By NAN Business Editor
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 2, 2021: Here are the top Caribbean business news headlines making news this week.
US lawmakers have approved legislation that will require the standardised reporting of environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures as well as the disclosure of offshore activities by US corporations.
The US House of Representatives passed the ESG Disclosure and Simplification Act and the Disclosure of Tax Havens and Offshoring Act on Wednesday. The bills were part of the larger Corporate Governance Improvement and Investor Protection Act and still have to be passed by the Senate.Under the ESG bill, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will create definitions of ESG metrics and mandate standardised ESG disclosures.
Two weeks ago, G7 finance ministers made a commitment to make climate-related financial disclosures mandatory for corporates.
The tax haven disclosure and offshoring act requires multinational corporations registered with the SEC to report their taxes paid and other key financial information publicly on a country-by-country basis.
Meanwhile, a new World Bank Country Director for Caribbean countries began serving in the post from July 1, 2021. Lilia Burunciuc will be based in Kingston, Jamaica and brings a wide range of development experience to her new position. A Moldovan national, she first joined the World Bank in 1996 and has held leadership positions in several countries and regions of the world, including in Europe and Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to her current assignment, Ms. Burunciuc served as Country Director for Central Asia.
Additionally, a new World Bank Chief Economist for the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region was named Thursday. William Maloney will be responsible for providing guidance on strategic priorities and technical quality of economic analysis in the region, as well as for developing major regional economic studies, among other roles.
The Chief Economist is responsible for providing guidance on strategic priorities and technical quality of economic analysis in the region, as well as for developing major regional economic studies, among other roles.
Grenada’s Finance and Economic Development Minister, Gregory Bowen, this week said the Caribbean region is facing a number of challenges exacerbated by the coronavirus (COVId-19) pandemic.
Addressing the virtual 51st annual board of governors meeting of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Bowen said among the challenges were chronic indebtedness, high unemployment especially among young people, the high cost of energy as well as income and gender inequalities and food and security.
He said the region was also over dependent on a few “economic sectors that were themselves highly vulnerable to economic and natural shocks.
TURKS & CAICOS
Some 2,757 private jets touched down in the Turks and Caicos Islands between January and June of this year, TCI Sun reported.
According to figures compiled by Doug Gollan of Private Jet Card Comparisons, the Turks and Caicos Islands recorded the highest percentage increase of private jets in the Caribbean so far this year, although the destination was sixth in actual numbers overall.
In terms of overall private arrivals, The Bahamas topped the Caribbean with a staggering 19, 081 jets over the six-month period, followed by Puerto Rico with 4, 667 jets then the Dominican Republic with the third most private aviation arrivals 3,708 arrivals.
Costa Rica attracted 3,520 jets; St. Barts, 2,935; Turks and Caicos, 2,757; St. Maarten, 2,595; U.S. Virgin Islands, 1,843; Antigua and Barbuda, 1,219; Jamaica, 910; Guatemala, 836; Guadeloupe, 738; Stain Martin, 697; Anguilla, 619, and Barbados, 525. The biggest loser among the top destinations appears to be Barbados, with private jet arrivals down 42.1% compared to 2019.
The pandemic hit the Dominican Republic economy hard in 2020 but policy support helped cushion the impact. That’s the word from the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), that concluded the Article IV consultation with the Dominican Republic Wednesday.
However, the board says a significant recovery is expected starting this year, with risks broadly balanced. This recovery will be aided by US spillovers and the swift vaccination campaign implemented by the authorities. Growth in the Dominican economy is expected to converge to its potential over the medium-term, progressively closing the output gap, the IMF said. While the recovery in tourism activities is expected to be gradual, manufacturing exports, investment and consumption would be supported by global growth, resilient FDI and buoyant remittances, the overview added.
The Barbados Stock Exchange (BSE) is on the verge of officially losing another equity from its board, as Sagicor Financial Company is preparing to delist from the BSE and the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange. The company, which has its roots in Barbados but is now owned and controlled by Canadian investors, revealed in its annual report that it was moving to cease trading on the two exchanges. Trading of Sagicor shares have been suspended on the BSE for more than a year to facilitate the transfer of all the issued and outstanding shares of Sagicor Financial to Alignvest Acquisition II. Shares of Sagicor last traded at $2.80.
