Caribbean News in Brief for Sept. 22, 2011


Kingston, Jamaica: Prime Minister Bruce Golding has criticized the Opposition’s job initiative, the Jamaica Emergency Employment Program (JEEP), which was outlined by Portia Simpson-Miller, the Leader of the People’s National Party (PNP) at its 73rd Annual Conference last Sunday.

Golding said the employment rate in Jamaica has increased over the last two quarters.

However, he did not say how he arrived at his conclusion.

The Statistical Institute of Jamaica has announced that because it was involved in the population census it had not done any surveys measuring employment in Jamaica.

During his remarks, Golding disagreed with Simpson-Miller’s proposal to increase job prospects.

“Mrs. Simpson-Miller seems to feel that the way to create jobs is to create special work programs that are going to have to be funded by the budget, that’s not going to work,” said Golding. “The way to do it is to create investments, get investments going (and) create the environment that would be conducive to investment.”

He said a big part of creating an environment for investment is getting macro-economic harmony and cited a reduction in interest rates.

“When in Jamaica’s recent history, if ever at all, do you recall for the eight months of this year up to the end of August, the inflation rate, total inflation in Jamaica was less that 4 per cent?” Golding asked.


Montreal, Canada: An official of a business school in Montreal has issued a formal apology over an incident last week involving more than two dozen new students made up in black faces, waving a Jamaican flag and chanting statements in support of the smoking of marijuana.

In the apology on Monday, September 19, Jacques Nantel, the General Secretary of HEC Business School, said he was expressing regret both from the school and students.

He said the incident showed racism based on ignorance.

It involved between 25 and 30 first-year students in business administration at the 13,000 member school.

Nantel said he was not aware of whether any complaint had been filed with the Quebec Human Rights Commission over the incident. However, he said an investigation by the school continues and there could be sanctions.

Last week, University spokesman Michael Lartigau said the students were paying tribute to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt in the spirit of the Olympics.


Philipsburg, St. Maarten: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has suggested that a Value Added Tax (VAT) be introduced in St. Maarten as part of changes aimed at revamping the country’s tax system.

Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto said the IMF has also suggested that the rates for income and profit tax be lowered, and that the country synchronize its currency policies with Curacao.

According to the Daily Herald newspaper, Shigemoto said while government “definitely takes heed” of these recommendations, they needed to be placed in the political reality of the day.

“We need to decide what we are doing with dollarization versus a common currency. The IMF did advise that we first take care of the majority of the issues they presented before going over to dollarization. So in essence they think we can dollarize, but not just yet,” he said.

Citing concerns about the amount of products imported into St. Maarten and Curacao, the IMF mission said more work is needed on revitalizing the economy.

“What the IMF found encouraging and comforting is that the issues as presented were not a surprise to anyone they spoke with and each minister and ministry could elucidate on plans to address most of the issues,” said Shigemoto. “This demonstrates that the government is on the right track.”


Port-au-Prince, Haiti: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced plans to discuss the gradual reduction of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) peacekeeping force with the Caribbean nation’s government.

The announcement followed violent protests about a sexual assault on an 18-year-old resident, allegedly by five Uruguayan peacekeepers.

In a broadcast, Ban apologized for the incident, which he termed “totally unacceptable”.

While he praised MINUSTAH’s contribution to the country since 2004, he said he also understands the frustrations of the Haitian people.

MINUSTAH has more than 8,700 soldiers and 3,500 police in Haiti. Its mandate expires October 15.


Bridgetown, Barbados: LIME Barbados has blamed the rising cost of raw material for its decision to increase its basic residential access effective October 15.

Managing Director Alex McDonald said the price hike was unavoidable and will partly cover the rising cost of raw materials including utilities and copper to maintain this important basic residential service.

The rate moves to BBD $43.99 from the previous $42.10.

At the same time, the company said some valued-added services including caller name and number will be reduced by $1.

“Given the reduction in prices for value-added services, the average price change is likely to be marginal and customers having all services will see a net reduction,” McDonald said in a release.

LIME said it has notified the Fair Trading Commission that the company will adjust some of its rates in line with the Price Cap regulation model.

The price adjustment complies with the Fair Trading Commission’s second Price Cap decision delivered in 2008, which sets out among other things how the company should manage its rates and the rules for adjusting rates and tariffs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>