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CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending January 4th, 2013

04 Jan

FIRE DESTROYS PART OF POPULAR MARKET IN HAITI—12/29/12
A huge fire in the capital city of Haiti has severely damaged a portion of a popular market. According to Frantz Lerebours, spokesperson for the Haiti police, dozens of vendor stalls at the Port Market burned to the ground, and few items were recovered. There were no reports of injuries or deaths, and authorities continue to investigate the cause of the fire.

LEADER OF HAITI SINGS WITH JULIO IGLESIAS—12/30/12
Michel Martelly, the president of Haiti, performed on stage with Spanish singer Julio Iglesias at a concert in the Dominican Republic. The concert was a fundraiser for impoverished children and was attended by designers Oscar de la Renta and Caroline Herrera, as well as American journalist Barbara Walters. This was Martelly’s first performance outside Haiti since his election as president in May 2011. He had been known in the past for his musical performances before becoming the country’s leader.

CARICOM CHAIRMAN CALLS FOR HALT IN SHIPPING OF HAZARDOUS WASTE—12/31/12
Dr. Kenny Anthony, chairman of CARICOM, and prime minister of St. Lucia, is calling for a halt to shipments of hazardous waste through the Caribbean Sea. These shipments represent a significant risk to the lives and livelihoods of those in the region, according to a press release from the CARICOM Secretariat. The call for stopping the shipments was made in advance of a transshipment of vitrified high-level waste from the United Kingdom. The shipment is on its way to Japan via the Caribbean Sea.

LARGEST DEBT GROWTH IN CARIBBEAN SEEN BY BAHAMAS—01/01/12
According to Moody’s, a Wall Street ratings agency, the Bahamas has experienced the largest relative increase in government debt of any nation in the Caribbean since 2008. The debt level is expected to reach 60 percent of the country’s CDP by 2015. The government debt increased to 21.8 percent of the CDP between 2008 and 2012. The debt ratio has doubled over the past ten years, driven in part by a declining fiscal balance.

OFFICIALS FROM BAHAMAS ATTEND RULE OF LAW CONFERENCE—01/02/12
Senior government officials from the Bahamas, including Melanie Griffin, Minister of Social Services and Community Development, and Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, attended the Caribbean Dialogue on Rule of Law and Gender-based Violence. The conference was held in Miami, Florida, and was hosted by the United States Department of State Office of Global Women’s Issues. The meeting included judges, prosecutors, police, and civil representatives from 12 Caribbean nations to discuss how to strengthen the rule of law and end gender-based violence in the region.

IMF BACKS CARIBBEAN VIA INTEREST-FREE LOANS—01/03/12
Caribbean nations welcomed the news that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will provide low-income countries in the region with zero-interest loans to support their efforts at fiscal consolidation. According to the IMF, providing the loans through a second extension will support the agency’s broader strategy of providing lending to developing countries to fight the continuing impact of the global economic crisis.

POLICE IN JAMAICA ARREST FUGITIVE FROM CAYMANS—12/31/12
A man wanted by the Cayman Islands on several criminal charges was captured by Jamaican police in St. Ann. Dainian Henry, 31, also known as “Yellow,” is wanted by the Caymans for possessing an unregistered firearm, possession of cocaine with intent to supply, escaping custody, attempted robbery, threatening violence, resisting arrest, and providing a fake name and birth date to police. He was captured by the St. Ann operational support team during an operation in Bamboo after being on the run since October 2012.

FOOD FOR THE POOR HELPS TO BOOST FLEET OF MARINE POLICE—01/01/12
The Food for the Poor (FFP) organization has enhanced the capabilities of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Marine Division by presenting the force with a refurbished Contender Police Boat. The 32-foo-long boat will have an important part in help the fishing villages of Food for the Poor as well. FFP has 17 fishing villages across Jamaica as part of a project designed to empower poorer communities and help them become self-sufficient and independent. FFP refurbished the police boat in part to ensure that its villages would receive help if needed in emergencies or in case of crime.

CABINET REFERRED BY CONTRACTOR GENERAL FOR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION—01/02/12
Jamaica’s Office of the Contractor General (OCG) has formally referred the Cabinet of Jamaica for criminal prosecution for its failure to comply with legal requirements related to requisitions in several large investment projects. The OCG stated that it had tried over a number of months to contact the Office of the Cabinet in writing to request information about at least four government projects and had extended the deadline for provision of the information several times, but the final deadline expired on December 21, 2012.

RUM WARS IN CARIBBEAN TO BE PROLONGED BY NEW U.S. BUDGET—01/03/12
A new budget agreement implemented in the United States could prolong the so-called rum wars in the Caribbean. Rum producers in the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) could face serious ramifications from the new deal, which includes tax extensions for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. An excise tax of US$13.50 per proof-gallon on rum will now be extended for two more years. This revenue has permitted the U.S. territories to offer tax breaks to international producers with plants on the islands.
$340 MILLION OBTAINED VIA TRAFFIC TICKET AMNESTY PROGRAM—01/04/12
Jamaica’s government has received about $340 million from its six-month-long amnesty plan for traffic tickets. According to Peter Bunting, Minister of National Security, over 60 percent of the total monies were received on the final day of the amnesty. Motorists waited until the last possible moment to take advantage of the plan, with some 21, 000 individuals showing up at tax offices across the island on December 31, 2012.

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