Archive | CARICOM

Survivors of boating tragedy appear in court

Survivors of boating tragedy appear in court

by staff writer

NASSAU, Bahamas, Feb 13, CMC – Two days after 22 Haitians were buried after they drowned while attempting to enter the Bahamas by sea earlier this month, the 18 who survived the ordeal have been charged with illegally entering the country.

The 17 men and one woman appeared before Magistrate Kara Turnquest-Deveaux telling her they were “looking for a better life” when they boarded they boarded the 40-foot vessel that ran aground in waters off Abaco on February 3.

So far 31 bodies had been recovered but the authorities said that nine were in such poor condition that they were buried in Abaco. The authorities have since called off the search for other survivors.

Magistrate Turnquest-Deveaux thanked the survivors for their early plea of guilt and turned them over to immigration officials for processing.

Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister, Darren Henfield, said that Nassau has in the past warned of the dangers associated with the illegal migration by sea to the Bahamas.

He said the survivors will be repatriated and the Department of Immigration also said that there will be no special treatment for the survivors.

“The department’s policy in reference to the handling of the illegal migrants remains the same. There has been no change in regard to this policy,” the department said.

During the funeral service on Sunday, Bishop Simeon Hall told the mourners “to be poor and destitute (in Haiti) is still far better than to be dead and gone.”

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CARICOM concerned at violence in Haiti

CARICOM concerned at violence in Haiti

by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 13, CMC – The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping has expressed concern at the violence in Haiti where opposition parties have been staging street demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise.

CARICOM chairman and St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris, said the regional integration grouping “is deeply concerned about the continuing violent protests in Haiti, which have resulted in the loss of life, property, destruction of infrastructure and caused grave distress.

CMC (File Photo)

“The Community calls for calm and a cessation of the violence, appealing to all involved to engage in constructive dialogue and to respect the Constitution, the rule of law and democratic processes so that issues can be resolved in a peaceful atmosphere and allow for the return to a state of normalcy,” he said in a brief statement.

On Monday, the leaders of the various political parties and groups, adopt a common position demanding the resignation of the President Moïse and his government.

“The country is not governed, said opposition legislator, Senator Youri Latortue, adding it is not about the respect or not of the mandate of Jovenel Moïse.

“The observation is that the country is not governed. We cannot let the country go adrift with an incompetent person at its head,” he added.

Earlier this week, several Western countries condemned the “unacceptable acts of violence” in Haiti and called on all stakeholders, including Haitian leaders “to engage in a constructive and inclusive dialogue in order to identify and implement realistic and lasting solutions, political and economic.

Opposition political parties have been staging street demonstrations in support of their calls for President Moise to step down, after accusing him of not investigating allegations of corruption in the previous government over PetroCaribe, an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. They are also demanding fresh elections and jobs.

But Moise has dismissed the calls for him to resign.

Over the past few days, demonstrators have taken to the streets burning tyres and sporadic gunshots were heard forcing the closure of many businesses. Police also clashed with protesters near the airport and used tear gas to regain control of the situation. At least four people have been killed and police Wednesday reported that they were investigating reports that several prisoners had escaped.

Earlier this month, the President of the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Disputes (CSC/CA), Pierre Volmar Demesyeux, presented a copy of the report on the management of projects financed by the PetroCaribe funds to the Speaker of the Senate Carl Murat Cantave.

Cantave has since presented the report to Senator Youri Latortue, the President of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

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Dr Irish 1

Dr. J.A. George P. Irish a fallen icon

Dr. James J.A. George P. Irish

With an event such as the passing of such as Montserratian Dr. George Irish in the USA, the information moves very quick far and wide, especially in today’s information ‘age’, socially and otherwise.

So it was, that after this information was shared on December 23, 2018, requesting, “Urgent intercessory prayer for Dr. Irish (George).  He was taken to Einstein Hospital, (New York…He needs a miracle. .and we believe God!  Let’s pray.”

Later news on confirmation from reliable sources, it was reported that he was stable and that the diagnosis that had been circulated (as happens in Social media) was incorrect.

