Compiled By NAN Business Editor
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 24, 2020: Here are some of the top business and finance news making headlines across the Caribbean this week.
Only two Caribbean countries are in the Top 50 Index of Economic Freedom for 2020 from the Heritage Foundation. The two are Jamaica and St. Lucia. Both showed a slight drop up from last year to rank at 49th and 50th, respectively, meaning they are moderately free economies.
Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Guyana were listed at 10th, 111th and 124th, meaning they are mostly unfree economies while Suriname was listed as repressed at 163rd globally out of a total of 171.
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. RCL is likely to register a sharp decline in the bottom line when it reports second-quarter 2020 results. In the last reported quarter, the company delivered a negative earnings surprise of 82.7%.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for second-quarter is pegged at a loss of $4.71, against earnings of $2.54 per share in the prior-year quarter. Over the past 30 days, the company’s earnings estimates have witnessed sharp downward revisions. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues stands at $117.6 million, indicating a decline of 95.8% from the year-ago reported figure.
UAE And China
And the UAE and China are stepping in to helpd the Caribbean in their fights against COVID-19.
The UAE this week sent an aid plane carrying 12.5 metric tons of medical supplies and 500,000 rapid testing kits for 14 Caribbean island states, including: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, in addition to the UK overseas territory Montserrat, in cooperation with Barbados as a hub for distribution and through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.
The aid will assist approximately 12,500 medical professionals and other individuals as they work to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, China says it has agreed to advance cooperation in COVID-19 prevention and control in the Caribbean and Latin America. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday the sides agreed to defend multilateralism, support the United Nations and World Health Organization and free trade system. Wang made the comments at a special video conference between the foreign ministers of China and Caribbean and Latin American countries.
In a bid to support Caribbean exporters boost the online sales of products, Caribbean Export will be partnering with an online cooking show to feature recipes using products from the region that are prepared by a Caribbean chef and social media influencer. This is an opportunity to have your products used and featured including the promotion of where your product can be purchased. Apply to the Expression of Interest before July 30th, to be considered.
Bermuda has topped the latest global cost-of-living index. The island is No 1 on a list compiled by Numbeo.com, which compared the cost of living of 135 countries against the cost of living in New York City.
After Bermuda, the next four most expensive places are Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Japan. The Bahamas is at No 8 and Barbados at No 11.
Numbeo put the table together based on costs relative to New York City, with the Big Apple acting as the “100” baseline on the scale. Bermuda’s cost-of-living index is 147.77, which means it is 47 per cent more expensive than New York.
St. Vincent And the Grneadines
Sandals has signed a deal with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines government for the acquisition of Buccament Bay Resort, which has been closed since December 2016 after months of financial problems.
Deputy Chairman of Sandals Resort International, Adam Stewart, and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves signed the contract at the resort on Wednesday, located on the south-western coast of the island.
Stewart said that the new entity will be operated under Sandals’ “Beaches Resort” brand, which caters to families, and will have between 330-and 350 suites ranging from one to five bedrooms.
Suriname’s newly elected parliament Chandrikapersad Santokhi, says he has inherited a devastated economy in the South American nation of about 600,000 people.
“We are on the brink of a financial abyss,” Santokhi said on Monday. “There is concern. The Treasury is virtually empty. This crisis surpasses any worst-case scenario we’ve considered. We will have to face the crisis together. We have no time to lose.”
The new ruling coalition has said it needs to determine what the country owes its creditors, and analysts say it may need to work out a debt-rescheduling plan with the International Monetary Fund — something that could require a potentially unpopular phasing out of fuel, water and electricity subsidies.
As Guyana’s election drama drags on, The Bank of Guyana (BoG) has revealed that for the first quarter of this year, the country’s capital revenue from sources that included grants and debt relief took a nosedive of over 90 per cent, coinciding with the period of political uncertainty before and after the March 2nd elections.
“Total capital revenue, including grants & debt relief, fell by 94.1 per cent to G$369 million. Local capital receipts recorded earnings of G$1.3 million during the review period,” the report states. “Grants and debt relief were lower by 94.2 per cent to G$368 million, mainly due to the lack of grants during the first quarter of 2020, while debt relief from Enhanced HIPC (E-HIPC) decreased by 0.7 per cent to G$368 million.”
While the report does not specify the reason for the slowdown in grants from other countries and organisations, it falls within the period of election campaigning and the efforts of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to prepare for General and Regional Elections.
Trinidad And Tobago
The National Gas Company (NGC) and energy giant BHP have completed negotiations for a gas sales agreement for the Ruby Field off the east coast of Trinidad. When production comes on stream, it is expected to boost the country’s oil production by nearly 16,000 barrels per day (bpd). The Ruby oil and gas field is located in Block 3(a), off the east coast of Trinidad, and is expected to be commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2021. BHP is the operator of the block, with NGC, through its subsidiary NGC E&P (Netherlands) B.V., and Heritage Petroleum Company Limited, as partners. The project was sanctioned by BHP in August 2019.
Alpha Music Institute (Alpha), formerly Alpha Boys School, has launched a campaign to raise financial support for its music programme that assist young at-risk boys in Jamaica. The campaign is being executed with the support of the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange (JSSE) and will culminate with Alpha’s listing on the JSSE.
Alpha’s mission seeks to provide empowerment and personal transformation of young people through education and skills training. Most of its students reside in inner-city communities where social conditions are very challenging. The training program at Alpha is designed to generate holistic development and career advancement in a variety of related employment areas with a special emphasis on music.
The campaign is being coordinated by Jamaica’s Consulates in New York and Philadelphia with Jamaica’s Honorary Consul in Philadelphia serving as point person.
Small-business owners who need assistance due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) have another opportunity to apply for federal funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that is offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (US-SBA).
Representatives from the US-SBA, Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center (VI SBDC) and Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (VIEDA) are encouraging small-business owners to take advantage of this second opportunity to apply for the PPP. The deadline for the extended PPP application period expires on Aug. 8, 2020. Small-business owners can only apply once for the PPP for each business.