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IRD heads to Carriacou and Petite Martinique

ST. GEORGE’S, GRENADA Monday, March 17, 2014: The Ministry of Finance and Energy wishes to advise Taxpayers and the general public of Carriacou and Petite Martinique that a team of Tax Officers will be in Carriacou and Petite Martinique from Monday, March 17th to Thursday, March 20th, 2014.

As part of their visit, the Officers will be conduct field visits; assist taxpayers in completing their returns and address tax queries. The Officers will also hold a meeting with the farmers on Wednesday, 19th March at the Resource Centre from 5:00pm.

Additionally there will be a Taxpayer Service Desk at the District Revenue Office in Carriacou on Tuesday, 18th March between the hours of 9:00am to 3:00pm.

Taxpayers are urged to take advantage of these services, to address any queries or concerns and to seek clarification on tax matters.

Issuance of property tax demand notices

ST. GEORGE’S, GRENADA Monday, March 17, 2014: The Inland Revenue Division (IRD) of the Ministry of Finance and Energy advises the general public that the issuing of Demand Notices for Property Tax has commenced.

Property owners are reminded that agricultural lands can only be zero rated when the IRD receives a land use certificate, which has been issued by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Individuals who have had a change in their mailing address are urged to notify the Valuation Section of the IRD.

Property Owners are further reminded that payments made on or before June 30th 2014 are entitled to a 5% rebate on their tax for 2014.

All property owners are asked to take note.

Adjustment to petroleum prices for March 2014

ST. GEORGE’S, GRENADA Monday, March 17, 2014: The General public is hereby informed that, effective, Tuesday, March 18, 2014, the retail prices of petroleum products (Gasoline, Diesel, Kerosene and LPG {Cooking Gas}) in the State of Grenada will be as follows:

GRENADA

Products Old Price New Price

Gasoline $15.34/IG $15.80/IG

Diesel $15.06/IG $15.08/IG

Kerosene $12.19/IG $12.55/IG

L.P.G (Cooking Gas): Old Price New Price

20 lbs Cylinder $45.00 $45.00

100 lbs Cylinder $266.59 $270.54

Bulk $2.72/lb $2.76/lb

CARRIACOU

Products Old Price New Price

Gasoline $15.50/IG $15.96/IG

Diesel $15.22/IG $15.25/IG

Kerosene $12.36/IG $12.72/IG

CARRIACOU & PETITE MARTINIQUE

L.P.G (Cooking Gas) Old Price New Price

20 lbs Cylinder $54.00 $54.00

100 lbs Cylinder $289.59 $293.54

Bulk $2.72/lb $2.76/lb

PETITE MARTINIQUE:

Products Old Price New Price

Gasoline $12.49/IG $12.96/IG

Diesel $12.22/IG $12.24/IG

Kerosene $12.35/IG $12.71/IG

The new Retail Prices are computed based on the average FOB costs: that is; (Ex-refinery prices), for the period, 11th February, 2014 to 11th March, 2014.

It important for the public to understand that petroleum prices are likely to remain high since Grenada imports nearly all of its fuel. Consumers are, therefore, urged to act wisely by conserving and using energy efficiently.

Furthermore, consumers are encouraged to immediately notify the Price control/Consumer Affairs Unit in the Ministry of Finance of any instance of overpricing at telephone number 440-1369.

Update on the third installment of retroactive payments to public officers, teachers, police officers and prison officers

ST. GEORGE’S, GRENADA Monday, March 17, 2014: The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance met today with a delegation led by the Presidents of the major public sector unions: Public Workers Union, Grenada Union of Teachers and Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union; to update them on the status of the third installment of retroactive payment which was scheduled to be paid on February 28, 2014.

Mrs. Beryl Isaac, Chairman of the Government Negotiating Team also attended the meeting.

The Ministry of Finance informed the unions that based on current efforts, it hopes to be in a position to make the payment by mid-April 2014. However, this is not a certainty. The unions were given the assurance that the payment of the third installment will be made by June 2014.

The Ministry of Finance also informed the Unions’ leadership that in light of the delay in the payment of the third installment, the fourth and final installment scheduled for May 2014 may need to be rescheduled. The new payment date will be confirmed in due course and in a timely manner.

Both sides agreed to meet monthly to discuss this and other issues of mutual interest.

The Government of Grenada reaffirms its commitment to meet its obligations to public officers, teachers, police officers and prison officers. Furthermore, Government thanks all its employees for their patience and understanding in this very challenging period.

IMF announces US$21.9 million dollar deal with Grenada Government

ST. GEORGE’S, GRENADA, March 16, 2014 – GIS: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reached an agreement with the Grenada government for a three-year US$21.9 million dollar programme.

A release from the IMF says the Extended Credit Facility is to support an ambitious programme, embarked on by the one-year-old Keith Mitchell administration, to correct the country’s fiscal imbalances and lift sustainable growth.

The agreement is expected to further bolster initiatives, already set in motion by the new government, aimed at cutting expenditure and raising new stream of revenue.

