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Jamaica Observer

Crime, high youth unemployment said hampering economic growth in Caribbean

Jamaica Observer
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Police at a crime scene in Jamaica. An IMF blog says violent crime in the Caribbean is significantly higher than in any other region, with 6.8 per cent of the population affected versus a world average of 4.5 per cent.

WASHINGTON, DC, USA (CMC) — Economic growth in the Caribbean is being hampered by high unemployment among young people regarded as the highest in the world, and crime, according to IMFBlog , a forum for the views of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff and officials on pressing economic and policy issues.

In its “Chart of the Week”, the IMFBlog noted that the 2008 global financial crisis had an especially strong effect on the unemployment rate for those between the ages of 15 and 24, which jumped on average by five percentage points between 2007 and 2013, from 21 per cent to 26 per cent.

“In some countries, for example, the Bahamas, Barbados, and Jamaica, youth unemployment rates are nearly three times that of those aged 30 and over.”

The IMFBlog noted that the difficult job market has led to an increase in crime in many of the islands.

“In several Caribbean countries, crime has risen sharply since 2004 and murder rates are now among the highest in the world.

“More specifically, violent crime in the Caribbean is significantly higher than in any other region, with 6.8 per cent of the population affected versus a world average of 4.5 per cent, according to a recent IMF book, Unleashing Growth and Strengthening Resilience in the Caribbean,” the IMFBlog added.

It said that about 40 per cent of the Caribbean population identifies crime and security-related issues as the biggest problem facing their countries, even more than pov­erty or inequality.

According to the 2012 United Nations Caribbean Human Development Report, young people are both the primary victims and perpetrators of crime in the region.

Victims of violent crime are mainly between the ages of 18 to 30 and from lower levels of income, while 80 per cent of prosecuted crimes were committed by people aged 17 to 29 years.

The IMFBlog argued, too, that efforts to fight crime will require an integrated solution.

“Balancing crime-suppression programmes with prevention — including youth vocational training that increases job opportunities in the formal sector and keeps youth off the street, targeting interventions in high-crime areas, and developing indicators to more accurately monitor the effectiveness of anti-crime programmes can deliver good results.”

Posted in Buisness/Economy/Banking, Crime, Features, International, Local, News, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

Man shot on Petrotrin's refinery compound

Man shot on Petrotrin’s refinery compound

Published on Feb 21, 2018

By Susan Mohammed Multimedia Desk

Petrotrin’s Pointe a Pierre refinery


A man was shot on the Petrotrin’s Pointe a Pierre refinery compound in on Wednesday morning.The man, police were told, attacked Petrotrin security officers with a piece of iron.

At around 2 a.m. officers were on patrol when the observed the man, bare-backed, sitting beneath a shed.

Officers confronted him and he allegedly attacked them.

They opened fire and he was shot in the abdomen.

He was taken to the San Fernando General Hospital where he was expected to undergo emergency surgery.

Police said he is yet to be identified.

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Hundreds of KFC outlets in UK closed amid chicken shortage

Hundreds of KFC outlets in UK closed amid chicken shortage

 Published on Feb 20, 2018

  • By Associated Press

A closed sign is seen outside a KFC restaurant near Ashford, England, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Fast-food chain KFC has been forced to close most of its 900 outlets in Britain and Ireland because of a shortage of chicken The company is blaming “teething problems” with its new delivery partner, DHL. The company first apologized for the problems on Saturday. In an update Monday, it listed more than 200 stores as open, but did not say when the rest might reopen. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP

LONDON (AP) — Chicken is still as scarce as hen’s teeth at KFC’s British outlets.

KFC says about 470 of the fried chicken chain’s 900 U.K. restaurants remained closed Tuesday because of a chicken shortage. The company says the disruption started last week, when it changed its delivery provider to DHL.
Open branches are operating on shortened hours or with limited menus.

The fried chicken chain first apologized for the problems on Saturday. It said it expects problems to continue throughout the week.

The company declined to offer details about what it is doing to address the inadequate chicken supplies.

KFC said: “We anticipate the number of closures will reduce today and over the coming days as our teams work flat-out all hours to clear the backlog.”

