Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados

The Central Bank of Barbados (CBB) said that the island’s economy is poised to achieve growth of about two percent this year up from 0.3 percent in 2014.

In an analysis of the Barbados economic performance, the CBB said that the growth in 2015 will be as a result of tourism and construction activity and the spin-off effects to wholesale, retail and business service sectors.

It said the tourism industry is expected to benefit from increases of nine percent and 20 percent in airlift from the United States and Canada, respectively during the winter season.

The CBB is projecting an estimated Bds$300 million of construction activity in 2015, mostly in the private sector.

The bank said overall economic activity is estimated to have improved by 0.3 percent in 2014. Construction activity expanded by an estimated one percent, largely on account of about Bds$152 million in investment in tourism related projects.

The CBB said that construction and increased export demand for quarrying products, contributed to the 21 percent growth and mining and quarrying, contributed. Solar generation capacity grew by three mega-watts hours to seven mega-watts hours.

But the CBB noted that the fiscal consolidation measures of the past 18 months have stabilized the foreign reserve movements in 2014 reverted to the normal pattern observed in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The CBB said that the stock reserves was Bds$1.05 billion at the end of December, representing 14 weeks of import cover.

Cayman Islands

Global News Matters, which produces the fortnightly Market Dynamics Caribbean newsletter, has listed Health City Cayman Islands as one of the top five Caribbean investment opportunities to watch in 2015.

During the recent live webinar entitled, “Caribbean Outlook: Winning in 2015 and Beyond”, which presented the major highlights if regional investment opportunities, Global News Matters listed the state-of-the-art Cayman Islands facility as one of the five “Top investment projects to follow” in the upcoming year.

Melissa Marchand, managing director of Global News Matters, said medical tourism is on the rise in the region but there is a danger that organizations will build facilities and then hope and wait for patients to come.

“The sector has to be carefully planned with Caribbean countries coordinating to avoid costly duplication and inefficiencies,” she said.

Marchand believes countries should look as using the solid medical depth and experience of Health City to identify complementarities that can benefit other Caribbean institutions.

Shomari Scott, marketing director of Health City Cayman Islands, said the international hospital was honored to be considered a top five “game changer” for the new year.

Dominica

The Dominica Ministry of Employment, Trade, Industry and Diaspora Affairs, in partnership with the CARICOM Secretariat, is developing a Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME) Communication Plan.

A recent workshop brought representatives from the public and private sectors around the table to formulate a strategic approach for sustainable information flows on the CSME in Dominica.

The CSME Communication planning workshop is part of a broader platform to build capacity among public and private sector stakeholders to develop and sustain well packaged information on the Single Market for use by nationals.

In his opening remarks, Director of Trade Matthan Walter reinforced the importance of ownership of all Dominican entities which are responsible for facilitating CARICOM nationals — resident or moving, through the administration of processes, or in information sharing about the CSME.

“Dominica has several achievements in honoring its obligation under the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, as it remains on the path towards sustained regional integration… All authorized restrictions on the free movement of goods, services, capital and rights of establishment to specified, identified categories of CARICOM nationals have been removed,” he said.

Grenada

Grenada police have launched an investigation to determine how several pornographic photos, some showing school children have been posted on the Internet.

The photos were first posted on the social media site, Facebook, but were removed amid complains they were in violation of the Facebook legal agreement.

But the photos are now appearing on other social websites and the police said they have received numerous complaints from several people on the matter.

The photos not only feature students from several secondary schools on the island and who are under age, but also young women from different parts of the island.

Parliament recently approved the Electronic Crimes Act that prohibits the publication of child pornography and pornographic materials online.

Anyone found guilty of contravening the law is liable to a fine of EC$200,000 or to a term of five years imprisonment.

Guyana

Civil aviation authorities in Guyana say engine failure caused a small plane crash that killed a Canadian pilot and another man over a remote area of the rainforest last year.

The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority said that investigators concluded that the Cessna Caravan experienced critical engine failure while ferrying fuel and other supplies for gold mining operations.

Pilot Blake Slater and cargo handler Dwayne Jacobs of Guyana were killed in the January 2014 crash.

Canadian aviation authorities, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney participated in the investigation.

Jamaica

Canadians are to enjoy exemption from stocks purchased on the Jamaican Stock Exchange (JSE) as of April 1, 2015, said Arnaldo Brown, minister of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

The minister was speaking at the Jamaica Association for the Resettlement of Returning Residents (JARRR) Conference at the Jamaica Conference Center in Kingston recently.

The Canadian government has previously announced that as June 2014, Canadian investors were exempt from taxes on the income derived from stocks purchased on the Jamaican Stock Exchange.

The Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica Robert Ready, noted these changes to the Income Tax Act while speaking at the Jamaica Stock Exchange Best Practice Awards last month.

He said that this development “will be more attractive to Canadian pension funds, investment managers and investors, including the diaspora.”

With the implementation of measures to facilitate Jamaican Canadians purchasing Jamaican stocks, Brown is urging members of the diaspora to invest in the Jamaican stock market. He said that this would be the main focus at the Jamaica Diaspora Conference to be held in June.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia has recorded a six percent increase in tourist arrivals in 2014 when compared to figures for 2013.

According to the St. Lucia Tourist Board, total stay over visitor arrivals are estimated at 338,158.

It said figures recorded for seven months in 2014 — February, March, April, June, October, November and December were the highest ever reached for these specific months.

At a recent news conference called to review the industry’s performance, Tourism Minister Lorne Theophilius reaffirmed the buoyancy of the U.S. market as the island’s main geographic market.

“The U.S. is by far the island’s largest source market, commanding just under half (42 percent) of total arrivals. Further, arrivals from this market is due to targeted marketing strategies grew ll percent over the last year’s figures,” Theophilius noted.

The UK maintained the second-largest source market, with 22 percent share of arrivals.

However, the minister said the Caribbean market shrank by eight percent in 2014, acquiring l6 percent of market share.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been granted a loan of US$15 million to help fund the development of a 10 to 15 megawatt geothermal project, expected to come on stream by 2018.

The funds are part of US$57 million in concessional loans for five renewable energy projects in developing countries financed under the second cycle of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD).

The loans, announced recently during ITRNA’s Fifth Assembly, will also go to projects in Cuba, Argentina and Mauritania.

“The geothermal project in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will connect to the energy grid to provide a consistent power source for the entire country and will influence the deployment of additional geothermal projects in the Caribbean,” IRENA said.

Trinidad

A Trinidad and Tobago Appeal Court judge, Justice Maureen Rajnauth-Lee has been appointed to the Caribbean Court of Appeal (CCJ), the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC) announced recently.

In a statement the RJLSC said, “Judges appointed to the CCJ are evaluated on the basis of wide-ranging criteria that include experience, high moral character, intellectual and analytical ability, sound judgment, integrity and an understanding of people and society.”

It said she was selected from among applicants from the Caribbean, North America and Eastern Europe.

Justice Rajnauth-Lee will assume her new post in April.

She was a former state counsel in the Solicitor General’s Department in Trinidad and Tobago and for many years a member and then vice-chairman of the Disciplinary Committee of the Law Association.

Justice Rajnauth-Lee was appointed a judge in 2011 and was elevated to the Court of Appeal one year later.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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