Antigua and Barbuda
Prime Minister Gaston Browne has strongly defended Antigua and Barbuda’s relationship with China as the decision to open an embassy in the Asian country have been questioned.
“We have embassies in countries where we don’t get the type of assistance that we get from China, what is wrong about opening an embassy in a capital from which we get this level of developmental assistance.”
Browne, who led a delegation to Beijing late last month, said Beijing is making available the embassy office space to the government free of cost for a few years and for now, it does not cost the government anything.
He said an ambassador, who will be resident in China, will soon be named.
The embassy was opened during Browne’s visit to China.
Brown described China as Antigua and Barbuda’s most important development partner at this time and said that under President Xi Jinping, China has developed this philosophy and through this, made available US$1 trillion annually in soft loans to help developing countries.
He said this is much more significant than what is provided by both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
Barbados is expecting its tourism sector to receive a boost of 25,000 seats for the 2024/2025 winter season after Delta Air Lines announced it was returning to the island with scheduled flights out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and John F Kennedy ( JFK) International Airports.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Ian Gooding-Edghill, said over the past few months, the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) had been involved in a consistent and aggressive strategy of increasing and improving airline connections with the rest of the world.
“I am delighted to announce a further boost in our rewarding air traffic efforts with the announcement that well-known and highly credible major North American airline, Delta Air Lines, will be resuming service to Barbados.
“Effective November 23, this year, Delta will once again be flying to Barbados, after its last touchdown at the Grantley Adams International Airport in 2016 from New York, and 2017 from Atlanta,” said the minister.
He said starting Nov.23, Delta will provide a seven-day-a-week service from Atlanta, Georgia, and provide once weekly services on Saturdays from New York, starting Dec. 21 of this year.
“The resumption of this Delta service is evidence of the success of our ongoing programme to grow the United States market, through strategic expansion of gateways in critical points to build seamless connectivity with Barbados for travellers from accessible gateways in the improving United States market,” he added.
The chief executive officer at the Grantley Adams International Airport, Hadley Bourne, said with the addition of Delta Air Lines, the airport is working on building capacity to accommodate the increase in aircraft and passengers.
Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says he is awaiting the recommendations of a special delegation from the European Union and the United Kingdom that visited the island last month on the controversial Citizenship by Investment Program (CBI).
Under the CBI, Dominica grants citizenship to foreign nationals in return for making a substantial investment in the socio-economic development of the island.
But the program has come under severe scrutiny with the UK government imposing visa restrictions on Dominicans entering the country from last August.
Skerrit said, “The members were satisfied with what we have done and what we are doing.
“So, the meeting was very constructive. I think they had a completely different perspective in many aspects with regards to the CBI program because they rely on what they hear and what they are told,” he said.
Skerrit said the delegation conducted on-site evaluations of the CBI and Immigration Units and held meetings with due diligence firms to understand their operations.
He told radio listeners that the delegation left Dominica with an improved understanding and mindset of the CBI program and that the situation was helped by the government successfully tabling legislation to deal with a number of issues, including name changes, implementing regulations for CBI program, marketing and promotion, and other measures.
He also announced plans to send a retired police officer to the UK to discuss reinstating visa-free access.
The Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) said it is assessing the response to its call for a general strike to press demands for increased salaries for teachers.
“We are currently assessing the turnout, but generally, teachers indicated they are in support,” GTU president Dr. Mark Lyte said after the police had received reports “indicating that persons are being intimidated and threatened.”
But Lyte said “I am not aware of any threats issued by GTU to teachers.”
Chief Education officer Saddam Hussain previously warned that if the teachers went on strike, their action would be illegal.
“To be clear, the MoE (Ministry of Education) has received advice from the Ministry of Labor, the experts on this issue, that conditions for strike action have not been met as a result of which any such strike would be wholly illegal and unlawful,” he said in an open letter to all head teachers and teachers.
He said if the teachers heed the strike call, students’ preparation for the National Grade Six Assessment and Caribbean Secondary Education examinations could be affected now and in the long term.
The union has been told that the industrial action by the teachers is in violation of the memorandum of agreement signed between the union and the Ministry of Education.
Chief Labour Officer, Dhaneshwar Deonarine, said the grievance procedure has not been exhausted, and that he had declined the union’s request for the matter to go to arbitration as there was an attempt to breach the grievance procedure.
Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand said the Irfaan Ali government has satisfied 25 of the 41 benefits that had been requested by the GTU along with 28 others that the Ministry of Education did on its own “to improve the lives, capacity and professional standing of teachers.”
Jamaica has become the fourth Caribbean country to establish an early warning system (EWS) on drugs, joining other islands such as Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The EWS will function as an institutional network of key stakeholders tasked with issuing alerts about new psychotropic substances, developing rapid and effective responses, and maintaining a surveillance system using information from multiple sources.
National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) will collaborate with 15 organizations, chiefly across public health and national security, to curtail drug abuse and illicit trafficking in Jamaica.
Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn said the rise in new psychotropic substances poses a significant threat to Jamaica, primarily because of the country’s geographic location.
“The country is very vulnerable to drug trafficking and trans-shipment syndicates.”
The introduction of new drugs is very unpredictable, is poorly understood, and presents distinctive requirements, not only for drug treatment and public health but also for law enforcement,” she added.
— Compiled by Devika Ragoonanan