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News Round UP: Week Ending 10/29/16

Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic this week (Wednesday), became the capital of transatlantic diplomacy with the reception of more than 30 ministers and 59 delegations of countries participating at the first meeting of Foreign Ministers and Senior Officials of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union states.

Federica Mogherini, Vice President and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security accompanied the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Vargas Maldonado, in the development of the CELAC-UE meetings in the Caribbean nation.

caribzone_dr-flagThe Minister from the Dominican Republic, motivated his counterparts from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean-European Union to participate actively in the dialogues, exhorting that the decisions taken should be based on consensus among participants, putting the general interest of bi-regional community first.

“We are at a critical point, where we are committed to ensure that the European CELAC-EU forum fulfills its transcendental purpose that has arisen facing common global challenges.”

“Therefore, I appeal to you all, so that your efforts are oriented towards consensus, under a constructive spirit, aimed at reconciling positions, putting aside what separates us, focusing on the goals that unite us”, added chancellor Vargas.

Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas pointed out that in accordance with the commitment made by the Dominican Republic as a country holding the Presidency Pro Tempore of CELAC, the Ministry has deployed all the arrangements and requirements for this encounter between Latin American, European, and Caribbean partners, stemming that the meetings be held auspiciously, with the will of strengthening the bi-regional dialogue for the benefit of our peoples and nations.

The Foreign Ministry has worked with effort and dedication to uphold the image of the country and further strengthen the regional leadership of the Dominican Republic.

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Jamaica

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says a Jamaican firm is among three institutions from Latin American and the Caribbean to win the Inter-American Awards in Financial and Entrepreneurial Innovation.

The IDB said that the “Local Innovator Award” will be presented here to Bio-Tech Research and Development Institute during the 2016 Foromic conference, the IDB’s leading event focused on financial inclusion and enterprise development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which opened here on Monday.Caribzone_Jamaica

Bio-Tech Research and Development Institute is a Jamaican firm specializing in developing pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products derived from indigenous plants, the IDB said.

The Washington-based financial institution said institutions from Chile and Peru will also receive IDB awards in Financial and Entrepreneurial Innovation.

The IDB said the theme of the 19th annual edition of the conference is “Creating Opportunities through Financial Inclusion.”

Key themes of the conference include ethical banking, circular economies and corporate venturing.

The IDB said more than1, 200 experts in financial services, international development, entrepreneurship and other related fields from across the region are registered for the conference, which is being held for the second time in the English-speaking Caribbean.

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Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda supports the decriminalization of marijuana for medical and religious purposes, according to an opinion poll.

The poll by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), in September and obtained by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), showed that at the national level, the single largest portion of the population now supports what is commonly referred to as “decriminalization” as distinct from “legalization”.

It said 34 per cent now support marijuana being made legal for medical and religious purposes, while 30 per cent would prefer that marijuana remain illegal in all respects.

antigua“Needless to say there is no plurality of citizens in any single category; however, if one were to add those who support partial and full decriminalization (legalization) some 62 per cent (which is a plurality) is in support of some form of decriminalization,” CADRES noted.

It said there are also other interesting correlations that emerge when responses are viewed from demographic and political perspectives and one of these relates to gender/sex.

“Women in Antigua are more inclined to support the status quo and while more of them would support partial decriminalisation, less are inclined towards a full legalisation of marijuana. Regarding age, younger people are more disposed towards full decriminalisation, while older Antiguans heavily support the retention of the status quo.”

CADRES said that 800 people were questioned in all 16 constituencies across Antigua based on a standard interview schedule that sought information on major national and political issues.

It said that there is no significant political correlation at this time which means that supporters of the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) or the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) are no more or less inclined to support or oppose decriminalisation.

CADRES said that in the interest of generating a comprehensive perspective, it is presenting data collected in Barbados and St Vincent on the marijuana issue noting that “the type of opinion noted in Antigua and the dynamics of this opinion are therefore reflective of Caribbean trends and the only significantly different observation is the fact that the Antigua survey is the most recent and has benefited from an expressed position of this ABLP government and similarly supportive trends in the United States, St Vincent and Jamaica”.

CADRES said that Antigua has the lowest level of uncertainty on the marijuana issue in any of the three countries, while Antiguan opinion on partial decriminalisation is roughly similar to that in Barbados and St Vincent.

“It is significant that Antigua has the highest level of support for full decriminalisation of three countries surveyed and the lowest level of support for the status quo. In this regard it is important to note that Barbados and Antigua could be considered ganja (marijuana) consuming country while St. Vincent is presumably both a supplier and consumer, which might influence public opinion.”

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Jamaica

JUSTICE Minister Delroy Chuck this week sought to reassure the public that transforming the justice system is among Government’s top priority.

The statement by the justice minister follows public outcry in the wake of Monday’s not-guilty verdict in the X6 murder trial and renewed criticisms of the country’s justice system.

“Recent developments over the past 24 hours have once again fuelled a national discussion on the justice system. I assure you that this Government views justice as a priority,” Minister Chuck said in his statement yesterday afternoon.

“We are even more determined to fix the ailing system with a sense of urgency,” he stressed. He said, however, that there is no quick fix for the justice system.

Businessman Patrick Powell, who was charged for the July 2011, murder of 17-year-old Kajheel Mais, was freed on Monday in the Home Circuit Court. The jury handed down a not-guilty verdict in the matter after the prosecution offered no further evidence in the matter. This was against the background of inconsistent evidence given by taxi operator Wayne Wright, the main witness in the case, whose credibility was questioned.

