Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News Nov. 13th

By Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

Commuters in Barbados, workers and school children alike, were left stranded this morning as workers of the state-run Transport Board went on strike.

Chief Executive Officer of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), Dr. Dexter James, says it’s no easy feat financially, to sustain the level and quality of service to the public.  ”Our expenditure to meet the current level of service demands in the vicinity of $190 million (but QEH has) a fixed annual budget of $145 million with rising healthcare costs” James added.  Speaking at a church service, James implored policymakers to give urgent attention to revisiting a new model of healthcare financing, describing it as “a necessary imperative if Barbados is to sustain the health gains accrued over many years.”

Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, outlined a more restricted appraoch to government spending in order to improve the country’s standing in the future as part of Vision 2030.  In a two and a half hour delivery at the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) 47th Annual Convention at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Rowley described reduced spending in areas such as education, while laying out all the areas where the government purse is over-extended.

Anxiety is heightening in the Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs over government’s decision to appoint a 30-something year old with no experience in international relations or diplomacy to the weighty post of Ambassador to the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNDG).  That office was once held by controversial former health minister Therese Baptiste-Cornelis whose tenure was characterized by numerous mocking online names and jokes.  Makeda Antoine, who describes herself in her official CV as “founding president – Heliconia Foundation For  Young Professionals – a pro-PNM organization and  “Youth Office (Female) Fyzerbad Constituency (PNM)” confirmed to the Sunday Express that she has been formally appointed to the post and hopes to travel to Geneva next month.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

Tourism industry stakeholders are expressing growing optimism about a rapid increase in European tourists as Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett’s European growth strategy appears to be paying off.  “We are seeing an increasing number of guests from continental Europe” said Elias “Lee” Issa, chairman and owner of one of the leading resort chains, Couples Resorts.   Senior advisor and strategist, Delano Serversight, noted that Jamaica recorded a 91.3% increase in stay over arrivals from the Jamaica Tourism Board (JTB) defined Southern and Western Europe region for the month of September, 2017 over the same month last year.

Ahead of the anticipated conclusion of the raging impasse between government and opposition senators on the National Identification and Registration Bill in the Upper House, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has touted the legislation as a critical plank for the fight against corruption.  He argued that people cannot be held accountable if the authorities are unable to identify them.  Government legislators in the Upper House are pressing ahead with the Bill, despite a strong pushback from Opposition senators, who argue that it lacks coherent policy and public comment.

Dateline Nassau. THE BAHAMAS:

The ministry of tourism has moved to provide a departure tax rebate incentive for companies that bring passengers by boat to Grand Bahama, as two new vessels begin service from Florida this month.  Minister of tourism and aviation, Dionisio D’Aguillar said the incentive will likely be used for most marketing partnerships moving forward.

Experts from across the region will convene in The Bahamas from November 27 to December 1, to discuss the internet, which is now a critical information and communications technology (ICT).  Managing the resource has become a priority for the Caribbean’s development specifically as it relates to the Caribbean Single ICT Space, which would provide the digital basis for regional integration.  Within this framework, the government of The Bahamas and its Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) in collaboration with the Caribbean  Telecommunications Union (CTU)  will host ICT Week – The Bahamas at The Atlantis on Paradise Island.  The week’s theme is “Internet Imperatives For The Caribbean Single ICT Space.”

Dateline Castries, ST. LUCIA:

Following the public release of documents filed in US federal court in the Southern District of Florida outlining an investigation initiated by the previous administration in St. Lucia into alleged corruption associated with the Hewannora International Airport (HIA) Redevelopment Project in 2008/2009, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, who is also named in the documents, said that he has been unable to find the record in question in government files and will therefore launch an internal investigation.