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Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government has defended its decision to enter into a US$83 million agreement with Global Ports Holding (GPH) for the development of the cruise port in the capital.

Prime Minister, Gaston Browne said the agreement with the London-based GPH will change the landscapes of the island.

The agreement allows for US$21 million to end the bond with Antigua Commercial Bank (ACB), US$40 million to construct the new pier, US$25 million to construct new shops, five million grant to fund local entrepreneurship and a further two millions US dollars to improvement at Heritage Key.

The GPH, established in 2004, promotes itself on its website as the world’s largest cruise port operator with an established presence in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Asia-Pacific regions, including extensive commercial port operations in Turkey and Montenegro.

Browne said at this time “our cruise product literally is the worst in the Caribbean.”

“If we could have done it alone, we would have done it alone. In fact we have tried,” he added.

Bahamas

The Bahamas government is moving to restructure the country’s education system, including free tuition at the University of the Bahamas, so as to ensure the next generation is equipped to deal with a changing global environment.

This was revealed by Prime Minister, Hubert Minnis during a radio and television broadcast recently.

He said that education remains at the “very core or our economic and social development.”

The prime minister said reform of the educational system must impact every stage of learning from pre-school to university and other education and training agencies.

Minnis said that his administration is committed to expanding access to technical and vocational skill training, for many more Bahamians.

He said that early childhood education is also being enhanced with the Bahamas Early Start (BES) Project, which would fortify the sector by focusing on the equitable delivery of comprehensive, and quality childhood development for all children from the earliest stages of development.

Prime Minister Minnis said that three and four-year olds whose parents could not afford to send them to preschool now have access to pre-primary education, to prepare them for first grade.

Barbados

The Barbados government has reiterated the need for the Caribbean to remain a zone of peace and insisted only the Venezuelans could decide on the future of the South American country.

Prime Minister, Mia Mottley told Parliament during the recent 2019-2020 budget debate “instability in Venezuela will undermine peace in the southern and eastern Caribbean, as we are already seeing in Trinidad and Grenada.”

“We have been in a zone of peace in the Caribbean for so long that we are in danger of underestimating how important it is for us to have a peaceful region,” she said.

CARICOM leaders at their recent inter-sessional summit in St. Kitts-Nevis reiterated their position of non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

Caribbean

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has unveiled its Strategic Plan 2019-2024, under the theme “unlocking Potential”, which will chart the Court’s direction over the next five years.

President of the CCJ and chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee, Justice Adrian Saunders said the implementation of the strategic plan will help to move the CCJ forward.

The CCJ said in a statement that lessons learned from the Trinidad-based Court’s first strategic plan period, which ran from 2012-2017, served it well in the design and execution of its new strategic agenda.

The Strategic Plan 2019-2024 contains six strategic issues, which are further broken down into 14 goals and 41 strategies that will be used to effectively fulfil the CCJ’s aim of unlocking the potential of the organization.

The CCJ said the plan is already guiding its operations as each of the units of the Court has used it to develop their work plan for 2019.

Grenada

Grenada has been selected as the venue for the 5th regional meeting of the Caribbean Internet Peering and Interconnection Forum, (CariPIF), which is set for June 12-13, 2019.

The international event, which draws Internet giants like Facebook and Goggle to the region, is focused on developing the internet in the Caribbean by improving policy and building relationships between network operators and content providers.

The announcement was made by Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) and the Internet Society, co-organizers of the unique annual event that it brings together policymakers, regulators, private sector leaders and academics.

CariPif plays a key role in bringing together different parties to form the relationships and agreements necessary to increase local traffic exchange across the region said CaribNOG director and co-founder of CariPif, Bevil Wooding.

He said the event presents an opportunity for Grenada and the region to showcase the steps being taken to accelerate Internet development in the Caribbean.

Wooding said in addition, the forum will address the peculiar policy and regulatory challenges that have made internet connectivity, access and affordability difficult in some Caribbean countries.

CarPIF, launched in Barbados in 2015, was created to promote the development of Internet exchange points and greater regional and international connections between Internet service providers and other network providers.

Jamaica

Jamaica is moving to have its own domestic airline, according to Minister of Transport and Mining Robert Montague.

He said discussions are underway with three investment groups to start the service in a short time.

The minister said the series of consultations, held with key stakeholders, will guide the revision of the transport policy, covering air, water, road, railway, and infrastructure and services.

The policy identifies the issues faced in the development of the sector, the roles of Government, the private sector and the numerous authorities operating in this sector; the change necessary in the regulatory structure necessary and environment and safety issues.

Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean and as such, transportation can at times be a major issue hence the reason for the government looking at a domestic airline service especially to connect rural, far flung communities with the capital, the minister noted.

Trinidad

The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is predicting a two percent growth for Trinidad and Tobago in 2019.

However, the economic outlook for Trinidad and Tobago has been described as “one of cautious optimism”.

In its “Country Economic Review 2018 of Trinidad and Tobago” the CDB said that real gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to grow by two percent.

The financial institution said: “Despite the restructuring at Petrotrin, the energy sector is expected to drive growth, particularly in light of increased natural gas output as the Angelin project comes on stream. The performance of the energy sector will likely result in positive spill-over effects into the non-energy sector.”

The CDB, which will hold its annual board of governors meeting in Trinidad in June, said that the in the near-term, fiscal and debt conditions will continue to improve as energy-related revenues strengthen and efforts to contain expenditures are maintained.

The bank said that provisional estimates of economic activity in Trinidad and Tobago point to a turnaround with growth estimated at 1.9 percent last year.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:12 pm, April 1, 2019
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