Committee Meets To Discuss Proposals
Under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Freundel Stuart, Q.C., M.P., a small Committee formed by the Heads of the Social Partnership Groups (Government, CTUSAB/BWU and the Private Sector) met on Tuesday, April 18 to discuss the proposals regarding the Fiscal Deficit and Foreign Exchange Reserves, presented by the two Working Groups set up at the last Meeting of the Full Social Partnership held on March 3. The reports had been received in more or less “final draft” form between late March and early April. Notwithstanding the urgency of the matter, given the specific concerns of each member of the Social Partnership, it was considered imperative that the proposals be thoroughly examined and discussed by each Social Partner, prior to action. The meeting was informed that the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals were likely to be presented before the end of May and thus that the Social Partners would not wish to pre-empt the 2017 Budget presentation process. The Groups were advised that some of the proposals made in the reports would be dealt with in the Budget. With the sense of urgency shared by all, it was felt that there were certain issues among the recommendations presented by the working groups which would be not addressed within the Budgetary Proposals, but on which engagement could start immediately, with a view to early action. Among these, was the issue of State Owned Enterprises (QEH, BTB and the SSA). Information was to be shared among the Groups with a view to early discussions. It was also agreed that there would be a meeting held after the Budget to discuss the Budgetary measures announced. The Prime Minister noted that the discussions were frank and robust and the need for clarity, certainty and firm action emphasised by all. The vital importance of dialogue among all stakeholders at all stages of the process towards solutions of the Fiscal Deficit and Foreign Exchange problems was stressed. The Prime Minister advised that, in this vein, meetings of the Partners on specific matters will be taking place over time. The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs also attended the meeting. Article compliments BGIS.
Take the Barbados Employer Survey
We would like to make you aware of the Barbados Employer Survey and encourage your participation. The Survey is being implemented by the Government of Barbados through a Consultancy of MRSB Consulting Services of Canada and Kaizen Business Development Inc. and Abelian Consulting Services Inc. of Barbados. The survey is an important opportunity for employers to make a direct contribution to the productivity and competitiveness of their sector through the provision of skills needs information that is critical to future workforce development. The survey is being administered within the International Business and Finance Sector and the Manufacturing Sector first and then with the Cultural and Creative Industries and Tourism sectors. You may hear about the survey through various channels –the Barbados Government Information Service (GIS) press releases, a direct email from the project Consultancy (via MRSB Consulting Services) and /or outreach such as this from industry associations. We invite you to complete the survey online at any time from Monday March 13 until April 21, 2017 at https://www.research.net/r/Government_of_Barbados_Employer_Survey You can click here to see an overview of the survey and determine if you need information from other colleagues before beginning. If you are unable to complete the survey on line at one time, an enumerator will contact you to complete the remaining questions with you. You may also complete the entire survey with an enumerator by telephone or in person. To arrange a telephone or in person survey please contact any of the following: Cathy McPhail at firstname.lastname@example.org or Skype: cwmcphail56 Alison Beckles at email@example.com or 246-829-6251 Alison Holder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 246-253-5026 Individual survey results will be confidential. Information will be used in aggregate form only. If you have questions about the purpose of, or validity of the survey, please contact: Mr. Mark Franklin, Chief Research and Planning Officer Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development Tel: (246) 535-1420 YOUR COMPLETION OF A SURVEY IS CRITICAL TO ENSURING THE INFORMATION COLLECTED IS AS REPRESENTATIVE OF YOUR SECTOR AS POSSIBLE. THANK YOU!
