“Seriously defamatory”

Henley & Partners wishes to place on record that the allegations made against the firm in a recent blogpost about Caribbean diplomatic passports by the convicted criminal and now self-proclaimed “financial crime expert” Kenneth Rijock are completely without truth or foundation.

Mr. Rijock, who by his own admission has served time in a federal prison for money laundering and has several consumer complaints against him for false reporting, wrongly claims in a seriously defamatory manner that Henley & Partners was involved in an attempt by a businessman to secure a Grenadian diplomatic passport.

This is simply not true and we reject every aspect of this fake story, republished without question or interrogation by Caribbean News Now.

The ‘wire transfer’ document relied on in the fabricated story is clearly bogus – we do not bank with Wells Fargo and have no account in the name cited anywhere.

We have referred the entire matter to our legal advisors and to cyber intelligence specialists.

Henley & Partners has distinguished itself as the global leader in residence and citizenship planning, and has been a trusted advisor to both private clients and governments across the world for more than 20 years.

We remain committed to working closely with all stakeholders to ensure that the highest levels of due diligence, professionalism and international best practice are applied in our industry.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP), attorney-at-law Trinidadian, Kaisha Ince, has denied reports that a Ukrainian businessman was repaid US$1 million after he failed to obtain a Grenada diplomatic passport.

“This information is false we do not sell diplomatic passports. Grenada don’t have a diplomatic passport selling programme, what we have is a Citizenship by Investment Programme and the passport provided under that programme is a regular passport,” said Ince who is also a legal and commercial advisor to Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell.

“What is provided to persons who satisfy our due diligence process is a regular passport,” she said.

The local Foreign Affairs Ministry has also confirmed that only people with diplomatic portfolios working on behalf of the government are afforded diplomatic passports.

Grenada, like several other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries provide citizenship to foreign nationals under its CIP in return for making a substantial investment in the socio-economic development of the island.

Grenada receives a continuous flow of applications through its local agents but because no name was mention in the article, the Government official said that they are unable to confirm or deny that an application was made by the alleged Ukrainian.

Bishop-elected Harvey: “I still love T&T”

By Anna-Lisa Paul

Archbishop Nicola Girasoli presents bishop-elect Father Clyde Harvey with an anointed cross after announcing his appointment to the Bishop of St George’s during a press conference at Archbishop’s House, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.

Port-of-Spain – Father Clyde Harvey has been appointed by the Vatican as the new Bishop of the Diocese of St. George’s, Grenada.

However, he is insisting he is not running from T&T in the wake of the recent attack against him by four men.

Harvey made the comment Saturday after news of his appointment was made during a mid-morning press conference at Archbishop’s House, St. Clair by Papal Nuncio Archbishop Nicola Girasoli.

“I am going to Grenada not because I don’t love Trinidad or that somebody is trying to kill me,” Harvey said.

Declaring his pride as a Trinidadian, Harvey sought to assure local parishioners that he would always, “love this country, have no doubt about that.”

However, he advised, “My life has been guided by what God calls me to do and on the day when I was asked, although I wanted to refuse, it was clear that was not what God wanted.”

Although he felt he had not yet completed his work with troubled youths in high-risk communities in T&T, Harvey cautioned those after him to beware that, “the work that has to be done cannot be done in a single day or by a single person.”

He said while no one was able to forecast what T&T will look like in years to come, there were some hard-hitting problems such as drugs and guns which need to be addressed.

“Unless we get politicians to deal with that with the strength and purpose required and a community that stands behind them, we will continue to have trouble,” Harvey said.

He again admitted the events of the last week had left him shaken, but said he was hurt that many of the young men who continue to approach him daily on the streets were mentally unstable and the authorities were not doing much about it except to administer medication.

Harvey appealed to citizens to find one such deserving person and foster that kind of care and love.

To the grandmothers left to care for youngsters whose fathers had been killed and mothers whose lives had been lost to drugs, Harvey said it was unfair they had to prove to the State they had the right to care for these people before they could receive any kind of financial assistance.

Hopeful the appointment would benefit both T&T and Grenada.

Harvey urged local Christians and non-Christians to demonstrate their love for humanity by joining together to help those affected in Central and South Trinidad by Tropical Storm Bret.

Girasoli congratulated Harvey as he presented him with a purple zucchetto and a wooden cross as he said, “This is the best choice for Grenada.”

