Wednesday, 26 June 2013

TOP PRIORITY – CONCACAF president committed to regional coaching certification

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – The education of regional football coaches, club development and professional leagues are among priority areas for Jeffrey Webb, President of CONCACAF, the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football.

Webb, who recently completed his first year at the helm of CONCACAF, said his ultimate goal is to provide a level playing field for all territories within the confederation.

Webb believes that the education of coaches will play a significant role in the improvement of technical aspects, which countries in the Caribbean lack compared to their North and Central American counterparts.

“We have to focus on education, when you look at the development that’s taking place in the USA and Mexico, so much has gone into the development of the technical staff, so when you have educated coaches you have better players and the Caribbean must educate its coaches,” Webb told the Jamaica Sunday Observer.

“I think it’s important to educate our coaches, and we have put in place now the coaches’ CONCACAF qualification, which will start with the D Licence starting in August this year. We are committed to club development.”

“I want to also establish and do a strategic analysis of Caribbean football as far as the professional leagues throughout the Caribbean are concerned, and that is something we are looking for from ... a development standpoint,” according to Webb.

Jamaica is a leader in the Caribbean region, with its new drive in coaching education, having set up the JFF/UTech Coaching School that has graduated nearly 500 coaches at different competency levels, over the past four years or so.

The FIFA vice-president, who said the main focus of his tenure is to develop the game, noted that part of that vision is to see the tiny countries of the Caribbean coming up to a plateau where they can be duly measured with the powerhouses.

“I think when you look through our confederation we have 41 countries, and you have probably five stages in different development aspects; when you look at the smaller countries and how they are
at different development stages and the vision (now) is to bring all these entities (in line),” said Webb, who heads the high-powered FIFA Task Force on Racism and Discrimination.

“It’s important to work with some of the associations, like Mexico, down to the smallest federations in the Caribbean, like the Montserrats, Anguillas and so forth,” said Webb.

CONCACAF proposes Caribbean confab on sports tourism

CONCACAF, the football confederation that embraces North and Central America and the Caribbean, is seeking to bring governments and sporting associations of the region to the discussion table with a view of further exploring sports tourism as an income earner.

President of CONCACAF Jeffrey Webb says with its enormous potential the Caribbean region lags behind other places in institutionalising sport, and football in particular, as a tool to bridge social gaps, generate economic growth and to be a pillar in overall nation building.

“Sports tourism is huge and all over the world it continues to grow... I don’t think that the Caribbean, from a sports and government standpoint, have sat down to create dialogue and engage each other, to see how best sports can assist governments, and nations within the Caribbean and CONCACAF... and that’s one of the things that lies ahead from an opportunity standpoint,” Webb told the Jamaica Observer in an exclusive interview in Kingston recently.

The first move, noted the Caymanian, is to have all the relevant players sitting around the same table with an open mind to explore the possibilities.

Webb said CONCACAF has already proposed a meeting for October this year, with a specific date and place to be announced.

“We are inviting the sports ministers to a conference in October this year. We will have the presidents and general secretaries (of football bodies) and then we will create some dialogue between government representatives and sporting associations, “ he said.

Webb, who is also a FIFA vice-president, said the proposed meeting will seek to, in part, project sport and football to another dimension above and beyond the field of play.

“We will also present some of the best practices throughout the region and the world to show that football is not just physical education, but football helps so many from an educational standpoint.

“It also helps a lot from a health standpoint to fight hypertension and obesity and so forth... for us it’s more collaboration to ensure that the clear values are established that sport and football can help nation- building,” he noted.

Webb, who heads FIFA’s Anti-racism and Discrimination Task Force, said parallel to efforts to help enhance the agenda of sports tourism in the region must be an equally robust programme that will develop the football product in the Caribbean.

“We have to look at the development of Caribbean football from a grassroots standpoint and also from a club standpoint... I would like to do an analysis and establish a working group to look at club football throughout the region from a professional perspective,” Webb told the Observer.

He said this drive to build on the grassroots and to develop a professional club structure region-wide to target bringing the Caribbean game up to par with their North and Central American counterparts will require “some real analyses".

“We have to conduct feasibility studies as we look for sustainability of professional club football in the Caribbean and this is something that we must discuss,” said Webb, who is one year in the job as CONCACAF president.

He has reiterated with every opportunity that while there are pressing matters facing CONCACAF which is on the rebuild following the cash-for-vote scandal and allegations of corruption against former top executives,” improving the game” in every area is also integral to the work of the confederation is.

‘Bouncer’ is the CPL mascot

A cricket fan from Barbados has won a competition to name the mascot for the Caribbean Premier league (CPL) which starts next month.

David Ross’s idea of naming the CPL mascot Bouncer has been accepted by the organisers following a social media competition.

Bouncer was selected from a shortlist of five after officials sifted through hundreds of submissions from facebook and twitter fans.

“I listened to the CPL theme song which is very bouncy; I saw the mascot video on YouTube and the mascot was bouncing and it just hit me,” said Ross.

“The West Indies is known for bouncy wickets, and our brand of cricket and music is full of bounce. It is also catchy for children. Plus if you follow the ball it will bounce”.

Ross will receive VIP tickets for the three matches being held in Barbados, and a brand new Samsung Galaxy S3 mini, courtesy of CPL sponsor, Digicel.

Bouncer will hand over the new smartphone to David at the opening ceremony, which he will attend with his family.

“I am elated about winning but even happier to just contribute,” said Ross.

“I was already planning to attend all the matches in Barbados with my family and now I have more reason to.”

Does the ACP have a future?

In 2020 the Cotonou Convention will expire. Then the trade, aid and development mechanism that links 79 nations in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (the ACP) to Europe may well come to end without any successor agreement being put in pace.

How this has come about says as much about the way in which the world has changed since the Convention was agreed in 2000 as it does about thinking that seeks to keep in place a special arrangement that linked Europe to its former colonies, without recognising the need to demonstrate value and achievement.

The existing Convention is the successor to mechanisms stretching back to the Yaoundé Conventions of 1963 and 1969 and the Lomé Conventions I to IV that followed between 1975 and 2000, and may well be the last that seeks to bring together three geographically distant regions largely tied now by a common experience.

Recently, the German Development Institute, the Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik, together with the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) published a paper ‘Towards Renewal or Oblivion’ which reviewed the prospects for continuing a single co-operation arrangement between Europe and the nations of the ACP.

The document adds to a number of studies and discussions that have taken place at many levels in the ACP and Europe, but crucially focuses on perceptions within the ACP.

It makes clear what has been apparent since the EU’s decision to bring into being region-specific Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs); Europe prefers a regional approach to its external relations. The report highlights within this context, as the Caribbean already knows, the fact that the Pacific and Caribbean elements of the ACP are not seen in Europe’s capitals as anywhere near as important as Africa, and in the case of the Pacific is largely considered a matter best left to the strategic interest of nations on the Pacific Rim.

It also makes clear as is apparent to anyone who discusses the issues with those in Brussels from the ACP, there is a disconnect between the enthusiasm that exists for the continuation of the agreement and the actual delivery of objectives.

Lack of understanding

The report’s authors put this down to the fact that the delivery of the agreement is in effect outsourced to experts, is understood only by a select group of officials and representatives and has become arcane. In other words, it is neither understood nor considered relevant by those it is meant to benefit.

They also point to a number of other factors that challenge its continuation: the arrangements are seen as primarily related to development assistance; the ACP as a group have not had a significant influence on global governance, despite this being a widely held aspiration; there are other vehicles that ACP nations are involved in that have overlapping remits; the ACP member states have not demonstrated their interest by supporting its institutions and its decisions financially; and the prevailing sense that the aggressive way in which the EPA negotiations have been conducted by Europe has engendered a deep mistrust of the EU.

The study concludes that there are three options that the EU and the ACP might consider: regionalising Europe’s relationship with the ACP, which is what will happen anyway if no successor to the Cotonou Convention is agreed; upgrading the existing Cotonou Convention in a way that reflects current realties, but with a lesser focus on development assistance; and ensuring that in any regional agreement as many aspects of Cotonou’s key provisions are maintained.

The short and accessible study deserves a wider audience in the Caribbean than the select group of experts and officials which the study describes; not least because it points to the changed reality of the region’s future relationship with Europe, and the Caribbean’s failure in recent years, along with the rest of the ACP, to turn emotional solidarity to practical advantage.

Lack of interest
There also much that the report does not say about the ACP.

In the Caribbean for most of this decade, most stakeholders, and in particular the private sector, are not interested in Cotonou or its possible successor, and there is virtually no debate in the media on the likelihood of Cotonou’s passing or on the future of the ACP relationship.

