Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News Nov. 23rd
By Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados
Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team has left Barbados convinced that government is not doing enough to fix its fiscal problems. Judith Gold, head of the IMF delegation that conducted the Annual Article IV consultation between November 7th and Tuesday, is therefore urging the Freundel Stuart administration to cut its spending further. Failing this, the island’s debt problems would continue, she warned. The IMF is also offering its help to government. “It stands ready to assist the government of Barbados, including through continued policy dialogue and technical assistance,” Gold said.
A Barbados Labour Party (BLP) government would do anything that is “legal and moral” to drag the struggling economy from the brink”, BLP leader Mia Mottley has vowed. Mottley did not say if this included an arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) although the BLP has said in the past it would consider a home grown programme based on an IMF model. In fact, the international lending institution was not mentioned at all while she fielded questions yesterday at the monthly business luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) at Hilton Barbados Resort. However, in response to a question about engaging multilateral organizations, the opposition leader made it clear that the BLP would do whatever was necessary to get the job done.
In an attempt to avoid a possible roadblock, government is making a last ditch effort to get the full support of the Social Partners for the Barbados Sustainable Recovery Plan (BSRP) 2017, which is due to be laid in Parliament by next month. Barbados Today understands that a draft of the 104-opage document was given to the Social Partners on Monday last week, ahead of a meeting which took place just over 48 hours later. However, it is understood that all parties did not agree fully with the draft document, prompting minister of finance, Chris Sinckler to schedule another meeting with the Social Partners for later this week in order to “refine” some aspects of the plan in the hope of getting their full backing. The plan, which is designed to “put the Barbados economy on a path of sustainable economic recovery and reinvigorate social progress” was first announced by Sinckler in his May 30 Budget presentation.
Government is in the process of establishing a Wages Board to look at regulating wages for categories of workers, especially those involved in security operations and daycare and elderly care facilities. Acting Chief Labour Officer, Victor Felix expressed optimism that the entity could be established before year end, while speaking to reporters after delivering remarks at his department’s Labour Management Relations seminar at the Warrens Office Complex.
Cable and Wireless West Indies Limited, which trades in Barbados as Flow, has been taken to court by a group of former shareholders. Acting on behalf of the Cable and Wireless Minority Shareholders Group, Q.C. Garth Patterson has filed a claim in the High Court in a class action against the directors of the utility company. Ricky Went, one of those spearheading the lawsuit, told reporters on the sidelines of the monthly luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Hilton Barbados, that when Cable and Wireless merged with other utility entities, the minority shareholders were effectively locked out of the company.
Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:
In hard times, people apparently turn to gambling. At a time of economic difficulty, the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) has recorded the highest level of sales and profitability inn its history. In fiscal year 2016/2017, the State company recorded $2.6 Billion in revenue. It paid out 70% of this revenue intake ($2 billion) in prizes, while it remitted $306 million to the Treasury.
Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:
The Inter American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a US$20 million loan to support the Jamaica government’s efforts to measurably increase the conviction rate for murders and other violent crimes. It said this project aims to help reduce homicides through intensified crime prevention activities, as well as to improve the quality and rate of criminal investigations being managed by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
Dateline Nassau, THE BAHAMAS:
Press Secretary Anthony Newbold, said Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis does not have to consult cabinet when he decides to reveal new policy initiatives on matters of national importance. “The Prime Minister makes statements that he thinks are appropriate for him to make, Newbold said. “He will make statements sometimes without consulting the cabinet and he has a right to do that.”