Reminding Harvey that a Bishop was called to serve rather than rule, Girasoli said Harvey, the former parish priest of St Martin de Porres Church in Gonzales, Belmont, was someone who had come from and walked among the people and therefore understood the people.

Adding that a simultaneous announcement was made in Grenada Friday, Girasoli said although it had taken more than a year to announce a replacement following the death of Bishop Vincent Darius in April 2016, it was worth the wait as no better choice could be found.

Harvey, who appeared somewhat emotional during his address, admitted to being uncertain about the appointment when he was first approached several months ago.

However, he said God has been guiding him and that although his navel-string is buried in T&T, it was time to minister to others in the region.

Thanking Archbishops Joseph Harris and Girasoli for their guidance and perseverance in what they considered to be the best course for Grenada and the Caribbean, Harvey said: “In saying yes to the suggestion that I allow myself to be considered for St. George’s, I saw that if it happened, it would be an affirmation of the work of some of the giants of the modern Caribbean church as she struggled to discover and reaffirm our Caribbean identity within our Catholic fold.”

(Reproduced from the Trinidad Guardian newspaper)

World Press Body Suspicious of Grenada on Electronic Crime Bill

VIENNA – Grenada quietly allowed a controversial electronic defamation bill to become law last October despite government promises of reform, the International Press Institute (IPI) has learned from local sources.

On Sept. 23, 2013, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, responding to concerns that IPI and other groups had raised about the Electronic Crimes Bill, publicly announced: “I have agreed to make the necessary changes, after having discussions with members of the local and regional media, so that there will be no doubt about the intention of the country.”

However, no changes were made. Instead, on the same day that Mitchell promised to reform the bill, Governor-General Cécile La Grenade granted it royal assent.

According to Grenada’s official Government Gazette, the Electronic Crimes Act was published on Oct. 3, 2013.

Last week, Grenadian news outlets, citing a government minister as the source, reported that the law was now in effect.

The published version, seen by IPI, contains no alterations to the specific sections that regional and international press freedom groups highlighted as problematic.

These included Section 6, which would mandate up to one year in prison for sending by electronic means information that is “grossly offensive” or is known to be false but was reproduced in order to cause “annoyance”, “insult” or “ill will”.

“We are, indeed, surprised to find out that this bill was granted royal assent on the same day that the Prime Minister promised to reform it to better reflect international standards on freedom of expression,” IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi said.

“Certainly, this calls into question whether the government was ever really serious about ensuring that this Act would not harm the free flow of information and opinion in Grenada.”

She added: “We hope the government will prove us wrong on this point by quickly introducing an amendment that would answer the significant concerns regarding this Act.”

Other controversial sections left untouched include Section 25, which provides that a police officer may, without a warrant, arrest a person “reasonably suspected of committing an offence” under the Act; and Section 16, which punishes “electronic stalking” – defined as “intimidating, coercing, or annoying another person using an electronic system” –-with up to three years in prison.

In addition to its other concerns, IPI has criticised the law’s broad application.

According to Section 3, the law applies not only to all residents, visitors, and transit passengers in Grenada, but also to “any person, of any nationality or citizenship or in any place outside or inside Grenada, having an effect on the security of Grenada or its nationals”.

That clause was also not altered.

The law is apparently intended to target social networking sites as well as the reader comment sections of online media.

Trionfi acknowledged that a legitimate interest exists in addressing defamatory content in those media.

However, she commented: “Requiring these types of websites to police all content posted by others would not only impose an unreasonable burden on the hosts, but lead to a chilling effect on public speech as the hosts seek to limit potential liability”

“A better solution would be to allow hosts time to remove defamatory content if they receive a complaint, with the understanding that they would be subject to normal provisions in civil defamation law if they fail to do so”, she added.

Last week, Grenada’s Communications Minister Gregory Bowen reportedly told GBN News that the Act was now in effect (that a law is “gazetted” does not by itself imply that the law is in effect; in this case, the published version states that the Act would come into effect at “a date to be fixed”).

In a recording broadcast by the station, the minister claimed that the government “went to the people who had concerns and all of that would have been clarified.”

The news has stirred public debate in Grenada over the Prime Minister’s Sept. 23 statement.

Kem Jones, a local radio host on 90.1 LiveWire, said today on his morning programme: “We were given a promise that this particular bill, that before assenting to it, it would be changed so that it would reflect the true nature of the Grenadian people.”

