Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States, Sir Ronald Sanders, has called for an early meeting between US President Joe Biden and leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to refocus their relationship.
During a webinar recently, organized by Florida International University and the Latin American and the Caribbean Center in Washington, he pointed out that it has been seven years since the last such meeting was held in Jamaica and since that time, the US has not formulated an effective Caribbean policy.
Explaining the need for another summit, Sir Ronald described the US policy during the previous Donald Trump presidency as one of “divide and rule,” particularly with regard to Cuba and Venezuela.
The diplomat said that since President Biden assumed office in January last year, no high-level consultation has been held on a US policy for the Caribbean. Instead, he said, the US has focused on continuing policies of isolating Cuba and trying to dissuade CARICOM countries from relationships with the People’s Republic of China.
The Ambassador said focused on these two issues is unhelpful while CARICOM countries are struggling to recover from the economic and financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including huge burden of debts caused by climate change and paying for enlarged health services to save lives amid the spread of the virus.
Sir Ronald said the US Southern to be seeking to strengthen its relationship with CARICOM countries.
The Central Bank of Barbados (CBB) said the outlook for the local economy remains “for a double-digit recovery,” premised on the sustained revival of the tourism and acceleration of activity in the construction sector.
But it warned that a poorer than anticipated recovery globally, delays in projected construction or prolonged supply disruptions can slow the recovery.
In its review of the Barbados economy for the period January to March this year, the CBB said the economy continued on its path of recovery to pre-Covid-19 levels of activity, with preliminary data indicating growth of 11.8 percent during the first quarter of 2022.
It said this recovery was driven by the “vibrant” revival of the tourism sector which helped to bolster private sector spending in addition, there were also encouraging signs of an upturn in the production of goods for the export markets.
The Central Bank said that the positive signs of a robust economic recovery as witnessed during the last nine months of 2021 were sustained into the first quarter of the year.
The CDB said that government’s revenue has recovered faster than expected, partly the result of the impact of rising prices and that this enabled the Mia Mottley administration to maintain its targeted policy stance for the financial year 2021/2022, while increasing its spending.
Four Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders will be in Guyana later this month for the regional Agriculture Investment Conference that form part of President Irfaan Ali’s plans to help the Caribbean Community deal with its food security challenges.
Prime Minister of Belize, John Briceno, who is also the CARICOM chairman, as well as Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley have so far confirmed to attend the May 19- 21 event.
The event is in keeping with CARICOM decision to reduce the region’s food import bill by 25 percent by 2025, with the aim of promoting and improving the productivity and resilience of the region’s agricultural food systems.
During the CARICOM Inter-sessional summit in Belize in March, Ali submitted a proposal to his regional colleagues to cut import costs by expanding regional food production.
The communique issued following the summit noted regional leaders “welcomed Guyana’s offer of 25,000 acres of land to facilitate corn and soya production, as well as to train 30 persons in the construction of shade houses aimed at increasing agricultural productivity and output.”
The Guyana government has welcomed the awarding of a US$300 million contract to a local consortium to support future construction activities of the US-based oil giant, ExxonMobil.
NRG Holdings, a consortium of three local entrepreneurs, collaboration with Jan De Nil, an international maritime infrastructure company, will design and build an 85 percent Guyanese-owned Vreed-en-Hope Shorebase Incorporated (VESHI) on the West Coast of Demerara (WCD).
Minister of Natural Resource, Vickram Bharrat welcomed the “massive step and innovative thinking exhibited by the stakeholders” that are aligned with the motive of the Irfaan Ali administration.
He said once the facility is fully functional, it will provide a significant boost to the country’s already booming oil and gas economy.
Bharat said the mega project is not focused on much profit investors can achieve, but the development of the country and its people.
He said the government wants to witness much more local investments, since there are many opportunities in the energy sector.
The new Vreed-en-Hope shore base is expected to bring much-needed services to Guyana, some of which are provided by Trinidad and Tobago.
The State University of Haiti has condemned the murder of a five-year medical student, saying Haiti and the university “are tired of counting corpses in their ranks.”
Police said 27-year-old Osny Zidor, a fifth-year student at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy (FMP) was killed recently after a gunman shot her in the head while she was a passenger on a public transport.
Officials said she was shot in Bois-Verna, a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, by a gunman riding a motorcycle. The student died instantly.
In a statement, the university said it was denouncing and condemning the murder as it is the “umpteenth odious crime perpetrated against a member of the University of Haiti community.”
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed to facilitate exploration of rail technology, as Jamaica continues its push to revive the local railway service as a sustainable transportation option.
Jamaica’s first railway operations began in 1845 under the Jamaica Railway Company which was a private entity.
After decades of changing hands between private and public enterprise, the Jamaica government became the sole owner of the railway in 1900, operating as the Jamaica Government railway.
Jamaica’s railway service was discontinued in 1992, except for use by bauxite companies to transport products.
Minister of Transport Audley Shaw said in the search for cost effective air and land transport solutions, several options are being explored.
Shaw said the impact of the implementation of the railway service is multisectoral and multidimensional, as it will not only solve the problem of vehicular congestion, particularly in the more urban areas, but it will also provide an economic inflow, boosting the tourism product of the country.
He said the MoU between Utech and the University of Birmingham is intended to forge collaboration between the two institutions for the promotion of rail technology in Jamaica.
The chairman of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Dr. Keith Mitchell last week announced that Dr. Didacus Jules has been re-appointed director general of the sub-regional grouping to serve for a third term.
The St. Lucian-born Jules was first appointed to the position in May 2014.
Dr. Mitchell said “during his tenure, Jules has continued to advance the regional integration effort with the addition of Guadeloupe to membership of the OECS.
“He has also continued to progress some of the key objectives of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre that include the free movement of people and harmonised initiatives in environment sustainability, education, health, youth development,” he said.
The Grenadian prime minister said Jules’ leadership has been instrumental in “this current global environment of uncertainty and instability, increasing the organization agility in responding to cries and mounting a swift respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Dr. Mitchell said Dr. Jules has always been a catalyst for advancing sub-regional issues and continues to be proactive in dealing with OECS matters.
The OECS groups the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.
— Compiled by Azad Ali