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(Barbados Today) Barbados is on pace for a second straight record year in long-stay visitor arrivals, according to Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy.

Sealy today announced that the island recorded an 8.2 per cent rise in arrivals as at the end of April, when compared to the same period last year, setting it on course to easily surpass the 610,000 visitors who came to these shores last year.

He said the performance over the first four months of the year was above the projected figure, and things are set to get even better with the annual Crop Over festival, the Caribbean Festival of Arts and several conferences still to come.

“For . . . 2017 to be trending even higher with respect to arrivals is a good thing,” the minister told reporters today on the sidelines of the 31st annual Sales Congress for the Caribbean Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors at the Hilton Barbados Resort.

Sealy did not disclose the total number of tourists who visited Barbados during the period under review, or which market performed best.

He also did not say whether the tourists have spent more money here this year than they did during the corresponding period last year.

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Barbados, May 23, 2017 – CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank has been named the “Best Retail Bank in Barbados”.

Leading print and online magazine, Global Banking and Finance Review awarded the Barbados business of the regional bank in recognition of its continued commitment to excellence in retail banking.

“CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank’s commitment to retail banking is reflected in their strategic vision, organizational structure and strong risk management which contributed to their outstanding performance for the year,” said Wanda Rich, Editor, and Global Banking & Finance Review.

“They have demonstrated a strong commitment to enhancing customer experience through including value added services and client surveys. We look forward to seeing further growth and industry-leading solutions from them in the years to come,” she added.

CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Managing Director, Barbados Operating Company, Donna Wellington said the award was “testament to the commitment of our staff at all levels, to go that extra mile every day to ensure we meet the varied needs of all of our clients both in-branch and online.” 

Managing Director, Retail, Business and International Banking, Mark St. Hill said the award was “especially gratifying for our retail staff who are on the front lines working with our clients to ensure they receive superior banking products and services which fit their lives”.

The awards honor companies that stand out in particular areas of expertise in the banking and finance industry. CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank was selected as this year’s Best Retail Bank in Barbados because of the company’s outstanding achievements and dedication to retail banking and by performing well in the following categories according to the judging panel:

•Dedication to client relations

•Launching of new mobile banking application

•Loan processes and performance

•Strong Corporate Governance and Risk Management in place

•Continued investment in technology

•Positive impact on the community they serve through financial support and volunteer efforts.

CIBC FirstCaribbean operates in 17 territories across the English and Dutch Caribbean.



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(Jamaica Gleaner) The Jamaican dollar hit another psychological mark at $130 to the United States currency a week ago, but there does not appear to be any heightened concern among businesses, according to the reaction from two private-sector lobbies.

The exchange rate was estimated at $130.30 on Wednesday, having reached the threshold on May 10.

Chief executive officer of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Dennis Chung, said the Jamaican dollar depreciating to $130 "is a psychologically significant mark". The currency has lost a dollar of value in six months, a period in which the currency sometimes appreciated.

Chung said a one-dollar slide of the currency translates to less than one per cent depreciation and would not have any significant impact on inflation, adding that a five per cent diminishment in value is what is expected annually.

In the past year, the JMD has depreciated by three per cent. For the calendar year to date, it has declined 1.45 per cent.

Chung said he has not heard any real concerns being expressed about the level to which the local currency has depreciated, reiterating that "I think it's really just a psychological thing".

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Puerto Rico's governor says he'll ask a court to restructure the debts of the U.S. territory's public pension system, which is projected to run out of money this year.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello says the government has been unable to reach a deal with creditors to whom it owes some $3 billion.

Rossello said late Sunday that retired workers will still receive their pensions. He says the government will dip into its general fund once the pension system itself runs out of money. The pension system is underfunded by some $50 billion.

The previous administration already had trimmed benefits and a federal control board overseeing the island's finances is seeking more cuts. It says the system will switch to pay-as-you-go funding.

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(BVI News) A British Virgin Islands delegation and UK Government representatives recently discussed freedom of movement to the European Union (EU) for Overseas Territories (OT) citizens at a Brexit technical roundtable in London.

Officials from the UK Home Office and UK Department for Exiting the EU, met with BVI London Office Director and EU Representative, Mr. Benito Wheatley who emphasised the importance of visa-free travel to the EU for the BVI’s local business persons.

At the roundtable held on May 9, Mr. Wheatley stated that the BVI is the Headquarters of the Commercial Court Division of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and home to a new International Arbitration Centre.

He added, “The Territory’s local legal practitioners will need to continue to travel outward to Europe to engage clients in cases and this should not be impeded.”

Mr. Wheatley stressed that BVI students currently enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen area and the ability to participate in EU higher education schemes.

“EU countries will remain tourism destinations that BVIslanders wish to visit and their travel to Europe should remain easy in that regard,” he added.

Participation in the roundtable follows the attendance of Premier Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE at the first UK-OT Joint Ministerial Council on Brexit Negotiations in February and his subsequent report to the public that his Government will continue to engage the UK on Brexit issues and to advance the Territory’s interests.

The BVI earlier participated in a Brexit technical roundtable on fisheries and agriculture in April and will attend upcoming technical roundtables on EU funding, trade and financial services.

The Premier has mandated a Brexit Task Force chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office, Mr. Brodrick Penn, to prepare a White Paper on the opportunities and risks posed to BVI by Brexit that will be completed ahead of the second UK-OT Joint Ministerial Council on Brexit Negotiations on July 12.

The Government of the Virgin Islands has affirmed its commitment to strengthening international relationships, in positioning the Territory for the future.

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