Jones told listeners that the development demonstrated: “The government can deceive you – say one thing and do the next.”

The manner in which the Mitchell government has proceeded to enact the Electronic Crime Bill has not goner down well with Sports Journalist Michael Bascombe who is based in New York in the United States.

Bascombe made the following comment on the issue: “… I’m very disappointed with the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG), an organisation which I once headed and considered will fulfill the dreams and aspirations of some of our forefathers – the likes of T.A. Marryshow and Alister Hughes, and even Leslie Pierre.

“I am also disappointed with some of my media colleagues who continue to remain silent on this issue. This is not about whether it will affect the media or not, but criminalising expression and opinion. Who determines that my comments are “grossly offensive”, “annoying” or “insulting”?

“Here is my plug now! Couldn’t they have spent some of that time used in drafting and passing this bill into ensuring that the National Sports Policy is implemented? However, of particular interest to me is this: “any person, of any nationality or citizenship or in any place outside or inside Grenada, having an effect on the security of Grenada or its nationals”.

Anglican Church in the Caribbean says no to same sex marriage

Archdeacon Valentine Hodge

Archdeacon Valentine Hodge

By Toni Frederick

 

BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) — The head of the Anglican Church in St Kitts and Nevis, Archdeacon Valentine Hodge, has made it clear that the church does not support gay marriage, or condone a homosexual lifestyle.

“I can only speak… on the behalf of the Anglican Church, which is the church in the province of the West Indies… at the moment we cannot marry in church two people of the same sex… We believe in indissoluble monogamous marriage that is something which should last for life… indissoluble… and we also believe that it is something between a man and a woman,” the archdeacon said, speaking on WINN FM’s Breakfast Show on Thursday.

“We are not into same sex union in the province in the Caribbean, although we find that the Episcopal and the Church of Canada have been very much into that, but we haven’t reached that stage as yet and I think that we [aren’t] going to in the foreseeable future given our constitution of the province of the West Indies. We are really holding on to the biblical tradition and there are certain passages of scripture like Romans Chapter One… that very clearly [says] what’s enunciated in terms of marriage.”

The archdeacon said that the issue of the rights of homosexuals and lesbians was one of the law and theology.

“The legal arguments knock out the theological ones almost immediately. If it becomes gay rights or it becomes a justice issue then of course that is a situation with its own stamp its own character and it own thought patterns and everybody wishes to have people feel free, free to be able to do the things that they want to do within limits and so from a legal position where going to find that if it becomes a justice issue we don’t have a leg to stand on with respect to the church’s position because that takes it immediately out of our theological perspective,” the archdeacon said.

“Yes people should have the right to do whatever, the right to freedom to engage in whatever activity they wish to engage in but we in the church bring our people back to the point of doing God’s will and that ‘s the big thing. I know that in other parts of the Caribbean you’ve had the decriminalization of homosexuality and that’s consenting adults, it’s not a crime, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a sin.”

The archdeacon was commenting in the wake of a recent statement by the prime minister who, responding to a caller to his radio programme, said that the introduction of same sex marriage legislation is St Kitts and Nevis was something that should be debated nationally.

At his monthly press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas reiterated his position:

“Let us be open minded about this matter, let this matter be discussed among our people among the stakeholders. The government is not saying what its own views are at this time because the time has not yet come but we are saying we support the fact that there should be open frank and honest discussions, because homosexuality is taking place. People of St Kitts and Nevis of the same sex are getting married in North America and in Europe, they are getting married. I can point to at least two to three people of this country who we all know who have been so called married. So I think let us not get away from this, this is already happening here in our country.”

The prime minister said his recent comments had caught the attention of UNAIDS and he believed funding would be made available to facilitate a debate on issues related to the rights of homosexuals.

“To a large extent, it gets down to also involving the attorneys general from the Caribbean region, can we look at the present legislation with regard to buggery or homosexuality… the buggery law as people call it. Prostitution laws. How can you engage your own communities before it gets to the parliamentarians… engage them in discussing these matters as a human rights issue, because people have the rAight to determine their own sexual preferences and sexual orientation.”

Douglas has been at the forefront of the advocacy in the Caribbean for ending discrimination against gays and lesbians.

 

(Republished with permission of West Indies News Network)

SOCA superstar Machel Montano will serve no prison time

Machel Montano – to pay a heavy fine

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad —Montano was this afternoon ordered to pay fines and compensation totaling $27,000.00 for beating four persons and using obscene language.

