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Trinidad & Tobago Government Deepens Consultation with the Private Sector to Combat Covid-19

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#Trinidad&Tobago, June 7, 2021 – The Government of Trinidad and Tobago wishes to acknowledge the significant sacrifices made by the private sector since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. The private sector remains an integral stakeholder to the Government; in particular Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) that are considered to be the backbone of the economy. The business community must be recognised for their unwavering support to the Government’s measures to combat the incidence of COVID-19, namely the current Public Health Regulations, State of Emergency (SOE) and the related curfew arrangements.

The Government understands that many businesses and individuals are adversely impacted by the pandemic but the country is now faced with the difficult task of balancing the preservation of  lives and livelihoods.  While there is no panacea to managing this situation, we appreciate that dialogue and meaningful consultation is critical during these uncertain times.

On Wednesday 26 May, 2021, a Meeting of Government Ministers under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Energy and Energy Industries and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, the Honourable Stuart Young was held with representatives of various business organisations to discuss Covid-19 related business concerns. The meeting provided an opportunity for the Government to listen, engage in dialogue and understand the current challenges being experienced by the private sector.  Other Ministers in attendance were Senator the Honourable Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry; Senator the Honourable Rohan Sinanan, Minister of Works and Transport; The Honourable Shamfa Cudjoe, Minister of Sport and Community Development and Senator the Honourable Randall Mitchell, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.

The Presidents of the following  organisations/associations were in attendance Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce; Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce – Tobago Division; Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association; The American Chamber of Commerce Trinidad and Tobago; Confederation of Regional Business Chambers; Downtown Owners and Merchant Association; Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago; Trinidad and Tobago Contractors’ Association; Sangre Grande Chamber of Commerce and the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries.

During the consultation, the Government through Minister Young indicated that the July 04, 2021 date associated with the end of the Public Health Regulations was not rigid and if the public health environment improves, the re-opening of segments of the economy will be considered earlier. With respect to the National Vaccination Program, the private sector indicated its willingness to assist the Government in marketing the efficacy of vaccines. The Government welcomed the private sector’s offer of collaboration to combat vaccine apathy within some segments of the national workforce.

Several Sectors of the business community reiterated the need for additional financial support to be provided to firms, particularly Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) and the Government gave the commitment that these matters will be considered by the Minister of Finance. The various representatives were asked to make written submissions to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (which will act as the Secretariat) for consideration by the Government. It is anticipated that these meetings will be ongoing between the private sector and the Government.

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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