Nothing further until the sudden news on the evening of February 12, 2019, “It is with painful/aching hearts we announce the passing of “DR. GEORGE IRISH (Dr. JAGPI)” our beloved brother and friend.  We have all prayed and asked the Lord to heal him….but HE is in control and does all things well….therefore we all say AMEN TO HIS PERFECT WILL.”

The name “Dr. George Irish,” has always been and immediately the following day was mentioned by everyone who may even just remember having heard of him for somewhere before.

As reported, Premier Donaldson Romeo on Wednesday led Montserrat in “mourning the death of the national icon, Dr. George Irish, who died at the age of 76 years late Tuesday.”

“I, like most Montserratians, am saddened at the passing of the Right Honourable, Dr. James Alfred George Irish, OE, son of the soil and National Icon. Whether known to some as educator, social activist, trade unionist, politician, musician, artist, singer, orator, or Man of God, in each and every aspect he has left an indelible mark on us individually and collectively,” Romeo said, speaking as the majority would.

“As we mourn his loss may we hold on to and be comforted by our God, who Dr. Irish himself chose to love, serve and represent as a Pastor and Man of God,” he added.

Beginning to recall his memory

In brief, as at some time soon, a full memorial of the icon will be presented, Irish was the first recipient of the Ph.D. degree in Spanish from the University of the West Indies (UWI).

He also taught at the university as well as at the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) in the Dominican Republic, and in the United States at the City University of New York (CUNY) where he served as Professor of Caribbean and Latin American Studies.

In a poem, Sir Howard Fergus, who co-wrote the Montserrat National Anthem with Irish, said: “in this sickly season when the smell of death pervades the atmosphere, the passing of Professor Irish creates a sad and gaping hole deeper than six feet”. (Presented in this issue)

“George has left us and has left much. At a time when “icon” is liberally distributed as klim in our impoverished childhood, it seems beggarly to so endow him, I dub him a Montserrat avatar which carries spiritual overtones, in honour of his enormous gifting which he generously invested in his island home, attracting meagre appreciation; his legacy is wide and long,” Sir Howard, who served as acting Governor of this British Overseas Territory, wrote in a poem. (See in this issue)

Irish was also the founder of the Montserrat Allied Workers’ Union and the Montserrat Cooperative Credit Union. He was also the author of more than 25 books. (See later)

Shirley Spycalla
a celebrated soprano opera soloist, singer,  in a Social media comment wrote briefly:
 “Dr Irish was an impressive Music Director of the Emerald Community Singers back in the day.”

Montserratian Journalist Toni Frederick-Armstrong Remembers Dr. George Irish remembers in a memorial, “I am honoured to have known him…even as a child I think I always understood that he was a pretty ‘big deal.’” (See in this issue)

The local campus of the UWI also filed a tribute to the late Dr. JAGPI. (See citation here)

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Jamaica records near 30 per cent decline in murders so far this year

Jamaica records near 30 per cent decline in murders so far this year

by staff writer 

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb 4, CMC – Jamaica has recorded a 29.7 per cent reduction in murders during the first five weeks of this year, according to figures released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

It said that there were 109 murders between January 1 and February 2 as compared with 155 for the same period last year.

JCF also reported that a decline in other categories of major crimes during the same period this year, with the number of shootings totalling 112, a 17 per cent reduction when compared with last year.

The police said that rapes declined significantly from 57 last year to 27 this year, while the number of aggravated assaults were reduced from 32 last year to 20 this year.

The figures show that there was a 15.3 per cent reduction in robberies during the first five weeks of this year, while the number of break-ins and larceny declined by 29.6 per cent and 5.3 per cent, respectively.

The overall reduction in murders is reflected in the statistics for all police divisions across the island, excepting Portland and Manchester. In Portland, two persons have been killed so far this year, compared with one during the same period last year.

For Manchester, five persons have been murdered so far this year as compared with three last year.

In 2018, more than 1, 200 people were killed in Jamaica.

