Thursday, 25 April 2013

SUPER50 CHAMPS! – Cameron congratulates Windwards on impressive victory


President of the West Indies Cricket Board, Dave Cameron, has congratulated the Windward Islands
following their victory over Combined Campuses & Colleges to win the Regional Super50 Grand Final.

Windwards skipper, Liam Sebastien, had the honour of lifting the Clive Lloyd Trophy after his team easily defeated CCC by nine wickets (Duckworth/Lewis Method) in Sunday’s showpiece event at the historic Kensington Oval, which was aired live on ESPN.

“This is a richly deserved victory – the result of the hard work of many committed persons across the sub-region. Special congratulations to Liam, his team and support staff for what was an impressive all-round performance throughout the tournament and on the Final night,” said Mr. Cameron.
From left to right: Windward Islands captain Liam Sebastian,
Coach Ian Alleyne, Man of the Match Devon Smith
and Man of the Match, Kenroy Peters.

“I also want to offer congratulations to everyone in Windward Islands cricket, including Emmanuel Nanthan, who as President of the Windward Island Cricket Board of Control, put the framework in place for the team’s success.

“Windward Islands cricket has been showing signs of improvement over the years and this team played an impressive brand of cricket throughout the entire competition, climaxing with this wonderful win.”

The victory brought an end to a 13-year title drought. Windwards’ last tournament victory was also in the regional one-day tournament under the captaincy of all-rounder Rawl Lewis.


Cameron added: “The Windwards last won the title over a decade ago and it is good to see the way this group of players was able to come together and do something special and write their names in the history books of Windwards and West Indies cricket.”

He continued: “Cricket is a team game and what we saw was a total team performance. They stood out by the way they played – the camaraderie, the cohesion, the determination – and also by the manner in which they carried themselves on and off the field. Everyone chipped in when required and they certainly played as a unit and are worthy winners of the Clive Lloyd Trophy.”


Award Winners for Regional Super50 2013
The award winners following the conclusion of the Regional Super50 tournament on Sunday night:

Clive Lloyd Trophy (Champions)
Windward Islands beat CCC by 9 wickets in Grand Final

Sir Vivian Richards Award (Leading Batsman)
Devon Smith (Windwards) – 348 runs

Curtly Ambrose Award (Leading Bowler)
Shane Shillingford (Windwards) – 17 wickets
Collis King Award (Best All-rounder)
Rayon Reifer (CCC) – 159 runs, 11 wickets

Jeffery Dujon Award (Best Wickets)
Carlton Baugh (Jamaica) – 11 catches, 3 stumpings

Gus Logie Award (Best Fielder)
Devon Smith (Windwards) – 7 catches

Two of Grenada’s fastest depart for St. Lucia’s Drag Wars


TWO local race cars were strapped in a twenty foot cargo container as they departed to participate in what is turning out to be the biggest Drag Racing Event in the English-speaking Caribbean. The Base at Vieux Fort, St. Lucia will be the venue to be on Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28, 2013, as Absolute Promotions stage their 4th Annual “Drag Wars Retribution” Drag Racing Event.

Already booked is a huge list of contingents from Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, St. Vincent, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Maarten, St. Kitts & Nevis, The Cayman Islands, Tortola and of course host Country, St. Lucia. The Sea Port, Airport, hotels, car rentals, supermarkets, restaurants and bars are all expected to benefit from the thousands of attracted overseas/international drag racers, crew and spectators attending the event. Sports Tourism is intensifying and the St. Lucian Government has pledged their support and recognises drag racing as a major sporting activity since revenue is being pumped in the economy with international events of this magnitude.

Representing Grenada for the fourth time are local veteran drag racers Alan McIntyre and Joshua Lewis. Grenada’s fastest car, the “Sledge Hammer” Ford Mustang, is expected to disturb any challenger in the 9 seconds bracket. Competing with a damaged engine last year, driver Alan McIntyre, still managed an impressive 9.79 seconds in the quarter mile and seized third place in the 9seconds bracket. After rebuilding his eight cylinder engine with upgraded ported heads and tweaking the car’s suspension for St Lucia’s sticky track, McIntyre feels confident in taking down his opponents and to be victorious in the 9seconds bracket. “I’m going to give it my best and enjoy it at the same time,” says McIntyre while strapping his Ford Mustang in the container.

Auto tuner and drag racer Joshua ‘JL Tuning’ Lewis will also represent Grenada at St. Lucia’s Drag Wars. Lewis did his Country proud last year when he secured second position in the 11-seconds bracket with a blistering best time of 11.22 seconds in his infamous Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III. This year, he will pilot his other race car, the newly branded TOTAL Lubricants’ Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV. The fully modified Micro Tech powered Evolution did an amazing 11.3 seconds several weeks ago at the Grenada Motor Club’s Stag Drag Fest held at Pearls Airstrip. Without a doubt, Lewis’ Evolution will be the main contender in the 11 seconds bracket and he’s hoping to achieve a personal best time of 10.8 seconds with his new setup. “I’d like to thank my sponsors, family and fans for their continued support over the years and I’m excited to represent my Country once more,” says Lewis over a telephone conversation in Trinidad & Tobago. Lewis is presently assisting and tuning a few Trinidadian race cars that are making the St. Lucia trip.

McIntyre and Lewis will be accompanied by their crew members forming a Team of sixteen persons and departed for St. Lucia yesterday morning.

The space in between


Has the time come to give greater consideration to the opportunity presented by what might be described as the space in between: the millions of square miles of ocean and sea bed that lie between the islands and countries of the Caribbean? Largely unmapped, scarcely considered and vastly greater in promise than what, for the most part is possible onshore, it offers a new frontier.

This is the implication of the progress now being made by Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton, in encouraging investors to turn Jamaica into a maritime logistics hub for the Caribbean Basin, and in the message from others in Cariforum governments who are promoting the prospects for offshore oil and gas.

What by now should be self-evident is that the seas that surround the Caribbean can provide new opportunities for much needed growth.

The Caribbean commands access to the widened Panama Canal and is at a north-south, east-west intersection for international shipping. As such, it offers multiple opportunities for the creation of transhipment ports linked to development zones for manufacturing, the assembly of finished items and the provision of services for nations like China and Brazil, which are seeking new tariff-free ways to access markets in the Americas and the Europe.

It is the sea too that offers the potential to develop new ports and industries linked to the road and rail routes that could open up areas within Brazil and the Amazon Basin or help facilitate links across the Central American Isthmus to the Pacific. Moreover, it is the sea space that enables not just the regional and international movement of goods and services – legal and illegal – but also provides the access that brings the largest number of visitors to the region, the cruise ships.

Beyond this there lies beneath its surface potential wealth in the form of oil and gas, minerals, and possibly rare earths as the technology to drill and recover oil and gas from huge depths now exists.

As matters stand oil exploration is underway, planned or licensing being considered in blocks off the coasts of French Guiana; Suriname; Guyana; Belize; Barbados; the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica; and Grenada and possibly in other islands in the Windward chain. However, as recent developments in Belize indicate, the opportunity is not without significant challenges. There, environmental groups have in the last week mounted a successful legal campaign that resulted in all offshore oil drilling contracts between 2004 and 2007 are void.

There is also a potential global interest in the challenging opportunity of seabed mining.

Although most attention in this respect is focussed on the Pacific, there are indications that in the long term it may be possible to exploit submerged ocean ridges, undersea plate junctions and undersea thermal vents in mid Atlantic areas. These lie between the Caribbean and Africa and off Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana and may be, scientists suggest, resource rich in iron-manganese nodules, polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich polymetallic crusts. Some also believe that rare earths contained in deep-sea muds in concentrated and extractable forms may lie beneath the oceans, although the viability and challenges of recovery presently makes this seem remote.

The level of exploration now taking place in the region makes it quite possible to imagine a Caribbean, a decade from now, where some nations are energy rich, net exporters of oil and gas and in some cases trying to address the problems associated with wealth that hardly anybody is thinking about.

Some may say this is fanciful as the US and other nations are beginning to supply an ever greater amount of their energy needs from shale gas. However, the pace at which an ever increasing number of global oil corporations have begun to invest huge sums in prospecting for oil and gas in the Caribbean Basin suggests that before long more than one Caribbean nation other than Trinidad will become an oil or gas producer. It is a process that that responds to the continuing industrialisation and growing wealth of advanced developing economies, making the cost of deep sea recovery viable and demand for energy is forecast.

Despite all of this, there has been no holistic accounting or mapping of the economic and physical resource that exists within the Caribbean Basin’s economic zones or that may be beneath the seas beyond. Instead individual nations – Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic – have only recently turned to face the sea, recognising it as an economic opportunity that has the potential to bring investment and long term growth.

Up to now, and Trinidad apart, almost all Caribbean economic thinking has been focussed onshore, with the emphasis on commodities, manufacturing, tourism, financial services, cultural industries and only rarely on artisanal fisheries. This is understandable as it is where immediate opportunity lies; but ignoring the spaces in between when technology is changing rapidly, carries with it the danger of missing the possibility to explore the growing interest of major global companies to partner offshore with countries and local business.

