Caribbean Business And Finance Report


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Compiled By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Oct. 30, 2020: Here are some of the top business and finance news making headlines across the Caribbean this week.

The Bahamas

The Bahamas has become the latest country to offer a remote work from the beach option as it announced its new Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay (BEATS) program this week.

The one-year residency permit is designed to allow professionals and students to  work or study remotely from The Bahamas.

BEATS applies to those whose workplaces and classrooms have shifted from face-to-face to virtual as COVID-19 has brought unprecedented flexibility to the traditional work from home environment. With 16 islands to choose from and plenty of breathtaking views, visitors can forget about daydreaming about a tropical vacation and start living it.

The BEATS permit is valid up to 12 months from the date of issue. The total cost for individual professionals to apply for and obtain a BEATS permit is $1,025, while college students wishing to apply will be required to pay $525, inclusive of the application and permit fee.

For more information on BEATS, visit www.bahamasbeats.com. To apply to be the WFH envy of your office/classroom, visit https://portal.immigration.gov.bs/.

Last week, The Cayman Islands government also began offering long-term remote work options for international employees and their families.

While the borders to the Cayman Islands remain closed to commercial airlift and cruise traffic at this time, the Cayman Islands has announced the launch of the Global Citizen Concierge Program (GCCP), an initiative designed for digital nomads looking to take advantage of the flexibility provided by remote work.

Eligible professionals and families can upgrade their home offices by choosing to live and work remotely in the Cayman Islands for up to two years through a Global Citizen Certificate.

Travelers interested in obtaining the Global Citizen Certificate are invited to apply online here. Applicants must provide a letter showing proof of employment with an entity outside of the Cayman Islands, stating position and annual salary. Minimum salary requirements are: US$100,000 for single households; US$150,000 for two person households and US$180,000 for a family with children.

Fees range from US$1,469 per annum per individual to US$500 per dependent, per annum.

Several other Caribbean countries have also jumped on the remote work option amid the pandemic, offering global citizens and students the option to “work from the beach.”

They are:

1: Barbados

Barbados launched this option in the region first. Though it “Welcome Stamp” remote work visa is a bit pricey — $2,000, or $3,000 for a “family bundle” – the visa is good for one year but can be extended. Participants aren’t liable for Barbados income tax. And the island has some of the best internet access, health facilities and weather in the Caribbean. For more information, visit barbadoswelcomestamp.bb/visas/.

2: Bermuda

Bermuda is now offering a year-long residency certificate for $263. Applicants must be over the age of 18 and “demonstrate good character and not have conviction for an indictable offence.” Travelers who don’t want to spend an entire year can stay up to six months in Bermuda without a visa. For more see gov.bm/articles/one-1-year-residency-certificate-policy.

3: Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda has launched its digital nomad residency program. The Caribbean nation said it would allow remote workers earning at least $50,000 a year to live and work there for up to two years through the program, which provides special resident status to digital nomads who can show the means to support themselves and any accompanying family members as well as whose employers are based outside of the destination. The cost for a single applicant is $1,500. The application cost for a couple is $2,000 and for a family of three or more is $3,000. See more here.

4: Aruba

Aruba is offering its “One Happy Workation” program, which allows US remote workers to live and work in Aruba for up to 90 days, as long as they have a US passport.

The program offers a collection of deals and discounted rates at a variety of local accommodations and free wi-fi.  Get all details here.

5: Anguilla

Anguilla’s Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, Quincia Gumbs-Marie, said in a statement that for the first wave of visitors, the tourism board is prioritizing “longer-stay travelers” and applicants who come from countries, states, or cities “where the COVID-19 prevalence is less than 0.2%.”

Visitors can stay and work remotely on the island for up to 12 months, according to the island’s application. To stay on the island for less than three months, accepted individuals are required to pay $1,000, and a family of four is charged $1,500. Individuals who plan to stay in Anguilla for between three months and a year must pay $2,000, and the fee for a family of four is $3,000. Families of more than four will be charged an additional fee per person. Apply here.

Meanwhile, The Bahamas government has defended its new taxation policy that it says targets international social media giants like Facebook, through the levelling of the playing field with digital media tax enforcement.

The Hubert Minnis administration said that for more than a year, it has been in the process of standardizing revenue collection from foreign entities providing services that are consumed in the country. It said the recent announcement regarding the collection and remit of value added taxes (VAT) by online advertising giant Facebook is in keep with this effort to uniformly implement the VAT Act.

The government said the tax laws here require all services consumed inside the country to be subject to VAT provided the vendor meets the minimum US$100,000 per annum threshold for sales inside the country. That includes advertising services no matter where the company may be physically located.