New Financial Stability Report published
THE CENTRAL BANK of Barbados and the Financial Services Commission have published the 2016 Financial Stability Report, an in depth analysis of the island’s financial system. The report, which examines the structure of the financial services sector as well as the resilience of different classes of financial institutions, found that “key financial sector indicators point to the continued stability of the Barbadian financial system during 2016”, and further stated that “stress tests performed on the financial system suggest that the system is generally stable and can survive a range of adverse events.” According to the report, commercial banks continue to dominate the local financial landscape, holding 55 per cent of domestic assets, with the second largest percentage, 13 percent, being held by insurance companies. Credit unions, trust and financial companies, mutual funds and pension funds all controlled similar percentages of the market. It goes on to examine each type of financial institution and to conduct simulations of events that could impact its stability. In addition to its analysis of the island’s financial institutions, the 2016 Financial Stability report contains two research notes. The first concerns household debt and its implications for the local financial system. It looks at the rise of household debt over a 25 year period as well as the sources of this debt. The second note is on de-risking, a phenomenon that has impacted countries in the Caribbean and Latin America as well as Asia and Africa and that has potential grave implications for the local International Business and Financial Services (IBFS) sector. The report is available for download on the Central Bank of Barbados website www.centralbank.org.bb. (PR)
Bitt by bit ICT is developing in the Caribbean
Barbados’ Bitt Inc. has come together with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) to take the region’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) forward. The CTU and Bitt Inc have established a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signaling the start of a working partnership between the two organisations to further develop social and economic sectors in the Caribbean through the use of effective ICT. The MOU was signed by Selby Wilson, CTU Telecommunications Strategist and Oliver Gale, President and Co-Founder of Bitt Inc. during day one of the 15th Caribbean Ministerial Strategic Seminar, as held in Antigua and Barbuda from March 22 to March 23, 2017. Wilson was a former Minister of Finance in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. “With the signing of this MOU, Bitt and the CTU will coordinate their efforts to advance innovation in the ICT sector and facilitate the growth of digital financial services in the Caribbean,” Gale stated. Bitt Inc, a Barbadian based FinTech company, utilises distributed ledger and blockchain technology to improve efficiency and significantly reduce the costs of the payment system. “The specific characteristics of distributed ledger and blockchain technology, namely its unprecedented security, immutability, non-counterfeitability, efficiency of transfer, robustness and transparency, make its application clear to Central Banks for the foundation of a digital legal-tender issuance infrastructure,” Gale explained. Conversely, the CTU’s main mission is to facilitate the cooperation, collaboration and promotion of ICT related services and development with the aim of advancing the Caribbean region. Upon signing the document, both organisations have agreed to work together to achieve a number of common objectives. These include using and promoting ICT’s as a way to address and aid in the development of the region and to “facilitate the establishment and effective operation of a single economic space.” “Technology that enables rapid payment services to large sections of the population, has been advancing at a fast pace to deliver robust, secure and convenient payment solutions. These digital payment solutions allow for services to be delivered at lower costs, aﬀording greater scalability and ease of access,” added Gale. The CTU is the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat’s arm for regional telecoms and technology. Article compliments LOOP News Barbados.
Sandals goes Royal
What started out as major expansion of its existing hotel at Dover has become the construction of a new luxury property to be called Sandals Royal Barbados, which is scheduled to open on December 20. The project is expected to cost US$160 million when completed, a price tag Sandals Resorts International (SRI) said would make it the company’s “largest ever investment in a single property”. Company officials also said the construction phase of the new hotel was employing 700 people, a number that was expected to increase to between 1 000 and 1 200 by the end of this month. Also, when Sandals Royal becomes operational, the property will employ 600, bringing the Sandals workforce here to about 1 200. Article compliments the Nation Newspaper.
Byer Suckoo: No Pay Difference In Public Service
There is no disparity between the salaries of male and female workers across Barbados’ public sector. Minister of Labour, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo disclosed this finding yesterday, while speaking at the media launch of the 2016 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report, at United Nations House. According to data trends from the report’s Human Development Index, it was recorded that on average, “women globally are paid 23 percent less than their male counterparts.” However, based on localised research, the island’s Labour Minister revealed that this trend was not occurring in Barbados’ public sector. “We’ve heard the figures about women being paid less than men… I must say that since I’ve heard these figures I have been looking for the evidence [locally]; and I have not been able to find it at our Statistical Service or in the Ministry of Labour…. “We have not been able to find that job for job, where all other things are equal, men and women are paid differently. We know across the Civil Service men and women at the same grade are paid the exact same amount,” she verified. While maintaining that there was no gender-related pay difference within the “formal sector”, Senator Byer Suckoo cautioned against such a practice which might occur within the “informal sector”. The Minister told those gathered: “If this is happening in smaller agencies which may not come under the collective agreements…then that is something that we would be very concerned about…because our legislation does not allow for this disparity of wages job for job…,” she stressed. In supporting the development of disadvantaged groups, which were identified in the UNDP Report as women, children, victims of forced labour, impoverished persons and the disabled; the Senator called on other Ministries to remain “vigilant” and ensure that these trends did not permeate the Barbadian society. Minister Byer Suckoo stated: “The Barbados National Employment Policy and the Human Resource Development Strategy have prioritised the empowerment of the vulnerable groups in our labour market. My Ministry is administering targeted programmes in employment and training for these vulnerable persons… “We are also now partnering with the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development on the Strengthening Human and Social Development in Barbados Programme to eradicate poverty.” The media launch culminated with a panel discussion featuring Minister Byer Suckoo; Stephen O’Malley, Resident Representative of the UNDP Barbados and the OECS; Sean Cooke, Representative for the Barbados National Organisation of the Disabled; and Neisha Cave, Youth Economist. Article compliments BGIS.
