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Parliament passes Income Tax legislation without opposition support

Parliament passes Income Tax legislation without opposition support


by staff writer 

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Dec 1, CMC – Opposition legislators Friday night refused to support an amendment to the Income Tax Bill that the Trinidad and Tobago government said was necessary to ensure the island complied with its international obligations to deal with issues such as money laundering and other criminal activities.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert

The Kamla Persad Bissessar led opposition group failed to support the Income Tax Amendment Bill even after the Keith Rowley government had removed various clauses that required the opposition support.

The government had said that the bill was required to comply with the European union/Global Forum tax information sharing process in order to curb tax evasion. The original legislation had required a special parliamentary majority and despite calls from the private sector including the bankers, the opposition failed to lend support claiming that it entrenched on the constitutional rights of citizens.

With both sides sticking to their positions, it was left to the government to make further amendments to ensure the bill’s passage to meet the Friday deadline set by the international community.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert said that among the amendments was reducing the powers of the police to request tax-payers information to certain cases.

“It’s no longer a ‘cuss case’ situation,” he said, adding that the government would “do what it has to do.”

Opposition legislator, Dr. Bhoe Tewarie, said the government was using intimdatory tactics to get the opposition to vote in support of the measure.

“The Attorney General (Faris-Al-Wari) likes to be pejorative, likes to ridicule Members of the House, but if you say anything here in the House, he is one the first to get up and cite a standing order. He likes to use scare tactics, as he did here, of all the things that would happen (if the bill fails.),” he said, adding “the government’s style is to browbeat the Opposition to conform.””

“You are debating a bill on transparency and free exchange of information, yet you don’t have transparency and free exchange of information.”

When the vote on the bill was taken, 19 government legislators voted in support while the 14 opposition members present voted against the measure.

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Guyana says Republic Bank takeover of Scotiabank “unacceptable”

Guyana says Republic Bank takeover of Scotiabank “unacceptable”

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec 1, CMC – The Guyana government has described as “unacceptable’ a move that would allow the Trinidad-based Republic Bank to “actually own” at least 53 per cent of the banking services in the country.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon said that the move by Republic Bank to acquire the operations of Scotiabank in Guyana and eight other Caribbean countries is still be assessed.

He said while he notes the objections of the government in Antigua and Barbuda, each country has its own peculiarities.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon

“While Scotiabank is in all these countries, the situation in Guyana is not the same… What (Finance) Minister (Winston) Jordan has said is that the proposal, which has come out, is for Republic Bank, in buying out the ownership of Scotiabank in Guyana, to actually own 51 percent or 53 percent of the banking services in this country and that is unacceptable,’ Harmon said, adding that the David Granger government would determine what is in Guyana’s best interest.

“I believe the statement made by the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda is a good statement. It deals with his situation. Our Minister of Finance has made a statement also, on the matter here, and I believe we are going to assess the situation and we will make a determination as to how it affects us here,” he said.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said his administration would not be issuing a vesting order to facilitate the sale after the Trinidad-based Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) said Tuesday it had entered into an agreement to acquire Scotiabank’s banking operations in nine Caribbean countries.

A RFHL statement said that the banks being acquired are located in Guyana, St. Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

It said that the purchase price is US$123 million, which represents US$25 million consideration for total shareholding of Scotiabank Anguilla Limited; and a premium of US$98 million over net asset value for operations in the remaining eight countries.

In his statement, Finance Minister Jordan said the agreement raises a number of issues for the banking sector in Guyana and for the public which the Finance Ministry, the Bank of Guyana and the Government of Guyana will need to carefully consider.

“The Scotiabank decision is made when Guyana’s economy is on the cusp of financial transformation with the onset of a massive new oil and gas sector raises concerns and is regretted,” he said, noting that among the other concerns is the effect on competition and the potential for Republic Bank to have too much influence on the pricing of banking products and rates.

