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Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government is in support of billionaire Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Atlantic, interest in investing in the cash-strapped regional airline LIAT.

Branson has proposed investing US$7million and would wet lease several aircraft, jets and they would very likely fly from Fort Lauderdale, USA, to maybe Jamaica, Haiti, down into Antigua and Barbuda, according to Antigua and Barbuda chief of staff, Lionel Max Hurst.

He said the Gaston Browne administration prefers the Branson involvement in LIAT than what is being floated by the Barbados government.

Hurst said the whole idea is to enlarge LIAT rather than collapse the regional airline or making it a smaller entity.

“I believe the idea that Barbados had in mind was to sell two of the aircraft, which they claim would be theirs and then use the cash component that will result in starting up yet another carrier that would be based primarily in the southern part of the Caribbean. We reject any plan that would result in LIAT either being downsized or completely collapsed,” Hurst told WINNFM radio in St. Kitts.

He said Antigua and Barbuda is hoping that Branson’s interest will materialized into meaningful investment in LIAT.

Bahamas

The Bahamas government has condemned the murder of a United States national in Bimini recently, saying that it takes any incident affecting a visitor very seriously.

The government was reacting to reports by a friend of Alain Perez that “inaction” by Bahamian officials and an “under-equipped” clinic contributed to his death.

Police are searching for the gunman who shot the American multiple times in his torso when he opened the door of his condo during the early hours of the morning after hearing a knock.

The government said in a statement: “The government of The Bahamas continues to monitor closely the situation involving the unfortunate death of Perez. We strongly condemn this random and heinous act of violence.”

Minister of Health, Dr. Duane Sands defended the efforts made to save Perez’s life saying that a consultant physician trained in advanced trauma life support attended to him.

He said the physician cared for the 47-year-old for nearly two hours, noting that the man had life threatening injuries and he succumbed from these injuries.

The United States has in recent months been issuing travel advisories for its nationals visiting The Bahamas.

Caribbean

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Timothy Harris has called for the strengthening of cooperation among CARICOM nations, expressing “deep concern about the level of crime in the region.”

He was at the time speaking at the recent 19th Special meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government on Security held at Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, Port of Spain.

The meeting, which was chaired by Harris, came at a time when the economic, political and social collapse of Venezuela could threaten border security of neighboring nations.

He called for more information and shared intelligence among CARICOM nations as well as borderless data collection to fight the scourge of crime migration.

Harris said data collection “must form the basis of devising strategies and strengthening policy and operational responses to the challenges.”

He also called for closer collaboration by law agencies across the CARICOM nations.

“Illicit trafficking in guns, drugs and people pose significant threats to our society and enhanced cooperation in an urgent necessary to help in combating,” he said.

The prime minister noted that there was a connection between the drugs, small arms, light weapons and the geographical location of some CARICOM islands.

Guyana

CARICOM has called on the United States to renew legislation regarding the extension of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) waiver beyond December 2019 so as to allow continued duty-free access to the US market.

The call was made by CARICOM Secretary-General, Irwin La Rocque during the recent accreditation ceremony of the new US ambassador to the region, Sarah-Ann Lynch at the CARICOM Secretariat in Guyana.

He said the region also welcomes greater flows of US investments in agriculture, tourism and transportation.

In his address, La Rocque also underscored the importance of cooperation in clean and renewable energy and security amidst increasing security threats in the current global environment.

In that context, he said CARICOM is looking forward to collaboration with the United States at the US-Caribbean Security Cooperation Commission in Barbados and at the Eighth Caribbean-US High-Level Dialogue in Washington next month.

La Rocque said the United States should now be more sensitive to CARICOM’s concerns about black-listing by the European Union, since the US recently experienced that action itself.

The US diplomat said CARICOM had been able to “successfully dismantle barriers to fair trade and created the formidable Caribbean Court of Justice.”

She said that the United States supported and encouraged the single economic space of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labor and services across the 15-member grouping.

Jamaica

The Jamaica government is moving to establish a national insurance plan (NHIP) for its citizens.

This was announced by Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton who said that only 20 percent of the population has health insurance, with more than half of these being public sector workers.

He said the lack of insurance means that too many people, including the poor and vulnerable, are denied access to timely medical care, due to long waits and inadequate service and equipment.

He noted that in 2016, at least 32 percent of Jamaicans reported that they did not access health care when needed due to financial reasons.

Dr. Tufton said World Bank data revealed that the average Jamaican with a non-communicable disease (NCD) allocates a third of his or her monthly household income to health care.

He said that the NHIP Green Paper which he had earlier tabled in Parliament forms an important part of government’s response to the situation.

The minister said the Green Paper will lead to a final proposal aimed at providing appropriate levels of access, coverage and financial protections to the population.

Dr. Tufton said it was a promise “we made when we campaigned for office in 2016 and a necessary addition to public health financing.”

St. Lucia

The Canada-based World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) has appointed veteran St. Lucian-born communication and media specialist, Embert Charles, as its global president for the next four years.

The WACC is an international non-government organization registered as a charity in Canada and the United Kingdom.

WACC has members in 120 countries that are organized into eight regional associations, namely Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, North America and the Pacific.

Charles has over 35 years active membership in WACC at both regional and global levels during which he served in various capacities as president of WACC Caribe (2011-14) and as a member of WACC’s international board of directors.

Trinidad

For the first time in five years, Trinidad and Tobago–owned Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) has reported a TT$42 million profit for 2018.

In a statement CAL said the company released a summary of its unaudited statements, announcing a TT$111 million operating profit.

The breakdown shows that while the airline recorded $158 million in earnings before interest and tax on international routes, the company’s net income from international flights and other operations was $109 million, while the domestic airbridge operations made a net loss of $67 million.

Total revenues increased by 11 percent to $292 million.

Fuel costs were the company’s biggest expense, costing TT$597 million in 2018 as against $471 million in 2017, which the company attributed to the higher price of oil on the international market.

The last time CAL presented annual financial statements to the public was in 2015, for its 2014 performance, when it recorded a US$60 million loss.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

Posted 12:00 am, May 14, 2019
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