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Offshore finance editor predicts Cayman’s demise

Cayman IslandsA specialist UK-based website editor dealing with the offshore financial world has warned that the introduction of automatic exchange systems and other international pressures pose a serious threat to the future of the Cayman Islands financial service sector.

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$8 billion capital base in T&T’s credit unions

brian-mooreCredit unions continue to play an important role in the economy of T&T, Brian Moore, president of the Co-operative Credit Union League said yesterday. “At this juncture the credit union movement in T&T is growing stronger. We have provided an alternative model for people to achieve their economic and social goals. The traditional financial institutions are turning away ordinary people more and more.

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Amidst falling gold prices, miners want diesel duty concession

Persad-Harding460Worried about the impact of falling international gold prices, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) late Thursday said it would appeal to government to reduce duty on diesel based on individual production.

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IMF report: Regional economies in low gear

Alejandro-Werne-IMFThe economies of Latin America and the Caribbean remain in low gear, held back by a less favourable external environment and, in some cases, domestic supply constraints, the IMF said. Output in the region is projected to expand by 2¾ per cent in 2013, the lowest rate in four years, with domestic demand remaining the main driver.

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Barbados is No Tax Haven, says Inniss

DonvilleInnissBarbados' International Business Minister, Donville Inniss, has sought to counteract negative comments that branded that country as a tax haven by reassuring Canadian investors that Barbados' actions are above board.

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Correct Measures To Grow Barbados’ Economy

chris sinckler5Government is sticking to the measures outlined in this year’s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals which are expected to put this country’s economy back on a growth path.

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Howai: Pace of T&T economic growth continues to pick up

larry howai lgJune 12, 2013 - The Trinidad & Tobago economy is showing stronger activity in the non-energy sector which has resulted in overall growth of 1.7% for the first quarter of 2013. This could lead to growth of up to 2 percent in the first half of 2013, once the improvement in the energy sector continues, Finance and the Economy Minister Larry Howai has said.

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Jamaica's Labour Ministry to Spearhead Productivity Campaign

Derrick-kellier-prod2KINGSTON, Jamaica - Beginning November, Jamaica's  Ministry of Labour and Social Security will spearhead a 12-month islandwide public education campaign, aimed at promoting the importance of productivity as a national priority focus.

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Howai: No grounds to put T&T on any blacklist

larry howaiThere are no grounds for Trinidad and Tobago to be on a blacklist of countries that do not help investigate foreign aid fraud, Finance Minister Larry Howai has said.

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JN Money Transfer expands coverage in Caribbean and Pacific

ATM-largeKINGSTON, Jamaica – August 6, 2013 - JN Money Services Limited (JNMS) has expanded its global JN Money Transfer network to over 8000 locations, up from 350 agents and branches at the start of the year.

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Business Development Trip To China Urged At Avalon Invest Caribbean Now 2013

Invest Caribbean imageCaribPR Wire, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. June 6, 2013: Caribbean governments were on Wednesday urged to participate in a business development and investment promotions trip to China this Fall as the curtains came down on the Avalon Invest Caribbean Now Forum in New York City.

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JAMAICA - Finance Minister wants support for economic reforms

phillips-supportFinance and Planning Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips, is again urging national support for Jamaica’s Economic Reform Programme (ERP), which aims to reduce the country’s debt, and set a platform for growth.

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BRICS: Prospects for Cooperation

BRICSSince the fifth and most recent BRICS summit, which took place in March 2013 in Durban, South Africa, the unified participation of the «fivesome» (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) in international affairs has become even more noticeable. And it is no exaggeration to say that Russia is playing the role of the conceptual leader of BRICS.  This is demonstrated by the «Concept of Participation of the Russian Federation in BRICS», which in particular states:

 «The establishment of BRICS reflects an objective trend in global development, one towards the formation of a polycentric system of international relations, which is increasingly characterized by the use of noninstitutionalized  mechanisms of global governance and network-based diplomacy and the growing economic interdependence of states. BRICS' authority in the international arena is based on the growing economic power of the participating states, the importance of their activities as a major driving force of the global economy, their significant share of the world population and their rich natural resources.» 