Gov’t Focusing On Improving Business Facilitation
Government is actively exploring ways of improving business facilitation and this country’s competitiveness. This assurance came from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he delivered remarks at the launch of the 11thEuropean Development Fund’s (EDF) Regional Private Sector Development Programme, earlier today, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. Mr. Stuart said that small open developing countries needed to earn foreign exchange in order to maintain and improve the quality of life of citizens and ensure their survival. “The recent developments in the world around us: the events of 2007 and their enduring consequences; Brexit; and the effects of climate change, have all conjoined to make the environment even more challenging. But we know that our resilience, demonstrated over the years, is testimony to our capacity to recreate ourselves and to overcome the odds,” he told his audience. The Prime Minister stressed that private sector development in the Caribbean remained pivotal and suggested that exporters must continue to be empowered to penetrate global markets. According to him, enabling and strengthening the private sector was the most effective way of ensuring continued economic growth in this region. He urged the regional private sector to be proactive and creative and seek to increase the number of projects that could be assisted to the next stage by the Caribbean Export Development Agency. “Countries like Barbados need foreign exchange for almost every stage of our production in the various sectors. But if we do not earn it, we cannot spend it without serious effects on our entire economy and society. For example, companies in the retail sector – which use a large proportion of foreign reserves in providing the goods that we both need and want – must be creative and explore how they can assist in producing more foreign exchange, through contributing in some way to our export thrust,” he insisted. During the launch, the Caribbean Export Development Agency and the European Union (EU) signed the 11th EDF agreement worth EUR 24 million to support regional private sector development. Mr. Stuart told the gathering that the signing was another clear indication of the EU’s steadfast commitment to the region, and its support of Caribbean Export in implementing programmes aimed at assisting the private sector in the Caribbean. “EDF programming has contributed to job creation, revenue generation, and export growth, within the states of the Caribbean region… and it has boosted our capacity to compete with firms on the global landscape,” he pointed out. Under the 11th EDF, focus will be placed on market penetration, supply chain and intelligence frameworks, increased access to finance, and the promotion of green energy and energy efficiency as key factors in lowering costs. The overall objective of this programme is to, among other things, increase employment creation and reduce poverty in CARIFORUM states through targeted interventions that provide innovative frameworks for growth and development. Article compliments GIS Barbados.
Barbados International Finance & Business 2017 Magazine Now Available
The Barbados International Finance & Business (BIF&B) 2017 magazine is now available. This annual magazine, now in its ninth year, is a publication of Invest Barbados. It caters to the international business and financial services community, highlighting through several stimulating articles by a range of knowledgeable experts in the field, why Barbados continues to be an attractive jurisdiction of choice for investors. Whether your focus is on international business, international insurance, wealth management, general features on Barbados as a preferred domicile, real life case studies on various international entities or the quality of life that the jurisdiction offers, it can all be found within this magazine. In his message, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with Responsibility for Energy, Immigration, Telecommunications and Invest Barbados, Senator the Hon. Darcy Boyce, discusses the enhancements that have occurred within the sector during the last year. He indicated that although there were fresh challenges emerging, the Government of Barbados in conjunction with Invest Barbados and other government agencies would work together to facilitate the smooth conduct of business in Barbados. Additionally, as Invest Barbados celebrates 10 years of operations, the Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer (Ag.), Sandra Payne, shares in her message that, “…we will maintain the ethos and values of good governance and efficiency which have characterised our success…Together with our stakeholders we will nurture a more prosperous Barbados.” The BIF&B 2017 magazine is available from any of its three offices: at headquarters in Barbados, New York, USA or Toronto, Canada. It can also be viewed online here. Be sure to get your copy today. Article compliments Invest Barbados.
GERMAN ENVOY CALLS ON SENATOR MCCLEAN
Germany’s Ambassador to Barbados, Dr. Lutz Görgens, recently paid a courtesy call on Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Maxine McClean, to mark the occasion of 50 years of bilateral relations between the two countries. Ambassador Görgens stated that he was very happy to meet with the Foreign Minister to celebrate their 50-year relationship, which he described as “unparalleled and incomparable”. A main focus of the conversation was protecting and preserving the island’s coastlines, which Senator McClean noted was of critical importance to Government. Dr. Görgens suggested that Barbados participate in the Caribbean Challenge initiative, a project geared at bringing together governments, companies and partners, to collaborate on accelerating action on the marine and coastal environment in the region. The officials also discussed the challenges associated with regional marine and air transport, to which Minister McClean proposed that the region should cooperate and explore the idea of establishing a commercial ferry operation. Article compliments BGIS.
