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News Round UP: Week Ending 11/11/16

Jamaica

PRIME Minister Andrew Holness on Wednesday congratulated US president-elect Donald Trump on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica.

Trump, a billionaire businessman who ran on an anti-establishment platform, beat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton at the polls on Tuesday and is set to become America’s 45th president.

In his message, Holness communicated the “great value” Jamaica places on the longstanding friendship and co-operation “which has shaped our bilateral relationship with the United States for more than 50 years”. He also articulated commitment to achieving and maintaining economic growth and development for the benefit of the peoples of both countries and the wider hemisphere.

According to a statement from Jamaica House, the PM also emphasized his intention to build on existing initiatives between the two countries, to explore new opportunities, as well as to strengthen US/Caribbean and Jamaican relations.
“[My] best wishes to president-elect Trump, and for peace and prosperity for the people of the United States of America,” said Holness.

Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller also congratulated Trump on his election win, hailing him for joining “a select group of men who have attained the distinction of becoming leader of the Free World” and describing him as a hard and tireless worker who has built a successful brand.

“The United States is a strong democracy and Mr Trump’s victory is an expression of the confidence of Americans in his ability to push for the changes in Washington that many have advocated over the years,” Simpson Miller said in a statement to the press.

She noted, however, that there are concerns about Trump’s proposed immigration policy direction especially because “Jamaicans are a big part of the immigrant community in the US”.

“We look forward to hearing and seeing how president-elect Donald Trump’s Administration will take shape,” Simpson Miller said. “We hope that he will quickly reach across the political divide… and try to build bridges in the global space so that we can continue to foster peace and development around the world.”

–end—

National

US Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke has urged the Obama administration to immediately halt the deportation of undocumented Haitians.

On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed that removal proceedings have resumed for Haitian nationals in the United States who lack Temporary Protected Status (TPS),” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

“The majority of the people DHS intends to remove have not been accused of any crime”.

According to Clarke, the deportations will “return thousands of Haitians to a country that continues to struggle with the devastation of Hurricane Matthew and the recent outbreak of cholera that was introduced by international aid workers responding to the 2010 earthquake”.

“This will only exacerbate the difficulties of rebuilding Haiti and deny families access to remittances from relatives in the United States,” added the representative for the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.

“I am deeply saddened that these deportations have resumed, and I call on President Obama and his administration to end this policy immediately”.

On November 2, Clarke, with 13 of congressional colleagues, urged Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, to suspend the removal of Haitians who have not been convicted of a serious crime or otherwise present a threat to US national security.

Last week, two major Haitian Diaspora groups in New York launched an online petition requesting that Obama also immediately halt the deportation of undocumented Haitians in the wake of the massive destruction caused to the French-speaking Caribbean country by Hurricane Matthew a month ago.

The New York-based Haiti Renewal Alliance and the United Front of the Haitian Diaspora on Friday launched the petition, saying that they are hoping to build awareness to support it, which, on receiving 100,000 signatures, will require an official response from the White House.

“This petition is to urge President Barack Obama to grant Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED), expand and/or Re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals, including recently arrived individuals who are currently threatened with deportation, based on the devastation of Hurricane Matthew,” the petition says.

It notes that Hurricane Matthew “violently struck Haiti and resulted in the country’s largest humanitarian crisis since the 2010 earthquake”.

The petition says Matthew caused extensive damage, leaving more than 2.1 million people at risk of food insecurity, homelessness, and increase cholera and other diseases.

“It is currently impractical, unsafe and inhumane to deport people into the country at this time,” the petition says. “Haitians are hardworking, law-abiding, contribute to the US economy, as well as supporting their families via remittances”.

“I want you to know that, in partnership with the Haiti Renewal Alliance and the United Front of the Haitian Diaspora, I am supporting an online petition to the White House requesting the President Obama halt the deportation of Haitian nationals, which will allow critical resources in the form of remittances to fund the recovery in Haiti,” Clarke said.

“If we obtain 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the community will receive an official response from the White House,” said Clarke, whose Brooklyn district has the second largest concentration of Haitians in the US. Miami is reported to have the highest.

In late September, Clarke expressed deep concern about the DHS’ decision to resume the deportation of undocumented Haitian immigrants.

The passage of Hurricane Matthew, a month ago, has further exacerbated Haiti’s plight, prompting the Haitian Diaspora group to launch the online petition, supported by Clarke.

The United Nations also warned that, while it seems as if “the world has moved on,” Haiti’s needs remain vast.

The UN said this is exemplified by the nearly 600,000 children being stalked by disease, hunger and malnutrition, and in need of assistance.

–end—

 

Jamaica

Jamaica has exceeded all macroeconomic targets for the 14th and final quarterly test under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Co-chair of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), Richard Byles, addressing a press briefing at the Sagicor offices in Kingston, on Thursday, said he believes Jamaica will easily pass the test in all the quantitative performance criteria.

“This is not just a pass, but a very big pass for Jamaica for this 14th quarterly test,” Byles said.

He noted that for the quarter ending September, the Net International Reserves (NIR) stood at US$2.47 billion, exceeding the target by more than US$600 million. The country also surpassed the primary surplus target by some $21 billion, to achieve a primary balance of $53.6 billion.