The main event of the BRICS summit in South Africa was the politically-motivated decision to create a BRICS Development Bank. It can be expected that at the next BRICS meeting, which will take place in 2014 in Brazil, the questions of where the bank's headquarters will be located, what the management principles will be, the total capital and the amount each participating country will contribute will be resolved as work proceeds.

As V. Putin noted before the summit in South Africa, «BRICS defines its work based on the Plans of Action adopted at the yearly summits. Last year's Delhi Plan of Action defined seventeen areas for cooperation. Among them are meetings of foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly; joint meetings of ministers of finance and central bank governors on the sidelines of G-20, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund meetings; and contacts among other agencies.» 

But most importantly, the BRICS countries confirmed their common strategic aim of changing the world financial system and bringing it into conformity with the true weight of the largest national economies in world rankings.

The idea of creating the BRICS Development Bank started from a simple fact: the West blocked the redistribution of votes (country quotas) in the IMF to reflect changes in the relative economic weight of certain states… The decision to redistribute quotas as part of a reform of the IMF which was to be carried out by January 2013 was made at the IMF summit in Seoul back in 2010. In 2012 the formula for formation of quotas was supposed to be determined during consultations, and in 2013 the actual quotas for those countries whose role in the world economy has grown over the past several years were to be determined. However, this didn't happen. If the issue does not move forward at the G-8 summit in June and the G-20 summit in September of this year, that will probably only hasten BRICS' creation of a new world financial institution. 

In essence, the cooperation of the BRICS countries in seeking solutions for global financial and economic problems marks the establishment of a new economic pole in the world. One may also suppose that if the West attempts to resist the development of fairer rules for international economic relations, consolidation within BRICS will begin to take new forms.  The expansion of the association's membership is entirely possible. As Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro noted in an interview on May 2 with the French newspaper Le Monde, BRICS «is a bloc which could equalize the balance of power on a global scale».

An interesting article on BRICS' initiative called «A New World's New Development Bank» appeared on May 3 on the site Project Syndicate (http://www.project-syndicate.org/). The article's authors are Nicholas Stern (President of the British Academy and Professor of Economics and Chair of the Asia Research Center at the London School of Economics and Political Science), Joseph Stiglitz (a Nobel laureate in economics and University Professor at Columbia University), Amar Bhattacharya (Director of the G-24 (1)) and Mattia Romani (Deputy Director General of the Global Green Growth Institute).

Noting that the significance of the idea of creating the BRICS Development Bank «cannot be overemphasized», they write:  «A new development bank is clearly needed. The infrastructure requirements alone in emerging-market economies and low-income countries are huge... At the same time, an estimated two billion people will move to cities in the next quarter-century... To meet these and the other challenges confronting the developing world, infrastructure spending will have to rise from around $800 billion to at least $2 trillion annually in the coming decades...

The new bank can make a major contribution to the global economy’s health by facilitating the transition to new poles of growth and demand, helping to rebalance global savings and investments, and channeling excess liquidity to productive use. It will not only be a driver for sustainable growth in the developing and emerging world, but will also foster reform in the existing multilateral financial institutions – changes from which all of us, in the developed and developing world alike, will benefit.»

These assessments from well-known specialists, the meeting in Durban, and the subsequent negotiations in Moscow between V. Putin and South African president J. Zuma in mid-May all confirm the fact that BRICS currently has everything it needs to make the transformation into a full-scale mechanism of strategic cooperation.  The time for such a step has come, and time does not wait.

G-24 (the Group of 24) was created in 1971 to coordinate the positions of developing countries on issues of international finance and development.

