Saints Kitts e Nevis

AP Report: Virus Soars in Sunbelt States, Brazil

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - 5 ore 10 min fa
Virus cases soar in US Sunbelt, other states stop reopening; Closing bars to halt spread backed by science

Arizona’s outbreak has grown in severity across the board. California closed bars, theaters and indoor restaurant dining all over again in most of the state.

America’s surging virus crisis across the South and West has sent a shudder through the country.

It’s being blamed on Americans not wearing masks or obeying social-distancing rules as economies reopened from coast to coast over the past two months.

With July 4 approaching, one of the biggest weekends of the summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised people to wear face coverings at the beach, though not in the water.

Closing Bars: Authorities are closing honky tonks, bars and other drinking establishments in some parts of the U.S. to stem the surge of COVID-19 infections. Clusters of cases have been linked to bars. Experts agree there’s sound science behind the move, reports Carla J. Johnson.

U.S. Jobs Report: Employers likely rehired around 3 million more workers in June, thereby reducing a Depression-level unemployment rate, but the most up-to-date data suggests that a resurgent coronavirus will limit further job gains, reports Christopher Rugaber. The jobs report will be released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

  • The number of confirmed infections in India has topped 600,000, with health authorities reporting 19,148 new cases in the past 24 hours. India’s Health Ministry said the death toll from the virus was now 17,834 people.
  •  An outbreak in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, has continued to grow. Most of the latest cases were in suburbs that were put under a one-month lockdown Wednesday night.

More from AP’s Global and U.S. teams:

  • Does wearing a mask pose any health risks?  The AP is answering Viral Questions in this series.
  • South Africa Tobacco Ban: The country is three months into a ban on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products, an unusual tactic employed by a government to protect the health of its citizens during the pandemic, which the tobacco industry says is not based on scientific evidence. There are also signs the ban isn’t working and most of South Africa’s 9 million smokers are getting cigarettes from illegal sources.
  • Lives Lost: The death toll in Brazil keeps rising and among the dead is a little girl named Vitoria Gabrielle from a working class Rio de Janeiro neighborhood. Her mother thinks her 14-month-old daughter got infected while undergoing treatment for gastrointestinal problems in a hospital. She was just starting to walk with help from others but died on May 4.
  • Afghanistan Oxygen: In the One Good Thing series — For seven years, Najibullah Seddiqi’s oxygen factory sat idle in Kabul because corruption and power cuts made it impossible to work. But he opened the factory’s dusty gates and went back to work and now he refills hundreds of oxygen cylinders a day for free for COVID-19 patients, and at reduced rates for hospitals.

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Legendary Cricketter Sir Everton Weekes Dies at 95

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - 5 ore 25 min fa

BBC- Legendary West Indies batsman Sir Everton Weekes has died at the age of 95.

Weekes, who scored 4,455 runs at an average of 58.61 in 48 Tests, is the only man to make centuries in five consecutive Test innings.

He was known as one of the ‘Three Ws’ alongside fellow West Indies greats Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Frank Worrell.

“Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of an icon. A legend, our hero,” said Cricket West Indies (CWI).

“Our condolences go out to his family, friends and many fans around the world.”

Weekes has the 10th highest average in Test history, among those to have played at least 20 innings.

He, Walcott and Worrell were part of the first West Indies side to win a Test in England in 1950.

Weekes was the third oldest surviving men’s Test cricketer, after South African John Watkins and England’s Don Smith, both of whom are 97.

The Barbadian, who made his Test debut against England in 1948, retired in 1958 and received a knighthood in 1995.

He was taken into intensive care in hospital in June 2019 after suffering a heart attack.

CWI president Ricky Skerritt said: “A most amazing pioneer in West Indies cricket. A tremendous gentleman and a wonderful human being. He was literally a founding father of our cricket.”

West Indies Players’ Association said: “We salute a great West Indies icon; Sir Everton made an invaluable contribution to the sport, his country and the region.

