Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados

Public servants in Barbados will receive a five percent salary next month.

Director of Finance and Economic Affairs Ian Carrington in making the announcement said the paper work for salaries was completed in advance, therefore the increase could not be added to July’s salary.

He said the government is hoping to have the back pay, which will be due for the April to July period, paid by September, so public servants can use that money for back to school expenses.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley promised the increase in the mini-budgetary proposals and financial statement that was delivered in Parliament recently.

She said the agreement reached between the Ministry of the Civil Service and the Public Service Unions of Barbados of five percent across the board, would become applicable for the period April, 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

The prime minister said the agreement would cost the government Bds$60 million.

Guyana

The United States has urged Guyana to fund specialized victim services as the fight continues against trafficking in people.

The State Department also wants those services to be unveiled for child victims and adult male victims of human trafficking.

This was one of the recommendations made in the United States State Department’s 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report.

The United States government also said that it would like to see Guyana vigorously investigating and prosecuting sex and labor trafficking cases and arrest traffickers, including complicit public officials, accountable by imposing strong sentences.

According to the report, while Guyana increased efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims, victims assistance remained insufficient, especially in areas outside of Georgetown and for child and male victims.

The report found that the government fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking resulting in the South American country remaining on Tier 1 list.

Haiti

Haitian Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant has suspended the controversial fuel price hike that triggered protest in the French-speaking Caribbean island recently.

The decision to suspend the steep increase in the price of gasoline came following fiery protests, burning of tires, and mounting roadblocks, which left three people dead.

According to reports, the fuel price rise is in compliance with an agreement made with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Just before the suspension was announced, the leader of Haitian’s lower house of parliament had threatened a government takeover if the fuel price increases were not reversed.

Police said that two of the protesters were fatally shot when they clashed with police in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The third person killed was a security guard for a former political candidate who was stopped at a barricade.

The IMF had suggested ending of subsides for petroleum products, which are a major source of the budget deficit.

Jamaica

Jamaica and Guyana have agreed to strengthen bilateral relations in the areas of trade, investment and agriculture.

Both leaders will reactivate the Guyana- Jamaica Joint Commission that was set up under the Agreement on Economic, Technical and Cultural Cooperation which was signed by both countries on June 1, 1995.

This followed discussions between Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Guyana Prime Minister President David Granger where they recently attended the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government at Montego, Bay Jamaica.

Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, said the partnership is about building strong relations in the region.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said his government has taken no decision to subsidize regional airline LIAT.

He was responding to reports carried by local and regional media that St. Lucia will subsidize the airline.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne was quoted as saying that the governments of St. Lucia and Grenada have agreed to subsidize the operations of the Antigua-based regional carrier.

He did not reveal details of the contribution but said they had agreed to put some money into LIAT at the just concluded Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Authority meeting in Castries.

In a statement Chastanet said his government had not yet made a decision on subsiding LIAT.

He said he had agreed to a meeting to discuss some of the issues relevant to the airline.

The prime minister also stressed that his government has been consistent in its position of LIAT that the airline operate on a strictly commercial basis.

Trinidad

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting that Trinidad and Tobago will return to positive growth this year following two years of recession.

In a statement following its latest Article IV Mission recently, the IMF said the signs of improvement were driven by energy sector growth from the second half of 2017 and a return to positive growth is expected as the recovery takes hold in the non-energy sector.

The IMF noted that while headline inflation fell to historic lows of 1.9 percent last year, then dropped further to 1.1 percent year-on-year in April, the unemployment rate rose to 5.3 percent in the second quarter of 2017, with youth unemployment at an estimated 12 percent last year, compared to 7.9 percent in 2014.

However, according to the IMF, fiscal performance improved as the deficit reversed its rising trend of the past seven years, registering a slightly lower overall deficit last year.

The statement noted that the economy is projected to grow at a modest pace as energy projects come on stream and the recovery takes hold in the non-energy sector.

“Gradual recovery in non-energy growth would help stabilize growth at 1.5 percent over the medium term,” it stated.

-Compiled by Azad Ali

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