Wednesday, 31 July 2013

GRAND OPENING – Limacol CPL T20 launches with spectacular show

THE biggest party in sport got under way as thousands of cricket fans converged on Kensington Oval on Tuesday night for the spectacular opening of the inaugural Limacol CPL T20.

Some of the biggest artistes from the region had the crowd grooving with the ceremony coming to a close with an awesome fireworks display, while the Limacol CPL ‘Roots’ Trophy was unveiled.

From left: WICB President Dave Cameron, Digicel Chairman
Denis O’Brien, cricket legend Sir Garfield Sobers, LCPL Founder
Ajmal Khan and LCPL CEO Damien O’Donohoe pose with the
LCPL ‘Roots’ Trophy after it was unveiled on Tuesday. 
Kes was the first to hit the stage and gave a rousing rendition of the highly infectious CPL anthem as hundreds of costumed clad children danced in front of the Worrell Weekes and Walcott Stand. The children were dressed in the various team colours and were each holding hands.

Mosaic Steel Band was next on stage and fittingly played the national anthems of the six franchise nations. The Barbados national anthem was saved for last and it was beautiful to hear thousands of voices singing along.

The 450 children on the field were joined by jumbies and people hitting iron for a truly carnival feeling. As they circled the field, queen of soca Alison Hinds hit the stage and sent the crowd wild with some of her biggest hits. Not a soul was sitting as she sang songs such as ‘Brace and Wine’ and ‘Born With It’.

Dancehall artiste Konshens kept the good vibes flowing and he was later joined on stage by Kes and the two performed the LCPL official anthem, ‘How We Play’.

Six franchises – Antigua & Barbuda Hawksbills, Barbados Tridents, Guyana’s Amazon Warriors, Jamaica Tallawahs, St. Lucia Zouks and Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel – will contest 24 matches across the six venues. The final match will take place in Trinidad & Tobago on August 24. (PG)

Traditional Mas – An expression of Grenada’s unique carnival celebrations

A large crowd turned out to witness the festivities.

By Linda Straker

The truth is, I cannot remember why I did not attend the first year, and last year – which was the second year – I arrived late and only saw one presentation. However, I made a personal promise once I was alive I was not to miss the third year.

And although I had a very important work assignment scheduled to end at 3:00pm which I could not say no too, I did arrived in Victoria for the third Traditional Mas competition. Believe it or not, I arrived in time to see the first band – the Wild Indians – chanting and displaying the appropriate body movement as the group passed the judging point.

I was most happy to see the involvement of the young people, as once the history and love is ingrained in them the tradition will continue.

Some were tall above the crowd, some were short by nature, some were young and growing, some were mature and educated, some were colourful, while some were environmentally friendly, but they all shared one common message – the tradition of our carnival celebrations.

These revellers having a grand time on the road.
It was an evening that reminded me of my younger days when I had the opportunity to see the traditional mas portrayals from the Queen’s Park stage for the Carnival Monday Pageant. To those of you who did not go to Victoria, all I can tell you is that you actually denied yourself the opportunity to see and experience what I will describe as “real Grenadian mas”.

It was not all about the “fancy” costumes comprising mainly of beads and underwear, but an occasion where 13 bands from throughout various communities – comprising the Shortknee, Wild Indians, Moko Jumbie or Stilt Walkers and Vieux Croix – dressed in traditional attire and reminded us why they are integral and enshrined in our carnival celebrations.

As she stood and watched the parade, I am certain that Ms Claudette Joseph, who was the chairperson of the Subcommittee when that competition started, felt a pride that only winners feel when they arrive at the end of a race.

Revellers parading through the streets.
The choice for Victoria to be the home of the Traditional Mas was not decided by chance, but was based on factual historical research which showed that this rural community was the foundation for many traditional mas, especially the Vieux Croix and the Shortknee. The Shortknee technique eventually moved north to Chantimelle and the Vieux Croix moved south to Gouyave, depriving the true owner of their rightful traditional knowledge expertise.

Speaking after the parade, Arthur Hosten, Chairman of the Spicemas Corporation, said that it was a great success in terms of participation.

“I am seeing a great improvement of the event, however, we have to rethink the choice of location of the staging area. The resurgence of traditional mas is gratifying,” he added.

Who benefits from taxation of carbon emissions on travel?

TWO United Nations specialist agencies, the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) and the international Maritime Organisation (IMO) may this year separately agree a basis on which all carriers by sea and air will limit their carbon emissions; reported in the case of aviation to be contributing around two per cent of global carbon emissions, and for maritime transport to be at over three per cent.

At issue, is whether such reductions should result from a form of taxation involving licensing with revenue flowing to governments, or whether the industries themselves should take measures to mitigate their emissions.

Up to now, when it comes to aviation, Australia, the United Kingdom, the European Union and other nations have been trying to achieve reductions by imposing solutions on aviation in a piecemeal manner.

In the case of Europe this involved the inclusion of aviation into the EU’s wider emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS) as of January 1, 2013. Under the regulation all airlines entering EU airspace have to purchase or trade licences to emit above an agreed amount of carbon dioxide. However, so far, this has had no effect, partly because the price at which carbon is traded has collapsed, but more recently because the scheme has been suspended for a year, awaiting the outcome of ICAO’s global discussions on limiting aviation emissions.

What this now means is that in September, when ICAO’s 191 member tri-annual general assembly meets in Montreal, governments attending are expected to consider the type of mechanism can best be applied globally to aviation.

If no decision is taken at that time and the matter is delayed until the next ICAO assembly in 2016, then an international confrontation is expected over how best to address aviation emissions. This is because the EU, having manipulated the carbon market, is likely to unilaterally re-introduce aviation into
its emissions trading scheme, with nations including China and the US possibly then going as far as an action at the WTO against the EU.

That said, however, some recent developments may offer a way out of the potential for gridlock.

In June, airline members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) meeting in Cape Town adopted a resolution at their annual general meeting on an ‘Aviation Carbon-Neutral Growth Strategy’.

This provides a set of principles that IATA hopes governments meeting at ICAO will adopt.

In outline, IATA members are proposing a scheme that will fill the gap until new technology in the form of sustainable low-carbon alternative fuels or changes in operations and aviation infrastructure come to pass. Instead of developing a global scheme like the EU-ETS that generates revenue for governments, airlines are suggesting a system that would deliver real emissions reductions post 2020 the date by which aviation globally is required to cut emissions.