Tags: BRICS China India South Africa Stiglitz

Bahamas youth 0ff to Atlanta for leadership training

zhivargo laing66ATLANTA (July 20, 2013) - Selected high school graduates from schools in Grand Bahama have assembled in Atlanta, Georgia to conclude a year-long leadership development program.

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Barbados forming revenue authority

chris sinckler5BRIDGETOWN, Barbados—Barbados will establish a revenue authority this year because of a number of issues including inconsistencies in revenue collection, particularly at Customs.

  Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler recalled an instance last year, when Barbados was asked to explain to the World Customs Organisation the discrepancies in revenue collected for goods imported from Japan.

  "... last year 2012,Japanreported exporting in value US $68 million in reconditioned or used vehicles to Barbados. However, when Barbados put up its figures, based on the submissions of the persons who imported, the reported value was BDS $30 million (One Barbados dollar = US $0.50).

  "It meant, therefore, that Barbados was basically saying that there was under- invoicing to the extent of almost BDS $30 million. That is a startling figure. Of course you can understand why the World Customs Organisation would want to ask Barbados why there was such a big variance between what Japan was reporting."

  Sinckler also recalled another occasion when a vehicle was imported in Barbados and had a reported value of US $9,000. But he said that the real value sheet, which was left on the dashboard, was actually US $60,000 for the used car.

  "I started to think [about-Ed.], if this type of situation is occurring on a regular basis, the amount of revenue that Government is losing in the Port because of under-invoicing. I know a lot of you in here know that it goes on; it is a very serious situation and it has to be corrected.

  "And with the coming of the Barbados Revenue Authority, things down there will change and change significantly. So brace yourselves for the coming storm," he warned.

  Sinckler promised that the Freundel Stuart government would work assiduously with the private sector and other stakeholders in an effort to turn around the sluggish economy. ~ Caribbean360 ~

S&P affirms T&T’s First Citizens rating, outlook

firstcitizensbasnkTwo days after T&T state-owned bank First Citizens launched its initial public offering (IPO) of 48,495,665 shares, the S&P rating service issued a report maintaining its BBB+ credit rating with a stable outlook on the financial institution.

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Caribbean debt and deficits Moody’s: Aggressive fiscal measures needed

Moodys-BuildingInternational ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service says three bond restructurings totaling about $9.7 billion in the Caribbean this year didn’t go far enough to fixing the region’s “unsustainable” mix of debt and deficits.

The agency said the measures failed to ignite economic growth and may not help the region avoid more defaults. 

This year, Jamaica and Belize, restructured about $9.5 billion in local and global bonds but Moody’s in a recently published report, said there a “high probability” that they will default again.

In the region, only the Bahamas is expected to grow more than 1.5 per cent this year compared with four per cent for Latin America and economists have warned that without faster growth, repeat defaults may become common as Caribbean governments find it easier to cut bond payments rather than spending.

The average debt for countries in the region compared with the size of its economy stands at 70 per cent, with Jamaica, Antigua & Barbuda and Grenada above the 93 per cent ratio that forced Cyprus to seek a bailout in March. Jamaica’s debt-to-GDP ratio reached 140 per cent last year.

Edward Al-Hussainy, a Moody’s analyst for the Caribbean, wrote in the report: “A sustained reduction in debt in the region over the next decade will require a combination of aggressive fiscal consolidation and increased economic growth. However, both goals are increasingly out of reach.”

Higher interest rates tied to previous restructuring agreements contributed to a 12.7 per cent jump in regional debt from 2008 to 2011, reversing a 15 per cent decline over the previous three years, the IMF said in a November report. Antigua & Barbuda and St Kitts & Nevis restructured debt in 2010 and 2012, respectively, making the past three years the highest on record for Caribbean defaults.

“It’s a self-reinforcing cycle,” Al-Hussainy said. “Other governments may be looking around and instead of waiting for a crunch, decide to take their chances now.” Even after its restructuring, Belize’s bonds yield 9.7 per cent, the most among 58 emerging market economies tracked by JPMorgan’s EMBIG index after Argentina and Venezuela. Jamaica’s debt yields 8.3 per cent. The yield on Cayman Islands bonds was 5.6 per cent, compared with about 3.5 per cent for similarly-rated China and Chile.

