Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Educators participate in sustainable energy workshop

Educators who attended the Sustainable Energy session
in St. Kitts and Nevis.
TWO Grenadian educators were among stakeholders who participated in a Regional Sustainable Energy Workshop for Energy and Educator Stakeholders in the Caribbean.

Curriculum Officer for Science in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Hervis Adrian Francis Viechweg, and qualified teacher, Mr. Richard Pierre, attended the four-day event, which was organised by the Organisation of American States (OAS) through its Department of Sustainable Development and the Energy Department of the Caribbean Community Secretariat, which is collaborating with the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC) to accelerate the tran-sition toward cleaner and
more sustainable energy in Caribbean countries.

The three organisations working under the umbrella of two EU-funded initiatives, namely the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Programme and the Caribbean Renewable Energy Capacity Support (CRECS), co-hosted three regional workshops on sustainable energy from September 10-14, 2012 at the Marriott St. Kitts Resort in Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis.

The workshops were attended by official delegates from Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The first workshop from September 10-11 focused on building capacity for the design and implementation of sustainable energy and energy conservation awareness programmes. The second workshop on September 12, which was attended by government officials from Ministries responsible for Education, and Energy and Climate Change, as well as science teachers, reviewed the Caribbean Energy Awareness and Education Programme (CEEAP) and its campaign Learn and Save, and explored avenues for its expansion as a follow-up to the CSEP. The intention is that CEEAP would help to reinforce institutional and pedagogic capacities to integrate in the curriculum, the importance of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

On September 13 and 14, a Teacher’s Sustainable Energy Workshop was held. The session was attended by government officials from the Ministries of Education and science teachers. This session consisted of lectures and hands-on exercises in renewable sources of energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation. In addition, a package of educational materials and toolkits were handed over to the six independent OECS countries and The Bahamas.

The workshops were led by Dr. Alexandra Daval, an expert in Information and Communications and Mr. Jonathan Rand, who has taught thousands of teachers and students about wind energy, and has facilitated teacher workshops on renewable energy science across the United States as well
as Canada, Costa Rica, Chile and Ireland.

“We are pleased to bring to the region the extraordinary skills and experiences for the workshop leaders together with the deeply committed education and energy sector representatives of the Caribbean
to help expand clean energy educational practices,” said Mark Lambrides, Energy and Climate Change Mitigation Section Chief at the OAS.

The changes taking place in every aspect of today’s world have a powerful and immediate influence on the nature and function of professional educators, whose roles include the ability to mediate between
students and the world around them. (LS)

The hypocrisy of it all

By Sir Ronald Sanders

It is hypocritical in the extreme. The US Trade Representative has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) claiming that the Peoples’ Republic of China has given “extensive subsidies” to Chinese companies that produce automobiles and automobile parts for export.

This is the same US government that is effectively allowing rum produced in two of its Caribbean territories to be extensively subsidized to the detriment of rum producers in non-US Caribbean countries, even though this damage has been pointed out to US President Barack Obama in a letter from the Prime Minister of St Lucia, Dr Kenny Anthony, in his capacity as Chairman of the 15-nation Caribbean Community.

President Obama is particularly vocal about the Chinese because he is in the midst of a Presidential election where he is campaigning for a second term, and Ohio is a swing state. If he loses Ohio, he could lose the Presidency. Ohio’s economy and a significant number of its work force are reliant directly and indirectly on automobile manufacturing. Therefore, they regard automobiles and automobile parts that are exported from China at a cheaper price as a threat to them.

President Obama’s assertion that the Chinese subsidies “directly harm working men and women on the assembly lines in Ohio and Michigan and across the Midwest” is meant to show voters in Ohio that he is standing-up for them and, also, to blunt the criticism of his rival, the Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Mr Romney has long been critical of President Obama's performance on the China trade issue, and he has pledged tougher action to enforce trade laws.

What is remarkable about the stance of both President Obama and Mr Romney is that neither of them acknowledges the unfairness of the US government position on subsidies to US producers. For instance, massive government subsidies to US farmers, totalling US$10 billion last year, have given them an excessive advantage hurting farmers who can’t compete on the world market and others who are crowded out of their own domestic market because of imports of cheaper US subsidised agricultural products.

This same observation is now true of the heavy subsidies on rum production and marketing in excess of US$500 million a year that are being given to private companies by Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands - for which the US Federal government is responsible – to the disadvantage of rum producers in non-US Caribbean countries such as Barbados, Guyana, and Jamaica.

