The Barbados government says it will implement fully, the 15 percent tax on lottery winnings over a certain amount, even as it acknowledged that “some changes” had been made to the measure announced in the national budget.
The Ministry of Finance said that the new measure would come into effect now that the appropriate legislation has been approved.
The statement said that the Ministry of Finance is now putting the “finishing touches to the proposal, following which industry players will be duly informed. It is expected that this process will be completed in a few weeks.”
Under the new proposal, people who won more than BDS$100,000 (One BDS dollar =US$0.50) or more in lotteries would be required to pay 15 percent tax.
“When passed, together with the passage of the Lottery Winnings Tax, they would represent the full legal implementation of the tax component of government’s fiscal measures from 2013,” the Ministry of Finance said.
The government of Guyana says it has placed its troops on alert after a report that Venezuelan soldiers might cross into territory held by Guyana.
Defense Secretary Roger Luncheon says Guyana’s military was told to remain “vigilant,” during a planned visit by Venezuelan opposition officials under military protection to a Guyana-held area claimed by both South American countries along the Essequibo River.
Guyana’s government has not taken such a step since 1982, when Venezuelan military planes flew over an area it has claimed in a border dispute that goes back decades.
Luncheon said there has been a surge of nationalistic rhetoric among candidates in Venezuela’s upcoming municipal elections.
In October, Venezuela detained a ship chartered by a U.S. oil company that had an exploration concession from Guyana in disputed waters.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti has voiced concern at recent incidents of violence in several cities and urged everyone in the country to work towards ensuring a peaceful society.
Head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), Sandra Honore, said violence has resurged in Cite Soleil and around schools in Cap Haitian.
“Such crime are particularly disturbing as they endanger the safety of all, and the social peace that Haiti needs to move forward on the path of strengthening rule of law and socio-economic development,” she said in a statement recently.
The Mission urged all Haitians, civil society and other actors, including political, religious and community leaders, to continue working for peace.
MINUSTAH also reiterated its commitment to support Haitian authorities, especially the Haitian National Police, to prevent violence and to strengthen the rule of law institutions in line with its mandate.
Recently, the UN Security Council extended MINUSTAH’s mandate until mid-October 2014.
Jamaica has now become the first independent Caribbean country to have no criminal defamation laws-including seditious libel-on the books.
Grenada abolished criminal libel in 2012, but maintains laws criminalizing seditious libel and insult of the monarch.
As part of its campaign to repeal criminal defamation in the Caribbean, IPI lobbied publicly and privately for the bill’s passage; IPI and its strategic partner, the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), also visited Jamaica three times to meet with government officials in support of the Media Association of Jamaica (MAJ) and the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ).
In a statement, PAJ president Jenni Campbell said: “This is an important step in increasing freedom of expression and by extension press freedom in Jamaica
The St. Lucia government has dismissed suggestions that it had not kept to its promise to reduce the tax on fuel in an effort to control the price at the pumps. Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony, who met with officials from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) and PetroCaribe recently, said the rate of Excise Tax on petroleum products was 40 per cent below what existed prior to Nov. 28, 2011, when the previous administration was in office.
“Despite all the political ads you may be seeing right now on your television, since this government has been formed, the average price government has gained from Excise Tax on gasoline has been EC$1.84 (One EC dollar = US $0.37 cents) per gallon, and EC$2.35 per gallon, and EC$2.35 per gallon for diesel.
“To be clear, for fear that there are those from certain quarters who may say they did not hear it, since this government has been elected by the people, from December 2011 till to date, the average excise tax that the government of St. Lucia collected from gas and diesel have been $1.84 per gallon and $2.35 per gallon.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he is “absolutely fed up” at the constant industrial action plaguing the regional airline, LIAT.
Gonsalves, who is the chairman of the shareholder governments of the financially troubled airline, said he was “fed up” with the “self-inflicted wounds” on the Antigua-based airline.
