Jamaica Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ JamaicaObserver.com, the most concise and in-depth website for news coverage on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Updated daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day en-us copyright Jamaica Observer, 2011 World Homes to roll out national housing programme http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/World-Homes-to-roll-out-national-housing-programme-_75032 BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com Private development company World Homes Jamaica Limited says it will be rolling out a national housing programme with assistance from the National Housing Trust (NHT) to create more affordable housing options to contributors. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;This programme entails the development of affordable housing on lands we have in Kingston, the North Coast and the South Coast. We are taking it in stages and work is now being done on the design plan for these locations before moving forward,&rdquo; President and CEO William Lai told the<br /> <br /> Jamaica Observer in an e-mailed response to queries. <br /> <br /> World Homes has already begun to deliver on its promise of affordable housing solutions with the plan to build Foreshore Estate off Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston. <br /> <br /> The subdivision includes 230 units consisting of starter studios and one-bedroom flats at prices ranging between $2,350,000 and $3,700,000 respectively. The development also consists of one-bedroom and two-bedroom quad townhome and duplex townhome units.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;All the starter units are reserved, and the one and two bedrooms are on really good demand. Customers have been securing loan amounts from the NHT on the units and the Trust has also been working with us in providing a mobile unit to make the process easier,&rdquo; Lai told<br /> <br /> Sunday Finance. <br /> <br /> World Homes expects to begin construction of Foreshore Estate by the end of the year and aims for completion by December 2018. Lai noted that the construction will result in temporary employment for more than 100 individuals. <br /> <br /> Amenities of the gated community include security guard support, jogging and walking trails, a basketball court, open recreation spaces, and a playground. The complex is also in close proximity to a basic school. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;So far, the response has been tremendous, which indicates a very strong demand for housing in the Corporate Area,&rdquo; Lai said. <br /> <br /> Last November, the NHT, in a bid to provide more affordable homes to contributors, said it expects to fund some 9,000 housing solutions over 2016/17 to enable thousands of families to realise their dream of owning a home under a short to medium-term housing programme. The Trust noted that it is hoping to partner with private developers to reach its goal.<br /> <br /> World Homes Jamaica Limited is a subsidiary of World Homes Corporation which was first established in Canada in 1990. Over the years the company has invested and developed many commercial, industrial and residential projects across that country, and has also constructed over 800 houses in Guyana. <br /> <br /> A registered corporation, World Homes Jamaica Ltd is chaired by Edward Lai. The company utilises the latest technology in prefab and local materials to provide cost-effective housing solutions. <br /> <br /> CEO William Lai is an architect who has designed, supervised and built landmark buildings in the United States as well as other major cities throughout the world, including Miami, New York, Panama City, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. <br /> <br /> His father, Edward Lai, has planned, designed, financed and developed many commercial projects including the New Kingston redevelopment area. World Homes&rsquo; management team has combined experience of over 60 years in the industry. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13309129/230542__w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13309128/230543__w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13309127/230545__w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13309131/230544__w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, September 25, 2016 12:00 AM Digital revolution for hotel sector http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Digital-revolution-for-hotel-sector-_75087 Jamaica&rsquo;s hospitality sector will be introduced to a high-tech digital makeover when executives and developers converge in Montego Bay and Kingston on September 27 and 29, respectively, for an introduction to cutting edge content management software by Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) and partners Aruba.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;In order for a business to retain a premier position in the hospitality sector, operators have to prepare to meet the needs of shifting and emerging tourist markets,&rdquo; a company news release quotes ATL Managing Director Danville Walker. &ldquo;The technology we are about to unveil will help the industry players to unlock gateways to providing an immersive, bespoke guest experience and deliver improved business performance to outperform the competition.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> ATL and HPE Aruba have also shared that they will explore ways in which the employment of revolutionary next-generation network access technology can aid significantly in energy conservation, predictive analytics, guest retention, convenient purchasing, transforming the overall guest satisfaction index, and enhancing security.<br /> <br /> According to HPE Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, network connectivity at a hotel is no longer just about high-speed Internet access. From wayfinding and push notifications, based on an individual&rsquo;s location and personal preferences, to simplified check-in/check-out, and a more home-like experience, mobility solutions allow travellers to have a &ldquo;wow&rdquo; experience every step of their journey. <br /> <br /> In addition to acting as an in-pocket concierge, an Aruba network acquisition can allow for Wi-Fi connection without interruption; the running of VoIP, back office apps, and security cameras over Wi-Fi; leveraging location-based services to create targeted advertising to boost revenue opportunities; and providing guests with maps and real-time navigation to nearby points of interest on property.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We&rsquo;re excited to see the local market tap into top-of-the-line, user-friendly innovation that will certainly improve their competitive advantage,&rdquo; Walker said. &ldquo;As our partner, Aruba have aptly stated, we&rsquo;re bringing &lsquo;first-class connectivity with at-home simplicity&rsquo; and that should guarantee each visitor to our island who experiences this, a stay to remember.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Spearheaded by the business solutions arm of ATL, the event will be staged at the Holiday Inn on September 27 and Courtyard by Marriott on the 29th at 5:30 pm with hands-on presentations from the American multinational information technology company, Aruba.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13309343/230683_57829_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, September 25, 2016 12:00 AM Scotiabank goes Express http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Scotiabank-goes-Express_75021 Having recognised that customer needs are shifting and that technology is changing the banking experience, Scotiabank on Friday opened its new service centre, Scotiabank Express, at its former Premier branch location.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Technology has empowered our customers to expect efficient and immediate results in all areas, including banking, and Scotiabank is committed to simplifying these experiences,&rdquo; Yanique Forbes Patrick, vice-president of marketing, stated. &ldquo;It makes it easier to complete all your regular day-to-day banking needs quickly and easily.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Following the opening of an express banking kiosk at MegaMart in December last year, Scotiabank Express Premier Centre is the second in a sequence of alternative touch points being offered to customers, as other kiosks will be opened around the Corporate Area soon. They will form part of Scotia&rsquo;s initiative to provide convenient banking options, including self-service solutions.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Our aim is to make the customer experience with Scotiabank as seamless and efficient as possible,&rdquo; said Forbes Patrick. &ldquo;Scotiabank recognises that customers have a greater need for convenience and self-service channels and we are in the process of reorganising our banking practice to offer easy-to-use technologies and services to all.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The express centre is equipped with eight automated teller machines (ATMs) &mdash; two inside and six outside &mdash; and also provides free wireless Internet for customers who want to connect to their accounts via their mobile devices. Customers without a mobile device can access their accounts with the assistance of a Scotiabank digital ambassador, who also caters to those who wish to apply for mobile and online banking. <br /> <br /> In addition, tellers are on hand to facilitate less intensive transactions, including credit card and loan payments up to $50,000 cash and $250,000 for cheques, bill payments, account-to-account transfers, as well as deposits, withdrawals and balance enquiries.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We did a lot of research before we embarked on this pilot, and one of the things that stood out to us significantly is that customers still want to talk to a person,&rdquo; Annelies Denny, senior manager of agency banking, English-speaking Caribbean, told the<br /> <br /> Jamaica Observer. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;They (customers) still like the idea of engaging, of having a conversation, and so that is one of the reasons that, whilst we are happy to use the ATM to do cash withdrawals... there is still a level of comfort from using a service where you are talking to a person,&rdquo; she continued.<br /> <br /> Denny explained that another reason for heavy customer traffic within the branch network is that Jamaica has a fairly large unbanked population and as such, business transactions are still cash-intensive. This initiative is geared, therefore, towards reducing customer flow so that branches can focus on transactions that require far more due diligence and personalised service, and customers can take advantage of other products and promotions.<br /> <br /> Forbes Patrick is optimistic, though, that customers are becoming more appreciative of the new technologies being introduced by the bank.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We actually are seeing a lot more use of what we call alternate channels, so people are choosing options outside of the branch to do basic transactions,&rdquo; she told<br /> <br /> Sunday Finance.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;...year over year we&rsquo;ve seen a 33 per cent increase in the use of online banking. Customers are starting to become more comfortable with it, they&rsquo;re understanding the security that they need to have and the precautions [they need to take]... and also, people just don&rsquo;t have the time,&rdquo; Forbes Patrick added.