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Guyana’s Minister of State, Joseph Harman.
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Barbados

The Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) is cracking down on errant owners who owe the government millions of dollars in land tax.

From November, the state will start selling, via public auctions 69 properties that collectively owe $15 million in outstanding land taxes. The figure includes penalties and interest.

BRA director of shared services, Wayne Forde, said that the revenue agency was taking the action as “a last resort” after it exhausted all efforts to recoup arrears due from several chronic defaulters.

The BRA recently announced the property auctions, which are due to be concluded in March next year, in a series of sale notices published.

Caribbean

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is moving to further develop its digital technology resources so as to better promote the “many exciting and diverse travel choices” visitors can experience throughout the region.

CHTA president Patricia Affon-Dass in a message to mark World Tourism Day recently, said the internet has fostered “our economic growth through tourism by shortening the trip planning and purchase process, bridging the gap between the dreams and the decision to book, allowing small operators to show their wares and answer questions and allowing online bookings and follow-ups.”

She said the Caribbean’s tourism sector is uniquely important to economic and social life in the region and that stakeholders in the Caribbean “are leveraging digital technology to attract visitors and keep them coming, and also transferring those skills to our wider economy.”

The CHTA president added that data driven marketing and promotion allow suppliers to understand guest performances so travelers can connect with the destinations even before they land in the Caribbean.

World Tourism Day highlights the importance of digital technologies to the sector and the CHTA said that the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) also hails the power of innovation to boost growth for a more sustainable and responsible tourism sector.

Dominica

The Canadian-based Montreal Management Consultants Est. (MMCE Ltd) will soon start the construction of more than 800 homes across Dominica as the battered island continues its efforts to become the world’s first climate resilient country.

MMCE project manager, Chris Timmins, speaking at the signing ceremony with the Financial Secretary, Rosemund Edwards, said the project would entail the construction of 66 units in each of the several communities including La Plaine, San Sauveur, Grand Fond, Castle Bruce and Delices on the east coast in the first instance.

He said the northern area of Picard, 68 units are under construction and that a further 68 are to be built in Cotton Hill.

Timmins said City Square, which is due to start in the final quarter of this year will have a total of 125 units including commercial buildings.

Guyana

The Guyana government has awarded a Guy$3.2 billion (US$15.6 million) contract to SHFOT Shipyard Private Limited to build the long-awaited Georgetown to Barima-Waimi (Region One) cargo and ferry vessel.

Minister of State, Joseph Harman recently made the announcement at a post-cabinet briefing, explaining that the contract took some time as the funding arrangements had to be finalized.

In November 2916 the government signed a US$18 million Line of Credit agreement with the Export-Import Bank of India for the procurement of an ocean ferry to service the Georgetown to North West District (Region One) route.

The US$18 million compares to the US$8 million concessionary loan to be repaid within 20 years with a five-year grace period.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan, on signing the contract said the acquisition of the new vessel will ensure that the new ferry vessel will increase efficiency and operations by allowing passengers and freight to be conveyed more swiftly with fewer delays and reduction in travel time.

He said the introduction of this new passenger and cargo ferry services to those residents who commute regularly between Regions One and Four.

Grenada

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has defended the decision to hold a referendum on whether or not Grenada should adopt the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final court of appeal — two years after the people voted against a similar proposal.

In November 2016 Grenadians voted against the CCJ replacing the London-based Privy Council by a margin of 12,434 to 9,492 in a referendum where they also had to vote on six other bills.

Mitchell, addressing students of the TA Maryshow Community College, who were attending a discussion with former CCJ president Sir Dennis Byron, said there may be persons who are concerned at the speed at which his government brought back the CCJ.

“It is unfortunate when issues of national importance are before us sometimes petty political interests come to play,” said Mitchell, who unlike the previous occasion in 2016, has indicated he will be campaigning for a “Yes” vote in the referendum on Nov. 6.

The Grenada Constitution mandates that a referendum be held in order for changes to be made regarding the replacement of the Privy Council as the final court in addition to Parliament approving the necessary legislation by a two-thirds majority.

Mitchell told the students that the CCJ matter should not be seen as an issue for any one political party insisting “this is a national issue.”

Jamaica

Jamaica can receive US$226 million if the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a preliminary agreement that has been reached with the Andrew Holness administration.

The Washington-based financial institution recently ended a two-week visit to Jamaica.

Head of the delegation, Uma Ramakrishnan said that the agreement is for a set of policies that aims to complete the fourth review under the 36-month US$1.68 billion Stand By Agreement (SBA) that was approved on Nov. 11, 2016.

She said upon approval, an additional US$226 million will be made available for Jamaica, bringing the total accessible credit to about US$1.2 billion.

The Jamaican authorities continue to view the SBA as precautionary. Ramakrishnan said the SBA program implementation “remains robust” and that all quantitative performance criteria for end of June 2018 were met and structural reforms are on track.

However, she noted that the inflation out-turn for June 2018 was 2.8 percent, below the program target range.

The IMF said that economic growth is projected to reach 1.4 percent in the financial year 2018 / 2019, supported by mining and construction and is expected to further increase to around two percent over the medium-term.

TRINIDAD

The industrial court of Trinidad and Tobago has granted and injunction to the Oil Field Workers Trade Union (OWTU) against state own Petrotrin from further termination of employees and even of voluntary separation letters.

The injunction will remain in effect until the issue of the closure of the company is fully ventilated in the court if the company successfully appeals the decision.

Last week the OWTU through its attorneys filed an injunction after the union leader Ancel Roget alleged that Petrotrin violated the collective bargaining agreement by refusing to hold discussion with the union.

Petrotrin has since file an appeal against the decision of the Industrial court.

The state is arguing that the Court has no grounds to grant an injunction.

— compiled by Azad Ali

Posted 12:00 am, October 17, 2018
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