News

Caribbean can benefit from EPA, says Barbados PM

By Sharon Austin

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has expressed the view that the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) “bristles with opportunities” from which the Caribbean region can benefit.

Stuart made the comments on Tuesday as he delivered the feature address at the inaugural two-day European Union-CARIFORUM Sustainable Energy.

The prime minister told his audience: “Commitment to the successful implementation of the EPA has never waned. In fact, tangible contributions have been made by the EU and its member states under the Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme, the UK’s CARTFund and the German development body GIZ.

“This assistance has benefited the public sector, the private sector and regional institutions alike, thereby making a significant contribution to bolstering this region’s capacity to trade with the EU. We remain robust in our determination to seize the opportunities which we have negotiated under this comprehensive trading arrangement.”

The CARIFORUM-EU EPA, which was signed in 2008, is a trade and sustainable development agreement composed of measures to stimulate trade and investment between the two regions, build a regional market, and help to eliminate poverty.

The EPA seeks to move away from the preferential treatment to the region to a WTO compliant arrangement which seeks to substantially open up all trade between the Caribbean and the EU.

Stuart pointed out that the agreement, while ground-breaking as the first comprehensive North-South trade and development agreement in the global economy, was yet to see a noticeable shift in the terms of trade with the EU, since time was needed to build the capacity in the region to fully exploit the opportunities offered.

He added that it was unfortunate that the process of finalising the negotiations that would lead to the CARIFORUM–EU EPA coincided with the “onset of a prolonged period of fiscal and economic turmoil” in many economies across the world.

Stuart said the Caribbean was not unmindful of the need to eventually re-negotiate the terms and conditions under various trade agreements such as the EPA and the WTO with both the UK and member states of the European Union.

“I therefore wish to echo the sentiments of some of my colleagues that it may well be time for us in the region to focus more attention on political engagement with the EU to ensure the promotion and protection of our interests in a volatile global economy where the currents of individualism are growing more powerful and more pronounced,” the prime minister stated.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Trinidad and Tobago on brink of economic danger, says PM

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- Declaring that Trinidad and Tobago is on the brink of the danger zone economically, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Sunday listed a series of construction projects due to come on stream shortly that are aimed at kick starting the economy.

Rowley said the proposed initiatives would help pull Trinidad and Tobago out of its grim economic state, resulting in much needed job opportunities. He said it was the construction industry that had been proven worldwide to stimulate economic growth, the Trinidad Guardian reported.

Rowley said that Trinidad and Tobago’s debt increased by $40 billion (US$5.97 billion) over the last six years, while revenues pointed downward. The external public debt now stands at $23 billion which must be paid back in US currency, he added

Commenting on the devastation suffered by Haiti from Hurricane Matthew, Rowley also urged citizens to head to banks to donate.

"It doesn't matter how bad your circumstances, there is somebody who is worse. We talk about pressure and poverty here until you think about Haiti," he said.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Amid new immigration crackdown, CARICOM nationals will now find it harder to travel to the UK

By Dennis Adonis

LONDON, ENGLAND -- In preparation for the potential fallout from Brexit, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced that foreigners would no longer be able to take up jobs in the UK that Britons can do, while the number of people coming to Britain to work and study will be significantly reduced.

This means that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nationals and other foreigners will now find it harder to obtain a visa to come to the UK to settle, work, or study.

In a wide ranging policy speech, Rudd explained that, under the new rules, employers can be jailed for employing someone who does not have the right to work there.

Property owners and landlords will also be sent to jail if they are found to be renting their property to illegal immigrants, while banks and other service providers can face heavy penalties for facilitating the financial or other business interests of an illegal immigrant.

Rudd also announced new plans regarding deportations, which she said would require the passing of new laws that would see migrants being deported faster and for less serious offences.

However, the hundreds of CARICOM nationals that travel to the UK annually for study or temporary work purposes will find it harder to do so, since visas will only be considered for certain categories of courses, while employment visas will only be possible if there is no one among Britain’s more than 65 million people that can do the job.