“We were blessed to have him among us, may his soul rest in peace.”

The MCC said: “Everyone at MCC and Lord’s are saddened at the news of Sir Everton Weekes’ passing.

“He will forever be remembered as one of West Indies cricket’s finest cricketers.”

Weekes averaged 91.61 in seven seasons for Bacup in the Lancashire League, and his average of 158.25 in 1954 remains a league record.

Report

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Caribbean, Latin Amer. Hit with High Unemployment, Economic Decline

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - 5 ore 31 min fa

(Lima, Peru) – The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented impact on Latin American and Caribbean labour markets, which have already experienced a sharp increase in unemployment rates, with a prediction of significant economic contraction.

The situation leaves millions of people unemployed and without income, which will cause an increase of inequality and poverty in the region, according to an ILO Labour Outlook released today.

The region’s average unemployment rate, which was 8.1 percent at the end of 2019, could rise between 4 and 5 percentage points according to the data collected so far. The Outlook, published by the ILO Office for Latin America and the Caribbean and titled “Labour Outlook in times of COVID-19: Impacts on the labour market and income”, also advises that if the crisis continues to deepen, the situation could worsen.

“This unprecedented increase in the regional unemployment rate implies a historical record of 41 million unemployed, which will have an impact on the economic and social stability of our countries,” explained Vinícius Pinheiro, Director of the ILO Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Outlook highlights that the most recent World Bank forecast estimates a drop in economic growth of -7.2 per cent, which would take the unemployment rate up to 12.3 percent, whereas if the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) data are considered, a contraction from -9.4 percent unemployment levels would reach 13 per cent.

In absolute numbers, these rates imply that the number of people who are looking for jobs but are not hired rose from 26 million before the pandemic to 41 million in 2020, as announced by ILO experts during a virtual press conference held this Wednesday to present the Outlook.

Additionally, there is a deterioration in the quality of jobs and a reduction in worker and household incomes.

“A characteristic of this crisis has been the speed of the impact, which has translated into an immediate collapse of the labour and family income of a very broad group of the population,” Pinheiro said. “This can amplify social inequalities given that average labour income contributes to around 80 per cent of total family income in the region.”

The ILO Regional Outlook highlights that “the massive destruction of employment is not fully reflected in increases in the unemployment rate, because a significant portion of the workers who lose their jobs have left the workforce” as a consequence of confinement and distancing measures, or lack of job opportunities and are in a situation of inactivity.

This inactivity could dampen the increase in situations such as unemployment or informal work, and therefore further increases in these statistics could be observed as social containment measures become more flexible and people need to go out and generate income.

On the other hand, the Outlook says that approximately 40 per cent of total employment in the region is carried out in high-risk economic sectors in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, while 17 per cent does so in medium-high risk sectors.

“About 60 per cent of those employed in Latin America and the Caribbean are exposed to significant losses in employment, hours worked and income from work.”

Some of the high-risk activity sectors such as accommodation, food services and commerce are labour intensive especially for those with lower skill levels.

At the other end of the spectrum, a very low proportion of workers – less than 20 per cent – are engaged in low-risk activities with public administration, education and health services being the most important areas of activity quantitatively within this segment.

The ILO Regional Labour Outlook warns that in the face of the enormous reduction in jobs and the massive loss of labour income, “the challenge for crisis response policies is enormous, requiring that governments, together with social partners in the world of work, reach consensus on programs for effective response.”                          

The ILO has proposed that strategies and policies to rebuild labour markets should be based on four pillars: stimulating the economy and employment; supporting business and worker income; protecting workers in the workplace; and achieving effective solutions through social dialogue.

The crisis response will be a central theme during discussions that will take place as part of the ILO Regional Summit for the Americas on Thursday, 2 July. The event will feature the participation of labour ministers and representatives of employers’ and workers’ organizations from around the region.

The event is part of the ILO World Summit on COVID-19 and the World of Work, which covers all regions around the world, with global sessions scheduled to take place from 7 to 9 July.