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Fly-jamaica Plane was damaged as a result of the Fly Jamaica crash landing

Fly Jamaica Sued Over Crash Landing in Guyana

 

Fly-jamaica Plane was damaged as a result of the Fly Jamaica crash landing

TORONTO, Canada, December 4, 2018 – A Toronto-based law firm has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Fly Jamaica almost a month after one of the airline’s Canada-bound planes was forced to make an emergency landing at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in Guyana last month, resulting in injuries to some passengers.

The lawsuit filed by Rochon Genova LLP last Friday seeks “just compensation to passengers and their families who have been harmed as a result of this dreadful accident”, a statement from the law firm said.

Four passengers, Invor Bedessee, Shanta Persaud, Harpreet Singh, and Zakran Ally – all residents of the Greater Toronto Area – are proposed representative plaintiffs in the class action.

“A timely and fair resolution of this case is of critical importance to the victims and their families. Only a focused approach to this litigation, having regard to precisely what went wrong, can achieve this result,” said Joel Rochon, Managing Partner of Rochon Genova LLP, which has extensive experience in both aviation and class action litigation.

According to a statement from the law firm, the Fly Jamaica Boeing 757-23N aircraft was scheduled to depart the CJIA on November 9 at 1:30 a.m., for the Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto, with 120 passengers, including two infants, and eight crew members on board.

“After a delay of approximately 40 minutes due to a technical issue with its front door, the aircraft took off. Approximately 20 minutes into the flight the pilot announced to the passengers that he was encountering an unspecified ‘hydraulic problem’ and would have to turn back.  When the aircraft did touch down, the flight crew was unable to stop the aircraft on the runway, crashed through a perimeter fence and went over a sand berm, ripping off its right side landing-gear and engine. Passengers reported a chaotic evacuation from the darkened smoke-filled aircraft,” it said.

“According to the Guyana Minister of Public Infrastructure in his report to the Guyana National Assembly, the flight crew did not declare an emergency with air traffic control prior to landing. As a result, emergency crash fire and rescue vehicles and personnel were delayed in their arrival at the crash scene, and passengers had to make their way back to the air tesmokerminal on their own.

“Due to the severity of this crash landing and the ensuing emergency evacuation, passengers suffered many injuries and lost valuable belongings.  One woman died after the crash,” the law firm added.

The latter referred to the death of 86-year-old Guyanese Rookia Kalloo who passed away a week after the incident. Fly Jamaica has said it is “investigating” what led to her death. The family of the elderly woman had told local media that she was behaving oddly in the days that followed the incident, and when she was admitted to hospital after her symptoms worsened, they were told she had suffered a head injury.

 

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PANCAP Director, Derek Springer

Message from the Director of PANCAP, Mr. Dereck Springer

on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2018

PANCAP Director, Derek Springer

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     This year’s World AIDS Day theme “Know your status” encourages us to be tested to know whether we are HIV negative or positive. This theme is very relevant as the world has committed to Fast Track actions towards achieving the 90-90-90 treatment targets by the year 2020. The UNAIDS 2018 Global AIDS Monitoring (GAM) report informs us that there are an estimated 310,000 adults and children living with HIV in the Caribbean, of which nearly 55,000 are unaware that they have HIV. 
 
While many people experience anxieties when contemplating being tested, it is good to know that the majority of these will test HIV negative. What is important is those who know that they are HIV negative have an incentive to keep themselves free from HIV by adopting changes to their lives that can reduce their risk and vulnerability to HIV. The few who test positive for HIV can have immediate access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs that would enable them to enjoy a good quality life and live much longer.
 
The 2018 UNAIDS GAM report also helps us to understand that we still need to place 74,400 persons who are living with HIV on treatment and 103,000 are yet to achieve viral suppression, that is, having very low levels of virus in the body, even though the virus is still present.
 
Science and evidence show that AIDS can be defeated once we get 90 percent of people to know their HIV status, of those who are HIV positive 90 percent receive anti-retroviral drugs and are retained in care, and 90 percent of those on treatment achieve viral suppression. Once this happens, we are well on the way to achieving the end of AIDS, by 2030.
 
