UNDILUTED pays tribute to John Maxwell by featuring two previous columns by him from the Hot Calaloo UNDILUTED archives:
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abolishes personal income tax
Prime Minister Gaston Browne yesterday announced that, effective April,
personal income tax will be abolished in its entirety. The
prime minster, who made the announcement in his presentation of the 2016
Budget yesterday, said this was a promise made to the people of Antigua
and Barbuda during the election campaign.
He said with the elimination of the income tax, more than EC$30 million
(One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) will be back in the pockets of the people.
cost of collecting PIT (personal income tax); the difficulty of
enforcement; and its unfairness, with most of the self-employed not paying
or not paying their fair share; make it sensible to remove the PIT from
our books,” said Browne who is also finance minister He noted that with
this move, Antigua and Barbuda will be a location that is competitive and
also the choice of retirees.
and Barbuda will become a competitive location to attract the headquarters
of companies and for professionals to relocate, thereby creating more
jobs. Retirees will choose Antigua and Barbuda as their retirement home;
Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) investors will invest and choose
Antigua and Barbuda over our competitors,” said the prime minister.
the loss of $37 million in revenue with this decision, the elimination of
the PIT will be partially substituted by an increase in the Revenue
Recovery Charge from 10 per cent to 13 per cent, which is expected to
yield an additional $20 million in revenue. “
added that all food items in the basket of goods will be exempt from this
Additional measures will be made to compensate for any loss in revenue. These include the establishment of a Revenue Court, which will allow for the efficient and effective enforcement of tax collection; an adjustment to the corporation; and business legislation and the introduction of the Unincorporated Business Tax Act.
virus causes world concern
The Caribbean is on alert as the Zika virus spreads. As of February 4, 2016, The Zika virus that is ravaging the Americas is unprecedented. The World Health Organization predicts as many as 4 million new cases within a year. The US issued travel alerts for 30 nations and territories because of the Zika virus, namely:
- Barbados, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe,Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto
Rico, Saint Martin, U.S. Virgin Islands (include St. Croix, St. John and
Zika is a viral disease transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that
causes fever, muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea and rash. These
symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
there is evidence that Zika fever in pregnant women can cause abnormal
brain development in their fetuses by mother-to-child transmission, which
may result in miscarriage or microcephaly. Similarly, a link has been
established with neurologic conditions in infected adults, including
Guillain–Barré syndrome. Microcephaly
is cause for great alarm as it is a
condition where a baby is born with a small head or the head stops growing
after birth. In
January 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
issued a health advisory warning
pregnant women to postpone travel to any area where Zika virus
transmission is ongoing.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available. The best
form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
top research institute said Friday that Zika has been detected in urine
and saliva, but added that there is no proof the virus can be transmitted
through those fluids
Investigators have been exploring the possibility the virus also can be
spread through sex. It was found in one man's semen in Tahiti, and there
was report of a Colorado researcher who caught the virus overseas and
apparently spread it to his wife back home in 2008.
mosquito-borne virus poses a double threat to many of these countries and
islands, as they are travel hot spots whose economies depend on tourism.
For example, tourism is a large part of GDP in Barbados (37 percent),
the U.S. Virgin Islands (30 percent) and Jamaica (28 percent).
The Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) was the top-performing index in the
world 2015, according to Bloomberg, topping 92 markets tracked by the
global financial research company. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average
dipped about one per cent and the Euro Stoxx 50 lost six per cent in
dollar terms, the JSE saw a 90 per cent surge in 2015 based on “foreign
acquisitions, stronger investor safeguards and a rebounding economy”,
Bloomberg said in an article published on Christmas Eve.
In the article entitled ‘Its Jammin: Jamaica Stock Market conquers
the world’, written by Ezra Fieser, Bloomberg noted that the small JSE
market with ballpark capitalisation of US$5.3 billion (or $574 billion
yesterday) is now attracting global attention. The JSE is a mere fraction
of the US-based Dow with a capitalisation of some US$5.23 trillion.
virtue of its small size, “Jamaica lives on the fringe of frontier
status”, Bloomberg noted, but pointed out that the JSE has staged a
comeback from 2014 when its benchmark index lost five per cent, and 2013
when it slipped 13 per cent.
of the 57 stocks traded on the main and junior markets in Jamaica saw
yearover- year post-tax profits rise 10 per cent or more.
of those saw profits spike more than 100 per cent, led by the Jamaica
Stock Exchange Group’s 1,658 per cent growth for a $1.2 million profit
for the 12 months that ended in September,” Bloomberg said. Outstanding
performers included companies like Caribbean Cement Co and Pulse
Investments Ltd. Pulse surged 557 per cent in share value.
noted that roughly $700,000 a day in securities were traded in the first
11 months of the year, up nearly 40 per cent from last year.
