June 22nd 2021
GOVERNMENT TO OFFER INCENTIVES TO ENCOURAGE PERSONS TO TAKE THE COVID 19 VACCINE
Prime Minister Dr. Hon Ralph Gonsalves has announced that the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be moving to offer incentives, in an effort to encourage persons to take the Covid 19 vaccine.
PM Gonsalves spoke to this initiative during a call to a radio program on Sunday. The PM said that following discussions a number of inducements would be introduced and further announcements will be made. He said the incentives will include a land raffle for vaccinated persons.
PM Gonsalves also announced that more medical specialists from Cuba will be in the state before the end of the month in an effort to strengthen the country’s specialized capacity. He also gave an update on the state of readiness for the resumption of operations at the Modern Medical Diagnostic Center.
ONE NEW COVID CASE RECORDED FOR JUNE 20TH
One (1) new COVID-19 positive case was reported from seventy-three (73) samples processed on Sunday June 20th, 2021, resulting in a positivity rate of 1.4%.
One (1) new recovery was noted over the reporting period. Two hundred and forty-eight (248) cases are currently active and twelve (12) persons with COVID-19 have died. Two thousand one hundred and ninety-six (2196) cases of COVID-19 and nineteen hundred and thirty-six (1936) recoveries have been recorded in St. Vincent and the Grenadines since March 2020. Persons who persist in incorrect or no mask use, remain unvaccinated and participate in mass gatherings will continue to be at risk for being infected and spreading COVID-19, as is happening now.
The public is urged to continue to use masks, sanitize, physically distance and get vaccinated to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. To date some 23, 640 vaccines have been administered in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
WORLD PUBLIC SERVICE DAY WEEK OF ACTIVITIES CONTINUE
A week of activities is taking place this week spearheaded by the Public Sector Reform Unit in the Ministry of the Public Service, Consumer Affairs and Sports to coincide with World Public Service Day, which will be observed on Wednesday June 23rd
The week opened with a Church Service at the Kingstown Methodist Church on Monday under the theme: Resilient Public Service: Appreciating the Spirit and Strength of Public Servants. This year’s Public Service Activities are being held to recognize the value and virtue of all Public Servants and to recognize the friendship, strength and existing relationships among Public Servants.
The week of activities is also intended to highlight the relationship among the public, private and social sectors; and to encourage quality service delivery offered to citizens.
CUBA’S ABDALA COVID CANDIDATE VACCINE SHOWS 92 PERCENT EFFICACY
Cuba's Abdala coronavirus candidate vaccine showed "efficacy" of more than 92 per cent after three doses, its maker said Monday, though it did not specify whether this was measured against infection, disease, or death.
Cuba is working on five coronavirus vaccines, and last month started immunising its population using two of them yet to complete clinical trials. On Monday, the BioCubaFarma laboratory tweeted that Abdala — one of the two already in use — "shows an efficacy of 92.28 per cent in its three-dose scheme".
The World Health Organization has set a 50 per cent efficacy threshold for coronavirus vaccines to offer protection against the virus or disease.
The announcement came two days after authorities announced that Soberana 2, the other three-dose shot being developed in Cuba, was 62 per cent effective after the first two shots. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel welcomed the news as an achievement which "will multiply pride" in the communist island nation. Cuba has been relatively unscathed by the outbreak but has seen a recent sharp increase in cases, registering one of its worst days Monday with 1,561 confirmed infections in 24 hours. To date, it has recorded just over 169,000 cases and 1,170 deaths.
Under American sanctions, Cuba has a long tradition of making its own vaccines, dating back to the 1980s. Nearly 80 per cent of its vaccines are produced locally and it hopes to come up with the first locally-produced coronavirus shot in Latin America.
June 21st 2021
ARRESTS MADE IN THE DISAPPEARANCE OF FIREARMS AND AMMUNITIONS FROM THE GEORGETOWN POLICE STATION
Fifteen days (15) after Commissioner of Police, Mr. Colin John directed that an investigation be launched into the disappearance of a quantity of firearms and ammunitions from the armoury at the Georgetown Police Station, the Major Crimes Unit (MCU) within the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) has made a significant breakthrough in the investigations.