And while the US government is quick to take other countries to the WTO dispute settlement body and to apply punitive remedies when it wins, it is a dark stain on the US record in the WTO that it has still not settled matters with Antigua and Barbuda after being found in violation of its commitment under the General Agreement of Trade and Services by refusing to allow internet gaming from Antigua and Barbuda in to the US. That case was won in March 2004, and subsequent appeals upheld the main findings of the original Arbitration. The US response to losing the case was to withdraw the commitment that it was judged to have violated.

The stakes are very different with China which is now the world’s second largest economy after the US and the third biggest creditor to the US government as well as its principal foreign creditor. Access to the Chinese market for US goods and services is vitally important to the US economy, and both President Obama and Mr Romney know that fact however much they may both be playing to the US electorate in the current election campaign.

The Chinese government has not taken the US government’s actions against it at the WTO lying-down. In the very week that the US government filed its second complaint at the WTO against the Chinese government, the Chinese authorities submitted a case accusing the US government of unfairly raising tariffs on thirty of China’s exports to the US market including tires and kitchen appliances. For its part, the US says that it applied the tariffs because the Chinese are “dumping” the products in the US.
“Dumping” is an informal term for the practice of selling a product in a foreign country for less than either the price in the domestic country, or the cost of making the product.

So much mystery surrounds the real costs of China’s production given the huge role that the State continues to play in the economy, including in its commercial aspects, that the US government’s claim of “extensive subsidies” to the production of automobile and automobile parts and, also, of “dumping” may well be true. It will be interesting to see what a WTO Arbitration Panel concludes.

What is clear is that the rules that are being applied in these trade disputes between the US and China are ignored in relation to small countries.

In the absence of joint action by small countries for reform of the WTO, and a severe deficit in global democracy, hypocrisy prevails.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant and a former Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation. Responses and previous commentaries at:

Region still reeling from APD

By David Jessop

In recent months there has been little media coverage in the Caribbean about the contentious issue of the United Kingdom’s Air Passenger Duty (APD). However, the issue remains one that disrupts relations between the region and the United Kingdom.

As is now well known, APD is an airline ticket tax that discriminates in favour of US and other destinations through a distance-based banding system. The tax, for example, places the whole of the US, including the Caribbean’s competitor destinations in Florida, in a lower tax band, despite the region being closer to London, vastly more tourism dependent, and in economic difficulty.

Although the Caribbean has had significant political support in the UK Parliament and has seen an extensive lobby mounted by voters in its Diaspora in many marginal constituencies, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer has ignored all arguments from the region and has continued to increase the tax year on year.

Up to now much of the Caribbean’s emphasis has been on addressing the issue with its usual interlocutors from Britain, the UK Foreign Office and Development Ministers responsible for the relationship with the Caribbean. As a consequence the biennial UK Caribbean Forum held in Grenada in January saw Caribbean Foreign Ministers speak about the issue in an unusually direct and frank manner with their counterpart, the UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague.

The Caribbean’s anger was subsequently reflected in the unusually strong language used when Caricom Foreign Ministers met in May. Then they ‘denounced in strong terms the negative impact that the tax continues to have on the region’s revenue source’ and also observed that ‘the tax was distorting trade and compromising the Region’s efforts towards sustainable development, including the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals’.

Although the issue appears not to have been considered when Caribbean Heads of Government met in July, Caricom’s Chairman, the Prime Minister of St Lucia, Dr Kenny Anthony, whose own country is suffering the effects of the tax, has since written on behalf of the region to the UK Chancellor. His letter made clear that while the region understands the fiscal challenge faced by the UK in respect of raising revenue, it does not believe that APD should be imposed unfairly, or at the expense of the Caribbean economy and its community in the UK.

The issue is likely to come to come back to prominence when Dr Anthony visits the UK and again in London in November when Caribbean tourism ministers and the region’s industry attend World Travel Market, the annual forum and market place for the tourism trade.

There, Ministers are likely to use the opportunity to meet yet again with UK Ministers, Parliamentarians and the Diaspora.  They are also likely to participate in a broadening coalition of governments from Australia to Egypt in making the point that APD is a tax on growth at a time when most nations, including the UK, could benefit rapidly from any easing of the cost of travel and increased tourism.
Despite UK ministers’ arguments to the contrary, it is clear from the UK’s own statistics that APD is hurting the Caribbean.

