Caribbean Business News Round-Up

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An artist's impression of the proposed pulp mill to be based on lands in Frome, Westmoreland, Jamaica
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Compiled By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Mar. 19, 2021: Here are all the top headlines you can use, making Caribbean business news this week:

REGIONAL

The government of Antigua and Barbuda has threatened to end all support to regional airline, LIAT 1974 Ltd, if “pilots and those who represent them” continue to frustrate its efforts to salvage the struggling airline, the Antigua Observer reports.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne told the paper that he could be forced to hasten the liquidation of the company; while distancing his government from any liability arising therefrom. According to reports in the Barbados Today, the constitutional motion which was filed last week Wednesday, is challenging the constitutionality of the recently amended Companies Act which prohibits anyone from suing the government over any claims against LIAT.

#BIDAcademy

Meanwhile, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) this week launched its new centralized development knowledge hub for the Caribbean and Latin Ameica, #BIDAcademy. It digitally aggregates the IDB Group’s knowledge base and network of experts and specialists to provide the public with improved access to hundreds of courses and other knowledge and learning resources.

#BIDAcademy offers access to a range of resources and tools – including 220 massive online courses – to benefit a range of audiences from students and educators to government officials, development practitioners, and the average citizen seeking more knowledge about development in the region.

#BIDAcademy reinforces the IDB Group’s efforts to drive sustainable development in Latin American and the Caribbean by building capacities and informing policy decisions through open knowledge. It also focuses on enhancing leadership and technical skills within the IDB Group to continue strengthening project design and execution capacities to better serve borrowing member countries.

#BIDAcademy is open to the public and can be accessed here.

BAHAMAS

The capital markets will soon be in reach of Bahamian small businesses and entrepreneurs, according to Minister of State for Finance Kwasi Thompson, who noted that businesses will be able to raise up to $5 million via crowdfunding.

Thompson, who was making a contribution to the debate in the Senate on the government’s fiscal strategy, mid-term budget communication and a compendium of financial and statistical legislation, noted that this is the latest initiative to support small Bahamian business and entrepreneurs.“The Securities Commission of The Bahamas will soon release its Securities Industry (Business Capital) Rules, 2021, which modernize the rules for small businesses to raise capital,” said Thompson.

GUYANA

Rystad Energy data suggests that close to 300 million barrels of oil equivalent has been discovered on average for each exploration well (wildcat and appraisal) drilled in Guyana  over the past six years,” the Norway-based consultancy group said in a new report published recently.

“With around 16 exploration wells planned, including some in riskier frontier regions, 2021 holds a lot of promise,” says Santosh Kumar, analyst with Rystad Energy’s upstream team.

ExxonMobil Senior Vice President of Upstream, Neil Chapman, told investors recently that the 9 billion barrels of oil equivalent resources the company has discovered so far offshore Guyana is only the tip of the iceberg.

CAYMAN ISLANDS

The Financial Action Task Force, a Paris-based organization that sets anti-money-laundering law standards, has added the Cayman Islands to its list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring, joining 15 other countries.

The identified deficiencies vary for each jurisdiction, but they include maintaining comprehensive beneficial ownership information and expanding the operations of countries’ financial intelligence units, according to FATF.

For instance, FATF in a report said the Cayman Islands government needs to impose effective administrative penalties and enforcement actions against entities involved in money-laundering violations, as well as implement adequate sanctions in cases where accurate and timely beneficial ownership information isn’t provided.

“The Cayman Islands are a major financial center; we expect from countries who have higher risks, we expect commensurate measures against these risks,” FATF President Marcus Pleyer said recently.

The Cayman Islands government said in a statement that it has completed 60 out of 63 FATF recommended actions to strengthen its anti-money-laundering system and has given its commitment to meet the action plan’s requirements to work on the remaining three. The government said the work was already underway.

USVI

The U.S. Virgin Islands says it saw only a 35.1 percent tourist reduction last year, compared to over 65.5 percent across the Caribbean region. STR data showed further a 29.1 percent year-over-year (2020 vs. 2019) decline in the USVI hotel occupancy rate, compared to a 52.5 percentage drop in the region. Average Daily Rates (ADR) in the USVI also climbed by 43.3 percent compared with a 2.4 percentage increase across the Caribbean.

BERMUDA

Bermudian-based Triton International Ltd, the world’s largest lessor of intermodal freight containers, has announced completion of a $725 million offering of fixed rate, asset-backed notes.

The company said the $690.1 million Series 2021-1 Class A Notes were offered at an annual yield of 1.904 per cent and $34.9 million Series 2021-1 Class B Notes were offered at an annual yield of 2.604 per cent.

The notes were issued by Triton Container Finance VIII LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Triton International Ltd. They are secured by a pool of containers and related assets owned by the issuer.

JAMAICA

Bamboo Bioproducts Limited (BBP), which is based in Kingston, Jamaica, is now in the process of investing US$300 million to establish a bamboo market pulp mill on former sugar lands in Frome, Westmoreland. It will be the only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, says BBP.

“BBP envisions that on a conservative projection, in 10 years, we will be generating US$1.5 billion in resources,” said Zachary Harding, co-founder and executive chairman of BBP. According to Harding, the establishment of the pulp mill will be a major economic boost to the parish of Westmoreland as the factory will be opening employment opportunities for residents.

BARBADOS

The Central Bank of Barbados has joined many around the world in exressing condolences at the passing of Sir Courtney Blackman, the first and longest serving Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados. He was 88. Sir Courtney died in the United States of America where he had been living for more than 20 years.

 “We are immeasurably saddened by the passing of our founding father, Sir Courtney. His vision has been the cornerstone of the Bank since its inception, and his influence is still felt in many of our activities, both economic and social,” said current Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes.

SURINAME

Tullow Oil said on Thursday the Goliathberg-Voltzberg North (GVN) exploration well, drilled in Block 47, offshore Suriname, has reached total depth and encountered good quality reservoir but only minor oil shows. The Stena Forth rig drilled the GVN prospect to a total depth of 5,060 metres in 1,856 metres of water and the well will now be plugged and abandoned. Tullow and its partners will then assess the data gathered from the well and carefully consider next steps. GVN lies approximately 260 kilometres off the coast of Suriname, in 1,900 metres of water and is one of a series of leads and prospects on the flank of the Demerara High.