Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News Feb. 8th

Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

BARBADOS is in danger of having the region’s worst performing economy this year.  Predicting that the Barbados economy would grow by no more than 0.7 per cent in 2018, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Director of Economics, Dr. Justin Ram yesterday advised government to take urgent action to reverse the slide.  He gave the island a five-point to do list that included reducing debt and cutting spending. Ram also thinks current road and sewage problems suggested government needed to reform how infrastructure was built and managed in Barbados.

Meanwhile, despite major setbacks caused by a destructive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, the Caribbean Development Bank a year of several developmental gains for the region.  The Bank last year approved US$364 million in loans and grants, an increased of US$58 million on the previous year, which has paved the way for the implementation of projects that focus on strengthening resilience, building back better and placing the Caribbean further along a path toward sustainable development.

There were two opposing views in the Senate yesterday as debate on the controversial Police Amendment Bill, 2017, which gives the Police sweeping powers to search property without a warrant and set up cordons and curfews, continued.  Independent Senator Carol Lady Haynes and government senator, Verla Depeiza offered different positions on the proposed amendments which have whipped up heated discussion, especially from interest group, the Bar Association and some of its individual members.  Calling the amendments “draconian”, Lady Haynes, whose professional title is Dr. Carol Jacobs, said she could not support the amendments because several of the sections therein caused her some “worry” and asked that the Bill be withdrawn for further consideration.  But in its defence, Democratic Labour Party member Verla Depeiza asked that Barbadians examine the bigger purpose of the legislation before condemning it.

Opposition Senator Wilfred Abrahams has accused government of being one of the biggest defaulters on National Insurance Scheme (NIS) contributions.  Speaking in the Upper Chamber on the National Insurance and Social Security Amendment Bill 2018, Abrahams charged that the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration was in no position to condemn delinquent employers, adding that “those who come to equity must come with clean hands.”.  Although the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) legislator supported the measure, which validates waivers the NIS gave to delinquent employers and self-employed persons, Abrahams was critical of government and its record with NIS contributions for state employees.

Dateline St. John’s, ANTIGUA:

The Lower House of Parliament in Antigua and Barbuda has passed the amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act, paving the way for the decriminalization of marijuana.  However, the Upper House will also have to approve the amendment, and it would have to be gazette before it becomes law, Antigua News Room reported.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has tabled in the House of Representatives, a copy of the report of the Commission that was set up last year to review Jamaica’s relations with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).  And it contains a suggestion that the country withdraw from the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) if CARICOM does not implement some reforms within five (5) years.

Dateline Nassau, THE BAHAMAS:

In an unprecedented series of events, the entire bench of the Bahamian Opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was suspended by the Speaker of the House, after they walked out in protest over suspended member, Glenys Hanna-Martin.  Hanna-Martin was suspended last week after the Speaker, Halson Moultrie reviewed tapes of the previous week’s sitting in which the Speaker said unsubstantiated claims about the governing Free National Movement (FNM) unfairly targeting persons for political reasons.  The Speaker had the comments expunged from the record under the protest of Hanna-Martin over the tone and exact language she used.  In the following week, Moultrie confronted the member of parliament when a heated exchange occurred after which she walked out and then was subsequently suspended from the House.

Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:

There are over 7,000 police officers in the Trinidad and Tobago police service, but 1,100 more are needed.  That figure was given yesterday by Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), Deodat Dulalchan at the weekly police news briefing at Police Administration Building.

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