Caribbean RoundUp

Jamaican gang’s trial tests new anti-crime laws amid a wave of violence, in Kingston
A woman watches as alleged gang members step out of a police truck after arriving at court, in Kingston, Jamaica, Jan. 28, 2022.
REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy

BARBADOS

The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is projecting a 9.1percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth across its 19 Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs), accelerating the region’s economic recovery which started in 2021.
The region’s premier financial institution said that the favorable outlook is anchored by an expected surge in the GDP of commodity-exporting economies by an estimated 17.5 percent.
The CDB projects strong growth in Guyana (47.5 percent), emanating from increased oil and gas production and in a resurgence in energy production in Trinidad and Tobago as supply-side constraints are alleviated.
The CDB said higher international price for crude oil should translate into revenue windfall.
It is anticipated that this rebound is likely to strengthen during 2022 as restrictions ease, on account of strengthened protective health measures. However, the return of international passenger arrivals will depend on the acceleration of vaccination rates, effective management of the pandemic without resorting to full and lengthy lock downs; and continued confidence in protocols established for safe travel to the region.
CARIBBEAN
The Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) is of the belief that if the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) cannot work for sugar, it will not work for anything.
The  association’s statement was in response to the recent decision by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on a challenge filed by Belize against Trinidad and Tobago of an alleged failure by the latter to apply the common external tariff (CET) on brown sugar imported from outside the region from November 2018 — June 2020.
Although Belize lost the claim, the CCJ judges, in their ruling emphasized the importance of maintaining the common external tariff, especially on the importation of brown sugar from extra-regional, as it was important to  member states which produced the commodity.
The SAC said the CET does not guarantee producers of sugar in Belize an assured market, but those producers are entitled to the protection of the market that the tariff is intended to provide.
In its statement, the SAC said the non-payment of the 40 percent CET on imported extra-regional brown sugar was a direct violation of the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
DOMINICA
The Dominica government says it is developing a national trade policy to replace the ad hoc now existing in the country.
Minister  of Trade, Ian Douglas said, “Dominica before did not have a trade policy. Our trade policy was really influenced by all of the other bilateral agreements that we had. We had the European Partnership Agreement, then we had the the CARICOM Single Market and Economy which is really governed by the treaty.”
Speaking on a government program on the state-owned DBS recently  Douglas said that several trading instruments being used by Dominica “in the past formed our trade policy but now we are actually drafting a new policy which will provide a comprehensive yardstick by which Dominica will conduct its trade locally, regionally and internationally in the future.”
Douglas said he remains optimistic that the policy would be in place later this year.
He said the idea behind the policy “is really governed to reduce our trade deficit and to increase our exports in all spheres.”
GUYANA
The Guyana government says the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has issued no objection to negotiations starting the construction of the US$190 million Linden to Mabura road by a Brazilian firm.
The CDB is lending Guyana US$112 million of the US$190 million project costs.
Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh said that the Construtora Queiroz Galvao S.A had emerged as the preferred bidder for the road works that will include upgrading the existing alignment to Asphaltic Concrete Surface and the inclusion as well of five drainage structures.
The Minister of Finance said in a statement, the project  is the first link of the highway between Linden and Lethem, which would provide major support to ease travel, trade and general connectivity between Guyana and Brazil and open vast opportunities by linking Guyana’s hinterland communities to Georgetown
The contract will be to upgrade 121 kilometers of gravel road extending from Linden to Mabura Hill to an asphaltic concrete road.
 The statement said 10 contractors were prequalified and the prequalified were approved by the CDB in October 2021.
Of the 10 prequalified contractors, five companies, including those from China and Brazil made submissions but Construtora, was determined as the most responsive bid indicating full compliance with all environmental, social, health and safety requirements.
JAMAICA
The Jamaican government has passed the Terrorism Prevention (Designated Reporting Entity) and Trust Corporate Services Providers Act 2022, aimed at strengthening the country’s financial systems, while making them more robust and transparent.
Minister of National Security, Horace Chang said money laundering and the  financing of terrorism are threats to the financial sector that must be addressed with a sense of urgency.
“Any loopholes within our financial system will provide opportunities for criminals to move their funds to, through or within jurisdictions that do not have the requisite safeguards. Strengthening our frameworks will, therefore, disrupt the access of criminals to resources and make it more difficult for them to profit from their illicit activities,” Chang said.
He said the order forms part of Jamaica’s national action plan to enhance its Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Terrorism Financing framework.
SURINAME
Suriname-based Angel Airways says it plans to take to the skies in October to service the Caribbean and international routes.
The airline, whose major shareholder is Guyana-based businessman, Jason Aaron, the chief executive officer of Aaron Royalty Inc, said it plans to operate a twice weekly between Suriname and the Netherlands with onward destinations to countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and China.
Angel Airways was founded in 2007 by Etienne Fernandez, a former director-general of Suriname’s Civil Aviation Authority (CASAS), said after months of negotiations with various potential partners, Aaron emerged as the preferred partner with 40 percent shareholding.
He said based on the treaty between Suriname and the Netherlands, Paramaribo can authorize three companies to maintain operations between the two countries and that Suriname currently allows the national carrier, Suriname Airways and Fly All Ways to service the route.
In the first phase, flights will be operated to Europe and further to the Far East.
In the second phase, operations in the Caribbean region connecting to Canada and the United States will be conducted with Boeing 737’800 air crafts.
Fernandez said flights between China and Jamaica are being examined.
TRINIDAD
The Caribbean Center for Human Rights (CCHR) has called for scrutiny into the decision by the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard to open fire on a Venezuelan migrant vessel carrying at least 20 young children a week ago.
In a statement, the CCHR said the incident underscores gaps in the country’s policies and legislation regarding the protection of migrants and refugees
The CCHR was among several groups which continue to criticize the actions of the T&T Coast Guard on the shooting of a migrant woman and death of her nine-month-old son on board a Venezuelan vessel on Sunday, Feb. 6.
The mother, Darielvis Sarabia, was holding her son in her arms when the Coast Guard opened fire on the boat’s engine.
Sarabia’s baby boy, identified as Yaelvis Sarabia was shot in the head, the force of the impact taking off part of his skull. The boy died in his mother’s arm.
The vessel carrying 37 passengers — 20 children and 17 adults — were trying to enter T&T illegally around midnight.
The CCHR said it was deeply concerned about the events that occurred prior to the shooting and has called on the government to conduct a thorough investigation.
The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights also called on the T&T government to continue a “prompt and thorough investigation” into the death of the migrant baby and to “make full reparations to the family members.”
— Compiled by Azad Ali

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