Caribbean Briefs – April 16-09


 Saint John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: Opposition leader, Lester Bird, has accused the ruling United Progressive Party (UPP) of dictating the nation’s governance and sidelining elected members of parliament.

In a weekend radio address, Bird called on Antiguans to take account of “the undemocratic actions of the UPP regime and its steady and purposeful erosion of democracy in this country”.

Bird said his Antigua Labour Party was very worried about the “irreparable damage” to the economy and the welfare of people, if the UPP government remains in office.

He has also written to CARICOM, complaining of what he called a serious threat to constitutional governance on the island.

According to Bird, one example is Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer’s failure to arrange a meeting of parliament since the March 12 election.


 Bridgetown, Barbados: The nation’s economic outlook has been changed from stable to negative.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) said it was changing its outlook for the country because of the economic downtown and rising government debt.

Credit analyst, Olga Kalinina, said growing fiscal deficits and an increase in the government debt burden could hurt Barbados’ longstanding commitment to maintaining its currency peg.

Standard & Poor’s said the nation’s central government deficit, which includes off-budget spending, increased to 6.6. per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2008, compared to 3.8 per cent in 2007, due to low revenue growth as the economy slowed and spending increased.

Real GDP is expected to shrink 2.1 per cent this year, compared with growth of 0.5 per cent in 2008, and fiscal accounts will continue to be strained, S&P said.


 Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Haitians have been receiving medical assistance from a visiting team of U.S. military doctors.

The doctors are part of the Navy hospital ship, Comfort, which is deployed on a four month humanitarian mission in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

The ship arrived in Port-au-Prince last week and will remain until April 19, during which time medical staff will treat patients onboard or in health centres across the capital.

They will also train local doctors and nurses, and deliver medical aid.

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