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Police investigating kidnapping of six fishermen allegedly by Venezuelans

Police investigating kidnapping of six fishermen allegedly by Venezuelans

by staff writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jan 30, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) Wednesday confirmed that it is investigating the kidnapping of six fishermen allegedly by Venezuelan nationals but said it would not comment on whether or not a US$200,000 ransom had been demanded.

Police Commissioner, Gary Griffith, speaking on a radio programme here, said that the situation has been complicated by the fact that the Trinidad and Tobago nationals are believed to be held in the South American country.

“We at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service are doing all that is required. It is a very difficult situation. Initially reports are that they (those kidnapped) were actually outside of our waters when it is they were actually held by these individuals.

“It does not take away the fact that these are citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and there is a concern. It puts us in a  very difficult position to do much more than we are doing because of the situation where they are not in Trinidad and Tobago waters., Griffith said, adding “I am not saying our hands are tied, there’s a lot that we are doing from our end.

“Hopefully there will be something positive by the end of this,” he added.

Media reports here said that the kidnappers have given the relatives until Friday to pay the ransom or face the prospect of the hands of those detained being chopped off.

A photograph of the six men, identified as Jude Jaikaran,16; brothers Jason, 38, and Jerry O’Brian, 36; Ricky Rambharose, 35; Brandon Arjoon, 29; and Linton Manohar, 36, has been circulating on social media showing them sitting on the floor while being surrounded by men pointing machine-guns at them. The photo was sent to relatives on Monday.

In an audio clip that is also being circulated on social media, the families are warned that the kidnappers intend to make good on their demands.

Griffith was asked to confirm whether a ransom had been demanded.

I am sorry but I will not be able to make any revelations pertaining to this while the investigations are still ongoing,” he told radio listeners.

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Acting CJ Roxanane George-Wiltshire

Guyana court rules motion of no confidence against government, valid

Acting Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire

CNS – Feb 1, 2019 –Acting Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire, Thursday ruled that the motion of no confidence passed in the National Assembly on December 21 last year that brought down the David Granger led coalition government is valid, paving the way for fresh regional and general elections to be held later this year.

Under the Guyana Constitution elections must be held within 90 days of the motion of no confidence being passed.

Attorney General Basil Williams has since given notice that he intends to appeal the ruling. In a near four-hour ruling,

Justice George-Wiltshire also said that anyone who holds dual citizenship as envisaged by Article 155 of the Guyana Constitution “should not and could not be” a member of the Guyana Parliament.

Justice George-Wiltshire was delivering her ruling in the three matters regarding the validity of the successful opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) motion of no confidence.

She had earlier this month heard the arguments in the cases “Compton Reid vs The Attorney General, Persaud and The Speaker of the National Assembly; Christopher Ram vs The Attorney General and Speaker of the National Assembly and the Attorney General vs The Speaker of the National Assembly and the Opposition Leader.

The matters arose after the then government back bencher, Charrandass Persaud, who holds both Guyana and Canadian citizenship voted with the PPP in the 65-member National Assembly where the coalition government had previously enjoyed a slender one seat majority.

Williams had said there was a miscalculation of the majority of all elected members as required under Article 106 (6) of the Constitution for the government to be defeated on a vote of no confidence.

He had also asked the court to determine whether Resolution 101 is constitutional and effective and passed in accordance Article 106 (6) of the Constitution, arguing that the failure to obtain 34 or more votes breached article 106 (6) of the Constitution and was unlawful and the certification by the speaker by issuing Resolution 101 could not be conclusive.” But in her ruling in which she made the differentiation between a “simple” and “absolute” majority, the Acting Chief Justice said if all 65 members voted, the majority is 33.

“Therefore, in the case for the requirement for a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly, at least 33 votes ought to be obtained to meet that requirement. If 55 members are present, a majority of all members of the National assembly will still be 33. If only 45 members are present, a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is still 33 and even if 23 members are present, the majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is still 33.”

