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By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Aug. 13, 2021: Here are the top Caribbean business news headlines making news this week.

REGIONAL

The Caribbean and Latin America should have recovery policies in a context that defies orthodoxy.

That’s the word from Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena.

Bárcena this week reaffirmed the need to build new political and social pacts that promote citizen participation with a view to a sustainable and equal recovery at an event, titled: “Towards a new Latin America and the Caribbean in the post-pandemic: Proposals from civil society in the face of the crisis, organized by the Social Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ISALC).”

“Why are our governments still in orthodoxy when the world is moving toward heterodoxy?,” Bárcena questioned. “We have to strengthen the role of the State and public policy, sustain expansionary fiscal and monetary policies, not only through transfers, but also boost investment. Advance towards progressive collection, strengthen social protection systems, restructure education and health systems and promote transversal, industrial sector and gender policies for a new development model.”

The Executive Secretary of ECLAC also stressed that the region today faces a paradox because, although it will grow 5.2% in 2021, the problem of debt and less fiscal space persists, poverty affects 209 million people and extreme poverty to 82 million, and informality and unemployment do not recover.

She pointed out that the impact of the crisis was greater on female, youth and informal employment. The female participation rate decreased from 51% in 2019 to 46.9% in 2020, which places it at levels similar to those of 2002. Women face greater informality and inequality in the labor market, she said.

Bárcena also warned that 167 million students in the region lost a year of face-to-face schooling with an impact on their learning, while 3.1 million young people, girls and boys are at risk of dropping out of school.

During her presentation, the highest representative of ECLAC also warned about the persistent global ecological deterioration, as well as the decline in environmental policies in the framework of the pandemic. In this sense, she stressed the urgency of resuming the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities on the issue of climate change and recalled that the region generates 8.3% of global emissions, but is highly vulnerable to its impact. She also warned that more than 80% of the Caribbean population lives below 5 meters below sea level and urged the creation of a resilience fund that meets the needs of that region.

BARBADOS

A significant percentage of Barbadians surveyed are complaining about the continued disruptions that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on their livelihoods.

The Caribbean COVID-19 Food Security & Livelihoods Impact Survey Report on Barbados, said that its surveys which were conducted twice last year and again in 2021 by the World Food Programme, showed that the overwhelming majority of low-income respondents faced difficulties.

According to the report, “impacts on livelihoods remain widespread” as nearly half of those in Barbados said their ability to pursue their livelihood was affected in the twoweeks preceding the survey.

St. MAARTEN

The Dutch government has approved the sixth tranche of NAf. 48 million liquidity support for St. Maarten.

St. Maarten Finance Minister Ardwell Irion said on Wednesday that a letter had been received from caretaker Dutch State Secretary for Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops, who indicated that he had signed off on the sixth tranche.

“I believe it’s a slightly different process now where the [caretaker – Ed.] minister of finance in the Netherlands also has to sign off and the [caretaker] Prime Minister of the Netherlands [Mark] Rutte also has to sign off,” Irion told reporters during the live Council of Ministers press briefing. “This process is now happening. We did our part for the sixth tranche and we are hoping to receive this soon.”

BERMUDA

Tourism arrival numbers took another massive hit in the second quarter of this year according to the latest statistics.

Air arrivals dropped by almost 80 per cent compared to the same period in 2019, while there were no cruise ship arrivals.

Charles H Jeffers II, the chief executive officer of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, described the figures as “pretty sombre,” adding: “We have more work to do to reach our pre-pandemic visitor arrival numbers, yet we are encouraged by the progress since last year and are cautiously optimistic about the future.”

The island was shut down to visitors during the second quarter of last year as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, so comparisons cannot be made. The BTA report used 2019 statistics as the baseline for this year’s comparison to rate performance against pre-pandemic figures.

GUYANA

The Guyana parliament has given the green light to legislation that government legislators say will support the efforts of the Irfaan Ali administration to provide reliable energy and transform production in several sectors.

Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat, who piloted the amendments to the Petroleum Bill, said they will facilitate the government’s efforts to monitor oil production activities offshore and advance the gas-to-energy project in Region Three. The government used its majority to deny amendments that had been tabled by former minister of public infrastructure, David Patterson, with Bharrat noting that the 1986 Petroleum Act does not make provisions for fibre optic cables laying onshore.  ExxonMobil’s Guyana subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) intends to bring a state-of-the-art fibre optic cable system to shore with Bharrat indicating this cable will allow for the real-time monitoring of production activities offshore Guyana.

