Caribbean News Round-up

Usain Bolt

TCI VAT debate begins
Time for smaller Caribbean governments?
Trinidad book launch
Usain joins IAAF centenary
Busy Signal 'wiser' after jail
VAT debate in the TCI
CI logo Now that there is a new government in the Turks and Caicos, the debate has shifted to the future of VAT in the islands.
New Premier Rufus Ewing said he had been meeting with stakeholders to review his country’s financial affairs.
He said he would then be in a position to make an informed decision on VAT, which is due to be introduced in April 2013.
“VAT is a policy decision and we were elected to make policies,” Premier Ewing told a news conference this week.
“I am of the view that that should be in our remit and our powers, and we will go out to put policies in place that are in the best interest of the Turks and Caicos.”
The UK’s Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds has said that the decision is up to the new TCI government which came to power earlier this month, ending three years of direct British rule.
However, according to the local media, some businessmen believe that VAT will still come in next year.
“At first glance, we welcome the minister’s [Simmonds’] statement,” a spokesman for the Turks and Caicos Independent Business Council told the TCI Free Post.
“However, we are fairly certain that the governor can and will override this, which doesn’t say a lot for democratic government in these islands.”
The Business Council represents a group of hundreds of TCI businesses that oppose the introduction of VAT.
The debate between the British authorities, the business sector and the newly-elected government is likely to heat up when Mr Simmonds visits TCI later in November.
Smaller governments?
CI logo The opposition economics spokesman of Barbados, Clyde Mascoll, has been speaking about whether Caribbean countries can afford their current level of government activity.
He told the Bahamas Tribune that Caribbean nations needed to look at statutory boards, agencies and other tiers of government.
“Most of the economies in the region can’t sustain the existing size of government. It does not mean getting rid of people; it means simply getting better value for the dollar spent,” he told the Tribune.
Mr Mascoll was one of the speakers at an Actuarial Association conference held in the Bahamas, where he called on the region to consider more divestment and encouragement of the private sector.
Twin island offer
CI logo Promoting both sides of its tourism offer, Trinidad and Tobago has a launched an introductory guide called Trinidad and Tobago: Terrific and Tranquil.
The twin island republic used the October World Travel Market to launch the new publication, referred to as the Gold Book, and marking its 50th independence anniversary in August.
On hand to promote the launch were some of the country’s best-known names, including Brian Lara, Dwight Yorke and Trinidad-born UK actor Rudolph Walker.
Century of athletics
CI logo The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is marking 100 years with a series of events in the capital of Spain’s Catalan region, Barcelona.
Events include the showcasing of outstanding moments in the world of athletics.
More than 120 star Olympic athletes, from 1948 to the present day, were being flown in to take part in the celebrations.
The world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, was nearly not fast enough on 23 November to catch his flight to the event.
He simply tweeted: “Thanks to the BA crew for waiting on me for the flight Barcelona. Sorry guys for being late.”
Busy enjoying home
CI logo Jamaican singer Busy Signal has said he’s a wiser man now he’s been released from prison and is back home in Jamaica.
Busy, who served six months in prison after being extradited to the States to face charges he’d avoided 10 years before, says his past had been haunting him.
“For a decade, I have been in prison in my own mind,” he told a news conference this week in Kingston.
“It has been a rough six months... To me it felt like six million years," he said.
“What I did came back to haunt me, but I am grown now. I really don't know how to explain what it felt like being locked away.
“It has a negative effect on my career and my health, but I also gained a lot of knowledge that will guide my steps for the rest of my life.”
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