This is because the Caribbean’s relationship with Europe has already been regionalised through the EPA’s formalising of trade and development relations with Cariforum and the agreement of an overarching Caribbean-specific framework document setting out the nature of the future political, economic and partnership with Europe.

In Europe itself, the sense is that the Member States, including the former colonial powers, have moved on. Strategically Europe looks at the world in a different way. China, Venezuela, Brazil and others are recognised as playing a greater role. The Caribbean, with the exception of Haiti, is considered, as it were, too wealthy in comparison to the poorest developing nations, and in future development assistance will only be provided on a regional basis in the areas of security, the environment and private sector led development.

Moreover, the absence of understanding amongst European electorates of the reasons for sustaining a privileged relationship with former colonies at a time of rising domestic concerns about austerity and migration has changed the political dynamics in the relationship.

As a consequence, a Europe of 27 states increasingly distracted by its own problems, has asked itself why should the parts of the ACP have any greater significance than say, Central America, and seemingly, the answer at high policy levels is that it should not.

This is not to imply that Europe thinks that any ACP region does not matter, but from its perspective the utility of a single ACP group now has much less relevance or attraction.

In many respects the ACP was a child of the Cold War, reflecting a practical response to the desire of the West to ensure that the future development and political orientation of its existing and former colonies.

For the organisation to have a future it needs youth, vigour, new thinking and a raison d’être rather than the language of solidarity and process, no matter how important the ACP’s shared history and experience has been.

Emotional solidarity between the ACP nations remain strong, but the facts suggest that the grouping may have an uncertain grip on the future if it cannot identify and promote to a changing Europe a clear reason why there should be a successor to the Cotonou Convention.

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

Re-thinking taxing tourism

Are governments in the Caribbean killing the goose that lays the golden egg? This question relates to the number of taxes that governments are applying to the tourism industry and, particularly, to the cost of airplane tickets for flights originating in their countries.

In some cases, the cost of government taxes far exceeds the actual fare charged by the airline. Intra-Caribbean travel has been seriously affected. For instance, it is cheaper to travel from some Caribbean countries to New York, Miami and Toronto than it is to journey to nearby Caribbean states.

This, of course, has a harmful effect on tourism apart from the fact that people-to-people contact, that should be at the heart of a Caribbean “community”, is also undermined. Caribbean people are also tourists. For some Caribbean countries, Caribbean tourists represent their second largest market.

The taxes applied by governments on tourism-related activity is akin to adding costs to exports, making them more expensive and less competitive in the global market. In other words, it is like shooting yourself in the foot, and thereby giving your competitors in a race for tourists an unrestrained opportunity to beat you. This leads to tourists choosing less expensive destinations. The consequence is that fewer tourists come to the Caribbean, foreign exchange earnings decline, income of tourism related businesses falls and workers are laid off.

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, the former Tourism Minister of The Bahamas and also former Head of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), recently produced an important paper on Caribbean tourism in which he pointed out the following: “Hotel occupancies across the region average 60 per cent annually and tourism represents some 15 per cent of regional GDP. In some Caribbean countries, the tourism contribution to GDP is as high as 80 per cent. It does not take much arithmetic to see that if occupancies could be advanced to 90 per cent, the tourism contribution could be increased by some 50 per cent.”

He also makes the telling point that: “It is very odd that world trade agreements have removed so many of the taxes on goods travelling across borders yet we have seen steady increases in tariffs on people crossing borders”.

For Caribbean countries increased taxes on people travelling is not good for any of their economies – certainly not good for the countries that are highly tourism dependent, such as Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas and Barbados, and not good for countries that have lost preferential markets for their main agricultural products and are trying to develop a tourism industry to earn foreign exchange and create jobs.

Tax impact

Vanderpool-Wallace in his carefully argued paper drew attention to a PriceWaterHouseCoopers study on the effects of the Airline Passenger Duty (APD) on the economy of the United Kingdom. Apart from the negative effects of the APD on travel to the Caribbean, the study showed that “the removal of that APD would result in a US$788 million net gain in UK taxes”.

That study has lessons for Caribbean governments that now apply taxes to their vital export – tourism.
But maybe finance ministers, hard-pressed to find monies to pay for myriad demands, need convincing that the removal of these taxes would bring in greater revenues. In this connection, perhaps the Secretariat of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) might join with the CTO and the Caribbean Hotels and Tourism Association (CHTA) to conduct such a study for governments. The European Union and the Canadian International Development Agency have regional funds to which application could be made to finance such a study. Why not take advantage of the opportunity and get an informed and scientific basis for the judgement being made about taxes on the tourism industry including air travel?

On the subject of the APD that the United Kingdom government has applied to Caribbean travellers, while Caribbean governments and tourism officials have been fighting this issue at the political level for some years, it should be evident now that no amount of political lobbying will shift the British policy position. The Caribbean grievance has to be taken to an independent body for redress or, with polite apologies and offers to address the problem as soon as the UK’s own economic circumstances improve, nothing will be done.

Caribbean governments that are complaining about the APD could also lead the way in influencing the British government by eliminating or reducing their own taxes. Such action would also have the beneficial effect of lowering the cost of air travel to the region, making it more competitive, bringing in more visitors, increasing foreign exchange and revenues, and producing more jobs.

On a related matter, 10 Caribbean countries (9 CARICOM states and Cuba) have “Approved Destination Status” for tourists from China now the world’s second largest economy with a middle-class that will overtake the size of the US middle-class in a few years. The number of Chinese tourists was 70.3 million in 2011, expected to rise to 82 million this year. Yet, no real effort has been made to develop this market. To its credit, the Barbados Tourism Authority has recently started doing so by inviting representatives of three Chinese tour operating companies to visit. They are: Shanghai Airlines Tours International, China CYES, and Huamei Holdings – Barbados is trying to target the wealthier end of the Chinese market.

But three vital steps remain. The first is to remove the requirement for Chinese to have visas to visit the designated Caribbean countries; the second is to create awareness of the Caribbean in China; and the third is to build strategic partnerships with tour operators and China Airlines to bring tourists to the region.

China Airlines flies to New York and to Brazil. Part of the strategy should be either to encourage China Airlines to fly on to different Caribbean destinations in the course of a week, or to work out arrangements for other airlines to pick up Chinese passengers bound for the Caribbean from New York and Boa Vista.  

Removing taxes on tourism in the Caribbean would also help to reduce the high costs of travel from distant China.

Getting tourists from China is a big leap. It requires attention now to build the structures to make it work. Meanwhile, the Caribbean continues to have nearby markets in North America and traditional markets in Europe from which they can still benefit. But, the benefits won’t come if taxes on tourism discourage tourists. It’s time to re-think taxing this vital export.  

(The writer is a Consultant, Visiting Fellow at London University and former Caribbean diplomat. Responses and previous commentaries:

HISTORY IN THE MAKING! – Deacon to be ordained as 1st female priest in Windward Islands

History will once again be made in the Windward Islands Anglican Community on September 9, 2013 when the Right Reverend C. Leopold Friday, Bishop of the Windward Islands, will ordain Deacon Eleanor Candasie Glasgow to the Holy Order of Priesthood.

In 2011, she became the first female Deacon in the Windward Islands Anglican Community, a role which provided for her to assist the bishop and priest in public worship and administration, as well as oversee all the practical details.
Deacon Eleanor Candasie Glasgow.
Her ordination to the priesthood, according to the June 19, 2013 circular from the Bishop, will be held at the St. Patrick’s Parish Church, Sauteurs, in a service scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. The occasion will also be used to ordain Mrs. Myrtle Gordon and Ms. Yvette Calliste to the Holy Order of Deacons.

Glasgow was not born into the Anglican faith. Her background was the Wesleyan Holiness Church until her conversion to the Anglican faith during her time at Christ Church Girls’ Foundation School in Barbados and her journey to priesthood was triggered by her admiration for her Sunday School teacher.

In a 2011 interview, she said: “My role model was my Sunday School teacher, who happened to be the wife of the pastor,” Glasgow said.

“And somewhere silently in my heart, I admired her and always dreamt of becoming like my Sunday School teacher. I did not know that it would take this part.”

Deacon Glasgow grew up in Barbados where she attained a first degree and later a Master’s degree in Theology at Codrington College. She is married to Vincentian-born Christian Glasgow, who is the Archdeacon of the Anglican Community in Grenada.

PM Christie: Region needs true partners

International commercial banks with a presence in the Caribbean have been urged to be true partners to the government and people of the islands in which they operate.

Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Perry Christie, made this appeal as he addressed the first CIBC FirstCaribbean Infrastructure Conference last week Thursday at The Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas. The event brought together representatives from government and government agencies, multilateral institutions, financial advisors, developers and investors to discuss strategies in pursuing private-public partnerships.
Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, and CIBC
FirstCaribbean’s Managing Director for The Bahamas and
Turks and Caicos, Marie Rodland-Allen, were escorted in.

“I need to have [banks] demonstrate they do have confidence in The Bahamas; [that] they are not just here to make money out of The Bahamas and then repatriate it to someplace outside,” he emphasised. “That there is the understanding that we are partners in development and that the people of The Bahamas and the banks and their bases here can find the way to institutionalise the relationship and partnership where the country can be advanced.

“This is why this makes so much sense to me to be able to know where the record of a country is, to know what the capacity of the country to pay back is, and for us to be able to say ‘Let’s get it on.’”

He later insisted, “While the Government must necessarily play a pivotal role going forward, I do believe that there is a critical need for involvement of the private sector in the further development of our economy and society which, in many respects, can be characterised as a social responsibility.

CIBC describes infrastructure as a “core business” globally and the bank has received several awards for its work in infrastructure and project finance. This month, CIBC was once again named as the strongest bank in Canada and North America and the third strongest bank in the world by Bloomberg Markets Magazine. Since 2006, CIBC has been the majority shareholder, with a 91.5 per cent stake in CIBC FirstCaribbean, the largest, regionally-listed bank in the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean.

It is a track record that is expected to lend significant support to the subsidiary’s infrastructure undertakings in the region. During her welcome remarks to open the conference, CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Managing Director for The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, Marie Rodland-Allen, outlined the regional bank’s role as a lender in a $55 million senior secured credit facility for new Curacao wind park, a project that represents a total investment of $74 million in a renewable source that generates almost 20 per cent of Curacao’s annual energy demand, she said.

“Additionally, CIBC played a major role as joint lead arranging bank and local placement agent in the $265 million financing for the redevelopment of the Sir Lynden Pindling International Airport right here in the Bahamas,” she continued.

“Through our capital market and corporate investment teams, we have been at the forefront of providing many of the solutions to large corporates and sovereigns that have been recognised as among the most creative and impactful to our region. The expertise that exists in the Caribbean is backed by the strength and experience of our parent CIBC.”

Respect important

Meanwhile, the Bahamian PM further appealed to the private sector to be sympathetic to the political dimension in which governments must operate. According to him, each side must understand the limitations and the challenges of the other and respect the issues on which there could be no compromise.

But he noted that government had a role to play in getting the buy-in of the public: “I firmly believe that potential social resistance highlights the need for political and social will; particularly in areas that may be politically sensitive, such as water distribution and electricity generation. As such, we must find the means to increase co-ordination and consultation with stakeholders, especially in relation to the potential social and environmental impacts of projects and related infrastructure. In that vein, consultation must be buttressed and informed by effective environmental and social impact studies.”

Urging private sector players to be frank in their negotiations with government, he said, “The public-private partnership isn’t just infrastructure; it’s about respect, it’s about integrity in how you operate; it’s about resolve to make the country work.” (YA)

Regional HIV Testing Day is today

By Linda Straker

TODAY, Friday, June 28, 2013, will be the sixth anniversary of Regional HIV Testing Day in Grenada and other Caribbean territories, which will result in thousands using the opportunity to know their HIV status.

Regional Testing Day, as it is known, was ini-tiated by the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS in 2008, with support from Scotiabank in collaboration with the Pan Caribbean Partnership on HIV/AIDS (PANCAP).

Dr. Jesse Henry, Director of the National Infectious Disease Control Unit, says that knowing one’s HIV status can make a big difference in one’s life.

“Having a positive status no longer means you are going to die immediately, what it means is starting a new life and committing yourself to that new life,” she said.

Explaining that a positive status means different things to different people, Dr. Henry said that when one is diagnosed as positive, the next step is knowing the person’s Viral Load and CD4 count.

“These two things are very important because it assists the health-care team to decide the best treatment plan. Low CD4 count like under 350 usually means the immediate start of medication, while a high CD4 may not result in immediate treatment,” she said, while pointing out that every case is different and other things are usually considered when the decision is made to start treatment.

Reinforcing the need for all sexually active persons to know their HIV status, she said that in Grenada, more women are aware about their status compared to men. Dr. Henry is concerned that men are not as eager to know their own status.

“What we find happening is that by the time most men are diagnosed, they are sick and hospitalised. However, if they knew their status early, then the relevant intervention will be done,” she said.

She is hoping that more and more males will come out and make use of the opportunity at the three testing sites, which are Scotiabank branches in Grenville, Grand Anse and St. George’s.

In Grenada, all pregnant women seeking prenatal care are en-couraged to know their own status as part of the Mother-to-Child prevention programme. Over the years, the programme has proven to be very effective. According to the last UN report, Grenada recorded zero deaths of infants born to HIV mothers.

The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) states that although the Caribbean accounts for a relatively small share of the global epidemic, its HIV prevalence among adults is about 1.0 per cent, which is higher than in all other regions outside Sub-Saharan Africa. UNAIDS says unprotected sex between men and women – especially paid sex – is believed to be the main mode of HIV transmission in the Caribbean.

HIV Counselling and Testing is an important entry point into comprehensive HIV prevention and treatment programmes and services. Counselling and Testing, such as the Regional Testing Day, provides an opportunity for more persons to know their HIV status; for the negative client to receive risk reduction counselling and support to stay negative; and for HIV-infected clients to be referred early into treatment and care programmes and further counselled and supported.

Thousands of voter identification cards waiting to be collected

Supervisor of Elections, Judy Benoit, wants Grenadians to go to the various Parliamentary Offices throughout the island and collect their Voter Identification cards, which are “patiently awaiting the owners”.

Benoit said that in the build-up to the February 19, 2013 General Election, people were much more passionate about collecting and having the card in their possession.

“However, since election is over, it appears that people have become laid back and are not bothering to collect their cards,” she said, explaining that while thousands of those cards were ready before elections, many were not collected.

“It’s their card and they should go collect it,” Benoit pleaded.

With a general election expected until 2018, the offices have become less busy to the extent that some people don’t realise that registration of eligible voters has resumed.

“The Offices were back to normal operations shortly after the February 19th General Election and not much persons are going and get registered. We have persons who are turning 18 every day and they should go get registered,” said Assistant Supervisor of Elections, Ada Holder.

In accordance with the law, the Parliamentary Elections Office will be publishing a consolidated list of voters by the middle of July. That list will include the names of all persons registered up to June 30, 2013. (LS)

Five men charged with murder of construction worker

THE Grenville Police have arrested and charged five men with non-capital murder by unlawfully and
intentionally causing the death of Leroy Alexander, a 54-year-old construction worker of Caruth, St. Andrew.

The incident emanated from an altercation during the wee hours of Saturday, June 22, 2013 at a place of entertainment in La Fillette, St. Andrew.

Initial police investi-gations revealed that the victim received several stab wounds and lacerations to several parts of his body, including the right arm and torso (chest) area.

Alexander was rushed to the Princess Alice Hospital at Mirabeau, St. Andrew, where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead by the District Medical Officer.

Swift response and prompt investigations by the police resulted in the joint arrest of five residents of Mt. Horne, St. Andrew, in connection with his death. They are Regie Noel, 22 years, farmer; Michael Murray, 22 years; Kevon Charles, 26 years; Glendon Noel, 21 years; and Leroy Cambridge, 26 years, all unemployed. (LS)

YWCA taking action

THE conference may be over, but the region’s branches of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) have their work cut out for them as they seek to address issues affecting women in this region.

Speaking as the North American and Caribbean Young Women’s Christian Association Leadership Conference winded down, President of the World Young Women’s Christian Association, Deborah Thomas-Austin, explained that there were specific concrete actions identified for the plan forward.

“As we are going through the process, we have a team that is working on the outcomes and action plans and that team is now putting together representatives of all the countries present to be part of the action planning committee. So by the time we are finished, we have a definite plan of action going forward and we have people identified as champions in their countries to ensure that the action plan is implemented over the next few years. So this ensures that we are not just talking about it,” she said.

The three-day conference, which ended on Saturday at the Hilton Barbados, dealt with issues including sexual reproductive health, HIV, domestic violence against women, and leadership and empowerment.

