from.

Guyana

The Guyana Ministry of State has ordered 14 Venezuelans to be deported who entered the South American country illegal in search of basic food items.

Venezuela is facing an economic crisis in which food, medicine and basic goods are in short supply. The lack of necessities has led to thousands of Venezuelans traveling to Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Colombia.

Guyanese State Minister Joseph Harmon told a press conference, “we have made it clear that on humanitarian grounds we will not turn back Venezuelans who come to seek help here in Guyana.”

Authorities said nine men and five women from Venezuela who were detained after illegally entering Guyana would be deported.

A court found the 14 Venezuelans guilty of entering by sea on July 20 and disembarking without presenting themselves to an immigration officer. They were each fined.

Harmon stressed that any Venezuelan traveling to the country must do so legally through the designated ports of entry.

Jamaica

Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett will soon be visiting China to boost Asian cruise ship passengers to the island.

Bartlett said he and a delegation are going to talk about the possibility of having Chinese cruise emanating from within Jamaica and going to the rest of the Caribbean.

He said the Andrew Holness government is projecting Jam$5 billion in earnings from five million cruise ship passengers stopping over by 2021.

The tourism minister said that the projected growth in the tourism industry should result in more than 120,000 persons being directly employed and another 300,000 persons from other employment.

St. Vincent

A New York-based local calypsonian will appear in court on Oct. 31 on a charge of uttering seditious words and threatening to kill Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and members of his family.

Paul Scrubb appeared before Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne Matthias at the Serious Offences Court in St Vincent and the Grenadines recently and was placed on EC$25,000 bail.

Scrubb was arrested at the ET Joshua Airport as he was about to leave the island after a five-week stay.

The calypsonian who goes by the sobriquet “I-Madd,” is accused of maliciously sending or uttering threats to kill Dr. Gonsalves between Dec. 9 and 31 last year.

According to the charges, the calypsonian said: “Ralph Gonsalves should be assassinated, also, his whole damn family.”

The magistrate ordered Scrubb to report to a police station on Mondays and Thursdays, surrender all travel documents and obtain permission of the court to leave the country.

Scrubb’s attorney told the court his client is innocent and is accusing the government of engaging in a witch-hunt.

St. Lucia

The government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has awarded 16 scholarships to St. Lucian nationals. Among them are five medical students.

Speaking at a ceremony to award the scholarships Ambassador Ray Mou says interest in Taiwan Scholarships has increased sharply over the years, making the competition for the awards intense because of the high quality of candidates from different countries.

The ambassador said the number of scholarships has increased from previous years and will work hard with the new government to obtain more.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Innovation, General Relations and Sustainable Development, John Calixte emphasized the importance for the scholarship recipients to make best use of the opportunity afforded them and to always aim for excellence.

Taiwan Scholarships Alumni as well as students currently pursuing studies in the Asia nation were also on hand to provide support to the new batch of recipients.

There are more than 60 St. Lucian students studying in Taiwan and about 50 have already completed their studies.

Trinidad

There are 200 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Trinidad and Tobago and of this number, 60 have been diagnosed in women who are pregnant.

This was revealed by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, who said 59 cases were recorded in Trinidad and one in Tobago.

Deyalsingh, in seeking to reassure the infected women that every possible measure was in place said the ministry will ensure they received the necessary treatment.

He has maintained his confidence in the specialist team assembled by the Ministry of Health to oversee the diagnosis and treatment of pregnant women.

The minister said so far, there is no risk of microcephaly in any of the cases seen.

Microcephaly is a medical condition where babies’ heads are abnormally small.

-compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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