Making greater use of the Caribbean Sea is an issue that requires national, regional and international consideration as it touches physical security, policing, the environment, food and energy security, sovereignty, defence, sea level change. It also may also change inter-regional and geopolitical relationships if as seems possible recovery of offshore oil or gas were to occur in French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, the Bahamas or Cuba. It would seem also to require fresh consideration of maritime security, traditional notions of sovereignty and the environmental interdependence of Caribbean eco-systems.

As the Caribbean struggles to find new ways to generate growth and greater consideration is given to making use of the seas, there is strong case for reorienting thinking and for recognising that the seas too are the Caribbean’s resource, heritage and future.

(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)

Britons’ shameful moment


The lady was dead. Margaret Thatcher, who dominated British political life and the transformation of a sick economy to a vibrant partner in Europe, was no more. In the words of the Bishop of London at her funeral service: “Lying here, she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings”.

Common decency should have demanded respectful silence among those who may have been her most bitter political opponents. Regard for leaving Britain a better place than she found it when she took up the cudgels in 1979 should have encouraged expressions of praise and gratitude.

There was much of the latter. She richly deserved it. But, sadly, there was also much of the former by persons and groups of people – many of whom were not even born when she held office – who shamed their nation, and their national ethos of fairness, civility and good manners. The shouts of “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie – dead, dead, dead” as her funeral procession passed through the streets of London blighted the image of Britain, as did all the callous celebrations of her death including the characterisation of her as a “witch”.

The dislike – even hatred – of Margaret Thatcher arises from two principal events. The first is her victory over trade unions – particularly the Miners Union – that held the British economy to ransom with unreasonable demands and costly strikes. The second was her introduction of a poll tax. But it appears to have been forgotten that the economy she inherited as Prime Minister had long been in decline.

In the mid-1970s, shortly before she was elected in 1979, Britain had to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for $4 billion of assistance; there were severe restrictions on the amount of money that persons could take on holiday; the tax rate soared to 83 per cent; inflation was high. In short, Britain and the British people were on their knees.

Turning around the dire economic situation would have been tough for any strong man; it was doubly difficult for a woman. Leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister she may have been, but nonetheless she was a woman in a government consisting mainly of men from privileged backgrounds for whom women had a place that was not one of leadership. Her battle was on many fronts. No weak person could have taken it on; and certainly no weak woman.

This may have accounted for her tough public style – epitomised by her embracing of the epithet “Iron Lady” which commentators in the Soviet Union had ascribed to her, and also in the famous declaration, “You turn if you want to; the lady is not for turning”. It was easy to dislike that public style and to be vexed over her unyielding “conviction politics” that provided no room for compromise. She was, undoubtedly a polarising figure in Britain throughout her political career.

But, in her time in office, she transformed the British economy. The top rate of income tax was lowered from the high of 83 per cent to 40 per cent; the standard rate was slashed to 25 per cent; bloated and inefficient state-owned enterprises that were an expensive burden on the tax-payers were privatised opening the way for competition, lower costs to the consumer and wider choices – among the state-owned companies that were privatised were British Airways, British Telecom, British Steel, British Gas and the British Airports Authority. Privatisation democratised share ownership; shares in those companies were made available to all, including small investors at affordable prices. Thus, it had the effect, not only of relieving taxpayers of the burden of subsidising highly inefficient, loss-making enterprises but also providing them the opportunity to invest and benefit from the companies’ future growth.

There was more – her government openly wooed foreign investment in Britain as a spring board into the European Union market; under her stewardship Council housing was sold to their occupiers or others, giving persons at the lower end of the income scale an opportunity to own their own homes.

Essentially what Margaret Thatcher did in Britain was to give Britons more personal freedom and less state intervention; she put more money in the pockets of individuals by reducing taxes and she encouraged entrepreneurship; she stymied the power of trade unions whose links then to the British Labour Party compromised its ability to make policy decisions of which the Unions did not approve.
By the time she left office in 1990, Britain was no longer the sick man of Europe, and its people were better-off.

It is telling that when the Labour Party, under Tony Blair, came to office it was not the policies and practices of previous Labour Party governments that he followed; it was Margaret Thatcher’s path that it walked – extending the policies of deeper private sector involvement in the economy through public sector-private sector partnerships.

A word should be said about two foreign policy issues to which she is closely linked. The first is the matter of the Falkland Islands which are claimed by Argentina. Apart from the legal case that establishes British sovereignty of the Falklands, Margaret Thatcher respected the right to self-determination by the people of the Falklands, and, despite opposition from many including influential figures in her own Cabinet, she sided with that right to self-determination, and committed Britain to defending that right. She did not abandon the Falkland Islanders.

And, on apartheid in South Africa, while Commonwealth diplomats in London (including me at the time) were upset that she resisted economic sanctions against South Africa in 1985, she had earlier approved an arms embargo against the White regime, and her loathing of apartheid on moral grounds was well known by diplomats in London. Regrettably, other considerations – not least her close alliance with the United States and its concerns about communism in Southern Africa – trumped her abhorrence of apartheid, but we knew it would have been little different with a Labour government.

Nonetheless, she was elected three times, and at the end of the day, her stewardship of Britain invigorated the economy and improved the living conditions for many. That record deserved respect. Those Britons who scorned her in death and celebrated her passing shamed themselves and tarnished their country’s image.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant, Visiting Fellow at London University and former Caribbean Diplomat. Responses and previous commentaries: www.sirronaldsanders.com)

The Internet’s influence


There is constant concern about the Internet’s influence on societies – and rightly so.

This technology has permeated the fabric of our very existence to a point where any astute individual, either young or old, would find it necessary to become familiar with the medium to function amongst a society of cyber-savvy users.

Yet, the Internet brings with it not only great insights and seemingly endless learning opportunities, it also brings a mountain of miseducation. This occurs because of what appears on the Internet originates from individuals – many of whom are misinformed, misguided and some merely mischievous.

Therefore, we oftentimes have fiction masquerading as fact. One good example is “Wikipedia: The free web encyclopedia”. This site is often used as a reference by students in their academic pursuits, yet its information can be far from factual, because once registered, anyone can edit the content of most of the pages provided to show any data desired.

The Internet is also responsible for the creation of an entirely new language and culture, which may suit one sphere, but is fast corrupting the traditional and acceptable norms of society. The biggest culprit, social networking sites, have taken hold of the minds of our youth and now seem to be reaching out to taint the rest of civilisation. For instance, each year the new Oxford American Dictionary ratifies a tech term which slowly leaks into our everyday vocabulary. Furthermore, text terminology has evolved to a level where it is becoming indistinguishable from true English language. As such, persons can occasionally be seen writing “lata” for “later” and “u” instead of “you”.

Apart from the reality formed through communicated information, there is a certain psychological reality that affects many Internet users who frequent social networking sites. The personal photos, comments and conversations shared online can become a crutch for individuals devoid of significant inter-personal relationships, who lack true social skills.

The time and effort it takes to keep profiles updated can also be an indicator that there is too much emphasis on the Internet’s reality than on your own life. In some cases, this type of behaviour deteriorates into anti-social, destructive tendencies that, ironically, can reach a greater scope through the World Wide Web. Hence, in addition to a warped reality, the Internet also brings dangers of a criminal kind from across the globe right to your very doorstep.

Threats on the Internet are varied. They come from sexual predators, extremists and religious fanatics, to name a few, and have resulted in rapes, suicides, murders, even bombings. As a result, users are urged to follow safeguards to protect their privacy, while law enforcement and security agencies have stepped up their surveillance of cyber-crimes.

Therefore, it is obvious that as occurs in the real world, the Internet reality is filled with both positives and negatives. Everyone needs to proceed with caution along this information superhighway. Try not to stray into unknown territory, be wary of strangers and be on the lookout for trouble – just as you would be on any normal road trip.

STOP EVADING TAXES – MP appeals to lawmakers


By Linda Straker

A Member of Parliament said last week Wednesday that there are lawmakers who are evading taxes and recommended that regulations be adopted that all who are running for public office should be declared tax compliant as a pre-requisite for running for any public office.

“One should not be allowed to offer themselves for public office if their taxes are not paid,” said Tobias Clement, who was elected in the February 19 General Elections to represent the people of St. George North East in the 15-member House of Representatives.

“This is a serious question that must be asked and be answered,” said Clement, who feels that besides potential legislators, the rules should also be extended to persons who serve on public boards.

“If we are to go forward, we must develop a culture of paying our taxes,” he said, while pointing out to the Parliament that a rough estimate from Ministry of Finance officials reveals that Government is owed more than EC$200 million in personal income tax. Currently, the law provides for 30 per cent on all income over EC$60 000 annually.

“There are some people who have not been paying for years and owe Government more than EC$500 000 in personal income tax.