As a result of this development, on Saturday June 19, 2021, four (4) suspects, including a former constable in the RSVGPF were individually and jointly charged with various offences relating to the incident. The suspects charged were:
a. Official Corruption
c. Sale of Firearms without a dealer’s licence under the Firearms Act
d. Sale of ammunitions without a dealer’s licence under the Firearms Act.
e. Possession of a firearm without a licence under the Firearms Act.
f. Possession of ammunitions without a licence under the Firearms Act.
g. Possession of a prohibited weapon without authorization of the minister.
h. Possession of criminal property.
a. Possession of a firearm without a licence under the Firearms Act
b. Possession of ammunitions without a licence under Firearms Act
c. Handling Stolen Goods
a. Possession of criminal property.
b. Possession of ammunitions without a licence under the Firearms Act.
c. Possession of Firearms without a licence under the Firearms Act
d. Possession of a prohibited weapon without the authorization of the minister.
e. Sale of ammunitions without a dealer’s licence under the Firearms Act
f. Sale of firearms without a dealer’s licence under the Firearms Act.
g. Burglary with Intent
a. Possession of criminal property.
b. Possession of firearms without a licence under the Firearms Act.
c. Possession of ammunitions without a licence under the Firearm Act.
d. Possession of a prohibited weapon without the authorization of the minister.
e. Sale of ammunitions without a dealer’s licence under the Firearms Act.
f. Sale of firearms without a dealer’s licence under the Firearms Act.
The suspects are scheduled to make an appearance at the Serious Offences Court on Monday June 21, 2021 to answer to the charges. Investigations are continuing.
VINCENTIANS RECRUITED TO TRAIN AT SANDALS RESORTS IN THE REGION TO LEAVE SVG NEXT WEEK
The first group of Vincentians who were selected under the Sandals Recruitment Programme are scheduled to leave the state next week, to receive training at Sandals Resorts in the region.
Minister of Finance Hon Camillo Gonsalves while speaking on radio yesterday said the first seventy workers are scheduled to leave the state next week Monday June 28th. The minister disclosed that 500 Vincentians are being recruited under the programme.
The finance minister said that they had requested of Sandals to pay special focus to those persons from the red zone areas who are affected by the volcanic eruptions. The Vincentian workers are being trained, as plans are advanced for the establishment of a Sandals Beaches Resort here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Minister Gonsalves said officials from Sandals are expected in the state this week, to hold discussions with local authorities.
PM GONSALVES ANNOUNCES FULL SCHOLARSHIPS TO THE UNIVERSITY OF WALES
Prime Minister Dr Hon ralph Gonsalves has announced that full scholarships to the University of Wales Trinity St David will be made available to Vincentian students soon.
Speaking on radio on Sunday PM Gonsalves said that the scholarships will be available to students who have already achieved the CAPE and Associate degrees.
BRAGSA TO COMPLETE PAYMENTS TO PERSONS ON THE ROAD CLEANING PROGRAMME
The Roads, Buildings and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) is expected to this week complete payment to persons who participated in this year's Road Cleaning Programme. The 6000 road workers are being paid $3 million over a 2-week period. Payments were made to road workers from the Northern Grenadines and the Windward side of the island last week.
Payments will be made this week from 9am for the following constituencies at the following locations:
Central Kingstown - Monday June 21, 2021 at BRAGSA'S Head Office parking lot for gangs and jobbers, West Kingstown - Tuesday June 22, 2021 at BRAGSA'S Head Office parking lot, East Kingstown - Wednesday June 23, 2021 at BRAGSA'S Head Office parking lot, South Leeward - Monday June 21, 2021 at the Questelles Learning Resource Center (LRC), Central Leeward - BRAGSA'S Layou Office, Monday June 21, Tuesday June 22, 2021 – and Wednesday June 23, 2021, North Leeward - BRAGSA'S Troumaca Office on Monday June 21, 2021, Tuesday June 22, 2021 and Wednesday June 23, 2021. Payment for persons in the Southern Grenadines will be made at a later date.
NEW EC $5 POLYMER BANKNOTE NOW AVAILABLE
The new $5-EC polymer banknote is now available in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has issued the new notes to CIBC First Caribbean International Bank (Barbados) Ltd, and RBTT Bank.
The ECCB launched its family of polymer notes in May 2019 with the new $50 note which features former Governor of the ECCB, the late Sir Dwight Venner. The $100, $20 and $10 were issued subsequently based on stock levels at the commercial banks in the ECCB member countries.
The Bank says the EC polymer notes are made from a thin, flexible and transparent plastic film. The notes are cleaner as they are more resistant to dirt and moisture; more secure as they are more difficult to counterfeit because polymer allows for the inclusion of advanced security features. The notes are also stronger because they are much more durable than paper and are difficult to tear.
The EC polymer and paper notes are co-circulating. Therefore, in conducting business, persons may receive both the EC polymer and paper banknotes.
FARMERS TO RECEIVE INCOME SUPPORT PAYMENTS TO BE MADE BETWEEN JUNE 23RD TO 30TH.