Entertainer Kernal Roberts was also ordered to pay a fine and compensation for assaulting two persons.

The ruling was delivered by Magistrate Maureen Baboolal-Gafoor in the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court.

The sentence had to be adjourned to this afternoon, because the magistrate became trapped in the traffic gridlock caused by the blockade of the highway by protesting Sea Lots residents this morning.

On December 10 last year Montano was found guilty by the magistrate of assaulting Brandis Browne, Russell Pollonais, Janelle Lee Chee and Gerard

Bowrin and using obscene language outside the Zen nightclub on the morning of April 26, 2007.

Roberts was found guilty of assaulting Pollonais and Browne.

Joel “Zan” Feveck and Rodney “Benjai” LeBlanc had also been charged along with Montano and Roberts, but they were both found not guilty of the charges brought against them.

During the trial, which lasted more than five years, Montano had given ten days of evidence.

During his testimony, Montano had denied the charges brought against him, stating instead that he was the one who was attacked by the group and spat at.

In passing sentence, Magistrate Baboolal-Gafoor said she had taken into account Montano good character, and that he had made a valuable contribution to the country.

However, the magistrate said that despite this, the two offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm were very serious and the court had to send a message that such behaviour would not be tolerated.

She said that given the seriousness of the offences, she did not believe that community service should be imposed.

For the offence of common assault against Gerard Bowrin, Montano was fined $300 and ordered to pay $1,000 compensation.

On the charge of common assault against Lee Chee, he was fined $300 and ordered to pay $1,500 in compensation.

On the obscene language conviction, he was reprimanded and discharged. For beating Browne, Montano was fined $3,000 and ordered to pay $3,000 in compensation.

For beating Pollonais, he was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay $8,000 in compensation to his victim.

Montano was told that should the fines and compensation not be paid by March 4, he could serve as much as two years in prison.

Roberts was also sentenced to pay a fine of $3,000, and pay compensation of $3,000 to Browne.

For beating Pollonais, he was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay $8,000 in compensation or serve as much as two years in jail.

The State was represented by attorney George Busby, while Dana Seetahal SC and Keith Scotland represented Montano and Roberts respectively.

The IMF debt programme is necessary, effective, but insufficient or J’ca

by Conrad Hamilton

 

Kingston, Jamaica —THE Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) has concluded that Jamaica cannot do without the proposed loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at this time.

However, the think tank, established to promote evidence-based policy dialogue within Caribbean societies, says that, while the Government’s debt reduction programme is necessary and effective, it is “insufficient” to ensure that the country gets on a path of fiscal sustainability.

According to Dr. Damien King, Co-executive Director of CaPRI, based on current debt levels Jamaica would encounter difficulties sourcing funding from both the domestic and international loan markets.

“Doing nothing is unsustainable, some action had to be taken, whether this programme or some other programme. The programme is necessary, the programme is effective as it contracts the fiscal deficit in year one by close to two percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product),” said King as he emphasised that the debt problem had to be dealt with, even as the Government explores opportunities for economic growth.

King, who also heads the Department of Economics at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, along with his fellow CaPRI Co-executive Director Dr Christopher Tufton, were guests at the weekly Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.

Their discussion at the Exchange followed on a forum staged by CaPRI last Friday at which King analysed the various options that the country now faces and the fiscal consequences of each.

Just over a week ago, IMF officials gave Jamaica’s application for an extended fund facility a staff-level approval, but pointed out that the Government had to complete a series of measures before the request could go to the IMF board for its stamp of approval.

Since then, there has been much public discourse on the need for an IMF agreement, with some contributors asking whether the facility that is being sought will do the country more harm than good.

But King is adamant that the Jamaican Government had to seek the IMF agreement, or something similar, to avert a fiscal crisis.

“There is no hope of economic growth in Jamaica with continued large fiscal deficits. So a programme to address the fiscal deficit that was carried for a dozen years is absolutely, critically necessary, and the programme has to be at least of the magnitude of the one that has been announced,” said King.

“Once you can get past that, once you can get this programme implemented, and be faithful to it, then we are at least in the game of trying to generate some economic growth. This debt really is a major obstacle to economic growth,” the economist explained, even as he acknowledged the insufficiencies of the proposed IMF pact.