In the 2016 Doing Business Report, Jamaica was named among the 10 most
improved economies for doing business in the world. The country's ranking
moved from 71st to 64th in the world, placing Jamaica as first in the
Caribbean in respect of the ease of doing business, and sixth in Latin
America and the Caribbean.
Rico’s bankruptcy gets worse
Rico's $72 billion public debt crisis has forced congressional leaders to
pay attention to a U.S. territory that's usually on the sidelines of
island has been mired in economic stagnation for nearly a decade. The
governor now says Puerto Rico's debt is unpayable and needs restructuring.
White House and Democrats in Congress say the United States needs to
change the law to allow the territory to declare bankruptcy. Republicans
say they want to fix the symptoms of the problem first.
Alejandro Garcia Padilla says that if Congress doesn't act soon, Puerto
Rico is headed toward a "humanitarian crisis under the United States
all U.S. states and territories, Puerto Rico cannot declare bankruptcy
under federal law. Mainland municipalities and their utilities can;
municipalities and utilities in Puerto Rico cannot. The island's public
utilities are heavily indebted, and Garcia's administration is pushing
Congress to allow them to declare bankruptcy.
the island isn't able to restructure its debt, officials have said they
will have to start laying off police officers, firefighters, medical
professionals and other public employees. Garcia has said that could lead
to a humanitarian crisis.
Haitian President Martelly
Haitian president, Michel Martelly, left office
amid an electoral crisis that underscored how Haiti has struggled to
maintain democratic order since the 1986 ouster of Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Mr. Martelly departed at the end of his five-year term, thanks to a
last-minute agreement that laid out steps to choose a provisional
government to take his place. Although the agreement left major doubts
about who will govern the nation in the months to come, experts hailed it
as an important move toward at least temporarily resolving a political
impasse that had put hundreds of protesters on the streets.
who took office in May 2011, is departing on what was scheduled as the
first day of Port-au-Prince’s annual three-day Carnival celebration.
However, authorities called off earlier festivities because of a tense
atmosphere amid the political uncertainty.
Lawmakers are beginning a process to patch together a short-term interim government to smooth political divisions and fill the void left by Martelly’s departure. Prime Minister Evans Paul remains in office for now, awaiting a provisional president to be chosen by Parliament in the coming days.
Jamaica 500 maths and science teachers quit over 2
Nearly 500 mathematics and science teachers left the Jamaica public
secondary school system between the 2014 and 2015 academic year. This was
revealed in the House of Representatives Tuesday by Minister of Education
Thwaites said that an interim measure, introduced in 2014, which
involves the use of maths specialists and coaches in primary and secondary
schools has not solved the attrition issue, despite significantly
improving the level of passes at both the grade four and Caribbean
Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC).
He said that in response, the ministry has developed a strategy with
objectives including: increasing the number of fully qualified maths and
science teachers by 200 annually, totalling 600 by 2021; provide
incentives to increase their retention; and improve systems to predict and
respond to the demand for teachers within the sector.
lose sugar estates jobs in Jamaica
hundred and eighty-five sugar workers from the Pan-Caribbean-run Monymusk
and Frome sugar estates in Jamaica have been sent home after the company
advised them that their
positions are to be made redundant.
Monymusk in Clarendon will lose 279 mainly field workers, while the 106
workers from the Frome estate to go is an almost even split between
factory and field workers.
The bad news was announced at a planned union/management meeting with
the affected workers at Monymusk, where the company said the cost of
labour, poor yields and “environmental challenges” have negatively
affected its operations The union is, meanwhile, seeking to have the more
than 100 field workers who were laid off in August, in addition to another
250 from Monymusk to receive their redundancy entitlements. He explained
that the company claimed these were temporary workers, or on short-term
contracts, but that at no point was it ever established to these workers
that they were temporary. “These are deliberate strategies to frustrate
individuals [and an] underhanded type of employment,” he claimed.
