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Caribbean

A United States medical company plans to sell Zika virus diagnostic to customers through the Caribbean upon completion of successful evaluation and validation studies.

Co-Diagnostics Inc. based in Utah, says its potential customer base across the Caribbean includes laboratories, regional health ministries, and hospitals interested offering a state-of-the art molecular diagnostic for the mosquito borne Zika virus to their patients.

The company said to date, representatives and future product distributors have conducted on-site suitability assessment at dozens of locations across the region, with the understanding that these locations would be among the first to have access to the Zika virus test upon successful performance evaluation.

Co-Diagnostics Inc. is also an approved reseller of diagnostic equipment, to enable upgraded laboratory facilities for those locations which have not previously been able to offer molecular diagnostics.

The company said molecular diagnostics are the internationally gold standard in disease detection.

CEO of Co-Diagnostics Dwight Egan said; “we are uniquely positioned to assist the many overlooked and underserved populations in the region interest in a competitively priced, high quality diagnostic to assist in the detection of the Zika virus.”

Barbados

The Central Bank of Barbados (CMB) has implemented a two percent fee on foreign purchases and payments made using credit debit and travel cards.

This has gone into effect from Sept. 1, 2017, the CDB announced.

It said the foreign exchange fee (FXF) is applicable to purchases made while overseas, as well as to items purchased from companies outside of Barbados.

But it noted if the transactions are canceled, the fee is refundable.

The CBB said that the fee will be calculated on the Barbados value of the transactions using the exchange rate on the date that the transaction was processed, not on the date the bill is paid and will be applied even if customers choose to be billed in Barbados dollars.

The CBB stated that the foreign exchange fee does not affect a person’s annual foreign currency allowance.

Bahamas

The US-based agency, Moody’s Investor Service has confirmed the Bahamas’s Baa3 credit rating, after initiating a review for downgrade on July 6 this year.

The rating agency also left unchanged most of the risk ceilings for The Bahamas’ long-term and short-term financial obligation.

In justifying its decision, Moody highlighted the positive prospects of the government’s stabilization; consistency in the country’s credit profile with other Baa3 rated-peers; and the limited liquidity pressures, despite higher borrowing requirements.

However, Moody’s move to change the outlook from stable to negative reflects its assumptions about the potential downside risks to the implementation of the fiscal consolidation process posed by a less favorable growth outcome and any climate-related shocks.

In a statement, the Ministry of Finance said the Moody’s decision, “while not surprising, is an endorsement of the Government’s plan to deliver on its fiscal consolidation initiatives and eliminate any perceived risks to investor confidence.”

Guyana

Guyana President David Granger says his government is willing to work with US-based oil giant ExxonMobil, to develop a long term relationship founded on transparency, accountability, openness and aligned interest for the good of the people.

During a recent meeting with a delegation of ExxonMobil, Granger said Guyanese must be able to view the development of a petroleum industry as one that is beneficial to the nation’s interest.

The meeting was held to discuss matters related to the status of exploratory and appraisal work in the Stabroek Block as well as the relationship between the government and the company.

The president said the government was working to develop the requisite framework and strengthen capacity in areas, which established and maintains good governance.

Grenada

Two Cabinet ministers in Grenada’s ruling party government will be stepping aside for the upcoming general election, which is constitutionally due no later than May 2018.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell informed the nation in a national address that Senator Brenda Hood and Minister Roland Bhola will be leaving the government but will be lending their support in other ways.

Hood, who entered politics for the 1999 general election and won the St. George’s constituency, was retiring from Parliament, while Bhola, who entered the political arena for the 2003 general election, will be moving out of representative politics and transitioning to lead the work of the ruling New National Party.

As a result of the departure of both Bhola and Hood, Mitchell told the nation that a new senator will be sworn in to replace Hood in the Upper House, while the Cabinet ministerial portfolios will be adjusted.

Mitchell indicated that his party is preparing to continue as the government following the upcoming general election.

Jamaica

Jamaica has recorded 1,005 murders so far for 2017 according to figures released by the Jamaican Constabulary Force’s (JFC) — a 24 percent increase, or 197 more than for the corresponding period last year.

The statistics also showed that 114 people were murdered across Jamaica over a 20-day period that ended on Sept. 3, 2017.

Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) leader Dr. Peter Phillips has called on the government to do more to deal with the escalating crime situation.

He called on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to restore the two billion (Jamaican) dollars that had been cut from the 2017 / 2018 budget in the area of security.

Dr. Phillips said the funds are needed to bolster security force’s anti-crime efforts, noting that they currently lack the manpower and resources to tackle the crime situation.

Phillips who took over the leadership of the People’s National Party, following its defeat after the 2016 general election, said the government should immediately convene a national stakeholders group involving the private sector, churches and civil society to help develop a comprehensive crime plan.

Trinidad

President Antony Carmona recently revoked the appointment of new Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte after it was revealed through the Office of the Prime Minister that the career banker was a citizen of Ghana and unsuited to hold the post of a Cabinet Minister in Trinidad and Tobago.

Le Hunte was sworn in as a senator and public utilities minister during a simple ceremony at President’s House, St. Ann’s last month.

He replaced Dr. Keith Rowley, who temporarily held the position of public utilities minister after Port of Spain South MP Marlene McDonald was fired several months ago from the post.

Le Hunte, who is a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago was also a citizen of Ghana and could not hold the Trinidad and Tobago position.

The former banker had to fly to Ghana recently to revoke his Ghanaian citizenship to be appointed a senator and public utilities minister.

Dr. Rowley cleared the air on the matter, saying that Le Hunte is a Trinidad and Tobago national who was on temporary assignment in Ghana.

He dismissed the recent faux paus surrounding Le Hunte’s appointment as a “communicat­ion glitch.”

- Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 6:26 pm, September 18, 2017
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