By comparison, it is already easier for a Guyanese citizen to obtain a visa to go to the US than to get one to come to the UK, where the entry requirements are relatively tough.

A large number of Caribbean nationals have settled in the UK and many of them are suspected to have either overstayed their permitted period to remain there, or settled there without the appropriate visa.

Courtesy: Guyana Guardian

OIC offers to finance bridge between Guyana and Suriname to promote regional integration

By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor

PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- Following the visit of the secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Iyad Ameen Madani, and his delegation to both Suriname and Guyana last week, the ministry of foreign affairs of Suriname has reported that the OIC is willing to finance the construction of a bridge across the Corentyne River at the eastern frontier between Guyana and Suriname in an effort to enhance regional economic and physical integration.

This type of project falls under the rubric and vision of the Arab League and South American group, UNASUR, which meets at the heads of government level every three years. Such a project would support and promote regional integration and economic development, which Madani termed “a triangular relationship between the OIC, Guyana and Suriname”. The OIC will also work with UNASUR in this effort.

According to the foreign minister of Suriname, Niermala Badrising, who had several meetings with Madani while he was in Suriname, the OIC and its financial arm, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is in favour of the execution of major infrastructure projects in South America. One of these projects that can finally be realized, according to Badrising, is the bridging of the Corentyne River between Guyana and Suriname.

Badrising, who has been working closely with the OIC and the IsDB, said in a statement that a bridge over the Corentyne River linking the two countries “could become a reality if the countries involved are in agreement and if the project is feasible. It is one of the opportunities that we have to utilize OIC funds, and the project will complement UNASUR's regional integration vision."

he previous government in Guyana had agreed to partner with Suriname to seek finance from China to bridge the Corentyne River. However, there has since been no movement on the project. It is not known if the project was discussed when Madani met the foreign minister of Guyana, Carl Greenidge, in Georgetown.

In fact, the government of Guyana kept the entire OIC secretary general’s visit more or less a secret. Symbolism was strikingly missing – in the one single picture that was released by the OIC Secretariat of the visit to Guyana, the OIC flag was noticeably absent at a bilateral meeting with Greenidge. Further, there was no press statement issued during or after Madani’s visit by the government of Guyana.

For Guyana to tap into the benefits of OIC and IsDB membership, the relationship must mature to become one of trust and understanding. In Paramaribo, Madani, in a meeting with the press, stated categorically that “We are not a religious organization, and the OIC hails Suriname as an example of a multicultural country where different ethnicities and religions peacefully coexist.”

Madani stressed that the OIC is not interested in the internal affairs of Suriname; it is not looking to cause conflicts in Suriname or in the region.

“Suriname and Guyana’s membership in the group should be used to its fullest so as to contribute to regional integration and economic development,” he emphasised.

Madani said that he is happy that Suriname is active in the OIC, unlike other countries who are not seizing the opportunities. Guyana is not an active member of the OIC and there are conflicting narratives as to the reason behind it.

Meanwhile, President Desi Bouterse on Friday defended Suriname’s relationship with the OIC and the IsDB. He urged Suriname to take full advantage of the US$1.8 billion soft loan from the Bank. He warned that there are forces acting against these developments and Suriname’s cooperation with the OIC and IsDB in his government’s effort to stabilize the economy of the country.

Developing countries have long complained that the IMF is an institution willing to provide cash when they face economy calamity; however, the austerity measures the IMF imposes has no human face. It forces governments to cut back on vital socio-economic and welfare programs such as food, healthcare and education.

The IsDB has financed some mega projects in Tunisia, Kazakhstan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. It supports projects in infrastructure, renewal energy, urban development, agriculture, health care and education. The group also provides technical support, capacity building, research and training, and co-financing with other partners like the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development; Kuwait Funds, Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development; Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID). The OIC and the IsDB also work closely working the World Bank and UNDP.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Cuba and US negotiate six new cooperation agreements

Cuba and the United States are working on the negotiation of six new cooperation agreements in areas such as the implementation and enforcement of law, seismic monitoring and the exchange of meteorological information, said Josefina Vidal, general director for the United States of the Cuban Foreign Ministry.

