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Caribbean

The Caribbean islands of Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia and Palm Island in the Grenadines are open for business and normal tourism activities have resumed.

Reports are that services to these islands have returned to normal operation and are accepting flights from all gateways.

Antigua was hardly affected by Hurricane Irma and many other islands, like St. Lucia, Barbados, and Palm Island in the Grenadines were not affected by the storm.

President of Elite Island Resorts said now is the time to experience the authentic Caribbean on the charming islands of Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia and the Grenadines, with great offer and low airfares from many major United States cities.

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government has set up plans to help citizens of Dominica who may seek refuge following the devastation by Hurricane Maria last month.

In a statement, the Office of the Prime Minister said the policies to receive OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) and Dominica citizens were devised during a meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee responsible for natural disaster planning and response.

The release said that Dominicans have a right of entry and an automatic six- month stay and, in order to gain entry, they must present their passport, driver’s license, or voter’s identification card.

It said that those citizens of Dominica, who do not have any of the agreed identification, will be permitted to enter Antigua, after completing a form which the Antigua and Barbuda Immigration Department has constructed specifically to meet the needs of those who have lost their documents in the hurricane.

As it relates to security, the release said that the police and the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy will work together to determine if any of the persons leaving Dominica are law-breakers.

Barbados

Doctors and nurses will soon be traveling to hurricane-stricken Dominica to provide much-needed assistance.

Arrangements are being made by Dr. Brian Charles, who is in Dominica to provide primary assessments for the health care services and the hospital on the island and to work alongside the Barbadian military personnel.

Dominica remains in a state of emergency after it was devastated by monster Hurricane Irma on Sept. 18.

Dr Charles said that there was an urgent need for medical and nursing personnel to provide much needed care for those requiring assistance.

He noted that the Princess Margaret Hospital was about 70 percent destroyed, but it is running somewhat.

The medical officer lamented the fact that the hospital’s accident and emergency department had very limited function, as the institution had no power, water, operating theatre, X-ray or CAT scan departments, laboratories or blood bank.

However, he said that the Roseau Polyclinic was operational after sustaining mini damage, while the Portsmouth and Marigot health centers were also functioning but with limited staff.

Dr. Charles said they have been unable to reach any of the other health centers at this point because of blocked roadways were hindering efforts to reach persons in remote areas.

Bahamas

Bahamas Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has offered to accept Dominican schoolchildren in The Bahamas as Dominica rebuild after Hurricane Maria devastated the tiny Caribbean island recently.

During a meeting with Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit in Nassau, Dr Minnis announced that Immigration Minister Brent Symonette is working out of the arrangements, which will also permit other Dominicans with families in The Bahamas to live on the island while rebuilding takes place.

Details of the new policy are yet to be finalized.

Cultural Affairs and Information manager with The Bahamas Embassy in Washington, DC, for the past four years, suggested that based on his interaction with Dominicans at the Organization of American States (OAS) in DC, Dominica has a very high standard of education, and it would be a good idea “if we simultaneously launched a recruitment program for teachers from Dominica.”

Guyana

Guyana has set a new visitor record for the month of August with 34,796 passenger arrivals at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, surpassing the 2012 figure of 33,367.

Additionally, arrivals for the first eight months rose to seven percent compared to the corresponding period in 2016.

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson said the increase can be positively attributed to the Guyana leg of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) tournament activities held during the month; increase tourist arrivals, additional business travel due to the expansion in the oil and gas and mining.

Overall, he noted, that 2017 is another strong year for the South American country with business and tourist traveling demand levels steadily increasing due to the sound business policy and enabling environment created by the government.

Patterson added that the Government continues to pursue several carriers to assist with the additional influx of passengers,

He said while New York remains the largest key market, there has been an upsurge in other destinations such as Cuba and Panama.

Jamaica

A Jamaican-born radical cleric has started a legal battle to avoid being extradited to New York to face charges that he used his public profile and personal network to commit acts of violence and terrorism.

Trevor William Forrest, 53, also known as Shaikh Abdullah Faisal and Shaikh Faisal recently appeared at the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court and was remanded in custody until Oct. 27.

New York Police Commissioner James O’Neil said Forrest used his network to aid the Islamic State (ISIS).

Faisal had been indicted with soliciting or providing support to an act of terrorism in the first degree as a crime of terrorism and other charges.

The indictment follows a year-long investigation by the New York Police Department (NYDP) Intelligence Bureau and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Counter Terrorism Program, which was created in June 2015 to identify and pursue investigative leads related to home-grown terror plot, extremist activities and terror-financing.

Trinidad

Finance Minister Colm Imbert last week presented a TT$50 billion Budget in the House of Representatives for the fiscal year 2017/2018, saying everyone must share in the burden of adjustment if Trinidad and Tobago is to successfully overcome the difficult financial situation it now faces.

He said the projected deficit is $$4.76 billion. The Budget is based on an oil price of US$52 and gas price of US$2.75.

The Finance Minister was confident that once the burden is shared TT would be able to “meet any challenge the outside world throws at us” and the people would become “more productive and efficient.”

Motorists will now have to pay more at the pump for Super gasoline, which moved from TT$3.58 to TT$3.97, Diesel from $2.30 to $3.41 per liter respectively.

He noted that in 2014 the fuel subsidy was TT$7 billion and the government is moving to bring down that subsidy.

Imbert said 35,000 vehicles were imported so far in 2017, which has cost the country TT$500 million in foreign exchange alone.

Banks will now have to pay 35 percent on their profits- an increase of five percent- while private passenger vehicles, will be increased by 25 percent,

Among the other measures were a 25 percent tax on foreign used tires, oil firms, 12.5 percent tax, Corporations (big business), private hospitals between $25,000 -$100,000 depending on the amount of beds.

He also imposed heavy taxation up to l00 percent more on casinos shops and games being played by the National Lottery Control Board (NLCB), winners are to pay a 10 percent on their winnings.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 2:51 pm, October 13, 2017
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