Data from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suggests that international passenger traffic between the UK and the Caribbean decreased by 10.7 per cent between 2008 and 2011. This compares with a 1.1 per cent overall increase in the UK’s international passenger traffic over the same period.
The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) has also indicated that Caribbean arrivals are declining, with a 7.6 per cent fall in visits by air to the region by UK residents between 2008 and 2011. ONS figures for travel to the region by the Caribbean community in the UK show an even greater fall with a decrease in this category of visitor to the region from 2009 to 2010 of 3.4 per cent.

Last year the UK Chancellor, George Osborne, chose to ignore the Caribbean’s well argued and widely supported case for changing the banding system; an approach that was revenue neutral and sought to remove the discriminatory aspects of the tax.

Since then Britain has continued to increase the tax, year on year, at a rate equivalent to UK inflation.
Yet even this is not what it seems and has introduced new inequities. Although the UK Government announced that it would introduce for 2012-13 an inflationary increase in the rate of APD across the board, this was not evenly applied. Instead the lowest band, band A (short haul within Europe) did not increase at all,  band B (which includes the US) increased by 3.1 per cent, Band C, which includes the Caribbean, by 2.5 per cent and the furthest band was increased by 2.2 per cent.  The figures were said to reflect a process of rounding to avoid pennies.

However, what this new approach seems to indicate is that the UK Treasury has taken yet one more step away from consistency and is prepared to adjust the figures in any way that meets the Chancellor’s domestic political requirements.

What is extraordinary in all of this is that new research shows that if the Caribbean were to be re-banded at the same level as the US, the cost to the UK Treasury is estimated at just US$30m (£18.6m) out of an overall APD take by the UK Treasury of US$ 4.7billion (£2.9 billion)in 2012. In other words the costs of reducing the discrimination and helping restore Caribbean growth would be little more than the UK spends on bilateral development assistance to the region.

If Britain wants to demonstrate that it really cares about Caribbean economic stability, then its Chancellor should be prevailed up in his next budget find a politically and revenue-neutral way to re-band a region that is facing an economic crisis of growing proportions.

David Jessop is the Director of the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at Previous columns can be found at

The uses of legislation

In the first volume of his musings, “Miscellany-at-Law: A Diversion for Lawyers and Others”, Sir Robert Megarry recounts the tale of a piece of legislation drafted during the era when divorce was possible only through an Act of Parliament. It happened that an unhappily married Town Clerk was promoting a local waterworks Bill. According to the story, in clause 64 of the Bill, mingled with technical provisions about filter beds and stopcocks, appeared the phrase “…and the Town Clerk’s marriage is hereby dissolved…” The Bill, in this precise form, it is said, later received the Royal Assent and passed into law. In the finest tradition of fairy-tale endings, it is claimed that the Town clerk lived happily ever after.

We are reminded of this chestnut by the current political turmoil to our south in Trinidad & Tobago where the governing administration is under substantial pressure owing to its recent passage of the Administration of Justice [Indictable Proceedings] Act and its suspiciously hasty proclamation of the by now notorious section 34 of the Act. Exactly why this provision, commendable in its general intendment, has caused such a furore is a tale in itself.

This controversial section purports to eliminate some of those lengthy preliminary proceedings that had become trapped for ten years or more in the lower courts since their institution with the objective of having the indictable offences tried and determined as soon as reasonably practicable. Given the recent trenchant observations from the Caribbean Court of Justice as to the imperative for the speedy trials of accused persons so as to ensure compliance with their constitutional rights to protection of the law, the section would appear, at first blush, to be eminently desirable. Indeed, it bears remarking that there was no dissent from the Opposition during parliamentary debate either in the Lower or Upper House to any provision of the statute.

The section would effect a more sinister outcome, however. It appears that its provisions had caught within their purview the cases of the two chief accused in the Piarco corruption scandal who also happen to be two of the more significant contributors to the campaign coffers of the governing coalition. These gentlemen then promptly petitioned the courts to have the outstanding criminal corruption charges against them dismissed in accordance with the new legislation; days before popular pressure forced the government, in an embarrassing U-turn, to reconvene Parliament in the midst of its summer recess and to repeal the section. A serious issue of the constitutionality of such a procedure and its effects on the rights of the accused is now before the Trinidad courts.

Still, a successful plea for dismissal of their charges would be an international comedown for Trinidad & Tobago. In a considered judgment some time ago, a local court had refused the extradition of these two to the United States to face similar charges on the ground that T&T was the most convenient forum for the trial of their offences.

