Caribbean Briefs March 16, 2009

CONCERN OVER TAX BILL

Georgetown, Guyana: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will implore U.S. authorities to review a bill to penalize tax havens which, it feels, will have serious repercussions for the Caribbean.

Following a CARICOM inter-sessional meeting last week, a sub-committee of heads of states have been set up to lobby the U.S. Congress to reconsider the bill.

Britain and other G20 countries are planning to take action against tax havens at a meeting next month.

Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, one of the sub-committee members, said a number of Caribbean states were listed on the U.S. bill as tax havens and, if approved, it would prevent American nationals from entering into financial transactions with the region.

NEW CONSTITUTION

Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines: A committee has been appointed to spearhead the drafting of a new constitution.

The steering committee will try to meet a deadline of this September, so that the new constitution can be put to a referendum in November.

The process comes after nearly six years of public consultations and reports.

However, the main opposition New Democratic Party says it will not take up an option to appoint a third person to the drafting committee.

NDP leader, Archie Eustace, said his party’s refusal to participate stems from disagreements about some of the proposals which will be included in the new constitution that was approved in parliament while the opposition was boycotting sittings.

PRAISE FOR THE U.S.

Georgetown, Guyana: The government has announced that a U.S.-funded AIDS prevention program has helped slash the HIV infection rate in the nation from nearly three per cent to about one per cent.

Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy says the program led by the U.S. Agency for International Development “is a huge success story”.

The $20 million public awareness and prevention program was launched five years ago.

Some of the grant aid went to non-governmental organizations which devised measures to warn of the dangers of promiscuous behaviour and the effects of the virus.

Dr. Ramsammy said the government has tracked the decline of the virus by testing nearly half the population over the past three years.

STRIKE ENDS

Fort-de-France, Martinique: Thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of the French island last Saturday to celebrate after officials signed an agreement which ended a month-long strike.

The resolution, signed last week, includes salary increases for low-wage earners and matches an agreement that ended a 44-day strike on the sister French island of Guadeloupe on March 4.

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