The new programme, the IMF says, is aimed at restoring fiscal and debt sustainability, boosting long-term growth through structural reforms, and safeguarding the financial sector.

“The agreement reached with the authorities is subject to approval of the IMF’s Executive Board and is contingent upon the timely completion of prior actions to be taken by the Grenadian authorities and obtaining the necessary financing assurances,” Aliona Cebotari, IMF mission chief to Grenada, said.

“The cornerstone of the programme is a strong fiscal adjustment focused on curbing current spending and widening the revenue base, while maintaining space for infrastructure spending and social safety nets.”

Ahead of the weekend announcement by the IMF, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell told a meeting of stakeholders, fine tuning a five-year growth and poverty reduction strategy on Friday, that a collective approach is required for Grenada to meet the targets of the IMF deal.

Previous Growth facility and extended growth facility programmes with the IMF collapsed under the previous Tillman Thomas administration after they failed to meet IMF targets.

“Another key element of the program is to bolster competitiveness and thus raise sustainable growth and reduce poverty,” Cebotari said.

“Reforms will focus on removing constraints to growth through the liberalization in the renewable energy and other strategic sectors, improving the investment environment, and putting in place the legal infrastructure for public private partnerships.”

Prime Minister Mitchell has said that Grenada was unable to pay its creditors and was seeking the assistance of the international community to restructure its debt.

The IMF deal is expected to pave the way for Grenada to access at least US$100 million in grants and soft loans from donors and friendly countries.

“The fiscal adjustment will be complemented by a comprehensive debt restructuring, which will aim to secure meaningful debt reduction, address financing shortfalls, and put Grenada’s public debt firmly on a downward path towards the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU)’s regional target of 60 per cent of GDP by 2020,” the IMF official said.

“Grenada will emerge stronger and more dynamic from the programme, and it will be better poised to generate growth and job creation going forward.”

Condor Airlines to return to Grenada

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Condor Boeing 757-300. Photo: Wikimedia

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (GIS) — The German airline, Condor, is set to return to Grenada later this year, tourism officials announced late on Friday.

The announcement became the major buzz in the Caribbean hall at the world’s largest travel show, ITB, in Germany.

Tourism Minister Alexandra Otway-Noel, who is leading a Grenada delegation at the travel show, has closed the deal with Condor after months of negotiations.

Condor was first engaged by Otway-Noel at the Routes Conference in Las Vegas last year.

The minister has been continuously holding negotiations with the carrier since and her efforts have paid off.

Grenada will have a direct weekly service from Frankfurt for the upcoming winter season, in November of this year.

“We are so excited to have Condor back in our market and we have to do everything possible to ensure the flight is a success. Grenada has been out of the German market for too long and it is a very important one for us,” said Otway-Noel after signing the agreement with Condor at the Grenada booth on Friday; witnessed by GTA CEO, Rudy Grant.

“Things are moving along smoothly; we have implemented the new GTA as promised, we have launched our new brand for destination Grenada as promised – Pure Grenada, which has received glowing reports here at ITB, and now we are moving quickly to get our hotels full and secure new business.”

The persistence by the tourism minister in landing a new deal for Grenada with Condor Airlines is expected to be a major boost for the country’s tourism industry.

It will once again re-open access to the German market and also provide a gateway to the rest of Europe.

Tour operators attending ITB expressed excitement at the news of the return of Condor to Grenada; a trending topic at the travel show.

Meanwhile, on Day 1, the Grenada team saw over 12 major tour operators including mega-operators Thomas Cook Touristik GmbH and Meier’s Weitreisen. It was also a busy day for the minister, giving media interviews to Lonely Planet Traveller, Food & Travel, Yachting Swissboat and Blogger and Anja Beckmann from Food on Toast.

Otway also spoke with Daniela Kebel, free-lance journalist for world renowned magazines Elle and Cosmopolitan.

Day 2 at ITB was no slower. The Grenada delegation met with a host of major tour operators including FTI Touristic and The Moorings.

Grenada was represented at the CTO (Caribbean Tourism Organization’s) Caribbean Roundtable meeting by GTA Director of Marketing, Sheldon Keens-Douglas and also attended the CTO media awards hosted by the British Virgin Islands.

The minister was interviewed by CTO corporate communications manager, Johnson Johnrose.

The number of German visitors to the Caribbean is up 7% this year, at 717,000 visitors, and has increased every year for the last four years to the region.

The ITB Berlin sees nearly every country, hotel group, and tourism-based company in the world setting up display booths and promoting their products and services.

There are over 30 exhibition halls in a sprawling 30 acres of buildings and convention space.

Millions of persons display at and visit ITB each year.

Haiti carnival celebrations marred by two deaths, more than 100 injured

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday March 5, 2014, CMC – At least two people have been killed and more than 100 injured during Carnival celebrations that climax here on Tuesday.

Haiti’s Civil Protection Office said that one person died as a result of a vehicular accident while the other died from excessive drinking that usually accompanies the three-day street festival.

Most of the 102 injuries were as a result of serious allergies and street scuffles.