Addressing those persons who believed that the association should not be dealing with such topics, Thomas-Austin emphasised, “We cannot afford to shy away from issues such as sexual reproductive health and rights when they are human rights issues and affect women in terms of health and empowerment issues. We need to give them the tools and knowledge to claim their rights.” (JMB)

James Clarkson to be honoured during Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari

Steelband composer and arranger, James Clarkson.

HIS contribution towards the sustainable development of the local music industry cannot be questioned and on Saturday, June 29, he will be honoured with a Legends Award.

The prestigious Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari Legends Award will be presented to Grenada’s best-known steelband composer and arranger, James Clarkson, at the festival’s Opening Concert in Mt. Cinnamon Garden. The presentation will be made by the Hon. Alexandra Otway-Noel, Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture.

The first Naniki Caribbean Jazz Legends Award was presented in Barbados to Trinidad-born and Barbados-based pianist, Ebe Gilkes, for his sterling contribution to the jazz movement in the Eastern Caribbean. Antigua’s Winston Anthony Bailey received the second Jazz Legends Award for his contribution to jazz and music in general in Antigua.

Clarkson was born in Grenada on April 21, 1944, and has had a distinguished lifelong career in music with early exposure at the age of 12. He later joined the Royal Grenada Police Force Band, appeared on stage with his father’s band and by 17 was a member of the Trinidad Defence Force Band as lead arranger and first trumpet player.

By 23 years of age, he was the Director of Music of the Royal Grenada Police Force Band and soon became the arranger for the very successful Republic Bank Angel Harps Steel Orchestra, a post he still holds today.

The awards ceremony and presentation of the citation will be a highlight of the opening concert of the Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari, with performances from Peter ‘Zack’ Bernard (Grenada/USA), Derek McKeith’s Blues Band (USA), and Quiet Fire, who will bring to an end an exciting first night of music. (LS)

International Guitar Workshop for aspiring young Grenadian musicians

SIX Grenadian schools have been chosen to take part in the Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari Music Workshop for Young Musicians, in conjunction with the Travelling Guitar Foundation of the United States.

An invitation was extended to selected schools to send students to the workshop to be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 29, at the Presentation Brothers College. The schools sending students are Presentations Brothers College, St. Joseph’s Convent, St. George’s, McDonald College, St. Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School, Grenada Boys’ Secondary School and Bishop’s College in Carriacou.

The Travelling Guitar Foundation is the brainchild of guitarist and songwriter, Damon Marks, who has performed and recorded with a wide range of notable musicians throughout his career, including Alicia Keys and Jermaine Paul, winner of the first season (2012) of the television competition The Voice. The organisation’s focus is to inspire children through music and education by ensuring that music education programmes are available to them in schools. Since 2010, the Foundation has provided musical equipment, guitar clinics, and support for music education programs across the United States, working to ensure that students have access to high-quality musical instruments and comprehensive instruction throughout their formative years.

The Travelling Guitar Foundation will also donate guitars to participating schools for their ongoing music education.

“I’ve always felt that the arts play a critical role in a child’s development in school,” said the Travelling Foundation’s Damon Marks. “My whole thing is basically this – as long as I know that these guitars are going to be given to children and that these children are going to be taught properly, I don’t mind going anywhere in the world to do it because it’s for the children, and they’re our future.”

According to Sandra Trim-DaCosta, Exec-utive Director of the Foundation, the donation of the first-class guitars to schools in Grenada is made possible by both the Foundation and one of its primary sponsors, Schecter Guitars through the company’s Artist Relations Director, Allan Steelgrave. Schecter instruments are played by some of the world’s leading guitarists including Damon Marks himself and the artist once again known as Prince.

Other Foundation sponsors include BulLion Entertainment, Google and Mogami Cables. The workshop in Grenada is also supported by the US Embassy and the Maria Holder Memorial Trust.

“This project with the Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari, marks the first time that the Travelling Guitar Foundation charity is working with students outside of the US,” said Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari Founder, Tom Hinds. “The workshop is an opportunity for students between the ages of 11 and 16 from the secondary schools to gain exposure to guitar playing at the highest level. This event is a highlight of an already exciting Jazz Safari.”

The Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari takes place on June 29 and 30 in Grenada. The Travelling Guitar Foundation group, led by its US West Coast Director Derek McKeith, will also perform as part of the festival on Saturday, June 29, at Mt. Cinnamon Gardens. McKeith will be joined by jazz/R&B keyboardist, Van Taylor of Taylor Made Jazz, and Drummer, Tim Webb, in conducting the workshops with the students.

The Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari – Grenada is sponsored by Mount Cinnamon Resort & Beach Club, Flamboyant Hotel and Villas, LIAT, Grenada Board of Tourism, United Insurance, US Embassy, Sagicor, The Travelling Guitar Foundation (USA), Klassic AM, Coca Cola, Etang, Quinn Company Limited, Stoli, Presidente, El Dorado Rum, Grant’s Scotch Whiskey, Campari and Nedd’s Rental & Services.

Stakeholders from region and beyond meet to discuss PPPs

OVER 150 Caribbean leaders and government and private sector officials, investors, representatives of the banking, engineering, legal and other sectors recently gathered in Nassau, The Bahamas to discuss a variety of issues surrounding public-private partnerships (PPPs).

CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank hosted the conference on the topic of “Public-Private Partnerships in Infrastructure Development and Financing” in light of its growing presence as a major player in this area. Over the past three years, the bank has arranged, co-arranged or participated in over $2 billion in financing of Caribbean corporate and sovereigns, said the CIBC FirstCaribbean in a statement issued just ahead of the conference, which began last week Thursday and concluded on Friday, June 21.

From left: Ryan Pinder, Minister of Financial Service for The
Bahamas; Barbados Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office,
Senator Darcy Boyce; and Marie Rodland-Allen, Managing
Director for The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos for event
hosts, CIBC FirstCaribbean, chat during a welcome
reception to the conference on Public-Private Partnerships
in Infrastructure Development and Financing.
From left: Christopher Brome of KPMG Barbados; Daniel Farmer,
Managing Director, Corporate Lending and Investment
Banking at CIBC FirstCaribbean; and Carl Brazarian of
Brazarian International Financial Associates.
A tightly-packed schedule saw a distinguished cadre of presenters, including Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie; and panellists that included several Ministers of Government from across the region, such as Barbados’ Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Darcy Boyce. Senior public servants, officials from multilateral organisations and corporate leaders also presented to the delegates.

“We believe that this event brings together the right mix of government and private sector officials, investors, professionals, industry experts and of course ourselves [financiers],” remarked CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank’s Managing Director for The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, Marie Rodland-Allen, of the conference, which is the bank’s first foray into hosting such an event.

“CIBC recognises that it has a responsibility and duty to play an active role in fostering the types of relationships that will give birth to the levels of private and public sector arrangements that would promote economic growth in the region,” she added.

The conference was designed to promote public and private sector co-operation in generating investment opportunities and increasing the availability of capital for infrastructure development. Its focus was on “public/private partnerships and their application to Caribbean infrastructure needs, development and investment opportunities, along with infrastructure projects such as airports and seaports and social facilities related to health, education and housing”.

In Barbados, PPPs have been used for capital works projects such as the Dodds prison, and is also the intended finance strategy of the Pierhead marina and the proposed cruise terminal. (YA/PR)

Women leaders to participate in two-day meeting

Women in leadership positions as well as some striving to become leaders are expected to participate in a two-day symposium organised by the Grenada National Organisation of Women and two other regional leadership institutions this weekend.

GNOW, in collaboration with UNWomen, Caribbean Institute for Women in Leadership (CIWIL) and Institute of Gender and Development Studies (IDGS), will host the symposium on “Advancing Women’s Transformational Leadership Training for Gender Justice in the Caribbean”, to be held today and tomorrow at the Marryshow House.

It is the second and final part of the regional project to support women’s equal participation in politics and decision-making in Grenada. According to Lorice Pascal, Project Coordinator at GNOW, sessions will focus on a number of areas.

“These areas include creating political spaces for women in politics in Grenada; developing a social agenda for Grenadian men and women; gender perspectives in democratic transformation; democratic transformation in practice; youth for democracy and leadership,” she said.

One of the most important sessions will be entitled “Women in politics:  The heart of the matter” and it will be concluded by the Hon Penny Beckles of the Trinidad Parliament,” she added.

Pascal said that symposium is targeting women already in political leadership, governance within the political parties and civil society organisation. “The primary goal will be to build political will and commitment to increase the number of women in politics. Training and mentoring are likewise in- built components towards the effective coordination and networking between the political parties and women's organisations and the commitment to equitable policymaking and governance are ultimate end goals of this symposium,” she said.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


Kingstown, St. Vincent – West Indies A Test captain, Kirk Edwards, believes the future of both West Indies and Sri Lanka cricket looks bright after both A teams played to a 0-0 in the two ‘Test’ series over the last two weeks.

