The Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne is not in support of a proposal for the majority shareholding in a new regional airline to be placed in the hands of foreign investors, as CARICOM leaders get ready to discuss the future of the cash-strapped airline proposal from investors out of Nigeria and they indicated an interest in buying 75 percent of the shares in LIAT.
He added that the governments in the region are also interested in literally reviving LIAT and reinvesting in LIAT.
Browne said a meeting of regional leaders is scheduled soon to discuss the way forward for LIAT and to determine how to structure it going forward.
“We are pretty confident that LIAT will remain in the skies and that we will be able to scale up LIAT by whatever combination of shareholders we choose,” he said.
The Antigua and Barbuda government said it was providing two million dollars “to meet partial satisfaction of the each component of the compassionate pay out” to former local employees of the regional airline.
Late last month, the Leeward Islands Pilots Association said that terminated workers had been on the breadline since April 2020 and are in dire straits.
The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Agency (Caribbean Export) said it was cooperating with the European Union (EU) and the Jamaica-based Headline Entertainment in supporting Caribbean artistes gain greater exposure to international music executives.
It said the second Caribbean Rhythm Showcase to be held in September will provide at least 25 acts from the Caribbean to perform live to an audience, in including music scouts.
“We are looking for artistes from all genres to perform at the showcase. From soul, soca, calypso, reggae, rap, dance hall and pop, we want to support our artistes,” said Allyson Francis, services specialist at Caribbean Export.
The organizers said the Caribbean Rhythm Showcase aims to unearth and display more of the region’s talent and that they are inviting new and emerging artistes to register and submit a performance video performance for assessment.
The organizers said unlike previous editions which were held online, this year’s staging will be held in person in Kingston and aims to give artistes the opportunity to showcase, gain exposure and create opportunity to collaborate with other regional musicians and generate international interest.
Caribbean countries have been put on alert but not afraid and draw on the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the world now monitors an emerging outbreak of the monkey pox virus.
This is the advice given to the executive director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr. Joy St. John, as the agency cautioned that labeling monkey pox as a sexually transmitted disease (STD) could negatively impact public education campaigns.
St. John was recently speaking at a CARPHA virtual forum to update on the regional situation with monkey pox, of which there were nine confirmed cases in the Caribbean as of a week ago.
On July 23, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global spread of the monkey pox virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHE-IC).
From Jan. 1, 2022, to July 27 the WHO has now reported more than 18,861 cases worldwide in up to 78 non-endemic countries and five deaths globally. As of July 26, 3,591 cases have been reported in 46 American States.
Recently, Barbados reported one case, Jamaica two, the Dominican Republic three, Martinique one and the Bahamas one.
John said the Caribbean had to guard against emerging diseases such as monkey pox establishing themselves in the region.
Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali has extended an invitation to investors of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to “invest now,” promising that Guyana is ready to remove bureaucratic hurdles.
The president told a visiting team of Saudi Arabians at the opening of the Saudi Arabia-Guyana Investment Engagement that Guyana cannot wait to catch up on anyone.
“If you are ready to be our partner…let us take the conversation forward,” he said.
The 65- member delegation included private and public sector, led by Deputy Minister for Investors, Badr Ali Badr.
The president also challenge Saudi Arabia to make money available from the Saudi Investment and Development Fund that could be used to invest in any project.
He noted that the country is interested in establishing a permanent presence in Guyana.
To this end, Ali said that systems will be put in place to establish a permanent location in Guyana. The country is also prepared to make lands available for the establishment of an embassy here and a Saudi desk will be set up at the Ministry of Finance to help facilitate trade.
Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said regional leaders met last Tuesday to discuss the situation regarding air transportation in the Caribbean amidst concerns that both regional and international travelers are finding it very expensive and difficult to commute.
Mitchell, speaking at the weekly post Cabinet news conference, told reporters that the meeting was chaired by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank and attended by leaders of the sub-regional Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), a representative of Barbados and the President of Guyana President, Dr. Irfaan Ali.
“It was agreed that we would retain a consultant to provide advice to the heads of the region as to how we can address the critical need to have, particularly air transportation resumed at a level that existed prior to COVID-19,” Mitchell said.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders, at their summit in Suriname last month, had agreed on a new modern Multilateral Air Service Agreement (MASA) that will allow for a new framework within which air transportation will operate in the region.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves will be seeking a referendum from the people of his country to decide whether or not to replace Britain’s Queen Elizabeth with a non-executive home-grown president as head of state.
But Gonsalves told Parliament recently he would only pursue the referendum if there is bipartisan support.
“I am prepared, if the opposition agrees today, before the end of the year or early next year to put one question in a referendum to have a home-grown president in the manner in which I ‘ve described, a non-executive president and as was laid out in the proposed constitution,” he said.
In 2009, Vincentians rejected the proposed revised constitution with 29,019 “no” votes.
On Nov. 30, last year, Barbados removed the Queen of England as it head of state, electing Dame Sandra Mason as it first local head of state.
After a two-year lapse of Independence celebration because of the COVID-19 pandemic, government has given the green light to stage this year’s 60th Independence Day Celebration on Aug. 31 in a “muted” way.
This was revealed by Minister of Housing, Camille Robinson-Regis at a press conference last week at the Ministry’ S office in Port of Spain where she said government will pump TT$7.5 million for the Diamond Independence Day celebrations which will be held over one month.
“Any country achieving 60 years of Independence is something to be celebrated. We feel even though the pandemic is still with us, we have to have a celebration, even if it is muted. It is a clearly muted celebration but it is a celebration nonetheless,” she said
She told reporters that the Independence Day military parade and the annual fireworks display will be on but she noted that there will be different places it will be held.
The minister said the celebration wlll start on independence night with one of three Together concert which, she said will start a smoke ceremony and include premier local artistes from multiple genres including calypso, soca, chutney, tambo bamboo, parang, parang, steelpan and rhythm section.
— Compiled by Azad Ali