BYER SUCKOO: STRENGTHENING OF HUMAN CAPITAL A MUST
Barbados must focus on building the capacity of its human resource capital, as Government moves towards the implementation of its Green Jobs Initiative and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Strategy. Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, expressed this view recently, during a courtesy call from Japan’s Ambassador, Teruhiko Shinada, at the Ministry of Labour, Warrens Office Complex. Stating that there will be a need for adjustments to the roles of employees across various sectors, Senator Byer Suckoo noted that jobs would need to incorporate new techniques to support a sustainable green economy and mitigate against climate change. “It’s one thing to build the structures and ensure that our buildings…and other infrastructures are in place, but we also need to ensure that the workers know how to do the new things required… “Agriculture, for example, is very susceptible to climate change. Changes in rain fall and other factors can affect our cultivation, so there will have to be new ways of doing agriculture…and the people involved in agriculture have to be trained,” she explained. The Minister also highlighted the fishing industry as an area where training and capacity could be upgraded, due to the direct impact of climate change on our reefs and fish harvesting. Mr. Shinada, who shared in the Minister’s sentiments, disclosed that Japan was also “diligently working” on measures to combat climate change, and outlined how the two countries could collaborate. According to him, capacity building could be achieved through possible collaborations with the Japan International Corporation Agency (JAICA), which fulfills this mandate within various organisations. Other areas of discussion included strengthening the social security system of Barbados, as Japan also has an ageing population, which has impacted on its social security system; reducing youth employment through the promotion of innovation and the green economy; and retrofitting the work place to provide greater opportunities for disabled persons to be hired. Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Yolande Howard; and Acting Chief Labour Officer, Victor Felix, were also present at the meeting. Article compliments BGIS.
CTEP A Revenue Earner For Region
Education Minister Ronald Jones has welcomed the idea of the Caribbean Tech Entrepreneurship Programme (CTEP) in Barbados, stating it not only addressed the acquisition of knowledge but also the development of that knowledge into a final project. “It is there to solve a particular problem…moving the idea to a revenue stream. It is not only assisting with the clarification of the idea but assisting those ideas to reach a point where those ideas carry value…value that can be felt because it impacts on the livelihood of the individual and the community and society,” the Minister emphasised. Mr. Jones who was the featured speaker at CTEP’s launch, at the Accra Beach Hotel, alluded to the billions of dollars in net worth, amassed by companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, and said it was his dream that such would occur in this region through the innovation of some young man or woman. “If you look at the world and how it is going and the use of the technology, a lot of these, almost intangible, parts of the digital world…result in massive sales. We are using these platforms in our daily lives… entertainment, for instance. “I am looking at possibilities that can generate revenue … and therefore we have to invest in our youth, in our schools, training institutions and universities that they can produce a product or product or service that utilise these technologies,” he asserted. While suggesting the region needed more and more ideas to be converted into greater revenue streams, he urged universities with surplus funds, and as part of their research agenda, to aid young entrepreneurs move from the idea to revenue stage of business. Article compliments BGIS.
Minister Jones Meets Canadian Envoy
The success of programmes ongoing with Canada, and the Education Ministry’s future plans, were the focus of discussion, when Canada’s High Commissioner to Barbados, Marie Legault, called on Minister Ronald Jones recently at the Elsie Payne Complex. Accompanied by his top officials, including Permanent Secretary, June Chandler; and Chief Education Officer, Karen Best, Mr. Jones welcomed Ambassador Legault and acknowledged the longstanding relationship between Barbados and Canada. “Barbados carries a very large financial sector, a lot of it fuelled by Canadian financial business and that helps fuel the Barbadian economy. We know that there have been changes taking place but we still continue to survive. The banking sector (the Bank of Nova Scotia, Royal Bank of Canada) are all part of the Barbadian financial and economic framework, and for that we are glad,” the Minister said. Tasked with discussing the future intentions of the Ministry, Permanent Secretary Chandler signalled to the High Commissioner that Barbados was seeking more collaborative arrangements between the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Canadian universities. This, she explained, was in a bid to move towards internationalisation and arriving at alternative means of raising revenue while reducing dependency on Government. Pointing out that such arrangements were also welcomed with any other universities, she added: “My main thrust is to look at these collaborative efforts so as to grow our regional university, and, of course the spin off benefits that would redound to the economy of Barbados.” Ms. Chandler commended the High Commissioner on efforts already in train with New Brunswick University, noting this was an example to be encouraged in order to aid the Ministry in developing its capacity, especially with respect to special needs education. Moreover, she added, Canada could also benefit from an exchange of staff to see how Barbados “does things in the classroom”. The High Commissioner said she was pleased with the programmes already in place with Barbados. Alluding to an arrangement between Colleges and Institutes of Canada and the Barbados Community College which began five years ago, she added her country was also funding a programme at UWI Open campus to the tune of $20 million. The officials also discussed Barbados’ thrust towards hands-on skills and Caribbean Vocational Qualifications; opportunities to strengthen primary school teachers; the capacity of tutors at Erdiston Teachers’ Training College; and teaching computer programming from an early age. Article compliments BGIS.
