INCREASED VISA FEES
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts & Nevis: The United States Department of State has announced it will adjust its visa processing fees. The change will be in effect on April 13, 2012.
In a statement, the Department said the fees for most non-immigrant visa applications and Border Crossing Cards will increase, while all immigrant visa processing fees will decrease.
The Department said it is required to recover as much of the cost of processing visas as possible through the collection of application fees.
“For a number of reasons, the current fees no longer cover the actual cost of processing non-immigrant visas. The non-immigrant visa fee increase will support the addition and expansion of overseas facilities, as well as additional staffing required to meet increased visa demand,” said the statement.
The statement said that although most categories of non-immigrant visa processing fees will increase, the fee for E visas (treaty-traders and treaty-investors) and K visas (for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens) will decrease.
BOOMING GOLD SECTOR
GEORGETOWN, Guyana: This country’s mining and quarrying sector recorded growth of 19.2 per cent in 2011 with a 17.7 per cent increase in raw gold declarations.
This marks the highest level of production since 2004 when Guyana’s Omai Gold mines were still in operation.
“The gold sector maintained its position as the largest contributor to total mineral output and returned a record year in 2011,” said Guyana’s Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh.
Singh said that over $100-million has been invested in the last year, and the government expects the figure to increase in 2012.
Two major gold exploration projects are underway by Guyana Goldfields Inc. and ETK Inc./Sandspring Resources Ltd., both of which are at the resource assessment stage.
Goldfields could invest a total of $600-million in its Aurora Gold Project, which could create 250 jobs during the development phase, with 200 of those jobs created during mine operations.
ETK/Sandspring is developing the Toroparu mine, which could see a total investment of $400-millon, Dr. Singh said.
“Going forward, orderly growth and development and capacity building will be the government’s focus,” he said.
BELOW-AVERAGE HURRICANE SEASON
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua: Antiguan officials are expecting a quiet hurricane season following early predictions from hurricane expert, Professor Emeritus, William Gray.
Even though the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season does not begin until June, Gray said a quiet season is anticipated. However, he warned all those within the hurricane belt that did not mean they should be complacent in their preparations for the season.
It is predicted that there will be at least four hurricanes and 10 storms during the 2012 hurricane season. However, Gray said that there was a 40 per cent chance that at least one hurricane will make Caribbean landfall.
In his report, Gray said that a below-average season was expected due to a combination of an anomalously cool tropical Atlantic and the likely development of the El Niño. Nevertheless, he reminded those living in the Caribbean, especially along coastlines, to exercise all measure of caution throughout the season.
Director of Antigua’s Meteorological Services, Keithley Meade, also warned against complacency, stressing that the news of a below-average season was not an opportunity for people to exercise less caution.
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua: Plans to host the inaugural session of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Regional Assembly in Antigua on June 15 are moving into high gear.
That’s when OECS heads of government are expected to convene the inaugural session of the OECS Assembly on a date close to the anniversary of the signing of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre which established the OECS Economic Union.
The Regional Assembly is one of the new organs established under the Revised Treaty, and will provide a forum to debate issues affecting the sub-region.
The OECS Assembly will comprise both Government and Opposition representatives from each member state, in numbers that reflect their proportionate representation in their respective Parliaments.