So what is stopping us from achieving these 90-90-90 targets? The biggest challenges we face are persistent judgment and unfair treatment of people living with HIV and persons belonging to key population groups such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers, persons who use drugs, migrants and other mobile populations, and persons with disabilities. We judge persons who are different from us and we often times treat them differently. We do so because we do not take the time to understand.  This year’s theme must, therefore, serve as a catalyst for increased strategic advocacy using the PANCAP Regional Advocacy Strategy 2017 and national advocacy plans for increasing political will to remove the policies and legislative barriers that obstruct people from coming forward to know their HIV status. The fear is real as people are concerned that they will be treated differently if they test positive.
 
We must bring into the spotlight the critical need for laboratory improvements and increased coverage in our region. We need more laboratory facilities including those led by the communities themselves to know our status. We need laboratories to confirm community-led HIV screening tests.  We need laboratories and point-of-care diagnostic systems to monitor our viral loads and health care providers who are trained to provide clinical management for HIV-related illnesses.
 
We cannot get people tested if we do not have test kits, the right diagnostic equipment, and the right human resources. When we talk about placing 90 percent of people who are HIV positive on treatment and retaining them on treatment we must also ensure that we do not have stock-outs of key drugs. How can we be taken seriously when we encourage people to be tested and then fail to provide uninterrupted treatment? How can we fail to respond to people living with HIV when sometimes drugs are not available and people become anxious because their health care provider had stressed the importance of adherence to treatment and the impact of non-adherence on their health, including the potential for drug resistance?
 
If we are serious about getting people to know their status, we must move beyond the rhetoric to decisive actions to demonstrate that we understand the full implication of what it means to move someone who tests HIV positive to sustained viral suppression. We must guarantee good quality laboratory testing and laboratory services, uninterrupted treatment and monitoring within our health care system. And we must begin to tackle the reform of the justice system to enable persons who suffer discrimination to obtain redress in a timely manner. This calls for the engagement and involvement of our ministries of justice and attorneys general among others.
 
I call upon our governments and all who can make this happen to take the necessary actions to create an enabling environment in which people who want to know their status can come forward with the knowledge that they will not be treated differently, and that if they test positive they will be provided with the treatment, care and support they need to enjoy good quality lives and achieve viral suppression. Only then can we get them to know their status and begin the journey towards ending AIDS as a public health threat in the Caribbean. 
 
 
 

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Geoff Zochodne

Scotiabank to exit nine countries in Caribbean shake-up

Financial Post

This issue has caused grave concern particularly among the OECS states as will be seen in future publications

Meanwhile, operations in Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Colombia drive international earnings up 17%

Scotiabank, which has operated in the Caribbean since 1889, says it plans to refocus its business in the
region by selling a number of insurance and banking operations
.
Bloomberg

The Bank of Nova Scotia said Tuesday that it has struck a deal to sell banking businesses in nine of the smaller countries in the Caribbean, such as Antigua and Dominica, as the lender continues to narrow down the number of international markets in which it operates.

The move comes as Scotiabank, which has said larger markets in Latin America are still very much part of its plans, reported that adjusted profit from its international banking unit grew at a greater rate than that of its Canadian business over the past year.

“Exiting these non-core operations is consistent with a strategy that began five years ago to sharpen our focus, increase scale in core geographies and businesses, improve earnings quality and reduce risk to the bank,” said Scotiabank president and CEO Brian Porter during a conference call Tuesday morning, adding that the bank has now either exited or announced its intentions to exit more than 20 countries or businesses over that same period.

Scotiabank plans to sell the Caribbean businesses to Trinidad and Tobago-based Republic Financial Holdings Ltd., subject to regulatory approvals and closing conditions. Republic Financial said in a release that the purchase price is US$123 million.

Additionally, Scotiabank announced Tuesday that its subsidiaries in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have agreed to sell their insurance operations to Barbados-based Sagicor Financial Corporation Ltd., which would also underwrite insurance products for Scotia’s banking subsidiaries through a 20-year distribution agreement.

That deal would be subject to approvals and conditions, but it is also contingent on Sagicor being acquired by a Toronto-based special purpose acquisition corporation.

