The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says The Bahamas is experiencing a tourism-led rebound and that the economy has expanded by almost 14 percent last year, as net tourism receipts tripled in 2020.
The IMF said the strong recovery is expected to continue in 2022, with real GDP (gross domestic product) projected at eight percent growth.
“The war in Ukraine, which adds considerable uncertainty to the outlook, is expected to affect The Bahamas primarily through high commodity prices, the IMF said, adding that it expects average inflation to increase to 6.75 percent in 2022, and to only gradually decrease as supply chain constraints wane.
The Washington-based financial institution said the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has deepened medium-term growth challenges and public finances have deteriorated.
It said the Philip Davis administration has pledged relief through tax cuts and increasing outlays on investment and education.
However, with pubic debt close to 100 percent of GDP amid elevated financing costs, there is limited room for manoeuvre.
The IMF said that the banking sector has strong capital positions and the expiration of the pandemic-related loans moratoria led to only a small increase in non-performimg loans.
Barbados will decide in the coming months if it will enter into another International Monetary (IMF) program.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley made the disclosure recently at the end of an IMF mission to Barbados led by mission chief Bert van Selm for its seventh and final review of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation Program (BERT) Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
She told reporters that the current program would end on Sept. 30 and and discussions would begin once the mission report “pass the board” at the end of June.
“From July, we will start discussion, We will have successor program. If so what type of successor program? Will we go it on our own or is it time of is it right to go on your own when Interest rates are rising global?
Noting, that the last three and a half years of her administration had been challenging, the prime minister credited the IMF for much of what had been achieved so far, in particular, government’s paying off 98 percent of the US$1.7 billion in outstanding debt inherited in 2018.
Mottley said Barbados was not yet out of the woods but described the relationship with the financial institution as rewarding even if they had not always agreed on everything.
Meanwhile, Van Selma said Barbados had reached a staff level agreement with the EFF, following its latest review and once approved by the IMF board in June, the country could have access to US$23 million in funding.
The IMF said last week economic activity in Barbados is starting to recover from the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and that a gradual economic recovery started last year.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Citizens of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) took to the streets recently outside the office of Governor John Rankin to protest the recommendations of a report of a commission of inquiry (COI) that contained allegations of corruption and abuse of office by elected and statutory officials.
The one-man COI outlined several recommendations including that the BVI government cease to exist in its current format for at least two years.
In a statement, CARICOM said it has taken “note of the release on April 29, 2023, of the report of the Virgin Islands commission of inquiry with its far-reaching recommendations,” adding that the BVI, a British Overseas Territory, has associate member of the grouping since July 1991.
“CARICOM supports the decision of the duly elected government of the BVI to welcome the recommendations for improving governance and their commitment to work with the United Kingdom to address the weaknesses identified in the Commission of inquiry report.
CARICOM believes that any action to suspend the House of Assembly in th BVI and impose direct rule from London would be inconsistent with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The London-based Commonwealth Secretariat said a recent scoping mission to Antigua and Barbuda will be used to advance plans to establish a Center of Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy (COBE) for the Caribbean region.
It said the imitative, a collaboration between Antigua and Barbuda government, the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the association of Commonwealth Universities and is expected to boost marine science and blue economy research across the Caribbean.
Head of Oceans and Natural Resources at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr. Nicholas Hardman-Mountford, joined the Secretary General of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) Dr. Joanna Newman and others recently undertake a five-day visit to the island as part of the COBE International Steering Committee ( ISC).
The statement said the group met with key stakeholders to discuss potential partnerships and fundraising opportunities for the center, which will be housed at The UWI Five Islands Campus.
The statement quoted Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne as undertaking his “firm and unwavering support” for the establishment of the center.
The steering committee presented a report on the progress to set up the center government and also toured The Five Islands Campus to view the infrastructure and spaces that wlll host the facilities.
The statement added that Antigua and Barbuda is a leading nation in the region in defining its maritime boundaries and establishing strong ocean governance. The transition to a sustainable blue economy is the next step on this journey.
