Caribbean News Round-up

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I won’t fly

Keith Rowley
Keith Rowley

[Trinidad Express] – Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley slammed what he saw as the flying squandermania of former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, saying taxpayers had to pick up the $6 million tab for her helicopter travel around Trinidad and Tobago.

Speaking in the budget debate in the House of Representatives yesterday, Rowley said: “We can’t be wasting in a time like this. And I think it is extremely wasteful for this Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago to fly for 636 hours in helicopters around this country. The record shows that the last prime minister occupied helicopter time of 636 hours, 415 missions, at a cost of over US$974,000.

“That kind of expenditure ought not to be on the backs of the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Rowley said to desk-thumping support from the Government bench.

He gave the “long-suffering” population the assurance he would travel only on the ground and over water, and he would not be in the air, “unless it is absolutely essential and necessary”.

Rowley said he wondered if this abuse was linked to a contract to a company called Bell Helicopter, to the tune of $500 million, by the National Operations Centre (NOC).

Teen charged with shooting at prison officer, wife

Court[Trinidad Express] – Mickey Solozano, an 18-year-old resident of St Joseph Road, East Dry River has appeared (October 7th, 2015) before a Port of Spain Magistrate charged with shooting at a prison officer and his wife on September 5th, 2015.

He was remanded in custody and will re-appear before the court on November 4th, 2015.

Solozano is facing two counts of shooting with intent at prison officer Nicholas George-Borneo and his wife who at the time were proceeding south in their Kia Sportage motor vehicle along Nelson Street, Port-of-Spain, when they came under attack.

The couple escaped unhurt.

The accused also faces other charges arising from the incident including possession of firearm, possession of ammunition, possession of firearm to endanger life and possession of ammunition to endanger life.

The charges were laid by Cpl Ramsumair of Port of Spain CID, Besson Street Police Station.

Jamaica as rich today as US was 100 years ago

jam-flag[Jamaica Observer] – JAMAICA is as rich today as the US was back in 1916, according to an online infographic published this month by US-based Vox Media.

It indicates that the island remains a century behind the development of the world’s richest nation. The political leadership of Jamaica, however, aims to take the island to developed nation status under its Vision 2030 plan.

The animated infographic pits the richest nation in the world on its development path since the 1800s to the present with all other nations of the world. It’s a graphic that’s trending globally and prepared by Vox’s Kavya Sukumar using data from Gapminder.

The graphic shows that in 1916 the US held a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of some US$8,818 which equates roughly to the island’s purchasing power parity GDP. Some economists might pick at its absolute accuracy, but the compilers ask for allowance of a 10 per cent margin to make the larger point of development.

“[It] lets you select any year in American history and see which countries were richer in 2013 than the US was then, which were poorer, and which were about equal (within 10 per cent ),” stated Vox, the US-based digital media company with eight editorial brands.

Data from the island’s key lender the International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicate that the island’s per capita GDP (2013) stands at US$5,060 which translates to about US$8,000 in terms of purchasing power parity.

“For Haiti, the comparison is even more brutal. Its 2013 GDP per capita was US$1,650. In 1800, one of the earliest years for which we have data, the US’s was US$2,100,” Vox indicated. “There are obviously limitations to these kinds of comparisons. Some Haitians have access to technology poor Americans in 1800 could only dream of, and our GDP data get less reliable the farther back you go.”

Jamaica signed a US$932.3-million four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) agreement with the IMF. The programme calls for the reduction of Jamaica’s debt from some 145 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 96 per cent by 2020. It also includes achieving a 7.5 per cent primary budgetary surplus target; implementation of a National Debt Exchange programme; currency depreciation; tax reform; and public sector reform — restructuring of salaries to reduce ratio to GDP from 10.6 per cent to nine per cent by 2015/16.

 

Big! Really Big!

 

[Jamaica Observer] – KARISMA Hotels and Resorts yesterday announced that it is investing more than US$900 million in a mega hotel project in St Ann that will, over a decade, add 4,000 new rooms to Jamaica’s tourism sector and provide at least 8,000 direct jobs.

Ruben Becerra, vice-president of corporate affairs and business development for the Mexican resort company which partners with TUI — the world’s largest tour operator — made the announcement at the Jamaica Tourist Board headquarters in Kingston.

He said his company’s decision to increase its investment in the island was driven by the fact that Jamaica is one of the three fastest-growing tourism destinations in the Caribbean.

“The three fastest-growing destinations in the Caribbean are Cancun, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica,” Becerra told journalists at a news conference. “People view these destinations as very safe.”

Jamaica, he added, already enjoys a good reputation” and “the demand is there”.

Becerra said the new nine-hotel resort project will be built on 226 acres of land recently acquired in Llandovery, St Ann.

He declined to state the purchase price of the land, saying that his company was still tying up the sale and that the vendor was from the private sector.

Becerra also said his company was working with local banks to acquire funding and that his company would put some equity into the venture. However, he said it was “too premature to say what the equity will be” as they are “in the process of finalising the master plan”.

He expected ground will be broken on the first property in time for it to be opened in November 2018 with new international brands that are not yet in Jamaica.

Karisma, already operates 25 hotels worldwide, one of which is the 138-suite Sensatori Jamaica in Negril.

The resort company is now expanding the property with an additional 149 suites.

“We are extremely excited to continue working and growing alongside the people of Jamaica, and we remain committed to further enhancing the already great tourism industry here,” Becerra said.

 

Man Booker Prize 2015: Marlon James wins for A Brief History of Seven Killings

[BBC]- Jamaican author Marlon James has won the Man Booker Prize for his novel inspired by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970s.

Michael Wood, chair of the judges, described A Brief History of Seven Killings as the “most exciting” book on the shortlist.

The 680-page epic was “full of surprises” as well as being “very violent” and “full of swearing”.

James was announced as the winner of the £50,000 prize in London on Tuesday.

He is the first Jamaican author to win the Man Booker Prize. Receiving the award, he said a huge part of the novel had been inspired by reggae music.

“The reggae singers Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were the first to recognise that the voice coming out our mouths was a legitimate voice for fiction and poetry.”

The 44-year-old author was presented with his prize by the Duchess of Cornwall.

He admitted it was “so surreal” to win and dedicated the award to his late father who had shaped his “literary sensibilities”.

Set across three decades, the novel uses the true story of the attempt on the life of reggae star Marley to explore the turbulent world of Jamaican gangs and politics.

Wood said the judges had come to a unanimous decision in less than two hours.

He praised the book’s “many voices” – it contains more than 75 characters – which “went from Jamaican slang to Biblical heights”.

He said: “One of the pleasures of reading it is that you turn the page and you’re not quite sure who the next narrator will be.”

But he acknowledged that some of the content might be too much for some readers.

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