All of which is breaking new ground, as aviation is, it seems, the first industry to propose a global cap on its carbon emissions. Irrespective, the idea may prove controversial with those governments who see environmental taxation as a revenue raising measure.

A similar situation is developing in respect of maritime transport which includes cruise ships.

Although the European Commission was supposed to include maritime emissions in the EU-ETS at the start of 2013, it announced last October it would give the IMO more time. But more recently, as an interim measure it has now proposed monitoring greenhouse-gas emissions from all ships calling at EU ports as a first step towards a licensing system to reduce shipping emissions.

For its part the IMO is now developing a similar approach aimed at delivering emissions reductions. However, many in the shipping industry want this linked to fuel consumption rather than a system based on emissions trading.

As for the cruise ships, they like the airlines are looking at ways to mitigate their emissions, not least because the US and Canada have introduced a North American Emissions Control Area, a zone extending to 200 miles offshore but much narrower where it touches the Bahamas and Cuba’s economic zones, and consequently more favourable to home porting in South Florida.

The consequence is that for the time being cruise companies are relocating as far south as possible while at the same time investigating ways of developing new sea-borne technology that aims to scrub carbon dioxide from engine exhausts.

Whatever the final solution is for aviation or maritime transport anything that makes travel from, to, or in the Caribbean more expensive should be of concern. Not only does it touch the ability of citizens to travel in and beyond the region, but it affects the competitiveness of tourism, the industry that contributes most to the region’s development.

Although the amount the new measures may increase the price tickets by may not be large, taken together with other charges levied by governments, shipping lines and cruise ship companies they combine to act as a disincentive.

Despite the growing recognition across the region about the challenge posed of adding further to the cost of Caribbean travel it is hard to identify any awareness in the region of the changes that governments may agree at ICAO or the IMO.

What this points to is the absence of any joined up Caribbean policy that links tourism, climate change, taxation, with aviation and maritime emissions; or any sense that these issues are related.

What has so far not happened – and in a different Caribbean this would be a role for Cariforum – is any calculation or impact study based on an in-depth locally led consultation with interested parties as to how these factors fit together and the range of likely economic outcomes.

Instead, the probability is that government, attracted by the tax revenue, will see any measure that brings fresh income as the answer, without any thought about the likely long-term impact on competitiveness or visitor arrivals, let alone the impact of Caribbean citizens ability to travel at low cost within their own region.

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

Not acceptable

There is no tolerable excuse for poor customer service, though we suppose lack of real competition in our markets has allowed some companies to get off scot-free for so long. It’s that important and, permit us to say, the money companies spend on public relations “clean-up” campaigns would be significantly less if they got their customer service right in the first place. American business magnate, Warren Buffet is quoted as saying, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’d do things differently.”

Sadly, there are too many organisations with ruined reputations, propped up – as mentioned before – by the fact that they operate with limited or no competition. For example, poor service at any one of the commercial banks on the island is not necessarily a problem. Many have testified to that by removing their money and relocating to another institution the same day! Competitors are also assisting them in doing so by offering to pay a portion of the irksome moving fees involved in some cases. To where do we shift our business however, when we have issues with our water service, our landline service, our public transportation system or air travel service to another Caribbean destination. We have little if any options at all.

To hear the chairman of LIAT 1974 Ltd. explaining the poor customer service delivered by some of his front-line staff would be tough to swallow for many – especially those who have been subjected to an unpleasant travel experience. Dr. Jean Holder was at the time speaking on aspects of regional air transportation at an accounting professional conference held here recently. He was asked to address the issue of poor customer service, whether at the front-line booths, or in LIAT’s reported inefficiencies in keeping customers informed of delays. Admitting that it was an issue which caused a lot of “suffering” for him, he said it was a challenge for front line staff to have to deal with complaining customers about something that staff had no control over; in most case, airplane failures. The complexity of drilling home the need for good service was further heightened, he suggested, by the fact that the over 1 000 staff count spanned 21 countries and four language groups. “We try to explain to them that your best work is done when you are getting lashes and you are still smiling. But everybody does not understand that,” he noted.

Though John Public might not be moved by how stressful it may be to be getting lashes, he may be more pleased to hear that LIAT is at present rolling out a human resource development strategy to address the issue. Of course, we are mindful of LIAT’s struggle with labour issues in the past and would hope that this issue can be brought to an end.

The overarching point here is that every business will have its difficulties, but good customer service means that the clientele should be shielded from any internal discontentment or upheaval as much as possible. It is this concept that often seems to elude front-line staff in many organisations, and this is what must be pressed home if we are ever to raise the level of service given.

Integrity Act to be amended

By Linda Straker

PUBLIC officials in Grenada will have to wait a few more months before they can declare their assets as required in the 2007 Integrity in Public Life Act because of important amendments which must be done to the piece of legislation which establishes the Integrity Commission.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell recently told reporters that though the amendments are minor, they are important in order to have the Commission – which chaired by former Judge Lyle St. Paul – operational. At the time, Dr. Mitchell could not remember what changes were required in the legislation, but persons close to the Commission have disclosed that the amended Bill will most likely be presented to the Houses Parliament for approval during the early days of the second session of the Ninth Parliament.

One of the most important changes will be removing a public servant to be secretary to the Commission.

“The law requires that a secretary shall come from the public service. It therefore means that it will be a violation of the law to appoint someone who is not a public officer. This, we believe, is a conflict of interest for the public servant, who will be so seconded because the Commission will be investigating public officers,” said one person who is supporting the amendment.

Investigations have revealed that the relevant recommendations were pointed out to the previous Tillman Thomas administration, but no action was taken. Not only did they not act on the recommendations to ensure that the Commission was up and functioning effectively, but no money was actually allotted to the Commission although it was allocated in the Budget presentations of the NDC administration.

Dr. Mitchell said that he had informed the Commission that he was willing to call a news conference and personally declare his assets, but they have informed him that his is not necessary because all they really need are the relevant changes to the legislation.

“We intend to go to the Parliament quickly with this,” he told reporters, while reaffirming his belief that assets need to be declared. “They informed me that the forms and other things are ready and waiting.”