The official said in an online interview on Twitter that these work commitments will also include protected marine areas, search and rescue, and the coordination of responses to spills of hydrocarbons and other substances in the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Strait.

From Washington, at the end of the fourth meeting of the Bilateral Commission between the two nations, Vidal said that seven new high level visits in both directions were planned for the months of October and November, in addition to a dozen technical meetings on topics of common interest, like health, the environment, education and a wide gamut of bilateral and multilateral aspects.

She underlined that, in the Bilateral Commission, Cuba reiterated its condemnation of the programs that were attempted in the island without the authorization and approval of corresponding institutions, like the recent case of the World Learning scholarships for youngsters.

Vidal insisted on the need for the US government to eliminate the financing of programs aimed at causing internal changes in Cuba, an action she considered essential to normalize bilateral relations.

The diplomat said that, even though the US administration has approved the use of dollars by Cuba in its international financial transactions, so far the island has not been able to make any payment to third parties nor deposits in cash in that currency.

She emphasized that President Barack Obama has wide prerogatives to act in the economic-commercial sphere, as he did with telecommunications, and could authorize the export of more products to the island, as well as to allow US investments in Cuba.
Obama could normalize bank relations by allowing Cuban banks to have correspondent accounts in financial institutions of that country.

In Friday's talks, it was reiterated that in order to advance in the improvement of relations it will also be necessary to return the territory occupied by the US naval base at Guantanamo and that the Cuban Adjustment Act, the dry-feet-wet feet policy and the parole program for Cuban medical professionals are eliminated, which not only encourage the illegal and unsafe emigration of Cuban citizens but also deprive the island of vital human resources and create increasing difficulties to other countries.

The fifth meeting of the Bilateral Commission will take place in December, thus giving continuity to the process announced by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and US Secretary of State John Kerry after the re-establishment of diplomatic relations.

Vidal headed the Cuban delegation to the meeting, while heading that of the United States were Mari Carmen Aponte and Jonathan Finer, assistant secretary of state for Hemispheric Affairs and the director of policy planning at the State Department, respectively.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Bahamian named Caribbean Hotelier of the Year

PUERTO RICO (October 2, 2016) - Bahamian hotelier Stuart Bowe was named the 2016 Caribbean Hotelier of the Year by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).

Bowe, the Senior Vice President and General Manager, Resort Operations of Atlantis Paradise Island, received the coveted honor at the Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF), hosted by CHTA, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico on Sunday.

Accepting the region's premier hospitality award, Bowe credited his grandmother with teaching him service and attention to detail from "cleaning up the kitchen."

Bowe's contribution to the hospitality and tourism industry spans more than 27 years, having "cut his teeth" in customer service and management working at McDonald's in his teenage years and entering the industry as a management trainee.

He subsequently worked his way up the ladder, storing and absorbing every experience to hone his leadership skills. Over the years he has worked in every department and in nearly all job categories, from dishwasher to busboy, from bartender to laundry attendant, from housekeeping to maintenance, and from front desk to landscaping.

Stuart earned a BA in accounting in 1986 from Florida State University, an MBA in marketing summa cum laude from Walden University in 2009 and is currently pursuing a PhD in applied management and decision sciences with a focus on leadership and organizational change.

Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie, in a taped congratulatory message, described Bowe as "an exemplar" to be followed by generations of Bahamians. "He is a manager cum laude, one who has brought the pursuit of excellence to his work ...(and) on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, it is entirely on their behalf that I salute you for all that you have been able to do."

"Stuart Bowe personifies Caribbean excellence. He is disciplined and innovative and a leader who inspires generations of Bahamians and Caribbean people through his accomplishments and his humanity," said Frank Comito, Director General and CEO of the CHTA who previously served as Executive Vice President of the Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association.

Bowe was posted to Dubai from 2008 to 2010 to oversee the grand opening of the Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah, serving as Vice President of Resort Operations in the Middle East.