<br /> <br /> As a solution for customers who do not have time during the workday, Scotiabank Express Premier Centre will be open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm from Monday to Friday, and on Saturday from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm.<br /> <br /> &mdash; Josimar Scott<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13309257/230535_57698_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13309256/230536_57699_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, September 25, 2016 12:00 AM Mortgage predicament http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Mortgage-predicament_74775 Claudienne Edwards Dear Claudienne,<br /> <br /> I am a returning resident.<br /> <br /> The house in Montego Bay where I now live went up for sale in 2005 before I returned to Jamaica. I agreed to purchase the property from the owner for US$105,000. I paid the owner half of the sale price from my savings, with the intention of accessing a loan from the NHT or some other financial institution to fund the balance.<br /> <br /> When I returned to Jamaica my daughter and I went to the NHT and were advised that she qualified for a J$1.5 million loan. <br /> <br /> In early 2006 I went to the VMBS Montego Bay office and asked for a fixed mortgage loan of $2.5 million. I told the loan officer that my daughter would also be accessing an additional J$1.5 million loan from the NHT.<br /> <br /> I was under the impression that I would be getting two separate mortgage loans with two separate payment arrangements at VMBS and NHT, and that all VMBS was doing was facilitating ease of application.<br /> <br /> I later discovered that my daughter had qualified for a larger NHT loan than I originally thought she could get from them, and that VMBS had successfully accessed over J$3 million from the NHT on her behalf.<br /> <br /> VMBS did not explain that they would be lending me only $850,000 and not the $2.5 million that I had applied for, since my daughter&rsquo;s loan from the NHT would cover a greater portion of the balance on the property than we originally thought. I was informed in 2006 that the building society had decided to grant a loan of J$4 million.<br /> <br /> I started receiving monthly mortgage statements, but soon noticed that they were not consistent. The mortgage went from $28,000 monthly to $35,940, and when I queried the fluctuation I was told that the additional charges were to cover the insurance that they provided on the property.<br /> <br /> When I pointed out that I had applied for a fixed mortgage I was informed that VMBS did not offer fixed mortgages.<br /> <br /> As a result of unforeseen changes in my income in 2010, I could not meet the mortgage payments and so the building society put my property up for sale.<br /> <br /> VMBS devalued my property in August 2008 from $15 million to $10 million, and in June 2014 it was put up for sale under private treaty for $10 million.<br /> <br /> I would like the NHT to take over the mortgage from VMBS, but I&rsquo;ve been told this cannot be done because my daughter already got a loan from the NHT.<br /> <br /> I would appreciate your help in finding out if it would be possible to have the NHT take over the mortgage for my house from the building society. <br /> <br /> GD<br /> <br /> Dear GD,<br /> <br /> Tell Claudienne has been informed that the NHT has an agreement with financial institutions and building societies, which allows the institutions to get funds from the NHT and on-lend them to people who qualify for loans directly from the NHT. <br /> <br /> An attorney-at-law told<br /> <br /> Tell Claudienne that to start the process for the NHT to take over your mortgage from VMBS, your daughter must write the NHT and state that she lives elsewhere, but had put her name on her mother&rsquo;s title to help her to access the loan for the family home. Your daughter must state that she now wishes to purchase the family home and live there. She must seek exemption by requesting the NHT to give consideration to granting her a loan although her name is already on the title.<br /> <br /> Your daughter will need a lawyer to guide her through the process.<br /> <br /> We note that your daughter engaged an attorney and that when a copy of the deed of the property was procured, your daughter was not mentioned as a mortgagee. We further note that when your daughter checked with the NHT they confirmed that no loan was ever disbursed against her contributions. <br /> <br /> You have discovered that VMBS financed the total J$4 million loan to you, and they have explained that under the joint agreement between the NHT and the financial institutions, NHT approval only meant that the building society would offer you the NHT-approved amount at the NHT lower rate of interest.<br /> <br /> We note that you are nearing the end of the process of transferring the mortgage from VMBS to the NHT. <br /> <br /> All the best.<br /> <br /> Have a problem with a store, utility, a company? Telephone 936-9436 or write to: Tell Claudienne c/o Sunday Finance, Jamaica Observer, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5; or e-mail: edwardsc@jamaicaobserver.com. Please include a contact hone number.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13309261/230442_57573_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, September 25, 2016 12:00 AM NCB will compensate customers hit by ABM fraud http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/NCB-will-compensate-customers-hit-by-ABM-fraud_74710 BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com At least 20 customers affected by the recent upsurge in fraudulent activities at automated banking machines (ABMs) will be compensated for their losses in accordance with their financial institution&rsquo;s security guarantee agreement.<br /> <br /> Following the increase in debit card fraud at National Commercial Bank (NCB) ABMs two weeks ago, the financial institution, through its website and social media, has been advising customers of how to protect their Personal Information Number (PIN), while noting its liability to customers who have been affected by the fraudulent activities. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We guarantee full reimbursement of funds removed from your NCB accounts in the unlikely event that, through no fault of yours, someone you have not authorised or provided with your log-in information, removes those funds through our electronic channels,&rdquo; NCB stated on its website. <br /> <br /> The bank, however, warned that it is the customer&rsquo;s responsibility to protect their personal account information, including ABM PIN, online passwords and transaction code. NCB added that customers must immediately report any suspicion or experience of unauthorised account access. <br /> <br /> According to Superintendent Anthony McLaughlin of the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Branch (CTOC), a task force has been created to investigate the matter. So far, 20 scammed activities have been reported. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We have seen a reduction in the amount of reports we have gotten since the incident... because the bank has stepped in and did some work. I know approximately 20 persons have been affected, but in terms of the losses, I am not able to speak on that right now because I have not yet received a comprehensive report,&rdquo; McLaughlin told the Jamaica Observer.<br /> <br /> Police have reported that at least two NCB ABMs in May Pen, Clarendon have been tampered with by fraudsters, depriving individuals of approximately $30,000 each. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Because these players know that we have heightened the patrol in the Corporate Area, they are now tackling the rural areas where the vigilance is not as high. The investigation will analyse the different tapes from the ABMs to identify who are some of the players,&rdquo; he added. <br /> <br /> On September 14, NCB in a five-minute video entitled &lsquo;ABM fraud &ndash; tips for protecting card&rsquo;, highlighted that fraudsters would affix a card reader, a keypad overlay or a peep hole camera to the NCB ABMs in an attempt to capture users&rsquo; account information. <br /> <br /> NCB later advised that it was aware of the related fraudulent transactions affecting customers, but based on its investigation, the incidences were not limited to any particular bank, but have affected various institutions. <br /> <br /> On Tuesday, Scotiabank confirmed with the Sunday Finance that there has been no such incidence of fraudulent transactions occurring at its ABMs, adding that its machines are designed to minimise such illegal activities. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Our machines function differently; they do not allow for an individual to attach card readers, cameras or keypad overlay onto our machines,&rdquo; public and corporate affairs manager at Scotiabank Hope McMillan said. <br /> <br /> McMillan added that in the event such fraudulent activities should occur, an investigation would immediately follow, and based on the nature of the incident, the customer would be reimbursed. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;If somebody gives their PIN to a relative or friend to conduct transactions on their behalf, then it immediately creates a problem. And this is one of the reasons why we will be hosting an in-branch educational seminar to talk about how customers can protect their accounts,&rdquo; she said. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The technology is there and we don&rsquo;t want people to feel afraid to use the technology because of fraudulent crimes. That is why we at Scotia feel it is important to host the educational seminar,&rdquo; McMillan added. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13308604/230490__w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, September 25, 2016 1:00 AM Marriott buys Starwood, becoming world's largest hotel chain http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Marriott-buys-Starwood--becoming-world-s-largest-hotel-chain_74998 NEW YORK, United States (AP) &mdash; Several of the best-known names in travel are now united in one hotel company.<br /> <br /> Marriott International closed Friday morning on its US$13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, bringing together its Marriott, Courtyard and Ritz Carlton brands with Starwood&rsquo;s Sheraton, Westin, W and St Regis properties.<br /> <br /> In total, 30 hotel brands now fall under the Marriott umbrella to create the largest hotel chain in the world with more than 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms in more than 110 countries. That&rsquo;s more than one out of every 15 hotel rooms around the globe.<br /> <br /> Marriott now eclipses Hilton Worldwide&rsquo;s 773,000 rooms and the 766,000 that are part of the Intercontinental Hotels Group family, according to STR, a firm that tracks hotel data.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got an ability to offer just that much more choice. A choice in locations, a choice in the kind of hotel, a choice in the amount a customer needs to spend,&rdquo; Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson told<br /> <br /> The Associated Press in an interview Thursday.<br /> <br /> Starwood&rsquo;s guest loyalty programme &mdash; Starwood Preferred Guest &mdash; was also a &ldquo;central, strategic rationale for the transaction&rdquo;, Sorenson said. The programme&rsquo;s members are deeply loyal to it, have generally higher incomes and tend to spend many nights on the road.