The Integrity in Public Life Act calls for public officers and persons associated with Government institutions to declare their assets annually. However, one of the major changes announced upon taking office on February 20, 2013, Dr. Mitchell said that he will ask the Commission to engage phase compliance starting with Parliamentarians, who will be followed by senior public servants.

It is believed that almost 15 000 persons will be expected to declare their assets to the Commission.

Don’t give up! – Single currency in region still worth pursuing

A FORMER Trinidad and Tobago Central Bank official says that creating a single currency within CARICOM is still an important ideal to pursue.

However, Dr. Shelton Nicholls, former Deputy Governor for Policy and Research of the Central Bank of the twin-island republic, said that he does not think that the current economic conditions within the region are going to permit that process to happen easily.

Dr. Shelton Nicholls
“There are very different views about the question of pegging a currency versus having a currency and until I think we can solve that problem. I don’t think we would be able to really make much advances on this issue...It is a very difficult area for discussion and I think the views would still continue to exist in the region about having different currency arrangements,” he said.

To that end, Dr. Nicholls contended that until the region gets serious and embarks on a production integration drive and developing various markets, the CARICOM member states will not adopt a common currency. In fact, he suggested that this may only be pursued when there are no more alternatives available, forcing that level of integration to take place.

“I am very passionate and emotional about this, because every time I travel to Suriname, or Guyana, or Belize and I just see vast tracts of land and under-utilised resources there doing nothing. It really affects me...It just means that we have not taken the time to organise our production structures in any way. We talk about it, but we don’t discuss it, we don’t actively pursue it and until we start doing those things, getting the production integration in place, seeing the opportunities [and] mobilising our internal support to do it, we are going to land behind,” he maintained.

With that in mind, the economist said that CARICOM must really get going as it relates to regional integration. He said that there have been so many starts and stops as it relates to regional integration, that sometimes we lose hope that it can provide us with the impetus needed to take our countries forward.

“There is a lot of reform that has to take place with the CARICOM Secretariat and the whole process of integration in the region and I think it is something that we have to start with urgently. We’ve spent a lot of our time looking at a number of organisational issues in regional integration, maybe issues of macro-economic stability, [but] we have not used the integration movement to really develop products to diversify; to even raise long-term financing for the region in a sustainable way,” he said.

Dr. Nicholls said that regionalism is a key part of that strategy and we must give the process time to succeed at the political level and the national level. He warned that unless efforts are made to do these things, we will continue on a path to economic damnation. (JRT)

Nicholls: Focus on regional food production

CARIBBEAN countries are being told that they need to pursue niches in the global food business so as to lower the region’s massive food import bill and earn foreign exchange.

The challenge was thrown out to the region by Dr. Shelton Nicholls when he addressed one of the sessions of the Central Bank of Barbados 33rd Annual Review seminar.

Dr. Nicholls said that the Bds$9.0 billion that represents the Caribbean’s food import bill could accelerate further if climate change intensifies globally.

At the same time, he went on, there is a radical shift in nutrition patterns, given the influx several fast food chains. This, he reasoned, had resulted in a sharp rise in nutrition-related non-communicable diseases, especially diabetes and hypertension.

Dr. Nicholls, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, said that Organic Monitor, one of the leading suppliers of agricultural information on organic products, currently estimates global organic food sales at around Bds$126 billion with a steady growing demand in Europe, North America and Asia.

He said too that so far a substantial quantum of the market is in food and drink, although there are strong possibilities for medicinal plants, dermatological products, fruit, cereals and meat.

“There is an urgent need for the region to begin to utilise its significant agricultural land masses in Guyana, Belize and Suriname, to not only supply organically grown food staples for the Caribbean region, but to also produce for export,” he suggested.

“This would allow the development of synergies between agriculture and the health sector and could reduce the significant food be import bill for the region while at the same time allowing the region to maintain high nutritional and dietary standards,” Dr. Nicholls added.    

Children’s Carnival scheduled for tomorrow

By Linda Straker

Children will have the opportunity to dress up in parade costumes, play steel bands and sing their own calypsos when the Spice Mas Corporation (SMC) holds the annual Children’s Carnival on Saturday at the National Stadium from 11 a.m.

As has happened in recent years, the junior steel bands will be opening the frolic with their pieces, which will be followed with the parade of costumes and ends with the calypso competition. Thousands of children with their parents are expected to crowd the venue for the 2013 event.

Kiddies carnival is the beginning of the last ten days of the 2013 Carnival celebrations, which was officially launched the first Saturday in June. Following the children’s carnival, the next event of the SMC will be the LIME Soca Monarch Competition on Friday, August 9, 2013; then the Annual National Lottery Panorama on Saturday, August 10; and the Calypso Monarch and King and Queen of the Band competitions on Sunday, August 11. Jouvert and Monday Nite Mas will be August 12 and Carnival will conclude on August 13 with the parade of bands on the streets.

However, a number of independent producers will also be having events in the days leading up to the final weekend. These include Ajamu 50/30 celebrations, which will be featuring a number of veteran Trinidadian calypsonians such as Singing Sandra and Pink Panther, and Tallpree and Friends.

The period of celebrations also includes the annual Carriacou Regatta, which will be held from August 2 to 5; the annual Rainbow City Festival from August 4 and 5; and the annual Emancipation celebrations on August 5.

Minister responsible for Culture, Senator Brenda Hood, recently told the Parliament that the 2013 Carnival activities and celebrations will be the best ever.

NLA sponsoring pan-related events for Carnival 2013

ITS mandate includes supporting culture and on Wednesday, July 24, the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) announced that it will be sponsoring Panorama and other pan-related events for the 2013 Carnival celebrations to the tune of EC$340 000.

Accepting the cheque on behalf of the Spice Mas Corporation (SMC) was Chairman of the Board, Arthur Hosten, who expressed his heartfelt sentiments towards the contribution by the NLA.

All smiles as NLA and SMC representatives pose with the cheque.
“Finding the money for steel band has been the biggest headache for every chairman. This year, I thought it would be the same but the NLA, like in 2007, has taken care of that, and in full. In addition to all that they’re doing, they have also extended an overdraft facility that is helping us cushion that $800 000 debt that we met at the SMC, so it has been a fruitful relationship with the NLA. They have been very proactive, which shows the NLA’s total commitment to Carnival and steel band,” said Hosten.

