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Caribbean RoundUp

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The US Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) recently hosted a traveling program focused on entrepreneurship.

The program, which went to Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Barbados targeted entrepreneurship students at the tertiary level, and young entrepreneurs.

In Barbados, the first engagement took place on April 7, 2017 in which more than 100 students, who all had a genuine interest in entrepreneurship, engaged in discussions with young American entrepreneur Dextina Booker, who shared her experiences and discussed the importance of building networks, and non-traditional sources of funding.

US ambassador Linda Taglialatela said the embassy is committed to hosting programs in the Eastern Caribbean which place greater emphasis on sustainable economic growth leading to prosperous stable, democratic states.

Antigua

Shareholder governments of the cash-strapped regional airline LIAT recently agreed to ensure that salaries will be paid in time to avert any possible industrial action.

The agreement came following talks with the regional unions representing employees with the shareholder governments.

The meeting discussed a move by the Antigua-based carrier to implement a late payment schedule to its employees that is likely to continue for the next five months.

But St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who is chairman of the shareholder governments, told reporters that a settlement had been reached after the unions had threatened deferrals.

He said instructions have gone to the bank for payments and workers will get their salaries.

The prime minister said there was no guarantee that the airline would not be late with salaries again soon.

Guyana

Guyana Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has warned that the government would be moving to ensure that the funds received from the country’s oil and gas sector will not be used for political expediency.

He noted that the oil and gas sector is just as important as any sector, while address the Guyana Oil and Gas Association (GOGA) conference and exhibition recently in Georgetown.

He added: “we have to look at our oil and gas resource with regard to the nature of governance we have in our country”.

The prime minister recalled the controversy that followed the decision of the government regarding the proposed legislative code of conduct for government ministers and holders of public office.

Nagamootoo told the conference which was being attended by delegates from regional countries that the country’s resources should not be transformed into votes by any administration but must be used to ensure a viable future.

He said while the David Granger administration recognizes the country’s new opportunism as a result of the discovery of oil, it was also necessary to ensure that other sectors such as agriculture is integrated into the oil and gas sector.

Jamaica

A Jamaican man posing as a pilot was caught with five pounds of cocaine when he arrived at JFK International Airport, New York recently.

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said Mario Hudson who was held on March 27 is due to appear in court later this month on several narcotic charges.

CBP said Hudson was dressed in what appeared to be a pilot’s uniform and claimed he was a non-working crew member on his arrival from Jamaica.

But during the baggage inspection, CBP said officers discovered Hudson had what appeared to be two fraudulent Delta Airlines ID badges.

The officers also observed the sides and bottom of the luggage appeared to be unusually thick and heavy.

He was escorted to the private search room, where a search was carried out on his suitcase which revealed a white powder that tested positive for cocaine.

Hudson was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to United States Homeland Security Investigations.

The cocaine had an estimated street value of US$85,000.

St. Kitts

Health officials in St. Kitts and Nevis are monitoring an outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil to ensure the endemic does not spread to the twin-island federation.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws said the Ministry of Health was monitoring the outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil where a traveler from the Netherlands who was on vacation contracted the fever.

She said the ministry was increasing personnel at the port of entries to safeguard passengers coming from affected countries and added plans are in place to tighten surveillance.

Laws said additional screening will be done to all countries that have yellow fever endemic.

A World Health Organization (WHO) release recently indicated that as of April 3, 2017 yellow fever transmission continued to expand towards the Atlantic coast of Brazil in areas not deemed to be at risk for yellow fever transmission prior to the revised risk assessment.

Suriname

Thousands of Surinamese marched through the streets of Suriname’s capital Paramaribo, calling on the Bouterse administration to reverse the recent fuel price increase.

They held a protest demonstration last week at Independence Square opposite the Presidential Palace, denouncing recent measures taken by the government, including price hikes for fuel, water, and electricity.

Recently gasoline became US$0.08 more expensive per liter and diesel increased by US$0, 03 per liter.

While the demonstrators are calling on President Bouterse to resign, trade union leaders said that such is not the main goal of the protest.

Union leader Robby Berenstein noted that the object is not to overthrow the government, but rather to press the administration to change its policies.

Another union leader said since the Bouterse-led administration came into power in 2010 and again in 2015 it has resulted in extreme hardship for the people.

Import revenues have fallen sharply since 2015 due to the steady decline on the international market of the prices of Suriname’s most important commodities — gold and oil.

According to the government, the country’s income since 2015 fell by 70 percent in comparison to 2014. As a result, the country’s foreign currency reserves were nearly depleted, which led to a 20 percent devaluation of the Surinamese dollar in 2015.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley will visit Chile next month, according to Ambassador Edgardo Riveros, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile.

Rowley’s visit will be aimed at strengthening relations between the two countries who Vice Minister Riveros said trading relations between Trinidad and Tobago and Chile were very important as 92 percent of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) which Chile imports come from Trinidad and Tobago .

He said Chile imports more than US$550 million worth of LNG from Trinidad and Tobago contributing to a total trade of US$573 million between the two countries.

Minister Riveros said there was a favorable trade balance largely because of the LNG imports, adding that Chile exported a few products to Trinidad and Tobago, in particular cellulose and had the capacity to export agricultural products as well.

He outlined several areas for bilateral trade, including energy, agriculture, tourism and fisheries.

-Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:27 pm, April 14, 2017
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