IMF LOWERS GROWTH FORECAST. The Intl Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its growth forecast for the Caribbean, reports Caribbean360.com (April 25, 2012). The IMF's World Economic Outlook (WEO) report predicted 3.5% growth for the Caribbean in 2012, down from the 4.3% projection made in September. "High public debt and weak tourism and remittance flows continue to constrain the outlook for the Caribbean," said the report. "Greater resolve is required in reducing debt overhang in the Caribbean while addressing weak competitiveness." Jamaica and Barbados had the lowest expected growth this year, 1% and 0.9%, respectively. Barbados was expected to grow by 1.5% next year, while Jamaica was expected to experience only 1% growth in 2013, said the IMF's division chief for research, Thomas Helbling.
HYDROELECTRIC PROJECTS STUDY. The Executive Hydroelectric Commission of the Lempa River (CEL), said April 24 it is tendering Feasability Studies for Installation of Small Hydropower Plants. The tender is for the development of seven SHF's at sites on the rivers Sucio, Titihuapa, Suquiapa and San Simon, in which adequate conditions for the development of small-scale hydroelectric projects have been identified. The projected date for submission of bids is July 4.
REMITTANCES CLIMB. The center for studies of the Inter-American Dialogue on May 8 said remittances sent to Latin America and the Caribbean saw increases of 8% vs. 2010, with Central America, Mexico and Colombia as the leading areas of this increase. Mexico, which represents onethird of total regional remittances, maintains its position at the head of the list with US$22.731 billion (6% more than in 2010), followed by Guatemala with US$4.377 billion (a 6% increase) and Colombia with US$4.168 billion (a 3% increase). Then comes El Salvador with US$3.65 billion (an increase of 3%), followed by the Dominican Republic, US$3. 13 billion (up 4% from 2010).
CLIMATE CHANGE GRANT. Caribbean countries and regional organizations will apply a $10.6 million grant from the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) to track activities to address the impact of climate change, the Inter-American Development Bank announced on. May 5. At a recent meeting of the CIF' s subcommittee for the Pilot Program for Resilience (PPCR), members endorsed an investment program for the region that will fund activities in four areas: Improving geospatial data and management for adaptation planning, sea level rise and storm surge impact analysis; Consolidating and expanding the regional climate monitoring network and global platform linkages; Downscaling and expanding climate projection models and high-resolution maps; Applied adaptation initiatives. The Caribbean Regional PPCR is a collaborative effort between six countries: Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia and St Vincent.
HELP FOR INSURANCE CO. A decision taken last year to recapitalize the eastern Caribbean operations of the collapsed British American Insurance Co. (BAICO) has made it more attractive to investors, reports Caribbean360.com (April 26, 2012). Dr. Denzil Douglas, prime minister and minister of finance for St Kitts & Nevis, said the decision to pump US$30 million from the Liquidity Support Fund into recapitalizing BAICO's traditional insurance business and preparing it for sale was bearing fruit. Dr Douglas said a number of bidders had demonstrated an interest in purchasing the recapitalised portfolios of BAICO's business, and they were now being engaged with a view to concluding the sale transaction this year. The decision was taken by the governments of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU), led by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), to assist policy-holders who suffered as a consequence of BAICO's collapse. Dr Douglas said 18,700 policy-holders would benefit, with St Kitts & Nevis having 3,960 beneficiaries.
TRINIDAD-GRENADA OIL CONFLICT. Conflict is brewing between Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada over the exploration for two of the deep water blocks which were up for bid a week earlier, reports Caribbean News Now (April 30, 2012). The offshore acreage blocks are the TTDAA 28 and the TTDAA 29 - located North East of the Trinidadian border which is also the international boundary with Grenada. Unresolved issues have seen Trinidadian authorities consulting with Grenadian government officials. Reports indicate that former Prime Minister Patrick Manning entered into an agreement which delineated the common continental shelf in 2008 between the two countries. This act could affect the blocks if they fell outside the boundaries agreed to by the former Prime Minister.
CHEVRON SELLS CARIBBEAN ASSETS. Chevron has concluded the sale of its fuels marketing and aviation business in The Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Turks & Caicos to a French company, reports The Nassau Guardian (May 2, 2012). Vitogaz, a subsidiary of RUBIS, will acquire 39 retail stations, eight aviation facilities, six fuel terminals, one joint operation at the Lynden Pindling Intl Airport in The Bahamas and a commercial and industrial fuels business. These assets, according to Chevron, are in addition to another sale by Chevron in July 2011, whereby RUBIS purchased 174 service stations operating under the Texaco brand, an equity interest in an associated refinery operation, propriety and joint-venture terminals and aviation facilities.
CHOICE HOTELS UPBEAT ON INVESTMENT. Stephen P. Joyce, president/CEO of Choice Hotels Intl, Inc. said his company has long been bullish about the Caribbean region's tourism sector, reports Caribbean360.com (April 28, 2012). He joined several leading industry speakers addressing the Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Conference (CHRIS) set for the JW Marriott Marquis in Miami from May 7-8. Choice Hotels has projects under development in Anguilla, Dominica, Haiti and is in the final stages of negotiation to award a franchise in St. Maarten in the Dutch West Indies. Details: www.CHRISconference.com.
GREEN TRAVEL GROWS. Apple Vacations said it was recognizing several environmentally friendly hotels & resorts in Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii and Costa Rica in honor of Earth Day on April 22. Apple Vacations' Go Green hotel partners have implemented a variety of eco-conscious initiatives in the operations of their resorts. Apple is recognizing 27 Go Green hotels, and brands include customer favorites such as Secrets Resorts & Spas, Dreams Resorts & Spas, Iberostar Resorts and Hyatt Resorts of Hawaii. Details: Ali Gerakaris, +1-847-631-269], for Apple Vacations. Web: http://www. applevacations. com.
US$100,000 GRANTS. Compete Caribbean invited applicants from the Caribbean and the Caribbean Diaspora in the USA, Canada and the UK to apply for the Caribbean Idea Marketplace (CIM), reports Caribbean News Now (May 1, 2012). Successful applicants can receive a $10,000 grant to develop their projects. CIM is a business competition platform that encourages local and Diaspora entrepreneurs to forge partnerships around projects that generate employment and economic opportunities in the region. CIM also seeks to promote entrepreneurship, transfer knowledge and create learning networks. The program was launched on March 1 and continued until May 31, 2012, the deadline for submission of applications. A key requirement: There must be a partnership between a local and a Caribbean Diaspora entrepreneur or business owner.
PAINT DIVISION SALE. The North American HBFuller has agreed to sell its paint division to Pintuco, a subsidiary of the Colombian company, for $120 million, reports Dinero.com (May 8, 2012). Grupo Kativo, which until recently was owned by HB Fuller, is a leader in the Central American paint market, with a presence in six countries. Grupo Mundial president Ernesto Fajardo Pinto said "With this acquisition, Pintuco is strengthened in a region of strategic interest and reaches a coverage in 1 1 Latin American countries. Grupo Kativo has products recognized for their quality, is a leader in paint sales in the region, has an extensive distribution network and very positive business and financial results."
ANTIGUA-NEVIS FLIGHTS. FlyMontserrat is expanding its route network, offering daily flights between Antigua and Nevis, reports Caribbean News Now (May 7, 2012). The timings of the flights will allow passengers from Montserrat to connect through to, or from, Nevis via Antigua. The route licenses have been granted and the new service will begin on June 4, using the Islander aircraft with 9-seat capacity, said managing director Nigel Harris. FlyMontserrat has just acquired its fourth aircraft, purchasing the Islander aircraft from one of its competitors in Anguilla.