Edwards was speaking moments after his side shook hands, ending a rain-hit 2nd ‘Test’ at Arnos Vale in St Vincent where the entire of Day 2 was washed out. He feels the selectors on either side should be happy with how both teams played in the series.
West Indies A Captain, Kirk Edwards, and Sri Lanka A
Captain, Dimuth Karunarathne, share the two 'Test'
trophy after the series ended 0-0.
He said, “It was a chance for the people to actually play and show what they could do. I think it’s a positive for both West Indies and Sri Lanka that they have players that could play over a four-day period, which they will be looking for these players to move into Test cricket. I think both territories should be pretty pleased with the way the players went about the job.”

The matches though were far from any exciting spectacle as the first ‘Test’ at Warner Park consisted of 1 273 runs with six batsmen getting centuries and another four getting half-centuries. Onto St. Vincent and after a sunny first day, Days three and four suffered heavy losses to rain that ultimately ended any chance of a result.

But had the rain not intervened at Arnos Vale, Edwards was optimistic of one team grabbing a win. “When you go into a game, you’re looking for a result and cricket is funny as we saw in St. Kitts; one team gets a huge total and the next team comes in and chases down that total so who knows who would have gotten stuck in here at Arnos Vale?” Edwards stated.

But amid Warner Park’s batsman-friendly pitch and Arnos Vale’s rain, there were periods of play in which West Indies A players dominated, effectively putting their hands up for the selectors to see.

Impressive performances

These players impressed Edwards, who said, “We had Fudadin getting a hundred, Leon Johnson getting his first hundred, Narsingh getting a hundred today [Saturday, Day 4, 2nd ‘Test’], and Nikita Miller I thought bowled really well, and that’s the guy who has been doing well for a very long time. Obviously getting a chance to play four day cricket for the A-Team, he grabbed it with both hands. But then Cummins bowled really well for his four wickets in this game along with the talented Cotterell so we have a lot of positives.”

Not mentioning himself, the skipper too hit a remarkable 190 in the 1st ‘Test’ in a knock that lasted 404 minutes, facing 276 balls, stroking 26 fours and a six. His ultimate goal is to get back into the West Indies Senior Test team, but his plan to get back at the highest level is very simple; “My job is to score runs so every opportunity I get, it’s just to go out there and do that.”

Having captained his native Barbados to Regional 4-Day success this season, Edwards felt privileged to be handed the role of West Indies A Team captain, though he admitted, it was a step up from leading at the domestic level. He said, “It’s totally different because when you’re captaining the West Indies, you’ve got guys coming from different places so in such a short space of time for us to gel it was kind of difficult whereas in Barbados we are more familiar with each other so that was just the difference.”

Following the two Twenty20’s, both teams travel to Grenada for the final leg of the series which entails three One-Days on June 23, 25 and 27.

CPL announces the 6 franchise team names

AFTER weeks of speculations and hundreds of suggestions via social media, the much-anticipated Caribbean Premier League franchise team names have been announced and their logos revealed.

“We are thrilled with the final team names and the logos; we believe they are reflective of the character and culture of each country and I’m sure each team will live up to their name,” said Damien O’Donohoe, CPL CEO.

Antigua will go by the name Antigua Hawksbills™, which speaks to the hawksbill turtle, the most common sea turtle in Antigua, and an endangered species.

Animal heads are familiar and popular sports teams branding icons, and Antigua’s logo of the hawksbill’s head is colouful, dynamic and strong. (Twitter:@ANUHawksbills; Facebook:

Barbados fans will be cheering for the Barbados Tridents™, whose gold and blue colours are front and centre on the logo which depicts a trident formed as a crown representing the notion of kings, and a desire to win and be dominant.

It is also a reference to carnival costumes and Barbados’ independent spirit. (Twitter: @BIMTridents; Facebook:

Guyana is probably best known for its pristine amazon rainforest, and so it is no surprise that team Guyana will go by the moniker Guyana Amazon Warriors™.

The team logo was created using the shapes within the national flag to create arrows and represent the dynamism of the team and its warrior spirit.(Twitter:@GYAmazonWarrior; Facebook:

The strength, fearlessness and physical prowess of the Jamaica team is captured in its name, Jamaica Tallawahs™.

Tallawah is a Jamaican term for something or someone who is sturdy, strong and not to be underestimated.

A crocodile is used in the logo because it is native to Jamaica, and plays an important part in the country’s history and folklore. (Twitter:@JAMTallawahs; Facebook:

St. Lucia is one of four islands in the Caribbean known for its zouk music, and so a fitting name for the Lucian team is the St Lucia Zouks™.

The logo is a colourful mixture of blues and yellows, with a flame symbol that is derived from the national coat of arms, representing a desire to win.

The two characters in the logo are based on a combination of a classic zouk dance pose, a cricketer hitting a six and a backwards dive catch, all depicting the team spirit that franchise players Darren Sammy and Herschelle Gibbs will surely bring to the CPL. (Twitter: @SLUZouks; Facebook:

The sixth and final franchise team is the Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel™, the name itself suggesting a force to be reckoned with, if franchise player Dwayne Bravo has anything to do with it. The national flag and its dominant diagonal strip are key recognisable symbols, so it made sense to combine them in a classic sporting icon, and link it to the idea of battle strength on the field of play. (Twitter: @TTRedSteel; Facebook:

The inaugural CPL gets under way on July 30 in Barbados, when the Barbados Tridents™ take on the St. Lucia Zouks™.  

Sugar and Europe

It is quite possible that in less than ten years from now, raw Caribbean sugar will cease to enter the European market. If as seems likely this happens, it will bring to an end not just the preferential arrangements that Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) sugar producers have enjoyed since 1975, but also a trade that for evil and good has played a central role in the making of the Caribbean and its ties with Europe.

Although in recent years there have been seismic shifts in the way in which the industry is organised, present developments in Europe create a new challenge for the industry’s viability, just as it is emerging from the shadow of preference and seeking new approaches to its organisation and marketing.

News of the likely end of the EU market for Caribbean sugar first emerged in a European Commission report prosaically entitled: Prospects for Agricultural Markets and Income in the EU 2012-2022. This document looked at the future of Europe’s own agricultural regimes, to which the fortunes of ACP sugar are linked. It confirmed that the planned expiry of EU sugar quotas in 2015 would lead to a reduction in the price in the European market for sugar. This in turn would make the EU market less attractive to the ACP and other higher cost exporters. The report made clear there would be a fall in European imports from an estimated 3.5m tonnes in 2012 to 1.5m tonnes in 2022 and predicted that subsequently Europe would move to self-sufficiency, possibly even becoming a net exporter.

The inescapable conclusion of this for the ACP, which currently exports some 2.3m tonnes of sugar a year to Europe, was that it is likely that its market in Europe would become negligible. Worse, it was also recognised that as competition from low cost sugar producing nations increased, as a result of the access gained to the EU market under recently negotiated free trade agreements and other special arrangements, the Caribbean would cease to have a place in the EU market.

The story has received relatively little coverage in the Caribbean. However, since the report’s publication last December, Caribbean Ambassadors and Governments have been fighting a valiant rearguard action to try to influence the debate on when quotas for EU sugar should come to an end. Their hope has been that by doing so they will enable completion of EC funded programmes aimed at restructuring and enhancing competitiveness, before this happens.

Since the report’s publication, the three European institutions that make and implement policy have been trying to decide the final cut off date. The European Commission wants to keep the 2015 deadline to end the arrangement; the European Council which brings together all twenty seven of Europe’s member states, wants it extended to 2017; while the European Parliament has suggested that the deadline be 2020: the likely outcome being a compromise of all quotas on EU production ending in 2017/18.

The matter, which is largely driven by European concerns about the cost its own beet regime, has also created problems for the cane sugar refiners in Europe on which producers in the Caribbean and the ACP rely. Refiners argue that as quotas are abolished and the beet and isoglucose sectors produce and sell as much as they wish, the cane sugar refining industry in Europe also faces an uncertain future.

More fundamentally the decision takes Europe one step further in its perceptual and actual disengagement from the Caribbean.

The Caribbean, along with other ACP sugar producing nations, make the point in public that Europe is once again setting aside its commitments in the Cotonou Convention and the EU-Cariforum Economic Partnership Agreement, and has failed to consult. However, in private, Ambassadors are more direct. They make the point that an agreement with the EU is now scarcely worth the paper it is printed on, if the absence of coherence in EU policy weakens, to the point of destruction, the long-standing partnership that previously bound Europe and its former colonies together.

