Wednesday, 28 November 2012

WAGGY T SEMI-FINALS SET


Defending Premier League Champions Hard Rock was most impressive as the Round of 16 of the Waggy T Super Knockout Football Tournament ended on Sunday at the National Stadium.

Front Limers Ball Dogs and Petro Caribe Queens Park Rangers scored wins to grab the final spots in the quarter-finals, which began on Wednesday. National player Lyndon Joseph scored twice to spur Ball Dogs to a 2-1 win over Caribbean Colours Kings Cut Mt. Moritz.

The River Road outfit, meanwhile, beat Hurricane Youths 3-2 on penalty kicks, after they had battled to a 2-2 stalemate during regulation time. Mario Garness and Quasi Theodore scored for the St. Mark’s team, while Kemo Samson and Junior Williams replied for Queens Park Rangers.

St. Patrick’s team, Hard Rock, thrashed
Combined Northerners 8-0 in the Round of 16.
However, the most impressive performance was recorded by St. Patrick’s team, Hard Rock. The GFA champions produced an emphatic display to thrash Combined Northerners 8-0.

National player Kimmon Redhead and young Shevon John Brown led the way with hat-tricks and strikes by Jacob Charles and Lisdon Jules completed the rout. Other quarter-finalists are Real Old Men, who beat North Stars 5-4 on penalty kicks, after they had battled to a one-all draw; SGU Knights, who beat Hampshire 2-1, with Trey Perkins leading the way with a double; NEWIM GBSS, who stopped Fetter Boys 2-0 after striker Nigel Bishop grabbed a brace; and Hurricanes, who defeated Sun Setter 3-2 on penalty kicks in the St. Mark’s derby, which had ended goalless.

The line-up is completed by St. Andrew’s outfit, LIME Paradise, who advanced with a battling one-nil win over St. George’s team, Fontenoy United. Wendell “Bobo” Renee scored the winner.

The quarter-finals were fixed for Wednesday and Thursday and the semi-finals on Saturday at the National Stadium. Real Old Men tackled LIME Paradise and SGU Knights faced Hard Rock on Wednesday, while NEWIM GBSS met Petro Caribe Queens Park Rangers and Hurricane Youths engaged Front Limers Ball Dogs on Thursday.

All eight victorious teams in the second round or round of 16 walked away with EC$1 000. Quarter-final winners earn EC$1 500, while semi-finalists pick up a handsome EC$2 000. Teams are battling for the Championship Prize of EC$34 500. The beaten finalist walks away with EC$19 500. There are also attractive individual prizes of EC$500 for the MVP of the tournament, the best goalkeeper, the player scoring the most goals and the best youth player.

WI Blind Cricket team heading out to T20 World Cup


THE West Indies Blind Cricket team is expected to do rather well on their first trip to India when they head out for the first ever International T-20 Blind Cricket World Cup which is scheduled to be played from December 2 to 13 in Bengaluru.

Eight other teams, Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka and host country India, will all be vying to take top honours in the tournament which will be carried out in round-robin format.

After a strong showing in their last performance at home where they whipped a visiting Australian side, the 17-member squad are highly motivated and confident going into next month’s competition. Skippered by Toussaint Gardner, the rest of the team, which consists B1 (Blind) Granville Carter, Anthony Cummins, Michael Durham, Jason Ricketts and Curtis Wells; B2 (Partially Blind) Mark Goddard, Caneel Graham, Dwayne Graham, Rajendra Ramnarine and Gregory Stewart and B3 (Partially Sighted) Haldene Forde, captain Gardner, Lo-Shane Myles, Jennson Poyah, Vice-captain Rodney Ramrattan, Dennol Shim and Kci Ward-Ryan, is looking to do well as ambassadors for the region.

The main group of the touring party is expected to leave Barbados on November 28 for England where they will join other members of the team before going on to India. The team’s officials will be Stevenson Evelyn (Manager), Vivalyn Latty-Scott (Coach), Marjorie Watson (Adjustment to Blindness Officer), Leroy Williams (Assistant Coach) and Nicola Yard (Physiotherapist).

President of the West Indies Cricket Council for the Blind (WICCB), Clevedon Mayers, expressed much delight that the team would be going to India. He noted, however, that this would not have been possible without the assistance of the organisations and other individuals who offered their support. Mayers added that the tour had appeared much in doubt because the WICCB did not have the resources to finance such an undertaking.

As a result, countries were requested to pay the airfares for their respective players on the team, while the Indian government and Indian top players are expected to undertake all expenses on the team’s arrival in India. Mayers further stated that the WICCB much appreciates the assistance from the Arts and Sports Committee of the Ministry of Finance, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), the Australian High Commission, Barbados Cricket Association, the Barbados Olympic Association, Williams Industries, the Barbados Community Foundation, City Of Bridgetown and the individuals who supported the cause.

Getting started with an opening ceremony on December 1 at the Sri Kanteevera Stadium, the West Indies team are expected to play on December 3-10 against each of the competing nations. (MP)

United Insurance takes up title sponsorship of Work Boat Regatta


United Insurance is to take up the key role of Title Sponsor for the Grenada Sailing Festival Work Boat Regatta for 2013. The company has been a top level supporter for many years and now moves into the central role for the 20th Anniversary celebration of this very popular high profile National event, which will be held on the weekend of February 1-3 on Grand Anse Beach.

Grenada Sailing Festival has been proud to run the national Work Boat Regatta for 20 consecutive years – even successfully staging the event only four months after the devastation of Hurricane Ivan, as part of a very positive ‘Build Back Better’ message to all. Over these years the event has become extremely important not only to the island’s sailing communities, but to all Grenadians and overseas visitors too. It is a significant part of Grenada Sailing Festival’s remit to support the continued development of the tradition of sailing and boat-building in Grenada and its sister islands. The GSF Board of Directors is delighted to welcome United Insurance Company Ltd., with its strong commitment to youth development, sport and community, as an excellent partner and Title Sponsor for the Grenada Sailing Festival United Insurance Work Boat Regatta 2013.

There is further good news for 2013, with continued support for this key event being pledged by valued long-term sponsors including Grenada Board of Tourism; Budget Marine; Camper and Nicholsons Marinas; Grenada Breweries Ltd; True Blue Bay Resort’s Dodgy Dock; Mount Gay Rum, Coca Cola and Etang Water; GRENLEC; Courts, Horizon Yacht Charters and Island Dreams Yacht Services. Details of other sponsors will be announced shortly.

Event organisers once again plan to work with the Grenada Sailing Association and Budget Marine to stage a Grenada Sailing Festival Junior Dinghy Sailing Championship on Saturday, February 2. Interest in Junior Sailing has been growing, with active clubs in Carriacou, Gouyave, Grenada Yacht Club, Grenada Marine, St. David’s and Woburn, and this event will add to an increasing number of Junior Regattas. Grenada Sailing Festival would once again like to thank Budget Marine for its continued valuable support to the Junior Sailing Programme.

Expect a party to remember to celebrate the Festival’s 20th Anniversary and the lead-in to the island’s Independence Celebrations. Organisers want to welcome record crowds to enjoy high energy action on the water and on the beach. There will be a great mix of live entertainment and Festival favourite DJ Blackstorm; games and activities including a Fitness Challenge; food stalls in a Community Kitchen, where all the best traditional dishes will be on offer and a selection of drinks bars. The whole event will be rounded off on Sunday evening with a wonderful firework display courtesy of Spice Island Fireworks.

The Grenada Sailing Festival United Insurance Work Boat Regatta will be staged on Saturday and Sunday, February 2 and 3, on Grand Anse Beach, starting with a Sunset Lime on the evening of Friday, February 1 to welcome participating sailors as the community fleets arrive from Carriacou, Gouyave, Petite Martinique, Sauteurs and Woburn. The Grenada Sailing Festival Junior Dinghy Sailing Championship, sponsored by Budget Marine will be held on Saturday, February 2 on Grand Anse Beach. For more news and information, log on to the Festival’s official website www.grenadasailingfestival.com and follow us on Facebook.

Economic citizenship


As wealthy Russian, Chinese, US and other citizens look for new domiciles, Caribbean nations are either developing new economic citizenship programmes or are moving to increase awareness of existing schemes. If not well considered, the national, regional and international questions this raises, may come to haunt the region.

Most recently Antigua has begun to take through its Parliament legislation that will give Government the ability to grant to various categories of persons the right to Antiguan nationality in return for a substantial investment. Crucially there is no residence requirement.

Dominica and St Kitts-Nevis are the only other two countries in the world that also offer citizenship without any residency requirement.

Antigua’s bill, which is controversial in the domestic political arena, has possible longer term implications for the overseas travel of its locally-born citizens, and raises questions in relation to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Caricom’s free movement of persons provisions, is intended to raise up to US$550m for the island over three years.