The case depended heavily on Wright’s testimony because there was no ballistic evidence pertaining to the murder weapon, as it was never recovered.

Since the ruling, several people have taken to social media and radio talk shows to hit out against the justice system, with some questioning the police’s handling of the matter, especially as it relates to the firearm used during the shooting.

Against this background, Chuck has reiterated his promise to improve problems in the justice system.Caribzone_Jamaica

“As minister of justice, I feel that I am in a race against time to transform a system that has been largely neglected for several decades,” he said. “The urgent and unyielding cry for justice in this country demands a response that is immediate.

Government, said Chuck, has already taken steps to improve aspects of the system, which he said will go a far way in making the system more effective and efficient.

“We have installed video-link technology in two of our courts — Half-Way-Tree and Supreme Court — to facilitate witnesses who cannot be physically present in the court room for one reason or another. Before the end of the fiscal year, installation will commence in 19 additional court rooms,” Chuck said.

In addition, he said three mobile units have been equipped to facilitate witnesses giving evidence remotely, and that the ministry was far advanced in procuring another 22 mobile units.

Infrastructural works, he said, will be done at several courts across the island to facilitate the implementation of a new case management system that will, among other things, digitise the records of the nation’s courts.

“Our citizens would also like to know that a modern automated jury management system will be piloted before the end of 2016. This system will manage electronically the selection of and payment to jurors,” said the minister, who called on all Jamaicans to become part of the change in the justice system.

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Guyana

American oil giant, ExxonMobil has discovered more oil offshore Guyana as it continues its exploration.

According to ExxonMobil’s partner, Hess Corporation, the Liza 3 well was drilled to a depth of 18,100 feet in 6000 feet of water on a location about 2.7 miles from the Liza 1 discovery.

“Based on the positive results of the Liza-3 well, we now expect Liza to be at the upper end of the previously announced estimated recoverable resources …” said CEO of Hess, John Hess.

Caribzone_GuyanaLiza-3 well is in the Stabroek block, about 193km offshore Guyana.

Chief operating officer Greg Hill declined to give a resource estimate for the amount of gas in the find but said the reservoir has a “very healthy” gas-to-oil ratio that should aid in oil production.

“The rig will next move to the Payara exploration prospect about 10 miles north-east of Liza where the partners are targeting “a similar reservoir package” to what was seen at Liza,” Hill said, adding that the partners plan to sanction Liza in 2017, but first need to advance front end engineering works.

In July, ExxonMobil submitted a development plan for Liza to Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency to begin the environmental review process that involved a floating production, storage and offloading vessel with capacity of around 100,000 barrels per day of oil in its first phase.

Exxon says finding oil is a world-class discovery with a recoverable resource of between US$800 million and 1.4 billion oil-equivalent barrels.

“We are excited by the results of a production test of the Liza-2 well, which confirms the presence of high-quality oil from the same high-porosity sandstone reservoirs that we saw in the Liza-1 well completed in 2015,” Steve Greenlee, president of Exxon Mobil Exploration Company then said

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Jamaica

Members of the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) will cast their vote on a proposal by the JNBS Board of Directors to reorganise the JN Group structure and convert the building society to a commercial bank at a Special General Meeting on Monday, November 14, in Kingston, Jamaica.  

The announcement comes after the Society disclosed late last month that it had received an Order from the Supreme Court to summon a meeting of its members to vote on the proposed changes.

Earl Jarrett, General Manager, JNBS said the Special General Meeting will be preceded by a series of small meetings to further inform its members locally and overseas. Locally, the meetings are scheduled for Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, where the Society was born; Montego, St. James; Mandeville, Manchester and Kingston; while overseas meetings will be held with JN members in London and Birmingham in the United Kingdom; Toronto, Canada; and Florida and New York in the United States of America.

“These final meetings will ultimately position JN to respond to members’ demands for access to banking services with a more positive customer experience,” Mr Jarrett said following the receipt of the Court Order, last month.

He added, “We anticipate that these changes will result in positive benefits to our members, as this will be a progressive move for JN and Jamaicans, locally and overseas.”Caribzone_Jamaica

Under the proposed change, Jamaica National will remain a mutual organization, which means that it will continue to be owned by its members. And, under the proposed structure, members’ mutual rights will be preserved in a new Mutual Holding Company, which will own all the entities in the JN Group.

The organization will separate its non-financial and financial companies, for regulatory purposes, through two sub-holding companies, which will both be owned by the Mutual Holding Company.

“In the final analysis, JN at 142 years old, will become a more flexible and modern, fully Jamaican-owned financial institution. These changes will position its operations to achieve growth for Jamaicans here and in the Diaspora,” Mr. Jarrett concluded.

Information pertaining to the Society’s transformation will be published in the print media, and detailed information, including: court documents and special proxy forms that members may use to vote, may also be accessed on the Society’s website at: www.jnbs.com/jnvotes.

JNBS is the largest building society in Jamaica with representative offices in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada. As at March 31, 2016 the Society held assets of $134,651,779,000, making it the third largest licenced deposit-taking institution in Jamaica.

The Society is the parent of subsidiary companies including: JN Small Business Loans Limited, JN General Insurance Company Limited, JN Fund Managers Limited, JN Life Insurance Company Limited, JN Money Services Limited, and Management Control Systems Limited; as well as The Jamaica Automobile Association (Services) Limited, and other organizations in the JN Group.

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