“We pledge our increased support for the coming years, with the hope that the management of Spice Mas will be handled properly to allow for minimum cash injection by the NLA. We are interested in assisting with the whole management of the Carnival in terms of the finances,” stated Mr. Hayden Redhead, Chairman of the Authority’s Board of Directors.

Mr. Geoffrey Gilbert, General Manager of NLA, said that the Authority is extremely proud to be supporting the carnival celebrations. “$340 000 sounds like a lot, but we are actually giving much more by way of logistical and technical support. Already, our two outlets are involved in the ticket sales. We are very serious about the overall management of Spice Mas and have already drafted a proposal for presentation to SMC after Carnival, regarding the 2014 Spice Mas,” he informed the media.

Representing the Ministry of Youth Empowerment and Sports, the Government Ministry under which the NLA falls, Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Veda Bruno-Victor, stated: “We are happy to be a part of this year’s activities and to make Carnival what it should be because it is the money of the people of Grenada that is being used. NLA has been supporting Carnival for a very long time, and support of pan is very important as a lot of young people play pan.”

“I am extremely happy,” said Mr. David “Peck” Edwards, outgoing President of the Grenada Steel Band Association, who witnessed the sponsorship hand-over towards pan. “Knowing full well that our interests are considered by an institution such as the National Lotteries Authority is very much appreciated, especially as so many young people are involved in the art form.”

He added, “The NLA has been there for us in the past. As recent as last year, the organisation funded the judges workshop, which speaks well for the development of the talent. We pledge to provide a good showing at Panorama, but for us to go even further, we need the entire country’s support of pan.”

This sponsorship amount to the SMC is one of the biggest by any sector of the economy which, according to Senator Brenda Hood, “It is second to the contributions made by the Government of Grenada, who provides the largest contribution by way of subventions and more.”

“One of the major highlights of this Carnival,” she added, “is the fact that after every major show, all the prizes, including appearance fees, will be paid on the night and that is being taken care of by the NLA for the Bomb-Tune, Junior Panorama and National Panorama Competitions.”

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, Alexandra Otway-Noel, expressed congratulations to the NLA. She said, “The youth need support, and Carnival needs more support. Entities like yours must continue making such contributions because Carnival is important and resources are limited.”

Specific to the playing of the games of the NLA, the company has recently launched its 4th edition
of the Access Granted promotion. A total of 204 Spice Mas tickets for major Carnival shows can be won by players who spend $6 or more in Lotto and Daily Pick 3 from July 22 through to August 10, 2013. Over 36 persons have won thus far.

Finance Manager of the NLA, Mr. Richard De Allie, who performed the role of Master of Ceremony of the press conference, added that very recently, on July 17, 2013, the NLA marked 20 years of selling lottery games via terminals and Lotto. “Lotto,” he said, “was the first game introduced with the terminals back in 1993.”

Quite a number of activities have been planned for within the rest of the year to commemorate the milestone. Already, a breakfast was held for employees and sensitisation on the milestone has been ongoing.

Ministry discusses gender-based violence

AS part of its continued effort to reduce gender-based violence through education and awareness, the Ministry of Social Development and Housing held an in-depth a session with influential leaders of faith-based organisations and non-governmental organisations on Tuesday.

“Reduce Gender-Based Violence – Combat Beliefs, Myths and Cultural Practices” is the topic and focus of the symposium, specially customised to engage the leaders in discussions.

The attendees were invited to discuss their experiences with victims and perpetrators of gender-based violence; share the myths and beliefs they encounter in their work; consider corrective measures to reduce tolerance; analyse the roles of faith-based organisations and the part they play in shaping and reinforcing the attitudes towards gender-based violence.

The myths and beliefs that enforce gender-based violence are often outdated cultural ideals, which influence negative practices that take place in our homes and communities. Religion plays a critical role in shaping what we believe is good and bad, so it is essential that we work with organisations, especially faith-based leaders.

“If we are to change our behaviour and prevent gender-based violence, we have to change the way we think of gender-based violence and the relations between men and women,” says Elaine Henry-McQueen, Senior Programme Officer who will be chairing the symposium.

The symposium was held in the conference room of the Public Workers Union Building. (LS)

C’bean states must examine growth opportunities

THERE is a role for central banks across the Caribbean, along with the Caribbean Development Bank, in helping the region to finance its economic development goals.

This is the view of Dr. Shelton Nicholls, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago.

He also said recently in Barbados that there must be investments by both the public and private sectors to aid in the process of economic development.

Dr. Nicholls gave an address at a seminar which the Central Bank of Barbados held at the Radisson Aquatica Hotel. The Trinidadian official revealed that the Caribbean region is once again at a critical crossroad in its growth and development trajectory.

“Ultimately, success will largely depend on what future development path the region opts to take,” he stated.

The Economist recalled that, in the past, the region relied heavily on official, multilateral inflows to fund various aspects of our development programmes.

 However, he noted that these avenues for financing development have been diminishing considerably in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

He stated that while Caribbean states are in the process of exploring funding opportunities from the new growth poles, we also need to look at opportunities in our own spheres.

“Perhaps, the time is right for the central banks of the region and the Caribbean Development Bank, to get together and issue a suite of long-term development bonds in the liquid markets in the region, to kick-start our development drive,” Dr. Nicholls said.

According to him, “The Caribbean region should ensure that it does not lose sight of the bigger goal of economic transformation and development. We need to ensure that the strategies that we are currently grappling with to rekindle economic growth do not just address the immediacy of current challenges, but really take us some distance along the road to achieving a sustainable development path.”

He advised that short-term tinkering alone with our macroeconomic and financial environment, while crucial for economic stabilisation, may not give us the fillip that we really need to push our economies out of the current stasis.

“Our survival will ultimately depend on finding several engines of growth, which together would give us enough of a diversified base to remain on a sustainable growth path,” he reasoned.

“We must of necessity begin to take chances with developing some of the latent industries (like the creative arts, the cultural sector and sports) that have been under our noses for some time,” Dr. Nicholls maintained.

He pointed out that building these engines would require significant investments from the public as well as the private sector.

“Issuing a long-term development bond for the Caribbean might be a place to start,” he added, while noting also that the first imperative is to reform and diversify our productive sectors to enable the emergence of a new set of goods and services.