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US court asked to subpoena British Overseas Territories security advisor

US court asked to subpoena British Overseas Territories security advisor

Most or all of the stories and articles featured in this newspaper from time to time are for reason that there are matters of important relevance and benefit to Montserrat. The following Caribbean News article bears much relevance and similarities to matters that go on with regards to Montserrat and some circumstances that have thwarted our progress on an individual level and a government level.

If persons and government were to have the guts and the people of Montserrat at heart we would in the not too distant future see situations develop as has been the case in TCI and now Cayman Islands, and elsewhere.

Covington visits Montserrat regularly in his capacity as described in the article and Tony Bates heads the Governor’s office here in Montserrat.

Pic – (L-R) British Overseas Territories security adviser Larry Covington with Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) Commissioner David Baines and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) official Tony Bates in May 2012

By Caribbean News Now contributor

MIAMI, USA — Attorneys acting for former Cayman Islands premier, McKeeva Bush, have filed an application in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida seeking an order granting Bush leave to issue and serve a subpoena on Lawrence ‘Larry’ Covington, Britain’s overseas territories security adviser, who was and is a resident of Miami-Dade County, Florida.

The application has been made pursuant to 28 USC § 1782 for judicial assistance in obtaining evidence located in the state of Florida for use in a foreign and international proceeding, namely, a currently pending case before the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands filed by Bush against Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) Commissioner David Baines, former Cayman Islands governor, Duncan Taylor, and the attorney general of the Cayman Islands, Sam Bulgin, for conspiracy and malicious prosecution.

According to the US court filing, the gist of the Cayman action is that Baines, Taylor and Bulgin conspired for Bush to be arrested in the Cayman Islands and charged with the “crime” of using his government issued credit card for personal expenditures. Bush asserts that his prosecution was malicious and/or brought for an improper purpose, which was to remove him from his office as premier of the Cayman Islands in 2012 and render him unable to retain his office in the 2013 elections.

Evidence submitted to courts in the Cayman Islands and the United States for the purpose of obtaining search orders and evidence under mutual legal assistance provisions falsely stated that Bush had breached Cayman Islands government policy by using his credit card for personal reasons. Bush was ultimately exonerated by a jury following a full trial on all of the charges and filed suit to recover damages from the alleged conspirators.

Evidence introduced in the Cayman action is said to demonstrate that Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) was involved in bringing the false criminal charges against Bush.

Specifically, an email dated February 5, 2012, from then governor Taylor to Tony Bates, who was the head of the Caribbean and Bermuda Section in the Overseas Territories Directorate at the FCO in London, stated that “the Commissioner and his team are doing everything they can to expedite matters and are well aware of the potential difficulties if we are unable to get to the point of charging McKeeva ahead of the elections.”

Another email from Taylor to Bates at the FCO reported that Taylor had “tipped off a [media source]” as to where Bush’s charge sheet could be found and inspected so that the media source could “write a piece” about Bush’s arrest.

In yet another email from Taylor to Bates, Taylor suggested that he will be opening a bottle of champagne in celebration after Bush’s arrest, as he remarks in his email, “Not opening any quiet bubbly until after it [charges against Bush] has been confirmed!”

Bush claims that these emails demonstrate that the FCO was heavily involved in the manufactured charges against him.

Covington was the law enforcement adviser for Britain’s Caribbean Overseas
Territories and his role was to provide guidance and advice to the governor and commissioner of police.

The nature of Covington’s role in law enforcement in the UK overseas territories is said to be illustrated by a judgment issued by the Cayman Islands Grand Court, which records the then-governor of the Cayman Islands accepting a recommendation from Covington, described as the law enforcement adviser in the FCO, to investigate allegedly criminal conduct in the Cayman Islands under the code name “Operation Tempura”.

Operation Tempura was an investigation conducted by senior Scotland Yard detectives into alleged corruption and other criminal conduct in the Cayman Islands in 2008, and itself turned into an unmitigated disaster, resulting in a series allegations, counter allegations and recriminations.

The lead investigator in the Operation Tempura probe, Martin Bridger, has steadfastly maintained that the initial investigation by the local police, which involved an illegal entry into the offices of a local newspaper, was discussed with and approved by former governor Stuart Jack, Covington and Bulgin, all of whom issued unconvincing denials.

According to Bush’s attorneys, given this background and the high profile and controversial nature of the investigation and failed prosecution of Bush, there can be no doubt that Covington personally played a central role. There can also be no doubt that he would have created and would have received documentary material in relation to both the investigation and the failed prosecution of Bush.