<br /> <br /> Starting Friday, members of Starwood and Marriott&rsquo;s two loyalty programmes will be able to link their accounts together. Gold elite members in one programme will get gold status in the other. Platinum elite members will get platinum in the other. Marriott silver members will see Starwood&rsquo;s lowest category, Preferred Plus.<br /> <br /> Each Starwood point will be worth three Marriott Rewards points.<br /> <br /> Starwood put itself up for sale in April 2015. The Stamford, Connecticut company had struggled to grow as fast as its rivals, particularly in &ldquo;limited service hotels&rdquo;, which are smaller properties which don&rsquo;t have restaurants or banquet halls. They are often located on the side of the highway, near airports or in suburban office parks.<br /> <br /> To get Starwood, Marriott had to outbid China&rsquo;s Anbang Insurance Group. US and European anti-trust regulators were quick to approve the sale but the Chinese Government hesitated, delaying the sale by months.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We may have been a little too optimistic about how fast we could get this thing closed,&rdquo; Sorenson said Thursday.<br /> <br /> Marriott and Starwood &ndash; like other hotel chains &ndash; own very few individual hotels. Instead they manage or franchise their brands to hundreds of individual owners, often real estate development companies. Those individual hotel owners are responsible for setting nightly room rates. It isn&rsquo;t uncommon for a developer to own a Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Sheraton in the same city.<br /> <br /> The purchase gives Marriott more leverage with corporate travel departments that often look for one giant chain to house all of their employees. It also gives Marriott more power over Expedia and Priceline, the two giant online travel agencies that sell rooms on behalf of hotel companies in exchange for a commission. The hotel industry has spent the last year trying to get travellers to book directly with them instead of the travel agencies to avoid paying those fees.<br /> <br /> There are still many details to work out.<br /> <br /> Marriott has thrived as an &ldquo;asset light&rdquo; company, owning a handful of hotels. Starwood has been selling off properties, while signing long-term management agreements for those same hotels. As of June 30, it still owned 23 properties. Sorenson said he believes there is a strong market to continue selling off many of those iconic hotels.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;There is always a market for the St Regis in New York,&rdquo; he said, adding that other assets in the portfolio have comparable stature. &ldquo;In great global cities, real estate like that always has a value.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The new company will keep Marriott&rsquo;s Bethesda, Maryland headquarters but hasn&rsquo;t announced if it will keep any presence at Starwood&rsquo;s Connecticut or New York offices.<br /> <br /> Then there are the 30 brands. Some have performed better than others, but Sorenson said all of them will probably survive the merger.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I think so. Every one of them has hotels in them,&rdquo; he noted.<br /> <br /> For now, Starwood and Marriott will keep separate loyalty programmes. Starwood has a credit card deal with American Express as well as close partnerships with Delta Air Lines and Uber. Marriott has a much larger programme with partnerships with Chase and United Airlines.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Nothing changes immediately. We have to see how those partnerships evolve,&rdquo; Sorenson said.<br /> <br /> Gary Leff, who writes about points and miles at<br /> <br /> ViewFromTheWing.com, called the three-to-one exchange rate of Starwood points to Marriott points &ldquo;just right&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s one of the many reasonable and positive steps that Marriott has taken along the way as it acquires Starwood,&rdquo; Leff said. &ldquo;But there&rsquo;s a whole lot still to happen between now and the programmes actually being combined.&rdquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13308364/230399_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13308362/230400_w300.jpg Local Business Sunday, September 25, 2016 2:00 AM A look at the EU-US trade talks and why they&rsquo;re faltering http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/A-look-at-the-EU-US-trade-talks-and-why-they-re-faltering_74999 BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) &mdash; Talks for a massive free trade deal between the United States and European Union (EU), the world&rsquo;s biggest economies, appear to be on the rocks.<br /> <br /> An accord was supposed to breathe new life into global trade, setting a shining example for other countries as they debate whether to knock down barriers to commerce or insulate their home industries.<br /> <br /> But EU ministers were deeply pessimistic Friday that the talks for such a pact can be concluded under the current US administration.<br /> <br /> Here are some questions and answers about the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, commonly known as TTIP.<br /> <br /> WHAT IS TTIP?<br /> <br /> TTIP aims to remove trade barriers between the EU and the US to boost economic growth and employment. It would improve market access by limiting tariffs, ease regulation and set up rules on things like intellectual property rights, customs and sustainable development. A free trade pact would create a market with common standards and regulations across countries that together account for nearly half the global economy. So far it&rsquo;s involved 14 rounds of talks, hundreds of meetings, hours spent on the phones and proposals exchanged, discussed and redrafted. Most of it has been done in secret.<br /> <br /> TTIP would have 30 chapters. Proposals for almost all of them are now on the table. It&rsquo;s made up of three main blocks &mdash; market access for EU and US companies, co-operation on regulatory issues, and global rules of trade.<br /> <br /> WHAT WOULD THE BENEFITS BE?<br /> <br /> TTIP is expected to lower consumer prices and broaden the variety of traded goods and services. It would eliminate customs duties on goods personally imported to Europe from the US or vice-versa. It would ease the cost of trans-Atlantic telecommunications and make it easier for regulatory agencies on both sides to trace data. The European Commission estimates that the pact could boost EU economic output by 119 billion euros (US$133 billion) a year and that of the US economy by 95 billion euros (US$106 billion). It says that eliminating tariffs alone could add US$180 billion to US and EU gross domestic product in five years while boosting exports on both sides by about 17 per cent. That could add about 0.5 per cent annually to the EU&rsquo;s economic growth and around 0.4 per cent to that of the US, helping to pay off public debt and bring down unemployment.<br /> <br /> WHY ARE THERE PROTESTS IN EUROPE OVER TTIP?<br /> <br /> Opponents in Europe argue that it would water down EU standards. European consumer groups worry that food in the US is not produced to the same health and environmental standards as in Europe. Europeans also seem more concerned about their privacy and the protection of their personal data, and sanctions can be levied for abuses. Others worry that banned chemicals might find their way onto the shelves of European stores. The EU bans more than 1,300 hazardous chemicals, compared with around a dozen in the US. Another sticking point is the arbitration system, known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement, which some say could allow foreign companies to claim compensation from governments, and ultimately tax payers, if the firms believe a government action would harm their investments.<br /> <br /> WHEN ARE THE TALKS LIKELY TO BE CONCLUDED?<br /> <br /> Senior European officials say there is little likelihood of a deal before President Barack Obama leaves office next January &mdash; the deadline set by negotiators in Brussels and Washington. After that, France and Germany hold general elections, and no big movement appears likely before the formation of a new government, sometime around the end of 2017. Austria and France are already calling for TTIP talks to be put on ice until after the US presidential elections, then relaunched with a new name and mandate, given the toxic public reaction in Europe so far.<br /> <br /> Eric Shimp, a former US diplomat and now policy adviser at the law firm of Alston & Bird in Washington, says that a President Hillary Clinton might mean more movement in the talks. &ldquo;You could see her seizing TTIP as a means to create jobs at home and solidify US ties to the EU in the face of growing Russian provocations,&rdquo; he said. Experts say a President Donald Trump could make the future of the talks more uncertain, as he has focused more on the negatives of global trade. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13308365/230398_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13308367/230397.jpg Local Business Sunday, September 25, 2016 2:00 AM Proven upsizes authorised capital, adds option for preference share issue http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Proven-upsizes-authorised-capital--adds-option-for-preference-share-issue_74690 BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaicaobserver.com Proven Investments Limited advised on September 20 that shareholders at its September 15 annual general meeting voted in favour of an increase in the authorised capital of the company to US$40 million. The previous upper limit was US$37 million.<br /> <br /> Shareholders also approved creation of an additional 700,000,000 cumulative redeemable preference shares having a par value of US$0.01 each.<br /> <br /> Directors have also been given the option of converting these to cumulative redeemable preference stock units upon issue.<br /> <br /> While company president Chris Williams declined to comment, other sources close to the company said Proven is planning a preference share offer of around J$1 billion close to December, the proceeds of which will go towards redemption of another issue which will come due around that period.<br /> <br /> Proven is an investment holding company with associate companies including asset management and real estate investment operations. <br /> <br /> It also has substantial holdings in other companies, including Access Financial, a microfinance lender.<br /> <br /> The company has a history of some of the biggest fund hauls on the local stock exchange, used mainly to finance expansion and acquisitions.<br /> <br /> In February 2010, Proven successfully raised US$20,000,000 in equity capital through its fully subscribed private placement of ordinary shares.<br /> <br /> The company subsequently raised approximately US$9.7 million from a rights issue in August of the same year.<br /> <br /> The ordinary shares in the company were listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) in July 2011, becoming the first US dollar-denominated ordinary share listing. <br /> <br /> Later, Proven&rsquo;s eight per cent five-year preference share offer successfully closed on December 23, 2011, raising J$1 billion for the company. They were subsequently listed on the JSE on January 31, 2012. <br /> <br /> In May 2014 and April 2015, Proven raised an additional US$10.3 million and US$29.2 million respectively from rights issues, used to strengthen the capital base of the company and acquisitions. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13305703/230214_57323_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM Seprod going into Dom Rep, Haiti http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Seprod-going-into-Dom-Rep--Haiti-_74890 BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com Manufacturing and distribution company Seprod Group says it will begin exporting milk supplements to the Dominican Republic by next year, and plans to move into the Haitian market by 2020.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The first shipment will be in November this year. We might be a little bit optimistic, but worst case scenario, the first week in January,&rdquo; CEO Richard Pandohie told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday.<br /> <br /> The plan, he said, is part of the company&rsquo;s move to increase export sales to 40 per cent per annum.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Everybody talks about Trinidad, but Trinidad is one million people. You look next door to Dom Rep and there are very little Jamaican products there, so that&rsquo;s the next big market for us,&rdquo; Pandohie said. <br /> <br /> The Dominican Republic has a population of 10.4 million people and shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, which also has a population of over 10 million. <br /> <br /> Seprod plans to cement its foothold in the Dom Rep market with projected revenues of US$6.5 million in the first year of operation, and by 2020 generate returns of up to US$18 million. Pandohie explained that the company will then look to expand operations in the neighbouring Haiti by the end of 2020, securing sales of its flavoured milk and evaporated milk, among others, to the tune of US$6 million. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a huge market, and the truth is that a lot of products that go into the Dominican Republic end up leaking into Haiti. Everybody thinks that Haiti is a really poor market, but they consume a lot. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Dom Rep is a massive market and we have to be very competitive to get in, so we have staff on the ground now and we have registered a company there and we are now trying to get all the relevant permits to start exporting,&rdquo; he told the<br /> <br /> Caribbean Business Report. <br /> <br /> The new markets are expected to increase Seprod&rsquo;s customer base, as the company&rsquo;s products are now on shelves in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, St Marteen and the British Virgin Islands. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Essentially, what we are doing is all markets in Caricom are Seprod&rsquo;s domestic market, and we need to be on shelves everywhere,&rdquo; Pandohie continued. &ldquo;The whole IMF (International Monetary Fund) policy that we are pursuing tells us that for this to work we have to export, otherwise it makes no sense. Why depreciate a dollar if you are not going to get more competitive in the export market? So we are paying attention to these markets.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Already, several local companies have entered both Caribbean countries, including Jamaica Broilers, Digicel, and Caribbean Flavours, all of which so far have been successful. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The US is doing very well for Seprod; Canada has been disappointing, but the Canadian dollar has devalued a lot against the US dollar, and so we have seen a decline in purchasing in Canada. UK has held its own; we are watching to see what the Brexit will mean for some of the things we export there like the flavoured milks,&rdquo; Pandohie stated, giving an assessment of some of the company&rsquo;s major markets. <br /> <br /> In July, Seprod added condensed milk, non-diary sweetener, evaporated milk, and lactose-free milk in full cream and skimmed to its portfolio.<br /> <br /> The CEO noted that aside from increasing export numbers, the company is looking to drive revenue growth and profitability up nine per cent through continuous innovation. He added that the lactose-free milk is now in over 1,400 outlets, producing sales of 15,000 cases. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;And we are getting really incredible reviews from the consuming public. Now that we have created a product for individuals who can&rsquo;t drink milk, which is approximately 70 per cent of the population, our overall sales in milk have gone up,&rdquo; he said. <br /> <br /> Likewise, Serge condensed milk, a premium product to Seprod&rsquo;s manufactured Betty Milk, is also performing above expectations. <br /> <br /> Over a three-year period, Seprod expects to spend roughly US$50 million to fund innovations and boost export numbers. Pandohie explained that while the company is still on track with that number, 55 per cent or US$26 million of that amount has already been exhausted. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;...So that US$50 million will be spent in two years and not three. So come year three we will look at additional investment,&rdquo; he said. <br /> <br /> As the company strives to add value to the market while exciting consumers, Seprod will be introducing nutmeg-flavoured condensed milk, French vanilla-flavoured and cappuccino diary milk. Pandohie noted that before the products are launched, sampling will be done islandwide, and the products should be on the shelves by February.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Consumers tell us that they want to be constantly anticipating what Seprod is going to produce next and they want more convenient packaging,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are trying to make it easier so that when you buy our products, the convenience and the value that you will find in Jamaica you will be very proud [of], and you won&rsquo;t think twice about purchasing imported products,&rdquo; Pandohie said. &ldquo;So our import-substitution campaign is well on the way.&rdquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306208/230272_57406_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306207/230278_57407_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306210/230261_57405_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, September 23, 2016 12:00 AM Gov&rsquo;t seeks $2.06 billion from Noranda http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Gov-t-seeks--2-06-billion-from-Noranda_74859 BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaicaobserver.com The Government of Jamaica has requested an expedited hearing of its claims and objections against Noranda Aluminium Inc, which is this month trying to sell its remaining assets under bankruptcy proceedings in the United States.<br /> <br /> In the main, the Government is insisting that the mining lease which Noranda hopes to offer buyers in the sale of its upstream business is not transferrable without consent. It is also claiming compensation for contract breaches in the amount of US$16.14 million (J$2.06 billion).<br /> <br /> Court documents show that a hearing on the Government&rsquo;s motions will be held before Judge Barry Schermer in the United States Bankruptcy Court in St Louis, Missouri on September 30, falling behind the scheduled September 22 deadline for auction of the indebted company&rsquo;s remaining assets.<br /> <br /> Noranda&rsquo;s upstream or primary aluminum business, which has been placed on the market for auction, consists of a bauxite mine in St Ann, Jamaica, an alumina refinery in Gramercy, Louisiana, and a 263,000-tonne-per-year aluminum smelter in New Madrid, Missouri.<br /> <br /> The dispute with the Jamaican Government surrounds the mining lease granted to Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, a subsidiary of Noranda Aluminum Inc, that owns 49 per cent, and Jamaica Bauxite Mining Limited (JBM) which owns the remainder, on behalf of the Government of Jamaica. <br /> <br /> Noranda has advised the court that the mining lease is the foundation of its upstream business which it is trying to sell in order to resolve debt claims. <br /> <br /> The company, which filed for bankruptcy in February, has already sold its downstream business comprising foil-making operations. It received court approval for sale of its upstream business midyear. Total debt claimed by its collective creditors is put at around US$10 billion.&rsquo;<br /> <br /> Under bidding procedures which were court-approved in July, the deadline to submit qualified bids was September 15, with an auction set for yesterday, if multiple bids were submitted. A tentative court date to approve a sale was set for September 27.<br /> <br /> Noranda is requesting that the court make an order, under section 365(a) of chapter 11 of title 11 of the United States Code (the &lsquo;Bankruptcy Code&rsquo;) and rule 6006 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, &ldquo;approving and authorising the assumption of that certain special mining lease granted to Noranda Bauxite Ltd, dated as of September 30, 2004&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> The special mining lease granted to Noranda applies to exploring for ore &ldquo;in, under, or upon approximately 177.33 square kilometres (17,733 hectares) of land in the parish of St Ann... for a term of 26 years commencing on the first day of October, 2004&rdquo;, as outlined in court documents.<br /> <br /> It should expire in October 2030, leaving another 14 years for the lessees&rsquo; operations..<br /> <br /> Coy Roache, managing director of JBM, commented that inadequate cure amounts declared by Noranda in current bankruptcy proceedings is the basis of the Government&rsquo;s objection to the assumption and transfer of the mining lease.<br /> <br /> The Government&rsquo;s objections filed with the US Bankruptcy Court stated: &ldquo;Under Jamaican law, no transfer [of the subject mining lease] is effective unless such application is granted, regardless of whether the contract is assumed or assigned. Paragraph 2.5 of the Form APA similarly provides that, even if assignment is allowed under sections 363 or 365, the debtors make no attempt to transfer a contract if doing so without consent would constitute a violation of a legal requirement or a breach of contract.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The Government said Noranda Bauxite Limited has defaulted under at least three of the St Ann contracts (the Establishment Agreement, the Amendment to Establishment Agreement, and the Deed of Partnership), but has incorrectly listed the cure amounts under those agreements as $0.00.<br /> <br /> The deed of partnership is the contract between Noranda Bauxite Ltd and Jamaica Bauxite Mining Ltd, and the Establishment Agreement is the contract with the Jamaican Government.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The correct cure amount for all three is no less than US$16,148,546.90&hellip; Moreover, it is doubtful whether the debtors or the eventual assignee of the St Ann contracts can provide the GOJ with adequate assurance of future performance as is required for assumption after default under section 365(b)(1)(C) of the Bankruptcy Code and as a condition of assignment, with or without default, under section 365(f)(2)(B),&rdquo; it was stated.<br /> <br /> According to Roache, &ldquo;Noranda had to declare to the US bankruptcy court whether all the contracts, licences etc held by them are free and clear from debts and obligations. They had to declare if there are debts, how much money it will need to clear these debts and if there are obligations, what it will take to meet these obligations. For example, they have a mining lease to mine bauxite but it cannot, under Jamaican law, be transferred to another company without the consent of the minister.