We have to change our dynamics and do our civic duty if we are to go forward in this country,” he said.

Police receive first Fingerprinting Identification System


Grenada on Monday became the second of 13 Caribbean territories to receive an Automated Fingerprinting Identification System (AFIS) from the US Government as part of efforts to assist in crime solving in the region.

“Together all these islands will be able to work to help each other solve crime,” said US Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Dr. Larry Palmer.

Commissioner of Police, Winston James (centre), signing the
fingerprinting agreement, while US Ambassador to Barbados
and the Eastern Caribbean, Dr. Larry Palmer (right), and Permanent
Secretary in the Ministry of National Security look on.
“The AFIS will enhance border security for the individual islands,” he said, while explaining that it will make the searching of database with fingerprints much easier and quicker.

The first of its kind system for the region, it is funded by the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative and through Diplomatic Security Anti-Terrorism Assistance, the United States is providing AFIS to 13 Caribbean nations, including the entire Eastern Caribbean, at a cost of US$250 000 per country.

Officer in charge of the Criminal Investigating Department, Superintendent Trevor Modeste, said that the system, which was installed since January 2013, has already assisted with solving 79 cold cases, with one dating way back to the 1990s.

“Most of those cases had to do with robbery of properties and we have had made a number of arrests,” he said.

“All fingerprints in the current system will be transferred to digital system,” Modeste said.

AFIS tightens border security against known criminals and terrorists by providing law enforcement with the capacity to collect and share digital fingerprint data.

“This powerful resource has already yielded significant benefits for Grenada, as law enforcement officers have used the system to search and identify criminals through the AFIS digital fingerprint database,” said Commissioner of Police, Winston James, who called on officers to not see the equipment as a substitute for traditional policing.

“Take more time in searching for evidence on the scene as fingerprinting will help in clearing up and solving crimes,” he said.

Ambassador Palmer said that digitisation of Grenada’s and other CARICOM nations’ paper fingerprint cards will raise Caribbean nations to the international law enforcement standard and ease co-ordination among law enforcement entities. (LS)

Dr. George Vincent to chair Public Accounts Committee


By Linda Straker

HE failed to receive the majority of votes from the people of St. John, but as of April 18, 2013, he was appointed to chair the parliamentary committee that will oversee and identify concerns pertaining to financial undertakings of Government.

In the absence of an elected Parliamentary Opposition in the House of Representatives, the members agreed that Dr. George Vincent, one of the senators appointed by Governor General Sir Carlyle Glean to the Senate, will be Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The other members of the Committee are Yolande Bain-Horsford, Clifton Paul and Tobias Clement – the three elected members who were not appointed to Government Ministerial positions. Following
general elections, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell had indicated that not all elected members of Parliament will be ministers of Government as there are roles for them within the parliamentary structure of governance.

As Chairman of the PAC, Dr. Vincent, who contested the St. John constituency for the National Democratic Congress, will be tasked with the responsibility of questioning public officers regarding the spending of Government finances on public projects or initiatives that receive financial support from Government.

Under normal circumstances, such a position is automatically assigned to the Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition, but Grenada found itself in a unique position following the February 19, 2013 General Elections when the New National Party (NNP) candidates won all 15 seats in the Lower House of Parliament.

The Parliament comprises two Houses in which persons are elected to the 15-seat Lower House and selected to the 13-seat Upper House. Seven of the persons in the Upper House are at the pleasure of the Prime Minister while three represent the Business, Farming and Labour communities and the final three selected at the pleasure of the Opposition Leader.

However, because of the landslide victory of the NNP, the Governor General was tasked with appointing the three opposition senators. The other persons appointed were Nazim Burke and Franka Bernardine.

Health Minister believes ‘wilful exposure to HIV’ should be criminalised


Minister of Health, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen, is concerned about persons who are wilfully transmitting HIV to others and believes that the law should step in where there is evidence that a person is exposing others to the virus as a means of revenge.

“There are those who are saying when they discover their positive status, I aint going down so alone,” she told the Parliament last week Wednesday while contributing to the 2013 Budget debate. The first case of HIV was diagnosed in 1984 and current data reveals that there are 485 cases.

Dr. Modeste-Curwen said that one of the goals of her Ministry for 2013 is to strengthen the HIV programme in the area of public education. “We cannot stop educating the people, we have to continue educating the public about protection, not just from HIV/AIDS but other health-related ailments,” she said.

She disclosed to the House that the data is very encouraging with regards to persons who are on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment as those who are being treated are living productive lives, while most pregnant mothers who were diagnosed and received that necessary treatment were able to deliver negative status babies. “We have had 11 babies born to HIV mothers and of that figure nine are so far negative and while the result of two are pending,” she said.

Urging that all sexually active persons take the relevant precautions and actions to protect themselves from all forms of sexually transmitted diseases, Dr. Modeste-Curwen called on the media to assist in educating the general public in that area.

“When I spoke to the team at the HIV programme, I was told that money is needed for everything to be aired on the media, but I beg of the media to give some time even if it’s once a month towards educating the people about HIV,” she said.

Leaders urged to put tourism on front burner


Dr. Rufus Ewing, Premier of the Turks and Caicos, has echoed a call by T&T’s Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz for regional leaders to put tourism high on the agenda.

Premier Dr. Ewing, speaking at the final press briefing on the last day of the 14th Annual Sustainable Tourism Conference (STC-14) last week Thursday at the Hyatt Regency, said “tourism has to be led in front by leaders”. He was agreeing with Cadiz, who said support from leadership is critical.

“Tourism should be at the forefront of the Caricom agenda,” he said. Dr. Ewing, who also holds the portfolio for tourism, said more leaders should be involved with conferences such as the Sustainable Tourism Conference. Expressing concern about intra-regional travel, Dr. Ewing also pledged his support for the One Caribbean concept: “We need to find ways to ensure visitors can move around to get a true Caribbean experience.”

On the panel that addressed the press conference were  Cadiz, Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and Tourism Commissioner of US Virgin Islands Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the CTO, and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Juliana Johan-Boodram. Cadiz revealed that a National Sustainable Tourism Policy will be unveiled within the next month. He said once released there will be public consultations with relevant stakeholders.

“Every single thing we do we try to include stakeholders, in every aspect of tourism,” he said, while noting that the Sustainable Tourism Plan will form a major part of the new branding and marketing campaign to boost tourism, particularly in Trinidad.

“Tobago already has an established tourism industry, it’s a hit and miss for Trinidad right now,” he said. Cadiz further noted that the main focus of the marketing campaign would be to help Trinidadians understand what tourism is.

Riley stated at the end of last year, tourist arrivals to the region were up by 5.4 per cent. “We are welcoming more visitors than ever before in our history,” he said, noting that the majority of arrivals still come from traditional markets such as the United States. He revealed, however, that arrivals from the UK were down due in large part to the increased travel taxation measure of the Air Passenger Duty (APD).

“The APD tax has proven to be a thorn in our side,” he said. On the issue of intra-regional travel, Riley said there is no instant. The CTO comprises members from the English-speaking, Dutch, French and Spanish Caribbean and there are regulatory, safety and security and economic issues to examine. “We have broken the issue down to manageable chunks and approaching it in a logical way.”

Water one of tourism’s main assets


Water is one of tourism’s key assets, says Regional Director for the Americas of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Carlos Vogeler.

He told the 14th Sustainable Tourism Conference, which took place in Trinidad recently, that each year millions of people travel around the world to enjoy water destinations – both inland and in coastal areas – and Caribbean destinations play a key role in this.

Vogeler stressed that “building a more responsible tourism sector is not only a moral and ethical concern; it also makes clear business sense. Sustainability is no longer an option, but an ever more pressing necessity,” he said.

Stressing the importance of water to  tourism – which is one of the largest economic sectors in the world – Vogeler said it is the responsibility of tourism industries to take a leadership role and ensure companies and destinations invest in adequate water management through the value chain.

“If managed sustainably, tourism can bring benefits to the national and local communities and support water preservation,” he noted.

At the same time, the UNWTO official warned that the global economic situation remains fragile and instability continues in certain parts of the world, affecting consumption and obviously impacting many source markets of tourists.

He said that tourists generate over one trillion US dollars in exports for the countries they visit every year, which is close to 6% of the world’s exports of goods and services; and one in every 12 jobs worldwide is connected to the tourism sector.

According to Vogeler, the UNWTO is forecasting the number of international tourists to reach 1.8 billion by 2030. He further indicated that while these numbers are impressive, the impact of tourism on the ground is far more relevant, as tourism means jobs, business opportunities for small and medium enterprises, the renewal of urban and rural areas and, if managed in a sustainable manner, the preservation and promotion of a country’s natural and cultural heritage.

Black Stalin to perform at Carriacou Maroon Festival


Black Stalin from Trinidad will be among the top acts to perform at the 4th Carriacou Maroon and String Band Music Festival this weekend in Carriacou.