What these latest developments make clear is that within 20 years, barring unforeseen circumstance, the European market for raw sugar from the Caribbean will most likely be all but a matter of history.

This is not say that sugar production in the Caribbean will cease, but that what is left of the industry will be very different, reoriented, and a part of a broader cane-based sector.

Although governments and much of the industry have for two or more decades been slow to understand and accept the changes taking place in Europe and why it was inevitable that preference would come to an end, there are now observable bright spots for an industry that in recent years has too often been thought of as the Caribbean’s past.

The industry in the Caribbean may today only account for around two per cent of regional GDP – a figure that pales in comparison to the percentages commanded by tourism – it remains a significant employer of labour; supports rural communities; provides a range of social services; and indirectly halts urban drift and the associated problems of crime.

It has also shown that it is an industry capable of being successfully privatised, rationalised and turned around, if the land is appropriate, fertile and irrigated; where industrial practices that previously damaged productivity can be overcome; and when changes are made to traditional marketing arrangements and a more integrated approach taken.

Jamaica, for instance, is exporting to new markets and will meet all of its requirements for raw sugar for local consumption in the present crop year. In the Dominican Republic, production is anticipated to be 10 per cent higher at around 0.6m tonnes and the industry is expected to meet EU export targets while satisfying domestic demand and fulfilling its US quota. The industry in Belize is also increasing production, meeting US, EU and domestic markets demand and planning an 82 per cent expansion in production.  Even Barbados is creating a sugar sector that aims to use cane to support national and regional markets, for use as biomass and to support the development of its rum industry and high value niche products.

The world has moved on, Europe is in decline, the Caribbean is reassessing its strategic relationships. The likely end of any significant European market for the region’s  sugar re-confirms the urgency of establishing a new, profitable and sustainable approach to all Caribbean trade.

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

No need for a Trade War between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago

The state of the Jamaican economy and the increasing hostility to trade with Trinidad and Tobago by Jamaican manufacturers are matters that should concern all of the other 13 member countries of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).

It may be that in some form of quiet diplomacy unknown to the publics of 15-nation CARICOM, the Secretary-General of the CARICOM Secretariat is already engaged in behind the scenes activity to try to end the verbal slogging that has characterised the recent relations between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. If that is so, then hopefully his efforts will result in an understanding of how the two most populous English-speaking countries in CARICOM can resolve the differences that have arisen. If no such initiative has as yet been taken, then consideration might be given to doing so.

The intra-CARICOM trade figures reveal two important facts. Trinidad and Tobago is the most outstanding beneficiary of intra-CARICOM trade. For example, the value of its exports to CARICOM in 2011 was US$2 billion while the value of its CARICOM imports was US$140.9 million. By the same token, in the same year, Jamaica was the biggest market for CARICOM with imports valued at US$1 billion. However, the value of its exports to CARICOM was US$67 million.

The bulk of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago’s trade relationship in CARICOM would be between each other.

At a recent Investment Conference in Trinidad and Tobago, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Senator Vasant Bharath, stressed the importance to Trinidad and Tobago of the health of the economies of neighbouring countries which, combined, represent the second largest market for Trinidad and Tobago’s exports after the United States of America.

He made the telling point that Trinidad and Tobago has a vested interest in the health of Caribbean economies since, if their economies decline, so too does their capacity for buying goods and services from Trinidad and Tobago that contribute to sustaining revenues and employment.

By extension of the Minister’s insightful observation, Trinidad and Tobago should have a keen concern about the economic circumstances of Jamaica. So too should all CARICOM countries that recognise the size of the Jamaican market as important to their own exports.

To be fair, manufacturers in Trinidad and Tobago are alert to the troubling financial circumstances of Jamaica. The majority of them want the Jamaican economy to improve so that Jamaica can continue to purchase their manufactured goods. For this reason, many of them are anxious to see the allegations in Jamaica against some Trinidad and Tobago products dealt with and settled satisfactorily. They also want the accusation that unfair non-tariff barriers are being applied by Trinidad and Tobago to some Jamaican products to be investigated and resolved.

These are issues that are now crying out for urgent attention in the spirit of “community” that is the purpose of the CARICOM Treaty. One thing is for sure and it is that if Jamaica follows the call of the lemmings to withdraw from CARICOM, it will do no more than go over the cliff. For CARICOM is much more than about intra-regional trade – important though it is. No one throws away a motor-car because one of its tyres is punctured.

The imperative, therefore, is to fix the puncture, inflate the tyre and get the motor-car back on the road. To do so, in this case, may require a mix of innovative approaches which could include the deeper integration of the factors of production between Jamaica and several CARICOM countries, particularly Trinidad and Tobago; investment by Trinidad and Tobago financial institutions and companies in the productive sectors of Jamaica to help promote economic growth and more employment; and, maybe even an “aid for trade” component given that Trinidad and Tobago has enjoyed a consistently high balance of trade surplus with Jamaica.

Another factor to be considered is that the recent effective devaluation of the Jamaican dollar, which makes US$1 equal JAM$100, means that the cost of Jamaica’s imports of goods from CARICOM would have increased making them less competitive against Jamaican-produced goods, and Jamaica’s labour cost of production would have decreased re-balancing the higher costs for energy that Jamaica pays, and making the cost of their exports cheaper. This is now an advantage to Jamaica.

With regard to the fact that Trinidad and Tobago companies pay less energy-costs than do other companies in CARICOM making them more competitive, this is simply a reality. If Jamaica or Guyana or any other CARICOM country were to discover oil and gas tomorrow and could begin production, every government would pass on the benefit to its domestic and commercial consumers to make them more competitive in the international market and to reduce prices for their people. Many of the difficulties of price differentials for oil and gas between Trinidad and Tobago and other CARICOM countries might be overcome in a CARICOM Single Market to which regional governments have said they are committed. But the single market is still to be completed.

In this connection, Trinidad and Tobago’s advantage of being a significant oil and gas producer should be acknowledged for the reality it is, and further ways should be explored of how a portion of the revenues earned by Trinidad and Tobago, through oil and gas sales to CARICOM countries, might be utilised for concessionary loans or budget support for countries such as Jamaica.

At the end of the day, neither Trinidad and Tobago by itself nor CARICOM as a whole can cure Jamaica’s present difficulties, but they can be helpful in easing the burden through creative approaches worked out and implemented jointly with Jamaica.

The complaints of Jamaican manufacturers should be taken seriously and dealt with expeditiously and thoroughly. If their present concerns about competitive access to the CARICOM market, including Trinidad and Tobago, can be addressed, perhaps the discussion can be taken to a higher level of how the factors of production can be integrated to sell joint CARICOM goods and services in the global marketplace and so accelerate economic growth, increase foreign exchange revenues and expand employment for the region as a whole.

Myriad reports exist on how to integrate CARICOM production to sell globally. What is needed is the will to implement them.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant, Visiting Fellow at London University and former Caribbean diplomat. Responses and previous commentaries: www.sir

Get on-board

THE report that LIAT has acquired the first ATR 72-600 aircraft as part of a programme to upgrade its fleet is good news for the island-hopping airline. But as the Caribbean air carrier embarks on this project, which is costly but necessary, now is the time for other islands which are not part of the LIAT shareholding, to come on-board and strengthen the airline.

LIAT is a carrier which has served the Caribbean with distinction. It continues to provide the necessary airlinks among Caribbean countries. It has also watched new players in the airline business come and go. The fact that it has survived is a test to the fortitude of its management and owners.

The airline has embarked on a policy whereby its existing fleet which is ageing, will be eventually replaced by more modern equipment. This has not been easy given that LIAT has not been raking in significant levels of profits. However, officials of the airline, including shareholder governments – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines – have stuck to the task of the fleet upgrade. Such undertakings are not cheap. The cost of outfitting the airline with a new fleet of planes is runs into the hundreds of millions. Since LIAT is not the type of carrier with deep pockets, then there are definitely challenges involved in carrying out a project of that nature.

Over the years LIAT has moved from the deployment of the former Avro 48 seater aircraft to the current fleet turboprop aircraft. The move now is to the modern and fuel-efficient ATRs, which, according to an airline statement, will allow LIAT to significantly reduce operating and maintenance costs, gain further profitability and offer more comfort to its passengers due to its enhanced seat design.

Throughout the region, the public often likens LIAT to state-owned mass transportation. In that scenario, the transit system in question has to service all routes in the country, including some in very remote areas. These areas are the ones you hardly find privately-owned vehicles, simply because there is not enough traffic to guarantee profitable returns to those operators.