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Roache said that &ldquo;Noranda has put zero cure amount for everything on things being sold for St Ann operations, which means that if the Government does not protest, the court assumes that we agree to the transfer of the mining lease, etc&rdquo;. The $16 million is money owed to GOJ, including JBM. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Noranda has zero owed in its declaration to the court. Again, if the GOJ does not protest, it means the company buying would believe that it will not have to assume these obligations,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Roache also noted that Noranda will have to pay redundancy to past employees as well as meet its obligation to restore mined-out lands and to complete resettlement obligations.<br /> <br /> Noranda, in its own filings, is requesting that the court make an order for its assumption of the mining lease. <br /> <br /> It said in court documents that &ldquo;the Special Mining Lease is the source of the debtors&rsquo; rights to mine bauxite, which forms the foundation of the debtors&rsquo; upstream business.&rdquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306217/230216_57336_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306216/230228_57337_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM ISP bond offer raises $150m http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/ISP-bond-offer-raises--150m_74673 ISP Finance Services Ltd (ISP) has secured $150 million through a public bond which offers investors a return of 10 per cent interest per annum over its three-year lifetime.<br /> <br /> The offer opened on September 1 and closed early, before the original cut-off date of September 22. Lead arranger was Victoria Mutual Wealth Limited.<br /> <br /> The company said there was full take-up of the issue, adding on Tuesday that all applicants were allotted 100 per cent of their subscription. <br /> <br /> The bonds will mature on September 20, 2019. Interest will be calculated daily and will be paid quarterly. The first payment day is December 20, 2016. <br /> <br /> Interest payments to Jamaican resident bondholders will be subject to tax at 25 per cent, withheld at source and paid to the tax authority.<br /> <br /> The prospectus notes that ISP&rsquo;s obligation to pay will be secured by a debenture; creating a fixed and floating charge over all of the assets of the company. <br /> <br /> The company says it may, at any time, voluntarily prepay the bonds, or redeem, at par, all or some of the bonds in issue.<br /> <br /> As at June 30, 2016, total corporate bonds in issue locally numbered 150, with Jamaican dollar values of $45.5 billion and US dollar issues valued at US$645,327.<br /> <br /> ISP offers commercial loans to micro and small businesses, and personal loans to employed individuals. In the first quarter of 2016 the company conducted an IPO which garnered $98 million.<br /> <br /> The company says it intends to use the proceeds of the new bond issue to expand its loan portfolio, and for working capital and general corporate purposes.<br /> <br /> Directors note that ISP&rsquo;s loan portfolio has grown from approximately $2.5 million to some $303.9 million in 2015. <br /> <br /> For the six months ended June 2016, the company made net profit of $8.6 million from revenue of $106 million. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12852746/196564_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM Loan scheme for small, medium tourism businesses http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Loan-scheme-for-small--medium-tourism-businesses_74892 BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer ROSE HALL, St James &ndash; Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett&rsquo;s much touted small and medium tourism enterprises loan facility has become a reality with Wednesday&rsquo;s launch and MOU signing.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Our small accommodations... villas, apartments and guest houses, have been clamouring for such a facility for years, and it is finally here,&rdquo; Adam Stewart, chairman of the Tourism Linkages Council told the launch and MOU signing ceremony at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa, Montego Bay, St James.<br /> <br /> The revolving loan facility will provide players in the industry with access to capital. It is being financed by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and administered by the EX-IM Bank Jamaica. A total of $1 billion will be allocated over the next five years by TEF to fund the initiative, starting with the availability of $500 million as of yesterday.<br /> <br /> Managing Director of the EXIM Bank, Lisa Bell, said money will be loaned at a rate of five per cent per annum.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Loans will vary from a minimum of $5 million to a maximum of $25 million... Very importantly, in an effort to address the cost financing, the facility will enjoy rates of five per cent per annum and if any of you in here have gone out to your bank recently, you need to take advantage of this new [offer]&rdquo; Bell said to a round of applause.<br /> <br /> Stewart, who is also the chief executive officer of Sandals Resorts International, is encouraging all in the tourism sector to make use of the opportunity.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;By extension, our secondary or support services, industries, attractions, water sports facilities, domestic tours, bike and car rentals who all play an integral role in our tourism and important linkages sub-sector must also explore this opportunity,&rdquo; Stewart said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Now is therefore the time. Here is the opportunity. Avail yourselves of this facility. Make use of it to improve and enhance your products or services,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Bartlett, who had first made an announcement of this initiative in March this year, explained the need for heading in the direction of a new discrete lending institution instead of reconfiguring what already existed.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I have no problem with reconfiguring what we have. But, I want to say to you that Dom Rep (Dominican Republic), our friends, discovered that you needed a new bank, because you needed a new thinking, you needed a new orientation and you needed a whole new perspective on what lending to the tourism sector is all about. And so, they (Dom Rep) developed their own, the Banco Popular, which we will model, and this initiative today is the start of that process to enable tourism to have a discrete lending institution that responds to the needs of tourism,&rdquo; stated Bartlett.<br /> <br /> Bartlett, who also vowed that under his watch tourism will not relegate itself into a plantation, but an industry owned by the people, said the loan facility will enable a greater retention of the tourism dollar in the economy. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306373/230252_57349_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306371/230253_57350_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM AIM&rsquo;s Cash Giveaway http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/AIM-s-Cash-Giveaway_74900 AIM Financial Corporation Limited is scheduled to launch its Cash Giveaway today.<br /> <br /> The promotion, the company said, will reward its loyal customers with a chance to win instant cash of $100,000 in weekly prize draws as well as a grand cash prize of $200,000.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This medium will also be used to fulfil the company&rsquo;s philanthropic mission by enabling the winners to donate cash to their favourite school. The chosen schools will receive instant cash of $50,000 via each weekly winner and a chance at $100,000 from the grand prize winner,&rdquo; AIM said in a news release.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Winners will be selected only from the list of customers who have benefited from an AIM Financial loan between September 23 and December 31, 2016. Weekly and grand prize draws will be conducted under the guidance of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission,&rdquo; the company said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306214/230267_57403_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM CDB president issues debt warning to Barbados http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/CDB-president-issues-debt-warning-to-Barbados_74850 BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) &ndash; President of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Warren Smith is warning the Barbados Government that it needs to deal urgently with the island&rsquo;s worsening debt situation.<br /> <br /> In an interview with the online publication<br /> <br /> Barbados TODAY on Wednesday, Smith is suggesting that &ldquo;front end adjustments&rdquo; were urgently needed to correct the economic slide.<br /> <br /> He described the island&rsquo;s overall fiscal position as &ldquo;unsustainable&rdquo; and cautioned that if left unchecked, it would do untold damage to the local currency.<br /> <br /> The Jamaican-born economist said that Barbados should consider privatising a number of State entities including the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) and the Bridgetown Port.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Long gone are the days when governments need to be involved in things such as airports and seaports. We do not believe that these types of investments need to continue to be in the hands of government,&rdquo; Smith said, acknowledging there would be political consequences arising out of the sale of these perceived crown jewels.<br /> <br /> He used the case of Jamaica where the Government divested the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Foreign investors have come in, they have pumped money into the expansion of the airport, which is now promoting the growth of their tourism industry,&rdquo; Smith said, noting also that the recently privatised Port of Kingston was now attracting large investments.<br /> <br /> But he told<br /> <br /> Barbados TODAY that in the case of Barbados there was room for both domestic and foreign investment in GAIA and the Bridgetown Port, noting, &ldquo;these are opportunities to relieve the fiscal burden that the Government faces, so that you can put your priority on other things&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Pointing out that divestment was urgent, the CDB head said: &ldquo;I am not saying that you are at threat at the current time. What I&rsquo;m saying is that if these things are not addressed ipso facto, you are going to find yourself in a position where you might not be able to maintain a feature of your economic model that appears to be of very great value to Barbadian authorities and to the Barbadian people. So fiscal rectitude is key.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We need to have it and we can&rsquo;t be in a situation where, for a protracted period, we are running fiscal deficits that are unsustainable, that have implications for debt and ultimately for the overall strength of the economy.