She said as a result “the no confidence motion is carried, the requisite majority is obtained by a vote of 33 to 32. The President and the Ministers can’t therefore remain in government beyond the three months within which elections are required to be held in accordance with Article 106 of Article Seven unless that time is enlarged by the National Assembly in accordance with the requirements of said Article 106…”

Justice George-Wiltshire as a result the other questions raised by the applicants “are rendered moot” adding “this court cannot set aside or defy a ruling that was validly made …in (keeping with provisions) of Article 106…of the Constitution, nor can it stay in force a resolution validly declared in accordance with the same provisions of the Constitution”,.

She said while a court can intervene “this can only be done if the National Assembly act unconstitutionally.

“This is not the case here. So therefore, the ruling of the Speaker that the no confidence motion debated in the National Assembly on the 21 December 2018 was carried by a vote of the majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is thus lawful and valid being in accordance with the requirements of the …Constitution”.

Earlier, the acting Chief Justice ruled that “anyone who holds dual citizenship as envisaged by Article 155 and therefore falls into this category…should not and cannot be a Member of Parliament” and as such the declaration sought in terms of paragraph one and two of the request for leave are granted.

“Therefore I hold and therefore declare that the second respondent is not qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly by virtue of his own act and acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience and adherence to a foreign power to wit, the sovereign state of Canada in contravention of …of the Constitution of Guyana,” she ruled.

The Acting Chief Justice said “it is also declared the second respondent was on the seventh of April 2015 disqualified from being nominated as a member for the National Assembly of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana”.

On the issue of dual citizenship, the Acting Chief Justice said that the provisions in the Constitution seek to preserve for membership of the National Assembly “persons who only hold Guyanese citizenship and who would not have voluntarily taken an oath of allegiance to another country.

“While some may say that this does not permit the fullest participation of diaspora Guyanese in the political leadership of Guyana, this is not for this court to pronounce on. The Constitution is clear,,” she said, adding “as until it is amended to provide otherwise, the Constitutional provision must be adhered to. “Any change to reflect a different view may be undertaken by way of constitutional amendment if the public and their parliamentary representatives so inclined”.

The government had also argued as to whether section 5 of the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2000 (No 17/2000) is constitutional and not inconsistent with article 70 of the Constitution.

The Attorney General had said that the framers of the Constitution in article 70 (3), having guaranteed an elected government, a five years term of office which five years term is protected by entrenchment by the requirement of 2/3 of all the elected members of the National Assembly voting to reduce that 5 years, could not at the same time have intended that a future Parliament were to be permitted to abridge or curtail the enjoyment of that five years, by introducing into the Constitution via a provision that is not entrenched at all a process called a ‘vote of confidence.”

But in her ruling the judge disagreed with the argument. The coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), came to office in 2015.

| Caribbean News Service

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Police investigating the kidnapping of six fishermen allegedly by Venezuelans

Police investigating the kidnapping of six fishermen allegedly by Venezuelans

by staff writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jan 30, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) Wednesday confirmed that it is investigating the kidnapping of six fishermen allegedly by Venezuelan nationals but said it would not comment on whether or not a US$200,000 ransom had been demanded.

Police Commissioner, Gary Griffith, speaking on a radio programme here, said that the situation has been complicated by the fact that the Trinidad and Tobago nationals are believed to be held in the South American country.

“We at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service are doing all that is required. It is a very difficult situation. Initially reports are that they (those kidnapped) were actually outside of our waters when it is they were actually held by these individuals.

“It does not take away the fact that these are citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and there is a concern. It puts us in a  very difficult position to do much more than we are doing because of the situation where they are not in Trinidad and Tobago waters., Griffith said, adding “I am not saying our hands are tied, there’s a lot that we are doing from our end.

“Hopefully there will be something positive by the end of this,” he added.

Media reports here said that the kidnappers have given the relatives until Friday to pay the ransom or face the prospect of the hands of those detained being chopped off.

A photograph of the six men, identified as Jude Jaikaran,16; brothers Jason, 38, and Jerry O’Brian, 36; Ricky Rambharose, 35; Brandon Arjoon, 29; and Linton Manohar, 36, has been circulating on social media showing them sitting on the floor while being surrounded by men pointing machine-guns at them. The photo was sent to relatives on Monday.