For its part, LIAT flies to 21 destinations across the Caribbean. All are not like Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana or even St. Lucia, where there is a steady flow of traffic, but the commitment to service is there and the airline sees it as a must to meet the request of travellers from those islands where there are no alternative flights.

Most of the countries serviced by LIAT are tourism-dependent islands. It therefore presents that all-important link in moving people around the region in a way that no other carrier does. Businessmen also look to LIAT to transport goods from one market to another in the Caribbean.

Currently, LIAT’s shareholder governments are also seeking a meeting with Trinidad and Tobago over subsidies. St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, has been pressing for a meeting while stating that subsidies given to Caribbean Airlines (CAL), the national carrier of Trinidad and Tobago, do present some advantage to CAL to the detriment of LIAT.

This workhorse of an airline requires more support, especially from those countries which benefit from its services, but which are not part of the set-up. It is worth noting that Dominica has come on-board while others have indicated an interest. It is important therefore for others which have not done so as yet, to come up to scratch and provide LIAT with the support that it requires.

CPEA RESULTS RELEASED – Westmorland Primary takes top 3 spots

Private primary schools in St. George’s dominated the first ten positions in the annual 2013 Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA), which was held on May 17, 2013 and is used to determine the number of students that will be provided the opportunity to move on to secondary schools when the new school year commences in September 2013.

Fadia Fakhre, Zoei Olliverre and Enya Noel – the top three students who scored 498, 492 and 490 points respectively – are all students of Westmorland Primary and they will be moving to the secondary department of the school.
Top student, Fadia Fakhre.

Fourth and fifth was Thabo Antoine scoring 488 points and Ayana Taylor scoring 486 of First Choice Primary and they will be attending the Presentation Brothers’ College (PBC) and St. Joseph Convent St. George’s respectively.

The position for sixth was tied with both students scoring 484 points. Christian Chow Chung of Beacon Junior will be receiving secondary education at the Beacon Secondary, while Ali Noel of St. Andrew RC will be moving to PBC.

The four other students in the top 11 positions scored 482 points. They are Aishwarya Gilkes and Ruth Vaccianna of Beacon Junior Primary and they will be moving to St. Joseph Convent, St. George’s; Peter McBurnie, of South St. George, who will be moving to PBC; and Danique Herry of St. George’s SDA and she will be moving to Anglican High School.

In the overall report, the Ministry of Education said that the Internal aspect of the CPEA commenced September, 2012 and culminated on Friday, May 17, 2013 with the external component of the Assessment. The examination was opened to all students who were 11, but not yet 14 years of age on September 1, 2013.

The CPEA comprised two components: Internal Assessment (40% of total score) and External Assessment (60% of total score).

Features of the internal assessment included Project; Book Report; Writing Portfolio; Self-assessment; Practice in “Can-do” skills in: English, Mathematics, Science, and Civics; and Teacher-made test in English, Mathematics, Science and Civics.

The external component consisted of three multiple choice papers in Mathematics, English and Science.

A total of 1 748 students were registered for the CPEA; this included 889 males and 859 females. However, from this total, 1 734 students sat the external component (final exam) and 1 740 participated in the internal component.

One thousand, six hundred and ninety-nine (1 699) students were assigned to secondary schools throughout Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. This included 852 and 847 females. The 41 students who will be retained at the Grade 6 level will experience special ‘Diagnosis and Intervention’, leading to an individualised plan being developed for each child. Input will also come from selected Literacy and Mathematics Specialists, at the school level. The entire process and student progress will be closely monitored by the technical staff of the Ministry of Education.

In 2012, 1 722 students sat the CPEA, and were all assigned to a secondary school.

The highest score attained in the Assessment was 498 out of a maximum possible score of 500. The national mean was 63.26 and the standard deviation 16.71. This is an improvement as compared to 2012’s national mean of 57.85.

All primary and secondary schools will be provided with the list of students assigned to each secondary school and the candidates’ performance profiles as indicated by the raw scores.

In the external component, students performed best in Science. Out of a total possible score of one hundred (100) marks, the National Mean in Mathematics was 56.45, in English was 58.91 and in Science was 64.30.

The maximum possible score for the internal assessment was 100. In the internal component, students performed best in Civics, followed by English, Science and Mathematics.

One thousand, three hundred and seventy (1 370) students attained 50% or more in CPEA, while 378 obtained scores below 50% in the Assessment.

‘Teacher Jeannette’ named on Queen’s honour list

Jeannette Dubois
By Linda Straker

Jeannette DuBois, the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Labour who was named as one of the seven Grenadians on the Queen’s 2013 Birthday Honour List, says she welcomes the recognition with “great humility and deep appreciation”.

Still known in her community of Grand Roy as “Teacher Jeannette” despite having retired as a public servant, Ms. Dubois began her “perpetual interest in learning, education and development” in 1967 at the Concord Government School.

Between 1967 and 2000, she served in various teaching capacities including Acting Principal, Concord Government School; Assistant Tutor/Co-ordinator of Administrative Affairs, National In Service Teacher Education Programme (NISTEP); Supervisor of In Service trainees (NISTEP); Co-ordinator of OAS-sponsored Curriculum Project; Tutor of Education Theory and Social Studies, Grenada Teachers’ College; Head, Department of Teacher Education, Grenada National College; Dean, Division of Professional Studies and Head of Teacher Education Department, Grenada National College; and Acting Principal, T.A. Marryshow Community College.

Besides contributing directly to education, she also served in other areas which were indirectly relating to the development of students. These include Co-ordinator of RBTT Young Leaders Programme from 2003 to 2013 and Co-ordinator of Grenada Electricity Company-sponsored Inter-Secondary Schools’ Debating Competition from 2008 to 2011.

Ms. Dubois, who was awarded with the OBE title, received her primary school education at Concord Government School and her secondary education at the St. Joseph’s Convent High School, St. George’s. In her pursuit for higher education, she became a past student of the Grenada Teachers’ College; the International Training Institute, Sydney, Australia; the University of the West Indies, Mona Jamaica; and the University of Leeds.

Her past Affiliations/Membership ranged from trade unionism to serving as a member of the Public Service Commission. Some of these include serving on the Executive of the Grenada Union of Teachers in various capacities including President, First Vice President and  Second Vice President; a Founding member of the Grenada Union of Teachers Credit Union and member of Supervisory and Credit Committees; a Member of Grand Roy Community Centre Committee; Deputy Chairman, Council of T.A. Marryshow Community College; and a Member of the Governing Board of the International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC) of UNESCO.

Presently, she is an Honorary Member of the Grenada Union of Teachers and a Member of St. John’s Library Committee. A dedicated Catholic, she is a member of the Building Committee of the Grand Roy R.C. Church; Member of the Pastoral Committee of the parish of Christ the King; and Secretary of the Liturgical Committee of the Grand Roy R.C. Church.

The other honourees are Justice Monica Joseph with a CBE for service to the public and law and will now be entitled to use the title Dame; Mrs. Veda Gemma Bruno-Victor with British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to sport and to the community. The MBE title was bestowed on Ms. Cecelia Cruickshank for services to nursing and to the community; while the BEM was awarded to Thomas Alexis for services to the community, Terry Charles for services to the community, and Ms. Loraine Maxwell for services to mental health and to the community.

Ombudsman condemns behaviour of some senior public managers

Ombudsman Argar Alexander

By Linda Straker

Ombudsman Argar Alexander has described the attitude of some senior public managers to him as disrespectful with some of them behaving as if they are above the law, while certain members of professional bodies do great injustice to citizens.

In his 2012 annual report which was tabled during last Friday’s sitting of the Upper House, Alexander, who served in various public servant roles including Cabinet Secretary, said that there are senior managers within the systems whose behaviour bespoke a degree of impropriety with which he was unhappy.

“There is a seeming tendency for some senior managers to give the appearance that they are above the law and that that, as mentioned by one such individual, the ombudsman should find better things to take up his time rather than resorting to writing letters to them,” said the report.

The ombudsman said that he was of the view that there is evidence of arrogance among a class of such officers and such disposition did not in any way augur well for the social development of the country. “The message needed to be repeated time and time again that nobody was above the law, regardless of the status which one may enjoy at a particular time,” he wrote.

Another matter of grave concern to the ombudsman is the fact that there are some members of certain professional bodies who do great in-justice to citizens seeking their assistance. “It is obvious that some lack the bare essentials of Christian living and do not seem to subscribe to the tenets of ethics nor integrity” said the Alexander.