Efficiency is the key for government agencies

ECONOMIST Dr. Arnold McIntyre is suggesting that one of the critical aspects of a growth strategy going forward is for government agencies across the region to become more efficient.

He said that right now while there are too many regulations, the voluminous amount of it tends not to be implemented efficiently.

Dr. Arnold McIntyre.
Some of the those present at the Central Bank function.
According to him, “That is frustrating a lot of transactions and that’s making them more costly than they need to be.”

McIntyre, who is Programme Co-ordinator at CARTAC, made brief remarks at one of the sessions of the Central Bank of Barbados’ 33rd Annual Review Seminar. That seminar took place over three days at the Radisson Aquatica hotel, with some of the sessions having looked at economic growth strategies for the Caribbean.

“Notwithstanding that we still have a fair amount of capital flows going on between the private sector in the Caribbean,” said Dr. McIntyre.

He reasoned that if there was greater efficiency “you might get even more private enterprises”.

“So identifying one of the core areas of public sector reform needed to facilitate and support investment be that domestic or foreign, I think is a critical aspect of any growth strategy,” according to him.

The economist made the point also that even regional efforts are being stymied by not facilitating the movement of people whether these be guest worker programmes or whatever, or facilitating the movement of skills.

He felt that the Caribbean has to use information technology far more than is the case at present in the delivery of public services. He believes that is another key aspect of a growth strategy for the region.

Dr. McIntyre added that more has to be done in enhancing more re-investment in tourism.

UN committed to helping SIDS

IN recognition of the fact that small island developing states (SIDS) need to develop strategies that will address the specific issues that they face, the UN is making a commitment to their member states to ensure that these SIDS are able to voice these concerns at local, regional and international conferences where these issues are discussed.

This is coming from the Deputy Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Lara Blanco, who spoke at the National Validation Workshop on the Barbados National Assessment Report to the Third International Conference on SIDS recently at the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa in Barbados.

She said that this is why her organisation has partnered with various UN agencies across Barbados and the rest of the Eastern Caribbean to support the preparation of their respective National Assessment Reports (NAR).

Aside from the Caribbean, many of the countries in the other various group of nations such the Pacific, Africa and the Mediterranean are already finalising their respective NAR, as well as hosting meetings amongst themselves to discuss these reports. The outcomes of these meetings would be further discussed at a conference to be held in August of this year in Barbados, said the UN representative.

Meanwhile, the 2014 Samoa conference would provide another avenue for SIDS to voice their concerns on issues that they face, such as preparing and responding to natural disasters, as well as the negative impact of climate change such as sea level rise and how this affects particularly low-lying areas in being able to sustain themselves and even thrive.

“While there is in the Caribbean significant investment in issues such as preparation, response and recovery from the impacts of natural hazards, along with an increasing understanding of the effects of climate change and the definition of physical vulnerability, these concerns need to be further embedded in development and investment decision- making to address resilience in its multiple dimensions. There is greater scope, for example, for social protection mechanisms to be more closely linked to disaster response and recovery and used to enhance such efforts through more effective targeting of both immediate and medium- term recovery initiatives,” Blanco argued.

She said that her organisation is assisting in this area because it recognises that the process leading up to this meeting and implementing the procedures that would be laid out in these reports after 2014 would not be an easy task.

“The SIDS 2014 and the post-2015 process represent the culmination of an ambitious cycle in the international development agenda, and at the same time, a tremendous opportunity to review the priority areas and improve the ways in which we address them.” (PJT)

Caribbean economies will recover

Ravi Tewari, Group President –Life, Health and Pensions

A top insurance executive is quite upbeat about a rebound in economies in the Caribbean.

He is insisting that once the major economies start to pick up, a lot more activity will take place, and tourism destinations of the region will do better.

Ravi Tewari, Group President of Life, Health & Pensions of the newly rebranded Guardian Group shared his views on the emerging economic trends in this country during an exclusive interview with Business Monday.

“I believe the Caribbean will recover quite strongly, but no one has a crystal ball to [know] when this will happen. I am positive when it does happen it will happen quickly,” he said.

“The economy in the Caribbean is not strong at the moment, but as Caribbean people we should not fall in the trap of extrapolating the current experience into the future. I think the economies all through the Caribbean should improve quickly, but we have become such a globalised environment [where] everything is interrelated,” he explained. (NB)

Brand looking to take greater share of regional market

IT has not yet reaped its desired share of success in the English-speaking Caribbean as it has in the Dominican Republic and Latin America. However, Jesus Hung, the Central America and Caribbean Regional Manager for Alcatel One Touch, is excited about the prospects of growing the company’s market share in these parts.

Speaking at the launch of two of its phones last week Thursday in Barbados – the One Touch 20.05 and the One Touch T-Pop which it will be distributing through local operation LIME – Hung gave the assurance that his company was committed to serving the regional market.

Central America and Caribbean Regional Manager for Alcatel One Touch, Jesus Hung.
“We assure you ... we came to stay. We are not planning to disappear next year. We want to play with the big ones and we are doing it very well.”

Alcatel One Touch is a company of the Chinese firm TCL. It is a completely private company which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and which manufactures its own phones and also provides ODM services for other brands. The company will be moving its factory to China in the coming months, which will see it increase its production capacity to 110 million handsets per year.

“We have a lot of competitors, a lot of brands and to build a brand like what we have been able to do in the last 6 to 7 years is not easy,” said Hung who also pointed out that the company complies with many worldwide certifications and is keen on upholding high ethical codes of operation, including those related to labour conditions.

Hung later told Business Monday that Alcatel was pleased to be seeing the fruits of efforts which it started with LIME three years ago as it related to rolling out its brand, adding that the on-the-ground presence it experienced through collaboration with operators was what was going to make its branding efforts a success.

Alcatel says it will be spending millions of dollars for its branding campaign throughout the region.

When asked what was the secret behind the significant success it has seen over the last 2 years, particularly given the recessionary environment, Hung said that Alcatel’s growth strategy has always been to tap into emerging markets which have been traditionally neglected or not catered to by other higher-end brands.

“While others are growing, they are not doing so in the same ways. We have focused on those emerging markets where the penetration was not so high; mainly Latin America, Africa, and East Asia,” Hung said. (RA)

Thursday, 11 July 2013

T&T takes WICB Regional Under-17 title

SCARBOROUGH, Tobago – Trinidad and Tobago captured the second edition of the West Indies Cricket Board Tobago House of Assembly Regional Under-17 title by topping the points table with 24.8 points.