If passed into law, it would grant citizenship to foreign investors who acquire either US$0.4m in property, or contribute US$0.25m to the National Development Fund, donate US$0.25m to an approved charitable organisation, or invest at least US$1.5m in a business.

Programmes that in one or another way permit residence, and may lead to citizenship, are increasing in number around the world, but are primarily related to skills that a country wishes to obtain to increase their global competitiveness.

In the case of the UK, immigrants from outside the EU can fast-track permanent residence by making investments of around US$1.6m, US$7.6m or US$1.6m. Canada’s investor immigration programme in general terms requires applicants to provide a US$0.8m interest-free loan over five years to the country’s provinces, but has such a backlog of applications that it has not been accepting new applicants. In the case of the US, applicants and their immediate families can receive permanent US residency with an investment of at least US$1m, if it leads to specified job creation.

In contrast, in the case of St Kitts, obtaining citizenship through investment requires either a donation of at least US$0.25m to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, or a real-estate purchase of at least US$0.45m.

Among those most interested in such programmes globally, are the significant numbers of newly wealthy Chinese entrepreneurs whose interest in holding alternative citizenship, or residing elsewhere, ranges from largely unspoken concerns about their Government’s anti-corruption drive, concerns about freedoms, to seeking a location to provide an international education for their children.

Wealthy Russians too have an interest in relocating. In their case the most commonly cited reasons are to avoid the growing suppression of dissent, the expropriation of businesses and organised crime. There are also a growing number of citizens from Arab states unsettled by instability, the possibility of a regional war or unrest across Middle East who want to relocate, and a significant number of US entrepreneurs who want to escape the US’s ever widening tax net.

In the case of Antigua one complicating factor is that the offer of a passport would provide any new citizen with the ability to move freely within the OECS, and other nations in the region or elsewhere that does not require a visa. Commenting on this recently, the OECS Commissioner, Ambassador Colin Murdoch, said that OECS Heads have agreed to commission a study to examine the legal issues involved as any citizen of the OECS would be entitled to all the benefits of the OECS economic union, including free movement.


It is also clear that traditional partners are watching closely the development of such programmes. US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks indicate that the US Government is monitoring citizenship programmes in the Caribbean. Their primary concern, and that of Europe and Canada, relates to the Caribbean’s capacity to properly regulate citizenship programmes in ways that ensure that they do not encourage illegal activity. Leaked cables from 2007 suggest that the Dominica and Grenada programmes are carefully monitored.

Recent private research suggests that concern among Caribbean citizens has been growing. Among the doubts listed about economic citizenship programmes are: a country being associated with criminals; being inundated with foreigners; funding being given by foreigners to political parties or individuals rather than the state; damage to international reputation; and visa restrictions being applied to all nationals by other states.

The USA, Canada and the UK all have economic citizenship programmes. However, while such investment can be a fast track to citizenship it is not a guarantee and in all cases it requires residency.
Assuring the Caribbean people that they will not suffer visa restrictions from other nations as a result of an economic citizenship programme is an issue that has domestic political implications. It requires any Government envisaging such programmes to ensure that they communicate their plans to those countries that it citizens most frequently travel to and develop clear procedures in relation to security and the administration of the scheme.

Selling the idea to the people of any nation in the region is not and should not be easy, despite the fact that there is acute awareness that economies are suffering and that new ways need to be found to stimulate investment.

As international views on monitoring money laundering and transparency evolve, it is possible that economic citizenship could at some point become the subject of more intense scrutiny by external governments and international institutions.

In its race to create new sources of income, nations and the region should consider carefully the implications, if economic citizenship, without initial residence requirement and the most detailed and exhaustive of checks, were to be proved to have facilitated criminality or worse.

(David Jessop is the Director of the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at david.jessop@caribbean-council.org. Previous columns can be found at www.caribbean-council.org)

Fuel bills: An impending disaster


IN the words of the Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, the annual bill for the importation of fuel in his small Caribbean island of 250 000 people is “wholly untenable”. In 2010, the national oil import bill for Barbados was US$393 million. That figure is indicative of the annual oil bill that damages the viability of every Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country except Trinidad and Tobago which is a substantial oil and gas producer.

Prime Minister Stuart has declared that “if not corrected”, the oil import bill would become “wholly unaffordable” in his country. The same is true for all other CARICOM countries except Trinidad and Tobago and now to a certain extent Suriname. The cost of energy is adversely affecting both the manufacturing and service industries and contributing to making the exports of Caribbean companies uncompetitive in the world market.

The situation in the Caribbean reflects the grave condition of the majority of countries in the 54-member states of the Commonwealth of Nations which, in 2011, consumed about 3 billion barrels of oil (about 8 million barrels per day, one tenth of the world total), with more than half of this for road transportation at a cost of over US$159 billion.

Information about the majority of Commonwealth countries, of which 12 are Caribbean, has been provided in a report by Dr Lewis M Fulton of the University of California Davis. The report, “Fuel economy policies could spare Commonwealth governments from an impending transport fuels disaster” is published by the Commonwealth Advisory Bureau at the University of London.

Fulton makes the point that the costs have been rising rapidly “both because of rising demand and rising world oil prices and could double over the coming decade if no action is taken”. Describing the situation as “unsustainable”, Fulton points out that “about half the Commonwealth’s (and the world’s) oil is used in transport and oil accounts for about 95 per cent of transport fuel use”.

The problem will worsen rapidly in the coming years. Based on projections by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the num-ber of road vehicles, and road fuel use, in Commonwealth countries could double by 2030 and increase by a factor of four by 2050. With continuing increases in the world price of oil, expenditure on fuel will rise even faster and could approach US$1.5 trillion per year by 2050.

For Commonwealth countries, including its Caribbean members, this huge import bill will amount not only to hundreds of billions of dollars per year in lost foreign exchange, but also to collapse of some economies.

Having identified the problem, Fulton also sets out a strategy for dealing with it. He recognises that “vibrant transport systems are critical to economic development and healthy functioning of society”. The question is how to deliver needed transport services while cutting their negative impacts.

Fulton states that work in which he has been involved at the IEA shows that it is possible to cut the world’s road transport energy use by nearly half over the next 40 years, compared to where it would otherwise be, and at very low cost (or potentially even net savings) to society.

So what could Commonwealth countries, including those in the Caribbean, do? Fulton proposes a number of measures. One of them is fuel economy improvement in cars, trucks and motor cycles that would save a great deal of fuel each year. Governments could encourage the use of hybrid vehicles which combine a small electric motor and batteries by applying a lower tariff or value added tax on their importation. Hybridisation saves around 30 per cent of fuel per kilometre in cars that have it. But hybrid vehicles only represent about 2 per cent of world car sales today. In the Caribbean, where there is no incentive to focus on hybrid vehicles, the percentage of sales is even lower.

Another measure would be to place a higher tariff or value added tax on imported vehicles that are “gas guzzlers”. This could help to fund incentives for purchases of more efficient cars.

A third measure is for governments to set fuel economy standards. Most of the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) now have mandatory fuel economy or CO2 emission standards. China has also recently adopted similar standards, and India has announced it will do from 2015. Therefore, at the moment of the 54 Commonwealth countries only three – Britain, Cyprus and Malta (because they are European Union members) – have adopted higher fuel economy standards. The three have benefitted from the use of far less fuel per kilometre, thus bringing down their oil costs.

Fulton makes the point that the measures he proposes are by no means exhaustive. He draws attention to the recent IEA Fuel Economy Technology Roadmap and Policy Pathway report and to a tool kit prepared by the United Nations Environmental Programme and the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) who are there to provide support and guidance to governments that are interested in pursuing fuel economy policy development.

Commonwealth countries, including Caribbean ones, will purchase millions of cars and trucks in the coming two decades, and will drive these vehicles billions of kilometres. As Fulton states, “It will take a lot of fuel to power all this mobility, and the cost of that fuel is startling”.

Heeding the warning of Barbados Prime Minister Stuart, Caribbean governments individually and the CARICOM Secretariat should aggressively seek the help of GFEI to reduce the oil import bill through more efficient road fuel use. This will, at least, free-up foreign exchange for critical investment in both domestic and commercial use of oil in the productive sector. Without it, the costs will overwhelm the region pushing it into more poverty at home and less competitiveness abroad.

Putting this issue on the back burner is to mount up the scale of the disaster into which the majority of Commonwealth countries, including the Caribbean, are now sleepwalking.

(The writer is a Consultant and former Caribbean diplomat. Responses and previous commentaries:
www.sirronaldsanders.com)

A woman’s plight?


Striving for gender equality has become a socially acceptable concept, but despite all the progress made, the fact remains that in some areas, men and women are still perceived quite differently. Particularly as it relates to the eligibility of a person to attract a spouse, the general consensus seems to be that women fall sharply out of demand after their mid-thirties, while men presumably only get better with age.