Payments to registered farmers under the La Soufriere Volcanic Eruption Income Support Programme will be made throughout the country from Wednesday 23rd to Wednesday 30th June 2021.
Minister of Finance Hon Camillo Gonsalves while speaking on radio yesterday provided details about this initiative where five million dollars will be paid out to ten thousand farmers. The Minister also spoke to the issue of production support explaining that this is an important area to address.
Payments will be made at twelve locations throughout the country and in alphabetical order. Northern and Southern Grenadines (ALL SURNAMES), payments will be made in Bequia and Union Island on Wednesday 30th June 2021. A COVID-19 information health desk will be present at each payment station for persons seeking additional information or who may wish to make appointments for their COVID-19 vaccinations.
BRAGSA RECEIVE SAFETY GEARS FROM EDWIN D. LAYNE & SONS
The Roads, Buildings and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) has received a quantity of safety gears from Edwin D. Layne & Sons Ltd. in Kingstown. The items which included 157 Overalls and 18 Jackets are valued at $18,156.
Inventory Manager at Laynes Department Store, Mr. Levi John said the donation was made to assist BRAGSA with its ash clean-up campaign following the explosive eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano on April 9, 2021. Mr. John said Laynes is proud to team up with BRAGSA as the company continues to do its corporate duty to get St. Vincent back-up and running.
Meanwhile, BRAGSA’s, Senior Administrative Officer of Internal & External Relations, Ms. Maala Theobalds said the items will go a long with the ongoing clean –up efforts. Ms. Theobalds said BRAGSA has been working tirelessly in the Orange and Red Zones in an effort to restore some normality.
In addition, she commended the management of Edwin D. Layne and Sons Ltd. for the kind contribution.
MONITORING CONTINUES ON TROPICAL WAVE
The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Meteorological Services is continuing to monitor the progress of a strong tropical wave along 45°W or approximately 900 miles (1448 km) east-southeast east of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Met Office says that presently, the wave is moving westward to west north-westward around 15 mph and producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms. Some development of this disturbance will be possible during the next couple of days before upper-level winds become less conducive for further organization by Thursday. Regardless of the development, activity ahead of the wave should begin to affect the islands by late Wednesday with moderate to heavy showers accompanied by thunderstorms and gusty winds. Due to expected rainfall accumulations and the saturated nature of the soils from recent rainfall events, flash-flood watches or warnings may be issued during the upcoming days.
All residents are advised to keep informed and pay close attention to information being issued by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Meteorological Services.
BARBADOS 6 MONTH CURFEW TO END ON JUNE 30TH
Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has announced this afternoon, that the six month curfew in the country will come to an end. "As of June 30, the Government of Barbados will be removing the curfew from the landscape of this nation for the period of time that we continue to improve. Hopefully, we will never have to see it again but that is up to all of us because I can't promise you that we will not apply breaks if we don't have problems," stated the Prime Minister during a live press briefing with Minister of Health, Jeffrey Bostic.
Mottley indicated the decision was made after examining the downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases over the last 90 days, with single digits for all of June. "As long as we continue to behave as we have been behaving then there will be no reason for us to reintroduce it [curfew]," she confirmed.
Residents were on curfew all of 2021, with it starting as early as 7:00 pm and currently for three days a week, there is a 12:00 am to 5:00 am curfew.
The Prime Minister reported that "just under a third" of the adult population has been vaccinated. She stated that 91,561 people have received the first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and 65,395 people are fully vaccinated. "We are not at herd immunity, indeed the 65,395...is approximately just under a third of the adult population and the 26,00 additional people that will have their second vaccination soon will carry us to just over 40 to 41 per cent when they are completed," she continued.
Mottley revealed that Government is awaiting a mass order of vaccines and is in the process of locating jabs for children ages 12 to 18. She expressed that she hoped that the children will be vaccinated before the September 2021/22 school term starts.
PAHO DIRECTOR DECLARES COVID-19 ACCEPTANCE IS HIGH IN LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne has declared that COVID-19 vaccine acceptance is high in Latin America and the Caribbean, where people are eager for a chance to get vaccinated.
And Etienne has asserted that vaccines are urgently needed in the region. Across Latin America and the Caribbean, they have a long legacy in immunization and trust in the life-saving power of vaccines,” Etienne stated.
The PAHO Director explained that once new doses are available, countries are ready to distribute them as quickly as they arrive and PAHO will work tirelessly to get vaccines to every corner in the region, until this pandemic is behind us.
