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Antigua

A month after projecting it would make a “modest” $7 million profit in 2013, LIAT says such an achievement is no longer possible.

The company had hinged its profit making ability on the complete re-fleeting that got off to a late start, due to a lack of funds and reconstruction of aircraft records destroyed in a blaze seven months ago, which it failed to quickly complete.

Management now hopes to break even year-end, which it considers would still be a significant achievement, since the airline has been hemorrhaging millions in recent years.

This information was contained in a document prepared by LIAT’s Chief Executive Officer Captain Ian Brunton recently.

Barbados

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) rum producing countries are holding high-level talks with the United States on resolving issues surrounding the rum industry in the region, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said.

A government statement said that Prime Minister Stuart made the announcement as he addressed a ceremony unveiling a commemorative plaque for Mount Gay Distilleries New Ageing Bond recently.

He said that discussions, which are also being attended by officials from the Dominican Republic, were necessary since, within recent times, subsidies have been given to rum producers in the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, much to the disadvantage of Caribbean rum producers, including Barbados.

The prime minster said the situation is so serious tthat it will take its case to the World Trade Organization (WTO) if a solution is not forthcoming.

“The government of Barbados has had to take a stand on this issue, and under my instructions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade communicated with the U.S. government on the issue. And of course, very recent discussions have taken place between CARICOM countries, the Dominica Republic and the United States Trade Representatives with a view to addressing the more pressing concerns, not only here in Barbados, but in other parts of the Caribbean and, of course, in the Dominica Republic,” he said.

Prime Minister Stuart said that CARICOM was not going to “relapse its vigilance” on the issue.

Dominica

Dominican Dr. Carissa Etienne has been named regional director for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO) executive board, which held its 132nd session in Geneva recently.

Dr. Etienne was elected director of Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) by the countries of the Americas last September during the 28th American Sanitary Conference.

PAHO serves as the regional office for the Americas of WHO (WHO/AMRO).

Dr. Etienne will begin her five-year term as PAHO director and WHO regional director on Feb. 1, succeeding Dr. Mirta Roses Periago of Argentina.

She holds degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of the West Indies as well as a Masters in community health and an honorary diploma in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

In her native country Dr. Etienne served twice as chief medical officer (in 2000 - 2002 and 1995-1996), director of Primary Health Care Services, disaster coordinator and national epidemiologist in the Ministry of Health.

Grenada

Grenada’s main opposition New National Party (NNP) is likely to win the Feb. 19 general election with more seats that it had before it was swept out of power in 2008, according to a new opinion poll published recently.

The poll by Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services Inc. (CADRES) predicts that the NNP, which lost the 2008 election by an 11-4 margin, is benefitting from an 11 percent swing away from the National Democratic Congress led by Tillman Thomas.

Jamaica

The Customs Department is reporting collection of J$92.61 billion for the period April to December 2012. The amount, while an increase of $9.37 billion or 11 percent over the same period in the previous year, reflected a shortfall of $1.15 billion or 1 percent against the target of $93.77 billion.

“We are one percent behind our year-to-date target and we intend to recover that position between now and March 31,” said Commissioner of Customs Major Richards Reese.

Reese said that several revenue support initiatives will be introduced utilizing the department’s contraband enforcement team.

“We will be focusing on smuggling, revenue leakage and under-invoicing and those importers, who try to bring in excess goods, which are not manifested,” he disclosed.

Reese added that the department will also be increasing the percentage of random inspection of Authorized Economic Operators and review all bonds for public-bonded warehouses to ensure adequate duty coverage.

There are also plans to host more frequent motor vehicle auctions and impose increased penalties for breaches of the Customs Act.

St. Lucia

The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) says it is seeking to explore opportunities for greater south-south corporation after establishing diplomatic relations with Argentina.

OECS Director General Dr. Len Ishmael, speaking at the signing ceremony, said the nine-member sub-regional grouping was also seeking strong development cooperation ties as well as exploring avenues for trade and investment.

“We believe that the transformation of the OECS into an Economic Union has made our region ripe for stronger economic links with Argentina,” she said.

Newly-appointed Argentina Ambassador to the OECS, Marcelo Aldo Salviolo, underlined his country’s desire “to consolidate closer links with the Caribbean state.”

Argentina is the llth country to establish formal diplomatic relations with the OECS which groups the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago’s inflation rate has slowed for the second consecutive month.

The latest available data from the Central Statistical Office (CSO) released by the Central Bank showed that headline inflation slowed to 7.2 percent in December 2012, from 8.1 percent in November.

In its first Repo Rate report for 2013, the bank noted headline inflation for the whole of 2012 averaged 9.3 percent, up 5.2 percent from 2011. Last year, May recorded the highest inflation rate of 12.6 percent.

Food inflation, which continues to exert a strong influence on the headline inflation rate, slowed to 12.7 percent, down from 14.9 percent.

This slowdown in the rate of food inflation for December partly reflects the impact of the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) in November, 2012, on several food items, the Bank said.

Core inflation (which excludes food prices) remained at 3.1 percent. Slower year-on-year increases were recorded for alcohol, tobacco, health, clothing and footwear and recreation and culture.

Antigua

Antigua is seeking permission to run a website that sells music, movies and software, but ignores copyright laws.

Antigua is due to appear before the World Trade Organization (WTO) seeking permission to run the site. The decision to set up the website is the end point of a long-running dispute with the U.S. over gambling.

The U.S. has objected to Antigua’s plan saying it amounted to official “piracy” of intellectual property. Officials from Antigua will make their plea before the WTO’s dispute settlement body to get “final authorization” to set up the site.

Antigua went to the WTO after U.S. moved to stop American citizens using gambling services, including web-based betting shops and casinos, run from the Caribbean country. Antigua claims that action deprived it of billions of dollars in revenue.

Barbados

Barbadians will go to the polls on Feb. 21 to elect a new government, the Government Information Service (BGIS) said. Nomination Day is set for Feb. 6.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said Governor General Sir Elliot Belgrave has issued the writ for a general election and dissolved Parliament.

The announcement ends months of speculation as to when the ruling Democratic Labor Party (DLP) will seek a second term in office. The opposition Barbados Labor Party (BLP) had boycotted a recent sitting of the House of Assembly, in protest against the delay in calling the election past the fifth anniversary of the DLP administration on Jan. 15.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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