In the aftermath of the todoment, the Opposition has taken to the streets in mass protest, calling for the resignation of senior Cabinet officials; the coalition is at serious risk of further fracture and, in their own colloquial expression, the government is “ketching its royal…”

We wait expectantly to see whether this will simply turn out to be merely another regional nine-day wonder or whether it will be popularly construed as a flagrant breach of political trust by those who hold the reins of policy.

It was a former leader of the main party in the governing coalition who once asserted that politics has its own morality. We already know that one virtue that does not exist among Commonwealth Caribbean politicians is that of resignation. What does this political morality dictate therefore in the present circumstances?


By Linda Straker

Grenada is having a shorter season for hunting wildlife because of a reduction in wildlife species in the island’s forest.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Ivan and Emily, the Forestry Department adopted a four-year moratorium on hunting of all wildlife, which was lifted in 2008. Since then the period of September 1 to January 31 was declared the hunting season, but continuous reduction based on observations and research has led the Ministry of Agriculture to declare a shorter period for 2012.

“We are still conducting a more in-depth research for 2012, but we still decided to allow some hunting,” said Wildlife Conservation Officer, Anthony Jeremiah, who explained that the 2012 season will be from October 1 to December 31, 2012.

There is a reduction in the island wildlife, especially Manicou, whose population seems to be suffering from hunters who exploit not only the mature or adult population but also the very young.

“By hunting the very young, we are now faced with a situation in which reproduction is difficult because those that can reproduce young ones are killed and young ones which should mature to reproduce are also killed,” said Jeremiah.

“If we continue like this we will not be able to maintain a sustainable supply and it’s against that background we want people to understand why they should only hunt the mature manicou,” he said.

Besides Manicou, hunters can also hunt, the Tatou otherwise called the Armadillo; the Mona Monkey; the Iguana; and the Ramier bird, otherwise called the Red Necked Pigeon.

According to law, hunting in the Grand Etang Forest Reserve is prohibited at all times and hunting offences on conviction are chargeable with $1 000 or a term of imprisonment for six months. The Grand Etang Forest Reserve was declared a protected area by legislation since 1908 as a means of protecting the area’s natural environment from human exploitation.

The adopted theme for the hunting season is “Be guided by best practices: Watch your take, let size matter not numbers”.

Police confiscate 32 pounds of cannabis

THREE St. George’s residents have been charged with trafficking of a controlled drug following the discovery of 32 pounds of cannabis in Woodford, St. John, during an operation by the Drug Squad Unit.

The men – Swayne Hillaire, a 22-year-old of Calivigny, St. George, 18-year-old Ariel Brathwaite and 29-year-old Elvin Pivotte, both residents of Marian – made their appearance before the St. George’s Magistrate’s Court on Friday, September 21, 2012.

All three men have been granted bail in the sum of thirty-five thousand dollars with two sureties and are due to re-appear in at the Gouyave Magistrate Court on November 6, 2012.

In another drug operation, officers attached to the Western Division uprooted 637 units of cannabis trees ranging between 2 feet to 12 feet in height at Mt. Craven, St. Patrick. Police investi-gations are continuing.

Also Daran Jones, 32-year-old farmer, of River Road, has been charged with dangerous harm in connection with a chopping incident which left 47-year-old Fabian Greenidge, also of River Road, with several chop wounds to his body and the lost of his hand and a leg.

Jones has been remanded to prison and will make his second court appearance on Friday, October 12, 2012. (LS)

ECCB engages teachers at ‘Train the Trainers’ workshop

HIGH school teachers throughout the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) were exposed to various techniques for creating and delivering exciting and compelling presentations on business and money management when the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) hosted a Train the Trainers workshop for high school teachers on September 26.

The workshop aimed to provide knowledge, practical skills and a greater understanding of how to teach young people about business and money management issues. The teachers gained insights on how to use creative thinking techniques as well as visual, auditory and hands-on teaching tools to prepare information and engage students in discussions on business and money management.

The topics covered at the workshop were:
1. Different learning styles and how to accommodate them;
2. Using creative thinking to solve problems;
3. Unlocking the television in trainees’ minds – awakening the mind’s eye;
4. The nuts and bolts of saving; and
5. Energising Training.

A statement from the ECCB said that it will undertake similar workshops for churches and financial institutions as part of its financial and economic public education programme. (LS)