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(Barbados Today) An injunction preventing Government from selling the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL) to regional petroleum products giant Sol has been extended until May 26.

A battery of high-profile lawyers went before High Court Judge Olson Alleyne this morning for what was expected to be a series of arguments for and against extending an interim injunction granted to Sol’s competitor, Rubis last Friday, halting the sale, on which the Freundel Stuart administration was counting on to help shore up the foreign currency reserves.

As it turned out, the attorneys for the defendants – the Attorney General, Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOCL) and Sol subsidiary BNTCL Holdings Limited – were not quite ready and requested more time to prepare their response, to which Rubis’ lawyers agreed.

“The injunction continues by consent of us all until May 26 when we come back and argue whether the injunction should continue or whether it should be discharged. The usual practice is to continue it until that hearing is had. So in the meantime we have to file affidavits, written submissions, and the timetable has been set by the court, which we have to comply with. So hopefully when we come back the hearing will take place,” Barry Gale, QC, one of the attorneys for BNTCL Holdings Limited, later explained.

In addition to Gale, the oil terminal company is also represented by Sir Henry Forde, QC, Laura Harvey-Reid and Lisa Gollop-Corbin, while Donna Brathwaite, QC, appeared for the Attorney General and Roger Forde for the BNOCL.

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Northern Caribbean University (NCU) has been crowned winner of the National Business Model Competition (NBMC) and will represent Jamaica at the upcoming International Business Model Competition (IBMC) in Silicon Valley, California.

 

Its the fourth-consecutive year that NCU has walked away winner of the competition since it’s inception in 2013.

 

The Mandeville-based student-entrepreneur team, Natsima Nutraceuticals, made their winning presentation to a panel of private sector judges in the final round of the national competition last Friday, beating 13 other teams from four universities to also take home $2m in cash prizes along with the all-expense paid trip.

 

Runners-up were GenesisWay (first) and SOTARE (second), also from NCU; and ShopMobi (third) from the University of the West Indies.

 

Natsima team members detailed the process of their business model as they presented their all-natural and locally made formula to treat asthma.

 

Chief Executive Officer Shanea Wint, in describing how the business idea developed said, “I was born with asthma. I suffer from chronic sinusitis. When I was younger, my grandma gave me a liquid made from guinea hen weed, garlic and ginger. I decided to share my idea with my team members and innovate on it because when I would take products on the market, I suffered.”

 

“Each time I took those medications, it seemed like I would get worse. So I said, why not create something for someone who suffers like I do,” she continued.

Coincidentally, Wint suffered from a severe asthma attack the night before the finals. And, just before her team and competition coordinator Hazel O’Conner took the decision to take her to hospital, Wint treated herself with the Natsima pump, which stopped the attack.

 

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

 

Natsima also has the backing of the Ministry of Health as they have pledged to help move it’s asthma solution product forward.

 

“We will be able to conduct clinical testing through them. We’ll be working with other players in the industry, and the ministry will be a major part of that going into market.” said Natsima’s Chief Financial Officer and Chief Technical Officer Lancelot Riley.

 

This year’s staging of the IBMC will be held on May 11 and 12 at the new and groundbreaking venue of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Teams from scores of universities and business schools across the globe will compete for the grand cash prize of US$30,000 and the prestigious IBMC trophy.

 

The NBMC, which is now in its fourth year, is organised at the local level by the Development Bank of Jamaica through the Jamaica Venture Capital Programme and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica. Judges from the private sector selected the winner from one of four Jamaican tertiary institutions: Northern Caribbean University, University of Technology Jamaica, The University of the West Indies, and Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

 

Last year’s NBMC winner Guardana Inc, an all-female team from NCU, placed sixth at the international competition at the Microsoft Ventures campus in Washington, DC. In 2015, local team JarGro Enterprise reached the NBMC semi-final stage.

 

 

The NBMC was launched at DBJ’s first Venture Capital Conference held in September 2013 by keynote speaker Paul Ahlstrom of Alta Ventures Group, Utah, USA, who, along with Joseph Matalon, offered to fund the prize for the winner if local universities collaborated. The competition was designed to facilitate young entrepreneurs in taking their business models from the idea stage, and facilitates access to mentors, coaches and angel investors to provide the capital to build their businesses.

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London (CNN) The UK government has formally served divorce papers on the European Union, signaling the beginning of the end of a relationship that has endured for 44 years.

Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, confirmed that the UK had triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, beginning a legal process that must end in two years' time with Britain leaving the EU.

"This is an historic moment for which there can be no turning back. Britain is leaving the European Union," May told the House of Commons in London.

A few minutes earlier in Brussels, the British Permanent Representative to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, delivered a six-page formal letter of notification to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, in Brussels.

