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St. Lucia’s Prime Minister, Allen Michael Chastanet has expressed concern about the level of crime facing his country.
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Bahamas

The Bahamas government has confirmed that a 61-year-old man has died from the H1N1 influenza, also called swine flu.

Minister of Health, Dr. Duane Sands said the death occurred recently.

H1N1 is a particular subtype of influenza and the technically correct term is H1N1 influenza.

Dr. Sands said there was no need for alarm given the recent death.

Health authorities say the high-risk individuals include youth, the elderly, morbidly obese individuals and health care providers.

The minister said the majority of cases expected are going to be H1N1 and “we now have had 4,500 people take the influenza vaccine. It is not enough and we strongly encourage persons to go and get their flu shots.”

Health officials reported number of flu cases in the country ranges from 200 to 650 annually during the flu season that runs from October to May and peaks in the month of February.

Jamaica

Jamaica is hoping to boost the economy through the construction of 6,000 additional hotel rooms early next year.

This was disclosed by Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, who said the initiative is expected to begin in January, 2019 and would serve to further boost the economy by providing opportunities for local stakeholders, such as manufacturers, whom he encouraged to prepare to supply the anticipated heightened demand for furniture, among key inputs.

He said the industry is growing, the demand is expanding, noting that at 4.3 million visitors, the market has increased by nearly 300,000 per month.

The minister said the potential for further growth in the local tourism sector is limitless, relative to how the industry is projected to grown globally.

Bartlett has called on the financial industry stakeholders to be more accommodating of local entrepreneurs supplying the industry, particularly manufacturers, by facilitating them with funding support.

Guyana

United Airlines is exploring the possibility of adding Guyana to its list of destinations as the Houston-based carrier seeks to take advantage of the South American nation’s emerging oil and gas economy.

Junior Minister of Aviation, Anette Ferguson said United Airlines has it eyes on the Guyana market and a delegation was soon expected to hold talks with top officials of Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

Ferguson is optimistic that United Airlines would eventually reach an agreement to fly the Guyana / US route — thereby providing the Guyanese population a greater travel experience as well as more affordable airfare options.

Word of United’s interest in Guyana first came from outgoing US Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway during an interview with sections of the media recently.

United, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, is the world’s third largest airline after American Airlines and Delta Airlines.

United’s interest in Guyana comes less than one month after American Airlines began plying the Guyana / Miami route.

Grenada

The attorney, who investigated corruption allegations against the former Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick, Eugene Otuonye, QC, has been appointed to head a team to probe corruption allegation into the Grenada Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB).

In July, 2018, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell announced that Cabinet had approved an investigation into the affairs of the MNIB as a result of financial wrongdoing observed by the new board of directors.

Shortly after, the Integrity Commission, which the Public Life Act provides to conduct inquiries of wrongdoing into any state-owned enterprise, announced it had begun preliminary work into the corruption allegations at the MNIB.

A government release said that Prime Minister, Dr. Mitchell met with the investigative team at the Office of the Integrity Commission.

Former general manager of the MNIB, Ruel Edwards is at the center of the investigation.

Suriname

More than 11 people died when after a boat sank on the Coppename River, including four children.

The bodies of seven people, including a mother and her two children were recovered amid fears that the death toll could rise with several others still missing.

In a brief statement the Surinamese government expressed “condolences to the entire community” and said that it is “devastated by the incident” which occurred early on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018.

Local villagers said at least 20 persons have so far been rescued and that the tragedy has cast a bleak cloud of mourning over Suriname’s usual end-of-the year festivities.

Reports are that the vessel left the village of Cornelis Kondre, located in the Sipaliwini district, heading towards Boskamp in District Saramacca around midnight, carrying at least 30 passengers, several of them children.

The boat sank near the village of Kalebas Creek about halfway to its destination.

Boskamp is a popular transshipment point from where passengers can catch the bus to either Paramaribo in the east or Nickerie in the west, both bustling with year-end activities. The search is continuing for other missing persons.

St. Lucia

Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet has described crime as one of the glaring challenges facing St. Lucia even as it celebrates its latest achievements.

Chastanet spoke against the background of a recent sharp upsurge in gun violence when he delivered a message to mark National Day recently.

He noted that 2018 National Day finds St. Lucia virtually on the cusps of a new beginning as far as development is concerned, adding “we have begun to see some positive projections for our country regarding the economy, the lowering of unemployment and the advancement of necessary social and infrastructural projects.”

He stated that the government has made a significant step towards building the infrastructure necessary to facilitate growth.

The prime minister made reference to the upgrade of sporting facilities around the island as presenting the opportunities for more young people to chart a course in the sporting arena.

The prime minister explained that his administration is also about to start major development in the country, including finally the redevelopment of the international airport and the upgrade of road networks.

He said decisions have been taken to strengthen the police force and justice system to deal with the crime problem.

St. Vincent

A magistrate in Kingstown, St. Vincent has dismissed the case against a 23-year-old former model, who was charged with using insulting language to the wife of Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves.

Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett dismissed the case against Yugge Farrell for want of prosecution following an application by her attorneys.

Farrell spent a month in court-ordered psychiatric evaluation after she was charged on Jan. 4, 2018 for insulting language to Karen Duncan-Gonsalves, whom she also alleged to have called “a dirty b**ch.”

When the case was called, the prosecutor announced the withdrawal of the charge against Farrell.

She told the court she had received a letter from the director of public prosecution advising her that the case was dismissed.

The case had triggered national and regional outrage against the legal system and political establishment in the twin-island, especially after Farell’s claim that she was in a year-long sexual relationship with the finance minister.

The minister has refuted the allegation, and chose to follow the advice of his father, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, to maintain “a dignified silence.”

Trinidad

The closure of the state-owned oil company Petrotrin is not having a negative impact on the Trinidad and Tobago’s economy, which is projected to grow this year.

This is according to the Coordinator of the Economic Development Unit of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Sheldon McClean.

The observation was made after a preliminary overview of the region’s economies for 2018 at ECLAC’s office in Port of Spain last week.

McClean said it is instructive that after two years of economic contraction, the economy returned to positive growth of 1.9 percent in 2018.

He said the growth is expected to continue in 2019, despite the closure of the oil refinery, growth is expected to be 1.6 percent.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 7:56 pm, January 2, 2019
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