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(Jamaica Observer) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission team to Jamaica says that steadfast implementation of the Government’s reform programme will be essential for continued macroeconomic stability, growth and job creation.

In a statement on the visit of the team, which arrived here on February 20 and left on March 3, Mission Chief Uma Ramakrishnan said: “This will require a sustained, multi-year focus on improving public sector efficiency and maintaining the Government’s wage bill on a firm, downward path.

“Next steps include passing the pension Bill and rolling out an early retirement programme, finalising the medium-term compensation policy for government workers, consolidating public bodies and accelerating the introduction of the human resources software.

“Further, enhancing financial sector supervision and crisis preparedness, including through the adoption of a robust crisis resolution framework, are near-term priorities. Increasing the operational autonomy and accountability of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) and improving the ways in which it interacts in the currency markets to make those interactions more efficient and more market-based will support the intended transition to an inflation-targeting framework for monetary policy.”

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(V. I. Consortium) ST. CROIX — Senator Kurt Vialet on Thursday told The Consortium that negotiations were ongoing between the the Government of the Virgin Islands and the territory’s two rum companies, for the government to keep all of the $18.2 million in adjusted rum excise tax payments remitted to the G.V.I. late last month by the U.S. Department of Interior.

If Diageo USVI and Cruzan Rum — the companies receive a generous percentage of the tax revenues — agree to allow the government to collect the entire $18.2 million, the monies would serve as an added lifeline to the government, whose finances remain precarious, as it grapples with a structural deficit of over $100 million.

Asked about bondholders receiving some of the funds, Mr. Vialet said that the government had already met its debt obligation to its creditors with the over $200 million in rum cover-over funds the government received for fiscal year 2016.

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(Barbados Today) Despite assurances by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler that there will be no devaluation of the Barbados currency under their watch, the international credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) is warning Barbadians that the dollar is still in danger.

S&P today warned that unless the Stuart administration did a better job at controlling its debt and restoring foreign reserves, the dollar was at risk of devaluation.

It was the same dire warning that the now fired Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr DeLisle Worrell first gave in January and repeated last month, a week after both Sinckler and Stuart had insisted the dollar was safe as long as they were in office.

And speaking at a news conference on Monday, the Minister of Finance again assured Barbadians that there would be no devaluation as the country was not facing a “doomsday” scenario.

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(Trinidad Express) Port of Spain-headquartered First Citizens will help boost ­Barbados’ supply of US dollars, Barbados Finance Minister Chris Sinckler said in a February 28 Government Information Service (GIS) statement.

Sinckler told Barbados media: “I am advised that the way is clear for the first tranche of the draw down on the Sam Lord’s loan to occur any day now, as advised by the EXIM Bank of China in writing to the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc (BTI). Similarly, all docu­mentation to facilitate the release of the First Citizens Bank Bridging Loan for the CAF-sponsored upgrades to Customs and the Barbados Revenue Authority is settled and that too will be released in the coming days.”

The statement, headlined “Boost For Foreign Exchange ­Reserves” was about Barbados “foreign exchange reserves (being) boosted by more than Bds$200 million (US$100 million), thereby pushing levels back up above 12 weeks of imports”.

For a separate loan, in a separate document—the order paper for Barbados’ Parliament’s 102nd sitting on February 28, Sinckler was listed “to move the passing of a resolution to approve the guarantee by the Minister of Finance of the principal sum of Bds$17.625 million and interest thereon to be borrowed by Barbados Conference Services Ltd from First Citizens Bank (Barbados) Limited to assist with the outfitting of new offices at the Lloyd Erskine ­Sandiford ­Centre.”

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(Trinidad Guardian) The government is moving ahead with plans to introduce a new regime to regulate and impose taxes on the nation’s casino’s with a call for the submission of public comments by the Joint Select Committee (JSC) established to review the Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Bill.

The call for public comments on the gambling legislation was published as an advertisement in yesterday’s Guardian.

The advertisement stated that the legislation “seeks to provide for the establishment of the Gambling Control Commission for the purpose of regulating the gaming and betting sectors which are, both on a global and national level, vulnerable to infiltration by money launderers and terrorist financing.”

The legislation also seeks to establish a licencing regime that will establish strict criteria for obtaining a licence, which will assist in reducing the potential for money laundering and terrorism financing.

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