Compiled By NAN Business Editor
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Sept. 18, 2020: Here are some of the top business and finance news making headlines across the Caribbean this week.
Former United States President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea will participate in a virtual conference to drive action on resilience efforts in the Caribbean.
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Action Network will continue to address the urgent need to foster economic recovery and growth in the Caribbean while also grappling with the effects of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The CGI Action Network virtual week of action includes:
—Monday, September 21: Building Back Greener: Promoting an Inclusive and Sustainable Caribbean Recovery
—Tuesday, September 22: The Future is Now: Inspiration from Youth-Led Activism in the Caribbean
—Wednesday, September 23: Opportunities for Investment in Renewable Energy
—Thursday, September 24: COVID-19 in the Caribbean: Public Health Challenges and Innovations
This as a number of regional leaders have given their commitment to write of debts owed to them by LIAT — which is now in administration. Administrator Cleveland Seaforth has been negotiating with creditors asking them for certain debt write offs.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne also revealed that the administrator is also speaking with other creditors, adding that the whole idea is to get to a significant write down in the liabilities so that there could be some level of severance paid to the staff. The news comes as The Waterfront and Allied Workers Union (WAWU) in Dominica says its members expressed concern at being kept in the dark regarding the restructuring of the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT. In July, a high court in Antigua and Barbuda granted a petition allowing for the reorganisation of the airline, the appointment of an administrator as well as staying all proceedings relating to the liquidation of the company.
Meanwhile, The US’ pick for head of the Inter-American Development Bank, (IDB), has been elected to serve for the next five years. Mauricio J Claver-Carone was elected during an electronic meeting of the bank’s board of governors on Saturday, Setp. 12th that included Guyana voting for him.
His term starts on October 1st and he will be the Bank’s 5th president. Claver-Carone will oversee the operations of the IDB Group, which comprises the IDB, IDB Invest and IDB Lab and succeed current President Luis Alberto Moreno. Claver-Carone is currently deputy assistant to the US president, Donald Trump, and senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the US National Security Council. He previously served as US Representative to the International Monetary Fund and as senior advisor to the undersecretary for International Affairs at the US Department of the Treasury.
The Bahamas is gunning to become the first country in the world to roll out a state-backed virtual currency nationwide, and has announced it will launch a central bank-issued cryptocurrency in October.
The assistant manager of eSolutions at the Central Bank of The Bahamas, Chaozhen Chen, told Bloomberg that the digital currency, dubbed “Sand Dollars,” is intended to drive greater financial inclusion among the remote islands within the archipelago nation. Chen noted that the central bank digital currency, or CBDC, will be subject to the same regulations as the Bahama dollar, with anti-money laundering and Know Your Customer protections surrounding the creation of accounts to use the virtual currency.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago’s (T&T) total net public sector debt rose to $120.5 billion, or 71.7 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product at the end of July 2020, according to the Central Bank’s Economic Bulletin for July 2020, which was published on Tuesday, from $103.2 billion (62.2 per cent of GDP) in September 2019. This was larger than the deficit of $4.8 billion recorded in the corresponding period one year earlier and was due to lower revenues, which outpaced the decline in expenditure. At the end of August 2020, the bank noted gross official reserves amounted to US$7,442.4 million (8.8 months of import cover), which was US$513.4 million higher than the end of 2019.
Officials in Aruba are also following other Caribbean countries in introducing a similar Work from the Beach Program, but this one targeted at Americans. The Aruba Tourism Authority has launched the “One Happy Workation” program, inviting anyone with a valid U.S. passport to relocate to the Caribbean isle for 90 days. Aruba has over 3,300 COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths.
St. Kitts & Nevis
St. Kitts & Nevis Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources, Alexis Jeffers Jeffers, is calling for more government investment and focus in agriculture. This week, he noted that that the tourism sector accounts for almost 50% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while agriculture is 1.5%, adding it is an unsustainable model for the country.
Jeffers said that it was clear tourism was the hardest hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be the slowest to recover. As such this has and will continue to negatively impact revenue streams, employment, lives and livelihood, and governance.
“This makes it imperative that as a government we must invest in the revitalization of the agricultural sector and link it to the tourism sector in order to gradually transform our economic development model,” he said according to WINN FM. “We must also acknowledge that we now have an opportunity to produce more as to depend less on imports; revitalize our economy; create new jobs and businesses related to food production; as well as improving our value added products by replacing imported food with more nutritious local products.”
The new Guyana government says it is prepared to offer generous incentives for the development of the hotel and hospitality sector. Against this backdrop, it is inviting interesting persons to submit Request for Proposals (RFPs). In the RFPs, investors must identify the project or land proposed for hotel development specifying size, location, and other details including ownership details such as transport, lease, and associated survey plan.
They are also required to detail all terms if the proposed land is to be obtained from the Government including basis of valuation and terms of lease, sale, or lease with an option to buy and also provide evidence of financial capacity to fund such a project. Only parties providing evidence of financial capacity to undertake a project as principal will be considered. They are also required to provide a concept design for the project showing proposed site layout, number of floors, associated amenities and a rendering of the proposed project.
The Government of Saint Lucia signed the Village Tourism Incorporated Grant Agreement along with the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF). The Village Tourism initiative is in keeping with the Government of Saint Lucia’s plan to improve the competitiveness of the tourism sector, through deliberate planning and management of the provision of tourism services at the community level, to reduce sector leakages caused by a lack of local ownership. The Village Tourism strategy specifically requires investment in quality community infrastructure and expansion of activities which will all drive tourism activity. Village Tourism will focus on homestays, small intimate and exotic hotels, restaurants, bars and shops; all of which will embrace the unique sociocultural and architectural attributes of the target locations.
The nonprofit organization World Central Kitchen (WCK) has announced a second round of its Plow to Plate program in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). WCK supports small- and medium-sized farms, fishers and food businesses to increase their production and maximize opportunity through the organization’s network. Applicants have the opportunity to qualify for a grant of up to $20,000 to grow their businesses as well as their roles as sustainable contributors to their community’s food resilience.
In addition to funding, applicants will have access to business and technical training opportunities, exposure to WCK’s network of restaurants, hotels, suppliers and distributors, and access to human capital through WCK’s volunteer and agritourism program. Eligible businesses include land farming, hydroponics, aquaponics, beekeeping, livestock, commercial fishing enterprises, and businesses that produce or distribute specialty foods such jams, sauces, flours or others.