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(Barbados Today) Prime Minister Freundel Stuart seems to have brushed aside a recommendation by the recently established Fiscal Deficit Committee to sell the Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOCL) and the National Petroleum Corporation (NPC).

Instead, Government will proceed with the planned merger of the two state-owned entities (SOEs).

Opening debate on the National Petroleum Corporation Amendment Bill in the House of Assembly Friday morning, the Prime Minister made no mention of the recommendation contained in the 30-page report submitted by the tripartite committee.

However, he reminded Parliament that a decision had already been taken by his administration “to effect efficiencies and economies by amalgamating” the two entities.

It was back in March 2014 that the merger was first announced by BNOCL General Manager Winton Gibbs to employees during an emergency staff meeting at the Woodbourne, St Philip office, called to clarify media reports and soothe tensions over the future of the parent company.

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KINGSTOWN, ST.VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES - Air Canada today announced St. Vincent and the Grenadines as one of six new routes for the airline’s winter season. A release issued by Air Canada stated that weekly flights from Toronto to St.Vincent and the Grenadines are now available for purchase at aircanada.com and through travel agents. 

According to Benjamin Smith, President, Passenger Airlines at Air Canada release "Air Canada is continuing its strategic, global expansion with a diverse range of exciting new non-stop routes this winter to Australia, South America, the Caribbean and the United States,". The airline says its first long-haul international scheduled service to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the other five destinations, “offers new choices for travellers looking to escape Canadian winters”. 

CEO of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority, Glen Beache expressed his elation with the announcement stating that “we are happy to welcome an airline such as Air Canada which has a rich history, to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  We look forward to a successful partnership which will enable both entities to grow.”

The announcement from Air Canada comes as the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority continues on its quest to attract international carriers to the Argyle International Airport (AIA) which was officially opened on February 14th, 2017. The AIA boasts a 2,743 metre (9,000 foot) runway, 45 metres (150 feet) wide and is designed to accommodate aircraft as large as the Boeing 747-400s. The 171,000 square foot terminal building is designed to handle 1.5 million passengers annually, more than five times the capacity at E.T. Joshua. The AIA is further enhanced with jet bridges, lounges, restaurants, bars and other shops, all designed to provide all passengers with an experience in keeping with international standards.

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(V. I. Consortium) ST. THOMAS — Come June 1, the minimum wage in the U.S. Virgin Islands will rise from $8.35 per hour to 9.50 per hour, Department of Labor reminded in a release today. The increase is made possible through legislation whose chief sponsor was Senator Jean Forde, which was signed into law by Governor Kenneth Mapp in March 2016.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, state governments have the right to set a higher minimum wage than the current federal minimum wage rate. Roughly 29 states, including California, Florida, New York and New Jersey have enacted legislation increasing their state’s minimum wage. Studies have shown that increasing the minimum wage does not have a negative effect on small business, as some have claimed, and in fact contributes to an increase in the overall health of local economies.

“This is a tremendous victory for working people, as the plain fact is that the minimum wage of $7.25 is simply not enough to live on,” said Mr. Forde when the bill was signed into law. “It is heartbreaking to see people going out and working hard every day, only to find that their paychecks cannot meet even their most basic needs.”

The first increase from $7.25 to $8.35 took effect June of last year; the last increase — from $9.50 to $10.50 — will take effect in 2018, according to the law. Additionally, the tourist service industry and restaurant workers who are tipped employees must be compensated at a rate of not less than 40 percent of the prevailing minimum wage.

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(Jamaica Observer) International coffee chain Starbucks has entered an agreement with Caribbean Coffee Traders Ltd to open its first café in Jamaica, in a move that is likely to shake up the existing local coffee shop market.Under the agreement, Caribbean Coffee Traders Ltd which is a consortium led by the Margaritaville Caribbean Group, will have exclusive rights to own and operate stores on the island, with the first store to be opened in Montego Bay.

According to Starbuck's website, the operation will be a joint venture between CEO of Margaritaville Caribbean Group, Ian Dear, and Deputy Chairman and CEO of Sandals Resorts International, Adam Stewart.

Jamaica will be the 17th market in the Latin American and Caribbean region in which Starbucks will operate.

“Jamaica is a country blessed with a rich culture and heritage, particularly with its locally grown and world-renowned Blue Mountain coffee, which Starbucks has sourced as a specialty offering for over 40 years,” said Ricardo Rico, Starbucks general manager and vice president for Latin America operations.

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The Caribbean Information and Credit Rating Services Limited (CariCRIS) has assigned NCB Capital Markets Limited a local jmA+ rating up, for a debt issue of $16 billion, with a positive outlook.This, the wealth and asset management arm of National Commercial Bank, said in a news release yesterday, indicates good creditworthiness.

 

“The current rating indicates that NCB Capital Markets is a strong business institution in Jamaica and an emerging player in the Caribbean,” the company explained.

 

“This announcement, made yesterday by the regional rating agency, follows NCB Group's recent achievement of record second quarter profit of $5.8 billion. NCB Capital Markets, along with its subsidiaries and sister company in Cayman, contributed 23.0 per cent of the overall operating income; making it the second-highest contributor to the group's earnings,” the company said.

 

“Additionally, the segment's operating income for the financial period ended March 31 showed a 67.2 per cent increase over the same period in the previous financial year. This is complemented by closed corporate financing transactions that exceeded $25 billion in the first six months of the current financial year.”

 

A CariCRIS credit rating gives an objective assessment of an entity's creditworthiness relative to that of other debt-issuing entities. It provides ratings for both the regional and national level. NCB Capital Markets also received a CariBBB- (Foreign Currency) rating on the regional scale.

 

According to CariCRIS, the assigned jmA+ rating is influenced by its expectation for further macroeconomic improvement in Jamaica over the next 12 to 15 months. That is in addition to its projection for further revenue and profit growth based on the company's ongoing expansion efforts in the wider Caribbean.

 

Steven Gooden, CEO, NCB Capital Markets, said the rating comes at an integral time when the NCB Group is accelerating its expansion exercises throughout the Caribbean.

 

NCB Capital Markets, he noted, has a market presence in Cayman, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados.

 

“We are very pleased with the rating and that we are able to provide clients across the region with customised portfolio and funding solutions to meet their various needs,” the release quotes Gooden. “CariCRIS is a respected regional rating agency and this validation will serve us well, even as we continue our strategy of regional expansion.”

 

 

CariCRIS explained that the NCB Capital Markets rating reflects the subsidiary's position as a grounded business in Jamaica that is also emerging as a strong player in the Caribbean. It is further attributable to the NCB Group's continuously improving financial performance, good asset quality, and a characteristic ability to service debt.

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