Caribbean Briefs as of September 23-09

A WARNING

St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: Opposition leader Lester Bird has said that the country should not expect much help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The governing United Progressive Party (UPP) has announced plans to approach the IMF for help in dealing with the fallout from the international financial downturn.

However, in his weekly radio broadcast last Sunday, Bird described the IMF’s proposed package of assistance as a mere “drop in the ocean of needs” of the country.

“It will be inadequate to pay wages and salaries in the public service; it will be insufficient to re-build the roads that have deteriorated under the UPP,” Bird said.

SPENDING CUTS

Bridgetown, Barbados: Prime Minister David Thompson has announced that his government will soon be moving to cut public spending.

Thompson said while he has already advised his cabinet ministers to adjust their budgets, there are certain critical policies that must be continued.

His announcement comes against the backdrop of a recent IMF assessment which recommended a number of measures that the government could implement in order to survive the global economic decline.

The recommendations include lowering the public sector wage bill, selling government assets and raising existing taxes.

SUPPLYING PLANES

St. George’s, Grenada: China’s state-owned aircraft manufacturer has started talks to sell its planes on the Caribbean market.

Officials from the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) made the revelation as a nine-member team from the company ended a fact finding tour to Grenada last week.

AVIC President Fu Shula said the company has already started talks with the Barbados government, a major shareholder in regional airline, LIAT. Shula said more discussions should be held with management of the Antigua-based carrier soon.

“We will have to have a discussion with the airline to see if we can use our airplanes to replace the older ones and to help the transportation capabilities increase,” Shula said. “The planes here are old and need to be replaced and China has certain products that are suitable for this area.”

AVIC manufactures both military and civilian planes.

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