Is this the view of all Caribbean citizens or even the world?

With ageing being an inevitable process for all human beings, this exponential decline is most likely distressing and depressing to many women, if their age is to be used as the sole barometer of their attractiveness.

Yes, it is true that a high percentage of beauty advertisements are targeted towards women and it is also true that women are more concerned with their looks. Much more women than men turn to plastic surgery to get the look they desire. We seem to have a culture that holds women to a standard of sleekness, top-of-the-line physiques and of airbrushed images. It lends to the well-researched notion that women are extremely competitive with each other. We are often resolved to “fight” for our men.

One must also wonder: Does this magical figure of 35 have anything to do with the average childbearing years of a woman, while a man usually has more time to be fruitful and multiply? Could it be that, subconsciously, people link beauty, happiness and security with the ability to bear children? Perhaps.

So while women are seen to be racing against the biological clock, men have the luxury of time on their side. In addition, they do not seem to be scrutinised quite so heavily on their appearance. This is perhaps borne out in the common sight of ‘May-December’ couples, with the older party usually being the man. Notwithstanding the other circumstances that may be involved in the pairing of couples with large age gaps, why is this circumstance so skewed on one side?

By buying into this somehow widespread view – that a woman’s attractiveness exponentially declines and, irrespective of a natural similar decline of physique in a man, her captivating days are over while his remain in tact – we help to perpetuate a warped view and occurrence. We simply say, “that is just how it is”, go on with our lives and let this inequality go on.

There is some good evidence to suggest that such blunt statements from men may stem from the fact that they rather like this inequality.

No, it is not fair. Many things in this world are not fair but we should always look to turn around the inequality however and whenever we can. If we do nothing about it, the issue will continue and never have a chance to become fair.

Many couples meet and fall in love in the middle and latter stages of their lives. Many forty-somethings have attested to the fact that it was at that time in their lives they knew exactly who and what they wanted, and saw the world in a different way than when they were in their twenties.

No woman should feel as though she has to acknowledge a constant ticking from a clock that counts down to the end of her ability to attract a partner – a signal that looms with impending doom. But alas, “that is life”.

HIV/AIDS PLEA – Doctor urges males to seek early medical attention


By Linda Straker

Director of the National Infectious Diseases Control Unit (NIDCU), Dr. Jessie Henry, says that more males are dying from HIV/AIDS in Grenada, but the situation can turn around if males decide to seek early medical intervention.

“With regards to HIV, the data is showing two things as it pertains to males – one is that they are dying from AIDS shortly after diagnosis and two they are diagnosed in the late stage of the disease,” she said in an interview, in which she also disclosed there are presently 89 persons receiving treatment through the NIDCU treatment programme and between January and September 21 new cases were diagnosed.

“During that same period we had eight deaths, most of whom were males. What we have realised is that males generally don’t take care of their health and by the time we see them it’s just too late,” Dr. Henry said, while using an example to describe how the situation is different with females.

“If, for example, a female hears that a man whom she was intimate with died from HIV, she will quickly visit the clinic or her doctor to know her status; whereas with a man, he continues having in most cases unprotected sex, pretends that nothing is wrong and hoping it will go away by some miracle,” she said.

“But it doesn’t go away, it stays in the body and without medical treatment that male will get sick and by the time he is admitted to hospital, it’s too late for the treatment to work. Yes, we have one or two who will reach the brink and return, but generally they die with it diagnosed in the late stage,” she said.

Another problem with males, Dr. Henry said, is adherence to medication. “Even when some of them are diagnosed early and treatment starts, they just don’t take it as required, and failure to comply with treatment can result in medicine not working as it should and they will get sick,” she said.

Between January and September, Grenada recorded eight HIV/AIDS deaths all of whom were males, while in 2011 and 2010 there were 14 for each year. “And almost 90 per cent were males who were diagnosed while in hospital for unclear medical problems initially or some who stopped taking treatment. It’s important for males to understand that early detection is necessary to deal with any medical problem and they should not be ashamed to visit a doctor, be it for HIV or any medical complaint,” she advised.

Prime Minister meets NOI Leader Louis Farrakhan


Prime Minister Hon. Tillman Thomas last Friday met and held discussions with the Leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI), Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Minister Farrakhan arrived in Grenada last week Wednesday for a four-day visit, the first stop on a revived Caribbean tour.

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and Nation of
Islam (NOI) Leader Louis Farrakhan in discussion at the
Prime Minister’s Mount Royal residence.
The Prime Minister welcomed Minister Farrakhan, a religious and social leader in the United States, and praised him for his message of social justice, respect for black women and his challenge to young black men to renew their commitment to their families and communities.

“I have followed Mr. Farrakhan’s teachings since I lived in New York. I was particularly impressed by his challenge to black men to respect black women and to become more committed to their families,” Prime Minister Thomas remarked following the hour-long meeting.

The Prime Minister also discussed several issues affecting the global economy with Minister Farrakhan, who was accompanied by two of his sons – Mustapha Farrakhan and Nasir Farrakhan, and other NOI officials.

Last week Thursday, the NOI Leader visited several agricultural projects, including the Nutmeg Receiving Station at Gouyave in St. John’s.

Minister Farrakhan, who was the main speaker at a weekend forum, was scheduled to visit Barbados, Dominica, the US Virgin Islands, Belize, and The Bahamas in the coming days.

The Chicago-based Nation of Islam has espoused Black Nationalism and self-reliance since it was founded in Detroit in the 1930s.

Former NDC Chairman to chair new political party


By Linda Straker

Former Labour Minister, Glynis Roberts, who was among ten persons expelled from the National Democratic Congress (NDC), delivered the feature address at the launch of Grenada’s newest political party on Tuesday.

The National United Front foundation members include persons who were also founding members of the ruling National Democratic Congress, which formed following a split in the New National Party, which was then led by the late Prime Minister Herbert Blaize. They are Jerome Joseph and Siddiqui Sylvester, who also delivered remarks at the Grand Beach Convention Centre where foundation members of the party were presented to the public.

Sylvester said that the party is mobilising its membership and a convention will be held early in 2013.

“We do have support groups in a number of constituencies and we are working towards establishing more as we prepare to hold our first convention where we will also decide on who is the leader,” said Sylvester, who confirmed that the foundation members as well as the interim organising committee would be presented to the public during the event.

“While we await the convention to decide on who will be holding the various positions on our first executive, we have a co-ordinating committee and the interim chairman is Mr. Joseph, who is well known for the work he has done politically,” Sylvester added.

Joseph was not among the ten who were expelled from the NDC at the September 30 Convention, he instead recently resigned from the party.

Sylvester confirmed that the “sun” will be the party’s symbol.

Farrakhan: New education system needed


A civil rights leader from the USA wants to see all CARICOM members unite as one great nation and at the same time adopt a new form of education system that will inspire young and future generations to develop the region.

Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam, told a public forum last Saturday that Caribbean countries should pay greater attention to youth, including the type of education young people are receiving at school.

Describing the current education system as one that “promotes white supremacy”, he said that system prepares young people to see themselves has working for another instead of working towards developing themselves and region.

“You have to build a new education system that will take pride in showing the young people who they are. You need a new education system that will free them from their grip and put them in their rightful place,” he said.

He told the hundreds who had turned out to his inaugural speech in Grenada that young people who are not equipped to make their contribution towards the development of nation can become impatient and this can result in them displaying other anti-social behaviours.

“With 40 per cent of your people unemployed, it’s a recipe for revolution and young people are revolting,” said Farrakhan, who reminded the audience about the involvement of young people in uprisings in other parts of the world.

During his presentation at the Grenada Trade Centre, Farrakhan condemned the mistreatment and abuse of women; championed the need for greater black economic empowerment; and appealed for deeper Caribbean integration.

Grenada was the first stop on a seven-nation Caribbean tour. While in the spice island, he met Governor General Sir Carlyle Glean; Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and his Deputy Nazim Burke; and Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Mitchell. He also visited the Happy Hill Secondary School – the institution where a student lost his life due to a stabbing from another student. (LS)

Grenadians told to accept reality and closure will come – with regards to the death of slain Prime Minister


A prominent African-American leader, who visited Grenada, told a public forum last Saturday night that the 1983 assassination of former Prime Minister Maurice Bishop is a reality that cannot change and the acceptance of that as a fact will assist in bringing closure to the position taken by many over the years.

“Closure comes when you accept a reality that you cannot change,” said Louis Farrakhan, as he comforted those who have continuously asked about the location of the body, which is yet to be identified after 29 years. “When you accept that this is a reality you cannot change, the will of God will prevail,” he said.

The fact that the body of Bishop and others who died in the 1983 massacre are yet to be located and receive a proper burial in accordance with Christian traditions, has been the subject of many discussions and research over the years.

Calling for those who are affected to forgive, Farrakhan said that forgiveness is a healing process that involves all affected.