Barbados (19.9 points) edged ahead of Windward Islands (19.5 points) into the second spot, while Leeward Islands (13.8 points) and defending champions Jamaica (12.8 points) finished 4th and 5th respectively. Guyana (6.7 points) took the cellar position.

The home side completed four wins, beating Leewards, Windwards, Barbados and Guyana. Trinidad and Tobago lost only to Jamaica in the third round.

Barbados gained their points by prevailing in three matches against Jamaica, Guyana and Windwards.

Ross Powell of the Leeward Islands, scored a tournament high 271 runs with one century and two half centuries at an average of 54.2. In addition to his 107 against Barbados, Powell also scored a composed 90 against Guyana.

Trinidadian wicketkeeper/batsman Amir Jangoo came in number two with 259 runs (two fifties) with a top score of 96 and an average of 51.8.

Next was Barbados’ Shemar Springer who tallied 223 runs at an astonishing average of 111.5. He struck two half centuries, including his tournament best of 71 not out.

Rounding off the top five run scorers was Guyana’s Shimron Hetmyer (192 runs, 38.4 avg) who was the only other batsman to have scored a century in the tournament.

Windwards’ Daryl Cyrus was the leading wicket-taker with 13 scalps at an average of 9.85. 
He was followed by Deswin Currency of Barbados who bagged 12 wickets at 11.33 apiece. 
Leeward Islands fast bowler Alzarri Joseph snared 11 wickets at an average of 17.45 while Jamaica’s captain Abhijai Mansingh took 10 at 13.4.

Ian Boyce (Barbados), Kershaki Jno Lewis (Windward Islands), Carl Vialva (T&T) and Varindra Jagrup (T&T) each took nine wickets to share the number five spot.

The lanky Joseph registered the only five wicket haul of the tournament with 5 for 40 against Guyana. 

The Regional Under-17 tournament was inaugurated in 2012 and Jamaica won the title on that occasion.

The WICB Regional Under-15 Tournament commences on July 12 in Jamaica while the Regional Under-19 Tournament will bowl off on July 19 in St Kitts.

Climate change and the Caribbean economy

Whether you believe that global warming is caused by human activity, is in one or another way cyclical, or is a complete myth, there is sufficient scientific evidence to show that the world’s weather is changing, the seas are warming, sea levels are rising and the Caribbean is at risk.

According to the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), Caribbean sea temperatures are already showing a 0.8°C increase and will rise further by the end of the century. To monitor such changes more closely they have recently introduced offshore buoys around the region. 

Other warnings from the CCCCC suggest that low-lying countries like Guyana and Belize are most likely suffer the greatest losses in absolute terms; that the costs within Caribbean could run to 14 per cent of GDP by 2025, increasing to 39 per cent by 2050 and 63 per cent by 2100; and that rising sea levels and temperatures may present, in some cases, insurmountable challenges to food security, tourism, and health.

The figures are stark. Of the region’s 40 million population, 70 per cent live in coastal areas. Tourism, which almost entirely depends on coastal resources, represents for many states up to 70 per cent of GDP, and commercial agriculture, which accounts for much of the rest, is equally dependent on the climate. According to the CCCCC, farmers would experience a reduction in production of rice, beans and maize of between 12 and 20 per cent if there were to be a 2°C rise in atmospheric temperature.

Despite this, it is far from clear whether the Caribbean as a whole is prosecuting its case effectively, is doing enough to co-ordinate its position with others, or has a strategy to take advantage of the opportunity it potentially has to benefit from continuing global discussions on a new legally binding climate change agreement in 2015.

This is puzzling as the Caribbean, one of the world’s low or no carbon emitting regions, has an unusually strong case for support. It is likely to suffer most as a result and as a consequence, potentially, ought to benefit most from a global consensus on the relationship between carbon emissions and global warming.

However despite the weight of scientific evidence and the fact that climate change is observable in some parts of the region, Governments remain reactive and, struggling with austerity, seem unable to give the matter the priority the region’s economic case deserves.
Earlier this year the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a report that made clear that the Caribbean is one of regions most likely to experience a climatic disaster. It noted that the six nations of the Eastern Caribbean ranked in the top ten most at risk countries by land area and population and that the rest of the Caribbean was not far behind. It pointed out that throughout the 2000s the Caribbean has experienced average losses equivalent to almost 1.3 per cent of GDP in damages each year.

The report concluded: ‘given the exceptionally high costs of natural disasters, small states in the Caribbean should be seen as frontline candidates for support from climate-change funding, as global strategies for mitigation and adaptation to climate change become operational.’

Closer engagement

If the Caribbean is to achieve this it has to become much more closely engaged in the detail, and in developing a high level political dialogue with, for example, the Europe Commission and nations in Europe such as the United Kingdom that are willing to be supportive internationally of the Caribbean’s position. 

It is also means that in hemispheric fora the Caribbean should be doing more to encourage recognition of its case and be more active in forging the alliances necessary to benefit from the tortuous United Nations-led negotiating process aimed at achieving global agreement on levels of emissions and support for those nations most at risk.

One important initiative now underway that is aimed at determining how to achieve this, is being led for the Commonwealth by Bharrat Jagdeo, Guyana’s former President. In the run-up to the meeting of Commonwealth heads of government in Sri Lanka in November, he is chairing a new Commonwealth group on climate finance which is exploring how best to unlock resources to enable small climate-vulnerable countries to combat climate change. 
The objective is to press the international community to identify practical solutions for the most vulnerable nations.

In this context reported remarks made recently in Jamaica by Robert Pickersgill, the island’s Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, point to one of the many difficulties that will arise in achieving resource transfers to region’s like the Caribbean. He pointed out that if the region is to benefit fully, its graduation to being middle income nations needs to be addressed, and that its heavy indebtedness warrants greater access to concessionary loans, grants, and debt-for-equity swaps.

For the Caribbean, a low carbon emitter, dependent on the environment for its future prosperity and most at risk from climate change, this may not be good news; but it is no reason why it should not be more actively forging alliances and making clear that it must be a major economic beneficiary from any final climate change settlement.

