A staff team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently concluded that Barbados has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent shocks well and has preserved macroeconomic stability.
The IMF mission conducted a virtual Article IV consultation with the Barbados authorities and also reached a staff-level agreement on the completion of the second review of the arrangements under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) and the Resilience and Sustainability Facility (RSF).
The mission from the Washington DC-based international financial institution noted, “Economic activity has rebounded, and inflation is moderating. After a 13.8 percent rebound in 2022, real GDP is projected to expand by about 4.5 per cent in 2023. Inflation fell to 4.3 percent year-over-year as of mid-2023, from a peak of 6.7 percent recorded in May 2022.”
The mission said lower international fuel prices and freight costs contributed to the reduction in overall inflation, while domestic factors such as prolonged drought conditions and higher demand for restaurants and recreational activities as a result of the recovery in tourism pushed up the prices of some food items and domestic services.
The economic recovery resulted in higher job growth, with unemployment claims and the unemployment rate reverting to pre-pandemic levels, according to the IMF mission.
The mission also noted that Barbados is taking important steps to strengthen revenue administration, modernize the tax exemptions framework, implement a new procurement framework, and enhance public financial and investment management and fiscal governance, supported by technical assistance from the IMF and other development partners.
The recent CARICOM-Saudi Arabia Summit has produced a 15-point declaration to undertake “consultations and explore cooperation” on areas from energy and tourism to food security. Also, that CARICOM will support Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the World Expo 2030 and endorse Saudi Arabia’s candidacy to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup.
This was confirmed in a joint statement by CARICOM. CARICOM leaders attended the summit and the leaders decided to hold the second such summit in 2026.
Leaders were invited to the summit by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The summit was co-chaired by Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and CARICOM Chairman Roosevelt Skerrit.
The statement said leaders exchanged views on issues of common interest and discussed ways to further expand and advance their partnership “to take advantage of the growth opportunities that can be utilised through cooperation” between both regions, based on shared vision and the values embodied in the United Nations Charter.
Among the 15 points, the statement added that leaders declared to join efforts to promote peace, security, stability and prosperity, through mutual respect and cooperation between countries and regions, to achieve sustainable development and progress and maintain the rules-based international order based on adherence to international law and the UN Charter.
ExxonMobil said recently that it has started production at Payara, Guyana’s third offshore oil development on the Stabroek Block, bringing total production capacity in the country to approximately 620,000 barrels per day.
In a statement, the oil company said the Prosperity Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel is expected to reach initial production of approximately 220,000 barrels per day over the first half of next year as new wells come online.
“This additional capacity will be the third major milestone towards reaching a combined production capacity of more than 1.2 million barrels per day on the Stabroek Block by year-end 2027.”
The oil and gas company said that Prosperity joins the Liza Unity as two of the world’s first FPSOs to be awarded the SUSTAIN-1 notation by the American Bureau of Shipping in recognition of the sustainability of its design, documentation and operational procedures.
ExxonMobil’s Guyana developments are generating around 30 percent lower greenhouse gas intensity than the average of ExxonMobil’s upstream portfolio, said the oil giant.
According to the independent research firm Rystad Energy, they are also among the best performing in the world with respect to emissions intensity, outpacing 75 percent of global oil and gas producing assets.
A heavily armed gang surrounded a hospital in Haiti trapping women, children and newborns inside until police rescued them, according to the director of the medical centre, who pleaded for help via social media.
The Fontaine Hospital Center in the capital of Port-au-Prince is considered an oasis and a lifeline in a community overrun by gangs that have unleashed increasingly violent attacks against each other and residents. People who live in the capital’s sprawling Cite Soleil slum are routinely raped, beaten and killed.
The hospital founder and director, Jose Ulysse, said that gangs were torching homes around the hospital and preventing people inside from leaving. .
Ulysse said members of Haiti’s National Police force responded to his call for help and arrived with three armoured trucks to evacuate 40 children and 70 patients to a private home in a safer part of the city. Among those delicately evacuated were children on oxygen, he said.
Ulysse identified those responsible as members of the Brooklyn gang. The Brooklyn gang has some 200 members and controls certain communities within Cite Soleil, including Brooklyn. They are involved in extortion, hijacking of goods and general violence, according to a recent United Nations report.
The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) has opened a renovated agro-processing incubator as it looks to boost production and export among micro and small agro-processors.
the European Union (EU) funded the project, which is managed by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and implemented by the JBDC.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Aubyn Hill, speaking at the launch of the project said it was a significant milestone in Jamaica’s path towards entrepreneurial excellence
“The initiative is a vital step in our journey at the ministry, aligning perfectly with our strategic goal to develop and strengthen industry value chains for export,” he said.
Hill said micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) contributed significantly to Jamaica’s gross domestic product, approximately 44 percent, adding that integrating them into a robust export value chain was crucial to boosting their growth potential and enhancing the country’s economic prosperity and global market presence.
St. Vincent and The Grenadines
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves led a 10-member delegation to Saudi Arabia to sign several agreements relating to school, health, housing and other governmental infrastructure.
Gonsalves joined the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) colleagues in participating in the first ever Saudi Arabia-CARICOM summit, said that the event will focus on fostering investment and trade, particularly in critical sectors such as infrastructure, hospitality, energy, climate change and environmental sustainability.
“As you know, several of us have been building these relations and you know we have signed already a US$16 mil lion agreement…20 years, two per cent fixed rate of interest, which is quite low, to do some health facilities,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves said the centrepiece of the – US$16 million agreement would be a modern health centre in South Rivers.
“We have paid for — the land where we want to do it, the design process has commenced for that,” he said, adding that hopefully construction can begin somewhere by the middle or of next year.
Gonsalves said that funds would also be used to repair other health clinics across the island as well as educational, cultural, artistic and production hubs in three locations.
— Compiled by Devika Ragoonanan