“If you cannot forgive those who have forgiven you, how can you ask God to forgive you?” he asked the audience, who gave him a standing ovation on arrival.

He also called for deeper political unity among countries of the Caribbean Community.

 “Grenada cannot exist independent of other Caribbean islands. So, the future of the West Indies must not just stop with CARICOM, but there must be a political union of the whole of the Caribbean,” said Farrakhan, who was born in the United States to Caribbean parents.

Farrakhan, 79, said there is a need for all countries – including the US and Grenada – to end the practice of partisan party politics, which is hampering national development.

“We need to think more of Grenada and the Caribbean rather than our party,” he said. “Our party is important, but our party is not more important than the nation that these parties are to serve.” (LS)

We must redouble our efforts, says UN


Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, UN Resident Co-ordinator for Barbados and the OECS, says we must all play our part in redoubling our efforts to end violence against women and children by finding solutions.

After mentioning the UNiTE Campaign, launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in 2008, to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls in all parts of the world by 2015, she reminded her audience that with only three more years to this deadline, a big push is required now to target actions where it matters most.

“The campaign calls on governments, civil society, women’s organisations, young people, the private sector, the media and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls,” she commented at a recent regional conference.

The goals include appropriate legislation to aid prevention and implement punishment; multi-sectoral national action plans; data collection on the prevalence of such violence; increase public awareness and social mobilisation and address sexual violence in conflict.

She also highlighted the fact that girls are most affected by sexual abuse – twice that of boys, with a figure of well over 150 million world-wide.

“Whereas the trend at the time saw young boys facing greater physical violence, girls were more likely to have suffered sexual abuse by the time they were 15, more likely to have been exposed to sexual and gender-based violence at school by male teachers and classmates, and to have been forced into human trafficking,” she shared.

She then revealed the findings of a regional assessment of violence against children in the Caribbean region, which pointed to “the cultural and socially entrenched attitudes of entitlement to young girls’ bodies associated with care responsibilities”.

This disturbing trend shows that there is a long way to go in reversing these occurrences.

“There still remains much work to be done in creating legislation to address sexual abuse issues, including child trafficking; strengthening institutional capacity; and enforcement to support current legislation,” she stated, adding that meaning must be given to the three pillars of UNiTE in Latin America and the Caribbean – “no more impunity, no more victims and it is everyone’s responsibility”. (EL)

Caribbean nations pledge action


Deliberations went late into the evening last week Wednesday as Caribbean ministers, health, legal and other professionals convened for a second day to finalise a document that would be used as the agenda beacon in comprehensively tackling sexual violence against our children in the region.

Hours after the scheduled 4:00 p.m. end to the meeting, “The Bridgetown Declaration and Agenda for Action to prevent and Respond to Sexual Abuse Against Girls and Boys” was finally and gratifyingly ratified, with positive words of fervent implementation from the delegates.

Delivering the final remarks at the closing ceremony of that sub-regional conference on ending sexual violence against children at the Barbados Hilton Hotel, were Paul Brummell, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom; Khin-Sandi Lwin, UNICEF Office for the Eastern Caribbean Area representative; and Stephen Lashley, Barbados’ Minister of Family, Culture, Youth and Sports.

Brummell opined that the Break the Silence campaign, which was started in Trinidad in 2010 and introduced to the region last week Tuesday evening, is “about bringing noise to the silent emergency” of sexual abuse against children.

It is designed to empower victims, their families and the wider society to speak out, denounce and break the stigma associated with this type of violence. It purports to also advocate by lobbying policymakers, health workers and law enforcers for apt protection and treatment services.

He also said that the agenda for action is “impressive” and expressed his keenness for participants to commit to a key set of milestones to ensure the goals set out are in place by 2015 – the United Nations deadline for an end to violence against women and children.

Khin-Sandi Lwin admitted that action is the main challenge after this agreement, noting that “plans tend to get lost” amongst the island-wide agendas of the individual states.

After highlighting that “damaged children” is related to the reality of “damaged adults”, she says UNICEF is cognisant of the fact that money is shrinking for the programmes needed to continue to address this troubling issue.

“How do we create the fiscal space for children in national budgets? We have many social safety net schemes in the Caribbean ...but unless the political choices are made, we are not going to be able to create that fiscal space for children.”

“The political leaders among us are who we really look to really take this agenda forward. Transformation is what is called for. How do we package this and put children on a platform of the more-attention issues?” she asked.

Speaking last, Minister Lashley acknowledged that the challenge has been firmly raised and indicated his hope that Caribbean nations “take this problem extremely seriously”.

“I know this is not an easy task, but we must remind ourselves of the consequences of not doing anything,” he stated.

Moreover, he said that in the new year, another meeting must be held to review our collective progress. (EL)

UNICEF Director: We need to keep going


Bernt Aasen, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, openly admitted that there is a danger of “preaching to the converted” at such events used to elevate the discussion and focus the media spotlight on sexual violence against children, but vowed that the fight must continue as the alternative is not acceptable.

He was speaking at the launch of a two-day sub-regional conference on this subject at the Barbados Hilton Hotel recently.

With known statistics in the Caribbean – thought to be underreported – showing that 47.6 per cent of girls and 31.9 per cent of boys reported that their first intercourse was forced or coerced by family members or family acquaintances and that of adult survivors, 30 per cent of female respondents from Barbados reported to have been sexually abused during their childhood, he highlighted the need for a concerted push to stop such incidences and reverse these troubling numbers.

Addressing the many high-level delegates gathered, he reminded them that child sexual abuse occurs across the racial, ethnic, religious, socio-economic scope and age scope – including infants – with studies showing that between 70-80 per cent of the children victims are girls.

In 50 per cent of these cases, he said the perpetrator lives with the victim, in 75 per cent of the cases the perpetrator has a direct relationship with the victim and in many cases, he or she is someone the child knows and trusts.

“Each of you has been working on one angle or dimension of this complex issue: adults perpetrating sexual crimes against children. We are shocked by the headlines in the media reporting an infant being raped by a male family member. You know from your experience that the issue is hidden; that the numbers reported don’t reflect the magnitude of the problem.”

Although such abuse experiences are usually accompanied by serious physical, psychological and social consequences, Aasen, however, pointed to positive movements that are having a small impact on the situation.

“These facts are alarming, yet we also know that there is a public and private ambivalence on the issue of child sexual abuse. The glimmer of hope is that tides are shifting.”

In this regard, the keynote speaker highlighted the emergence of agreements and actions among nations around the world where commitments to end occurrences and impunity of these crimes are being echoed, such as the recent sub-regional follow-up on the UN Violence Against Children study and the CARICOM Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) on children and youth in July “where you emphasised the urgent need to expose these atrocities, remove the veil of secrecy and break the silence that shrouds these practices”.

“That is why we are here these two days – to start the process of translating these commitments into concrete actions. Each of us as critical players, whether at the local, national, regional or international levels, have been chipping away, at times almost in isolation from other actors. The prescriptions and recipes for successful action are available. We all know that the issue has to be dealt with in-concert – from all the different angles at the same time – consistently, persistently and systematically.” (EL)

French-speaking C’bean could develop closer ties with OECS countries

OECS Chairman and PM of St. Vincent
and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves.

Martinique and Guadeloupe may soon have closer ties with OECS countries.

This has been billed as a “very important strategic development” by OECS Chairman Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines. He was speaking at a press conference following the 56th Meeting of the OECS Authority, held on November 22-23 in Dominica.

He outlined, “An OECS negotiation team has been established, briefs have been prepared, and the team is ready to commence negotiations with the Martinique and Guadeloupe negotiation teams, who have indicated that they would shortly be ready to tango, so to speak.”

Also under discussion at the Heads of Government meeting was placing the Revised Treaty of Basseterre within the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. According to Dr. Gonsalves, this would be so that “the very special position of the OECS Economic Union would be recognised within the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas itself”.

Director General of the OECS, Len Ishmael (left);
and Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit.
He added that The Secretariats of OECS and CARICOM have been asked to meet at the earliest possible opportunity to further discussion on the matter so that we can have it on the agenda at the upcoming CARICOM Intercessional Meeting to be held in Haiti in February next year.

Other topics on the agenda included financing for the OECS Secretariat, the establishment of the Economic Affairs Council, oceans governance in the OECS.

Another point of discussion – and concern – was the new visa restrictions imposed by Canada on St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia. In their official communiqué, the Heads of Government expressed their “continued profound discomfort” with the manner in which this was done. Nonetheless, they agreed that citizens visiting Canada should do “in accordance with the law and immigration procedures of Canada” and urged them to do so.

New addition to underwater park

Jason Taylor.

 By Linda Straker

BY the end of the week, the Underwater Park in Moliniere will have 28 new additions, increasing the number of pieces of 105.

