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CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending December 13th, 2013

13 Dec

TOURISM HEAD IN GRENADA CRITICIZES BRITISH PASSENGER DUTY—12/07/13
George Osborne, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that the Air Passenger Duty (APD) on flights that originate in the United Kingdom, will increase once again. In response, Alexandra Otway-Noel, Tourism Minister for Grenada, expressed her disappointment with the increase, which was implemented in spite of strong lobbying efforts by tourism officials in the Caribbean. The APD is keeping families apart, she said.

INVESTIGATIONS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING BEGINS IN DUTCH CARIBBEAN—12/08/13
The ChristianUnion and the Labor Party in the Dutch Caribbean proposed a motion to begin an independent investigation into human trafficking and prostitution in the region, and the Second Chamber of Parliament adopted it. The investigation will encompass Aruba, Curacao, St. Maartens, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba. These entities were named as destinations and departures for human trafficking in a report on the issue from the United States Department of State.

HOUSING FINANCE THE FOCUS OF USAID IN HAITI—12/09/13
The United States Agency for International Development plans to shift its focus from building houses to financing them for the persons who were displaced by the Haiti earthquake in 2010. According to John Groarke, USAID’s mission director, the agency is trying to help people construct their own homes via mortgages.

CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES LOOK FOR SOLUTION TO TEEN PREGNANCY—12/10/13
A regional consultation to address adolescent pregnancy in the Caribbean was held in Trinidad. It was designed to find a holistic approach to the problem in the region and was organized by CARICOM and the UN Population Fund. The consultation involved several stakeholders, including public and private sectors, governments, and the UN. The adolescent birth rate in the Caribbean remains problematic, despite an overall drop in the region’s fertility rate.

VIRTUAL “TAKE-OVER” OF DOMINICA BY BEIJING—12/11/13
A new cooperation agreement worth $300 million has been signed by Dominica and China. The agreement provides for the building of a hotel, an international airport and a new hospital on the island. The dollar amount represents about one-third of the small island’s Gross Domestic Product. This means that China is virtually buying the territory. The government of China is providing a preferential loan to support the construction projects.

NEW TOBACCO INDUSTRY LAUNCHED IN BAHAMAS—12/12/13
Representatives from the Grand Bahama Port Authority received invitations to take a tour of the manufacturing facilities of Caribbean Tobacco Enterprises (CTE). Stunce Williams, managing director of the firm, guided the group on the tour, which was part of an effort to ensure that CTE’s operations were efficient and that its products were  market-tested before making an official launch.

LOCAL MEMORIAL SERVICE HELD FOR NELSON MANDELA—12/11/13
The government of Jamaica and the South African High Commission plan to host a memorial service to celebrate the life of former South African president Nelson Mandela. The service will be open to the public and held at the University of the West Indies Chapel on December 12, 2013, replacing a service scheduled for December 11. Mandela died December 5, 2013, at the age of 95. There will be a five-day period of mourning to mark the passing of South Africa’s first black president and civil rights hero.

JAMAICAN COLLEGE DORM SET ON FIRE, THREE INJURED—12/12/13
A men’s dormitory at Jamaica’s College of Agriculture, Science and Education, was set on fire, and three students were injured in the incident. The fire occurred on the dorm’s ground floor. One of the students, Andre Angus, 18, was stabbed by a classmate in November 2013 and also suffered burns as a result of the fire. Simeon Johnson, a citizen of the United States, was treated for smoke inhalation, along with another student. The fire appears to have been deliberately set by students at the college.

BILL ON FOOD SECURITY COULD REQUIRE STATE ENTITIES TO BUY LOCALLY—12/13/13
Legislation in Jamaica’s Parliament may require entities in the public sector to purchase a minimum amount of their food from local producers. According to Roger Clarke, Agriculture Minister, the bill will be brought before lawmakers in 2014. The bill is meant to ensure that state institutions use a minimum level of locally produced food products.

JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT CLOSE TO OBTAINING CANCER TREATMENT TECH—12/13/13
The Jamaican government has funding in place to buy an advanced machine designed to provide cancer treatment. The machine, known as a linear accelerator, is believed to be the latest in cancer-treating apparatus, using external beam radiation to find and destroy cancer cells while sparing the tissues surrounding them. The two machines secured for Jamaica will cost US$10 million, more than half of which has been marked toward their purchase.

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