Caribbean RoundUp

Suriname's President Chan Santokhi
Suriname’s President Chan Santokhi arrives for a dinner at the Getty Villa during the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, Thursday, June 9, 2022.
Associated Press/Jae C. Hong, file


The Antigua and Barbuda government says every territory to which the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, flies to will be asked to purchase shares in the new company, as efforts continue to revitalize the embattled airline.
A statement issued recently following a weekly Cabinet meeting noted that three officials from LIAT’s administrative office held discussions with ministers on the future role and expansion plans for the airline..
“In the proposed new LIAT, the salaries, wages and emoluments will take up a smaller part of its cost of operations.
“Currently three aircrafts are being utilized, as opposed to 10 aircraft before the collapse of LIAT,” the statement noted.
It said the schedule plan for the new LIAT is to reflect the commercial needs and fulfillment of the territories and that “any destination requiring more flights that has been deemed necessary, would make a special payment to realize its ambition.
“A minimum revenue guarantee would be applied in order to determine whether what that cost would be. Every territory to which LIAT flies would be asked to purchase shares, so that the burdens and the benefits can be equitable shared.
The statement said the revenue earned by LIAT over these past 20 months “shows a small operating profit.”
The airline is owned by the government’s of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne said previously that a decision had been taken that would allow Barbados and SVG to turn over their shares in LIAT to St. John’s for one EC dollar.
A new joint report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has estimated the total cost of the impacts and effects of COVID-19 on The Bahamas to the tune of US$9.5 billion, with tens of thousands of job losses and long-lasting effects on the country’s tourism sector.
The report, Assessment of the Effects and Impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic in the Bahamas, say that the most losses, due COVID-19 for the period  2020-2023 were concentrated between 2020 and 2022, at 84 percent.
The worst year was 2020, when 48 percent of losses occurred, the report said.
It said total losses in tourism were estimated at almost US$7.9 billion largely from the fall in stop over visitors.
According to the report, the economy is expected to return to its pre-pandemic level by 2024, mainly because of the gradual pace of recovery in the the tourism sector and the long-lasting effects of COVID-19 in this sector.
“This estimate represents more than two and a half times the $US 3.5 billion estimated cost of damage and losses due to Hurricane Dorian, which devastated parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama in September 2019, just six months before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the report, adding that the pandemic overlapped and negatively impacted the Hurricane Dorian rebuilding process.
The two disasters are estimated to have cost the country a combined $131 billion.
In addition, the magnitude of the impacts of the COVID-19 highlighted the need Comprehensive Disaster and the Risk Management and the Health Risk Management, among other strategies and instruments to serve the country better, in areas that range from straightening disaster risk governance, investing in disaster risk reduction and enhancing disaster preparedness.
The Barbados government last week said the island has not “descended into  a state of chaos” dismissing comparisons to it being described as “a wild, wild  west,” following a spate of killings over the past week
Attorney General Dale Marshall, QC speaking at a news conference, acknowledged that there has been a “sharp increase in numbers over a short period of time,” adding that “the situation of gun crime did not develop overnight.”
“There are no three-point plans, and there are no immediate solutions to turn this around. It requires a steady hand  it requires a long-term commitment”, he said , adding that for those individuals who believe that there would be an “immediate elimination that is far from the case.”
He said the country has experienced a spike in a  number firearm events or incidents over a few weeks, resulting in a number of deaths and injuries.
Recently, in the latest incident, a 47-year-old man was shot and killed and five others injured and the next day, a man was stabbed and ran to the police station where he collasped and died.
“This is not an indication that Barbados has descended into a state of chaos or outright lawlessness. We have dealt with spikes in crime before and effectively so,” Marshall said.
He announced that a new security strategy designed to stop a “worrying” influx of  illegal guns into the country.
Marshall said part of the strategy is to deal with the countries from where these weapons are coming from, adding “we have settled on an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with certain specialized United States agencies to do a number of things, which will assist in our mutual ability to deal with the illegal trafficking of firearms.”
Suriname’s President Chandrikapersad “Chan” Stantokhi has said that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) should find ways to fast track the production of the abundant natural gas reserves from Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad and fulfill the regional demand.
“If we will agree to design, as quick as possible, a common strategy to speed up the exploration of the gas, then as a region, you can support the entire world particularly Caribbean region with fertilizers,” he said.
Santokhi, who was speaking during a press conference, noted that the disruption in the supply chain of fertilizer due to the Russian-Ukraine conflict will have a serious impact on food security in the Caribbean.
According to the president, the current situation is an opportunity for CARICOM and there is now need for the development of a regional energy strategy.
The Guyana government has announced plans to lend assistance to its CARICOM’s sister country, Belize, best practices for Amerindian development.
The decision was made during a meeting held recently, with representatives from both countries to commence the process.
Leading the exercise was Minister of Amerindian affairs Pauline Sukhai ,minister of Housing and Water Colin  Croal and Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Nigel Dharamlall.
Representing Belize was its member of Labor, Local and Rural Oscar Requena and team, Minister Sukhai informed the delegation of the programs and policies implemented by the PPP/C Government to assist Amerindians.
These include support by the way of legislation protecting their rights,  presidential grants, job opportunities and upskilling, scholarships for youths and empowerment through its Amerindian land tiling project.
The Belize delegation was also told of the Annual National Toshaos Conference, which gives Amerindian leaders a platform to address the president and ministers of government on development issues.
Sukhai stated that is an honor for government to be recognized for the work it has being doing to improve lives of Guyana’s first people.
Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said his ruling party, National Democratic Congress (NDC), which was elected to office on June 23, does not have a magic wand to fix all the issues and has called on workers in the public sector to give 100 percent performance in their duties.
Speaking with staff at the Ministry of Finance, Mitchell, who is the minister of finance, highlighted areas of importance that he plans to address in the short term.
“These include greater use of technology in government business with the goal of going paperless and the regulations of the staff in the next 12 to 18 months,” said Mitchell.
But he warned that the that the government does not possess a “magical wand” to fix all the issues and highlighted the need for all workers to give 100 percent in the performance of their duties,  as increased productivity will ensure successful output and alignment with the government’s priorities.
A government statement issued after the meeting said Mitchell used the leaning on the people-first team-spirit approach, as he encouraged heads of divisions to place greater attention on worker’s health when consistently improving their working conditions.
During the campaign for the general election, the 44-year-old attorney and his party had promised to regularise the status of workers operating within the public service.
United States Under Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman has said that the Biden administration had allocated US$48 million in additional security assistance through the United States’ Bureau  of Narcotics and Law Enforcement to bolster security across the country.
Sherman made the announcement in  message recently, on the one year anniversary of the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise.
She also assured the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to supporting a democratic and prosperous future for the Haitian.
She recalled that Haiti has not yet recovered from the devastating 2021 earthquake of magnitude 7.2, which devastated the southern peninsula, while rising food prices and fuel makes the situation particularly difficult for citizens and based on this, millions of Haitians will need humanitarian aid this year.
— Compiled by Azad Ali