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Barbados

Head of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is warning the Barbados government that it needs to deal urgently with the island’s worsening debt situation.

In an interview recently with the online publication, Barbados Today, Dr. Warren Smith is suggesting that “front-end adjustments” were needed to correct the economic slide.

He described the island’s overall fiscal position as “unsustaina­ble” and cautioned that, if left unchecked, it would do untold damage to the local currency.

Smith, a Jamaica-born economist said Barbados should consider privatizing several state entities, including Grantley Adams International Airport and the Bridgetown Port.

He said divestment was urgent since it places the island’s fixed exchange rate under threat.

The CDB head also suggested that the Freundel government could do away with state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), saying it could find other mechanisms for getting its message out.

Dominica

Construction of a new US$40 million national hospital funded by the Chinese government is expected to start at the end of this month in Dominica.

This was revealed by Health Minister Dr. Kenneth Darroux while addressing the 13th Meeting of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) / Pooled Procurement Services (PPS) Policy Board and the Third Meeting of the Council of Heath Ministers of Member States at the Fort Young Hotel recently.

The minister said the hospital is a “gift’ from the People’s Republic of China.

The contract for the hospital was signed between the government and Human Construction Engineering Group Corporation in December 2015 and the sod turning ceremony was in August this year.

It is one of the four projects contained in a memorandum of understanding signed between Dominica and the People’s Republic of China in 2004.

Grenada

Representatives from 11 Caribbean countries recently met in Grenada to discuss strategies to prepare for the impact of climate change.

Speaking at the two-day regional workshop, Grenada senator Simon Steill, minister of state with the responsibility for the environment said, “here in Grenada, we don’t have to look far to see the impacts of climate change. We experience them every day.”

Grenada is now in the final phase of a project aimed at developing a National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (NAP).

The NAP process was created by the United Nations as an opportunity for countries to plan for robust, sustainable development in the face of climate stress.

Steill said as a small developing state, “we will be severely affected by negative climate change impacts, such as flooding, sea-level rise or droughts. To prepare, our government aims to mobilize further climate finance and the NAP is critical for that.”

The authorities said that climate change impacts can disrupt and are already disrupting Grenada’s critical economic sectors such as agriculture and tourism.

A review of the government budget in 2016 showed that almost half (48.6 percent) of the capital budget 2016 is at risk of being compromised by the negative impacts of climate change.

Guyana

Guyana has ordered suppliers of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones to immediately stop the sales of the device after the manufacturers confirmed several cases of the phones exploding.

The Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission said it was advising all consumers with either an original Samsung Galaxy Note 7 or the replacement to power down and stop using the device immediately.

It warned suppliers found selling the device will be in contravention of the Consumer Affairs Act and likely to be prosecuted.

The Consumers Affairs Commission said suppliers must accept all returned Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices and a full refund must be issued to the consumer. Suppliers are also asked to halt sales of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones exploding.

A release from the Commission said that Samsung recently asked all of its global partners to stop sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note 7 after having found several cases of Note 7 phones exploding.

Haiti

The United Nations health agency has deployed field teams in Haiti to respond to the health situation and to prevent cholera from reaching epidemic proportions in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew recently.

According to a news release by the UN World Health Organization (WHO), WHO and Pan American Health organization (PAHO) disaster, health and logistic experts have been deployed to support the government’s efforts against cholera outbreaks from the agencies’ offices in Washington D.C, Haiti and several other locations.

According to PAHO, more than 1.3 million Haitians have been affected by the hurricane and it is estimated that 80 percent of houses have lost their roofs and most of the country’s hospitals have suffered major damages — about l00 health facilities are no longer functioning.

PAHO is also working with the Ministry of Health to increase the availability of medicines and medical supplies and cooperating in the organization and planning of the health response to possible outbreaks.

Jamaica

Jamaica could have a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by November.

This is according to a release from the Office of the Prime Minister, which said Jamaica has reached a new staff-level with the fund for a three–year precautionary stand-by arrangement.

If approved by the IMF board in November, the proposed precautionary arrangement would replace the current special extended facility originally scheduled to end in March next year.

An IMF team led by Uma Ramakrishnan visited Kingston from Sept. 21-30 to conduct discussions on the new successor IMF-supported economic program.

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Andrew Holness and director of the IMF’s western hemisphere department, Alejandro Werner, said if approved by the IMF’s Executive Board about US$430 million would immediately be made available to Jamaica.

The total available amount under the proposed 36-month Stand-By arrangement would be about US$1.7 billion.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia government plans to introduce tougher requirements for work permit applications, to provide maximum opportunity for jobs to be filled from within the island.

This was revealed by Labor Minister Stephenson King who said that there were many foreign nationals who continue to apply for unskilled and sometimes semi-skilled jobs that could be performed by locals.

He said in many cases locals are being denied the opportunity to gain employment.

The minister noted that in some instances there are St. Lucians who are applying for work permits for Jamaicans and Guyanese to work for them as domestic workers.

While the staff at the Department of Labor main duties are to process work permit applications, King highlighted the need for persons to do further checks and balances, to ensure that these permits are granted under proper circumstances and there is no exploitation.

King said given this loophole, he would recommend a more thorough review of the application process for work permits, where applicants will have to appear before a panel at the Ministry of Labor, who will then scrutinize the application and determine whether the permit should be granted.

Trinidad

The new taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and online shopping went into effect in Trinidad and Tobago from Oct. 20. 2016.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced in the 2016 / 2017 budget that the tax on alcohol will be 20 percent, and cigarettes will be 15 percent, which will bring in an additional $120 million, while there would be a seven percent on online shopping.

In making the announcement on the increase prices in alcohol and cigarettes, Imbert said it was based on concern for the health and well-being of citizens.

The seven percent tax on online shopping is expected to raise an additional $70 million.

— compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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