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Dr. Harris Explains Role of Development Bank

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - 5 ore 56 min fa

The Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis was established by Government to facilitate better coordination of Government policy initiatives to sectors that had previously been underserved by existing financial institutions, according to Prime Minister and Minister of Finance with responsibility for the Development Bank, Dr. Timothy Harris.

Appearing the on 10th edition of Leadership Matters, a virtual forum series, on ZIZ TV, Dr Harris made the remarks in answer to a caller who had requested if some of the money for home-ownership at the Development Bank could also be made available at the St. Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank to give persons flexibility to work with whichever bank they may choose to.

“The matter of the role of National Bank is a significant one vis-a-vis the Development Bank,” said Prime Minister Harris. “Some of the issues that drive the choice of institution are related to the ease with which policy can be implemented. Development Bank was created to facilitate better coordination of Government policy initiatives to sectors that had hitherto been underserved by existing financial institutions.”

He reminded the listening public, following the series on various local radio stations and social media platforms, not to forget the history of Development Banks throughout the Caribbean as they were organised as instruments to come to the aid of persons whose requests could not be responded with the same agility and flexibility in relation to some of the initiatives Governments would have taken.

“When we, for example, introduce a Fresh Start Programme we can say to Development Bank we want you to run this programme and we say that we do not want the interest rate to be higher than x per cent,” observed the Minister of Finance. “It is difficult to give that kind of dictate, direction, and guidance to commercial banks as they operate under a different set of paradigm and a different set of policy prescriptions.”

Some jurisdictions, explained Dr Harris, have developed Agricultural Development Banks because they recognise their agricultural sector is underserved, as it is difficult for farmers to get loans from commercial banks. He observed that not many farmers have been given loans by those institutions as they (banks) have not been as readily responsive to some of the dictates of nation-building as a Development Bank would be.

“The Development Banks throughout the region were created for that purpose – to insert into the economic life new entrants, new people who hitherto were not well served,” advised Dr Harris. “We certainly will continue always to review Government policy sensitive to the evolution of times and the evolution of interest in terms of the instruments that are being used to aid our policy development.”

Earlier on in the Leadership Matters programme, Prime Minister Harris had indicated that over that last five years a record number of business licenses had been issued, with a record number of loans given to small businesses as a result of the Fresh Start Loan Programme, which is administered by the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The Fresh Start Programme was launched in September 2015 aimed at offering loans to operators of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Federation. When Prime Minister Harris announced Government’s stimulus package on March 24 this year as Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, he said Government would provide support to small businesses via the Fresh Start Programme with a tranche of $5 million.

“We also announced that for the medium term we would want to jump-start construction and in this regard, we pledged $30 million to support through those who were interested in home financing via the aegis of Development Bank,” said the Honourable Prime Minister.

The Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis was established by an Act of Parliament NO. 1 of 1981. The Act was further amended in April of 1983 by Parliament.

The Bank which is wholly owned by the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, operates as an autonomous entity and operates independently with a Board of Directors, Chief Executive Officer, and a team of staff members. It has its headquarters at the corner of Central and Church Streets in Basseterre and a branch office at Ward Building, Stoney Grove, on the Island Main Road in Nevis.

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Brantley Wants Work to Begin on Pinney’s Park

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - 6 ore 11 min fa

The Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis and Minister of Tourism in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) is eager to see work commence on the St. Kitts and Nevis Pinney’s Beach Park Project.

The Tourism Minister made the comment while presenting an update on matters relating to the Tourism Sector during his monthly press conference on June 25, 2020.

“I think the public would be aware and remember it was last year August that the President of Taiwan visited Nevis and we had this symbolic turning of the sod, and so yes we have lost three or four months to COVID-19 but the reality is many are anxious including myself to get this project going,” he said.

Mr. Brantley noted that construction was delayed due to the planning process which had to be adhered to.

