Caribbean Roundup

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Caribbean Airlines Limited has been rated a “Four Star Major Airline” by its passengers.
Wikimedia Commons

ANTIGUA

The Caribbean Community (Caricom) and Cuba recently observed the 49th anniversary of diplomatic relations with the regional grouping reiterating its “unwavering commitment to the further strengthening and enhancement of the bonds of friendship, cooperation and solidarity which unite us.”
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who is also chairman of Caricom said in a statement: “This anniversary reminds us of that symbolic and courageous historic act of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago on December 8, 1972, that has evolved over the years into a fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship based on solidarity.
“Caricom and Cuba have a lot of which they can be proud. A growing friendship spanning almost half a century is a rare milestone in the history of any relationship.”
The Caricom chairman said the relationship has been bolstered by the formal engagement ties developed over the years, South-South cooperation, and efforts to strengthen trading link, even as he acknowledged it is “an area in which more can be accomplished by both sides.”
Browne said Caricom remains “confident that our relationships with Cuba will continue to flourish in the years ahead, despite the challenges we both face.”
BARBADOS
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is making available to Barbados US$24 million after indicating that the island continues its strong implementation of the comprehensive Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) plan aimed at restoring fiscal sustainability, increasing reserves and unlocking growth potential through structural reforms.
The Washington-based financial institution has just concluded Article IV consultation with Barbados, as well as its sixth review of Barbados’ economic reform program supported by an arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
The IMF said that the prolonged global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, along with the twin natural disaster shocks of volcanic ash from neighboring St Vincent in April and Category 1 Hurricane Elsa in July, poses a major challenge for the tourism dependent economy.
It said reform efforts include enhancing measures towards increasing vulnerabilities from climate change and natural disasters.
IMF deputy managing director, Bo Li, said given that the outlook remains uncertain, the authorities in Barbados need to maintain sound policies and their strong reform momentum to safeguard macroeconomic stability and boost potential growth.
CARIBBEAN 
Secretary General of  the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Dr. Carla Barnett is looking at ways in which the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) can work with Caricom to build economic opportunities for Caricom nationals.
In her visit to the Barbados-based CDB since her appointment recently, she said the visit to the bank’s headquarters was a return to a familiar ground.
She had served as country economist at CDB from 1989 to 1990 and vice-president (Operations) between 2012 2024.
Barnett met with bank president Dr. Gene Leon, vice-president Yvette Lemonias-Seale and their advisers.
During their meeting they discussed further opportunities for collaboration between the two entities and ways to further their common goals of building economic opportunity and prosperity for the people of the region through deeper regional cooperation.
The two regional institutions share a long standing and productive partnership, formalized in 2019 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding to deepen collaboration on projects and programs which facilitate regional integration and expansion of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).
GUYANA
Three Mexican investors have expressed an interest in massive infrastructure projects in Guyana including building an oil refinery, a new terminal at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and potentially paving the Linden to Lethem Road.
The investors, led by the CEO of Grupo Industrial Omega Andres Holzer, recently met with President Irfaan Ali and a team of government ministers and officials.
A statement from the Office of the President said that the investment team spoke about their ability to construct affordable, modern concrete houses and prefabricated hospitals.
It is expected they will engage in further discussions with the leadership of the Housing Ministry.
It was also noted that the investors had a keen interest in Guyana’s oil and gas industry and signaled this by stating that interest in constructing an oil refinery.
Earlier this year, Ali said his government supported the establishment of an oil refinery since it would “add value” to the oil and gas sector. He, however, emphasized that such an investment would have to be private-sector led instead of it being an investment from the government.
JAMAICA 
A Jamaican has been appointed to one of the top posts within the United Nations.
Ambassador Courtenay Rattray is now the new chief of staff to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Guterres announced last week that Rattray will succeed Maria Luiza Riberio Viotti of Brazil.
A news release from the UN said Guterres expressed his profound appreciation to Robiero Viotti, saying he particularly admires her exemplary leadership in steering the work of the United Nations through some of the greatest tests in the organization’s history, including the novel coronavirus pandemic, a potentially crippling financial crisis and one of the organization’s biggest internal reforms.
Rattray has been the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States since July 2021.
Prior to his appointment, he served as Jamaica’s permanent representative to the United Nations in New York. He previously served as Jamaica’s ambassador to China (2008-2013).
ST. VINCENT
Some 32 police officers have either resigned or retired from the St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, while 13 others have not taken the vaccine under the government’s mandatory program to get frontline workers vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus which has killed 75 people and infected 5,645 others since March last year.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, speaking on State-owned NBC radio recently, said that of the estimated 1,200 officers, including the Coast Guard and Fire Brigade, 32 have either resigned or retired before the mandate.
He said two of these former officers would not get any money under the police pension rules as one had served for one year and another for eight years
Gonsalves said he suspects that some of those who had retired didn’t want to take the vaccine
He said that in addition to the officers who resigned or retired, there were 13 under the aegis of the Commissioner of Police, from the rank of police constable to sergeant, who did not take the vaccine and accordingly would have abandoned their jobs.
Government has enacted legislation mandating COVID-19 vaccines for teachers and other “frontline workers by November 19 the ten-day period expired recently.
TRINIDAD
Trinidad and Tobago state-owned airline, Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) has been rated a “Four Star Major Airline” by its passengers, in the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) recently-released official ratings for 2022.
APEX, a non-profit organization, designed the airline ratings system using customers’ votes worldwide, with categories five-star global airlines; five-star major airlines; four-star regional airlines; and four-star low cost carriers.
The ratings are recorded on neutral, third-party passenger feedback and insights gathered through Alex’s partnership with Tripit from Concur, a travel-organizing app.
For this year’s awards, nearly a million flights were rated by passengers across more than 600 airlines from around the world using a five-star scale.
The APEX ratings were independently certified by a professional external auditing company.
NEWS
Guyanese poet to get Queen’ gold medal
Guyanese poet Grace Nichols will be awarded the Queen’s gold medal for poetry for the body of her work, her first collection of poetry, “I Is a Long-Memoried Woman,” her prose, and several books for younger readers.
Buckingham Palace announced recently that the Queen has approved the choice recommended by the Poetry Medal Committee chaired by the poet  laureate Simon Armitage.
Nichols, who moved to Britain at 27, will become the 52nd recipient of the award and the second in her own household – her husband, John Agard, won it in 2012.
She is due to be presented with the medal in 2022.
Nichols’ poetry, much of which is influenced by her Caribbean heritage is on several GCSE syllabuses.
The Gold medal for poetry was founded in 1933 by King George V.

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