Specifically, given Covington’s title and role played in the investigation and prosecution of Bush, it is simply not possible that no documents have been sent to, or generated by, Covington during the entire process.

“Although one would have hoped Mr Covington might volunteer his records to assist the defendants to comply with their discovery obligations in the Cayman Islands, Mr Covington has not done so and the other defendants in the Cayman action assert that these documents are not within their possession,” Bush’s attorneys state.

Thus, they assert that Covington is a key person in these proceedings and Bush has therefore applied to the US court to obtain information relevant to the Cayman action, including:

  1. copies of all emails sent or received by Covington (including for the avoidance of doubt archived or deleted emails or other electronic documents) between January
    1, 2009, and December 31, 2014, relating to the intended and actual investigation and subsequent prosecution and trial of Bush, and;
  2. any and all notes, reports, memoranda or other documents of any kind and in any format created between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2014, that relate to the intended and actual investigation and subsequent prosecution and trial of Bush, his removal from office as premier of the Cayman Islands and/or the 2013 elections.

Bush also seeks that Covington attend a deposition to answer questions as to the role he played in the prosecution of Bush and to explain the documents that are produced.

The relevant court filings are publicly accessible at the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida under case number 1:18-mc-20228-JEM In Re: Application of William McKeeva Bush OBE.


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Grenada Flagg

Grenada celebrates 44th anniversary of independence with eye on general election

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Feb 7, CMC – Grenada is celebrating its 44th anniversary of political independence from Britain with the traditional military parade , a public holiday and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell keeping an eye firmly on next month’s general election.

“This current generation of Grenadians who have inherited the victories and achievements from slavery to independence, has carried the torch of social progress valiantly over the course of these past years, even more determined to consolidate the foundation for a future of which the next generation will be proud.

Grenada Flagg“On every occasion like this, we must pause, as a nation – to take stock – and to set out a new path for the future. The experiences of the first 44 years have made us even more ready to write the next chapter,” said Mitchell.

He paid tribute to the “many heroes” of the country and that the dreams that gave rise to past struggles still endure.

“This nation, inspired by heroes and built by champions – is rising. Our trajectory is upwards, and we shall not put any limits to the possibilities of which we dream,” he said in his Independence address.

Mitchell, who will lead his ruling New National Party (NNP) into the March 13 general election, said that as the island celebrates 44 years of political independence, “those of us here…must take this country forward with the commitment and determination of those gone before.

“But we must also take it forward with the deep and abiding sense of responsibility that befits our roles as one people, and one nation. We must take this country forward in unity of purpose, patriotism, sacrifice, hard work, and with a vision for its sustainability.”

He acknowledged that Grenada has changed, “is changing and can continue to change for the better, but we have to keep moving forward with this enduring belief and commitment—toward an even brighter tomorrow.

“We must, therefore, avoid risking this once again successful experiment on speculations, promises and innuendos. Instead, we must celebrate the gains we have made and work toward consolidating them,”’ he said in an apparent reference to the campaign promises of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that will challenge the NNP for control of the 15-member Parliament.

Mitchell said he is pleased that the country had come together in the last few years to rise out of economic stagnation, saying that such unity among the various stakeholders “has been a model tool, demonstrating what can be achieved when we join hands across this nation.

“Today, our nation and its people are reaping the rewards of sacrifice. The seeds sown by hard toil and sweat are beginning to bear a bountiful harvest of which all must share,” he said, making reference to the socio-economic problems that the island faced when his NNP came to power in 2013 winning all 15 seats.

“Those of us who answered the call in the last five years were not afraid to make the tough decisions, because we knew that in spite of the challenges, Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique must always come before self,” he said, outlining the achievements of his administration over the past five years.

“Our resolve is to continue to build a country that can withstand external shocks, such as those that come with climate change and other man-made disasters. Our resolve is to pass on such a country to our children and grandchildren. Our resolve is to show that we can achieve all of this together, because we have come this far in such a short time by doing it together,” he said.

Meanwhile, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque has commended Grenada for its unwavering commitment to the regional integration movement.

