Category Archives: Economy

How Bridgetown built the economic foundation of the British Empire – only to be discarded when the profits were gone.

Barbados_Slave_License2.jpg

Slavery Reparations have never interested me because I know that whatever we receive will never be enough for the victims class, and that anything we do receive will be stolen by the political class. No reparations will ever touch my hand. No amount of reparations will provide a steady flow of clean water from my pipes or establish a modern sustainable economy.

Britain could pay us 10 billion pounds and not one new hospital bed or surgery will appear at that slum we call the Queen Elizabeth Hospital – or anywhere else. A trillion pounds will not erase the arrogance of government employees towards citizens, nor will it cure the ‘Island Time’ syndrome that makes foreign business investors run like mad from the Caribbean once they get over the rum, sun and sand.

Barbados is incapable of receiving and delivering reparations honestly and effectively for the general good.

Whose fault is that? I’m not sure, but I do know that at one time Barbados was the driving economic force and secure military base that built and maintained the British Empire.

Whatever Tristram Hunt has written in his new book Ten Cities that Made an Empire, he’s probably 50% correct and 50% nonsense. After all this time, who can say?

But I look forward to the read.

Cliverton

Ten Cities that Made an Empire by Tristram Hunt, review: ‘enthralling and compelling’

A fascinating account of 10 cities that were shaped by, and helped shape, British rule

Bridgetown, Barbados has always held a particular appeal for the British. The legacy of empire is all too apparent, and is, indeed, exploited for tourists. The series of historical attractions based on Plantation House present, as Tristram Hunt writes, “a sepia version of the colonial past”. Nostalgia for cricket, rum cocktails and the old plantation lifestyle trumps the blood-drenched history of slavery on the island. Bridgetown is a modern city, but the colonial memory continues to reverberate.  Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, Economy, Human Rights, Slavery

Lost your job recently? Tough luck… your first Solid Waste Tax payment is due at the end of June

Margaret Sivers Barbados Vampire

New tax heaps insult upon injury

About to be unleashed on tens of thousands of Barbados Property owners is a new Tax that over time will cost thousands of dollars per household. Slipped into Parliament, approved and now to be implemented by month end, the first Solid Waste Tax installment is due by the end of June.

Please correct me, but were we not already paying taxes that the government said supported waste collection?

Where are people going to get the money to pay this new onerous tax?

Madness… this is what people in other countries take to the streets for! Help!

BLP Senator Wilfred Abrahams sees the harm coming…

“There are people in Barbados who do not have $215 to pay to keep on the electricity, to keep on the water… I do not believe that legislation aimed at raising revenue should catch people like pensioners. There is a reason they were excluded from Land Tax, there is a reason that concessions are usually being given in respect of pensioners. Why are we dragging them into this catch all?”

Senator Wilfred Abrahams talks to the Barbados Advocate

Meanwhile, Government Senator Maxine McClean says another tax is no problem so shut up.

First Solid Waste Tax Installment Due Month End
Dated June 11, 2014

Property owners are advised that the first installment of the new Municipal Solid Waste Tax should be paid by month-end.

Revenue Commissioner of the Barbados Revenue Authority, Margaret Sivers, said property owners would be allowed to pay the new tax in two equal installments. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Government, Economy

Tennyson Joseph: DeLisle Worrell’s folly

delisle worrell Barbados

Tin-pot dictator, Insecure, drunk on power…

“To issue a ban and to accuse the Nation of “lack of professional integrity” is burning a house to kill an ant. Banning a media house for a misleading headline is the kind of action associated with backward tin-pot dictators, rather than very intelligent, highly placed civil servants.

In a context of authoritarian political leadership, our leading public servants must lift the political culture above the paranoid vindictiveness we associate with insecure politicians, drunk on power…”

Good reading at the Trinidad Express – Tennyson Joseph: DeLisle Worrell’s folly

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Government, Disaster, Economy, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press

Devaluation of the dollar may only be the beginning of the end

sinking ship barbados flag DLP

“In the Caribbean most of the leaders are old time Marxist-Leninists, who now like to describe themselves simply as socialists – because it hides the failure of those school boy idiotic idealist beliefs still held by a bundle of old rambling communists.”

Communist idiots!

by Peter Binose

We may all wake up one morning soon and find our EC dollars worth less, or even worthless – our savings and our buying power reduced. Our local pensions worth so much less, and our food bills and everything we buy costing so much more. They won’t tell you in advance in case it causes a run on the EC dollar, with people withdrawing and buying other currencies such as the US dollar etc.