Regional

The Caribbean and Latin America could see a decline in remittance by up to 8 percent this year into next year according to the latest estimates published in the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief.   Remittance flows into Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to be about $96 billion in 2020, a decline of 0.2 percent over the previous year. Remittances to the Dominican Republic registered positive year-on-year growth between the months of June and September after falling sharply in April and May. The average cost of sending $200 to the region rose slightly to 5.8 percent in the third quarter. In many smaller remittance corridors, costs continue to be high. For example, the cost of sending money to Haiti and the Dominican Republic exceeds 8 percent. 

“The impact of COVID-19 is pervasive when viewed through a migration lens as it affects migrants and their families who rely on remittances,” said Mamta Murthi, Vice President for Human Development and Chair of the Migration Steering Group of the World Bank. “The World Bank will continue working with partners and countries to keep the remittance lifeline flowing, and to help sustain human capital development.” 

“Migrants are suffering greater health risks and unemployment during this crisis,” addedDilip Ratha, lead author of the Brief and head of KNOMAD. “The underlying fundamentals driving remittances are weak and this is not the time to take our eyes off the downside risks to the remittance lifelines.”  

Meawwhile, the Caribbean and Latin America must grow at a rate of at least 4 percebt a year and carry out a sharp redistribution of income – of up to 3% of GDP annually – in order to eliminate poverty by 2030. That’s according to ‘Building a New Future: Transformative Recovery with Equality and Sustainability,’ a report presented by Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, (ECLAC), to the Commission’s member countries and associate members during its thirty-eighth session, which took place virtually through October 28th.

The proposal, developed by the United Nations regional commission, emphasizes that recovering in the current context means rebuilding, acting immediately in the short term with the necessary long-term perspective, and offering recovery and development proposals oriented towards an inclusive welfare State and a productive transformation with technological change and environmental sustainability, which would strengthen equality and “democracy as the most precious legacy of modernity.”

The document proposes medium and long-term policies in the areas of taxation and financing, internalization of environmental externalities, industrial development, a welfare and social protection regime, regional integration and renewed multilateralism. In addition, it suggests focusing attention on seven sectors including:

  • A new energy matrix
  • Urban electromobility
  • The digital revolution
  • The health-care manufacturing industry
  • The bio-economy
  • The circular economy, and
  • Sustainable tourism.

Cayman Islands

According to the Monetary Authority of Macau (AMCM) about 76 per cent of the US$6.7 billion in inward direct investment reported in Macau last year was made by investors residing in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

Investment from the Cayman Islands totaled US$3.85 billion and from the British Virgin Islands came to US$1.28 billion. The remaining investment was made by investors based in mainland China and Hong Kong.

The volume of inward direct investment flows in Macau jumped significantly by 167.8 per cent year-on-year, according to the AMCM. Investment in the gaming sector amounted to almost 80 per cent of the total direct investment, followed by the ‘financial activities’ sector, with both having increased by 6.1 per cent and 5.2 per cent year-on-year, respectively.

At the same time stock of inward direct investment in the gaming, sector rose by 37.2 per cent year-on-year in 2019 to US$22.7 billion, of which the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands accounted for 42.4 per cent and 35.6 per cent, respectively. Mainland China investors represented 57.7 per cent of the capital going into investment stock in financial activities, which grew by 12.8 per cent last year.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness is estimating that the damage caused by the heavy rains from Tropical Storm Zeta over the past few days at more than two billion dollars (One Jamaica dollar=US$0.008 cents.)

He says funds will have to be reallocated to deal with the infrastructural damage caused by Zeta and warned that the two billion dollar estimate could “rise significantly.”

The assessment has been undertaken by the National Works Agency (NWA). And Prime Minister Holness told legislators that “based on the extent of the damage and cost, all the required works cannot be immediately done.

Barbados

The Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados (CBB), Cleviston Haynes, this week expressed concerned at the decision of the European Union to black list the island.

Central Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes, speaking at news conference, said the Bank is also concerned by the rationale used for the listing.

Earlier this month, the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping said it “deplores the ongoing unilateral, arbitrary and non-transparent blacklisting strategy” employed by the European Union (EU) on Caribbean countries.

“The most recent inclusion of CARICOM states to the blacklist of alleged non-cooperative tax jurisdictions and jurisdictions identified as being deficient in the area of Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), underscores the EU’s unwillingness to take into account the substantial progress made by CARICOM Member States at compliance with global standards,” CARICOM said in a statement. Barbados, the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago have been included in the latest EU list of 22 countries that have currently been identified as high-risk third countries for money laundering and terrorist financing. The list was released on October 1st.



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