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Smith also suggested that the Freundel Stuart Government could do away with the state-owned<br /> <br /> Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, saying it could find other mechanisms for getting its message out.<br /> <br /> In response to Finance Minister Chris Sinckler&rsquo;s suggestion that many State entities were highly indebted and therefore would not be attractive for divestment, Smith was adamant that privatisation was among a raft of options that could be pursued, even though he acknowledged that the decision was not his to take.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;At the end of the day, the options that you choose to pursue must put you in a position where you get your fiscal house in order [and] address your indebtedness,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Smith also expressed support for the Government&rsquo;s &ldquo;absolutely vital&rdquo; fiscal consolidation programme, saying it was moving in &ldquo;the right direction&rdquo;, even as he stressed that the measures were simply not enough.<br /> <br /> However, he said while the CDB had no difficulties with the policies being pursued, &ldquo;the pace of adjustment is where we might have some difference with the Government of Barbados.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If you look at where the debt trajectory is going, it is very worrisome,&rdquo; he told<br /> <br /> Barbados TODAY, adding that in order &ldquo;to be able to bring that growth of sovereign indebtedness to a halt, and put it in the other direction where it needs to go, we need to address the fiscal [situation]&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Smith, however, also emphasised the need to address growth.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It is a two-dimensional kind of response. So that yes, the fiscal adjustment programme is absolutely vital; if you don&rsquo;t address it, all sorts of unfortunate things are going to unfold. So that has to be high priority,&rdquo; he warned. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13305726/230144_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13305721/230146_57325_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM Grenada prepared to offer LIAT subsidy http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Grenada-prepared-to-offer-LIAT-subsidy_74851 ST GEORGE&rsquo;S, Grenada (CMC) &ndash; Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said Wednesday that Grenada is prepared to provide the cash-strapped regional airline LIAT with a financial subsidy for it to service the island, but was not prepared to provide funds for the carrier&rsquo;s operations.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Grenada will have no difficulty providing some subsidy to LIAT, but I am not taking money and give it and say spend it as you want&hellip; That is an offer I made since Jean Holder was the chairman,&rdquo; he told a news conference.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If the issue is the monopoly, we have to do something about it. If the issue is about imposing taxes on the ticket, then we have to do something about it. Right now we are charging ourselves outside of the market,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Earlier in the week, LIAT announced that it would be reducing the number of flights to Grenada as of today, but Mitchell told reporters that following talks between St George&rsquo;s and the airline management, the cut has been reduced to just one flight.<br /> <br /> Mitchell said that Grenada has an open sky policy and that like St Lucia, his Government is holding talks with the Trinidad-based State-owned airline, Caribbean Airlines (CAL) and other airlines to service the island.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We cannot sit down and wait,&rdquo; he said, while calling for the management of LIAT to adopt measures that will improve its operations.<br /> <br /> Grenada offers marketing subsidy to a number of international airlines to guarantee that they service the island.<br /> <br /> Earlier this week, St Lucia&rsquo;s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet told a news conference that having CAL as the national carrier may be the best option for the island, given the many issues facing air transport in the region.<br /> <br /> The former tourism minister, a harsh critic of LIAT, reiterated earlier statements that the airline, whose major shareholders are the governments of Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines, cannot solve all of the transportation needs of the region. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13305725/230205_57326_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13305722/230209_57327_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM Wheatley to intervene in RUBiS, JGRA dispute http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Wheatley-to-intervene-in-RUBiS--JGRA-dispute_74714 ENERGY Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley is expected to meet with the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association (JGRA) tomorrow in an effort to avert a crisis in the retail petroleum trade.<br /> <br /> Immediate past president of the JGRA, Leonard Green, on Monday said the dealers were calling on Wheatley to mediate in the quarrel between them &ndash; represented by the JGRA &ndash; and RUBiS Energy Jamaica. <br /> <br /> The petroleum marketing company is refusing to accept JGRA representation in its contract negotiations with the dealers.<br /> <br /> In a statement on Tuesday RUBiS insisted that contracts for operation of RUBiS-owned service stations relate purely to private commercial arrangements between a marketing company and each dealer &ldquo;and are not the subject of an employer/employee relationship&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Our relationship with each dealer is specific to that dealer, and is private and strictly confidential&hellip; we have every confidence in the ability of each dealer to articulate any concern and to work directly with us to resolve any issue,&rdquo; RUBiS&rsquo; Retail Manager Raymond Samuels said.<br /> <br /> RUBiS is contending that its dealers are not &ldquo;workers&rdquo; under the law, but are private business persons/entrepreneurs, and as such are not represented by any trade union.<br /> <br /> But Green has swatted aside that argument, pointing out that under the Jamaican Constitution, the dealers are entitled to representation from the association with which they are aligned, the same way a player can be represented by their association. &ldquo;Our position isn&rsquo;t whether or not we are registered as a trade union &ndash; we have members of our association who are dealers and they have asked us to represent them &ndash; they wrote to us asking us to represent them, and that document we have sent to RUBiS. We believe it (RUBiS&rsquo;s position) is a farce; it is really a breach of the constitutional rights of the members,&rdquo; Green contended.<br /> <br /> The JGRA&rsquo;s position remains the same, Green insisted yesterday. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are holding our ground. We will let it play out. They (RUBiS) shouldn&rsquo;t come to Jamaica and disregard our practices. Even if they don&rsquo;t believe they have an employer/employee relationship, the fact of the matter is it (JGRA representation of its membership) is a practice and they should respect that,&rdquo; he reasoned.<br /> <br /> The impasse goes back close to two years with the JGRA accusing the marketing company at the height of the contract contention last year, of trying to use &ldquo;divide and conquer&rdquo; tactics by meeting one-on-one with the dealers. RUBiS has been operating in Jamaica since 2013, having bought out the operations previously operated by Shell. <br /> <br /> &mdash; Alphea Saunders http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12919565/200555_46007_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Thursday, September 22, 2016 12:00 AM Cabinet to receive revised property tax scheme December http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Cabinet-to-receive-revised-property-tax-scheme-December-_74675 BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaicaobserver.com The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has disclosed that new and recalibrated property tax rates and bands will be submitted to Cabinet by the end of December 2016.<br /> <br /> The changes are a part of new structural benchmarks introduced this year aimed at strengthening property taxes, which the IMF said in its 13th review of the Extended Fund Facility arrangement with Jamaica &ldquo;are shown to be more progressive and efficient&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;There is scope to strengthen the property tax system and phase out the distortionary stamp duty and asset transfer tax,&rdquo; the IMF noted, while pointing out that the annual property tax, which yielded on average about 0.4 per cent of GDP over the last three years, is &ldquo;well below the average yield of 0.8 per cent in other emerging markets&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> Property tax was last increased on April 1, 2013. Properties with an unimproved value of up to $100,000 are currently charged a flat rate of $1,000. <br /> <br /> Properties with values exceeding $100,000 up to $1,000,000 attract an additional 1.5 per cent for every additional dollar above $100,000. <br /> <br /> Properties with values exceeding $1,000,000 attract an additional 2.0 per cent for every additional dollar.<br /> <br /> The IMF in its review said higher yields from property taxes could provide room to replace the &ldquo;more distortionary stamp duty and transfer tax&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Transfer tax is now four per cent of property value while stamp duty is three per cent. Transfer tax is levied on the seller of the property, while the stamp duty and registration are shared 50/50 between vendor and purchaser.<br /> <br /> The new structural benchmark proposes that responsible officers complete and submit to Cabinet the new rates and bands for property taxes, using the 2013 land valuations, by the end of December 2016.<br /> <br /> The move is in the context of the shift from direct taxation. In other moves to introduce a more efficient tax base, the Government, in May of this year, increased the Special Consumption Tax on petroleum by $7 per litre and introduced a new taxation regime for heavy fuel. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13300938/229859_56981_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, September 21, 2016 12:00 AM BOJ to switch policy rate mechanism, adjust USD reserve requirements http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/BOJ-to-switch-policy-rate-mechanism--adjust-USD-reserve-requirements_74703 BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaicaoberver.com Jamaica (BOJ) is about to begin a programme of transitioning its policy rate to an overnight interest rate, replacing use of the benchmark 30-day CD. <br /> <br /> Scheduled for implementation over a six-month period, it will commence with an adjustment of the interest rate on its overnight deposit facility this month.<br /> <br /> The new measure was disclosed in the 13th review of the Extended Fund Facility agreement between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Jamaica, which was released on Monday.<br /> <br /> The rate for the 30-day CD was last adjusted on May 31, to five per cent from 5.25 per cent. All other lending facilities are linked to this policy rate.