“After eight years we will be at 100 percent of GDP. A hundred percent of GDP is a lot of debt, and if that’s the best we can hope for after eight years it means that Jamaica is going to continue being highly vulnerable to economic and natural shocks over a very long period of time.

“So the programme is actually insufficient to ensure that Jamaica reaches a path of macro-economic stability, and it speaks to the need to ensure that what has been announced so far is strictly adhered to, that the estimates of revenue expected to be realised are correct, and that the other measures such as tax reform, public sector wage agreement are critical,” King argued as he received support from Tufton who questioned the nature of the provisions that will guard

against external shocks.

“One of the issues I want the IMF and indeed the Government to point out is to what extent was this modelling that they did — which would take us to a 95 percent of GDP by 2020 — factor in the external variables, some of which are quite predictable,” Tufton said.

“The challenge with an assumption that takes us to 2020 on a particular programme is that all other things are never equal. If you have two or three bad hurricanes it throws you out of whack, and how flexible will the multilaterals be? The only counter to that is to what extent you can influence that model through a growth strategy,” Tufton argued, as he committed CaPRI to working with the Government to identify areas that could be pursued as part of that growth strategy.

Meanwhile, King is highlighting the need for the Portia Simpson Miller Administration to implement all the agreed measures under the IMF

programme.

“The programme is not complete yet,” he said. “You know what we are talking about are just the prior actions to get to an agreement. When we get to an agreement there are more elements of it to come. So the second conclusion is that those elements to come are just as important.”

The UWI economist said he is also aware that many Jamaicans will be adversely affected by the austerity measures that will result from the debt management programme.

However, in his view, wealthy Jamaicans are bearing the brunt of most of the tax measures associated with the IMF programme.

 

CONRAD HAMILTON is a Senior staff reporter with the Jamaica Observer newspaper)

 

 

CARIBBEAN ECONOMIST CALLS FOR PRO-GROWTH STRATEGIES

BAHAMAS – A leading Caribbean economist says the newly elected administrations in Grenada and Barbados can steer their respective countries onto a path of economic sustainability, but it will require “genuine spiritual leadership devoid of ego in order to make difficult decisions with awareness, intelligence, wisdom and compassion.”

Zhivargo Laing, a former Bahamian cabinet minister, lauded the experience of Prime Ministers Dr. Keith Mitchell and Freundel Stuart of Grenada and Barbados respectively and noted they preside over their nations at a “challenging time in the economic and social history of the world, when there is a great need to pursue economic growth strategies that generate jobs and improve income prospects for their people.”

Laing noted that the Caribbean leaders “still face challenges as economic headwinds continue to buffet the global economy, notwithstanding its slow rebound from the recent financial and economic crisis.”

“However, there are possibilities from pursuing pro-growth policies,” suggested Laing who served as Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance in the past Hubert Ingraham administration.

He noted the need to “encourage domestic investment through international capital access and promote inward foreign direct investment.”

He also urged a similar push domestically to support the needs of small and medium size enterprises, “more so in non-financial ways (such as management, technology, market access and cost savings) and improving efficiencies in the public sector.”

Drawing on his own ministerial experiences, Laing recalled “one of the great lessons of the last crisis is that years of prudent fiscal management can produce financial headroom (low debt-servicing) which is an enormous asset to have in a crisis.”

This “headroom” was valuable, Laing asserted, because it provided “the ability to engage in the kind of fiscal activity that supports an economy, protects the financial system and provides relief to those socially displaced during a crisis.”

The former Bahamian finance minister said new administrations are quickly thrust into a balancing act, “facing the difficult task of balancing the realities of government finances with significantly limited room for maneuvering with the demands of greater investments in public education, public health, infrastructure, crime reduction and public sector reform.”

Governments can no longer implement their mandates all by themselves and with their allocated resources, he asserted: “They will have to be creative in exploring the benefits of prudent public private partnerships – as well as achieving efficiency gains in government administration.”

Laing, an author, management consultant and leadership trainer, said the Eastern Caribbean leaders also come to office when new global standards threaten some of the traditional economic sectors of Caribbean economies.

One such change, the new and evolving standards in international financial services, threatens the lucrative offshore financial sectors.

Urging careful attention to international trade negotiations, Laing pointed to policies which have made historic market access to certain products less effective and imposed new reciprocal demands that prove challenging to small and vulnerable industries.

He was confident the new administrations will “approach dealing with these issues with a clear sense of purpose but appreciating the competing interest of the global powers.”

