Antigua and Barbuda
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently said that economic activity continues to bounce back from the sharp declines registered during the pandemic and that economic growth for Antigua and Barbuda this year is projected at 5.7 %.
Emaine Boz, an assistant to the Director at the research Department of the IMF said that the economic growth for 2022 is projected at 8.5% and that tourism and construction activity proving to be particularly strong as the island is expected to register growth of 5.7% in 2023.
She also said that while the deficit and debt have been declining, gross fiscal financing needs to remain high and the cashflow position of the government has been under strain. The financial measures put in place to limit the pass through of higher global food and fuel prices have been offset by improved revenue performance and wage restraint. As a result, the primary deficit fell to 1.7% of GDP in 2022.
Boz added that Antigua and Barbuda should work towards building stronger fiscal buffers. She said excise taxes on tabacco, alcohol and sugar should be introduced.
She said that better cash and debt management would lessen cashflow pressures and reduce the risks to fiscal financing.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) health ministers joined their colleagues from the Americas seeking to reach agreements to prevent and control non-communicable diseases in children, adolescents and young people. They are also seeking to reduce the suicide rate, which increased by 17% between 2000 and 2019, among other issues.
Jamaica’s Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, the outgoing president of the Directing Council, and PAHO Director Dr. Jarbas Barbosa are among those who were scheduled to address the opening day of the 60th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
The others include the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services Xavier Beverage, and director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tefros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Barbosa was due to present the director’s annual report, which analyses PAHO’s performance between July 2022 and June 2023.
Discussions will focus on a variety of strategies, resolutions and policies aimed at strengthening the region’s health workforce, preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases in children, adolescents and youth, and improving mental health and suicide prevention in the aftermath of the covid19 pandemic, among other topics.
Dominica elected its first-ever female head of state overshadowed by opposition attempts to scuttle the “historic moment” and raising the possibility of the matter ending up before the courts.
By a margin of 20-5, Dominican lawmakers — six government ministers and one opposition legislator were absent for various reasons — voted in support of 58-year-old Sylvanie Burton, the government’s nominee, who had faced a challenge from Anette Sanford.
She will be sworn in on Oct. 2.
But the victory was overshadowed by an attempt by opposition legislator, Sean Douglas, who questioned whether Burton, had in fact met the requirements under the Dominica Constitution to be nominated, claiming that she was still employed as a senior public servant.
Skerrit moved for a five minute adjournment of the Parliament to allow Douglas to research the answer, but when it resumed, he was unable to answer the question, with Opposition Leader Jesma Paul Victor supporting the decision to continue with the balloting process.
Skerrit said he was disappointed that the election of Burton was not an opportunity “for us to rally around one candidate and to show the world that on some things there can be unity of purpose.
Prime Minister Skerrit said it has not robbed Dominica of creating history and “it has not robbed women of an opportunity to be grateful and that a woman for the first time in the history of our country, has been recognised and elevated to this high office.”
The oil and gas company, ExxonMobil, says it is awaiting “a formal response” from the Guyana government, amid the controversy that has erupted here over a reduction in its audited US$214 million expense.
Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has called for an investigation to determine why the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) went ahead and negotiated a reduction in ExxonMobil’s audited expense.Jagdeo, who maintained that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is the sole agency lawfully mandated to audit the expenses, said the investigation should determine why the MNR went ahead and negotiated a reduction to as low as three million US dollars.
“No money has been stolen, but somebody has to give an explanation how they engaged with Exxon,” he told a news conference, adding “we believe there should be a full investigation but we have not completed the audit, the ministry has to now write Exxon.
“… I believe also that we have to have a policy where people, at the technical level particularly, who engage with the oil and gas companies and executives, that they must seek the explicit clearance from the ministry and they must report back on the nature of every engagement,” Jagdeo said.
But in its statement, ExxonMobil said auditing an oil and gas joint venture operator’s expenses is a standard process by co-venturers and governments to ensure only appropriate costs are charged.
Gang violence in Haiti is escalating and spreading from the capital Port-au-Prince through the centre of the centre to its two other major cities, Gonaives and Cap-Haitien, with a significant increase in killings, kidnappings and tapes in the past few months.
Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in the new report to the UN Security Council that 2,728 intentional killings were recorded between October 2022 and June 2023 including 247 women, 58 boys and 20 girls.
The contributing rise in homicides is attributed to the emergence of a vigilante movement, known as “Bwa Kale,” which has gone after the gangs, he said. The UN chief also reported an increase in kidnappings for ransom during that time with 1,472 reported, though he said the actual number is almost certainly higher because families often do not report missing members to authorities out of fear for the victim’s safety.
Gang members also continue to use sexual violence including collective rape “to terrorise populations under the control of rival gangs,” Guterres said, pointing to 452 rape cases reported during the October -June period.
Gangs have grown more powerful and Guterres said they now control or exercise influence over 80% of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area and their violent activities have expanded especially in major cities .
Guterres said there had been little or no progress on the benchmarks in the October resolution: a judicial system that can handle gangs and criminal-related activities, a progressive reduction in gang violence, improvements in human rights, a decrease in illicit arms trafficking and financial flows, and an increase in arms seizures.
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts-Nevis police say they have detained several Haitians who were rescued when the boat in which they were traveling grounded on a reef recently.In a statement, the police said that ten individuals, including a two-year-old baby and the captain of the yacht, believed to be from Dominica, were rescued by the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force Coast Guard after it responded to a distress call from a vessel close to the coastline.
The police said that 11 individuals were on board, including the boat’s captain, and that four of them disembarked and swam to shore.
They said while the coast guard was on the scene, two individuals were observed swimming toward the coastline and another two who made it to land were fleeing the scene. But, the authorities said law enforcement apprehended and detained the fleeing individuals and that of the ten rescued, nine were identified as nationals of Haiti.
The government has decided to repatriate the illegal migrants “in the interest of national security and the maintenance of the nation’s “zero tolerance” stance to human trafficking.”
The police statement condemned human trafficking in the region, noting “it is of paramount importance that the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis does not become a (haven) for illegal migration and human trafficking. Both infractions pose clear and direct threats to the stellar functioning of our national security apparatus. Human trafficking is a human rights violation that the Government regards highly seriously.”
— Compiled by Devika Ragoonanan