Caribbean News Briefs May 31


Washington, D.C., USA: The World Bank has cancelled Haiti’s remaining debt to help the impoverished country recover from a devastating earthquake four months ago.

Haiti will not have to repay $36-million owed to the International Development Association (IDA), the bank’s fund for the poorest countries, the Washington-based institution said in a statement last week.

“Haiti now has no further amounts payable to the World Bank,” it said.

The IDA debt cancellation was made possible by contributions from 13 member nations: Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Shortly after the massive earthquake on January 12 flattened the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, the 186-nation World Bank announced it had suspended repayment of the IDA debt and would seek to cancel it.

The World Bank noted it has made available $479-million in grants to support Haiti’s post-quake recovery and development through June 2011 and is also the trustee of the multi-donor Haiti Reconstruction Fund.


Georgetown, Guyana: The government and main opposition have decided to make another attempt to hold long overdue local government elections this year.

Last week, teams led by President Bharrat Jagdeo and opposition leader Robert Corbin met to discuss the issue.

It was agreed that the Parliamentary Committee, which is tasked with reforming the local government system, will recommence its work shortly.

The Guyana constitution requires that the local government system must be reformed before elections can take place.


Castries, St. Lucia: Prime Minister Stephenson King has announced a major shake up of the police force, as part of new measures to deal with spiraling crime.

One of the changes is the transfer of police commissioner Ausbert Regis to the Office of the Prime Minister as Director of Special Initiatives.

In an address to the nation last Sunday, King also announced the creation of a special task force on crime and said the government has endorsed 24 hour police patrols in noted crime hotspots.

King’s address followed a spate of murders over the past two weeks, which raised the number of homicides so far this year to 21.


Bridgetown, Barbados: Minister of Economic Affairs Dr. David Estwick has announced a comprehensive overhaul of the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) to give it more flexibility in meeting the needs of those it is intended to help.

Estwick made the disclosure at the recently concluded 29th Barbados Manufacturers’ Exhibition.

Noting that the BIDC must keep in sync with changes in the manufacturing sector, Estwick said the department must be retooled to become a self-financed entity that would respond to the needs of its clients.

He lamented the present difficulties which manufacturers continued to encounter when accessing funds from entities such as the Enterprise Growth Fund Limited and Fund Access.

“A number of reasons have been advanced for this situation, including that manufacturers who need funds urgently do not meet the guidelines set out by the lending agencies,” he said.

Estwick alluded to the creation of a comprehensive Industrial Policy and the establishment of an Industrial Development Commission to guide the future development of the sector, as initiatives that would assist in the reorganization of the BIDC.


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