Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News Jan. 3rd

By Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has brought the realization of the 2018 general election right into the public eye as it posted election posters in all 30 constituencies over the course of Monday nite.   With the posters attracting much attention, both BLP General Secretary, Dr. Jerome Walcott and Party Leader Mia Mottley said the Bees were ready whenever the bell was rung.

Workers in the private sector have been told to step up their game for 2018.  President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Eddie Abed, who made the call, said the lack of productivity was extremely worrying.  Speaking to the Midweek Nation against the backdrop of last year being dubbed The Year of Productivity by the Barbados Productivity Council, he said “NISE (National Initiative For Service Excellence) made a presentation late in 2017 where it basically said that employees in the private sector were less engaged, specifically in the retail and distributive sectors, as compared to their counterparts in the Civil Service.”

The business community has fired back at government backbencher James Paul advising him to look into the mirror for the reason the private sector is not reinvesting in the ailing economy.  Paul last week described the private sector as disingenuous for pointing fingers at government over the struggling economy while refusing to reinvest in Barbados.  However, Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), Charles Herbert told Barbados Today that it was government, not the private sector, that had the responsibility to create the level of confidence needed for investment.

Dateline Georgetown, GUYANA:

Oil and gas giant, ExxonMobil, says it’s likely to commence oil production in Guyana by March 2020. Exxon’s Country Manager, Rod Henson made the disclosure during a recent Press Conference where contents of the Starbroek Petroleum Agreement between the oil company and the government of Guyana were shared.  Guyana and ExxonMobil entered into an agreement in July 2016 which will see the CARICOM nation receiving a 50/50 profit and a two per cent royalty.  Oil from just the Liza Phase One could be over US$1.5 Billion after five years and over US$7 Billion over the life of the project.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

The Jamaica government intends to intensify its crime fight and pass legislation to weed out corrupt cops as a priority this year.  On the heels of a year in which more than 1,500 people were murdered, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said in his New Year message that given the current crime situation it is without question that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JFC) needs critical institutional reform to be able to effectively lead the fight against crime.  Meanwhile, Prime Minister Holness has responded to the Jamaica Police Federation, indicating that the wages negotiations will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Monday.  The Prime Minister intervened after the negotiations between the Federation and the Ministry of Finance soured, resulting in rank-and-file members of the police force staging a “sickout.”

Dateline Nassau, THE BAHAMAS:

The CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana, will hold a town hall meeting on Friday, to learn how Bahamians feel about the decriminalization of marijuana, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,.  The meeting is part of the commission’s mandate to ascertain public opinion in CARICOM member countries on the issue.  The Bahamas ambassador to CARICOM, Reuben Ramhing, stressed that the meeting is “not a national debate” but “a regional assessment”.  “It does not reflect the government’s position pro or con on the matter” he said.  “It is just doing as was agreed to about two years ago; it is to begin to facilitate the assessment of that agenda item.”

Dateline Roseau, DOMINICA:

The Dominica Business Forum (DCF) is calling for a public inquiry into the looting that followed the September 18 devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.  DCF Chairman, Severin McKenzie said the issue had been raised recently with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit where the private sector group raised a number of issues “concerning the building of confidence particularly as it relates to the looting that took place after Hurricane Maria.

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