Caribbean RounUp

A call by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) for joint marketing of the region has received support from President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Richard Doumeng. CTO Chairman Beverly Nicholson-Doty chided member countries for being slow to implement the brand Caribbean strategy.

Nicholson-Doty told the State of the Industry Conference in Martinique that the United States was succeeding with the strategy being discussed by CTO members for a decade.

“Brand USA has the data that shows the increased travel to the U.S. since the program’s implementation. Unfortunately, we seem only to have the will to truly work together when there is a crisis,” she said.

The CHTA president who spoke at the World Travel Market in London agreed. Doumeng said the time is now right for members to commit a portion of their marketing budget to the regional strategy.

“What we do next should be simple. No matter how big or small your destination is, take a small piece of your budget and commit it to a regional effort,” the CHTA boss said.

Doumeng said he understood the need for governments to be concerned about their individual national needs but added, “We have a rare opportunity now.”


The swift passage of the Gaming Bill would create a “win, win” situation for the government and casino operators, Baha Mar Senior Vice President of Administration and External Affairs Robert Sands said recently adding that the issue of Bahamians participating in the industry should be addressed separately.

The bill was tabled in the House of Assembly on Oct. 16 and has been criticized for the elements that discriminate against Bahamians.

Critics of the bill have said it affords foreigners rights that Bahamians do not have.

But Sands said the bill would expand the tourism industry, while creating more jobs and tax revenue for the government. “We’re not modernizing a bill for foreigners. “We’re enhancing a piece of legislation that’s on the books that puts The Bahamas at a distinct disadvantage to the rest of the world.

Casino operators made recommendations to the government on how to modernize the sector.

Gaming Board Chairman and Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins said he does not support the bill. Rollins wants the government to create an environment to encourage Bahamians to become owners in the industry, and he wants the provision that discriminates against Bahamians to be eliminated.

People who are ordinarily resident in the country will still be prohibited from gambling. Sands said improving the industry and addressing discrimination are matters that should not be lumped together.

The Grenada government has announced new tax measures it said would help provide much needed revenue and urged the private sector not to use the measure to lay off workers.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell in a nationwide radio and television broadcast recently said that his administration had agreed that persons earning up to EC$36,000 annually or EC$3,000 per month pays zero tax.

Persons earning EC$36,000 to EC$60,000 annually pays 15 percent tax on the portion above EC$36,000 and persons earning above EC$60,000 annually will continue to pay 30 percent on the portion above EC$60,000 in addition to the 15 percent on the portion between EC$36,000 and EC$60,000.

He said the implementation of new tax measures are necessary as his government puts structures in place to increase revenue.

The prime minister called on banks to be sensitive as the government knows that lowering of the income tax threshold will affect some persons who have obligations with financial institutions.

Mitchell, who also announced that adjustments will be made to property taxes, issued a warning to delinquent taxpayers.

“No country can run without taxes. No government can provide services without taxes. Throughout our consultations over the past few weeks, there have been consistent calls for government to ensure that everyone pays their fair share.

As a consequence, there will be new policies to deal with persons who are not paying their fair share of taxes. Already, Inland Revenue has identified the top 100 tax delinquents and they are being pursued for their taxes owed to the state. This is not simply a fiscal issue. It is a moral issue,” he said.


Guyana has produced in excess of 500,000 tons of rice so far this year and Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy is predicting that total production could reach as high as 600,000 tons.

“On Monday the 21st October, for the first time in our history, we reached a goal which many persons in this country said would be impossible, and those who believe it was possible thought that it would not happen till 2020. On the 21st October 2013, Guyana surpassed 500,000 tons of rice in our production,” Ramsammy said.

So far this year, Guyana’s rice production is 514,000 tons and Ramsammy said that there are still about six to seven per cent of the cultivated lands yet to be harvested. He expects the final figure to reach 600,000.

Ramsammy said the increase in rice production is as a result is not as a result of increased acreage, but as a result of higher yields.

“We consistently now surpass five tons per hectares, that used to be another magical goal that we are now reaching routinely, and we believe that we can reach six tons per hectares.”


A delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is due in the island next month to conduct a review of the country’s performance under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), the IMF resident representative Bert van Selm, announced.

He said this would be the second review under the program, following the conclusion of the first quarterly evaluation by the IMF Executive Board in September.

