Caribbean Business News Round-Up This Week

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Carnival Corporation and Jabil are partnering to launch the first Experience Internet of Things consumer wearables manufacturing and fulfillment location in the Florida/Caribbean region.
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By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 14, 2022: Here are the top business news across the Caribbean this week:

Regional


The Caribbean, except Guyana, is forecast to grow 6.1 percent this year. That’s according to new projections released by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena put Guyana’s forecast growth at 18 percent. According to the Preliminary Overview, the Dominican Republci is forecast to see growth at 10.4 percent while St. Lucia will see 6.3 percent growth and Jamaica, 4 percent. Dominica’s growth is put at 3.2 percent while Belize is forecast for growth of 2.7 percent. The Bahamas is forecast for 2.3 percent; Antigua & Barbuda, 1.8 percent and Barbados, 1.5 percent. All other countries are set to record a drop in growth.

Jamaica

Jamaican investment firm Barita Investments Limited on Thursday announced a “landmark transaction” in which it acquired three US-based real estate services companies.

The acquired companies – Robert Slack Fine Homes LLC (Robert Slack LLC), property purchase/sale brokerage; Florida Funding LLC, mortgage brokering; and Florida Title LLC, titling & transaction settlement provider – were previously primarily owned by Robert Slack and Walters. Barita said the three companies are vertically integrated tech-based companies that each serve distinct stages of the real estate purchase/sale process.

The largest of them, Robert Slack LLC, is expected to have combined property sales exceeding US$2 billion for the 2021 financial year.

Guyana

The Guyana Sea and River Defence Board (S&RDB) has granted its no-objection for 15 major waterfront projects, including for the establishment of shore bases to service the oil and gas in Guyana.

This was revealed this week when the Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill held a press conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Center (ACCC) to update the public on the developments under his Ministry.

At a time when the global economy is plagued with myriad uncertainties, Guyana remains one of the fastest growing nations in the world, with an economy that is projected to expand by a massive 49.7 per cent this year, according to the latest edition of the World Bank’s “Global Economic Prospects”. The report, issued on Tuesday, indicates a significant improvement from the one released in June 2021, which estimated Guyana’s growth at a mere 23.7 per cent. This means that within the last few months, Guyana’s economic potential has doubled, as measured by the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Guyana government will have access to US$607m to spend this year from this country’s Natural Resource Fund (NRF) as it recently received US$74M on its last 1 million barrels of oil for 2021. The Bank of Guyana Report on the NRF for the month of December shows that the closing balance of the account was US$607,646,570. This newspaper understands that Guyana received US$74 per barrel of oil equivalent on its last lift. On December 30th 2021, President Irfaan Ali assented to the controversial Natural Resource Fund Bill, paving the way for the extraction of the entire amount to be deposited in the Consolidated Fund for budgetary use.

Meanwhile, Private sector representatives in Guyana are outraged over a leaked email from Chairman of the CARICOM Private Sector Organization (CPSO), Gervase Warner, who is quoted as stating that Guyana’s Local Content Law contains several provisions that are in contravention with the Treaty of Chaguaramas. Since this sentiment is shared by the Executive Committee, Warner said the CPSO will raise its concerns with the Guyana Government and then ultimately with CARICOM. Warner who is also an Executive Director of Massy Holdings and the President and Group CEO of the Massy Group, said Suresh Beharry, Chairman of Edward B. Beharry and Company Limited, will assist with the communications strategy to be ferried to the government.

Bermuda

A lawsuit in Florida alleging fraud in relation to CATCo and its former CEO Tony Belisle has been stayed, as the American court awaits Bermuda Supreme Court decisions on the insolvency and winding down of Markel CATCo retrocessional reinsurance funds, Artemis has reported.

The suit alleges that “seismic losses” suffered by the Markel CATCo retro reinsurance funds in 2017 were far beyond risks explained to the investors and that Belisle misrepresented the risks of an investment in the Markel CATCo retrocessional reinsurance investment strategy.

The claim is that it caused the investor to suffer larger than anticipated losses based on the CATCo fund’s marketing materials and messaging from the CEO.

The suit was brought on behalf of HWH Realty Holdings LLC, an investment company owned by German billionaire Hans-Werner Hector, a co-founder of the tech firm SAP.

But the legal action is stayed, pending developments in the Markel CATCo insolvency in Bermuda.

Trinidad & Tobago

T&T is receiving an ammonia windfall as the country benefits from significantly higher earnings from the petrochemical sector with ammonia prices reaching near record levels.

The commodity, which is a key ingredient in the production of fertilisers, is in great demand and with some reports of global shortages. Not only does it result in more money for the government but it means that the National Gas Company (NGC) is also a major beneficiary, as its gas prices are in part linked to the global petrochemical prices.

Higher prices allow the government to triple dip, receiving higher revenue from taxes on profits from the petrochemical companies, potentially higher dividends from a more profitable NGC and higher taxes on profits from the NGC.

The present price for ammonia is twice the price it was at this time last year, averaging over US $1000 a metric tonne compared to just over US $500 a tonne in January.

Dominican Republic

Two of Florida’s most prominent companies – Carnival Corporation & plc, and Jabil, Inc. are partnering to launch the first Experience Internet of Things consumer wearables manufacturing and fulfillment location in the Florida/Caribbean region. Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic, is the site of the first Princess Medallion® device manufacturing facility outside of Asia, as Carnival Corporation adds production capacity support for its Caribbean cruises while also boosting economic development by supporting the more than 600 jobs at Jabil’s Dominican Republic facility.Launched in 2017, the revolutionary Medallion wearable contains a proprietary blend of communication technologies and enables the world’s first interactive guest experience platform transforming vacation travel on a large scale into a highly personalized level of customized service.