The reason for devaluation will be because of the damage inflicted on the monetary system by Caribbean states that over-borrow and can’t afford to pay back those borrowings. If you consider Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, they borrowed so much money from their national bank and could not repay it that they had to sell the bank. If that bank had collapsed it would of caused the EC dollar to be damaged and would of certainly triggered the devaluation of the EC dollar.

Root causes will remain with us – because too much debt, vast regional financial imbalances, and high energy prices have actually grown worse because of fiscal ignorance, even fiscal duncemanship by the Prime Ministers.  Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, CARICOM, Disaster, Economy, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption

Canadian banks unhappy with Caribbean investments and loans

Caribbean-bank-money_laundering

“Last year unemployment in Barbados stood at nearly 12%, but it the rate is forecast to rise to 15.6% in 2015, according to the IMF.”

According to the International Monetary Fund, RBC, CIBC and Bank of Nova Scotia are dominant players across the region with about 60% of total banking assets, almost as strong as their position in Canada. But are those players starting to question their enthusiasm in the face of the regions worrying economic malaise?

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce warned last week that it will take a $420-million charge to goodwill related to its subsidiary CIBC FirstCaribbean, which it blamed on “persistently challenging economic conditions and our current expectations for conditions going forward.”

With unemployment in the U.S. still stubbornly high, the middle class seems to be taking more modest holidays, with far fewer traveling to the Caribbean. The developed world is starting to recover from the turmoil but the numbers suggest that’s not the case in countries like Barbados and Jamaica.

… much more in the Financial Post: How the Caribbean is not so sunny anymore for Canadian banks

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Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Disaster, Economy, Offshore Investments

Barbados Finance Minister says redundant public employees should work for Trinidad & Tobago government

“We’re encouraging people to look for opportunities beyond Barbados and there are Caribbean territories that require that skilled labour. A lot of skilled labour from Barbados come here (to T&T). They go back and forth, and we are encouraging them to look for those opportunities.”

Barbados Finance Minister Christopher Sinckler speaking to T&T bankers

Leroy Parris and good friend Finance Minister Chris Sinckler share champagne

Leroy Parris and good friend Finance Minister Chris Sinckler share champagne – file photo

We’ve seen the cycle repeated for a long, long time. Barbados has way more people than this little rock can accommodate in space, resources and economy – so anytime in our history when there is a pull-back in the economy (as there is now), thousands of Bajans leave for better circumstances.

That happened when the Panama Canal was being carved from the jungle at the cost of 500 dead Bajans per mile, and it happened in the 1950′s and 1960′s when the lure of working in the UK took thousands of our best and brightest people away – most never to return.

Who leaves Barbados during these migrations?       Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Disaster, Economy, History, Immigration, Island Life, Trinidad and Tobago

Barbados Central Bank press release deceptive – What does ‘Weasel Words’ Worrell fear? What is the bank hiding?

That's Governor Worrell on the right... er, left!

That’s Governor Worrell on the right… er, left!

The Central Bank of Barbados just issued a new press release in an attempt to backpedal from Governor Worrell’s message last week that journalists from The Nation Newspaper are banned from future press conferences – but if anything the new weasel words press release makes things worse. As our friend Ian Bourne points out, the new press release does nothing to retract Worrell’s statement that Nation journalists are not welcome at bank media events.

Nope, that COWARDLY WEASEL-WORDED THUG Worrell still doesn’t want to face questions from Nation journalists.

Mr. Bourne goes much further too…

“The threats against Barbadian Journalism have only just started; it will get more strenuous as the DLP try to hold on for a third term and all of their beneficiaries seek to rally defences against real or imagined threats.”

Journalist Ian Bourne of The Bajan Reporter

Central Bank Sucks, Blows and Backpedals without a truthful admission and apology

No doubt the Central Bank’s new press release is in response to Bajans’ general disgust with Worrell’s and the bank’s thuggish attempt to muzzle a free press.

Here’s what Worrell originally said…

“Consequent upon the lack of professional integrity manifest in the Nation’s Front Page headline of Thursday, May 8, you should be aware that Nation/Sun staff will not be invited to any future Press conference or media event hosted by myself as Governor of the Central Bank,”

Central Bank Thug in Chief Dr. DeLisle Worrell in letter to all bank employees and The Nation Newspaper

Well, that sounds like a ban to us here at BFP. How about you dear readers?

Now Worrell is saying…   Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Economy, Freedom Of The Press

Arson a problem in Caribbean government financial departments

LIAT Airline hangar fire destroyed financial records.

