Caribbean countries have been warned to expect above normal rainfall this year (2017) during the dry season.
At the third Dry Season Caribbean Regional Climate Outlook Forum (CariForum) of the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) recent three-day meeting in Grenada, meteorologist at the Grenada National Meteorologica Services, Trisha Miller told the meeting that though the region would experience conditions that are hotter than the average dry season, it would still be cooler than in the recent past.
He said over the past few months, especially from August to October, the temperature was high in most places and this led to people feeling uncomfortable at times.
Miller said from December to February, conditions should be wet enough to partly off-set the dryness and water shortages in some regions.
The forecast for Cuba and the Cayman Islands is that these countries will remain in drought conditions and will be closely monitored.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has granted Barbados US$34 million loan to improve its energy security and diversify the island’s energy mix.
The project will help Barbados in transitioning to a cleaner energy future, meeting its current natural gas demands and contributing to the creation of a regional Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) supply.
The loan will enhance Barbados’ energy security and sustainability by diversifying its energy mix through promoting the use of cleaner fuels for power generation, increasing the use of renewable energy sources and increasing energy efficient applications by Barbados’ government and private sector.
The Barbadian government’s priorities in the electricity sector include reducing electricity prices, using cleaner fuels and reducing the negative environmental impacts.
Barbados plans to have renewable energy contributes to 65 percent of total peak electricity demand by 2029.
The loan is for 24 years and will be financed by the IDB’s Ordinary Capital resources with a 6.5 year grace period and a labor-based interest rate.
The Bahamas government has denied allegations that it is offering rewards for information leading to the arrest of illegal immigrants in the country.
In a media release the Department of Immigration said a recent statement was being circulated on social media and reported by one local media house “about the offer of rewards by the department for information leading to the arrest of illegal migrants is patently false.”
The release said that, given the relatively high volume of misinformation on social media, the department was urging the public to “exercise caution and restraint when sharing suspiciously and potentially harmful content on this medium.”
Guyana has produced a record 641,000 ounces of gold in 2016 with earnings of more than US$750 million.
Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman said the production figure is far more than the projected target of 550,000 ounces.
He said the medium and small scale miners played a significant role in the historic accomplishment and that nearly 70 percent of the gold recorded, was accounted for by these miners.
For the year 2017, the gold target has been set to 694,000 ounces. Trotman said it is a difficult but not an impossible target to reach.
Trotman said the mining sector also achieved another record with more than 190,000 metric carats of diamonds as of October 2016, earning Guyana more than Guy$73 million.
Grenada police are cracking down on military-type clothing and “explosive” fireworks in the island.
Police have raided several business places and seized counterfeit military wear as well as fireworks during the Christmas season.
Head of the Community Relations of the Police Force, Sylvan McIntyre said that as part of the operation, “all things illegal will be seized.”
McIntyre explained that all importers, retailers and the general public should be aware that is an offence to import, sell or deal in military uniforms without permission from the relevant authority.
He said it is an offence to bring into Grenada any military or any of the patterned materials commonly used for making military uniforms.
The penalty on conviction is EC$10,000. McIntyre also said it is a criminal offence for any person to use, deal, sell or purchase explosives such as firecrackers, scratch bombs and other devices that have similar explosive effect, without the appropriate license.
The Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSO) recently launched the Violence Against Children Reward Fund that will be used for rewarding people who assist in the arrest and charge of anyone who has committed violent acts against children.
A PSOJ statement describes violence acts against children and teenagers up to the age of 18 as including murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, kidnapping murder, molestation, carnal abuse or child abuse.
The proposed fund will hold a minimum of J$1 million and will be managed by Crime Stop Jamaica that will also be responsible for determining the value of each reward granted based on a case by case scenario.
Musson Foundation has made a $1 million donation to start the fund.
Deputy Commissioner of Police George Quallo said there has been a downward trend in murder, rape and sexual offences against children in 2016 compared to 2015.
The St. Lucia government is seeking a “formal clarification and retraction” from UNAIDS of a statement released in December 2016 which claimed the island was the only Eastern Caribbean country which had not eliminated mother-to-child transmission.
Health Minister Mary Isaac said the claim was “completely unfounded’ and that the last reported case of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in St. Lucia was in 2010.
She said that St. Lucia remained committed to its efforts in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Isaac said UNAIDS has assured the ministry that will publish a full retraction of the statement and highlight St. Lucia’s accomplishment in the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV since 2010.
The Trinidad and Tobago economy has declined by 4.5 percent in 2016 according to a new report from the Economic Commissioner for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
This follows contractions of 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent in 2014
Eclac said continued natural gas supply shortages, maintenance shutdown and weak energy prices contributed the energy sector’s deterioration, while linkages with that sector pulled down the non-energy sector.
The current account deficit widened as a result of reduced goods export, while foreign direct investment saw a modest recovery.
According to the report, government’s fiscal deficit expanded to 4.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In response, several adjustments were made to compensate for lost energy revenues, including several new tax initiatives.
The report said:”In monetary policy, the central repo rate was left unchanged in 2016 and the exchange rate against the US dollar was allowed to weaken. Unemployment rose to 4.4 percent in the second quarter of 2016 as the slowdown took hold.
It also noted that measures had been implemented to increase revenue from other sources, including reinstatement of property tax, a new income tax bracket and a 7 percent tax on online shopping.
-compiled by Azad Ali