What maybe started as unrealistic idea or dream of Jason Taylor’s has now slowly become a wonder of the world, having received recognition from publications such as National Geographic and others whose work focuses on showcasing the persons who have developed ideas that created positive changes.

“My desire was to contribute towards the rebuilding of reefs in this beautiful diving area,” said Taylor. When he commenced his work of designing, he sought the involvement of the Government of Grenada as he saw the potential of his idea, though some were hesitant. Despite the many ups and downs, the Park has now become a major attraction and a must-visit, especially for divers.

The Park was somewhat uncared for for a while, especially in the aftermath of hurricane Ivan, whose damage devastated the country in 2004. Now it is managed by Grenada Underwater Park Management Inc.

“We saw the value of the attraction; it gave people a reason to book their flight to Grenada,” said Howard Clarke of the GUPM.

The Underwater Park in Moliniere will have 28 new
additions, increasing the number of pieces of 105. 
The new addition was project undertaken by the GUPM costing US$30 000 which received sponsorship from a number of local corporate bodies including St. George’s University; LIME Grenada; True Bay Resort; First Impression; Aquanauts and many other stakeholders.

The pieces will be lowered into the Park and, within 18 months, become unrecognisable as they will become the home for many in the marine world. “This is all good for the Marine Environment,” said Dr. Claire Morrall of the SGU. “It will take the pressure off the natural reef,” she said.

Taylor, who presently works from his studio in Mexico, is also building a similar park in the waters there. Though bigger than the one in Grenada, he said that his first park will always be special to him as it was the foundation piece for him.

“And others saw the possibilities and now it’s a natural acceptance,” he said.

Grenada rums stand superior in 2012 Rum and Beer Festival


THE rums produced in Grenada won a significant amount of awards in the 2012 Caribbean Rum and Beer contest, which was held as part of the 3rd Caribbean Rum & Beer Festival held earlier in November.

The blind tasting competition took place during the just-concluded 2012 Caribbean Rum & Beer Festival held in Grenada, hosted at the Grenada Cultural Centre.

In a closed-room session, the judging panel sampled over 50 rums and made their decisions based upon four criteria: appearance, aroma, taste and overall impression.

This year, the judging panel included the editors of ‘Got Rum’ Magazine, Luis and Margaret Ayala in conjunction with members of the XP Panel including Bob Davies, Nick Feris, Dave Russell, Steve Bennett, Mike Streeter, John Gibbons, Carl Kanto, Carlton Grooms, Lisette Davies and the unforgettable Burr family.

The Caribbean Rum & Beer Festival is set to become the Caribbean’s premier promotion and retailing event for rum and beer beverages. (LS)


2012 Rum and Beer Festival winners

Category: White Rum
First: Westerhall 12 Degrees Rum (Westerhall Estate Ltd., Grenada)
Second: Clarke’s Court Superior White Rum (Grenada Distillers Ltd., Grenada)
Third: Cuello Caribbean White Rum (Cuello Distillery Ltd., Belize)

Category: Overproof Rum
First: Clarke’s Court Pure White Rum (Grenada Distillers Ltd., Grenada)
Second: River Antoine Special Aged Rum (River Antoine Distillery, Grenada)
Third: Westerhall White Jack Rum (Westerhall Estate Ltd., Grenada)

Category: Flavoured Rum
First: Cuello Caribbean Coconut Rum (Cuello Distillery Ltd., Belize)
Second: Bois Bande Rum (Belfast Estate Ltd., Dominica)
Third: Clarke’s Court Rum Sorrel (Grenada Distillers Ltd., Grenada)

Category: Brown/Gold Rum
First: Westerhall Plantation Rum (Westerhall Estate Ltd., Grenada)
Second: Myers Dark Rum (Myers Rum Company, Jamaica)
Third: Tommy Bahamas Brown Rum (R L Seale, Barbados)

Category: Aged Rum (5-9 years)
First: Clarkes’ Court #37 Rum (Grenada Distillers Ltd., Grenada)
Second: Borgoe 8 Year Old Rum (SAB, Suriname)
Third: Cockspur Old Gold (West Indies Distillery, Barbados)

Category: Aged Rum (10-14 years)
First: Mount Gay Extra Old Rum (Mount Gay Distillery, Barbados)
Second: Westerhall Vintage Rum (Westerhall Estate Ltd., Grenada)
Third: Cockspur VSOR Rum (West Indies Distillery, Barbados)

Category: Aged Rum (15 years and over)
First: El Dorado 15 Year Old Rum (Demerara Distillers, Guyana)
Second: Borgoe 15 Year Old Rum (SAB, Suriname)
Third: Zacapa 15 year Old Rum (Zacapa, Guatemala)

Co-op Bank to launch scholarship programme in honour of Kirani James


GRENADA Co-operative Bank Limited and the Grenada Boys’ Secondary School (GBSS) Alumni Association of New York Inc. will launch the inaugural Kirani James/Co-op Bank Athletic Scholarship Award in December 2012.

Grenada Co-operative Bank Limited, which signed a partnership agreement with Mr. James earlier this year, has agreed to provide a scholarship award in the name of the World and Olympic 400-metre champion. The award will be presented by Mr. James at the annual Gala event of the Alumni in New York on December 8, 2012.

“This will be an historic occasion not just for the GBSS Alumni Association but also for the Grenada Co-operative Bank Limited since it will be contributing to the legacy of Kirani James,” said Michael Bascombe, President of the GBSS Alumni Association of New York.

“Co-op Bank can further boast of improving the community and elevating its investment in education and sports,” he said.

The scholarship award will assist the recipient in the purchase of books, supplies and other living expenses for one year.

Mr. James will be among honourees at the Alumni’s 21st Annual Scholarship Awards and Dinner Dance at the elegant Antuns in Queens, New York. He will be joined by fellow Olympian and 2012 NCAA Decathlon champion Kurt Felix and former Principal of the GBSS, Mr. Victor Ashby.

In July, Grenada Co-op Bank awarded more than $70 900 in scholarships to 15 students as part of its annual Super Starter Education Investment Plan Programme and the second Platinum Scholarship. The Bank’s total commitment in the Super Starter Education Investment Plan Scholarship Programme is approximately $180 000. (LS)

Finance Minister denies involvement in the RMC


FINANCE Minister Nazim Burke said he was never a member of the Revolutionary Military Council (RMC) – the five-day government that administered Grenada in the aftermath of the October 19, 1983 civil unrest that resulted in the death of former Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and other Cabinet colleagues.

The issue came up during an appearance last week Wednesday night on the local television show ‘You Decide’ on Channel 6, where he was presenting an overview of the country’s financial affairs and, at the same time, presenting reasons why the Tillman Thomas administration should return to office. General Elections are due no later than October 2013.

When a caller said on the show that Burke could not be trusted because of his involvement with the RMC in the days following the execution of Maurice Bishop in 1983, the Grenada Deputy leader made the stunning denial.

“Your accusation that I was a member of the RMC was false,” Burke said as he interrupted the caller. “You know that I was never a member of a military council,” said the visibly angry Minister, who lifted his voice as if he was shouting.

When host Byron Campbell sought a follow-up, asking him about his role as the Minister of Finance following the killing of Bishop, Burke said: “It is false. I was never the Junior Minister of Finance under the Revolution.”

When the formation of the RMC was announced following the death of Bishop in 1983, Burke was named as part of the council and identified as the Minister of Finance. Every historical record from the time listed him as such.

There has also been no record of a public denial by Burke of his involvement until that night.

Regional online resource facility launched – to empower vulnerable women



Chief Executive Officer of the Pinelands Creative Workshop, Rodney Grant.
AN online resource facility has been launched to assist poor and vulnerable women in Barbados and the OECS seeking an access point for knowledge and assistance on how they can start and develop successful micro-businesses.

Tuesday, November 13, marked the official launch of the Regional Resource Centre for Women, an initiative of the Pinelands Creative Workshop (PCW) and UN Women.

The facility was conceptualised out of a joint project between PCW and UN Women, which seeks to identify workable solutions to economically empowering poor and vulnerable women. The pilot project entitled “Building Blocks for Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Caribbean” targeted Barbados, Dominica and Grenada.

During the pilot phase of the project, the key target group with key sector experts engaged in a series of think tanks as a Phase One – Preparatory Stage of this intervention. As an outcome, approximately 145 participants collectively identified developing business plans; marketing and access to markets as a priority; understanding trade; packaging and standardisation; customer service skills; and greater understanding of ICT to facilitate better business management and communication resulting in having a competitive advantage.

More importantly, participants expressed a need for an access point/space to tap into for the purpose of life-long learning, knowledge sharing, networking and the formulation of partnerships as well as to be updated on new and improved market trends and policies. They can now do so through the website www.rrcw.ngo.bb.

