Caribbean and Diaspora News Round-up

UK Budget - Bolt's tax break
UK Budget - air tax remains and tax dodging
Caymans Premier charged
Trinidad and Tobago's new President
Still doing the Harlem Shake
CI logo UK Budget – Bolt’s tax break
In the UK’s 2013 Budget delivered on 20 March, Usain Bolt did well, while the airline departure tax did not.
The budget introduced an exemption on income tax charged on all appearance fees, endorsement income and prize money earned by visiting athletes such as Jamaica’s athletics superstar.
Previously, the UK took a share of sports stars’ prize money, as do most countries.
However, the UK’s tax authorities go a step further than other countries in also taking a cut in a sportsman or woman’s endorsement income earned during their UK stay.
This extra step had deterred heavily endorsed athletes, including Bolt, from appearing at any UK event outside of the 2012 Olympics.
British Chancellor (Finance Minister) George Osborne had announced a one-off waiver on this in January, in a bid to woo Bolt to the London Olympic anniversary Games this July.
The 20 March budget went a step further by allowing income tax exemption for “non-resident athletes” on all appearance fees, prize money and endorsement income for both the London Diamond League Games and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Athletes could still, however, face corporation tax and VAT.
The BBC quotes Sports Minister Hugh Robertson as saying: "We want to attract the very best athletes, and this helps us do that."
CI logo UK Budget - APD and tax avoidance
While the possibility of an appearance from the lightning Bolt might put smiles on the faces of Caribbean people in the UK, the no-change position on increases in the airport departure tax will have the opposite effect.
The tax will still be in force despite continued lobbying by airlines and travel industry, as well as by Caribbean and other pressure groups.
Treasury officials explained that there had been no Budget change in the increases announced in the Autumn Statement.
“It remains in place,” said David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.
“We are contained by what we can do because of public finances.”
In other budget changes with long-term impact for the Caribbean, the Treasury (Finance Ministry) plans to extend its tax repatriation talks to its overseas territories.
The 20 March budget announced tax repatriation deals with Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
Asked by Caribbean Intelligence© whether this would just drive tax avoiders further afield to the Caribbean, Mr Gauke said the treasury was in similar discussion with other countries.
“”We hope to make progress with them [Caribbean overseas territories] too,” he said.
Describing the tax deal as a “new international standard”, Mr Gauke said that US legislation was also making it increasingly difficult for those seeking to dodge tax.
“The net is closing in and options are diminishing,” he said.
“We will continue to work on this.”
CI logo Caymans Premier charged
Former Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush has been formally charged with misconduct in public office and breach of trust.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) said on Twitter on 20 March that Mr Bush had been charged and bailed and is now due to appear in court on 12 April.
The charges include two counts of misconduct in a public office, four counts of breach of trust by a Legislative Assembly member and five counts of theft.
Mr Bush has denied all charges.
CI logo Trinidad and Tobago’s new President
The inauguration ceremony was held on 18 March for the fifth President of Trinidad and Tobago, Anthony Carmona, at Port of Spain’s Hasely Crawford Stadium.
In his inauguration address, the twin-island republic’s new head of state outlined the division between the president and the country’s politicians and said that, while he did not have a “magic wand”, the office of president was not “impotent”.
“I do want to emphasise, however, that I am not an executive president,” the former International Criminal Court judge said during a ceremony carried live on national television.
“Under the Westminster form of governance, there are parameters within which I must operate. Powers you think I have... I do not. Powers you think I do not have... I do,” he added.
According to Newsday newspaper, Trinidadians and Tobagonians used social media to register their approval of the choice of Justice Carmona as head of state.
During the week, Trinidad and Tobago also marked its first Patriotism Week – an initiative of the country’s Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration.
CI logo The Harlem Shake
First it was Usain Bolt. Then it was a Trinidad national TV news team.
Now the newsroom of the Jamaican Gleaner has joined Caribbean participants in doing the global online video dance craze – the Harlem Shake.
For those of you sleeping since January, the Harlem Shake phenomenon has gone viral as a format in which one person shimmies and dances, ignored by those around him or her. The video edit then shows an eruption of frenzied dancing by everyone in the video.
The craze has been replicated globally, leading to a version filmed on a plane being investigated, US Baptist students being suspended and an Oxford librarian being sacked.
In their video, the Gleaner’s offices are transformed as staff dance on desks, a newspaper delivery bicycle makes an appearance and some staffers are dressed in their own newspaper.
Truly a rhythmic way to deliver the news!
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