Caribbean News Briefs-November 25-09

TAX CONCERNS

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders are planning to raise their concerns about the controversial Air Passenger Tax with United Kingdom officials attending the Commonwealth Summit, which begins tomorrow and runs until Sunday.

An increase in the air passenger duty this month resulted in economy passengers paying US$83, while first class passengers are charged twice that amount.

Caribbean tourism officials fear the tax rise will lead to fewer travelers from the UK visiting the region.

CARICOM officials say leaders would like the Caribbean to be placed in a different tax bracket, under which economy passengers pay US$74.

RESTRUCTURING

St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: The government is planning to restructure its financial system following the alleged seven billion dollar fraud scheme masterminded by investor, Allen Stanford.

In her annual address to parliament on Monday, Governor General Dame Louise Lake- Tack accused Stanford of compromising the island’s regulatory integrity.

Dame Louise said that laws will be amended to ensure adequate monitoring and compliance with anti-money laundering requirements.

Stanford has denied the charges against him, and is currently in a U.S. jail awaiting trial.

In addition, former chief financial regulator Leroy King has been under house arrest after U.S. authorities accused him of accepting bribes to ignore Stanford’s activities, and providing false information to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

ENHANCED POWER

Kingston, Jamaica: A senior military officer wants troops to be given more powers to help fight crime.

Major General Stewart Saunders is calling for legislation that would allow soldiers to search, detain and arrest suspected criminals.

Jamaican troops already accompany police on some operations to restore law and order in troubled communities.

RULING TO COME

Port-au-Prince, Haiti: The government will know in a few weeks whether assets frozen in a Swiss bank will be returned to the state, or handed over to the family of former dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.

Jean Claude Duvalier, who succeeded his father as the country’s president in 1971, has been accused of stealing state assets and destroying the economy.

The government has been trying to recover the funds since he was forced out in 1986.

Switzerland’s Supreme Court will make a ruling in the coming weeks.

ARRESTED

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Dozens of Haitians have been arrested in the neighbouring Dominican Republic on charges of cutting down trees and plants in a national park, to use for agricultural purposes.

The director of the environmental protection agency in Santo Domingo says 66 people were arrested after the department received complaints of deforestation.

Another 46 Haitians were arrested recently on similar charges involving a forest in the northeast of the country.

 

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