Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 2nd 2017 Contents BG18 | REGIONAL
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt MARCH 2 • 2017
No risk of devaluation,
says Bdos Finance Minister
The Barbados government
Monday sought to reassure
the country that the island's
currency is in no danger of
devaluation, amidst con-
cerns over the state of the
Finance and economic Affairs Minister
Chris Sinckler acknowledged that the re-
serve levels have temporarily fallen below
the 12-week standard threshold, however
he said it is not the first time in the island's
history that this has happened.
"We previously operated this economy
successfully with lower levels of reserves
in 1998 an in 1999.
In neither of those instances there was
never a question that any government of
the day would continence any decision to
adjust the value of our currency. Similarly it
is not a scenario that this administration will
permit to happen under its watch," Sinckler
told a news conference.
He said that the Freundel Stuart admin-
istration noticed some slippage in reserve
levels in 2016, following a relatively stable
foreign exchange market position in 2014,
and for the greater part of 2015.
"This was even thought the difference
of inflows as against outflows of foreign
exchange in the market over the previous
year, remained generally in balance.
"In fact, during the past year, unlike 2013
and part of 2014, we did not see any major
private sector calls on the country's reserve
levels as oil prices remained low and private
foreign inflows started to recover as antici-
pated projects got set to push off," he said.
Sinckler told reporters that the govern-
ment saw a decline in public sector inflows
as some major foreign funded public projects
failed to start due to legal and administra-
This, he said, was further exacerbated by
the delayed closure of the sale of the state-
owned Barbados National Terminal Compa-
ny Ltd (BNTCL), which is expected to yield
over BDS$100 million (BDS$1 =US$0.50
cents) to the foreign exchange reserves.
Sinckler noted that the Government has
met its foreign debt obligations to the tune
of BDS$382 million in 2016.
However he stated that there are adequate
reserve levels to defend the local currency,
"even as we move assiduously to ensure that
all of the delayed public inflows come into
the Central Bank during the first quarter of
Sinckler said he expects the reserves to
be boosted by more than BDS$200 million,
thereby pushing the levels back up above 12
weeks of imports.
This, he stated, will be done through three
sources, notably the sale of the BNTCL, as
well as the draw-down of the first tranche
of the loan from EXIM Bank of China for a
major tourism project, the Sam Lord's Cas-
tle. The third source will be the release of the
First Citizens Bank Bridging Loan for the
Development Bank of Latin America (CAF),
for upgrades to Customs and the Barbados
The Freundel Stuart Administration is also
undertaking measures this year to ensure
that foreign reserves remain at a sustain-
"It is our intention to absolutely maximise
inflows from all foreign funded public pro-
jects over the coming months. Already we
have approved status on the CAF-funded
BWA (Barbados Water Authority) Master
Plan project for US $30 million. We have also
cleared the way for an additional BDS$50
million from the Caribbean Develo0pment
Bank also for the BWA water network sys-
tems upgrade project, which will start dis-
bursements shortly," he said.
Sinckler added that he has also issued new
guidelines to all investors and developers
seeking tax waiver support for investment
projects in Barbados, that effective this
month, at least one-third of all foreign ex-
change brought into the island must be sold
directly to the Central Bank.
The Ministry of Finance is also monitor-
ing a developing situation where some local
commercial banks have been approaching
foreign investors with offers to utilise do-
mestic Barbados dollars, or even draw loan
proceeds from domestically held foreign
currency to finance their projects here.
St Vincent PM disappointed with lack of private sector support
The St Vincent and the Grenadines gov-
ernment has expressed disappointment that
the private sector has not shown a greater
interest in the construction of the EC$700
(EC$1 =US$0.37 cents) Argyle International
Prime Minister Gonsalves told a news con-
ference that his administration had hoped
the private sector would have funded and
managed the cargo terminal of the AIA that
opened on February 13.