Education Vital To Human Resources
The over BDS $10 million in teaching material handed over recently by the People’s Republic of China to the Government and People of Barbados is significant in more than one way. Prime Minister Freundel Stuart underlined this in his address to those gathered at the hand-over ceremony, at the Ministry of Education’s Elsie Payne Complex headquarters. Included among these were China’s Ambassador, Wang Ke; and Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones. Acknowledging that the gifts had other significance, Prime Minister Stuart said: “When we speak of the productive sectors of our economy, we like to think that we are talking about those sectors like tourism and agriculture and manufacturing that produce things. Tourism produces money for us; agriculture produces food, manufacturing produces things. “But, I have always contended…and always believed, that the most important productive sector in any country is its education sector because whereas other productive sectors produce things and produce money, the education sector produces people – the human resources we need and have needed, over the years, to make Barbados the very great country that it is.” Explaining that this was why Government had invested as heavily as it had, over the last 56 years or so, in education at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, Mr. Stuart pointed out a “virtual revolution” was taking place at the nursery level, in that the nursery sector was in the process of being built out with the assistance of the Maria Holder Trust. “We believe that education is the most important productive sector in Barbados, and we have indigenised, made local, our assessment of the students in our educational system whether they are at the nursery, primary, secondary or tertiary levels,” the Prime Minister stated. Article compliments BGIS.
Critical Legislation Planned For PWDs
A draft Bill which will facilitate the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is currently under consideration by Parliament. Minister of Social Care, Steve Blackett, was addressing the annual church service to mark the Month of the Disabled when he explained that the Persons with Disabilities Bill seeks to bring even greater comfort for those in the disabled community. “It aims to codify in law those rights to which every person with disabilities (PWD) is entitled, and to ensure that they are treated according to the international benchmarks,” he stated. The Minister explained that the Bill will address issues such as access to public facilities and services, education, employment, cultural life, and support to ensure that any current disadvantages for the disabled community are eradicated. He added that amendments are also being made to current legislation, among them the Road Traffic Act to address issues affecting parking for PWDs; the Employment Rights (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill, as well as the Building Standards Bill, which promotes the construction of buildings with adequate provisions for PWDs. Mr. Blackett also acknowledged the work of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, stating that its work has made Barbadians more aware of PWDs. “The Council boasts of a membership of 20 organisations of and for persons with disabilities, and continues to work towards improving the quality of life for the differently abled, through partnering with Governmental and Non- Governmental Agencies,” he said. He described this year’s theme: Inclusion Matters: 40 Years Towards Access and Empowerment, as “truly fitting”, as the Council and Barbados alike have made significant strides in ensuring that PWDs in the community are fully integrated into society. Mr. Blackett also sought to remind those gathered that such persons were not disabled, but “differently abled and very valuable members of society”, and the people of Barbados should approach their welfare without partisan considerations. Article compliments BGIS.
PM Thanks China For Its Support
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has lauded the contribution of the People’s Republic of China to Barbados over the last four decades. Speaking today at the hand-over ceremony at the Elsie Payne Complex of teaching material by China to his Government, Prime Minister Stuart said: “The relationship has worked very, very well, and the decision that Barbados took 40 years ago was in consonance with what other countries were doing and what other countries had to do.” Emphasising that this relationship had “borne much fruit”, he highlighted China’s efforts in building the Wildey Gymnasium in 1992, and praised today’s donation of over BDS $10 million in desktops, laptops, tablets and furniture. Mr. Stuart added that gestures like this would continue to deepen the relationship between the two countries. “It has yielded benefits and there are benefits to come… there are other initiatives in the pipeline with the Ministry of Education,” he indicated, alluding to the project at The Hope in St. Lucy and the ongoing refurbishments at the Gymnasium. The Prime Minister thanked the Government of China for being a “loyal” friend to Barbados, and assured that country of Barbados’ continued cooperation and support as it deepened its relationship with the region. Article compliments BGIS.
PM To Chair Full Partnership Meeting
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart will chair a meeting of the full Social Partnership today, Friday, March 3, beginning at 9:00 a.m., at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael. Introductory remarks will be delivered by Prime Minister Stuart; Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association, Charles Herbert; President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, Cedric Murrell; and General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Toni Moore. During the one-day meeting, Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Cleviston Haynes, will make a presentation, following which discussions will focus on the Foreign Exchange Reserves and the Fiscal Deficit. Two working groups to study both subjects will be named, and the members are expected to begin their deliberations today. Article compliments BGIS.
