Caribbean RoundUp

A rendering of Wonder of the Seas cruise ship. www.royalcaribbean.com
A rendering of Wonder of the Seas cruise ship.
www.royalcaribbean.com

BAHAMAS

A cultural explosion greeted the “Wonder of the Seas” — the world’s largest cruise ship — when it made its maiden voyage to The Bahamas on March 9, 2022.
On hand to greet the thousand of passengers were high -ranking government officials, including deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Christopher Cooper who said at a ceremony at the Nassau Port, The Bahamas being part of a call for the Wonder of the Seas should translate into an economic boost for the economy.
He said among the 300 destinations, The Bahamas remains Royal Caribbean’s most popular port of call for passengers “calling on port of Nassau will undoubtedly reach historic occupancy levels that should translate into an economic boost to the economy.”
Mrs Marie Davis, wife of the Prime Minister Phillip Davis and Minister of Finance Phillip David and Royal Caribbean executives also attended the event.
The Wonder of the Seas has a passenger capacity of more than 5,000 and a crew of 2,300.
BARBADOS
The Barbados government has re-introduced the payment of a stipend to student nurses after nearly eight years of its cessation.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill said this move will benefit 273 nurses to the tune of approximately two million dollars annually.
He said the change in policy is expected to give added incentive to Barbadian to join the nursing profession and help to reduce the current nursing shortage.
In addition, the minister, said the government has set out clear criteria by which student nurses will qualify for payment of the financial stipend.
The Barbados Nurses Association (BNA) said the announcement by the Mia Mottley government was a step in the right direction.
The BNA said it has been advocating for the return of the stipend from the time of the suspension.
The health minister said the stipend will only be provided for the duration of the four-year program and that the nursing profession in Barbados continues to face shortages across all government institutions.
He said that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital has recruited 95 nurses from Ghana to assist with the shortage.
In addition, 111 Cuban nurses were recruited to assist the government in its COVID-19  response.
Gooding-Edghill said first year nursing students will be paid a stipend of BDS$458.89 per month, second year BDS$578.53, third year, BDS$698.16 and fourth year, BDS $798.16.
CARIBBEAN
The University of the West Indies (UWI) has won a gold international award for its branding and marketing at the International AVA Digital Awards competition recently.
The award was administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals (AMCP). The UWI brand was named on the 2022 winners list among global brands like Virgin, Dell and the Black Entertainment Network (BET).
 In a statement, UWI’s Vice-chancellor, Prof Hilary Beckles said, “This international award for excellence in digital creativity, branding and strategy comes as a high point that cements the Caribbean’s top-ranked university’s progress in nurturing a single, global brand consciousness.”
The statement said the redesign of the UWI website was part of a system-wide initiative to align the university’s digital communication assets with that of a modern global academy.
Beckles said the UWI has remained focused on its core business and has shown considerable resilience and commitment to its principles and purpose.
He said competing against global brands shows the distance the university has traveled and grown in recent years.
GRENADA
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Grenada’s strong fiscal and public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic has not only helped to contain the spread of the virus and protect lives and livelihoods but also paved the way for a gradual recovery.
“The economy is recovering… Real GDP is projected to expand by 4.3 percent in 2022,” the Washington-based financial institution said in a statement issued recently following the Article IV consultation in Grenada.
The IMF noted that while the government’s early lockdown in 2020 contained the number of COVID-19 cases, the impact on Grenada’s tourism-dependent economy was severe, with real GDP (gross domestic product) shrinking by 14 percent in 2020 as tourism-related activities collasped and in-person classes at St. George’s University were suspended.
“Real GDP is estimated to have expanded by 5.6 percent in 2021. Stay-over tourist arrivals picked up strongly in the last months of 2021 but remained at only 25 percent of pre-crisis levels for the year as a whole. Construction and agriculture did, though, rebound faster,” the IMF said.
However, the Fund noted that risks to the outlook are significant. It said the main risk is a more prolonged pandemic, with implications for tourism and offshore education.
“Higher food and oil prices and prolonged chain disruption could lead to further increases in inflation,” it said.
The IMF added that continuing to provide fiscal support in 2022 will help strengthen the recovery and lessen the burden of the pandemic on vulnerable households.
GUYANA
The Guyana government said it will hold discussions with marijuana growers as the country was moving to establish the hemp industry as a “mainstream economic activity.”
Hemp, also called industrial hemp, is a plant of the family Cannabaceae cultivated for its best fibre or its edible seeds.
It is sometimes confused with the cannabis plant that serve as sources of the drug marijuana and the drug preparation, hashish.
Hemp is also used to make a variety of commercial and industrial products including rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bio-plastic and bio-fuel.
Guyana President, Dr. Irfaan Ali told a news conference that he intends to have a meeting very soon with all the marijuana growers in the country to let them understand that there was a viable future in the hemp industry in Guyana and bring them into that.
He said his administration is committed to the development of the hemp industry and that the government hopes to encourage those “growers” to cease planting marijuana given its social consequences.
Marijuana cultivation is illegal in Guyana even as some CARICOM countries have passed legislation allowing for the development of that industry for medicinal purposes.
Ali told reporters that hemp is considered a “mainstream economic activity” that can give those planters greater economic returns.
JAMAICA
The Jamaican government has announced a 28.5 percent increase in the national minimum wage.
Minister of Labor Minister and Social Security, Karl Samuda is urging employers who can pay more than the minimum wage to do so.
Effective April 1, 2022, it will move from J$7,000 per 40-hour workweek to $9,000.
“This is the minimum wage and there are many people who use this as a guide, but it does not constitute that the wage that you are expected to pay,” the minister said.
The announcement by the government comes in the wake of inflation reaching 9.7 percent for the annual period ending in January.
The minimum wage was last increased on Emancipation Day – Aug. 1, 2018.
TRINIDAD
In a surprise move, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has removed his attorney general and replaced him with a leading senior counsel in a minor Cabinet reshuffle last week.
The reassignment of Al Rawi and the appointment of Dominica- born senior counsel Reginald Armour came as a shock to the country.
Ali Rawi, who had been attorney general since 2015 after the Dr. Keith Rowley government won the general election, will now hold the portfolio of Local Government and Rural Development where he will have to oversee the transformation of the new Local Government financing arrangements, which confer greater responsibility on local government entities. This is due to come to Parliament in the form of new legislation.
The other major changes in the Cabinet is the departure of Minister of Agriculture, Clarence Rambharrat, who held the portfolio since 2015 with Rowley’ s first appointment as prime minister. He resigned from the post the same day of the Cabinet reshuffle.
Another former local government minister Kazim Hosein takes over the Agriculture, Land and Fisheries portfolio.
The two other ministers affected by the reshuffle are Camille Robinson-Regis, who moved from Planning and Development to Housing and Urban Development, while former housing minister Penelope Beckles will replace Robinson-Regis as Planning and Development minister. There were also some changes in the Senate.
— Compiled by Azad Ali

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