In a congratulatory message to Mitchell, the Secretary-General lauded the commitment and leadership he demonstrated as Chairman of the 15-member grouping uring the past unprecedented hurricane season. He said Mitchell’s chairmanship of the World Bank’s Small States Forum 2017, served to heighten the visibility of the challenges facing the Small State.

“There is much for Grenada to be proud of as a nation,” LaRocque said, adding that over the years the people have demonstrated “great resilience as they charted a way forward to enhancing their standard of living.”

He said that the theme of this year’s independence celebration “One People, One Country, Our Responsibility,” shows Grenadians collective willingness to work together for the country’s continued socio-economic development.

“The Community looks forward to Grenada’s continued active participation in the work of the Community, and importantly to its leading our efforts in Science and Technology, for which the country has responsibility within the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet, a critical element of the Community’s Strategic Plan,” LaRocque said.

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spectre - meltdown

Technology Feature: The Meltdown and Spectre computer security challenges: an opportunity for Montserrat?

BRADES, MNI – Almost every personal computer, smart device and smart phone manufactured since 1995 is reported to be vulnerable to at least one of the newly discovered Meltdown and Spectre computer hardware security threats.  This is because, in an effort to speed up computers, designers put in miniature assembly lines inside microprocessor chips, which are the heart of modern digital technology. These “assembly lines” for instruction execution, termed pipelines, then led to speculative and out of order instruction execution.

That is, several instructions are being processed at the same time, like cars on an assembly line. Some of these instructions are guessed at, and if the computer does not “branch” in that direction at a decision point,  the wrong work-in-progress instructions are discarded. 

As a result, in modern digital equipment instructions are fetched, decoded, executed then if they are the right ones, committed to.  But to go to such speculative execution, the computer has stored information about its core state, and if attacking malware (viruses, worms etc) can inspect or guess at the information before it is erased, it can then infer the processor’s state and take over.  For instance, if data comes from a “cache” rather than “main memory,” it will be come up much quicker. However, that is also a clue that private information may also be included in what is cached. Private information can then be readily stolen or the machine can be turned into a zombie under rogue control. 

And, leading IT industry figures have long warned the public that if something so obviously valuable as powerful software or information services are “free” then YOU are the product being sold to someone else. If we are lucky, as marketing research statistics. If we are not so lucky, our personal identity, Internet, social media and online shopping patterns – as well as our secret information – are for sale “to the highest bidder.”

Where, yes, the dodgy sites and social media services out there are obviously even more dangerous now. But we must not think that just because we deal with big name legitimate firms we are safe and 100% protected. Meltdown and Spectre are absolute proof of that. And for sure, when we sign up to those terms of service “nobody” bothers to read, we are often signing up to at minimum being used for marketing research.

Meltdown is so far peculiar to the Intel family of microprocessors. This means it is a problem for most Windows, Apple and Linux computers.

Spectre is a more generic problem that affects processors made by Intel, Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] and the ARM family.  Intel and AMD processors are used in computers (including Apple machines) and ARM is used in many cell phones and other smart devices

Spectre is apparently much harder to solve than Meltdown. 

As we go to press, special free software patches have been released, and it is believed that most of the time they will have minimal impact on performance. However, in some cases half the previous performance may be lost. Also, Intel has had to patch its initial patch as there were problems such as repeated re-booting. Even industrial machines with embedded microprocessors are vulnerable.

Obviously, everybody in Montserrat should make sure to get the security updates with the latest patches.

But, what about the opportunity?

Software patches will do for now, but for cloud and web based server applications etc, there will predictably be a wave of new processors with hardware fixes.  Hardware fixes are going to be faster. We can expect to see that in maybe one to three years.  So, we can expect a wave of new investments in server farms, back office services, call centres etc. When that happens, people will reconsider what they are doing and a small fraction will be open to wider changes.

Over about the same period, Montserrat should have fibre optic cable access and we will be looking to bringing in highly reliable geothermal energy based electricity. So, if we can get just a sliver of the new investments it can make a significant difference for our economy.  Something, to bear in mind.

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EME press conf DSC_3689

Montserrat’s Geothermal Energy “gold mine”?

