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(Trinidad Guardian) Finally - FATCA legislation has flown to success.

After five months of hard battle between the Government and Opposition, legislation to facilitate the Foreign Account Taxation Agreement (FATCA) between T&T and the United States was passed in the House of Representatives at 7.48 last night, with unanimous support from both sides.

“I finally beg to move, after many months - five months,” Finance Minister Colm Imbert said with a laugh of relief, as debate and final committee examinations of the legislation concluded.

Legislation was passed with amendments in several areas with the nod of approval from all 39 Government and Opposition MPs present.

At least three Opposition votes had been required for passage.

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(Barbados Today) No more tax please!

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has come out in full support of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommendation that this country’s rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) be lowered from 17.5 per cent to 16 per cent.

Addressing a meeting of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados here on Tuesday night, the former minister of finance also warned Government against any going the route of increased domestic taxation, saying any further reduction in the disposable income of Barbadians was bound to affect the performance of the VAT.

“So there is much merit in the proposal contained in the IMF report to lower the rate to 16 per cent, broaden the base by reducing the wide array of zero-rated and exempted transactions and hence let the VAT do the work that it was intended to do,” he said.

The VAT was introduced here back in January 1995 replacing a system with 11 taxes with a total yield of $416.32 million, or 14.25 per cent of nominal Gross Domestic Product.

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American and United have started selling cheaper 'basic economy' fares as they battle discount airlines for the most budget-conscious travellers.

 

American announced early Tuesday that it began selling the new fares for flights starting March 1 on 10 different routes from its hub airports in Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia and Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

United followed suit later in the day, posting reduced fares on some flights from Minneapolis to seven of its hub cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, for travel starting April 18.

 

Basic economy fares come with severe restrictions. Buyers can't pick a seat when they buy the ticket, they're in the last group to board, and they can only carry a small item that fits under their seat. With a few exceptions - they must pay extra to check a wheeled bag that other economy-class travellers can put in the overhead bin.

But the fares are cheaper.

 

The savings over a regular economy ticket appear to range from about US$24 to US$40 for a round-trip ticket on American and United. For example, on two random early-March itineraries between Dallas and Baltimore, economy tickets were listed on American's website at US$249 and US$309. Those same trips were priced at US$209 and US$269 on basic economy.

 

Even on the routes where American sells the new fares, they are usually available only on a small number of flights sometimes one or two a day and on some days, none at all.

 

Bargain hunters will see more basic-economy options when searching one-way flights, rather than round trips, because American will not allow flyers to buy a round trip that combines the new cheaper fare on one leg with a regular economy fare on the other. On one-way flights, the price break can be as little as US$12.

 

American, the world's biggest airline, said it will eventually add basic-economy fares on other routes.

The United offering is even more limited it only appe

ars on some flights between Minneapolis and seven United hubs around the country. United said it started small to ensure a smooth rollout, but plans to expand the idea to the rest of the United States, the Caribbean, and the closest destinations in Latin America.

 

Basic economy fares were introduced by Delta Air Lines several years ago in response to growing competition from discounter Spirit Airlines. Spirit and Frontier Airlines offer bargain-basement fares, but add on more fees than the bigger airlines, including charging for use of overhead bins. They have gained ground among travellers looking for the cheapest price.

 

Delta now offers basic economy on about 40 per cent of its US routes and plans to cover its entire domestic network by midyear.

 

The major airlines are losing customers whose Internet searches skip American, United and Delta because of higher economy fares, industry consultant Robert Mann said.

 

 

The new discount fares could help the big airlines by stimulating new demand and because some people who intend to buy a rock-bottom fare will pick a traditional economy ticket instead, Mann said. Airline websites warn buyers of the restrictions on basic-economy tickets.

MONTEGO BAY, St James — President of the Decameron group of hotels, Fabio Villegas, has given a commitment to use his influence in the airline industry to secure airlifts from Latin America into Jamaica in a bid to boost tourist arrivals.

 

“We would like to work together with the Government of Jamaica and with the airlines in Latin America to share efforts to bring its tourists to Jamaican shores so that they can enjoy very much what you have here to offer,” Villegas announced during Saturday’s official opening of the 146- room Royal Decameron Cornwall Beach Resort in Montego Bay, St James.

 

“In Decameron in Jamaica, we have a lot of tourists from Canada, from Europe and from the United States. We would like to bring tourists from Latin America to Jamaica. And in order to do that, we need to improve connectivity to be able to bring Latin American airlines to your airports in Jamaica.”

 

He noted that for 11 years he was head of operations for Avianca, one of Latin America’s top airlines.

 

Villegas’s announcement was music to the ears of Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who embraced the opportunity with open arms.

 

“My friend, Fabio Villegas, I am taking your words seriously, and we will be talking to you later on and putting some timelines to some of those ideas that you put forward. I agree with you, South America is the next frontier,” an elated Bartlett said.

 

“I want to also thank you for introducing the wider and important subject of air connectivity, which is so important to us in building our industry. And particularly, the new markets of South America, we have been having some difficulties getting the airlift from South America in the way that we want.”

 

The tourism minister outlined that Copa has served the sector with airlifts out of South America, but that the airline has “their own limitation in terms of the size of their equipment and the frequency also of their rotations”.

 

“So to hear that you have not only good connection with Avianca, that we have been searching to have a link with for a little while, but that you are willing to facilitate the connectivity, that excites me,” Bartlett said.

 

“And so I tell you that in short order we will be trekking down, Mr Paul Pennicook (tourism director) and myself, to Colombia to meet you [Villegas] and to meet Avianca because we are ready for that connectivity.”

 

Prime Minister Andrew Holness officially declared open the 146-room all-inclusive hotel built on the site of the former Cornwall Beach, which will provide 100 direct jobs and 200 indirectly.

 

Meanwhile, Villegas, who revealed that Decameron operates “32 different hotels around the region”, explained that the recently opened resort was the hotel chain’s third in Jamaica.

 

“...And we are looking forward to more in the future and to work together with all of you to put additional tourists, hotels in the island,” he remarked.

 

 

“We love the island. we are very much aware of the beauty of the island, the resources it has, and the opportunity it offers for the tourist industry.”

(Jamaica Observer) KINGSTON, Jamaica — Telecommunications giant Digicel today announced that it will reduce its global workforce by 25 per cent over the next 18 months, as part of its 2030 global transformation programme.

The company, in a release announcing the programme today, said the first step in the process beings with the offering of an ‘Enhanced Voluntary Separation Programme’ beginning March 1.

Digicel said it is designing and integrating its organisation to be fit for purpose for 2030 and beyond.

According to the telecoms company, the future organisational structure will comprise a small number of regional hubs (two for the Caribbean and Central America regions and two for the Pacific region) housing back office centralised functions and delivering shared services allowing staff in Digicel’s 31 markets to focus on sales and enhanced service delivery - and ensuring that resources and investment are prioritised to drive competition and innovation.

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