GEORGE TOWN – Gov. Duncan Taylor announced he is leaving to become the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Mexico. He told reporters he expects to start his new job in August. Taylor will oversee local general elections scheduled May 22. The British government had not announced a replacement for Taylor, who was appointed governor in January 2010.
New aid panel
PORT-AU-PRINCE – Diplomats from donor nations met Friday to learn more about a new government panel set up to coordinate billions of dollars in aid money and speed up release of the funds. Countries have pledged $5.4 billion to help the rebuilding process after the 2010 earthquake, but only a little more than half of that amount has been released. Half of the 32 members on the panel are Haitians and the other half are international representatives. Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe created the new government agency, known by the French acronym, CAED, in September in an effort to better coordinate aid for rebuilding and provide more transparency. Overseen by the Planning Ministry, it replaces an agency established after the earthquake and co-chaired by former President Bill Clinton before it was shut down in October 2011. Clinton was at the Friday meeting.
KINGSTON – The Cabinet said a commission of inquiry should be held into a deadly 2010 raid by security forces during a state of emergency and will consider framing terms of reference for a possible fact-finding panel. The announcement came in the wake of an interim report from Public Defender Earl Witter to Parliament dealing with the offensive by military and police that he says killed 76 civilians and one soldier in the Kingston slum of Tivoli Gardens, power base for fugitive gang boss Christopher “Dudus” Coke, who was wanted in the U.S. Witter said his office is looking into complaints that 44 of the 76 civilian deaths could have been unjustifiable homicides. The Cabinet said the report raises “issues of national importance.”
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have signed an economic agreement to help boost sectors including agriculture, education and housing. Puerto Rico’s Secretary of State David Bernier said the deal seeks in part to provide training to farmers, increase literacy rates and develop affordable housing. Government officials will also seek to jointly buy natural gas by 2015 to obtain more favorable prices and to reduce their dependence on petroleum. Anouncement of the agreement came during a visit by a delegation of Puerto Rican officials to the Dominican Republic.
SAN JUAN – More than 8,700 acres that once formed part of a busy U.S. naval station in the eastern part of the island has been turned over to the territory’s government, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said. The ownership transfer came nine years after U.S. officials closed the Roosevelt Roads naval station, saying it was no longer needed after the military stopped using the nearby island of Vieques as a bombing range.
Garcia said the government is considering a 20-year economic plan requiring a $2.5 billion investment to renovate the land and generate some 24,700 jobs. Officials previously considered building a cruise ship port, hotels and a casino on adjoining property that also formed part of the naval station. The U.S. previously turned over about 1,370 acres in January 2012 and an additional 3,400 acres has been designated for conservation.