This as the Barbados government says it will be taking over the BDS$80 million (One BDS dollar=US$0.50 cents) of debt of the operators of the state-owned Hilton Barbados Hotel, even as the opposition the government’s ability to meet its debt obligations in the foreseeable future given “the persistent absence of any significant platform of growth being constructed”
Finance Minister, Ryan Straughn, told Parliament this week that the government had agreed to take over the debt accumulated by Needham’s Point Holdings Ltd., and would be issuing new Series B bonds to the bondholders.
Straughn was piloting the debate on the Needham’s Point Holdings Ltd. (Exchange and Issue of Bonds) Act, which makes provision for the exchange of bonds issued by Needham’s Point Holdings Ltd and the issuance of Series B Bonds by Government to those bondholders, and the cancellation of the full outstanding amount of the bonds. It was later passed. The aggregate amount of the issue of Series B Bonds was BDS$83.75 million.
The Bahamas government says it is seeking qualified private partners to update, operate and improve a number of airports on the Family Islands aimed at increasing visitor arrivals and driving economic growth.
The country’s Ministry of Tourism and Aviation said that a main objective of the initiative is to focus on sustainable and resilient long-term solutions to rebuilding airport infrastructure in a number of key Family Islands namely the Grand Bahama International Airport, the Grand Bahama Leonard M. Thompson International Airport, Exuma International Airport, North Eleuthera International Airport, Long Island International Airport as well as Great Harbour Cay and San Salvador international airport.
ST. VINCENT & THE GRENADINES
The IMF Executive Board this week approved the request by St. Vincent and the Grenadines for emergency financing assistance of about US$11.6 million under the Large Natural Disaster Window (LNDW) of the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF).
The RCF will help address the urgent balance of payment needs associated with the explosive eruption of the La Soufrière volcano.
The ongoing eruption is hitting St. Vincent and the Grenadines hard, compounding the economic and social/humanitarian impact of the pandemic and by IMF staff’s estimates, may result in economic losses amounting to around 30 percent of GDP as infrastructure, housing and crops are damaged.
The Netherlands-based company, SBM Offshore, says it has secured a loan of US$1.05 billion which will allow it to undertake the construction of the Prosperity Floating Production Storage and Offloading, (FPSO) vessel that will be used in the Payara development here.
The company, which had been contracted by US-based oil giant ExxonMobil, to construct the FPSO, said the project financing was secured by a consortium of 11 international banks. It said that the Prosperity FPSO will utilize a design that largely replicates the design of the Liza Unity FPSO.
ANTIGUA & BARBUDA
Antigua and Barbuda has announced a 50 per cent reduction in taxes on airline tickets for travel within several countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) with St. John’s indicating also that the measure will last for six months in the first instance. Last week, CARICOM leaders, who are members of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), met and among the agenda items were the proposal to cut taxes.
There has been no indication as to the position adopted at the meeting, but the CARICOM leaders are to meet early next month for their annual summit, where it is expected that Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who has lead responsibility for CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and chaired last weekend’s deliberations, will report to her regional colleagues. The CSME allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services within the region.
Haiti has been placed on a grey list of countries under increased monitoring to counter money laundering and terrorist financing. The other countries are Malta, the Philippines and South Sudan .
The Financial Action Task Force, an international organisation that coordinates global efforts to crack down on money laundering and terrorism financing, said nations on the list are working with it to correct deficiencies in their financial systems.
Jamaican Erica McKenzie, executive director at John Maxwell Team and CEO of Creative Brands & Concepts Limited, has been enlisted among some of the world’s best in Forbes Coaches Council, an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches.
McKenzie was vetted and selected by a review committee based on the depth and diversity of her experience. Criteria for acceptance include a track record of successfully impacting business growth metrics, as well as personal and professional achievements and honours.
“We are honoured to welcome Erica McKenzie into the community,” said Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, the collective that includes Forbes Coaches Council.