<br /> <br /> Requests by the Jamaica Observer for more information on the new measure did not get a response up to press time.<br /> <br /> Otherwise, it was noted in the IMF review that the BOJ will &ldquo;continue to ensure the provision of adequate liquidity to the financial system at a price consistent with its policy goals&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The BOJ is developing a comprehensive strategy to improve the effectiveness of its open market operations and liquidity assurance framework, in order to enhance the monetary policy transmission mechanism,&rdquo; the IMF said.<br /> <br /> In a bid to rein in speculation on the US dollar and otherwise reduce the appetite for the currency, the BOJ also plans to remove the bias in the cash reserve requirement structure that favours foreign currency deposits by gradually equalising the reserve requirements for foreign currency and domestic currency deposits in the banking system, starting October 2016. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;This initiative will reduce the attractiveness of foreign-currency denominated investments relative to Jamaican dollar alternatives,&rdquo; the IMF review stated.<br /> <br /> Otherwise, it was indicated that the BOJ will continue to facilitate the development of the foreign exchange market. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The BOJ, in consultation with IMF TA (technical assistance), is exploring mechanisms to improve price discovery in the FX (foreign exchange) market and to prevent excessive speculative position-taking in the market. The BOJ also remains cognisant of the need to purchase foreign currency to further boost net international reserves,&rdquo; the IMF said.<br /> <br />   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13300880/229879_57008_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, September 21, 2016 12:00 AM Jamaican dollarisation one of highest in the region &mdash; IMF http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Jamaican-dollarisation-one-of-highest-in-the-region---IMF_74676 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that deposit dollarisation in Jamaica is one of the highest in the region and pointed out that it has negative implications for macroeconomic stability.<br /> <br /> In its 13th review of the Extended Fund Facility arrangement with Jamaica, the fund noted that as at June 2016, more than 45 per cent of deposits are denominated in US dollars. This is accompanied by dollarisation of investment portfolios, the fund said.<br /> <br /> Likewise, it noted the three-year-long freeze of the domestic bond market, which resulted in greater reliance on external capital markets and in higher dollarisation of public debt deposit dollarisation has increased in the financial system and public balance sheets. <br /> <br /> The background to this, it explained, is the 2013 crisis in which domestic bonds were restructured, reserves declined, and the nominal exchange rate depreciated. <br /> <br /> This served to weaken public trust in Jamaican dollar deposits and bonds and raised the attractiveness of foreign exchange (FX)-denominated assets, the IMF outlined.<br /> <br /> The fund said that while local investors see FX investments as a means of reducing risk, high dollarisation has economic costs.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It reduces the effectiveness of monetary policy, constrains central bank capacity to act as a lender of last resort, exacerbates the &lsquo;fear of floating&rsquo;, makes greater exchange rate flexibility costly, and could potentially fuel liquidity and currency mismatch risks in the financial system,&rdquo; the IMF stated in its review.<br /> <br /> The agency asserted that while latest FX and liquidity stress tests by the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) suggest continued resilience of the deposit-taking institutions and securities dealers to these shocks, careful monitoring of the dollarisation trend and its risks is essential.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;A mix of macroeconomic and macroprudential policies is needed for de-dollarisation,&rdquo; the IMF suggested. &ldquo;Efforts to further develop the domestic debt market, combined with macroeconomic stability, should help gradually de-dollarise public balance sheets.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> It is also advising that greater exchange rate flexibility, with two-way movements instead of one-way bets on the tightly managed exchange rate, has been shown to encourage de-dollarisation (for example Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, and Uruguay have de-dollarised, inter alia, by adopting inflation targeting and hence greater exchange rate flexibility).<br /> <br /> The fund advised that &ldquo;macroprudential measures have helped a number of countries de-dollarise, including with higher loan provisioning and capital requirements on FX loans, higher reserve requirements for FX deposits, and setting limits on net open FX positions&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> It noted that the BOJ is also evaluating if the current risk management framework is adequate. The IMF recommended revising the reserve requirement framework to remove the incentives of DTIs to build FX liabilities and increase their demand for Jamaican dollars.<br /> <br /> &mdash; Avia Collinder<br /> <br /> collindera@jamaicaobserver.com<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13300901/229853_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, September 21, 2016 12:00 AM Jamaica can get more tourists from Asia http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Jamaica-can-get-more-tourists-from-Asia_74641 BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com Founder of the prestigious World Travel Awards Graham Cooke reckons that Jamaica could capitalise on globally recognised icons like Usain Bolt and Bob Marley to attract more Asian tourists. <br /> <br /> Cooke, who was speaking at the 24th staging of the awards&rsquo; Caribbean and North America Gala Ceremony last Saturday, said Jamaica has a lot to be proud of in copping the title of Caribbean&rsquo;s Leading Destination&rsquo;, among other industry awards, but more unity is needed amongst tourism players to remain competitive in the global market. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Jamaica has been unique in Bob Marley&rsquo;s music, in all-inclusive hotels, and is known for some of the most beautiful hotels in the world. Hospitality is very important to Jamaica, but it is a very competitive market on the global scale and you&rsquo;ve got to appeal to the Chinese, Japanese and the Indians. Over half the world&rsquo;s population is in Asia, many of which do not speak English,&rdquo; Cooke told the Jamaica Observer. <br /> <br /> According to recent statistics from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), total stopover arrivals in 2015 exceeded the two million mark to reach a record of 2,123,042. That&rsquo;s 2.1 per cent above the 2,080,181 arrivals recorded in 2014 and this was dominated by arrivals from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Europe.<br /> <br /> However, Asian countries such as China, Japan and India were the main visitor-producing countries in the JTB&rsquo;s &lsquo;other parts of the world&rsquo; category. The JTB noted that China, when compared to 2014, grew by 41.6 per cent to 3,744 visitors, while Japan was up seven per cent to 2,163 for the year. India, however, fell by 7.6 per cent to 1,833 visitors.<br /> <br /> China&rsquo;s massive growth trend might have been led by Jamaica&rsquo;s stamp of approval for the removal of visa requirements for Chinese visitors in 2014.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I can remember the Half Moon Hotel trying to get into Japan 25 years ago. Japan is still the second-to-third largest country in the world, and the Japanese 100 million people do not speak English. They don&rsquo;t know about Melia Braco, they don&rsquo;t know about GoldenEye; imagine trying to explain Strawberry Hill to the Japanese. The industry needs to get together and show the world how great Jamaica really is. Look at what Usain Bolt has done for the country and Bob Marley&rsquo;s music; your tourism industry is in the same area,&rdquo; Cooke continued. <br /> <br /> The Caribbean and North America Gala Ceremony 2016, which is dubbed one of the Oscars of the tourism industry globally, was hosted by Sandals Ocho Rios Beach Resort. During the event, Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett received a special award, the Caribbean&rsquo;s Leading Personality for Outstanding Services to Tourism, while Sandals Resorts International was again voted Caribbean&rsquo;s Leading Hotel Brand.<br /> <br /> Cooke told the Business Observer that Jamaica should be very proud this year, having done well throughout the Caribbean and for its achievements in the categories of Caribbean&rsquo;s leading new hotel, new boutique hotel and the conference awards. <br /> <br /> He however noted that with an influx of new destinations and massive investments in a number of countries, including Peru and Dubai, Jamaica must use its history of hospitality to gain competitive advantage.<br /> <br /> Each year the World Travel Awards stages a series of regional gala ceremonies to recognise and celebrate individual and collective successes within each key geographical region.<br /> <br /> The event is widely regarded as the best networking opportunity in the travel industry, attended by government and industry leaders, luminaries, and international print and broadcast media.<br /> <br /> Also among the winners at the Caribbean and North America Gala Ceremony 2016 was the Turks and Caicos Islands, which took the award for the Caribbean&rsquo;s Leading Beach Destination, while the trophy for the Caribbean&rsquo;s Most Romantic Destination went to Antigua and Barbuda. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13300919/229832_56984_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, September 21, 2016 12:00 AM First Global says it&rsquo;s redefining banking convenience http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/First-Global-says-it-s-redefining-banking-convenience_74649 First Global Bank (FGB) on Monday reopened its Liguanea branch at its new location in Liguanea Lane Plaza, boasting three new machines that promise service delivery speed and convenience.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;When you walk into the new Liguanea branch there is so much cutting edge technology; it takes a few minutes to realise all that you can do, and just how easily,&rdquo; a company news release quoted Branch Manager Chad-Paul Priestly.<br /> <br /> The technology to which he referred includes FGB&rsquo;s Video Teller Machine, Multi-Currency Dispenser and Intelligent Deposit ATM.<br /> <br /> The bank explained that the Video Teller Machine (VTM) connects customers with a remote teller in a highly personalised, two-way audio/video interaction. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The VTM offers live teller services for up to 95 per cent of routine transactions that would normally happen at the teller counter, including cash and cheque deposits, withdrawals, account transfers and cheque encashments. With the VTM operating from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, FGB effectively extends teller service hours at the branch,&rdquo; the bank said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Multi-Currency Dispenser (MCD) and Intelligent Deposit ATM (IDATM), which complement the VTM, will give customers access to a suite of smart machines that will redefine the in-branch banking experience. The MCD will allow customers to withdraw Jamaican, Canadian and United States currencies from their accounts,&rdquo; FGB explained.