Caribbean News in Brief for September 15, 2011


Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: Allegations of a breach of Integrity in Public Life legislation against a minister in the previous People’s National Movement (PNM) administration has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for action.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the Integrity Commission had written to Minister of Transport Devant Maharaj informing him that the complaint he filed against former Finance Minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira in January 2009 had been referred to DPP Roger Gaspard.

She said Gaspard would look into the matter on the basis of the Integrity in Public Life Act.

Maharaj’s complaint stemmed from a conflict of interest concern since Nunez-Tesheira had presided over the CLICO/CL Financial bailout although she held interests in that company.

There were allegations that she had inside information and withdrew her money before the collapse of the company.

“We will await to see the findings of the Director of Public Prosecutions,” the Prime Minister said. “This will not go away so easily.”

Maharaj has welcomed the developments.


Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has accepted an invitation to become a member of the newly-established Haiti’s Presidential Advisory Council on Growth and Investment.

President Michel Martelly said he had invited Patterson, the Special Representative of CARICOM on Haiti, because of his “pedigree, personal skills, demonstrated leadership and involvement in social causes.”

The Council will be made up of political and business leaders from around the world who represent a diverse set of skills and perspectives that together, President Martelly hopes, will contribute to a genuine transformation in Haiti.

The Advisory Council will be charged with a three-fold set of objectives, as outlined in the invitation to Patterson. These are to promote the brand called “Haiti”; to advise the Office of the President on policy and strategic initiatives to improve the country’s competitiveness, enhance the economic outlook and attract investments that will create sustainable jobs; also to solicit investment sources to spur economic growth.

Martelly said that his administration remained committed to transforming the country as a place to “conduct business”, create sustainable jobs and establish an enduring foundation upon which Haiti may rise to economic prosperity. He said the Advisory Council is expected to play a critical role in achieving this vision.

Among the group invited to sit on the Council is former U.S. President Bill Clinton who, like Patterson, is a member of the Interim Haitian Reconstruction Committee (IHRC).

The first meeting of the Council is to be held in New York on September 21.


Georgetown, Guyana: The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a US$5 million loan to help boost the efficiency of Guyana’s power system through electricity loss reduction measures and improvements in the operation and maintenance of the distribution network.

The country’s main utility, Guyana Power and Light Ltd. (GPL), has estimated that more than half of its technical losses are attributable to deficiencies in the country’s 4,000 kilometers low-voltage network, 75 per cent of which is in need of upgrading.

The new program will rehabilitate a portion of the distribution network and continue a series of commercial loss reduction actions while financing capacity building and energy conservation activities.

The loan consists of a US$2.5 million credit from the Bank’s concessional Fund for Special Operations for a 40-year term, with a 40-year grace period, and at 0.25 per cent interest rate, plus another US$2.5 million credit from the IDB’s ordinary capital.

The second credit will have a 30-year term, a six-year grace period and a variable interest rate. The Government of Guyana will provide an additional US$500,000 in local counterpart funds.


Kingston, Jamaica: Insurance rating agency A.M. Best has issued a negative outlook on Jamaica International Insurance Company (JIIC) after the company continued to report underwriting losses.

A.M. Best said it decided on a downward revision of JIIC’s credit rating, because the underwriting losses are compounded by forecasts of depressed investment income from lower interest rates.

JIIC had always mitigated underwriting losses in the past with investment income, but that has been hurt by last year’s debt restructuring program called the Jamaica Debt Exchange.

A.M. Best, in its rating commentary, said it acknowledges strategies by JIIC’s management to improve underwriting results.

However, the insurance rater said it was uncertain about the effectiveness of the strategies given the current challenges in the Jamaican insurance market.

It noted that JIIC has strong support from its parent company, GraceKennedy, which has demonstrated in the past that it is ready to finance the company if the need arises.

Even though JIIC was given a negative outlook, A.M. Best affirmed the company’s financial strength was still good.

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