Returning to The Bahamas, he became active in the Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association, establishing numerous school programs to help children understand the importance of tourism and career opportunities in the sector. The junior hotelier program he was instrumental in setting up in primary and secondary schools has impacted more than 4,000 students.

Now in his third consecutive term, Stuart Bowe is the longest serving President of the Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association, and he currently serves as First Vice President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.

Also in winners' row on Sunday, Barbadian Heather Hinds, General Cook at The Club Barbados Resort & Spa, was named Caribbean Employee of the Year, while Jamaica's Derrick Wright, an income auditor at The Tyrall Club in Jamaica was named Caribbean Supervisor of the Year. James Hepple, President and CEO of the Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association, captured the Caribbean Association Executive of the Year Award.

CHIEF also presented awards in the areas of Operations, Sales and Marketing, Environmental Sustainability and Technology, the four themes of the conference.

In Operations, Ocean Two Resort & Residences of Barbados was the winner with special mention going to Baoase Luxury Resort in Curaçao and Puerto Rico's El Conquistador Resort.

For the best practice in Sales and Marketing, the winner was Barbados' Elegant Hotels Group with The Somerset on Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos, and Synapse, LLC, a digital marketing agency in Puerto Rico, getting special honors.

The recipient of the CHIEF Award for Environmental Sustainability was The Tryall Club in Jamaica with special honors going to Aruba's Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort and True Blue Bay Boutique Resort of Grenada.

The recipient of the CHIEF Award for Technology was the Aruba Tourism Authority and its advertising agency Concept Farm.

About CHIEF
CHIEF incorporates a variety of educational tracks led by experts from many travel, tourism and hospitality industry segments, and features round table panels with one-on-one discussions on Environmental Sustainability, Operations, Sales and Marketing, and Technology. CHIEF is staged by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) in conjunction with host sponsors El Conquistador, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Interval International and JetBlue Getaways; strategic partners MasterCard and Tambourine; platinum sponsors Cable and Wireless and Travelzoo; and gold sponsors Airbnb, Bonnier Corporation, CaribbeanJobs.com, Choice Hotels International, Clear Channel Airports Division, Delta Air Lines, Johnson Controls, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery, KMPG, Landmark Vineyards, Lutron Electronics, OBM International, Oracle Hospitality, Rainmaker, SiteMinder, Sobel Westex, Sojern, STR, TravAlliance Media, TravelClick, Tropical Shipping, TSA Solutions, and Univar Environmental Sciences. For additional information about CHIEF, visit www.chtachief.com or call +1 305 443-3040.

About the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA)
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is the Caribbean's leading association representing tourism interests for national hotel and tourism associations. For more than 50 years, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association has been the backbone of the Caribbean hospitality industry. Working together with 1,000 hotel and allied members and 32 National Hotel Associations, CHTA is shaping the Caribbean's future and helping members to grow their business. Whether navigating new worlds like social media, sustainability, legislative issues, emerging technologies, data and intelligence or looking for avenues and ideas to better market and manage businesses, CHTA is helping members on issues that matter most.

For further information, visit www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com

Source: Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association

Contact: Greta Andzenge, Marketplace Excellence + 1 201 861-2056 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Barbados back in business after storm floods, causes damage

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday September 29, 2016 – The all-clear has been given for business to resume as normal in Barbados following the passage of Tropical Storm Matthew which caused flooding and damage in some parts of the island.

While businesses and government departments were given the go-ahead at 5:45 this morning to reopen, and transportation services began rolling out a few hours after the announcement, Deputy Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) Captain Robert Harewood said schools would remain closed.

The system began affecting the island as a tropical wave throughout the course of Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, with some widely scattered light to moderate showers and occasional gusty winds.

Conditions deteriorated later in the morning, with some pockets of moderate to heavy showers, periods of rain, thunderstorms and gusty winds.

But most of the damage came in the afternoon, after Tropical Storm Matthew developed. The downpours caused flooding in some areas.

Tropical Storm Matthew’s strong winds blew off roofs and downed power lines and trees – some of which fell on nearby vehicles.

There were also power outages in some districts and water was shut off in some areas.