Scotiabank said these transactions would not be material, but that they would increase its common equity tier one capital ratio, a measure of financial strength, by around 10 basis points when they close.

“Due to increasing regulatory complexity and the need for continued investment in technology to support our regulatory requirements, we made the decision to focus the bank’s efforts on those markets with significant scale in which we can make the greatest difference for our customers,” said Ignacio Deschamps, the head of international banking at Scotiabank, in a release.

Scotiabank has been on a bit of an acquisition binge over the past year, expanding its wealth management operations as well as in Latin America, where it is forecasting that growth in some countries will outpace Canada. Its deals include the purchase of a majority stake in a bank in Chile from Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A., turning it into one of the biggest private lenders in that country.

The lender also announced in August that it had reached an agreement to buy a bank in the Dominican Republic, with Porter saying Tuesday that “we expect to remain in our core markets across the Caribbean region.”

National Bank Financial analyst Gabriel Dechaine said in a note that Scotiabank’s outlook emphasized the integration of its purchases, a message he said was “critically important, as executing on $7 billion worth of acquisitions (i.e., deriving synergies) is necessary to drive (return on invested capital) from the mid-single digits to the double-digits over the next few years.”

As well, Scotiabank reported results on Tuesday for the end of its fiscal 2018, which wrapped up Oct. 31. Earnings for the bank were $9.1 billion for the year, up 10 per cent from the year prior, after adjusting for Scotiabank’s acquisition-related costs.

Of that, $4.4 billion came from Scotiabank’s Canadian banking business, an eight-per-cent increase over last year, while another $3.1 billion came from its international banking unit, which was up 17 per cent year-over-year.

In a release, Porter said the international banking results were “driven by our operations in the countries that make up the Pacific Alliance — Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia — which experienced double-digit loan and deposit growth, partly reflecting recent acquisitions, positive operating leverage and stable credit quality.”

The fourth-quarter results for the bank came in slightly under analyst expectations, with the lender reporting adjusted earnings per share of $1.77 for the three months ended Oct. 31, which was still up from $1.65 the previous year.

“By and large, the underlying businesses performed well this quarter versus street expectations,” Eight Capital analyst Steve Theriault wrote, adding in a later note that “(t)he divestitures in the Caribbean are not likely the end of the road.”

• Email: gzochodne@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

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Glasgow university to pay reparations for £200m extracted from region

Glasgow university to pay reparations for £200m extracted from region

 November 25, 2018 |

Beckles

Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI) Sir Hilary Beckles has reported that The University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom (UK) is planning to pay reparations for £200 million (approximately J$34 billion) taken from the Caribbean.

According to Beckles, who recently returned from the UK, “The University of Glasgow has recognised that Jamaican slave owners had adopted the University of Glasgow as their university of choice and that £200 million of value was extracted from Jamaica and the Caribbean.”

Beckles made the announcement during an interview on the Jamaica News Network (JNN) programme Insight, where he said that the Vice Chancellor of the UK-based university Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli opened up their records, which showed a ‘massive influx’ of grants and endowments from Jamaica.

He said that the University of Glasgow and The UWI are currently drafting a memorandum of understanding, and the term ‘reparatory justice’ is expected to be included.

Beckles said the £200 million would be a combination of cash and kind. “We are not on the street corners asking for handouts. We are looking for partnerships and development.”

One of the projects in which the University of Glasgow has reportedly shown interest involves research in chronic diseases in the Caribbean, including hypertension, diabetes, and childhood obesity.

“They are looking at the possibility of partnering with us and having a massive institute for chronic disease research that is going to prevent the proliferation of these diseases in the future,” said Beckles.

£200m from slave trade

A report dubbed Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow, published recently by the university, reveals that it benefited directly from the slave trade in Africa and the Caribbean in the 18th and 19th centuries to the tune of almost £200 million in today’s money.

The university has announced that it has launched a wide-ranging and ambitious “reparative justice programme” that is based on the findings of more than two years of research.

In addition, the University of Glasgow had also announced that it intends to implement programmes and projects that will provide scholarships and exchange programmes for Jamaican and other Caribbean students through its links with The UWI.

