Caribbean News in Brief for May 5, 2011


St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: Antigua and Barbuda has been earmarked as one of the sites in the Caribbean for a tsunami/earthquake monitoring station.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) weather station will provide high quality data that will give better insight into hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis.

It will provide information about the Eastern Caribbean subduction zone – the area most likely to generate earthquakes and tsunamis – and its associated faults, one of which is located northeast of Antigua.

Research Fellow at the UWI Seismic Research Unit at the St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad, Lloyd Lynch, and GPS Operations Manager with UNAVCO Plate Boundary Observatory, Karl Feaux, met last week with authorities in Antigua and Barbuda, including representatives from the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS).

Once formal permission has been granted to utilize the site, the team will return in June to make a number of preparations and is hoping to begin shipping equipment by September. Additional work will also be undertaken on another seismic station that is already located in Barbuda.

The weather station project is being funded by the European Union’s INTERREG and UNAVCO, a Colorado-based non-profit consortium of universities funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation to install and maintain the systems.


Kingston, Jamaica: The Government of Jamaica is seeking to extend its current borrowing arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for two additional years.

The US$1.27 billion Stand-by Arrangement (SBA) signed in February last year is scheduled to end in May 2012, but Finance Minister Audley Shaw announced during the Budget presentation last week that Cabinet has authorized him to seek a 24-month extension.

“This is a commitment by this government to staying the course of fiscal discipline,” he told Parliament.

“We believe it is in the best interest of the country to continue its relationship with the IMF. A continuation of the program will send a positive signal that will maintain stability, reinforce confidence, provide the important factor of certainty to stakeholders.”

Shaw said the business community has already expressed support for an extension of the 27-month SBA.

A review of the country’s performance is conducted by the IMF for every quarter under the arrangement and the Finance Minister said most of the quantitative targets for the 2010/11 fiscal year were met.

However, Shaw acknowledged that the primary surplus of J$53.4 billion (US$626.7 million) was J$4.2 billion (US$49.3 million) below the revised SBA target.


Kingston, Jamaica: The government’s announcement that the transfer tax and stamp duty on securities will be removed is being hailed and is also fueling predictions of a further reduction in lending rates.

Finance Minister Audley Shaw told Parliament last week that the abolition of the taxes will take effect on May 16.

Anya Schnoor, President of the Jamaica Securities Dealers Association, said the changes will have several benefits.

“It’s something that we’ve been lobbying for a long time. It’s a great move by the government…it will allow the free movement of a large part of the securities market that had been dormant for a long time, the corporate bond market and the commercial paper market.

“It’s something that should lead to reductions in interest rates, easier access to credit by corporations looking to retool their businesses and so forth, so we’re happy that the government has finally done this important move,” said Schnoor.


Kingston, Jamaica: The global economic crisis appears to have taken a toll on membership at credit unions across the country.

According to the 2010 Economic and Social Survey Jamaica there was a decline in credit union membership during the year.

The figure fell by 11,186 to 955,762.

Despite the drop, savings by credit union members increased by 8.5 per cent to $47.8 billion.

Additionally, the stock of loans issued by credit unions was estimated at $37.7 billion up 4.3 per cent when compared with 2009.

This contributed to the 7.6 per cent growth in the asset base of the 44 credit unions which stood at $60.7 billion at the end of the year.

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