CARIBBEAN BUSINESS AND FINANCE REPORT

Christmas in August

By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Fri. June 14, 2019: Here are the top business stories making news from the Caribbean for the week ending June 14, 2019.

Antigua

The citizenship program of Antigua and Barbuda was recently slammed by India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Fukuoka, Japan over the weekend.

Sitharaman called for the need to deal with countries that provide citizenship to fugitive economic offenders through investment-based schemes, according to Indian media reports.

She made pointed reference to the case of Mehul Choski, who became a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda under the Citizenship by Investment (CIP) program, and who is currently wanted by Indian authorities for the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam.

Choksi, represented by his lawyer, Dr. David Dorsett, is currently fighting an extradition request in Antiguan courts.

Antigau & Barbuda slammed back on Tuesday noting that Choksi did not “surrender his Indian passport to become a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda under its Citizenship by Investment (CIP) scheme.”

The government stated that Choksi “applied for Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by investment and was subjected to vetting of his background by Interpol which was provided with written and official clearance from the Police authorities in India, attesting that he had no criminal record and was not wanted or being investigated for any crime.”

The statement added: “[He] was granted citizenship only after the competent police authorities in India gave him official clearance [and] he was under no obligation whatsoever to surrender his Indian passport to be become a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda under its investment program. Any decision he made to surrender his Indian passport had nothing to do with the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship Program.”

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Jamaican Named Eisenhower Fellow

A lone Caribbean national from Jamaica is among this year’s Eisenhower Fellows. Saffrey Brown, co-founder and head of Innovation, The Leap Co. joins 22 other Latin American trailblazing Fellows who represent a broad range of public, private and nonprofit fields.

“These innovative leaders are committed to effecting real change and making a positive impact in their countries and across the region. I’m delighted to welcome them into the influential global network of Eisenhower Fellowships,” said Dr. Robert M. Gates, chairman of Eisenhower Fellowships.

The nearly two dozen new Fellows will gather in Philadelphia for an opening seminar this October before fanning out across the country to each visit 8-10 American cities and meet with scores of experts in their chosen fields.

Medical Cannabis Conference for Barbados

An inaugural Barbados Medical Cannabis Conference will be held on June 29th – 30th in Bridgetown, Barbados at the Walcott Warner Theatre at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, UWI, Cave Hill. It will feature some of the top cannabis experts from around the world and aims to educate medical professionals, researchers, academics and the general public about the benefits of the safe use of cannabis.

The two-day event is being organized by Sarah Seale, managing partner at one of Canada’s consulting powerhouses- Cannabis Management Resources Inc (CMR) in partnership with the Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies.

CMR is collaborating with local medical experts in Barbados like Dr. Harley Moseley- the first physician in Barbados to successfully prescribe medical cannabis and Dr. Damian Cohall – pharmacologist and Deputy Dean of Preclinical Sciences at UWI.

Caribbean See Rise In Tourists In First Quarter

The Caribbean recorded a 12 percent increase in tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2019, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) says.

This was largely due to a 24 per cent rise in arrivals from the United States. However, the performance of the European market was less encouraging, with arrivals up marginally by 0.6 per cent.

In updating the media on the region’s performance at a news conference this morning hosted at the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel as part of Caribbean Week New York (#CWNY2019),CTO chairman Dominic Fedee revealed that between January and March this year, there were 9.1 million international tourist trips to the region, up by 970,000 over the corresponding period last year.

The arrivals boom extended to the cruise sector as well, with a single quarter record 10.7 million cruise passengers visits, an increase of 9.9 percent or 900,000 more arrivals when compared to the same period in 2018.

Cuba

Top cruise lines are forecasting a dip in profits this year after the Trump administration abruptly cancelled cruises to Cuba.

Royal Caribbean Cruises says the travel restrictions would reduce its 2019 adjusted earnings by 25 cents to 35 cents per share.

Norwegian says it will lower full-year 2019 adjusted earnings by about 35 cents to 45 cents per share. Norwegian had previously forecast 2019 earnings of $5.40 to $5.50 per share, while analysts were expecting a profit of $5.48, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Look Out For The Caribbean Skills Bank

Set up by Caribbean professionals Debbie Ransome and Bertram Leon, the platform was launched on Friday June 7th at the British Library and gives the Caribbean region, the British government and aid agencies to harness the skills and expertise of people in the UK Diaspora to provide support and skills following a natural disaster.

The project is sponsored by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and supported by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), Wilton Park and Caribbean High Commissioners in the UK.

 “While many Caribbean nationals rise to the challenge of assisting their respective Islands following disasters, such as those which affected the Islands of Haiti in 2010 and more recently Dominica in 2017, there are no central database which collates details of the skills and expertise of the millions of Caribbean nationals living in the Diaspora,” the FCO Director for the Americas, Hugo Shorter, told the launch.

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Barbados

Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Cleviston Haynes, says he is hopeful its international business sector will return to its previous strength, after the country was removed from the European Union’s tax haven blacklist.

In an interview with Barbados Today, Haynes said he was confident the financial sector will recover. Barbados’ international business sector contributed about 20 percent of the island’s GDP in 2017, but has since plummeted to less than half of that amount.

Suriname

Many Surinamese have up to three mobile lines with different providers, which has pushed up penetration figures, a ResearchAndMarkets.com analysis has found. However, the report also found that the number of subscribers has fallen in recent years as consumers have responded to economic pressures even as the mobile market supports only two players: Telesur (trading as TeleG), and Digicel.

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