"The Article 50 process is now under way, and in accordance with the British people, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union," May said.

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ST THOMAS, USVI -- The head of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has called on the region to work together to ensure the Caribbean remains one of the world's leading destinations.

 

Delivering the keynote at the annual general meeting of the US Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association earlier this month, CHTA president Karolin Troubetzkoy noted that, while Caribbean destinations are very different, they share many of the same challenges – from the impact of climate change to the high cost of operations.

 

Troubetzkoy, who is the executive director of operations at St Lucia's Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain resorts, believes a collective resolve is needed, leveraging the strength of diversity and the commonalities of the region's countries and territories to fulfill tourism's true potential. 

 

She pointed to the some of the issues many regional destinations are facing, such as improving intra-regional travel, the high costs of airlift to the region as well as importing food, taxes and the growing activity of the sharing economy.

 

Troubetzkoy indicated she is encouraged by recent movements towards greater public-private sector collaboration to address the region's tourism competitiveness and development. 

 

She cited a recent presentation by CHTA and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) at the CARICOM Intersessional meeting where the leaders gave the green light to the organizations to draft a plan for submission to the CARICOM Summit in July for a "sustained region-wide tourism development and marketing initiative."

 

Quoting from a recent CTO report on the industry's 2016 tourism performance, Troubetzkoy observed that while the Caribbean reported its seventh consecutive year of growth with an increase of visitor arrivals by 4.2 percent and a total of 29.3 million stay-over visitors to the region, that growth was unevenly distributed, with Cuba and the Dominican Republic being the primary beneficiaries.

 

Similarly, despite the increase in visitor arrivals, many regional hotel properties did not experience a successful 2016, as measured in terms of key performance indicators such as Occupancy, ADR (Average Daily Rate) and RevPar (Revenue per Available Room).

 

Underscoring the need for integrated regional approaches, Troubetzkoy reminded attendees that the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) expects the Caribbean region's tourism share to decline from 2.1 percent to 1.7 percent by 2030.

 

The CHTA president issued a call to tourism professionals across the region to work together to make their destinations more competitive on the global market: "We also must keep an eye on the many international tourism destinations out there that perform better than us – destinations that have been able to offer 5- and 6-star products at a cost that probably would buy a 3- or 4-star holiday in the Caribbean."

 

She called for stronger partnerships between the public and private sectors at the destination and regional levels to tackle the difficult issues of increased airlift, air travel costs, taxation, improved inter-regional connectivity and figuring out together how to price products more competitively in the global marketplace: "Our discussions may be uncomfortable and sometimes heated but they must take place because, in the end, we are in this together."

 

Pointing to the rapid growth of the alternative accommodations sector through online platforms like Airbnb, she asserted: "Rather than fighting the trend we have much to gain by working with (them) to find ways of cooperating for the benefit of our visitors, our dedicated hoteliers and tourism professionals, as well as our hospitable citizens who are willing to share their homes with visitors from abroad, and from within our destinations."

 

Key issues related to the sharing economy's participation in the hospitality industry include the need to ensure safety and security for guests, and to establish policies that require the home-stay community to make a reasonable contribution to each destination's infrastructure maintenance and construction costs.

 

Noting that people are key to competitiveness, Troubetzkoy urged destinations to develop and fine-tune "every aspect of our customer service experience, enhancing our product itself – whether we are talking about availability of real, authentic Caribbean cultural and culinary offers, locally made products or renovated and enhanced hotel accommodations that have taken into account changing customer expectations."

 

 

None of this can be achieved, she declared, without well-trained and informed people in the sector: "We have to ensure we are training people who will continually improve our product as they make fulfilling careers in tourism, and we need to also provide these stalwarts of our sector with continuing education and training. Because, let's face it – our landscapes, adventures and beaches will draw travelers to our shores – but it is our Caribbean people who will keep them coming back."

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(Barbados Today) The controversial multi-million dollar sale of the state-owned Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL) to regional petroleum products giant Sol has been stopped in its tracks by two legal challenges mounted by Sol’s competitor Rubis Caribbean.

The High Court last Friday granted Rubis an interim injunction until April 3, 2017, throwing a spanner in the works of Government’s plan to beef up the dwindling foreign exchange reserves, which had fallen to a 14-year low of 10.3 weeks of import cover as of the end of last year.

Rubis had lodged an application for a judicial review, challenging the inclusion of a 15-year moratorium clause in the agreement between the Freundel Stuart administration and the Sir Kyffin Simpson-led Sol for the US$100 million merger, which the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) is currently probing to determine whether or not it should be approved.

The clause prohibits the construction of another oil terminal in Barbados, as well as the granting of licences for the storage of fuel, aviation fuel and jet fuel for the commercial and industrial purposes.

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