The EPOC co-chair said Jamaica also outperformed targets for taxes and grants to record approximately $235 billion for the first six months of the fiscal year. This exceeded the target by some $13 billion. This is 11.6 per cent above the figures for the similar period last year.

General Consumption Tax (GCT) accounts for 34 per cent of total taxes; Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE), 16 per cent; Special Consumption Tax (SCT), 15 per cent; and Customs Duty, eight per cent. All taxes, except Travel Tax, either met or surpassed targets.

“This is a trend we have noticed for quite a while and I think the (tax collection) authorities should be congratulated for that. It also reflects a strengthening economy that the taxes (are performing well), particularly company taxes, which is based on profits; and PAYE, which means people are employed formally,” Byles said.

Meanwhile, the country spent $6.4 billion less than the target, to record an expenditure of $253 billion for the April to September period.

The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) has reported that inflation for September stood at 0.5 per cent, a slight increase on the 0.4 per cent recorded in August.

For the calendar year to date, inflation was 0.8 per cent and 1.9 per cent for the trailing 12 months.

“This is below two per cent for the last 12 months, which is a really extraordinary experience for us in Jamaica where we are accustomed to have, if not double-digit, high single-digit inflation,” Byles said.

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Regional

Caribbean politicians and academics on Wednesday reacted to the election of billionaire Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, expressing hope for continued good relations with Washington even as they acknowledged that the region should be prepared for an influx of nationals returning home.

Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Sir Hilary Beckles warned the Caribbean to be prepared for returning nationals and other migrants from North America.

Sir Hilary said that Trump’s philosophies and policies could lead to a demographic change in the Caribbean overtime.

Speaking on a post US presidential analysis on the implications for the Caribbean at the Mona campus of the UWI, the Barbadian born academic said “you will also witness, I am sure a migration of Hispanics out of North America.

“You will witness the return of many Caribbean citizens out of North America and we have to prepare ourselves for return migration. Understand that these are going to be the forces that will be unleashed,” he said, telling the symposium “this is not the first time this has happened”

He said there was a similar situation when Margaret Thatcher won the elections in Great Britain and became prime minister in 1979 saying she came to power ‘with very similar philosophical constructs and that was the beginning of the net migration of Caribbean peoples out of Britain”.

Sir Hilary said Trump’s victory will also have an effect on the global recession, predicting it will “have an adverse impact on the global economy.

“My expectation as an economic historian is that we are going to see the deepening of the world recession because three quarters of humanity will assume that the United States no longer possess a moral authority to direct the world economy.

“World trade has always been driven by certain kinds of multi-lateral and bi-lateral ideologies and philosophies. Their assertion of these value systems in the current space will have an adverse impact on global trade. I think in the Caribbean we have to prepare for that,” Sir Hilary said.

“We have to prepare for the consequences of a return to diminish levels of international trade as a result of this construct,” he added.

In a stunning upset, Trump defied the odds and defeated the Democrat Hillary Clinton, who was seeking to become the first woman to be elected President in the United States.

Trump, who led a controversial campaign in which he spoke about building a wall to prevent illegal migration, deport Muslims and vowed to make America stronger again, has since said he would be President for the whole the United States. He will be sworn into office on January 20, next year.

Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said he wanted to congratulate the people of the United States for “ for their robust participation in a democratic process that has been the beacon of the world for many years.

“It is indeed noteworthy that there was a record engagement of the people of the United States, and that Mr. Donald J Trump has earned a sweeping mandate,” he said, adding that St. George’s was looking “forward to continued strong relations with Washington“ under the new administration.

“We understand that Mr. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States at a time when the challenges for his nation, and indeed the wider world, are indeed real and complex.  We expect the continued engagement of the United States in matters of mutual interest to Grenada and the Caribbean, especially in areas of trade, security, immigration and climate change.

“Grenada looks forward to continuing the Caribbean and Latin American dialogue with the United States that involves the deepening of engagements with nations of the region, and the continued respect for sovereignty of states, large and small,” Mitchell said, hoping for “a positive continuation of the leadership of the United States, among the community of nations under the new President”.

His St. Kitts-Nevis counterpart, Dr. Timothy Harris said he was looking forward to building upon the longstanding relationship between the two countries.

In a congratulatory message sent to the President elect, Harris said that Trump had attained a “decisive elector victory…particularly during a presidential race that saw record voter turnout, rally crowds and debate viewership throughout the campaign cycle”.

He said it was also noteworthy that Trump has had no “political or military experience, but rather strong business and negotiating skills that have been honed from a background in multinational real estate development and licensing, as well as television production.

“My Government and I are looking forward to seeing you govern as the 45th  President of the United States of America, as you work to execute your mandate of bringing jobs and prosperity to your country and protecting its interests around the world.  Your stirring message of change has energized and electrified the American electorate and changed the political playbook,” he added.

Antigua and Barbuda opposition legislator, Joanne Messiah  said women has always had to fight more to achieve political power and praised Clinton for her achievement.

“I don’t think it could be disputed that women are in position of leadership and politics that the bar is always high up for women. We are not judged by the same rule and we saw it in the case of Hillary Clinton it was very glaring,” she said on a radio programme in Antigua.

“The majority of white men voted for Donald Trump,” she added.

Jean Henry Céant, who is one of the candidates contesting the presidential elections in Haiti on November 20, extended “congratulations to the new President of the United States Donald J. Trump and to the American people”.

 

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