In an audio clip that is also being circulated on social media, the families are warned that the kidnappers intend to make good on their demands.

Griffith was asked to confirm whether a ransom had been demanded.

I am sorry but I will not be able to make any revelations pertaining to this while the investigations are still ongoing,” he told radio listeners.

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Barbados joins other CARICOM countries in banning single-use plastic products

Barbados joins other CARICOM countries in banning single-use plastic products

by staff writer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jan 23, CMC – Barbados has become the latest Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to announce a ban on the importation, retail, sale and use of petro-based single use plastic products.

It said that products such as  single-use plastic cups; cutlery, including plastic knives, forks and spoons; stirrers; straws; plates; egg trays -both plastic and Styrofoam – and Styrofoam containers used in the culinary retail industry will be banned from April 1.

Jamaica, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda are among CARICOM countries that have already instituted or announced plans to ban the use of these plastic products.

Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Minister, Kirk Humphrey, and Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, Trevor Prescod, made the announcement regarding the ban.

Humphrey said that with effect from January 1, 2020, there will be a ban on all petro-based plastic bags, with the exemption of those used for the packaging of pharmaceuticals/medicines, hygiene and the preservation of food.

In addition, a moratorium has been extended on the use of tetra pack straws, while poultry producers have been given more time to find alternatives to the Styrofoam trays used to package chickens.

“Barbados has to be a value-driven country. We have large expectations for ourselves. We have said that we want to be fossil fuel free by 2030; we want to have a renewable platform; we want to be a country that when we speak to the world we speak as an environmentally friendly country and destination.

“[Therefore] these are the things that we must do if our words and our actions are to be aligned.  And so, we have made ourselves clear as to where we stand on single-use plastic,” Humphrey said.

He said the decision came after months of consultation with stakeholders, including plastic bag manufacturers, persons in the poultry industry, the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Customs Department, and importers.

Humphrey said that the ban on petro-based plastic bags was extended until January 1, 2020, to allow manufacturers to come up with alternative ways of making plastic bags from a bio-based material that was environmentally healthy and friendly.

“We do not wish to coere to an established industry that employs Barbadians and deprive them of opportunity, but we also know that the cost of continuing to use these things in Barbados will outweigh any potential benefits,” he said.

Prescod said that plastic bottles used in the production of juices will not be subjected to the ban.  He added that the required legislation needed to be in place to allow consumers to take the bottles back to the suppliers to be part of a recycling process.

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PM Browne presents budget, warns tax dodgers, while Oppostion leader calls it a falure

PM Browne presents budget, warns tax dodgers, while Oppostion leader calls it a falure

by staff writer

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jan 18, CMC – Prime Minister Gaston Browne has presented an EC$1.2 billion (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) budget to Parliament outlining new taxes and warning tax dodgers that his administration that it would not be business as  usual.

Browne told legislators that recurrent expenditure is estimated at just over one billion dollars, comprising EC$914.9 million in recurrent spending and capital spending of EC$130 million, while recurrent revenue has been pegged at $966.2 million including EC$34 million in grants.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne delivering budget

“Additionally, total principal payments amount to EC$360.1 million. This, along with the EC$78.8 million overall deficit and the EC$10 million allocated to reduce arrears to local contractors and suppliers, bring the financing requirement for 2019 to EC$448.9 million.”

Browne said that in order to satisfy this requirement, his administration will raise EC$274.8 million from securities issued on the Regional Government Securities Market, and access loans and advances of EC$174.1 million”.

Browne, who is also Finance Minister, said that a tax would be introduced to fund the University of the West Indies campus at Five Islands.

“One of the options is a 10 per cent tax on net profits of telecommunication companies, financial institutions and insurance companies and the country’s sole petrol distribution company, West Indies Oil Company Limited”.

He said based on analysis of the data “this tax should yield in the region of EC$15 million annually and it will be implemented with effect from this fiscal year for a period of 24 months in the first instance”.

