Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 1st 2015 Contents A17
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Venezuela is trimming back on
Petrocaribe, it subsidy programme to
several countries in the Caribbean and
According to a Miami Herald story,
citing a report by Barclays investment
bank, shipments of subsidised oil to
Petrocaribe members are down by
about half for most countries from
what they were in 2012.
Venezuela, Latin America's largest oil
producer depends heavily on oil
exports and has been hit hard by the
tumbling oil prices.
Petrocaribe --- an alliance of
Venezuela and Caribbean nations ---
was created a decade ago by the late
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez
and provided subsidised oil to several
countries in the region.
Caribbean nations have been bracing
for the steep cutbacks in shipments of
cheap crude oil, according to The Wall
Street Journal. The newspaper quotes
the governor of Jamaica's central bank
saying his government is adjusting by
being more cautious about what to
expect from Petrocaribe.
Report: Venezuela cutting back on Petrocaribe
ADB BANKING ONLINE
The Employers Consultative Association
(ECA) yesterday warned that T&T is in a
precarious situation which could get worse
if wage increases are granted without care-
fully consideration of various economic
In a detailed statement on current wage
negotiations, as well as the increase recently
granted to the Public Services Association
(PSA), the group called for tripartite discussions
between the three social partners---Govern-
ment, labour and business.
"The energy sector, as major earners of for-
eign income, are faced with decreasing oil, gas
and product prices. Our non-oil sector, on the
other hand, is uncompetitive with competing
imports. Furthermore, our exporters are already
faced with an increasingly troubled external
"This has to be balanced with the reality
that the food price index is driving the retail
price index and ultimately inflation; creating
for many a valid argument for higher wages,"
the ECA said.
The statement continued: "An increase in
wages without consideration of all economic
factors including import/export, productivity
and state sector reform will, therefore, as
Ronald Ramkissoon (then senior economist at
Republic Bank) warned in 2004, lead to ...
strong and sustained price pressures which
will make our products sold here more uncom-
petitive and further reduce our exports, since
it will be much more difficult to compete in
external markets. These effects weaken our
companies. This can in turn slow economic
growth especially in our non-oil sector."
The ECA said strong and sustained price
increases normally mean higher overall inflation
which reduces real income or the purchasing
power of money.
"Inflation affects different segments of the
society differently. It is well known that those
whose incomes are fixed and therefore cannot
pass on higher costs, such as pensioners, suffer
a loss in purchasing power. Consequently,
rising prices affect individuals differently and
redistribute income in a way that might not
The ECA congratulated the PSA and the
Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC)
for the settling of their wage agreements at
14 per cent maintaining parity with the nego-
tiated settlement for teachers late last year.
The group urged employers and represen-
tatives of employees to work assiduously to
ensure all negotiations are concluded on time
and questioned the relevance of the negotiation
style used in collective bargaining.
"The bigger question is whether the way
we conduct negotiations in state sectors and
state enterprises is still relevant, since parity
seems to be the major concern. This issue of
parity is exacerbated by the creation of organ-
izations like Natuc, Fitun and more recently
"It is clear that the unions/associations that
form their membership are aware of wages,
and terms and conditions in the other com-
panies within the body and are making
attempts to level the playing field. This is a
reversal of the approach to negotiations in the
mid 1900 s when the oil producers came
together to conduct negotiations for prices in
"It is also no secret that the other sectors,
principally manufacturing and agriculture,
have to attract persons from the state sector
as major employers and are therefore forced
to set competitive salary scales to create move-
ment of this labour force, if they are to survive.
In the final analysis this has created a very
inefficient system of national wage setting,"
the ECA said.
Bitt, the Barbados-based digital asset
exchange, remittance channel, and mer-
chant-processing gateway, was officially
launched on Monday.
Founded in 2013 by Gabriel Abed and Oliver
Gale, the company has partnered with Avatar
Capital to expand operations in the growing
cryptocurrency industry. This latest partner-
ship has firmly established Bitt as the fron-
trunner in the Caribbean s burgeoning cryp-
Prior to the official launch, Bitt closed its
landmark US$1.5 million seed round from
Avatar Capital, a Caribbean investment group
based in T&T. This initial capital investment
will allow Bitt to continue to develop and
expand its core services.
"Avatar backs Bitt with full confidence,"
said Peter George, director of Avatar Capital.
"We are pleased to invest in the development
of the cryptocurrency industry in the region.
It is our hope that this investment benefits
the people of the Caribbean and becomes
the catalyst for digital currency trading in
this part of the world."
Powered by AlphaPoint s state-of-the-art
technology, designed by veteran Wall Street
traders, Bitt s trading platform is a powerful,
user-friendly exchange that allows clients to
trade securely and seamlessly. Bitt facilitates
international Bitcoin trading in 11 major fiat
currencies, such as the US Dollar (USD), Great
Britain Pound (GBP), Canadian Dollar (CAD),
Euro (EUR), and Barbadian Dollar (BBD).
"We were very excited to be selected by
Bitt to power their exchange and support
their vision of lowering costs for payments
and remittances," said Vadim Telyatnikov,
CEO of AlphaPoint. "By connecting their
platform to global exchanges, Bitt can offer
Caribbean residents competitive exchange
rates and deep liquidity from around the
"The Bitt Exchange is a cornerstone project
for digital finance in the Caribbean. By facil-
itating trade between traditional and digital
currency markets, Bitt is creating the platform
for very low-cost international commerce
and remittance between the people who need
it most --- the millions of unbanked and
underbanked citizens in the Caribbean," said
Gabriel Abed, Bitt CEO.
"With a team of financial experts, IT net-
work security engineers, cryptographers, and
software developers from around the world,
as well as banking facilities and asset liquidity
spanning many major international fiat cur-
rencies, Bitt is poised to become the leading
digital currency exchange in the Caribbean
region," said Oliver Gale, Bitt s CFO.
ECA warning on wage increases
CEO of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), Sheivan Ramnath, left, chairman Yasid Gilbert and corporate manager of communications,
Gleason Garraway, discuss e-agri, the ADB's new online banking and SMS texting service which was officially launched yesterday at the
Trinidad Hilton and Conference Centre, St Ann's. (See story on Page A19) PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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