The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Wednesday said Antigua and Barbuda had successfully completed a multi-million dollar Stand By Agreement (SBA) despite “considerable challenges.” The IMF said the Baldwin Spencer government will receive an immediate disbursement of US$25.4 million following the last review of the SBA, which expired yesterday.
The 36-month SBA was approved on June 7, 2010, for an original amount of US$121.9 million and the Washington based financial institution said that the aims of the program were “largely achieved despite considerable challenges.”
It said the fiscal deficit dropped from 18 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009 to just over one percent last year. “Fiscal adjustment and debt restructuring have put the debt ratio on a downward path with the debt ratio dropping from 102.5 percent of GDP at the end of 2012.
“Additionally, the economic recovery is picking up speed with improvements in the tourism and construction sectors,” the IMF said.
A Dubai-based real estate company has started construction on a new Hyatt Resort in St. Kitts where investors will be eligible for island citizenship. The Park Hyatt St. Kitts is planned to have about 200 rooms and more than 40 residential villas and apartments in Christopher Harbor, a growing resort community on the island’s southeastern coast. Individual shareholders can qualify for St. Kitts citizenship by investing US$400,000.
Mohammed Asaria is vice president of the Dubai-based Range Developments. He said construction will create about 350 jobs in its first phase, which is expected to be completed in 2015. Land-clearing started recently.
Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis said recently that the Bahamas government is hoping to bring some resolution to the CLICO matter by the end of the year. “At the beginning when they were placed in liquidation in 2009, there were some names of companies that were mentioned as possible (companies) that wanted to purchase (CLICO) at that time,” Halkitis told reporters as he headed into the weekly Cabinet meeting. “Those discussions are ongoing.
“As you know the company is still in liquidation. We will hopefully be moving before the end of the year to bring some sort of conclusion to the whole matter. “We believe that there are a few companies who might be interested in purchasing.” CLICO went into liquidation on February 24, 2009, after it was declared insolvent.
More than 100 people lost their jobs as a result. In mid-2009, former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said that the government would establish a statutory insurance guarantee fund to protect the interests of CLICO policy-holders.
At the time he said the government would put up a $30 million guarantee. Halkitis said recently that the former government made no provisions for the guarantee. However, he said the Christie administration would still honor the commitment.
The Dominican Republic government has rejected a request by Glencore Xstrata to explore nickel in a mountainous area of the country. The Loma Miranda project would have a negative impact on communities living there, the authorities said.
The area, in central Vega province, is mostly covered by tropical forest. The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, where a great part of the original rainforest has been cut down.
The Canadian mining company Falconbridge had operated in the country for some years, before being bought up by Xstrata in 2006, which has now merged with Glencore to become Glencore Xstrata.
Environmental Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez said he had accepted advice from United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which opposed the project and published a critical report two weeks ago.
Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said he has made recommendations to the recently concluded OECS heads of government meeting on ways of improving the regional airline LIAT. Mitchell told the leaders that Grenada is willing to be a partner in the development and success of LIAT, but the airline must show itself to be serious and cost effective.
“We’re prepared to make sacrifices but we will not be able to support a business if it cannot demonstrate that it can get its act together and provide what we believe is necessary; much cheaper transport and much more efficient transport to the OECS and the Caribbean region as a whole,” Mitchell said.
He responded to claims that government are charging a number of taxes and causing LIAT fares to be higher than they should be. Mitchell said he accepts this as a fact, and therefore suggested that governments need to come to terms with this reality. “We cannot tax ourselves out of a serious issue of affordable transport,” the prime minister said.
“We can drop the cost……and reduce taxes, what we’re going to find out is that LIAT may be a much more successful enterprise, more people will travel, the governments are going to get much more revenue by multiplying the amount of people that will be travelling,” he explained.
A Caribbean trade bloc says it plans to launch a strategy to boost trade through providing aid. Haitian President Michel Martelly who was joined by outgoing World Trade Organization Secretary General Pascal Lamy in Haiti, announced an “aid – for – trade” strategy for the Caribbean.
The effort would try to secure support from donors to help develop maritime transport infrastructure to move goods through the region. Caribbean countries fear they could lose millions by signing two-way free trade agreements with the European Union, U.S. and other countries. They argue that their economies will be hurt because they have little to export and get few taxes from imports because of duty-free policies.
Haiti brought in mining experts from around the world recently in hope of developing precious metals in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Until last year, few knew that Haiti had precious minerals underground. Two mining companies have begun drilling for gold, copper and silver in the country’s northeastern mountains. They say testing indicates the metals could be worth US$20 billion – a lot of money for a country where most of its 10 million people live on just US$2 a day.
“Haiti would like to place itself as an emerging mining country in the next 20 years,” Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told the conference. He said it needs a mining code that is “modern and precise” and must “allow for transparent contracts with competent experts who have national interests at heart.”
Jamaican police are pursuing several suspects they believe are responsible for a street shooting in the capital, Kingston that left four dead as they played a game of cards, authorities said. The police force said in a statement that a preliminary investigation shows the killings were in reprisal for a murder that took place in the rough Seaview Gardens neighborhood earlier this year.
Police identified the slain men as Ricardo Lawes, 28; Dwight “Teeto” Robinson, 28; Omar “Fraudy” Smith, 32; and Jenoure “Billy” Gooden, 33. The four victims were pronounced dead at a hospital. A man and a woman were also injured. Police did not give details of their condition.
Detectives took four men into custody for questioning, and officers stepped up patrols in the area, the statement said. Assistant Commissioner of Police George Quallo called upon witnesses to come forward if they have details on the attack.
Police say gunmen entered Seaview Gardens on foot and fired randomly at an outdoor gathering recently.
The Trinidad and Tobago government plans to build seven industrial parks with part of the $3 billion China has made available to CARICOM.
This was disclosed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who said President Xi’s offer of TT$3 billion is of particularly significance for “our national development.” She said Trinidad and Tobago would be able to immediately access these funds to accelerate the development of business/commercial and industrial parks throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
Persad-Bissessar said the industrial parks, to be built on 592.1 acres represents an investment of TT$833 million.
“This would give an immediate boost to our country’s economic activity,” she said.
The prime minister also said Trinidad and Tobago has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Department of Energy to establish a Renewable Energy Research Center to promote rapid deployment of critical technologies for renewable energies in Trinidad and Tobago. Apart from the U.S. and China, the Canadians are big investors in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Haitian government recently announced a ban on meat, animals and eggs imported from the Dominican Republic, citing a bird flu outbreak in their neighboring country, local media report, quoting official Haitian sources.
“Haiti Republic Ministries of Commerce and Industry and Agriculture inform Haitian consumers and users at the Haitian Dominican border, as well as importers and resellers, that the importation and sale of meat products, particularly poultry, eggs and live animals potentially infected or carriers of bird flu from the Dominican Republic are prohibited until further notice,” said an official statement.
“This prohibition is effective immediately,” said the Ministry of Commerce. Haiti’s decision to ban the import of certain products from Dominican Republic was adopted after media reports about an outbreak of bird flu in Dominican Republic.
According to Haitian authorities, the reports were confirmed by Haitian diplomatic representatives in Santo Domingo. Haiti imports more than one million eggs each day from its neighbor across the border.
Compiled by Azad Ali