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Sandals Foundation donates $31.5 million to all 63 Jamaica MPs



#KINGSTON, Jamaica – May 6 (JIS):     Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, through the Sandals Foundation, has donated $500,000 to each of the 63 Members of Parliament (MPs) in the House of Representatives.

            The funds, a contribution to the cornavirus (COVID-19) effort, will be used for the provision of care packages to those in need in the constituencies.

            This was announced by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, during a sitting of the Lower House on May 5.

            “The arrangement is that the grant will go to the Consolidated Fund and then it will be channelled to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), and then it will be paid over to you [MPs],” Mr. Holness said.

            “It will be met with all the accountability as if it were public funds and we expect it to be used as according to the rules of the CDF,” he added.

            Jamaica now has 473 confirmed cases of the COVID-19. Some 291 (62 per cent) of the confirmed cases are females and 182 (38 per cent) are males. The ages of all confirmed individuals range from two months to 87 years.

            There are now 491 patients in isolation and 83 persons are in quarantine at a Government facility.

            Nine persons have died from the virus, while seven additional patients have recovered and have been released from hospital, bringing the total number of recovered and released patients to 56.


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Caribbean News

GUYANA needs banks but fears T&T Monopoly



By Shanieka Smith

Features Writer


#Guyana, June 25, 2022 – For the second time in three years, a planned deal has failed between Scotiabank Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago in First Citizens Limited.  Last week, First Citizens issued a legal notice to inform that the Purchase and Sale Agreement between First Citizens Limited and the Bank of Nova Scotia for the sale of Scotiabank’s retail operations in Guyana expired. The agreement was terminated.

However, this time, it is revealed that the Bank of Guyana denied the transaction out of concern that Republic Bank would gain a near-monopoly position in the Guyanese banking sector.

President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Timothy Tucker, said, “If the Republic bank, Scotia Bank merger was done, it would have over 50 percent of the depository…so that is why that deal was rejected.”

He added that “Republic bank had made an attempt to buy Scotia Bank Guyana and like any regulator, in any jurisdiction anywhere in the world, if a bank is then going to, if the acquisition of a bank is going to create a monopoly or something that can be detrimental to the depository institutions, then you will have a problem.”

The First Citizens, Scotia Guyana deal received backlash from regulators when it was announced in March 2021. Guyana’s Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, and the Bank of Guyana have both criticised the announcement.

“The announcement] was premature and inappropriate, said Minister Singh back then. The Bank of Guyana said FCB, “entered the said agreement without informing the BOG.”

Last year, the lapse caused institutions and business people in the region, especially Guyana, a considerable amount of money.

Tucker said the announcement had raised alarms around the business community and added that a local institution in Guyana, the Bank for Trade and Industry, placed a higher offer for Scotiabank, and Scotia Bank went with First Citizens. While he is uncertain of the reason for that, he said that if the agreement were successful, two Trinidad banks would control over 50 percent of the depository institutions within Guyana.

Tucker made it known that Trinidad and Tobago banks are not blacklisted; the Republic Bank remained the largest bank in Guyana. He added that he would welcome more Trinidad and Tobago banks in Guyana since it only has a few banking institutions. The only issue is that the banks must enter independently and not at the expense of foreign banks like Scotia.

“So the local private sector, while we are advocating hard for our more financial institutions, we don’t mind First Citizens applying for a banking license and coming in as a regional bank, but when we are going to lose one of our international banks to a regional bank, the business sector has a problem with that,” he said,” We don’t control the process. Even if we have a problem with that, it’s a free capital market. Companies are free to sell to whomever they choose to sell. We support that. But at the same time, we are worried about the concentration of our depository institutions into the region alone. This isn’t going for Trinidad banks; it goes for if a bank from Jamaica came to buy Scotiabank. We would fundamentally have an issue with it,” he said.

First Citizens Bank said it would continue to pursue “geographic diversification and digital transformation strategies.” In the meantime, Tucker is hoping it will open other opportunities for Guyana.

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Caribbean News

Haitian Special Olympics delegates still missing, Team returns home with 11 Medals



By Shanieka Smith

Features Writer

#USA, June 25, 2022 – Florida police are still trying to find seven delegates of the Haitian Special Olympics team who disappeared during the Games in early June.  The latest is Louis Jacques Wilguens who was last seen disembarking a bus at the All-Star Sports Resort and has not been heard from since.

The first six delegates who went missing from Disneyworld in Kissimmee Florida on June 6th were in town for the football competition of the Special Olympics.  Only one of the initial six was an actual athlete. The single athlete has an intellectual disability.

The missing men are 32-year-old Antione Joseph Mithon, 20-year-old Nicholson Fontilus, 19- year-old Peter Mianovich Berlus, 18-year-old Anderson Petit-Frere, and 24-year-old Steevenson Jacquet, and 18-year-old Oriol Jean.

They were last seen in the area of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, according to a press release from the Osceola Sheriff’s Office.  That was around 2:30 pm on the day the men went missing.

The Police say the men “turned in their room keys, left behind their personal bags and belongings,” and have not been seen since.

The special Olympics ended on June 12th.  Haiti won 11 medals, eight of them in horseback riding including two gold medals, two in the 100-meter hurdles (gold and silver), and a bronze medal in the football competition.  All of the other delegates have made it safely back home.

The Special Olympics USA Games attracted more than 5,500 athletes and coaches from the nation’s 50 states and the Caribbean, according to organizers.

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Caribbean News

Patricia Scotland narrowly wins to hold onto Commonwealth Secretary-General over Jamaica’s Johnson-Smith



By Deandrea Hamilton



#Rwanda, June 25, 2022 – Narrowly edging out her contender, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland managed to hold onto the post of Secretary General of the Commonwealth; the vote was had on Friday, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2022 in Kigali Rwanda.  It is there leaders made their decision to support the Dominican-born Scotland in the completion of the balance of her period in office.

In a bold move, which by some CARICOM country members was frowned upon, Minister of Foreign Affairs to Jamaica, Hon Kamina Johnson-Smith, announced that she would bid for the job of Secretary-General. It caused a split and drew criticism.  Nonetheless, the Jamaican campaigned and for her effort secured 24 votes including backing from Belize, the Maldives, Trinidad & Tobago, the UK, India, Singapore and Australia to name some.

However, it would not be enough as the current Secretary-General drew 27 votes to retain the role.

The vote was only necessary due to the challenge by Johnson-Smith, who was supported by Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica.

Speaking after her reappointment Secretary-General The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC said: “It is deeply humbling to have been reappointed as Secretary-General of this great Commonwealth. To continue to serve our family of nations is a true honour and a privilege and I will do so to the best of my ability. We will face the world’s challenge with unity and purpose.

“To seek high office is a profound act of service and I want to commend my colleagues who also sought to serve. The Commonwealth is richer for the breadth and depth of talented leaders who dedicate themselves to our family of nations.”

Kamina Johnson-Smith tweeted on the loss, gave congratulations and surmised that ‘if she did not win, it meant God was not yet ready for her to leave Jamaica.’

The Secretary-General first took office in 2016 with her initial term extended due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Having already served six years she will now serve for a further two years to complete the balance of her period in office, said a statement from The Commonwealth.

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