The full interview with Beckles will be aired on JNN on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article gave the impression that a total value of £200 million would be paid to the Caribbean through the University of the West Indies.)

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Nevis Premier in search of cash to make geothermal project a reality

Nevis Premier in search of cash to make geothermal project a reality

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis, Nov 21, CMC –Premier Mark Brantley says an estimated EC$60 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) is needed to develop the stalled geothermal project on the island.

“I think that at this stage all of us know that what we’ve been waiting on is for production of the energy and that would require the necessary investment to drill the production wells and to build the plant and to do tie into the connectivity between the plant and NEVLEC (Nevis Electricity Company Limited) so that NEVLEC can transmit the power,” Brantley told a news conference.

(File Photo)

He said that is what has proven most difficult because Nevis Island Administration had been able to raise the resources to do the exploration and it’s just for the production.

“The developers have had difficulty raising those monies (and) they have brought in recent months Black Rock Securities which they say is going to provide some equity financing and OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) … which is an arm of the United States government which is supposed to provide some debt financing.

“If we had the money we would do it ourselves, to be honest cause then we would only have to hire experts but it would be something that we do as a project but the problem is the funding,’ Brantley said.

He told reporters that two sources for financing have been identified but that process might take several months to materialize if at all.

“The last that I’ve heard is that OPIC has okayed their side of things to do the financing for the project on the debt side but I’m not sure what the result of the Black Rock due diligence is going to be.

“Each of those entities takes between three to six months to do their due diligence and so that process has been an ongoing process. We have had visits from both OPIC and Black Rock Securities I believe they were all here towards the middle of this year and so we await final word,” Brantley said.

But he sought to assure citizens that the NIA remains committed to bringing geothermal on stream for the benefit of the people of Nevis and the rest of the twin island-federation.

Earlier this year, GeothermEX, a subsidiary of Schlumberger Company that focuses on geothermal energy testing, said its findings confirm the requisite temperature and flow necessary for a sustainable supply of geothermal energy on Nevis and the reservoir has been classified as high-grade commercial quality.

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Former prime minister critical of Caribbean Development Bank

Former prime minister critical of Caribbean Development Bank

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Nov 21, CMC – Former prime minister Dr. Kenny Anthony says the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has lost sight of the reasons for its existence as he criticised the present management of the region’s premier lending institution.

Anthony, a  former finance minister said the bank has been doing a disservice to St. Lucia and the region, telling legislators “I say unashamedly that I do not support the current management of the Caribbean Development Bank.

Dr. Kenny Anthony (CMC Photo)

“I have hinted that before in this Parliament,” Anthony said, adding “because I do not believe that the current management of the Caribbean Development Bank is living to what the founding fathers of the bank and in particular, our own Sir Arthur Lewis, pronounced for that bank.

“The Caribbean Development Bank has departed from that and the Caribbean Development Bank has lost sight that the reason for its existence is to facilitate the development of small Islands,” he said Tuesday, as he contributed to a government motion authorising the Minister for Finance to borrow from the CDB an amount not exceeding US$4.9 million.

The loan consists of a Special Funds Resources in the amount of US$2.4 million and an Ordinary Capital Resources estimated at US$2.4 million for the purpose of financing the services of consultants to conduct Implementation (LABs) workshops and to set up a Performance Management and Delivery Unit.

“That is in the founding document. That is what Sir Arthur preached and that is what Sir Arthur when he was president of the bank, attempted to do. The bank has long departed, Mr. Speaker, from that founding principle.”

Anthony said there’s nothing that the CDB loves more than consultants, adding that every single project must have consultants.

“It is an industry and the Caribbean Development Bank, in particular, has a fascination for Canadian consultants,” he said, adding “it is not often you get them appointing regional consultants except when it suits their purposes for example assessments of poverty reduction, they may use a firm out of Trinidad.

“So the moment the Caribbean Development Bank sees a proposal for consultants it latches on to it …and by the time they are finished they have their consultants all lined up,” Anthony said, as he called on the government to share its experience on a project in Bexon, southeast of here.