LIAT Airline hangar fire also destroyed certain financial records.

Arson is not just a problem in the Caribbean, but it is a Caribbean problem – particularly in government financial departments

by Peter Binose

Usually arson in government buildings and Ministries is set or caused to be set by someone in the ruling government party – someone or some group that wants to destroy records, before records destroy them.

You may have noticed it’s always claimed to be an act of terrorism, an act committed by the opposition – by anyone except by government themselves.

Its quite amazing that whenever these fires happen it’s very often in the Ministry of Finance or some accounting department holding financial records. And it’s more than often in countries that are in financial difficulty.

Here are a few incidents that paint a picture…  Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Economy, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Head thug of Central Bank of Barbados bans Nation journalists from press conferences

delisle worrell Barbados

Dr. Worrell must consider himself a very important and powerful person

by Passin thru

This is so typical of the Bajan elites’ contempt for freedom of the press and the right of citizens to hold government officials and institutions accountable.

Central Bank Governor, Dr. DeLisle Worrell, took issue with a story about the central bank as published in The Nation. So does he ask the paper for space to present his thoughts to the citizens? Does he demand an apology, retraction or correction? Does he write an article to be published in the media or on the bank’s website?

Nope… he bans Nation journalists from all bank events. Worrell wants to control what the press says about him and this is his stupid, thuggish reaction to an article he disagreed with.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but banning journalists doesn’t seem to be the smartest option.

Then again, as former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has often commented in so many words: DeLiesle Worrell never was the sharpest pencil in the box.

Nation News: Worrell bans Nation

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Filed under Barbados, Economy, Freedom Of The Press

Political, religious, race-based agendas and fears are destroying our historical records

BFP:

Successive Barbados governments have been talking for at least twenty years about the need to protect our historical places, buildings and written history with laws and actions – and then offering that heritage as part of our tourism.

Yup, they have been talking about it for years. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk – and not much else. Matter a fact, successive governments have chosen a fast buck or neglect every time over spending money to preserve and restore.

So this week was no different when Tourism Minister Richard Sealy said all the right words in front of first conference of Caribbean National Trusts and Preservation Societies. And words are about all that will be done until the next conference.

“Where’s the plan, Minister? Where’s the budget? Where’s the money put aside in your government’s budget for historical preservation?”

Words are all the DLP and BLP governments offer.

Here is an article we first published back in 2010, where our old friend Jim Lynch explains one of the reasons that we never seem to act to preserve our heritage, only talk. Maybe Mr. Sealy might read it…

Originally posted on Barbados Free Press:

Our old friend and retired “Twotter” pilot Jim Lynch loves to preserve Barbados history and is a treasure-trove of information and advice for those seeking to learn about their Caribbean ancestry. He has published some very special books that will occupy you for weeks if you get one in your hands. Two years ago we covered his work in our article Old Barbados Newspapers Are A Treasure Of History.

Today Jim stopped by BFP and left the following comment that we think is worth a few minutes of your time.

Thanks, Jim! (I think the photo is about 25 years old, but you haven’t aged a bit, have you?) :-)

I have been commended – and abused – in the past for saying what others think but refuse to put into words.

In Barbados, as in other Caribbean islands (and indeed in other parts of the world), records are destroyed…

View original 430 more words

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Culture & Race Issues, Economy, History

Typical: 1/ Wall off the coast. 2/ Provide no parking for beach-goers. 3/ Advertise the beach to tourists.

Barbados Beach Problems (click photo for large)

Tear down these walls!

It’s a good thing there is no truth in advertising, for instead of showing the usual photos of bikini clad lovelies frolicking on the Bajan sand between blue sea and green foliage, we’d have to show a wall of concrete condos blocking the sun and the view – with nary a path for people to find their way to the beach.

Parking? You mek sport! Why would our esteemed leaders ever give a care to provide parking spots near the very beaches upon which this island’s economy depends?

Fools they are, and fools we are for letting them continue to sell every last piece of land with not a thought about what happens when large stretches of beach are inaccessible except to the few elites who can afford to live right there.

Unfinished concrete skeletons dot the coast. TEAR DOWN THESE WALLS and let the people access the beach!

Beach Bummer

IT IS fast becoming one of the most popular beaches in Barbados, especially among visitors, but there is a snag.

The beach, located along the busy highway at The Garden, St James, has no parking space. As a result, visitors park their vehicles along Storehouse Gap, just opposite the road leading to the beach, resulting in the two-lane road being restricted to one lane for traffic going in both directions…

Read it all in The Nation

(and thanks to The Nation for the photo)

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy, Environment, Real Estate

Crop Over 2014 under pressure

“Has Barbados Crop Over become less attractive?

