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In this April 25, 2013, file photo, visitors walk on the white sand of the Grand Anse Beach, Grenada. More than 500,000 visitors traveled to the island last year.
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Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government said a meeting with officials of the Bank of Nova Scotia will take place later this month after initially indicating that the bank had turned down the request for talks regarding the sale of its branch holdings on the island.

Government Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst speaking on Point FM radio, owned by Prime Minister Gaston Browne had said that the general manager of Scotia Bank, Suzan Snaggs-Wilson had responded to Browne’s request for the meeting this month.

In November last year, the Trinidad-based Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) announced that it was seeking to acquire Scotiabank operations in several Caribbean countries.

Antigua and Barbuda and Guyana have expressed reservations about the proposed acquisition, with the St John’s government indicating that it would not be issuing a vesting order to facilitate the move.

A RFHL statement said that the banks being acquired are located in Guyana, St. Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Barbados

The Barbados government has put a four-year freeze on borrowing even as it reported an improvement in the island’s economic position.

Minister of Economic Affairs, Marsha Caddle said that the Barbados government will not be borrowing any new funds since it had borrowed along with $2 billion of new Barbadian savings that were drawn into and trapped by government debt.

Speaking at the 2019 planning conference for the Barbados Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, said the island’s debt had already declined near from 170 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in May last year to 124 percent.

She said last May, reserves stood at Bds$400 million, but the government’s US$290 million External Fund Facility (EFF) agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international financial agencies including the Inter-American Development Bank had helped to improve the economic situation in Barbados.

St. Lucia

Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet has defended the performance of the St. Lucia Police Force saying that his administration has been seeking to provide the necessary resources for law officials to carry out their duties.

In a radio and television broadcast, hours after the island recorded its first murder in 2019, Chastanet said at a time when crime is on the minds of most St Lucians, his administration has had to spend much of the last 30 months sourcing and providing some of the very basic needs for the police that were not available when the government came into office.

Police say they are investigating the murder of British national, Robert “Bob” Hathaway whose bloody body was found at his home in Gros Islet, north of the island, earlier this month.

Grenada

The Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) says the country has achieved a historic milestone of more than 500,000 visitors to the island last year.

The GTA said that combined cruise, yachting and stay over arrivals in 2018 were 528,077 representing a 12.90 percent increase in 2017.

A strong performance was also recorded in stay over arrivals with an increase of 9.97 percent, moving from 146,375 to 160,970 visitors with special mention given to the bumper Christmas season in which a 17 percent growth was recorded.

Canada recorded the highest growth rate in 2018 followed by the USA, and the Caribbean.

Jamaica

Persons who knowingly infect someone with HIV can be charged with a criminal offence in Jamaica that is if the government accepts a recommendation made by a parliamentary committee that has been reviewing several pieces of legislation — the Offences Against the Person Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Child Care and Protection Act- over the past two years.

The committee acknowledged there was a deficiency in the law in relation to the deliberate spreading of HIV — the virus that causes AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The committee said the Offences Against the Person Act should be amended to make it a criminal offence for someone who willfully or recklessly infect a partner with a sexually transmitted disease, which can affect serious bodily harm, as in the case in other jurisdictions including Canada and the United Kingdom.

It made several other recommendations, one of them was a deletion of Section 5 of the Sexual Offences Act, which contends that rape cannot occur within the context of a marriage, unless conditions set out in the provision were met.

However, it had decided against recommending a change to the legislation related to forced penetration because it could affect existing buggery laws.

St. Kitts

New CARICOM chairman Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Timothy Harris says 2019 will be the year to combat chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) across the region.

He said CARICOM will enter 2019 with “a renewed vigor and determination to maintain the momentum which we ended in 2018.”

The prime minister added that at the core of the region’s thrust for growth and development is a well-educated and healthy workforce.

Dr. Harris said chronic NCDs are a threat to the region’s sustainable development — a concern highlighted at a recent meeting at the United Nations.

He also noted that 2019 will be the final year of the region’s strategic plan and preparations have already begun for the second plan, which will build on the accomplishments of its predecessor.

The prime minister said the new year will be one that is full of action for the regional grouping.

Trinidad

Sandals Resorts International has blamed “negative publicity” and “consistent badgering” as the reasons why the company is no longer interested in building a hotel at Buccoo in Tobago (the sister isle of Trinidad) at this time, but will go where they are more appreciated.

The Trinidad and Tobago government had a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to build a luxury hotel with the brand name Sandals, which would have managed it — but nothing had been finalized as yet.

This was revealed by Sandals CEO, Gebhard Rainer at a news conference last week hosted by Minister of Communications, Stuart Young at the Office of the Prime Minister, St. Clair, Port of Spain. Rainer announced the withdrawal as “unfortunate.”

He said the reason is constant and ongoing negative publicity and media coverage “we received over the last two and a half years since the inception of the project.”

“It is taking on a dynamic we are not willing to carry on any longer,” he added.

Rainer said the integrity of Sandals benefits its host communities.

He claimed that negative reporting in Trinidad and Tobago had failed to say how Sandals had benefitted other Caribbean islands by boosting local agriculture, transport, taxes and local hotels, had a part to play.

Young thanked Sandals and vowed to continue to seek new opportunities for Tobago.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 7:12 pm, January 23, 2019
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