Addressing the Jamaica Exporters’ Association’s (JEA) breakfast forum held under the theme “Jamaica’s Growth Strategy and the Alignment under the IMF Agreement” the IMF official said that EEF program was “off to an excellent start.”

“But we have a long way to go, as Jamaica’s EFF actually has 15 reviews planned, of which we have just concluded one,” he added.

The IMF delegation is expected to review Jamaica’s performance for the quarter ending September, as well as take a forward look at how the country is expected to perform in subsequent quarters.

Jamaica was recently granted a second drawdown of US$30.6 million from the IMF under the four-year agreement, which brought total disbursements under the arrangement to about US$240.4 million.


Costumed members of the University of the West Indies-based group Jouvay Ayiti in Trinidad protested outside the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s Office in Port of Spain last week after delivering a petition in response to the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court’s ruling, which has rendered stateless over 300,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent.

The group presented a petition with more than 800 signatures from the Caribbean and its diaspora calling for trade and other embargoes to be placed on the Dominican Republic.

The group has added its voice to global calls condemning the Sept. 25, 2013 ruling by the Dominican Constitutional Tribunal, which rendered many Dominicans of Haitian descent stateless.

The ruling, according to Jouvay Ayiti’s petition, has outraged the international rights community.

The group’s director, Rawle Gibbons, defined the Dominican Republic’s ruling as outrageous and said a dangerous precedent had been created.

CARICOM, he said, had a primary responsibility to respond to the issue, adding a “weak kind of statement” had been made but that was late and ineffectual.

Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar, who is the Chairman of CARICOM said she will monitor the situation in the Dominican Republic and will consult CARICOM’s Secretary General Edwin LaRoche and the CARICOM Bureau on the best way forward to finding a resolution in the matter.

Three years after Hurricane Tomas nearly wiped out the banana industry, St. Vincent and the Grenadines says it has been making significant shipments of the commodity to the United Kingdom and the Caribbean.

Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar told Parliament that banana exports to the United Kingdom between January and September this year varied from a low of 135 boxes, generating EC$2,700 (One EC dollar = US$0.37 cents) in September to a high of 1,980 boxes in January and April, respectively, generating EC$39,000 a month.

Exports to the regional market saw a low of 6,190 boxes, generating EC$94,000, in April, and a high of 10,000 boxes, in February, earning EC$158,000.

Saboto told legislators that the revenue earned from the export of bananas to the two markets so far this year has totaled two million dollars and that production levels must be considered in the context of the devastating impact of Hurricane Tomas, three years ago when the storm, which destroyed 98 per cent of the banana cultivation.

“And that is not taking into consideration the April floods (of 2011),” he added, noting that the industry was also affected by the black sigatoka disease.

Guyana says it fears it could lose up to $20 million in annual payments from Norway after officials noted the deforestation rate has increased slightly in the South American country.

The two countries had signed a deal in 2009 in which Norway pledged a $250 million grant as an incentive for Guyana to protect its lush forests.

But Forestry Minister Robert Persaud says an ongoing gold boom and the construction of a hydroelectric project have led to thousands of hectares of forest being cleared.

Opposition legislator Trevor Williams said Saturday that the government needs to increase its monitoring of activities in the country’s interior.

Most of Guyana’s 730,000 people live along the coast, leaving the interior largely unoccupied. About 70 percent of Guyana’s land mass is covered in forest.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller recently signed a joint statement with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, promising a strengthening of bilateral ties between the two countries.

At the same time, ambassadors representing both countries signed an agreement of technological corporation as Jamaica and Japan prepare to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations next year.

The documents were signed at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo.

The joint statement promised stronger bilateral relationships through shared prosperity, peace relationship; mutual respect and understanding through dialogue, exchange, and trade; and a strengthening of co-operation on Caribbean and global issues.

It followed a meeting by Simpson Miller and Tsunekazu Takeda, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, who is spearheading Tokyo’s much anticipated staging of the 2020 Olympic Games. Billboards around the capital are testament to the anxiety with which most Japanese await those games.

Simpson Miller also expressed hope that the partnership will yield increased trade between the two countries and investment from Japanese firms in Jamaica.

She extended an invitation to Abe to visit Jamaica, saying that such a decision will help to lure Japanese visitors to the Caribbean nation. Abe, in his address, commented on Jamaica’s achievements in sports, referencing performances by Jamaican sprint sensation Usain Bolt, among other athletes.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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