Should the blame be on higher airfares, especially in the case of T & T – or are there other mitigating factors?”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

July 2013 recorded the lowest number of long stay visitors (47,953) during the same period for 13 consecutive years, so I find it not at all surprising that our policymakers have discussed dramatically curtailing certain events for Crop Over 2014. However, I believe a better analysis is needed to explain away the reasons behind this dismal performance. If you look at the principal markets in the last two years, the figures will reveal that the biggest losses in July 2013 were from the USA (down 10 per cent), Trinidad and Tobago (down 9.2 per cent) and what are defined as Other Countries (down 12.4 per cent).

In all, July 2013 recorded 3,318 less stay over visitors than 2012. This was on the heels of a loss of an overall 6,984 visitors when compared with July 2011. In July 2012 the largest declines were USA (down 18.1 per cent), Trinidad and Tobago (down 10.2 per cent), Other Caricom (down 20 per cent) and Other Countries (down 13.1 per cent). So for the last two years a combined decline of over 10,000 stay-over visitors for the month of July alone.

Has Barbados Crop Over become less attractive? Should the blame be on higher airfares, especially in the case of T & T – or are there other mitigating factors?

Perhaps more of a surprise is the announcement by Sandals Resorts to delay the re-opening of their Barbados property to 28th January 2015. With the frequently discussed dearth of construction work it would beg the question, why could the vaunted US$65 million renovation project not be completed on time – specially when you take into account that the additional lost six weeks covers what the hospitality industry considers the most profitable and highest occupancy period of the entire year?

At published rack rates that could equate to a revenue deficit of between US$7.7 and US$19 million for the 42 day additional closure! As it has been already established the vast majority of Sandals earnings are collected offshore, so the ‘real’ amount that Barbados will lose cannot be easily calculated.

Of even more concern nationally is the roughly 3,000 airline seats, which may not be filled as a result of the prolonged shutdown that could influence frequency and will detrimentally impact overall long stay visitor arrival numbers. While not openly discussed, some thought has to be given to neighbouring accommodation providers in the immediate vicinity of Sandals Casuarina and the economic negative consequences that ten months of construction will have on occupancy. Possibly Government has factored in some sort of relief for these disadvantaged properties with exemption of land taxes for the period.

While the summer may be the ideal time to undertake this work, I am sure very few hotels could afford to write off all or part of a peak winter season as a result of prolonged redevelopment with its associated noise, dust, discomfort and disruption.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

S. Brian Samuel: Taxing Caribbean aviation to death

RedJet_Barbados

Case in point: RedJet

If Caribbean people can’t travel, they can’t do business, can’t have holidays, can’t spend money – can’t spread wealth. Aviation, or the lack thereof, is holding the Caribbean back.

And what is the result of governments owning airlines? They protect their own. Therefore, we have almost zero competition on intra-Caribbean air routes; between LIAT and CAL/AJ, they’ve got it all sewn up: you go here; me there. And never the twain shall compete.

Case in point: RedJet. What a fiasco – or travesty, more like it. Here was a bold new entrant to the Caribbean aviation scene, the region’s first genuine low-cost carrier. A project developed by a bona fide Caribbean investor; putting (lots of) his own money where his mouth was. How long did RedJet last – six months? And why did it meet such a sad and untimely demise? Of course, no real reasons are given by the perpetrators; one can only surmise…

… from an excellent article by S. Brian Samuel: Crashlanding in Toxic Taxation

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Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

More unemployment coming to Barbados hotel and tourism sector

“Government will eventually have to decide what it wants – Tax the industry out of existence or put in place the reforms discussed over decades that clearly have made a significant difference for a solitary player.

Or, apply the reforms uniformly to alleviate the current national imbalance.”

Hotel layoffs the natural result of Government failure to keep promises

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

It is now a full six months since companies trading under the Sandals Resorts brand were granted unilateral extraordinary concessions never before seen in the long history of our tourism industry. Despite repeated assurances given to the tourism sector, once again implementation is sadly lacking and as we enter the long eight summer months the industry is left floundering to second guess pricing and marketing strategies that will help it survive yet another year.

Criticism is leveled again at some hoteliers for not passively submitting to the prices dictated by tour operators, which ultimately has led to further airlift losses from a market that is especially attractive in terms of average duration of stay. But pray tell me, how can any Government official expect a single accommodation provider to agree fixed contract rates up to eighteen months ahead of arrival date when they have no overall idea on what those rates are based on?

