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LIAT, The Caribbean Airline continues to fly across the region despite economic woes.
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Antigua

Pilots of regional airline, LIAT has agreed to a less than 10 percent cut in salary in a bid to keep the airline in the air.

President of the Leeward Islands Pilots Association (LIAPA), Carl Burke, who did not disclose the exact amount that was agreed to, said the pilots recently voted on the salary cut, which has since been communicated to Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley.

The shareholder governments of the airline are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been seeking to get other Caribbean countries to contribute a total of US$5.4 million in emergency funding needed to keep the airline flying.

Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert said if LIAT drops Trinidad and Tobago from its schedule, state-owned Caribbean Airlines Ltd. (CAL) will take up the slack.

Imbert was responding to a warning by St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves that LIAT could discontinue its service to Trinidad and Tobago.

Barbados

The Barbados government has announced a gun amnesty in a bid to curb the rise in gun-related murders in the country.

Attorney General, Dale Marshall told Parliament last week that the one-week amnesty, which started last Saturday (April 6, 2019) that the Mia Mottley Administration was intent on dealing severely with the crime situation.

”If you have ammunition or guns and you know you have no lawful reason to have, take them to the police station day or night, no questions asked,” he said during the debate on the amendment to the Bail Act.

“You have a week, one week, because the criminal elements in this society have to understand that we mean business,” he added.

So far for this year, 20 people have been murdered in Barbados and Prime Minister, Mottley in her contribution to the debate urged persons to put down the guns, saying that may people were simply giving in to pure pressure.

She said there seems to be little respect and regard for human life and that once that trigger is pulled there is no turning back.

Caribbean

Chairman of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris recently visited Ecuador to hold talks with the International Contact Group on Venezuela.

The International Contact Group, established by the European Union (EU), (which comprises 11 countries), is seeking to have a peaceful and democratic solution to the current crisis where opposition leader Juan Guaido, backed by the United States and its allies, is seeking to remove President Nicholas Maduro from office.

Guaido has since declared himself as the interim leader of the South American country.

Harris was accompanied to the talks by CARICOM Secretary General, Edwin La Rocque and a technical team from the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat.

CARICOM has adopted a united position on the Venezuelan matter and last month regional leaders at their inter-sessional summit in St. Kitts-Nevis reiterated their position of non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and said they were prepared to mediate in the process to bring about a peaceful solution to the crisis.

During the meeting, the CARICOM leaders agreed for Harris “to meet with interested parties in pursuit of an inclusive approach to attaining a peaceful resolution of the Venezuelan crisis.”

Grenada

The Grenada government says the annual flow of sargassum into the Caribbean Sea presents a major problem resulting in millions of dollars in clean-up exercises throughout the region.

Minister of the Environment, Simon Stiell said the influx this year has started much earlier than in previous years and has become a chronic issue not just for Grenada, but throughout the Caribbean, even as far north as Florida.

He said last year alone the government spent more than EC$1 million in cleaning key areas where there was a buildup of sargassum, which is causing health issues, issues for fishermen and for communities.

Stiell said that the government has since put together an action plan to deal with the sargassum problem, which has the greatest impact on the tourism and fishing sectors.

Guyana

The United States has described Guyana as a transit country for South American cocaine destined for Europe, West Africa, the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

It said cocaine is concealed in legitimate commodities and smuggled via commercial maritime vessels, air transport, human couriers or the postal services.

Washington said Guyana’s National Risk Assessment 2017 found that it has medium-to-high money laundering.

The US State department noted that Guyana has made significant progress on the anti-money laundering front, but more investigations and successful prosecutions are needed.

It said, historically, the primary sources of laundered funds are narcotics trafficking and real estate fraud. However, other illicit activities, including human trafficking, gold smuggling, contraband, and tax evasion are also sources.

Washington, in its 2019 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, said that the licensing policies and procedures of Guyana’s unsophisticated banking and financial institutions increase the risk of drug money laundering.

Jamaica

Fly Jamaica Airways has suspended all its operations and has made all of its staff redundant as of last week, saying the lack of planes to carry out operations has left it without any other alternative.

In a March 29, 2019, letter signed by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Paul Reece, said, the airline, which has been trying to recover after one of its planes crashed-landed at Guyana’s Cheddi Jagan International Airport in November 2018, thanked employees for their “service, loyalty and dedication.”

He told the employees that the board of directors of Fly Jamaica that due to lack of aircraft and the impact that is had on the company’s financial position, “we have no alternative but to make all employees redundant effective, March 31, 2019.”

Reece told workers while the company is still committed to meeting its financial obligations to them for the period, “November 2018 to date, we ask you to allow us more time to do so,”

Fly Jamaica Airways, which had direct flights between Guyana and Jamaica, was certified by the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) in September 2012 and made its inaugural flight from Kingston to New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport, in the United States on Feb., 14, 2013.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago is moving to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement between CARIFORUM and the United Kingdom (CARIFORUM-UK, EPA), one of Trinidad and Tobago’s long standing trading partners.

This was revealed by Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Paula Gopee-Scoon.

She said local businesses will continue to benefit from the duty-free export of goods and the preferential treatment of services and exports to the United Kingdom.

In a statement, Gopee-Scoon said Cabinet approved the agreement and authorized its signature by His Excellency Orville London, High Commissioner of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

She said signature to this agreement will ensure continuity of trade with the United Kingdom and safeguard Trinidad and Tobago’s interests.

The Ministry of Trade explained that the CARIFORUM-UK EPA provides continued access to the UK market when the UK exits the European Union, the so-called Brexit process.

On March 22, 2019, nine CARICOM countries signed the trade continuity agreement with the United Kingdom that will allow those countries to trade as they do now without any additional barriers or tariffs

Among them were Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 4:29 pm, April 15, 2019
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