Caribbean RoundUp

Climate COP26 summit
The Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley speaks during the opening ceremony of the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit, in Glasgow, Scotland, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. The U.N. climate summit in Glasgow gathers leaders from around the world, in Scotland’s biggest city, to lay out their vision for addressing the common challenge of global warming.
Associated Press/Alberto Pezzali/File

BAHAMAS

The Bahamas is forecast to record another bloody year as police reported a four percent increase in murders for the first quarter of 2022.
Acting Commissioner of Police, Clayton Fernander told a news conference that 28 murders were recorded from Jan. 1 to March 14, 2022 compared to 27 for the same period last year.
March 11 weekend  was one of the bloodiest as five men were murdered.
Fernander revealed most of the shootings were gang-related that came about as criminals wage a ‘tit for tat” for crimes committed against each other.
He said gang leaders are seeking to recruit young men to carry out their illicit activities.
The acting top CoP warned family members of criminals that they simply cannot throw their hands in the air and ignore the actions of their relatives since they may lose their lives.
He said illegal firearms continue to be the weapon of choice for criminals and they are hiding them in parcels of food in an effort to evade authorities.
BARBADOS
Barbadians will be paying less for petroleum products for the next six months.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced on March 14 during her Budget Address, a cap on gas and diesel from March 16, consumers will begin paying BDS$3.99 per litre for gasoline and $3,32 percent litre for diesel.
The prime minister said such a move will be necessary to avoid Barbadians feeling the pinch of the rise in oil prices on the international market.
However, Mottley, who indicated that she sympathize with, and understand those who are calling for a reduction in fuel tax, noted Barbadians must understand that the public purse is currently under severe pressure.
She is asking Barbadians to hold strain at this time
She said this move the government will lose BDS$25.2 million in revenue, however, Mottley contended that it was a sacrifice that “you have to make for our people.”
She said adjustments have to be made to “shield” Barbadians from rising costs intentionally.
DOMINICA
Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit has called on member countries of the Regional Security System (RSS) to adopt a “zero tolerance” approach towards crime, especially as it relates to the trafficking of illegal guns, urging also for greater collaboration in dealing with the scourge of illegal drugs.
Addressing the RSS Council of Ministers recently, Skerritt said, “there is a huge challenge in the RSS family and indeed the wider Caribbean of the trafficking of arms in our space.”
“We have to have a zero tolerance for the presence of illegal firearms and if we have to strengthen the capacity of our respective police services, we have to take these actions because this is a major threat to our economies and the survival and safety of our citizens and visitors to our country,” he said.
The RSS was created out of a need for a collective response to security threats, which were impacting the stability of the region in early 1970s and 1980s.
It has additional responsibilities to the wider Caribbean as provided for under The Treaty on Security Assistance (TSA).
The Barbados-based RSS headquarters is the coordinating secretariat of the CARICOM Security Assistance Mechanism.
Guyana became the LATEST member which include Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Kitts and Nevis.
Skerritt told the Council that Dominica has ratified the CARICOM Arrest Warrant treaty which he described as an “important tool to help fight inter-regional crimes.”
GRENADA
Grenadians will have to dig deeper into their pockets as they will now have to pay more for flour and animal feed.
This follows an announcement last week from Caribbean Agro Industries of a price hike that will range between 12 percent and 16 percent.
“These increases in prices of our products are significantly below many of the price increases of our production inputs.
Wheat, corn and soya meal, for example, have experienced increases over the past year in the amount of 63 percent and EC$52, respectively,” the company said.
According to the notice, baking flour will be increased by 12 percent, counter flour by 14 percent and animal feed by 16 percent.
The last time the company increased the cost of its products was in the first quarter of 2021.
The increase comes just days after the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mike Sylvester, informed Grenadians that a shortage of supplies on the international market is resulting in an upsurge in the prices of goods such as wheat, corn and soya beans
GRENADA imports about US$6 million in wheat product every year  and that goes into baking and cooking and many of the by-product such as bread, cake and pastries as well as animal feed.
Grenada imports wheat from the United States.
GUYANA
The Guyana government has announced the removal of most of the regulations that had been put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall said that it signals that the country is returning to a semblance of normalcy.
Guyana recorded 1,225 deaths and 63,147 infections linked to the virus since the first case was reported in March 2020
The authorities announced the removal of restrictions on hosting and attending social activities as well as indicating that mask wearing, while no longer mandatory, is still being encouraged.
The new COVID-19 measures announced recently, also state people will no longer need to present proof of vaccination when entering public buildings, encouraging also for those public buildings to keep sensitization and hand washing stations in place for visitors.
Businesses are also being encouraged to keep those stations in place and encourage employees and visitors to wear face masks.
These new regulations have also totally remove the restrictions on public gatherings and religious houses will now be allowed to host services and events at full capacity.
For persons traveling to Guyana, the COVID-19 protocols remain in place at the airports and other ports of entry.
ST. LUCIA
The St. Lucia government has announced a marginal increase in the price of fuel as it warned that that the global events that gave led to the increases in the price of oil will seriously affect its ability to raise revenue and maintain social programs.
Prime Minister Phillip J. Pierre in a radio and television broadcast last week said the government has already started to feel the effect of loss revenue being collected as a result of the ongoing situation which he said was “beyond our control.”
He listed among them the military invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the resultant high prices for oil and petroleum products on the global market.
Pierre said his government has decided to strike a balance between having to subsidize fuel prices and protecting the consumer.
“Effective March 21, 2022 the price of gasoline and diesel will increase by one Eastern Caribbean dollar from $13.95 to $14.95 a gallon. The government will continue to subsidize the 20-pound cylinder of cooking gas,” Pierre said.
He said that the collection of excise tax on gasoline and diesel is needed to finance government operations including the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
TRINIDAD
The government has removed most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place since the first case of the virus hit Trinidad and Tobago on March 12, 2020.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley announced the changes at a news conference last Saturday at the Diplomatic Center in Port of Spain.
He said that after meeting with health officials, a decision was taken to remove most of the COVID-19 restrictions as of April 4.
He also announced that restrictions on nightclubs, parties, music and entertainment will also be removed.
But he cautioned patrons at those venues to exercise control.
He also said all restrictions that were in place for rivers and beaches will be removed completely.
Rowley said as of last Monday people entering Trinidad and Tobago will be allowed to use an antigen test.
He said the Travel Pass will remain in place for a little while longer but he anticipated  that very soon the government would be able to remove it.
Rowley also announced that the safe zone arrangements that were in place will be removed
He stressed that now that the country is re-opening, the onus is on the population to remember that the COVID-19 virus still exists
Rowley praised health care workers for getting T&T out of the dark days it was in, to where it is today.
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 T&T recorded 137, 734 cases and 3,734 deaths.
— Compiled by Azad Ali

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