Thermal Energy Partners of Texas suggests that Montserrat’s accessible geothermal energy resource is potentially 100 million watts

Geothermal energy for Montserrat is not just for the sake of renewable energy, (going green) unless it is the ‘game changer’ it has been touted to be. Hence the question, of significance now.

by GEM

BRADES – As the Government of Montserrat continues its “early market engagement” [EME] for geothermal energy development, on Tuesday January 23rd, it met with Mr Bruce L Cutright[1] of Thermal Energy Partners[2] [TEP], a Texas-based firm that is working to develop Nevis’ Geothermal energy resource. During the press conference held at the Ministry of Public Works, Mr Cutwright suggested that – given the temperature and fluid flow characteristics of Wells Mon 1 and Mon 2 – Montserrat may have up to 100 Million Watts of accessible geothermal energy. He also suggested that US Government research laboratory data indicates that costs for electricity could be reduced up to thirty to fifty (30 – 50) percent.

TEP is therefore offering itself as a potential partner for developing geothermal power in Montserrat on a public-private partnership, commercial basis.

An initial development would be likely to be 3 – 5 million watts. (Montserrat’s current peak electrical load is a bit over 2 million watts.)

When Mr. Cutwright was asked by TMR about the suggested potential reduction in cost of electricity, he explained that based on US Department of Energy [DoE] data, geothermal electricity is commonly produced at a “levellised cost” of US$ 0.05 – 0.12 per kWh [kilowatt hour]. He then suggested that our current costs to produce electricity are about US$ 0.38 – 0.55 per kWh. He further suggested that the reduction in cost to produce electrical energy could then lead to moving the price from about US$ 0.45 – 0.50 per kWh to possibly US$ 0.25 per kWh, hence reduction by a third to a half. However, TMR notes that specific, “hard” numbers will depend on the particular design of the plant to be developed and on various linked financial decisions. Transparency about the process is in the public interest.

Mr. Cutright also indicated that in neighbouring Nevis, TEP has helped to identify a geothermal resource of 100 – 400 million watts and is working with the Government of Nevis in a partnership to develop geothermal energy there. (Official sources there suggest 300 million watts and there are indications that some estimates are as high as 650 million watts.) The proposed initial plant size there is to be 9 million watts.  For Nevis, Mr. Cutright indicated that there is a contract to provide electricity at US$ 0.19 per kWh, of which the Government of Nevis gets US$ 0.025 – 0.030.

Encouraged by developments in Nevis, the Government of St Kitts-Nevis is also looking to develop identified resources in St Kitts and to explore interconnectivity with Nevis as well as possibilities for export.[3] Such export will require undersea power cables, which will therefore be within a few dozen miles of Montserrat.

A September 3rd 2016 Carib Journal article[4] indicates that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has also signed a memorandum of agreement with TEP towards developing a Organic Rankine Cycle geothermal plant with ten million watts of capacity.

In a related development, Mr. Indranil Ahmed (newly appointed Infrastructure Advisor for Montserrat, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha for of DFID) has indicted that the Mon3 well is not critical to developing geothermal energy in Montserrat. However there is an intent to use one well for reinjection of fluids after heat has been extracted to generate electricity. DFID is committed to the development of three wells, including rehabilitation of the third well, which is now at 2.4 km depth.


DFID’s focus going forward is on a public-private partnership engagement towards successfully developing Montserrat’s geothermal resource.

[1]     See:

[2]     See:

[3]     See:

[4]     See:

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Caribbean Governments Spent Over US$3 Million On Lobbying, PR In Just Six Months – A NAN First

The int. law firm, Hogan Lovells US LLP , earned the most from Caribbean governments over a six month period.

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Feb. 9, 2018: Caribbean governments in 10 countries spent a whopping combined total of US$ 3.5 million in the first six months of 2017 alone on lobbyists and public relations, News Americas has found.

Here’s the breakdown from the latest US government’s FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) report from the Attorney General, referenced from most to least in US dollars. The number here does not reflect the spend by the Caribbean Tourism Organization or the Caribbean Tourism Development Company. That reported PR spend, combined for the six-month period ending June 30, 2017, totaled $550,846.

Spend from most to least:


The government of The Bahamas shelled out a whopping $1,223,579.48 for the six-month period ending February 28, 2017 to Hogan Lovells US LLP at 13th Street, N.W. Columbia Square Washington, DC for “legal and government consulting services.” No further details were provided.