Browne said if the tax measure is to be continued “we will,” adding “the reality is the university must be funded and it will be funded”.

In his address, Browne also indicated that the taxes on sugary beverages would be implemented this year given the fact that too many people were being affected by non-communicable diseases (NCD).

“Our government will be introducing a tax on sugar sweetened beverages and we are doing to so to protect the health of the people of this country,” he said, telling legislators that detractors would regard the measure ‘as a revenue raining initiative, when indeed what we are seeking to do here is to reduce the demand to protect our people.

“We cannot build an economic powerhouse with unhealthy people,” he said.

Browne said last year, tax waivers amounted to an estimated EC$330 million; a significant proportion of which was granted to existing and profitable businesses.

He said this EC$330 million mainly represents waivers of customs duties, ABST, Revenue Recovery Charge, Corporation Tax, Unincorporated Business Tax, and Stamp Duties.

“To secure fiscal balance and stability going forward, these levels of concessions cannot continue.

Taxes incurred must be paid and collected so that government can continue to provide the services and benefits everyone expects.

“Reducing total tax exemptions and strengthening tax administration will be the cornerstone of the Government’s fiscal strategy into the medium term.  With the revocation of the corporate income tax waivers, a new corporate income tax credit regime will be introduced.

“If our country is to become an economic powerhouse, capable of sustainable, inclusive growth and creating opportunities for its citizens and residents to generate wealth, it needs to build fiscal resilience.  “

Prime Minister Browne also warned tax dodgers that his administration would be moving to acquire all funds owed to the state despite the island’s constant economic growth over the past four years.

“Improving revenues to meet our development objectives requires effort by everyone. So, everyone, individuals and companies, must pay our education levy, social security, medical benefits, import duties, RRC, ABST, and corporate income taxes,” he said, warning that any person or company, “who reneges on these payments, evades paying them, or uses corrupt means to deprive the Treasury of revenue, is hurting every other person and company in our nation.

“They should be warned now that our government will not allow this behaviour to continue; it is not fair; it is not just; and it is not acceptable. Our government, as the wardens of the interests of all the people, will clamp down on the excesses of the few,” Prime Minister Browne said.

He said that his administration would implement the “Prime Minister’s Entrepreneurial Development Programme (EDP)” announced last year, which will seek to provide access to funds and training for any citizen who presents a viable business plan.

“In the first quarter of this year, the EDP will be launched with an initial EC$10 million provided by the government. The ultimate aim is a revolving fund endowed with EC$24 million to provide low-interest loans for working capital, machinery, and equipment, leasehold improvements, among other things.” Prime Minister Browne said Global Ports is committed to providing $13.5 million to fund entrepreneurship in the tourism sector as part of their involvement in the country’s economic activity.

“The EDP will be complemented by the Eastern Caribbean Partial Credit Guarantee Corporation, which will also work with banks and other financial institutions to increase the flow of credit to micro, small and medium-sized businesses in the ECCU member territories.”

Browne told legislators that in 2018, Antigua and Barbuda’s economy was the fastest growing in the entire Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region, recording growth of 5.3 per cent.

“In the period, 2014 to 2018, the average growth of our nation’s economy was a remarkable 4.5 per cent annually. This country was recovered from the disaster of five previous years of decline, retrogression, and regression and placed on a firm, solid and steady climb to progress,” Browne said.

“Economic growth brings many benefits, but its seeds must be planted, and its trees nurtured to produce the beneficial fruits a nation needs. This task requires special management and financial acumen. And these are among the key competencies that our government has employed to the benefit of our people.”

In his address on Thursday, Browne praised several countries and institutions, which he said had invested in the country’s development through technical assistance, grants and loans.

“I take this opportunity to thank all who have made contributions of whatever size. Every cent counts. And we are very grateful. Mr. Speaker, it would be wrong of me not to make special mention of three countries that have particularly contributed to our nation’s well-being – namely the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Republic of Cuba and the People’s Republic of China.”