LIAT pilots walked off their jobs recently and their union, the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIAL-PA) blamed “misguided and ill-informed decisions” taken by the airline’s management for the action.
The union claimed that they were forced into an emergency meeting to discuss the management’s decision resulting in the widespread disruption to the airline’s daily schedule.
Gonsalves said “these self-inflicted wounds between management and the pilots just have to stop.”
Gonsalves said he was anxious to receive a full report on what led to the recent strike but he urged management and the pilots to maintain level heads and exercise mature judgment.
Gonsalves said he was still of the opinion that Liat should be declared an essential service, adding that the shareholder governments had already agreed to go that route.
He said he raised the matter at the CARICOM level and member states now have to decide on whether to accept his proposals.
Judicial authorities in Suriname have ordered a probe into criminal charges of the United States government against Dino Bouterse, son of the president of Suriname.
Bouterse, 41, who is already facing cocaine and weapons trafficking charges, has reportedly agreed to provide material support to people believed to be members of the Lebanese terrorism organization Hezbollah, but who were in fact confidential sources of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
This team, under supervision of the Prosecutor General, will launch a probe into the criminal offences and the involved suspects.
On the basis of the results obtained from the criminal investigations, the authorities could seek additional information from foreign judicial authorities.
The United States and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are forging a stronger relationship, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) office said in a statement issued after the first U.S.-CARICOM meeting since May when U.S. Vice President Joe Biden signed into existence a U.S.-CARICOM Council on Trade and Investment.
Together with then CARICOM Chairman, Haitian President Michel Martelly, Biden signed a revised Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which gave life to the council, the mandate of which is to deal with what the USTR described in its statement as “important trade and investment issues.” The USTR said: “Bilateral trade, intellectual property, e-commerce, (and) regulatory cooperation (were) discussed at the first meeting under the U.S.-CARICOM TIFA.”
The statement did not offer specifics about the discussions but in a statement at the time of the signing, CARICOM had said: “Among the issues of critical and urgent importance to CARICOM are the threat faced by CARICOM exports of rum in the U.S. market, and the US/Antigua and Barbuda cross-border gambling services dispute.”
Turks and Caicos
Air Turks and Caicos, the national airline of Turks and Caicos Islands announced recently the changing of its name to InterCaribbean Airways.
The “InterCaribbean” name was chosen to reflect the greater Pan-Caribbean expansion of air service in the Western Caribbean in the coming months. With this a new slogan adopted to reflect the mission, “Connecting you and the Caribbean.”
For the first time, travelling between the islands of Western Caribbean may take an hour or two instead of a day or two.
For years, the ability for business and leisure explorers to travel between the islands has been nearly impossible. With the forthcoming expansion of air services, the citizens, residents and visitors will be able to travel faster and easier to create new business and leisure opportunities.
Lyndon Gardiner, chairman of Air Turks and Caicos said, “it is important for us to capture the life and the color of the islands. We believe our new brand and colors represent all of the Caribbean.”
The logo represents elements of the sea, air, palm trees and flamingos.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently said it had reached “preliminary understandings” with the Jamaica government on a set of economic policies and economic activity in the country which had expanded by nearly one per cent for the period July to September.
IMF mission chief for Jamaica Jan Kees Martijn told reporters at the end of a one-week recent visit by an IMF delegation that discussions had focused on economic performance and policies for the 2013-14 period.
“The Fund mission reached preliminary understandings with the authorities on a set of economic policies,” Martijn said, adding, “economic activity is tentatively estimated to have expanded in the July to September quarter by about 0.9 per cent year on year while consumer price inflation increased to 10.5 per cent in September.
“These preliminary understandings are subject to approval by the IMF’s management and executive board.
Provided that performance remains strong, board consideration of the second review of Jamaica’s IMF-supported programs under the EFF (Extended Fund Facility) could take place in late December,” he said adding upon approval, US$30 million would be available to Jamaica.
Compiled by Azad Ali