#Jamaica – March 26, 2020 — Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, has announced the provision of approximately $2 billion in grant assistance for tourism and small businesses impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Jamaica.
The funds are being made available under the Government’s COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme.
Outlining the details of the support, while closing the 2020/21 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (March 24), Dr. Clarke advised that grants totalling $1.2 billion will be provided for businesses operating in tourism and related sectors.
These include small hotel and tour operators, and attraction, transportation and entertainment companies, which Dr. Clarke noted, will be under “severe financial stress” over the next three months, “with near zero revenues, while enduring fixed operating costs.”
He said that the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) will be consulted in relation to the maximum sum that any single business can receive, among other criteria.
Dr. Clarke explained that the grants will be accessible via application to a special multi-stakeholder COVID Tourism Grant Committee and by submitting specified information.
This includes: audited financials and management accounts; projected cash-flow statements along with assumptions; recovery plans with other steps being taken; statements of personal assets and liabilities; and evidence of tax compliance, as agreed on with stakeholders.
“Grants won’t be available to all operators and priority will be given to tourism-related businesses below a threshold size to be determined, which can demonstrate the existence of a viable recovery plan that incorporates resources from other sources,” Dr. Clarke informed.
Meanwhile, the Minister told the House that grants amounting to $800 million will be provided for all small businesses with sales of $50 million or less, that have filed taxes in the 2019/20 fiscal year, and payroll returns indicating that they have employees.
Dr. Clarke said each entity will be eligible for a one-time COVID Small Business grant of $100,000.
“They will be required to fill out a form online providing their banking information. The process will involve verification of a submitted tax return for 2019/20 as well as the submission of the relevant payroll returns relating to employees the small business may have,” he said.
JIS BY: DOUGLAS MCINTOSH
Guyana to build regional food hub
#Guyana, September 29, 2023 – Guyana is making moves to become the primary food production center for the Caribbean, going ahead with plans to develop a USD$14 million regional food hub.
In fact, as reported by the Observer, the facility has already been identified on the country’s Soesdyke /Linden Highway.
“We want Guyana to be the food hub, the primary production hub of the Caribbean so that we could supply the Caribbean. What we have, our colleagues in the Caribbean don’t have. We have arable flat land and abundant fresh water,” he said, adding that with the multi-million dollar US investment, the country can, “modernise the infrastructure, and start ramping up the productions.”
Also, the Agriculture Minister pointed out that the project is geared to make for a more competitive local Agriculture industry as well as developing high-yielding varieties, pest-resistant and climate-resilient varieties.
Additionally, in the facility’s development, Guyana, Mustapha said, will work with Belize.
In fact, with more on Belize’s involvement, Dr. Ashni Singh, Finance Minister, informed that the Government is in talks with the Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley about sourcing inputs from northern Brazil and transporting them through Guyana to Barbados and vice versa.
Singh also reportedly revealed that the project will help develop the growing logistics industry in Guyana.
Considering regional food import cost, with this development, Guyana is the leading Caribbean Community country pushing ahead with plans to reduce the multi-billion dollar regional food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025, the Observer says.
Cayman makes striking policy change to include more blood donors
#CaymanIslands, September 29, 2023 – The Cayman Islands overturned a policy that banned blood donation from people who visited the island from or resided in countries where “mad cow disease” existed. This was revealed by Sabrina Turner, Health Minister in Parliament, as reported by CNW Network.
People who resided in Britain from 1980 to 2001 and those who had blood transfusions in the UK after 1980, can now donate blood.
Due to recent risk evaluation, and the current protocol for blood donors, many nations, CNW reports, have re-evaluated and adjusted similar guidelines regarding blood donation, as Cayman Islands has now done.
The now initial restrictions on blood donations for the country was called for and was important as at the time of implementation, “mad cow disease” or as it’s scientifically called, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), was at-large affecting not just cows, but also people, who are able to contract “a version of BSE called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD),” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says.
The likely reason for the Cayman Islands’ targeted population of those affiliated with living in the UK or getting blood transfusion in the UK, was because most of the people with vCJD lived in the UK, as highlighted by the FDA.
Also, as BBC says in a 2018 report, 1 in 2000 people in the UK is thought to be a carrier of the disease, even though some who are carriers don’t go on to develop symptoms.
However, the change in Cayman Islands’ policy does not mean the disease is no longer out there.
In fact the FDA said, “as of 2019, 232 people worldwide are known to have become sick with vCJD, and unfortunately, they all have died. It is thought that they got the disease from eating food made from cows sick with BSE. Most of the people who have become sick with vCJD lived in the United Kingdom at some point in their lives. Only four lived in the U.S., and most likely, these four people became infected when they were living or traveling overseas.”
Bwa Kalé movement striking back against gangs, nearly 3,000 murdered
#Haiti, September 29, 2023 – In eight months, nearly 3,000 Haitian people have been slaughtered in their home country due to the upsurge and uprising of gangs in the republic which is struggling to hold its democracy in check.
‘Bwa Kalé’, it’s a vigilante movement that has sprung up in Haiti, and the UN says it is driving up murders.
A recent report following an expert visit detailed it.
“Certain groups have formed allegedly to protect their neighbourhoods from gangs. In some instances, these groups have summarily executed people suspected of being gang members. The Bwa Kalé movement demonstrates the population’s lack of trust in the State, especially in the police and the courts. The expert has learned that some members of the police and the judiciary have been complicit with gangs.”
Despite the obvious fear among residents, the UN is warning them not to take justice into their own hands. However, that is easier said than done as Haitians have demonstrated their feelings of abandonment by fleeing the island in mass numbers on illegal voyages and standing up to the gangs themselves.
In the same report, one said: “The State is absent, there are no police or other officials operating there.”
According to AP, a new report to the U.N. Security Council indicated that 2,728 intentional killings were recorded between October 2022 and June 2023, including 247 women, 58 boys, and 20 girls. Bwa Kalé is blamed partially for the increase, as life in the country is described as unbearable.
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