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Bahamas

The Bahamas government has welcomed the return of direct non-stop flights from Germany for the first time in decades.

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism recently announced that the German Airlines, Condor, will offer non-stop service from Frankfurt, Germany to Nassau, Bahamas in 2017.

The inaugural flight took place on Dec. 6 and flights will be once a week on Mondays.

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchombe said, “we are pleased to announce this new route from Frankfurt, Germany to Nassau, Bahamas,” adding that “this will not only open the country to new business but it will be a game changer for our tour operators, hotel partners and Family Islands which are so popular with Europeans”.

Tourism officials said that The Islands of The Bahamas will become a one-stop Caribbean beach destination and Condor expects to generate 4,000 passengers between November 2017 and 2018.

Director General in the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Joy Jibrilu said the new route will attract thousands of new visitors to the Bahamas.

Barbados

The Barbados 2017 harvest of sugar, which will kick off next month, is expected to increase by 50 percent, with even larger gains projected for 2018 based on new fields under cultivation that will provide their first crop next year and more determined efforts generally by private farmers.

Patrick Bethell, chairman of Barbados Sugar Industries Limited, the grouping of private farmers responsible for less than half of the lands under sugar cultivation, but more than 60 percent of the production, wants government to get its act together so that the industry can grow.

While Barbados produced just about 8,000 tons of sugar last year, it is projected that when the harvests get going in another two months or so, production could finish as high as 12000 tons and most of it should come from the private farms.

Grenada

The Grenada government has denied signing a secret legal agreement with British-based MX Oil PLC oil and gas exploration to develop hydrocarbons adjoining the maritime boundary with Trinidad and Tobago.

The accusation came from political leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Nazim Burke, who claimed that the Keith Mitchell administration had “secretly” signed the agreement with the British-based energy company.

But in a statement, the government said the signing of the MOU with MX Oil Company does not guarantee that the company will be successful in securing a production sharing agreement and that the company will update the market in due course in the event of any significant development.

The release said various companies have continuously showed interest in exploring oil in Grenadian waters.

It said after contacting the Energy Ministry, they are given information on available areas for exploration and that there is no seismic data for these areas since they have never been investigated before.

Jamaica

The Jamaica government is moving to set up a public-private partnership policy as part of measures to improve efficiency within the public health sector.

Minister of Health Dr. Christopher Tufton said there are some functions within the public health sector which should be done by someone else.

He said some of the functions, such as diagnostics should be outsourced, as the public health system cannot afford the cost associated with acquiring and maintaining certain types of equipment.

The Ministry of Health is also looking at patients who have chronic illness to make regular visits with a family doctor, instead of visiting the outpatient clinic at the hospitals.

Dr. Tufton said the Ministry of Health will negotiate an arrangement for private doctors to manage those patients in order to reduce the stress on the hospital system.

However, Tufton said that proper benchmarking of costs will have to be done before such initiatives are implemented.

Suriname

Suriname recently signed a US$30 million (non-interest-bearing) trade finance agreement with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group.

Minister of Finance Gillmore Hoefdraad, paid a special visit to Saudi Arabia to sign the agreement to support Suriname’s economic development through financing strategic imports, according to a press release from the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), a member of the IsDB Group.

The US$30 financing extended to Suriname is to support the agricultural, medical and industrial sectors. Supplies that will be purchased under the arrangement include basic goods, raw material for production of basic goods, inputs for the agriculture sector, in addition to medicine and medical supplies.

Moreover, the ITFC is indirectly contributing to the social welfare and economic recovery of Suriname.

Hoefdraad said that Suriname relies heavily on imports for consumption and this operation will benefit all economic sectors.

Turks and Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCL) Ministry of Health has reported eight new cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, including seven on the island of Grand Turk.

These new cases bring the total number of cases of Zika reported in the TCI to 24 — 19 males and five females.

The increasing incidence of zika is common during the rainy season as was recently experienced on Grand Turk, the Ministry of Health said.

Zika is a viral disease with symptoms that are similar to other mosquito borne illness, such as dengue and chikungunya.

However, many people will not experience symptoms but will still be able to spread the disease if they are bitten.

While symptoms can be mild, or even non-existent, one concern is that the disease can be transmitted from parent to child during pregnancy and cause complications to the infant such as microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected for its age and sex.

Trinidad

The powerful Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union has given state-owned oil company, Petrotrin notice about an impending strike over stalled wage negotiations, which can bring transportation to a halt in the country.

Already there is panic buying of gasoline with long lines at the various service stations.

The union has not ruled out last minute negotiations to avert the strike.

The Collective agreement provides for the company to have a minimum of 96 hours to avert the strike on being served the notice.

OWTU President Ancil Roget said the 96-hour window also gives the government time to open discussions with the union regarding the settlement of the 2014-2017 bargaining period.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said he is prepared to act in the public’s interest should the union initiate strike action against the state-owned oil company.

Following a two-day Cabinet retreat at the Diplomatic Center, Port of Spain last week, Dr. Rowley said the government has a responsibility to the wider national community.

— compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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