The inclement weather continued into the evening, but conditions improved into the night, and at 10 p.m. the tropical storm warning was discontinued.

However, the DEM said at that time it would wait until daylight hours to give the all-clear.

Courtesy: Caribbean 360

 

CARICOM not a failure, says former Jamaica Prime Minister

By Latonya Linton

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Chairman of Jamaica’s Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Review Commission and former prime minister, Bruce Golding, says CARICOM is not a failure, having achieved successes in several areas.

“I think we have done very well in terms of functional cooperation. If every country in CARICOM had to set up their own examination system, instead of having the Caribbean Examinations Council, it would be difficult for much of the smaller islands that have fewer resources than we do,” Golding said.

He was speaking at a youth forum hosted by the CARICOM Review Commission at the University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters, on Thursday, September 22.

The CARICOM Review Commission is the brainchild of Prime Minister Andrew Holness. It has been tasked to examine Jamaica’s role in the regional bloc and how it has impacted the country’s development.

Golding also cited institutions such as the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) as successful areas of cooperation.

“We are all subject to natural disasters, and the response to natural disasters when they occur requires institutional building, capabilities, and it requires management. If every country had to set up (one) for itself, then you see the difficulties that many countries would have,” Golding said.

The former prime minister also argued that CARICOM is important for foreign policy coordination.

“There is strength in numbers. We have, in fact, been able to exert a significant amount of influence in some of the major councils of the world, simply because when we go there we have 14 votes,” the chairman said.

“I know of some occasions where there are some contentious issues in the Organization of American States and the United Nations, where balance is so close that 14 votes can make a difference, and that’s when the biggest of the big come knocking on our doors,” Golding added.

For his part, minister of state in the ministry of education, youth and information, Floyd Green, encouraged the youth to submit suggestions to the CARICOM Review Commission.

On the issue of integration, Green said this is being undermined “by the fact that it is so expensive for us to travel among our CARICOM states”.

He also mentioned that the University of the West Indies is becoming less integrated based on the make-up of the population on the campuses.

At the forum, the youth shared on issues such as regional integration and immigration.

CARICOM is a grouping of 20 countries: 15 member states and five associate members. It is home to approximately 16 million citizens, 60 percent of whom are under the age of 30, and from the main ethnic groups of indigenous peoples, Africans, Indians, Europeans, Chinese and Portuguese.

Topical issues such as trade practices, the treatment of Jamaicans travelling to other CARICOM countries, contrasts emerging between CARICOM’s strategies and goals and those of individual countries and how these can be reconciled are also to be explored by the Commission.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

CARIFORUM, EU to Scale Up Cooperation on Intellectual Property

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Senior officials from CARIFORUM and the European Union (EU) will meet on 26 September 2016 in Bridgetown, Barbados in an effort to take forward dialogue on potential cooperation opportunities in the Caribbean Region in the area of intellectual property (IP).

The one-day forum, entitled CARIFORUM-EU Workshop on Intellectual Property (IP) Tools, Networks and Cooperation Opportunities, is jointly organized by the CARIFORUM Directorate of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM.

This Workshop is made possible with support from EUIPO and the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP). The EUIPO is responsible for managing the EU trade mark and the registered Community design. The Office also works with the IP offices of the EU Member States and international partners to offer a similar registration experience for trade marks and designs across Europe and the world.

The Director-General of the CARIFORUM Directorate, Mr. Percival Marie, stated "the expectation is that the Workshop will foster exchange of knowledge and experience." Mr. Marie applauded the joint initiative and expressed the hope that, in so far as the forum is designed to bring together a cross-section of stakeholders, it will ultimately contribute to enhanced cooperation.

This cooperation is especially pertinent in the context of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which was signed in 2008. The Agreement includes a chapter on Innovation and Intellectual Property. The objectives of the chapter in question are set out in Article 132. Broadly, the intent of this chapter is to foster the development of CARIFORUM innovation systems so as to enhance the competitiveness of CARIFORUM firms, and there is recognition that the protection and enforcement of IP contributes to fostering creativity, innovation and competitiveness. In this regard, the provisions of the chapter also delve into the legislative and administrative environments which are required in order to provide protection of IP. Of note are the references in the chapter to cooperation between the Parties, for instance, support to be extended to CARIFORUM so that States may develop and enforce the protection of IP.