GRENADA

Grenada’s Foreign Affairs, International Business and CARICOM Affairs Minister says the Spice Island’s economy is in a deficit.

Minister Oliver Joseph, told reporters that increased expenditure is driving the deficit. He said that despite the government’s monthly revenue being more than what was collected monthly last year.

A review of the Ministry of Finance Fiscal Reports for the months of April, May and June have shown that the government earned more than the targeted revenue as projected in the 2021 Estimate of Revenue. All three months also surpassrf the amount earned for the same period in 2020.

BELIZE

The BElize Social Security Board (SSB) has recorded a shortfall of almost BDZ$20 million (One Belize dollar=US$0.49 cents) last year due mainly to a downturn in the tourism industry as a result of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID019) pandemic.

In addition, the SSB said that it has had to make huge payments due to COVID illnesses and as a result did not meet its budgetary projections for collections last year. Under the current system, employers and workers pay nine per cent of employees’ insurable earnings.  SSB estimates that it will receive BDZ$ 98 million in revenue as a result by the end of this year.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

The Confederation of Regional Business Chamber says 6,000 businesses around the country will remain permanently closed.

Coordinator of the Confederation Jai Leladharsingh told Guardian Media that based on a survey done by the Confederation, about 6,000 out of 17,000 small and medium enterprises are facing economic decimation.

Noting that the $300 million tranche given to commercial banks to assist SME’s were underutilized, Leladharsingh said many felt it was an entrapment. He called on the government to offer cheques to small business owners so that they could retool, restock and rehire employees. 

CUBA

The Cuban council of state has approved a long-awaited law authorizing the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises. The August 6th announcement came less than a month after thousands of Cubans took to the streets calling for freedom and an end to the Communist dictatorship. After a brutal crackdown, around 380 protesters are now in prison awaiting trial on charges such as “delinquency.”

Oniel Díaz, a consultant specializing in Cuba’s business development, said the new SMEs law still represents a turning point that many Cubans have been eagerly anticipating for years. “For the Cuban economy… this represents a giant step that will have consequences in the medium and long term” for the reconfiguration of the national economy, he told AFP.

PUERTO RICO

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi has announced the allocation of $50 million in funds from the federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) to support cultural institutions and boost the creative economy, or orange economy, as it has been called in recent years.

About $ 10 million will be used to subsidize the budget of different entities that have sustained substantial losses due to the pandemic. The government will allocate $40 million to different programs of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (ICP), and will use these funds to make improvements on historic buildings, the digitization of historical documents,  and the restoration of objects.

DOMINICA

The Commonwealth of Dominica wants to compete as the best cocoa producer in the international market by developing better agricultural practices and infrastructure. The Caribbean island has unique, fine-flavoured cocoa that has won prestigious recognition in product quality within the last decade. The initiative is being garnered through workshops held for stakeholders to improve the quality of products and services to increase selected value chains’ productivity and export capacity. The Ministry of Agriculture encourages owners of abandoned cocoa lands to come on board and invest in their farms.

Dr. Reginald Thomas of the Ministry of the Blue and Green Economy, Agriculture and National Food Security underlined the vital role that cocoa plays in the agricultural sector as it contributes to the livelihoods of Dominican farmers and helps build resilience. Main applicants who invest USD$100,000 in the government’s Economic Diversification Fund can gain full citizenship of Dominica and the right to work, study and live in the country also known as the ‘Nature Isle of the Caribbean.’

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

President Luis Abinader arrives at his first year in office with challenges surpassed in economic, health, justice and tourism matters, which have served as a counterweight to the US$47.4 billion in public debt and the noise from some of his collaborators.

As of last June, the debt of the non-financial public sector of the Dominican Republic was equivalent to 54% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), influenced by the tax revenue crisis that has been caused by the pandemic.

The president, who was elected and governs since August 16, 2020 under a state of emergency, due to the ravages of the pandemic, is also facing a new political scenario that places former presidents Leonel Fernández and Danilo Medina as the main opposition figures for 2024.

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