Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley speaks to supporters after winning a landslide victory in Bridgetown
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley speaks to supporters after winning a landslide victory for her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in the country’s first election since it became a republic by removing Britain’s queen as sovereign head of state, in Bridgetown, Barbados, Jan. 20, 2022.
REUTERS/Nigel Browne/File

BAHAMAS

The United States Embassy in Nassau, has encouraged The Bahamas to impose sanctions on Russia.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fred Mitchell said that the country has not yet received a formal request but noted there has been “one formal request from another country.”
US Embassy Public Affairs Officer Daniel Sarasota said in a statement: “We thank The Bahamas for their strong stance it has taken thus far and continues to encourage The Bahamas to take concrete steps to counter Russia, such as by limiting Russia’s access to The Bahamas financial system and restricting Bahamian air space to Russian aircraft.”
He said “the US and our allies are continuing to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country and their democracy from unprovoked Russian aggression, including through security, economic and humanitarian assistance.”
The Bahamas recently stood in solidarity with the 140 countries of the 193-member UN General Assembly in a historic vote on a resolution to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine and call on Moscow to immediately withdraw all forces from the country.
BARBADOS
The Barbados government is set to receive a cash injection of US$115 million from China for the Scotland District road rehabilitation project in the east of the island.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley recently signed a framework agreement for a concessional loan from the EXIM Bank of China, to fund the road rehabilitation project with China’s Ambassador Tan Xiusheng.
Soil erosion and land slippage in the Scotland District have been a major problem for residents and Government, with urgent calls for assistance.
“This is critical to the stability of a large part of our country and to those people who live in the Eastern parishes, in particular St. Andrew, St. Joseph and parts of St. Thomas and parts of St. Lucy, St. Peter,” Mottley remarked during the signing ceremony.
Mottley indicated that due to the poor road infrastructure of the Scotland District, major tour operators have decided to stop traversing the east coast with visitors.
She said this was a great disservice to the island and its offering as a tourist attraction.
CARIBBEAN
National Security Ministers and law  enforcement officials recently met at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana  to discuss several issues to advance the fight against crime and violence in the region.
CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Carla Barnett addressing the 23rd meeting of the Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE), told the virtual regional meeting that as the region continues the battle with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and all its variants “there is an urgent need to strengthen cooperation among member states.”
During the meeting chaired by Jamaica’s National Security Minister, Horace Chang the secretary general said, “there are many burning issues in the security arena that need our attention.”
“Foremost in my mind are the situation in our sister CARICOM member state Haiti, trafficking in persons/human smuggling and cyber security,” Dr. Barnett said.
“This is in addition to ongoing gang violence, breakdown in democracy, the rule of law and good governance,” she noted.
She said trafficking in persons and human smuggling remain a challenge in all parts of the globe and “in this very region, we have learnt of vessels with dead bodies being discovered, which in itself, points to another issue on our agenda — that of the need for enhanced security measures.”
DOMINICA
Dominica is hoping to attract more visitors from Trinidad and Tobago through its ‘You Deserve It’ campaign, which was recently launched by the Discover Dominica Authority.
This campaign is an extension of the ‘Sa Ka Fete’ campaign that was launched in 2021, reassuring travelers, agents and other stakeholders that Dominica offers a safe and viable new destination for holidaymakers from Trinidad and Tobago, a media release said.
The authority said Dominica is a new and undiscovered destination that offers a diverse range of experiences- from unspoiled nature to thrilling land and sea adventures to relaxing, therapeutic activities, rich culture and flavored Creole cuisine.
Travel protocols include a negative PCR test, completion of an online health questionnaire and an on-island Rapid Antigen Test, the release said, adding that Dominica is unlike any other island in the Caribbean.
The initiative is part of island’s vision up to 2025, which highlights the importance of taking advantage of short-term opportunities to accelerate recovery in the region by revitalizing the productive sector and promoting the social sector.
The project is expected to kick off by the second quarter of this year.
GUYANA
Caribbean Community (CaARICOM) heads of government have lauded Guyana President Irfaan Ali for his aggressive approach towards reducing the regional food import bill, and creating opportunities to spur further investments within Caribbean nations.
Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley said Ali, who leads the agriculture food agenda in CARICOM, was able to deliver in the face of the devastating pandemic over the last year.
Speaking at a news briefing following the recent two-day 33rd Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in Belize, she commended Guyana’s head of state for leading discussions on the local cultivation of high-value crops, including broccoli and cauliflower that are largely imported into the region
Ali is spearheading the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Program (AIEP) in Guyana, which focuses on the efficient and sustainable production of such crops.
The Barbadian leader said the aim is to reduce food costs and establish avenues for Caribbean people to consume more locally-grown food.
Ali believes the Caribbean has the resources to ensure greater food security and says Guyana remains committed to “lead from the front” in this area.
He committed to working with Caricom member states in achieving the target of reducing food importation by 25 percent by the year 2025.
 JAMAICA
Jamaica’s central bank, the Bank of Jamaica(BOJ), recently unveiled the name, logo, tagline and image design of its Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), and is on its way to fully launch the currency by the end of March.
The BOJ launched a national competition to choose the key elements of the CBDC in April 2021 and choose the winners in August.
The names of the winners were made public in January and name, logo and tagline of the new digital currency were revealed last month.
The winning name is Jamaica Digital Exchange, JAM-DEX for short- with the tagline, “No cash, no problem!”
The winning logo utilize the very distinctive outline of Jamaica’s national fruit and national dish key ingredient, the ackee , the island’s central bank said in a news release. No winners were found for the representatives image category, so that the design was completed  in-house by Bob’s graphic arts unit.
In March 2021, BOJ announced it was testing a prototype central bank currency with vendor eCurrency Mint Inc in Bob’s Fintech Regulatory Sandbox. This was followed in May 2021 by the commencement of an eight-month-long pilot which ended on December 31, 2021.
TRINIDAD
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) along with the University of the West Indies and the Office of the Attorney General in Port of Spain, Trinidad, have signed a technical co-operation agreement which proposes to engage in building the main foundation for monetizing digital innovations in the digital economy in the region.
At the UWI St Augustine Campus in Trinidad, Carina Cockburn, IDB Country said IP collateralisation, or IP asset-backed lending is a novel concept which still needs testing.
She said it is currently being explored by countries such as Jamaica and Barbados, as well as more mature markets as the US, Australia and the  UK adding that as a result of this initiative Trinidad and Tobago will also have the building blocks necessary to properly consider leveraging IP assets.
The initiative is part of IDB’s vision up to 2025, which highlights the importance of taking advantage of short-term opportunities to accelerate recovery in the region by revitalizing the productive sector, promoting social progress and working toward sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
The project is expected to kick off by the end of the second quarter of the year.
— Compiled by Azad Ali

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