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

CARICOM at 40: An alternative agenda

By Sir Ronald Sanders

By the time this commentary is read, Heads of Government of the 15-nation Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) will have celebrated the 40th anniversary of the inter-governmental organisation. There is cause for celebration, but there is also reason for lamentation.

Heads of Government will have rightly pointed to many areas of common services in which there has been success in building on inherited institutions and creation of others. 

But there has been weakening of inherited institutions such as the University of the West Indies (UWI) that should by now have consolidated itself as a globally respected institution of research and development. Unfortunately, the three campuses of the University seem set on a course of competition with each other, replicating schools in various disciplines that squander resources and make for poor planning and flawed outputs. Further, over the years, other Universities have been created within CARICOM states to compete with the UWI for scarce resources and in other respects. 

The most recent institutional creation of the Caribbean Community – the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – while it serves as the court of original jurisdiction over matters related to the CARICOM Treaty, is still to be accepted by 12 of the 15 states as their court of final appeal.  Many reasons have been advanced for this failure to embrace the CCJ but the root causes are undoubtedly pandering to insular nationalism and inaction by the powers-that-be to allay fears and build confidence in the Court.

On CARICOM’s 40th anniversary, the grounds for celebration are that it still exists and leaders are still proclaiming its worth. But, the process of deeper integration that, by now, should have been far advanced rendering the countries of the Community as a whole stronger economically and less weak and vulnerable in the international community, has simply not occurred.

Despite all the natural resources of the region – oil, gas, bauxite, manganese, rare earth, uranium, gold, diamonds, forestry, agriculture/fisheries, tourism and renewable sources of energy such as sun, wind and geothermal and hydroelectric potential – 40 years from the establishment of CARICOM, member states have not co-operated to invest collectively in, and jointly exploit, these endowments to benefit the people of the region.

Its trade relationship, while increased in volume, has benefitted only a few of its member states, notably Trinidad and Tobago. A start to implementing a Caribbean Single Market was delayed until 2008, nineteen years after the decision was made to do so in 1989. It was then put on “pause” in 2011 ostensibly “to consolidate its gains” even though as remarked by the Chairman of the West Indian Commission Sir Shridath Ramphal, “this ran the real risk of severe erosion and even reversal”. 

On foreign policy, the 14 independent member countries of CARICOM have also been unable to fashion a common stance in a number of critical areas, the most important being a relationship with China. The division among CARICOM countries weakens their bargaining position in the international community.   

Collective bargaining

After 40 years of existence, CARICOM should have progressed to bargaining collectively for the region, not only at the World Trade Organisation, but also in international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund. Instead, there has been a movement backward to separateness by CARICOM governments.

It is difficult to identify more than four CARICOM countries that could survive on their own if grants and concessionary loans from external agencies and countries were removed from their revenues. As Owen Arthur, the former Prime Minister of Barbados observed recently, “The price of insular nationalism has been onerous. The cost of separate national development has been such that maintaining viable economies and societies is proving to be a task that is spiralling out of the reach of most Caribbean societies”.

He went on to make the important point that: “Nation-building in the Caribbean therefore has to be driven, not by the present retreat from regional engagement, but by the philosophical commitment to make the region succeed through deploying more effective forms of regional co-operation”.

So what are the crucial areas that CARICOM governments could be addressing collectively that would bring benefits to the region as a whole and, consequently, to their countries individually?  First, on the agenda should be completing the arrangements for the Single Market. Last year, in a public statement, the CARICOM Secretariat said there was 64 per cent compliance among the member states. It identified major deficiencies in Free Movement of Services, the regime on the Right of Establishment and the regime for the Free Movement of Skills – things that matter to Caribbean people and businesses.

Then there are three matters that require urgent attention. These are: food security, regional maritime transportation and energy security. The region is now importing US$4 billion in food annually. Yet, Guyana, Suriname, Belize, Jamaica and Dominica produce enough food not only to feed the region but also to export. Closely tied to food security is sea transportation without which food produced in the region cannot be distributed. In turn this will call for categorisation, regulation and modernisation of ports. Energy security has now become imperative particularly as, with the best will in the world, the Venezuelan government will not be able to continue the terms of the Petro Caribe arrangement that amounts to budgetary aid for many CARICOM states. The region has to develop its abundant resources of renewable energy to reduce costs and make itself competitive in manufacturing and tourism.

According to Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, China’s President Xi pledged US$3 billion in loans to the Caribbean for infrastructural and other development when he visited Port-of-Spain last month to meet 9 Caribbean leaders. If that pledge bears fruit, it would be beneficial to encourage Venezuela to join a relationship with the Chinese and CARICOM countries in which money is dedicated to regional spending on food security, maritime transportation and energy security. Such a development would encourage a range of public sector-private sector partnerships in shipping, port development, agriculture/fisheries and energy infrastructure that would lift the region economically, solve several of its pressing problems and float the national economies of CARICOM.

These investments are vital to improving the efficiency and competitiveness of CARICOM countries and to achieving a higher sustainable rate of economic growth to reduce the high debt of almost all of them and enhance the livelihood of their populations. It is such a big regional approach that is needed. After 40 years, petty and insular nationalism should end – its failure is evident.

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

A new way of thinking

The uncertainty surrounding job security in this economic climate may be the final push that persons need in order to tap into their creative spirit and pursue the entrepreneurial venture of their dreams. Is an entrepreneur born or can one be taught to function well in this area? 
Traditional school of thought suggests that only a few have the particular “gene” within them. However, in more recent years, the world has been seeking to unravel the science behind the art and teach persons, from as young as primary school children, how to match their talents and other areas of passion with an unmet need.

With increasing technology that has shrunk the global economy, bringing it closer within reach, that unmet need does not have to be confined to our own backyard and community, but can be found anywhere in the world.

Dr. Philmore Alleyne, Head of the Department of Management Studies at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus, suggested recently during the opening ceremony of an entrepreneurial clinic which they hosted, that many persons went to work daily, using their entrepreneurial capabilities to the benefit of their bosses. It is about time that some of them stepped out to create wealth for themselves.

Capabilities such as hard work and determination, vision, energy and passion, creativity and innovation, may lie in you, in greater proportions than you may think. Certainly, the onslaught of this recession, like any other, has “forced” persons to become their own fashion designers and dressmakers, their own chefs and bakers, their own plumbers and masons, their own hairdressers and make-up artists, their own event planner, personal accountant, legal advisor and medical researcher.