Boost For Foreign Exchange Reserves
Barbados’ foreign exchange reserves will be boosted by more than $200 million, thereby pushing levels back up above 12 weeks of imports. This disclosure came on Monday from Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler, as he addressed a press conference to discuss matters pertaining to the economy, at Government Headquarters. Mr. Sinckler told the media: “I am advised that the way is clear for the first tranche of the draw down on the Sam Lord’s loan to occur any day now, as advised by the EXIM Bank of China in writing to the BTI. Similarly, all documentation to facilitate the release of the First Citizens Bank Bridging Loan for the CAF-sponsored upgrades to Customs and the Barbados Revenue Authority is settled and that too will be released in the coming days. “And of course we all know that very soon the Fair Trading Commission will give its decision regarding the sale of the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited to SOL limited which, if positive (and I see no reason why it should not be), will clear the way for a significant injection into the country’s reserves.” The Minister added that there were other short-term measures Government would undertake throughout 2017 to maintain those levels and sustain even greater levels going forward. He pointed out that Government would maximise inflows from all foreign- funded public projects over the coming months. “Already, we have approved status on the CAF-funded Barbados Water Authority (BWA) Water Master Plan Project for US$30 million. We have also cleared the way for an additional $50 million from the Caribbean Development Bank, also for the BWA’s water network systems upgrade project, which will start disbursements shortly. “Then there is the long stalled CDB Education Sector Enhancement Project (2) valued at US$35 million, the way for which has been finally cleared after many months of technical challenges,” he disclosed. Mr. Sinckler further revealed that he had issued new guidelines to all investors/developers seeking tax waiver support for investment projects in Barbados. “Effective from this month, in order for such concessions to be given and sustained, at least one third of all foreign exchange brought on island must be sold to the Central Bank directly,” he stated. He added that following completion of the projects, any foreign sales generated from units within those developments and for which concessions were attached, no less than 50 per cent of the sale proceeds must be brought onshore and half must be sold to the Central Bank of Barbados. He noted that his Ministry was closely monitoring a developing situation where some local commercial banks had been approaching foreign investors with offers to utilise domestic Barbados dollars or even draw loan proceeds from domestically held foreign currency to finance their projects here. “While the Ministry of Finance cannot tell any investor where to source their financing from or indeed prevent any domestic bank from offering their liquidity to investors, what we can do, however, is to ensure that where generous concessions are given on the basis that the country would get a net inflow of foreign exchange, that all parties honour those commitments if the benefits are to continue,” Mr. Sinckler stated. Article compliments BGIS.
Dollar In No Danger Of Devaluation
The Barbados dollar is not in any “danger of a devaluation” vis-à-vis its standing against the US dollar. This assertion came on Monday from Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, as he addressed a press conference to discuss matters pertaining to the Barbados economy, at Government Headquarters. He told the media: “It [devaluation] is not going to happen next week, next pay day, next three months, next year or at any other time in the foreseeable future. That is simply not going to happen!” He noted that though the foreign exchange reserve levels had temporarily fallen below the 12 weeks standard threshold, this was not the first time it had happened in the history of Barbados’ economy. “We previously operated this economy successfully with lower levels of reserves in 1998 (9.1 weeks) and in 1999 (9.9 weeks). In neither of those instances there was ever a question that any Government of the day would countenance 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,” he insisted. Mr. Sinckler pointed out that the fiscal challenges revolved around the major declines in corporation tax revenue, driven in part by the difficulties in the international business and financial services sector and the economic slowdown. He stressed that the challenges had not been driven by any “orgy of spending”. He said that in order to maintain the level of social services and jobs, Government introduced new taxes in an attempt to make up for the revenue loss. “The shortfall in revenue from these new taxes relative to the funds needed to pay for healthcare, education, garbage collection and the range of social services, were made up by domestic borrowing. This has led to rising debt service costs,” he explained. The Finance Minister announced that he was in the process of assembling a team of key, experienced Barbadians to constitute a reformed National Council of Economic Advisors to assist Government with the development of a National Fiscal Sustainability and Growth Plan. He said the persons invited to serve had all responded in the affirmative, and promised that their names would be shared with the public shortly. Mr. Sinckler expressed hope that the National Fiscal Sustainability and Growth Plan would be ready for national discussion and implementation before the end of summer. Article compliments BGIS.
