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Antigua

For the second time in recent years, the St. James’ Club has been forced to close because of an invasion of the dreaded sargassum seaweed.

The all-inclusive resort will be closed temporarily from July 1 until Oct. 1, 2018.

Chairman of the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association Alex Debrito confirmed the closure of the hotel.

Coastlines around the country have been overwhelmed with the reddish-brown floating seaweed that washes ashore, covering once pristine beaches and driving away beach users and sea activities with its stench. Hoteliers, the government and private residents have been working to remove the seaweed, which could only return each day after successful clean-up.

Barbados

The Mia Mottley-led Barbados government is seeking to revive over $200 million in loans that already have been approved by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), but the former Freundel Stuart administration failed to access it.

Following a recent meeting with IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno and other bank officials at government headquarters in Bridgetown, Prime Minister Mottley expressed disbelief at the 13 percent disbursement rate with the financial institution.

She said there is a loan with the IDB of US$191 million and US$135.7 million of that remains undisbursed in spite of the fact that many of these loans have been in place for three, four or five years.

Jamaica

The Jamaica government says it is taking steps to transform into a digital economy.

This was revealed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness while speaking at the 9th Annual Mona School of Business Management Roundtable CEO Breakfast Forum at the Mona Visitors Lodge recently.

The Prime Minister said the government is taking the very first step towards preparing and creating the opportunities for Jamaicans to participate in this inevitable, imminent digital society. He said the government has passed a legislation to create a national identification system. This is a good example, he said, of digital leadership, the determination, the effort, the energy to get it done.

Holness said the government will create the environment that every Jamaican citizen can participate in the digital world.

“The government has to ensure that every citizen can transact in a digital society and the transaction has to be secure,” he said, adding, “we have to ensure security and integrity.” Jamaica, he added, must build significant platforms to get a fully digitized space that is transparent and secure.

Holness said the government has secured a US$64 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which will be used to establish a platform for all data that will be digitized.

St. Kitts

For the first time in St. Kitts’ history, Air Canada will serve the island for a full six month for the 2018-2019 peak season.

The non-stop Saturday flights will operate from Nov. 3 through April 27, 2019. St. Kitts Minister of Tourism Lindsay Grant said that this unprecedented air service expansion by Air Canada marks yet another historic first for the island.

From Nov. 3 through Dec. 10, Air Canada will operate a 136-seat Air Bus aircraft with 124 economy seats for the non-stop Saturday flights.

From Dec. 15, 2018 until April 27, 2019, Air Canada will operate a 200-seat Airbus aircraft with 184 economy class and 16 business class seats for these flights.

Racquel Brown, chief executive officer of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, said Air Canada’s decision to expand service into St Kitts is a testament of the growing tourism sector.

Air Canada, Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, began serving St. Kitts non-stop on Fridays in peak season from Toronto Pearson International Airport on 2011 and subsequently shifted to Saturday service. It is the only non-stop scheduled service from Canada.

In previous years, the flight operated from late December to early April. This expanded service will see St. Kitts receiving an additional six weeks of non-stop flying that will provide the potential for an increase in Canadian air passenger arrivals.

St. Lucia

A government minister has described as “too lenient” the EC$500 (US$185) fine imposed on a French national who was charged with a bomb hoax at George H. Charles Airport, causing the facility to be evacuated.

Fortuna Belrose, Minister of Local Government and Culture, told reporters that the penalty should have been “harsher.”

Police said Phillipe Gaston Grandejean was arrested and charged with the offense of bomb hoax, sending messages or articles to alarm or injure other persons, contrary to the Criminal Code.

In a statement law enforcement authorities said that his female companion was released from custody pending further investigations.

Operations at the airport were recently suspended and a thorough search of the facility was conducted after the French nationals claimed a bomb had been placed there. However, no such device was found.

Police said that the man and woman had earlier raised an objection to paying extra for overweight baggage as they prepared to board an Air Caraibes flight to the neighboring French island of Martinique.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said that his government has no intention of going to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Speaking at the fourth installment of “Conversation with the Prime Minister,” Rowley said the IMF was not a solution to the country’s economic challenges.

He said to avoid it, certain things have to be done to ensure the government doesn’t end up there.

“Under this government, we are not likely to be in that situation because as leader of this government [I’m] taking the responsibility for the country’s administration and knowing the nature of our resource base and what resources are available to us and what we can do as a people. I give this country the assurance that we will not be considering the IMF as a solution to our problem,” he said.

“The IMF is the International Monetary Fund. It is a bank and it is the lender of the last resort. It is when all else fails, we then turn to the lender of the last resort,” the prime minister added.

— compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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