Caribbean Business And Finance Report

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Compiled By Ricardo Blackman

Special To News Americas

News Americas, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Fri. Mar. 8 2019: Here are the top business stories making news from the Caribbean for the week ending March 8, 2019.

Eastern Caribbean:

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank as of this month will begin issuing the world’s First Blockchain-based Digital Currency.

The ECCB and the Barbados-based Fintech company, Bitt Inc. (Bitt), have signed a contract to conduct a blockchain-issued Central Bank Digital Currency pilot within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union.

The digital EC dollar will be distributed and used by licensed financial institutions and non-bank financial institutions in the ECCU.

The DXCD will be used for financial transactions between consumers and merchants, including peer-to-peer transactions, all using smart devices. For example, an individual in St Kitts and Nevis will be able to send DXCD securely from his/her smartphone to a friend in Grenada in seconds – and at no cost to either party.

The pilot will be executed in two phases: development and testing, for about twelve months, followed by rollout and implementation in pilot countries for about six months.

Barbados:

The Barbados government is seriously contemplating outsourcing some of its healthcare obligations to the private sector according to Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn. Straughn says government was working to improve the quality of services offered taxpayers, even in the face of the $67 million in much needed improvements for the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital, (QEH).  He said engaging the private sector could significantly ease the burden on government and immediately improve the standard of healthcare services offered Barbadians.

Jamaica:

The Grace Kennedy Group saw both its revenue and profit increase in 2018, despite the strategic restructuring of its operations and the review of its organizational design, cost structure and business processes.  In a news release, Grace Kennedy reported 2018 revenues of $97.54 billion, representing a 5.07 billion or 5.5 per cent increase over the prior year.  According to Group CEO, Don Wehby: “We have a vision to become a global consumer group by 2020 and a $100-Billion company by our 100th Anniversary in 2022.”

Grenada:

The Grenada government has said it would be making a “cash contribution” to the cash-strapped Antigua-based regional airline, LIAT, less than a week after the regional shareholder governments urged Caribbean countries to contribute to the future of the island-hopping airline.

The Bahamas:

The European Union has rejected the European Commission’s recent proposal to blacklist 23 countries including The Bahamas, for lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering. The Bahamas was blacklisted by the Commission on February 13, along with Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Panama, several United States territories and other jurisdictions.  The Commission said The Bahamas had “strategic deficiencies” in its Anti–Money Laundering, (AML) and Counter Terrorist Financing, (CFT) legislation.

The Inter American Development Bank, (IDB) Group, through its IDB Lab, Natural Capital Lab, Sustainable Islands Platform and in alliance with the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility, has announced that five proposals were selected to initiate project design under the Blue Tech Challenge in the following countries: The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Haiti and St. Lucia.

The Blue Tech Challenge, which launched in September 2018 and closed for application in November 30, 2018, aimed to identify business models that apply new technologies or solutions to foster long-term sustainability of the ocean economy in 14 target countries: The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and The Grenadines

Cayman Islands:

Hilton has announced the signing of an agreement for a new Curio Collection by Hilton property in the Cayman Islands with NCB Group. Scheduled to open in 2021, the new-build 80 room hotel will usher in a new era of upper scale accommodations focusing on sustainability and wellness, incorporating renewable and energy-efficient technologies throughout the property..

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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