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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad - CMC – Members of the Joint Select Committee (JSE) on State Enterprises have asked executives of the state owned Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) to explain why a pilot employed to the airline made 100 free trips in one year – on personal business.

The issue was raised on Tuesday during a sitting of the committee when members of the airline’s executive appeared before the committee.

“Someone is using CAL as Air-Uber. This smacks of abuse of privilege,” said Chairman of the JSC, Independent Senator David Small who made reference to documents which showed that the pilot made the trips using a “jump-seat”.

CAL’s vice-president, Human Resources, Hyacinth Guy told the committee that all employees are entitled to 20 trips per year.

She said an analysis showed that on average, employees use between six and eight flights adding that the use of the jump-seat was industry practice and Human Resources would not have had sight of the frequency of flights used by the particular pilot.

She told the committee that in some cases some members of staff work in Trinidad but live elsewhere and could be utilizing the privilege an option, so it might not necessarily be an abuse of the system.

In response, Small said the JSC will have some clear recommendations for the airline although the number of flights taken by the employee may not have impacted on the revenue of the airline.

CAL’s chairman Shameer Mohammed who was also present at the sitting of the committee, said he too was concerned about the frequency in which some employees used the carrier.

 

 

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HAVANA (AP) -- The saleswomen in L'Occitane en Provence's new Havana store make $12.50 a month. The acacia eau de toilette they sell costs $95.20 a bottle. Rejuvenating face cream is $162.40 an ounce.

A few doors down, a Canon EOS camera goes for $7,542.01. A Bulgari watch, $10,200.

In the heart of the capital of a nation founded on ideals of social equality, the business arm of the Cuban military has transformed a century-old shopping arcade into a temple to conspicuous capitalism.

With the first Cuban branches of L'Occitane, Mont Blanc and Lacoste, the Manzana de Gomez mall has become a sociocultural phenomenon since its opening a few weeks ago, with Cubans wandering wide-eyed through its polished-stone passages.

Older Cubans are stunned at the sight of goods worth more than a lifetime's state salary. Teenagers and young adults pose for Facebook photos in front of store windows, throwing victory signs in echoes of the images sent by relatives in Miami, who pose grinning alongside 50-inch TV sets and luxury convertibles.

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(Trinidad Guardian) Irish-owned, Caribbean mobile phone group Digicel, is at an advanced stage of raising more than US$1 billion (€920 million) of debt to refinance borrowings that fall due over the next two years, the Irish Times reported on Saturday.

The news, which the Irish newspaper attributed to credit rating agencies, follows Digicel’s announcement in February that it would reduce its global workforce by 25 per cent over 18 months as it attempts to cut its costs and boost its earnings.

Digicel currently employs in excess of 6,500 full-time employees, which means it plans to terminate 1,625 employees.

The newspaper reported that Digicel International Finance, which owns assets across the Caribbean, is raising US$935 million in senior secured loans that are due to be repaid within the next five to seven years.

The telecommunications company is also said to be seeking to secure a US$100 million revolving credit facility.

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(Barbados Today) Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler says though the Barbados economy is definitely not well at the moment, he is yet to see the logic of those clamouring for Government to immediately put it into the hands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In rejecting out of hand the economic prescription issued last week by the recently dismissed Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr DeLisle Worrell, Sinckler warned on Sunday that even if the Freundel Stuart administration were to decide to go to the IMF tomorrow, it was unlikely that any tangible benefits would be realized from that move within the next six months.

And while at pains to point out that the economic problems the country was facing could not be fixed overnight, he further cautioned that a short term fix was more than desirable at this stage.

“We know the deficit is high, we know the Government is relying overly on the Central Bank, and that needs to be brought under a serious level of discipline and that we are going to do, but we have to do that in a responsible fashion,” Sinckler told reporters on the sidelines of his annual picnic at Bath, St John for senior citizens in his St Michael North West constituency.

“We didn’t get there overnight and I don’t think we are going to be able to unravel it overnight by the waving of a magic wand, or going and doing an IMF programme and so on.

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SÃO PAULO, CMC– A new World Bank report launched here on Thursday says that Latin America and the Caribbean have significant potential to increase Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to help close its infrastructure gap.

However, to achieve that, the Washington-based financial institution said the region should move beyond the common perception that PPPs are mainly an instrument to tackle fiscal constraints, and maximize their potential impacts on infrastructure quality, spending efficiency and transparency.

Private Financing of Public Infrastructure through PPPs in Latin America and the Caribbean is an in-depth assessment of the PPP scenario in the region, said the World Bank, adding that it analyzes the challenges and policy options countries have to increase private sector financing in public infrastructure.

“Combining public and private capital and taking advantage of the efficiency and innovation of the private sector can make a huge difference,” said Jorge Familiar, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“When well designed, PPPs bring greater efficiency and sustainability to public services,” he added. “As the region emerges from six years of economic slowdown, PPPs can help it boost infrastructure investments and strengthen the momentum for growth.”

The World Bank says most countries in the region have improved their legal and policy PPP frameworks in the last two decades, adding that 17 countries in the region already have fully functional PPP units. Currently, PPPs account for about 40 percent of Latin America and the Caribbean’s yearly infrastructure commitments, although there is great variation across countries and in time, the bank said.

Over the past 10 years, it said most PPPs in the region have been greenfield investments, mainly in the energy sector.

But the report reveals that private equity accounts for less than a third of total PPP financing, and about half of all PPP deals in the region received some form of government support between 2010 and 2014. The report finds that a key factor to boost efficiency and quality in PPP projects is suitable risk sharing, based on the capacities of the state, concessionary companies, users, financiers and insurers.

The report has also urged countries to avoid trying to offset poor project preparation by increasing risk for the public sector.

According to the report, well-designed PPP project screening saves time and money by quickly discarding bad projects or projects that are not suitable to PPPs.

Likewise, maintaining a project pipeline based on cost-benefit assessments that include social, economic and country political priorities, would enable more strategic decisions about whether a project if suitable for PPP financing, the report says.

It urges multilateral and domestic development finance institutions to play a “more active role” in both funding and provision of expertise, including knowledge transfers among countries, and in particular helping raise project quality and bankability to a level that enables private sector participation.

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