USA Couples Flock to Barbados for Gold Seal IVF Treatment
Thousands of US patients have taken the short flight to the Caribbean island of Barbados for highly successful IVF treatment. With the cost of IVF treatment rising in the US, couples are drawn to the world class Barbados Fertility Centre (BFC) because of much lower treatment costs, higher success rates, JCI accreditation and the relaxing environment of a paradise Caribbean island. Barbados Fertility Centre (BFC) has AGAIN been awarded the highest achievement for worldwide patient safety standards from Joint Commission International (JCI). BFC was awarded their fourth GOLD SEAL of approval for their excellent care! Their deserving accreditation now spans from 2007 to 2020. Joint Commission International (JCI) is the US health facility accreditation programme that set stringent health care standards across the world. The JCI gold seal assures patients that they will receive world-class patient care. This is important news for couples as BFC continues to boast excellent success rates, often far superior to many International IVF clinics. The highly professional and international team work tirelessly every day to continue to maintain and achieve these high standards for their patients. BFC first opened their doors in 2002, and this year marks the 15th anniversary for BFC, with thousands of babies born from IVF treatment at BFC to couples around the world. They have babies from the USA to Hong Kong, Australia, UK, Canada and all across the Caribbean chain. They have seen increasing numbers of USA couples seeking successful treatment annually for their excellent service. They have patients travelling from all across America for their IVF cycle at BFC. With daily direct flights from Miami and New York, Barbados is easily accessible to the US market. Dr. Juliet Skinner, Medical Director at BFC said, “We believe our high clinical and laboratory standards, our commitment to JCI accreditation, the relaxing environment of our beautiful island and our on-site Spa contribute to our high success rates – of which we are very proud. This unique combination helps couples get pregnant. We encourage anyone who has been struggling to conceive to please reach out to us as our success is proven and we can help you have the family you desire. ” BFC is one of the first IVF units in the world to offer a Patient Centered individualized program, combining medical tradition and a holistic approach for their couples, supported by their on-site Life Wellness Centre. www.lifewellnessbarbados.com. Couples can choose to undergo the Healthy Mind and Body programme and benefit from massage, reflexology, acupuncture, nutrition advice and counselling to support them through the IVF process. BFC believes that their approach of allowing couples to de-stress whilst undergoing treatment is vitally important to their successful outcome. Success rates at Barbados Fertility Centre BFC saw brilliant success rates of 75% in 2016 with their excellent donor egg programme. And with continued improvement in their cutting edge medical procedures, they are seeing an impressive 69% pregnancy rate for women under 35. Many couples from the USA are now proud parents after successful treatment at BFC. Anybody who has tried to conceive for 12 months without achieving a pregnancy should seek medical intervention. For further information log on to www.barbadosivf.com or call for a free confidential IVF Nurse consultation toll free on 1-866 246 8616. For further information on the accreditation process http://www.jointcommissioninternational.org. Article compliments Invest Barbados.
Changes Announced At Central Bank
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs today advised that Dr. DeLisle Worrell has been relieved of his duties as Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados. This is consequent upon the determination of his instrument of appointment by Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler. The Ministry also advised that the Board of Directors, at a specially convened meeting in accordance with the by-laws of the Central Bank, and held today, Friday, February 24, agreed that Deputy Governor Cleviston Haynes, be appointed to act as Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados consequent upon the cessation of the tenure of Dr. Worrell. The Board of Governors also agreed that the current Financial Controller of the Central Bank, Michael Carrington, be appointed to the post of Acting Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados. Both appointments have been approved by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, and will take effect from today, Friday, February 24. Article compliments BGIS.
Senator McClean Meets Morocco’s Envoy
Matters of mutual interest were discussed recently when Morocco’s newly appointed Ambassador to Barbados, Dr. Abderrahim Kadmiri, called on Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean to present his credentials. They discussed at length, the possibility of introducing an exchange progamme with Barbados’ local university and those based in Morocco, which would seek to bring students to the island, for a period six months to even a year. Ambassador Kadmiri also suggested that it was best for the institutions to come together and sign some form of understanding on the arrangement. During their discussions, Dr. Kadmiri also expressed an interest in cooperating with Barbados in other areas and explained that although he is based in St. Lucia, he hoped both parties would be able to pursue areas of mutual interest. Article compliments BGIS.
Barbados & Guyana Embrace Links
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the President of Guyana, David Granger, took the opportunity to recall and celebrate the close links between their countries in a presentation ceremony today at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown. Mr. Stuart presented President Granger with a mahogany carving depicting “Christmas Music in the Village”, by renowned Barbadian artist, Ashanti Trotman. The Prime Minister said that in light of the President’s ancestral ties to Barbados, it was his pleasure to present him with a work of art that was distinctly Barbadian. In expressing his thanks for the gift, Mr. Granger said that the features of the piece, such as the Mother Sally, stilt walkers and drums, illustrated the similarities between Barbadian and Guyanese cultural inventions. “This is therefore more than a work of art; it is a cultural connection between Barbados and Guyana,” he affirmed. Mr. Stuart also presented Mr. Granger with an album of photographs taken of the President and his wife at events marking Barbados’ 50th Anniversary of Independence last November. In turn, President Granger presented the Prime Minister with a special commemorative pin symbolic of the strong ties between the two countries. “Christmas Music in the Village” was created by Ashanti Trotman in 2015. His work on the Barbadian “Tuk Band”, which is featured in the piece, reflects his appreciation for the central role of the Bum Drum, Banja and Bumba-Tuk in Barbadian Tuk Band Music. Mr. Trotman specialises in wooden sculptures and works of art made from Barbados mahogany. His primary focus is on the African heritage of Barbados, reflected in music, African iconography and spirituality. Article compliments BGIS.