Belize is forecast to grow 2.5 per cent annually through 2015. This year, the country agreed to pay 56.75 cents on the dollar for $544 million of defaulted bonds after initially offering 20 cents following a missed coupon payment in August. The country’s debt load will fall to 71 per cent of GDP this year from 77 pe rcent in 2011. Belize’s government will “fine tune” its debt management and “upgrade debt monitoring,” Prime Minister Dean Barrow said in a March 1 speech.

Yields on Jamaica’s dollar bonds due in 2019 fell to 7.8 per cent yesterday after reaching nine per cent in February when the government undertook a $9 billion local debt restructuring. Jamaica’s GDP has contracted four quarters in a row, falling 0.9 per cent in the final three months of 2012. International reserves tumbled to $866 million last month, prompting the central bank to say it would start selling a one-year, dollar-linked bond to shore up investor confidence and introduce two new certificates of deposit.

The Jamaican dollar has tumbled 6.2 per cent this year through May 24, the most among Latin American and Caribbean currencies after the Argentine peso. To prevent another restructuring, Jamaica’s government established an oversight committee and set up an office in the Ministry of Finance dedicated to implementing economic reforms, Finance Minister Peter Phillips said. The IMF said that the country is making progress in improving its economic prospects, aided by a $932 million loan from the Washington-based lender.

 
Grenada said on March 15 it would swap $193 million of global bonds as debt-to-GDP burden reached 105 per cent. The island previously defaulted in 2004. 

Holders of Grenada’s dollar bonds should expect a “significant” reduction in the value of their holdings as the island seeks its second restructuring since Hurricane Ivan in 2004. According to the terms of Grenada’s 2004 restructuring, the coupon on its dollar bonds was set to climb to 4.5 per cent in September from 2.5 per cent last year, eventually reaching nine per cent in 2018.

Economic pressures are also weighing on countries that don’t have a track record of defaults. Yields on Barbados’s bonds held near a five-year low of 5.96 per cent last week. At the same time, tourist visits declined 12 per cent in April from a year earlier, the 13th straight month of declines, according to the country’s central bank. 

The island lost its investment grade rating with Moody’s in December when it was lowered to Ba1, putting the country in the same category as Morocco, the Philippines and Guatemala. For the government, the cost to service debt is “very low” at 7 per cent of GDP, Barbados Central Bank Governor DeLisle Worrell said. “As far as the foreign investor is concerned, there’s absolutely no reason why they should have any apprehension about Barbados ability to repay debt.”

With much of the region struggling under elevated debt burdens, the Caribbean Development Bank praised the Cayman Islands and other Caribbean nations under administration by the UK, which has put limits on borrowing and helped force balanced budgets. The yield on 2019 dollar bonds sold by the Cayman Islands fell to a record low 2.75 per cent on May 16.

TT must put house in order or face penalties - tax experts

fatcaLIKE an oncoming storm, the United States Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is bearing down on countries around the world. This country’s Government and financial institutions now have to put their house in order for compliance or face possible international blacklisting and severe penalties respectively.

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Guyana gets six months to fix money laundering legislation

CFATF-logoManagua, Nicaragua, May 30th, 2013 - The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) is an organisation of twenty-nine jurisdictions of the Caribbean Basin Region, which has agreed to implement the international standards for Anti-money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) - Financial Action Task Force Recommendations (FATF Recommendations).

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Venner: Strength of EC dollar provides monetary stability

dwight-vennerSt. Kitts and Nevis:  The Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Sir Dwight Venner has given an assurance that the EC dollar is doing well.

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Dookeran: Wrong to blacklist T&T

winston dookeran4There is no basis for the “blacklisting” of Trinidad and Tobago by France, Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran and Minister of Finance Larry Howai said yesterday.

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