Following the G7 nations’ promise to donate 1 billion vaccine doses to countries in need, Etienne urged them to prioritize Latin America and the Caribbean. “Those countries that are suffering the most should be at the front of the line,” she said. But Etienne pointed out that only one in ten people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. At the same time, she observed that the region has a population of more than 600 million people where cases are mounting, hospitals are full, and variants are rapidly circulating.
CXC SIGNS MOU WITH WESTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY (WIU)_
The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has welcomed another partner into the fold with the Thursday, 17 June 2021 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Western Illinois University (WIU). Due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions, this signing was held virtually and broadcast online on CXC® TV.
Under this agreement, Caribbean students seeking to take advantage of degree programmes at WIU will benefit from the matching of coursework requirements at WIU against the CXC® syllabus, which will allow for more seamless matriculation.
The CXC Associate Degree and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination® (CAPE®) qualifications will also be recognised by WIU. As such, students can use their CAPE® qualifications to fulfil partial credit requirements towards their bachelor’s degree, allowing them to complete their degree in less than four years.
This has significant cost-saving implications for students at the undergraduate level and means that the prospect of further studies for these students will be more easily within their reach. Dr Wayne Wesley, Registrar and CEO of CXC®, noted that “the signing of this MOU is in line with CXC’s transformational agenda and its commitment to the people of the Caribbean, and opens another pathway for students to receive quality tertiary-level education.”
In his remarks at the signing ceremony, Dr Martin Abraham, Provost and Academic Vice President of WIU noted that he and his team are “delighted to partner with CXC® in recognition of the CAPE® subjects and the CAPE® Associate Degree. We recognize the quality and rigor of the curriculum, and we are delighted to ensure that the outstanding students from the Caribbean receive full credit for their hard work when they enroll at Western Illinois University.”
In addition to the opportunities provided for students, another key feature of the MOU is the collaboration between CXC® and WIU on research for the digital transformation of the education system as well as the collaboration on faculty and staff development, to advance teaching, learning and assessment in the Caribbean.
ANTIGUA’S PRIME MINISTER HINTS AT THE POSSIBILITY OF A NEW COMPANY TO ADMINISTER THE AFFAIRS OF LIAT
Prime Minister Gaston Browne has hinted at the possibility of a new company to administer the affairs of the cash-strapped regional airlines, LIAT, even as he confirmed that talks were ongoing with two potential investors for the airline.
LIAT former major shareholders were the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines and in July last year, the Antigua and Barbuda government secured an order from the High Court for administration for LIAT, naming Cleveland Seaforth as the administrator of the company.
Earlier this year, Seaforth in a letter to regional leaders, said that EC$79 million (US$29 million) in severance is owed to the 564 workers already dismissed by the airline. Seaforth said that apart from any possible severance which may come from the LIAT estate, the Antigua and Barbuda government had indicated it is prepared to offer the staff up to a maximum of 50 per cent of their severance either by cash, land or government bonds or a combination of the three.
Browne, speaking on his radio programme over the weekend, said that the offer to LIAT workers is still on the table even as it awaits an official response from the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU).
“It is for them to accept the proposal that the government of Antigua and Barbuda extended to them to come up to 50 per cent of their liabilities, primarily their severance liabilities.
“We still have at least two entities that are negotiating with the administrator to become shareholders within the LIAT company. It may have to be a new company because when you look at what is happening presently, the threats that are made, the demands that are made by past staff, members of staff and the union, I am not even sure now that LIAT 1974 Limited will be viable so there may have to be a LIAT 2020….recapitalised and start as a new entity,” Browne told radio listeners. He said he is hopeful that the two viable investors who the administrator is having discussions with “will come in and bring some capital to the table”.
Last month, the ABWU denied reports that it had rejected an offer made by the government to provide a compassionate payment to the former employees. ABWU general secretary David Massiah said the union is still awaiting a response from a May 19 letter sent to the court-appointed administrator on the payment to the former workers.
“We think that the offer is something that we would have to base on what we hear, most of us whilst we are not happy that that is what it is, 50 percent is better than nothing, so we never discarded it.
“I mean there are a number of stuff that we still think needs to be answered. It can't just be carte blanche. We said 50 percent of total earnings of all their entitlements, and they never came back to us,” Massiah said on a radio programme in June.
Prior to its collapse, LIAT, which at the time owed creditors an estimated EC$100 million (US$37 million), flew to 21 destinations, operating an average of 112 daily flights within a complex network combining profitable and uneconomic routes.
The Antigua-based regional airline was forced to suspend services due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and has since announced the resumption of flights on a limited basis to seven destinations across its network.
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