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Cuba’s President Raul Castro, center, and Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Everard Gonsalves walk out together following the official group photo at the Summit of the Americas, in Panama City, Panama, Saturday, April 11, 2015.
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Caribbean

Six Caribbean countries recently participated the Caribbean Export Development Agency’s AgroaIimentaria Fair — the Dominica Republic’s largest and most important food and beverage food fair.

Companies from six Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries took part in the event, funded by the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Program and presented a range of products; Saints Brewery Company Ltd. from Barbados; Pomeroon Oil Mill Inc. from Guyana; the St. Lucia Trade Promotions Agency (TEP), representing three companies from St .Lucia; Coffee Solutions from Jamaica; Suriname Candied Fruits N.V; and the Trinidad and Tobago Fine Cocoa Company Ltd.

Deputy Executive Director at Caribbean Export Escipion Oliveria said the participation of CARICOM at Agroalimentaria for the first time is a significant development contribution towards the increase of regional trade.

Bahamas

The new Bahamas government is seeking outside help from the governments of United Kingdom and Singapore for drafting anti-corruption legislation that would result in the seizure of assets of corrupt public officials.

Speaking at the end of the budget debate in parliament recently, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said Transparency International and other agencies have documented the degree to which corrupt practices stymied economic growth and development.

He said investors should not have the cost of doing business increased by certain officials looking for something.

The prime minister said the foreign governments would be asked to assist with the overhaul of anti-corruption legislation and the strengthening of anti-corrupt best practices.

Dr. Minnis said the consultants will be thorough and will include discussions on the issue of technology and other oversight mechanisms to stem corruption among all officials, including political leaders, public officers and those with business before the government.

Barbados

The Barbados National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) said it will take industrial action if the government does not reverse the tax increases which were recently announced by Finance Minister Chris Sinkler.

Sinkler has described the threat as “ill -advised and unfortunate” at this time.

The Finance Minister told the online publication Barbados TODAY that he does not believe the union’s leadership “is obvious to the fact that the alternatives to the measures which we introduced, including an increase in the National Social Responsibility (NSRL), will be more hurtful to public officers than what is proposed”.

In delivering the country’s 2017 budget last month the Finance Minister increased the NSRL to l0 percent from two percent, introduced a two percent tax on all foreign exchange transactions and increased excise duty on fuels.

Sinkler said there are persons in Barbados who argue that the government should reduce the size of the public service saying that it would mean that the government should send home thousands of public servants from the service.

NUWP president Kanni McDowell said that the industrial action could come in the form of a go slow, sickout, work to rule of all forms and that the government has until July to meet the union’s demands.

Cayman Islands

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has appointed Anwar Bokth Choudhury as the next governor of the Cayman Islands.

Choudhury, 58, who is currently based in Peru as Britain’s ambassador, will take up his appointment in March 2018, a release from the FCO said.

The next governor was born in Bangladesh and is Muslim. He served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) before joining the Ministry of Defense and was head-hunted to the FCO ranks from the Cabinet office.

Choudhury joined the Foreign Office in 2003 and became high commissioner to his native Bangladesh in 2004, where he was injured in a bomb attack that year at the Hazrat Shahjalal shrine in a terrorist attack.

In 2008 he served as director of International Institutions responsible for multilateral policy.

He replaces outgoing governor, Helen Kilpatrick, who is expected to leave the Cayman Islands early next year.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s trade and investment promotions agency, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JMPRO), said they will lead 18 companies on an export promotion mission to Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and The Bahamas.

In a release, JMPRO said that this move was part of a strategy to develop Jamaican exporters and increase export to regional markets dubbed “The Caribbean Market Mission” and forms part of their export development program (Export Max).

It began on June 18 in Barbados and ended on June 30, in The Bahamas.

The mission, according to JAMPRO will give companies the opportunity to promote Brand Jamaica in the regional and increase outlets, and have key discussions with private and public sector partners to garner market intelligence.

The Caribbean Market Mission will support Export Max’s goal of increasing overall exports for the participating companies by 50 percent.

Export Max 11 is a three-year initiative geared towards providing focused capacity building and market penetration support for export, the release said.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves recently met with Cuban President Raul Castro during a working visit to the island.

During the meeting the two leaders spoke about the progress in bilateral relations and welcomed the recent commemoration of the 25th anniversary of their establishment.

Gonsalves ratified his solidarity with Cuba following the new policy announcement of the United States government towards the island.

They also addressed issues of regional interest, in particular, the situation with respect to Venezuela.

Dr. Gonsalves was accompanied by St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador to Cuba Ellsworth John.

Trinidad

Tropical Storm Bret which hit Trinidad and Tobago recently has left more than $1 billion in damages.

Head of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPEM) Captain Neville Wint told a press conference that it was estimated that 135,000 homes and 400,000 persons were affected. He said the statistics were compiled by the 14 regional corporations in Trinidad and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).

He noted that Tobago and south Trinidad were most impacted. There are still homes surrounded by water and the flood water is receding very slowly because of persistent rain.

Several roofs of houses were blown away or damaged, while farmers lost millions in agricultural crops and livestock.

The government has established a TT $25 million fund to assist those who are in dire need of financial help to replace stoves, fridges and other household items which were damaged by the flood.

— compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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