He recalled the problems his administration endured when the CDB was involved in the drainage project in Bexon, saying “the CDB had promised to make the allocation of funds available, they insisted that there be consultants..

“Year in year out consultants, waiting for reports, when they finish with the reports, they insisted they had to engage the public and people of the community to tell them what they were proposing. Then when that was finished months passed, nothing happening, elections came and of course I don’t know exactly where the project is…”Anthony said.

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Opposition blames government over possible international blacklisting

Opposition blames government over possible international blacklisting

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Nov 21, CMC – Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar Wednesday accused the Trinidad and Tobago government of “failing to take its international commitments seriously” as the opposition distanced itself from any blame regarding the island being blacklisted for its failure to pass legislation to comply with multi-lateral tax regulations

“The Rowley government is responsible for Trinidad and Tobago being blacklisted and they came in haste to the Parliament to push through a problematic, sloppy Bill which will not even be enough to get the nation removed from the blacklist,” Persad Bissessar said in a lengthy statement.

Kamla Persad Bissessar

She said that the opposition is maintaining its position that the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018 “lacks clarity, is ambiguous and flawed” and that she had received correspondence from Finance Minister Colm Imbert on the matter.

“The Opposition has received a letter from the Minister of Finance and is currently reviewing its contents and will respond in due course,” she said.

In the November 12 letter, Imbert said “it remains imperative that Trinidad and Tobago achieve compliance with these global regimes,” warning that “failure to comply with have increasingly catastrophic consequences for all citizens of our country”

Imbert said that Trinidad and Tobago remains “the only country rated as non-compliant by the Global Forum,” recalling that the other stakeholders including the Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT) and the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce calling for opposition support “for this critical legislation as continued non-compliance has dire consequences  for the economy of our country”.

He said he was calling on the Opposition to “urgently furnish us with its written response with immediacy”.

The government requires a special majority in Parliament to pass the legislation and Persad Bissessar has said that the Rowley administration should consider sending it to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament “to properly ventilate the issues therein.

Meanwhile, BATT president, Nigel Baptiste has confirmed statements by the government that local banks have started to lose correspondent international partnerships because of the country’s failure to comply with multi-lateral tax regulations.

“There is no denying that all of the local banks have been facing increased due diligence from our correspondent banks so I can endorse the Attorney General’s comments,” Baptiste told Newsday newspaper.

He said the pressure is most definitely there and that the BATT has released its own statement emphasising the importance of passing this legislation.

“It is not the sum total of what needs to be done but it is a step in the right direction,” he said.

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Government to pay back pay to public servants before year end

Government to pay back pay to public servants before year end

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Nov 21, CMC – The Antigua and Barbuda government says it has acquired funds that will allow it to pay the arrears owed to public servants before yearend.

Public servants earlier this month received partial payment and Prime Minister Gaston Browne told Parliament Tuesday that he is hoping his administration will meet its financial obligations to the workers by year-end.

Government Chief of Staff, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, said the funds had been obtained from several sources and will be paid back from revenue

“It is almost 40 million dollars (One EC dollar=US$0.37cents) and I can assure the government did not have that kind of money laying around in the Treasury,” he said on a radio programme here, adding “it came from several sources and I will leave that to the Finance Minister to reveal that during the budget which is coming up next month”.

Earlier this month, the President of the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association, Joan Peters said all workers entitled to receive government retroactive pay are also to receive benefits, even those who are no longer in the service.

“Even those who would have died, but, are entitled to retroactive pay, are to be paid for their service. What is happening now is that only the active government workers are being paid. Once the active members are handled those who are no longer in the service but qualify will be taken care of,” Peters said.

She said persons who worked for at least one year during the period of January 2003 to December 2017 is entitled.

Workers were paid one month of the current gross basic salary in lieu of outstanding collective bargaining contracts for the period January 2003 to December 31, 2017. They are also to be paid one month of the current gross basic salary in lieu of outstanding back pay for persons employed in the public service between June 2000 to December 2004.

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