Compiled By Ricardo Blackman
Special To News Americas
News Americas, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Fri. Mar. 22, 2019: Here are the top business stories making news from the Caribbean for the week ending March 22, 2019.
Turks and Caicos:
Newly-elected leader of the Progressive National Party, (PNP) and leader of the opposition in Turks and Caicos Islands, Washington Misick, was informed by senior management at the government-owned Radio Turks and Caicos that his scheduled March 15th interview on a popular talk show “Expressions” had been cancelled because of “orders from above.” The decision came just days after Misick revealed that Sandals Resorts International owed $164 million in unpaid taxes and penalties, not the $26 million widely believed. Sandals Resorts International, meanwhile, has filed a lawsuit against the Turks and Caicos government over a tax-related dispute involving its Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort.
The suit stems from recent allegations made by the Turks and Caicos government, claiming Sandals is on the hook for millions in unpaid taxes.
Sandals, however, has staunchly denied the allegation, while concurrently announcing that the company would indefinitely close the Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort in January 2021.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley delivered her maiden budget to Parliament Wednesday, March 20th, following her Barbados Labour Party’s clean sweep of the 30 seats in the May 24th, 2018 general elections. She said Bajans can expect economic austerity ‘until 2025,’ but appealed to citizens to “stay the course” to allow the “antibiotics” to work effectively. The Prime Minister also said that the government was no longer financing its spending by asking the Central Bank of Barbados to buy its bonds with printed money.
Minister of International Business and Industry, Ronald Toppin, meanwhile, says Barbados is working towards having its name removed from a recent European Union, (EU) blacklist. Toppin said that Barbados has already been deemed compliant by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the globally-recognized body for the setting and monitoring of international tax standards.
St. Vincent and The Grenadines:
The Caribbean island of Guadeloupe – an Overseas Department of France – has formally joined the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) – a regional grouping of independent and non-independent countries.
Antigua and Barbuda:
The Antigua government has for the first time admitted that the recent pull-out by Caribbean Cruise Lines has a lot to do with its agreement with Global Port Holdings, (GPH).
Trinidad and Tobago:
Royal Dutch Shell has reported that it more than doubled the earnings of the segment of its business that includes Trinidad and Tobago in its 2018 financial year. This was despite a US$190 million impairment charge on its Trinidad and Tobago operations in the fourth quarter of last year.
The country’s first utility-scale photovoltaic plant has been officially opened and is expected to save The Bahamas $350,000 in diesel per year and offset the production of 856 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors this week approved US$27 million project to support the construction of a 7 MW small geothermal power plant in the Commonwealth of Dominica, which aims to increase the share of renewables, diversify the country’s energy matrix, and identify a clear road map for private sector investment in geothermal development.
Dominica has a small power system that relies heavily on diesel to produce electricity. The average price of electricity on the island is amongst the highest in the world, around US$33 cents/kWh as of December 2016 and customers are exposed to the volatility of international oil prices. Geothermal is more cost-efficient, climate resilient and greener. Following Hurricane Maria, 75 percent of the power network was damaged, leaving the whole island with no electricity. In response the government adopted the National Resilient Development Strategy, which sets Dominica’s vision to become “the first climate-resilient country in the world”. Diversifying the energy mix is a key element of this strategy.
The Geothermal Risk Mitigation Project is expected to significantly lower electricity costs in Dominica and increase the share of renewable energy in the country’s energy mix from 25 to 51 percent, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 38,223 tons of CO2 per year. It will also assess the potential to export homegrown geothermal energy to its neighbors.
The project will be implemented by the Dominica Geothermal Development Company Ltd and is financed by a US$17.2 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA), US$9.95 million from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), as well as grants from the UK’s Department for International Development – US$10 million from DFID and US$2 million the Small Island Developing States DOCK Initiative – and technical assistance from the Government of New Zealand and the Agence Française de Dévelopement.
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.