Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News Nov. 8th

By Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados 

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

An insult to common sense.  That is how Minister of International Business, Donville Inniss described suggestions that Barbados was linked to the Paradise Papers leak.  The Paradise Papers is a global investigation headed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists looking at the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies.  Investigators examined 13.4 million leaked files obtained by German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, of offshore law firms and the company registries in which the report described as some of the world’s most secretive countries.  Barbados was reportedly listed among the 19 secrecy jurisdictions.  The Paradise Papers documents included nearly seven million loan agreements, financial statements, emails, trust deeds and other paper work over nearly 50 years from inside Appleby, a prestigious offshore law firm with offices in Bermuda and beyond.  ‘There is a group of individuals and companies around the world that seem to exist solely to spread a lot of rumours and cause a lot of confusion around d the world,” Inniss told the media during a break in a three-day workshop on quality standards at the Radisson Aquatica.  The minister gave a robust defence of Barbados’ reputation in the international business sector.

The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) is bringing the hammer down on Barbados’ utility providers, Barbados Light & Power (BL&P), the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) and Cable & Wireless (C&W ) which operates locally as FLOW.  In tough, new and amended standards of service, the FTC is now forcing the three providers to up their standards and, in  some cases, to automatically compensate customers for failure to meet the FTC  standards even without a formal written complaint from their customers.  In a long list of new rules that take effect from January 1,. 2018, the state regulating body has told BL&P, C&W and the state-owned BWA that failure to follow the rules could result in fines of $100,000 on conviction and $10,000 for every day the breaches continue.

Within a matter of weeks, Barbados should have its own public health laboratory, capable of doing a number of the tests which it currently relies on for Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to do on its behalf.  Minister of Health, John Boyce, revealed this last nite, saying the Barbados Public Health Reference Laboratory, to be located opposite the main Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Martindale’s Road, is due for formal opening on November 29th.

The Caribbean tourism sector is now expected to register slower growth in 2017 than the 3.5 per cent projected earlier this year.  Addressing a news conference at the World Travel Market in London this week, Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Dionisio D’Aguilar said that due to the devastating impact of recent hurricanes, the sector was now likely to  expand by “between one and two per cent, with a similar growth rate projected for next year.”

Dateline Havana, CUBA:

The ministry of tourism in Cuba has announced that on Monday, the island had received 4 million tourists, reaching the milestone some 54 days ahead of that in 2016.    Despite being forced to close over 16,000 rooms due to the damage caused by Hurricane Irma, Ministry officials are confident they will reach the 4.7 million visitors forecast.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

Parliament will soon have to consider outlawing capital punishment in Jamaica, Prime Minister Andrew Holness indicated yesterday.  Holness, in a statement to the House of Representatives in the pinning of members of parliament with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) lapel pins at Gordon House, reiterated his commitment to not only banning corporal punishment in schools, but generally in the society, so it can no longer be an option.  He told his colleagues in the House that he could not make his statement on the SDGs pin without highlighting what he described as “the alarming findings” of the recently launched UNICEF report “A Familiar Face.  Violence in the Lives of Children and Adolescents.”  Holness noted that the report showed a large number of Jamaican children dying violently, or are regularly subjected to sexual violence and violent discipline in their homes, schools and communities.

Jamaica has welcomed its first once-weekly non-stop flight service from the European nation of Poland.  Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who made the announcement from London where he is on official business, pointed out that the ministry of tourism’s European market strategies are bearing fruit.

Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:

The business community and the Ministry of Finance have rejected a call by Public Services Association President (PSA) Watson Duke for employees at the Board of Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise Division to take “holidays” tomorrow and Friday in protest against the Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority Bill.  In separate statements, the Ministry of Finance and the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) criticized Duke’s approach and appealed to public servants to come to work.

An Arima magistrate who allegedly threatened to imprison all the clients of an attorney he accused of misleading him during the hearing of a matter last month, will now have to defend himself in court, after a 24-year-old woman was granted leave by a High Court judge to file judicial proceedings against him.  Justice Frank Seepersad, in granting permission to the woman to file the claim against magistrate Brian Debideen, said if the allegations are true, then the magistrate’s conduct falls far below the standard required of a judicial officer and raises serious issues as to the presumption of innocence that each accused should enjoy the benefit of.

Dateline Nassau, THE BAHAMAS:

Bahamas Telecommunications Company’s (BTC) part owner Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) revealed that competition has led to a 19,000 reduction in mobile subscriptions for BTC in the third quarter.  The loss comes months after CWC reported that BTC suffered a loss of 24,000 mobile subscribers during the second quarter since competitors Aliv entered The Bahamas’ telecoms market last November.  Aliv recorded $13 million in revenue for its 2017 fiscal year, and aims to have market share of 30 to 35% by the end of next month.