He said that Venezuela had written off 50 per cent the debt owed to PDVSA for fuel imported under the Petro Caribe Initiative, amounting to EC$250 million.

“That is a significant gift to our people, Mr. Speaker, and one that we should acknowledge with great and resounding appreciation. The people of Antigua and Barbuda will remember the assistance of Venezuela and its people well into the future,” he said.

Browne said that Antigua and Barbuda will continue to urge a resolution of the internal differences in Venezuela, and pledge support for whatever his government might be able to do, to set the South American firmly on its feet, in service to all its people.

Browne also praised Cuba for its contribution noting that despite the continued imposition of the inhumane embargo by the United States, continue to provide educational, medical and technical assistance to countless countries in the region and around the globe.

“Antigua and Barbuda has benefitted tremendously from the generosity of the Republic of Cuba. Hundreds of our people have received professional qualifications, free of charge, from the Republic of Cuba and are making meaningful contributions to our state. We thank the Republic of Cuba for their continued generosity in the field of healthcare, medicine, infrastructural development and education.”

He also took time to thank China, telling legislators that last year “no other country or institution has contributed more to our development pursuits than the People’s Republic of China.

“China has committed over EC$400 million in grants and concessional loans to fund the development of the St. John’s Port, the Knuckle Block Project, the proposed housing development, two polyclinics, and non-lethal military equipment and supplies. They have also provided technical assistance in many areas, including healthcare, education and agriculture.

“The relationship between the People’s Republic of China and Antigua and Barbuda, demonstrates that, in international relations, countries are well-served by mutual respect and cooperation,” Prime Minister Brown said.

Debate on the budget begins on January 28.

Opposition Leader blasts 2019 budget

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader, Jamale Pringle, having absented himself for the presentation, described as “disappointing” the EC$1.2 billion (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) budget presented to Parliament by Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

The debate on the fiscal package is due to begin on January 28, but Pringle, the lone successful candidate of the main opposition United progressive Party (UPP) in the last general elections, said that the budget failed to address any plans for socio-economic growth for the future.

Jamale Pringle (File Photo)

Speaking on Observer radio, Pringle said that the budget is nothing more than a repetition of the promises made in previous fiscal packages.

“Within 2019 we still hearing a budget what we heard in 2014 as in basically the same way in which the government proposed in 2014 to raise revenue for the country via the certain projects which we have seen still in a standstill mode.

“Those are the same projects they are looking to move this economy forward in 2019,” he told radio listeners.

Pringle said had he stayed home on Thursday when the budget was being presented by Prime Minister Browne, I would have just informed people to “just read the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018” packages.

He said the government had prior to the last general election in March last year, had sought to fool the population by starting some projects, including one in his constituency.

“All they did was to build a few buildings just before the election in terms of offices and nothing further has started…so I think it is a method of fooling the people,” he added.

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Police offer reward to capture escaped prisoner

Police offer reward to capture escaped prisoner

bySTAFF WRITER

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Jan. 17, CMC – The police have offered a reward of EC$5,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) to anyone who can provide information that will lead to the recapturing a man who escaped last week.

The police report that Hayden Phillip was discovered missing from the prison last Thursday and since then they have been searching for the convict who was serving time for robbery and was awaiting trial for a sexually related offence.

During a press conference here Thursday,

Assistant Superintendent of Prison Finbar Charles said that the financial reward is aimed at encouraging persons who know about his whereabouts to come forward so that law enforcement can return him to prison.

“We need the public to assist us in having him recaptured,” said Charles who gave the assurance that whatever tips provided to the police and or the prison will be investigated.

On Wednesday, Inspector Desmond Richard promised that Phillip will be recaptured although he has been evading Police for the last seven days.

According to  Richards, be believes there are persons   assisting Phillips and promised that once investigations can be confirmed and clarify certain information, persons will fully be prosecuted in accordance with the law.

The penalty to harbour, conceal, or aid in the concealment of any person who has committed a crime, ranges between a minimum of six months and five years in prison.

Posted in CARICOM, Crime, International, News, OECS, Regional, Security0 Comments

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