British Virgin Islands

The government of the British Virgin Islands shelled out $518,301.91 for the six-month period ending January 31, 2017 to Daniel J. Edelman, Inc. of 200 East Randolph Drive Suite 900 Chicago, IL 60601 for “public relations and stakeholder engagement activities in the United States to promote, position, launch and manage the 100 LIVES Project.”

The government also paid $50,000 for the six-month period ending March 31, 2017 to Hyman, Lester of 3826 Van Ness Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20016 for lobbying and legal and consulting services.

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands paid Coyne Public Relations, LLC of 5 Wood Hollow Road, Parsippany, NJ 07054 $204,836.00 for the six-month period ending February 28, 2017 for “public relations and media outreach services” including the development of press materials, media relations, programs, newsletters, and speech writing. At the same time, the government also paid Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP of Four Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA $203,226.36 for the six-month period ending January 31, 2017 to lobby on its behalf. This included legislative and public policy advice on the country’s education and advocacy program in the United States.

Trinidad & Tobago

The twin-island Republic of Trinidad & Tobago paid $600,000 for the six-month period ending April 30, 2017 theGroup DC, LLC of 1730 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20006 for lobbying and consulting services, including analysis and strategic counsel regarding the United States policy and political developments of concern.


Jamaica paid up $474,194.47 for the six-month period ending March 31, 2017 to Finn Partners, Inc. at 301 E. 57th Street New York, NY for “public relations” that included “business, grassroots, and business outreach services.”


Dominica’s government shelled out $95,000 for the six-month period ending May 31, 2017 to Mercury Public Affairs, LLC of 300 Tingey Street, Washington, DC 20003 for strategic consulting services.


For the six-month period ending June 30, 2017, the government of Aruba spent $84,747.07 with Hills Stern & Morley, LLP of 1850 M Street, NW, Washington, DC for “public relations” which included the company assisting the government in arranging meetings and speaking engagements with civic groups while also monitoring and advising on issues and developments affecting Aruba’s economy and trade.

Antigua & Barbuda

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda spent US$32,604.68 with Hogan Lovells US LLP of 13th Street, N.W. Columbia Square Washington, DC for legal and lobbying services for the six-month period ending February 28, 2017. According to the FARA filings, Hogan Lovells represented the government with an application to the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation, to have the U.S. Secretary of Education determine that the island’s medical program accreditation standards are comparable to those used in the United States.

St. Barts

The French Caribbean island of St. Barths paid up $27,185.58 for the six-month period ending January 31, 2017 to Lou Hammond & Associates, Inc. of 900 3rd Avenue, Suite 401 New York, NY 10022 for “public relations.” This included media visits, press releases, and monitored media posts in the United States and Canada on behalf of the island.


Barbados had the least spend of any of its neighbors, spending just$890 for the six-month period ending February 28, 2017 with Berliner Corcoran & Rowe, LLP of 1101 17th Street, NW Suite 1100 Washington, DC for “consulting services … related to a potential bilateral investment treaty with the United States and on an opportunity with Argentina to have a Barbados honorary consul.”

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CDB predicting economic growth for the region in 2018


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Feb 7, CMC – Caribbean economies are expected to register an average two per cent growth this year following overall growth of less than one per cent  in 2017, the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) reported Wednesday.

CDB director of Economics, Dr. Justin Ram, told the bank’s annual news conference that the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season resulting in several countries, such as Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Bahamas, St. Kitts-Nevis, Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin islands experiencing varying levels of destruction, had left the region experiencing growth of 0.6 per cent.

Dr. Justin Ram addressing CDB annual news conference

But he told reporters that all of CDB’s Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) are expected to contribute to the overall economic growth this year.

“This is mainly driven by the return to growth in Trinidad and Tobago and a 2.3 per cent uptick in Jamaica, which accounts for about a fifth of regional GDP (gross domestic product).

“The highest growth rates are anticipated for Anguilla and Dominica as they rebuild from the damage caused by the 2017 hurricanes. Antigua and Barbuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands are also expected to have strong growth,” Ram said.

Dominica’s economy is expected to grow by 6.4 per cent this year, Ram said as the island recovers from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria last September.

“The highest growth rates are projected for Anguilla and Dominica as they rebuild from the damage caused by the 2017 hurricanes. Antigua and Barbuda, and the Turks and Caicos Islands are also expected to have strong growth,” Ram said, estimating that Dominica suffered negative growth of 6.9 per cent as the island lost 225 per cent of GDP.