In all of this, Laing believes, new and current administrations will have to recognise the enormous stress being suffered by so many families in their countries and which have taken many of them to “the brink of near hopelessness.”

Highlighting the human element of government priorities, he said “for many of these families, economic and social relief will not be forthcoming in any short period of time, so their frustrations may yet linger. It will be incumbent on leaders therefore to communicate with their populations genuinely and forthrightly.”

In such difficult economic times the former cabinet minister said “the demands of the present moment require honest public policy dialogue with citizens, making clear what is necessary, doable and prudent. Politics as usual will be a mistake.”

“Even in the best of times with all hands on deck, we are challenged to steer the ship of state to safe harbour; in the worst of times it is impossible to do so if all hands are not on deck. Prime Minister Mitchell of Grenada’s pledge to promote unity amongst his people is both timely and timeless. It is a necessary pledge throughout the region. Execution now is necessary,” he concluded.

 

 

 

 

Grenadian national bludgeoned to death in Trinidad

Port-of-Spain — Eighty nine year old Ann Corrion migrated from Grenada to Trinidad in the 1950’s and was well loved and known in the area where she lived.

Her life was cut short this week when she was bludgeoned to death with a stone at her home by a 26-year-old Princes Town man who relatives and neighbours said was either “demon-possessed” or a drug addict.

Police say around 8.30 a.m. they found the suspect in the front yard of the house with his clothes drenched in blood.

He had earlier attacked Corrion, as she sat in the porch of her home at Railway Road.

The man, according to reports, appeared disoriented and did not speak to police, they said the suspect also killed a chicken and ate its raw flesh, and ripped apart Corrion’s pet parrot.

A neighbour said: “Around half past seven (Saturday) I heard him pelting stones. There were children sitting in the gallery with her (Corrion). He went up in the gallery and she told the children to go. He took a stone and knocked her out. She didn’t bawl or anything. She fell and he was just bashing her head.”

Financial institutions urged to prepare for new US law

By Alecia Smith-Edwards

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Jamaica’s Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Peter Phillips, is urging local and regional financial institutions to prepare for the implementation of the United States (US) Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which has implications for these entities.

“We are still at an early stage in the implementation of FATCA. My impression is that the final regulatory arrangements are still not clear, even in the mind of the US authorities, but nevertheless, we understand the asymmetries of power and influence that exist, and I think it is important that we be prepared here,” Phillips said.
The minister was addressing a seminar on FATCA, held in Kingston on Tuesday.
FATCA, which was enacted in 2010 by the US government as part of provisions under the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, is an important development in efforts by the US to combat tax evasion by US taxpayers with investments in offshore accounts.
This Act is of particular significance to the financial services sector in Jamaica and elsewhere in the region, as it places an obligation on foreign or non-US financial institutions to report to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), information about financial accounts held by US taxpayers, including entities in which the US taxpayer holds a significant ownership interest.
Phillips said that the government would be putting in place several measures shortly to help institutions in Jamaica prepare for FATCA’s implementation in 2013. This will include the Bank of Jamaica carrying out a risk assessment on its licensees to determine the state of readiness of these entities and their systems.
“We will refer the available materials on FATCA to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for their advice as to the implications of the FATCA regime under Jamaican law. In particular, we will need to minimise the legal risks faced by our financial institutions,” he said.
The minister said he is aware that the US authorities are in discussion with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain and probably other countries as well, with a view to entering into reciprocal bilateral arrangements with respect to the FATCA reporting regime, and that the government of Jamaica will be exploring the possibilities of entering into such an agreement.
“If this proves possible, the financial entities will be relieved of some liabilities particularly if reporting is done through the local central authorities who would be empowered to receive this information,” he added.
The minister said it is not known at present what would be the liability or responsibilities of the government under any such agreement, noting that “it’s all conjecture at this point, but it is something that we will explore with the US authorities.”
Phillips said the government will continue to closely monitor developments and will continue its dialogue with the US authorities. He further noted that regulators at the Ministry of Finance will continue to work closely with local financial institutions, so that Jamaican institutions will not be placed at a disadvantage when FATCA is implemented next year.
“Even as we make our efforts, whether on the basis of bilateral interventions with the United States, or in partnership with other Caribbean countries, we will be strenuously seeking to ensure that there is no unfair advantage faced by Jamaican financial institutions, but equally, the message must be that we are facing an increasingly stringent global regime of tax compliance and we need to put our house in order in this regard,” he emphasised.
He argued that this new regulation, along with other global initiatives, are an indication that governments around the world are getting increasingly serious about collecting taxes, no matter who is affected.
He said that financial authorities have determined that “tax havens or the possibility of avoiding paying tax in a jurisdiction ought to be eliminated.”
The minister spoke of the implications of the Act on local financial institutions, if they fail to participate in FATCA.
“If we choose simply to ignore it, it will render the financial institution ultimately liable to the withholding on all income, including gross proceeds of investment transactions sourced to a US asset at a 30 percent rate. So essentially, you will be foregoing 30 percent of all your income flows,” he said.
“There are several important risks that arise as a consequence of this to local financial institutions. There are the legal risks relating to the unauthorised disclosure of customer information; legal risks relating to withholding and or closing customers’ accounts; there are the operational costs and risks, relating to retrospective and additional due diligence and data transmission measures; and there are the risks related to the withholding on a foreign financial institution’s US income payments and possible closure of that foreign financial institution’s US accounts,” he said.
The minister assured that Jamaican customers of financial entities should have little to fear from this regime and there should be little risk, if any at all, of the information of the average Jamaican, “who is not a green card holder, not operating or residing in the United States. They should have no liability and need have no fear of any information being disclosed.”
The seminar was hosted by the Jamaica Institute of Financial Services (JIFS), in collaboration with Deloitte.
The Institute was established as the Jamaica Institute of Bankers (JIOB) in 1977, by the Bank of Jamaica and the commercial banks. In 1999, the Jamaica Bankers Association (JBA) assumed full responsibility for its operations. The name change took effect in May 2012 to reflect its mandate to support the entire financial services sector through training, research and social exchange.

