Caribbean RoundUp

Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit.
CARICOM Chairman Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit.
Associated Press/Craig Ruttle/File

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr. Clarence Henry, has reiterated a call for an “independent and comprehensive” analysis of claims being made by regional paint manufacturers who have been calling for an increase in the tariffs on paint imports from the United States.

Henry met with local manufacturers to discuss the issue and said that the analysis must be done independently of the manufacturers. The local manufacturers are insisting that when the government implemented Article 164 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, while they had experienced some tough times, they were still able to survive.

They called for the government here to maintain vigilance against the creation of monopolies, which they claim would result from the support of the regional paint manufacturers request.

The veteran trade official, said it had not been co-ordinated by the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and “for this reason, the document cannot be relied on as one that provides a transparent and fair comprehensive analysis.”

In their Sept. 20, 2023 letter to Greene, and signed by Marguerite Desir, the CARICOM paint manufacturers, said they were seeking the support of the Gaston Browne administration “for remedial measures via an alteration of the Common External Tariff (CET) on paints.



The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) has turned down an 11.9 percent increase in electricity rates sought by the Barbados Light and Power Company (BLPC) and will instead announce by Christmas what the new rates consumers here will have to pay.

Carrington told a news conference that the BLPC must first comply with the Feb. 15 orders the commission issued before a determination of the final rate base could be made.

In February, the electricity company was ordered to return to the drawing board to recalculate its rate data and resubmit its findings to the FTC. But the utility company filed a motion for the commission to review that decision and change its orders. The company also sought and was given a stay of execution on those orders.

In handing down its ruling, Chairman of the FTC Rate Hearing, Dr. Donley Carrington said the stay has now been lifted and the BLPC has to comply with those orders and respond accordingly.

The interim rates, he said, which became effective Sept. 16 last year, are to continue to be billed through to the date to be determined in the final order and that the issue of refunds, if any, will be addressed in the order. Those interim rates have been capped at 50 percent of the requested rates for all customers with the exception of rates to be charged to BLPC employees for whom 100 per cent of the rates re- quested is approved.



Dominica said it intends to sign the Samoa Agreement that will serve as an overarching legal framework for the relationship between the European Union (EU) and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) for the next years.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said that while he is aware of the concerns being raised in several quarters, including the Roman Catholic Church, the agreement does not depart significantly from the Cotonou Agreement which it replaces.

“I don’t think the document itself high-lights what are being pointed out in the public domain,” he said, noting that “people will have different interpretation of the document, like we have with the Bible 7 and so it will all be left for interpretations.

“In terms of the language I do not necessary believe that’s the case. We intend to sign…I believe overall it is a good document. It could be more refined, in an agreement it is not everything you want you get, but it is a framework document that is not necessarily imposing any particular ills or views on us in the African, Caribbean and Pacific region.

“It is a framework document that is no different to other framework documents the world has signed on to,” Skerrit said.

“In this world you always have to be vigilant and I am happy that the Catholic Church is vigilant on that.”



The US Embassy in Grenada has refused to accept a letter from a group of protesters calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza and instead, recommended that they mail the letter to its office.

“We are going to do that sometime soon, maybe as soon as today and it will be done via registered mail,” said Siddiqui Sylvester, a member of the adhoc group Grenadians for Justice, which organized the March for Palestine.

Before presenting the letter at the security gate, Sylvester publicly read the letter, which was addressed to the embassy’s principal officer, Frances Herrera.

“Your government has consistently blocked motions at the UN designed to hold Israel accountable including recent calls for an immediate cease fire,” the letter said, urging Herrera to convene the group’s concerns and desire to her superiors.

Among the protesters were legislators Andre Lewis and Salim Rahaman, as well as former senator Rolanda McQueen. They all called for an end to the atrocities, which began on Oct. 7, when the terrorist group Hamas launched an invasion of Israel, killing hundreds of people and taking several others hostage.



President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Dennis Francis has ended a two-day official visit to Haiti expressing support and solidarity with the Haitian people, and urging all stake- holders to engage in a dialogue aimed at building political consensus towards a solution to the current crises.

During his visit, Francis held talks with Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry, indicating that the international community has not forgotten the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country and its citizens.

“They exchanged views on the ongoing political situation in the Caribbean Island, including the impending deployment of a Multinational Security Support Mission (MSS), following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2699,” according to a statement from UNGA.

It said that Francis, the TT Ambassador to the UN who is presiding over the current session of the UNGA, encouraged further progress to resolve the political, security and humanitarian challenges in order to focus on the longer-term sustainable development of the country and the well-being of the Haitian people.


Trinidad and Tobago

Caribbean Airlines Ltd. (CAL), recently announced that the company is exploring areas of strategic collaboration with Saudi Arabia.

CAL Chairman Ronnie Mohammed said this is being done through Saudi Arabia’s Air Connectivity Program (ACP).

Mohammed was part of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley’s delegation to Saudi Arabia, where he engaged in high-level discussions with ACP’s Vice President of Commercial, Rashed Alshammair.

The ACP program focuses boosting on tourism growth in Saudi Arabia by improving air connectivity through the development of existing and potential air routes.

“Recognizing the significance of Saudi Arabia as a destination, especially for the Muslim community in T&T and the wider region, the airline aims to create affordable and convenient travel, particularly for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages,” the release said.

CAL hopes to explore potential interline arrangements with Saudi Air and Riyadh Air, the latter of which, is scheduled to launch in 2024.

“The initiative is a crucial element of CAL’s growth strategy, emphasizing partnerships with airlines and stakeholders to extend its reach and enhance connectivity between T&T, the Caribbean and the global community,” it said.

— Compiled by Devika Ragoonanan