During a detailed presentation, Chief Executive Officer of the Pinelands Creative Workshop, Rodney Grant, explained that the facility is intended to be a physical and virtual resource centre and market place to reach and support female entrepreneurs at the regional level, and that will drive the work of the Regional Business Centre for Women. An important component, he noted, is the need to see the export potential of these micro-businesses extra-regionally and the benefits that can be derived from forming co-operatives.

A section of the audience at the official launch of the
Regional Resource Centre for Women Online Facility,
which was held at United Nations House last week Tuesday morning.
He explained that the Centre, which will be located in the Marcus Garvey Resource and Development Centre, will provide business training, information access, mentorship and advice, technical support, space for advertising as well as linkages to key agencies and individuals.

The chief executive officer said that there is still a need for partnerships, computer upgrades, the purchase of equipment, website development, web content development, as well as ongoing website management costs and operational costs that must be considered, and he encouraged potential partners to come on board to assist the facility in this regard. (JH)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Master’s in Sports coming on stream


THE Cave Hill Campus of the University of West Indies (UWI) and New Brunswick University in Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as the regional university continues it push towards the implementation of a Sports Sciences programme in its curriculum.

Last week Wednesday, Principal of the UWI Cave Hill Campus, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, and Vice-President Frederiction at the University of New Brunswick, Dr. Anthony “Tony” Secco, completed the signing in the Principal’s main conference room for the Master’s programme, which is slated to be on offer from the next academic year.

Vice-President Frederiction at the University of New Brunswick,
Dr. Anthony ‘Tony’ Secco (left), and Principal of the University of
West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles (centre),
during the signing of the MOU, while Dr. Wayne Albert looks on.
The programme, which is the first of its kind in the region, will be one year for full-time students and two years for part-time students. There will be 10 components to the programme, which is divided equally among each university.

Sir Hilary said that they hope it will be the flagship for the region and was happy with the partnership and “the notion of effectively sharing our collective knowledge”.

“We have arrived at the moment where we are all comfortable with the arrangements,” said Sir Hilary.

He mentioned that as a lover of sports, he had a personal interest in the programme and chose to set up the management of it from his office.

 Dr. Secco said that, “There is so much for those who play the sport and demonstrate athletic skill and with the help of those who understand the sport – the physical and psychological background – it can help them do their best.”

Also present at the signing was Dominic Blakely, Dr. Daniel Coleman, Dr. Wayne Albert and Assad David from New Brunswick University. (CG)

Encouraging times ahead for Windies

Darren Sammy chats with team manager Richie Richardson.

DARREN Sammy’s ‘creep-before-you-walk’ philosophy seems to be working a treat.

During two topsy-turvy sessions in Mirpur on Saturday, the West Indies completed a sensational, come-from-behind victory over Bangladesh in the first of two Tests.

Buoyed by their World T20 triumph last month, it appears that the Caribbean side, after more than a decade in the doldrums, is finally on the comeback path to some form of prosperity, if not success.

“We have a team goal which we want to achieve, but it is a going to be a step-by-step process,” said captain Sammy, a painfully undistinguished cricketer, however, easily one of the best motivators of men in the modern game.

“It is important to win matches and it’s a challenge we put on ourselves, just like we forced ourselves to try and win the T20 World Cup. We achieved that and now we are looking forward to this series [against Bangladesh].”

Since their last trip to Bangladesh, exactly a year ago, where they won the Test series 1-0 and the ODIs 2-1, the West Indies have lost three Test series.

But still, the positive change in their approach to the gentleman’s game has been clear to see, especially during their dominant series win over New Zealand in August.

“We have to perform on the cricket field, that’s where it counts,” said Sammy. “We came here [to Bangladesh] with one mission: To win all three series.”

A brief look at the scorecard from the first Test: West Indies won the toss and chose to bat on what was initially a docile pitch at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium. Racking up 527-4 dec. over the first two days, it seemed like the right call at the time.

Veteran bat Shivnarine Chanderpaul was his typical self, patient and composed, as he returned to the pavilion unbeaten on 203, equalling his previous best against South Africa in Georgetown in 2005.

Denesh Ramdin, for much of his career desperately short on runs, recorded his second Test century of the year, an unbeaten 126, while rookie opener Kieran Powell, playing in only his 12th Test, scored 117.

With yet another century in the second innings, 22 year-old Powell would later be named Man of the Match.

In reply, Bangladesh played with typical determination, combining their efforts for a remarkable 556 all out, handing them an unlikely lead of 29 runs.

The West Indies, led once again by Powell at the top of the order with 110, was bowled out in their second innings for 273, leaving Bangladesh to chase just over 200 for victory from the final two sessions of the match.

But a fiery Tino Best had other ideas, and striking on either side of lunch, took a career-best five for 24 as the West Indies routed the hosts for 167, ensuring what in the end turned out to be a comfortable 77-run victory.

“We have said from the beginning, we have a lot of respect for Bangladesh and we are not going to take them lightly,” said Sammy in his final post-match analysis.

“Had we taken them for granted, the result of their first innings total would have caused panic in the dressing room.

“But to see that we battled our way throughout the Test and came out victorious will definitely be a boost to the confidence that we already had coming out of the ICC World Twenty20 Tournament.

“It will also help to improve the attitudes of players whenever we take to the field and face a difficult task.”

All told, the match yielded 1 523 runs, 34 wickets, a double centurion, five century innings, a six-for, a five-for and one hell of a finish.

It was the fifth triumph for the West Indies in nine Tests against Bangladesh. In stark contrast, it was the 64th defeat in 74 Tests for the hosts.

“It was a difficult pitch for the bowlers,” Sammy added. “We knew we needed to get ten wickets to win the match and we backed our bowlers to put the ball in the right areas. Once we were patient, we knew we could get the wickets.

“We always had a belief that we could get a victory, and no matter how hard they [Bangladesh] fought, we always felt we would come out on top.” (AH)

Building dream factories – Education and the Caribbean


‘Education, education, education’, was the expression used by Britain’s former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to describe his three main priorities just before he first took office. Although he later squandered over Iraq the high regard in which this and other elements of his third way philosophy were held in the Caribbean, his simple message about the strategic importance of education continues to resonate.

This is because without an education system that is modern, relevant and future facing, all states, including those in the Caribbean, will struggle to develop newer industries and achieve the competitiveness and skills that are essential to create economic growth.

For many years now, the region has been able to cultivate a generally positive image of high literacy levels and academic achievement. It has given the world Nobel laureates and has a capacity for intellectual rigour and debate that makes it among the more interesting regions with which to engage. It has used this to promote itself as a location for foreign investment and as an indicator of its identity and culture.

However, look more closely at what is happening on the ground in many states and it becomes clear that away from a small elite group of schools, the region’s secondary education system is now failing to turn out students with the type of qualifications or skills that will enable the Caribbean to succeed in the highly competitive services based industries that its future rests upon.

Recently, Dr. Kenny Anthony, St. Lucia’s Prime Minister, made this point. Speaking in St. Lucia at the launch of new phase of the Caribbean youth empowerment programme he was blunt. The island, he suggested, was in danger of becoming uncompetitive.

“We are facing an employment crisis”, he said. “Economic stimulus alone is not the answer. We need to restructure our agencies, laws and curriculum to place greater emphasis on developing citizens who can make a contribution”.

Declining CXC exam results in St. Lucia meant that concerning numbers were leaving school unready for the world of work, and did not have any marketable, technical or vocational skills. “We have become a nation of underachievers; that has never been our tradition,” he was reported as saying.

If his counterparts elsewhere in the region had the same courage, Dr. Anthony’s frank assessment could, with some variations, be applied to almost every nation in the region. With the exception of Cuba and in part, the Dominican Republic, all are now experiencing a decline in educational standards and are failing to develop young peoples’ talents in ways that relate to the region’s future.

The changing global requirements of education were placed in a global context at the 18th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Mauritius. There the sense was that education needed to be seen as transformational. Knowledge-based economies were the only realistic future for most resource-poor small states. This meant that limited resources needed to be better spent and there was a need to reassess teaching methods so they were technology-driven and relevant to national development.

Similar concerns and solutions can be found in a Caribbean-specific context in a thoughtful and challenging 2010 paper on rethinking Caribbean education. Written by Dr. Didacus Jules, the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), it suggests there is a pressing need to redefine the region’s approach to education to ensure it is producing individuals with competencies that place the region on a path to sustainable development.


His central argument is that education in the Caribbean has largely been based on adapting a colonial inheritance in which the organising principle has been to sort and classify people. This approach, which he notes is still fostered by the international funding agencies, is, he believes, no longer relevant to the region’s needs. Globalization has brought about an educational sector that has become a powerful industry dominated by western thinking. This he feels leaves little room for small states to create a model that is significantly different.

Caribbean governments, he argues, spend a much larger percentage of public money on education than many developed countries. Although as a percentage of GDP this is higher than in many OECD countries, Dr Jules produces evidence to suggest Caribbean performance is not commensurate with that investment.

