Caribbean Business News Round-Up

The USVI Limetree Bay refinery is closed again.

By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Sun. Sept. 19, 2021: Here are all the top Caribbean business news headlines you should know in one place.

REGIONAL

Two economists from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) strongly suggest that the Caribbean region’s economic recovery will depend heavily on countries’ ability to test their populations and providing access to vaccines, particularly for frontline workers.

In the IDB’s latest Quarterly Bulletin, economists Henry Mooney and David Rosenblatt examine the topic: How Rapidly Can Caribbean Economies Recover,” by noting the importance of access to vaccines for workers in tourism and tourism-related activities, they cautioned availability of timely COVID-19 testing was also key to returning the countries to some level of normalcy.

“Given these and many other complex factors affecting the recovery, considerable uncertainty remains,” they added. According to Mooney and Rosenblatt per capita income recovery was a good measure of return to positive economic place.

“While other measures are important, few indicators are better able to capture the impact of the shock on citizens. Based on the latest available data and projections, only Guyana saw positive real per capita GDP growth in 2020 relative to 2019, owing to the start of production at its considerable oil discoveries,” they stated.

USVI

The bulk of the 271 Limetree Bay Refinery employees were released Friday, as the refinery goes into an indefinite shutdown with its future hanging in the balance. Some were operators, others worked in maintenance and other fields.

Meanwhile, proceedings are continuing in bankruptcy court in Texas, and a sale of the refinery could happen in the closing months of 2021. The deadline for a sale, as per the court, is November 1. The refinery’s future is dependent on a potential buyer’s intentions, though most potential buyers would be expected to resume oil refining at some point as billions of dollars have been poured into the refinery for the main purpose of oil refining. Limetree Bay on February 1st announced the resumption of oil refining but on June 21 suspended all production following incidents the facility suffered.

CAYMAN ISLANDS

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Rivetz Corp., its subsidiary in Cayman’s special economic zone Rivetz International SEZC, and the companies’ founder and CEO Steven Sprague, with conducting an illegal, unregistered offering of securities through an initial coin offering.

The token sale between July and September 2017 raised the equivalent of US$18 million from investors, who bought the digital asset with cryptocurrency ether. According to the securities regulator, about 30% of the 5,200 investors were American.

The SEC also claimed that the proceeds were used to pay Sprague a $1 million bonus and loan Sprague $2.5 million, which he used to purchase a house in the Cayman Islands that he then leased back to Rivetz International.

Special economic zone company Rivetz International was formally established under Cayman Islands law on 22 June 2017. In September 2020, Cayman Enterprise City sued Rivetz International and Rivetz Corp. for the non-payment of $71,460 in licence fees.

ST. MAARTEN

If a proposal currently on the table goes into effect, St. Maarten consumers purchasing items online such as from Amazon will be required to pay a 7.5 per cent tax on the items, they buy on the world wide web.

The proposal is intended to create a fairer playing field and stimulate consumers to purchase locally, as well as capture “lost revenue” for government.

Finance Minister Ardwell Irion elaborated on the proposal during the continuation of a meeting of Parliament on Thursday on tax reform for the country.

THE BAHAMAS

The Bahamas Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar has announced that the country will receive B$2 million by the end of September as part of its airspace management agreement.

The Bahamas, for the first time in its history, has assumed management of its sovereign airspace after it signed a 10-year air navigation services agreement with the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), which could be extended for an additional 36 months.

The move is expected to yield B$300-350 million over the period.

Under the new agreement, as of May 2021, aircraft landing in and departing out of the sovereign airspace of The Bahamas, aircraft flying solely within the airspace of The Bahamas and aircraft flying over the sovereign airspace of The Bahamas will start paying fees to the newly established Bahamas Air Navigation Services Authority, an entity solely owned and operated by the Bahamian Government.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

A new scandal has emerged at the Trinidad and Tobago’s (T&T) state-owned National Gas Company Ltd, this time, the cost to taxpayers is almost US$200 million and the company has said it has learned its lesson from the debacle.

The revelation comes on the heels of another scandal where it spent well over quarter billion dollars on a failed attempt to save Atlantic LNG Train 1 and its Board of Directors asked the Government, and received protection, from responsibility for the loss of taxpayers’ dollars.

At the centre of this latest scandal, the NGC started a project in 2017 that included the design, procurement, construction, and commissioning of a compressor facility at NGC’s New Abyssinia Accumulator Station (NAAS) Beachfield facility, Guayaguayare.

Well into the project, the company discovered that there was no need for it after spending US$197.5 million and subsequently stopped it.

The result is a loss of the money and the company stuck with US$100 million worth of compressors, which it has not been able to sell.

GUYANA

Guyana has granted a unit of Saudi Arabian Oil Co (2222.SE), known as Aramco, a one-year contract to market the government’s share of the crude produced in the South American country, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo told Reuters.

The country in early September had awarded Aramco a contract to market a cargo scheduled for Sept. 21-22. Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat told Reuters at the time that the company was likely to win the year-long contract as well, but that the process was not yet complete. read more

Guyana became the world’s newest energy hotspot when a consortium led by Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) began producing crude off the country’s coast in late 2019. It is now producing around 120,000 barrels per day, and the consortium, which also includes Hess Corp (HES.N) and China’s CNOOC Ltd (0883.HK) has discovered more than 9 billion barrels of recoverable resources