Caribbean Business News Round-Up

cuba-economy
Cuba’s communist-run government has announced that Cubans will soon be able to seek employment or start businesses in most fields of work.

By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Feb. 12, 2021: Here are the top headlines making Caribbean business news this week:

REGIONAL

Despite the pandemic and the brutal impact on the tourism sector of the Caribbean, the IMF is still projecting growth for the region this year.

The Caribbean is expected to grow by 2.1 percent this year according to Alejandro Werner, director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department.

Werner, in his latest outlook on the Americas, also said the region needs to look long term at economic diversification.

“I think the most clear way to start this agenda, and that many Caribbean countries have been following, is basically to try to deepen the supply chain links in the tourism sector,” he said. “I mean, to what extent you can provide more of the inputs to the tourism services sector locally, instead of importing them from abroad, should be an element.”

He also said it is very important that the region strengthens the telecom infrastructure to provide a very strong competitive base.

THE CAYMAN ISLANDS

The Cayman Islands Bureau of Financial Investigations has secured court orders freezing US$200 million as part of the agency’s anti-money laundering efforts.

The money is held in a combination of Cayman-based and foreign accounts.

Richard Barrow, chief inspector of the bureau, in a statement, said that the funds are being held as part of “several active investigations, a small number of which relate to the potential financing of terrorism.”

GUYANA

Guyana has over US$200 million earned in oil revenues in its Natural Resource Fund (NRF.

That’s the word from the country’s Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo, who also explained that US$206.6 million (GY$43.1 billion) is currently in the NRF, including the latest royalty payment of US$8.3 million, which was received last month.

The news comes as EXXONMOBIL, Hess and CNOOC Limited, co-venturers in offshore oil developments in the Stabroek Block, have announced the creation of the “Greater Guyana Initiative,” which is a 10-year commitment of more than US$100 million (G$20B) to significantly expand capacity-building efforts and promote sustainable economic development in Guyana.

And as Guyana selected Hess Corp to market two Guyana crude oil shipments as the emerging oil power seeks a permanent partner to handle its share of a major offshore oil find.

ARUBA

Arubans believe financial corruption is rife within the country.

The Central Bank of Aruba’s annual corruption survey revealed 94% of respondents believed corruption was “widespread.” That is up from 81% in 2019.

“In 2020, considerably less respondents said that the problem of corruption was rare and/or that there was no corruption, compared to the previous two years,” the central bank revealed. A total of 1,236 participated in the survey.

THE BVI

The BVI’s ranking for financial secrecy has worsened in the last two years, according to the latest Financial Secrecy Index published by the Tax Justice Network (TJN).

TJN publishes the index once every two years and ranks countries based on how much financial secrecy they supply to the world.

The 2020 index shows that out of 133 countries listed, the BVI placed ninth.This makes the territory one of the top 10 financial secrecy hotbeds that enable wealthy individuals to hide their wealth and avoid paying taxes.  For the 2018 index, the BVI ranked 16. 

USVI

Just as Limetree Bay Partners announced that refining had finally resumed after being shutdown for more than eight years following the closure of the then-Hovensa plant in 2012, four environmental groups have filed a lawsuit that calls for the review of the permit awarded to Limetree Bay by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which cleared the way for refining to resume.

That’s according to a report from Washington-based news website The Hill, with whom the groups spoke. The environmental organizations see an opening with the Biden administration that could possibly lead to a revoking of license under Michael Regan, President Biden’s pick to lead the EPA. On Wednesday, Mr. Regan told lawmakers in Washington that he would move without hesitation to reduce the footprint of greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Trinidad & Tobago’s by Finance Minister Colm Imbert this week said the country made almost $2 billion less than it expected to make by the end of January.

He noted that if the trend continues, the country may lose up to $5 billion in revenue for fiscal 2021. This figure does not include the expected $5 billion shortfall already predicted for fiscal 2021.

Imbert said the official budget estimate of revenue for the period October 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021, which represents the first four months of the fiscal year, was $13.823 billion.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

The level of public spending in the DR reduced by 25% in January compared to the same month last year, after the resources directed to the construction of public works in process and to gross capital formation were reduced to a minimum.

Data from the General Budget Directorate (Digepres) indicate that Gov. spending stood at RD$49.9 billion (US$862 million) at the end of last month, a sum that contrasts with the 67.3 billion pesos that were spent in the first month of the year. past.

And although even the expenses in salaries have been reduced, the biggest cut has focused on the public money that is injected into construction in progress – to public works – which amounted to just two million pesos in January.

CUBA

Cuba’s communist-run government has announced that Cubans will soon be able to seek employment or start businesses in most fields of work.

Previously, Cubans were restricted to working in just 127 officially approved private sector job descriptions. Some of those legalized activities over the years included working as a barber, tire repairer, palm tree trimmer or “dandy,” as the government referred to Cubans who dressed up to pose with tourists for photos. Now they will have the ability to work in over 2,000 different fields.

TURKS & CAICOS

Turks and Caicos Collection, the group of all-inclusive resorts, has temporarily let go of some 250 workers and made others redundant as it struggles to cope with the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

In a statement, the company said it was a “difficult decision” to implement layoffs and restructure operations.

The TCI Government implemented a travel authorisation policy requiring proof of a negative PCR Covid-19 test at least five days prior to arrival as well as travel insurance.

US DIASPORA

A Haitian woman has launched Florida’s first Black, woman-owned wine company.

Desiree Noisette is a lawyer by trade and now the president of Mermosa, the first Black woman-owned wine brand in Florida.

While the refreshing taste was discovered through trial and error, Noisette says the drink – Mermosa – is inspired by the boldness and strength of a woman who came seven generations before her – Celestine.

From crisp Meseco, to sultry Celestine Rosé, Noisette says Mermosa honors her family’s legacy while celebrating equity. Mermosa is currently sold in Florida and Texas. It’s set to hit shelves in South Carolina and Georgia later this year.