Space does not permit more in the way of detail, but he suggests that Caribbean education needs rethinking; that there needs to be agreement on a new educational philosophy appropriate to the contemporary Caribbean; that there ought to be a seamless education system; that learning should become fun and be more closely related to the digital world; and that it needs to be attuned to a Caribbean-led assessment of the region’s key competencies and global competitiveness.

What neither Dr. Anthony or Dr. Jules makes clear, however, is how the gap between the dream and reality is to be closed, given that, in most Caribbean states, educational spending is falling and has to compete with other social priorities including health care and housing.

The problem is that many developed nations that have provided bilateral assistance in the past, are now struggling to raise sufficient revenues to deliver their own social commitments in the face of the continuing global economic crisis.

Yet it is only likely that through education and the retention of those with skills and training that the Caribbean can be transformed.

What is required goes beyond new thinking about the Caribbean educational model. It suggests that thought needs to be given to new sources of funding if education systems are to be adapted and made relevant to the future.

Here there is a wealth of external experience. Community colleges and tertiary education establishments created through Foundations, using corporate money in public/private partnerships, research hubs and parks around universities, fee paying summer schools, and peer to peer support in North America, Europe and parts of the Far East are just some of the ideas worth studying. So too is a recent study by Brookings, the US think tank, which suggests that one way forward in Latin America and the Caribbean might be to encourage large regional and hemispheric multinationals to invest out of self-interest to improve the quality of future employees.

As Dr. Anthony suggests, the priority is to find new ways to make and fund ‘dream factories’ that give (the Caribbean) people the tools to create a better reality.

(David Jessop is the Director of the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at david.jessop@caribbean-council.org
Previous columns can be found at www.caribbean-council.org)

Caribbean in greatest crisis since independence


“Make no mistake about it. Our region is in the throes of the greatest crisis since independence. The spectre of evolving into failed societies is no longer a subject of imagination. How our societies crawl out of this vicious vortex of persistent low growth, crippling debt, huge fiscal deficits and high unemployment is the single most important question facing us at this time”. That is not an assessment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to be taken lightly. It is an assessment by a Caribbean Prime Minister who has also had the advantage of serving as Legal Advisor to the CARICOM Secretariat.
Dr. Kenny Anthony, the Prime Minister of St Lucia, delivered this appraisal to a meeting of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry on October 31.

The Prime Minister’s statement is so important to the present crunch in which CARICOM exists, and so crucial to its future path that one would have expected it to be a matter of discussion at all levels of society in the 15 member-states of CARICOM. Yet, beyond its brief reportage in some of the regional media, attention to this grave warning died almost immediately after it was spoken.

The reasons for the absence of widespread discussion including by the regional media, is probably because the Caribbean public has become accustomed to inaction by regional governments, institutions, and private sector organisations. Few would doubt the importance of what Prime Minister Anthony said and the urgency of addressing it. But all appear unconvinced that anyone will act decisively to change the situation. So, the appraisal – alarming and forceful as it is – evokes little more than resigned weariness in Caribbean publics.

This is a worrying condition for the CARICOM region. For, if the public has lost faith in the willingness of governments and institutions to act swiftly and together to extract them from crisis, the consequences will be even more serious. They will include increased emigration of the skilled persons in our societies, shrinkage of investment by local business people, and a general malaise in the productive sector. In short, it will lead to a worsening of the crisis.

The sad aspect of all this is that every leader in the member-states of CARICOM, in its institutions and in the private sector know very well that deeper integration of Caribbean economies and closer harmonisation of their external relations would be an immediate stimulus to pulling CARICOM countries out of what Dr. Anthony rightly describes as “this vicious vortex of persistent low growth, crippling debt, huge fiscal deficits and high unemployment”.

What each CARICOM country needs is not more nationalism, but more regionalism. This is not to say that they should form a Federation or political union, though, for the record, let me say it would be the best thing they could do. But, they have to stop operating as if, by themselves, they individually have the capacity either to deliver the public goods required by their people or to bargain effectively in the international community.

Again, Dr. Anthony crystallised this matter in his remarks when he said: “The issue we face is that our institutions, whether at the level of the state or supranationally, have not kept up with the times. This is the reality check that should have hit us, thanks to 2008 and the World Financial Crisis. And again, if we are to observe and learn from another epicentre of integration, Europe, this process is no simple undertaking, but requires unwavering commitment. What was also clear from 2008 is that we were still spending too much time using our integration machinery dealing with our insularities instead of charting an outward response to the looming global realities”.

Well, what are some of those looming global realities with which CARICOM countries should be concerned?

Food security: CARICOM’s food import bill now runs into billions of dollars and will escalate in the coming years; the fragility and cost of regional air transportation to support tourism and the absence of region-wide sea transportation to facilitate trade in goods; competition within the region from external nations, such as European exporters, who under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) will, over time, be landing goods and services and even opening businesses that will compete with local companies putting some of them out of business and reducing government revenues from tariffs; continuing erosion of preferences that certain key commodities from CARICOM countries have enjoyed, in the past, in the EU, US and Canadian markets; reduction in aid because, except for Haiti, CARICOM countries are regarded as middle income countries, and a continued restriction from concessional funds from international financial institutions for the same reason; the effects of global warming that demand adaptation infrastructure to stop sea-level rise from drowning huge parts of many countries, dislocating human habitats and destroying tourism infrastructure and agricultural production; and the lack of capacity to bargain effectively with larger countries and financial institutions on investment, trade and debt.

The list of issues identified here is by no means exhaustive, and they require bold thinking and courageous decision making -including a resolve to pool sovereignty regionally – to make each country stronger. Prime Minister Anthony diagnosed the ailments of the region accurately, though he stopped short of prescribing the medicine for curing them. But, he hinted at it when he said: “When appropriate, CARICOM must have the power and the resources to lead, setting both the objective and the tone of the dialogue, followed by a greater intensity of action”.

There are many countries and agencies that are ready to help the countries of the region to progress, but they know that apart from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and perhaps Guyana because of their natural resources, none of the Caribbean’s countries can survive – let alone prosper – without the economies of scale and the bargaining strength that comes from deeper integration. As Prime Minister Anthony counselled, “the spectre of evolving into failed societies is no longer a subject of imagination”.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant and former Caribbean diplomat)

Be proactive!


Market access does not mean market penetration.

This distinction was made abundantly clear at a regional media training Workshop convened here recently with the aim of educating the media about the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). By the end of the two-day event, it was clear that it was a much needed intervention.

The perspectives and issues raised were myriad and at times as complex as the EPA itself. It is no doubt a major reason why nearly four years after the signing of the document by EU and CARIFORUM officials, several key deadlines have been missed and there is still a long way to go before businesses in the region start to reap the benefits of this comprehensive trade agreement en masse.

Another contributing factor was the onset of the current economic recession. Many of the EPA’s provisions require changes to the regulatory framework – a lengthy and costly exercise. In addition, even as the region attempts to broaden trade with Europe, we are still battling our own internal struggles, which we see played out in the regional headlines every so often. With intra-regional trade still bringing headaches even within an environment where countries share a common history and, for the most part, language, as well as a stated goal of market integration, it is no surprise that business persons may shy away from the seemingly daunting task of penetrating the vast EU market.

Caribbean Export, the German Development Agency (GIZ) and the National EPA Implementation Unit, the hosts of the workshop, are all agencies that are mandated with facilitating the implementation of the EPA and helping businesses develop products and services that can take advantage of the agreement. Having been on the frontlines of this process for some time, they are intimately aware of the roadblocks to the desired destination of a mature trading relationship between the CARIFORUM countries and the EU. Their reaching out to the media in the form of this workshop is an acknowledgement that the EPA is not truly understood by the average person. Subsequently, great emphasis was placed on the role of journalists as professional communicators to distil all the available information about the EPA into a format that is more easily digested.

We certainly agree that journalists do carry a professional and civic responsibility to do so. In our unique position as intermediaries between officials from a range of sectors and the ‘man on the street,’ we can facilitate information exchange in a way that will be invaluable to the process. But it is also our view that the support provided by development agencies and the media can only go so far. Trade agreements may be written in ‘legalese’, but they are executed in the straight talk of the business world and, in our opinion, being successful in business requires a proactive approach.

The support agencies are there, funding is available and there are any number of professionals who can be hired to advise on regulatory issues, market research and all the other information that helps businesses make shrewd decisions. Indeed, businesses should feel far from powerless; they and the associations that represent them can stage powerful lobbies to government, being a driving force behind updating regulations and policy frameworks that may be hindering expansion.

Remember, access is not penetration – the latter implies an aggressive and vigorous action. We recognise that there are limitations, but business owners must ask themselves whether they are exerting enough energy to tap into what the EPA can do for their companies.