But he said the government decided to do
so in light of the lack of interest. He said he
had also urged the private sector to invest
in more hotel rooms in the country, which
he said currently has about 2,200 rooms of
"The hotels have to work with The Tour-
ism Authority. And I want to say to the ho-
tels, please, get up and be activist," Gonsalves
told reporters, saying that he is expecting to
receive this week, a progress report from a
Cabinet appointed committee established
to look into the construction of a hotel.
Gonsalves said that most of the hotel
rooms here are to be found on the island of
Bequia and St Vincent, adding that most of
the time, there is 40-50 per cent occupancy
on an annualised basis.
"Surely, you can work out packages now
that you can bring people from further afield
easily. Work with the Tourism Authority.
And don't want persons to complain that
they are not seeing actions on this front. It
is the Tourism Authority's business but it
is you also with your hotel. It is also your
business. And it is the Hotels Association's
Gonsalves said his government has done
something "very remarkable" for hotels and
have given more concessions for hotels than
another other government in St Vincent
and the Grenadines. He said the policy of
his government is that if a certain amount
of money is invested and an establishment
has at least 50 rooms, they are eligible for
consideration for duty-free concession on
food and beverage. CMC
OECS to stage
show in sub-region
The St Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern Car-
ibbean States (OECS) says it is collaborating with St
Lucia's Trade Export Promotion Agency (TEPA) and
the government in staging a high profile trade show,
which is expected to add impetus to the drive to in-
crease intra-regional trade in goods and services,
as well as the export of OECS goods and services to
regional and international markets.
It said the Specialty Caribbean Expo 2017, will be
the largest trade show of its kind to be staged in the
sub-region and will be held at the Daren Sammy
Cricket Ground from March 9 to 12.
The OECS Commission said over 100 exhibitors
have confirmed their participation in the expo, which
will feature export-ready goods and services under
the theme "A Unique Buying Experience."
"Exporters from the OECS and Martinique will
present and promote their products and services at
this buyer-focused exhibition. Specialty Caribbean
Expo 2017 will be the ultimate one-stop-shop, directly
linking international buyers from worldwide corpo-
rations with Caribbean suppliers from a multitude
of sectors including apparel and footwear, financial
services, food and beverage, furniture, handicraft,
health and wellness, tourism, printing and packaging
services," the OECS Commission said.
It said buyers from the United States, Canada,
United Kingdom, Cuba, Caricom and the Eastern
Caribbean are expected to participate in the four-day
event and that the OECS Competitive Business Unit
(CBU) has mobilised several producers and service
providers from within its client portfolio, to partic-
ipate in the Expo. CMC
on competition laws
The Guyana-based Caribbean Community Secre-
tariat (Caricom) Competition Commission Monday
held a sensitisation workshop with members of the
National Assembly as part of a programme to imple-
ment and strengthen competition laws and policies
in the 15-member Caricom grouping.
"This project that we are engaged in the whole of
Caricom is a general project about sensitising people
about competition culture. This is an on-going exer-
cise... the general citizenry still have to be sensitised
to consumer welfare and to the virtue and value of
"It is not something that people readily embrace
and here in the Caribbean; it is a contest with our
own history because of the way in which business
is being developed," said Dr Kusha Haraksingh, the
chairman of the Caricom Competition Commission.
He said that the sensitisation workshop, which is
being facilitated through the Caribbean Forum (Car-
iforum) and Caricom will contribute to a change in
the way business is transacted in Guyana.
The Caricom Secretariat here has noted that a com-
petition policy is generally unexplored territory in
the Caribbean however, Jamaica adopted this policy
in 1993 followed by Barbados in 2002, Dominican
Republic in 2008, Guyana in 2010, with enforcement
in 2012, and T&T in 2006, but the enforcement still
to be initiated.
It said competition law provisions play a critical role
in the development and establishment of open and
competitive markets in the Caricom Single Market
and Economy (CSME) for entrepreneurs, professionals
and established businesses.
Haraksingh noted that the key aspects of compe-
tition law policy being enforced is the prevention of
anti-competitive agreements between companies,
dominance abuse and merger control regulation.
He said that the parliamentarians' role is to en-
sure a secure economic balance in a country with the
establishment of a jurisprudence competition law.
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