The Commonwealth Blue Charter Group on the Sustainable, Antigua and Barbuda will be able to share valuable knowledge and experiences with fellow Commonwealth countries. Establishing the COBE in Antigua will provide are real boost in achieving this vision.
The Pro Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs at The UWI, Dr. Stacy Richards-Kennedy said the regional university is fully committed to building robust partnerships that will not only strengthen the foundation for COBE, but also facilitate the execution of the roadmap to its full establishment.
The Guyana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) last week expressed disappointment with the decision by Guyana to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Trinidad and Tobago on issues such as agriculture, energy and national security
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley led a delegation to Guyana for the Agri-Investment For on and Expo organized by the Guyana and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretariat as part of the efforts by the region towards of the promotion, engagement and informed dialogue among key stakeholders along the agri-food chain.
Last Tuesday Dr. Rowley held talks with President Dr. Irfaan Ali and according to a statement released by the Trinidad and Tobago Government, the two leaders engaged in bilateral talks and pledged to deepen ties between Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.
It was explained that the discussions especially on agriculture, energy and national security and that the MOU covering the key areas which were discussed is to be signed and release.
But in a statement, the GCCI said ‘it wishes to express its disappointment with this action by the government of Guyana.
” The Chamber’s concern comes in the light of the fact that there are still many non-tariff barriers implemented by Trinidad and Tobago against Guyana.
:Accordingly, the Chamber of Commerce, as it did in 2018 with a previous MoU of a similar nature,, strongly urges the Government to refrain from signing the MoU, with Trinidad and Tobago are void” the release said.
India’s Prime Minister, Ram Bath Kovind last week paid a historic state visit to Jamaica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
In a statement India’s Ministry of External Affairs said this was the first-ever visit by an Indian head of state to visit the two countries.
Kovind was in Jamaica from May 15-18, during which he met with Prime Minister Andrew Holness and other signatories and addressed a joint sitting of the two Houses of Jamaican Parliament, a Jamaica government statement said.
He also met with his Jamaican counterpart, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.
Jamaica and India have friendly relationship.
“Jamaica is also one of the Girmity countries with a 70,000- strong Indian Diaspora, who act as a living bridge with India,” the statement said.
“The visit came at a significant milestone, as 2022 is the 60th anniversary of established of diplomatic relations between Jamaica and India,” the statement said.
Furthermore, Jamaica and India are celebrating 75th and 60th anniversary of their independence, respectively,” it said
Kovind also paid a state visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines from May 18-21, during which he held discussions with his Vincentian counterpart, Governor General Susan Dougan.
The Indian prime minister also met with St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, as well as other dignitaries and addressed the House of Assembly.
The first cannabis consumption lounge in St. Vincent and the Grenadines was recently opened at the Coconut Grove Beach Club, with people obtaining permits to buy cannabis products for a year, after on site consultation with a physician.
Marie Helene Tremblay, general manager of Medicinal, a medical marijuana company said the cannabis consumption lounge is the first of its kind in St. Vincent and in the Eastern Caribbean.
Tremblay, who holds a doctorate degree in organic chemistry from Georgia University of Technology, said her company decided to hold a clinic during the launch “so that we give access to cannabis and easier access to cannabis.”
She said once the patient has a prescription for medical cannabis they can go and see the medical Cannabis Authority to obtain their cannabis ID card that is valid for one year, referring to the state agency that regulates the medicinal cannabis in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
At the dispensary, patients can purchase products ranging from EC$15.
The Coconut Grove Beach Club is located about six miles from the capital Kingston.
Dr. Jose Davy, the government’s infections disease specialist said she would consider medical marijuana for patients who had tried classic medicines that didn’t work for them.
She said most of the patients she saw at the event had complained of chronic pain.
Dr Davy said that chronic pain generally, mainly arthritis, tops the list of complaints among people for whom medical marijuana is prescribed.
—Compiled by Azad Ali