Caribbean RoundUp

Grenada’s Prime Minister Keith Mitchell listens during a news conference to mark the end of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Marlborough House in London
Grenada’s Prime Minister Keith Mitchell listens during a news conference to mark the end of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Marlborough House in London, Britain, April 20, 2018. Recently the prime minister was one of the signatories to the intra-CARICOM phone roaming charges declaration with the Digicel Group and Cable & Wireless Communications,.
REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File
ANTIGUA
Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA), is encouraging the public to participate in a competition to place the island’s West Indian Whistling Duck on the tail of American-based carrier, Frontier Airlines.
This comes as Frontier has launched a competition to brand the tail of their next plane with one of the native and endangered species in the destinations they serve.
Antigua and Barbuda’s whistling duck has been selected as one of the finalists in the competition, which is geared towards bringing awareness to the endangered species within that specific country.
The other four finalists are Guatemala, The Bahamas, Costa Rica, Belize and Puerto Rico.
“We are encouraging persons to vote, vote for Antigua and Barbuda. We don’t know where we are standing in comparison to the other five countries that are in the running, but we would absolutely love persons to vote for the whistling duck,” said Maria Blackman, ABTA’s marketing communications manager.
“The West Indian Whistling Duck is generally found in the northern West Indies and is one of the rarest types of ducks and although it is scarce in other islands, in Antigua and Barbuda, we have a fairly significant population,” she said.
The West Indian Whistling Duck. Dick Daniels (http://theworldbirds.org/)

BARBADOS

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that following a modest economic recovery in 2021, Barbados continues to face economic challenges owing to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Bert van Selma, who led a virtual IMF mission recently to the island said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose economic challenges to Barbados.
He noted that tourism has rebounded in recent months, leading to real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 1.4 percent for 2021 and 11.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021.
“A gradual economic recovery is expected over the medium term but risks to the outlook remains high,” the IMF official said.
In a statement, the IMF said that during Feb. 7-11 virtual visit, the delegation discussed the implementation of Barbados’ Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) plan, supported by the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
The four-year extended arrangement under the EFF was approved on October 1, 2018 and is for the amount is US$464 million.
The IMF mission chief said that in this very challenging environment, Barbados continues to make good progress in implementing its ambitious and comprehensive economic reform program, while expanding critical investments in social protection.
CARIBBEAN
CARICOM heads of government along with regional network operators Digicel Group and Cable & Wireless Communications, have signed a declaration which will result in the reduction of intra-CARICOM phone roaming charges.
The signing of the St. George declaration last week will result in roaming charges in all CARICOM countries and provide seamless mobile services, including voice, text messaging and data.
In a release to the media Digicel said the signing of the declaration was recognition of the global issue of unpredictable mobile roaming costs.
Digicel Group Government Relations Director, Kieran Mulvey was among other signatories including Grenada Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell and vice president of Cable & Wireless Communications South Caribbean Kurliegh Prescott.
Roaming costs could be reduced to as low as 70 percent of  current rates.
The declaration will take effect within the second quarter of this year.
Mitchell said while the signing of the declaration was historic, there were still some significant milestone ahead.
Mitchell said heads of government recognized a long time ago that the ability to roam in CARICOM states at reasonable costs would promote greater connectivity.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who attended the signing virtually, said the signing was a large step.
GUYANA
The Guyana government through the Ministry of Natural Resources has welcomed the announcement by ExxonMobil on the start of production at Guyana’s Second Offshore Development from the Liza Unity vessel.
The operation of the Liza Unity floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel will realize it’s target of 220,000 barrels of oil per day later this year which will bring Guyana’s production capacity to more than 340,000 barrels per day, which includes the more than 120,000 barrels per day capacity at the Liza Destiny FPSO.
Minister of Natural Resource, Vickram Bharrat said that the increased total daily capacity of oil augurs well for Guyana, especially on the heels of operationalising the Local Content Secretariat and the Natural Resources Fund, in keeping with the Santiago Principles of transparency and accountability within the petroleum sector.
He added that that the government of Guyana will be taking all necessary steps to ensure that all Guyanese benefit from the earnings derived from the oil sector.
In a statement, ExxonMobil said Guyana’s current resource has the potential to support up to 10 projects.
The Liza Unity arrived in Guyana in October 2021.
JAMAICA
The Jamaican government is funding students to return home from the war-torn Ukraine.
There has been an escalation in violence in Ukraine by Russia and the government has been working to remove students from the conflict zone.
In a virtual press conference last week, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson announced that the government has been been fully engaged with the students and their parents.
The minister said the government managed to assist some 23 students to get to Poland where arrangements will be made  for their return to Jamaica.
She said  the government will underwrite all the costs for the students transportation and accommodation until they arrive in Jamaica.
The minister said there is no loan involved adding that Jamaica is working with contacts in Ukraine and Poland to ensure that all the arrangements appropriate to the circumstances are made given that the movement of cash is difficult at this time.
ST. LUCIA
Prime Minister Phillip J. Pierre says addressing the crime problem in St. Lucia “is a concern for all citizens” and their strengthening of the judicial system is a priority for his administration.
Pierre was responding to the recent mass shooting incident, where three people were killed and several others injured, including an off-duty police officer at a party in Coolie Town, West of the capital Castries.
Deputy Police Commissioner Wayne Charlery told a news conference that there is a plan to prevent any further escalation in the gun violence.
Pierre assured St. Lucians his administration, which came into office last July, “will continue to provide resources and training to the Royal St. Lucia Police Force and challenges the hierarchy to use more innovative strategies, professionalism and pro activeness in their work.”
Last year, St. Lucia recorded 74 murders.
TRINIDAD
In a landmark judgement the Trinidad and Tobago Appeal Court ruled that anyone charged with murder will now have an opportunity to apply for bail.
Chief Justice Ivor Archie who delivered the judgement declared that  section 5(1) of the Bail Act 1994 was not reasonably justifiable in a society that respects the rights and freedoms of the individual.
Previously, murder was a non-bailable offence.
However, it does not mean that anyone charged with murder is entitled to apply for bail but it does not mean that anyone who applies for bail will get bail. The court will decide, applying the usual principles, on whether bail should be granted.
The three judges also declared that the particular section as unconstitutional since it removed the jurisdiction of judges on the issue of granting bail for murder.
The ruling came when it allowed the landmark appeal of a former murder accused who asked for a declaration that anyone charged with the capital offence have the opportunity to apply for bail.
Justice Archie  said prior to the amendment of the Bail Act there was no general prohibition to the grant of bail to  people charged with murder.
Senior counsel, Anand Ramlogan, who appeared for the former murder accused who spent nine years awaiting trial (was later freed) said the ruling did not translate to an avalanche of successful bail applications. He emphasized that the case was not for the grant of bail for murder but the opportunity to apply for bail.
Attorney General Faris Al Rawi said the state plans to matter to the British Privy Council.
— Compiled by Azad Ali

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