GOV’T SUPPORT FOR SECTORS REAFFIRMED


THE Government of Grenada is committed to supporting the manufacturing and tourism sectors, a position that is borne out in measures implemented by Government, as well as its commitment to engaging the private sector and involving it in policy decisions.

This was the assertion made via a press statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office last Friday. It was followed by a full press conference on Monday.

Friday’s statement was in swift response to concerns raised during a press conference held by representatives of the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GCIC) and the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association last Thursday, November 15.

At the time the charge was made that Government was not providing enough support to those sectors, while dissatisfaction was also expressed with the lack of new Foreign Direct Investment and the pace of project implementation.

However, in its press statement, the Government countered that it does in fact offer a wide range of incentives and support measures to those two sectors, even at the expense of Government coffers.

“With these incentives, Government has given up millions of dollars in revenue; for example, the 10 per cent Manufacturers Rebate has resulted in the giving up of over $10 million annually,” it was noted.

The Government statement also pointed to the emphasis it has placed on dialogue with members of the private sector, citing the crafting of a Social Protocol in 2008-2009 – a joint venture with the private sector. In addition, it was noted that private sector representation was facilitated on various committees and bodies that advise on public policy.

“In recent months, dialogue has been ongoing between the Manufacturing and Hotel Sectors with regard to the peculiar challenges they face,” read the statement. “Discussions have been facilitated by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Tourism, as well as by a number of public officers. As far as Government is concerned these discussions are ongoing and certainly cannot be resolved at press conferences.


“Government has held bi-lateral consultations with manufacturers, hoteliers, representatives of the construction sector, small business operators, agro-processors, the banking community, as well as with many professional bodies. In the period leading to the introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT), more than 700 briefing sessions were held by the Inland Revenue Department with private sector businesses,” it added.

The statement also expressed Government’s intention to widen its outreach to small and micro businesses.

However, it was noted that members of the private sector need to appreciate the “real fiscal limitations” facing the country, which “limit the extent to which Government can give up additional revenue beyond what has already been given up, without further eroding Government’s ability to meet its commitments”. (YA/PR)

Among the support measures highlighted were:

1. No Common External Tariff (CET) is paid on packaging materials, raw materials, spare parts and equipment.
2. The maintenance of an import licence regime for products competing with locally
manufactured goods.
3. Exemption of Annual Stamp Tax on exports of manufactured products.
4. Income Tax relief under the Grenada Investment Promotions Act.
5. Zero Rating of VAT on Exports.
6. Exemption of Excise Tax on alcohol to be used as an input into the manufacturing process.
7. 10% rebate on VAT exclusive sales to be used to offset any tax arrears except VAT.
8. Reduced VAT rate of 10% on accommodation.
9. 50% retention of VAT during the off-season (September-November 2010).
10. VAT exemption of Service Charge.
11. Most hotels enjoy a tax holiday (accelerated depreciation).


China initiative to reduce energy costs


By Linda Straker

Energy Minister Nazim Burke has disclosed that China has agreed to provide assistance to the Grenada Government that can result in reduced cost for electricity at the island’s Ministerial Complex.

“With the kind assistance of the People’s Republic of China, we have commenced a programme to replace all of the light bulbs in the Ministerial and Financial Complexes with the most efficient LED lighting currently on the market,” Burke told an energy symposium organised as part of Energy Awareness Week, which concluded last week Friday.

The initiative to reduce electricity cost is part of the Tillman Thomas administration’s 10-year Action Plan, which is to maximise energy efficiency wherever we can.

“We have started with the public sector,” said Burke, who explained that the project will target all government-owned buildings and/or office spaces. Technicians from China are scheduled to be in Grenada next week to train staff in the installation requirements.


On Tuesday, a statement from the Ministry of Finance said that as part of an agreement with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, 8 000 LED light bulbs and accessories were set to be officially handed over to the Government of Grenada yesterday in a ceremony at the Grenadian by Rex Resorts.

 Through the Agreement with the NDRC, the Government of the People’s Republic of China will assist Grenada in mitigating the negative effects of Climate change; achieving the country’s key objectives of maximizing energy efficiency; and promoting energy conservation through the provision of state-of-the-art Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights and energy efficient air-conditioners, which will be used mainly in Government buildings. Government also proposes to contribute some of the lights to the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA). The donation of the LED Lights represents the first phase of the project.

The presentation of the LED lights will be facilitated by Mr. Chen Xumei of the NDRC, Mr. Qian Zhijun, senior manager of China Potevio Co. Ltd, Mr. Yang Lei, engineer at the manufacturing factory of the LED light bulbs, and a representative of the Chinese embassy in Grenada. The Hon. V. Nazim Burke, Minister responsible for Energy, will accept on behalf of the Government of Grenada.

While in Grenada, the visiting team will also conduct a training session with students of T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) and the New Life Organisation (NEWLO); members of the Grenada Electrical Contractors Association; and the Building Supervisors of the Government offices, in the installation and use of the technology.

Capacity-building a priority for cultural industries

Sandra James of the Heritage Theatre Company of Grenada.

Unstructured. Underdeveloped. Fragmented.

These were some of the characteristics used to describe the local entertainment sector by long-time industry practitioner, Sandra James of the Heritage Theatre Company of Grenada.

According to James, this is contributing to that sector finding it difficult to access the opportunities in the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), as she highlighted a lack of knowledge as it relates to copyright and other intellectual property issues.

She was at the time addressing media personnel at a recent Regional Training Workshop on the EPA at The Grenadian by Rex Resorts hosted by Caribbean Export, the German Development Agency (GIZ) and the Grenada National EPA Implementation Unit (NEPAIU).

“There are little or no industry standards, no marketing and distribution mechanism, forget tax incentives – that is a whole other story,” she lamented. “There are no incentives for us practitioners to do what we do better or for even for the wider private sector to invest in our area.”

This, she maintained, stemmed from the broader issue of the economic contribution of the sector being undervalued. “There’s a lack of recognition of the contribution to the economic development of our countries by both our policymakers and our industry practitioners,” she remarked, though conceding, “If we don’t put a high value [on our work], or view it as important or making a contribution to a country’s GDP, we cannot expect our policymakers to take us seriously.”

James noted that her organisation was in the process of finding ways to educate its members and the broader entertainment fraternity on what their rights and responsibilities are as it relates to copyright and intellectual property, again admitting that they have insufficient knowledge of the implications of the
various multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, including the EPA, that Grenada would have signed.

She also made several recommendations to help the cultural industries realise their full potential, including creating an enabling environment through appropriate policymaking; strengthening the institutions that support the cultural industries, such as the Grenada Cultural Foundation and the Grenada Coalition of Service Industries; and implementing training programmes to hone the raw talent of cultural practitioners.

“We know we have to get our act together and start taking ourselves and the industry seriously so that we can move forward and lobby for greater support,” said James. “While we embark on our local development strategies, we still need to continue working with the EPA and see how we can access those opportunities.” (YA)

Call for more support


Grenada’s cultural practitioners are talented, experienced and have an important role to play in national development and the well-being of the society. What they need, however, is greater support from media organisations in helping them to bring their art to larger audiences.

This was the appeal made by Sandra James of the Heritage Theatre Company of Grenada, to members of the regional media at a recent training workshop to discuss opportunities under the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

The workshop was hosted by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Grenada National EPA Implementation Unit (NEPAIU). It was supported in part by Caribbean Export, through the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP), and is also being financed by GIZ. Funding also came from the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund (CARTFund).

She lamented that there was not enough local content seen in the media, and challenged the media practitioners to reverse this trend. “Our musicians, our actors, are as good as or better than those that come in!” insisted James.

Highlighting the achievements of her organisation, she noted that in its 23 years of existence, the Heritage Theatre Company had staged three full-length productions, 18 short comedy productions as well as a 104-episode soap opera which ran for a full calendar year. The troupe has also toured regionally and internationally in North America and Canada.

She also pointed to the educational aspect of theatre for the benefit of the society. Their first soap opera focused on family planning, while the second – which has been written, but is yet to be staged – deals with various aspects of HIV, including youth and alcohol.

She also expressed the need for more training opportunities to hone the raw talent of Grenada’s performers. “We have to figure out how to harness and grow that talent so we could have our own
domestic Tyler Perry’s,” she suggested.

Meanwhile, a representative from the Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN) later responded that the media house had been making an effort to increase the percentage of local content, citing a number of programmes which highlight the Grenadian cultural industries and using local talent.

However, James maintained that more could be done. She urged the media to highlight the challenges and success stories in the cultural sector and to col-laborate with industry practitioners to develop local content.

“It is very important that when we look at television, we see ourselves reflected and not someone else’s culture,” she reminded. “I know a king does not have honour in his own land, but make us kings and queens so when we go out there [to international markets] we can walk tall because we have our countries behind us.” (YA)