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By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. April 8, 2022: Here are the top stories making headlines across the Caribbean business community this week.

World Bank Forecast

Economies in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are on track to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, but the scars of the pandemic remain and the need for a more dynamic, inclusive and sustainable growth is ever more urgent, according to a new World Bank report, “Consolidating the Recovery, Seizing Green Growth Opportunities”.

Following a 6.9 per cent rebound in 2021, regional GDP is expected to grow 2.3 per cent this year and a further 2.2 in 2023, with most countries reversing the GDP losses from the pandemic crisis.

However, according to the World Bank, these modest projections place regional performance among the lowest in the world at a time when the region faces important uncertainties as new variants of the virus may appear, inflation pressures mount and the war in Europe threatens the world recovery. In fact, regional growth projections have been revised downward by 0.4 per cent after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Over the last two decades, the report stresses, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean lost the equivalent of 1.7 percent of a year’s GDP due to climate related disasters and up to 5.8 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty in the region by 2030. Agriculture is likely to be hit hard, with crop yields decreasing in virtually all countries, and energy generation stability will be undermined by changes in the hydrological cycle.

Jamaica Remittance Inflows Top 3 Billion

Jamaica received remittance inflows exceeding US$3.3 billion last year, representing an increase over the US$2.9 billion over the previous year, according to Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Leslie Campbell.

Campbell noted that the Ministry endorses the position of the World Bank, which has indicated that “facilitating the flow of remittances to provide relief to strained household budgets should be a key component of government policies to support global recovery from the pandemic.

Guyana Oil

The US-based oil and gas company, ExxonMobil, says it has made a final investment decision for the Yellowtail development offshore Guyana after receiving government and regulatory approvals.

The company said that its fourth, and largest, project in the Stabroek Block is expected to produce approximately 250,000 barrels of oil per day starting in 2025.

Yellowtail production from the ONE GUYANA floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel will develop an estimated resource of more than 900 million barrels of oil. The US$10 billion project will include six drill centers and up to 26 production and 25 injection wells.

ExxonMobil’s ongoing offshore exploration in Guyana has discovered a recoverable resource of more than 10 billion oil-equivalent barrels. The company anticipates up to 10 projects on the Stabroek Block to develop this resource.

Dominican Regains Ownership Stake

The Dominica government has acquired the majority shares in the island’s electricity company (DOMLEC) following discussions that began a year ago with the Canadian-based energy company, Emera Incorporated.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit in a radio broadcast, did not disclose the amount being paid for ownership of the utility company, but noted that on several occasions he had expressed publicly “the need for us to take greater control of our energy security and correct an historic wrong, returning DOMLEC to the ownership of the Dominican people. He said 72 per cent of the shares were sold then for EC$21 million.

St. Lucia Wallet

The St. Lucia-based digital wallet provider, Penny Pinch, says it has entered into an exclusive alliance with Mastercard that will allow the two companies to promote financial inclusion efforts across the Eastern Caribbean islands by offering a suite of payment and acceptance solutions collaborate.

Penny Pinch said that this ground-breaking alliance has the potential to yield significant benefits for  Caribbean residents and small businesses and will work together to expand access to electronic payments and build simple and secure payment options throughout the Eastern Caribbean.

The company said that the new agreement will allow for collaboration with local financial institutions to offer a Mastercard prepaid card to thousands of expanding mobile wallet customers, ultimately enabling them to spend their wallet balance everywhere Mastercard is accepted. It will also allow for the use of Mastercard’s Digital Enablement Service (MDES), which will allow cardholders to perform NFC payments without the need for a physical card.

CSME and Trinidad

 The Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association, (TTMA), wants the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy, (CSME), to be “fixed” as it laments the ongoing problems surrounding intra-regional trade.

The CSME allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and skills across the 15-member grouping and the TTMA chief executive officer, said that the initiative should be fixed. Ramdeen, who is part of a TTMA trade delegation told a “Welcome to Guyana” event, that his organisation has been making representation to the Caribbean Private Sector Organisation in an effort to have the situation addressed. He said that non-tariff barriers were hampering imports of agricultural produce from Guyana and called on the political directorate to clear the hurdles.

Belize Marijuana

The Belize Council of Churches (BCC) says consultation is needed even as it supports the call by the National Evangelical Association of Belize (NEAB) in its call for a ”people’s” referendum on the legalization of marijuana in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

In addition, BCC president, Bishop Phillip Wright chairman, is also seeking a meeting with the Minister of Religious Affairs, Henry Charles Usher, on the issue.

The Belize cabinet has already given its approval to introduce revised legislation that will provide for the control and licensing of the cannabis industry and to establish the necessary legislative framework to govern and regulate the cultivation, processing, distribution, and delivery of cannabis products for adult use only.

Under the Referendum Act, chapter 10 of the Laws of Belize, a referendum may be triggered when a petition receives the signatures of ten per cent of the voting population, or 18, 669 votes in that case as it stands now.

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