With regards to the economic situation in Barbados, where last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed concern at the island’s large fiscal deficit, high debt and low foreign reserves, Ram said the Freundel Stuart administration needed to properly manage its debt.

“Secondly the government also needs to examine its other expenditures and particular as it relates to transfer and subsidies which are currently running at around 13 per cent of GDP.

“So that means there needs to be some reform particularly of state owned enterprises,” Ram said, adding that the government needs to make the Barbados economy “a lot more competitive and productive.

“And so that means dealing with the inefficiencies in the doing business environment,” he said.

The IMF had also emphasized that a stronger macroeconomic framework and bolder structural reforms were needed to achieve fiscal and debt sustainability, address the large financing needs, build adequate international reserves, and boost growth.

It also recommended that adjustment measures should focus on expenditure, primarily supported by reform of the State‑Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

“Efforts to contain the wage bill and reform of government pensions, while improving revenue administration and broadening the tax base, including by reducing exemptions, would also be important,” the Washington-based financial institution had said.

Ram told regional reporters it was also important for the government to target social interventions and upgrade the island’s infrastructure.

“Throughout this process of reform, it is really important that the government focuses social intervention towards those who need it.. And that also means that there needs to be a new training programme to provide labourers with the skills for the new labour market.

“The government needs to examine its infrastructure. It needs to put in place a programme that reforms and replaces some of the infrastructure that we have now, particularly as it relates to roads and to sewage.”

In his presentation, Ram said that although a return to growth is encouraging, the Caribbean still lags behind other small developing states where economic growth is at 4.8 per cent average compared to the Caribbean at 0.8 per cent since 2009.

Ram said that in order for Caribbean to ensure sustainable, inclusive growth and development, measures to improve resilience are needed and recommended a framework that could help countries build resilience.

He said it is built on four pillars: macroeconomic resilience; productivity and competitiveness; human development; and environmental resilience.

“Any blueprint for building resilience in the Caribbean must take into account all of the key elements identified in the four pillars. In addition we must ensure that we consider regional integration and gender equality—cross-cutting themes that support and reinforce the four elements. It is important that we build resilience in all four areas, which are interconnected,” said Ram.

With respect to specific policy actions, the CDB official noted that at the macroeconomic level, fiscal rules that encourage governments to save should be implemented; and debt-to-GDP limits should be introduced.

He also recommended that countries adopt reforms that make it easier to do business, thus setting the environment for private-sector-led growth.

He said resilience at the environmental level will mean stricter compliance with stricter building codes, and the development of indemnity insurance markets.

‘”We believe that all of this can be strengthened if there is greater gender equality particularly within the labour market. Regional Cooperation will also reinforce this for example, free movement of labour and capital which could assist with overcoming diseconomies of scale associated with small size,” Ram said.

The CDB said that despite the devastation caused by the hurricanes, it had been able to provide increased levels of assistance to its member countries.

CDB director of projects, Daniel Best, said the CDB, the region’s premier financial institution, last year approved US$364 million in loans and grants, an increase of USD58 million over the 2016 figure.

He said the funds had paved the way for the implementation of projects that focus on strengthening resilience, building back better and placing the Caribbean further along a path toward sustainable development.

“This path will not be without challenges but CDB remains committed to partnering with our BMCs to make extreme poverty in our Region a thing of the past,” said Best. Noting that the plans for 2018, include fast tracking the implementation of rehabilitation and reconstruction projects.

He said that key areas of focus for projects in 2018 include the continued advancement of energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives in the BMCs; addressing the issue of youth unemployment; investing in climate-smart agriculture interventions; and continuing support for the creative industries sector through the Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund approved in 2017.

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ECCB Governor Hosts Discussion With Media Practitioners in Montserrat

Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB),
Timothy N. J. Antoine hosts discussion with media practitioners in
Montserrat as part of the Bank’s Citizen Engagement and Stakeholders Relations Strategy. 

Governor Antoine  shared  information and discussed a range of economic and financial sector stability issues including:

•      The ECCB’s Strategic Approach
•      Current Situation in the ECCU
•      Current Situation in Montserrat
•      Challenges facing Montserrat
•      Legislative Reforms

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