Unlike previous years, Carnival celebrations this year are taking place in the western town of Gonaives under a government effort to “decentralse” Carnival by holding festivities in different towns in the countryside each year.

Government said it distributed five million US dollars to repair the infrastructure in Gonaives.

Retired Grenadian nurses donates computer to nursing school

ST. GEORGE’S, GRENADA, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2014 – GIS: _ The Grenada school of Nursing was on Monday presented with a computer and printer as a gift from four retired nurses residing in the United States.

The donors who included one retired male nurse, made the presentation to acting Chief Nursing Officer – Priscilla Hopkin in the presence of Mrs. Ann David Antoine – Policy Advisor and Coordinator of the Ministry’s Donations Desk and Senior Administrative Officer – Rachel Roberts.

Both Hopkin and Roberts thanked the donors for the computer adding that the nursing school and ministry was grateful for the assistance.

The computer and printer carry a total price tag of USD $600.00. 

Grenada government moves to crack down on financial irregularities in school books programme

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (GIS) — Financial irregularities have been uncovered in the Grenada government school books programme and the administration now says it’s time for a revamp.

A government audit has reported that user fees collected from students have not been deposited into the treasury.

The audit report says in excess of $100,000 still remains outstanding and that receipt books have been discarded.

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Education Minister Anthony Boatswain

“Based on an audit that was undertaken by the department of audit, information coming to light would reveal that there was serious financial irregularities in the operation of the programme,” Education Minister Anthony Boatswain announced during a post cabinet news briefing on Tuesday.

“The funds that were supposed to have been collected from the students in the various schools and turned into the treasury, in 90 percent of the cases, were never turned into the treasury. As it stands now, in excess of 100,000 dollars is still outstanding out there… the audit report has revealed that financial rules were not adhered to,” Boatswain said.

The audit report said financial rules have not been adhered to and that further investigations were taking place into the operations of the school books programme.

The government said a revamp of the school books programme would include putting measures in place to ensure proper accounting procedures are met.

“What we intend to do in going forward is restructure the school books programme, so I can tell you from now that it will not be business as usual,” Boatswain said. “We will not go down the same route as the previous administration did.”

The previous administration spent $13.6 million on books between 2008-2011.

Suppliers are owed close to $1.5 million for thousands of books, many of which were not used.

“The audit report has recommended that we should really call in the police or the FIU to further investigate what has happened with the programme but we do not intend to go down that route at this point to call in the FIU to investigate,” said the education minister.

“We do believe it was not the intention of those involved at the school level and the ministry level to engage in fraud but really poor administration and I believe the blame must rest with the overall administration of the programme,” he added.

The audit report revealed that different aspects of the programme were not working together; schools were ordering books in excess of their requirements as well as books not relevant to the subjects.

“In these difficult financial times I do not understand why measures were not put in place by the past administration to ensure that such wastage was eliminated, and we now have to pay the price because we have to find the resource to pay for things that were not used,” said the education minister.

“We have to correct these deficiencies while we set the stage for the introduction of eBooks because this is the way forward,” he said.

Originally, the school book and uniform programme was designed to provide financial assistance to parents that were in need.

The focus was on the poor and disadvantaged and schools were only asked to pay a sum of $75 to rent the books for the year. The previous government discontinued the uniform programme and expanded the school book programme, making it open to everyone; even private schools. Schools were asked to pay a sum of $25 service fees.

“We will be putting structures in place to ensure that while the programme continues there will be proper accounting procedures,” Boatswain said.

“We will also put in place structures to ensure that only the required number of books will be ordered and there will be one authority responsible,” he said.

Boatswain also said school principals will no longer be able to place orders for books without consulting with the permanent secretary in the ministry of education.

Grenada joins MPID system to verify travellers’ identity

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Monday March 3, 2014, CMC – Grenada has joined the Multi-Purpose Identification (MPID) system which will facilitate the easy recognition of citizens from the four Windward Islands through the use of a unique identifier which begins with the country code.

The MPID system, which is a joint initiative across Dominica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, will allow these countries to be able to establish agreements to utilize each other’s databases to verify the authenticity of the identification of travellers.

The countries said this would also allow for the easy integration of citizens as part of the wider Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) integration process, enabling the seamless and accurate free movement of persons to work and live across the Economic Union.

A Government statement said that Grenada’s fast and highly secure data transmission ID smartcards will be applied to a multiplicity of functions, including advanced public transportation, event ticketing, student services, and eGovernment (the provision of a wide variety of government services to the public).

The four islands have each received US$2.4 million soft loan financing from the World Bank for the implementation of the OECS Electronic Government for Regional Integration Project (EGRIP).

The US-based 3M Innovative Properties Limited was awarded a turnkey contract in December 2012 to supply, install, integrate, train, support and maintain all technologies, hardware, software and related components for the Multi-Purpose Identification (MPID) System.

The first stage of the implementation of the MPID System will be the registration of citizens at one of four established sites island-wide, with the government stating it was also looking to identify certain electoral offices for registration and the subsequent issuance of the cards that will contain basic biographical and health information, leaving room for more information and applications to be added as needs arise.

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