Maroon culture is about thanksgiving and prayers to the source of all life, production and prosperity. Its African origins are authentically depicted through drumming, singing, eating of ‘smoked food’ and other rituals practised in the unique Carriacou way by its people.

Drumming is an integral aspect of the Carriacou
Maroon and String Band festival.
The festival opens today, Friday, in the village of Six Roads, and during the festival, persons will experience a genuine maroon festival with rituals, drumming, songs and dance as well as eat and share the ancestral meal – ‘smoked food’.

On Saturday, April 27, the venue will be the Belair Heritage Park – home of Carriacou’s social and cultural activities. The programme consists of two parts: Firstly, presentations of big drum nation dance, quadrille dances, Shakespeare Mas and other cultural art forms by both local and regional groups. Secondly, there will be a two-hour string band concert featuring bands from Carriacou, Grenada, the British Virgin Islands and more. It closes on Sunday with a party on Paradise Beach.

An initiative of the Grenada Board of Tourism, the festival has received financial support from a number of private sector institutions including Republic Bank. The bank pledged $5 000 to the Grenada Board of Tourism and presented the cheque on Monday.

Maroon and string band music are cultural traditions uniquely preserved in Carriacou over the years, which showcase traditional dance, string band music, drumming and other cultural performances from local and regional participants.

On making the presentation to the Board of Tourism’s Acting Product Development Officer, Mrs. Kirl Hoschtialek, the Managing Director of Republic Bank, Keith Johnson, reaffirmed the bank’s unwavering commitment to the preservation and development of the values and cultural heritage of our ancestors.

Republic Bank encourages all to support this unique festival, which also serves as a tourist attraction and income earner for the sister isle. The bank joins in commending the Grenada Board of Tourism and other contributors in ensuring that the festival is preserved for future generations. (LS)

Concrete proof of APD’s impact needed


IT IS important for Governments in the Caribbean to show proof that the Airline Passenger Duty (APD) has had and is continuing to have a negative impact on tourist arrivals to the region before any other measures can be taken.

This is coming from Mark Simmonds, UK Minister for Africa, the Overseas Territories, the Caribbean and International Energy, who spoke with Barbadian media recently at a reception at the British High Commissioner’s Residence at Ben Mar.

British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean,
Paul Brummell; Barbados' Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy; and
UK Minister for Africa, the Overseas Territories, the Caribbean and
International Energy in the UK, Mark Simmonds, in conversation at a
reception at the British High Commissioner's residence, Ben Mar, last week.
He said that so far evidence has shown that the APD has not had this negative impact, but if this verification can be given by the respective regional Governments, they then would look into it.

“The evidence to date is that it hasn’t, but I understand that there is an enormous amount of concern that exists within the Caribbean that the Air Passenger Duty may have a negative impact on tourism and certainly, what I have done is to facilitate the meeting to take place with the Treasury in the United Kingdom to ensure that those concerns are listened and heard.

“But the next step is for Caribbean countries and Governments to produce evidence – if it is actually true – that there is a direct link between a drop in tourist numbers if that is what has happened with the Air Passenger Duty and if that evidence is produced, we would keep these things under constant review,” he asserted.

He said that the United Kingdom has had its own issues to deal with in relation to the global financial crisis and this APD that has been instituted by the current administration is one of their ways to bring the UK out of this crisis.

“The first thing to say to that is that we in the UK have our own economic challenges as well, so we have to find mechanisms to reduce the structural deficit that David Cameron’s government has inherited,” he said.

However, he stated that he has led discussions with the High Commissioners from the various islands so that they could express their concerns.

He continued, “The second thing to say is that we have been – and I have been very personally – involved in listening to the concerns of Caribbean countries as it relates to Air Passenger Duty and I have facilitated a meeting between the Caribbean High Commissioners and the relative Treasury Minister at the back end of last year.”

The APD is an excise duty for persons travelling on any aeroplane which has more than 20 seats for passengers or exceeding an official take-off weight of more than ten tonnes from an airport anywhere in the United Kingdom. It has been a major source of contention, particularly within the Caribbean where it is believed that this would have a negative impact on tourism.

Simmonds added that he recognises the concerns that persons in the region have and the matter was raised in discussions he had with Barbadian dignitaries including Prime Minister Freundel Stuart; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Maxine McClean; Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite; and Minister of Energy, Senator Darcy Boyce. (PJT)

Fight against drugs still of great importance


DRUG interdiction is another issue that both the United Kingdom and the Caribbean should continue to focus on.

Speaking with the media recently at a reception at the British High Commissioner’s residence at Ben Mar, Mark Simmonds, Minister for Africa, the Overseas Territories, the Caribbean and International Energy, said that this has always been an area of importance throughout the world as it has a significant impact on the security of any nation.

He stated that, so far, a lot has been done in this area and the United Kingdom will continue to lend assistance to the region in this regard.

“It is a very important and significant issue and there is an enormous amount of positive work that has already been done. The United Kingdom is extremely supportive of the Government here in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean region as well. There is a lot of co-ordination that exists between the regional governments and the international community.”

However, while progress has been made in this area, countries cannot rest on their laurels, as there is always a lot more that can be done in this regard. As a result, countries need to work on identifying what these areas are and then to find appropriate solutions to resolving these issues, which is one of the areas that he discussed when he met with Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart.

“But if you were to ask me if there is more that can be done, then the answer is yes and one of the things that we have been discussing today is what the ‘yes’ could be. How could there be more co-operation and co-ordination? How we can make sure that this part of the Eastern Caribbean is a very difficult place for people in the narcotics industry to operate and that is not just about interdiction.”

The Minister with responsibility for the Caribbean said that this would involve the participation of key stakeholders as well as focusing on putting obstacles in place for those organisations and individuals that are involved in drug trafficking.

“It is about the judicial system, it is about confiscating drug baron assets and it is about changing and modernising legislation in this part of the Caribbean to make sure that the legislation in place deals with the threats and the problems that the communities of today face,” he stated. (PJT)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

STEWART TO LEAD WINDWARDS’ U-15 TEAM


KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Emmanuel Stewart of Carriacou has been named captain of the Windward Islands Under-15 Cricket team.

Stewart, who skippered Grenada to second place in the Windward Islands Under-15 Cricket Tournament, which concluded in St. Vincent last week Wednesday, is one of four Grenadians selected on the team.

He scored 349 runs at an average of 69.5, the most runs in the tournament and was named Most Valuable Player for Grenada as well as the Tournament’s MVP and the Best Wicketkeeper.

Stewart will join compatriots Johann Jeremiah, the left-handed batsman and off-spinner; left-arm orthodox spinner, Narun Singh; and right-handed batsman and fast bowler, Darron Nedd.

Singh was among the leading wicket takers, finishing with 13 wickets at an average of 10.15.

Another Grenadian, Dwain Gill, is the coach and Alton Crafton of St. Lucia is the manager of the Windward Islands Under-15 team for the West Indies tournament scheduled for Jamaica in July.

Dominica dethroned Grenada to be crowned new champions of the Windward Islands Under-15 tournament.

Shillingford plans to win it for Windwards in Super 50


Shane Shillingford is looking to continue from where he left off when he puts on the green Windward Islands jersey this weekend in the Final Four of the Regional Super 50 Tournament.

The tall off-spinner has been in amazing form with the ball this year. He bamboozled Zimbabwe’s batsmen with a record 19 wickets in two Test matches and was equally dominant against the regional batsmen with 46 wickets in five matches in the WICB Regional 4 Day tournament. His exploits in the RS50 have also been amazing with 13 scalps in four matches at an average 8.69 runs per wicket.

This weekend, Shillingford will be back in action when the Windwards face defending champions Jamaica in the second semi-final on Friday at Kensington Oval, where Trinidad & Tobago faced Combined Campuses & Colleges on Thursday in the first semi-final. The Grand Final will be played on Sunday, April 21 at the same venue. All matches start at 2:30 pm (1:30 pm Jamaica Time) and will be broadcast live on ESPN.

“I have been good this year because I have worked really hard. I’m on top of my game. The hard work, the discipline and the commitment – all these are factors why I have been better this year,” said the 30-year-old. “The next step is to win something for the Windwards. We have been playing some good cricket over the last few seasons – in the Caribbean T20, the 50-overs and the four-day tournaments – but we haven’t been able to get any cups to show. We will really be coming all out to win the Super 50 this time around.”

Shillingford is one of the leading wicket-takers in modern-day West Indies cricket with 355 first-class wickets at 23.22 runs apiece. His brilliance against Zimbabwe in the recent Test Series saw him catapult up the ICC Test Match bowling rankings to No.23 – making him the second highest West Indian behind Kemar Roach at No.13.

“The team spirit is very high...the spirit is always high in our team. We are gelling really well as one-unit and I think we have a really awesome chance of winning the Super 50 tournament. We are really looking forward to getting over to Barbados and getting on the Kensington Oval. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we feeling ready and inspired,” Shillingford told WICB Media.

