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CARICOM leader comments on Single Market Economy

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Caribbean

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Irwin La Rocque said there is much to be done in advancing the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Speaking at the opening of the recent two-day Council of Trade and Economic (COTED) conference, in Guyana, La Rocque said that in determining whether the CSME is achieving its intended results, it is necessary to undertake on-going performance assessments.

The CSME allows for the free movement of skills, goods, labor and services across the 15-member grouping.

He told the trade and economic affairs ministers from the region that “these would indicate the status of implementation of the relevant obligations under the various regimes and the impact.” La Rocque said that the plan is to be published shortly. A stakeholders’ consultation is scheduled for next month.

Antigua

A suspended senior police officer and his mother have been charged with fraud in connection with an alleged racket involving forging Antigua and Barbuda passports.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Ray John, 47, who was suspended last month pending an investigation, and his St Vincent-born mother Yvonne Nickie, 63, were charged with five counts of forgery to forge Antigua and Barbuda passports.

The offenses were allegedly committed between January and March this year. They were each granted bail in the sum of EC$50,000.

As part of their bail conditions, they had to surrender their travel documents and have to report to the police station daily. Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh ordered the mother and son to re-appear in court on July 11.

The charges stem from an investigation that began in early April into the discovery of bio pages of Antigua and Barbuda passports in the possession of a man in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

John was suspended after his home was searched and several items seized.

Barbados

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has added an electric vehicle to its transportation fleet, as part of its commitment to advance a clean energy agenda in the region.

The vehicle, which was purchased through the Barbados Company, Megapower Ltd., produces zero emissions and will reduce the bank’s carbon footprint as it transports packages and officials throughout the island.

In 2015, CDB adopted an Energy Sector Policy and Strategy that set out the CDB’s approach for tackling the region’s energy challenges, including emphasizing the energy security and access; prioritizing renewable energy and energy efficiency; and promoting a holistic approach to energy sector transformation.

Cuba

More than 2 million tourists visited Cuba so far for this year, according to a report by the Ministry of Tourism.

The figure was reached on May 19, 15 days later when compared to the same period last year amid the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States.

The Tourism Ministry said that this has also been achieved despite the U.S. anti-Cuba media campaign aimed at placing obstacles for people from visiting and the impact of Hurricane Irma last September.

Tourism authorities noted that, although the decision of many travelers was influenced by the perception of the damage inflicted by the hurricane, tourism sites have recovered and now have a renewed image of their hotel and recreational facilities, in particular the keys to the north of the island.

The communique added that there has been an increase in visitors from Canada and the traditional European markets and a sustained growth from Russia, Mexico, Argentina, China and Brazil.

The first four months of this year saw a decrease of 7 percent in visitors to Cuba compared to the previous year, but tourism authorities reaffirmed their optimism for a record 5 million vacationers by the end of the 2018. U.S. citizens are still prohibited from visiting Cuba as tourists.

Grenada

An international Monetary Fund (IMF) staff recently visited Grenada for the 2018 Article IV consultation and held discussions with the Grenadian authorities, business community, and social partners.

A statement described the preliminary findings of the IMF at the end of the official staff visit, as part of regular consultations under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, in the context of a request to borrow from the IMF, as part of discussion of staff monitored programs, or as part of other staff monitoring of economic developments.

Grenada economy made important strides in recent years, achieving an impressive debt reduction of 37 percentage points of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) since 2013, strengthening the financial system, upgrading governance and creating a better business environment.

The Grenada economy grew by an estimated 4.5 percent in 2017, driven by strong activity in construction, tourism and education sectors, the report said.

Jamaica

The Jamaica government is sending Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw to Canada to hold talks with the players in the medical cannabis industry.

Shaw said cannabis is the fastest-growing industry globally right now, and Canada is making billions of dollars.

“Just like we have the best coffee, best cocoa, we also have the best marijuana and we must not sit around and be a sample nation,” he said.

Noting that he already has had discussions with the governor of the Bank of Jamaica with regard to financing the industry, Shaw said that during his trip to Canada, among the issues he will be seeking to address is “to see what mechanism they are using to get around that issue right now.”

The minister said other countries are doing it, Canada is doing it, Israel is doing it, European countries are doing it, the United States are finding ways around these problems related to banking.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chinese government for strengthening co-operation in the field of medicine and health. Rowley and a delegation of government officials were on an official visit to China recently.

A release from the Office of the Prime Minister said several MoU’s were signed including China’s National Health Commission and the Health Ministry; economic and technical cooperation between Trinidad and Tobago and the Chinese government.

The MoU’s were signed after the Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang welcomed Rowley and his delegation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

At the ceremony, both leaders reiterated their commitment to deepen bilateral ties between the two countries.

— compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 5:04 pm, May 31, 2018
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