“What I have been advised is, that in fact, so rigorous is our planning process that it is our own government that’s holding us up at this point. So, everything else is in place but the Planning officials have said that the EIA [Environmental Impact Assessment] and the consultation and all of that has to be done…

“I am told, however, that the EIA report from Physical Planning [Department] is in, that it will be considered as quickly as tomorrow Friday when they meet, and then thereafter we will know where we are going, and so the intention is to have that project started,” he said.

The premier stated that the government respects the law and it has adhered to all that is legally required to pave the way for construction after all requirements are met.

Mr. Brantley used the opportunity to alert members of the Nevis public who are interested in working on the project, preparations for which are at an advanced stage.

“I just want to signal to our local people, the population that might be seeking work, that the construction company will be hiring carpenters, steel benders, masons, stone wall builders and other workers in short order, and they should look out for the advertisement in that regard so that they can of course benefit from that,” he said.

The project is jointly funded by the government and people of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the NIA at a cost of US 2.7 million.  The NIA will provide EC$1million (US$0.3million) while the remaining US$2.4 will be funded by the Republic of China (Taiwan). On completion, the facility will serve as a tourist and leisure destination.

The project is described by the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) which is charged with overseeing and executing the project, as one which will celebrate the long-standing friendship between both countries.

“A popular recreational destination for local residents and tourists. St. Kitts and Nevis proposed the construction of a beach park for recreational and leisure use to celebrate the 35 years of friendship between the two nations and serve as a symbol of the bilateral collaboration.

“Due to Taiwan’s extensive experience in coastal landscaping and park design, project planning and implementation will bring together a range of resources in accordance with the principles of environmental friendliness and multiculturalism. “A Park Management Committee will also be established and a revenue model identified to set up a sustainable Operation and Maintenance (O and M) system for the beach park,” the ICDF said.

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Most Stimulus Funds Given to People

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - 6 ore 25 min fa

By Loshaun Dixon

 

About $80M of the $120M stimulus package, announced to offset the financial impact of COVID-19, has been spent, according to Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Timothy Harris.

Dr. Harris made this statement at the Leadership Matters forum. He said that since the announcement of the package in March, some 66% of it has been expended.

“Since we have unveiled our stimulus package, we have in fact had the benefit of nigh $80M of that amount already expended through the government and various public sector entities that have been part and parcel of this process.”

He said that excluded from the calculation, was the significant number of people who would have benefited from the mortgage moratorium arrangements.

Dr. Harris said the government will continue to bring an institutional and people response to the crisis.

“To contain the destabilizing effect of COVID-19, we announced the largest, most comprehensive response, on a per capita basis, to COVID-19. To mitigate the impact on our people, we announced a $1000 grant by Social Security, waived water charges for three months in the first instance, instituted a moratorium on electricity bills for three months, a moratorium on mortgage payments for six months, and we put the people first.

The prime minister reminded them that in the medium and long term, the government will prioritize agriculture in the crop, livestock and fisheries sectors.

“Our interest then and now is maintaining food security and improving on it, and enhancing income flows to our farmers and fishers. Since that time, we can say that 135 acres of land have been made available from the 400 acres which we redeemed from the land-for-debt swap arrangement.”

He said farmers have benefited from the free Bayticol treatment of animals, fencing wires, seeds and seedlings, and free harrowing services.

“We harrowed over 120 acres of land, fenced many farms, provided seeds and seedlings free of cost to over 90 farmers. Over 900 trays of sweet peppers have been provided free of cost, 96 trays of melons and 192 trays of squash have been distributed to farmers.”

In fisheries, he said fishers have and will continue to receive fishing wire, hooks rope, fish straps, fishing line and safety equipment.

Dr. Harris also noted that the government aimed to use construction as a jump start to the economy.

“We also announced that for the medium term, we would want to jump start construction, and in this regard we pledged $30M to support those interested in home financing, via the aegis of the Development Bank.”

He said they pledged in March to provide support to small businesses via the Fresh Start Programme, with a tranche of $5M, and are looking to provide support in many different areas.