“We need to continue to play well. The killer instinct is what we need coming into the semi-finals. This is not to place additional pressure on ourselves, but we have to find a way of finishing off teams when we have them down. That will be key this weekend. No one will hand it to us. We have to go out, play hard and take it.”


MATCH SCHEDULE AND MATCH OFFICIALS

T&T v CCC – Thursday, April 18
Umpires: Nigel Duguid, Patrick Gustard
Third official: Joel Wilson
Television umpire: Gregory Brathwaite
Match Referee: Mervin Jones

Jamaica vs Windwards – Friday April 19
Umpires: Joel Wilson, Gregory Brathwaite
Third official: Patrick Gustard
TV umpire: Nigel Duguid
Match Referee: Mervin Jones

Mrs Thatcher and the Caribbean


Few politicians can be said to have been responsible for changing the way in which we think, let alone contributing to reshaping fundamentally the geo-political and economic environment in which we live; but that is what the late Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s Prime Minister between 1979 and 1990, achieved.

Like what she stood for or not, the long view of history will undoubtedly recognise that her often polarising influence on reshaping our world was exceptional.

Whether it was her central role in helping create the climate necessary for dialogue that brought an end to the cold war; her defence of national sovereignty in relation to the Falkland Islands; in her attitude and approach to Europe; or her fundamentalist belief in the market, deregulation and the diminution in the role of the State; she contributed to change in a way that few have, other than in time of war.

Committed, driven and in her later period in office obsessive and often out of touch, she, unlike most politicians of today, exhibited a degree of leadership, self-assurance and global influence that for a small country in slow economic, political and military decline was little short of extraordinary.

Because of this, she remains a divisive figure, particularly in Britain in the context of her domestic economic policies where some still suffer her legacy. She also remains internationally controversial as a consequence of her stubborn resistance to seeking an early end to apartheid, her desire to keep Germany divided, or her commitment to individuals like Chile’s Augusto Pinochet.

As for the Caribbean, Mrs Thatcher appears to have only visited the region once. That was in 1985 for the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference in Nassau, at which she agreed finally to change her position on the apartheid regime in South Africa and to sign the Nassau Accord.

However, that is not to say that her global view did not have a profound effect on the region and its relationship with the United Kingdom, or that she was ignorant of the Caribbean’s concerns.

As recently declassified transcripts of conversations between her and the then US President Ronald Reagan demonstrate, she had a firm grasp of the detail, understood the thinking and personalities of many leading Caribbean politicians at the time, and recognised the supportive, as opposed to interventionist, role that the region wanted others to play. She and her governments also had positive views on the need to improve relations with Cuba, the need to find creative ways to stimulate development in Britain’s Overseas Territories, and a genuine warmth towards the Caribbean, albeit often based on an historic appreciation of the relationship.

However, Grenada apart, it is not in the detail that her relationship with the region mattered, rather it is in the effect that her broader and transformative influence on economic policy, the cold war, and Europe that touched and still touches the region most.

By inviting Mikhail Gorbachev to London and then listening to him, Margaret Thatcher was able to play a central role for those in the former Soviet Union who recognised the need for a dialogue with the US that would end the cold war.  She was able to tell President Reagan personally that there were Soviet politicians who understood, and to provide the seal of approval that Mr Gorbachev was looking for.

It was, however, the first step in a process that led to the Caribbean being sidelined internationally. With the cold war gone, the region and many other developing nations ceased to be of strategic or intellectual importance in the battle for influence that had raged. It all but brought to an end the high levels of attention, trade preference and development support. Although Michael Manley later recognised the consequences in a seminal speech following the fall of the Soviet Union and demonstrated how the coming uni-polarity would marginalise the region, it went largely unrecognised that this was the moment the region needed to adapt and deliver a new long- term strategy.

In a similar way, Mrs Thatcher’s approach to Europe also impacted on the Caribbean. From the point at which she addressed the European Council in Bruges in 1988, indicating her concerns about the potential loss of sovereign power, national identity and the implied move towards federalism, the writing was again on the wall. The UK was moving away from Europe, was to become semi-detached and would no longer have the will or influence to support the Caribbean in the preferential and development relationship that it had brought the region into after Commonwealth Preference.

This too was not widely appreciated in the region as a strategic threat.  Rather, it resulted in a slow economic decline as the UK lost influence in Europe and slowly ceased to be an effective voice for the Caribbean, resulting in a now all too evident disinterest in the region in a Europe of 27 states.

But more fundamentally, it was Margaret Thatcher’s economic and social philosophy that started the process of divergence between the region and its former colonial power. The Anglophone Caribbean had gone to independence with many of the same values as Britain in terms of economic organisation, the role of the state, social welfare, taxation and a commitment to equity. However, Mrs Thatcher’s enunciation of a very different philosophy ran counter to the prevailing philosophy in the region. She emphasised the individual and economic independence of action, believed that the role of the state had to be diminished through deregulation, lower taxation, and the privatisation of utilities.

Spurred by Thatcherism and like-minded individuals in the US and elsewhere, the world began to change around the Caribbean, leaving it less competitive, albeit, until recently, more socially homogenous.

Since then the world has moved on. Mrs Thatcher’s policies on deregulation and the pull of her thinking on parties of the centre left like new Labour in Britain, can be directly linked to the 2007/8 global financial crisis, as can the consequent problems of a disintegrated and indebted
region.

There is  much more that could be written or said about these issues, but irrespective of one’s personal opinion about her, Mrs Thatcher remains a largely unrecognised player in the history of the Caribbean.  

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

The case for compensating the Caribbean


In 1838, British slave owners in the English-speaking Caribbean received £11.6 (US$17.8)
billion in today’s value as compensation for the emancipation of their “property” – 655 780 human beings of African descent that they had enslaved, brutalised and exploited. The freed slaves, by comparison, received nothing in recompense for their dehumanisation, their cruel treatment, the abuse of their labour and the plain injustice of their enslavement.

The monies paid to slaves owners have been studied and assembled by a team of academics from University College London, including Dr Nick Draper, who spent three years pulling together 46 000 records which they have now launched as an Internet database. The website is: ucl.ac.uk/lbs.

The benefits of those monies still exist in Britain today. For example, they are the foundations of Barclays Bank, Lloyds Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland. But they are also the basis of wealth for many leading British and Scottish families among them the Hogg family – two of whom became Lord Chancellors in British governments.

Dr Draper is reported as saying of the Hogg family: “To have two Lord Chancellors in Britain in the 20th century bearing the name of a slave-owner from British Guiana (now Guyana), who went penniless to British Guiana, came back a very wealthy man and contributed to the formation of this political dynasty, which incorporated his name into their children in recognition – it seems to me to be an illuminating story and a potent example.”

The Hogg family was not unique. The wealth and political good fortune of 19th Century British Prime Minister William Gladstone had its origins in the £83 (US$127.6) million, at today’s value, of “compensation” given to his father, John Gladstone, for slaves he owned in British Guiana and Jamaica.

But it was not individual families alone that helped to create African slavery and that benefited from it; it was the British State as whole – its successive governments that provided subsidies for the trade; that adopted legislation that facilitated it; and that were complicit with the governments of their colonies in adopting laws that designated African slaves as “real estate” – people stripped of human identity, including life, and, therefore, to be treated like land, houses and buildings.

Remarkably, it was also the British State, including the British people, who paid “compensation” to the slave owners while completely disregarding any obligation whatsoever to 655 780 people, who were enslaved and cruelly exploited. To do so, the British government borrowed £20 million which is £76 (US$117) billion, at today’s value, from the Rothschild Banking Empire. The sum amounted to about 40 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product at the time. As Caribbean Economic Historian Sir Hilary Beckles points out: “They all recognised that British citizens were socially empowered by the white supremacy culture so effectively institutionalised on a global scale by slave owners”.

British exploitation of people in the Caribbean did not start, or end, with the enslavement of Africans. In a new book entitled “Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide”, Beckles, records the systematic “elimination” of the Kalinagos – the original people of the Eastern Caribbean islands. It was the first act of genocide in the Western Hemisphere, and it was executed with the full knowledge and approval of the British authorities.  
    
African slavery was followed in some Caribbean countries – Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname in particular – by indentured servitude of people from India bonded to an estate and its owners, deprived of normal liberties, subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment. It was what the respected British historian, Hugh Tinker, described as “another kind of slavery”.

Each of these episodes of subjugation, exploitation and brutalisation of human beings was justified on the racial supremacy of the white race. And while Britain was the principal beneficiary, other European nations – France, Spain and Portugal especially – shared in the spoils of human degradation.

Except for the blindest and unrelenting apologists for the acts of genocide and enslavement, it is impossible to discard Beckles’ assertion that these were “crimes against humanity”. As he says: “The wealth of the (British) Empire required the abandonment of all known laws, conventions, moral parameters, political practices and legal frameworks and the creation of a new and unprecedented labour system”.