C’bbean gov’t’s urged to abolish insult, defamation laws

Port of Spain, Trinidad— The International Press Institute (IPI) has adopted a declaration calling on Caribbean governments to abolish insult laws and criminal defamation legislation in the region as a matter of urgency.
The “Declaration of Port of Spain” was adopted at the IPI’s 61st AGM held during its three-day World Congress which ended Tuesday in Trinidad and Tobago.
It notes that media outlets across the wider Caribbean may be subjected to repressive measures, from jailing and persecution to the widespread scourge of ‘insult laws’ and criminal defamation and calls on Caribbean governments to abolish insult laws, criminal defamation legislation and common law criminal defamation rules as a matter of urgency.
It also urged that they review civil defamation laws and all other laws that restrict media freedom.
According to the declaration, “the Caribbean urgently needs a strong, free and independent media to act as a watchdog over public institutions.”
It notes that Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees freedom of expression as a fundamental right, and emphasise that freedom of opinion and expression are essential to the realisation of other rights set forth in international human rights instruments,
It observed that the struggle to attain full media freedom continues in the Caribbean, and that journalists in some countries face the threat of murder, imprisonment, torture, censorship, publication bans and threats to their employment,
Further, the declaration adds that these forms of repression are bolstered by the practice of deliberately excluding certain media from the placement of state advertising, by the burden of high import taxes on equipment and materials such as newsprint, and by failure to pass and implement a Freedom of Information (FoI) Act by most countries.
It points out that the measures also include the placement of undue political and financial pressure on media that invokes self-censorship and by the unfair effect on competition caused by state-owned media.
It called on the governments to “respect their commitments pursuant to Caribbean and international instruments guaranteeing the freedom, independence and safety of the media” and to free any jailed journalists.
The declaration also urges media proprietors and professionals to promote and actively implement measures to ensure high editorial standards and to uphold ethical journalism, while calling on inter-governmental organisations to promote progress in media freedom in the Caribbean in the next decade.
“IPI makes this declaration from Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, as an earnest appeal to all peoples of the wider Caribbean to recognise that the social progress they seek can only be achieved in a climate where the media is free and independent of governmental, political or economic control,” it concluded.
The declaration is to be presented to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, with the request that it be presented to the UN General Assembly; the Director-General of UNESCO, with the request that it be placed before the General Conference of UNESCO; and the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), with the request that it be distributed to all full and associate CARICOM members so that it can be endorsed by CARICOM at the group’s next summit meeting of heads of Government.
It will also go to member nations of the Association of Caribbean States; the Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), with the request that it be presented to the OAS General Assembly; and to the OAS’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.