In doing so, they were able to save for themselves monies which, if they were not under financial strain, would have gone into the pockets of others.

The challenge which lies before them – and the potential benefit if they so desire – is in taking those skills, honing them through obtaining the necessary qualifications, and linking them with persons who see the values in those skills and are willing to pay for them.
One of the best things that has emerged from this recession is that it has highlighted the need to change the way we define work. Young persons are encouraged to realise that the effort put into obtaining a solid education should not lead solely to knocking on the door of some employer to beg for a job. Indeed, entrepreneurship was not, until recently, a much talked about goal after the completion of one’s studies, rather that you studied well so that you could become a doctor, a lawyer, a banker or an accountant, in their traditional sense. 
We emphasise “traditional” here because there has been a shifting taking place where such occupations or no longer being seen as mere providers of social services, but of bedrocks for entrepreneurial activity. The widening opportunities can be exemplified in the definitions of “the field of medicine” and “medical tourism”. In fact, the health and wellness sector is among the top emerging industries earmarked to drive significant economic growth in the wider CARICOM within the coming years. 

So the silver lining may just be there waiting to be uncovered. The half empty-glass may be for us, the glass half full of opportunities if we are willing to embrace that the only way for this country to grow is through innovation and creativity, at the household, corporation and national level.

New solutions?

Is obesity a disorder or disease? The American Medical Association (AMA) last week voted to place the condition in the latter category. According to the professional association, such a classification would lead to the condition being paid more attention by the medical fraternity and encourage insurance companies to pay for treatments. Some may see it as merely matter of semantics, but the way in which something is defined does matter since it is the first step in changing perceptions and eventually, finding solutions.

Currently, poor exercise and dietary habits are considered to be the main cause of excessive weight gain. The implication therefore is that obesity is something that persons bring on themselves through laziness or a lack of discipline and restraint. We have long been told that obesity is a contributing factor to ‘lifestyle’ diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension. Our health authorities are currently devoting considerable resources to reducing the incidence of these chronic non-communicable diseases, focusing largely on reducing obesity levels among the population through encouraging more active lifestyle and improved nutrition.

Unfortunately, one consequence of this reclassification may be the psychological impact on the population’s approach to their own health. People are already finding it difficult to maintain healthy lifestyles; now some may feel justified in not even trying – they can simply turn to the modern strategy of popping a pill for every ailment. While not discounting the tremendous importance medication plays in controlling and reducing diseases, there is no cure better than prevention. So we stand behind our position, reiterated just two days ago, that persons must take charge of their health.

However, this step by the AMA also opens up new considerations in the matter. Rather than seeing obesity as a gateway to a disease, it labels the condition as an illness in its own right. Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that for more people, regular exercise and good nutrition can help avoid obesity, but it does provide a counterbalance to the strong emphasis on lifestyle choices that has pertained up until now.

It highlights the possibility that some may be inherently more predisposed to gain weight than others. This may lead to further medical research into obesity and its causes, and more sophisticated treatments. Perhaps it may be discovered that, like diabetes, obesity comes in different forms and some cases might be due to a physiological anomaly as opposed to lifestyle choices. This is already seen in cases of persons with an inactive thyroid gland. Perhaps it may be discovered that a lifetime of obesity or extreme levels of obesity may actually change the body at the cellular structure, making it more difficult to achieve weight loss by traditional methods.

In addition to the physicians who voted for the reclassification, this move will probably be looked on favourably by the pharmaceutical industry. Currently, there is a booming trade in weight loss supplements and medication, but as they are not seen as part of a medical treatment, the full cost is borne by the consumer. Should the definition of obesity as a disease gain currency, then a case could be made for having anti-obesity drugs being covered under insurance plans, or being placed on the drug formulary. This would mean an increase in revenue for the pharmaceutical companies, who would be able to market their products as a necessity for good health, rather than a discretionary expense. And considering the high incidence of obesity, this would be a significant new expense for an already overburdened public healthcare system. It is a timely reminder of the need to find more creative solutions for funding healthcare.

Grenada PM calls for CARICOM free movement

GRENADA Prime Mi nis ter Dr. Keith Mitchell is calling for the removal of aliens’ landholding requirements for CARICOM nationals. 

Mitchell made the appeal during his address at last Wednesday’s opening of the 34th Caricom Heads of Government Meeting, at the Diplomatic Centre in St. Ann’s. He said it would be a significant first step towards the free movement of people and capital in the region. 

Mitchell said the most urgent issue which should be addressed at the meeting, which ends on Sunday, is transportation within the region, and without a proper transportation system, the dream of economic union will continue to be elusive.

It is easier and cheaper for a Caribbean citizen to travel to Miami and New York, Toronto and London, than to get from Port-of Spain to Castries, he said. 

He said manufacturing products in T&T are not able to reach another CARICOM state in a timely manner, and remain at competitive rates. 

Mitchell stated that the meeting should set up “a broader task force on transportation, to deliver results in six months.” 

Mitchell said Caricom heads should be on that task force, which would include businessmen, trade union representatives and other stakeholders. 

He added that the issue of taxation on travel and tickets, should also be addressed. In many instances, he said, the taxes were higher than the basic price of the ticket itself. 

Mitchell also suggested that greater emphasis be placed on developing the region’s information and communication technology (ICT).

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, chairman of CARICOM, said it is time for the regional body to consider expanding its membership to include the Dominican Republic in the CARICOM family, along with the Dutch and French Carib bean islands. 

She also called for the setting up of a regional think-tank on security, with a special mandate to examine the multiple security threats facing the region. 

“Such an approach would also identify ways of improving co-operation between governments and law-enforcement agencies in countering illicit activity in our hemisphere,” she said. “We must also attack crime at the root, which means we must develop approaches to combat poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and the rising cost of living.”

Persad-Bissessar also spoke of the need to examine regional transportation and to develop a policy to facilitate the free movement of people, and thus enhance regional integration and convergence. 

Barbados’ Prime Minis ter Freundel Stuart said he hoped the 34th meeting of heads would not be just another talk shop with no action. He quoted lyrics of T&T calypsonian Hollis ‘Chalkdust” Liver pool’s composition ‘Sea water and Sand’ to issue his caution to the heads. The conference ended last Saturday.