Caribbean RoundUp

Caribbean

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has warned of a tobacco epidemic in the Americas, including the Caribbean saying that adverse consequences of the tobacco disproportionately affect the low- and middle income countries, where more than 80 percent of the world’s smokers now live, including 127 million in the region of the Americas.

APHO director Dr Carissa Etienne noted that tobacco consumption creates a significant economic burden on societies because if both the high costs of health-care and the associated lost productivity.

In addition, she said, tobacco use contributes to health inequalities and exacerbates poverty within and between countries through the diversion of resources away from food and other essential needs as well as through forgone income.

Etienne said that the global health response to tobacco is the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which has been ratified by 180 countries worldwide and 30 countries in the Americas.

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government said that the local economy had grown by more than four percent last year.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne said 2016 was another good year as the country expanded by 4.25 percent in 2016 making Antigua and Barbuda the fastest growing economy with the Caribbean.

He said Antigua and Barbuda is the fourth fastest growing economy within the hemisphere.

The prime minister told a recent press conference that the fiscal position of the country had improved significantly that “we have seen an increase in revenue in the region of 15 percent not as the result of the introduction any new taxes”, recalling that July this year his administration had eliminated personal income tax”.

Browne said for the first time in a couple of decades the Antigua Port Authority will turn a profit.

He praised officials of the Ministry of Finance for work done in controlling expenditure and would have presided over a most spectacular fiscal performance.

Guyana

Guyana will be represented at the World Bank’s Global Secondment Program an initiative intended to facilitate the sharing of technical knowledge and experiences among peer debt managers and World Bank staff.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said the February 13 to March 19 to be held in the United States would expose debt managers to a wide range of cross-country practices through participation, training and outreach events.

He said it is expected that participation in this program, would improve the government’s debt management capacity.

The government said that an economic and financial analyst of the Ministry of Finance will also be attending the program.

The Global Secondment Program provides an opportunity for officials of a member country, regional agency, development bank, international organization, or private enterprise to be appointed on a special assignment to the Bank Group for a specific period.

Haiti

Haiti’s economy grew by more than once percent in 2016, according to figures released by the Directorate of Economic Statistics of the Ministry of Finance.

It said the gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 1.4 percent, well below the target of 3.6 that authorities had set at the start of the fiscal year in October 2015.

The figures show that the agricultural sector, which had plagued the Haitian economy in 2015, was largely responsible for the GDP growth last year.

Jamaica

Jamaica is not in favor of a foreigner being appointed as the next commissioner of police to replace Dr. St. Lucia Carl Williams, who recently stepped down.

National Security Minister Robert Montague said he is yet to be swayed by argument that the next commissioner should be from a foreign country.

He said: “What kind of message we would be sending, if that was a mandate requirement, to the over 700 JFC (Jamaica Constabulary Force) officers, both men and women, who have a first degree, What would we say to the over 300 men and women who have their master’s and the five officers who are studying for their PhD’s”.

The national security minister told JCF and Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) officers while he understands the argument in favor of giving the job to a foreigner, it does not necessarily follow that this would be in the best interest of the country.

Montague noted that there are more than 20 attorneys who are currently working in the JFC.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Novelette Grant is acting in the top post for the next three months.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia government is in support of a joint approach by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to the Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) that is being offered by some of the nine-member countries in the grouping.

Prime Minister Allan Chastanet said St. Lucia is already in the citizenship business, not directly, because a person could buy a passport from Dominica or St. Kitts or Antigua or Grenada and have full rights in St. Lucia.

He said his preference was for the CIP to be an OECS initiative based at the OECS Secretariat.

The prime minister said St. Lucia is willing to sign up on the CIP.

Chastanet said there is a growing market of Americans who are interested in having a second passport because of terrorism.

OECS countries, notably, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Lucia offer the CIP under which foreign investors make a significant financial contribution to the socio-economic development of those islands in exchange for citizenship.

Trinidad

Outgoing US Ambassador John Estrada said if he were in charge of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service he would fire himself in the wake of the spiraling murder problem.

To date 40 people were murdered in the first three weeks of 2017.

Estrada, who left the country recently after a brief l0-month duty admits leaving disappointed with two issues, the failure of Parliament to pass the Foreign Exchange Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) and the worsening crime situation in T&T.

He said the leadership of the police service needs to be held accountable.

Estrada said the United States provided a lot of resources to fight crime in T&T from the FBI to training.

He said, “The people responsible for fighting crime are the police. There has to be accountability at that level. If I were in charge of the police we would get results. If not, I would be the first to fire myself if I ran the Police Service.”

In a response, Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams said he was not stepping down from the job since there are other aspects of crime rather than murder, which was the lowest in 33 years.

Regarding the FACTA legislation, the ambassador said he is not confident of passage of the legislation and suggested that different strategies be explored. The Opposition UNC did not support the legislation which was sent to a Joint Select Committee.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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