Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News Nov. 24th

By Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

Former Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Dr. DeLisle Worrell, is proposing an immediate radical restructuring of the Barbados economy.  It would see 4,500 public sector job cuts over the next three years, with retrenched civil servants going home with $270 million in separation packages funded by international institutions.  The Weekend Nation learnt that Worrell’s remedy also calls for government to enter a five-year structural adjustment programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  There would be conditionalities related to measurable targets for public sector reform”.  Tapping the IMF’s help would then “unlock finance from international financial institutions and official sources such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) he added.

A mere month after Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler publicly boasted of the performance of the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), it seems the dreaded tax is not reaching its revenue targets.  It was back in October that Sinckler revealed in Parliament that the NSRL, which was increased from two to ten per cent on July 1, had raked in $50 million in the three months following the announced increase in his May 30 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals.  However, in the Draft Barbados Sustainable Recovery Plan (BSRP) 2017, a copy of which was obtained by Barbados Today, ahead of its tabling in Parliament next month, officials of the Ministry of Finance who prepared the document following consultation with the Social Partnership, have suggested that the burdensome tax was now likely to perform weaker than earlier expected.

The Freundel Stuart-led Democratic Labour Party government is currently on a road to no where and the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) assessment of the island’s economic situation has confirmed this, the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has said.  In fact, two BLP economists have cried shame on the DLP administration for its handling of the economy, saying they were convinced things were getting worse instead of improving, despite burdensome tax measures.  BLP candidate for Christ Church East Central, Ryan Straughn and the Party’s candidate for St. Michael South Central, Marsha Caddle, spoke to reporters during a media conference in response to the latest IMF Article IV consultation which ended with the release of a preliminary assessment yesterday.  Straughn, an economist and past President of the Barbados Economic Society, said he was concerned about the direction in which the country was headed, adding that most worrying was the fact that Barbados’ foreign reserves declined by about four weeks in the last quarter of last year. For her part, Caddle said the IMF statement suggested that “Barbados is even in further decline and the latest fiscal measures had failed on every front.”

Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley will address the nation through a media conference at the Office of the Prime Minister this morning.  Rowley is expected to address the deteriorating state of lawlessness in the country, with the latest national embarrassment coming on Thursday when thugs blocked the Beetham Highway and attacked citizens entering and leaving the nation’s capital city.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert has confirmed that he denied permission to the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) to spend $3 million in celebration of its 50th Anniversary.  Imbert told The Express that the money collected by NLCB is for the benefit of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

The government of Jamaica is taking steps to improve the quality and efficiency of transactional public services with a US$160 million loan programme approved by the Inter American Development Bank (IDB).  The programme consists of a US$110 million policy-based loan and a US$50 million investment loan.  In support of the Jamaica Government’s Public Sector Transformation (PST) Programme, the loan package is expected to result in an improvement in service delivery in prioritized ministries, departments and agencies as evidenced by a reduction in waiting times and transaction costs as well as a better adaptation of the public sector workforce to citizens’ needs.

Dateline Nassau, THE BAHAMAS:

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has shrugged off questions on whether he regrets lambasting the media this past Saturday, charging that he is focused on growing the economy and creating jobs for Bahamians.  “I am heading to Cabinet’ he said yesterday, after viewing the body of the late Sir Arlington Butler at the House of Assembly.  “I’m going to approve some investment to try to grow the economy.  There are too many Bahamians out here who are hurting who need jobs.  That is my No. 1 priority.”

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