Caribbean Business And Finance Report

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Compiled By Ricardo Blackman

Special To News Americas

News Americas, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Fri. Mar. 27, 2019: Here are the top business stories making news from the Caribbean for the week ending March 27, 2019.

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Facebook and the accelerator parallel18, an initiative of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust, are partnering to launch Startup Hub Caribbean on the 25th of March 2019.

The program will support 10 technology startups that have outsized social impact potential and are focused on improving the lives of communities across the Caribbean. Startups selected for the program will receive support to scale their efforts and improve their products and services, to better tackle the myriad of fundamental challenges facing the region, as well as scale internationally.

Facebook will provide technical support, mentorship, training on the use of Facebook products and tools, free access to a suite of products and services, and access to dozens of experts within the company.

The program will also provide startups support from other mentors, a space for operations during the term, thematic workshops, access to a network of top-tier experts, investors, and other partners of parallel 18.

Startups with the following characteristics should apply: a for-profit enterprise with an established base of operations in the Caribbean, less than 4 years since date of incorporation, have a product/service generating revenue in the market, whose focus is on generating value for the Caribbean region, and are looking to expand internationally. The product or service should also address one of the following social impact issue areas of importance to the Caribbean region: gender equality, decent work and economic opportunity, sustainable industry or infrastructure, climate change, and/or peace, justice, and strong institutions.

“Technology startups have an incredible potential to transform the community, which is why we believe in supporting the entrepreneurs of the Caribbean to drive sustainable development in the region,” said Susana Tuli Cipriota, Head of Developer Programs for Latin America.

“For the parallel18 team, this collaboration is a dream, because we know the amazing work happening across the Caribbean, and we’re excited to support them to scale and translate their success to other markets. We know the potential that technology innovation has to transform our island communities and drive sustainable development for Puerto Rico, and the region, where we have been operating now for over 3 years,” said Sebastian Vidal, Executive Director for parallel18.

The application window for the accelerator program will be open through April 18th. 10 startups will be selected by a panel of experts and will receive their invitations to the accelerator in May. Interested startups can find more information here http://www.startuphubcaribbean.com

Barbados:

Barbados is the first in the Caribbean to have successfully completed its United Arab Emirates, (UAE) funded renewable energy project.  Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Wilfred Abrahams, called this “a truly extraordinary successful accomplishment” as he delivered remarks at the inauguration ceremony of the UAE/BWA (Barbados Water Authority) solar photovoltaic project.

Abrahams said the UAE government launched a US$50 million Caribbean renewable energy fund in November 2017 and this partnership was an effort to assist CARICOM member states “to reduce the high cost of energy which has been identified as a primary barrier to growth.”

UK businesses and consumers will benefit from a trade continuity agreement maintaining current arrangements with countries in the Caribbean soon after Britain leaves the European Union (EU).  Trade Policy Minister, George Hollingbury signed the UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) on March 22, with ministers and representatives from Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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The Bahamas:

The Bahamas has the highest value added tax (VAT) revenue ratio (VRR) in the Latin America and Caribbean region, at 0.99, according to a report entitled “Revenue Statistics in Latin America and the Caribbean for 1990-2017” adding that that country also has one of the lowest VAT rates in the LAC region.

Antigua and Barbuda:

LIAT’s pilots are on board with the plan to restructure the regional airline to make it a more viable entity financially.  That’s the word from Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, following the last meeting in Bridgetown aimed at rescuing the financially-starved LIAT.

St. Kitts and Nevis:

Darker clouds are hovering over St. Kitts and Nevis’ citizenship by investment program.  Panelists at the Investment and Immigration Summit in Dubai said the truth will come out and it won‘t be nice about the scandal-plagued program which has also been plagued by so-called application switching.

Grenada:

Regional developers, Range Developments, has agreed with the government of Grenada to develop the La Sagasse area in St. David’s.  This is an unspoilt area of remarkable natural beauty with beautiful beaches.  La Sagasse will be a unique master-planned development on one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, just 15 minutes’ drive from Grenada’s airport.  It will feature two luxury 5-star hotels, ocean front villas, spas, retail and water sports facilities.

Turks and Caicos:

The on-going and as yet unresolved tax dispute between Sandals Resorts International and the government of the Turks and Caicos, may turn out to be just the tip of the iceberg so far as Sandals’ legal issues are concerned.  The genesis of the dispute with the Turks and Caicos is Sandals’ practice over the past 20-plus years of charging guests at its Beaches resort in Providenciales the mandatory tax of 12 per cent of the full amount of each bill.  However, Sandals paid to the government only 60% of the tax collected, arguing that as an “all-inclusive” resort, part of each bill represented food and beverage service etc., which is not subject to the accommodation tax.

Although it is believed that guests were in effect told that the full 12% charged on the entire bill was a government tax, Sandals retained 40% of that amount for its own use and benefit.  The amount of tax retained by Sandals was, until recently, widely believed to be in the region of US$26 million.  However, in a bombshell revelation on local radio a few days ago, Leader of the Opposition, Washington Misick, claimed that the total amount of unpaid taxes and penalties was nearer to $164 million.

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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