The Barbados government has raised Value Added Tax from 15 percent to 17.2 percent, which will bring about Bds$124 million in revenue.
Finance Minister Chris Sinckler made the announcement during his presentation of the country’s national budget recently.
Sinckler said his government was levying broad-based increases in taxes and user-fees, while at the same time offering significant support to several business sectors to help keep people employed and to pull the country from its economic crisis.
He said the aim was to reduce the fiscal deficit which ballooned from Bds$396.9 million in 2008/2009 to Bds$712.9 million in 2009/2010.
Bus fares, which for l9 years stood at Bds $1.50, will go Bds$2 from Jan. 1, 2011, adding Bds$8.4 million to the state-owned Transport Board.
Another painful measure was the 50 percent jump in the excise duty on gasoline. This is expected to raise Bds$227.7 million.
From April 1, Barbadians who want their prescriptions filled at private pharmacies will have to pay user fees. These drugs are free under the national drugs program administered by the Barbados Drug Service.
The fees range from Bds$5 to Bds$12 for medicine that cost up to Bds$40.
Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo and his neighboring counterpart, Suriname President Desi Bouterse, are to meet to discuss a wide range of issues, ranging from smuggling to drug trafficking, as well as illegal trade between the two countries.
The two leaders are to meet in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname ad New Amsterdam, the capital of the eastern county of Berbice, Guyana.
They will als0 discuss ways and means for a smooth operation of the Corentyne River Bridge from Corriverton to Nickerie.
Jagdeo will hold discussions with Guyanese who live in that Dutch-speaking country.
A large number of them live in Nickerie and some of them have thriving businesses there.
Guyana and Suriname were engaged in border dispute for more than a century, but most aspects of the claim by the Surinamese have been resolved of shelved.
A month after cholera was confirmed in Haiti, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has signaled that it is mobilizing support for its newest member.
CARICOM chairman Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding issued a statement recently saying he had been in touch with member governments to coordinate the Community’s response to the crisis.
He said Jamaica would send a team of medical and support personnel to Haiti.
Guyana has offered oral rehydration tablets, nurses and doctors.
CARICOM envoy to Haiti, PJ Patterson, has also appealed to pharmaceutical companies to provide drugs and equipment.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon is offering to help Caribbean countries, particularly Jamaica, in the fight against drug trafficking.
He said his country is willing to share its expertise.
President Santos said his country continues to fight the phenomenon with more and more success, with a professional and trained police force that has been learning from more than 40 years of fighting the drug cartel. And he said the region could make similar progress.
“The subject of security and the effective fight against transnational crimes, such as drug trafficking, is a matter crucial to our nation’s future. Many countries in the Caribbean and Central America are going through tremendous difficulties similar to those Colombia faced in the past because of drug trafficking and its terrible effects on society,” he said during a public lecture at the University of the West Indies (UW), Mona Campus, Jamaica during a one-day visit.
President Santos said that Colombia wanted to help Jamaica become more effective in the fight against drug trafficking, before it is too late.
Jamaica Minister of Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Daryl Vaz said cabinet has approved the recommendation for the Boscobel Aerodrome Airport to be renamed the Ian Fleming International Airport in honor of the late James Bond author, who lived in the north-eastern parish of St. Mary where the facility is located.
The late Ian Fleming lived at Goldeneye in Oracabessa, St. Mary. There he wrote all of his 14 novels on which the famous James Bond series of movies were based.
“The Airport Authority of Jamaica is of the view that the new name will significantly enhance the marketing of the airport and the area to the international aviation community and therefore should prove to be a value-added asset,” Vaz said.
St. Kitts police said they have arrested four persons in connection with an armed robbery of 16 cruise ship tourists whose bus was ambushed recently.
The police announcement came shortly after two cruise ship companies temporarily suspended port calls to St. Kitts pending results of the probe into the robbery.
A police statement said scores of officers and soldiers searched several homes and cars before arresting four suspects. The police have also increased patrols in areas popular with visitors.
Masked gunmen robbed the group of tourists from the Celebrity Mercury as they were heading to the Brimstone Hill Fortress, a park popular with visitors.
Two Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard vessels carrying five containers of relief aid arrived in St. Lucia recently.
Three of the containers held supplies from the Water and Sewerage Authority while the other two contained perishable and non-perishable items.
The supplies were sent as part of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s recently launched Helping Hand initiative set up to establish a framework for emergency aid in the region in the event of natural disasters.
Trinidad’s relief effort will continue with an additional three containers expected to be sent soon to the islands adversely affected by Hurricane Tomas.
The judiciary in Trinidad and Tobago is calling for the destruction of all illegally obtained material gathered by the Security Intelligence Agency (SAI).
The judiciary made the call after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar revealed in parliament recently about illegal wire-tapping by the SIA of phone and e-mails of prominent citizens in T&T.
The judiciary in a statement said: “We would also urge the executive to take steps to ensure the destruction of all illegally obtained material under the supervision of an independent third party.”
It noted while judges were subject to vetting from lawfully constituted agencies, there should be no illegal intrusions.
Also condemning the SIA’s wire-tapping was the Law Association, which described it as an attack on the independence of the judiciary.
The Interception of Communications Legislation was passed in the House of Representatives and was supported by the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM).
The legislation was brought to parliament on the heels of the revelation that the Strategic Intelligence Agency (SIA), which operated under the former Patrick Manning administration was “spying” on prominent citizens.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in concluding the debate said, “Never again must Trinidad and Tobago allow anyone to bypass the Constitution, to undermine the rule of law, to violate sacred rights to privacy and safety.”
One of the main changes of the bill is that the chief of defense staff, commissioner of police and director of Strategic Service Agency (SIA) are the lawful officers to authorize the interception of private communications, not the minister of national security.
The prime minister said another amendment took on board the recommendation that interception should be reserved for serious criminal activity – offences that carry at least a five-year term of imprisonment.
Compiled by Azad Ali