Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News Feb. 7th

By Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

Whoever forms the next government will have a Budget continuing Barbados’ heavy reliance on tax revenue and domestic financing.  Direct foreign funding is predicted to decline as the administration contends with a $1.3 Billion fiscal gap this year.  The dependence on money from home was illustrated by the projection that Value Added Tax (VAT) will become a more than $1 Billion revenue source.  At the same time, however, the Freundel Stuart administration  yesterday declared that its 2019/19 Budget, better known as the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, would see its total spending decrease by $16.5 million when compared with 2017/18’s numbers.  It added that revenue would also increase by 3.3 per cent.

A fresh attempt is being made to solve the worsening sewage crisis, with the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) admitting that interim measures to control the problem have failed.  Following a meeting yesterday among top officials of the BWA, the Ministry of Health and the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), BWA General Manager, Keithroy Halliday announced that 300-foot injection wells must now be dug as a matter of urgency as time was running out.

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is warning of the possibility of Barbados descending into violence if political parties do not control the actions of over-zealous supporters eager to cross the lione.  Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Sinckler also cautioned that unnamed persons who he said had illegally recorded the phone calls and internet transmissions of public officials and private individuals during the tenure of the last Barbados Labour Party government, were “waiting in the wings” for the call of elections to continue their “dastardly” acts

Government is to clear over $200 million in arrears to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) after the two sides signed a long-awaited deal.  Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said he had inked the agreement over a a week ago, under which the administration would pay some of the arrears in cash and the remainder in government paper.

Opposition to the Police (Amendment) Bill 2017 is mounting.  The Barbados Bar Association along with two constitutional experts, have added their voice to the growing criticism against the amendments which seek, among other things, to give expanded powers to the Royal Barbados Police Force.  They include authority to impose cordons and curfews, to stop and search people and vehicles, and to enter homes within the cordon, all without a warrant.  The Bar Association says the amendments are unconstitutional and unnecessary.

Dateline Basseterre, ST. KITTS:

High Court Registrar, Janine Harris-Lake, the sister of Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, has so far refused to list a hearing to enforce the award of a monetary judgement against tourism minister, Lindsay Grant, despite several requests from the plaintiff to do so.  In September, 2016, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court ruled in favour of political consultancy, Buzzmaker who sued Grant over failure to make payment related to services provided in the lead-up to the 2010 general elections in the Federation.  In spite of the High Court ruling in Buzzmaker’s favour in September, 2016, a year and a half later, Buzzmaker has yet to receive the final judgement from the Court.

Dateline Kingstown, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES:

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines government has announced a series of tax measures including a “rainy-day fund” it said had been lauded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.  Finance Minister Camilo Gonzalves, delivering his first national budget to Parliament on Monday nite, said that nationals would benefit from a reduction in the tax burden, while a Climate Resilience Levy will be imposed on visitors.






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