In this context, the Workshop will gather representatives drawn from CARIFORUM States' IP Offices, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, the Caribbean Export Development Agency, the Caribbean Development Bank, EU Delegation offices and EU Member States' missions in the Region, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Caribbean Unit of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Resource persons from the CARICOM Secretariat and the EUIPO will also be on hand.

In a planned panel discussion, representatives of CARIFORUM States' IP Offices will be afforded the opportunity to highlight their needs. Moreover, the EUIPO will call attention to its experience with respect to international cooperation, networks and tools, complemented by an overview thereafter—by the EU Delegation Office in Barbados—of EU priorities for the Caribbean Region.

A joint brainstorming session is slated to take emerging perspectives into consideration, with a view to identifying potential areas of cooperation in IP, such as Geographical Indications. In this connection, the expectation is that the Workshop will culminate in an examination of next steps to further strengthen cooperation.

For more information, please contact:
Nand C. Bardouille
Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Implementation Unit
CARIFORUM Directorate
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CDB warning to Barbados : Get debt act together

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday September 21, 2016 – President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Warren Smith has sounded a stern warning that Barbados was not yet out of the proverbial economic woods by a long shot. In fact, so worried is he about the country’s worsening debt situation that he suggested “front end adjustments” were urgently needed to correct the economic slide.

In a frank interview with Barbados TODAY, Smith also described the island’s overall fiscal position as “unsustainable”, while cautioning that if left unchecked, it would do untold damage to the Barbados dollar.

With that said Smith did not shy away from the dreaded “p” word – privatization –, naming Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) and the Bridgetown Port as “naturals” for divestment.

“Long gone are the days when Governments need to be involved in things such as airports and seaports,” Smith argued.

“We do not believe that these types of investments need to continue to be in the hands of Government,” he added.

While acknowledging there would be political consequences arising out of the sale of these perceived crown jewels, he said Barbados was not unique in that regard.

In fact, the Jamaican-born CDB president gave the example of that country’s divestment of its Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, saying, “foreign investors have come in, they have pumped money into the expansion of the airport, which is now promoting the growth of their tourism industry”.

Smith also made reference to the recently privatized Port of Kingston, which he said was now attracting large investments, while stressing that air and seaports were “a means towards an end”.

In Barbados’ case, he emphasized that there was room for both domestic and foreign investment in GAIA and the Bridgetown Port, while pressing home his argument that “these are opportunities to relieve the fiscal burden that the Governments face, so that you can put your priority on other things”.

The CDB head insisted that Government would not be adversely impacted if the Port’s ownership and operation were in private hands, adding that in Barbados’ case the situation was urgent, since it placed the country’s fixed exchange rate under threat.

“I am not saying that you are at threat at the current time. What I’m saying is that if these things are not addressed ipso facto you are going to find yourself in a position where you might not be able to maintain a feature of your economic model that appears to be of very great value to Barbadian authorities and to the Barbadian people. So fiscal rectitude is key. We need to have it and we can’t be in a situation where, for a protracted period, we are running fiscal deficits that are unsustainable, that have implications for debt and ultimately for the overall strength of the economy.”

In addition to both ports, Smith suggested other state-held assets could be sold off, including the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. He argued that Government could find other mechanisms for getting its message out.

In response to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s suggestion that many state entities were highly indebted and therefore would not be attractive for divestment, the regional banker zeroed in on the Transport Board, saying it would have to undergo a process of reform to reduce the current burden on the state.

However, Smith was adamant that privatization was among a raft of options that could be pursued, even though he acknowledged that the decision was not his to take.

“At the end of the day the options that you choose to pursue must put you in a position where you get your fiscal house in order, address your indebtedness,” he said. (Barbados Today)

Courtesy: Caribbean 360

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