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Minister of Finance and the Public Service Audley Shaw.
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Caribbean

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) says between 2007 and September 2017, Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) disbursed approximately US$19 million to Caribbean countries.

Of that amount, US$62 million was paid to seven countries during the 2017 hurricane season.

CDB Director of Projects Daniel Best said the funds are being used by governments to finance the rebuilding of critical infrastructure.

Currently CCRIF covers only about 2.5 percent of the recommended 25 percent coverage of the overall government exposure to earthquake and hurricane risks (excluding excessive rainfalls).

Best said this limited coverage is constrained purely by the amount of premium that the borrowing member country can afford.

Antigua

The Antigua government plans to have another amnesty period that would allow legally resident non-nationals who have been in the country for at least seven years to apply for citizenship.

Following a recent Cabinet meeting, a statement said the government has agreed to adopt the necessary legislation to give effect to the amnesty.

In 2015, the government passed the Immigration and Passport (Amendment) Act 2015 under which illegal immigrants could seek amnesty to have their names extended — that amnesty period ran until the end of the year.

The Antigua Observer reported that Prime Minister Gaston Browne had raised the possibility of another amnesty recently after reportedly receiving a number of complaints from non-nationals at a Labor Party event.

The statement said the Cabinet agreed to provide for young people, mostly students and others to make use of this amnesty offering.

Barbados

Two of Barbados’ fledging political parties, are among four of the island’s political groups which have formed two alliances to contest the upcoming general election constitutionally due in June this year.

Barbados Integrity Movement (BIM) leader Neil Holder announced that his almost two year-old organization has formed a political union with the New Barbados Kingdom Alliance (NBKA), founded by Apostle Lynroy Scantlebury in July last year.

He said it is not a merger of convenience but necessity, “because he shares the same views and perspectives in terms of country and what we look forward to happening here.”

Scantlebury added that the union was about giving Barbados the alternative government.

The BIM-NBK partnership is the second political alliance announced recently, following last month’s amalgamation of the Citizens Action Partnership (CAO) and the United Progressive Party (UPP). The two are going to contest the election under the UPP banner.

Guyana

ExxonMobil is moving ahead to develop oil fields off the South American nation of Guyana.

Company spokeswoman Kimberley Brasington said it has asked Guyanese environmental authorities for permission to drill up to 40 new wells as it develops the Liza Phase 2 offshore oil field. It already has 17 planned for the first phase.

Brasington said that the new project should kick off in 2022 — two years after production is expected to start at the Liza field.

ExxonMobil along with partners Hess Oil and Nexen of China announced their first commercial find in 2015, setting the stage for the country to move from being a net importer of oil to a producer.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s Finance Minister Audley Shaw is appealing to beverage manufacturers to lower the sugar content in their products or the Government will be forced to take action.

Shaw was at the time addressing a scientific symposium on measures to prevent obesity/non-communicable diseases (NCD) recently.

He said they can respond voluntarily “or we as a Government can respond to the needs of the country through appropriate policy prescriptions.

The finance minister added that there has to be willingness on the part of the producers of beverage to lead the way and set the examples.

Shaw said the government is concerned about the sugar content of products being marketed to children.

He noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that countries implement guidelines as it relates to the production of food and beverages in order to reduce the amount of sugar, and imposing taxes to encourage manufacturers to take the appropriate actions.

St. Vincent

The ongoing foreign exchange currency issue in which St. Vincent traders in agricultural produce are unable to convert Trinidad and Tobago dollars to Eastern Caribbean dollars may end up in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told a press conference recently that while his government has implemented short-term measures of a “sensible, practicable nature” to deal with the matter in Kingstown, a long-term solution is needed.”

He said as a result of the ongoing situation, some traders have large stockpiles of T&T currency in Port of Spain and farmers in St. Vincent are reluctant to sell their produce to these traders because of the delay in getting paid.

Gonsalves said Kingstown has set up a facility at the Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to allow the conversion of T&T dollars to Eastern Caribbean dollars.

However, the government in Port of Spain says it is constrained by a shortage of foreign currency in its financial sector.

The prime minister said he is checking with lawyers to see if the CCJ may well have to pronounce on it.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government has begun debating in Parliament the new Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) legislation in which nationals who leave to fight for Islamic group ISIS and other terrorist organizations can face up to 25 years imprisonment and fines close to TT$1 million.

The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2017 was laid in the House of Representatives on Feb. 13, 2017, but the bill lapsed when Parliament prorogued in September 2017.

Attorney General Faris–al-Rawi said the new legislation will empower the national security minister to designate geographical areas where there are listed entities engaging in hostile activities as “declared geographical areas” that will require persons to give notice of their intention to travel to a declared geographical area and to provide reasons.

Under the new legislation, the penalties have been increased.

The attorney general said the penalty is up to the judge who will determine the appropriate sentence.

- Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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