Caribbean Business And Finance Report

Port-of-Nassau-Bahamas
Christmas in August

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Compiled By Ricardo Blackman

Special To News Americas

News Americas, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thurs. Feb. 28, 2019: Here are the top business stories making news from the Caribbean for the week ending Feb. 28, 2019.

Barbados:

There are absolutely no plans to sell Barbados’ sole airport. That assurance has come from Minister of Tourism, Kerrie Symmonds, who charged that some members of the public as well as sections of the media, have misconstrued his recent announcement that government was seeking a private-public partnership to run the Grantley Adams International Airport.

The minister, who was speaking at the launch of two new gates and waiting areas at the airport, expressed hope that the misinformation was a result of “ignorance” and not “malice.”

Although grappling with changes related to climate change, wide fiscal deficits and high public debt, as well as high unemployment, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), has projected that the region’s economy is expected to grow by 2% in 2019.  CDB President, Dr. Warren Smith shared the Bank’s forecast at its Annual News Conference, held in Barbados recently.

Government has reached the targets set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT), program, for the October-December 2018 quarter.  However, in the first quarterly public report, released by the BERT Monitoring Committee, Co-Chairman, Ed Clarke, told reporters the total revenue target of $2.078 Billion for April to December fell short by $56 million, or 2.7%.  Clarke, who shares the Chairmanship with General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union, Senator Toni Moore, explained that although the government failed to achieve the prescribed revenues, a $175 million drop in expenditure compensated for that shortfall.

St. Kitts & Nevis:

The East Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), says the review of the application for the sale of some of Scotiabank’s Caribbean operations to Republic Financial Holdings Ltd is at an advanced stage and Republic is so far complying with all of the ECCB’s requests for data related to the transaction.

Government will move to make cannabis legal for medicinal and scientific purposes after accepting 13 unanimous recommendations from a commission set up to consult with the public on the wide-ranging issues surrounding marijuana use.

The Bahamas:

Global Ports Holding was selected as the successful bidder for the multimillion-dollar redevelopment and management of the Port of Nassau, the Ministry of Tourism has announced.

Minister of Tourism, Dionisio Aguilar said the overall investment is projected to be $250 million, and a 25-year concessionary period is being considered.  He added that negotiations will begin immediately.  He also stressed that Bahamian ownership, through a share offering, will be ensured.

Baha Mar President Graham Davis said the occupancy level at the resort is over 90%, and that the trend is expected to continue into March.  Davis said occupancy numbers have been beyond the company’s expectations to date.  This year will mark the first year that all of Baha Mar’s properties will be fully operational.  Baha Mar’s Rosewood brand officially opened to guests last June.

Jamaica:

Mona School of Business and Management, (MSBM), has partnered with NCB Capital Markets Ltd to launch the MSBM/NCB Student Investment Challenge, an innovative program, geared towards equipping university students with practical knowledge and experience in the area of investment management.

After 100 years of operating Texaco gas stations in Jamaica, GB Energy says it is on track to become the dominant player in the fuel in the fuel industry pending the roll out of a number of initiatives over the next two years.  Chief among the plans to secure a larger market share for Texaco, is its ambition to retrofit its service station with electric chargers in response to changes in the automobile market.

Trinidad and Tobago:

Downside risks on the international front such as developments min Venezuela and tensions among major trading nations, could impact Trinidad and Tobago’s economy this year.  So said the Central Bank in its latest Economic Bulletin, which is dated January 2019.  The report also revealed that while inflation is expected to remain low this year, the forecasted harsh dry season could lead to a rise in the cost of local produce.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly snapshot of Caribbean Business and Finance developments, produced by Ricardo Blackman, founder and Chairman of JER Associates, a Barbados-based Public Relations and Integrated Marketing Communications agency.

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