Caribbean RoundUp

Bahamas

Authorities in the Bahamas recently detained 143 migrants from Haiti on a crowded sailboat at the southern edge of the island chain.

The Royal Bahamas Defense Force says a patrol boat stopped the vessel west of Ragged Island.

Among the migrants were 23 women and three children. All were taken to a military base in Nassau for further investigation. The Bahamas usually repatriates migrants who are detained at sea.

A Defense Force statement says eight Cubans were also apprehended earlier this month in a vessel off Grand Bahamas.

The force has detained about 1,000 migrants so far this year.

Barbados

Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados (CBB), Dr. Leslie Worrell, says the country’s fiscal adjustment program since 2013 offers a textbook demonstration of an effective framework for managing the local economy in the face of adverse circumstances.

Addressing the recent 35th CBB annual review, Worrell said that because foreign exchange is crucial, economic policy makers check the balance of inflows and outflows every day, so that any pressure on foreign exchange may be detected immediately.

He said, in May 2013, the authorities noticed a persistent decline in foreign exchange reserves.

“We understood that total spending in the economy would have to cut, to reduce the demand for imports in line with the available foreign inflows.

“The tool used to adjust spending was fiscal tightening. The first budget adjustment, in August 2013, proved insufficient. The reserves continued to fall, but the December measures did the trick, by bringing the fiscal deficit down from 12 percent to under seven per cent and the country’s foreign reserves have since reverted to the normal pattern seen in the years prior to 2013,” he said.

Worrell said Barbados also has lessons to teach the world about how to grow the foreign exchange-constrained economy that depends on foreign exchange growth.

Dominica

The Dominica government says it will soon announce a new visa system for Haitians wanting to enter the island.

Despite being a member of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping, Haitians nationals require visas to enter most if not all CARICOM countries.

Immigration Minister Rayburn Blackmore said over the past six months there has been a review of the issuance of visas to Haitian nationals.

“We have reviewed the system and in due time we will be making an announcement as to the way forward,” he said, while speaking on state-owned DBS radio.

“The intention is to have a system whereby it can be more transparent. We are just waiting to have the administrative system put in place and also out intention is to have a proper vetting system,” he added.

Blackmore said under the new system Haitian nationals could apply in person for visa rather than rely on an employer.

Guyana

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has confirmed media reports that ministers and other top level government officials will be getting bigger pay checks, saying they need to be paid “respectable salaries” to reduce the risk of them getting involved in corruption.

However, he said no 100 per cent increase had been decided on, as some reports had indicated.

Nagamootoo sought to explain the reasons for the pending salary hikes saying there has been a reduction in the number of ministries, and also it would be used as a method of preventing ministers from putting their hands in the cookie jars,’ he said.

“They need to be paid respectable salaries, same as the police ranks and other persons, so as to avoid the temptation of stealing, accepting bribes and indulging in corrupt practices,’ the prime minister said.

Jamaica

The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) has announced that some of its members will stop doing cash transactions with cambios as of Sept. 8, 2015.

In a release, the Central Bank said this is due to a decision by the Bank of America to stop accepting cash transactions from Jamaican banks.

According to the BOJ, it will now allow the affected cambios to purchase and surrender foreign currency bank notes directly from its headquarters as of Aug. 17. This arrangement will end on Feb. 17, 2016.

However, cambio dealers are concerned about the implications.

President of the Cambio Association of Jamaica, Heather Ferguson, says this will affect some areas of the members’ operations.

Several cambios use cash facilities to surrender to the Central Bank, so when this happens, what will occur is that the sector’s ability to surrender to the Central Bank will be impeded.

She said it is too early to determine the impact the changes will have on customers.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia is set to become the fifth Eastern Caribbean nation to introduce a Citizenship by Investment program.

The country’s attorney general has suggested a regional body be established to constantly examine these types of initiatives.

The Senate passed the Citizenship by Investment Bill recently, paving the way for St. Lucia to join Grenada, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua & Barbuda in offering citizenship to the wealthy in return for substantial investment.

Minister for Legal Affairs, Home Affairs and National Security, Senator Victor Phillip La Corbiniere told the Senate that the program would bring tremendous benefits to the country.

“We know that the Citizenship by Investment program has the potential to generate significant sums of money, and it is important particularly at this time in terms of the economic realities of St. Lucia,” he said.

The minister said a board would be established to deal with matters related to the program.

Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony assured that the integrity of the country would be maintained and the introduction of the program would not mean that citizenship would be “available to the highest bidder at any price, at any cost”.

St. Kitts

The St. Kitts-Nevis government says an agreement has been reached under which people who lost funds when the Bank of Commerce closed its doors more than three decades ago.

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris said the agreement would allow for the payment of EC$15 million to depositors.

Speaking in Parliament recently, Harris, who is also finance minister, said the court settlement would bring “tremendous relief to the many suffering depositors in the Bank of Commerce.”

He told legislators “a fresh start has now come to the depositors.”

The Social Security Board (SSB) had begun legal proceedings against the Bank of Commerce on Feb. 2, 1985 and the court delivered an order on May 9, 1985 in response to the Social Security Board petition, enabling the first resolution of the matter this month.

It was further revealed that the SSB, which is a creditor to the Bank of Commerce, should be receiving approximately UC$1.4 million, and the Nevis Philatelic Bureau was in line for just over a quarter of a million dollars.

The government said it would be providing more details on the settlement to depositors and the general public at a later date.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines parliament has given the green light to the Ralph Gonsalves government to borrow a further EC$13 million towards the construction of the EC$700 million Argyle International Airport.

Prime Minister Gonsalves told parliament that the airport, which has missed several completion deadlines since 2011, would be completed this year.

“The government of the Republic of China has already agreed to provide this sum of money between the embassy here and official in the Ministry of Finance, all the arrangements are being put in place to have these monies brought to use to assist in the completion of the airport before the end of the year,” he said.

Gonsalves said the urgency of securing the parliamentary approval in respect of the sale of land in Canouan were yet to be received after a falling out between the investors on the southern Grenadine island.

Trinidad

The Caribbean development Bank (CDB) has pledged US$120 million to Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy Fund for the Caribbean Sustainability.

This promise follows a recent US$600 million pledge by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which will now push the Energy Co-Financing Facility for Caribbean Sustainability up to US$720 million.

The CDB’s pledge is expected to assist the government as it moves closer to its target of mobilizing US$1 billion for the fund.

Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) President Warren Smith, in a letter to T&T’s Planning Minister Dr. Bhoe Twearie, projected an annual demand of at least US$30 million “for bank resources to finance projects in the energy sector over the next four years” and made a commitment of US$120 million over the four-year period.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar proposed the Multi-Donor Energy Summit of CARICOM and the United States in January this year.

— compiled by Azad Ali

More from Around NYC