Caribbean Business News Round-Up

barbados
In the 10 months after the One Year Barbados visa for remote work launched, it processed some 2,500 applications, earned $6 million for government coffers.

By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 23, 2021: Here are the top Caribbean business news headlines making news this week.

REGIONAL

Caribbean passports in several countries with citizenship by investment programs are on the rise.

That’s according to a recent study by CS Global Partners, hich says there been a surge in the number of citizenship applications for Caribbean islands during recent months, as the COVId-19 pandemic extends into another year.

CS says the numbers are rising across several countries with a recorded 42 percent increase in 2020, compared to 2019.

There are five Caribbean countries offering citizenship through investment programs, namely Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts, and St Lucia.

Among these, Dominica is a favorite because its program is affordable, reliable, and provides great opportunities for real estate investment. The minimum investment is $100,000. St. Kitts has the oldest and most established program. The minimum investment is $150,000.

GUYANA

Investment research firm Zacks this week said ExxonMobil boasts a bellwether status in the energy space and an optimal integrated capital structure that has historically produced industry-leading returns.

“Management’s track record of capex discipline across the commodity price cycle makes it a relatively lower-risk energy sector player,” Zacks said, pointing to the multiple discoveries the oil major has made offshore Guyana and how this will result in bigger production volumes.

“The company made multiple world-class oil discoveries at the Stabroek Block, located off the coast of Guyana. It hit another oil prospect at the Longtail-3 well, offshore Guyana,” Zacks said, referring to the latest discovery announced on June 9.

Longtail-3 encountered 230 feet (70 meters) of net pay, including newly identified, high quality hydrocarbon bearing reservoirs below the original Longtail-1 discovery intervals.

BARBADOS

In the 10 months after the One Year Barbados visa for remote work launched, it processed some 2,500 applications, earned $6 million for government coffers, and raked in at least $100 million worth of tourism revenue for the country, eclipsing the roughly $70 million intake from cruise ships in a typical year, according to one of the visa’s architects.

The One Year Barbados visa was among the first of six programmes targeting remote workers that sprang up in the  Eastern Caribbean during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are aimed at boosting tourism in countries where travel restrictions made traditional short-term holidays more difficult, according to the United Nations Development Programme, which hosted a web forum on the topic late last month.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

MOST members of the Petrotrin Employees Pension Plan are in danger of not receiving their full pension benefits due to a $1.6 billion deficit in the plan.

President-General of the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union, Ancel Roget, said those in danger include employees who retired before the closure of Petrotrin in November 2018, those who attained the age of retirement after the closure as well as those who are yet to attain the age of retirement.

Roget said when Government announced the closure of the State-owned oil company, actuaries Bacon Woodrow and De Souza Ltd would have told the then-chairman of Petrotrin, Wilfred Espinet, that with the plan already in deficit, if the company was closed and workers sent home leading to no more contributions coming into the plan, the plan would be in further jeopardy.

JAMAICA

On the cusp of the pilot phase of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), the Bank of Jamaica is forecasting its new digital currency “will be the preferred means of payment…in ten years from roll-out if not before.” Natalie Haynes, deputy governor of the Bank of Jamaica, made the disclosure in answers to questions from the Jamaica Observer on the digital currency.

Haynes, who oversees the BOJ’s banking, currency operations and financial markets infrastructure, said however that the take-up of the digital currency will be dependent on demand, acceptance and usage by all Jamaicans.

The CBDC is expected to be rolled out early next year. This will follow a pilot project in which the new currency will first be tested by the National Commercial Bank (NCB) starting in August, before other deposit-taking institutions (DTIs) are added later. The pilot is expected to end in December.

TURKS & CAICOS

The new TCI government has allocated $4 million for a Grand Turk Master Plan. The breakdown includes $300,000 for the Grand Turk historic churches restoration plan; $240,000 to be used to renovate Governor’s Beach; $1 million is going towards the old post office courtyard. 

Another $1 million is going to the demolition and renovation works at the South Base building; $1 million to Middle Street redevelopment, and $400,000 to the contract and project management team. Other projects that fall under the physical planning ministry will get an injection of cash in the sum of $6.7 million, to be spent on eight projects over the next two years. 

THE BAHAMAS

Exuma’s Chamber of Commerce president yesterday warned that the island’s soaring vacation property success was “choking off” Bahamian access to affordable rental units.

Pedro Rolle, a realtor by profession, told Tribune Business that demand for Airbnb-style vacation rentals had curbed the availability of rental accommodation while also pushing price points beyond the reach of relocating government workers and lower/middle income persons.

He revealed that while a “good apartment” could have been found for $800 per month some two to three years ago prior to COVID-19, the same unit today was likely to be between 63-88 percent more expensive costing between $1,3000 to $1,500 per month. Describing the problem as “fixable”, Mr Rolle said he, the Chamber and others were now trying to encourage entrepreneurs to “build rental units” targeted at the local market and address an inventory shortage caused by landlords increasingly focusing their properties on overseas vacation renters.

BVI

Six bills designed in large part to deter financial crime took effect recently after receiving assent from Governor John Rankin.

The Proliferations Financing (Prohibition) Act, 2021, passed in the House of Assembly on May 11, is designed to prevent the “proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

Based on recommendations from the United Nations Security Council, the law includes a lengthy list of punishable offences, with corporate bodies facing fines up to $500,000 for facilitating transactions to fund terrorism, while individuals could pay up to $250,000 and serve three years in prison.

Premier Andrew Fahie said when bringing the bill for a second reading that the UNSC resolutions require member countries to freeze the funds of individuals engaging in proliferation.

BERMUDA

Somers Limited has completed the $72.8 million sale of Bermuda Commercial Bank to a new company led by Bermuda resident Chris Maybury.

Somers said all conditions relating to the sale, first announced last November, of Bermuda Commercial Bank Limited have been fulfilled, including the requisite regulatory and Bermuda Government approvals. As part of the transaction, Somers has agreed to acquire 21 million shares in PCF Group plc from BCB and Somers’ direct holding in PCF will be increased to 64.4 per cent.