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By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 7, 2022: Here are the top business news across the Caribbean this week:

Jamaica

Yet another Caribbean country is set to roll out its own digital currency.

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The Jamaican central bank, Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), has announced that it has successfully completed the trial of its central bank digital currency (CBDC) and is set to roll out the CBDC this quarter.

The BOJ had been working with Ireland-based technology firm eCurrency Mint on the sandbox project. The scope of the pilot was limited to digital wallet providers who indicated readiness to participate within the time frame.

The National Commercial Bank (NCB) also came on board to test the range of services that can use the CBDC solution, according to the announcement.

The services tested included minting J$230 million (circa $1.5 million) worth of digital currency, issuing CBDCs to wallet providers such as the BOJ’s banking department (J$1 million worth of CBDC to be distributed to staff). The first CBDC issuance to a deposit institution was worth J$5 million, made to NCB.

The NCB also onboarded 57 customers who conducted person-to-person, cash-in and cash-out transactions through 37 accounts. This included transactions with small merchants, such as local craft jewelers, footwear designers and fashion and garment boutiques, the BOJ said.

The rollout will see a continuation of onboarding existing customers and new customers, allowing two additional wallet providers, who are currently conducting testing, to distribute CBDCs to their customers, and the testing of transactions between customers of various participating wallet providers.

Grenada

Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment, (CBI), programme earned more than EC$150 million last year, an increase of almost 40 per cent when compared to the earnings from 2020, according to Karline Purcell, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the CBI Office.

“For 2022, we are looking ambitious, and we are going to be doing some things in that area. We are looking to bring this up closer to $300 million,” she said during an end-of-year interview with the Government Information Service.

Grenada offers two investment options under its CBI programme. An investor can make a payment to the National Transformation Fund or invest in a local real estate development project approved by the Government. Under either option, a CBI applicant must also pay application, processing, and due diligence fees.

Data on the Ministry of Finance’s website show that between 2017 and 2021 more than 3000 people were approved for citizenship under the CBI programme.

St. Lucia

Ad mogul Murray Stroud and his wife Victoria are listing their St. Lucia spread, Villa Natura, for $17.5 million. Murray is a founder of TAG, a global media company, the New York Post reported.

The six-bedroom home, plus a “self-contained” one-bedroom apartment, comes with up to 20-foot ceilings, a wrap infinity edge pool and stunning Caribbean views.Inside there are coral stone walls and outside the tiles are made in a way that stay cool no matter how hot the burning sun.

The Strouds bought the land in 2008 to build their dream house, which took five years. This is the first time they’ve put it on the market.

Guyana

The South American CARICOM country of Guyana is rolling in the oil as ExxonMobil this week announced two more oil discoveries.

The new discoveries are in the Stabroek block offshore of Guyana and adds to the previously announced oil estimates for the block of 10 billion oil-equivalent barrels.

“Initial results from the Fangtooth and Lau Lau wells are a positive sign for Guyana and continue to demonstrate the potential for the country’s growing oil and gas sector, ExxonMobil and our co-venturers in the Stabroek block,” said Mike Cousins, senior vice president of exploration and new ventures at ExxonMobil.

Bahamas

The four-month old Bahamas government has signalled its intention scrap a five per cent tax on lottery winnings that its predecessor had announced in 2018.

While the so-called patron tax had never been implemented by the Hubert Minnis administration that lost the September 2021 general election, Economic Affairs Minister, Michael Halkitis, told reporters that the tax had also been a source of legal action especially by web shop operators and patrons.

The gaming operators had argued that the increase in taxes would cause them to lay off employees and shut down some of their locations.

Barbados

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is banking on private sector investment “partly replacing” the inflows from international financial institutions, but not in the short-term.

Its staff also said in the latest Barbados country report that future structural reforms were needed to enhance business facilitation.

“Private sector investment is expected to partly replace declining official inflows from international financial institutions over the medium-term. Exceptional international financial institutions support is expected to fall as the pandemic wanes,” the report said.

“Foreign direct investment, including into the tourism sector and renewable projects, would compensate for a decline in international financial institutions support but not to the full extent,” the report added.

Bermuda

Marcus’ Bermuda, the restaurant opened by acclaimed celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson on the island in 2015, has shut its doors for good.

The landmark eatery at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club closed to diners in March 2020 during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But now it has been confirmed that the restaurant will not reopen.

Samuelsson’s signature dishes and the restaurant’s fresh take on Bermudian culinary traditions were an instant hit when Marcus’ Bermuda opened more than six years ago. A spokesman for the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club said in a statement: “After a long and fruitful partnership with the Marcus Samuelsson Group, Hamilton Princess & Beach Club is currently creating a new dining experience in the flagship restaurant space.”

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