Businesses Encouraged To Use E-Window
If Barbados is to reap the multi-dimensional benefits from the Barbados Electronic Single Window (BESW), the system must be thoroughly used. And, Project Coordinator of the Barbados Competitiveness Programme, Terry Bascombe, is urging all users, especially participating government agencies, to adopt the environment as a daily work tool as Government strives to improve governance and business facilitation in Barbados. Mr. Bascombe expressed this view on Wednesday at the official launch of the BESW at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. He told his audience that electronic single windows were still evolving and the challenge was to identify the best-fit model for a country’s specific needs. He pointed out that the BESW involves almost 50 participating government and private agencies and it took six years to implement. “I would argue that this is a remarkable achievement for a small country during times of limited fiscal flexibility and under circumstances when the system was being implemented simultaneously with over 10 other deliverables,” he stated. Mr. Bascombe disclosed that a few months ago he was contacted by the Australian Consulate in Barbados and asked to have a 30-minute conversation with a consultant hired by the Australian Government to implement an electronic single window. “He explained that he had heard about the BESW, saw the terms of reference online, and felt it was a sound model to learn from,” he said. An electronic single window is an environment that facilitates the electronic submission of standardised international trade and transport-related documents to a single point for processing and approval. The BESW will provide a single online interface for the exchange of trade-related documents between the trading community and relevant government agencies. Within this environment, all transacting parties will be able to fulfil their obligations online from anywhere, using any form of internet-enabled communication device. Duplication of entry will be eliminated as entries need only to be submitted once. To use the BESW, business people must register at https://esw.gov.bb. Article compliments BGIS.
Efforts on to improve business and trade facilitation
GOVERNMENT has officially launched the promised Barbados Electronic Single Window (BESW), which should see an improvement in the movement of goods into this country. According to Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler, through the BESW, persons should expect to see a move towards a paperless trading environment, reduced duplication, shorter application and processing times, and a lower incidence of human error. He revealed that at present the BESW is more than 90 per cent complete, as there are some additional forms that need to be integrated into the system. Nevertheless, he said 100 per cent of the system’s basic functionalities are completed and as such, he revealed that full integration of the remaining forms should be completed soon. Addressing those attending the launch at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre recently, Sinckler explained that the BESW will provide a single online interface for the exchange of trade-related documents between the trading community and relevant government agencies. He added that this online interface, which was six years in the making, is one of the deliverables of the US$11.8 million Barbados Competitiveness Programme, jointly funded by the InterAmerican Development Bank and the Government to improve the country’s competitiveness. That programme, he said, sought to address the “key bottlenecks” that affect efficiency of the movement of goods in this country and to shore up other trade and investment promotion activities to promote export development and increase private investment. Speaking more to the BESW, he said that it will allow all transacting parties to fulfil their obligations online from anywhere in the world, and its introduction, the Minister boasted, is to be commended as it is only the second such system in the Caribbean, with Trinidad having the other one. Moreover, he said Barbados is also one of only two countries in the world, smaller than 300 square miles, to have an ESW. “You may recall that less than four years ago, the World Bank in its ‘Doing Business 2012’ Report revealed that only 49 countries and regions worldwide had introduced a single window by 2010. The successful implementation therefore of our single window, four years after the World Bank’s revelation, is therefore a tremendous achievement for the country, and of course a country our size,” he said. The Finance Minister added that with the ESW coming on stream, entries will only have to be submitted once, and will be facilitated by a built-in Trade Document Management System (TDMS). This TDMS, he explained, will also track, manage and store the digital version of all paper-based documents that were previously submitted manually by traders. He added that the system will function as a repository for more than 190 different forms, certificates and licences, which traders expect to eventually retrieve from the ESW. Meanwhile, referring to Barbados’ ranking in the Global Competitiveness Index published annually by the World Economic Forum; and the Ease of Doing Business also published annually by the World Bank in its Doing Business Report, he acknowledged that in each respect the country’s position has slipped over the years, and there is need to remedy that. Sinckler told the audience that as a country heavily dependent on international trade, with over BDS$3 billion spent on imports since 2010 for domestic consumption and production, it is imperative that we commit to simplifying and streamlining existing regulations, behaviours and practices that impact business and trade facilitation. “For example, the Doing Business 2012-2013 Report cited the simplification of customs procedures and the implementation of systems that accommodate the electronic submission of trade-related documents, as “good practices around the world in making it easy to trade across borders”. In this regard, the Electronic Single Window represents one dimension of the response of the Government of Barbados to improve business and trade facilitation,” he stated. Article compliments the Barbados Advocate.