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CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending October 4th, 2013

04 Oct

HEALTH FUNDING TO BENEFIT WOMEN, CHILDREN IN CARIBBEAN—09/28/13
Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group, announced that the agency will invest at least US$700 million through 2015 to aid developing nations, including those in the Caribbean, to improve the health of women and children. According to Kim, the new funding comes from the International Development Association, the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest nations. It will allow the expansion of successful pilot projects involving the health of women and children, as well as reproduction and maternal health projects.

NEW ZEALAND PLANS INCREASED FOCUS ON THE CARIBBEAN—09/29/13
New Zealand plans to open a new High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados, in order to raise its diplomatic presence in the Caribbean region. John Kay, Prime Minister of New Zealand, noted that the Caribbean is made up of several small island states, just as the Pacific region around New Zealand, and faces many of the same issues.

LEADERS FROM THE CARIBBEAN MAKE REPARATIONS CASE AT UN—09/30/13
Nearly every Caribbean leader who spoke at the United Nations during its recent session used some time to speak about the issue of reparations for slavery. The Caribbean representatives want descendants of the enslaved Africans in the former European colonies to receive compensation for the damage the institution of slavery caused.

PUERTO RICO WANTS FIRST AIR CARGO HUB IN CARIBBEAN—10/01/13
Officials in Puerto Rico hope that creating a new air cargo hub in the country will kickstart the nation’s slowed economy. The hub would be the first of its kind in the area and could go a long way in addressing the island’s 13.5 unemployment rate. The idea for the air transport hub emerged in 2009, and a proposal was submitted to the local government. In 2012, a Foreign Trade Zone was expanded to the airport, and local authorities are now moving into the second stage of plan, which is to capture air traffick that overflys the country.

WOMEN ENTREPENEURS IN CARIBBEAN DEFY ASSUMPTIONS—10/02/13
Twenty-eight Caribbean women entrepreneurs attended the first Grow Your Business Workshop in Barbados. The workshop was sponsored by the Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean (WING) and organized by InfoDev, a global program in the World Bank. The quality of the ideas presented by the women was very encouraging, according to Grace Kyokunda, program coordinator for InfoDev.

CARIBBEAN CUISINE PROMOTED IN GERMANY—10/03/13
Twelve lines of traditional and regional culinary products from the Caribbean are scheduled for promotion at Anuga 2013, a food fair held in Germany. The Caribbean Pavilion at the event will showcase products from 12 providers in seven nations and illustrate the variety of foods and flavors to be found in the Caribbean. The European market is very welcoming of Caribbean culture and food and represents excellent market opportunities, said Pamela Coke-Hamilton, executive director of the Export Development Agency of the Caribbean.

MORE SKILLED WORKERS FROM JAMAICA TO GAIN ACCESS TO CARICOM JOBS—10/02/13
According to Derrick Kellier, Jamaica’s Minister of Labor and Social Security, more categories of skilled workers from the island will soon have a chance to apply for jobs in other CARICOM countries. The increased opportunities arise from the Caribbean Community (Free Movement of Skilled Persons) Act, which is meant to broaden the groups of skilled workers who may apply for certificates to work in CARICOM countries. The expansion will include teachers, nurses, and those who hold specific types of vocational qualifications.

GOVERNMENT “COMFORTABLY” MET IMF TARGETS, SAYS PHILLIPS—10/03/13
Peter Phillips, Jamaican Finance Minister, said that the government had no problem meeting the conditions established by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for passing the first performance review of its loan programs. While there were serious challenges, Phillips said Jamaica passed the test “comfortably.”

OPERATORS OF CALL CENTERS DENY STAPLING WORKERS’ POCKETS SHUT—10/04/13
The Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica, a group that represents call-center operators, is creating a distance between its members and reports of operators stapling the pockets of workers to prevent security breaches and protect the data of clients. Yoni Epstein, president of the association, said that it does not condone such practices. Davon Crump, head of Global Outsourcing Solutions Ltd., said that the stapling practice is followed at some call centers in Jamaica because there had been cases of theft at the facility.

SECURITY MINISTRY LOW ON FUNDS FOR POLICE RETIREMENT PAYMENTS—10/04/13
The national security ministry reports that it needs approximately $500 million to pay police benefits in 2013, but that the ministry has been allocated only $100 million by the Ministry of Finance. The security ministry says it has made an appeal for an increase in funding, but knows that Jamaica is operating in a tight fiscal environment. The ministry has asked the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) members who took early retirement to be patient until this issue is settled.

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