Caribbean News Briefs

DEADLY FLOODS

Port-au-Prince, Haiti: At least 11 people have been killed in floods triggered by heavy rains.

The deaths occurred in the southeastern port city of Les Cayes, which was flooded by more than five feet of water.

Officials say buildings affected included a hospital and a prison where more than 400 inmates were evacuated.

About a million Haitians are still homeless following January’s earthquake which killed approximately 230,000 people.

The floods have come several weeks ahead of the nation’s traditional rainy season.

POSITIVE OUTLOOK

Bridgetown, Barbados: The International Monetary Fund says economic activity in Barbados will improve as the global economy gradually expands, but the recovery’s timing remains uncertain.

Following a five-day visit to Bridgetown, the IMF chief of mission, Marcello Estavao, said in a statement that the global recession has curbed tourism and affected related activities such as construction and trade.

Estavao said despite the hardships, policy moves have limited the adverse effects of the crisis.

The IMF also noted that international reserves are at comfortable levels, due to successful foreign debt placement last year.

The IMF says despite the uncertain outlook, the high level of public debt limits the room for further government spending.

Public debt is now above 100 per cent of gross domestic product.

PROTEST

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: Some workers at two government revenue collection agencies stayed off the job Monday, calling the action a dry run for wider protest.

Members of the Public Service Association (PSA), a public sector union, are objecting to a plan to merge the tax-taking operations of Inland Revenue and Customs departments.

The union’s action had the backing of new Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

The PSA claims about half its membership at the two departments responded to the call stay off the job.

RECOMMENDATION

Kingston, Jamaica: Caribbean governments are being encouraged to increase their disaster insurance coverage in the wake of the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile.

The recommendation has come from Simon Young, who runs the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, in which governments in the region pool their premiums.

Young said it was important that governments pursue hurricane and earthquake risk with equal vigour.

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