BBC Caribbean News in Brief

How to improve relations

Spain’s foreign minister says Cuba’s release of all its political prisoners would improve the island’s relations with Europe and the United States.

Miguel Angel Moratinos says this could also lead to the lifting of the US embargo on Cuba.

He has welcomed as good news, an announcement by Cuban parliament chief Ricardo Alarcon that the Cuban government’s wish is to free all the people not accused of murder. Moratinos said that such releases would yield “political consequences” for relations with the European Union and the United States.

In a Spain-brokered deal struck between the Catholic Church and Havana, Cuba agreed this month to free 52 jailed dissidents.
Eyeing Venezuelan market

St Vincent and the Grenadines wants to sell its agricultural products to Venezuela.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says that will be one of the issues raised when Venezuelan officials visit the island on 9 August to discuss trade and foreign policy matters.

He says bananas will be among the products St Vincent and the Grenadines will be pressing the Venezuelans to purchase under the ALBA initiative.

The island is a member of the Venezuelan-led ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.
No VAT increase

Grenada says it does not intend increasing the island’s 15% Value Added Tax (Vat) rate.

The authorities in St Georges implemented the tax five months ago. The Grenada rate was mentioned by Kittitian Prime Minister Denzil Douglas who has been defending his own government’s plans to introduce a 17% VAT in November.

Douglas has warned that neighbouring states which have opted for a lower rate of 15% would be severely challenged as they grapple with the ongoing economic crisis.

Douglas said his government had considered having a 19% VAT rate.

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