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Caribbean

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is warning the region of a possible major outbreak of dengue fever in 2018.

Carpha said the outbreak is possible ”because as before, the preconditions of abundant mosquito vector levels, still exist and increased levels of dengue are being reported in Latin America and elsewhere.”

Dengue is a flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but can be severe and cause death.

The mosquito-borne diseases chikunguanya and Zika, swept the region in 2014 and 2016, caused several deaths.

The region’s premier health agency said these mosquitoes mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, chikunguya threaten health, tourism, social and economic development, “so everyone needs to work together.”

Carpha chief executive director Dr. James Hospedales, said although dengue is not new to the region, “we need to gear up for the possibility of a severe outbreak.”

Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda Trade and Investment Minister Asot Michael has resigned from the cabinet of Prime Minister Gaston Browne, the state-owned Antigua Broadcasting Corporation (ABS) reported. The report said that Prime Minister had written to Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams, accepting his resignation and indicating to the Governor General for the appointment of Michael to be revoked.

Michael had been implicated among Caribbean politicians who allegedly received bribes from a British investor.

The main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) had called on Michael to either step down or for him to be fired by the prime minister.

Michael has denied the accusation which unfolded in a British High Court recently in a matter involving Peter Virdee, whose telephone conversations with his business partner, Dieter Trutschier, in 2016, had been recorded by German authorities.

According to the transcript of the conversation revealed in the High Court, Virdee alleged Michael had asked him for $2 million, as well as to buy a car for his mother.

Later last year, Michael was fired as tourism and investment minister after he was detained by the Metropolitan Police in London, England.

Barbados

The Barbados government has defended its decision to stop paying tuition fees for nationals studying at the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Education Minister Ronald Jones speaking at a public meeting recently said that, one stage, the Barbados government had to pay an estimated Bds$162 million.

He said this was more than giving all secondary schools combined, more than the three or four tertiary institutions combined and primary education combined because it is a high cost area.

Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinkler, in his 2014 budget presentation said that effective 2014 Barbadians students pursuing studies at the university’s three campuses would be required to pay their own tuition fees, while government continues to fund economic costs.

St Kitts

St Kitts/Nevis government has passed the Freedom of Information Bill (FIB) which the government said is intended to usher in a “new level of openness and transparen­ce.”

The FIB was first tabled in Parliament in 2015 and during the recent debate Information Minister and Attorney General Vincent Byron Jr said the legislation will usher in a new archetype of accountability, good governance and transparency in the twin island federation.

Byron said that the Freedom of Information Bill will help in the fight against corruption and engender public participation in the national decision-making process.

He noted that the legislation may not effect immediately after its passing as more amendments may be required to streamline the legislation.

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris in his contribution to the debate on the Bill said it would give journalists and the wider society more access to public information.

Grenada

The Grenada government wants a regional action plan to deal with the discovery of sargassum on various Caribbean beaches which should be treated as a climate change.

Health Minister Nicholas Steele told reporters that Cabinet has mandated to approach the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Secretariat and other regional entities to look at it as one of the effects of climate change.

He said the initiative should be spearheaded by the Ministry of Climate Change in the island or the St Lucia-Based OECS Commission “to find a regional solution and also regional funding for the issue.”

Sargassum is a genus of large brown seaweed, a type of algae, that floats in the island-like masses and several Caribbean countries have had to deal with the problem.

Describing the sargussum as a plague affecting the region’s beaches, Steele said that in 2018 more beaches in Grenada have been affected than in previous years. The government has appointed a Sargassum Task Force, headed by Steele, to spearhead the clean-up of the beaches.-

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago is on the road to economic revival from all indicators, according to Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

Imbert was at the time speaking during his mid-term review of the 2018 budget at the House of Representatives recently.

He cited figures suggesting a corner had been turned after years of economic recession and stagnation.

He cautioned however that the country is still not yet out of the woods as core revenue from taxation was “fragile” at TT$40 billion to fund a $50 billion economy.

Imbert said the revised outlooks on T&T’s economic performance which improved since the year before buoyed by increased natural gas output in the latter half of last year is expected to be sustained by projects scheduled t to come on stream later this year and beyond.

The finance minister gave credit to a team headed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley for spearheading negotiations and relation with energy companies that in turn, led to boosted production.

Jamaica

The University of the West Indies (UWI) has named Professor Dale Webber as the new principal of the Mona campus effective Oct. 1, 2018.

UWI said the appointment of Webber, who is the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Graduate Studies and Research at the UWI Mona Campus, was approved by Chancellor Robert Bermudez, on behalf of the University Council, following a recommendation from Vive-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles.

Webber will succeed retiring Prof Archibald McDonald.

Webber joined the UWI in l989 as warden of Taylor Hall (of residence) at the Mona Campus and in l991 he moved to become lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences. In 2003 he was promoted to the position of senior lecturer and then to the rank of senior lecturer and then to the rank of professor in 2010.

— compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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