When the vast majority of the original people of the Caribbean were extinguished, forcing the brutalised handful who remained into submission; when slavery was abolished with no recompense to the Africans for the deprivation of their liberty, the people of the Caribbean were left destitute, deprived and disadvantaged. In Beckles’ words: “They got nothing by way of cash reparations to carry them into freedom. No land grants were provided. No promissory notes were posted.”

That today the people of the Caribbean have built modern societies despite the conditions they were handed at slavery’s abolition, is a tribute to the resilience, capabilities and high quality of human beings that European states considered ‘chattel and real estate’. That they have produced Nobel Prize winners, great athletes and fine intellectual thinkers who have commanded high positions in the international community in business, medicine, the law, and technology is testimony to the wrongness of the “white” supremacist doctrine.

Their achievement re-enforces the position that their enslavement, their servitude and the infamous acts of violence against them were wrong, and it cannot be right that those who were the principal perpetrators of those wrongs benefited while they were left as nothing more than a human catastrophe.

The Caribbean would today have been much further along the road of social and economic development if even half of the “compensation” given to slave owners had been given to slavery’s victims 175 years ago.

There is a compelling case for reparations to the nations of the Caribbean on behalf of the people who were the victims of slavery. Nick Draper and the team and University College London, and Hilary Beckles in his new book have provided the basis for, at the very least, a reparations dialogue.

(The writer is a consultant, former Caribbean Diplomat and Visiting Fellow, London University. Responses and previous commentaries: www. sirronaldsanders.com) 

EU support for region continues


THE recent announcement by European Union officials of an investment package for the Caribbean is good news all around.

Not only is the proposal a welcome piece of information by recipient countries, which are witnessing a slowdown in capital inflows, but the announcement of the Caribbean Investment Facility (CIF) also conveys the position that there remains support within the European Union for the Caribbean contrary to views in some quarters that Europe is showing a lack of interest in its former colonies in the region.

In launching the CIF, the EU officials said the facility will mobilise additional financing from European and Caribbean development institutions to support investment projects in this region.

The aim is to boost the potential for economic growth and to reduce poverty. The assistance could not have a come at a better time where the region is concerned. Still battling a global economic crisis, the islands, with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago, have witnessed a slump in investment flows on top of declining remittances over the past three to four years, as well as slowing economic growth. Investments are going to other areas, notably Asia, Africa and Latin America. This represents a big setback to the Caribbean since these islands require investments to finance projects in such areas as health, education, housing, highway improvements and other areas of the economy. Investments are also needed to create new business enterprises, expand existing ones and to provide a source of funding to small and medium sized enterprises that may lack the ability to secure funding on their own.  

In recent times, the impression has been given that Europe is turning its back on this region. Some believe that Europe has to get on with its own business of reviving faltering economies in the Union and to pursue agreements with some of the other major developed and developing countries. Both the Caribbean and Europe have had a strong relationship and for many years long after the islands ceased being colonies. It was intensified with the coming into being of the Lomé Convention which started in the mid 1970s and was renewed every five years. That facility offered the Caribbean (along with some other states in Asia and the Pacific) market access for tropical products, as well as financial assistance for projects across  the ACP group of countries. However, a changing global economic environment that demands reciprocity and trade liberalisation has altered that relationship, with trade preferences for sugar, bananas, rice and other commodities no longer guaranteeing  access as was the case previously. Some commentators, recognising that Europe does have its own fair share of problems, fear the continent is unable to do what was done previously.

The view therefore is that the Caribbean has to grow up in the changing world environment since the days of ‘sheltering’ the former European colonies are long past. However, at the launch of the CIF, EU officials said they remained committed to the Caribbean.

Last month the EU and the Caribbean Development Bank signed two agreements totalling about Bds$18 million to support CARICOM countries in their continued progress towards implementation of the EPA and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). A statement on those signings revealed that in the case of the CSME, the aim is to provide capacity building to CARICOM member states in implementing the CSME at the national level. This seems to be a vote of confidence in the region for at least some time to come.

BILLION-DOLLAR BUDGET – Debt, four ministries to take priority


By Linda Straker

Debt, Education and Human Resources, Works, Finance and Energy as well as Health are to receive the five largest allocations in the EC$1 102 243 944 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for 2013,
which was presented to the island’s Parliament on Tuesday by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

According to Dr. Mitchell, Capital Expenditure will be at EC$262.4 million, Principal Repayment/Amortisation will be at EC$395.8 million, while overall deficit including grants will be at EC$154.4 million.

A section of the audience listening to the Budget
presentation by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
He told the packed gallery that the overall deficit of EC$154.4 million will be financed by domestic and external sources and is necessary at this time to get the economy growing again.

“The major challenge of Government is how we manage the payment going forward, which now accounts for close to 65 per cent of current expenditure when we include Pensions and Gratuities,” he said.


Current revenues for 2013 are projected at EC$448.2 million, while the Government anticipated a recurrent surplus of EC$32.9 million that will be used as counterpart financing for some key projects.

He explained to the House of Representatives that the total expenditure for 2013 is projected at EC$262.4 million and of that amount EC$112.9 million will be from local sources.

Presenting the budget within seven weeks of winning the February 19, 2013 General Elections, Dr. Mitchell told the House that the new economy, which his administration continuously promoted, will require that Government puts its fiscal house in order.

“This process must commence now. With laser-like focus, I have led a determined effort to cut recurrent expenditure in the preparation of this Budget. Through resolute action, we have cut over EC$60 million from recurrent budget for 2013,” he said.

He said that his Government will be engaging in a number of measures that will reduce spending within the various ministries and through the established Waste Reduction Commission. He gave the assurance that GPS systems will be installed on Government’s fleet of vehicles; there will be a reduction in overseas travel by 20 per cent; and moving to rationalise rentals of government offices.

Government has also implemented a new mobile telecommunications plan that will cut telephone communications by at least 40 per cent. He did not disclose which of the two companies that Government has the agreement.

Increased allocation for tourism sector


“This Budget provides for EC$12.2 million for airlift, an increase of EC$4.2 million over previous years. Of this sum, EC$5 million is expected in private sector contribution.”

This was among announcements from Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, who is also Minister of Finance, when he presented the 2013 Budget on Tuesday.

The tourism sector is an important sector to the economic development of the country, but in recent years, it has experienced continuous decline in activity, which has mainly been blamed on the global economic downturn. Among the major impact is the pullout of two airlines and a reduction in flights from other carriers.

However, Dr. Mitchell said that since taking up office on February 20, 2013 after winning the February 19 General Elections, his Government has reviewed all the existing airlift agreements and is actively engaging the major airlines to finalise more cost-effective arrangements.

“A central issue in these discussions is finding ways to use more of these airlift subsidies for direct marketing of Grenada. In the meantime, we are pleased to note that American Airlines will commence a five-time weekly service in July and August of this year,” he said.

He gave the assurance that Government is also actively looking for direct airlift arrangement to Continental Europe. The Finance Minister said that unshackling of Grenada’s tourism demands institutional transformation and his Government will be aiming to convert the Grenada Board of Tourism to the Grenada Tourism Authority.


“The sum of EC$3.5 million has been allocated to facilitate the establishment of the Tourism Authority. We anticipate the creation of the Authority will lead to a modern and more effective approach to the management of the Grenada’s tourism business,” he said.

He further disclosed that since coming into office, many investors have approached him with various initiatives and one of the many that will be realised is the establishing of a 70-room five-star property on the famous Grand Anse Beach. He did not disclose the investor behind the project.

By December, two international brand-name companies are expected to be managing properties
in Grenada. Sandals and Radisson are set to commence operations for the 2013 winter season. (LS)

Former administration approved incentive package for casino gambling


THE Tillman Thomas administration had approved an incentive package for Royal Caribbean International that would have seen casino gambling on board the ships while docked in Grenada at the cruise ship terminal.

The issue of establishing a casino as additional entertainment to the island’s tourist attractions has been an ongoing debate with Thomas openly objecting to such activity, which he described in many interviews as responsible for encouraging many social problems such as organised crime, family violence and prostitution.

“I know there was a proposal, but I don’t think we ever gave any approval, but call Dr. George Vincent, the former Tourism Minister, he should be able to tell you more,” Thomas said on Monday when questioned about the May 14, 2012 Cabinet decision that granted the incentive package.

Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Senator Winston Garraway, confirmed that a Cabinet document dated Monday, May 14, 2012, showed that the Thomas administration considered an ex-agenda submission and granted approval for an incentive package that will allow for Royal Caribbean cruise ships to allow shops and casinos to operate while in Port.

“It’s a package to introduce a summer programme starting 2013 provides for the shops and casino to be open when in Port St. George’s. It also provides for a reduction in the head tax by 50 per cent if the ships are to call for two years and remain for 12 hours each time,” he said.

Traditionally, shops aboard cruise lines are closed once in Port and it’s felt by some tourism stakeholders that allowing the shops to open will only result in less cruise ship money left on the island.

