The Cable

(V.I. Consortium) ST. CROIX — Governor Kenneth Mapp has formally submitted his proposed  “Virgin Islands Revenue Enhancement and Economic Recovery Act of 2017” bill to the 32nd Legislature, a “sin” tax measure Mr. Mapp says the bond market is awaiting to be enacted into law before it could start lending money to the territory.

The territory’s leader says the measure — which includes taxes on rum, tobacco, sugary drinks, internet purchases and even taxes on timeshare unit owners — has been “designed to identify concrete proposals to close the gap in the continuing structural deficits, to curtail continuous borrowing to meet operating expenditures, and to enhance our ability to pay income tax refunds timely,” Mr. Mapp said. According to Government House, the proposed measures included in the bill will implement new revenue streams targeting specific non-essential commodities that the governor says will not result in cost of living increases in essential areas.

Government House highlighted certain parts of the measure in its release, including a fee on timeshare units of $30 per unit per day of occupancy, termed an “Environmental/Infrastructure Impact Fee”. Given the number of such units in the territory, the fee is expected to generate $23 million in revenue, 85 percent of which would fund the government’s obligations to unionized and non-unionized employees as required by the settlement of VIESA lawsuit — won by employees forced to take an 8 percent pay cut during the Governor John P. de Jongh administration, according to Government House. The remaining 15 percent of collected fees would be allocated for the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund, the release further stated.

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(Barbados Today) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised downwards its economic growth projection for Latin America and the Caribbean.

In its World Economic Outlook Update released today, the IMF said it was now projecting 1.2 per cent growth for the region for 2017, which is 0.4 per cent less than the 1.6 per cent it had estimated in October last year.

This follows a contraction of 0.7 per cent which occurred in the region last year.

However, the IMF is predicting that regional economies will growth by 2.1 per cent next year.

“Growth in tourism-dependent economies will be supported by the expected higher growth in the United States while commodity exporters will benefit from somewhat higher, though still slow, commodity prices, notably of oil,” the IMF said.

However, it warned that the region continued to face several risks, including the withdrawal of correspondent banking relationships and a high degree of policy uncertainty in the US.

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(Trinidad Guardian) Government’s 2016 revenue was $188 million lower than projected, Finance Minister Colm Imbert has confirmed.

Speaking in Parliament, Imbert said while Government’s revised revenue projections for fiscal 2016 was $44.94 billion, the actual amount collected was $44.75 billion—$188 million lower than projected—which also led to a slightly higher deficit than projected.

“All of the data for 2016 is not yet finalized, however, the provisional out-turn on fiscal operations for 2016 has shown a deficit of $7.6 billion, which is just over $300 million more than the revised estimates.”

“The variance is mainly as a result of a higher than projected expenditure of $171 million, as well as lower than projected revenue of $188 million,” he said.

Imbert confirmed the financial situation while piloting legislation to close accounts of the 2016 Budget. He said in September 2016 when the 2017 Budget was presented, revised estimates for 2016 were included in the draft estimates for 2017.

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ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC)  — Dominica is seeking to resume export of bananas to the United Kingdom, two years after it stopped because of the dreaded Black Sigatoka disease.

Agriculture Minister Johnson Drigo said meetings are being held with various stakeholders, including farmers, as the island seeks to recover from the leaf spot disease characterised by tiny, chlorotic spots that appear on the bottom surface of the leaf.

“We are rapidly establishing the banana unit…there are meetings going on across the island, meeting core farmers specially targeted for the export market,” he said.

He said the targeted farmers will receive all the support needed and that farmers are now able to purchase inputs at reduced prices.

“As of this week we are selling fertilizer to the farmers at a reduced price…all in an effort for assist the banana and plantain farmers in rehabilitating their farms,” he added.

In January 2015, Winfresh (UK) Limited announced that it had halted banana exports from Dominica into the United Kingdom because of the fungus.

Winfresh, which imports and distributes the fruit, said then it had taken the unusual step of suspending the import of bananas because of concerns over the quality of the fruit.

Black Sigatoka, which generally leads to premature ripening of the banana fruit, has been ravaging Dominica since 2011 and the suspension was seen as a major blow to local industry, which at its heyday, generated in excess of EC$150 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents)  towards the local economy.

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(Reuters) Apple Inc filed a $1 billion lawsuit against supplier Qualcomm Inc on Friday, days after the U.S. government accused the chip maker of resorting to anticompetitive tactics to maintain a monopoly over key semiconductors in mobile phones.

Qualcomm is a major supplier to both Apple and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd for "modem" chips that connect phones to wireless networks. The two companies together accounted for 40 percent of Qualcomm's $23.5 billion in revenue in its most recent fiscal year.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, Apple accused Qualcomm of overcharging for chips and refusing to pay some $1 billion in promised rebates. Apple said in its complaint that Qualcomm withheld the rebates because of Apple's discussions with South Korea's antitrust regulator, the Korea Fair Trade Commission.

"If that were not enough, Qualcomm then attempted to extort Apple into changing its responses and providing false information to the KFTC in exchange for Qualcomm's release of those payments to Apple. Apple refused," Apple said in its lawsuit.

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