Elaborating further he said: “Some of our citizens are hurting from the wounds being inflicted on them by those who call themselves professionals when their dealings are in fact illegal and reeks of duplicity and dishonesty.”

Alexander, who according to the Ombudsman legislation is mandated to investigate matters pertaining to suspected unprofessional behaviour from public officers to the public, said that justice and fairness will continue to suffer grievously at the hands of such persons, but it must be remembered that in God’s own time, in the fullness of time, He shall call all to account for what they are doing to others.

G-G receives letter of credence from new Chinese Ambassador

By Linda Straker

NEW Chinese Ambassador Ou Boqian says that her Government attaches great importance to growing the relations with Grenada since the resumption of diplomatic ties eight years ago and will make every effort to further the friendly relations and co-operation between our two countries during her tenure.

Ambassador Ou Boqian presented her Letter of Credence by which His Excellency President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China appointed her Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to Grenada. She is the first ambassador to present her credential s to Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade, who took her oath of office on March 27, 2013.

IMPROVING RELATIONS: New Chinese Ambassador, Ou Boqian,
presenting her credentials to Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade. 
The new Ambassador, who formerly served as Deputy Director, General Office of the Foreign Ministry of China, said that since independence, Grenada has enjoyed steady economic growth, secured for its people a life of peace and contentment and played a positive role in international and regional affairs.

“The Chinese government and people sincerely wish Grenada fresh achievements in growing national economy and improving people’s well-being. The Chinese government attaches great importance to growing the relations with Grenada. Since the resumption of diplomatic ties eight years ago, thanks to the personal attention and efforts of leaders of both countries, China and Grenada have maintained frequent exchanges and deepened mutual understanding and political mutual trust,” said Boqian, who
is a graduate student of George Washington University, USA.

“Our two countries have also conducted fruitful co-operation in the fields of economy, trade, culture, education, health, and agriculture, and supported and co-operated with each other in international affairs. China believes that with concerted efforts of both sides, the friendly relations and co-operation between China and Grenada will grow stronger and develop steadily,” she added.

Additional information about Ambassador Boqian
1966 – Born in June
1990-1993 Section Member, Attaché, Africa Department of the Foreign Ministry of China
1993-1996 Attaché, Third Secretary, Chinese Embassy in Uganda
1996-1998 Third Secretary, Deputy Section Chief, Africa Department of the Foreign Ministry of China
1998-1999 Graduate student, George Washington University, U.S.A.
1999-2000 Second Secretary, Section Chief, Africa Department of the Foreign Ministry of China
2000-2001 Deputy Party Secretary, Xincheng District, Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province, China
2001-2003 Counsellor, Information Department of the Foreign Ministry of China
2003-2007 Political Counsellor, Chinese Embassy in Australia
2007-2008 Counsellor, Policy Planning Department of the Foreign Ministry of China
2008-2013 Deputy Director, General Office of the Foreign Ministry of China
2013- Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to Grenada

CTO to focus on visitor experience and authenticity

THE Caribbean’s premier gathering on tourism development issues, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO)’s State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC), will this year focus on visitor experience and authenticity.

The conference, which will be held in Martinique from 15-18 October, will have as its theme: “Perfecting The Experience. Delivering Authenticity”.

The theme was announced at the Caribbean Week in New York closing news conference, by the CTO chairman, Hon. Beverly Nicholson-Doty, and Martinique’s Commissioner of Tourism, Hon. Karine Roy-Camille.

The CTO chairman explained that this theme allows delegates to explore a range of elements that are critical to the development and success of the sector in the region. These include training and education, service quality, standards, visitor satisfaction, and community involvement.

“We also expect to deal with matters such as customs and immigration, airport and seaport facilities, taxis, attractions and more, in the understanding that the vacation experience doesn’t begin and end at accommodations,” Ms. Nicholson-Doty said.

The Authenticity part of the theme, she explained, is a natural fit because of the unique experience that the Caribbean offers.

“Visitors come to this region for a uniquely Caribbean experience;  one which is desirable enough to lead to referrals and repeat visits, and we have to deliver on this promise of the authentic Caribbean,  ‘the real thing,’ which is a unique blend of vacation elements not obtainable elsewhere,” she added.

SOTIC will be the first major CTO event being hosted by Martinique, and Commissioner Roy-Camille said the French-speaking island will be a proud host. “We consider hosting the State of the Industry Conference a great honour and we are extremely proud of it.” (TL)

Region urged to fight for rum industry

Ivan Ogando Lora

THE rum industry in Barbados and other producing states is serious business for this region. To this end, impediments holding up the further growth of the CARIFORUM rum industry must be removed.

Ivan Oganda Lora, Director General of CARIFORUM, put the issue in perspective when he discussed the recently launched programme which the European Union is undertaking with the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA).  

Lora said Caribbean countries must ensure the survival of the industry. The EU is providing just over Bds$19 million for a programme to further promote Caribbean rum. The CARIFORUM Director General highlighted the project, but also discussed many of the challenges which the commodity has encountered over the years.

According to him, rum has been a critical part of the socio-economic and cultural fabric of the Caribbean for three centuries.

“Rum provides significant economic value to Caribbean countries thereby constituting a key export sector which brings about US$400 million in foreign exchange and excise duties annually.

“It also generates direct and indirect employment for over 12 000 people across the region and has important linkages with other productive sectors in the economy in the areas of goods and services,” he said.

Said the Director General: “All CARIFORUM countries produce rum and for most of them the beverage is the leading export commodity. However, the maturation of the rum industry in the region did not take place overnight.”

Lora maintained that throughout the years, Caribbean rum has faced and continues to face many challenges to guarantee and to preserve the economic value of the industry. This has required great efforts and sacrifices in addition to the strong alliances with governments and the private sector to provide the necessary support for structural changes in the industry and in order to adapt to contemporary international competition.

He recalled that since the First Lomé Convention (in 1975), rum was one of the four commodities which enjoyed trade with Europe under a Protocol. According to him, this Protocol provided duty-free access along with some trade development measures.

He noted that some people had found fault with the terms of the Rum Protocol in relation to the development of the regional industry.

“The truth of the matter is that the Protocol benefited the regional rum industry to the extent that exports were made to Europe,” he noted.

Lora remarked that shortly after the EU removed the quota for rum in 1996, the region’s rum industry faced one of its biggest challenges; one of them being the preference erosion for rum in the European market. Not only that, he said, but the removal of the quota was done without negotiation between Europe and the Caribbean.

However, recognising the potential damage to the industry, the EU changed its stance in 1999. Under its Eighth EU Development Fund, Europe provided $70 million for an integrated programme for the industry. The programme ended in 2010. (JB)

Civil society speaking out through petition

By Kerri Gooding

ALMOST 100 per cent of the cases of cervical cancer can be prevented if only people accessed screening.

Therefore, this week the Healthy Caribbean Coalition launched an E-Petition regionally to let everyone who makes up the civil society speak out, to get the heads of governments across the Caribbean to increase Caribbean women’s access to affordable cervical cancer screening.

From right to left: Vice President of the Barbados Association
of Medical Practitioners, Dr. Vikash Chatrani, is adamant that
almost 100 per cent of the cervical cancer cases can be prevented.
Looking on are President of the National Organisation of
Women (NOW), Marilyn Rice-Bowen; President of the Healthy
Caribbean Coalition, Prof. Trevor Hassell; and Director of the
Chronic Disease Research Centre (CDRC), Prof. Anselm Hennis.
Though there is a close relationship between civil society, the private sector and the government as they all aim to tackle the epidemic of non-communicable diseases, President of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, Prof. Trevor Hassell, said that these three components of society have to play their individual parts to slow this epidemic as well.

Prof. Hassell said, “Civil Society has tools in its toolbox – advocacy.”

The aim of the E-Petition is to energise, stimulate and motivate policymakers to further their actions. Looking at a strategy implemented by President of the United States Barack Obama, the hope is that though the goal is 5 000 000 signatures, that the level of response will stir a certain level of action reflective of the signatures accumulated, whether the target is met or not.

He stressed that the petition is not an adversarial initiative. “It is one in which we are providing a voice to the community to say this is a priority. Though you [the governments] are [acting], we would like you to do more.”

The initiative is ambitious and unique as the Barbados Cancer Society joins cancer societies across the region. The E-Petition is a first-time occurrence as these non-governmental organisations are working collaboratively for one cause: more access to screening.

Manager of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, Maisha Hutton, reiterated the fact that the initiative is merely allowing everyone to get a chance to have their say.

Hutton took the opportunity to show how easily each person can add their signature for the good cause through Facebook, and help take the Coalition and region one signature closer to the target each time. (KG)