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(Reuters) A federal judge in Detroit on Friday sentenced Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) to three years' probation and independent oversight for the German automaker's diesel emissions scandal as part of a $4.3 billion settlement announced in January.

The plea agreement called for "organization probation" in which the company would be overseen by an independent monitor.

The sentencing was one of the last major hurdles to VW moving past a scandal that led to the ouster of its chief executive and tarnished the company's reputation worldwide.

"This is a case of deliberate and massive fraud," U.S. District Judge Sean Cox said in approving the settlement that required the automaker to make significant reforms. He also formally approved a $2.8 billion criminal fine as part of the sentence.

As well as accepting the agreement reached between VW and the U.S. government, Cox rejected separate calls from lawyers representing individual VW customers for restitution.

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(Barbados Today) An across-the-board 10-15 per cent rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) with no exemptions, concessions or zero ratings for any industry or sector is among sweeping tax changes under consideration by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler as he prepares to make his much-anticipated Budget presentation next month.

The proposal is among the major recommendations contained in a 30-page document produced by a triparite committee, comprising representatives of Government, the private sector and labour, mandated by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart on March 3 to look at ways of reducing the country’s worrying fiscal deficit, with the island’s 2-to-1 peg with the US dollar already showing cracks, and an all-out balance of payments crisis now a possibility given that Government’s debt rose above 110 per cent of gross domestic product at the end of last year while international reserves fell to $682 million, the lowest level since 2009.

Barbados TODAY has obtained a copy of the detailed report, which sets out four areas for immediate action in order for the island to achieve a balanced budget by way of savings in the amount of $750 million.

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(Jamaica Observer) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released a new working paper on value added tax (VAT) and consumption taxes within the Caribbean region which asserts that competition for investments has led to diminishing returns from the tax category.

Tax Administration Reforms in the Caribbean: Challenges, Achievements, and Next Steps, by Stephane Schlotterbeck was released earlier this month.

Twenty Caribbean islands are discussed in the paper which analyses VAT performance in the region and concludes that while it has boosted revenues, the VAT has not reached its potential.

The author considers to be problematic the broad use of VAT exemptions, zero-rating, and VAT withholding to attract FDI and boost competitiveness.

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(Antigua Observer) Two government officials said that the decline in tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom is due to the devaluation of the British currency.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA), Colin C James viewed the plunge in the destination’s tourism arrivals from the UK following that country’s decision to withdraw from the European Union as critical, because “the destination depends heavily on tourism”.

“The collapse in the value of the pound made the Caribbean that just more expensive. What we have done is to mitigate with our tourism partners, hoteliers, and tour operators to offer packages which are discounted to compensate for the falling value of the pound,” James said.

Speaking at a recent Round Table discussion themed, “Brexit: Implications for Antigua & Barbuda and the Wider Caribbean” James said that the tourism authority noticed “a softening of demand from the UK”.

In providing some statistics, the CEO said that the tourist arrivals at the beginning of 2016 “started very strongly” and the cause for concern was that “we ended [2016] just about flat”.

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(Demerara Waves) Digicel’s Guyana operations on Thursday denied claims by the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) that it has evaded taxes through what its competitor called an illegal bypass.

“Digicel notes with great disappointment GT&T’s most recent statements to the press in which it repeated untrue allegations and more specifically claimed that Digicel has denied the Government of Guyana payment of taxes. Digicel wishes to state categorically that it owes no taxes and is in good standing with the GRA (Guyana Revenue Authority),” the phone company said in a statement.

The Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes has since said she is not opposed to an audit of Digicel’s operations, but highlighted that GTT does not serve many areas and has not stuck to its contractual obligation of upgrading the landline service every 10 years.

Hughes said so far, GTT has not yielded to her calls to prove that it has the capacity to provide adequate data service.

For its part, Digicel said when it began providing services in Guyana in 2007, consumers saw up to 50% decrease in domestic call rates and access to new affordable handsets with no activation fees. Digicel added that 27 years after GT&T’s launch in Guyana, there are still areas even in Georgetown where customers are still waiting for service from GT&T.

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