“So when the shops are open it will be the same as if sailing in the open seas, the passengers may not even want to come out and visit the island, thereby resulting in less money remaining on the island. Reduce island tours, reduce island shopping and that will reduce money here,” said the taxi drivers, who do not wish to be named.


A representative from George F. Huggins – the agent for Royal Caribbean International – said they were not aware of any incentive package offered to the cruise lines, but an official from the Port Authority confirmed that negotiations were being held, but was not aware of the present status.

Governor General, Sir Carlyle Glean, in presenting the Throne Speech during the recent ceremonial opening of the Ninth Parliament, says Government will give “due consideration” towards introducing casino gambling on the island as a major revenue enhancing measure and at the same time to add to the tourists’ entertainment on the island. (LS)

Gov’t announces 10% reduction on VAT for construction sector


By Linda Straker

AS of May 1, 2013, the cost of building a house is expected to be reduced as the Value Added Tax on materials for the construction of a house will be lowered to five per cent.

The reduction was among initiatives disclosed in the 2013 Budget, which was presented to the island’s Parliament on Tuesday by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, who is also the Finance Minister. Described as a stimulation for the construction sector, the reduction will affect sand, cement, roofing materials, steel, lumber and construction blocks.

“Government will forego VAT on construction services for projects valued at less than EC$400 000 over the same period,” said Dr. Mitchell, who explained that the high price of sand will be reduced by 50 per cent.

“It will be no more than EC$60 per board; this is an attempt to drive down the cost of construction and home ownership,” he said.

Dr. Mitchell further explained that Government will modernise the Physical Planning Division to ensure efficient and timely approval of physical development plans, essential for the revival of the construction sector.

He said that several consultations across the major stakeholder groups urged support by the commercial banking sector and the credit union. In a free market, such as ours, the action of governments on banks and financial institutions is limited largely by moral suasion.

“We call on the banks to assist us in making this construction stimulus package a success by doing whatever it can to offer facilities which encourage new mortgages,” he urged.

He also announced a stimulus package for the manufacturing sector, which contributed about six per cent of Grenada’s Gross Domestic Product and employs about 4.5 per cent of the labour force. Effective May 1, 2013, Government will replace the manufacturers rebate with the Manufacturers Competitiveness Programme (MCP).

“The MCP will  compose of two parts. Part A is equivalent to five per cent of sales for qualified manufacturers and part B is equivalent to five per cent of sales and can only be used against accumulated rebate balances,” he explained.

The MCP will extend for a period of four years with annual reviews to ensure conformity.

Economic conference set for next week


Chairman of the Republic Bank, Ronald Harford, is to spearhead an economic think tank conference in Grenada next week Tuesday.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said on Tuesday while presenting the 2013 Budget that his Government accepted the recommen-dations of the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce to hold the exercise and Cabinet will soon establish a growth and competitiveness council.

The special conference called “Fast Forward Together: Reigniting Growth”,  will be opened by Dr. Mitchell and the focus will be on opportunities for Grenada’s economic transformation.

It was further disclosed that Government will also establish a National Unity Commission to recommend and help implement ways of uniting the nation and a multi-Partite Committee.

This committee will be the forum to discuss key socio-economic issues affecting all social partners such that an even-handed approach can be taken on issues such as employment, prices, wages and productivity, among others.

“The ultimate goal is the development of a social pact as a framework to guide these relations,” he said. (LS)

LIAT told: Get it together


REGIONAL air carrier LIAT must get its act together.

According to Grenadian Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, the regional airline must become much more responsible and efficient, allowing for better and more timely intra-regional travel.

Dr. the Hon. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, as he
spoke with members of the media in Barbados last Wednesday.
While speaking with the media about a range of regional issues after his arrival in Barbados last Wednesday, Dr. Mitchell noted that in the past he has been criticised in sections of the media for being “anti-LIAT”. However, he stressed that to date, what he wants is to see LIAT become more efficient and to serve the region’s people better.

“How could I be anti-LIAT? I am anti any business that does not want to get its act together, reduce wastage and provide increased efficiency in services. LIAT as we know historically has been in my view an inefficient operation, even when it had a monopoly service and the planes were always packed with people, because as a cricketer, I travelled around the region. Yet, when they have presented books, it loses money,” he remarked.

“That made no sense, but it wasn’t surprising if you check what has been happening with the staffing at LIAT. It was the most heavily staffed operation and you and I know why this was so. You just have to look at the headquarters of LIAT and what was happening with the staffing over the years. And clearly, that can’t continue. So I was an outspoken critic of this, while we invested and gave LIAT a lot of concessions in order to maintain it. And I said, if I am going to take the taxpayers’ limited resources to invest, I expect LIAT to behave itself. That’s what I said and I was criticised for this,” the PM explained.

Mitchell, who noted that he is standing his ground on this matter, suggested that he will be speaking with LIAT Chairman Jean Holder about how Grenada can help LIAT to become more responsible in the context mention and at the same time, provide increased services.

“As it stands, I cannot tell you I feel very happy about what is happening there,” he stressed, adding that there is not sufficient movement of people across the region.

He also noted that he too has suffered from the lengthy travel arrangements currently set up to get from one Caribbean country to another, having had to cancel a trip to conduct urgent business in Trinidad just before General Elections in his home country in February of this year, because he would have had to travel to Barbados first, then on to St. Vincent and then end in Tobago.

“Now if that happens to me and I had urgent business and I refused to go, how are we going to expect the citizens of the country to decide that they want to go on a four-day vacation in Grenada or Dominica? Are you going to go? No way,” he stated.

“We are talking CSME, we are talking free movement of people, but we have no transport. We’d better get serious competition,” he added, while suggesting that REDjet’s absence is a huge loss to the region.

“I will not invest in an operation that wants to continue to be inefficient and not responsible. Caribbean Airlines is there. I will not fail in my responsibility to look at this,” Mitchell concluded. (RSM)

Mitchell: Region must look to technology


Speaking on the topic “Using Technology to Unleash Caribbean Potential and Create Further Development”, the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. Keith Mitchell, strongly urged Caribbean people to look to information and communication technologies (ICTs) to increase their development and global competitiveness.

He was addressing patrons at the Prime Minister’s lecture hosted by UWISTAT and held at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus last week Wednesday night.

Making it clear he was delivering his message from the perspective of his CARICOM role as the region’s Prime Minister with responsibility for science and technology, he shared his hope that the people of the region could wake up to the rapid changes and wide-ranging sources of success by “unleashing Caribbean potential to create further development”.

Focusing mainly on the boundless possibilities of ICTs, he says the embracing of ICTs to create its pervasive use can play a major part in increasing the prosperity and the well being of our people, by helping us to become more globally competitive.

“Indeed, the world’s economy is now described as knowledge-based. In these knowledge-based economies, the majority of workers in the society are engaged in activities that create, share and use
information as the primary means of production.”

“The discourse then posits that economic growth in the Caribbean will be brought about by accelerating the development of an information society, creating an enabling environment that supports the regional private sector to become more effective competitors on the world stage, in the traditional areas of economic activities, using ICT to support innovation and new revenue streams,” he stated during his long speech.

However, Mitchell firmly believes that ICTs have to be used in the most beneficial way for us and this he says, is via a shift to more service-based businesses.

“Our proposition is that the future of the Caribbean will be shaped not by the technology itself but the choices we make on how we use these technologies to access information, and regulate our activities to provide economic prosperity and sustainable growth by developing our economies to become globally competitive.”

‘The present global economy is one in which intellectual capital has become the most important factor of production, underlying a nation’s ability to innovate and remain competitive. This means that in order to survive and prosper, we have to stabilise our economies and return to economic growth by strategically moving ourselves from a trade-in-goods region to a trade-in-services region.” (EL)

Recognise ICTs in small, medium enterprises


Particular attention must be given to Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) with regards to how information and communication technologies (ICTs) may be applied to improve their efficiency,
extend their reach and make them more globally competitive.

That is according to Dr. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, during his address to the University of the West Indies Students Today Ambassadors Tomorrow (UWISTAT) lecture, held recently at the Cave Hill Campus.

According to him, such efforts should include the provision of business development services that assist in the design of business models; redefinition of business processes and the assessment of the most cost effective means of implementing ICT solutions; exploring effective ways of providing inexpensive ICT; and integrating SMEs into supply chains, by adopting industrial and trade policies that seek to expand both export and local value added services.

Dr. Mitchell went on to reveal that all the studies on the use of ICT suggest that the investment in both infrastructure and skills require a degree of scale of use in order to realise a reasonable return on investment.

“The challenge with the Caribbean economies is dealing with the issue of small market size, which has only been partially overcome by the very open nature of these economies.”

“It is in the individual countries of the Caribbean interest to seek to be part of a larger regional market that can act as its domestic base from which to launch into international markets. Accelerating trade integration in the CSME will help to increase domestic market size and moving as quickly as possible towards free movement of labour within the region will ease labour skills and shortage,” he stated.

