Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News Nov. 6th

By Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados

Dateline LONDON:

The financial secrets of the world’s elite have been revealed in a huge leak of documents.  The material, which has come from two off-shore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens, was obtained by the German newspaper, Suddeutschew Zeittung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, including the Guardian BBC AND THE New York Times.  The so-called “Paradise Papers” show that many global figures, including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, have invested private money in offshore funds in Caribbean tax havens.  The leaked documents also show substantial payments made from a firm co-owned by Vladmir Putin’s son-in-law to the shipping group of the US Commerce Secretary, Wilber Ross.  At the centre of the leak is the law firm called Appleby, which has outposts in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands (BVI).  The firm says it advises its clients on legitimate and legal ways to reduce their tax bills and denies any wrongdoing, stressing that it does not tolerate illegal behavior.  The details come from a leak of more than 13.4 million files going back 70 years which expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive.

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

Accountants are being encouraged to take the lead in offering sound advice, not just on issues of finances and transparency, but in helping to chart a path forward.  In what could be regarded as a message to accountants to help the Freundel Stuart administration in a sustainable growth path for the Barbados economy, Reverend Adrian Smith of the Calvary Moravian Church told a special church service that it is time for accountants to get moving.

The Barbados Community College is being told to stop complaining about the lack of government funding and become more innovative and “start making bricks from straw”.  The recommendation has come from Minister of Education Ronald Jones in response to a plea from Acting Principal of the BCC, Cheryl Weekes for more financial support for the tertiary institution which she said was underfunded and is in a state of deterioration.

Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:

Attorney-General Faris Al-Rawi, has noted a quest for asylum in Canada made last week by some local prison officers and he is calling on the Prison Officers Association (POA) to lead the charge in finding out how weapons and cellular phones make their way behind bars by vetting its officers.  Al-Rawi was responding to a movement last week by the association where some 50 officers went to the Canadian High Commission to ask for asylum in that country.

The government’s first public/private partnership (PPP) venture between the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and NH International (Caribbean) Ltd is in trouble.  NH’s executive chairman, Emile Elias wants what amounts to a government guarantee for the project while HDC is threatening to revoke the contract.  Elias, chairman of Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) is of the view that the guarantee is being blocked by a senior government official.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck says plea bargaining could become a game changer for the criminal justice system.  He argued that the initiative may ease some of the pressures on the country’s overburdened justice system.   “The backlog in the court cannot continue.  We have to buy into it, because with a guilty plea, you save the country an enormous amount of resources.  The cost of trying a case is enormous.” Chuck said.

Dateline Nassau, THE BAHAMAS:

Attorney-General Carl Bethel revealed that the government intends to amend the law and allow children born to unmarried Bahamian men and foreign women an “automatic” right to Bahamian citizenship.  Bethel’s revelation came after Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ announcement last week that the government intends to amend the law to ensure that all children born outside The Bahamas to Bahamian women automatically receive Bahamian citizenship.

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) leader, Philip Brave Davis says he believes Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ announcement that the government will increase the salaries of members of parliament, was a decision “made out of envy”.  Davis also said the move showed the level of hypocrisy in the Free National Movement (FNM) as “it continues to fail to deliver promises made in the leads up to the 2017 general election.”

Dateline Caracas, VENEZUELA:

One of Venezuela’s major opposition parties has decided to run in local elections next month despite a boycott by others, deepening a split in the Democratic Unity coalition to the glee of President Nicolas Maduro and his ruling Socialist Party.  Three of the four main groupings in the coalition have vowed to participate in the December 19 balloting for 335 mayors and one governor because they believe the election system is rigged.  But the fourth party, A New Time, based in oil-rich Western Zulia State where the governorship is up for grabs, argues Maduro must still be fought at the ballot box to avoid simply handing him more political space.