It really has to reflect the height of lunacy when the remarks are uttered by someone who holds the ultimate power together with his cabinet colleagues to return the industry to viability. Until this is done the chance of competing with many other Caribbean destinations at the same level remains only a distant dream.

Surely by now our policymakers understand the basics of how the travel business is structured and the timing required to put programmes in place. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

What has gone wrong with the Barbados 7.5% VAT?

Current 17.5% VAT killing tourism

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

When Government announced last year that it was passing a bill to allow the lowering of Value Added Tax (VAT) to 7.5 per cent for qualifying hospitality partners my initial thought that it was a wonderful opportunity to at least partially address the frequently quoted high costs of our tourism product.

The criteria did not appear too ominous. That the entity had to be registered with or a license from the Barbados Tourism Authority, Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association or Small Hotels of Barbados Inc, it was in compliance with all statutory obligations of the Income Tax, NIS and Social Securities Act and was able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Comptroller and generates at least 75 per cent of total earnings annually in a foreign currency.

In our 26 year experience the vast majority of guests pay via credit card, I would not have thought this was difficult to verify. These imposed conditions would seem quite reasonable and for most attainable.

Why then have so few seemingly eligible tourism partners registered successfully and applied the lower rate of VAT? After all, 10 per cent of the final cost to the consumer is not an insubstantial reduction. Looking at menus posted on the websites of many of our hotels with in-house restaurants or stand alone establishments 17.5 per cent VAT is still shown, which includes some of the big names and (unless they have yet to be updated) state owned accommodation providers are included in this. Interestingly, this applies even to businesses where their owners or managers sit on the board of the national marketing authority.

So what has gone wrong? Is this once again a case of implementation deficit?

Originally the measure was announced in the 2013 budget submission, so does it really take so long to process registration applications?   Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

Barbados hotel operators face a Government slanted playing field

“Despite the open hostility frequently directed at hoteliers on Barbados, the general public forgets that Government is in fact already the largest single owner of accommodation room stock on the island.”

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

Over the last few weeks I have been following the various views expressed, vested or otherwise, comparing the merits of proceeding with the stated non-binding Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Sandals group of companies and Government or allowing the current operator of Almond Beach Village to take over the entire property. What appears dismally lacking is any comprehensive analysis detailing the potential financial benefits of both options for the short, medium and long term.

With Sandals now closed at least until December, the majority of fiscal activity will be generated by construction, where virtually all materials used are imported and require foreign exchange to pay for them.

Even with just 160 rooms out of a total of 396 currently open, Almond St. Peter will continue to earn somewhere around BDS$2 million per month at 85 per cent occupancy. With all rooms fully functional that amount would increase to approximately BDS$6 million. Meaningful employment would not only be retained but substantially grown year round increasing NIS and tax contributions to Government. And on the subject of tax, the current Almond ‘managers’ still pay VAT and from what I understand largely source the majority of consumables locally.  Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

The Chinese credit bubble “China’s economy dangerously hooked on debt-fueled growth”

Hey… we Bajans know a thing or two about debt-fueled economies, don’t we?

Thanks to an old friend for this suggestion

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Filed under Barbados, China, Economy

If LIAT Chairman Jean S. Holder wants to communicate ideas, why didn’t he electronically publish?

Jean Holder LIAT Book

LIAT’s Chairman Jean Holder launched his new book last week. Caribbean Tourism is probably a very worthwhile read if for no other reason than the author is the current victim in charge of LIAT Airlines.

Our old friend Bajan Reporter posted an excellent review of the book by Sir Ronald Sanders that makes me want to run out and buy a copy, but alas… the book sells for US$40. Sorry old bean, I’ll have to defer that read.

Why oh why in this age of iPhones, iPads, MS tablets and online electronic publishing at Amazon did Dr. Holder only publish a dead tree version of his book and at a price that virtually assures only a handful of people will read what he has to say?

Dr. Holder won’t make any money anyway – few authors of such narrowly targeted books make anything worth talking about – so why not publish electronically and move a hundred times more copies than on paper?

Perhaps Dr. Holder’s choice of obsolete technology, high prices and limited distribution mirrors the way he runs LIAT? (Hey… it’s a cheap journalistic shot, but at least I’ll admit to it!)

Come on Doc… publish the new book electronically for US$10 a copy and I’ll buy and read your ideas.

Thanks to Ian Bourne for allowing us to steal his photo.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy