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Barbados

The Barbados government says it will allow residents to hold foreign currency accounts of up to US$10,000 as of Aug. 2, 2019.

Minister of Finance, Ryan Straughn said the funds deposited into the foreign currency accounts cannot be purchased from the local domestic access to foreign exchange.

He said while previously foreign exchange accounts had a 70 percent surrender value, government was in the process of putting a framework in place to eliminate that as a signal to the country that it wanted persons to utilize the accounts to conduct their business.

Straughn said the Mia Mottley administration has also sought to increase the personal allowance with respect to travel facilities for individuals, which was previously at Bds$7,500 annually.

That, he said, is going to be increased to Bds $20,000 with respect to persons wishing to travel.

Caribbean

The unprecedented levels of sargassum seaweed that washed up on Caribbean beaches in 2018 resulted in an estimated cleanup cost of US$120 million.

This was revealed by Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism and co-Chair of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center (GTRCM) Edmund Bartlett, while delivering opening remarks at the Roundtable on Sargassum at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies recently.

He said that in addition to costly removal “tourism stakeholders have come increasingly concerned about the seaweed’s unsightly appearance, visitor complaints and the possibility of reputational damage.”

Bartlett said tourism remains the single most important catalyst of sustained economic livelihood in the region, noting that the Caribbean is the “most tourism-dependent region in the world, where it is the main economic sector in 16 out of the 18 Caribbean states and support close to three million jobs.”

Guyana

Guyana has become the first country in the Commonwealth to sign up to the Maritime Economy Plan which aims to develop the country’s potential in the

The government is receiving support from the Commonwealth Maritime Economics Program in the crafting of the plan.

At the opening ceremony for the consultations, British High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn commended the government’s forward-thinking.

He said plan aims to identify sectors of the maritime industries that foster sustainable development and to prepare a tailored action plan to address gaps, overcome obstacles and build capacity to grow those sectors adding that in the process, it will consider the government’s short, medium and long-term priorities.

Quinn said the plan will be tailored to meet Guyana’s specific needs and priorities, which will be also be aligned with Sustainable Development Goal — Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, sea and marine resources.

Commissioner of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, Trevor Benn noted that the plan will develop the potential of Guyana’s marine economy in a sustainable, resilient and integrated way.

Grenada

The Grenada government said it had recorded nearly five percent increase in revenue for the first half of this year when compared to the same period last year.

Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell told reporters at the weekly post-Cabinet news conference that total revenue for the first half of the year is almost EC$390 million which is 3.4 percent more than what was collected for the first half of 2018.

He said that if the revenue is showing increase it means that the economic activities have increased.

The government said that the positive results came despite data from the Ministry of Finance through its fiscal summary reports indicating that during the months of March and June government received less than expected revenue.

The report shows that current revenue for January 2019 was EC$65 million, which was EC$1.5 million above the target, while the figure for February was EC$59.3 million, an increase of EC$1.8 million.

Jamaica

The Jamaica Senate has approved a 90-day extension of the State of Public Emergency (SOE) in the western parishes of St. James, Westmoreland and Hanover until Oct. 28, 2019.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Pearnel Charles Jnr, who piloted the legislation recently noted that the enhanced security measures have been yielding positive outcomes across the parishes, while emphasizing the importance of extending their duration.

He said while St. James recorded a 70 percent reduction in murders between Jan. 18, 2018 and Jan. 31, 2019, when the SOE was in place, its discontinuation had a negative impact which reflected in a resurgence of violent crimes and gang activity in the parish. This, the Minister said, prompted the SOEs reintroduction in St James and declaration in neighboring Hanover and Westmoreland on April 30, 2019 for 90 days.

Senator Charles noted that between April 20 and July, 21, 2019 murders and shootings in St. James fell by 40 percent and 27 percent respectively, compared to the period February 5 to April 29, 2019 prior to the SOEs reintroduction.

Additionally, he said, murder and shootings in Westmoreland declined by 74 percent and 70 percent respectively for the SOEs duration, when compared to the previous period between Feb. 5 and April 29, 2019.

The minister further said that the SOEs introduction in Hanover resulted in murders and shootings falling by 33 percent and 80 percent respectively.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia Tourism Authority (STA) says it supports the government’s position of not agreeing to an EC$20 million subsidy over a three-year period as demanded by the British carrier, Virgin Atlantic.

Newly appointed STA Chief Executive Officer, Beverly Nicholson-Doty said, “we understand the possible impact that the British carrier’s withdrawal can impose on the industry, however, the St. Lucia Tourism Authority is committed to effective ways of building ‘Brand St. Lucia’ with the investment of additional revenue to increase robust marketing and advertising efforts globally.”

Minister of Tourism, Dominica Fedee recently confirmed media reports in St. Lucia that Virgin Atlantic’s decision to scrap the route was linked to a stalemate over payment of subsidies to the airline.

Virgin Atlantic recently announced that after June 8, 2020, it would stop its operations between St. Lucia and London’s Gatwick Airport, for the foreseeable future.

Trinidad

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said Trinidad and Tobago returned to positive growth, registering 1.9 percent in 2018 for the first time in three years, largely driven by a recovery in the energy sector.

ECLAC Deputy Director, Dillon Alleyne said in 2019, despite the effect of the oil refinery closure of the state-owned company, Petrotrin in November 2019, growth is projected to be 1.6 percent, supported by a new natural gas project and an increased implementation of public sector investment programs.

Alleyne said the recovery in the energy sector has contributed to improved foreign exchange inflows, but the foreign exchange shortage is still acute.

He said that the announcement of unsuccessful infill drilling by NP could also have negative impact on economic growth, but the government is working to mitigate it.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 12:04 pm, August 20, 2019
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