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This feature allows FGB customers to do cross-currency transactions, conveniently buying the offered currencies at the daily exchange rate. The IDATM will recognise and validate inserted currency notes, which will allow customers to make immediate cash deposits without the hassle of a deposit slip or envelope and, of course, Jamaican-dollar withdrawals,&rdquo; the bank added.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;For the next few weeks, we will have a customer service person stationed in the lobby to help explain all the features of the three machines,&rdquo; Priestly said.<br /> <br /> First Global&rsquo;s vice-president, personal and business banking, Bernadette Barrow, was reported as saying the bank is pleased to offer a new level of service, more space, and convenience to its loyal customers.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Our philosophy is to make it easy to do business with us, and the new Liguanea branch is a great example of doing just that. There are two other locations featuring the new technology &ndash; Manor Park and Ocho Rios&ndash; and we expect to roll out these machines to other locations soon,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Our new Liguanea home offers more accessibility for our client&Atilde;&uml;le. It has allowed us to more than double the branch size, from 1,220.5 sq ft to 3,218 sq ft. Our Saturday banking and late banking hours give us the opportunity to serve customers in ways that others in the industry cannot. We are committed to providing convenient banking services to Jamaica,&rdquo; said Barrow.<br /> <br /> First Global Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of GraceKennedy. <br /> <br /> Over the years, it has developed a reputation for redefining the banking experience through its commitment to technology and a high standard of customer service delivery. <br /> <br /> First Global Bank has seven branches islandwide in New Kingston, Manor Park, Montego Bay, Mandeville, Liguanea, Duke Street and Ocho Rios. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13300872/229733_56944_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13300871/229750_56945_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, September 21, 2016 12:00 AM Inflation survey shows dip in CEO confidence http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Inflation-survey-shows-dip-in-CEO-confidence_74677 BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaiaobserver.com The Statistical Institute of Jamaica survey of business inflation expectations for the month of June 2016 shows that perceptions of both present and future business conditions worsened, compared to the previous three surveys. <br /> <br /> The survey, conducted for the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) over the period June 6 to 27 among 319 respondents, was released on Monday. <br /> <br /> The BOJ, in its summary, said the index of present business conditions fell to 186.8 from the 213.2 reached in the previous survey. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The index of future business conditions moderated to 153.0 from 167.1 in the previous survey. Both indices reflected declines in the proportion of respondents of the view that conditions were or will be &lsquo;better&rsquo;. In addition, there were increases in the proportion of respondents indicating that conditions were or will be &lsquo;worse&rsquo;,&rdquo; the survey said.<br /> <br /> There was, however, an increase in the number of respondents who indicated that conditions were &lsquo;about the same&rsquo; for present business conditions, while there was a decline in the number of respondents who indicated that conditions would be &lsquo;about the same&rsquo; for future business, the BOJ said.<br /> <br /> Respondents indicated that they expect an increase in operational costs, with the largest chunk to emanate from utilities over the next 12 months.<br /> <br /> Higher costs for stock replacement, which was the dominant factor for the previous five surveys, was expected to be the second- largest contributor to production costs over the next 12 months, the BOJ indicated. The cost of wages/salaries was the input expense least expected to increase over the next 12 months.<br /> <br /> The survey captures the perception of chief executive officers, managing directors and financial controllers about the future movement of prices, current and future business conditions, and the expected rate of increase in wages/salaries. <br /> <br /> The BOJ said that the responses assist it in charting future policy decisions. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13300601/229849_56967_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, September 21, 2016 12:00 AM New Fortress Energy does more dredging http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/New-Fortress-Energy-does-more-dredging_74559 BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaicaobserver.com Jamaica Public Service boss Kelly Tomblin believes that American firm New Fortress Energy can meet its end of September deadline to provide the light and power company with liquefied natural gas (LNG), even though infrastructural work is still being done.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;New Fortress Energy is completing some additional dredging and performing pre-commissioning work now,&rdquo; Tomblin told the<br /> <br /> Jamaica Observer on September 15.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are adjusting the schedule to determine the optimal time to take Bogue offline for the conversion. Gas should be flowing to Bogue within two weeks; however, many things can show up during commissioning,&rdquo; Tomblin, the JPS&rsquo;s president and CEO said.<br /> <br /> What is left to be done, she specified, is dredging of the port floor to accommodate the gas ship and normal commissioning activities. <br /> <br /> New Fortress Energy is to provide JPS with LNG for its 120-megawatt power plant at Bogue in Montego Bay by the end of this month. The plant, which was first commissioned into service in 2003, has been converted to run on gas instead of automotive diesel oil. <br /> <br /> New Fortress hit a snag in August with permits for 1.6 km of pipes being laid, but this was subsequently rectified.<br /> <br /> Bogue is running on diesel, meanwhile awaiting the switchover to LNG. <br /> <br /> Currently, 95 per cent of fuel used to generate electricity in the island is oil-fired. LNG, considered to be a more stable fuel price-wise, is expected to provide 20 per cent of new capacity from plants in Bogue and another in Old Harbour for which LNG storage facilities will also be built by New Fortress. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13300313/222306_49985_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, September 21, 2016 12:00 AM CAC 2000 awaiting inflows from Braco http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/CAC-2000-awaiting-inflows-from-Braco_74579 BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaicaobserver.com AIR conditioning company CAC 2000 posted a net loss of $9 million for the third quarter ended July 31; however, Chairman and CEO Steven Marston said that the company expects to deliver results reflecting growth in its final quarter.<br /> <br /> The loss compares to net profit of $31 million earned in the same quarter in 2015. A fall in revenue to $197 million during the period ($259 million: 2015) was attributed to delays in the sign-off on the final accounts for Braco, among other factors.<br /> <br /> The Braco project is a $3- billion upgrade of a 225-room resort property in Trelawny, owned by the National Insurance Fund and run by Spanish chain Melia. Marston said in notes attached to the quarter&rsquo;s report that the shortfall should be rectified in the final quarter. <br /> <br /> For the nine months ended July 31, the company made total comprehensive income of $39.28 million, when compared to $71 million in 2015. <br /> <br /> Revenue for the nine months was flat at $678.83 million compared with $674.33 million last year. CAC is an engineering company specialising in applied air conditioning systems. <br /> <br /> The company has seen an increase in demand for its services since listing on the Jamaica Stock Exchange at the start of 2016.<br /> <br /> Increased demand has cost the company, which has also suffered delays in equipment delivery, Marston noted. A jump in summer (heat-related jobs) also affected working capital requirements. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Billing and gross profit was less than expected due to unforeseen delays in shipment of key equipment and the incomplete sign-off of the Braco final accounts,&rdquo; Marston stated. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;These types of delays are normal for the construction sector and the revenues have simply shifted back a quarter.&rdquo; Marston said the company expected to start the new financial year with over $350 million in new jobs.<br /> <br /> The company ended the third quarter with $147.35 million in cash, compared to $51 million held at the similar period in 2015. It also improved assets to $771.97 million, when compared with$562.12 million last year. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10589009/CAC-marston-2_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, September 21, 2016 12:00 AM BOJ appoints three to senior management ranks http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/BOJ-appoints-three-to-senior-management-ranks_74511 The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) this week announced three senior management appointments, advising that they became effective on Monday, September 19.<br /> <br /> The three are Robert Stennett, who has been appointed to the position of division chief, Research and Economic Programming Division; Dr Jide Lewis, appointed division chief, Financial Institutions Supervisory Division; and Wainet Fearon, who is now deputy division chief, Financial Institutions Supervisory Division. <br /> <br /> Stennett, the bank said, is a career economist with over 20 years&rsquo; experience. He holds an MSc in Economics and is a Hubert Humphrey Fellow. He has held various leadership positions in the bank, including that of chief economist and senior financial analyst in the governor&rsquo;s office. <br /> <br /> Dr Lewis has been promoted from the position of chief economist, which gave him portfolio responsibility for the Economic Information and Publications Department. <br /> <br /> He began working with the BOJ in August 2003 and holds a PhD in Economic Development, an MSc in Economics, and is a certified financial analyst. <br /> <br /> Fearon is a career central banker who has been employed to the BOJ since December 1995. She has worked in the Financial Institutions Supervisory Division since joining the bank. <br /> <br /> She holds a BSc in Management Studies and has participated in several local, regional, and international technical training programmes, covering the full range of bank supervisory issues. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13300233/229647_56889_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13300230/229648_56890_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13300236/229646_56888_repro_w300.jpg Local Business Wednesday, September 21, 2016 12:00 AM