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In this Aug. 17, 2012 photo, Haiti’s flag flies outside the earthquake damaged National Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Former President Michel Martelly’s administration and the aid group started by Hollywood star Sean Penn demolished the remains of the Beaux Arts structure so they could build a successor. Some of the surviving pieces of the palace were carried away by hand by local preservationists.
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Caribbean

The United States Customs and Border Protection recently hosted a border security professional exchange with CARICOM Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) member states and regional partners to discuss issues related to border management throughout the Caribbean.

The move was designed to increase collaboration between international partners and the United States government on border security, migration trends and countering criminal networks.

Among the participants were leading workers in customs, immigration and police operations, as well as permanent secretaries from all the CARICOM member states.

Additional participants included border security professionals from the Dominican Republic, Panama, and the United States, as well as the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

The three-day exchange was funded by the US Department of State under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative but did not include any “police leaders” from St. Lucia, which is subject to sanctions under the Leahy Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, restricting US aid to the island’s police force.

Barbados

The failure of Caribbean government to make their financial contributions to the University of the West Indies (UWI) could put the future of the regional institution in peril.

Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles has warned that with more than US$100 million in payments long overdue by regional governments, the financial outlook ahead for the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, St. Augustine (Trinidad and Tobago) and the Mona Campus in Jamaica does not look good.

Sir Hilary delivered the grim outlook contained in a report prepared by a company contracted to analyze the financial health of the regional institutions at a news conference recently.

“They are saying that we are going to be in significant financial difficulty unless we are able to get an annual financial injection of US$75 million,” he said.

The UWI head noted that the debt owing to the university by the governments of the Caribbean is US$105 million.

He said the report cautioned that the university was headed for trouble if it failed to collect the receivables.

The UWI professor expressed doubt that governments would be in a position to deliver, based on developments from a recent meeting of the University Grants Committee with regional governments.

Guyana

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has ruled that an environmental tax (Guy$10) the Guyana government imposed on Trinidad and Tobago manufacturer SM Jaleel Company Limited was illegal and contrary to the principles of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) as it was only applied to goods imported into the South American country and not to similar items produced by its local manufacturers.

In delivering the judgement at its Port of Spain headquarters last week, CCJ president Sir Dennis Byron said: “Guyana clearly has been unjustly enriched having collected an unlawful tax,” adding, “Guyanese manufacturers and distributors had a clear competitive advantage.”

Sir Byron said the SM Jaleel was not entitled to the full rebate of the tax paid to the Guyana government from when the tax legislation was introduced in 2006 to when it was repealed in 2015.

He said that a limitation period of five years had to be applied in the case because the company delayed bringing its lawsuit challenging the tax. As a result, the Guyana government was only ordered to reimburse the company the tax paid between March 7, 2013 and Aug. 7, 2015

Haiti

The Haitian government plans to rebuild the country’s National Palace to look like the iconic 90-year-old structure which collapsed during the country’s 2010 earthquake.

The collapsed of the ornate domed building became a twin symbol of the quake’s devastation.

President Jovenel Moise recently created a reconstruction commission that includes Haitian architects and historians.

He said a new National Palace will “make the connection between the history, culture and future of the Haitian nation.”

The revived palace should be completed by 2020.

Officials say they expect the reconstruction project will go on a competitive bidding process later this year.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia government is undertaking a project that would seek to reduce disaster risks.

The project would improve the hydrological and meteorological data and forecasts.

It is said that as part of the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP), it will strengthen its hydrological and meteorological services to provide more accurate climate data and forecasts.

The government said in a statement, “hydrological and weather-dependent economic sectors such as agriculture and tourism require climate information to improve planning and decision making.”

The statement noted that the World Bank hydro meteorologist Curtis Barret was part of a visiting team that assisted with the efforts to boost the country’s hydro-met services.

Currently St. Lucia does not have the diagnostic equipment to forecast severe thunderstorms, flash floods and tropical storms.

St. Kitts

The St. Kitts and Nevis opposition leader Dr. Denzil Douglas is calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris in relation to a Chinese economic citizen resident in the federation who is wanted in China on financial charges.

In a statement issued recently, Douglas accused the prime minister of rebuffing calls for cooperation with Interpol and China.

He said, “despite formal requests by China, as well as Interpol, to secure the return of Mr. Ren Biao from St. Kitts and Nevis to face prosecution charges in China, the current St. Kitts and Nevis government is refusing to cooperate.”

Douglas said while the government has said there was no formal request from China, he was reliably informed there had indeed been several requests to the government from a Caribbean head of state whose country has diplomatic relations with China.

The Opposition Leader alleged that the prime minister has not heeded the urgings of his fellow Caribbean heads of government to cooperate with the government of China and Interpol.

The government has issued a statement dismissing charges that it is protecting Chinese national Ren Biao and had denied that China has made a formal request to the government.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) have signed a grant agreement for US$250,950 for financing of the Development of a National Quality Policy.

The resources are provided by the European Union (EU) under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy Standby Facility for Capacity Building, 10th European and Development Fund (EDF).

This facility is being administered by the CDB. The project commenced recently and is expected to be completed by the end of August, 2017.

Funding from the Grant will be directed at a Project for the Development of a Quality Policy.

A Project Steering Committee consisting of key stakeholders has been established to provide policy advice during the development of the National Quality Policy and monitor the implementation of the policy.

— compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 12:04 pm, May 15, 2017
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