Caribbean Briefs October 19, 2009

PROTECTING JOBS

Saint John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: Finance Minister Harold Lovell says the government will seek to avoid job losses under its proposed loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

The government has pledged to cut the public sector wages bill by 20 per cent over the length of the program.

Taxes on alcohol and tobacco will also increase.

The sales tax will be expanded to scores of previously excluded items.

Final details of the agreement, including the amount of money to be loaned, have not been negotiated. However, Lovell said Antigua could borrow up to US$125 million.

MILESTONE

Saint John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: Regional air carrier LIAT marked 53 years of continuous service to the Eastern Caribbean last weekend.

Although the carrier still faces several challenges, acting CEO Brian Challenger called for employees to work together to take the company to higher levels of achievement.

“While there should be justifiable pride and joy in attaining this milestone, this is no time for us to rest on our laurels,” said Challenger. “As we look to the future let us all strive to be professional and committed to this company which has played such an important role in our region’s development.”

Challenger said that the airline, like others in the industry, was not spared the effects of the ongoing global economic crisis.

He said, however, that the company remains committed to serving the region.

MULTI-TALENTED

Discovery Bay, Jamaica: At a charity cricket match held last weekend, sprinter Usain Bolt demonstrated that his athletic prowess reaches beyond the track.

Bolt showed off his cricket skills at the Kaiser Sports Ground in Trelawny. He delighted the crowd by smashing a six and bowled West Indian opening batsman and former captain, Chris Gayle.

Bolt scored 13 with the bat, including his six off Gayle’s off-spin.

Gayle’s team included former West Indian pace bowlers Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose.

Gayle hosted the tournament to raise funds for school sports equipment.

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