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Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Gaston Alphonso Browne addresses the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters.
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Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government says it will extradite the Indian-born billionaire, Mehul Choksi, but only after he has been able to have his matter dealt with in the courts in the island.

India and Antigua do not have a bilateral extradition pact, but New Delhi has been trying to bring back the diamond billionaire from Antigua under a law of the island that allows St. John’s to send back a fugitive to a designated Commonwealth country.

Choksi, was granted citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2018 and he took the oath of allegiance on Jan. 15 last year. He was granted citizenship by investment.

Two weeks later, on Jan. 29, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in India filed a case and started an investigating him and his nephew Nirav Modi.

Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, speaking on his radio program recently told listeners that when Choksi was granted citizenship officials in India reported that he had no criminal record “and they did not report that he was wanted for a financial crime so he got through. But the reality is that his citizenship will be revoked and he will be repatriated to India so there is no recourse.”

Browne said he wanted the legal process to take its course adding that “criminals have fundamental rights too.”

Bahamas

Bahamas has launched the first National Disaster Preparedness Baseline Assessment (NDPBA) — a year-long program aimed at measuring disaster preparedness.

The project is being implemented through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in partnership which Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), a University of Hawaii applied science and research center.

This was revealed by Deputy Prime Minister, Peter Turnquest described the year-long NDPBA program as an imperative step towards risk reduction and true sustainability for The Bahamas.

He said the impact of Hurricanes Joaquin, Matthew and Irma on The Bahamas has been reported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to cost approximately US$820 million.

Turnquest, who is also finance minister, said such a cost to an economy like The Bahamas is unsustainable.

“The Bahamas and PDC will work together to address the unique disaster risk and sustainability challenges of small island states,” he said.

Barbados

Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley says the title of “The Most Excellent” will be the country’s highest honor.

Mottley who made the announcement recently said the inclusion of the title is for those who did not want to be tied to the pre-independence period.

Presently — the title Knights of Dame of St. Andrew are the highest national honors a citizen of Barbados can receive.

“We must claim our identity and we must now establish an equivalents award under the freedom of Barbados so that Barbadians who do not want to be known as Sir or Dame of St. Andrew can still have the highest level award in this country,” the prime minister said at the opening ceremony of the Spring Garden Highway.

Mottley said the title reaffirmed the Barbadian identity.

“Those children who may not be scientists or who may not be doctors or lawyers or who may not be politicians must forever know that they can attain the highest heights in the country and receive the greatest acclaim of the people of this land by expressing to us that which comes within,” she added.

Grenada

Grenada’s Assistant Police Commissioner, Jessmon Prince has dismissed reports of an influx of Venezuelan refugees.

He told a press conference recently that this is despite an announcement from the United States that its Naval Hospital Ship Comfort will be offering services to the island during a five-month humanitarian mission that will take it to countries “overwhelmed” by Venezuelan refugees.

Comfort began its journey last month and during its deployment, the ship will make stops in Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Panama, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago.

It is scheduled to be in Grenada in September.

“We do not have a situation of any influx of Venezuelans, we have people who come here normally like on a vacation, spend their time and go back. We have not had anybody coming here under any refugee status from Venezuela,” he said.

Data from the Grenada Tourism Authority revealed that, in 2017 and 2018, more than 400 Venezuelans arrived in the country.

Prince said that Venezuelans like other nationals have had to be deported for violation of immigration laws such as overstaying without permission from an immigration officer.

Jamaica

Jamaica and Cayman Islands are moving to strengthen trade relations. This was disclosed by Jamaica Prime Minister, Andrew Holness while speaking to members of the Jamaican diaspora during a recent visit to the British overseas territory.

During his visit the prime minister held bilateral talks with the Premier of the Cayman Islands, Alden McLaughlin and government officials.

He said that it is important to improve the economic and other ties with the territory.

Holness said it is now time for Jamaica to be reaching out and have its trade deals with its neighbors adding that stronger trade between both islands is now quite possible and necessary.

He also gave the Jamaicans in the Cayman Islands an update on talks he held with the government of Cayman.

The prime minister said in the bilateral talks there were discussions on the issue of visa requirement, which may not be necessary.

In that regard, Holness explained the significant improvements in the Jamaican economy over the past three years particularly in the country’s employment figures.

He encouraged Jamaicans living in the Cayman to invest in Jamaica as the future of the country’s economy is promising.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia will this month be launching initiatives aimed at minimizing the dependence on single-use plastics, including Styrofoam, with the option of applying habits at home and in a daily life and sharing with friends and family.

At the start of the year, the Allen Chastanet administration announced plans to phase-out the use of Styrofoam and selected single-use plastic food service containers in the local food service industry.

In August last year, the authorities placed a ban on the importation of these items as well as a ban on the use, manufacturing, sale and distribution of items.

In support of this, Parliament passed the Styrofoam and Plastic Food Service Containers (Prohibition) Act on June 11.

The government said that during July the Department of Sustainable Development will undertake several initiatives dubbed “Plastic Free July.”

The government said this is an international campaign designed to increase awareness of the amount of plastic by encouraging people to significantly reduce the use of single-use plastics for one month.

Trinidad

Global credit agency, Standard & Poors (S&P has downgraded Trinidad and Tobago from BBB+ to BBB, saying that the outlook is stable.

In its update on T&T, S&P said the decision to downgrade the country was based on lower-than-expected energy production and economic growth which it expects to weaken the Government’s revenue base and delay its plans to balance the budget by fiscal year 2020-2021.

S&P added: “Action and improve the provision of timely economic data have taken longer than expected and we do not expected to see material dividends from these reforms in the near future.”

It said these factors weaken the country’s resilience against external shocks.

“As a result, we are lowering our long-term and local currency, sovereign credit ratings on Trinidad and Tobago to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB+ and are affirming our short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings at ‘A-2’,” the S&P outlook read.

It also added that it was revisiting down its transfer and convertibility assessment to ‘BBB+’ from ‘A’.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 4:33 pm, July 18, 2019
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