The union official pointed out that the cuts brings, the total number
of workers separated from their jobs in the industry through redundancy to
1,250 since the end of the 2014/15 crop year, noting that people employed
to Everglades Farms, which runs the Long Pond and Hampden estates, are yet
to receive all of their notice pay.
Pan-Caribbean represents the Chinese firm COMPLANT International Sugar Industry Limited to which Government divested its sugar assets at Monymusk, Frome, and Bernard Lodge in 2011.
threatens to 'shut down' Barbados airport
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) says it is prepared to
“shut down” the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) in
Barbados. NUPW President Akanni McDowall said his members at the airport
are owed outstanding monies dating back to 2010 and it is not clear
whether the payment would be made soon.
“I have said that I will do whatever is needed to make sure that
those workers get what they deserve and if it means taking the airport
management to the level where they are uncomfortable, then I will do
that,” McDowall said. “If that includes protest action, shutting down
the airport, whatever, but the workers are owed money and they must have
McDowall said the union met with the GAIA management recently and it
was agreed that the outstanding monies would have been paid.
millions trying to divest airport
Finance Corporation (IFC) — an arm of the World Bank that provides
financial and technical assistance to developing countries — was paid
the bulk of the $120 million (US$1 million) that the Jamaican Government
spent on the recent failed attempt to divest the operations of Norman
Manley International Airport (NMIA).
According to the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing’s breakdown
of the cost of the effort, which failed to produce a bidder, the IFC was
paid J$684,000 (US$82.6 million) of the total amount in consultancy fees.
Other payments listed by the ministry are:
provides J$3m relief for coffee farmers
provides J$3m relief for coffee farmers
coffee farmers in East Rural St Andrew, whose crops were destroyed by bush
fires last year, have received $3 million in relief support from the
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to assist in restoring their
provision includes grants of $30,000 for each acre of land scorched;
seedlings and plants; fertilizers; and other inputs to assist with land
preparation. These allocations are part of the ministry’s $25 million
rehabilitation and mitigation programme for farmers who were affected by
the fires in 2015, being implemented with the Rural Agricultural
Development Authority (RADA).
program, which commenced last year, entails provisions for: the
rehabilitation and replanting of coffee in the Blue Mountain Ridge - $18.5
million; rehabilitation and replanting of bananas and plantains destroyed
in rural St Andrew - $1.5 million; and strengthening the sector’s
resilience against adverse drought and resulting fires in critical
productive zones - $4.9 million.
president challenges Obama to end “cold war”
French President François Hollande is urging U.S. President Barack
Obama to end the “Cold War” against Cuba. Hollande’s comments came
during Cuban President Raul Castro’s historic visit to France recently.
“This embargo, the blockade must be scrapped,” Hollande said at a
press conference after meeting Castro. “President Obama, who has taken
things forward, must, as he himself has said, follow through and bring an
end to this vestige of the Cold War.”
Hollande welcomed the 84-year-old leader to the Elysée presidential
palace and said France will further help Cuba by converting 200 million
euros of its debt into an investment fund.
He also said the government will set up a Franco-Cuban fund of 212
million euros to encourage French companies to invest in Cuba. The trip to
France is the first by a Cuban head of state since Fidel Castro visited
then President Francois Mitterrand in 1995.
approves $600-per-week minimum wage increase
Jamaica has a new minimum wage. The proposed increases are to become
effective on March 1. The national minimum wage will be increased from
$5,600.00 per 40-hour work week, or $140.00 per hour, to $6,200.00 per
40-hour work week, or $155.00 per hour. The proposed adjustment to the
national minimum wage constitutes a 10.71 per cent increase, while the
increase in the minimum wage for industrial security guards constitutes an
increase of eight per cent from the previous rates established in January
Government donates 6 ambulances to Jamaica
Governor-general Sir Patrick Allen has expressed sincere gratitude to
Japanese Ambassador Masanori Nakano for six new ambulances, which were
presented to St John Ambulance of Jamaica, during a ceremony held on the
lawns of King’s House recently.
“This donation of
ambulances is an immense boost on the occasion of the Order’s 116th year
of service to Jamaica,” the Governor-General stated.
“Given our nation’s
incidences of crime and accident rates, as well as our vulnerability to
hurricanes and earthquakes, these ambulances will facilitate St John’s
track record of being able to effectively render much-needed assistance,
especially in emergency situations,” he said.
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