“The other areas we are looking forward to helping in the jump starting of our economy will include ICTs, our CBI programme, the financial services sector – all these we wish to become more effective as growth drivers, and they will be the subject of dialogue with critical stakeholders, including the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

“Before the start of COVID-19 we had started that dialogue with the chamber of industry and commerce, the banking and financial stakeholders, and we will widen the consultations and discussions to involve the workers’ movement in the near future.”

He also hailed Social Security for the role they played in the COVID-19 response and national development.

“We are delighted that Social Security has come on board. Social security has played a critical role in housing development and education support through the development bank and other institutions, and indeed it has over time supported the development of our economic infrastructure.

“We now need social security to be a part of a new sizable resource mobilization programme to get our economy back to work again.”

Dr Harris was also pleased that commercial banks took the recommendation from the ECCB monetary council to grant a six months moratorium on all mortgages.

“I am advised there were 2,531 beneficiaries of the deferral relief or moratorium programme across member institutions. I am further advised deferrals were provided on over $258M in mortgages. This has been a significant relief.”

 

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Federation Gets Back to Work-PM Harris

The St Kitts Nevis Observer - 6 ore 39 min fa

The St. Kitts and Nevis export manufacturing sector which contributes in a tangible way to the country’s socio-economic activity is putting behind the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by resuming manufacturing, with 73 per cent of the employees having returned to work under new protocols at the workplace.

“I am pleased to report that our manufacturing sector, and our enclave manufacturing sector in particular, is making steady progress in putting our people back to work,” said Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Timothy Harris on a Tuesday, June 30 edition of Leadership Matters, a virtual forum series.

“Since Covid-19 and the closure of a number of our factories, all seven major export manufacturers are now back in business.”

According to the Prime Minister who was a panellist along with Financial Secretary Mrs Hilary Hazel, Deputy Financial Secretary Mrs Sylvia Manning-Gumbs, and Director of the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board Mr Antonio Maynard, 720 manufacturing workers out of a total of 982, which represents 73 per cent of the workforce, are out to work.

The Leadership Matters – a virtual forum series, which was into its 10th edition, was moderated by Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Ms Valencia Grant.

“We expect by October more workers will be back on the job as the employers satisfy the protocols established by our National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC),” said Dr Harris who noted the St. Kitts and Nevis is the largest exporter of manufactured products from the OECS and Barbados.

Based on the data presented to him by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), the Honourable Prime Minister gave the numbers of employees who had returned to work at the seven leading manufacturing companies.

Jaro Electronics which has a total staff of 300 is operating one shift and has 156 at work. Kajola-Kristada Ltd with a total pool of 205 employees is operating two shifts and the number of employees currently working stands at 158. The Sandy Point-based IAPI Harowe Servo Controls St. Kitts Ltd, which had 225 employees at the time of Covid-19, is presently operating one shift with 183 of the employees back to work.

The Carib Brewery has an employee base of 140 persons, and according to Dr Harris, to date 135 are now back on the job. Electrofab (St. Kitts) which had 69 employees is now operating one shift and has 45 of the employees back to work. All the 35 employees at St. Kitts Brushes are back to work, as are the eight employees at Demerara Distillers who are also back to work.

The Prime Minister reported that it is expected that after certain repairs and renovation work at Jaro Electronics, the company will be back to near full capacity, and noted that more persons at work “makes it better for our economy, better for our families, indeed better for all of us.”

He, however, noted that some of the workers who have underlying conditions are required by the rules to work from home.

“I want to make it clear that the workers have returned under new protocols at the workplace and by and large the protocols would require that there be enhancement in terms of sanitation, respect and compliance with social distancing rules, new arrangements for lunch and for gathering at the workplaces,” said Prime Minister Harris.

He added: “We have been able to do all of these in an orderly way and to get our people back to work. I think this speaks well to our people, our workforce and to the high quality of engagement and response from the National Emergency Operations Centre.”

 

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