The PM also acknowledged that one of the important areas in which the Caribbean can accelerate activities towards an Information Society is in the policy harmonization relating to ICT.

“The legal enforcement of electronic documents, protection of intellectual property and privacy, development of a framework to support electronic transactions and enforcement of electronic documents and contracts are amongst the priorities in this realm.

“All CARICOM Member States are working on some type of e-Government initiatives and providing e-Government Services. Of note is the fact that all Members States have education and human resources development initiatives identified that may be facilitated through ICTs. The most popular of these is the “one laptop per child or family,” initiative,” Dr. Mitchell highlighted. (TL)

Better linkages between Barbados, Grenada possible


DR. KEITH MITCHELL, Prime Minister of Grenada, has pointed out several avenues for greater collaboration and co-operation between Barbados and his home country, noting that in areas such as trade, travel and the sharing of skills, linkages can be developed.

Prime Minister Mitchell shared the above during an interview with local media last week Wednesday in Collymore Rock, St. Michael, soon after his arrival in Barbados. He noted that he was invited by the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus to deliver the annual Prime Minister’s Lecture and to share his views on how technology can shape the region.

Having been a product of the UWI himself, Mitchell told the media that Barbados is currently in the best position to share its skills in the area of academia, with the people of Grenada and others in the region.

“We can share our skills a lot more. Let’s face it; I studied here, so I know that you have a rich history of education opportunities for the wider cross section of the society. When I came to Barbados in the 70s to study, six of us left Grenada to get a Bachelor’s degree, and I saw hundreds of Barbadians at Cave Hill,” he commented.

“So my feeling is you are probably in a better position to share skills in the region than most countries. I think we’ve had Barbadians over the years teaching at our schools and providing opportunities and I am sure there’re things that we can share with you and I am sure you are in a good position to share not just with Grenada, but with many other countries,” Mitchell added.

In the area of transportation, Mitchell lamented the fact that there is not enough competition provided in terms of regional air carriers to allow for greater efficiency of travel and there is no other means of transporting citizens between countries, as well. If this trend could be reversed, he suggested, the CSME would have more meaning.

Speaking on the need to integrate trade efforts, Dr. Mitchell suggested that there are perhaps products that can be bought from Grenada, but he suggested that arrangements would have to be made to ensure that prices are competitive and there is therefore some benefit in selling to Barbados, as opposed to the international markets. (RSM)

EPA unlocking economic value of region’s cultural industries, sporting sectors


Unlocking the economic value of the cultural industries and sporting sectors of the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) holds much promise for development prospects, especially at a time when there has been a significant reduction in traditional revenue streams. The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) represents an important ‘key’ for the region, in this regard.

This insight emanated from deliberations of the Parliamentary Delegations of the CARIFORUM States Legislatures and the European Parliament, on the occasion of the Second Meeting of the CARIFORUM-European Union (EU) Parliamentary Committee. The Meeting, convened in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on April 3, was chaired by Senator the Honourable Vasant Bharath, Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Trinidad and Tobago.

Delegates exchanged views on a variety of matters, highlights of which appear in the Joint Declaration issued upon the conclusion of the Meeting.

Senator Bharath set the tone for the Meeting. His opening remarks called attention to the “unique role” of the Parliamentary Committee. Member of the European Parliament and Head of the European Parliament Delegation, Mr. David Martin, described the Parliamentary Committee as “the parliamentary piece in the institutional jigsaw puzzle.”

There are four other institutions established to facilitate implementation of the Agreement: (i) The Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council; (ii) The CARIFORUM-EU Trade and Development Committee; (iii) The Special Committee on Customs Cooperation and Trade Facilitation; and (iv) The CARIFORUM-EU Consultative Committee.

In his address at the opening ceremony, Martin further stated “Our joint task is to monitor the application and implementation of the EPA. We have the chance in this setting to learn how the Agreement is working on the ground, and how the other institutions are functioning.” He opined, “The CARIFORUM-EU EPA is a trailblazer, and it is up to all of us to make a success of it.”

Of the six ACP regions, CARIFORUM is the only one that to date has concluded and signed a ‘comprehensive’ EPA.

In discussions on EPA implementation, both sides called attention to the considerable importance of the CARIFORUM region’s cultural industries, including education, sport, national heritage activities, training and exchanges, which were an asset of the region and of the EU.

Delegates were of the view that these areas are growth areas for CARIFORUM States with respect to export earnings, a point which Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, underscored in outlining the programme of work that her Agency is rolling out. “The Caribbean Export Development Agency’s primary objective is to build Caribbean brands and competitiveness across the region and in external partners. In this regard, we are finalising a creative industries strategy. We are also looking at the business of sports,” she said.

While the Joint Declaration acknowledged that the “EPA was recognised as being of critical importance in the region’s strategy to further promote and commercialise the creative and sporting sectors”, CARIFORUM delegates were quick to point to regulatory barriers with respect to the EU market that posed difficulties in translating ‘market access’ into real ‘market penetration’.


According to the Joint Declaration, “members strongly welcomed and supported the proposal to lift the visa requirements for nationals of CARIFORUM States visiting the EU including the Outermost regions as an important measure to facilitate exchanges.”

Representatives of the Trinidad and Tobago private sector also lent their voice to the Meeting. Five business support organisations (BSOs) were invited to deliver presentations at the forum, with a view to sharing the experiences of some of their members in breaking through and operating in the EU market.

The Parliamentary Committee also focused attention on issues germane to the treatment of certain goods of importance to CARIFORUM. There was a call for both sides to continue to work to bridge differences.

Another constant in the deliberations was EU policy on differentiation in future development aid. Elements of that exchange are captured in the Joint Declaration.

The fifteen signatory Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific (CARIFORUM) States to the EPA are the independent CARICOM Member States and the Dominican Republic.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

LICA SECRETARIAT TO RECEIVE SUPPORT


St. John’s, Antigua – President of the West Indies Cricket Board, Mr. Dave Cameron, has pledged the assistance of the regional governing body towards the setting up of a permanent secretariat for the Leeward Islands Cricket Association (LICA).

Speaking at the LICA 100th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Award Ceremony at the Grand Royal Antiguan Resort last Saturday evening, Cameron said: “The WICB is prepared and willing to assist with the setting up of a permanent secretariat for LICA here in Antigua.”

Speaking prior to the WICB Head, Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Education, Sports, Youth and Gender Affairs, Senator the Honourable Winston Williams Jr., announced that his government has given a commitment to provide office space to house the LICA Secretariat in Antigua and “will also
provide certain amenities to operationalise the office”.

Cameron also said that he was prepared to take to the WICB Board of Directors a proposal on how the regional body can assist in strengthening cricket in the Leewards and urged that the proposal is completed by LICA in short order.

The newly elected WICB president also congratulated LICA for being the forerunners to formal competitive structured inter-island cricket in the West Indies and highlighted that the 100th anniversary was the first of its kind being formally celebrated in West Indies Cricket.

Present at the event was fast bowling legend, Mr. Andy Roberts, along with the first man from the Leewards to play for West Indies, Mr. Elquemedo Willett.

The function was also attended by the Premier of Nevis, the Honourable Vance Amory; and Ministers of Sport in Nevis, the Honourable Hazel Brandy-Williams and Montserrat, the Honourable Colin Riley; and Vice President of the WICB, Mr. Emmanuel Nanthan; and Directors of the WICB, Gregory Shillingford – also President of LICA – and Enoch Lewis.

LICA held the gala event to celebrate 100 years of organised cricket among the islands in the Leeward Islands. Teams initially played for the Hesketh Bell Shield in honour of the then Governor of the Leeward Islands – Sir Hesketh Bell.

ICC introduces new ‘No ball’ playing condition


THE International Cricket Council (ICC) has introduced a new playing condition for Tests, One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and Twenty20 Internationals (T20s) that instructs the umpires to call ‘No ball’ whenever a bowler breaks the non-striker’s wicket during the act of delivery.

This playing condition will come into effect on April 30, and the first international match to be played under the new regulation will be the first ODI between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in Bulawayo on Friday, May 3.

ICC’s General Manager – Cricket, Geoff Allardice.
ICC’s General Manager – Cricket, Geoff Allardice, said: “The recent interpretation used in international matches to call ‘Dead ball’ when a bowler breaks the wicket during a delivery has not adequately dealt with this situation.”

“The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) recently decided to address this issue by introducing a new ‘No ball’ Law from October 1, 2013. The ICC Cricket Committee noted the MCC’s decision, and recommended that an ICC playing condition, mirroring the new No ball Law, be introduced to international cricket as early as possible.”

The ICC Chief Executives Committee approved this recommendation at its March meeting in Dubai.

Mr. Allardice added: “The ICC has decided to introduce this playing condition five months prior to the MCC changing the ‘No ball’ Law because there is a lot of important cricket to be played before October 1, including the ICC Champions Trophy in June.

“The introduction of this playing condition will now provide greater certainty for all involved when a bowler breaks the wickets during the act of delivery.”